Nature of the Beast

Work by Mamma Anderson

Insecurity, gossip, self doubt, depression, are these the nagging dark sides of an artist's personal practice? Saturday night in the bench corner of Fort Gondo, myself and small group of artists pondered the, at times, manic ego of an artist. This conversation was spurred by two things.

One, the ravings of an artist about his disappointments with the GRB selection where this person went as far as to accuse one artist of "paying off the museum". (To quench any doubts on this subject, I can vouch that this winner had no money for any sort of bribes.) One person suggested that perhaps this raving artist was really just entirely insecure, to which another person responded he was entirely secure, to which another replied, then he must be completely insecure. I myself have been guilty of critiquing an artist in the past, I'd like to think though that was I was more disappointed with this individuals artworks and tried to not let the personality be a part of the critique.

my own image Kali taking on all of man's inhumanity.

Still I think there is an unspoken artistic etiquette.
Here are some of my peeves.
Someone that talks about themselves all the time. Unnecessarily Cocky.
Laziness, does not work hard or appears to not do the best work they can.
Is disrespectful- this includes is sexist or does not view me as an artistic equal. This could also mean that they don't respect people in general and treat other human beings (museum staff, janitors, children) as if they are not as important.
Lacks integrity.
Is patronizing.

All right so I contradict myself a bit, if an individual is many of the above most likely, I will be less interested in their art work. That's just me though.

Back to the conversation, so I shared my own past insecurities about my partner's success and that was when I said it was the nature of the beast. When many people are competing for a few awards, it definitely riles egos. I like to see it all as one giant crap shoot where you have to just keep making sure you throw the dice. To some extent hard work and social networking can pay off but when it comes to a jury, what one group might embrace, another might reject. There is a tendency to get caught up in it, this game, at which point an artist has to remind themselves why they are in it in the first place, to make art.

The second catalyst was the show at Snowflake that was honoring a young musician that had recently committed suicide. Which to me got at another issue, you just never know who is suffering depression. Amazing artists can struggle with any of these issues. I'd like to believe that graduate school taught me that an artist did have to be functioning and smart in order to succeed. That there is not some sort of Van Gogh tortured artist myth curse we are stuck with and will encounter throughout our lives. Grad school did not teach me that, it taught me that you could make work with a mental illness and you could not make work with a mental illness. It taught me that someone could be an inconsiderate person and still achieve but people remembered that so it might bite that person later. Some people are really good at playing the art world game or the university game and if they are super caught up in it, probably they aren't making much work. On the other hand a person could be making a ton of work and no one may ever see it. Bottomline I think if someone is just making art in St. Louis so they can be an art star, probably they need to move and become a musician.

Maybe none of it makes sense or is ever clear perhaps it is all slightly silly and irrational. This was one sentiment I left with at the recent Contemporary Show, which I enjoyed quite a bit and I plan on returning to on my own. There was a conflation of
the ridiculous and the intellectual, closed off presentation and spontaneous appearing to not care, but caring. Where we supposed to be getting it or was it the not getting it but just enjoying that aspect a part of it? I feel like I am saying tongue twisters.

In summation I am as guilty as anyone else of suffering the initially stated mental plagues and wish to find ways to transcend them and not have the own me. With that said, my best strategies have included communication, counseling, and a constant vigilant check in with myself that- I am doing what energizes me most in the world.

I also try to find a few small things to appreciate.
Here goes this week:

1. Irma Thomas, listening to her record at Vintage Vinyl brought a tear to my eye. Early ep with It's Raining that sounds warm and totally low tech. What a voice.

2. Food Alchemy, made leftover crusty chinese rice into rice pudding. A squash gifted from Lyndsey became Au gratin that even my picky b.f. wanted to eat.

3. Almuerza with Lyndsey, we had a big shared making of lunch and then lots of conversation (charlamos), Spanish style because of the time and companionship.

4. Sharing my studio with my Aunt and Uncle who are crazy craft hobbyists, a quilter and hunter, seeing how jazzed they were about the Arcadia Space.

5. Studio time. Post burn out, I have been back in the studio like mad, I am in my Mamma Anderson derivative painting, cause I am trying to get why I love her so much.

Elysia Mann in photo.
6. Steven and Elysia, they are just awesome. I love their enthusiasm, hardwork, and bravery. I am proud of the risks they have taken to open All Along Press and make a go at a community printshop.

7. My sister, she is a total badass and just won her first marathon.

8. Got into CAT institute. I am looking forward to the new community I will meet.


nosey parker said…
wow, a big post with lots to think about!
you should only feel a slight pain that you didn't get
your name in'll come again. I'm only slightly
disappointed but I'm glad that I submitted. I got an idea off my chest and will move on..fuck it! We don't make art for brownie points and merit badges though it is nice to have some recognition. I guess b.f. has to pretend to be an artist for one more year huh? Congrats to b.f.! I'm going to start a band and rock my old ass out.

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