Friday, February 8, 2008


SELLOUT has a post up on ambition. The post itself is a competition: whoever names and details the cleverest ambitious project gets a guest post, etc.

It’s odd because it came on the same day that I was writing in my private diary: “I’m sick of flogging, pitching, scheming, wanting.” Diametrically opposed, you might say.

In 1991 I was extremely sick. After having seen over twenty doctors, I got mercifully hit by a car and so left NYC for a couple of months to sort it all out in Ashland, Oregon. Here, I met this group who basically told me it was wrong to want anything, even good health. I had to give up all the want, they said.

I disagreed and good thing, because only active pursuit would cure me (and did). But this idea of extinguishing want has always been met with a love/hate embrace. Hate, because we deserve success. Love, because it’s almost the easy way out.

Not putting down SELLOUT, mind you, whose every post I have devoured since its launch, with a name that clearly tells you its intent. Artists need a game-plan that’s not just about dreams and aesthetics. We tend to spend more time in the cozy/freezing studio than working out business plans. It’s good to read how creative people interpret and act on ambition.

Every few years I tell someone that I might just quit painting. It’s not the paint itself - paint is good. It's the immense ambition and blind faith to keep at it, to maintain belief and that sense of self-importance. I guess this is just the post-exhibition come down.


Carolyn said...

Oh Eva, all I can say is hello. Oh how I know what you speak!

Sheree Rensel said...

Eva, I think the exact thoughts every day. I am STILL grappling with the artist (airy fairy) vs. business person (sounds boring to me). I even took business classes this past year. I have read art marketing books up the wazoo. I hate the feeling of WANTING too. Yet, when I sit down to do business and plan, I feel nauseous. That right there tells me I will never be successful in the art "biz". I love the making and producing. I feel like I am in heaven. I realize I have such a creative art life. Yet, I long for more. I just have to get my head wrapped around this a different way. Excuse me, I have to go take my Pepto Bismol. :-)

m. said...

want all you want, E. i wanted to write you a comment supporting your wants even though i am not currently commenting on blogs and whallah!! what do you it is. xoxoxoxo. (p.s. hi C!! you!! want all you want too!! as hard as you can!! jes' mayht gitt it...)

Steven LaRose said...

Imagine. . . 20 days from now, you will be back in Ashland Oregon, where the palms meet the pines.

Ooo boy are we going to have a lot to talk about.

namastenancy said...

Ah yes, the love/hate embrace of art. Love to make it, even love to sell it but hate the marketing aspects? Actually, I don't hate the marketing aspects and I'm pretty good at them. What I hate is my lack of success and no amount of clever marketing will change that. It's not (necessarily) the art you make but the world that you inhabit that determines success, who you know, who knows you and their willingness to extend a helping hand.

I've been in two long running artist critique/groups in the last twenty years and in those groups, only two women have "made" it. Both had outside support from family money and partners; one had been a corporate vice-president and she brought the same ruthless ambition to the art world that helped her up the ladder in banking. They are decent painters - no better or worse than I - but they had advantages that I don't have. Furthermore, they both owned houses in SF, sold those houses and moved to Santa Fe which has a wider art market than SF. I don't have those resources and besides, I have some ecological issues with moving to the Southwest and increasing the demands on a fragile ecology.

Here in SF we've got hipster culture up the ass with the art that goes with it -!

The helping hand that I saw in my previous artists groups no longer exists because those who are "making it" in the art world are too competitive to help anybody else. They can't even be bothered to walk down the hall in our shared studio space to look at somebody else's new work, much less give intelligent and positive feed back.

I do a lot, I got myself into an art program, I paint and show my work, I even sell a little bit. But I want more and I don't know how to get it.

The Buddhists say that desire is the root of all suffering. How do you give up a desire that is an integral part of your soul? How do you separate making art from wanting to be recognized for making that art, to achieve something and be known for that achievement? It’s not all in the marketing for if it were, a lot of us would be much better known.

Anonymous said...

Is desire the root of all suffering? Maybe the Buddhists are right.

This is a cyclical pattern with me. I work hard to get somewhere and try to bring others along. It happened in other decades....

The the whole process becomes downright painful. However, if we give up, all we are doing is crossing ourselves out of the equation. Because someone does get "success," some art will be bought or written about. When you give up, you just change the odds.


Hey Namastenancy, maybe I will see you in SF when I am down there...

namastenancy said...

Meet and greet in SF? Yes, just send me an e-mail at namastenancy at hotmail dot com . I've got classes on Tuesday and Thursday but I can certainly make time for you. Coffee, lunch, tea?