On the Nature of Artists
Spring is the season of festivals, exhibits, and a blossoming of the arts
in general. Paintings hung on fences, inside tents, on gallery walls and
in barns suggest a flourishing affirmative for the aesthetic
consciousness of our time.
In the midst of all those festivities only one thing appears to be
missing .. the artist himself. Where is he hiding .. and IS he hiding?
The answer will have to be yes.
Many of my best friends are artists, and a motley crew they are ... bold
in their expression of individuality contrived in multi-various ways via
clay, color and line — arranged in lumps, daubs or smears.
However, it seems painfully clear that there is one common ground on
which most of them meet. Almost to a man (or woman), they are timid,
apprehensive, seemingly ridden with guilt and stooped beneath the weight
of unspoken apologies for being.
My analyzation of this startling fact has revealed to me some remarkable
insights on the nature of professionalism in the arts. Most of us in the
embryonic stages of our careers, practicing our not-so-hesitant first
efforts on the walls of rest rooms, white-washed fences or school book
margins, were as out-going and confident as anyone else ... so, what
As long as we maintained our amateur status all went well. We were the
dreams of our mothers, the hopes of our fathers and the prodigies of our
teachers. Had we been content to confine our talents within those easily
approachable limits we might have basked forever in the comfortable glow
of public approval. We would have been admired, sought after and
endlessly praised. We would have been assured of any and all poster
assignments. Chairperson-ship of miscellaneous and sundry decorating
committees would have been a cinch.
...Or, we might have done as the genial old parish janitor I know who
paints in his off-hours. His canvases adorn the basement wall behind the
oil furnace. Not one of the bosomy church-supper ladies would miss taking
the trouble to seek him out and pay homage to his god-given talent. He
has even sold one or two to the over-zealous.
The upset occurs the moment one slips over the edge to a suspicion of
professionalism. When the student emerges from behind the mysterious
walls of an art school (which is generally believed to be an indulgence
of the bohemian life in the company of nude models), he is ambitious,
intoxicated with inspiration and eager to pick up the acclaim where he
Alas for him! round eyes that glowed in former admiration have narrowed
to cold, critical slits. Everyone (and that included EVERYone) is a
vocal, voluble, not-to-be-silenced art critic. People whose aesthetic
appetites have been nurtured by the Sunday comics are ready and only too
eager to point out his shortcomings in authoritative detail. There are none too shy to smother hi with advice. Most will
condescend to add, "I can't draw a straight line, but I know what I
Of course, should one weary of sparring the blows and ducking the poison
arrows, it is always possible to retreat to the sewing circle .. or the
oil furnace. But it will never be quite the same. Once tainted by the
claim to professionalism, that universal appeal of unadulterated promise
has been lost forever.
To read more of this collection or to find out about
publishing rights, contact Ms Wosmek.