I began this post in response to what I saw as a purely curated show from which I had been rejected. I found the show inconsistent in quality and lacking in any cohesion. I wasn’t as much upset about not being included, it was evident my work wouldn’t fit, but by the seemingly arbitrary nature of what was chosen. I couldn’t see how the pieces shown would make a strong show, and more importantly, I don’t think that the pieces chosen would play off each other in such a way as to make each piece shine on its own and in relation to the other artists. As a former co-owner of a gallery, with my wife, I always thought this was the key to strong show. The pieces had to work together as well as be able to stand on their own. But as I was writing the post I realized that I wasn’t angry about that, I was angry about something related, but deeper. I was angry because something in the way the show was put together conflicted with something at the core of why I make art in the first place.
The funny thing is I don’t think I really knew why I was an artist until I started writing the post, I only knew what connections my art practice did not have. For instance, I knew that I wasn’t making art for money nor for prestige nor to show in a gallery or show. I’ve always struggled with the question regarding why I make any of my work. I can tell you the idea behind it and even map out the step by step process for the most part, but the driving force, the why, I have trouble expressing. I always end up falling back on a lame cliché: “I have to” or “If I don’t I get crazy.” While these are not false, they are not true either. For me the making of art is a quest for mastery- of myself or my art or my craft, all three really, simultaneously. Every piece, from quick sketch to fully realized painting or sculpture is a step in pursuit. The funny thing about mastery is that it is equally attainable and never fully realized. It isn’t about perfection, but it is about laying down a line and feeling whole and complete. It’s about every ounce of your being flowing into a piece and instead of feeling empty feeling full to bursting. I make art because I am addicted to that elusive mystical experience. The pieces I make are a means to an end and when finished have little or no value for me. At best they are memories of an experience, but more often they are failed vessels.
But how does that apply to my curatorial outrage? I’m not entirely sure. I rarely have any feelings about being rejected or the shows that I have a piece in, but there was something about this show that felt like a violation of that pursuit for mastery I hold sacred to my art making. No particular piece was at fault, but the overall effect of the selections felt wrong. It felt half-assed and somehow smacked of favoritism. This may not be the case, but when I saw the successful pool it was a visceral slap to my art making core.