Exhibitionist II.

So you all remember, I’m sure, when I mentioned in this post that I was hanging an art show, and reflected in this post that I was so glad to just have it up and done with.

Well, it’s been up almost a week now, and the most incredible thing has happened.

People have wanted to talk to me about it.

Some people have had no feedback; others have carefully avoided giving feedback.  But some people have given positive feedback… raves, if I must be honest.  Still others have wanted to talk to me about what I had done in the pieces.

I have to say, that last sort of conversation is the most rewarding for me to have… I’m delighted to hear what other people have gotten from the pieces, because it’s a direct view of how well I’ve communicated my subject.  Sometimes people have brought things to my attention that I didn’t even think about during the conception and the production of the pieces, which is fascinating.  It’s also really developmentally beneficial… though I’ve been putting time in on art for most of my life, almost all of that work has been on the technical side rather than the expressive side, so the insights I’m getting from people are very helpful.

Another thing has been happening… people have been buying them.

I’ve sold two and have had interest expressed in another two, which in a collection of six drawings is not fucking bad if I do say so myself.  It’s embarrassing to admit that viewing this as a positive thing has been a challenge.

Let me explain that.  Let me clarify.  Because that sentence up there probably looks like it was written by a crazy person.

All of the people who have purchased pieces or expressed interest in pieces are people that I know personally… so of course there’s a voice in my head that tells me that these people are buying pieces out of pity for the fat, broke, half-stupid person who put them up.  Whenever someone has purchased one or wanted to purchase one, it has taken a great deal of self-control to not say, “oh, you don’t have to.”

I was trying to figure out a way to get around this way of thinking… it’s obviously not rational, and it’s not beneficial to me or to anyone else, and frankly it’s a voice that hampers me a lot.  So I thought about it, and the more I thought about it, the more the choices people had made about purchasing pieces made sense to me.  A young man in his twenties, already seeking his place in life with a kind of abandon, selected a piece called “The Fall,” featuring two figures tumbled on top of one another.  Another friend, a musician, expressed interest in a piece showing a male figure, barely able to lift himself from the ground, seeking comfort in the lap of a feminine figure, who was reaching out to urge him forward.  Another man I know, a blisteringly talented poet who struggles with demons from his past, chose a piece intended to show the last thirty seconds of life when one is drowning… just keeping their mouth above water and about to slip under.

So the more I sat and thought rationally about it, the more it made sense that each of these people, based on what I know about them, would naturally gravitate toward the pieces that they selected.  And each time I puzzled that out, that voice got a little quieter.

This morning I was there getting some coffee with my friend Phil, and a woman came up to me and asked, “are you the artist?”  It was the first time I’d been asked that since the show went up, and it felt weird… I actually didn’t put my name up with the drawings because I didn’t really want to draw attention to myself.  I said yes, and she asked me what my intent was behind the work.  I told her that it was supposed to be an exploration of moments of vulnerability in the lives of ordinary people, and also maybe a look at feelings of alienation that we all have.

She went on to tell me that she had recently had a baby, and that she was still struggling with some strange emotional turmoil about it, and that she could see some of what she was dealing with in the drawings… that she had just been looking at them and looking at them and that she thought it helped her.

Well, I really couldn’t say anything self-deprecating in this instance… that might have helped me feel more comfortable, but it wouldn’t have been kind to this woman, who was sharing something personal with a stranger in connection to the art that I was about to run down.  I just said, “thank you.  I’m so glad that you’re enjoying them.”

And then I went home feeling strange and humbled.

What a weird and wonderful world.

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Author: adrennan

An artist and writer in Bellingham, Washington.

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