Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Today's work. (click to enlarge) Have to move the figure up higher, and lengthen the area below the knee. Need to add more putti, and put a baby in her arms, then I can transfer.
All This for A Skirt.....
First, I started with the Van Dyck "Virgin as Intercessor" image. Then I remember how much I love the light in the dress in the Columbia logo image done by artist Michael Deas, so I look at that. I do not have enough information yet, so this morning, I set up my dress from, with a wrapping paper tube as leg:
this is where I will get most of my information, augmented with information from the others.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Back in the Studio.

There are no finer words. Returned last night with a very nasty cold. I am off to get some good cold drugs, then I have to prep two pieces that are going to Artspace tomorrow (one for the annual auction, and one for the contemporary crafts exhibition), and get to my painting. Hoping to get to the transfer of the drawing to the canvas by mid-week.

Here is what the new hair embroidery, Oubliette I, looks like framed.

The glass is convex, it will contribute to the relic-like aspect of the work. All these pieces will be framed from now on. I have decided that I am not going to show the hair embroidery pillows any more unless they will be under plexi cubes. The last one I sent out to a major university gallery got spots all over it, and someone tried to wash something out, so there are water stains on it now.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Independent artist.
Ten years ago, I was so proud of wearing my name tag with a university affiliation when I got my first teaching job. This weekend, I was proud to wear this one.

Discussing the fact that I left a tenured position made me realize that, for most artists, it's all about health care. Most artists could get by financially doing part time work or adjuncting, but they need the insurance, especially those with families. I am still going to have to make $$, only my insurance situation has changed. So if our country got on board with a real insurance solution, things would change quite dramatically for artists.

It seems like each conference that I go to ends up having one or two themes that our little group of idealist artists discusses. These are not themes dictated by the conference, but ones that occur in response to trends that we are seeing in the sessions that we attend. We discussed art and religion a great deal (mostly the difference between illustrative devotional images, artists who simply apropopriate the language of their religion and map it onto other things [like yours truly], and artists who might be secretly devout, and create spiritual work, but you would never look at their work and call it religious... spiritual, maybe, but not religious). This topic was not surprising because E. Heartney was around in various capacities this week. The last big topic was how disempowered artists have become. The current marketplace has disempowered critics and curators to a certain extent as well. Art fairs have become "the place" to see art, the place where the action takes place, and as Eleanor put it, you can't review or discuss an art fair, you can only report how much money the art sold for. Collectors are determining which artists are important by how much money they pay for a work of art, the validation is no longer coming from the educated sources that it once did.

We decided that the homework for our little group is think of ways that artists could seize back some power. Sylvie Fortin, who runs ArtPapers magazine, gave a great talk, the first one I have heard in a long time that offered some hope. She was talking about alternate paradigms for art education, where "art students" were essentially getting together, and, in lieu of tuition, were combining their $$ to bring in the visiting artists that the group wanted to hear, outside the context of a university. Not a bad idea, since so many universities are following a corporate model that puts the education of students towards the bottom of their agenda. We need to put our heads together to do similar types of problem solving as professional artists.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

More from the Southeastern College Art Conference...

My talk went really well yesterday, had a rush of about 10 people after the talk to get my card and a few of them talked about exhibitions or visiting artist gigs, so it was worth the trip to come here. I am so amused at seeing people's desktops and all their private files every time someone makes a Powerpoint presentation that when it came my turn to turn on my computer and start my presentation, I made a fake set of files for my desktop, and cleared the real ones away:

Went to a session on Art & Religion that was almost unbearable.... three artists presented their work, and all were doing naive, didactic, one dimensional work without a touch of irony. The moderator was Eleanor Heartney, and the artists interrupted her and barely let her speak during the discussion... I honestly think that they did not know who she was!! This was, I learned later, a political situation. Other departments from the university were involved in the conference because that meant more $$ for the conference (better food!, etc.). But I think that, in an unusual turn of events, the woman who chose the artists was from the Divinity school, neither an artist nor an art historian.

I am feeling like an old fuddy duddy becasue I used to go out drinking every night of this conference (The position I hold in SECAC history is being the first one to jump into the pool with all my clothes on a few years ago at the Miami conference), and I have gone out to dinner with people this time, but not out drinking because I am coming down with a bad cold and cannot let it interfere with my studio time when I get back, so I must get better.

