Well It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything on the blog, hasn’t it? You’d think I’ve been painting my little ass off, but I haven’t been. I’ve been working on my book, and that’s really about it. And in the meantime, I was really sick for a while, which I’ve mentioned before. That flu just kicked my ass.
I made this thing. I don’t know if I can call it “art,” but believe it or not it was originally one of those Asian hand fans. I took it apart and reconfigured it, then started wrapping it with different kinds of string and thread and yarn. It was for my artist’s group that I belong to: Artists Matters. Every year Ellie gives us an item that we have to turn into art (if possible). It’s all for fun. We do it at the end of the year and bring it back to our January meeting and see what we’ve all have come up with, but since I was sick, I wasn’t at the last two meetings to show everyone, until this last meeting. I finally showed everyone and they seemed to like it, but no takers. I don’t want to keep it, and I don’t want to sell it either.
Little by little I have been working on that painting collage. It’s getting there, but it’s still not finished. Still not finished because I’ve just been writing like a fiend. But here it is as of right now:
I’ve taken what I’ve had so far into Photoshop and colored in where I think I want it to go, but these are still not set-in-stone decisions:
Looking at it now, I’m not so sure about the orange.
So what else is new? There must be a lot since I’ve been absent, right? Well, I recently added a FAQ to my site. I also added a few new studio pictures to boot. But the FAQ got me thinking about other things that people ask me – things I wouldn’t necessarily put on my FAQ, but perhaps I can address them on my blog. I’ll get to that in a minute because I wanted to brag about how much writing I’ve been getting done on my book!
These last few weeks I’ve been writing like crazy. After I posted Little Pieces of Eight, I guess I got a bug up my butt to keep things rolling. I wound up getting first drafts squared away on the first 25 chapters! I can’t believe it. I’ve been working on two ends of the book – one end is the first draft and the other end is still the first pass, but the first pass is very close to being done. I have about 12 more sections to go on the first pass – 45,000 words give or take. That sounds like a lot, but I’ve already written 270,000 total. Even with half of that edited out (158,000), it’s going to be a fat book because that’s a little more than 450 paperback pages! And that’s if I can chop half.
So, I was going to talk about my FAQ thing because it had me thinking about the emails I have received over the years. It’s kind of crazy really.
You might not believe some of the things that people ask me sometimes. I could have a mind to be thoroughly offended at times, but then again, I can understand that people probably don’t intended to offend me. Other artists just ask me how I have won awards or got into galleries for instance. There are times when it does put me off, especially when I do not know them. And I usually do not know them. Friends don’t usually ask me such things. Maybe most people think I should tell those people to go blow or that it’s none of their business – because really, it isn’t any of their business. At the same time, I can understand their curiosity. Maybe I don’t understand their lack of tact, but I can see that when you are trying very hard to climb the art career ladder and you have no idea how to do it, why not ask someone else who is further up the ladder how they got there? It’s just the way in which some people ask me that surprises me.
I get a lot of emails from artists asking me for help. I don’t mind that much, but these are artists I do not even know from Adam. Some I have met briefly. Some are acquaintances. They will straight up ask me if I can help get them into my gallery, or if they can use my name for a recommendation, or if I will talk to my gallery owner about them and their art. Sometimes they will ask me which gallery I can recommend for them and if I know the owner: and can they use my name, etc. How much should they charge for their work? Where do they belong? And the list goes on.
Of course, the most reasonable requests are the ones that ask if I have any general advice for them. Although I might want them to be specific. I always do and I always will freely give my advice to any artist that is looking for something like that. I usually ask them questions like how long they have been working and stuff like that so I can give them as much help as I can. I do want to help artists when and where I can. I suppose I just don’t want it demanded from me is all, and I can’t recommend them somewhere when I don’t know them. I wish they would understand that I would be putting my name on the line for their work when I don’t know them or may not be on board with their work, and they are cornering me.
But to address some of the mystery about how I got where I am – like how I got where I am now – I didn’t sleep my way here. And I could always be further you know (I too am always trying to get to the next “thing”). The big secret is that I keep going every day. I spend a lot of time and effort not just painting and making art, but networking and marketing myself. Maybe not so much or in the same way I once did, but I did put in my time for a good 20 years or more, even before the internet. Most of the “rewards” I have received (like being affiliated with the LA galleries I have been with) never had much to do with the web. They had to do with real life connections with people I met. I owe a lot of that to other artists which is why I think it’s important to help them when I can.
As for Craig Krull, the gallery I am in now, I had been sending them promotions since I was in my 20s! I keep folders on every packet of slides/images/emails I ever send out to galleries from age 20 on. I remember getting his first rejection letter that said he mostly deals in photography, so I didn’t send him any more slides for years, but I kept sending him postcards to my exhibitions. I sent those to every single gallery in Los Angeles because I wanted everyone to remember “Carol Es” with an image attached to it. I’ve been doing that practically my entire life via snail mail. Then he was on my email newsletter list for the last 10 years or so.
