I'M JUST JEALOUS
One of my old friends (who happens to be a good artist) was leaving a fancy Xmas party given by the famous photographer Cindy Sherman, with her husband and kids, a couple of years ago. After an evening of drinks and fancy finger food, served on silver trays, by hired servants, her young son asked just what it was Ms. Sherman did? "She's an artist." my friend answered nonchalantly. The boy was confused. "But mom..." he whispered in the elevator "I thought that's what you were."
The gap between successful artists and those who just identify themselves as an "artist" is growing as fast as the abyss between the rich and the poor. I don't know if there was ever anything like an artistic middle class in this country, but I sure know there isn't now. Maybe there was one for mural painters in the '40's. But that was a long time ago. These days you either have representation, a market, collectors.....or you don't. Then you either have a teaching job, work the museum, public art or biennale circuit...or you're on your own. Then it's the front yard and facebook. Lame huh?
I know how pitiful I am in many ways. I hear the whispers: "Is he for real?" If I only had a nickel for every time I've heard that. So much of being an artist is keeping your self-identity. It can slip away without you even realizing it. Without a sale, or a show, or some press your self esteem heads right for the dumper. Hell, at least actors can take bad parts or musicians can play lame gigs. You can still be a pro. Visual artists just have to be satisfied with the latest piece and move on. I never use the term professional artist. That would really be stretching the truth. Why not quit? You say. Ha. That's a good one.
Je suis that artist riding the elevator down to the lobby, after the fancy party, a little boy tugging at my pant leg. "Yeah kid. I'm just jealous. It's my art." That elevator is quite crowded. If I had any idea how to get off on a different floor I'd press the button.