Friday, January 06, 2006

Where to Make Art?

A couple posts ago, I discussed NYC and the relocation of the center of the art world. My problem with the center of the art world being a metropolis like NYC is not the marketing or the cost-of-living or even the huge social-conundrums it would cause me - personally. I fear how it would impede my painting or maybe how it will change it. My production style and numbers have gone through the roof compared to when I lived in an urban region.

Three years ago, I moved to rural northern Montana from St. Louis for a complete change of environment. In St. Louis, my work was somewhat more figurative – I assume it had to do with the three million people living there. Most recently, I have moved to Santa Fe for the gallery scene and another change of environment. Something else to paint, that's the motivation; I’m enamored by New Mexico's high desert light and the way in which it has changed the colors of my paintings.

Like any good thing, I was just starting to get a foothold in the Montana gallery market, when I left. So did I throw it away? I still have some presence in the galleries of that state, but was it the right move to drop south? I say yes. (Obviously, since I moved). In two years I had produced over 400 paintings of the northern Rocky Mountain eco-system (particularly Glacier National Park & Banff); it was time to explore the southern Rockies. I love Montana like no other place in the world, it is home. But after seeing the growth of work produced in my so far brief New Mexico hiatus - I like what's happening, artistically.

So would it have been a "sell-out" to stay in Montana for the purposes of "having a good thing started with galleries" and "being comfortable"? My very nature is to travel and paint my experiences. How much of that makes my work what it is? Is it my work that needs the influx of new associations and environments or is it my on neurosis? How many artists need to keep that change happening, in order to continue growing artistically? By the time I left Montana, I was "chomping at the bit"; how long until that happens again? My goal is to stay in Santa Fe long enough to establish a career HERE. But will that eventually mutate into a "sell out"?

I produce work with the sole intention of producing work, the selling is an afterthought. That has led to two standards in my career:

1. I quit accepting the majority of commissions (any with guidelines beyond size and media).
2. My work became more relevant to my life and I produce a truckload of it.

So does it matter where an artist lives regarding the work produced? Is my avoidance of the metropolis the best way to protect my “process” for making art? Pollock’s greatest achievements came after leaving the city for the peace of space. A friend, this morning, described my work as a journey. Does that mean that I have to continue my wanderings to continue the work?



Olga Norris said...

I find so many of your posts thought-provoking - often too much so, in that to write a comment would divert me from my work. However, the thoughts humm in my head as I draw and stitch.

This time I have been inspired to write something on my own blog.

Raymond Betancourt said...

"Is it my work that needs the influx of new associations and environments"

It is possible. Jack Kerouac made quite a few cross country trips, usually hitchhiking and these journeys did provide the material for his better known novels.
For Edgar Allan Poe, on the other hand, I don't think his location made any difference to the form and content of his work.

For examples from the visual arts, Gauguin certainly seems to have been an inveterate wanderer, while Toulouse-Lautrec seemed to only need the city of Paris.

I guess it comes down to that old cliché of 'following one's muse'. said...

Naturally, I have always been drawn to Kerouac. Great anology! - DN