I also went in there a lot. Not every show, but over the course of 15 years+, I have seen many of the shows and was very familiar with what kinds of shows he did. You should always try to do this. Go to the openings of the galleries you are interested in and know their program.
The first commercial gallery I was in was George Billis. I got in there because artist Suzan Woodruff introduced me to Rick Perez who was the director at the time right after George opened an LA location. Suzan had been showing with George in NY for several years and they were looking for artists at their new location in Culver City. I knew Suzan through Julie Rico, and I knew Julie because she used to have a gallery in Santa Monica. I went into her gallery when I was very young, maybe 19 and just brought in my originals – no appointment (I don’t think) and bombarded her with my work every six months or so. She was really cool and just kept telling me to come back every so often to show her more of my work – never with any intention of showing me there. She let me know that, but she’d tell me a lot about how the business of art worked and how hard I’d have to work in order to get a gallery to notice me. She just kept encouraging me to keep going and said I had “something.”
Years later, in my 30s, I opened my own gallery and studio space in San Pedro with two other artists and Julie was actually interested in coming in as a partner with me after my other two partners left me alone to hold the gallery on my own. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I couldn’t afford it by myself and she offered to come in and save me, but I was really uncertain about whether or not I even wanted to be a gallerist anymore. When she came to look at the space she brought her friend with her, Suzan Woodruff and I wound up visiting Suzan’s studio at 18th Street later on and becoming her friend. Later, I curated a show at Highways Gallery and Performance Space and Suzan was in the show. She also hooked me up with Mary Milelczik, Highways’ Director – who would become a very good friend and give me my first real solo show at Highways. Mary really believed in me and would give me another solo show a couple years after that. Mary was key in encouraging me to flourish and mature in my work and in my process. Sometimes all you need is one or two people that believe in you.
Anyway, when Suzan introduced me to Rick Perez and George, they asked me to bring some work in the following week, which I did. And George recognized it right away because he had seen my show at Highways not too long before that. And after about a eight month courtship of bringing in different pieces to their inventory, they finally offered me a show and I was officially with the gallery.
Rick Perez eventually went back to his old position at Stephen Cohen Gallery and the gallery’s newer assistant at George Billis, Anne Hromadka, began to move up in rank. She knew and understood more about the work I was putting out and we became very close. She was able to assist in the sales and actually sell my work because she specialized in female Jewish artists at USC, and at the time my work reflected these themes. She stayed at the gallery until sometime in 2007-2008 and then I hit some hard times from there when I lost my parents. However, I won the Pollock-Krasner Award in 2009-2010 which carried me through.
Anne also headed up an organization, that I am still a part of called JAI, so I continued to work with her and exhibited in many of the shows she organized and curated. We continued to work together and remained close, and in the meantime she got a position with the Nazarian Family helping to organize their art collection before Shula Nazarian decided to open a gallery space in Venice. Anne was then the co-director at the gallery by the beginning of 2012.
I wasn’t doing so hot with George Billis after my 2010 show as far as sales were concerned and it took me a little while (or more than that), but I finally walked away from Billis in February of 2013, and by August of the same year, Anne introduced me to Shula and we really hit it off. Sales began to pick up again right away and I stuck with Shulamit Nazarian’s gallery for the next couple years while I worked on Exodus and all the way until it exhibited in the spring of 2015.
But then, not even three weeks after my show came down, the gallery and I decided to part ways. They were working on a new direction and so was I. I needed a new place and I had already had my eyes on Craig and the timing was perfect for us to start working together. Things just finally worked out for us. In fact, I just closed my first solo show with him not too long ago with a series of paintings called Rock and Refuge, and we are still building our relationship that I know is going to be a long one. I feel like I have found a home in Los Angeles now.
I also have to say that as far as the beginnings of my career are concerned, I owe a great deal to being a member of the Los Angeles Art Association. Networking with those artists was key to getting to know the entire gallery system in LA. And around that same time when I joined LAAA, I couldn’t do any of this without my very special friend, artist Elizabeth Hoffman, who brought me out of my shell and actually made introductions for me. I was really shy and nervous – I still am, and she was nice enough to introduce me around to people in the organization and take me around to the galleries to meet other artists and gallery owners. I really owe her everything. She was the first real friend I made that I was able to entrust my vulnerabilities to. She never judged me, she only helped me and we artistically collaborated on many things. She had a big influence on my work too.
And I could never have done any of my truest art without mjp, who supports me implicitly and unconditionally. He thinks everything I do is amazing – like everything I touch turns to gold or something as ridiculous as this. He actually likes my work, or most of it anyway. He loves ME, so he loves that I am an artist. I don’t mean to brag or gush, but if I didn’t have him by my side, I’d really just be some shmo that made a bunch of junk. HE is my true inspiration and muse. I’ve never been loved or cared about until I met him. It’s nothing short of a miracle to me. My love and gratitude continually overflows.