Sunday, November 18, 2007

it's that time of year again

So what that I have money? So what that you are poor. I don’t care about money. Screw your landlord – screw the banks – what does that matter in light of your art making?”

This argument came years ago from a colorful character who wanted me to quit my job and get into major debt for art. He ridiculed my “spiritual aims” and seriousness when I did not.

Something he didn’t know was that I did not even have the rent yet for that month - but that would be just a petty detail, non?

The words I vividly recall as I still think that in varying degrees, the art world is made of the haves. Oh, the have-nots are still there alright. They get to watch. And their life of stress certainly gives them plenty of fodder for subject matter and a driving determination. And yeah sure, there are always exceptions.

But there are nonetheless many cuts that a have-not has a really tough time making. It takes money; an ongoing cash flow at that, not just a whole paycheck every now and then - to make cut after cut and get an art career.

What is a matter of course can seem like out-and-out glamour to the artist who does not do Miami. That’s the question one can get every year. Even when I say that I have an exhibition in December, the head is still cocked in question, as if one can easily do both. Never mind that December can be a bit of stressful time, holidays and all, a bit of a burden for anyone with stressed means.

I am not saying I am broke. Feeling pretty lucky actually. Just remembering, that’s all.


prettylady said...

He ridiculed my “spiritual aims” and seriousness when I did not.

People who have money have no idea what it is like not to have money. They think nothing of casually disposing of your future as though it were a wad of used Kleenex; they think nothing of urging you to take risks that they themselves have never faced.

I have known people who were comfortable with lying, cheating, sponging off lovers and admirers, squatting in condemned property, and taking out monster loans that they had no intention of repaying, so that they could make art full time. I am not one of those people. I can't be creative when I'm constantly looking over my shoulder for the police, as I discovered in my brief career as a tagger.

I have to believe that significant art can be made as outgrowth of actual life, actual struggle, actual paid work, not just apart from it. Art fairs are not 'glamorous,' in my opinion; they're just smoke and mirrors generated by an industry which knows nothing of the deeper levels of life.

man-child dude from the æther said...

The 'argument' provided is sort of context free, so I'm not sure what's involved here. Given that, I'll provide my context free, thought free, gut reaction: As a man who has had his feet planted in many social, economic contexts: when I'm sitting upon a right smart pile of liquidity, it could never enter my head to screw with someone struggling to meet their economic commitments (and one should always assume anyone, on any given day, could be suffering this scenario). When my address has traveled with me where ever my body happened to be, if someone had decided to target me for an 'argument' of this nature, my response would have likely began with removing their underwear (assuming the brute is wearing appropriate attire) and feeding it to them elastic ban side last. This would be the warm up prelims. This would be the comfortable, relaxing, non-hobbling part of the exercise. Brutish response? Perhaps, but better to error on the side of making sure the lesson sticks.

But of course the better path regardless of economic heights or lower-depths is to redirect the confrontational energy to re-establish an appropriate boundary. More productive and instructive for all. There is nothing more rewarding and satisfying than turning confrontational energy into supportive, fungible energy. Fortunately, thankfully, there are no known manuals in existence for such approaches, so most chalk up such things to fantastical nonsense. Of course, some turn personal fantastical nonsense into shared fantastical nonsense and slap their names upon them in exchange for little colored paper that represent deeper levels of sheer fantastical nonsense. Who am I to quibble with such affairs?

Let me wrap this up (mercifully) with my daily reminder: hold your own counsel as paramount and without peer, and consider the rest as having the wisdom of an unsolicited tele-marketing pitch ... including these pearls I've just banged out here ... most of it is noise, but occasionally something shows up to hit the right notes at the right time and the sense of it will be absolutely apparent. For the record, on only one occasion have I've stuffed underwear in a guy's mouth, and mother made me stop because she said it was disgraceful to put my underwear in my mouth as means to scare the waiting customers and clear the line into the Waffle House. You can imagine the shenanigans I've pulled to slip out of the Waffle House. Remember, friends don't let friends drink and dine at the Waffle House. I'm off to do laundry, I think the whites may need a going over ...

Anonymous said...

It's true that people who don't need jobs don't even know what it means to have one. It's not a matter of priorities; if you work that day on the day job and not on your art, is this really about "priorities" - ? But that was how the argument came down.

I've learned through interviewing artists that sometimes the day job (and just life outside the art world!) can give all kinds of skills towards how they made art. Some would admit it and some would not at all. They refused to reveal the day job at all, so worried they were (and maybe rightly so) that they would not be seen as "committed" to their art.

And I also agree with Pretty Lady about art coming out of various struggles in life. I know one artist who never had to work. His work became very quickly a sort of one hit wonder, but then again, he never really went anyplace but the places he was comfortable in. Because he never had to.


