I call this painting my jump-start painting. I hadn’t painted in a very long time due to a health scare with my oldest son. Without going into too many details all I can say is that if I had to bury a kid you might as well bury me too. But the cancer scare turned into a mis-diagnosis and months later repeat tests confirmed he has chrones disease.
Needless to say, just about everything in my life came to a screeching halt; but my son slowly healed and I was glad he came back to life and was no longer a zombie from the land of the living dead.
However, it all left me questioning the bigger picture of life. Was it important that I even painted at all? The recession certainly has not helped the arts and non -profits, not to mention the fact that when the retail market fell off a cliff back in 2008, so did my licensed artwork.
I even had an old friend, who is a lifelong artist and sculptor, tell me his opinion about the state of art today. He said, “The majority of people don’t even care about art. Dancing? Yes! Singing? Yes! Look at all the popular television shows that reflect this, but ART? No!”
Was what he said true? If you look at the actions of our elected leaders and politicians, the systematic and strategical amputation of the arts always comes first. So why would the majority of the public find importance in the arts, especially visual art, when our leaders put it on the bottom of the list of priorities?
Sure, there are always crumbs thrown at the art world in general. For example, every federally funded building project must allocate 1% of the total cost of the building to buying art. When you get into million dollar projects then the budget for art in that building can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But who gets these six digit projects? I read about an artist who graduated from KCAI. He designed the public works project at the new Staten Island ferry terminal on the Staten Island side. That would be my closest connection because that is where I received my BFA. But I have never met him, not even at our annual alumni gatherings in New York City.
There is also an artist named Will Cotton. He graduated from the New York Academy of Art over twenty years ago. You’ve probably heard of him by now if you’ve ever watched a Katie Perry video. He is the talented master mind behind her latest CD cover and the candy backdrops of her videos. The inspiration for the entire theme of her tour this past summer also came from his luscious Candy land paintings.
I love his work despite criticism about him being sexist. He is very talented and don’t you think he reflects the state of our society at large to a certain extent? (A feat that fine artists across the world spend a lifetime trying to accomplish.) Mr. Cotton was at the top of the fine art world before and now has made a big chocolate-covered candy-sprinkled splash in the commercial musical world as well. I’m jealous!
Yes, there are women up there on the top shelf such as these men. But without sounding too disappointed the statistics show that the fine art world is dominated by men on a scale of 80%. That means the fine art world only represents female artists by 20%. Quite a loss for women considering we are 50% of the work force here in America.
And if I may interject, worldwide women are 66% of the work force, grow 50% of the world’s food, receive 10% of the world’s income and own 1% of the world’s real estate. (Yikes was my first thought upon hearing this.)
That is a lot to think about. No doubt life is really hard sometimes and at those times when you hit the very bottom you wonder what the hell it’s all about. But as they say, when you do hit bottom-there is only one place to go-and that place is up.
After contemplating all of these things and lighting a lot of candles over what seemed like a long time, I came to the conclusion that all of us are given certain gifts and what we do with them is up to us. Did I want to throw away something that has been a part of me since I was four or five years old? Probably since I was born. Or was I going to paint again?
So when I saw a call for entries for the second annual Westminster Kennel Club poster competition through my Alma Matter, The New York Academy of Art, I decided to enter. I tried last year with no luck and had the same results this year.
But I have to say that when I went into my studio and squeezed colors from the tubes and mixed them with linseed oil it all felt pretty good, like being with a long-lost friend.