The evolution of my art. I returned a number of my current pieces to the Jerome Art Center yesterday. The steep steps. Art-tossed hallways. Summer sun relentlessly beating in through the windows. Memories.
But my smudge bowls, my abstract masks mounted on burls of wood, my main-stay, the Awareness Vessels. This was a new place for them to hang out. And they found themselves right at home.
From glops of papier mache and splashes of bright acrylics. Transform the wood, my mantra! Hung on sinews. Propped on rocks. The wood snuggled into its surroundings. I tried to call it art. The room got pretty messy. Puddles of those plastic-paints, dust, dirt, dead bugs. The stairs got too steep. The mess took over. I retreated down the hill, settled in with dead refrigerators as mentors.
My new hang-out was Reitz Ceramic Ranch. A long, long-term dream. Rub my hands in clay, pinch it, bring it to life, freeze it into a new gesture. Just as my initial wood assemblages moved through adolescence awkwardness, so, too did my ceramic pieces. I had to learn how to this out, remove the gunky papier mache.. I had to learn to thin-out the clay, to trust its drying processes.
I am still in the beginning throes of relating to clay. I yearn for its sculptural beauties, but do not have the skills to rip out the armatures needed to support clay’s plastic properties as it stretches too high, too thinly. Last week’s tragedy with the arm-root piece is still quite fresh. My good friend, Michael, he gently reminded me to breathe as I stood in the midst of a potential fatality. “Ann. You have a remarkable eye. You can see the shapes that nobody else sees this clay might take. But you have not worked with it long enough to find the skills to bring out that beauty.”
On bad days I sit back in the workroom and compare my work to everyone else around me. I lose the sense of me as an artist. Michael’s carved bowls, graceful, curved covered pots. Linda’s thinned figures, simple, elegant. Why can’t I do that? Why am I not good enough, yet?
A card-reader came through my almost-show last night. He said the prominent card was the one stating I wanted recognition. How true! My writing never got the recognition I craved. That craving is all-encompassing. Ever since the days of acrylic-coated drift wood I have been trying from time-to-time to pedal this so-called art to galleries. And then I cringe when I see it hunched over near the colorful photos of Cathedral Rock, the sparkly crystal necklaces.
Last night was a good one. We only enticed two people to climb the stairs, to peruse my latest entries into the “This is Art” sweepstakes. But both people bought smudge-bowls. Both of them saw the remarkable evolution of my art,. We reminisced over the messy Jerome studio, the thick, the heavy bases and the smeared, glopped papier-mache. My bowls have more grace. The wood’s energy is showcased in a thinner bowl. I am evolving as an artist!
This week-end assignment I’ve gave myself, In addition to setting up my creations in Jerome: Make two 32-piece chess sets, two slabbed larger mindfulness vessels, three abstract masks, clean my bedroom, write this blog, and decide whether to unite with The Welcome Wagon. Oh yes, and go see the movie RBG. I wonder why I feel stretched, sometimes.
Anyway, the Welcome Wagon. $250 a month promises to get my name out to 57 brand new home-owners per month with a postcard, a booklet and a coupon for goodies if they come to Adrift. I find this decision has two parts to it. One is the cost. At $250 a month I need to sell about 7 pieces per month to break even. My goal has been to re-home about 5 pieces a month, and birthday gifts have been my fallback. I attracted 35 people to the last Open Studios, but only sold $25 over the three days. Is the cost realistic?
My other concern is the idea of selling 7 different pieces. That means I have to have seven-plus pieces ready to go each month. At this stage in my art process this means producing the work, and also releasing the work. Can I put enough art into the glaze firings, each month? Can I take those pieces and add the right piece of driftwood, make it stick, paint the joint? How much of my time will this involve? Will I be moving beyond the “hobby” stage? And the releasing of these pieces? I can let those smudge pots go. But is my delicate bowl even in Jerome, the tan one with the curvy root forming a handle? And hot-tub? This curvaceous piece of wood looks like a gnome lounging in a tub. And I stuck a cactus in to keep him company. I smile at him regularly. Can I let him, and the others like him, go to new homes? Welcome Wagon would be a challenge.
So life as a budding 72-year-old artist continues. The roller coaster of this is wonderful, I am a miserable failure! I belong is that name-brand gallery. The trash can is where this will all end up! Good/bad? I try to hold the memories of nights like last night, where the pieces which still seem chunky, where the glazes were less than remarkable received raves. I force myself to accept the fact my art is worthy of the time, the energy, the joy I pour into it.
And “Hot Tub”, one of my current favorites I allowed to travel up the hill? Sue, up at Red Bench is providing custody for him. Am I ready for him not to return to Adrift? Yes! Welcome Wagon? We will see!
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"