Wednesday, October 24, 2007

a re-emergence

We were talking of how an artist, once fairly well known in their community, could fall off the planet. But I think it is possible to disappear and "re-emerge" - time and time again in fact. I Know I've done it and I am not the only one.

There was one man in particular who had disappeared and it shocked me. He was so forceful, had so much presence and personal power. I had even met people in SF, who when I talked about him, would say: "You are not the first person to talk to me about him. That guy changes lives."

He was an art dealer and he inspired in many ways. But he was also, I found out, an aspiring artist. Once we got close, his ideas were all he talked about.

But it was all talk and so often I wanted to say to him - "Well just fucking do it!" and this was way before the Nike ads.

My mom had told me that you shouldn't talk about your art ideas, that it drains them and then, they might not happen. I think she's right about that...

He had one idea in particular which he described in great detail; I loved it, but also felt it must take pretty good skills, and I had never really seen him make anything.

So anyway, I used to joke with my girlfriend about it. Like his famous stretcher bars he would rattle on about - how they had to be just so - finding the right studio - he had a million reasons to NOT paint! - I always thought that if I ever ran into him, maybe I would finally have the nerve (or just brazen sense of humor) to rib him about it. "Hey, did you ever find the stretchers that you needed?"

Well, when I got into Google, I tried to find him. And what was odd was how much, how completely, he had fallen off the face of the earth. This man who had once been the talk of the town - for his vision, his opinions and his ability to make things happen. And for also, no doubt, his volatile relationships. Gone. All I could find was one exhibition history of an artist who had him on there as a curator of some show in the 80s. It just blew my mind.

And it saddened me a little too, because he had so much fire.

Well, guess what? I finally found him. He just showed in a San Francisco group show - a painting of this idea he had rehashed so many times! ...So he finally made (and shown) one after all.


Carolyn said...

Good post and one that rings true in my own head. Why do people concern themselves so much if you are what I feel -recharging your batteries?

About two weeks ago I went to an opening of an old acquaintance who has given me trouble about this very topic over the years. However in the past year he was out of the country and was there nary a email from him. But no he still took it upon himself to read me the riot act regarding "did I disappear again?". What ever and what the hell. Screw him!

It's that whole judgmental attitude from people about what you do with your own life that I think is what should really disappear.'s early.

Glad your friend is still painting.

mary klein said...

Glad you finally found him and that he's painting and showing now. However, I think your mom had good advice about the draining of ideas. Maybe he'd have made and shown this work much earlier if he'd painted his thoughts instead of sharing them in conversation. Something to think about anyway. Nice post.

Howard said...

I can certainly understand wanting to disappear. Sometimes it just feels like too much effort to stay engaged. Luckily I've always managed to find my way back to myself. With all the distractions and detours life offers, "disappearing" can take a long time for some.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering, Carolyn, just what lies beneath your friend's ongoing attentions towards what you do or do not do...? This is about him perhaps, not you....

In the case of this artist/ art dealer, the reason I was so sensitive and surprised that he had been so quiet is because he surely never was before - especially regarding my own endeavors. He had an (unasked for, often) opinion about everything I did, with a very sharp and critical tongue.

He's the one who told me that I would get nowhere collaging and should paint. I distinctly recall:

"You're good at it and maybe someday you'll be as good as Hannah Hoch, but you'll never really get anywhere with photomontage."

As if to be as good as Hannah Hoch would be a small achievement.

So I always measured him against his own ambitions not just for himself, but for me.

HOWever..!... I do find it really irritating when people constantly ask you what you are going to do next ...let's just bask in the now, if possible... I've learned, finally, that I don't have to answer these questions.


prettylady said...

I can certainly understand the need to 'disappear,' speaking as one who walks the line between introversion and extroversion, teetering wildly back and forth on a pendulum that sometimes takes years to re-center itself.

It is nice to see that you are a people-Googler like myself. I also labor under a need to know What Happened to every person I've ever known; it surprises me how incurious the vast majority of people seem to be. People from my past are far more likely to rediscover me because they Googled themselves and found that I'd written about them, than because they Googled me or anybody else.

Anonymous said...

Hey Pretty Lady!

There are lots of justifications I could give to my Googling – most of it just plain curiosity - but it all stems from bothering to record them in an old diary in the first place.

In the case of the last two male artists I wrote about, both of them were featured in there heavily, first and last name, what they said, what they liked, with loads of conversations and dialogue included.

Sure, they both gave me a certain amount of shit, but they also inspired me, and had a lot of valuable insights. In short, I miss them, and wanted to see where they took their ideas….


J@simpleposie said...

Q:"So are you making any art these days?"

A:"More than you."

Anonymous said...

That's a good response, Jennifer, and one I often wanted to say.

Also, where is the balance? Anyone who gets really busy and has some success knows what it's like to take the backlash. There's this fine line between doing too much and not enough.