Monday, August 27, 2012

I (Kinda) Love Tebow

I’m a huge football fan - specifically, a proud citizen of Steeler Nation.  I can’t wait for the season to start!

But as a female person of the thinking variety, it’s hard for me to root enthusiastically for the Steelers’ quarterback, the giant oaf Ben Roethlisberger, so I have to look elsewhere for QBs to cheer. Aaron Rodgers is obviously out of the question, having beaten the Steelers in the Super Bowl, so I mainly stick with the ones everybody likes – Eli and Peyton Manning. I am delighted to see Peyton back in uniform, as I was to see Eli once again crush the smug Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl.  But my eye is wandering. I fear I must confess it – I kinda love Tim Tebow.

Tebow and I do not seem like an obvious match. I certainly don’t share his fervent Christian beliefs, and I made as much fun of him as anyone when he started out, what with the praying on the sidelines and the horribly embarrassing commercial with Ma Tebow explaining how she didn’t abort him. Ew!

And then there’s his bizarre playing. His physics-defying throwing motion, his abrupt charges down the field, his out-to-lunch demeanor for the first three quarters of any given game.  The insane, impossible wins. The spectacular flameouts.

I laughed as hard as anyone when he got traded to New York. Here was a guy who at 25 was not only a virgin but was proud of it, going to play in the big, mean city for a loudmouth coach.  But damned if he isn’t entertaining to watch. Even Drew Magary, the snarkiest sports snarker in all the land, agrees, hinting that perhaps Tebow is after all, a very nice man and occasionally effective quarterback (although his epic Deadspin post “What if Tim Tebow were gay?” lays out some vastly more interesting possibilities).

Another Deadspin writer, Sean Newell, explains, “We love watching sports because we love watching crazy shit happen. Sometimes that crazy shit is a wildly over-matched team beating its superior. Tebow and the Broncos piloted that roller coaster ride for half the season”. Based on his performance in last night’s preseason loss to Carolina – complete with mad dashes for first downs and wildly off-target throws – we can look forward to more of the same from Tebow the Jet.

As a bonus, because it’s New York, it’s after 6 and he’s not a farmer, we get Tebow in a tux. Thank you, Jesus. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In which I dip a toe into the turbulent waters of career advice

Boy, have I read a lot of bad career advice lately! My favorite was the article that told artists to figure out which were the best galleries in the richest markets, and try to get their work in there. Ahahahahahahaha! Yup, let’s all submit our images to the Gagosian Gallery in New York and see how that goes.

I did read one piece by a guy named Mat Gleason that struck a chord with me, so I’d like to share some of it here.  Here’s my favorite line:

“Just make the art and sell it for whatever it takes to get it out of the studio and make more.” Yes.


“Everyone has great career advice for you that is current for 1979, or 1985 or 1994, whatever year they broke into the art world -- that is the master plan they insist everyone must follow; they assert you will not succeed unless you, too, do things like they did back then. 


There is no blueprint for a masterpiece and there is no blueprint for a successful art career. Like Gandhi said, "What you do will not be important but it is important that you do it." he didn't add " buy the overpriced book and DVD series on how to succeed at doing that unimportant important thing."

He has more to say about galleries, art schools, charity auctions and many other topics of interest to artists. You can read the rest here. Then go make some art.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Art is a rebuke to the cult of expertise

Although I'm a huge fan of science, I very much enjoyed this short piece by William Deresiewicz in The American Scholar today about how new scientific discoveries are considered by many to be the only "real" way of validating things we already knew, though experience or art.

"The problem, all around, is scientism: the belief that science is the only valid form of knowledge. To accept as much is to deny the authority of one’s own experience. Never mind Dickens; everyone who lives in a city understands that urban life is stressful. And it is nothing other than experience upon which art stakes its claim: the experience of the individual creator, and her ability to give it a form that resonates with our experience. Art is a rebuke to the cult of expertise. It is allied with citizenship, that other domain of the passionate amateur. In both, we stand on our right to speak from the self." 

