The Exhibition

One recent sunny afternoon in the seaside town where I live, I chose to leave the compelling beauty of the outdoors and enter a quiet gallery where a panel of three visual artists (30s to perhaps early 60s) were showing their work and speaking about it and that of their fellow exhibitors. The stunning exhibition included many styles, mediums, and materials, and each speaker not only explained how and why she had been drawn to her particular means of expression but also let us into her process and the way in which it had evolved over time. What stood out to me as they spoke were the stumbling blocks along each journey, the way in which the artist overcame them, and how most of these difficulties could have afflicted anyone of any age. Some of the artists in the show had been so deeply affected by the current political climate that they suffered from a malaise or depression that made it difficult to work or such anger that it came through in the work itself. (I had heard this particular complaint before from much older artists.) One had struggled to create a distinctive style in spite of her lack of art school training. Another had difficulty finding the necessary time for her art, a commodity that becomes more available as we age. Studio space seemed to be less of an issue for these three who were somewhere in the middle of their careers than it had been in the past, and it occurred to me that its scarcity is most likely to exist at the beginning and near the end of a career.

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I came away from this candid and interesting discussion of process and its hindrances with an acknowledgement of a similar operating continuum in my present process and a very zen-like feeling of acceptance. Call it ups and downs. Call it highs and lows. Or just recognize it for what it is and call it life.

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