4.01.2012

The dialogue in my head before a show....

I was thinking last week about how before every show I have the same dialogue that goes through my head every time. Basically the same scenario's play out and I can either cry or chuckle about it. Thank goodness this time around I had my two pottery partner in crime Amy Sanders and Julie Wiggins on the "pottery hotline" when I was a bit overwhelmed. Lets hear it for friends and support!
This month I'm in a show at Lark and Key called "Memory and Metaphor" along with two very fine painters. This show has been in the works for aleast a year but as is true with other sales, gallery orders and shows; I'm always working up to the last minute.
Today I thought I'd jot down thoughts/words that have been circling in my head all week. These play out over and over before every show. Shows to me are different than sales because if I don't have work for a sale than its only me I'm letting down. If I don't have good work for a show, well its many folks I'm letting down and this weighs so heavy on my head.
For those of you studio Mom's and Dad's out there, you may be shaking you head while reading my thoughts. I'm even pretty sure that some of you without kids could relate to some of these thoughts!
So, from the time it starts to the opening reception, this is the dialogue in my head....
~New ideas...boy, I'd love to have a show! Hey, can I have a show? I've got some really cool ideas?!
~ Sure, that a good time of the year, I'll have time to make stuff. No obligation what so ever...
~(Glance at calendar) "Ah, a few month before my show, got to finish orders first -I'll have time to try some new forms before than".
Month before the show -
~ Time to start some new work for my show...but first, I've got to do the 15 loads of laundry.
~ "Mom, I've got a huge project due this week"! No studio today, must help the kid....
~ I need to grade papers for my art history students. Maybe I can get in there for 2 hours today..
~ Ah, studio time. Got to start with the big pieces first...humm, but what big pieces?
~ Two kids sick - I need to be inside, no studio today...crap, things are going to dry out!!
~ Ok, a few big things made. Will folks want to see new things or some more of what they are collecting? Better make a few small things.
~ Should mugs go in a show? Nahhh...not this time, I have time to make other things..
~ 9:30 Pm, lunches packed, cloths laid out, dishes done cloths in dryer. Whoops...guinea pig cage needs cleaning! Hummm....can I get anything done in my studio this evening??
~9:45PM where to start... Guess I'll make some small things.
~ 11:00 PM, need to sleep, I'll have time tomorrow after teaching to finish these up.
~ Run kids to various after school activities, go to the gym, help with homework, fix dinner, get kids to bed at *8:00. Run out the studio.........."Crap, they are to dry for handles!"
Week before show -
~ Oh god, please don't rain outside so everything will dry out in my studio and be ok in the bisque!
~ Lord, I should have made those mugs....kick myself!
~ "SICK?? Your not sick, you've got to go to school today...I've got to work!"
~ Guess I'll stay up until 12 tonight so I can finish just a few small things.
~ Calendar says...2 doctors appointments, snack Mom, make quiz for two classes, go shopping for special shoes for dance class, meet with teacher about failed test grade....." AHHH...all this is during my free studio time! When am I going to finish my pots?"
Days before the opening -
~ Glaze until midnight, turn up kiln at 2:00, turn up kiln at 5:00 ( good lord I'm tired!) Get up with kids at 6:00, run everyone to school." Maybe I can take a nap for 1 hour and go back to glazing".
~ Why do I put myself through this? I should have been nurse!
~ This is crazy! What other profession takes away sleep time like this one!
~ No honey, you can't go out of town this week!
~ Grind teeth during sleep worrying about my firing.....
~ Feeling tired and short with the kids.
~ Don't worry, no one will see me in the carpool line with my PJ's on. I just wear a baseball cap and sunglasses to hide the circles today!
~ Must find quick things to make for dinner so I can work a bit more before dinnertime.
~ ( Open kiln) " Oh lord, please let these look OK"!!
~Help!!!
Day before work needs to be delivered -
~ Well this looks OK....
~ Why oh why do the big things never all turn out~! I hate porcelain! I'm switching everything to stoneware!
~Ok, I think this is enough work. Is it enough work??
~ It is what it is, price it, pack it and hope for the best.
~Panic attack before delivery...
Show goes up/Opening -
~ Honey, can I call in sick for my opening?
~ Should the kids come? Yep...they need to see the outcome of Mom's crazyness...
~ Nothing to wear..maybe I should just go in the throwing cloths so people can see the sweat and tears I've put into this...HUH!
~ Will anyone come at all??
~ Maybe I'll have a few glasses of wine before I go, that always dulls the pain of meeting and talking to folks!
~Ahhh...familiar faces, the show looks nice. What was I worried about anyways?
~ Look Honey, it went find after all.
( and my husband sighs....)