This morning stayed in and worked on my presentation for tonight, where we will set up our laptops and show our work to more people. I went to PF Chang's for lunch while working on my Powerpoint, and got this fortune:

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Value of Dedicating Your Life to Educating the Next Generation of Artists...

A great day of wonderful sessions and interesting conversations at the Southeastern College Art Conference. I still need to run through my presentation once or twice before I get a good night's sleep to wake up for my 8 am lecture and panel discussion. I will get there at least half an hour early to test my computer on the projector after seeing all the technical difficulties today.

One of the sessions today was "National Recognition: An Elusive Concept for the Artist Educator". Most of the session was about getting your administration to recognize the various ways that you might be making contributions to your discipline when you come up for tenure.

In the sciences, for example, getting a paper accepted into an important journal is significant, because it means that you are recognized by your peers as someone who is doing important work, advancing the discipline. Success for the artist/educator is getting a museum show, which

1.) involves validation by a whole network of people who are NOT your peers (people doing what you do, who understand the complexities of your process) and

2.) is a measure of public stature, not "advancing knowledge in your discipline".

When the discussion/questions began, I said,

"for years now, when I send out a resume to a gallery or museum, I leave out my institutional affiliation. I have discussed this with my colleagues, and many of us have experienced a bias against academics in the art world, which was confirmed by people who had left academia. This is not the case in Europe, where being a professor helps to validate your work. It could be the current state of youth obsession in the art market, or simply a regional thing, but I find that there is an attitude, echoed by the keynote address Dave Hickey gave at the SECAC conference at VCU a few years back, that "REAL artists are in the trenches, living the tough life," and we have cushy (ha!), high paying (ha! ha!) jobs so we don't NEED to show as much. Has anyone else found this to be true?"

The panel looked at me like they have never heard such a thing, but then another woman in the audience spoke up and said that she conducted a test, where she sent out a number of identical packets, one with her cover letter on university letterhead, and one with a private address in a different city, and she got 3 or 4 bites on the private address, and none on the university stationary.

When I quit my tenured teaching position last year, and was terrified about making the decision, some of my friends who have "been in the trenches for years" started to tell me stories. One said that NYC gallery owners used to tell jokes about the wave of university professors from across the country who flooded Manhattan during the summer when school was out. Another told me that my work was going to blossom, that everyone he had ever seen who had left academia experienced that.

I haven't been out long enough to notice the difference. I have a lot more things on my plate now because there is more time to devote to making new work and getting it out there, but it is hard to gauge if attitudes towards me have changed. I do know that when I was teaching full time at the university, I felt like I could make exactly the kind of work that I wanted, with no regard for whether I made enough to make a "series", whether people would be interested in buying it, etc. because I had my source of income, and felt no pressure to make any income from my work. I was a good teacher, but always remembered that my art career was a priority. Working at a research institution where I only taught two classes a semester helped. One guy on the panel was teaching 4 classes a semester! ... and being held to the same criteria for tenure and promotion as someone at a research university.

Off to practice...
Art Face Off.

This site is the home of Art Face Off, a place where artists are trying to empower the public to select the World's Greatest Living Artist. I love this concept, and blogged about my proposal for finding the world's greatest painting previously. The problem is, the first thing you do as an artist going to a site like this is check out the artwork and see if it is any good. You always want to be one of the "lesser" (known) artists in a great show, rather than the best one in a not-so-great show. It would be interesting if lots of good artists enrolled their work in something like this... something free, of course.

Artists find themselves in the same predicament as anyone else when trying to wrest power from the large machine: it is the same as going up against a corporation, or the government. I tried to play the Pearl Jam/ Ani DeFranco role for many years, with some success, but it is hard work, and you definitely do not get as far as you would if you just played along with the game. Artists, by nature, are people who question the status quo, but there are an awful lot of artists who are playing along, like my friends who are both doctors, who are otherwise great human beings, but voted Republican because, they said honestly, "they protect our interests." I have had some great philosophical discussions with friends about the "what if's".... what if the best art was not determined by the amount of money paid for it, what if taste was not determined by lots of wealthy collectors who may or may not know what "good art" is, (or simply have their own taste), what if the people making the important decisions did not have a vested interest in promoting a specific type of art or a specific artist? But the "what if's" do not matter, because they do not change anything.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My friend Sarah sent me this link to an article in Wired magazine about David Galenson, who is researching artistic creativity and has proposed a theory that there are essentially two types of creative people, those who peak early, and those who peak late.... hope for some of those mid-career artists still swimming the channel out there.

