Tuesday, September 12, 2006

oh de wahs and so on and so forth

I think I might actually sit down and write a whole post instead of copping out and posting pictures of artwork instead. I might not be unlike the tedious hostess who insists on showing you an entire carousel of slides from Hawaii -- minus the commentary, of course. Here, this was vacation. Clickclickclickclickclickclickclickclick. Any questions? Too bad.

Enough slides. Where are the hors d'oeuvres, anyway? (My dad once confessed to me that growing up, he thought hors d'oeuvres was pronounced oh de wahs, and ever since I've involuntarily replaced the real pronunciation with his because I prefer it. I'm like that.)

I'm a little crazy right now. You'll have to excuse me. I've got an art show coming up on October 1, and like an overenthusiastic aerobics instructor I'm feeling the burn. I've shown my work places before, yes. This is not my first time. I'm showing them in places of commerce right now, as a matter of fact (I just haven't said where) and yet, this is a bona fide art show in a bona fide art gallery. Composed of work entirely from....me!

Excuse us while we pause for station identification.

I'm submitting my artist's statement and resume this week. I wasn't ever too hot at writing these in art school. I'm recalling a particularly stellar moment in my career when I announced in a printmaking critique that this entire class was really, truly like a phone conversation with a person I didn't even like...that the litho stone and I had absolutely nothing to say to each other.

What, like that's not enough?

Can't you just look at it and leave my opinion slash intention entirely somewhere else? It's really not important. Honest. You'd be disappointed if you knew what my opinion was. I'm not trying to make a deep statement. I just enjoy immersing myself in a panoply of color. It's almost not right I'm asking you to pay for my playtime. I mean it.

It's so not important that I keep forgetting to sign my paintings, even now. I have to go back in and put them in (as small as possible, preferably in the left-hand corner, for that is where most admissions tend to start) as an afterthought. I just dropped a painting off at a gallery (another one!) a few weeks ago, where it's going to be showcased in the window (but you didn't hear that from me), and the owner scolded me kindly: "Why isn't your signature bigger? You need a bigger signature. Someone's going to buy this and want to hang it in their home and let everyone know it came from you. Why, the frame alone hides the signature from view. You'll have to do something about that."

Um...okay. As I scratch a note out to myself somewhere in the dim recesses of my brain. Here's another thing I didn't learn in art school. MAKE THE SIGNATURE BIGGER.

Unframed canvases are only appealing in studios. Galleries prefer framed works. I have to learn how to frame my own paintings again. I think I remember. It's been a while.

I write my resume and I feel most unimpressive. There's no pretty way to admit I didn't finish college, and I haven't had a half dozen shows in big important galleries. I haven't even been an active member of the art community until this year. And activity is important. I guess I know that as well as anybody. Most people who know me -- even people who have known me their whole life -- don't necessarily know that art is part of what I'm about (hopefully).

I wake up in the middle of the night and see a shadow cast a certain way from a streetlight burning outside the window and I have to get up and sketch it, before I lose it. I feel a bit frantic -- there's so much to record, and I'm missing most of it. It's as if I'm making up for lost time.

Sometimes I spend a whole day painting and come away disgusted -- it all looks so puerile and flat and I hate everything I try to do and revile myself for imagining I have the ability to even attempt this. Then I spend a morning, like I did today, singlemindedly slashing some private reverie into two dimensions, and I feel almost superhuman -- like I performed some alchemy that involves (in part) wishful thinking and a handful of magic. I think you have to see it and then you have to want it and then you have to step back and let it show up and not interrupt too much while it's taking form. That's kind of how it works for me sometimes.

I know I'm getting very inwardly turned right now, focusing on these pieces going into the show. I feel like I'm even being moderately rude to everyone else, and I don't mean to be. I feel like I'm on the verge of figuring something out -- some equasion that's eluded me for well over a decade. I've become the person I wanted to be eighteen years ago, but didn't have the courage. I'm listening to myself for a change.

It feels good.