14 May 2014

You know how "artists" are...

Many of you who read my other blog know that in March I submitted some art to the local hospital for review.  We'd received an employee call to donate art to a program that recognizes the importance of art in the healing environment. 

The deadline for submitting was April 1st, and the chosen would be notified by April 15th.

I had a couple of questions, so I spent a day or two emailing the contact back and forth to make certain that I really wanted to participate, and once I had made that decision, was told to be sure to make an appointment when I was dropping the art off so that someone would be in the office to take it.

About half way through creating the art for this I received an email asking me to consider  participating in another book.  At the time, it really took a great deal of consideration... I mean, local exposure vs. international exposure again... but, I didn't feel as though I had enough time to create good pieces for both projects.  In the end, the prospect of contributing to the town where I live and the campus where I work won out. 

I finished three paintings, emailed to make the appointment to drop them off, dragged my friend Kellye into going with me for moral support, and dutifully arrived on time to drop off the paintings.  That wasn't easy since no one in the hospital seemed to have any idea what we were talking about when trying to find the drop off point, and even after we had found out where that was, finding the tiny office was another challenge.

Still, we did finally find it and announced our presence to drop off the art.  

The person with whom I'd been emailing was not there, and a couple of folks in the office had no idea what I was talking about, but we were eventually directed to the program director.  She looked totally befuddled when I handed her the art with the paperwork.

After explaining that I had made an appointment to drop this off, that it was for the employee call for art, and that I wanted to be certain to get it in before the deadline, she still looked somewhat confused but did take it. 

Kellye asked her when I would hear something, and her reply was to the effect..."We haven't had many entries yet, we will probably have to extend the deadline... you know how artists are."

Thankfully, it was a day where the majority of my filters were intact, and I resisted the desire to ask, "No, exactly how are we artists?"

Seriously... the person in charge of this program taking a stereotypical view of what an artist is?  I mean... they did ask us to contribute this art, and if chosen donate it for free to this program... and here I was, standing in her office, with her confusion about why I was there, BEFORE the deadline... and she says "you know how artists are"???

Even more happy that I had brought Kellye along... she scooted me on out of there and back to work before I said something I probably shouldn't have.

Time moves forward (at an unbelievably fast pace)... and it's just past the middle of April.  Folks in my building who had seen what I was contributing started asking if I had heard anything.  I hadn't, so I decided to email.  Apparently the deadline had been extended to April 22nd, and they would be in touch with me one way or the other very soon after that.

Fast forward again... first part of May (the 7th to be exact).  People asking about it again.  I hadn't heard a thing so again, I write an email and send it off... the reply (in part)...

"We extended the deadline until April 22nd so I am just now getting around to cataloging all of the submissions.  The jury should be meeting to make their selections in about a week and a half."

Maybe it's just me, but shouldn't things have been cataloged AS they were being dropped off?  Am I taking this too personally?  Would it have been that difficult, since they had so few entries, to catalog as they arrived and then email those who had dropped items off just to let us know what was going on adding a rough outline of time?

Sooooo freaking frustrating... so to vent, a letter I will never send... but do think is very important for those involved...
Dear *****,

I appreciate your reply to my question regarding my art.  You know, after setting up an appointment to drop it off to you on February 27th (to make sure someone would be in the office as you suggested), I was there on time.  You were not there at all.  Those who were in the office seemed confused as to why I would be showing up in there, art in hand.  However, after much explaining, I was shown to your Director's office, where, as I handed her my art, she looked a bit more than confused.  

She told me then that the deadline may have to be extended, because "you know how artists are".  The implication was that we are a bunch who can't meet deadlines because we are so flighty and without direction... you know, that stereotype of we creative folks... unlike you "professional" folks who are so deadline and outcome driven.  

Wow, the Director of a program that is supposed to support the belief that art is an important part of a healing environment making a comment that is really supportive of a vision that so very stereotypical.  I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped. 

