Thursday, December 9, 2010

A mother's love

      As a child I was never really that interested in art. I liked to color in coloring books—My Little Pony, Rainbow Brite. My younger brother was always the artistic one from a very early age. But as I grew older and began to explore various artistic mediums, my mother stood by and encouraged me, especially as I pursued my creative goals at a NY art school. The subject matter of my work was a little off the wall at times, but my mother was always proud of what I created and would show off my work to anyone that was in her home...whether they wanted to see it or not...

     I went through a little phase in school and during that time I painted a bunch of nude self portraits. After my schooling I moved to California for about five years, but came back to visit one Christmas holiday season, two years ago, in fact. I walked into my childhood home in Haworth, NJ where many of my paintings were proudly hung on the wall by my mother. Now, let me explain: My paintings from that period were rather large and somewhat explicit—many of them portrayals of nude scenes and sexual scenarios left for the viewer to discern. I walked past my brother's old room, now revamped by my mother. What I saw was one of my earlier large scale nude self portraits. I was horrified but flattered to have such a devoted fan! Shortly thereafter my mother was gently encouraged to take a few paintings off the wall...

     So I would say that my mother was and is the biggest source of encouragement for me just as she has been in many other areas of my life!

-Anonymous, NJ

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Don't be one of those starving artists

I was sitting at a local cafe drawing flower fairies in my sketch book.
An old man walked up and said "Hi, what are you drawing?" We chatted for a bit and he told me that his wife was an artist. He ended the conversation with "don't be one of those starving artists." The statement was a real downer, I shook it off, fearful generation WHATEVER! but I think we should all live by the rule, if you don't have anything positive to say don't say anything it all! I learned at a young age not to listen to anyone because they are full of fearful theories. I live by one rule "Life is a party, Enjoy it!"

I was on a business trip with my boss. It was a long trip back from china, I was drawing a lot in my sketch book, He looked at me with disgust and said, "What are you going to do with those" implying that is was a waste of time.

Everyone in my family says "learn to type so you can be an administrative assistant or be a teacher, you can have stability! We only care, we are worried about you!"
I have found that if you do the things you love you will always be successful!
When I was in art school people would ask "why? What are you gonna do with that?"

-anonymous, the Northwest

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Parents and children

My husband was about 10 years old when he told his mom that he wanted to write stories. She told him that he'd never make any money doing that, and discouraged him from pursuing it. Then when he was about 12, he wanted to go to the symphony, and she said no way, that was for sissies.

Well, he ended up as a mechanic, and then when his back got too bad to continue, he became a realtor (this was in conjunction with his stint as Mr. Mom, of course!) And, I think that experience really colored his support / approval of our son's desire to be a writer. Tommy was 7 years old when he "sold" his first story to our next-door neighbor (something about broccoli gone wild). Ever since then, he has been single-minded in his desire to be a writer, and we have not tried to change that (although, I have to admit I do keep asking how he's going to support himself while waiting for his first published work to be sold!)

We really try never to shoot down our children’s dreams, (like wanting to be on American Idol, or wanting to play for the Yankees), and do what we can to support them.

-anonymous, Syracuse, NY

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dreams of cabinets and self-motivation

    My first experience with art was when I was 5 years old. I watched my older brother color the cover of his note book. His note book had fish on it and it was black and white. I watched him color it. At that time I did not know he had not drawn the fish. I discovered that fact years later when I was older, about 12, and found the note book in the closet. When I examined it I realized he had not drawn the fish and just colored in the blank space. 
    When I was 5 and watching him, I fell asleep. I had a dream that all the cabinets in the kitchen were flying open and from that point on I never stopped thinking about drawing and never stopped drawing despite my surroundings. There was no praise. No one saw what I did but I knew I wanted to do it. When I put together a portfolio in order to be admitted into the Art and Design High School they rejected me. I was sad. But I was admitted into the Erasmus Hall Academy of the arts and continued drawing. While people laughed at what I did in those days, I have met those people since and they don't laugh anymore . =)

    In closing you we make art because it engages all our senses, and that is why you say I love doing this. Because all your senses are engaged! Also the feeling of autonomy and learning to drive one self is so delicious.

Jose Delacruz

Monday, November 22, 2010

Someone who made you want to create

It was certainly not my parents, although my dad did encourage my initials forays into photography, but really as a hobby to keep me happy and occupied. 

It wasn't until college, after changing majors from physics, then to engineering, and then again to tech theatre, that I stumbled upon the person who really changed things. I became fascinated by the drawing part of stage design and decided to take a class at SUNY-Binghamton with Charles Eldred. He was an educator in the real sense of the word--someone who led by example and immediately created a presence in his classroom that made you want to create. He treated his students all as if they were young artists and understood that art is about life and experience; that it molds you as much as you mold it; that the doing was the main thing and that you have an obligation to make a space for yourself to do the work. 

Years later, I think a lot people who studied with him (he died in 1994 at an early age, very sadly) still feel his influence, and occasionally hear his voice. More than anything else, I realize now, Eldred was about expanding the scope and synthesis of your thinking and looking at more possibilities; that, and learning to work extremely hard and being doggedly persistent so that something will "start to happen" as he often said.  

RA Friedman
Tsirkus Fotografika: Authentic Vintage Photography 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Am I really an artist?

Dad "You've heard of the starving artist, right?"

Dad "When I was in school we called people like that artsy fartsy"

Mom "Maybe you should have a career to fall back on"

Mom "Do you paint whatever you want, or does it mean something?"

former boss, reacting to my resignation from the company to pursue an art career "you're no Picasso"

ex-wife "when are you going to get famous?"

current wife "the art stuff is ok as long as you make (insert dollar amount here) per month"

countless others "you should make a children's book", "you should get a gallery show", "have you ever seen (name of other artist here)? I love his stuff"

The real litmus test is how other people describe you when you aren't there. Do they say "he's a dishwasher", "he's working in NYC right now", "my son does graphic design", "my brother works for a TV company", "my friend Mike does something with computers", "I'm not really sure what he's doing right now" ---- or do they say, emphatically and without hesitation, as if you were a doctor or a lawyer, "he's an artist"

Until you make a living from your artwork, nobody will see you as an artist. They will see you as a delusional, self-indulgent freak who is too stubborn, lazy and self-centered to accept reality and get a real life. 

The artwork we make must be so undeniable, that it makes money, pays other people's salaries, buys houses, buys cars, becomes iconic, influential, changes people's lives and commands respect. Otherwise one lives in a personal ghetto, unknown, making unknown pictures, living like an underground fugitive, a spy, a legend in one's own mind, pretending to be "x" when one is really "y".

Michael Bowman