Anonymous said...

man child dude,

....if I understand you correctly, you are talking about a million different ways to get to the art career or just art making process... and who is it for anyone to say which is best? Right?

Well, that was definitely part of the story here, maybe the heart and crux of the argument. Because he had a typical plan of go to expensive school of his approval, get into appropriate debt and "commitment" and then, have show in big gallery (of course!) to pay off all the debt. Yes, believe it or not, this was his sturdy plan.

But I've never, ever trusted the system completely. For me to accept his proposal meant more than debt, you see.... it meant accepting a whole group of variables, with no mommy or daddy to back up this plan.... and that is just for starters.


Sheree Rensel said...

I struggle with the idea of artist + money every day. It is really too bad artists don't make more money because they would make the shrinks richer than they already are! Just today, I was thinking about how wealthy I feel right now. I remembered struggling and having cars with no mufflers blaring all over the neighborhood. Those days are gone. However, I still wish I could be in the upper echelon.
I was just reading Kate Kretz's blog. She mentioned the Whitney Biennial 08. SHOOT!! No matter how much I WISH, I doubt I will ever be in that "club". I am too trailer trashy for that! You need money to do everything. I have resisted sending my work to juried shows this year or getting a gallery because it will COST me so much!
All I can say now is I am thankful for my little art life. At least, I am making work and showing work.
P.S. I will NOT be in Miami this year. LOL LOL LOL

Anonymous said...

Just a couple of thoughts...

I am a professional artist, and a psychotherapist(shrink). I am represented by a gallery and sell my work. I'm not rich, and I struggle with the money + art thing as well. But I am fortunate to make my living from being a therapist and helping others, and I am fortunate to make art, which contributes to my income, but I cannot rely on it for that.

Happily, one profession does feed the other in terms of energy, creativity, spirituality, and human connection. I've been advised by some artists to not disclose my "day job." Perhaps if I were involved in another type of profession, I could separate the day job from the art...but my work as a therapist informs my art, and my art making informs my approach to working as a therapist.

BTW, ...about the comment from E/anonymous that "It is really too bad artists don't make more money because they would make the shrinks richer than they already are!" Most of my shrink friends are not rich...or even close. The realities of that profession provide a set of challenges that rival those of the the professional artist--and without the fun of making art.

Thanks Eva for some good food for thought!


Anonymous said...

Hi Anon/P
... I would imagine that shrinks might indeed be like artists... a few get rich and they are very visible. But the reality is that most of them don't get rich at all.

And I don't know why it is, but it seems like people get confused if you do more than one thing - and especially if you do them well. Like you can't be a great therapist and a great artist. Or a great curator and a great artist, and so on. It seems a shame because alot of that stuff does overflow and intertwine.

And I've noticed that the artists who keep mum about the other job (or other interests) get a pay-off too. The press does not mention their other job, or punish them for it. Yes, I've seen that happen...


Sheree Rensel said...

"It is really too bad artists don't make more money because they would make the shrinks richer than they already are!"

This was my comment.
If you are a "shrink" and you don't make bunches of money, so be it. In fact, I would revise my business plan if I were you.
My primary point was very important. The "shrink" comment was incidental. If you start preaching, you would be preaching to the choir because I work with the emotionally disabled individuals EVERYDAY! I would love to comment further and directly. However, I NEVER respond to any "Anonymous".
Sheree Rensel
Yep, that is me. I don't hide.

Anonymous said...

Sheree, Feel free to say what you want here, as your self or anonymous.


m. said...

"hold your own counsel as paramount and without peer..." -mcd

this sounds like it should be from the desiderata.

m. said...

...and after that...E, i have been turning over your "feeling pretty lucky" comment over and over in my mind today along with the original subject of this post, trying to work out whether there is a line to ride between "urging you to take risks that they themselves have never faced" and urging taking risks that have been faced by us, the untrustfunded.

i wouldn't presume to know what makes this big universe turn. perhaps it is 100% luck.

but whatever it is that you are doing now, it seems to be your true aim and, dare i say...? it is your birthright to follow your true aim in whatever capacity you can manage it...

which is meant only as encouragement for you and maybe myself and anyone else who needs to hear it now and again.

in the unsurpassable sentiment of joseph campbell, it's my belief that we are all here with one dictate, and that is to follow our bliss.

with this new show and catalogue you are truly and inspiration on that level.

m. said...

p.s. pls excuse my typos and general lack of prosaic lilt today...feeling a bit groggy from much travel and intense but fruitful family engagements...

Anonymous said...

Hey m....

I suppose I said "feeling pretty lucky" so I could stress that I am not in the situation I was back then, when the rent check was not there (even though I had a pretty good job) (art is expensive).

But otherwise, I'd say there was no luck involved with any of it. Even getting the mate, the one who might really be able to help me, provide a stable home life of some sort, even that wasn't luck at all... I called him first... :)

m. said...

"i called him first..." of course ::grin::