Friday, July 11, 2008

What is Success?

I went to an arts festival in a nearby town today. I went last year and wrote about my experience here.
It was very hot again, the kind of heat that can make you sick , so we didn`t stay long. The observation this year was of a woman who made pottery , my Granddaughter was drawn to her work, I was just a little as I was curious how she got the glazes to make those types of designs on the pottery surfaces. Turns out she fires them and then puts them in an outdoor fire with everything but the kitchen sink, and the various things cause various colors and designs, no glazes used.
Now it`s not so much the content of her talk but the enthusiasm in her voice. This was a woman who is in awe of her own work. Because she never knows what she`s going to get, and she accepts that she will lose 1/2 of what she starts with because of breakage, she finds what survives to be precious. This woman stood out in the show to me, the others would say how they achieved their finished piece, but they said it like they were saying it for the thousandth time, and they probably were, but so was the pottery woman. Many vendors (and I call them that because that`s how they appeared to me, not artists) were talking on their cell phones, some looked down right bored.
My Granddaughter was taking photos of work she liked and wanted to remember, but I said she had to ask first. She got to one guys stand who said NO, and offered a post card instead, he pretty much ruined her desire to take anymore photos, as that was keeping her mind off the heat , and after that bit of uncomfortableness, she felt the heat and didn`t care about looking at the work anymore. The thing is , if he had left her alone, she would have just gotten a glared ruined photo anyway because it`s about impossible to take a photo of a glass covered object and not get a glare. So she wouldn`t have had a photo anyway. But he had to have control of his work in front of a 10 year old. I don`t say that in anger or sarcasm, I just mean to tell you what I saw.
The woman who had the enthusiasm for her pottery said , sure go ahead and take photos, I`m online and in magazines anyway. She had a confidence about her art. I wonder how many people went to the show wanting to take video and photos to look at later and were turned away . I realize they aren`t there to just show, but to make money, but we all can`t buy everything, we just want to look at it and enjoy it and celebrate it, celebrate that that person made it, brought it into the world.
As I was waiting for my Granddaughter to run through their falling water buckets, I was asked to do a survey. They wanted to know how high of an education I had, how far a distance I came from, if I stayed at a hotel, and how much money I spent. I didn`t buy anything, I wasn`t the demographic they were aiming for. I was looking for something under $50., a possible gift even, but the things I priced and liked were hundreds of dollars.

Money and art.....looking, experiencing, enjoying purchasing /owning. Does an artist appreciate someone experiencing and enjoying their art the same as someone buying it? Or is it money talks ? I would say there`s no set answer to that because the response will be as different as each person is different. I know when I did shows I did them for the money, I also made my work for money. I would get lots of praises, but what really meant something was the money, and these people sure don`t want to be sitting outside in the 90 degree weather for 4 days, for no money. But now I wonder if I had been more present when the people were showing me their appreciation , if I would have been paid in another way, if I had been open or able to accept it and take it in. They were giving me good energy, enthusiasm, and appreciation. Things when the feelings are honestly there can`t be bought for any amount of money. No wonder I had a breakdown, my soul saw me ignoring all that good energy , I was being offered riches and being blind to them, not valuing them.

So why go to that type of show,more artsy than early, you might ask? To see what I could learn and see. To learn about myself and my own art journey. And as my husband said , to go on another adventure.
My question I`m seeking an answer for these days is, "what is success? " Bonnie Raitt sings a song on one of her early albums I wore out as a young girl ," What is Success? to do your own thing, or to join the rest. Living in hopes, that someday you`ll be in with the winners"..... So far, this enthusiasm I witnessed today looked like success to me. The attention she gave my granddaughter, also an artist , seems to be success to me, to add to another human`s potential future by acknowledging them as an artist, showing a child respect like she did, and not like she was less because she`s a kid, all look like success, if not as an artist, definitely success as a human being in this world. Can I separate the 2? The human being and the artist? Can you be successful in one and not the other? I`ve heard of being a successful artist financially and not being a successful human being integrity-wise. I`ve seen an artist surviving in the world, and not doing any art.To not make anything is clearly NOT success.
What is success? Being in a magazine? Being so popular you can`t make the product fast enough , so you`re never done. Selling your work for high prices? I`ve now seen all these things that would appear to be success to some, bring unhappiness and even sickness to those who have experienced it. So I stay alert to any answers to this question that may come my way. What is success to you?