In conversation with another artist today, we found ourselves in a discussion that I imagine is happening everyday in art circles everywhere. What are the implications of steering one’s studio efforts into “commercially viable” work? It can be a moot point for some and a conundrum for many others. Maybe, this is especially toothy in more conservative markets like Nashville… is it possible to find a collection of collectors that can help sustain a career if the work isn’t safe/salable enough? Nashville has a long history of playing it safe when buying art, and that has opened the door for many artists fleeing this city to make their work and careers elsewhere. Easy abstraction and landscapes and portraiture all have a home here… I’m not sure about work that seeks to “say something.” Of course, there’s a home for other work here, but it’s like a one bedroom rented apartment with a weird smell, and not the half acre three/four bedroom place with a fair mortgage and mature trees. How many full time artists are there in Nashville making a living selling art? This city has sold itself (out) for the last five or so years on being hospitable to “creatives,” but not many of the artists I know are at all sure what that even means. The stories are countless of artists doing gigs and being “paid” with “exposure.” It’s not a new story that’s playing out, and full blooded artists are generally calloused and capable enough to plow ahead without too much regard for end result of creating work… It’s the creating that is the magic… it’s the process in the studio that ultimately sustains the soul.
I have “suffered” (not real suffering, but in my head, “suffered”), the situation of finding a fit with my work and the Nashville art market. It has been a solid dozen years of effort. I have learned a lot. “Art and the End of Suffering” has assisted me and my psychic departure from Nashville. I am quietly working on finding a home away from this city for my work, taking control of the things that I can and setting the frustrations free. Last year’s attempt to create “commercially viable” work was not much of a success, and by last December the writing was on the wall… I needed to do my Work at all costs, because I can not afford the price of selling out my personal vision.