It's well worth reading the rest of the piece here

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fall is Coming - updated

In this most endless of hot, hot DC summers, it seems premature to invoke Ned Stark and declare that "Winter is Coming". I mean, it is, of course, but not for a looooong time. However, the fall art festival season is almost upon us. Lots of events are coming up, beginning on Labor Day Weekend. Click any link below for lots more info about individual shows.

September 1 - 3      Glen Echo Park Labor Day Art Show
September 8           OutsideShow at AVAM, Baltimore, MD
September 9           Adams Morgan Day Festival, DC
September 15         H Street Festival, DC 
September 22         Hyattsville Arts Festival , MD 
October 6               Art on the Avenue, Alexandria, VA
October 14             MPA Artfest, McLean, VA

Please note that the Glen Echo show is a large group show where each artist displays 2 pieces. The rest are regular art festivals where I'll have a tent full of stuff.

Friday, August 10, 2012

On choosing to be where you don’t belong

Yesterday I went off a little bit on Twitter about blog posts written by two people, who are both intelligent, accomplished women and nice people. They were writing about “Impostor Syndrome” – the sense that, against all external evidence, they are frauds and do not deserve their accomplishments and success. 

They wrote in the context of being invited to a prestigious and exclusive invitation-only conference (with, y’know, Nobel Prize winners and best-selling authors) and feeling that they didn’t belong.  This made me so mad and sad that I actually sat at the computer, typing furiously while tears ran down my face. You were chosen. They invited you. You got to go. They wanted to hear what you had to say.

After a little sleep and some reading I feel a little more empathy. It must really suck if, after years of hard work and achievement, you still don’t feel like you deserve what you’ve accomplished.

I guess I do not suffer from Impostor Syndrome, for which I am grateful.  I am, however, an actual impostor. I think perhaps it’s both better and worse.

No, I’m not an impostor in the identity-theft sense. If anyone cared to track my movements over the past 40 years, they probably could with little difficulty.

I am an impostor because I am trying to do things for which I am not, strictly speaking, qualified. I am a professional artist of over a decade, but I have no background in art. I have taken two classes, intro to drawing and intro to painting.  I have never been invited to join a gallery. The life of the “real” professional artist, with a few galleries and shows every year or so, bears little resemblance to mine.

In the past few years, my greatest success has come in science-based work. My background in science, since my high-school years in the late 18th century, has consisted of reading books and blogs.

I have a degree in political science (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, etc., thank you, thank you) from 20 years ago. If I chose to try to work in that field, I wouldn’t have much luck either, because I never used a statistics package. Political science was more theoretical then.

So I made up my own thing, and I am trying my damnedest to make it work. Selling on etsy has been a wonderful thing for me, both in terms of enlarging my audience and making some money, but it has also cut me off even more from the mainstream art world. Galleries don’t want to work with artists who sell directly to the public – they want to do that for you. That’s how it works. I made this choice, and in many ways it has been a good one for me, but I have to admit to myself that there will always be people – many people – in the art world who look down at an artist who sells her work herself. I was not worthy to be chosen. I had to choose myself.

Obviously, I don’t belong in the science world either. I got a kick-in-the-face reminder of that this week. After being asked to attend a real, serious, scientific conference and give a presentation about my work, I got an email to say that, after all, the budget wouldn’t stretch quite that far, but I was welcome to come on my own tab (for reference, I have grossed $50 in the last 7 days).  A lot of science people like me, they cheer me on, they buy my work - for which I am so, so grateful - but I'm not one of them. I never will be. 

So – to sum up – I am a “science artist” running my own business. I have no background in art, science, or business. I chose this. I’m making it up as I go. I feel comfortable that I deserve what measure of success I have had. But I am an outsider. An impostor. Sometimes it’s great. Sometimes it’s really, really hard.