Minimum wage work… of art; artist takes unique approach

 

How much should you be paid for an hour's worth of hard work?

"All I could do was get a minimum wage job," Bartosz Beda, an artist originally from Poland and now serving a summer residency at the GoggleWorks in Reading, explained when talking about his first job right out of college.

How much would you pay for an hour's worth of a work of art? It's one of many questions posed by Beda during his 10-week residency that he prepared for by studying Reading's industrious, hard-working and diverse history.

"I thought that I don't want to make it just another residency in Reading," Beda explained inside his studio. "I started researching about Reading. I realized that there's lot of immigrants from Mexico as well as other countries."

He plans to do 64 paintings in 64 days, as a way of saying something about the nature of work and how it relates to the community. He plans to spend an hour on each piece and sell each one for $7.25, which is the state and federal minimum wage.

"I'm not saying that minimum wage is bad," Beda said. "Maybe minimum wage actually pushes us to do more so that we don't get lazy about our dreams. We need to chase them."

It's a fresh perspective that's inspiring other area artists.

"I think it's really intriguing. He's brought a lot of interest in creating a piece a day," said Patricia Scialo, GoggleWorks artist and educator. "It's so great to have the interaction of someone whose not local, coming in with fresh ideas."

Beda doesn't plan to pocket a penny. He said he'll donate what he brings in to the GoggleWorks Youth Project.

"Creating something that would be available for all of us and create some sort of impact," Beda said. "That's something that takes and also gives back, something that can benefit Reading."

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