I have not been blogging , I have been writing more directly on social platforms and posting pics photos and art work.
I will try to restart my log my long dreary complaint , my kvetch how painting, arting and criticism are a dangerous mixture.
This maybe stopping and starting. Been thinking a lot about the compulsiveness of creative work.
Art working by it’s very nature is delusional based on peculiar belief systems, dogmas and traditions.
aphorisms welcome here. Writing on my iPad in my wheelchair pecking away with no particular place to go.
The thing I know is this without criticism nothing ever really becomes complete.
On the other hand art is an open inquiry with no agenda as such like science one experiments.
The species seems to fail frequently ,it takes a large number of individuals seem to create a creative genius ,
infrequently. Which is to say not all art is equal. Indeed the distance between today and antiquity is brief in
terms of art. Even the concept of art is relatively recent all the divisions and departments all the texts.
As a teacher I found I was ill prepared for the task. In the art school , fine art is often unwelcome a sort of
delusional area of study similar to philosophy much talking about things that are not art but like art!
For me finally getting away from teaching seemed to give me more of a voice and vocation. Of course it was only marginally successful given the constraints of debt and the difficultly of selling my wares. Everyone suffered, though a simple joy did rein upon those days. After all no more teacher’s dirty looks. I got to read a great deal and I made hundreds and hundreds of drawings and paintings. I was unwell but then aren’t we a bit unwell since birth? At least it has seemed to me that poverty creates risks that endangered us whether artist or not.
That I have survived surprises me, my luck has failed me several times. Indeed I think the whole relationship I have with writing devolves to the philosophical questions in art working that seem particularly psychological and nearly pharmacological as if brain chemistry as much as personal experience create the idea that this object is of value, more that it’s materials. Then again give me a good aphorism or a good joke and I will happily scribble more.
Many years ago a young student brought to my attention how much this area was enamored by Westerns , Cowboy films nearly always running on television here in Minneapolis. Still true, I showed a loony toon old painting down in Northfield , Minnesota early 1970’s and the students were all into the fact that Frank and Jesse James had robbed the bank there and that Frank James was shot dead by posse. This rustic tale came as a lightening bolt to my realizing I was teaching at a Western cowboy art school, west of the Mississippi enough to be way out West and North enough to be The outback. Nearly Canada and their weather and the same disregard for natives. Something came through to me I was way far from what I loved , it felt like Siberia a sort of exile.
OK , St Paul was nearby and very Eastern feeling like emulating Boston and failing , falling way short but cozy because it was a government town. I showed there frequently but was never comfortable over there way out East. Had friends there but I just thought it was like San Francisco a hipster location. Lots of coffee lots of beer, a few hero artists, writers more so but really it was not a good fit for me. I digress , taking a time out may return may not.
Resumes here on Sunday August 1 - alone again more I have learned the hard way that the people in my life have suffered because of my bi-polar disorder, the mood disorder is very seamless not always apparent but stress triggers inappropriate behaviors or at least in terms of social and cultural norms. I had my first serious outbreak in 1974 preceded by some serious physical issues that required surgery twice and prolonged recoveries.. The psych symptoms were the inability to sleep, racing thoughts , self destructive behaviors excesses ultimately require hospitalizations three spring/ summer periods one after another. Finally later in the 1970’s I started lithium carbonate therapy which restored me to semblance of my former albeit wounded by the experience which then on and off reeked havoc in my professional and private lives. By the mid 1980’s I did two more periods in hospital here in Minneapolis. Around that time I began to think of my art as a broken style that the discontinuities began to take their toll. I was able to do creative work, but the focus fell heavily on drawings and notebooks of pictures and notational writing. My paintings were taking long spells to make, large and heavily influenced by my personal psychology and personal experiences as someone marginalized by a personality disorder but functional on some level and able to do work particularly notational broken efforts at understanding myself and my malaise.
I had some measure of success in teaching and art working but the rewards were small especially the sales of art works. And when I was fired at my teaching position i needed to do many kinds of work to survive, it was daunting and often very stressful. I managed to keep making works but the material became more autre’ more psychological distorted often overtly sexual in content. To say it is difficult to sell nightmares puts it succinctly. I wrote, did illustrations, curated art shows ,painted portraits , sold older ambitious works inexpensively just to pay rents and have food, needed to collapse my art zine as income plummeted but was able to make new zines that reflected my ongoing struggle in a psychosexual manner. I was alone a lot in relationships or out, I always wound up by myself , I would see my children but was never able to normalize my life for very long. It was exhausting and took a steep toll on my health and self regard. It never really let up over years and decades, indeed my personal struggle was directly or indirectly the subject of my art not strictly narrative in a linear sense but bits and pieces , fragments. I made my books as a seamless act of both revealing bits and disclosures and I hid from myself my actual emergency, as if I didn’t really wish my work to become a diary of a madman.
Now it seems obvious to me that my madness ruined my life my intimacies, my love etc even lost me my children, But I understood that my art was powerful because it embodied a lot of drivenness and truthiness it might take an extreme form but it wove itself into an elaborate tapestry over many years. Indeed it’s discontinuity reflected my broken path. I had survived to grow quite old but I had lost a lot of my friends and comrades over time, as I said initially I was making a broken art.
By broken I do not mean useless or ugly but rather difficult and not Matisse’s comfortable chair ,the work took a turn towards the darkness because much of those years were very painful and slim . There was joy but the preeminent sense I had was not merely being misunderstood but rather not worth the bother. My work was just too peculiar too personal violent and distressing. But beautiful none the less like me binary always poison and candy, sweet and sour, thoughtful and thoughtless. It was as if the work was me more that my life itself was me. Even when things calmed down the shadow of madness clung to my art. I was a specimen of peculiar journey through years of trying to find my way using my art as my guide. Now with cancer and myriad personal and private issues I take the days as they come pain in all of them but pleasures too, the sheer joy of still being able to be alive and have my wits and scratch at my project my long journey into the life of creative work with slight reward but enough to be able to continue to explore all these ideas, images and mysteries. I wish I had been more even , more outside the spectrum of unwellness, but you get what you get, it’s always a throw of the dice. The uncertainty begets a back and forth between the desire to survive and cure of vanishing.