Today is the 12th of July, one of those days smack in the middle of summer where all I can think about is how much I’d rather be doing anything other than working in an office for a living. I’m supposed to be writing about an object from Frederic Remington’s studio, but the place is so packed with stuff it’s hard for me to focus. There are saddles and chaps and spurs, seven paintings of a single horse standing on a Kentucky blue grass lawn, mounted antlers, a mounted rifle, a hat, masks, a bed with Mexican blanket bedcover, chair, easel, desk. I am overwhelmed, and it’s not so much Remington’s space as it is my own filled-up brain.
There’s an analogy that’s been bobbing around with the other flotsam in my head all day. It has to do with physical space and buildings. I want to say that if my brain were real estate, it would be a multi-use complex. Or an outdated apartment building with rooms that are too small; some empty, most filled to the brim, none orderly.
I have an urge to evict my biggest tenant, Work. Remember, this is my brain I’m talking about, and so what I’m really trying to say is, Work, you take up too many floors. You are at times an over-bearing tenant. You demand all my attention, value efficiency over creativity, and you use way too much white paint. What’s your problem? Can’t you try just once using eggshell or antique white or a velvety cream?
Ah, she longs to work with People of Color, you might be thinking, and while it’s true I wouldn’t mind working side-by-side with a blue woman or a green man — I’m not afraid of aliens — I’m really using white paint as metaphor for lack of curiosity. My main tenant — with its miles and miles of gray cubicles (gray is the new white where I work), its Outlook calendars and inboxes, Blackberry pagers, and snazzy teleconference calls — is boring. Even my United and Southwest frequent flier miles have lost their draw.
My heart’s desire is to turn over the whole kit and caboodle to Art and its roommate Writing. Let them spill into the entire building. Give them free rein to paint the walls whatever colors they want. I trust Art and Writing’s aesthetics so much, I’d even let them gut and renovate the place. Make it into a single-story loft with lots of light and natural woods.
But then I ask myself, what am I thinking? I don’t have money to renovate. That’s my Catch-22. The job I’m hating this very minute is the whole reason we have shelter to begin with. Which means my brain’s going to resemble an overcrowded shopping mall for some time to come. Work and Art and Writing, and I haven’t even touched on Mothering or Being Daughter To My Aging Parents or Friendship or Gardening. I won’t mention the three pieces of furniture I want to refinish.
Just now it dawns on me, it’s not work I mind. In fact, when I’m producing art and writing, that’s all I can think about. I’m consumed by it in a way no other job has ever held my attention. I always tell people that if we gave the same amount of energy to our passions as we give to our day jobs (which, for most of us generally are not our passions) then we’d be wildly successful financially speaking. I honestly believe that.
So what’s holding me back? How do I get from here to there without the aid of an art patron? (Art patron, if you’re out there reading this, I will have no compunctions about accepting your generosity.) And here I have to admit, I’m stuck. People keep asking me, when are you going to do art full-time, or when are you going to write full-time? My only answer is, I don’t know when. All I know is to keep producing, one piece at a time. Just keep putting it out there.
–Related to Topic post, Remington’s Studio.