2.27.2012

Marketing Mondays: Generosities Received

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Consider this a P.S. from last week's Marketing Mondays. In that post I talked about Giving and Taking--how much can you give professionally without feeling ripped off, and how much can you take without ripping off--but this week I'd like to focus on the positive.

What  advice or opportunity have you  received from another  art professional that has  helped you  immeasurably in your  career?   Sometimes   you   don't   realize   until   time  has  passed  just  how  much  that good turn   has  done   for   you;   other   times   you   know   immediately   that   you   have  been given  a  treasure.

I'll tell you my story. I hope to hear yours.

In the early eighties I had been contributing articles to Fiberarts Magazine. I'd developed a good working relationship with the editor, Jane Luddecke, and when she decided to leave the position to focus more deeply on her creative activities, she urged me to apply for the job. She could have recommended a working editor--she knew plenty of them in New York City where she had worked previously--but she recommended me. Though I didn't know anything about editing, I had some writing skills and a ton of ideas, and was (even then) nothing if not organized. Long story short, the publisher and owner, Rob Pulleyn, hired me, and I moved to Asheville, North Carolina, to learn to be an editor. It was on-the-job training. The magazine was a staff of one (moi) with in-house clerical help and a network of freelancers--a huge job of 12-hour days, seven days a week. Pretty much the only other thing I remember doing besides working was my laundry. But it was a gift, that job, because it allowed me to focus on a topic I love, textiles and the artists who make them, and it gave me a skill that would get me to New York. Twelve solid bimonthly issues later I moved to Manhattan--working first at Women's Wear Daily, then for Conde Nast Publications--and I was able to support myself and my art editorially until art was able to take over and do the heavy lifting. 

Luddecke's kindness in suggesting to me, a financially strapped young artist--emphasis on financially strapped and young artist--that I had a skill worth using in a larger way,made a huge difference in my career, one I continue to realize over time. And her gift to me is one of the reasons I have been able to produce Marketing Mondays each week for you.

Tell me about a generosity you have received.

A reminder: Anonymous comments are OK if they add to the conversation. But if you have something negative to say—to me, about the topic, to a commenter—have the courage of your convictions and identify yourself. I’m not providing a forum to cowards.
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16 comments:

Stacey Ball said...

What a great entry! What a great experience for you! I am very blessed to have met another artist. He has made a very good name for himself and he has been kind to give me some great critiques on my work. He actually wants to take a look at some more. I am so grateful he has taken time out of his schedule to look at my work. Who knows where this will take me on my journey! All I know is, it is taking me one step closer in the right direction on where I want to be in my art career.

pam farrell said...

Well, I thought I'd be late to the party, but I'm so surprised to see only one other comment here, from Stacey, and conversely, so many comments in last week's post.

This is no Oscar speech, but honestly, there really are too many artists and professionals along the way to thank in a reasonably short comment. And as Stacy said, who knows where these experiences will take me...

The classmate--a ceramic artist--who encouraged me to major in art and apply to Mason Gross School of the arts; the ultra-busy, well-established painter who made 2--not 1--trips to my studio and spent considerable time with me and my work, offering valuable feedback, leading to a much-needed boost in my confidence.

The Philadelphia-based artist who years ago took the time to introduce me to her artist friends and welcome me into her community, where I have these friendships still.

The gallery owners who have graciously, and bravely, allowed me creative freedom to curate group shows in their galleries. The handful of artists who have allowed me into their hearts and heads to share personal stories about their creative process, and allowed me to share mine.

The artist, blogger, curator, conference doyenne who figures largely in my career development (and many others), and who asked me one day a question that began with "What if you...." which opened a huge door in the process.

All of these experiences

Philip Koch said...

I just wanted to write to say "thank you" to a wonderful teacher I had at the Art Stuents League of New York, Rudolf Baranik. He was teaching a figure painting class, my first ever, and made the most remarkable suggestions to me about how to see the abstract beauty hiding behind observable reality. He was the most straight forward and genuine teacher imaginable.

But far more important than that, he was the first teacher I ever had who told me he believed I could be something special as an artist if I stayed with it. It was just a brief comment, that was his way, but it has stayed with me all these years. In times of setback and plagues of self doubt, his words always came back to give me and a powerful reassuring hug. Sometimes you just need that special vote of confidence. His reached me at a young and vulnerable time and made so much difference to me.

I am happy to say I wrote him a many years delayed thank you note that reached him a few years before he died. I had some other good teachers of course, but this is the one that made all the difference to my self confidence.

