My son Ned, who creates major Public Art projects throughout the world, claims that I am a “higher order” artist than he is since I only do what I want to do, not what I’m hired to do. Aside from the fact that throughout history artists were almost always on someone’s payroll, I’m not so sure being at the mercy of a buyers’ market is a badge of honor. And since no one has commissioned my art, there’s a possibility no one is ever going to want it and that leaves me (and my heirs) with one hell of a problem. What’s going to happen to it (an attic full) after I’m gone? Every artist I know, facing inevitable mortality, has to deal with this problem. Since I personally won’t be around to care, my heirs can give away as much as they can and since new canvas is expensive, they can just put a coat of gesso on everything that’s left over and recycle it. The good news though is that my recent, smaller pieces sold quite well, so, maybe the answer to the backlog in the attic is to cut everything into 2’x3’ paintings; they might go like hotcakes in pretty frames. I’m told that’s what art dealers used to do in the 1920s with those big Baroque paintings nobody wanted to buy.
My daughter Eve decided to tackle the problem while I’m still around and hired a photographer to archive everything. That way, when I go to that great studio in the sky and my children move everything to a storage locker or have a giant tag sale, there will be a record somewhere “in the cloud.” At least they won’t have the problem I’m told that the famous sculptor George Rickey’s son has of spending half his life going around fixing his father’s work.
Starting (hopefully) in February, my friend Hilly Dunn, an expert art photographer, will set up a photo studio in my attic. One by one, we’ll record everything: title, size, date, etc. This is assuming I will be able to recall it. Hilly and Eve even found a new site specifically designed to document artists like me: POBA.org., a “cultural arts center” designed to celebrate artists who have “died without recognition of the full measure of their talents or creative legacies.” POBA takes its name from a Tibetan phrase describing the “transformation of consciousness at death to begin a new life.” At least it gives me something to look forward to…! I’m not being morbid; just realistic. When someone prepares a will, we understand that he wants to be prepared for the inevitable.
But even better…what if I actually achieve fame and fortune while I’m still around? ….and the work sells and provides me with a rich and exciting old(er) age? Underappreciated “mature” women artists seem to be in vogue now and while there’s life there’s hope!