WE have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
For artists negotiating the route to international, national, local and even community exposure is all tough and it is not comfortable getting told "no" or "not yet" or "you are not ready". Ask any artist.
In the new world order ...
Should artists expect an easier shake?
Should Chicago artists expect preferential treatment?
Above is photo of Chicago actor Harry Lennix with Pres.-elect Obama and his first lady Michelle at the N'Digo gala a couple of years ago.
Can we expect a change from our new president who lives in the liberal Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago, the same neighborhood where my Hyde Park Art Center talk took place on Nov.3. (I had to circumvent my usual route to the center because at a point, cop cars no longer allowed cars down 51st Street, keeping us away from the Obama home.)
That was a change I didn't expect. But I turned right and just took another street, still making it to where I needed to go. Maybe we can't be prepared for change that is imposed on us, but we can learn to ask for the change we want!
may seem antithetical to creativity, but of course it is not. We have
to negotiate and maneuver, struggle and prepare, and then we have to
do more in order to make art, don't we? From the process of producing
a work to getting it shown, not to mention getting it into a collection
of some sort takes a ton of work. Most of us don't have assistants,
publicists, managers or p.r. agencies, not to mention a dedicated
gallery dealer. Most of us lug our work to exhibitions and art fairs.
We prep canvas or watercolor
paper, go through all the steps for pulling an etching or linocut
and figure out where we might display the works. We set our price lists and write our bios and artists statements.
I think what sometimes stops me, when it comes to doing new tasks, is that I don't translate one way of working that I already know to the possibility of doing something else. For example, writing. I have always been a writer for my own satisfaction, and I love to read. I love books.
My Philadelphia home where I grew up, and later lived during holidays through my college years, always had books, periodicals and daily papers around. None of my family went to the Broad Street subway or the Chelten Avenue bus to go to school or work without something to read.
I don't know when I fell in love with words. I will read a passage and get stuck on a great sentence...turning it around in my head, savoring it like a rich dessert. I hate for the good books to end. I read through the terrible books to understand what in the world went wrong! For years I stayed away from novels but I am back. Finally read Audrey Niffenegger's "Time Traveler's Wife" after winning the Ragdale. (She won one, too.)
I assume all my reading led to writing my own thoughts, just for my own consumption, and as my way to think and figure out what I was doing. My mother told me I inherited my interest in writing from my grandmother, but my mother, Eloise Owens, wrote too, letters to the editors to the Philadelphia newspapers, letters to me when I was in college and probably to her friends and family.
In college I wrote in sketch books stating that I had no idea what I was doing or what an artist did, etc. I anguished about my life, my relationships and my hopes that I would someday know who I was.
In recent years I had a piece published about my uncle, Jack T. Franklin, on the Museum of the African Diaspora website because I really wanted his record to be clearer. After hearing his name in reference to a Smithsonian Museum exhibition mentioned on CBS Sunday morning I Googled him and found misinformation. I wrote the website to try to get it corrected. They thanked me and didn't change anything. So I took it upon myself to write a piece about him. The Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco came along at the right time.
I did not stop to think I could not do that. Only when I saw the level of professionalism the other writers had was I humbled that my little narrative had been accepted.
Allan Edmunds brought up a great set up ideas in his comments on a recent post. That artists need to take advantage of international opportunities during the Obama administration.
I can tell you, he's right! The only way to find out what will happen is to try. Artists in the 21st Century have so many advantages. For one, the Internet!
So if there is something you don't do because it is out of your comfort level, let that go, and Just Do It!
Barack Obama did!!!!!
The photo above of my mother, Eloise Owens, is a proof shot by Uncle Jack T. Franklin. The painting is one I felt uncomfortable making, "Imagined in Marble: Figure with Hand", my on-going attempt at abstraction turned into a figure! Below is a small group of these works. I saw the images in the veins in marble.