I have been thinking about art and art-making a lot lately. I actually think about it most all of the time. But what I have been thinking mostly about is the process piece: the act and all that happens in making art.
So often my photographs and works on paper have been so purposeful in realizing an exhibition, a book, a public talk, or a combined effort. This year has been particularly active with the Venice book and three shows around my teaching. Afraid of the Dark: A Venetian Story will be published in fall, 2014.
Hawaii: The Mythic Landscape show was magnificent in its summer presentation in Honolulu and I wrote about that here earlier. Sales were minimal, with three pieces sold. A museum show is different from a commercial gallery. This I knew.
Then I mounted a show in September in Boston at the Fidelity Investments Corporate Gallery. It was from my Eternal Colors of Italy group, some large color murals from Pompeii. I had been invited to show the work and thought sales would be promising. This proved to be unrealized.
My newest exhibit in from October and ends mid-November, is The City, at Z Gallery in Providence. So far 4 pieces of the 63 on the walls have sold, and it was a drawing and a collage piece sold with two of my photographs.
Apart from the formal exhibition purchases, I have had private sales of about fifteen pieces this year. This is about the norm for me the past thirty-five years, with a few exceptional years of print sales.
So what does all of this mean and why am I thinking about it now?
It’s because I am assessing the real meaning to all this mixed success of showing and selling, I seek to understand the meaning of continuing to build inventory. I am beginning to understand that the creative “life-will” curious nature of the artist must be satisfied. OK, so it means the need for more storage space and shelving perhaps, but most importantly, it means we are creating and living our true nature. This is really what it is all about, creation itself, building imagery into tangible forms, perhaps, but living is to create, and that I must do. The alternative is to check out, which is not my inclination.
The inventory may be bloated, but it reflects my 40 years of activity, my restless and curious spirit. Some things will move into other places, with on-going accumulation, and who will sort it all out later when I am not around?
I guess that’s not my problem. Perhaps there will be a combination of folks to sort through it all: maybe a curator or two, a slew of interns, a couple of junkmen, my heirs – cats included, or one gigantic box to be stored or demolished? It’s not really my problem. For now, I’m going back in to the studio and darkroom, as I have a few more boxes to fill and a few more shelves to pile on.
At the end of the day, I can say I have lived because I have created and fulfilled my real purpose: to satisfy my curiosity and work the process. That’s the best I can do and it’s enough. Enough for this lifetime.