Contemplating a Future

Ah my friends. I have to blog this one out as writing makes things real and helps me think about things in a new way.
I came to Mexico City with some expectations and have realized only a few. It has been great for me to have my time in the studio and learn more about my art work. I keep sharing my observations and advancements with you all. It makes me happy to have the opportunity to spend all my time engrossed in my work. I can’t imagine the life I had before squeezing 3-5 hours a day into my studio after work. Not impossible but a highly different process for sure.
One of my expectations was about developing my gallery career more, but the truth is the galleries here are not any different from galleries anywhere. They are very absorbed in themselves and the business. Realistically we all have to survive, but my hope has always been a reciprocal relationship of respect. That has not been true. Every connection I have made seems to end without communication from the gallery. I have made dozens of appointments and spent multiple hours preparing for a visit or meeting to my studio. Every time they have not shown up. Many without any apologies or follow up communications. Me sitting here in my studio somewhat exhausted from prep and anxious to share my work. Them …I don’t know where, but not here and unable to accept a little responsibility or courtesy of communicating their absence. Follow up. Stalking. No replies or just pushed to the side as clearly I am not a priority despite their commitment to the otherwise. This has happened so many times it leaves me depressed and questioning what is the value of pursuing this avenue?
The reality is I want my art to be seen. Working in isolation is not healthy for the work or my mental state. But at what cost to pursuing a gallery? For instance, this show I moved here and began prepping for has no date. I have been pushed off 2-3 weeks at a time and then told when I am half-way prepped to contact. I contacted at mid point and was told “I have personal problems and will contact you in a few weeks.” The same messages with a mix of the words. I then compare this to the model of a working artist using social media as my outlet to gain commissions. Yes there is a lot of back and forth. Even this week I was contacted after posting pet portraits from someone I’d spoken with almost 3 years ago. That is the pattern. You work the relationship over time and some day they move to the front of the line and make a deposit. I have three such relationships in the works right now.
Until now I have primarily lived off what ever job/teaching thing I am doing and the work has been a priority but in that context. For 4 months I have been in my studio here focussing on galleries. I have spent numerous hours and much of my savings in pursuit. My work has grown in scale to accommodate the requests of the galleries, but again nothing reciprocal. The pieces are so large and costly I can’t set them up in a park for sale. Many people can’t afford that scale of work so they are all here on my walls. Most of the commissions are more reasonably sized at 12×12 because there is a budget and they need to be shipped. I enjoy these relationships and it makes me happy to put art into peoples homes. I love seeing my work in their homes even if only by social media. I love when they share the work with other people as a prized procession. Best yet, I make enough money to cover the creation and some of my living costs. Bonus. I eat.
Yes some of the work is not where I want to focus myself. I try to look at each piece as a learning opportunity. I open myself up to the idea there are new things inside the work I can learn and I have found it to be true in 100% of the cases. Is it what I want in an exhibition. Maybe not. I am not generally decorative. I see artists who paint the same thing over and over again and printing them on scarves or whatever. They do make a living, but who will remember their work when they are gone? Do we need another rendition of the same bird over and over? Not sure where my bitterness comes towards this commercialization. I am sure it is more rooted in the desire to grow as an artist and not produce stagnant work I can find at target or walmart. Then I find myself asking what color palette is the room you place your work in, so it’s hard to deny the awareness of how important it is for most buyers to match their sofa.
As I look to the future I know for certain the things I want for myself and not. It’s going to require an adjustment. I don’t want to give up on the gallery avenue, but I also don’t want to suffocate my creative energies by working around a constant stream of disappointments. I will continue networking for that outcome, but with no expectations and definitely no investments into what people say verses what people demonstrate. I am going to start pushing the commissions and finding clients who are genuinely interested in having something person for their home. It doesn’t mean I am not making the images I love to make anymore. I will continue to push my contemporary queer voice and accept opportunities as I cross them. It’s a mental health issue. I stopped making art for 15 years after I left art school. That same young man feels the same sting he did from a very closed art world 20 years later. I don’t understand the values of that world. I did not grow up in it. I have not matured inside of it. I do not see the value of bowing to it.
My life has to be about creating positivity with my artwork. Some of that will be teaching. Some of that will be commissioned pieces. Some of that will be exhibitions. I will continue to share and give art to my supporters and exchange positive energies. I reject the selfish narcism that is making me sick (literally). In that light I am considering with force what my next moves will be. I have 2 months left on my lease here in Mexico City. At the end of July I will either shift to a room rental in the city or discover an alternative pathway. For instance, I went to Oaxaca Ciudad a month ago with the idea in my mind about living there as an artist. Definitely a robust community there. Most of what I see if more in the local vernacular. Like any community. Ventura was beach scenes. Ojai was mountains and nature. Oaxaca is the same sort of tourist art, but there is a great printmaking tradition centered in Oaxaca. Printmaking was a love I made during college. FU*KC love printmaking. Could be a reemergence of that vein in my work. Who knows.
I am looking at Oaxaca City, beach communities, and places where the culture of Mexico is pulsing in the ground. We will see. This is still the exploratory stages. I am looking at rentals and found a great place just outside Oaxaca City. It would cut my expenses to a 1/3 of what they are now, but also comes with challenges. Life comes with challenges. I just need to list out what is valuable to me and find the place I can achieve those values.
Here is a preview of what I am looking at. No promises. Just scouting.
• View my sketches, which I don’t post or show anyone
• Personal elements that connect to the work, like photo albums and journals
• Streaming access to studio time
• Videos about the actual process and how the work comes together
• One-on-one time with the artist
• Previews of work while in creation
• Build your art collection. Receive custom artwork in the mail. (Remember when it was
fun to go to the mailbox?)
• Satisfaction of knowing your supporting the creative community!