Posts Tagged ‘John Graham’

New Thoughts from The Gallery at Redlands

May 6, 2021
Writing at the Desk
View from the Lobby of The Redlands Hotel
You moved out from the city?

              I don't blame you.

              In a world where they can split a tiny atom...

              and blow up hundreds of thousands of people...

              there's no telling where it's all gonna lead.

              Best to find a quiet place...

              do what you have to do.

From the motion picture “Pollock” (2000)

Seated once again in my quiet place inside The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas, I was reading some engaging material from New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century. Artist Willem de Kooning and artist/psychologist John Graham are engaging my attention at this time. Chapter Two, “The Dialectical Imagination”, discusses the various tensions the artists of Manhattan addressed concerning art as well as life in general. The world view of the most well-known creative spirits of that day believed they were living in a world divided. From John Graham:

Vulgarly speaking, time marches on and the machine-age and consequently the collective age is asserting itself from the two opposite ends of the globe. Picasso is the last vestige of hand-made art. It is the swan song to the glories of the past and the apprehension of the future for there is nothing more terrifying than the unknown.

Though I’ve been a practicing artist much longer, I have only engaged in the art market about twenty-or so years, but I have kept my ear to the ground the entire time, listening to the discussions of where art is going, where the business is going, and the role of technology and a changing ethos amidst it all. My observations on this are too extensive for a single-blog assessment, but I still want to say a few things about how I perceive things today in the art world.

First, I have been told since the year 2000 that galleries are no longer the way for an artist to go if s/he wants to make a real splash in the market. The same has been said about art festivals. Being now sixty-seven years of age, I have always known I would cut back on the festivals. There was a day when I attended an annual average of ten or so. This year I will probably have only two, but I anticipate them to be well worth the effort of travel, set up and break down. As for galleries, I never intended to quit them and seek online avenues for selling my work. Of course, retiring from teaching I have benefit of a pension and fortunately am not a starving artist; I’ll do fine even if I sell nothing.

Second, I never anticipated becoming a gallerist, and after three months am still in shock that I’ve landed this role. Balancing my life between making and selling my own art and maintaining a gallery business is still unusual for me, and I cannot say I have yet found my stride. We’re just fortunate that The Gallery at Redlands is still doing quite well. There doesn’t seem to be any fading of the honeymoon period yet. As time goes on, I will most likely have more to say about the gallery business, but it’s still too new for me to assess (I’m still glad to be in it!).

John Graham’s quote above contrasts the machine-age with the collective age. He also divides history from prospect, and in another passage cleaves asunder the societal and private lives of the creative person. I think what is weighing most heavily on my mind today is this last split–the public and the private sides of the one trying to make art.

Though three decades of my life have been public with education, and another decade with the ministry, I believe I have always been far more introverted than extroverted. I was never afraid to speak in public or represent any particular view in public. But I have always felt much more contented in the private moments. As a minister and as a teacher, I always longed for the quiet moments of introspection in the study or studio much more than the times to stand and deliver in the public arena. The same is true now in the gallery. I love meeting the public, selling to the public and conversing with the public. But I am always grateful for times like now, with this laptop, as well as time spent in books, time spent writing, and times at the drafting table (the drafting table is to my left and will be visited as soon as this blog is finished).

The quote from the 2000 Pollock motion picture that opens this blog floods my memory now. In that scene, Pollock has just moved to Springs on Long Island to get away from New York City and his constant drinking, quarreling and fighting. After Pollock entered the country store, the proprietor acknowledged the stranger and uttered those words posted above. Over the past four years, I have replayed that episode every time I saw Arlington, Texas in my rearview mirror while en route to Palestine, Crockett or any other East Texas venue for a weekend or full week. The metroplex was never able to hold me the way the small towns and countryside do. And though Palestine, Texas numbers 18,000 in population, there are never 18,000 people standing about me; there is always space and quiet for me to thrive in what I like to do best.

I am grateful every day for the lives and work of The Twelve, the collection of artists whose works now give The Gallery at Redlands life. We have decided to gather for informal gallery talks and see if the community would like to hear what some of us have to say. We find it unfortunate that we never got to gather during the weekend of our gallery opening. There was just too much to do, and before we realized it, the weekend was over and everyone split to go back to their respective cities. We’re trying to correct that.

Next Friday and Saturday evening at six (May 14th-15th), a few of us will gather to discuss our art and our views. The gallery will be open for business and the public is invited to join us in conversation of peruse the art we have on all the walls and tables. We will be open for business as usual, the only change will be conversations filling the air. I wish it were happening this weekend; I cannot wait to visit with these creative spirits, and hope you will join us as well. More details to follow . . .

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.