A: The first person who comes to mind is my favorite aunt, Teddie. In 1997 she was headed to northern California to attend a three-year-plus silent Tibetan Buddhist retreat at her teacher’s center. Teddie offered me her West 13th Street 6th-floor walkup apartment to live in while she was away. At the time I was based in Alexandria, VA and had just had my first solo exhibition at an important West 57th Street gallery, Brewster Fine Arts. I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the limited Washington, DC art scene, had outgrown everything it had to offer, and felt New York pulling me towards new and exciting professional adventures.
Teddie, recognizing my talent and ambition, made it possible for me to afford to move to New York. She had practiced Tibetan Buddhism for 35 years and was soon to become a Buddhist lama. She had an extraordinary mind and thought deeply about life. We used to talk for hours. Teddie was 7 years older and seemed more like a sister than an aunt. Indeed, she was my first soul mate. (I have been extremely fortunate to have had two such relationships in my life. The other was my late husband, Bryan).
Unfortunately, dear Aunt Teddie died at the age of 67 of breast cancer. Recently, on September 25 I honored her life in a short ceremony on a mountain cliff in Leh, Ladakh (India). A Tibetan Buddhist monk recited prayers as he placed her ashes among the rocks.
Comments are welcome!
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
You are talented and creative. You rarely block, and when you do block you know how to move yourself along. Your moods are not incapacitating and you haven’t stepped over into madness. Your personality is sufficiently integrated that your necessary arrogance doesn’t prevent you from having successful relationships, your nonconformity hasn’t made you a pariah, and your skepticism hasn’t bred in you a nihilistic darkness. You work happily in isolation but can also move into the world and have a life. You have, in short, met the challenges posed so far.
Are you home free? Unfortunately not. The next challenges you face are as great as any posed so far. They are the multiple challenges of doing the business of art: making money, developing a career, acknowledging and making the most of your limited opportunities, living with compromise, dealing with mass taste and commercialism, negotiating the marketplace, and making personal sense of the mechanics and metaphysics of the business environment of art.
Many artists grow bitter in this difficult arena. Many an artist flounders. Only the rare artist sits himself down to examine these matters, for they are painful to consider. But you have no choice but to examine them. If you are an artist, you want an audience. And if you want an audience, you must do business.
Comments are welcome!
Eric Maisel in A Life in the Arts