Great Art, Great Food; I'm on Board.
I have noticed that most artists author their own blogs. So, I feel like a bit of an intruder here. Still, I’ve got something to say because I have admired Nara's work for a long time.
In 1987 my jewelry studio was robbed. My precious metals and other materials were taken along with all of the finished pieces and many of the gemstones I had on hand at the time. Small, independent goldsmiths can’t afford insurance. Precious metals are as liquid as cash, and if you don’t have the ability to install a vault or a huge safe and an alarm system in your home you can’t get insurance. I had been working eighteen hours a day, seven days a week learning the trade and putting together enough inventory so that I could actually represent myself as a goldsmith. It all vanished.
After making the police report I recall sitting in my car pondering what I should do next. It was one of those moments that undoes you. I didn’t feel angry or afraid or sad. I was more “at a loss”, if you will. It was a “Well, what do I do now?” moment…one in which I could think of no alternatives. I felt calm. I just couldn’t think of my next move.
A few days after the robbery I was talking to Richard Stoddart, an artist friend of mine. He told me that he had begun working with a curator to help guide his career. His name was Michael Bell. He was the assistant curator of the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. Richard suggested that I contact Michael, but he made it clear that he was choosey about whom he represented and that I should be prepared to be rejected. I called Michael and got his message machine. Ray Lynch’s Deep Breakfast played in the background of his message. When Michael returned my call I mentioned to him that Ray was a long-time friend and that I used to fall asleep to him playing lute in a room I shared with him in San Francisco. (I think I woke up to the lute, too. Ray practiced a lot.) Michael said that Deep Breakfast had helped him through a personal crisis, and that Ray’s music meant a lot to him. It was a part of the soundtrack of his life. I thought, “Well, that’s got to be a point in my favor”.
I scheduled an appointment with Michael at his apartment which was around the corner from the museum. His huge Harley Davidson motorcycle was chained to the stone balustrade of his building’s front steps. When he swung open his apartment door I was welcomed in by the owner of that monster motorcycle. He was dressed in blue jeans and black leather with tattoos running up and down both arms. Tattoos were not fashionable yet, so he made a rather eccentric appearance. I found it easy to relate to him. I showed Michael my portfolio; he perused it and then told me that he would take me on as a client.
Michael may not have presented a business appearance, but his approach to art and his relationships with his clients was all business. I was to subscribe to Artweek magazine and look over the competitions and exhibition schedules each week. I was to enter at least three competitions every month. We would meet once a month when Michael would assess my progress. He scrutinized the jewelry pieces that I had been working on, and he reviewed the results of my gallery competitions, the rejections and the acceptances. He frequently suggested one or another competition that he wanted me to enter.
There was no public internet, no computers or printers, no digital cameras. Portfolios consisting of five to twenty 35mm slides had to be mailed to galleries and competitions. Each slide required two typewritten labels with pertinent details about the depicted piece. Included in the packet was an artist bio and statement. I worked on jewelry until 8pm every day. Then I assembled and prepared portfolios for mailing until 3am.
Michael required that I do things that I didn’t know to do and that I didn’t want to do, and it worked. I was accepted into competitions and won some of them. I was also represented by excellent galleries around the U.S. My work sold and was in demand.
It’s a different world. Nobody is submitting snail-mailed 35mm slides anymore. Now it’s websites, blogs, newsletters, and digital portfolios. It takes more work than ever to be seen these days, fierce energy and intention. In order to help out I am handling the technical aspects of Nara’s outreach efforts. As I said, I have loved Nara's artwork for a long time. Beyond that, I enjoy three fine, fresh, home-cooked meals by Nara’s hand every day, and it behooves me to ensure that she has time for cooking, which she also excels at. ‘Nuff said.