I went to a used bookstore today. The proprietor that sat behind the counter had roamed the alleys for over 25 years. He knew every volume in the store. “Quirky existence,” I thought to myself.
I stood in the first isle. It contained all of the art books; large, beautiful volumes. I delicately pulled each one off in alphabetical order and thumbed through them. Some quickly enveloped me, others I brushed off as someone made famous by a blind congregation.
I found a hardcover of Manet, a small volume of Degas’s work, and a book on Russian painters. I didn’t know any of the Russian artists, but that didn’t make them any less impressive. Interestingly, the fact that I didn’t know who they were, and that their work made me hungry for more, drew me in even further.
I’m at an odd point in life. I am more inspired and creatively charged than I have ever been. I am so thirsty for more knowledge and better work that it borders on unquenchable. I see myself progressing. I see my work develop. I know that the 40 years of aching to understand is finally being fueled, and my appetite only grows. Like an addict of sorts, I guess.
Friends and clients reinforce my development with gestures that spur me on: sales, commissions, blog posts… but the academia of fine art – the ‘societies’, still reject what I put out. I’d like to pretend that it doesn’t matter. I tell myself that they are swayed by politics and social media. I once heard a master painter quote a fellow juror – “it’s a brilliant piece, but it just isn’t big enough so therefore it can not win”… Perhaps he had heard that reasoning before, and couldn’t let go. Perhaps he was just a putz.
Or…there is the reality that my work just wasn’t good enough. I may never know. Or more likely, I may just choose to disagree.
I do not want to wane on here or sing the song of the sad rejected romantic. I want to shout it. For those that persist, though their tune may go unnoticed, are the ones more likely to make an honest statement. No regrets for my voice, just a bit of sadness for the ears it fell upon.
“Quirky existence”… I think to myself.