I received a call the other night from one of my artist friends. She'd had a devastating experience at a local show near her---and after a promising summer, to see such a lack of interest in her current work, was hard on the creative spirit.
As we talked, I found it incredible that so much doubt had overwhelmed her sense of herself because I on the outside, and as a devoted follower of her creativity, I felt entirely different. I'd only seen an explosion of beauty let loose on an unsuspecting world in the previous year and her work is included in the collections of the rich, the famous, and those who save up just to own something she's made. She will soon travel to the governors mansion in the state where she resides to represent her community.
But because of this experience of her most recent show, her soul is starving.
Of course you know I gave it a good force feeding.
This is not about ego but about putting a part of yourself out there, very damn naked no less, into the public square. Then to travel with expectations a great distance, only to see your art and therefore "you" rejected is the worst. To see yourself compared to others, to be assaulted and second guessed, your current work judged against previous work, or the expectations of where everyone else thinks you should be---this is partially why artists become temperamental. And who can blame them?
The term "starving artist" is not without truth. Spiritually as well as financially.
I see this especially when I travel to Santa Fe, and witness the festivals, the galleries, and all that hard work put out there for the world to judge. And judge it? Well the world is all too happy to oblige. Tourists complain about the price of good work, as if the artist who creates things that are still good enough to adorn these penny pincher's homes should only work for free. As if---the galleries that market the work, built those galleries pro bono, lit them, and employed knowledgeable staff to showcase these artists work, deserve nothing.
I find the presence of all this wealth and negativity truly hard to reconcile.
First, it should be noted that Santa Fe is the second largest art market in the world---and because of this folks travel there from all over the world. They bring plenty of expectations. They bring lots of money. Some of them bring a sense of adventure, but many tourist bring all the negativity they are trying to outrun, and they unpack it in Santa Fe.
I travel to Santa Fe once a year and to me its invigorating. I hope to graduate there and to have my masters awarded in Santa Fe, while at the Glenn workshop, seems like the ultimate collision of the best of all worlds.
While in Santa Fe I spend a lot of time walking through the galleries. Its quite stunning really to have this intense creativity imploding like a hail storm all over you. That anyone can leave there not moved is especially unsettling---that we've become that numb and would prefer force fed survivor episodes rather than a weekly day at the museum has always been a source of double take for me.
What I normally hear from people when they reference Santa Fe is:
"It's so beautiful but sooooo expensive." Note how all the beauty is immediately dismissed due to economic comparisons.
"All those rich stuck up people."
"Its been ruined by white people."
"It's not as authenitic (read--- poor, undiscovered, and even more starving) as it used to be."
"The charm is gone. Santa Fe is full of itself now". (Read---all the exploitation and the good deals have already been had)
I am stunned. I ask why would so many people travel so far just to put on blinders? I mean yes much of what is above has truth, but there are amazing museums there, and it costs nothing to stroll through galleries and marvel at brilliance. The sunsets and highways are free. So are the conversations, most of which only need a smile to initiate. Within minutes of the central market, lies some of the most breathtaking landscape on the planet, but as one travels north or northwest out of the city, one quickly finds poverty, desolation, even as the beauty only seems to increase.
Art often originates from the unsettled stirring of conflict. I can sure see plenty of that in Santa Fe, which means the art being produced there now, will be breathtaking when it's revealed next year.
You should make arrangements to register for the Glenn Workshop. Just so you don't miss out.