This week was filled, as I anticipated it would be, with the tedious task of sorting slides and scanning them. I soon realized that the scanner I'd borrowed from Eckerd College would work for family snap shots but the quality wasn't up to scanning images of my work for my web site. So...first I had to go through all the images on my computer and categorize them, then go through all the slides and decide which ones need to be scanned so I can get them professionally scanned. All this while dealing with the fact that the insurance company requires that I replace the roof on my house before the end of the summer. If not, they won't insure it. I mention this because many folks out there apparently think that artists live on "love and fresh air." Perhaps it comes as a surprise to them that we, too, have mortgages to pay and roofs that need replacing!
Once in a while, over the past week, I'd take time off from slide-sorting to read parts of Hyperallergic, an excellent art magazine that arrives in my inbox each day. An article about an Indian visual artist, writer and teacher, K. G. Subramanyan, who passed away last month, caught my imagination. I read a statement he made with which I identify. I'm taking the liberty here of quoting him but changing the gender: "In a theoretical sense, a sensitive artist can subsist and function all by herself in her private world, even if she is surrounded by apathetic and insensitive people, if she does not rue her isolation and lack of appreciation and reward. But, certainly, it is not the best of situations. No art that grows like a lonely desert flower in the midst of barrenness can survive in the long run, let alone flourish; to do so, it needs around it the presence of an art language (and, so, a wide presence of art practice and connoisseurship); this alone will nourish an artist’s total sensibility. And if she on her part can infiltrate into its various channels, as much as her talent will permit, it will not only broaden the spectrum of her sensibility but enrich the environment as well. This is not to advise any artist to make any compromises, but only to spread herself out."
There's many a time when I feel like I spread myself too thin, but Subramanyan's quote validates this tendency. Perhaps, by making art, teaching art in a variety of settings, gardening (a time-consuming activity) and by volunteering with my yoga group, I am "not only broadening the spectrum of my sensibility but enriching the environment as well." Certainly there have been many times when I felt that my art was attempting to grow "like a lonely desert flower...with lack of appreciation and reward." Once in a while, like when I learned on Friday, May 13, that I had been awarded an Individual Artist's Grant by Creative Pinellas, I feel appreciated and rewarded. Or when a student brought her eighty-one year old mother to my painting class at the Morean Arts Center (one of the locations where I teach) last Tuesday evening and the following morning I received an email, "Awesome time for Mom, a new experience for her! You are so patient and kind, an awesome teacher."
In a letter to Subrahmanyan, a friend wrote:
...I would go so far as to say that your every critical utterance is a blessing because it holds within it a ‘way,’ a ‘corrective’ measure, the ‘possibility’ of doing something differently, ‘insights’ into approaching one’s shortcomings in a positive sense; in other words, the way forward.
My goal, as a teacher, is to approach my students' work in the same way--guiding each to find her or his unique artistic voice. At the current Members' Show at the Morean Arts Center, where several of my students' work is on display, I am delighted by the variety of styles, and media, that I see in their work. One of my students, I am delighted to report, Tricia Tierney Moses, won an award for her painting in the show.
Last Friday evening, I took a brief break from my slide-sorting task to attend Ya La'Ford's opening at the Chihuly Collection on Beach Drive. The small gallery was so crowded that it was difficult to see the art and I promised myself that I would return before the show ends. Although I couldn't see much of Ya's art, I was treated to a private tour of the Chihuly Collection--on this, my first visit to the Beach Drive location! I was enormously impressed by the professionalism of the displays and the way they worked in perfect harmony with the beautifully designed contemporary building. My hope is that when the Chihuly Collection moves closer to the Morean Arts Center in October, the displays will be every bit as stunning. Meanwhile, the current venue will close at the end of this month, so this weekend is the last opportunity to see both Ya La'Ford's show and the Chihuly Collection on Beach Drive.