I went to a few galleries yesterday. I've been reading Robert Hughes' very excellent "Nothing if not Critical" and it has me wanting to see what's happening in the local art scene. I took my kids to the DMA on Tuesday, which was fun, but maybe not the best opportunity for lingering and pondering, so yesterday I went out on my own.
I've read before that part of the difficulty for artists who are also parents is that quality of being constantly interruptible. When your kids are young enough to need help with food, transportation and supervision, you can't just immerse yourself in your art until you are ready to come out. I found it to be true yesterday as well, even on my own, phone calls came in and pick up times had to be met. My kids think it's a neat trick that I almost always know what time it is within a few minutes plus or minus. It's more like a curse and a necessary evil that comes with motherhood, at least the way I practice it.
What always strikes me when I go see what the "real artists" are doing is evidence of time-on-task. There is a proficiency with materials and confidence in mark-making that doesn't come without lots of hours in the studio. Probably uninterrupted hours, but maybe that's just my mommy fantasy.
Y'all, this stuff was good. Maybe not all of it was my cup of tea, and not all of it was uniformly good or one as good as another, but these people have been at it for a while. Conduit Gallery's exhibition of Heyd Fontenot: Homosexuals Are Ruining My Life may have made my inner prude uncomfortable, but the quality of line and brush stroke was outstanding. The Jacob el Hanani exhibit at Holly Johnson Gallery is one of those ethereal wonders of infinitesimally tiny writing that I always love. In fact, I've seen another show of this sort of thing at the same gallery before and loved it, too. I can't imagine investing that kind of time or patience into my art at this point in my life. It was gorgeous. Lace curtains and old maps of Paris come to mind.
I was not as thrilled with the Jackie Tileston exhibit at Holly Johnson, but I need to preface that opinion with a solid - but what do I know? It's just that the one little abstract by Joey Brock at Craighead Green was far and away more satisfying in terms of composition and technique. No pastiche here. Also ... wall labels! How hard is that, gallery people??
Joey Brock, "Hooked"
(disclamier: not the image at Craighead Green, but similar)
I keep hoping that with time and practice, the ideas will come. Almost certainly my technical skills will improve. They have so far because, let's face it, when you've nowhere to go but up, well ... At any rate, I hope to find my voice, as I'm sure most artists do. I wonder where the line is between "mining" for inspiration and ideas, and being derivative. But I might be satisfied with my technique being anywhere close to as good as some of the stuff I see out there. And maybe that will be good enough.
For now ...