Thursday, August 15, 2013

the other morning a thought came to me-- 
a 72 LB kettlebell doesn't lie…

this thought could have been a meaningless patch
of metaphor at the end of a grueling
self-inflicted tribulation.
or it could have been an insert into the catalog of authenticity
parenthood has goaded me into investigating.

i don't know. 
i'm just trying to find my way.

in the day to day struggle to wake up get out get to work come home
there can be a sense of loss
and of delusion.
or illusion, or perhaps more creatively,
a lack thereof…
add the romantic struggles of a working artist
and it's easy to see why so few have the endurance,
the faith in the pursuit to carry on,
to push forward, to survive.

we can lie to ourselves and we can grow up
and we can turn on the television
and the computer
and play at limping through this 2nd decade
of the 21st fucking century.

we can play the game,
follow the rules
and waste whatever it is
we need to say and to see
and to share with the world
outside the studio walls…

for every artist soldiering on,
with or without success,
there are untold numbers cashing paychecks
for having given up on the dream.

the alternative of course,
is facing what is confronting us-
be it a chokehold, leg kick
or the sales of your work
not quite being where you want them to be.

this is scary shit…

and it cannot be handled blithely.
the artist, particularly, the painter,
holds much in common with the fighter-
in the gym alone, tuning into a very private song of war.

there are those who will give words of wisdom
yet none will feel the actuality
of the individual pain in process of the practice…

and then there is success.

it happens.

suddenly the gods are smiling on you--
and maybe you smile back.

or maybe not...

success can boost an ego
burdened by self-loathing or ennui,
but, perhaps, for some
it can be one of several nails in the coffin--
one question being:
how much is enough?

in a like sense,
for the evolved ego,
hard times may furnish the whetstone
for a blade dulled by insouciance,
while caving in the hopes
of the weak--
the fire of art
becoming, in the end,
a rote hobby--
a youthful and forgotten ember.

this then, is the culling of the herd.
the natural selection of art…

maybe. maybe not...

this is not hard and fast truth--
in fact none of this is anything at all-
simply my thoughts in my head,
thinking and learning out loud.

if we come to the understanding
that failure is not an option
we must also assert that success,
at times, harbors a shadow
of crisis all it's own…

now i ask of myself:
what does this have to do with authenticity?


don't lie to yourself.
make the best work you can
and get on with life…

if things are bad figure it out.
right the ship and get on with it…

if things are good and while kicking ass
and taking names
you note a grim melancholia--
step back and make some tough choices.
and then get on with it.

an honest artist should be ready to handle
the tough choices.

they should be made daily.
or if not daily--

we labor within our individual needs--
personally, i toil within an unpopulated landscape
of rugged mathematics--
addition and subtraction--
paint put down and paint taken off.
these are tough choices all,
but choices made
and consequences dealt with accordingly.

in my studio practice there often comes a time
when a canvas worked and worked
becomes (perhaps) something dishonest-
something not what it should be.
and eventually the dishonesty disappears
behind a wall of black or white gesso
and the hunt begins anew…

years ago the poetic Robert Kingston
admonished me to never save
a singular part of a painting…

as hard as it is at times,
i have strived to toe that line...

the brutal decisions are the most honest.
they reflect back to us
the beauty of what our art aspires to.

never doubt yourself in times of loss.

never question your art in the womb of success.
simply tune into your mechanisms--
feel yourself meld within the circumstances
of a market and scene

and match the best of those vibes
to the best in the studio.

ask yourself how it feels…

and make the tough choices.

to be fair,
i rather enjoy the dilemma of packing crates
and shipping paintings.
the logistics of customs
and adding bottles of wine to the modest collection.

the point is to carry on.

its important to take on the hardships
of our chosen path with resolve.

look the favors and sorrows in the eye--
staring back as hard
and as natural as a wolf.
or if not a wolf,
at least a bad motherfucker...