Friday, January 29, 2010

A Covey...

... of art writers at our Laguna Beach cottage last night. The occasion was an Orange County visit from my friend Bill Lasarow, who has for many years now published Artscene magazine, in which a number of the essays in "Persist" originally appeared. A couple of years back, Bill started Artscene Visual Radio, the host for my podcast series, "The Art of Outrage"; and his recent merger with Visual Art Source has created an art resource network that covers the western states. It's an impressive venture, and an invaluable source of information for what's happening in this part of the world. Last night's dinner at our cottage--take-out pizza and salad--gave the Orange County contributors a chance to get together, and some of us an opportunity to meet for the first time.

I have been writing about art since the early 1970s. Until then, I had never thought of myself as anything but a poet, but I stumbled into an exhibition of work that fundamentally challenged my understanding of what art was all about--I've told the story too often elsewhere to repeat it here!; my poet's head would not let go of the challenge and I started to write about it... From that moment on, I have been known as an art writer, and have contributed at one time or another to all the major art publications. Throughout it all, though, I have been grateful to Bill for allowing me a platform for observations about the "art scene", the predicament of the artist, the influence of money and the meaning of professionalism, what it means to be an art writer, and so on.

It has not been a "profession" in the sense that I could have made a living out of this aspect of my writing--nor, indeed, ever, out of any kind of writing. But art has provided me with a valued focus for most of what I write. I have worn the critic's hat; I have written scores of reviews. I have written general interest articles about collectors, artists, and other art world figures. I love to write catalogue essays, which give me the opportunity, as I see it, to collaborate with the artist in a way that is not kosher, certainly, in writing reviews. I have written the text for art books, and am currently about to embark on a new one, which I shall enjoy.

All this has offered me wonderful opportunities, and I'm grateful to have encountered many fascinating, creative people along the way. I stand in a place now where I am able to pick and choose what I write about, and love the freedom of these Buddha Diaries to write about everything from global politics to personal matters, from book and movie reviews, as they come along, to questions of ethics, religion, and philosophy. I have noticed an upward trend in my readership in recent days, and wonder what this might have to do--or not!--with the publication of "Persist" and my (persistent!) efforts to give this new offspring a good start in life. The nice thing is, it all seems to work so well in symbiotic flow; things come together, merge and form a steadier stream. A good feeling...

So it was wonderful to be able to welcome a handful of fellow writers in our home last night, all of us at different stages along the path, but all dedicated to a similar purpose in life, and with similar goals. "Success" comes generally in small measures for an art writer, and must be tallied mostly in terms of personal satisfaction and fulfillment. But it's good to know that there are others, like myself, who are content to enjoy the satisfactions that our avocation brings.

1 comment:

Gary said...

Bill remains a funnel of critical examination and is our conduit for artistic exploration beyond the mainstream. His contribution is as much a part of how we know what we know as paint is the other part of canvas.

I sure do appreciate his work and offer my most sincere thanks!