I bought his first book last year, Painting Outside the Lines: Patterns of Creativity in Modern Art, but did not get too far into it because he was basing "creative genius peaks" on auction prices, and I found that to be ridiculous and a tad disgusting. We all know that lots of things influence auction prices. I should have known better, the guy IS an economist.

Money and art, inexorably intertwined... how did it happen? I assure you that artists do not think about money at all when making work in their studio... at least not the artists I hang out with. Yes, I know about the website We Make Money, Not Art . (I do love the Art o Meter on this site). In one of the films I used to show my students, they were interviewing successful painters, and I can't remember who said it, but one of them said, "Ten years ago, your artist friend would call you up and say "Come to my studio and look! I just made the most amazing new work!', and these days they call you up and say, "Guess what?!! My work just sold for $20,000!' ."

Anyway, I might give his second book a shot, as it seems it may have a slightly different bent... I put it on my amazon wish list, but the time may be better spent in the studio, painting.

I am in Nashville, full of Indian food and wine from the first night reception. I still have to go through the program, and circle the sessions that I want to attend, because I have not had moment to do it before now. True to form, instead of working on my drawing yesterday, I honed and polished my lecture for the Art & Fashion panel. Now I have a kick-ass lecture, but I am behind schedule on the painting.

Found out today I got into the Contemporary Craft Exhibition at ArtSpace in Raleigh… not a hair embroidery, as I expected, but Crying Man III.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Back home, at least for 48 hours.... It poured from Geneseo to NJ on Friday, but by the time I arrived in South Orange, the rain had receded and gusts of wind were all that remained. It was a beautiful afternoon and it was difficult not to be mesmerized by the scintillating, swirling leaves falling from the trees and dancing on the pavement. It seemed like a magical afternoon to me because of what was about to transpire. I had a too-short visit with Sarah, and we swapped the artwork. (It was the first thing that I brought in from the car upon my arrival back home, I am so happy and anxious to hang it). I drove to Allentown Friday afternoon to spend some time with my adorable niece and nephew, then left early Sunday morning and drove all day in the rain to get back to NC.

Today is laundry, unpacking and repacking, and tweaking my lecture.... scanning, rearranging images, might have to run to Greensboro to get a few slides digitized to add to the presentation. Tomorrow, I am hoping to work on my Virgin Mary, so that painting can resume when I get back from my trip one week from today. My victorian frames came in for the new hair embroidery, so I get to stretch and frame upon my return as well.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

There is a great dialogue going on over at the Ed Winkleman Blog on "the evil of commercial galleries" and "purist artists". I was once interviewed as being one who represented the concept of the "purist artist" (not actively seeking gallery representation, making what you want to make w/out regard for sales, etc.). Doing it on your own is hard work, as you have seen if you have been tuning in for the past week: it is especially hard if you have been doing it for over a decade. I am actually too exhausted to make a coherent comment in the Ed Winkleman discussion, but I will be thinking about it as I drive tomorrow....

Tonight was the lecture & opening, we had an amazing turnout despite the rain: when we ran out of seats, people were nice enough to stay and sit on the floor among the suspended dresses to see the Powerpoint presentation, even sticking around to ask questions afterwards. I finally got to see the work together with Dawn's large scale drawings. Here was a nice juxtaposition of bridal imagery:

