Thursday, June 26, 2008

. . . pondered economic realities

Every day I talk to more people who are really struggling to make ends meet. . . people who are accustomed to a comfortable lifestyle but who are suddenly faced with the reality that they can't pay the mortgage this month, or who have to decide whether to pay the utility bills or the credit card payments. People who have tapped out their hard-earned savings accounts; people who are borrowing from their retirement accounts for living expenses. This economy has really trickled down to all levels except for the very rich, who according to the newspapers and television continued to amass wealth in record amounts.

My daughter wondered how her father and I had weathered the economic difficulties in the 1970s. (Thankfully both daughter and son are doing well.) As I thought more about this, I realized we had been so poor as married students that we weren't really aware there was a nationwide economic downturn. Our finances had never upturned so we just carried on. After my husband graduated from college in 1975, we moved to the armpit of America, somewhere out in the middle of nowhere, in a town of about 200 people, and we bought our first house for $2,500. Yeah, really. I took a new job, because my old job paid about $350 per month, and the new one raised me to $400. When we moved again, we bought a house for $25,000, and we were lucky enough to get a mortgage interest rate at 12% assumable through a county bond issue. This was at a time when interest rates were about 18%. We had cars, food and a roof over our heads and we were always broke.

This economic downturn has me wondering about my target art audience. . . about how ordinary folks can be expected to buy art now. I have read where certain works of art are setting record prices at auction houses. I have read about stolen art purchased in certain markets with drug money that is held as collateral for underground loans to terrorists for the purchase of arms and ammo. But for most people, art is a luxury. And these are not luxurious times.

The bleak picture above is a digital collage using my own photograph of a tree in winter superimposed on one of my black-and-white monoprints. Maybe this is the art to be making right now?
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Martha Marshall said...

Nice image, Mary. It really fits the bleakness descending all around us right now. I've stubbornly maintained optimism for a very long time now. I looked back at a blog post from 2006 just before the November election, in which I said I felt things were just about to turn the corner. Well I didn't exactly mean "that" corner!

This could get me off on a whole political rant. Better stop now.

Sheree Rensel said...

You mentioned something I had never thought about. Just the other day, I was thinking about the last time I felt economic pressure. Back in the early 90's, Michigan had a drastic economic downturn. I felt it because there was a trickle down effect. The general economy had a down turn and then art agencies, state art organizations, and even college art class offerings were all cut back. This made a huge difference in my life. I felt it bad.
Similar to your comments, the recession of the 70's didn't bother me at all. I do remember the gas lines and lack of jobs. However I was so young, dumb, and poor, it didn't phase me. I just figured I had to work really hard to get more waitress tips and get the $75. for my monthly rent!! LOL

Mary Buek said...

Martha: Definitely strange times in this country. I just remembered you live in Florida . . . the hanging chads and all that in 2000. Have they fixed that yet? Hey, I'm about ready for someone to go off on a good political rant.

Sheree: Oh, yeah. . . the fake oil shortage, the gas lines; isn't that when gas first went to about $1 a gallon or so? And Drive 55? I'm beginning to sound like an old codger here.