For the last ten years I've sponsored a meet-up group called Central Jersey Artist's Salon. It's a group for practicing, semi/professional artists to get together and talk art. Talk process. Needless to say, I've hardly got it off the ground. We've met a few times in the last 10 years and every time it's the same thing: no one shows, the folks who do show aren't artists, etc... Why it is so hard to create an artist space?
Maybe it begins with the fact that being an "artist" is kind of taboo. It's like, if you're going to proclaim that you're an artist, then you can't possibly be one. Like how insane people 'don't know they're insane?' that's how you really know they're insane?
It took me a lot of years to claim the label of artist. At first, I thought it was pretentious. Like I was saying I was better than everyone else by saying I was an artist. Then I thought I was distancing myself by using the label. Then I thought it was just meaningless. And then, finally, I realized that I am, in fact, (and always have been) an artist.
What does that mean? It means that after years of studying other people who are identified as artists, I.M. Pei, Bjork, Laurie Anderson, Picasso, I realize that I relate in a very deep way with my work to the way that they do theirs. I understand their language. Christopher Durang was talking about how he never writes with an outline in mind, he writes intuitively -- and I thought, "I do, too!" That's how I write. And that was validated by someone I consider to be a great writer, a great artist. So, the label artist jut seemed to make sense to me.
But finding other people who think this way and want to commune over it is like have a support group for agoraphobics. It's been ten years and I'm thinking that maybe the artists just don't want to come out to play. Maybe I should call the group AA, artist's anonymous, where we can talk about the addiction to art. Or where we can do that 12 Step program for blocked artists, The Artist's Way.
In the meantime, I'll be hanging out by my laptop writing and in the studio rehearsing. By myself.