Popular Section: Insight

Out of Order But In Heart

Out of order but in heart

I’ve thought a lot about the impact and reach of blogging and it’s potential to affect deep change.

I’ve also been mindful that my “tribe” is visual fine artists and my mission is to help them successfully put their work in the world.

So, up to now, this smARTist Career Blog has been dedicated to content that I felt directly impacts an artist’s career.

Only, I’m also deeply aware that we are all interconnected by the web of life and that whatever happens to one of us, happens to us all.

And since I am a whole person coming here to you, to deny or hide or somehow hope that wholeness doesn’t get in the way of your connection with me, is to miss the point altogether of what we are doing here…together.

So, I want to begin posting, from time to time, some things that strike me at a

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Where In The World is What?

th-1I’ve been obsessed lately with the cross-over metaphor of the 1% / 99% within our political/social arena to the art world.

I’ve also had some push back from artists who get the impression that, in offering this frame of reference, it implies I’m advocating for upward mobility for the 99%.

Definitely not. Besides you can’t squeeze 100% into 1% no matter how much you might want to.

Much like the frame of reference around gender in the last post, I can’t help but feel there’s gold in them thar hills when we understand more, rather than less, about how the reality around us is actually working.

I’ve been immersing myself in a stack of books: The $12 Million Stuffed Shark by Don Thompson, The Girl With The Gallery by Lindsay Pollack, Contemporary Art by Julian Stallabrass, Corporate Art Collections by Charlotte Appleyard and James Salzmann (and about 4 more I’m too lazy to get up and go look at the exact titles).

Without exception, these deal in what I’m loosely calling the 1% of the art world: auction house, high-end galleries/dealers, the Big Collectors, artists who might have once been in the 99%, but are soon catapulted into the 1% arena with a combination of sales, personality, pure talent, and most likely also a man.

The only exception to this is our heroine in The Girl With The Gallery by Lindsay Pollack, Edith Halpert. Until Ms. Pollack (current Editor-in-Chief of Art in America) unearthed Edith, she was all but dead to…

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Women ZERO, Men 100

women ZERO men 100

Here’s my struggle this week (and I suspect for a good number of weeks to come): women’s art.

For this, as we know, is a tightrope act. On the one hand, we aren’t supposed to be addressing “women’s art” on its own, as if to do so implies a dumbing down, a declaration that women’s art is a less-than-distinctive act of creation.

On the other hand, how are we to look a slice of reality in the eye if we don’t?

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How Many Hats?

how many hatsThe word “artist” is disarmingly deceptive as a singular noun. It gives the appearance of one thing, like “chair.” Or elephant. Or electrician.

And because we humans are hard wired to use language as our core form of communication, words have a pervasive psychological power on us consciously, subconsciously, and unconsciously.

Without being aware, we sleepwalk into language traps all the time.

Since the word “artist” is singular, we feel as if the artist must also be singular. A painter. A sculptor. A jeweler. Singular, in the same way an electrician sticks to working with electricity.

This sense that, as an artist, you are one thing morphs into another sense, that you should, by all rights, only be doing one thing (like an electrician).

Then, when the reality of “doing,” as an artist, flies in the face of this singular feeling (all I should be doing is making art), a sort of righteous indignation – or resentment – creeps in.

And so begins….

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What Gets In The Way?

There were 36 hours this week when my normally plucky self completely derailed. You know, the equivalent of a dozen bad hair days slamming into you all at once.

Thank goodness, when that happens, I have a coach. A smart and compassionate one who doesn’t let me get away with much.

Her first question, when I confessed I’d woken up feeling like a failure, was: When did that start?

Well, of course, the part of me that preferred wallowing to working drew a blank.

I woke up that way, so hey, did it start in my sleep? (heading down dark paths of the psyche brings out my cheeky side)

What followed was a volley of questions (hers) and non-answers (mine). My coach is remarkably patient, or tenacious, depending on how “oh,-I’m-not-feeling-resistant” resistant I’m being.

I still don’t remember the exact moment I gave myself permission to…

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What Do I Really, Really, Really Want?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent a chunk of my lifetime asking, “What do you want?”

I ask my daughters this. I ask my clients. I ask my neighbor.

Tonight, in the kitchen, returning from a date in Northampton (a ton of fun!), I leaned on the counter, hung my head and heard myself ask out loud, What… do… I… want?

I had been pouring myself a glass of water when a weight seemed to drop onto me, out of nowhere, and then…

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Part 1: Art As Spiritual Sanctuary

For a long time now I’ve been intrigued by the many correlations between the visual fine arts and spirituality.

In times past, art was an extension of that uniquely human branch of spirituality: religion. It married the power of vision to the power of institutionalized religion, especially that of the four world super religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Moslem, and Judaism.

A variety of art forms were also core to the traditions and rituals of native cultures – masks, totems, body paint, body adornments, dance, theater, costumes – where spirit was an ever-present reality threaded throughout daily life and initiating or supporting major life transitions, such as birth, death, marriage, life-as-service, and so much more that I can’t even conceive.

When humans shifted the locus of their attention from the tribe, clan, and family–where individuality was invisible under the cloak of the group–to the beginnings of self-awareness.