6 comments:

carter gillies said...

Jen,

Always great to hear you back blogging!

I know there are artists out there who have the extroverted kind of personality that just fits in naturally with the glad-handing hob-knobbing rigamarole of a galley show opening. But I suspect there are more artists who would be happier back in their studio making stuff, or just at home reading a book.

Unfortunately society seems to assume that we are all either extroverts or better off pretending we were. And thankfully a lot of us are able to cobble together enough gumption to attend these 'necessary' social events. Heaven forbid they think us anti-social, or lacking in social graces!

But this is perhaps also why so many artists are misunderstood. Society wants us all to be glibly expressive and charming mountebanks, but it turns out that most of us aren't. And while we can sometimes make that extra effort to fit into this extrovert dominated scheme, it also turns out that many artists are simply also folks that were drawn to a contemplative lifestyle that includes and even demands solitary studio time. Most artists, it seems, are just happier exploring their own imaginations, contemplating this and that, or introspecting and investigating the "what if I did it like that" questions.

On occasion we can bring down the house, wear the lamp shade, and dive the mosh-pit with the best of them. But its not the introvert lifestyle, and we also need serious 'down time'. And this is not wrong, and this is not a failure on our part. Its just who some of us are, and it might be nice for society to be a bit more understanding at times.....

I'm curious what you think.

I've also been reading the Susan Cain book "Quiet" which talks about some of these issues, and I'd highly recommend it so far. I just think that society has done few favors for introverts, and unfortunately that seems to also point a target straight at most artists.

Good luck with it all! You're not alone!

Jen Mecca said...

Carter - I couldn't agree with you more on all those points you made. I find myself wondering alot if I'm the only one who struggles with all this stuff but of course I know I'm not. I have heard some really great podcasts about introverts and how for some people these type of evants just take everything out of them. I'm married to someone who is much more interverted than myself and life can be tuff at times. As a Mom, I've tried my best to get my kids involved in situations so they can deal with these same sort of fears and feelings. My mother did the same for me but its something that your born with and when your creative on top of that you can be viewed as being sort of "weird". Thanks so much for your comment. Have a great holiday! Jen

Kelly said...

I loved reading your brain ramblings! As a mom of two young girls (3 and 7 months), I know what a struggle it is to get in the studio (damn near impossible sometimes!). Congrats on your show, wish I could have seen it in person. And to Carter- I'm going to check out Susan Cain's book- I'm very interested...

Jen Mecca said...

Kelly - I need to check out that book as well ( when I find the time :)
Jen

ShellHawk said...

I'm with you on your thoughts, and when I am putting in those loooong days before a show (no gallery openings, yet), having a spouse who says I need to plan my time better so I can get everything done doesn't help. (Especially when it's his clothes I'm washing instead of glazing my bowls--hello?)

But there is truly nothing better than when everything is done and over and you've survived it, again. I, too, have trouble with keeping up the smiling extrovert exterior during show season. It can be a strain. My balance is serious couch time after, watching my pottery videos!

Keep growing! It's worth it!

Lisa researching ceramics said...

These eggs are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing pictures. Your work is inspirational.