2.18.10 "Fort Thunder"

28 Comments

The irony of this article was very painful. The Biennial, an event used to promote artists and their work, ends up being the destruction of the individual’s life. This was done by introducing the institutionalized world of art to a community that was known for its unconventionality. While reading this article it became apparent that it was a contributor to the extinction of Fort Thunder. In the case of the band Forcefield the trip to New York to display art and play music was a factor in what tore the band apart. This wasn’t the only contributor; the brick mill named Fort Thunder was also being destroyed for a new mall. In today’s world this can be a common thought: creative practices are becoming obsolete and replaced by cookie-cutter consumerism. With Fort Thunder being extinct it makes a person wonder if there are other similar communities in the world that are encountering this problem too. It’s a shame that a creative hub such as Fort Thunder is shut down.

Although it's a shame Fort Thunder was overcome by the rise of consumerism and the demand for money, it seems all too common. Our economy, especially nowadays, demands money. It is becoming harder for unknown artists to promote their work without conforming to today's institutionalized art world. Despite the fact that many artist would like to keep their work creative and individualistic it becomes hard when money is an issue. I can see how many artist, when given the opportunity to present their work in galleries, rise to the idea. Though they may not be targeting the specific audience they would like, it is still a way to present their art to the public, while being able to "pay the bills." It is unfortunate however, that the demand for wealth tore apart such a rare, special, and creative foundation.

I think you do a good job of addressing economic demands with the fall of individualized artists. The article does a great job of giving its reader a good sense of the position that artists are put at in order to be able to show in galleries and make more consistent pay. I think this economic incentive is exactly what artists creating zines are trying to avoid. Because of this I found interest in the different approaches to art between the graffiti and Fort Thunder pieces. It's to bad Fort Thunder succumbed to consumerism because this article accentuated the magic that the creativity flowing out of this area produced.

I also thought the same thing and wondered how many other collectives were in the same situation; torn between staying true to their ideas and aesthetic or selling out to the mainstream because they need to in order to survive. It is sad that our economy forces underground artists to do so and the phrase “selling out” has such a strong negative connotation now a days that artists have to be wary about to whom and where they market their artwork, otherwise they can lose some fans in the process of “selling out.” This idea is illustrated in the video with Swoon and how there was some bitterness attached to her when she sold her prints to MOMA. If only fans could realize how necessary it is to “pay the bills” because if they couldn’t then maybe they wouldn’t be able to continue to produce great artwork.

I think all of you make very good points regarding consumerism and artwork. Many artists obviously want to work in the underground so to speak and not become mainstream for many reasons. Its a tough balance trying to make art this way and making a living for one's self. At the same time one could argue that by going the consumerist route an artist could ultimately have more fans. Although they may be losing their original fans, they could potentially be making more and keeping some of their old fans. Just something to think about.

You said it right with the economy these days. Money is not an option and it is definitly in demand. Careers that can be risky as to making it or not, such an being an artist can be a scary thing right now. People need to have jobs where then can rely on money so they know they are going to be ok. It's great that there are places that artists can go showcase there work and hopefully potentially sell their work.

I thought this article was very interesting. It reminded me of so many things. It reminded me of being in a hectic studio. It said "[...]twisted and obscure posters filling the walls of the screenprint shop, comic-covered rooms, and corridors [...]." It also reminded me of artwork itself. This article, to me at least, seemed very unpredictable and a little hard to understand- I felt like I couldn't really grasp what was being said throughout it. There was one part especially where it surprised me; it talked about how they would advertise for wrestling matches. I thought that was interesting because we usually hear about advertising for bands and things like that, but not wrestling matches. I thought this article definitely told a story just like how artwork does. Lastly, the Fort reminded me of a mural. It kept mentioning all these people who contributed to the Fort. So I thought of a mural because you have all these people working on a project/artwork and combining their ideas to make this great piece of artwork- or in this case the Fort. Then going off of the consumerism idea; I believe, just like in the other article, artists are starting to use more technology, putting their names on their work-hoping to be seen by others and to get into galleries-and doing everything possible, even though they might not like the decisions they make, in order to live in the real world.

