Monday, June 26, 2006
The Art (Spouse) World
Purple Blossoms, 2006, Oil on Panel, 18x24
Well, it's official, my husband, Doug is an art spouse. I am sure that he never thought he'd be one. Not that he doubted me, only that being an art spouse is a concept neither one of us ever considered. There should be a book about it for those who are considering marrying or becoming a partner of an artist. There is a lot expected of an art spouse, surprisingly.
Attending openings is practically mandatory. They have to be available, so that the artist doesn't have to stand alone looking awkward when the crowd is thin. When the the crowd reappears, the art spouse has to gracefully stand back and let the artist have all of the attention. The art spouse should be supportive, naturally, of their spouse's art, but also of the other art in the show. Doug handles all of this fabulously and really makes me look good, by being himself, which is personable, smart and very knowledgeable about art. He always has lengthy conversations with the most interesting, and usually somewhat eccentric people at the openings, while I am left to answer the questions about why do I paint landscapes and how long does it take to do a painting (my all time favorite). Doug also spends time talking to the other art spouses, I noticed at the last opening of mine, he was standing around talking with another art spouse (husband), commiserating and comparing their duties, he told me later.
I have noticed with many of the couples that I know who work as artists, that if the male is the artist, the female does a good portion of the business aspect, record keeping, phone calls, that sort of thing. If the female is the artist, the men seldom (at least I can't think of any) do any of the business. The men may build frames, move around boxes, pack shipping crates, even deliver work to a gallery, but talk to the gallery director on behalf of the artist? No way. This most definitely holds true for us.
An art spouse's feedback regarding the art, framing, and other details is crucial. Sometimes I feel quite certain that my paintings should have my husband's name on a byline. He tells me what is working and more importantly, what is not working. Although we have a running joke about that. The pieces that he doesn't care much for are generally the ones that sell first, the ones he thinks are amazing, incredible, stunning sit around month after month, not selling. Go figure. Anyway, he notices when my work is making a shift, something I don't really pay much attention to, and suggests other artists, past and present, whose work may be of interest to me. While I have forgotten most of the art history I learned in college, Doug has most impressively retained everything he learned AND he can put it all in context when necessary-I'm envious.
Anyway, I think our situation is somewhat bittersweet right now. Doug has a bit of longing to be an artist with the exhibitions and the openings to go to. Not that he isn't thrilled and way cool about what I have going but he is also an artist. He has spent most of his adulthood in other fields, some of which utilized his art skills and some that allowed him to develop his business skills. He'd have one kick ass gallery if he ever decided to do open one! I think he should be making art but he feels hasn't the time right now to focus on it in the way that he thinks is necessary. Plus there is that little thing about financially supporting the family, which he is better equipped to do than I will be any time soon. However I have no doubt that when he starts putting together his photography, he will gets shows, good ones too, and I will have to be the supportive art spouse, answering his phone and organizing his work. Uh, just kidding about that last part-I was just practicing sounding supportive.
When it is my turn to be the art spouse, I can say with complete certainty that I will not be as good at it as Doug has been.
I think today's painting might look a little bit creepy in the reproduction, whereas it looks merely moody in real life. It is kind of an odd image, but I liked the juxtaposition of the bare trees on the right and the new purple foliage on the left in the scene. It was a nice light and airy view, and the painting started out that way, but then things took a turn and it all ended up closer to the dark side. I am cool with that.