I am back at the B&B in Geneseo tonight after two nights at my parents' in Binghamton. Tomorrow I am on the road by 8 to get to NJ for the Great Art Exchange, followed by a drive to Allentown for my nephew's birthday, and a ride back to NC on Sunday. I have two days at home before I fly to Nashville for the SECAC conference to give my paper. I think that I have solved my Virgin Mary problem, and I am hoping to sketch that out on my cartoon before leaving for SECAC. After the Nashville conference, thank goodness, I will be home for a while, just working.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tuesday spent 9-12 fussing on details, then documenting, at the gallery.
Above is a shot of the Bridal/Enmeshment Garments, trailing two generations of woven parents' garments for the first time.
I left Geneseo, and drove in the rain and considerable wind to Binghamton to visit my parents, which is always a difficult endeavor. Lucky for me, there is a cyber coffeehouse across the street, providing a wonderful respite. I sit there presently, in a dark, womb-like space, listening to some streaming all-acoustic coffeehouse music, a pint of Boddington's at my side. After going to Jackson's Pumpkin Farm this morning, I did go antiquing with my Mom, and scored some great frames. I take my parents out to dinner tonight, then head back up to Geneseo in the morning.... I will be giving a Powerpoint lecture at 4:15, followed by the reception. Friday I will drive to South Orange, NJ, where I will be trading my first artwork ever! I am excited and nervous. Here is the piece I am trading for, entitled "Epiphany"
It is a large graphite drawing done by Sarah Petruziello, and her website is here. Trading work is a major personal breakthrough for me: I cannot quite figure out why I do not want to part with my work, but I have such a strong desire for this piece that I am willing to do it. Many of my friends traded in grad school, and they now have fantastic collections to show for it. I always put so much time into my work that I have never been willing to trade anyone for anything. Often, when I sell a piece, I will buy someone else's work with part of the $$. But I printed out a copy of this picture from her website, and have been looking at it for months, and got to the point where I needed to possess it, and approached her with the proposal. I will be trading this painting for her drawing, which is actually a painting of Sarah that I did when we were in grad school together at University of Georgia. Acquiring Sarah's piece is the highlight of my trip: I cannot wait to hang it in my house.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Here is my advice for aspiring artists: make easy art. Small drawings or paintings that are all the same size, a whole show that can be shipped all together in one box, easily hung by anyone with an IQ over 90, and sold consistantly because they are not too "difficult" and you did not need to price them at $15,000 because they took 3 months of your life to make. Be sure that your work is framable and under glass, so that it will not get damaged when you exhibit it, and that it is easy to care for once it is purchased.

"Do as I say", as they say, "...and not as I do".

Needless to say, it was a grueling day. I got to the gallery at 9 this morning. We had 3 maintenance men and one engineer to hang the coat. I have hung this coat 20 times before, have devised a great system for doing so, and each time I hang it, some 60 year old guy tells me that he has a better way, and then I have to explain to him why it won't work. I am always very clear when someone requests to show the Defense Mechanism Coat that it requires a support beam or a doorway that will support 150 lbs, we need strong men for the hanging, I have a foolproof system, etc. Today, for the first time, the coat almost crashed to the floor. This was due to a unique set of circumstances in the space, and the fact that the men thought that it would be alright if the coat was lifted onto the hanger, rather than inserted into the coat while it is lying flat on the table, positioned correctly, and then lifted. I happened to be standing in front of the coat trying to ascertain why it did not seem to be hanging right, when I saw that it was sliding off on one side. I did what anyone would do, and grabed the coat around the "waist" and caught it, calling for the others to bring the table back to put it underneath the coat.

The rest of the installation went smoothly, although I did note that for someone who does work that is so often referred to as "feminist", I spend a lot of time ironing.
I essentially spent the first 5 hours ironing all of the dresses, while the amazing gallery directer and her equally amazing assistants, Jared and Christina, prepped the dress forms and hung them (addendum to the above advice, do not be a perfectionist and/or a control freak).
The later half of my day was spent sitting on the floor, weaving clothes into other clothes. We were able to fit two generations of the Bridal/Enmeshment Garments into the space, and I will be thrilled to be able to document it for the first time tomorrow. For now, a long hot bath, two ibufrofen, and bed. "Emerging artists" do not have to take hot baths, because a) they have 22-year-old backs, and b) if the gallery is making six figures off this show, let them hang it.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Pennsylvania and Upstate NY....

A good part of my trip today was spent driving up 15N, which is flanked by the gorgeous Susquehanna river. I had a friend who used to live on the Chenango River (which meets up with the Susquehanna River in Binghamton, my hometown), and we used to canoe to little islands like this one, drink a bottle of wine, nibble on cheese, and sun ourselves on the banks in the summertime.

Once I hit the New York State line, the colors really started to pop. Isn't it strange how photos of mountains never look anywhere near as spectacular as they do in real life?