Ha, I love your reference to the "real world." The people at Fort Thunder definitely weren't living in it, and trying to break through was a disaster. But I don't think it always has to be, and I don't think it should be such a negative thing for artists to do. The article kind of ended on that note: "Fame and fortune need not mean the end of their freewheeling creativity. Every now and then, America makes room for something odd, and the artists of Fort Thunder may yet have their turn."

It was very unfortunate to hear that Fort Thunder was overrun by consumerism, but it seems like in this economy and society today, that is what happens all too often. It's a little disappointing to hear that these artists who truly have talent and a strong message, sometimes fall to the money and consumerism. It is very easy for one to say when they first start a career in something such as a band or an artist where they are expressing themselves to start by saying how they don't want to be bought out or popularized because they hope to remain true to their ideas and to themselves. But I feel that when reality hits them, many find the life of fame much more glamourizing than the life of not having as much money. The downside of this is that many artists have a great message before they become popularized and then once the scent of money hits them, they become more and more willing to work and get their name out and often times, with this demand for creating so much, works become less original and less effort and thought are put into them. Once these works become too mainstream, their work looses a lot of authenticity because it is no longer as rare as it used to be therefore making it not being worth as much and often times then meaning diminishes as well.

I agree that a lot of times the great message an artist has kind of disappears when their work becomes publicized or in front of a bigger audience, especially if they are creating work for a company, campaign, etc. These little clusters of intense artistic influence are so cool, but as soon as people start to realize it, their innocence is somewhat taken. The idea of fame and fortune and exposure are very tempting, but if those things get to be too much, everything ends.

It is such a shame that this happened to Fort Thunder. I feel things get over turned by consumerism more often then not when it comes to art, not just visual, but other forms of art too, like music and cinema. It's also hard for places that are a part of this economic turn to not get harsh cruelty. This especially when it comes to music groups in the US. For example, I know Green Day gets a lot of criticism from their older fan about how they sold out to the bigger record corporation to become more famous. But, where is the line drawn between when people are just getting more recognition for what they are doing verses when they "sell out?"

I really enjoyed reading about this article because I had no idea that a place or community like Fort Thunder ever existed. Although it came to a fall, I think that it's great that these artists had a place that they could go show their art and show what they are passionate about. Many people create awesome things that they are so passionate about but never get the opportunity to come together and show what they've done such as when it says, "Nevertheless there was a productive spirit of collaberation". I also enjoyed when the article spoke about how these artists were putting their visions into reality and taking them from the virtual world. I can't imagine all of the ideas that go through artists minds but they take those ideas and make them into something real that they can share with the world.

I also had no idea that a place like Fort Thunder existed. That's why I also thought it was so neat how they had a place to show their artwork. I think it's great when people can show their work to others, when people appreciate it, and when they can show their true love for what they're doing. It's like being in a gallery and seeing all these great works of art together. It really makes you think about what inspired these artists and questions like that. That's what I love about art- artwork and its meaning can be obvious, mysterious, make you think about certain things, and create this message/image for the audience. I feel like it always leaves you with something to think about.


I agree with you about Fort Thunder is a place that artists can come to collaborate. It's really good for the artists to get out and collaborate and network amongst themselves. It really creates a good sense of community and probably will help the artists out in the long run. I also agree with your idea of how an artist has many ideas and how they put their ideas into production. It's really something important and special to the artists to be able to share their view with the world. It's really important for them to share their message with the world.

I really enjoyed the Fort Thunder article. I guess prior to reading this I was completely oblivious to the idea that areas such as this even existed. This lifestyle and depiction of community was especially inspiring for me. It also lead to thoughts of all of the people in the world who can be the best at something but never sell out to the main stream and make it big. The graffiti piece was interesting from the aspect of the progression of the culture over a rather short span of time. I was also interested in the discussion of stencils and their potential in the graffiti culture. The author pointed out how most are made with only the most basic understanding of computer graphics.

