I gave my annual gallery talk at the Principle Gallery this past Saturday. As I have noted here in the past, this is always a somewhat nerve-wracking time for me, something that might surprise you if you met me beforehand. I try to hide my fear and I think I do a pretty decent job. It must be similar to what an actor goes through in assuming a role, setting aside some parts of yourself and pushing forward those parts of yourself that you think fill fit the character you’re attempting to portray.
That’s always something I think about before these talks, this paradox of an artist doing a public talk, especially one that bases their work on emotional expression rather than technique and craftsmanship. They generally work in a most private way that allows them to better tap into their observational abilities and sensitivities, which are not traits well suited to a public forum. But I have come to realize that this part of the deal that I have made with those folks who like my work and find something of value in it. I owe it to them to speak honestly and openly even if it sometimes feels a bit too personal and confessional. My work is both and talking about it requires a truthful telling.
Of course, that often borders on self-indulgence. I know I feel pretty selfish standing up there and talking about my work, a feeling that often eats at me in the aftermath of these things. But I realize that the people that attend these talks have usually connected in some way with the work and have an interest in the story behind it. They may not see me as being as selfish as I often feel at these talks.
I sure hope they don’t.
If they do, they hide it most graciously. The crowd Saturday was wonderful, as they generally are, and inquisitive. There were many familiar faces and some new ones as well. There were a number of comments and questions which always carries the talk along. I spoke about how I came to painting, the story behind some of the icons such as the Red Tree and Red Chair and how the work has evolved. I also spoke about how I view and interpret the work. One participant, Dino Drudi, gave his interpretation of the painting shown above, Fire in the Heart.
He saw it as me being the Red Tree and the art elites and academics being represented by the purple of the fields in the foreground. The path that most artists follow goes through that purple allowing the elites to exert their rules and judgments over them. I have chosen to not follow that path and have instead made a moated refuge for myself where I defend my work from these rules and judgments. I’m probably leaving out some details. It was interesting and there may be some validity to what Dino pointed out as I do often consider myself an outsider to the larger art world. But I’ll still have to chew on that for a bit before I concede anything.
So, many thanks to all who made it to the talk. The inspiration that comes from your kind and gracious comments carries me for weeks and weeks in the studio. There were many in attendance who I didn’t get a chance to speak with afterwards and for that I apologize and hope that I get to speak with you again soon. Thank you so much for making me feel so welcomed and comfortable which means a lot for someone who feels uncomfortable in most situations.
Now, time for me to get back to work.