8/25/08

black cloud and the moral of the story

I'm going to make art if it kills me.
Those were my words to Tod when he left for work yesterday. And I did in fact stay in my studio working on something. Granted it was a clock, already put together over a month ago design wise, I spent the better part of the afternoon making it into reality. I think it helped me feel in touch again.

I realize from the post below people might think I have fallen into a black hole because I wasn't feeling creative. That isn't the case (I'm not creative but it isn't the reason for the ick). I was just in a black hole, that makes me not feel creative. That makes me even more dismal. The culprit of my pointlessness was more car issues, realizations that this whole work thing, money thing, art thing is one big long slow process and having more people come stay here (which inhibits my ability to scream and be loud and goofy) all combined into one big paralyzed ball of muck.

There is also the one factor that I have yet to figure out. It's something I talk about a lot and so far I've not understood how to be at peace with this: I make art, I show it and then realize if it doesn't sell when the allotted time is up I have to lug it home and there it stays. I need more avenues to spread the work out to. I constantly fight this blackness about why make more, what is the use. Especially after feeling less than thrilled still with galleries at times....they are all different and the personality thing plays an even larger factor than anyone had ever told me about.

I'm still shaking my head over last week's posting about not being paid (yet) for work sold last January. Shaking my head because I see I have so much to learn still when it comes to handling myself. Realizing intuition plays a big part and no matter how much you like someone, no matter how much you want to make money, sometimes it is best to follow your gut. The person who owes me read that post and was very mad. Frankly, I thought I did fine as no names were mentioned and honestly I didn't say bad things about them. I re read that post several times. I've been bursting with frustration and needed to get it out. They wrote me and I come to find that they thought that I was the most difficult person they had ever worked with, in fact they wanted to return my work at one time just to be done with me. I feel a certain amount of shame in writing that because I don't want people to think I am that way. This is where reality is such a kicker, because I had the same feelings towards them. Of course after reading their email I feel like they are justifying not paying me somehow. I'm being accused of not trusting this person. It really isn't a matter of not trusting someone at this point. If we had both listened to out guts maybe this wouldn't be happening.

Each gallery is it's own universe. I think what makes it challenging is how each one does it differently. Some are more slack than others and no matter how much you like someone if it isn't done professionally things are going to go wrong, come to think of it professional or not things can and do go wrong don't they? With my limited experience I have tried to follow what feels right and protect myself in my puny way. Some see that as being difficult. There are signs and if you don't like where they are leading you there is no one to blame when you end up somewhere unpleasant; that doesn't excuse anyone but it should keep you from being a total victim. My signs were having to ask is the check in the mail more than once. Having to make artist contracts sometimes as they had no printer there. Having to do the math and correct amounts being paid to me due to errors. My signs were finding out that we had our % split but with other people they just told the gallery owner what they wanted to make and then the gallery just made up a number. Hearing about the lease/landlady and money problems. (all these things added to my anxiety and I'm sure culminated into what they deemed my difficult behavior) That might be fine for other people, I noticed it didn't sit right with me and yet I stayed in there. We were friends. Sometimes when I talked about taking my work out they freaked out, they went on and on about how great my work was and how whoever came in, my work was what got all the attention. Obviously they were in as much conflict as I was. They wanted my work there, liked me as a friend, but didn't like working with me on a professional level. Thought I was difficult. Negative. Thankless.

I can't keep beating myself up about this. I cringe often. Cringe that someone is so mad at me now. I've had my learning curves with most places I've had work in. I've had to swallow my pride, swallow how I want it to be and learn to decide if I want to show work or not and forget about how I want it to be. Cringe that others would point at me and say you are an idiot and deserve to get screwed. Cringe. Cringe. Cringe. I beat myself up and it wears me out. I'm not the type I guess who is going to burst a blood vessel and stroke out in anger. I am not the type to go to small claims court. I'm not a vindictive person and I don't feel the need to lash out or make someone pay in more ways than one. I know this person is struggling too. Doesn't excuse anything, if I owed someone money I would forgo whatever it took until I paid them in a timely manner. I would constantly be in touch and let them know whats what. But that is me. I find it sad that their anger and frustration about how our gallery/artist relationship was serves as fodder, an excuse almost for justifying remiss payment. Hey, I'm not perfect. I don't always handle myself in the most professional manner, I am often times reactive and awkward. I have lots to learn, especially when it comes to the art world. I'm just trying to focus on what is good and learn from my own mistakes. I might get paid. I might not. I still feel this awful pang when I look at the pieces that were sold, to which the money is owed. It puts a black cloud over that work and I sometimes wonder the people who bought the art...if they knew all the conflict going on over the pieces would they even want it still. I could get the check tomorrow and I honestly wont feel better. This has been an unfortunate experience and it saddens me how we both have handled it.

