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Making it in New York - what the young artist faces

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Few, if any, artists starve these days. Even so, a professional commitment to art is still neither simple nor easy. Of the hundreds or even thousands of youngsters stampeding into New York every year to become artists, a dozen at most will establish modest reputations - among their peers. Two or three will possibly become known to a few curators, critics, collectors, and dealers.

And one, after a few years, may actually have a successful exhibition in a major gallery.

All of them will work very hard, will do all they can to become more knowledgeable about art, to become better artists, to make valuable contacts, to stimulate interest in their work. At the same time, they will have to work at generally low-paying, menial jobs to survive. Yet the sad fact is that it is extremely unlikely that even one of them will make it into the ''big time,'' or, if he or she does, make it ''big'' enough to be remembered 10 or 15 years after first arriving in New York.

It's that tough.

On the other hand, it's by no means hopeless. Although the highest levels of success may be difficult to achieve, there are any number of career possibilities open to those willing to go through the highly competitive rigors of ''making it'' in America's art center, New York. I would recommend that anyone eager to try it in New York do so.

I would also recommend caution. To begin with, the New York art world is already saturated with talent, and simply doesn't need any more paintings, sculptures, prints - or whatever. Any newcomer hoping for gallery space will have to try to push aside dozens of other artists with one foot already ''in the door.'' And he will himself, then, a year or so later, have to fend off the next batch of youngsters descending upon New York for fame and fortune.

Even if our young artist comes to New York with enough money to rent one of the uptown ''vanity'' galleries for two to four weeks (for a fee that can run into several thousand dollars), very little will be accomplished. Critics and curators tend to ignore these galleries.

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