Wednesday, August 20, 2014
The Shadow Side of Creation
Destruction is the shadow side of creation. Anything that can be made can be unmade. Last night, two works of art I made were destroyed, hacked to pieces by a large man wielding an axe.
How did things come to this?
A simple answer is that I have completely run out of patience. My reservoir of patience has been drained gradually, after long months of not selling artwork and barely even selling my books. I'm on all kinds of social media, sometimes spending 8 hours a day scheduling updates. But what good does that do me when so many of my Twitter followers aren't even real people, or are only following me because they want me to follow them back?
I have run out of patience with people who say they like my art but never buy anything. I have artwork at different price points, the lowest being my $9.99 art eBooks. And I take credit cards. But not excuses. Not anymore.
I have run out of patience with people not coming to my events. Doesn't matter if they are on a weekday or weekend, during the day or at night, in the city or in the suburbs, accessible via public transit or adjacent to a large, free parking lot. Doesn't matter if I send out invitations months in advance or at the last minute. Doesn't matter if it's an opening or closing reception, if the work I'm showing is old or new, if it's a solo show or a group show. People aren't coming.
I have run out of patience for the unsold artwork that crowds my studio. I've entered shows to try to get rid of it, but it keeps coming back. The two pieces that got chopped up last night have been around since 2007. Smother has been in too many shows to count, and I couldn't even sell Untitled (Green) on eBay a few years ago. I have begun to feel deeply resentful toward my unsold artwork, seeing each piece as a bill I could have paid, an outfit I could have bought, a trip I could have taken.
And so I decided to risk everything and conduct a crazy experiment. Its premise was simple: do people care if my art gets destroyed?
No, they don't. Well, why should they? I'm not famous. My art isn't worth millions. I'm not represented by a fancy gallery. But I needed to see if somehow, in spite of that, somebody might think that Smother or Untitled (Green) was at least worth the cost of my materials.
Of course, it might have helped if people who like my art, like the ones on my e-mail list or the ones who "Like" my art page on Facebook, had actually been in the audience last night. They could have walked away with original art for as little as $50. But they didn't.
But I knew that my art could get destroyed before going into this. It's a crazy gamble, and I've been taking a lot of risks this year. I needed to see what happened. I was hoping that, whatever happened, I'd come out of this feeling less angry and disappointed. But nothing has changed and I still feel angry and disappointed. But at least now I have more room to make more artwork, which, seven years from now, if still unsold, may be doomed to the same fate as Smother and Untitled (Green).