Monday, May 21, 2007

On the verge of standing there in my underwear

I’m a painter. I’ve never touched on this before in this blog, just because it’s something I don’t relish talking about with just anybody. Not because I’m embarrassed or proud or anything else, but mostly because the painting part of me is just about the most intimate part of me there is; it’s the part of me that I don’t know how to and don’t have any desire to talk about. I even feel like that about my paintings.
Last year I flew to New York for an exhibition of my paintings with another artist. This was after years, literally, of pleading from a college mate of mine who has since become an artist’s rep, who just happens to really like what I do. She was adamant, and I gave in. Let me tell you, there is NOTHING worse than the opening of one of your own shows. Talk about dreaming that you went to school in your underwear! I spent my time lurking by the open bar, obviously. Not only do you have to show your paintings to other people, you have to talk about them. Somewhere between another glass of champagne and someone asking me, in a very serious manner, "How do you know when your painting is finished?" I realized that it was definitely time to stumble back to the hotel. The evening ended with my friend shooing my out the door of gallery saying "get thee to a nunnery!"

So why am I talking about this now? Yesterday I began packing in earnest, and had to make space for these:

These paintbrushes have followed me all over the US, to Italy, and back again. They’re right up there with my quilts. I also found my degree from college, and pasted behind it I found the letter that I received in Florida when I was 17 telling me that I had won a four year scholarship to The School of Visual Arts in New York City, the most incredible coolest college in the US, as far as I’m concerned, which you can read about here. That moment ranks right up there with having my babies, as far as I’m concerned. I was an art student in New York in the 1980's. These were the years of Keith Haring, who was an SVA grad, and Jean Michel Basquiat in New York, and I was eighteen.

Now that I’m almost forty, it would be nice to get a grip and get over my squeamishness over showing my paintings, but in all honesty I don't see that happening. I haven’t had many shows over the years, but they have been steady, and I have even enjoyed some modest successes. And I have spent every opening lurking by the champagne glasses pretending to be aloof, when the truth is that I felt as if I was standing there in my underwear.


sognatrice said...

I can relate to this with my writing. Sure I can spout off blog posts and I don't really have trouble linking people to my nonfiction pieces, but fiction is so personal, so me, and it's a scary feeling when I know others are looking at it.

Anyway, for the good of all of us, I hope you're in your underwear more often.

You know what I mean ;)

byjane said...

I know what you mean. I'm sheepish about showing anything that I've done. My husband, who earns his living as a landscape painter, a career he came to very late in life, has no such qualms. He'll do show and tell all the time. I marvel at that--and try not to hold my stuff so close, because it's just fear of being judged. Just. Ha!

Jennifer said...

Congratulations on your show. You must be just a little proud of yourself?

And we don't have to meet. Didn't mean to scare you with that.

jennifer said...

To sognatrice- I hope you keep writing, too. Just do it, no?
And Jane- I know people like your husband, scary indeed!
Jennifer- no fear here. My e-mail didn't make it. I'll try again