Economic crisis and artists

This video from the USA says about itself:

9/15/08: New York artist Geoffrey Raymond uses the scene surrounding the Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy to create a piece of artwork documenting a unique moment. (Producer/Camera/Editor: Ira Spitzer)

From Art for a Change blog in the USA:

Art and the Global Economic Meltdown

An unavoidable political topic is on the lips of everyone in the art world these days, I am not speaking of the U.S. presidential election – but of an international economic meltdown the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. No matter what “new” political circumstances we wake up to in the aftermath of election day, the reality of economic disintegration will still be staring us in the face. That fact will be shaping the world of art from top to bottom for many years to come, raising some important questions that artists will have to meet head-on, not the least of which is, how will artists be able to sell their works – an already difficult process – under the extremely tough conditions imposed by an economic catastrophe?

A number of artists have already begun responding to the crisis of capitalism. Artist Geoffrey Raymond has been painting large “annotated” portraits of the powerful individuals involved in the Wall Street crash, men like Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and former Lehman Brothers chief Richard Fuld, setting the portraits up on Wall Street and allowing the public to scribble their remarks directly on the paintings. Printmaker and painter Laura Gilbert also brought her art to Wall Street, passing out signed and numbered “Zero Dollar” prints outside of the New York Stock Exchange. The imitation dollar bills display a zero instead of the numeral one. Gilbert said her prints were a comment on “the destructive role of many financial institutions, inflation and the decline of U.S. currency to the point of seeming worthlessness.”

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1 thought on “Economic crisis and artists

  1. Hard times even hurt teddy bears
    By Al Lewis
    Dow Jones Newswires
    Article Last Updated: 11/03/2008 12:06:22 AM MST

    The bear market has even been rough on bears.

    Bear Stearns is all but gone. And Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc. is hanging by threads.

    The St. Louis retailer takes up expensive real estate in shopping malls and lures children inside to make stuffed animals. In times of economic natural selection for the retail sector, what could be less essential?

    Build-A-Bear’s stock, which once traded for more than $35 a share, plunged to an all-time low of $3.68 on Tuesday and clawed its way back to $5.20 by Friday.

    Retailers are bracing for the most hopeless holiday shopping season ever, particularly after consumer confidence hit historic lows last week.

    Build-A-Bear, with 341 locations worldwide, hopes to survive by touting $10 stuffed animals for Christmas.

    “I have always believed a child should be able to visit our store and make a furry friend with their allowance,” said Maxine Clark, founder and CEO, in an Oct. 22 news release headlined “Holiday gifts that send the message of hugs.”

    But sorry, kids, we’re all out of hugs.

    Daddy just lost his job, Mommy hasn’t paid the mortgage, and your allowance is taking a hit. Forget about Lil’ Honey Cub, Kuddly Koala, Brown Sugar Puppy and Pink Cuddles Teddy.

    Play with the dozens of other stuffed animals in your room that you didn’t have to make because somebody in China already made them for you.

    Oh, and if the mortgage company calls again, tell them the check’s in the mail.

    In October, Build-A-Bear posted a $2 million third-quarter loss after taking a $1.7 million charge to close down its “friends 2B made,” a concept for kids to make their own dolls, as if they don’t have enough to do just trying to earn a decent allowance these days.

    Revenue was down slightly — $107.2 million for the quarter ended Sept. 27, compared with $109.8 million last year. But comparable store sales in North America were down 14.4 percent.

    Build-A-Bear went public at $20 a share in October 2004, not long after the bears of the previous stock-market collapse went into hibernation. The stock hit $27.15 on its first day of trading.

    Interest rates had fallen to near 45-year lows. Mortgage money was everywhere. And consumers cheered their children as they blew $20 or $30 stuffing bears at the mall.

    Build-A-Bear was a triumph of marketing for its founder Clark, who once served as president of Payless ShoeSource Inc. But her cheery spiel seemed out of step with recession-wary retail analysts during an Oct. 16 conference call.

    “We could all use a little Christmas this year, and we could use it now,” she said. “We believe this is the time . . . when a stuffed animal and a fun family experience can help escape a fear that people feel about the economic future of our country.”

    To hear Clark tell it, the worse the economy gets, the more people will cling to stuffed animals.

    “Moms, in particular, have cut back dramatically on their spending, reworked schedules to conserve gasoline and made other sacrifices due to the economy. Frankly speaking, at this point they’re worn out by negativity and just want to get back to having some family fun.”

    It’s almost as if Build-A- Bear should change its name to Build-A-Bull.

    But one analyst on the call, Mike Smith of Kansas City Capital, suggested that maybe Build-A-Bear think about hunkering down with its cash on hand.

    “People can postpone buying bears for a long time,” he said. “Cash is king.”

    Al Lewis: 201-938-5266 or


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