Sunday, February 13, 2011

Flickering Flames

The Wiffee and I are fans of the CBS program, Sunday Morning. On today's program, they featured a story about Herb Albert (of Tijuana Brass fame) and his wiffee, singer Lani Hall.

They live on six acres in Malibu, CA, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Herb paints, sculpts, suppports music programs (as in the Harlem School of the Arts, or whatever the exact name is) and pretty much does whatever he wants. Hey -- they can afford it! He and Lani recorded an album together and will soon be touring the country in concert.

In many ways, Herb's life is quite similar to the life I envisioned when I began dreaming of an art career -- originally as a fine-arts photographer, then as a full-time painter. I never figured on achieving the fame or wealth that Herb has, but I thought we'd be able to live on my modest income and to reside wherever we wanted to -- not in Malibu, necessarily, but perhaps in the hi desert of CA or the Sonoran desert of southern AZ. (Well, OK, we do live in the CA hi desert, but this is hardly our dream home!)

That dream has been rapidly fading or, should I say, that flame is flickering madly, in danger of going out.

For years, I attended grad school, doing experients in microbiology that left me little time for anything else. Then I entered the working world where I worked full-time, commuted for hours on California's freeways, and worked on my art as much as possible. In between jobs, I worked full-time on art: days, nights, weekends, holidays. Then, in the last ten years, I considered my full-time job to be: professional artist, with the same hours I worked as the "between-jobs" artist.

And ya know -- I'm tired!

Sales have been mixed, but over the last few years during the recession, sales have been very low. I can't even speculate on when, or if, things will ever go back to "normal" -- whatever that is. Some of the other landscape artists I admire are struggling, too.

Now, mind you -- surviving, or even thriving -- financially as an artist is certainly possible. I know artists in that category, too. But most of their artwork has a noticable contemporary twist: VERY colorful, impressionistic/expressionistic and often not showing the grand views that I love. One rarely finds the type of art I enjoy at art festivals.

Even supposedly traditional art havens like Santa Fe and Scottsdale feature little of this style of painting. I must be part of a dinosaur generation that's becoming extinct.

I do, on occasion, see/hear rumors that the avant garde styles are becoming tiresome with buyers and that realism is making a comeback. Maybe so -- but not in MY part of the world, it ain't!

But we'll see. I haven't given up on the dream just yet. But the flame keeps flickering in the dusty winds of the hi desert.

Herb Albert -- my hat's off to you.

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