Monday, November 14, 2016

     Over the past two week-ends, Mr. Wonderful and I have attended three events which have brought memories and questions to my mind. We attended a sand-sculpting competition on Siesta Key Beach, an Art Show in Venice, and another Art Show at St. Armand’s in Sarasota.
I was stunned by all the talent I witnessed, and it made me think about the discipline, the sweat and tears, the determination and the passion all of these artists displayed as people
walked by scrutinizing their work.

     One artist’s face lit up when I said, “Your work is stunning!” I told him that years ago, I represented 20 artists from all over the country as well as abroad, and that I was the one standing at the booth absorbing all of the negative comments and watching people walk by with nothing more than a glance. I told him the art was not of my hands, but it hurt me still. Pointing at his beautiful ceramic pieces hanging on his display, I said, “These are your babies. They are part of you. I can imagine how tough your skin must have to be not to internalize the rejection.” He smiled politely not knowing quite what to say. His wife next to him smiled broadly, nodding her head in agreement. 

     Throughout the centuries, people have admired and rejected beautiful paintings, exquisite sculpture, magnificent photographs, gorgeous pottery, glorious music, inspired literature. Only a few artists have enjoyed the financial rewards and fame they so deserved. The rest continue creating out of their passion for their craft. 

     We have all read stories where the parents of a famous composer said, “There’s no future in music; you must be a lawyer,” or “You will never be able to support a family with your paint brush.” How very sad. Think about what the world has lost when we no longer hear the velvet sounds of Nat King Cole or tap our toes to the rhythms of Leon Russell. 

    Mr. Wonderful said to a young photographer whose beautiful landscapes from around the world hung gleaming on metal, “You sure must love that hobby.” The young man spoke up defensively, “This is my job.” People just assume that the artist doesn’t create for a living because most can’t make a living creating. 

    I am guilty of this in my own performing. When I explain to people how I create my one-woman show and where I perform, I hear myself say, “I do it for the love of the art.” A friend said to me, “If you continue to sell yourself short, not demanding the price you deserve, you are enabling the myth that musicians don’t deserve to be paid what they’re worth. You owe it to other artists to demand what you have worked your entire life to perfect.” She’s right, but artists are often very humble and aren’t comfortable marketing their own talent. 

     So what’s the point? The point is that when you go to an art fair or hear a fabulous street musician, at the very least, tell the artist how much you enjoy his work. Say something specific that tells him you recognize his unique talent. Ask a question to show him you’re fascinated by how he came to play so beautifully or to paint so flawlessly. It’s not money in his pocket, but at the very least, your generous words will keep his passion alive, and he will continue to create and make our world a more beautiful place.