Monday, April 03, 2006

Emerging from the Cocoon

I have always loved the book The Razor’s Edge as well as the 1946 film version featuring Tyrone Power & Gene Tierney (avoid the 1984 Bill Murray version like the plague). The author, W. Somerset Maugham, did an amazing job recreating the anti-hero of the beat movement in the post-WWI world of the 1930’s. In essence, Maugham removed a character from the 1950’s “beat movement era” and dropped him into the environment of the roaring 20’s and depression-era 30’s; his character was the quintessence of the beat movement before it even happened because he proved his ability to maintain a steady dharma in the face of both great wealth and poverty. Most importantly Maugham accomplished all this in 1944 – four years before Kerouac coined the term “beat”. Below is an excerpt from the introduction to the novel:

"The man I am writing about is not famous. It may be that he never will be. It may be that when his life at last comes to an end he will leave no more trace of his sojourn on earth than a stone thrown into a river leaves on the surface of the water. But it may be that the way of life that he has chosen for himself and the peculiar strength and sweetness of his character may have an ever-growing influence over his fellow men so that, long after his death perhaps, it may be realized that there lived in this age a very remarkable creature." – W. Somerset Maugham in the introduction of his novel The Razor’s Edge

I visited the open studio of a fellow Santa Fe artist, yesterday afternoon. Ali Cavanaugh has created an amazing collection of portraits featuring her daughter as the almost exclusive muse. I dare say the underlying inspiration of the works is the act of observation as it surveys the growth from innocence transforming a child into the person you have already become, yet could not anticipate.

Although I moved away from portraiture a number of years ago; Ali’s work definitely made me consider the implications of the individual person on nature as opposed to the strict influence of nature as it places impressions upon the individual.

The visit also made me realize something else… there are a lot of us out there. By us, I mean artists. St. Louis had a fairly sad excuse for an art market, so not much happened for me while I lived there. Later, I purposely hid myself away in a non-artistic community in northern Montana, so that I could paint out my own demons without the influence or interruption of other professional creative personalities. I then relocated to Santa Fe for the sole purpose of becoming “involved” in the art market and subsequent community. Yesterday, I learned there are over 100 artist studios, just in my Santa Fe suburb of Eldorado. Unfortunately, my growing anti-social tendencies have slightly hampered my universal admission. I have kept busy enough with exhibitions in other states, as well as major architectural renovation to my new studio; so that my anti-social excuses in Santa Fe actually contain a bit of legitimacy and kernel of truth.

However, I find that I am in the midst of a great moment in my life. My irregular sales and out-of-state exhibitions have been successful enough in the past year to allow me to focus on mycreative process and paint my mind without concern for painting towards the market. I just have to overcome my tendency to hide in the studio. For me, the painting will always occur, just as it always has without interruption. My prolific production of paintings means something else as well - I need to take steps towards the security of new and permanent homes for my works. So the next step is obviously a decision between communal involvement in Santa Fe or a full-time return to Montana, which will inevitably lead to another social hibernation. - DN

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I envy your position (in a good way), to be a succesful artist, and also to have availible to you a community of other artists. I find I need to feel a part of a community and gather inspiration from creative collegues - and this I lack, so for this reason laying aside the brush for other endevors.

But you dont seem to require this, so don't feel guilty. Perhaps as people seek YOU out, you may find the qualities of a mentor in you!