Inevitably, whenever we watch one of our heroes speak of their process, our inclination is to feel as if we have failed on some level and will never achieve even a minimally comparable level of success – either within our work or in the world at large. We realize that we already took the wrong path in life. Our path will never possess a scant mimetic hint of our hero’s life.
We will not be “discovered” by a New York Dealer. We will not have the benefit of a non-existent, distracting family or partner or that plethora of friends to distract us. And we also know that we could never find contentment with the absolute purity of the life that was presented to us – that life summarized in one hour. And we feel we have failed, or will ultimately fail and should just give up.
Or do we?
In the case of comparing myself to Agnes – the thing we both have in common is that we both consider ourselves abstract expressionists. Also neither of us care about where we work, we would make the same work. Neither her work, nor my work is about the natural world. (That sounds odd for me right now, but believe me, its the truth.)
I didn’t have the reaction of imminent failure. I watched, and learned and thought about what she said. It was so very refreshing to hear an 86 year old painter speak about her life while she was still working on a painting. I think that was the most resonant part of the movie for me. The movies flashed back in small ways – that that were only referenced by Agnes at 86. There was nothing imposed upon me by the filmmaker, except for really smart editing and some poignant questions.
I left with the secure feeling that the direction I was going was right for me, as the direction she went was right for her. And that, damn it, I am still really young!
What I came away thinking was that we live in different times than the 1950’s Taos art scene or the 1960’s New York Art Scene. A New York Dealer does not need to search for anyone anymore, at least not in same way. They don’t look past their own small world for their artists. They already have their system that seems to work just fine for them. It keeps them in business and it continues to churn out the newest success stories. To try to seek out artists any other way would be totally overwhelming for them. The world is simply totally overwhelming!
It is my job to create a vital, strong body of work so that a dealer’s attention gets peaked. An artist that is confident, strong and speak to the times.
A Link to a Trailer of the movie: https://vimeo.com/66194933
Thank you Harwood Museum and Amy Rankin for showing that beautiful movie to the residents of the Wurlitzer! We loved seeing it in that amazing auditorium of yours.