Tam Cronin said...

It's so funny that you bring this up as I just wrote to someone about this recently. One of the greatest influences in my art career was 80's icon Jack Goldstein. Jack was my advisor at Hartford Art School during a time when I really had no direction. Jack was intense, really pushed me conceptually, and really kept me on my toes. He brought me to New York and introduced me to an art world different than I imagined it to be -- drugs, sex, parties, punk rock, Metro Pictures/Mary Boone.... I still remember meeting the amazing artists of that time. It was a heady experience for a 19 year old.

I grew up with a heroin addict for a mother -- pure insanity -- and being an artist (or rather, a successful artist at that time) entailed more of the crazy, messed up world that I thought I was escaping. It was a place I wasn't willing to go. Jack always believed you had to bleed for your art. You had to do whatever it took to get your art noticed, and I didn't have the stomach for more of the seamy side of life. I'd already had enough. Jack didn't dismiss me, though. He was compassionate. He really understood where I was coming from. It was probably anthema to everything people thought they knew about Jack, but he actually cared about what I did.

He encouraged me to pursue photography (actually, graphic design at first) and I ended up with a BFA in photography and a different career path. I kept in touch for a few years, but then I lost contact with him. I ended up in graphic design and photography for the better part of my career, but 25 years later I'm painting again, and like Philip writes above, Jack's words still come back to me. I can't help but think of him and wonder what he'd say about my work. He'd probably say it's bullshit and I'd appreciate him for it. And then he'd say "Joke 'em if they can't take a fuck", which was his way of saying, "Who cares what I think?"

Sadly, he is no longer with us and it pains me that I can't reach out and say thank you for making me wait -- to pursue something else for a while until I could get on my feet and my life on track. It was probably the best advice I could have received from an artist, at a time when no one shared a damn thing.

Leslie Neumann said...

I also would have a line around the block of people who have been important to me and whom I'd like thank. Every damn day - seriously - I thank someone. They just keep giving me the breaks. But the people who started it all have to get the credit. My parents. When most people will tell you that they became an artist DESPITE their parents' disapproval, mine were never anything other than the cheering section, the bank, the beacon -because of their own creativity. And not to get too personal, even after my brother died tragically in a car wreck and I was the ONLY child they had left, they still let me move from New Jersey to California to study art. They even paid for it. It's unimaginable how they had the courage to send their last child 3,000 miles away to learn how to become a life long risk taker. I appreciate the chance to say "Thanks" to them - again - as I do very day. But every day, there are others whom I thank. So many!

J.G.Nieuwenhof said...

Without the financial, emotional and encouraging support of my partner of 40 plus years, I would not have achieved my current place in the artworld. Because I could work part time (at a money earning job), my artwork could take space as well. It worked as thirds. One third (other work) one third family/children, one third art. Nowadays, 2/3 art and 1/3 other stuff. Thanks R.

Gary J. Noland Jr. said...

Great post again, Joanne. Isn't it funny how many comments that were posted about ideas and techniques being stolen versus "Generosities Received"? We all have had teachers or mentors that have sacrificed their time, energy and wealth of knowledge to help us become better artists. We have also benefitted from galleries that have taken chances on unknown talents and worked tirelessly to sell our work to clients who had never heard of us. Too many times, we feel like we are being taken advantage of, but do we consider what we have taken from others? It is our duty to pass on the gifts and talents we have been blessed with and we will be blessed in return.

Anonymous said...

When I first got sober in my mid-30s, I felt driven by some mysterious source to pick up a paintbrush. A friend in AA who had gone to art school saw that I was totally infatuated with paint but had no idea of how to improve my work or begin to study painting. She advised me in my step-by-step progress: first evening classes at the local high school, then evening classes at a local museum, then evening classes at Mass. College of Art. When after a couple of years, all that was not enough, she suggested that I apply to the BFA program at Mass. College of Art. I was flabbergasted by the idea; after all I was in my late 30s, recently divorced, owned a house, had a decent but boring job. Could I really go to art school?

Yes, I could and did. She helped me to put together a portfolio and the rest followed, one small but forward-moving step at a time. Along the way, so many people helped: friends who got it, professors, studio mates and the woman who became my wonderful wife and life partner. Without her and the generous artist who became my mentor, I would not have been able to make a life in art. Thankfully, I can't imagine what a life without art would have been.

David A. Clark said...