There is something about returning to the geographic location where one grew up. Something in my body responds to this particular light, air, topography. All ten years that I was in Miami, it never felt "right"...my body missed the seasons so badly, missed being connected to the earth around me....that birth, death, rebirth thing.

I found a place to stay on the internet, the hotel closest to the University, and it turned out to be a very charming inn. They asked me for my specific breakfast preferences when I arrived, and they were $30 cheaper than the Days Inn.... imagine! These dresses are hanging on the wall in my room, and I have an almost uncontrollable need to possess the blue velvet dress, although I have no daughter, and I have not stolen anything since I was 12.
I have a bit of a velvet fetish. I have had dreams about rooms lined with red velvet, and I would awaken with the most incredible sense of well being. I have, on 5 to 6 separate occasions, bought 10 yards of red velvet, even though I have no idea what I will do with it. (It must be a Catholic thing... all those years of going to church, and all I took away from it was a red velvet fixation.) I now have about 60 yards of red velvet in my fabric storage room, waiting for a project. Something to think about on the drive home, along with the omnipresent Virgin Mary problem.

I am staying in my room tonight, honing my lecture, and working on my mailing list, which will never be finished, though I think we counted 1400 names recently. I have to be at the gallery at 9 a.m.
I have a little extra time this morning before I get on the road (Geneseo check-in, 3 p.m.), so I am sitting in the Best Western sending press releases about the show to curators in the surrounding areas. I did the local press and other area university art departments last week. As you can see by the light above, it is a glorious day for a road trip...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

God, I miss the Red, White, and Blue!

The Red, White, and Blue is a super thrift store in North Miami, one of those thrift stores where all the clothing is neat and clean and color coded, so if you run in with only 5 minutes to shop, and you need a blue sweater to match the dress you want to wear tomorrow, you go right over to the blue sweater section and find one in the perfect hue to match... and if you, say, ...needed a wedding dress for your art piece, you would be sure to find at least 8 or 9 to choose from at the R, W, & B.

Yesterday, beginning early in the a.m., I called 13 thrift stores in Burlington and Greensboro, and drove to the 5 that did not answer their phones, finally ending up an hour away at Trina's Treasures before I even set eyes on ONE wedding dress at 2:30 pm. Luckily, it was not a size 22, but one that would fit my mannequin. She actually had 2 in the store, and it was a tough decision: one was long and full, traditional, but it had no train, and the other was one of those short mini-dresses, but with a spectacular train. The one with the train won, because it makes for more dramatic weaving. It is actually great that it is a cheesy over-the-top dress, because the already existing class differences between the bride and groom will be more exaggerated that way. I am excited about seeing this piece again: no one has had the floor space to show it in a while. We might even have room to set up the extended generations version, which I have diagramed, but have never exhibited.

Today was a long day of driving, day 1 of delivering work to Geneseo. Did not get on the road until late morning because some of the lights on the trailer were not working. At this moment, I am in a Best Western in the middle of nowhere in PA. Cracker Barrel was the only option for dinner: I was in trouble, because I do not like gravy. (Sigh. I miss the Wine Merchant's Bistro near the Red, White, and Blue, too.) I wanted to stop before Gettysburg, but there are no hotel rooms within 30 miles of Gettysburg because of some apple festival. Beautiful scenery, leaves not quite in full regalia yet. Cow smells. Love cow smells, love the scent of hay... it's from growing up in upstate NY.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thursday morning, leave the painting alone to start preparing for the Geneseo show. This is good timing, because I am at an impasse on the Virgin Mary figure: too many things that I want to put in there, needs to be pared down conceptually (hate it so much I am not showing it to you.... will likely erase the entire figure upon my return), and nothing is better for working out art ideas than taking a long road trip by yourself. Sometimes I run out of memo space on my phone during road trips because I get so many ideas. So, got all the dress forms out of storage,
hosed them off, took inventory of the dresses to see if we might need a pearl sewn back on, a spot taken out, etc.

