Reflections on Art-Fair conversation and a Bio.
I had many wonderful conversations in LA at the “You First” opening and at the art fairs Pulse and Platform. In particular I was able to have good conversations with two different gallerists and I was able to corner a problem I am likely to run into as I begin to enter the art world in earnest:
“Where is your brand?”
I’ve known this for a while, but another aspect of it became clear to me in conversation with one of the gallerists. He expressed the distress of collectors who collected a famous artist too early when their style had not “settled” yet. The work was “worthless” because it was perceived as part of a thrashing-around-finding themselves-phase. In fairness it may well have been done in a period of finding themselves, and if people want the work that is the most “real” from an artist, it makes sense that it be coming from an artist who is ready to be true to who they are.
This presents a problem for me because I do know myself… and I know myself to be a diverse, multifaceted person who will always make diverse, multifaceted work. If I don’t confront this directly and fully from the start I will either have to pretend to be someone I’m not or leave the floor. Neither is acceptable to me.
So for the first time in years I’ll be putting up a “bio” on my webpage to address this directly. If a bio is supposed to give the reader an idea of the person creating the work and where that work springs from it is as good as any. It isn’t detailed or long enough to explain half the depth of the few facets I relate (19 years of doing massage- helping people use their hands, stand up straight, live normally, etc. is just one), but I can hope that it gets the point across.
I realize that many people never find themselves, and some not until they are in their fifties or later. Many need a massive transformative experience. Many wake up late in life and feel they have lived a lie.
I can date my shift to being, knowing, and owning myself to 9th grade. I have had many experiences that could be life-transforming (studying with a Lakota Medicine Man, traveling the world, living in other countries, attacks, teaching, Burning Man, finding my life partner, having a child…). All of these added to who I am and informed me and my work, but they didn’t change my underlying sense of who I was. They deepened and matured me… but I have known myself a long time (understanding that knowing oneself is always a moving target if one keeps growing and learning). I belong everywhere and nowhere, but I am centered in who I am, and my work has a center too.
My work may appear disjointed to the cursory inspection- many mediums, many styles, many surface lines of thought. Such an observer might suppose that I will “find myself” at some point and settle into a predictable style. They would have to wait a long time. My work reflects my multifaceted nature. It reflects the breadth and depth of my experience. It comes from a person who taught preschool, walked tightrope, worked as a bouncer in a nightclub and rehabilitated the injuries of “hopeless cases” through Shiatsu massage. I would have to cave in and give up my sense of self to produce easily branded work.
The unity in my work is a deeper current running through everything. I return to themes again and again in new ways. Themes such as social and personal perceptions of identity, connections and relationships between people and things, transformative situations, exposed process, reexamining things through multiple views or people’s perspectives, looking at old things in new ways… all of them relate to liminality in some way. I will drop certain lines of thought for years and return back to it with new ideas and a different medium, but the subject is the same.
I have no doubt that my work will always have this multifaceted appearance, united by the concepts that I have always wrestled and worked with. Perhaps as the body of my work grows the connections and themes will become increasingly apparent to the average observer.
Right now I’m starting to look at galleries. I found three, maybe four last weekend that I want to keep an eye on out of hundreds. I’ll keep watching. Somewhere there is a good fit who will be able to embrace the whole and not attempt to box me for sale.