A: Arguably, life in New York provides an artist with direct access to some of the best international art of the past, the present, and probably the future. It is possible to see more art here – both good and bad – than in any other American city.
Just pick up any local magazine and scan the art listings! Our problem is never that there isn’t anything interesting to see or do. It’s “how do we zero in on the most significant local cultural activities, ones that might contribute to making us better artists?”
Certainly a visual artist’s work is consciously and unconsciously influenced not only by what she sees in museums and galleries, but by walking around the city. That’s partly why I am an inveterate walker. I never know what amazing things I am going to see when I leave my apartment.
Although living in New York City is a rich and heady mix for anyone, it is more so for sensitive artists. Artists are virtual sponges, soaking up experiences, processing them, and mysteriously expressing them in our work.
New York lets an artist ponder excellence as we see and experience firsthand what is possible. The best of the best manages to make its way here.
Undoubtedly, my own work is richer for having spent the last eighteen years in this fascinating, wild, and crazy city. For a visual artist New York is an infinitely fascinating place to live.
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 give yourself a creative life – pursuing those questions and aesthetic conditions that mean the most to you. What are you interested in? Landscape and gender and nuclear power are each worthy subjects and there are plenty more. Do you aspire to exhibit in museums or public spaces or virtual realms? Your job is to figure out how to best engage these distinct contexts. Your studio may be a large industrial space or a second bedroom or the kitchen table, where you can work days or nights while wearing your favorite sweatpants and drinking tea as music blasts or silence is maintained. You might produce five or fifty objects a year, using bronze or oil paint or folded paper, and these can be large or tiny, made to last for centuries or a few weeks. Maybe you’ve been a printmaker for several years and all of a sudden you decide to make videos. OK. You might be influenced by Pop Art or Minimalism or Feminism or Fluxus. How are you using these various histories to your advantage? Does Edward Hopper or Gordon Matta-Clark or Agnes Martin or David Hammons inspire you? If not, who does? Try to understand the reasons for your choices, and if you feel the need to shift gears, indulge that impulse. Grant yourself the permission to acquire new skills, travel to biennials, buy a new computer, start a reading group. Risk not knowing what will happen when you do.
Stephen Horodner in THE ART LIFE: On Creativity and Career
Comments are welcome!