The Defense Mechanism Coat is on the operating table:
after 5 years of perfect performance, the seams are beginning to pull a bit (I have been told no one else notices them, but I do), so I have to firm everything up. I have to reinforce where the lining is attached to the coat, doing an invisible seam with an upholstery needle and thread. After Geneseo, it will go to Chelsea Galleria in Miami, for a show that will be up during Art Basel, then will head to Kansas City, MO, for the Surface Design Conference during summer of 2007... it is a pain in the neck to move around and work on, so I am spending most of the day tightening and reinforcing anything that might EVER need to be tightened. This is the first time I have touched it up since I made it: it was created on a flat table, and there was no way of knowing where the stress points might be without hanging it, and it hangs in a slightly different way every time because of its weight. This piece is always carried around on this old comforter, like a dead body, so no one gets hurt. It was born on that comforter: I couldn't have dinner parties for 3 months because it was occupying my dining room table... It gets lowered into a coffin-like crate for transporting, and there is a precise ritual for hanging it, to avoid injury to any of the parties involved. 150 lbs of dead, soft weight, covered with roofing nails.

Tomorrow, I must hit the thrift stores for a wedding dress, as I do not like the one I have used in the past: it is too short in stature next to the tall groom, bordering on comical.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fall. My favorite season.

This time last year, I had just moved to NC from Miami, and was missing my friends terribly, worried that from now on I would only see them once a year, during Art Basel. But then my friend Jim called me up and issued one of the best invitations I ever got: would I like to meet them in New York to attend the opening of the Iris Apfel collection at the Metropolitan Costume Institute? “...Even if I have to walk to New York!”, was my reply. But this required a fantastic dress… Iris is my fashion hero, stylish yet eccentric, a woman who has fun wearing her clothes, without caring a whit what anyone thinks. She was a frequent attendee of Jim & Scott’s parties, and I always waited to see what she would wear. This is what I came up with, as a tribute:
Behind me is one of Iris' ensembles on display. My getup is a deconstructed 1950’s dress: I kept the circle skirt and put a few leaves on it, then separated and cut up the top, adding some boning for structure and covering the finished corset with silk leaves. The boa is a silk leaf scarf I made that I wear every fall over my coats. If I would have had more time, I would have embroidered the veins over the top of the leaves on the corset, so it’s a good thing that I didn’t!

In the studio, after a third trip back to my source to take a few more reference photos, I have finished the Wal M*rt portion of my painting sketch, and I am moving up to work on the Assumption part.
(click on images to enlarge)

The magazine rack just about killed me and took half a day to get right... do ARCHITECTS even do freehand perspective anymore? There must be an easier way...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Making Your Work More Attractive to Collectors....

Today we are fortunate to benefit from the experience of Lisa Hunter, the author of "The Intrepid Art Collector", a new publication that has just hit the bookstores.
She also maintains a blog of the same name, one that I read religiously. She normally shares her wisdom with collectors, but today she applies some of her experience to help artists understand how the collector game works.

K: When you advise collectors about investing in the work of a certain artist, what criteria makes for a sound investment? How much is based on the empirical quality of work itself, how much on how the work fits current trends, and how much on the CV or track record of the artist?

L: This may sound old-fashioned, but I think the most important thing is that a collector love the work. I don't understand buying something you aren't passionate about just for the sake of a "name."

That said, when collectors are spending a month's salary (or more) for a painting, they're entitled to know what it might be worth if they ever need to resell. That's where the non-art issues of CV, gallery representation and buzz come into play. My own price ceiling is lower when I'm buying art only for my own pleasure; if the art already has an established market (for example, vintage photography), I'm comfortable spending more because I know that if I need to, I can re-sell it.

Artists are often offended when collectors ask questions about monetary value, but you have to understand that art prices are confusing to novices. With other things they buy -- like a car, for example -- they understand why one thing is more expensive than another. The understand that the more expensive item has better materials, or was more labor-intensive to make, or has an expensive advertising campaign to support. With art, new collectors are utterly baffled. An expensive artwork may contain only $15 worth of materials. An intricate, time consuming painting may cost less that something that was dashed off by an artist's assistant. Art by someone with MFA training may cost less than art by an untrained Outsider. You see the problem. The monetary value of the piece -- for better or worse -- is determined by non-aesthetic issues like popularity and buzz.

For most buyers, it's much easier to discuss pricing with a dealer. Otherwise, the artist gets offended that the collector thinks of art as a commodity; meanwhile, the collector -- who's being asked to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars -- feels put down when the artist insinuates that the collector is a bourgeois rube for thinking about money instead of aesthetics. There are a lot of hurt feelings in both directions.

