Last Thursday I flew to Florida for a dear friend's wedding. I'm always so busy in my regular life that I often don't find time to read. Travel affords me the time to crank through one or several books and I cherish that aspect of traveling and vacations. On this trip, I read Patti Smith's Just Kids. It was the perfect book for me to read at the perfect time.
I didn't go into reading this as a huge Patti Smith or Robert Mapplethorpe fan. In fact, I didn't know much about either of them except for the basics. But diving into their world - their youth, young love, passion, sexual exploration, friendship, devotion, SEEKING, fearlessness, vulnerablity - all of it provided a deep insight into a fascinating life told from such an honest and self aware place. I almost finished the book by the time I landed and had a lot of personal reactions to what I read that I shelved for party-wedding-time.
Now that I'm home, I'm inspired to aspire to be as devoted to being an artist as they were. They were making art and living in apartments with junkies across the hall and no food but they were always committed to art. As vital to them as their blood. It's time for me to take money officially out of the picture when I'm making art. Take it entirely out of my mind and thought process. I've allowed it to permeate into my relationship with art and it's only served to limit me. Remembering what it means to be an artist, the responsibility I have to the gift of art, the responsibility I have to myself to not stop at small dreams.
I think I need to read nothing but artist biographies for a while. Soak in the reality that there is no "right way" to be an artist. Everyone has their own story, their own journey. The questions of "how do I relate, how do I agree, disagree, desire, reject their various choices, their process, their lives?" will help me figure out where I stand in it all. Where I want to go.
When I was in Florida I saw so many galleries and great contemporary art, I had this dream of opening a gallery down there and getting a condo so I could come and go and co-manage the gallery. I got so into this fantasy it was all I could think about when I was walking on the beach by myself. Returning home, I kept dreaming other dreams - a gallery/house on the Cape or Maine. A house on a lake here in Connecticut or in the woods in the Berkshires. For fun, I look up real estate in different states and vacation rentals in other countries. It's like a fun hobby for me but meanwhile, I don't really know what I REALLY want in the future. Am I supposed to know?
Blending all of this together, I think the focus is pretty simple. Just be an artist and let life take you where you're meant to go.