Sunday, October 21, 2012

Forget the Job, Find a Venue

       When I've expressed concern about finances friends often say, “Maybe it’s time to settle down and get a job”. While I haven't written about it much, my eccentric business model actually works. Uncollected debts and broken promises occasionally happen, but luckily I’m still solvent. There is no clear path to success in the arts. Galleries and museums have a finite set of invisible rules. "Going rogue" refers to those of us who take our art careers into our own hands come hell or high water. It is a risk, but then I'd rather be driving the float in a parade than riding on one. It's a matter of personal choice and finding what suits your personality.    
      My unconventional strategy starts with finding empty walls in public places, then acquiring permission to create exhibits. My paintings are currently hanging in airports, hotels, restaurants, libraries, schools and hospitals. Once upon a time I worked as a carpenter in museums where thousands upon thousands of paintings languished on shelves wrapped in dirty plastic. The vision of those sad, hidden paintings destroyed my drive to follow the narrow path that leads to curatorial approval. Only a small percentage of the paintings held in permanent collections ever hang on public museum walls. While I no longer aspired to have my paintings stored under filmy plastic in an obscure warehouse I did want them to be seen so took matters into my own hands. That ah-ha moment thirty years ago inspired an adventurous life and I have no regrets. I gave up my studio, moved onto a boat and sailed off to explore the world. Painting has opened doors to marvelous and fun experiences     
       In 2012 I generated 90 paintings in 90 days on Molokai. Exhibiting the large wall of paintings in a courtyard behind Imports Gift Shop in Kaunakakai was popular with visitors and profitable.

Starting October 30, 2012 I’ll finish a painting every day for 30 days at the Feliti Barstow Public Library in American Samoa. The paintings will convey the character of American Samoa in vivid equatorial colors and will be displayed in the library and posted on my blog. Here's a sample of what is to come.  

     Sadie’s Hotels in American Samoa purchased prints on canvas for all of their rooms and produced several calendars that I designed. Tom Drabble in American Samoa decorates his restaurants, gift shops and hotel lobby with my artwork and sells prints, greeting cards, canvas prints and postcards. The photographs and research I do for the paintings populate his web site at
          Yankee Pier Restaurant in the United Terminal at SFO displays a 20’ mural on canvas and Kaiser Hospitals and Clinics in California purchased fourteen paintings for permanent display. The Ho’olehua Airport on Molokai in Hawaii has an ongoing exhibition of life size native Hawaiian animal and landscape paintings. Lark Creek Steak in the Westfield San Francisco Centre, Children’s Hospital in Oakland, Marriott Hotels in Texas purchased paintings for permanent display.


  1. Don't ever get a job, Catherine. Not only is your life incredibly interesting, but it makes mine look normal. You only need ten more resorts. That way you get a month vacation to visit me.

    1. Thanks Sis! It's scary sometimes, but it's sure not boring and neither are you. Ten would be just fine!