I have not done much writing for my blog since I returned from Italy last year; all the minutia of life impinges on one’s best plans. Also, my wife, theresa mARTin, and I have been working towards a show at Glenview Mansion Arts Gallery in Rockville (November 6 -23, 2016). The show represents two years of making art; two years of our creative output. Two years of our lives.
We now enter the period of the “other non-art stuff”: naming the pieces (or trying to remember what they were called), organizing how to display them, truck rental, updating resumes, writing about the pieces, printing postcards, and pricing pieces. All of that stuff that is not making art. All of those non-art chores that all artists must do. Luckily, we get to share these chores: my wife does a lot of her advertising for the show and therefore can do mine at the same time. The tradeoff is a house full of pre-show anxiety / neurosis.
In any endeavor, you have that which is essential to perfect your art and that which is needed to promote yourself and reach a larger audience; the process of making public what is basically a private activity. Ultimately, the non-art work impinges on the ability to make the work.
A good friend of mine who is a jazz musician said that in Jazz, there is a common problem. There are those who promote themselves well, and those who are really great musicians and are worth listening to. However, because time is finite, the two rarely coincide.
You either have time for your craft, or time to promote it. You rarely have both. What makes it even harder is that the promotion of your art really needs to be an on-going and continual process, as opposed to a pre-show flurry that a lot of us do. It’s enough work for two people.
A lot of artists work as couples and roles are divided. It is not unusual for the husband to produce the art and the wife to promote his career. In other cases, one partner earns the income to pay for the time and materials for themselves and their partner. Someone once told me that I had a patron and it was me because I was lucky to earn well (in a prior economy). So, there is often a scenario where one half of the couple becomes the provider and the other the producer. Luckily, in our relationship, we both create. I provide the bulk of income, Theresa provides some income and gets to produce. I still get to produce a lot and am lucky because my art takes more mental work that physical work. However, the grind of my day job occasionally impacts my ability to produce art. This is most impacted at times of high creative productivity and at times of stress at work; the high and low points of any job. We all make tradeoffs.
So, now I move into the non-art time before the show. Photos to take, website to do, sculptures to name (or rename, since I have totally forgot the working titles of some pieces). I am tempted to just name them sculpture 1, sculpture 2, sculpture 3 etc., but I also forget the order in which they were done. Some sculptors even name their sculptors after the color of the piece.
I will call one piece “Yellow Terror” because it was a nightmare to make.
Some such as “Red Summer” were instantly visualized in their final form. Some were easy. Some just struggled to an end. Some evolved as I worked on them. There was no single process from start to end.
Detail of Red Summer
So, now is the time to put down my sculpture tools and pull out the tools of otherness. Showing is the only way you ever really get to see your work as an ensemble and out of the protection of the studio. It is when you really get to evaluate what you have done. It’s a bit like sending a child out into the world. If you taught them well, they will survive. If your art is good, it should show well.
Most people keep their inner demons to themselves. Artists do it in public.