Celebrity Poetry: Where Is It?

Sparrow: True Art? Mr. Foley: Suppose you and I are both in an evangelical sect. You have the ability to

Sparrow: True Art?

Mr. Foley: Suppose you and I are both in an evangelical sect. You have the ability to speak in tongues. I go to an acting coach to learn how to pretend to speak in tongues. Which of us has the true “gift of the Holy Spirit”? That’s the difference between self-taught artists and art school artists.

Sparrow: Isn’t that a little harsh?

Mr. Foley: That’s why they won’t let me write for ARTnews. I’m not afraid to say: “All of our thinking about art is wrong.”

Sparrow: Can you give me an example?

Mr. Foley: Why don’t Americans know about art? They literally don’t know art exists! They’ve seen shopping malls, they’ve seen churches, but they don’t know there’s anything in between.

Sparrow: Is that what you believe, that art is in between shopping and religion?

Mr. Foley: Without a doubt, art is one of the overlaps of those two fields.

Sparrow: And what are the others?

Mr. Foley: Well, those souvenir shops in large Catholic churches. Also Barbie dolls.

Sparrow: Barbie dolls?

Mr. Foley: The love we have for Barbie is almost certainly religious. Anytime you see a woman with large breasts and no vagina, you’re observing religion.

Sparrow: Anyway, you were saying Americans don’t know art exists.

Mr. Foley: Right. We need a massive advertising campaign: “Art Exists!”—next to a print by Yvonne Jacquette. Most people don’t know there’s been an artist since Van Gogh. Except for cowboy art and clown art. Which brings to mind another problem.

Sparrow: Yes?

Mr. Foley: What do we mean by cowboy art? Is it art made by cowboys, or pictures of cowboys? Suppose a cowboy paints a clown? Is that “cowboy art” or “clown art”? Conversely, suppose a clown paints a cowboy? I propose that a category be invented: “cowboy-clown art”—which will be paintings of clowns by cowboys. “Clown-cowboy art” will refer to paintings of cowboys by clowns. A similar problem is the term “minimalist artist.” Does that refer to the artist or the art? Imagine a neo-Victorian who makes extremely detailed drawings, but only owns one shirt. Is she a minimalist artist?

Sparrow: And what are you involved with recently?

Mr. Foley: I’m curating a show in Corona.

Sparrow: I didn’t know there were galleries in Corona.

Mr. Foley: There aren’t.

Sparrow: There aren’t?

Mr. Foley: If you say “I’m curating a show,” people assume there’s a gallery. It’s like saying, “You’re reading a book. You must be in a bookstore!” People read books all the time without being in bookstores. In fact, the show I’m curating will be in an A.T.M. lobby.

Sparrow: Really?

Mr. Foley: Yes. But only for an hour. Actually, the bank doesn’t realize we’re having this show.

Sparrow: And you’ll hang the paintings?

Mr. Foley: Actually, no. I don’t want to damage the walls. So I’m asking my friends to stand and hold the pieces—I call them “living hooks.” They’ll dress in white, and keep their faces expressionless, so they’ll look as much like walls as possible.

Sparrow: Is there a theme to this show?

Mr. Foley: Yes. It’s “The Collapse of Capitalism.”

Sparrow: Will you sell the work on display?

Mr. Foley: Of course. It’s an art show.

Celebrity Poetry: Where Is It?