Considering I was dropping my art off at an appointed time, ahead of the scheduled deadline, thinking it would be to someone I had made that appointment with, who wasn't even there... let's just say it was a struggle for me not to ask, "No, how are WE?"

Here we are, more than a month later, and again you are telling me that it will be a bit before I know anything. Impressive professionalism.  I'm so glad you aren't like artists.

While I don't know whether or not you are the creative sort maybe you should take just a moment to see it from the artist point of view.  When I create something my soul goes into it.  I think that is pretty universal for those who create.  If I hand that creation to others to be judged far more than the quality of the art is being judged, that bit of my soul is being judged as well.  At least that is how it is from my point of view, and I'd bet a great many of us feel that way.

While I have come to realize that I cannot view rejection as ME being unworthy, it is still a difficult, somewhat soul baring, process.  I'm betting that most of us who create feel that way to some degree.  Being put off, especially after the comment "you know how artists are" is simply not acceptable. The artistic creations, and the artists, whether formally trained and working from the heart, or working from their heart with no formal training, deserve to be respected.  We may have "day jobs", but creating is really our life work.  

Remember, you have asked us to do this for free, we are not being compensated for our time or materials or abilities, so the least we deserve is respect, regardless of how talented you do or do not believe us to be.

Perhaps a better method for all of this would have been to catalog the works as they came in... it's simple enough to create a spread sheet with the artist name and email contact... very easy from there to create a mass email letting everyone know what is going on and an approximate timeline.  I'd have a lot more faith that way that you at least knew where my work was.  Right now, considering the confused look on the Director's face when I dropped it off (and the condition of her office), I don't know that.

Had I known exactly how unprofessional this process was going to be, I would have made the choice to submit for another book rather than share my work locally.  While I wouldn't have been paid for that either, at least I would have been given international exposure... but you know how we artists are, we just can't keep focused... doing two projects at once I might not have given my best to either, and for me, that's not acceptable.

I also might add, to those of you who work in your office... if you truly believe in the concept of art adding a positive note to the healing environment... and respect people who create it, don't make comments that seem to indicate that what you really think of an artist is stereotypical... that's sort of like Donald Sterling telling the world he is not a racist, and we deserve more than that.  The theory that art as a healing effect deserves more respect than that.  I'd go so far as to say that you should be passionate about that belief, and act in accordance without preconceived stereotypes... because belief without passion really isn't belief at all.

At this point, I am not certain that I will allow my art to be displayed even if it is accepted...  I may just tell you to kiss my ass and take it home with me.  But I am going to think about that, because I've been known to cut my nose off a time or two... rhetorically.  And I have never regretted doing that when needed. But I do know with some certainty that I will not participate in this event the next time a call for art goes out.


I know that this may seem a bit over reactive, but I have a deep and abiding belief that any time one perpetrates any stereotype they are creating a disservice to all of humanity.  Yes, creatives are "different" than those who are very "straight line" sorts... yes, every ethnic group may have differences from every other ethnic group... yes, religions and belief systems differ... even folks from the country and those who are from the city may see things differently... but when we make blanket statements based on those stereotypes what that really says is that we have a closed mind and believe that we are "right"... rather than look at the individual and decide for ourselves... and, in the end, I think that is what I am most sad about in this instance... but, then again... you know how artists are...

01 May 2014

Sometimes it just sucks...

Sometimes it just does, you know?

Now, let me remind everyone before I begin this... this blog is about encouraging YOU to see yourself as an artist... maybe even and ARTIST... all capitals.  And, it's meant to be very, very "real".  Sometimes that includes not so nice words and some uglier sort of thoughts... and even every now and again some whining...

There's whining ahead, so bear with me, I'll be better once I have the wine after the whine.


In 2009 I gave myself ACreativeDream for a birthday present.  I'm not sure why, other than I REALLY like to share what I know.  I love to teach, to encourage, and to inspire.  What can I say, I have an ego.  I admit it, I want to be able to talk, or in this instance, write, and actually have people listen (read).  I want to have an impact.

