Manager of art exhibit needs a new job.

In Grand Rapids Greg Gilmore owns and runs an art show.  I wonder why, since he doesn’t seem to get the meaning of art.  One of the pieces at the art show this year was an effigy of Saddam Hussein hanging inside a bird cage.

This is how Gilmore reacted.

Greg Gilmore told 24 Hour News 8 he personally threw SinGh’s entry into the Dumpster.

No.  Wrong.  Even if you decide you don’t want his piece in your show, you store the piece and ask the artist to come pick it up.  That is someone else’s property that you invited to have in your show.  You don’t get to destroy other people’s stuff.

Why’d he do it?

“I was infuriated,” Gilmore said. “He took advantage of us. And we trusted him after the last several years and the art that he brought, that it would be tasteful, and it was anything but.’

Gilmore said he and The B.O.B. did not get what they expected.

“We thought it was going to be a bird house that he was painting in on a daily basis,” said Gilmore. “And it was a political statement. Highly inappropriate daily political statement.”

Piss on Greg Gilmore.  Art has been an important political tool for the whole of human history.  It’s purpose is to stir our emotions and to make us ponder things in a way the rest of the censorious world can’t.  It often deals with subjects that are taboo.  In so doing, it helps us to explore the full range of thought and of human instinct.  Art is not good because it allows you to be comfortable.  In fact, some of the most important pieces in history were phenomenal in large part to their ability to make people uncomfortable.  The owner of an art show should’ve learned this ages ago.

If you think art that you deem inappropriate or that you deem to be a political statement should get thrown in the trash, it’s time to get out of art.  Yes, it’s Gilmore’s show.  His show sucks, and I hope every other artist in Michigan avoids it henceforth.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Nothing

    Wow! Why’d this person want to run an art show if he’s so clearly disconnected from art itself?

  • Trucreep

    Hey JT – I love your work (bought GW2 because of a post you made too) and love reading your responses to creationists. Not trying to criticize here, just want to point out a few things.

    I’ve lived in Grand Rapids for several years now, and Art Prize is one of the best things to happen to this city. I might have read this wrong, but it seems like what you wrote is a little off. Greg Gilmore owns the B.O.B. – and it sounds like they were “hosting” this piece. Art Prize is a city-wide “show” that goes on for a month, and artists all over the state and country put their work up all over the city. (One of the coolest pieces was a giant Loch Ness Monster in Grand River the first year they did it.)

    It’s my understanding that Greg Gilmore’s involvement goes only as far as owning the building in which this piece was displayed. Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely the wrong thing to do, but I just wanted to point out that he doesn’t have anything to do with the actual show. Art Prize has been a great thing for Grand Rapids – not just the city but residents and artists from all over Michigan.

    I hope you can take a second look and give Art Prize another chance :)

    • Rachel

      Another Grand Rapids resident here — and while I think ArtPrize is a mixed blessing (great for Grand Rapids, great for getting the public involved in art and breaking down the barriers between elite and popular culture, etc.) it is indeed a huge, city-wide thing and Gilmore is only the owner of one of the (many) venues, and not in charge of the whole thing. The guy who *is* is Rick DeVos, whose family is majorly responsible for Amway…but that’s fodder for another rant entirely.

    • Derek

      Agreed, Art Prize is really great. I lived in Detroit most of my life (only recently moving to New Hampshire for work) and a visit to Grand Rapids was always an adventure as I would get to see all the neat installations all over the city. Mr. Gilmore clearly made a poor choice here, but as Trucreep said, the show itself is pretty fantastic.

    • hyrax

      When I first saw JT’s link, I thought “Wait a minute, Greg Gilmore runs Art Prize?!” Good to know I’m not the only one who was confused by it. :-P

      I grew up in West MI and worked at one of the restaurants Gilmore owns when I was in high school… lo, more than ten years ago now. I therefore can report that Gilmore is indeed a bit of a douchebag, though previously my interaction with him involved bussing dishes at his private rooftop party. Apparently my impression of him has been borne out by his appalling treatment an artist’s work.

  • Silent Service

    I know I will. Never touch another artist’s work. EVER!

  • John Horstman

    Um, there is no such thing as art that isn’t political. There is arguably no such thing as a human creation that isn’t political. This guy doesn’t just need a new job, he needs ninth-grade education in social science.

    • Drakk

      I’m genuinely curious regarding your first two statements? Could you explain how, for example, the majority of submissions on DeviantArt are “political” in nature?

  • Lurker111

    Unless Gilmore actually bought the piece, the artist is now in a position to send a hefty invoice. And the piece can’t be evaluated by an independent art appraiser because it’s been destroyed.


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