Joanne, this post triggered so many memories for me that it took me a couple of days to formulate a reply. There are many people to thank;too many, I think to post here. My husband would go high on the list for being such an extraordinary support system and for his, sometimes painful, honesty. I'd thank Mario Siletti, who was my shakespeare teacher at Stella Adler for taking me aside after a particularly painful crit and saying, "You are unique and that is the gift from which all glories spring. Celebrate your uniqueness every day and don't ever let anyone try and change you." That small exchange has sustained me for decades. Mario is now gone, but his words still ring in my head. I would be a completely different man if my stepmother Alex hadn't encouraged and bullied me out of my shell. As an adult, the many friends and colleagues whose work ethic, tenacity and singularity of vision have and continue to inspire me and set an example by which I am encouraged to stay the course. And recently for me, you Joanne, by creating the International Encaustic Conference, lit a fire that is a beacon for me. The warmth of that flame has lit many fires for me both creative and collaborative. And that fire has attracted many of us towards it's warmth and the community that it has drawn together has created many, many other fires, and for that I am very, very thankful.

Tamar said...

While I can’t point to specific career-changing acts of generosity, there have been a number of times when the emotional (and occasionally, financial) support I received helped me navigate periods of great tumult in my work. Positive comments from painters and the loyalty of dealers gave me the courage take risks and follow the work where it wanted to go. And Joanne, the public space that you have provided for these dialogues is a career-supporting act of generosity. Thank you.

Catherine Carter said...

Yes, Joanne, I would like to join the readers who have thanked you for the generosities we've received from YOU, particularly through this blog but also personally. Your kindness and openness to sharing and supporting other artists is something I and I'm sure many of your other artist colleagues hope to emulate and are thankful for.

Kim Matthews said...

I've never understood how the art world-or more specifically,the world of artists-got its reputation as vicious and backbiting. It has consistently been through the encouragement and support of other artists that my work has gotten anywhere: from my very first solo exhibition over ten years ago and continuing to this day. I only hope that I have the chance to give as much as I've received.

Lynette Haggard said...

As a young adult I spent every spare minute making art in the high school art classroom. I made things drew, and painted for many reasons—as much as I could, whenever I could. My high school art teacher must have sensed the importance, and gave me pretty much a "permanent hall pass" to come to her classroom.

Throughout my childhood, into adulthood, I received cultural and artistic support and encouragement from my neighbor and older friend, Birgit. She was a feisty, well educated, strong woman. She loved to talk with me about artwork and tell me of her travels. Birgit enjoyed music, art, New York, current events, women's rights and believed in my artist abilities. We had a strong relationship. She supported my interest in attending college.

When a junior in high school, I decided to apply to art school. RISD was close by, (too close to home for me, I wanted distance) so I decided on Philadelphia College of Art (PCA). My parents would not sign my school application (nor pay for it) but that's another story. After my threat of forgery, my mom signed the application. Simultaneously, Birgit and her family were relocating to a Philadelphia suburb. She welcomed me to the area, took me to the school to visit, offered me an open door to her home when needed.

So I attended PCA, which was a terrific experience. However, with no family support or financial support (my family was on welfare).... I struggled between feeding myself, paying tuition and buying art supplies. Oh yes, and paying for oil to heat my space. After my first college painting elective with artist Jane Piper, I really felt I was on my path. Much to my amazement, at the end of my freshman year, she offered me access to her studio for the entire summer, while she was out of town. I WAS SO INSPIRED! And I felt validated. This support was crucial. I was able to begin believing in my self as an artist. I was also mentored to an extent by Cynthia Carlson, an artist who taught at my college. She understood my visual language and helped me have confidence in my ideas. She invited me to her loft in NYC to trade a piece of my art that she liked for one of hers.

After college I was inconsistent with my creating art at first. But, twenty years ago I began to create work again, consistently. I secured my own studio and am making my own path in the art world. My husband, partner and best friend, has been extremely supportive and challenging of my artistic endeavors.

About 15 years ago I began participating in a small women's art group on a weekly basis. Some of those friends and artists I am still in contact with, and it is a nourishing thing.

Eventually I became involved with another group of artist friends, who are my support network now. Those would be Binnie B., Nancy N. and Gregory W.

Lastly, the likes of you, Joanne. When you came to my studio as a consultant five or six years ago, you were most generous, professional and caring. I SO appreciated that. And I, too, agree with David that the conference has carved a special place for many of us, and I look forward to it every year. So I thank you and all of my other supports over the years. Very, very much.

