Returning to the Mountain (I)
The moon is a sliver and the crickets are in the same place they have been for nearly 20 years now. Two rabbits are living in the grass in the front of the house. It is dark, cool and 8:30pm. I’m writing from what was the home (mountain) studio.
At the end of this year I will return to this mountain studio after a six year stint “in town”. I think about all the studios I have had and those that were the most fruitful.
Every person is different, for me the ideal situation is to live and work in the same place – to roll out of bed and into the studio. To work late and drop into bed exhausted from working into the night. The practice needs to be continuous, uninterrupted and focused. It is a discipline. I am not alone in thinking of my studio practice as monastic. In general (meaning the anxiety from holding that view is not high) this is not a grand vision. I have been doing this for a long time. There are few who engage in a practice that is disciplined in this way. Others have more complicated practices. This is not bad or good. It is a condition that is created.
The art world was changing before the pandemic. Now those shifts are taking hold. That the art world is online and entirely accessible makes a return to a mountain studio a small leap. The mountain provides isolation and a particular kind of silence that is unparalleled. It is stripped down, off grid and allows for those who are interested in my work to be close and those who are not to be kept at a distance. It was never my intention to make work that was difficult to see or absorb, but it seems it has turned out that way. What interests me is what I make work about; I won’t produce work in any other way.
It is a shame or perhaps a sham that some artists feel they have to choose where they are in relationship to what they think success is. Numerous outside voices are not helpful. Frankly, those whose voices are helpful are few. The rest is an odd symphony of systems that have been developed so we push the right buttons and run through the maze correctly to get the cheese or become the cheese. The schism between the heart of making work and the market perpetuates a stereotype. So, with that you have to find the “right” market. The market that will support you as an artist. Not the other way around.
This all has to do with integrity that comes with time. It is far too easy to be bought these days. Being bought – does not mean your work sells.