Sunday, April 16, 2006

IT is Time for the House Painters of the World to UNITE!

“We’re painters, Jackson!” - Pollock (2000)

When asked ‘what I do’, I always have the same answer – “I’m a painter”. Even in my previous professions as a gallery director and educator, I always provided the above answer. Why? – Because it quite literally is who I am as a person. I only worked those TYPES of day jobs to be around art, when I could not be making it (as a gallery director, I always painted at night and as an educator I was fortunate enough to paint both during the day in my classroom as well as at night).

Moving to Santa Fe has caused me to have to clarify my answer for the first time in my life. On at least three different social occasions, people have asked me the fateful question and when I offer my common reply – they think I am a “house painter”. Now this is a city overrun with painters, sculptors, jewelry-makers, actors, singers, musicians, furniture builders and such. So how is “I’m a painter”, not a recognizable answer? Am I an artist? – Certainly! Am I disenchanted with roughly ninety percent of the people I meet that also “claim” to be artists? – Most definitely! The word “artist” is overused, the proof is every pop star that comes along and sings a few chords without any ability to actually write music. Santa Fe (as well as most communities) is ripe with persons that retire and decide - “Hey, I really enjoyed those art classes I took at community college, twenty-five years ago – I’m retired now and don’t know where I fit into society without my former professional label (accountant, lawyer, doctor – choose one), I think I’ll be an artist now.”

I am a painter by choice, but saying that is ignoring the fact that at college enrollment time the options for me were somewhat limited. My choices were art or …. Art. Sure, before college I did well in Math, History and English – if I hadn’t my paintings would be much less meaningful. I know I would have done well as an attorney or stock broker; but at college admissions time - I knew that I’d have little reason to survive the daily idiocy of life if I chose something besides Art as my mainstay.

The term ‘artist’ carries very little weight with me. While it is true that I love to read and write my little narratives and the act of research, for my paintings, is nearly as exciting as dining at a fine restaurant (I adore good cuisine) - I am still just a painter. I enjoy sculpting and construction of works (hence my inclusion of ‘making’ my scrolls and inks/paints in the process of my work); but most important for me is the application of paint (inks). Therefore I am first and foremost a PAINTER.

I always have something to say, and I believe every word I utter – but if there is a way of telling the story through the combination of allegory and paint, then that is how it will most easily flow from my mind.

So don’t call me an artist, for there are already too many charlatans staking that claim – just call me a painter – and I will answer. - DN

1 comment:

Felicity Grace said...

You hit the nail on the head there! Artist has become synonymous with celebrity - meaningless.