Tim McFarlane said...

There have been so many instances of received generosities that like previous respondents, I'd have a list that's way too long for this forum. There are numerous friends, instructors, other artists, art professionals, and more who have been (and continue to be) unfailingly supportive of me and my work. As generous people are with me, I try to be as generous with my thanks and support in kind.

That said, my high school art teacher, Richard Segal, holds a special place for me in my art journey. It was when I was in high school that I began to look at art as a serious endeavor and Richard was the catalyst for my a lot of my creative curiosity. Besides his class, he encouraged me to attend youth art classes at other area institutions.

Most importantly, he took my interests seriously, which has stuck with me all of these years and has been one of the biggest motivators in my artistic life. In turn, I try to "pay it forward" by encouraging younger artists and sharing what I can of my experiences.

Eva said...

I wanted to add to Philip's comment - I too had Baranik at the ASL and he was wonderful, so encouraging and outside of my high school art teacher (Grace Henson - she's still around and I still know her), there was never a better art teacher for me.

Along the way, various individuals helped me. One writer who I really respect (I won't say her name, it will sound like name dropping!) told me, at a time I was buckling under peer pressure and thinking to quit a project I was doing, to listen to myself instead of them. She said I was an artist, which meant I had a responsibility. I hadn't thought of it in that way before - I was 23 at the time - and while this social idea of responsibility may not count in everyone's practice, it does in mine. I've always remembered what she said.

Joanne Mattera said...

This post comes from the artist Frank Hyder:

Joanne I really enjoyed your story about the editor who helped you. . . I will share an example of generosity with you. Last month I was invited to the Maryland Institute for a luncheon to honor my first mentor, Albert Sangiamo, chair of drawing there since 1961 when he was hired to bring a regional school into the world of contemporary fine arts, vis a vis Yale ideas. The invitation I recieved came from the school's president. I assumed there would be many former graduates /alums attending. To my surprise it was kinda a in house thing with mostly faculty from the school that he had mentored over the years,mostly from the Maryland institute as well.

There were two alums there myself and the most famous graduate of the school ,Jeff Koons.,I was bit puzzled to be there ,wondering why Jeff and I who were at the school at the same time but not friends.He was in his first year and I in my last. I wondered if we were examples of the most and least successful students that Sangiamo had mentored. lol...Certainly as it should be Jeff was the belle of the ball everyone wanted to touch him talk to him and just be in his space.

As I had said Sangiamo was my first mentor, he was my basic drawing teacher in an amazing class full of talent, he captivated us and taught us that art was not something you did for a class or to decorate your parents house but rather that it was connected to everything in life and all the arts were interconnected. his class was as much about life as art and his views opened our eyes to possibilities. His interest went beyond the classroom one night while visiting another student in our rundown Baltimore row house he walked by my room.This room had 1960's flowered wall paper of hideous design and color,which I disliked.I had been making large [22x30] inch color drawings on colored paper of the students in my building and at the school.These drawings I was hanging with out spaces floor to ceiling over this wall paper.

When he saw them there were probably 20 or so, he became very excited and wanted to know who had done them.The others pointed at me, he said" you are in my class right"?I said yes he said " never saw you do these " why are you doing them ? I said i liked to draw faces and wanted to cover the walls .He asked me to draw him .I did .he then asked me to draw another person which I did while he watched.He got more excited and we began a close relation spending hours together talking about drawing etc.One day he told me that he had arranged for me to have a show,my first, in a very nice theater in Baltimore that showed European movies and had a real gallery in the lobby.I had the show and saw Bernardo Bertolluci's films over and over. I sold a bunch of drawings too.

Now to the generosity at the luncheon this now 84 year old master teacher told peole how I had been an influence on him inspiring him to do twenty years of large portrait drawings ,Jeff and others commented on how those drawings which he made while they were in school and hung all over the offices had been a topic of excitement to him and other students making them think about more confrontational drawings etc.,Sangiamo's wife said that the drawing I had made of her husband was the only drawing that was done by a student hanging in their house. Those drawings became the core of my work after his encouragement and got me into the University of Pennsylvania MFA program where I studied with Alex Katz and Neil Welliver ,just to name a few. In my opinion it takes a pretty great teacher to say that a student had an influence on them.And I felt pretty good knowing that he had remembered me after all those years .I will never forget his impact and hope that I have the done the same for another.

We all stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before ,so we can see a little further.