Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Death by Artattack

I don't mind admitting that I'm exhausted. Not only by the relentless last two years that involved writing a 365 page, heavily researched book on 365 completely different topics followed by a mad 4-month dash to create inventory in time for a festival and teaching at a retreat. That was all exhausting, no question. But what I find even more bone-crushingly draining is the suspicion that maybe this sort of artistic life isn't really viable after all.

Working every hour God sends six days a week isn't so bad when it's work that you like, but even people doing work they like need a break sometimes. Even work you like has its demanding, frustrating, annoying moments. And at the end of the day standing behind that work, laid out naked and exposed on a table like a newborn infant, smiling at strangers, hoping they "get it" and connect with your vision, and fall in love and Must. Have. It. and feeling your heart sink as they admire and handle and then ultimately walk away empty-handed, that, my friends, not only takes great courage, but I'm beginning to fear, great stupidity.

A friend who has made a desperate effort to keep her artistic endeavors going but has made no secret about the fact that the struggle may soon prove fatal to her business said, "People tell me to hang in there and not quit but then they don't buy anything. If no one buys anything how can I stay in business?" Heading home with almost nothing to show for my efforts, her words ringing in my ears, I can't help but wonder, does the world really need art the way I need art? Because I need it passionately. I need all kinds. I need art in my clothing, my possessions, my tools, my surroundings, on my walls, in my house, all around me. But maybe I'm alone.

Maybe the world is happy with stock pictures in frames from big chain stores and mass produced clothes and million-of-a-kind possessions. Maybe the world isn't as dedicated as I am to expressing myself in every way possible, part of which is by purchasing real things, things someone made with their hands, not mass produced by machine in a third world country from dubious materials where the laborers got paid $1/day for their work. Yes, maybe that means I don't own as much, but what I own has meaning to me, whether for what it represents about me or the connection I felt the maker express in its creation.

Are you happy, world? Do you feel a deep sense of connectedness with the mass produced? Should artists all hang up their tools and get 9-5 jobs instead of 24-hour-a-day jobs? Should art be allowed to die a dignified, if very lonely death? Because if that's the case I'd rather let it die now while there's still some shred of dignity still clinging to it than watch it get beaten to death over the course of agonzing months only to lie gasping and suffering on the pavement outside the next venue, or the next, or the next when it finally, inevitably dies of a lack of interest.

If you like artists, won't you consider supporting them? There are so many to choose from. Support their vision and their way of life. Most people think artists live a very lackadasical life but the very opposite is true. Yes, they may get supreme satisfaction from their work but it's generally never-ending. It begins the moment their minds engage in the morning and doesn't turn off until they pass out at night. Artist does not equal slacker, quite the opposite. And they can only live off their art if people see value in it and purchase it. End of story.

I'm trying to do my part. I support other artists by purchasing their products for myself and to use in my own work. But there needs to be a collective, concentrated effort if the little artist is going to survive. The next time you need to buy a gift, dare I suggest you check out the work of artists before going to a major chain? Handmade is so much more personal. If you don't know what they like artisan sites like Etsy offer Etsy gift cards so the lucky person can choose for themself.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, please feed the artists; they're starving. Do more than "like" someone's work. Purchase it so they can make more. Or, before you know it, there won't be anymore.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Please Pass the Lettuce

I think I am in desperate need of some lettuce this week. I always thought Beatrix Potter's mention that it was soporific was invented, but not so. Not only is it soporific, but also helps calm the nerves. Why didn't I stock up at the grocery store? Why??

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Plea From Wiggins

This is Wiggins, a juvenile cottontail rabbit. On my way out to feed the sheep this morning I heard a terrible ruckus in the grove of trees across the meadow from our house. At first I thought it was an injured coyote. I could "see" its progress through the woods by the birds taking flight ahead of it so I watched to catch a glimpse. I saw a canine of some sort but when it circled back still yowling for all it was worth I figured no self-respecting coyote, no matter how injured, would be so careless. So I dropped my water buckets and went to investigate.

What I found was the neighbor's beagle obviously on the trail of something. When I finally caught sight of the something it turned out to be Wiggins. She was in a thicket of brush and the beagle couldn't reach her. Neither could I. The stupid dog  wouldn't leave her and finally flushed her out of the thicket where she practically leapt into my arms to get away from the cursed dog. I raised orphaned cottontails last summer and I know how skittish they are, even when they are used to handling, so believe me when I tell you this was a very telling glimpse into her mental state.

It was plain to see two things: she was injured and she had almost resigned herself to death. She was crawling and throwing herself forward rather than hopping and the light in her eyes was gone. She was more than happy to stay in my arms as I carried her back to the house with the dog leaping and jumping around me the entire time trying to get at her. I have no doubt this usually harmless dog is a cherished pet but at that moment I would have happily put a bullet in its head. (Well, maybe not. But if looks could kill...)

I'm not sure Wiggins will make it. I've given her food, water, and shelter where she can rest to see if she heals enough to be released or if she lives but remains so injured that she'll need sanctuary for the rest of her life or if she lives but is so miserable she has to be put down. This scenario is senseless and is the third time that dogs I know have killed or injured wild rabbits. Usually its babies, wandering out of their burrows in the twilight. So for Wiggins and the babies I know who were killed by dogs can I just say, please, please, please, for the love of cottontail bunnies, would you consider keeping your dogs on a leash especially during this time of the year when so many babies are venturing out?

I realize rabbits, especially wild rabbits, are prey animals and intended for food. And I accept that even though I don't like it. But for dogs to wantonly kill or cripple wild rabbits they do not need for food is preventable and part of responsible pet ownership. I thank you for your consideration and Wiggins thanks you.