I went to art school. Then I went to art teacher school. Then I was a teacher. Now I am an artist. I mean I've always made art, but now I've kicked out the crutches "to fall back on."
I do this on my own. By that I mean, I'm not really a part of a particular art scene, I'm not a teacher, and I don't have an "art job." Instead of being part of an established group, I use social media (Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Fitzbomb, Facebook...and on and on) to make connections and promote my work. It makes me feel like I'm a part of the world at large, and maybe, just maybe, I won't top out in Baltimore.
Sometimes things go really well and I'm busy. I'm making money, getting shows, getting press, traveling around, and partying proper. But then it always seems to creep up on me that I need to be participating more with the group, the "Established Art Scene." I need to go to the events, listen to the lectures and apply for the positions. I'm certainly not anti, most of the time I miss out on the openings because I have other engagements.
Here's my problem, my major malfunction if you will: it all seems SO academic, by the book and clean. Why can't it be a little more Factory and a little less yoga and tea drinking? Do all successful artists these days live on the safe side? Do they all go BFA, MFA, adjunct professor? I'd ask where all the Cookie Muellers have gone, but you'd say AIDS, and I'd say, but we have drugs for that. Convo over.
Artists have learned to go to bed early (not too much caffeine, gave up Adderall after art school, and speed...never!)and live late into their lives. Maybe this is natural selection at work. All of the hard livers (that was not a pun. I promise.) died off 20-30 years ago. Now we have the clean-living academics who survive. All the lessons were learned in the '80's. I guess one can't knock that. It all just seems somehow, well, boring.
I'm not saying, run out and do drugs and get interesting. That would be stupid. I'm not saying live hard and die young. That would be cliched. I'm not talking to the fringe, or the people who live clean, but don't sleep and work insane hours trying to make it at their art. I'm not talking to those obsessively making things because they have to. I'm not really talking to anyone. I'm not judging anyone either. I just want to know, do I have to join the group to be successful?
I made it past my 20's, and as I watch to see if my brother will, I find myself winding down a bit. I will admit that now I almost hate to be up when the sun comes up. Lately, instead of just not eating and drinking so much Crystal Lite when I'm dieting, I actually go to the gym. I've been into being able to wake up early-ish and drink coffee and feel ready to work in my studio. But I've lived hard. I've traveled, hitch-hiked, drugged, drank, and woken up with many guiltovers. And although I may be slowing my roll (I at least want to get to the old where I can still look hot w/ some botox and fillers), I'm drawn to the people who share these experiences.
I guess to answer my questions about joining the Institution of Art, I will keep doing things on my own. I'll stick with the beautiful, hard-living people, and when I can no longer hang, I'll keep painting them in my studio.