I did not know a place such as Fort Thunder existed either, and found it very interesting and inspiring after reading this article. The atmosphere and lifestyle might seem a little bit too chaotic for some people, but I think it shows how preoccupied the artists were with their field of interest. I found the graffiti piece very interesting too. It reminded me of the graffiti artist we watched a DVD on in class, and how he talked about the progression of graffiti briefly.

It makes sense that Fort Thunder would be located in Providence due to the already culturally centered art awareness in that area. I found it funny how in the article it talks about the RISD students that would push shopping carts full of trash along the busy streets and play music at the same time. This kind of reminded me of a misunderstood, underground culture (quite literally with the party thrown in the abandoned railroad tunnels) or at least that is what the article painted it as. To highlight this point even further, I got a chuckle out of CNN calling the party “evidence of a satanic cult” which shows how truly misunderstood they were by the mainstream. This also would make sense because even the article states how their “comic book superheroes and children’s art…are not much embraced by the mainstream art world.” It is sad how they ended though and the pressure of creating an installation for the mainstream broke them apart. This paradoxical event is depressing to me because it shows how there are many great art collectives out there but refuse to share their creativeness with the outside because once they do it often leads to their ruin.

I never realized that Providence was the type of town that would be a host to a creative culture such as this. To me a place like Minneapolis or San Francisco has a more artistic vibe. However, maybe since Providence isn't as well known as other cities in the art category, that is why the Fort Thunder community was able to thrive there, at least for a while. I also enjoyed the comment from CNN. This truly brings home the point that underground culture is very misunderstood! How positive creativity can be confused with satanic cults is beyond me. The last point you made about other art collective communities being present just not known makes a lot of sense. This is so because once discovered there is a potential to be destroyed, much like Fort Thunder. In order for these communities to stay functioning, they need to be kept a secret; this prospect is both encouraging and saddening at the same time.

¬ I didn’t know towns like this existed. You can assume that there are places where a few artists work together, maybe in their own shop or something, but to have a dorm-like building full of artists producing incredible work, that’s an awesome way to see talent at its finest. I think Fort Thunder sounds like every kid’s dream; staying up late, making as much noise as you want, and doing what you love. The language the writer uses to describe this place is very unique and gives you hysterical images. For example, “The Thunder folks want to draw like a special ed kid who’s fielding transmissions from planet Gxxylplzz on his braces” (5), and “his comics…burn with the energy of a five year old running around the yard with his pants off” (7). The spirit of the artists seems to be that free for all spirit that comes through their work. It’s always horrible to see such an awesome story like this end in break up and ultimately destruction. I think a big thing artists are faced with is their motivation for their art; do they just want to create something in their town and have their neighbors enjoy it, or do they want to make the jump to the mainstream art world?

The chaotic beauty of a place like Fort Thunder seems to be a rarity in 2010. When I read this article I was immediately drawn to the idea of an artist's collective where what people were making and doing, whether it be eclectic music, or wrestling matches, was far more important than making a name for oneself or receiving monetary compensation for one's work. The draw of Fort Thunder, with its low rent, and no rules to hem in artistic expression, has not waned. I can think of many people who would still jump at the chance to have an artists collective much like Fort Thunder if they were given the chance. Why, then, have we lost so many places like Fort Thunder to the culture of consumerism and shopping malls? What has changed? Our economy is surely partly to blame, but the worth of art simply for art's sake has gone down within the American Culture. While there are still many who love art and all it represents there are many people who disdain art. Not realizing that creativity is the only way the world moves forward, these people push children to only study math and science when they go to college, so that they can make lots of money. It is sad to see art so neglected, but if the people who love art and understand its importance can continue their work no matter what, then we may yet have a chance at another Fort Thunder some day.

I was really confused when I read this article because of its random storyline in the beginning. Then the descriptive words hit me. I think it is amazing that a place like Fort Thunder can be expressed in so many "colorful" ways. Bringing and collaboration between different artists (such as graffiti artists, cartoonist, special effects) was a great sense of unity because they did and created different kinds of art and placed them together.The theme "Do-It-Yourself" rings in a way that artists and audiences can create their own art from scratch and by hand.

