I want to help artists, but I don’t know how. Especially now. I used to pride myself on being a real big shot when it came to self-promotion, organization, artistic discipline, and building a career in the arts. However, these past few years have put me into a tail spin where I have lost half my representation, made less sales, and produced the least amount of work in 2011. What on earth happened? Can I fully blame the economy? Now I know why it was called “The Depression!” These setbacks have me reevaluating the meaning of success. What qualifies me to help artists that are starting out on their career paths if mine is suffering? Is mine even suffering? I’m going to say NO.
Tuesday of this week I got word that I was rejected from Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. I wanted to attend this residency so badly because it promoted that I would leave there a completely different artist than the one I came in as. Now that I was turned down, I had to think about my desires for wanting to go. Why did I want to be a completely different artist? If I don’t like the artist I am right now, that’s a bad sign. Do I really need to go to Maine to correct that problem? Is that the real problem? It was a little bit more complicated than that. It was more about a multitude of rejections I was internalizing that got me thinking I needed to be a different artist in order to be accepted…
Accepted by whomever was rejecting me at various places I was applying to: Galleries, grants, residencies, etc. How soon I forgot that I won the Pollock-Krasner Fellowship in 2009-2010. That’s nothing to ignore, yet I was feeling like some kind of loser for not getting some other new accolade. That, and a couple of my galleries dropped me, sales were getting bleak, and rejections were rolling in. Suddenly I felt like I had no career.
Then I thought about what advice I would tell another artist if they came to me with these very same woes. I would remind them that the body of work that they have created and all the sales, honors, awards, and acknowledgements they have received throughout their career is theirs for life. It never goes away. And all that, along with the rejection of all the attempts of having tried bravely is a mountain you can stand on top of and be proud of because these are things you accomplished yourself through tooth and nail. So why the hell don’t I feel my own advice? I’m sure as shit qualified to help someone at an earlier stage in art if I can help myself at my own stage, right?
I know I don’t make the most commercial, salable work around. It’s pretty odd and personal, childlike and crude, but besides that, we are in a pretty bad recession. There was a big story on 20/20 about how the Art Market is not suffering, but unless you are Damien Hirst or some other artist in the $20K-$10 Million range, you are feeling it if your work doesn’t appeal to a mass market. The way I see it, for artists like me, it is a time to create, invent, explore, and experiment. If a sale comes, great (I just sold something to a collector in Canada as a matter of fact), but I’m not counting on sales at this time.
What I’d like to do is work on a couple new series for 2012 and exhibit them in 2013 sometime at my LA gallery. I’d also like to help out artists where and if I can.
How can I help you?