Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I have officially declined to participate in this years' Park Slope Studio Tour. I kept delaying about sending in the application, until finally I realized that I don't want a bunch of strangers trooping through my studio in May. In fact, I don't think I even want my friends trooping through my studio right now. Strange and mysterious things are beginning to happen, and they need to happen in silence and in solitude. I may post detail shots, but I'm not sure.

In other news--God bless Peter Schjeldahl.
...Ryman stays fresh and taut. Even out of date, his conscientious integrity ought to abash today’s hordes of careering youngsters, whose idea of the future of civilization reaches little beyond the next art fair. But to be shameable, under present conditions, may be an unaffordable moral luxury.
...Two other artists contribute negligible works with arbitrary political associations.

Is all of this a mite thin and forced? It is, along with almost everything else of recent vintage in an art world where frenetic production has outrun any substantial supply line of ideas. Nearly a century of experiments in abstraction have become a fund of handy tropes. What’s lost—while being barely preserved, with monkish zeal, by the likes of Ryman—is a sense of risk at the frontiers of convention.
About a year after I graduated from art school, I realized that I could either follow art fads, and hang out on the Scene, and critique and discuss and schmooze and opinionate--or I could try to make some art with integrity. I could not do both. At the time I thought that this was a temporary state of affairs; I figured I'd work for a few years, produce a solid body of work, get grounded in who I was and what I had to say, and then re-enter the Scene.

Come to find out, I think my Scene-aversion may be permanent. I don't just love Art because it's Art. I love really great art, and am supremely indifferent to the rest of it. Moreover, having to address the rest of it produces so much brain-chatter that I can't be still and listen to my inner voice, which is the one that makes the paintings.

However, I am very pleased to report that my bodywork practice is doing so well that I can now afford to be shameable, at least through the end of April. I raised my prices at the beginning of the year, and now I note that I am getting a lot more calls from Google hits to my website. It seems that people are more inclined to trust a person who charges more. I knew this was true in theory, but I was still gun-shy after experiencing a precipitate drop in business the last time I raised prices, when I was working in Williamsburg. That, I see now, was probably just due to the fact that artists are cheap.


jackadandy said...

You say several chewable mouthfuls here, Serena, and as so often happens, I find myself in accord.

That "brain-chatter" gets entirely in my way. Unlike you, though, I am at risk of being actually art-ignorant, not having gone to art school, and I tell myself that I need to keep "checked in" in the hopes that I will learn something. But overall I find I must keep this "checking in" to an absolute minimum, because mostly it leaves me feeling confused, depressed, and distracted. Observing from my little outpost, the great majority of what passes as discussion of Art is actually talk about Business. And pardon me for my elitism, but I've never found discussion of business to be particularly liberating, lol.

Further, living in a remote province that gets washed over regularly by Art Scenesters, I am in a position to notice how much of The Scene is just another social circle, with castes and seasons and people who want power and people who want to be loved. I don't confuse membership in that system with being an artist.

Keep that current "strange and mysterious" work close to your chest, my dear; your fans will respect you in that. We'll wait. :)

prettylady said...

Thanks, Dandy! I find talk of business to be liberating, as long as it bears no relation to the process of making art. Which is why it is so handy to be self-employed in an arena that is separate from my art, with the added benefit that people who can afford a massage (at the price I'm charging now) are much more likely to be able to afford a painting. Unlike 98% of the art scenesters.

In terms of the 'checking in'--you can certainly do this, as long as you are not in the middle of a major productive phase. I find that I can't go to galleries and museums one day and work in the studio on the same day, or even during the next one or two days. I need time to either absorb or reject the new information.

(Of course, on the one-in-a-thousand chance that the new art is unutterably, transcendently, mind-blowingly incredible, it can take an awfully long time to absorb. It took me two and a half years to work through my trip to the Rufino Tamayo Museum; the Noguchi Museum took about eight months.)

So the perfect time to go see art is when I'm hung over, on vacation, renovating my studio, or in a creatively dormant phase. You can get a lot of 'art education' in between the cracks.

Bertrum said...

Can you please report on how the fascists at Coco Roco are cutting down perfectly healthy trees in the back of their building? I'm not sure what is going on, but they have their busboys(!) climbing these three and four-story trees and chopping them down. As a resident that faces that backyard (which primarily belongs to Excelsior and Sakura), I enjoyed having those trees outside my window. Now the whole area is clear, and I can see into all the windows that those tree branches were covering. This is bullshit - there are not very many trees in this city, and this piece-of-shit restaurant is cutting down a few for no reason and no regard to the buildings in the area or the safety of its own staff!

Jordan - Kolok Gallery said...

I love your work. I hope you will consider us.

Open call to artists for International Juried Exhibition.
Printed Exhibition Catalog.
Open to all artists, 18 years or older.
Work must be original and executed since January 2006.

Juror: Hannah Blumenthal.

Submission deadline: June 22, 2007.

$25/1-3 entries; $10 each additional.
Online entry form and details:

Kolok Gallery
(413) 664-7381,
Located in North Adams, MA just 4 blocks from Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
(Mass MoCA). .

prettylady said...

Bertrum, why or how in the world would you think that I would have any influence whatsoever upon Coco Roco and their trees? I have only been there once, and had a perfectly pleasant time, but I am not on sufficiently intimate terms with the management to have any say in the matter. I suggest that you speak with them directly.

Jordan, I do not enter juried exhibitions which charge fees, and I do not recommend that other artists do so, either. I will allow your post to remain, but please do not post anything of the kind again.

Jordan said...

I'm sorry, I shouldn't have posted it, you can take it down... I was misinformed.

Jordan said...

p.s. I just posted it bc I thought your art was really great. I still think so!

prettylady said...

Thank you, Jordan, I appreciate it! Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between spam and otherwise.

I feel very strongly about the fees issue; I know that galleries have to pay their expenses, but after I have invested the time, the money and the enormous opportunity costs to make the art, I find it downright insulting for anyone to charge me to look at it.

Plus, the more fees a gallery charges an artist, the greater an indicator this is that they do not have the collector base to actually sell the art. At this point, I am extremely particular about the types of places I will do business with.

But thank you very much for your sincere compliment.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the work needs to be done in solitude - people tend to want to "understand the work" and new work needs to be free to evolve. The understanding comes at the end, when it's done.