I don't think I am achieving that goal.

Somehow this has turned into that whole ugly dieting sort of thing,you know, the going in circles feeling unfulfilled and like you are not winning the battle. It goes like this... I feel like I am failing at a goal that is important to me... so I work harder, try harder, encourage more... get fewer readers.  Look at other blogs, wonder what I am doing wrong... look at the work of others, wonder why they can get "discovered" while I keep trudging and trudging and never getting noticed.  Feel sad that I am not reaching what I want to reach... try harder, fall farther... feel like my time and emotional investment in it isn't working... start wondering why I bother. Lose the desire to create and share, because what's the point, it's not like the readers are coming in droves and I'm sure not being discovered...

It's ugly, isn't it?  Yet that is my (perceived) reality.  At least for the moment.  Now, don't get me wrong, while I feel this way right now, in a week things may well be totally different.  But, geeze... some days... 

I live in this beautiful old duplex, next door to someone who is absolutely horrible... every breath I take just pisses her off.  She really should live in a single home, all to herself where she cannot hear someone walking up the stairs or vacuuming.  Yet, she lives next door and seems to find great joy in making me as miserable as is possible.  The landlord ONLY does maintenance when it is an absolute necessity... like when the water lines burst.  It's time to move.  But the whole administrative fees, deposits, pet deposits, pet fees, moving utilities, hiring someone to move the big stuff... just not in my paltry budget right now.

Daily visits with my father... making sure he has clothes, cokes, peanut butter fudge, making sure the staff knows he needs his eyes checked, or that he tells me he isn't feeling well (he never complains, so if he says something, he really doesn't feel well), and just someone who spends time with him, who asks him about where he was stationed in the service, what my great grandmother was like, what he loved to do when he was young... you know to remind him that he's important to someone... even if it is the black sheep daughter he disowned years ago... we all want to feel important to someone... Of course, after  more than two years there, I have come to know lots of the folks...and I try to spend time on the weekends listening to all of the little ladies whom I have grown to love as if they were my grandmothers as well.

Each and every day I arrive at work at 6:45 and bust my ass to try to catch things up until 4:30 in the afternoon, only to feel like I am more and more behind...

And, from time to time I try really hard to create something for someone that they will love, or at least appreciate... although, of late, I've been sort of short in that as well.

I know that I have a good life, I know it's no where bad as so many do... but, obviously, my life is thoroughly out of balance with my goals/desires/wishes/dreams right now.  Sometimes I wonder, as I lie awake in the wee early morning hours of insomnia, arm wrestling with my demons, how much of me can I hand out before the well runs dry?  How do I replenish... recoup... refill that well?  How do I regain my confidence?  How do I regain the sense that what I do is important... that it matters?  How do I ever feel as though I make a difference?

I'm not good about allowing my vulnerabilities to show.  I'm certainly not good at sharing my fears and insecurities.  I'm very protective of them and try to not show them to people.  Too often when I have it's caused me pain. Of course when that happens, it causes me to build walls around myself so that I may feel more secure... I can hide better that way, protect my fear better. But, those walls also may hinder the view.  Not only my view, but the view of me for others.

Part of the process of being an artist, heck, of being human, is recognizing that there are going to be times where you feel far more disparaged than encouraged.  And it's important to recognize that, while it sucks, "this too, shall pass"...  and it's important that, if I want to truly encourage others, others have to see that I have "those" times too.  And, to be honest, it's important that I learn to allow myself to be more vulnerable... to show and be my authentic self, warts, demons and all... otherwise those walls will be too tall and I will have locked myself in them, a prisoner of my own fears, real or imagined, with only the demons to entertain me. 

Of course, in the mean time, if any of you have any suggestions about replenishing that well, or reaching goals... I'd love to hear them.