My dad had a close friend, a titan in business, who also shared a love of art. Even more striking than this friend’s achievements were his understatement, sincerity, fairness and friendship. Everyone he knew felt enriched for knowing him. After quizzing him on his secret, Dad’s friend said merely, “Life is relationships.”
My dad soon passed along to me a purpose-built advice nugget. “Like life,” he said, “art is loving and connecting with others.” And like the old-car collector, who on a Sunday drive attracts fellow travellers, a painter has the chance to make intimate beings of strangers. Truth is paramount. Content and passion connect, as do the universal poetry of colour and the jewel of specificity. Quality counts. It all amounts to something deeper than any transaction. And, if the word “business” is part of your art equation, it’s like every other business. Art is relationships.
A friend called and purged a recent, disheartening experience. As an active member of the local art community, he’d observed up close an art dealer use and lie her way through more than a decade’s worth of loyal artists and supportive collectors. Now, out of people, this dealer is closing her doors. While other gallerists build lifelong friendships, one bad apple can spoil the good vibes for the artists, the art lovers, the galleries, and what can feel like the whole town — but it’s temporary. An indomitable community of compulsive creators and their tail-wagging dream keepers, determined to do it better, will morph, re-invent, adapt, grow and find one another again.
PS: “Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.” (Henry David Thoreau)
Esoterica: The development of painting skills and people skills are lifelong and complementary. “No one cares how much you know,” said Theodore Roosevelt, “until they know how much you care.” Put love into it. Be true. Understate cleverness and overstate commitment. Embrace the happiness of win/win. Leave things better and more beautiful. Be a sharer of the joy of your path. Feature outstanding partners. “If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce,” wrote Zig Ziglar. “If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.”
“My friends are my estate.” (Emily Dickinson)