Monday, August 8, 2011

Running from success

John Marin, Island (Ship’s Stern), 1934, watercolor on paper
Here's the bold, brassy truth...I've been playing hard this summer and applying for every grant I can find so not posting much.  Now that the rain has interrupted my fun, plus needing a break from grant writing I'm enjoying this moment to get caught up and frankly the blog is "fun" writing.  Two weekends ago I was in Maine at a friends house and between visits to the beach we went to see the John Marin exhibit.  I have never missed a chance to see his work but he is not one of my favorites can't really put my finger on it however there is something that clearly draws me to him.  The Portland Museum of Art has a super exhibit of his work right now, many pieces I'd never seen before.  We were there for the gallery talk and after hearing about John I ended up really liking him more than his work - he was an outdoorsman, rugged individualist and curmudgeonly.  What really got me was how much he did not want success...he just wanted to paint.  My favorite anecdote was the one where (I think the gallerist said...) the Louvre chased him around Europe to buy a painting and he was miserable to them, in the end finally relenting just to shut them up.  Crazy!  Hey Louvre call me I have some paintings for you!


He is not the first artist I've heard about or know that is too busy making art to be fussing with all that nasty success etc.  Why just this weekend I met an amazing artist who has shows falling into his lap, is making a good living with his work in these ultra-challenging financial times and while I do not know him well at all my sense is he is happiest at his home which is deep DEEP in the woods and if he never had a gallery then he'd be ok with that too.  


John Marin came along at that fantastic time in American Art when it was all happening in New York.  Steiglitz found out about him and it seems that when you knew Alfred things happened.  It makes one wonder about the nature of success and even the definition.  Is success just having the chance to make your work, the room and time to do so.  Or is it having the Louvre chase you around Europe to buy your painting.  Or is it a by-product of networking or otherwise being connected to some art mainline.  


The art world is so crazy and makes me crazy when I ponder it too much.  However, all my favorite success stories are ones just like John Marin's...he's out living his life, doing all the things he loves especially painting.  


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