The other night I was out of town and experienced something I thought was perhaps just a Fresno phenomenon. What am I talking about? Well, the phenomenon where a place is brand new and people go ape-crank over it for the first 6 months it's open. Lines out the door, clogged parking lots, and the terrible service that usually accompanies an overcrowded location. You know, like if you try and go to Cabo Wabo Cantina right now. Or the Public House a half a year ago. That time may be shorter, of course, if something newer, cooler opens up. Or, something not as cool, like Chick-Fil-A. Seriously, it’s a fast food joint, no need to stand in line for an hour.
I guess I knew deep down that it wasn't just something we did, but that it happened everywhere. I've heard about it in Los Angeles and Vegas, but, there I was, shocked to see our "big city" problems in little old
Bakersfield. A friend had heard about a cool new spot to hang out while having adult beverages. We were in town early, and thought we'd check it out. It was 9:30 at the latest, and when we rolled up, the place was packed, the bar was three or four deep, and there was a line out the door of at least twenty people! Huh? At that point we knew what we weren't doing, and headed to some nice, familiar spots.
Why do we people do this? Are we like raccoons, just attracted to the shiny, new thing? It can't be that simple. Perhaps it's a West Coast thing. You know, we haven't had as many centuries of developed land.
Fresno may be 130 years old, but there are probably bars back east that are older. While this sounds interesting, I doubt it's right. Could it possibly be that these new spots really are the coolest things since jam on toast? No, that's not it either.
Maybe I'm going about it all wrong. I'm assuming that it's bad that these places are temporary hot spots and that they should be something more. Or that new = bad, old = good. That's not true either. There are some pretty bad, old places and some cool new spots. I think I just would like a little bit of sanity in Fresno. You'll have a good time if you wait a month. You'll have a good time if you go somewhere where everyone knows your name. Whatever you choose, get out and enjoy Fresno.
I'm an artist. Pretentious to declare it, maybe. Debatable, always. Where am I going with this? I don't know, but come along. You're already here and those who run this deal assumed I was intellectually capable of filling this column space. I'll do my best not to illustrate the error of that assumption.
Anyway, I don't really think being egotistical in a field where so many languish in relative or even absolute obscurity is all that bad (think Salvador Dali or Frank Lloyd Wright). So, as a newcomer to the art scene in Fresno, I appreciate the opportunities to put myself out there. While the monetary patronage isn't always available, the camaraderie and support from fellow artists always is. What better place to share an eccentric personality or audacious attitude alongside one's art than galleries that let one show for an entire month through Art Hop?
Of course, it's a fine line to walk, being an asshole and trying to maintain partnership with contemporaries (think Salvador Dali or Frank Lloyd Wright…I'm starting to think my knowledge of art history is limited). I love that the Fresno Arts Council and Socient partnered to build an online forum where area artists can interact with one another, share ideas and bolster people like me (there's that ego again, nice). But seriously, check out www.fresnoarts.net and see all the wonderfully creative people toiling away in the Fresno area.
You might see this as a veiled plea to everyone who made it this far to send me large sums of cash (which you're welcome to do), but it's really more a plea for you to support artists and what they do, no matter what it is—from metal sculpture to photography to furniture to stained glass to dancing to miming. And that doesn't even have to be through purchases. Go to shows. Talk with artists and tell them what you think of their work. Trust me, even the hifalutin ones appreciate a simple "I like this piece" or "That poem you read really touched me."