12/15/2004: "Feeling Knocked Down a Peg (or two)"
Lately I've been suffering from, oh, let's call it "delusions of grandeur". This isn't uncommon for me, actually I've suffered from overconfidence complicated by a low self-esteem, ever since I was little. Overconfidence in myself as an artist, and low self-esteem because basically I think as far as people go I'm total rot.
But I’ve felt good about how things have been going recently. Really good. I been getting so much positive reinforcement, especially from this website. I get loads of emails, and comments in this blog and in my guestbook (as well as written in my show guestbooks at openings)…from people all over the world telling me how great my work is…and after awhile, I started to believe it…to think that my work was just as good as anyone else’s out there. That I’d be able to compete in the crazy competitive art market and make a real living at it someday.
Then, last week while surfing the Net I found a site called “Art Scene Alaska” an online art criticism publication for artists displaying work in the state and I started to read it. (Don't be fooled by the amaturish look of the website, the writing is really good) Anyway, REALITY CHECK! There are a gigillion talented artists right here in Alaska. I thought I was becoming a big fish in a little pond and I’ve discovered that I’m a minnow in an ocean. I started looking up some of these “real” artists to see they’ve been having shows all over the US and overseas, that they’ve won grants and fellowships for large foundations and won prizes in juried shows. How can I ever compete with that?
And hey what a minute! What about all that praise I’ve been getting regarding what a genius I am? Well, it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. For example, the majority of people who attend my shows are either friends, colleagues, or people who especially like my work. Of course they are all going to have great things to say and anyway, people critical of the work rarely leave comments.
Secondly, my website gets close to 80 thousand “hits” and around 7000 unique “visitors” every month. And from all those visits, only a handful of people actually comment that they like the work. I’ve been looking at this as “glass half full” and not the reality that thousands of people see my stuff every month and don’t feel moved at all.
I sent an email to the guy who writes the artsceneak publication because he has a list to “Alaskan artists” on his website and I was hoping he could add me to his list. He never even responded! I know he got the email because I had asked him a question about my password and he responded to that. Geesh. It sucks to realize you’ve been weighed, measured… and found lacking.
I have always hated the idea of juried shows, I’ve avoided them like the plague. And I’ve never applied for a show that I wasn’t certain I could get (the only exception was when I applied for a solo at the Alaska State Museum several years ago and they said I needed to submit to some of the juried group shows before I’d be considered for a solo). I’ve never applied for anything again.
For one thing, I feel like in order to win at juried shows your stuff has to be really “clever”, tongue in cheek, political, or confusing. I don’t want to have to name my paintings things like “Broken Isotope number 11”…besides, paintings almost never win those things anyway. It’s always someone with mixed media of some sort, painting is dead and I don’t want to have to suspend little vials of blood from the canvas in order to be taken seriously.
OK, I have a thin skin but I hate feeling like an amature, like I'm not being taken seriously. I want to scream at those who think I’m nothing much: THIS ISN’T A FUCKING HOBBY OK? IT’S MY GODDAMN LIFE!!! DON’T YOU GET IT!???