At this point, the crest of human development used art to pour forth even more testimony to all aspects of the human-as-spirit condition, as envisioned in the private spaces of a single mind and heart, one being at a time.

And with this rise of individuals as aware of self came…

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Brave New Art World: Part 2

For a community whose currency is imagination, I was surprised I didn’t get a bit more sci fi in the comments last week.

Personally, I can’t imagine anything more exciting than peeking into the future of technology and the visual fine arts. When you look at what’s happened so far, it seems as if the next generation of adventurers and explorers will only be limited by whatever keeps them from expanding the boundaries of imagination.

The other surprise I had last week was when I dropped a big hint that no one took me up on.

From Brave New Art World: Part 1:

I watch iTunes and Pandora bring music to the masses and long for a **visual art venue that would do the same.

I confess to a wee bit of shenanigans here, because… 

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Brave New Art World: Part 1

First, there was the website hurdle. And now, even though I run into artists all the time who either don’t have a website, or have a single page they haven’t updated in a couple of years, everyone understands websites are the norm.

“Home” isn’t a metaphor anymore.

Then blogs hit the Internet pay dirt. And as with websites, blog chaos reigned for a while: what were you suppose to write? Who was your audience: other artists or your hoped-for collectors? Were blogs worth the time and effort? How could you monetize them? Should you monetize them?

Right on the blog heels…

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How Irreplaceable Are You? (Great Art-Part 3)

It’s really not important if you want to create great art, good art, or just-for-the-heck-of-it art. The last thing I want to imply in my “Great Art” blog series is that great art is automatically the goal.

Maybe yes, maybe, no—either way it’s not a judgment, it’s a description of one possibility.

However, if great art is a deep yearning inside you, I want to make sure you don’t think of it as a futile exercise in subjective reality or the opinion of others.

There are steps you can take (See Great Art Part 1 and Part 2). And while the markers of complexity, mystery, and mastery won’t assure you of greatness, at the very least they will give you…

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Are You Hiding Behind The Beauty? (Great Art, Part 2):

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a lot that comes with being an artist to stoke the ego fires:

  • Admiration
  • The ultimate badge of specialness
  • Cascading down the river of Creativity Flow
  • Rampant self-expression
  • The delight of watching what’s around the corner coming toward you (or you toward it)
  • An unbridled sense of a purpose-driven life
  • Merging with forces that are bigger than the ego (a bit of irony, that one)
  • The ability to create beauty (as in “the eye of the beholder”)

Only, before I continue, a couple of clarifications… 

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Confidence Part 5: How Naked is Your Public Confidence?

How much is genuine confidence, as opposed to overblown bravado, tied into your ability to be real, to be authentic with the people who want to know more about you and your art?

We humans have amazing internal radar that picks up bs automatically. It’s a survival instinct, where knowing what’s real and what’s not has always been crucial.

We also have some equally amazing internal barricades that can rewrite our first, instinctual responses and kick us upstairs into the more civilized Brain Override Lounge.

Sometimes this is a good idea, when our instinctual response is actually triggered by an old pattern that no longer makes any sense. Other times it’s a form of personal delusion, when facing something authentically is going to ask more of us than we feel up to.

Either way, the people around us will…

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A Little-Known Secret to Increasing Confidence (Part 4 of 5) in Your Art: Story

I know the default myth is that artists and the written word are mortal enemies.

Of course I’ve taken every opportunity to shake artists free of this ignorant, if persistent, idea, beginning with my book Writing The Artist Statement: Revealing the True Spirit of Your Work.

Since we humans owe our ever-evolving humanity and consciousness to our ability to communicate, and since words are the core vehicle to this communication, perpetuating any level of poverty with the written word is to tie you up with a lie.

AND, I don’t dismiss the resistance a lot of artists feel toward writing. It’s very real. I just don’t buy that…

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Confidence In Your Artistic Fingerprint (Part 3 of 5)

Some people also refer to this as your artist’s voice, much like every singer has a distinct tone that cannot be duplicated, or a signature style that’s immediately recognizable (think Georgia O’Keefe or Frida Kahlo).

It is what sets you apart from the pack of ordinary work, where a dozen pair portraits from a dozen different artists could be lined up next to each other and all look as if they came from the same artist.

When your work is speaking from the level of your soul, no one can ever successfully copy you. Your artistic fingerprint is just that: yours. By definition it cannot be anyone else’s.

Only a lot of artists feel confused by the difference between loving what they have just made, and knowing the work carries a distinct sense of who they are as an artist.

An artistic fingerprint can be simple or complex, but it is never about self-duplication.

It’s something you do…

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Confidence In Your Relationship To Your Art (Part 2 of 5)

Welcome to the phantasmagorical world of Geoffrey Gorman_American Style Mag

Geoffrey Gorman, artist and partner in our Art Career Mentor Program, made a very provocative statement during one of our sessions. He said that “curiosity is the most important trait an artist can have.”

Arguably, he was referring to the making of art where an artist lubricates all parts of the process by staying open and curious about materials, about subject matter, and the message.

But I think there’s another dimension where curiosity will separate out the short pants from the long pants (now why isn’t there…

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