Friday, February 13, 2009

Slightly Obsessed

Back in the 1970's, I ran into a friend at one of my L.A. hangouts. I hadn't seen her for a while, so we caught up on what we've been doing.

She mentioned she was now working for a PR firm that handled some of the major rock musicians of the time. (She named several artists they worked with; the only one I remember offhand is the group, Fleetwood Mac).

I said something like: "Wow! It must be fun getting to meet all of those big-name people, huh?"

She replied: "Well, not really. They're actually kind of boring." She went on to explain that most of them don't seem to know very much, EXCEPT if you get on the topic of music. Then they really know their stuff. Outside of that, they may have opinions about life, but they weren't that knowledgeable in depth about issues, politics or other important events. It was as though all of their brain cells were devoted to their music or, maybe, the music business in general.

Today, I wonder if that's just the way it has to be if one wants to make a living in the arts. It's easy to get distracted by things that are going on around us. Distractions kill art -- making a painting involves time plus whatever level of skill the artist has developed to that point. Anything else we do is at the expense of making art.

A gallery owner in Scottsdale, AZ once told me that all of the financially successful artists he knows do nothing but make art -- no hobbies, no other outside interests. They just paint 8-10 hours a day, seven days a week.

I'm not quite at that point yet, but art is pretty much all I do anymore. I'm slightly obsessed with art -- making it, reading about it or seeing it in books, museums or galleries. Apparently, that's what it takes to make it in this business.

As a line goes from one of my favorite movies, A Dog of Flanders: "To be an artist, one must give up everything. EVERYthing." It seems to be true.

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