Well, it has been a month since my last post. It seems that when I’m the busiest producing, I neglect to write. I’ve finished eighteen 22×30 paintings on paper, three 10×10 paintings on panel, pulled approximately thirty monotypes, and built nine more panels making a total of fifteen prepped and ready. I’ll post images of the twenty paper pieces on the blog and website as soon as they arrive at the gallery in Oklahoma. I’ve been trying to refrain from posting all my new work as its produced. I’m hoping this will generate more attendance at opening receptions.
Although I haven’t been writing as much, I have been thinking. I’ve been thinking especially about a course of conversation that always seems to crop up from the discussions with other artists. It would seem that most of my peers are seeking to define professional artist. The landscape of our economy is changing, and in an attempt to stay current we are trying to decide the parameters of professional artist. However, we tend to use the term professional not in an attempt to state income dependency, but to qualify ourselves and the art we produce. I think our attempt to draw a line in the sand only acts to separate us from our communities that we want so desperately to feel appreciated within.
There was a time when the arts and community were intertwined. Often your participation in the arts was your ticket to social inclusion. Somewhere along our path of evolution we separated art marking and reserved it for the privileged and patronized. We dedicated hallowed spaces and hushed discussion within in their walls like libraries and churches. Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate and benefit from the commodification of the arts. I like to make money from this thing I like to do. I’d be a total liar if I claimed that I didn’t like to get paid. I think it’s necessary. What I don’t think is necessary is to use the term professional to diminish your respect for, or the pride taken by a Sunday painter in their work. I am not Picasso, and neither are you. I am not Alvin Ailey, and neither are you. I am not Edward Albee and neither are you. I know and am friends with some really good artists from all disciplines. Are they on the level with William Kentridge? Nope. Will they be? Maybe someday. Maybe the retiree who just took up watercolor will garner more sales and respect than you someday. In the meantime, instead of trying to figure out who’s a professional we should stay focused on maintaining what qualifies as artist.
You are an artist if you make art. If you make money from it, great. If you make a living from it, even better. If you don’t make art, you are not an artist. I don’t know anybody who says they’re an auto mechanic but doesn’t work on cars. You have to make work. Let that qualify you, or the person next to you, as an artist. Stop worrying about who is better, just get to work.