This was certainly an interesting read. It reminded me of some dreams I have been having this week which are rather chaotic and unorganized, kind of like my life right now. I liked the article however, in that it seemed to tell a story maybe sort of how an artistic or painter would approach their work. It is too bad that Fort Thunder went under because it seemed pretty awesome to tell you the truth. But like many things in the world today, it is all about money. If you can’t produce for yourself, you better find something that can at least do that in a basic way. But, like aesthetic apparatus said, they didn’t start doing it for the money; they did it because they liked doing it. It reminds of one of the movies that brought up selling artwork to art museums. It talked about how that is selling out. I would have to disagree. It seems like there is this underground culture and that accepting money for one’s work isn’t right. I wonder where this attitude comes from.

I must agree with you in your assertion that accepting money for artwork you have created is not necessarily always selling out. I see nothing wrong with people receiving money for something beautiful they have created as long as money wasn't the main purpose for making the art in the first place. Art should be supported and funded, money can make a lot of things happen including more and more art, and I think that is a good thing, it is merely when love of money overcomes our love of making art that we can experience "selling out."

I loved the author of this article's first impression of Fort Thunder: "I felt like I had stepped through a mirror into a parallel universe in which art was more likely to be given away than sold, in which extraordinary talent was combined with an absence of self-promotion and ego." That sounds pretty fantastic, as does the collaborative nature of the community. It reminded me of this guy in Portland who was selling artwork on pieces of cardboard. I asked him how much a piece was, and he said, "Uh...anything." Given, I'm pretty sure he was homeless, but I liked the fact that he wouldn't put a price on it, and it seemed he didn't believe someone would pay him. And even after I did pay him, he insisted on working on it more (A.K.A. gluing on a smooshed penny). And he made sure to give credit to "some girl from Missoula" for the poem on the back. I loved that he didn't want to take credit, and that he wanted to make it better even though I'd already bought it.

After reading this article, I looked up some images of art works that were created in Fort Thunder. I found most of these art works extremely unique and intricate. They are messy somewhat, but not in a bad way. I could just picture many people working on art or music in Fort Thunder, a very loud and unorganized place. It is unfortunate that it was overran by consumerism, but Fort Thuder still seems like an amazing , where a lot of fabulous artists worked in. I loved how the author of this article described the artists of Fort Thunder as folks who wanted to draw like "special ed kids", regarding Picasso's quote.

I also looked up some of the art found in Fort Thunder. I like how the art is like nothing I have ever seen before. There seems to be no structure, no rules, you can just throw together whatever you happen to find. It seems now-a-days there are so many limits when it comes to creating art, that it's nice to see people can break through those limit barriers, and really create something that inspires them. It is a shame that Fort Thunder was abolished however, it's nice that they got their message across to their audience before things were destroyed.

I thought that this article was extremely interesting. As that-kid who was pretty much obsessed with video games and comic book characters and even as that-teenager who read shitty sci-fi novels and made "art", I can understand why this place is the next step in growing up. The author really makes it out to be some kind of dreamland and I can totally see it. As something that resembles the crappy/chaotic dorm I live in (minus live shows, 10,000 square feet, and art plastering every possible surface), I can't blame him!

Anywho, the article was great, I was envious the whole time (costumed wrestling matches in the living room? I mean who isn't) and I can definitely see how out of this hellish living/working space can come amazing and influential art.

It's a shame Fort Thunder doesn't still exist. I don't know if I could have lived in such a place, but it would sure be awesome to visit if it was still around. I could see how it would be difficult to be a resident there with that tough sense of competitiveness hanging over certain things people in the house did, but it is also awesome that they worked so hard to make things have a more collaborated effort to them. I really loved when it described how they wanted to draw as "a special ed kid who's fielding transmissions from the planet Gxxylplzz on his braces." It still doesn't make complete sense to me what they mean by it, but I'll bet some what tripped out non the less.

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