True Validation

I haven’t blogged in a while, so I guess it’s time for an update by now.

I have been in Joshua Tree for some weeks helping my best friend move there from Pennsylvania, after her absence from Southern California for almost nine years. I found her a house in J Tree back in April and it seemed perfect for her, although I was truly nervous about being responsible for being the sole picker-outer of her new home. It worked out and she loves it, but it was a big job working out everything for her on this end. I arrived at the house the day before the movers got there while she was still driving across the country, which proved to be quite the dilemma because the moving truck couldn’t quite make it onto the dirt road that was closest to her driveway and they wound up having to tote her belongings for the paved road about 1/8 of a mile from the house that went along a long, gravel driveway. They were pissed and shook me down for an extra $150 bucks, but I have to say they earned it. However, they dumped all her stuff in the middle of the living room, and most of it was upside down. I ended up having to move everything myself into the proper rooms and turn everything up, sliding the furniture on cardboard and whatnot as to not to scratch the wood floors.

I also cleaned the hell out of the place before she got there, made sure all her utilities were turned on, and had to fix little stupid things in the house. It’s not the kind of house where everything is super stellar, it’s more like a large cabin, so you get it as it is and you don’t really call the landlord unless something is majorly awry.

When my friend Tracey got there, she was in a bad way from all the traveling, plus she has been very sick. It took her a few days of recovery before she was really able to start helping out, but she started to come around and she is very happy with everything and I am just so glad she is just two hours away. I stayed some weeks with her and helped her set up and did a lot of house shopping with her, introduced her to a couple of J Tree people and we even went to the Gay Pride festival there and saw my friend’s band play. Artist Shari Elf has a wonderful space out there called Art Queen, which was where the festival took place, and her band The Kittens played. We had a great time.

You might ask why I would do all this for my friend, or maybe not. She is my friend and I would do anything for her, but she is something very special to me anyway. When I was a kid, Tracey took me in when my life was very volatile at home. She is eight years older than me and I met her when I was probably 12 years old. I lived with her when I was 13 or 14, and she took care of me when no one else would, like my own parents. She taught me to be a responsible young adult and helped me to become a good person. She saved my life actually. So I would do anything for this woman. She is an incredible person and she needed the help right now.

While I was away, many changes took place in me, and I found out about a few art-related/career-related opportunities that became major disappointments. I was rejected by the California Foundation, then the next week I found out I was denied the MacDowell Colony residency, then finally I was rejected by the City of Los Angeles Artist’s grant. It all started to wear on me and I got depressed. Tracey, who has known me all my life pointed out some things to me that at first seemed to me like she just didn’t understand about the art game, but it was actually good to get her viewpoint because she has known me for so long and she is outside of the contemporary art world. She was worried for me that I had been after this kind of prestige and/or looking to beef up my resume on the grounds of trying to be impressive in turn for considering this “success.” And she was absolutely right.

When I got home, I did a lot of soul searching. I realized I could just replace this word “prestige” for “external validation” and I might as well just harken this back to my mom and dad. This cognition appeared after speaking with MJP, who knows even more about me and my internal issues regarding all this and watches me on a daily basis working my ass off towards my unreachable goals. He tries to put my feet on the right track all the time, but I am always so manic and focused on I-don’t-know-what, pushing and trying to get to that next rung on that ladder – a ladder that leads me to much misery and often takes the magic out of creating art.

I am grateful that I am in galleries, that I have won grants and awards, shown in museums and am in important collections. These are great accomplishments, feathers in my hat, etc., but it seems it has truly taken me a lifetime to learn that a person’s value is not measured by their accomplishments – that has been a foreign concept to me, as ashamed as I am to say it. That does not mean I have judged others in this way, but myself. I have been all too hard on myself and have expected impossible things beyond my ability at times, and it’s never been good enough. It’s long overdue that I be good enough.

After all this realization occurred, i was rejected from my last ditch effort on a NYC gallery. My friend took some original work into her gallery there to see if they’d be interested in my work. I couldn’t have received a better type of referral than that one, and all my eggs were honestly in that basket because I have now exhausted every gallery lead I have in NY, and this particular place couldn’t have been more perfect for me. I waited by my computer after 3pm on word of what went down on the day she took my work to them. They were not interested.

Normally, I would be in bed, depressed for a couple of days after news like that, but I wasn’t. Disappointed, yes, but I was fine. I don’t care anymore. I make the work I make. This is not going to change. I will always do what I want to do art-wise. If someone appreciates it, that’s great. If someone does not, that is fine too. There is no “right” person appreciating it when it happens – that’s what it comes down to. I have a lot of people who love my work and those are the people that make it all worth while. I don’t need Mr. Saatchi, or a New York gallery, or Christopher Knight to tell me I’m doing it right or wrong. I only need my own internal validation, and I have that now. FTW!

2 thoughts on “True Validation

  1. Robin June 29, 2011 / 10:45 pm

    so beautifully written, as always. i imagine you telling this story sitting on a rocker on the front porch. ‘picker-outer’ ‘tote’ ‘whatnot’ … i miss this language here in england! and some profound truths about being an artist, being a good person as well. great stuff, carol … as always.

  2. kel July 7, 2011 / 4:28 am

    Thought-provoking..I think you will always paint what is natural to you because you have real a real gift.
    I love what ends up on the canvas.

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