This weekend I will review a proposal I have been writing for an exhibition I am planning. I will polish it, choose the images to include with it and then submit the packet to the gallery I have chosen. And then I will try to forget it during the wait for the jury to meet and then to let me know if this plan will become a reality. If you have been following this blog for a while you might remember that a while back I decided to abstain from exhibiting — except for maybe participating in an occasional group show. Exhibitions are expensive, disruptive and unnerving.
So why this change of heart? Well, I don’t always know why I do what I do, but the truth here is that I will be very disappointed if I don’t get this one. I guess it’s mainly about constructing a script to make sense of this life of mine. I get up in the morning, take care of some of the chores and then go out to my studio to work on the current quartet until I tire. I incorporate a lunch and a nap into the plan and it works well. My spirit rises and falls with how well or poorly the work goes. Right now I am happy with three of the panels (see the image below) but the red one is not right yet. I am contemplating a radical intervention.
My usual procedure is to photograph paintings when I finish them and then store them away and market them from the photos. I almost never get to see them after they are finally sold and hung in place, usually in some building on the East coast. That’s mostly okay, but with this project, (and the current quartet is only the beginning), I want the paintings to be seen, and to see them myself in a clean and uncluttered, well lighted space. Otherwise this will be a story with no conclusion. My last big show was in 2008 and it was as I said before, expensive, disruptive and unnerving. And also wonderfully rewarding.
This current series, barely begun, is very close to my heart; I want to expose it to criticism or praise and to take pride in the achievement — assuming I can pull it off fairly close to the vision. I want to know how far I can move in the direction of minimalism and still maintain the interest of those who follow my work. While I cannot adjust to the tastes of my audience the response to my work is important to me. I can survive censure and applause delights me. I need to mention here that the views on this topic amongst my artist friends varies widely, from those who refuse to exhibit at all, considering it “going commercial” to those who take every possible opportunity to get their work before an audience.
I thought I could be content and make my life easier by forgoing the labor and stress of exhibiting. It hasn’t worked. I have begun to feel invisible. I need to bolster the faith that I feel when I walk through a museum. The respect paid to art, old and new, helps dispel the doubts about what often seems to me to be a selfish and strange path. For after all, I do this for my own pleasure. Maybe the effort of producing a big show is the price I need to pay.
Brendan Gill: Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious.
The images above are from a show I had with Humboldt State University’s First Street Gallery in 2008
The image below is the current state of the quartet in progress.