Date: January 16, 2006 04:41PM
I am a artist who has been involved with activities more than once that now seem cult-like.
This has involved several committees that do not appear to be connected to each other, but as soon as you get involved with any of them, you are expected to be involved with all of them.
Artists get shows and appear to be making money, but the people behind the show actually keep the money.
The first few times I ran into this, it seemed like it was just common white-collar crime and I refused to stay with it. But I was already considered a recruit into one of these committees. An aquaintance had invited me out of an interest in showing my work and when I told her that I really just preferred to work in an art-related job at that time and was not ready to show, what followed was strongly like having rejected a cult.
These people were pulling anyone they could into the role of artist, and I had professional training and tried to explain to my friend that they really knew nothing about the art world but they were behaving like common criminals.
If I tell you what happened after that, it will look like any other cult-exit story: the stalking, the interference, the threats.
When I moved to a distant city, I found a job in a print shop and started to plan to get on my feet again. But when I was staying with another artist's family, his wife who was not an artist started gushing over how much this group she knew of could help me. I recognized the pattern and though it was just another bunch of these crooks and I noticed the husband was not very happy with the conversation but was not saying anything and I tried to persuade her that I really had too much to do than to meet anyone else.
I had not identified what happened to me before that with cult behavior, and I thought it was something wrong with me that her kind offer seemed so eerily like what I had been through that I was feeling panic attack.
Then a week later she invited me to a local festival with her children and we were having a very nice time. When we were leaving she said she had something to show me, and she drove me into a neighborhood where her friends had offices and showed me their building. She thought I would be impressed and change my mind about not wanting to meet these people, but I was horrified to see a slight variation of the exact same committee I wanted to forget.
I could not satisfy her pressure and left her house as quickly as I could. I was half convinced I must be suffering delusions. When I was making my hasty exit I also noticed that her behavior had something to do with her marriage breaking up, which it was obviously in the middle of doing. Her artist husband did not like these people, either.
Then I went to the lobby of the committee and took a brochure and left. It did not look like it was the same committee, but it was so similar that I thought it was a coincidence.
Then I noticed a small credit in the bottom of the back of the brochure, and it was the same committee, a local chapter.
I felt better that I was not imagining things and put it behind me. Like a Burger King, there must be one of these in every town. Then I was at a church supper and several people came over to me and began to embarrass me by gushing over me and saying they had heard what an artist I am, and I realized she must have talked to them because I was not doing any art or showing any at all, I was just working in a print shop.
They were very pushy.
I would like to hear from other artists if you have been affected by something like this.