Bayfield artist and jazz DJ Ron Fundingsland works on a project in his studio Jan. 30.
Earning a living by making art is a red herring, sometimes a necessity, but often a diversion that lures creative people away from their true vision.
Bayfield printmaker and jazz DJ Ron Fundingsland has not fallen prey to the fickle art market but has focused on his passion for traditional printmaking.
“The percentage of artists who actually make a living from their art is so small,” Fundingsland said as he sat in his carriage house studio in Bayfield last week. “I’m in it for the end game, the long term. I’m not concerned with making money from my art. I have to be true to myself and not care about the marketplace. I care about the work.”
His work is a form of etching that dates to the 14th century, but his subject matter is contemporary and contemplative, providing a commentary on American society and politics.
“In 1984, I started out with a blank resume,” Fundingsland said. He spent four years refining his technique and creating work before he approached a gallery.
“I knew I wanted to be in legitimate contemporary galleries. When I got around to showing people my work, everyone liked it. They said it was really original. If I’d shown them my work in those first few years, I don’t think I would have had the same response.”
Fundingsland’s voice is more recognizable in the Four Corners than his art. He is the host of Tuesday night jazz on KSUT and plays music on Wednesdays. He loves his day job, which he’s held for 11 years, working an average of four days a week.
Music finds its way into his work. He listens to new releases while working in his studio and then plays his favorites on Tuesday nights. Jazz aficionados may recognize song titles in his prints or find musical notes in the design.
Fundingsland believes that the isolation of Bayfield has been good for him because he didn’t visit galleries and museums, and he wasn’t influenced by what other artists were doing and what was selling.
“For me, if you start doing work for other people, you cease being an artist,” Fundingsland said. “You become a craftsman or a tradesman when you make things to make money.”
Though he adds that he isn’t criticizing anyone who goes in that direction, it isn’t the path for him. And he acknowledges that it takes time to find the galleries and the people who will appreciate what he does. But he doesn’t worry about people not accepting his work.
“Rejection is a myth,” Fundingsland said. “It’s the wrong word. When you enter a juried show or approach a gallery, it’s one person, maybe two, that say the work isn’t going to work in their gallery. One person is making a decision about hundreds of pieces of work. How absurd to think everyone is going to like your work and how horrible would you feel if they did?”
It may not be everyone, but Fundingsland’s work has been chosen by an impressive list of people. His prints are owned by the Denver Art Museum and the Seattle Museum of Art.
This year, he’s been invited to participate in the Southern Graphics Council portfolio exchange exhibit in New York City. Its title is, appropriately enough, “Red Herring.”
For more about Ron Fundingsland, visit ronfundingsland.com
firstname.lastname@example.orgLeanne Goebel is a freelance writer specializing in the visual arts.
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