Monday, October 24, 2016

I'm pretty sure this one will slip through my fingers as well

A little background...After years of doing the work, joining the groups, paying my dues, entering exhibitions, getting picked up by two prestigious galleries, getting shown at some of the important art exhibitions, amassing an enormous debt in a bid to attract the attention of the Collectors, it all seemed to be going my way. November 2008 was our third year at SOFA (Sculptural Objects and Functional Art), a very prestigious show. Everyone told us that the third year was the year that things would start happening, the work would start to sell. Except it was November 2008, the year that the bottom dropped out of the economy, the year that Bernie Madoff's embezzlement came to light, the year that all of a sudden lots of these collectors found themselves to have lost millions of dollars. SOFA 2008 was a bad show for just about everybody and the years that followed found galleries going out of business and artists giving it up and getting jobs.

Instead of taking off, I was sidelined. Galleries focused on the big names, the already sure sellers. I don't really blame them, they were just trying to survive but it was devastating to me, demoralizing and I didn't produce any new work for over two years. I would go in the studio and look at the wax and my tools and turn around and walk back out.

I did eventually get back in the studio but it took me three years to produce the 20 Botanicas and while I am still making new work in between commission jobs, I'm not very prolific. I no longer enter exhibitions, well, rarely (I was really disappointed that, while being on the short list for selection, none of my work was purchased for the small works collection displayed at the airport in Houston, that my piece didn't make it into the Lifeforms exhibit, and I seem to get rejected more than accepted these days when I do enter). I've given up becoming a darling of the galleries and Collectors and I'm OK with that.

Still, there are a few people out there that remember me. We were asked to participate in the Texas glass exhibition at the museum in Corpus Christi 2 years ago and Kittrell/Riffkind Gallery in Dallas always asks us for a piece for their anniversary show and most recently, like last week, I got an email from a guy who is organizing a Texas glass exhibition for the art museum in Victoria and my name was recommend to him and he asked me to call.

It didn't go very well.

After a long explanation of how the exhibit came to be and his juggling of narrative vs conceptual and his decision to focus on conceptual art, he mentioned a few Texas glass artists who I had never heard of. We had been recommended by a woman at Corning who had previously worked at the Houston Center For Contemporary Craft, he said, because he didn't have anyone in mind for pate de verre and he wanted to include all the techniques. He had been looking at my web site, he said, and after dismissing just about everything he had seen as too narrative, asked about a particular piece but not the whole piece but only one of it's components. I described it to him, what it was about.

How big is it, he asked.

5” tall, I answered.

Oh, well, what about this other piece, he asked.

6”, I answered.

Do you have anything larger, he asked. (He wanted large art pieces.)

Afraid not, I told him, all my work is small. The technique is so difficult and time consuming and detailed that if I worked large, I'd get about one piece done a year that would be so expensive I'd never sell it.

I have to give him credit for trying to include me though.

He finally asked about a vase form, which is also only 6” tall, that had sold years ago and it's about as literal and narrative as my work gets. Did I know who bought it, he wanted to know.

Maybe. So I'm supposed to be emailing the woman I think has it and see if she would be willing to loan it for this 2 or 3 month exhibition which might travel to other museums in Texas.

I told him I was working on some new pieces that might better fit but he seemed to want to select the work now, 9 months in advance. He sort of hemmed and hawed about that so I guess I'll send him some images when I get these pieces done, if I get them done in a timely manner, always dicey with me, and we left it with me contacting the woman mentioned above about the Under Foot piece.

Under Foot

So, we'll see. My work is NOT conceptual in any way or form of the idea and for the most part, conceptual art leaves me cold. I can't see him using my work just to have the technique represented, sticking out like a sore thumb amongst all the modern/contemporary/abstract work I imagine he is selecting.


  1. To be an artist is to have a soul which is as revealed to the world as a pane of glass.
    Your art speaks. Thus, it is narrative.

  2. Your Moth Series are exceptional abstractions--Not conceptual, but also not exactly representational either. Making a living as an artist falls into a few select categories it seems; becoming the Micheal Jordan of art makers (and that requires being the darling of those who represent the rest of the darlings); teaching; securing the RFQ's for large public arts projects; or most likely, a combo of the former vs. one of the latter. Oh...and there is production work. Making a great and affordable widget that can be mass produced and distributed well.

    To be honest, I prefer abstracted or representational work over tru conceptual art. But one does need a common theme for curating a show. Sigh.

  3. It really is a crap shoot. When I wrote my book, you had to submit it through an agent, etc. They were all looking for blockbusters. One agent kept exclusivity on it for a year and a half. I did my first Round Top show three weeks after 9/11. I got invited to a show in Jackson Hole which I didn't even consider. My paper art is one of a kind and takes a long time too, much less life-sized. You learn as you go. Love our work and just keep on casting; maybe a larger net. It is all so expensive. It really galled me to have to give stores 50% and I got out of that. Then you do the shows and the overhead... As Isaid, it's a crap shoot.

    1. love your work is what it should have read.

  4. Well, you do have to do what lights your passion and then try to find a market for that. As this economy changes let us hope your fame grows. Do not be discouraged.

  5. Unfortunately for many artists, their work often isn't shown or appreciated in their lifetime.I really enjoy your work, but part of it comes from knowing you and having seen a lot of your work.

  6. I remember one promoter who made life out to be a crap shoot. Perhaps. But maybe just one time it would be rigged in favor of art. And don't take that as an endorsement, please.

  7. I hope you have an opportunity to be represented in this show, especially since I'm such a big fan of your work.

  8. Well, good luck -- but then, maybe you don't WANT to be in a show that's not representative of the kind of work you do. After all, as an artist, the work needs to really be YOURS if you're going to exhibit it under your name. Right?

    That vase is stunning. If I were the owner I wouldn't let it out of my sight! :)


I opened my big mouth, now it's your turn.