The typo would be ‘paining.’
–From, Robert Hass, “Time and Materials”
I have a signed copy of this poem up in my house, and revisit it from time to time when I need the inspiration. Poetry can be pretentious, as art can be: I think, mostly because people make it loftier than it really needs to be; its really as human as playing basketball (to borrow from Hass again). Too bad I can’t do either of those very well.
I haven’t written in awhile, possibly because I haven’t quite had the physical capacity for insomnia these days–it’s been quite busy. This month is Open Studios in SF, which means every artist opens up their working space for one weekend out of the month- our protected little creative worlds on display to the public. It’s a vulnerable place to put one’s pain(t) on display, but it is also necessary to make a living.
To score, to scar, to smear, to streak,
To smudge, to blur, to gouge, to scrape.
“Action painting,” i.e.,
The painter gets to behave like time.
The layers upon layers of decisions, thought, and time we lay out for everyone to see. Sometimes I go to shows of other artists and see only beauty from pain, something I once told a friend that I felt was an artist’s superpower. It made me feel impervious to pain: Invincible, because I can spin it into beauty for the world. Well, at least I can try.
That same friend told me she never realized I was ever sad, which means I’m doing well being me, I guess. I guess I also can’t really afford to be sad these days–it doesn’t motivate me anymore. Perhaps in another time, when I’m not trying to fulfill commissions, plan lessons, train, keep drawing, teach two gigs, order prints, frame, paint, and figure out how to make ends meet.
I’m not complaining, this is the life I’ve chosen to take since I jumped off the deep-end of the grid. It helps to re-read what I wrote a few years back, about the Lonely Work. And that it is–it’s a constant push and pull of isolation and being on display, ups and downs of trying to fulfill a life’s value with something as cheap as the paper symbol of currency. What a crazy thing to want to do with one’s intellect and potential. It’s easy to make fun of myself.
What is hard, is putting on that passion aside to say, “Come see this! Here are some pieces of canvas you can buy for $___ because!” Truth is, art will never be a necessity, but it adds something inexplicable to a space. I promise. You’re not buying a defined measurement of oil on canvas: it’s a battery of human life, charged with boundless energy confined within a space.
OK, I can stop being corny now. It’s 5am, past the time to be melodramatic and time to go kick some ass. Come to my Open Studios the weekend of October 25th and 26th, or come drink with me at the preview party on Friday, the 24th from 6-9.
1360 Mission Street, San Francisco
Let’s hang out.
I guess it’s officially Spring.
Recently, so many sad things have happened around me that makes me think that these days are just an intermission between two acts, a time of change. Last week, Miguel Angel Paez, a smiling, exuberant personality passed suddenly, and although I only knew him as Miguel from the gallery, I miss his presence every day at school, simply because he always seemed to have an endless supply of positivity (and a warm hug) to share with everyone around him.
In the recent weeks, I seemed to have found more sad news than happy on Facebook. It’s a chance to reflect. In times like this, I find impossible for me to express my own thoughts and emotions through my own artwork, but I find solace in the Art of others. I found an old poem I’ve always loved by Langston Hughes, which describes perfectly how I feel at present:
I used to wonder
About living and dying–
I think the difference lies
Between tears and crying.
I used to wonder
About here and there–
I think the distance