I received a note from The Cape Ann Museum last week:
"To Gather Together and Keep these Bonds: Highlights from the Permanent Collection", includes one of your works.
I knew the museum was showing Bruce Hermann's new works and wanted to see them, so I went to the museum on Saturday afternoon. Bruce's new works are about his experience living on Walker Creek, a response to time, change, landscape. The paintings contain lots of gold and silver leaf with oil/alkyd. Bright, light, blond paintings. My retinal memory is of no specific work. The show is dominated by a large standing rear view nude, this I had a negative response to. What struck me about his work? The gold leaf panels, which I read as breaks, frames for other more 'painterly' works. I saw the panels of leaf and thought 'he did it', he left the gilded panels 'alone'. other panels, were sanded, scraped back leaving ghosts.
These panels reminded me of work that I have done over the years. I had a whole wall of 180 small gilded panels, paintings that I distressed, washed, scraped, sanded, still have some, some are re-worked. and there were a few years of just placing gild on panels with no further ornamentation. I enjoyed the reflective panels, thought they were 'pretty good', but never took them seriously. part of my lack of conviction was that the response from others was 'bland'. so I moved on. oh, well. time, place, sleepy magnolia, who the hell will see and who the hell cares? movement, change, move on.
Next stop the permanent collection, but before I go there, I had to stop in the drawing gallery. George Demetrios drawings! with my favorite drawings of the head for his sculpture that is in the museum's courtyard. I will go back to look again. Such a gift to see these drawings after a long time of not seeing any of his drawings.
Then the permanent collection and on the far wall, directly in front of me, beyond various 'very good' landscapes, still lifes, watercolors, oils, on the upper right a small drawing that I had to see. The vibration drew me to it. What is that? Oh! Surpirse, it's me! a small self portrait in reverse glass with aluminum, silver leaf circa 1995. The work has held up very well. My immediate response was: I really thought I was a 'hot shit' artist then. Lots of confidence in the work, and the drawing is pretty good. just wish the pink brown hadn't blobbed on one eye. oh, well.
I write this to let you know that I am very egocentric about my art. It catches me off guard. There are many times I go to art shows, museums and find nothing that 'grabs' me, so I visit with my old familiars. gothic icons, Tintoretto, Cimabue, reliquaries. I can appreciate what other artists do, what has come before. and I wonder about this 'yearning' in my gut for the works of other artists to 'speak' to me. what is it? It's the vibration, the energy. and the vibration I respond to is in my work, the yearning is for my work, it's what I do. so I am left with the certainty that the only place this yearning will ever settle, is in my studio, in my process.
Have you ever walked into a room where an art work has so totally caught your attention that you immediately ask "Who did that? It is fantastic!". Then your question is answered with "You did!" "I did?, I don't remember doing it." but, there's my signature, so I must have. What a gift, to see my work removed from my ego, just to be re-introduced to myself.
If you are an artist, may you have this gift from the universe, to be re-introduced to yourself. Has this happened to you? are you a bit egocentric in your art? If not, you should be, it keeps the terrors at bay.