K: In order to make their art more desirable to collectors, should working artists prioritize getting their work into museum collections, even if they must donate the work?

L: Should an artist give away a painting just to have the museum on the CV? Yeah. It will probably sway a lot of buyers, though I'd hate to see artists feel compelled to give away their work.

On the other hand, if an artist is successful, and a museum had a role in that success (i.e. if you got your break at the Whitney Biennial or PS1), it's entirely appropriate that he or she give something back to the institution.

K: How important is having a gallery in New York?

L: The New York Lottery has a slogan: "You have to be in it to win it." The top New York dealers, curators, and collectors have a lot of influence, so if one of them champions your work, you have better career opportunities. And it's easier for them to see your work if you're bumping into them in Chelsea every Friday night and showing your work someplace where they can see it.

On the other hand, New York isn't a requirement for success if you can find an advocate elsewhere. L.A. artists have done a fabulous job cultivating influential collectors in their own city, and they're getting international reputations without kowtowing to the east coast. Also I think the proliferation of art fairs will help artists outside of NY get access to the top collectors.

K: Would you consider artists who have no representation a risky investment, even if they are being shown and reviewed?

L: It depends on what you mean by "investment." Would I invest my life savings on art by an unrepresented artist? No. Would I spend $1,000 on a painting or drawing just because I loved it? Sure.

It's funny -- visual arts are the only art form we expect to get our money back on. If a couple goes to the movies once a week, they're spending over $1,000 a year just for pleasure. But ask them to spend $1,000 on a painting for pleasure, and they balk. This concern about resale often leads people to buy art they don't really love because they think it will be an investment. Imagine someone at a record store saying, "Gee, I really like this world music CD, but that jazz CD will be worth more if I ever want to resell it on eBay..." You see the absurdity.

K: What might be a red flag to you when considering the work of a particular artist?

L: Conservation problems are a big red flag. I saw great-looking work recently where the artist had painted with latex house paint over glossy movie posters. No matter how great they looked, I knew they wouldn't last five years, so I passed.

Also, when a work can be endlessly reproduced -- like a video or giclee -- I want to know I can trust the artist to limit the number of copies made. I loathe the practice of making a "limited edition," then turning around and making a "second edition." That's intentionally misleading to buyers.

K: Any advice for mid-career artists who are feeling left behind in the current youth-obsessed art market?

L: Hang in there. I see so much good work by mid-career artists, and I'm constantly encouraging people to buy it. Let's hope collectors come to their senses.

Thanks, Lisa, and good luck with your book tour!

Friday, October 06, 2006

A Rainy Day in NC...
Good thing that I spent so much time getting the candy shelves right, because I have to move my old lady over (see her ghost to the right?), and now she is going to obliterate them! Grrr!

A frustrating day of drawing.... a good day to stop mid afternoon, get in a car and go to Richmond, despite the drizzle!

An interesting article by Richard Cork in The Newstatesman entitled "Losing Our Vision", wonders where the great art innovators of our times are.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Tune in next week.....
I will be publishing an interview with Lisa Hunter, who has a new book out entitled The Intrepid Art Collector: The Beginner's Guide to Finding, Buying and Appreciating Art on a Budget, and publishes a blog by the same name (The Intrepid Art Collector) that I read religiously. She usually advises collectors, but graciously agreed to share some of her knowledge with us, to help artists understand the process of collecting and how they might make themselves more attractive to collectors.

