I don’t have people over. There aren’t many places to sit, not even a proper table, except for drawing. One armchair, one bed. I like people—in manageable doses—I just see no reason to invite them to where I live. The one reason to occasionally have others over here is to look at art. Last Monday, Keith came over to do just that.
I’ve written several articles about shows at Keith’s Rare Nest Gallery. Though it’s only been around a little while he consistently shows interesting work. He’s also one of the very few gallerists I’ve ever gotten along with. Because I’ve been writing about art shows more the last year or two I now get a pretty steady stream of press releases from galleries and museums. The vast majority of it is utter crap so getting news of something up at Keith’s is usually a treat. Making art then also writing about it is an ambiguous place to be. Writing criticism and reviews often feels like working for the enemy but I’m too old and tired to hold myself to high ethical standards anymore.
So I invited Keith over to look at some art to maybe get a show at his gallery. This is how it works. It’s all about who you know. No meritocracy and little rhyme or reason, just who you happen to run into and when. Do them a solid and maybe they’ll do you one back. I probably always knew this on some level but it’s taken till the last couple years for it to sink in that this is the way of the world.
Several weeks back I ran into a younger painter. I told her of my upcoming show at Firecat Projects and she got a sour look on her face. She said something dismissive about the scene around that gallery being “my crowd”, as if it was a clique from which she was being excluded. It made me laugh because I’m pushing fifty with barely any artworld acclaim to speak of. The idea that I’ve got an in somewhere is a novelty to me, but maybe it’s about time it happened. All I know is what little success I’ve had has never come at some other artist’s expense.
I tidied up the place, cleaned the bathroom, and set out a bunch of pictures. I don’t know what other artists do in these situations. Some likely have a line of bullshit to convince others of their genius to get them sales and representation. I don’t. My pictures will either speak for themselves or be ignored and forgotten. Can you be forgotten if you were never known?
Keith came up, took a quick look around, drank a glass of water, then invited me to lunch. We ate at a Chinese place a few blocks from my house which has a pretty good $6 lunch special. He talked about pairing me with a photographer of Chicago cityscapes for a show sometime this winter. Did the visit go well? Who knows. It felt odd having another person in my rooms. But if the result is an exhibit then I suppose it was worth it. A few of the pictures I put out for Keith to look at are still out, but bit by bit the apartment is returning to its private state.
The morning after his visit I was woken by pounding sounds which felt like they were coming from directly outside my forehead but turned out to be tuckpointers smashing away at the bricks around the roof, about ten feet above my skull. They kept at it all morning till there was a layer of brick dust on every surface near my living room window. I wiped down the armchair and the art books, marking the second time in a couple days that I’d had to clean the place—likely a personal record. It’ll likely be months before anyone other than me sets foot in here again, so I’m free to let the housework slide.
Once the heat breaks, I’ll be able to paint here again, which, after all, is the only reason for anyone to be in these rooms.