Breaking up with Art

Here’s what happened.

The Telecommunications show was a wonderful evening, the culmination of months of work – organizing, publicizing, installing, and, oh yeah, actually making the art. That Friday in July was a haze of hot summer light, live music from Aran, loved ones walking in under the big rolling garage doors of the bakery to eat struan rolls, drink tiny cups of iced limeade, and look at the giant painted satellite dishes mounted on the robins-egg-blue gallery wall of Le Petit Outre and tell me kind things.

Afterwards, back at home, on the couch, out of the fancy dress, I wondered why I did it. The whole show. Is it about selling? Bragging? Keeping up? Battling obscurity? Making cultural commentary? Giving folks’ eyeballs a good time out of pure generosity?

No? Then what?

As so often happens after a period of intense focus on a single artistic pursuit, I crashed. Didn’t want to touch art with a ten-foot paintbrush. In fact, I broke up with it. Art was like a bad boyfriend–here, then gone, then pounding at the door drunk in the wee hours, then dumping me into a wet vat of rejection. Emotionally draining. Codependent. Nope.

Instead, I hiked. Every weekend this summer, Zippy Morocco and I walked into the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the Jewel Basin, Glacier, Yellowstone, the Bitterroots, the Pintlers, and the national forests, and slept out with the wind and the animals. It was beautiful, and it was tiring, and we came out of the woods strong and dirty and alive.

But now that the snow is creeping deeper into the valley from the mountaintops, now that the days are so short that a backpacking trip would be more like a sitting-in-the-tent-waiting-for-dawn trip, I am homebound. And from the quiet and the stillness and the restedness come nudgings to make things again: little whispers from my ex. But to steal a line from Twelve Step programs, I must detach. I am not an Artist; too fraught. I am a person who sometimes makes art. As such, what next?

Hesitantly, the experiment is to reengage, but keep it classy. Art, you work for me. No drama, no fuss, and don’t even think about getting near my ego. A logo here, a poster there, maybe a flight of holiday cards. A loaf of communion bread, a crush of dried spearmint leaves for a friend, a dance step in the forest.

And what for? The same reason a child draws, I suppose; she feels the energy flowing, knows she can hold the crayon, and lets it move. That is all.

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