From Last Communion
Went to a painter’s site last night and remembered why I should be glad to have been a history major in college. He is a living old man who has six decades of work to view. David Hockney. Never heard of the guy until my cousin, the more knowledgeable painter in the family, referred him to me. I am a man who keeps to himself, and rarely judges the work of others. However, their personal stories thrill me. We all start at the shot of the same gun. Some, like David Hockney, end up well known and loved, having strangers from everywhere on earth watch his mid-morning interview live on YouTube.
Others, channeling what appears to be my fate as well, get neither an interview nor a living, no matter how sober (or drunk!), dedicated, and possibly interesting they and their work happen to be. The art market of unartists has no idea how to appraise art until long after all coins have been flipped, landed, and marked on the ledger.
Don’t get me wrong. This Hockney is good, having made beautiful paintings that I admire as much as anything I have ever done. Color, wow. Form, complete. Skill? Enough to say almost too much. But what is he? What is his story? As a young man inventing style, was he a Wright brother, or more like a Henry Ford? That’s where history and biography make their way into the whole art story. It is the birth of creation, the labor pains, growing pains, old age pains that interest me. Never the output, which is arbitrary, subjective, boring really, without the struggle and fire of personality. Hockney painted a chair in the 1970’s. So did a multitude of college students at the time. Probably seventy million chairs painted that decade. Was his truly in the top ten? Who says so? History tells me that he got a break. That he was in the right place at the right time. That all artists of good fortune are like colorful pebbles picked from a heavenly (or Hades) stream by a God-child. They have been “made” at an early age, and by virtue of authentication from these “higher beings” are able to study, hone, magnify their art unto themselves, for self pride is the artist’s best life weapon.
So I document my story. And if I live to be 76 years old, your children and mine will be able to access on the Internet several decade’s worth of Ron Throop work. Poor buggers won’t be able to decide for themselves if the paint was worth the mixing. That is the fate of the unknown. The reality of history. Last year some guy bought a house full of art from the sister of a dead local yokel painter. He paid a couple thousand bucks, and the following months had the work appraised by a gaggle of college degrees. A fast three million. But the artist willed to his sister that they be tossed in a dumpster. Great irony. Super story. A better one than Hockney could ever be on roller skates.
Although no one ever asks me for it, I shall give advice now to fellow artists of the dung heap. Keep at it for posterity. Find strength in the grave silence of galleries and museums. Believe, even if in pretend, that they ignore you because there is only so much time to make money by feeding us some more bland crackers of what has already been digested by the industrial art market. David Hockney maintains two residences in the high end real estate of Los Angeles and its environs. A man who feels would abdicate at least one of these thrones to make room for the life-giving ones. But his sage advice? Keep on drawing.
Bootstraps, bootstraps, bootstraps! He’s a Henry Ford for sure.