Monday, July 20, 2009


We are between jobs again.  The most recent, four small windows, is set to be installed on Tuesday and the deposit for the big window behind the altar of the chapel (JWUMC) has not arrived.  I like being between jobs because it allows me some days off and a chance to do more than just clean house, catch up on paper work, run all those errands I’ve put off.

Wait a minute, that’s starting to sound just like more work.

What I mean is, being between jobs doesn’t really bother me as long as it doesn’t last too long.  ‘Too long’ depends on how big the previous job was.  I’m used to this state of affairs although accepting it is always a work in progress.  We are equal parts confident, hopeful and fatalistic.  At this time of our lives going out and ‘getting a real job’ is sort of out of the cards.  Not only because of our age but also because of our unwillingness to submit to that kind of an environment.  

As if corporate America would even give aging hippie artists a glance.  

Our more likely avenue of employment is more on the lines of fast food and big box.  Somehow that doesn’t sound very appealing.  So we trust in the Universe and our reputations.  We just try to get through every day and leave tomorrow for tomorrow.

Not a very mature attitude one might think.  

We are also between houses.  We bought the country house two years ago this coming September.  The first year we were so busy getting ready for our one person show and then getting out all the commission work that came in.  We spent the weekends there working on the house.  This second year, we are stuck by our funding woes for getting the new shop built, stuck between paying off the debt that has accumulated the past several years and the need to build the new workspace.  Until we can work, do all parts of the work, out there, we can’t move completely.  We have to go in the city to work.  Two years of this has gotten tiresome.

Faith?  Remember?  Faith in the Universe?

Yeah, yeah, I remember.  It just gets out of focus sometimes.

And I am between artistic mediums.  About 6 years ago, I changed my focus to the pate de verre work.  At the time I was so tired of the commission work and I really wanted to try and ‘make it’ as a gallery artist.  We were having some success, minimal success.  Last year was so promising...the new house, the one man show, a gallery showing our work at SOFA Chicago for the 3rd year in a row.  We’d been a steady shower at two important international gallery shows for the last 5 years.  And then the bottom dropped out of America.  

Right when we were poised to take off.

Right when we thought we would finally get the financial payback.  Not only for ourselves but for the gallery who has been promoting our work.  Although he has sold a few pieces for us, our sales don’t fall in the ‘take these people’s work to the big shows because they are good sellers’ category.  So far, he has not shown our work in two of the three shows that happen this year.  I don’t blame him at all.  There are galleries that are closing because they have lost their collector base.

So I am discouraged.  I am suffering artist’s envy.  Not only has it been nearly a year that I have done any pate de verre work, I’m not feeling any burning desire to do some.  I mean, I still want to do it but racking up more debt traveling to these shows and then suffering the show with no sales is not high on my 'to do' list.  In one sense, I am relieved that I’m not traveling this year.  But on the other I feel like I’m getting kicked out of the major leagues.  Busted down to the minors.  

I know, I know.  Faith.

Maybe I’m just tired.


  1. There is a good reason why parents cringe when their children announce they want to be artists. It's a hard life, it is! I admire your valor and will power to stick with it.

    Some days I fantasize about giving up massage therapy in order to take a job being a receptionist. Answer the phone, greet visitors, sign the UPS forms, etc. God. Some days that sounds so nice, so easy and fun.

    But then I remember that in a hermetically sealed cubicle, probably without a window, bound by 9-5 and other rules and regs, suddenly I realize that it really is just a fantasy.

    The bed I made in this life is to make money outside the grid of the corporate life. Now I must sleep in it, even though I don't make any money and have to manage all aspects of it, not just the bodywork. This week is a light week of work, so I could worry about it if I were in a mood.

    Your post reminded me that these between times always pass and then I'm overworked. It's the way for us, Ellen. Hang in there. You will make it to the other side of the tightwire, I promise.

  2. I love your honesty...and believe me, a day like today, when I am waiting for another Corporate America meeting, I would love nothing more than to be pursuing artistic endeavors. Permanently. You have have talent. Let is rise rise rise.

  3. Love your post. I feel I understand want to work, need to work, really don't want to work.

  4. I'd love to say something suitably inspiring, but I'm not really very good at that sort of stuff. However, I hope you keep on in there and gain the recognition and markets you deserve. What about advertising on the internet?

  5. Reya - Yes, same story, different chapter. It is my chosen way of life, the reality I have made for myself. Although when I'm fashioning I'm always richer and more sought after. Some of that gets lost in the translation. I guess my usual optimism and good nature is taking a few days off. It'll be back.

    JennyMac - thanks, I pursue. One of these days I'd like to catch.

    Together - thanks for visiting. I have promised a piece to the Mint Museum of Craft for their gala so that will get me motivated sooner.

    Madame - You need do nothing more than continue to make me laugh. We will keep on, persevere, because at this point, there's not much else we can do. And I say that with a smile.

  6. My daughter is embarking on a field in the arts and is discovering the downsides, after 8 years of in depth training. And of all times, right when the economy is taking a dive. But she wouldn't trade it for the world, or a little corporate cubicle. Keep the faith. A tightrope is far more thrilling.

  7. May I recommend a visit to the "north shore" of Lake Superior? With a stop in our village in Minneapolis?

    People always sleep well when they visit here -- and leave refreshed. I don't know what it is, but it's a time-honored tradition in Minnesota for artists, miners, you name it to slip away to enjoy the cool forests and the lake breezes in the summer here.

    Plus, we've got a TON of galleries and a thriving community of art supporters -- might just give you rest and revitalization and a new market.

    Just saying . . .

    You're incredibly talented, Ellen. I trust the Universe completely. But it's easier to do when you're rested.

  8. I know what you mean about having trust. We are in the unemployed category, as well. It can really get you down if you think about it, so try to visualize the outcome you want and let it go. Worrying won't help. But you already know that.

    What about selling online? Do you have to go through a gallery?

  9. Willow - I wish her well. I wish her success. Reward is not always money.

    Kathleen - thanks. It sounds lovely and enticing and I wish I could zip up there. Could be it's the heat here that has me so drained. All my work is placed right now but when I get some new stuff made, maybe you could recommend a fine craft gallery up there.

    Nancy - I haven't been interested in selling on-line, content to let the galleries do what they do. There is no reason I couldn't as long as I don't undercut them. I may reconsider but I think most high end collectors purchase through galleries.

  10. Feeling much the same way about my choices of late...this, too, shall pass. Inspiration is there, just around the corner. You will round the right corner soon. Sending good thoughts your way.....


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