Today, only about 2 hours on the drawing. The rest of the day on the road and in meetings, tonight working on the mailing list: the reward will be a late night movie while applying 500 return address labels to my CD mailers (I miss having students who want to make a few extra bucks). Tomorrow, I am off to Richmond for my friend's opening, then back to the painting on Saturday. I may have stop at you-know-where to gather a few more reference photos in order to finish the underworld portion by the end of the weekend, and get started on the ethereal part...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Two Golden Nuggets to Feed Your Creativity.....
Today I have been working on my cartoon for the painting:
(click on them to see them larger) Listened twice to "The Secret Life of the Love Song", one of my touchstones, by Nick Cave. It is a lecture, and one of the most inspirational treatises on creativity that I have ever heard (although I recall that Toni Morrison's Nobel prize acceptance speech is a close second... you can read or listen to that for free here.) I don't have time to write a whole review, but read a few of the reviews of the Nick Cave lecture here at Amazon. I tried to play it for my students while they were painting once or twice, and it turned into one of those "Art Confidential" moments: I think 2 students came up and said it was amazing, and the rest did not even hear it. I have a bootlegged copy which I can try to email to you if you email me, or you can order it new or used from Amazon. I just now ordered a used copy through them, as the original is on a CD with another lecture I have not yet heard. I have some Nick Cave albums, but I am not really a die-hard fan of his music: I AM a die-hard fan of this lecture. I have had Cave's novel, "And the Ass Saw the Angel" piled on my nightstand for about 2 years now, but have not yet gotten to it, though people I respect have told me it is incredible as well.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Thanks for your input, everyone. So this is the one that I uploaded to Modern Postcard: I decided the eyes needed to be more centered, and cropped out the nose before sending it. I uploaded everything last night, and 500 business cards will be on my doorstep a week from now. I love (some) technology!!

Today was spent sketching in more of the perspective in the painting: walls, ceilings, rows of flourescent lights, cash registers, magazine racks, etc. While I did that, I printed out hundreds of return address labels for The Mailing. This evening will work on the painting 'till I cannot stand it anymore, then will proof/reread my SECAC paper, and work on the mailing list.

After several weeks of sleeping well, the insomnia is starting to kick in again, as several deadlines hover. My goal is to start applying paint to the canvas before I hit the road on the 14th to deliver the Geneseo show. Getting the Psychological Clothing ready for the show before I leave will eat up at least a day. 24 hours for going to Richmond to see my ex-student/friend Craig Wedderspoon's show this weekend. It would be nice, now that the mailing is ready, to send out the first batch of CDs. I will probably be doing that in the evenings, when my eyes get tired.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Need Creative input...

One year after my move, I finally ready to print my new business cards. The front will have a hair embroidery and all the contact information, and the back will have a painting detail. I am trying to decide WHICH painting detail should go on the back.

Please give me your input. If I still lived in Miami I would be bugging all my friends to do this, but up here, Radley & Kevin are the only ones I see with any regularity, and Radley's attention span isn't long enough to give me an answer. You click on "comments", and if you do not have a blogger profile (which only takes a moment to do and costs no money), you can enter your opinion annonymously. The "type the letters you see above" thing is to avoid spam. You keep mentioning the blog in your emails, so I know you're out there reading. Help. I am living in Burlington. I have virtually no one to ask. My neighbors are all retired Republicans.
My Hero......
Got really keyed up reading this morning's NYT article about David Lynch. He has a new film coming out, which is enough to get atwitter about, but the real news for me is that he is writing a book on the creative process, and I can't wait to get my hands on it. If I had to study the creative process under anyone, he would be the guy.

I was discussing his work with a friend, one who writes him off as simply "weird" (translation: he takes me to places I would rather not go), but I am intensely interested in the oblique way that he taps in to the subconscious. It is as if he is reaching in a with long probe and stimulating parts of your brain that rarely get touched, except perhaps when you are asleep. Tickle tickle, poke poke.

I find him to be a kindred spirit, and it was the highest complement when people used to compare my paintings from, say 10-15 years ago to his work. The beauty of metaphorical darkness is something that I remember being conscious of from a very early age. I rewatched both Imitation of Life and Elmer Gantry a few weeks ago, I had not seen them in many years, but I was reminded of how they affected me when I first viewed them as a child. I am forever indebted to my father for exposing us to these types of films at an early age. The beauty of the imagery, coupled with the darkness of what is going on beneath the surface, is something I will carry around in my brain for the rest of my life.

In the physical world this weekend, spent most of it preparing for The Mailing: working on the mailing list, printing out CD labels, revising my CV, and making a Powerpoint presentation of the hair embroideries. To my dismay, I will need to rephotograph a few of the older pieces tomorrow before I burn the CD, as the old digital images scanned from slides are looking pitiful next to the new images. The highlight of the weekend was a date on Friday night, where I was whisked off to Raleigh to Second Empire restaurant. The entire experience was sublime, and the ginger rosemary ice cream has set us up for new round of experiments...