In the early days of my career I worked alone reading every how-to book and art magazine I could get my hands on. I went to the galleries and joined the local art associations. I showed my work in malls, on the boardwalk of Atlantic City and on the New York City streets in Greenwich Village. I sent my slides to juried shows and learned how to ship my work across the country. I even joined a New York co-op gallery, which was a learning experience all in itself.
It was exhausting, time consuming, a drain on the family and gave me little monetary reward. Eventually, I learned what to avoid and what to pursue. Knowing what kind of work a juror was partial to saved time and money. I guess this is what is called “paying your dues”.
It feels like another lifetime as I look back on this now. I’m sure every artist who has found their way can tell a similar story. All the juried exhibits I showed in—or were rejected from—helped me grow to the next level. Reading the magazines (Art News, Art In America, Artforum) helped me see what was going on in the galleries and probably influenced my work more than I’d like to admit. I seemed always to be at the end of a trend, never at the beginning.
The good news is, I don’t care about the trends anymore. This may come from years of rejections, or just insight into how finally to let go. For the first time I’m not crippled by other people’s definition of what’s “in”. I have to trust my work will take me where it’s supposed to go. This is very liberating.