Thursday, September 16, 2010

I Am Disappointed............

© Patty Paige Short "Art Open" Neon Sculpture 36" x 49"

I am disappointed. It’s the media that I am aiming most of my finger wagging at, but I am also disappointed in the people that take what the media says at face value and make decisions based on stories meant to keep us on high alert at all times. I have been saying for a couple of years now that the news media played a huge role in helping our economy collapse and should be held partially responsible for instilling fear and panic in even the most levelheaded consumers. Bad news sells and people pay attention, but I am not here to talk about the economy. Instead, it’s a local news story that has me planning my next “news fast.”

We here in Sacramento, California have enjoyed for many years the monthly ritual known as Second Saturday. On the second Saturday of every month, art galleries around town have opened their doors and held receptions to showcase their artists and give the public a chance to bathe in the energy and vitality of the urban core of our city.

The last couple of years has seen a shift in behaviors and attitudes toward this event. Instead of the gentle stroll from venue to venue, it became a street party complete with live electronic music, street vendors (many of them from other towns) and young people looking to drink and socialize. I am not going to place any blame here, but it has been an accepted fact that patrons, collectors and artists themselves, were becoming more and more uncomfortable as the event headed into a direction far removed from the original vision.

So why am I disappointed in the media? Last Saturday (technically Sunday morning) a shooting took place, killing one young man and wounding three others. To call it a tragic event would be an understatement, and my heart goes out to the victims’ families. The coverage of this unnecessary violence however is what has me pecking away at my keyboard.

The shooting occurred in the area known as midtown, the heart of the party version of Second Saturday. However, the shooting took place a couple of hours after the galleries and shops had closed for the night. Why then did the local paper have the words “Second Saturday” as a secondary headline when the news showed up on the front page? It’s bad enough that an enjoyable, cultural occasion was already earning a reputation as a “crazy scene,” but now with the media’s twisted use of headlines and images of police attempting to perform “crowd control”, you can be sure that genuinely interested art lovers will stay away in droves.

I just overheard a conversation between a few people talking about the story and they kept referring to the shooting as “the Second Saturday shooting". Why? Because that’s how it was portrayed in the news. The mayor and all the other business leaders in the community can put their spin on things in an attempt to gain the public’s confidence, but it may be too late. I am afraid the damage has been done, the decisions have been made and other plans put on the calendar for future Second Saturdays. That will be the scenario unless we as a community do something.

I plan to attend the community forum scheduled for Saturday, September 25th at 9:00 AM at the Hart Center at 27th and J. (I originally saw it scheduled for 10 am, but click here to read the article that said 9.) This meeting is an opportunity for residents, businesses, artists and gallery owners to come together and seek solutions. As a group, I believe we can bring back Second Saturday, focus once again on the visual arts and create a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.


  1. Dianne,

    Thank you for such a thoughtful analysis of the events last Saturday night. When I heard the coverage on NPR and KXPR, they mentioned that the shootings happened during 2nd Saturday, but when they stated the time (which was after the closure of galleries), it did seem that forces other than art were at work. I'm glad you made the distinction. Have you thought of sending your post to Capitol Public Radio or the Bee?

  2. Dianne-
    I could not have said it better! I spoke this afternoon to folks at the Center for Contemporary Art. They wanted details about the upcoming meeting about the gang shooting last Sunday morning (Marcus Breton of the Bee had it right in yesterday's paper). I'll connect them to your blog with the links to the Sept. 25 meeting. Thank you for taking the time and effort to speak up!!!

  3. Thank you Merle & Hannah! I am going to keep checking to make sure I have the details about the meeting correct. I will keep you posted.

  4. The Sacramento Bee has confirmed that the meeting on September 25th will take place at 9:00 am at the Hart Senior Center. For more information call: 916-808-6525

  5. Dianne,
    Excellent commentary, well stated. I think you should send it to Letters to the Editor -- right away!

  6. Brilliant site, I hadn't noticed before in my searches!
    Carry on the excellent work!

  7. Well said, Dianne! The press really did portray it is a "Second Saturday Shooting." Also The City of Sacramento doesn't help much either by allowing so much street vending to turn the gallery scene into a carnival. The City of Sacramento is contributing to the decline of the galleries....a sad situation, indeed.

  8. Thank you Eileen,
    I agree that the city helped turn Second Saturday into the "carnival" scene it has become. I think it's going to be up to us to bring it back....hope you can go on Saturday.

  9. Marquita Plomer AlcartadoSeptember 21, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    I think you are correct in your analysis about the role of the media and how that has been expressed in the coverage of the violent events of that evening. I don't think it is ethically appropriate for the media to associate a particular violent event with the coincidence of location and 2nd Sat., but then again its been a long time since we have had any great news reporters in this town covering just the facts. I have to say that the change in the cultural experience of 2nd Sat. came well before that evening however. Its been a long time since I have wanted to traipse along the walk and for reasons having to do more with my reluctance to deal with the crowds and the difficulty of navigating the wide variety of venues. Frankly I love to view the art but its just not any fun when its so obvious that the crowds are there for the free food and wine/beverages. For economic reasons I'm not the ideal art consumer because I'm not a buyer at this point in my financial recovery--so maybe I'm not the client that galleries should be concerned about but I do believe that my attitude is not isolated and that is a worry.
    Former gallery owner and former exhibiting fine artist,
    Marquita Plomer Alcartado

  10. Thank you Marquita for your comment.
    Yes - the focus of Second Saturday has been changing for a few years now. I don't believe that galleries and artists are looking for "buyers" as much as they want people interested and appreciative of the art they are viewing. You have expressed what I have heard a lot of people say - they don't want to go down there anymore for many of the same reasons. This is what has to change.

  11. Dianne,
    Thanks for writing this. You are spot on.

    I'm looking forward to the day one of us visits the other's studio, a couple of bottles of wine in hand, with time enough to talk art, politics and life.


  12. Thank you Jeane!
    Yes - I would love to meet you
    some day in person! I know we would have a lot to talk about. This is one of the reasons I love the internet...