I’ve been having a few conversations about supporting the arts and support within the artist community. I find that support can be very hard to find. As an artist, support and constructive criticism can go a long way. Most artists I know spend their time alone working and have limited interaction with other artists or other people for that matter. I live in Manhattan and you would think it would be easy meeting other artists in a town full of artists, but I have found that it's not the case at all. Artists can be an odd crowd but maybe no different from anyone else.
For one thing most of the artists I meet are all about themselves and the success they seek. For example; I worked with a young artist, she was maybe two years out of college, I went to her first group show in DUMBO. She had one piece in a show of about fifteen artists. She didn’t sell her piece and became depressed about it. She had worked for months on this one painting. She had told me a few months later that she couldn’t believe her piece didn’t sell. She thought the show was going to be the beginning of fame, fortune and quitting her job to work as an artist full time.
She was in a collective of artists who all had similar thoughts and experiences. I think college had given them this idea. Also some of the artists were very aggressive while trying to sell their art. It was a misplaced aggression and it made me wonder why. My thoughts and experiences are a bit different. I didn’t finish college and I hung out with construction workers and bar flies before I got to New York at the age of thirty-two in the year 2000. I was much older than these artists. Some of them probably had a better support group such as family, friends and college. I would imagine college could be key to confidence and support in so many ways. But I also think that it could be a false sense of what the art world may be. Whatever it may be.
Every now and then, I’ve thought of what my life and art would have been like if I was nurtured and acknowledged from a young age. Would my art be different with a loving stable family who helped me make decisions, kept me motivated and immersed me in college to get a degree? I had the opportunity to go to school but I wasn’t able to make that commitment at that time of my life and I fucked it up. I had my experiences with higher education and it wasn’t for me. Maybe, that’s a cop out, but it is what it is. I am the person I am, because of the life that I’ve had and therefore produce the art I do. I knew that I would be an artist when I was a small child. It felt right. It was something dark, strange, beautiful, bright and new that wrapped it’s arms around me and let me hang on. I never thought I’d make money from it or have a career. And I still question that everyday. I just knew it would be there when I needed it. We sometimes think of what could have been or what we should have done, but it’s all about now. The support I’m talking about is now. It's the support system as an adult artist.
My wife Jen is my biggest supporter. She has put up with my shenanigans for some time now. We support the arts whenever we can. We have seen the work of artists, actors, directors, writers and musicians that we know, some more than others, over and over. We have spent money and time on good, bad and mediocre performances. We have sat through some crap and bought drinks afterwards. We have never asked for anything in return and most of the time we had fun. Two years ago we began to question our support. It just seems like some of that time and money could be spent in a better way. We do these things out of love and kindness. But the magic is getting some back. And that doesn’t seem to be a thing. Is it so hard?
I’ll keep on keepin on and expect nothing in return, but man it would be good to talk to more artists to discuss process, thoughts and ideas without it being all about the show or performance they are hawking. Everybody wants something in this town. I do have good people around me and the local bar can lead to good conversation on occasion. This was a bit of a rant, but I feel relating to others and supporting one another is good for the soul. Perhaps by reading this you may be supporting me. Thank you for that and I would love to hear from you.
I think that was enough cheese to go with my wine. Thanks for listening.
“I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people that dream, support each other and do things.” ― Amy Poehler