I began the painting yesterday morning after shoveling Wednesday’s blizzard remains out of my driveway. At first the fish was in Lake Ontario, but then I thought no creature deserves such a fate into old age. The March sun reflected so brightly off the snow by early afternoon, that hope improved slightly, and I was able to secure a meager retirement in Brevard County, Florida for the hapless fish. There, a stormy day on the Indian River always keeps its promise for a warm, sunny tomorrow.
Below is writing to top off my week of art world criticism. This is it. Next week I am moving on to bigger and better things:
For me freedom happens whenever I am arrested by the element X. Yesterday’s work was spent dreaming about what will be if I allow the X in for longer periods of time. This isn’t bragging or false modesty. It is what it is. I am an artist, good or bad, but one through and through. Yesterday I would have painted on the cat if there was no canvas or paper at hand. But then I readied my daughter for school, improvised a rich stew, painted frames, cleaned out the cat litter box, made beds, did laundry, washed floor—basically chased the ten thousand things which all of us are bound to do.
But not once the money exchange.
As a younger man I should have had my fortune read to spare a future old man anguish. But then I never would have believed it. Now at 47, instead of the positive I-Ching thunder at the well, my “art” gets thrown down into the well. Financial success is not showing in any card, and I guess that was meant to be, for me.
Artists never wanted a built-in swimming pool with cocktails at sunset anyway. I can tell who the wealth-desiring phonies are from a gated community away. It’s just that the onset of old age has me devaluing my efforts more often, when I know I should keep the fighting spirit alive and strong.
All of this is okay if viewed future-historically. I know the value of archiving struggle. For posterity. Today there is mostly some tall-order crap in galleries and museums. In New York, they take forty percent of your skin (if you’re lucky to get a foot in the door of four white walls and around-the-room track lighting) because the power of influencing rich stupid people is basically an art in itself. These liaisons play their part, maintaining personal wealth and status while courting free-spending imbeciles of a lower order. But they only serve a present purpose, and much of that is made in the past. The art collectors have money. The artists do not. There has never been a time on earth when the latter held their heads financially high like bankers in Mercedes. Cave painters were probably tolerated their art for performing some other shameful, putrid tasks. Cleaning out the crap corner of the cave, or burying the six-day-old dead. The ones who stubbornly held their arms to the chest declaring “not another demeaning task,” were probably tossed over the nearest cliff.
I am a cave painter in a poor upstate village. If there are three art buyers here, they have already cornered the market on still life apples and chiaroscuro candles melting wax. I have an existentialist’s chance in heaven to be supported by my community. Unless I decide to seek the Calvinistic retardation of “mop a floor for your dinner”. Then I will be financially independent, and afford any smartphone with its two-year contract.
No. I have a hard-working wife who supports me because I support her.
And I see into the future an immense archive sold at auction for $500.00, with a U-Haul rental fee waived. My grandchildren will get an education in the arts, enough to know that dedication and devotion to painting, or the like, where there is no contemporary investment, is like mopping an institution’s floors for free because you think you deserve the pool and cocktail-at-sunset prize, even though, after all, it was just a shiny floor. And nobody, not a single soul in your world, ever pressed you to live this fool’s eternity.
P.S. Please feel free to share my work with a wealthy gallery renter in NYC. She can take 90% commission. I’ll ask my friend Dan to load up his mini-van and we could be set up in a day. Tell her that I am handsome enough for my age, and on opening night would mousse my remaining hair and talk to prospective buyers as if they too possessed the artist’s hopeful soul, and not the caged rabid animal gesticulating in their void. Tell her that I am more desperate than a dead Basquiat or a living Hockney in his other Malibu home. Tell her that if given a small financial push, the gigantic chip on my shoulder would explode in creativity, which could help her realize her dream: the pool and cocktail-at-sunset prize.