Last year, i started a group with a few other artists. i feel like this is still a project in its infancy, even though we might be toddling about by now. Regardless of its age, Maine Artists Group represents something very important to me.
My work most often means being alone. Even when i share space with other artists here at the Studio + Showroom, we are all working on our own projects, dwelling half in reality and half inside our imaginations. As much jovial conversation as we have burble forth, there are equally long stretches of silence while we all focus on what we are doing and tune out the rest of the world. It can create isolation if not loneliness.
Also, being an artist implies a certain level of vulnerability and instability. My last blog entry talked about the boundless gratitude i feel for my customers and patrons. Part of that comes from the unavoidable fact that they are not mandated to buy my art. S
o far i have not been able to pass any legislation that demands everyone in the country purchase an asha fenn original.
Nor does the lack of my artwork in their home fill people with unbearable shame. Instead, i have the great blessing of knowing my work is purchased by people who love it enough to go out of their way to make it theirs. Which means that i have to look at this life i lead as a gift rather than something that is owed to me; financial vulnerability has become something of a constant.
In my wildest dreams, Maine Artists Group was to be a way to mitigate these problems. Pooling together the resources of artists to have an online store, to promote each other’s work, to have a community that we can rely on.
Only, right now, almost eighteen months in, we are in flux. We have lost members and gained members. Beginnings bear their own special difficulties: success is a dream rather than a proven possibility. Some members of the group are having harder times, some better, and all of us have a shortage of time to dedicate to building this community. This enterprise requires effort from each member and we cannot always give it the energy we should. At least, i know that is true for me. The rest of my life has crept in and kept me from doing everything i wanted to. i feel like i have failed my friends, these artists i believe in so strongly. i have also done my best which helps soothe my mood, but still feels inadequate.
But i am nothing if i am not stubborn. Bullheaded to the point of stupidity, barreling forward with my dreams even when it seems like insanity to others. i recommit to making a living at my art every morning when i wake up.
A few days ago, while i was in a gallery in Belfast, i was fretting (doodling frowns) over the future of the Maine Artists Group and what the future holds. i do this aimless worrying too often. An artist from Washington State, here on vacation, and i started talking. He pointed to the doodles in front of me, the pottery on the other side of the room and the slideshow of my artwork moving cross the screen of my iPad before him.
“The universe provides.” He said, “You pour your heart and soul into this and you are so talented. Don’t fret. The universe provides.”
“Ah,” I smiled, for i never tire of hearing that i am talented, “but she doesn’t always provide in a timely manner.”
“That’s the point.” He laughed, “You have to be patient and keep working.”
As he left, i thought that he was right. Patience is not my greatest virtue, but stubbornness and determination can make up for what i lack in calm composure. Most of all, i could no more stop doing this work than i could stop breathing. Actually, i imagine that the cessation of the latter will be the only thing to stop the former. As i returned to my doodling after he left, i kept thinking “the universe will provide” could be a good mantra.
When i sat down to write this – a post on Maine Artists Group been long overdue – i realized my primary focus was to thank all the artists i have been working with during past year and a half. However, i also need to use these words as a reminder (to myself more than anyone else) that success is not instantaneous. Even when we want it to be. Even when we demand that it come with loud impudence.
For the universe provides in her own sweet time.