The moral of the story: It is all about fear. Facing fear. I had fear of getting out of the gallery. Fear of pissing that person off. Fear of losing money. Fear of not showing art. Fear of writing about this months ago and pissing the person off. Fear of saying/doing/being wrong, stupid, awkward etc. Fear of not knowing how to handle things properly. Fear of looking naive. Fear of seeming controlling. Fear of bugging someone. Fear of Fear. When you do things to avoid fear or don't do things to avoid fear: you lose. All my fears came true because I didn't deal with them in a healthy way.

9 comments:

Kim Hambric said...

In my humble opinion, your friendship with this person should have turned into a professional relationship once your work went into the gallery. It seems that the only person who understood this was you. You created the work, you entrusted this person to take are of the work and to sell it and to pay you when it is sold.

Sorry you received what seems to be an unprofessional letter from the gallery owner. Perhaps you should write a letter in return, explaining, in a professional manner, your side of the situation, and letting them know you expect to be paid for your work. Then mail it and get on with your art life. You may get paid, you may not. Tie it up in the most upbeat way you can.

Perhaps another blogger will have some stunning advice that will recover your money.

self taught artist said...

thanks for the comment kim
this felt like a messy, embarrassing (on my end mostly) post to write but I had to write it. and something healed in me because of it. I do believe I will get paid eventually, and I do believe everything served a purpose.
the money part is probably 50% of it, there was much to learn that isn't financial. Believe me, I didn't handle this perfectly either. I can see that now after going over all of this.

Daphne Enns said...

Hi Paula.I just caught up on 4 weeks of posts (I'm glad to have my computer fixed AND be finished with our family holiday).

I can't even believe that the gallery owner had the audacity to tell you that she was angry with your post and went on to tell you that you were difficult!
The first things that she should have done was to pay you in full. She just discredits herself further by jumping in and being defensive and unprofessional.

Also: That's a beautiful gallery that you're in (the one that has expanded). Your work fits in incredibly well.

And my last comment is that aside from your need to have money for survival which is obviously incredibly important (food and car) I'll give you a gentle reminder that as horrible as deep dark holes are and the lack of creative juice goes I'm sure you are adjusting to the fact that making art doesn't have the same working hours or continuity as non-creative jobs. Artists need time to store up creative energy as much as money...

BlueJude said...

I ahte fear. I also hate hot, nervous, trapped and feel like passing out. Can so realte to it all as you know I am glad tho to be finally catching up on your posts. Hope the week improves. bluejude hugs.

self taught artist said...

daphne, it comes to no surprise to me she felt that way about me, I even know why she said that. If I didn't think she was hard to work with I wouldnt have in turn been hard to work with. I'm not surprised by any of it actually. It really comes back to paying attention in the first place.

Lisa said...

Fear - yes - much is about fear. My word of the year is courage. Which I consider to be taking action in the face of fear, not the absence of fear. Not always easy.

I think it's great you blogged about this gallery owner not paying. Maybe you can get resolution.

Steve Kane said...

Don't you dare feel awkward or guilty or whatever. Those people entered into a contract with you to take on your artworks, sell them and pay you. If they weren't in a financial position to honour that arrangement then they should not have entered into it.

And they complain that they think you are difficult. Boo-fucking-hoo. What's that got to do with buying and selling and paying your bills? They failed to keep you informed of their financial circumstances, left you dangling for the money that was rightfully yours. You delivered the art, you honoured your side of the contract. They are obliged to honour their side now. Doesn't matter who likes who or who finds who difficult.

I've known you for a while now and you strike me as many things but not difficult. Those people should quit their bellyaching, cough up the money or keep you informed of why payment has not been made. However "badly" you may have handled this business relationship (and, hell, I'm not confident or expert at such things myself), they are equally guilty if not more so of being difficult.

Moral of the story... Oh, I forgot. Want some coffee and cake?

self taught artist said...

they have kept me informed on why i'm not being paid, they are broke. i guess it bothers me that i know other people at their new place get paid. again, if it were me i would have made sure i paid, even if it was $20 a month, that i know they could pay as I know cigarettes cost at least that and they smoke. i should be getting interest on this too actually. whatever. hopefully this wont sour me on the next new gallery i go to.
and yes, dark chocolate torte with that hot coffee.

Steve Kane said...

If they're broke then they shouldn't be acquiring new work from anybody. Try telling your utility companies that you're not going to pay them coz, uh, you're broke *shrug* and see what happens - they cut off your power, your telephone and evict your ass!

And the fuckers smoke?! Geez, when I smoked and owed money I, y'know, went the fuck without!

Um... sorry... I get angry at people who screw me or freinds out of money. I should probably lie down.