Archive for May 17th, 2012

I’ve been running a few of my favorite posts from the past recently as I’ve been very busy in the studio.  This one from back in December of 2008 speaks a bit about our perceptions of an artist and how these views might affect the way we see their work. 

In the comments from the original post, someone made the point that the work should stand on its own regardless of the mannerisms or perception of the artist.  Of course, I agree completely with that in theory.  But I point out that sometimes the artist can affect, both positively and negatively, how their work is viewed with their words and actions.  I cite a story I’ve told innumerable times of going to a local college to hear a famous author speak.  I was seventeen years old and aspiring to be a writer at the time, armed with a legal pad filled with questions that I hoped to ask this author so that his words of wisdom might guide me along.  At the reception afterwards when I finally got a chance to speak with him, he was half in the bag drunk and a prick as well.  He rudely  dismissed me and moved on without taking a second to consider my question to him.  I was crushed and left knowing that i would never read another word that fool would write, which I haven’t to this day.  I also vowed to myself that if I was in that position I would never treat anyone dismissively.  Hopefully, I have kept that promise.

 This was written in the first few months of writing this blog so some things have obviously changed.  I was still up in the air about writing this blog, something which I have obviously reconciled with myself.  But I am still the same middle-aged guy with a thick waist and a sloppy gray beard.


At the opening for my show at the Haen Gallery in Asheville, a young woman approached me, telling me first that she had a piece of mine and she loved the work. We talked for a bit then she came out with the inevitable.

“You’re not what I had expected. I thought you might be wearing a beret or a cape or something like that.”

I get that a lot.

People expect something much different than I appear to be. More flamboyant, I guess. Maybe more boorish. Maybe like this guy, Salvador Dali, who exemplified that stereotype of the crazy artist. But they’re faced with me- a thick-waisted, middle-aged guy with a sloppy gray beard. I used to kid with the folks at the Principle Gallery that I would show up at a show one day in a Dali-like manner, swooping in to hold court in my flowing black cape, waving my arms about in dramatic flourishes. Maybe wearing a monocle? I sometimes wonder if people would look at my work differently if I donned a cape and had a long waxed mustache. Would they find different attributes in the paintings? Would they find a different meaning in each piece?

I don’t know. I hope not. But I do know there is an illusion behind each person’s impression of a piece of art, that it is a delicate web that supports how they value a piece and that can be affected by my words or actions or even appearance. That is one of the reasons I’m a little reticent to do this blog. I could write something off the cuff, something that I might soon realize was a product of flawed logic, and quickly destroy someone’s whole interpretation of my work.

Perhaps that is not giving the work enough credit for its own strength and life. Perhaps this is the flawed logic I mentioned. Whatever the case, it’s something I bear in mind. But for the time being, I will keep the cape in storage and stick with the credo of my childhood hero, Popeye: “I yam what I yam.”

And that’s all that I am…

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