Recently, a friend wrote wondering what effect I thought the Y2K computer bug and the looming twenty-first century "...fraught with 'what if's...'" might have on the market for the more traditional type of artwork she and I both paint. It's an interesting question and I must confess, one I'd not considered at all. Her thesis seems to revolve around the tendency of people, in uncertain times, to gravitate toward gold, other hard assets, and collectibles. What she suggests is, of course, a proven fact of economic life. The only question arising at this point centers on whether we are, in fact, living in times any more uncertain than normal. With the economy booming like it is, there's a tendency to think, this CAN'T go on forever. What goes UP must come DOWN. We grew up riding an economic roller coaster, is there any reason to think we're not STILL riding it? Let me answer that question by asking another. We grew up with Polio, smallpox vaccinations, whooping cough, and Elvis Presley. Is there any reason to think any of these things will return? Aside from Armageddon, I don't THINK so. Call me an optimist if you like, but we have, through scientific analysis, study, and some plain dumb luck, overcome many human scourges. I'm of the opinion that we (meaning Greenspan and the Federal Reserve) may now have overcome that of the boom-bust economic cycle, if not the Depression mentality that once drove it.
People have been moving toward traditional art for years (as many of us well know) and I don't see that changing anytime soon except in how that art is marketed and delivered. I see e-commerce and digitalization of all art as being the wave of the future. As for Y2K, this phenomena may well be the most over-hyped, worry-wart, money-grubbing, case of electronic blackmail ever purpetrated against mankind. I'm sure the problem WAS serious and that serious efforts have and ARE being made to correct the most serious deficiencies in our electronic infrastructure.
Beyond that, everything else amounts to scare tactics on the part of those who have something to gain by alarming the computer nerds and the right-wing survivalist amongst us who don't trust their next door neighbors, much less their bankers, bakers, brokers, or bureaucrats. It's a phenomena tailor-made for the paranoid who, now largely free of threats from the Red menace and nuclear war, need something else to help them rationalize their basic insecurities. Frankly I see art as having little to do with such fears in that most such individuals are only interested in SURVIVAL rather than those human traits which motivate people to collect art or decorate their interior environment. To my way of thinking, there are ENOUGH people out there trying to squeeze a buck out of this whole Y2K brouhaha, what we DON'T need is artists trying to milk it to death as well.