I remember when the term “jack of all trades-master of none” used to be slam. Trust me it wasn’t a compliment, meaning this guy can’t get it together enough to choose one discipline and follow it all the way to mastery, or at least until you quit making mistakes. He’s just fiddling about and trying to find the next distraction. I think a lot of this stems from the anxiety of accepting and eventually living with one’s limitations. So the artist asks himself; why limit myself to only one way of working, why be pigeon holed by one thing or another? But the artist is most often intimidated by the grim prospect of a lifetime engagement to one discipline, which would be like getting married to the girl with the right father….the commitment is there, but alas, the resolve is not. And eventually the quality of the artist’s work suffers. Somehow its always interpreted as a limitation.
I would argue that artists develop their individual styles precisely because of limitations. Limitations account for the uniqueness of the work out there. Its called squaring the circle my friend. After all, how completely banal would things be if we all were an ace at everything; if everything came so easily? Terrifying isn’t it….And lets face it, every gigging artist likes a good problem. The money is in those calculated series of original decisions, that’s what separates them. One side the hard ass and one side the gentleman. The problem just hangs like a microphone in front of a speaker cabinet, picking up the resonant frequencies. Which freq. are you? Bass, middle or treble…..Pick one, follow it down/about, and see where it goes.
To me the highest compliment is when it feels so right like a drumbeat in my core; an invitation of a lifetime…or like salt water over cool rocks in the F. Keys.
I can see it in my work. Plain as day. Its there and theres no sugar coating or asking it to leave…..I recognized the knock. I’m here mother fucker! HA! Im stuck….this is gonna haunt me until I get it down in good form. So we tangle a bit, but usually reach a stale mate on the quality of the execution. How close can I get to the light of inspiration….the old guard would have liked that, they loved a good fight.
do you love me…..
how much do you love me…..
are there any others but me….
surly not as good as me…after all i found you rightly
i found you there lying and waiting..looking hungry eyed and starving
and when i found you it was good
i knew it from the get go
i knew it from the get go…
and when i found you i was engaged to my face only
the only muse
the only muse my face wouldn’t let go of
you and me….do you understand….im serious
no one else, don’t care about the rest of it
i have the theory and practice of narcissism
and it pleases me
The quickest way to insanity is to worry about the other guy, what he’s doing, where is he going and is his work better than yours….nowhere in my life was this piece of advice more relavent than when I attended graduate school. The steaming pile of shit that is competitive jealous envy will destroy most souls in the studio arts. It will wriggle its way through every crack, approach darkly up from behind and stab to death those naked, vulnerable moments with the razor sharp knife of inadequacy. And then, like any good muse, once she is no longer interested, she’ll leave you broke and bleeding on the side of the road wondering how the fuck you got there.
I watched one of my favorite studio mates develop an ulcer between beers trying to decide if the work across the hall was any good. According to my mate, most, if not all of the time…..it sucked.
I watched a shouting match between artistic rivals on the gallery floor while we were installing our MFA thesis exhibition. Those two were so close to homicide that we had to intervene with laughter and taunting right then and there to keep the bloodshed at bay.
I watched another student who was in his early 50’s lose his shit on the senior sculpture professor while throwing tools across the foundry and screaming profanities at all other innocents that happened to be within this general vicinity. This guy really thought he was the only genius in the entire graduate program who constantly fell victim to favoritism. His insecurity and aggression grew into an un-tamed beast which devoured any hope of originality in his work. As far as I know he left the school more broken than when he came in; unrecognized and passed over.
I witnessed one female student’s personal hygiene degrade to the point of no return claiming she was protesting against the compulsion of daily showering, and further, feeling closer to her animal nature, demonstrated proof of how far civilized man has separated from the fabric of the earth mother. Yea you know the type…no shower + no sleep + impending neurosis and growing narcissism = individual identity and artistic genius!
I observed with amazement as another female graduate student took refuge in her fascination with penises in which she surrounded herself at all times. I think she honestly believed all that phallic energy kept out the other students’ aesthetic influence (which she secretly monitored with relish) on her own work. On display were an army of little cocks glazed in every conceivable color posted up in doorways, hallways and driveways to ward off the filth of all those bad ideas trying to get at her from the other students. One day the all those little dicks must have unionized, trapped her in her studio and tried to fuck her into oblivion. She dropped out within a month and disappeared back into the fog of banality from whence she came.
I recall being face down in the prone position trying to avoid the ferocious criticism from another of my studio mates who carried a chip on his shoulder the size of Rode Island. Nothing was exempt from his vitriolic attempts to compare the ways things were being run with the way he thought things should run. Instead of trusting the program and getting on with making work, he couched most of his energy into tearing apart the course curriculum, questioning the competency of the faculty, and expressing a general distrust of any critique that came from anyone outside of his vague standards. I never understood why this guy applied to grad school in the first place. He seemed to really enjoy walking around with his mason jar of coffee and holding the other students accountable to the ignorance of their ways, while not making any work of his own on the process. Instead of taking advantage of the insulated bubble that graduate school provides and using that platform to seek maturity and growth as an artist, he became just another clown in a t-shirt. Come to think of it this guy didn’t shower much either…..
I could go on with tails of decrepitude and hilarious madness. I could easily write a playbook of lessons on how to fuck over your fellow artists. From what I experienced in those two years, trust me, I’ve learned to stick to my guns and do what I’ve always been good at doing…….
worry about that guy?…….no thanks.