Since this will be a two-person show — though really more like two solo exhibitions in the same space — and we’d never met, with excitement and apprehension I made a date with my fellow exhibitor this week. I was a little nervous, having built a rather romantic image of her after seeing a few pieces, nearly convinced that the world would fall in love with her work at first sight (and, natch, ignore mine).
I’ve been thinking a lot about flowing lately, that whole ‘going with the flow’ — a phrase I’ve often dismissed as trite, too laid-back and passive, too faux-surfer. I’d noticed that, in dreams especially, I am often trying to back-pedal, reverse, pause the action to get my bearings. Survey the hill, and then down; arrive at the crest of the next, stop to assess. I seem to not fully trust my capacity to make and savor decisions as I go, flowing from one to the next.
I often remember a phrase Reb Anderson said to me once: Not Prepared — But Ready. Not thinking ahead, not under some illusion of Control, but alert and accepting.
I thought about the notion of stepping into the stream and moving along with it as I sat waiting for her to arrive. Faking it, till I’m convinced otherwise.
I thought about inadequacy, and as usual The Voice took its cue from that slight opening to rush in with YOU ARE NOT PREPARED FOR THIS WHO ARE YOU TO THINK YOU CAN DO THIS YOU’RE NOT THIN ENOUGH YOUR SKIN’s NOT CLEAR ENOUGH for you to have the gall to exhibit your work BLAH BLAH BLAH…. And then, brought to my senses, I thought, well, maybe I just get in this stream and flow with it for a change. Maybe this Here is the right Here. Maybe there’s no such thing as a fearless warrior anyway, so might as well hop into the driver’s seat of this careening-out-of-control bus and take command, if not Control.
Maybe acceptance, rather than complacence or passivity, equals fluidity.
Maybe I can stay upright in the midst of all this through accepting what’s happening, accepting a new addition to my identity, accepting reality.
As it turned out, she was very human, and quite nice really, and imperfect in the way we all are, and we talked and shared a bit about our stories and I tried to bring myself back when I’d get caught in a little eddy of self-doubts and How Dare Yous, to climb back into the driver’s seat and return to the bloody conversation for pete’s sake.
That same day I brought my work to a framer for matting, and I felt so exposed again, all that work and all that time, just sitting there on the counter like a commodity. We discussed dimensions and colors and edges without once talking about the image, like designers behind the scenes at the catwalk, fussing over the surface of the model, ignoring whatever life’s underneath. And the owner came by, and I wanted his approval, which I knew was so screwed up, and I also knew that I may well never get it and never know why, and then I realized I need some serious therapy.
But let’s close. Let's return to important things, the stuff that matters.
Biala: Untitled (Landscape), mixed
media collage, 1958. courtesy Tibor de
Nagy Gallery |
Two artists came into my field recently when I by chance picked up Suitcase Paintings: Small Scale Abstract Expressionism. These diminutive pieces, their texture and action, had such big impact. From the pages, out jumped Perle Fine, and out leapt Janice Biala. Long overdue, I’m so glad to meet them at last.
Fine: Untitled, collage of ink, charcoal and pencil on paper laid on
board, 1961. courtesy arnet.com |
Janice Biala: Japanese Maple II, oil on canvas, 1960. Tibor de Nagy Gallery