Monday, January 21, 2013

I want to be a fireman when I grow up.



My next show is opening May 11th in NYC and I don’t know what I am going to make.
I kept thinking that I had so much time. The year hasn’t even really started, my show is not until May which feels like the middle of the year – so close to June which IS the middle of the year. However I have learned that if you want to seriously promote and recover from making the work you need to be done a month early. That gives me till April 15th  I like to have 3 months at a minimum. And now, today, I have less than that because the 15th was 6 days ago. I always think that the next show I do, I will start way early,  and just take my time…paint a little every day, spend more time outside of the studio, see friends and go for way more runs with my dog, Maizy.
I think I am kidding myself about how I work. I possibly am fooling myself into thinking that at some point here with all this art business I will figure it out and seamlessly place it in my life in such a way that it is just an enjoyable pastime that gently results in exhibitions every 6 months or so. It is almost as if I have bought into the idea or the fantasy that non artists have of what it is like to be an artist and how great it would be to do just dabble away all day doing what you love and get paid for it.

Well it is great. But in a way it is great after AFTER the fact. After you have had the show, after you have sold lots of the work- that part is really great, not just because obviously one needs income but it also confirms that the hunches you had early on, the insecurities, the questions you placed and eventually answered were resolved correctly. We need to know again and again that we still have IT and that it is not just a fluke that we are artists - that this ridiculously vague notion of being an artist, whatever that means, somehow fits what you do.  I always thought it would be so great to be a fireman. That profession has such clear, defined boundaries.  Not only does society, friends and family understand clearly what you do but you do too. If the house is on fire, if the cat is crying at the top of the tree you know exactly what to do. A frigging alarm even goes off that TELLS you when to do what you do.
First you get to slide down that pole. (I just love that-what career builds into it a joy ride, a mini thrill into your day?)  Your fantastic day begins by jumping up from your bed, slipping down a slippery pole in order to save a few nano seconds of time. You are so needed, your time so precious, your job is so crucial that to run down the stairs one floor to get to your red truck would just not do. Your time is valuable. Lives, in fact, are at stake. You get a totally cool costume, sirens, giant water hoses, ladders, get to play with fire all day long and the distinct possibility that you could save somebody’s life. The job of the fireman is so not like an artist’s that it leaves me at a standstill. I have had thoughts about just getting a fire poll to leap from my bed and slide down to the studio but honestly there is no rush. If I get there a second or two earlier it makes no difference. I still don’t know what I am going to do when I get there. I could even dress a certain way but there just is no point. Nobody is waiting at a burning building to be rescued. There will be no possibility to be a hero today. I do have a dog. It is not spotted like a fireman’s but at least I have that part in place.
Being an artist is all about not having a clue and spending inordinate amounts of time being directionless.  By its very definition there is no definition. It is a non -profession. The main missing ingredient is that there is no certainty. It is a mushy; find your way in the dark, figure it out as you go along kind of profession. Today, standing at the bottom of the hill starting to push a bicycle with two flat tires, it seems enormously unimaginable as to what I am supposed to do now. How am I going to get there? What am I going to make that somehow relates, somehow carries the thread of what I am interested in?

I will get to the studio today. It will probably take awhile as undoubtably there will be far more easier things to do before STARTING on that blank white panel that has been hanging in my studio for the past 8 days. I will get there, hopefully today, but I am not certain. I do know that I will begin here at some point. And that, according to my notes from previous years scribbled in the margins of endless half filled sketchbooks is how you start. How one thing will lead to another which in turn will lead you to the next. I am not sure it will work this way again like it has in the past but it is all I know how to do. I know of no other way to get there. I cannot wait to be able to look back 3-4 months from now and say I made the right decisions, that the hunches were right. That clearly, if I can make all this stuff, that this whole gallery 4 months from now is filled with intention, clarity and obvious certainty that I am still solidly and unmistakably an artist. I will not have saved anyone with my work along the way, nor will I be a hero for sure but I know I will be tremendously grateful.





4 comments:

Kesha Bruce said...

" It is a mushy; find your way in the dark, figure it out as you go along kind of profession. "

Well said, Nicholas. Well said!

Lyla Wilton said...

LOVE THIS PIC.
go daddy go! :)

Caroline Z. Marcos said...

I think it takes courage to be an artist and that IS heroic! Thanks for your candid thoughts, it's nice to read such honesty!

sarajo frieden said...

i have completely loved reading this--with humor and absolute commiseration. Thank you for being so articulate in how you describe this thing that is so directionless.