Sunday, May 22, 2011

For the love of dogs

     Each weekend this summer I’ll be keeping my sister’s gallery open in downtown Benicia while she's at art festivals. So far people have only come in once or twice a day. A few have looked around as if they are lost and asked “Is this an art gallery?” as they plot their escape.  Just shoot me if I ever say I’m opening a gallery. It might just be the fastest way to go broke and the most impossible idea ever for actually selling artwork. I get why the high end places slap a glass of hard liquor in potential art buyer’s hands. I have some paintings of dogs on the walls that I’d like very much to sell. And commissions are great so I’ll gladly paint anyone’s dog.  I used to be criticized for it when I worked in a large art museum. One curator asked in a tone that was so pinched she could have said it with her sphincter, “Catherine, are you still painting people’s pets for money?” I am stunned by mean people. I took my usual fallback position by remaining mute.  Up until that moment I’d been having a pretty good day. It’s amazing how quickly one demoralizing comment can strangle the soul and plunge the meek into despair.

      Over the years I’ve thought of no less than 5,000 scathingly witty comebacks that did not spring to mind that moment. According to the ideals touted by the museum elite artists are supposed to be pure and only paint from some higher inspiration akin to a burning bush, but I don’t subscribe. Practice is practice and I am self-taught. As I was learning the craft the subjective irrelevance of the subject, when I needed money, didn’t faze me in the least. The theory that it takes 10,000 hours to be good at something is probably true. In the long run it served me better to move a paint brush than stand in a museum with white gloves on kissing curatorial ass. Picasso would roll over if he knew I produced paintings in his style that matched the chair rail in a restaurant.  
      I took her point seriously though.  Ever since she asked that scathing question I have preserved the provenance of my true artistic work with one simple technique.  My signature is on the paintings that are from my heart. But when I painted something purely for the almighty dollar, I signed her name on it.

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