Describe the art you’re currently making to a 5 year old.
Right now we’re making the largest light bulb in the world.
Your ideal space where the creative magic happens (we’re talking place, people, vibe, you name it).
The creative hum and bustle of spaces where multiple people are at work on various projects within an open work setting. Restaurants with kitchens that are visible to the diners, newsrooms a la Woodward and Bernstein’s in the movie All the President’s Men, that sort of thing. There’s a communal energy to such environments.
One living artist you want to have cocktails with.
In my early 20’s, I had the amazing opportunity to rub shoulders with a number of “household name” artists while working for one of them in New York as a studio assistant. One particular moment stands out. While living in the Big Apple, I got married back in Colorado, and about a week later, having returned to New York, I was in the home of an art critic living in Brooklyn.
Among other notable people present, Louise Bourgeois, then in her 80’s, arrived with a couple of her own assistants in tow - one operating a video camera - and immediately commenced to spend most of her time in the kitchen, cooking something up for everyone to eat.
Later, as I was leaving with my employer, the host stopped us at the door and, handing me a glass of white wine, said he’d just told Louise, still back in the kitchen, that I’d recently gotten married, and her response - this giant in the art world who had only exchanges pleasantries with me hours prior - was to propose a toast! She, with a glass of wine in the kitchen and me, with the glass she had sent out to me.
Even at the top, the art world is made up of plenty of real, and often really nice, down to earth people.
A piece of art in your home that you LOVE.
My wife and I are friends with the Connecticut-based sculptor and woodcut artist James Grashow, a.k.a. Jimmy. We have two prints of his that are a kind of hilarious before and after of “ideal” and “reality”. Much of the enjoyment of the work is discovering what juicy visual morsels Jimmy puts into each image.
A quote or lyric that your brain won’t shake.
It’s a bit de rigueur, but perhaps the portion of Teddy Roosevelt’s speech at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1910 that’s been labeled “The Man in the Arena”:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Makes you want to evaluate your life - take risks - stop playing it safe - aim high.
What drives you absolutely nuts about the (art) world.
The art world can feel slippery and elusive. Sometimes I wish I better understood how it works. I recall that even back in high school, I made a small painting in which I scrawled the words, “Where is my Gertrude Stein?” as if I were the next Picasso.
I’ve spent most of my life somewhat at a distance from the art world and it’s only been in the past few years that I have desired (to piggyback on Roosevelt’s metaphor) to “re-enter the arena.” Thankfully, despite living in “flyover country” and long past the possibility of having a more normal arc of a career, there yet seems to be the possibility of carving out, pun intended, my own little corner of the art world.
At times the gates can seem forever locked and bolted, but whenever doors do open, the previous wait - the groping around for the right key (though it often feels like the doors open of their own accord) makes moving through them that much more satisfying and memorable.
Recent life upgrade that’s been a game changer.
Art-wise, I broke ground on a new home-based studio in downtown Colorado Springs in the fall of 2019 which is chock full of upgrades from the space I used for decades. It was nice to be able to help design (and is now oh so enjoyable to work within) a workspace customized for the work I do.
Advice, compliment, insult... something someone once told you that you will never forget.
I spent nearly a quarter century taking an extended hiatus from making art, from my early 20’s until my mid 40’s. During that period, however, there were a few compliments received, many from my high school, college, and New York years, which, while I won’t repeat them, contributed mightily to keep the pilot light of art within lit. It makes me realize how important it is to encourage others.
Huge shout-out to _____ for _____!
Niels Davis, my invaluable studio assistant for the past fifteen months or so. You’ll never meet a more thoughtful, hard working, even-keeled, reliable, talented, and altruistic guy.
For 95% of the time we’re working in the studio, due to the frequent use of this or that loud machine, and often even when things are quiet, we’re both wearing our Bose Bluetooth headphones, listening to this or that book or podcast, and verbal communication is sparse.
Niels is as comfortable with silence as I am, which is nice, when one is absorbed in thought. But when one does talk with Niels, they soon realize he’s thinking deeply about whatever subject at hand, crossing every “t” and dotting every “i” and in my case, while knowing I’m in the presence of someone who outmatches me in so many areas, I am content to know that I was at least smart enough to hire someone smarter than myself.
While we haven’t finished the public art project for which I brought Niels on, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t, absolutely couldn’t, have made the piece without him.