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re immature work and selling

updated fri 12 jul 02


karen lovenguth on thu 11 jul 02

Your post struck me enough to write. One reason
being that you also appreciate the work of Mata Ortiz.
I saw a few web sights of the work being produced
there. I am sure that Juan Quezada is a fascinating
man and have a great respect for him. I do however
like the work of others in the town more. Those that
have taken their own paths in the decoration.
Another reason that I write is that I am 180
degrees in the other direction on the ideal of selling
work that one feels is immature. Do you have to sell
to pay the bills? I was recently struck by a friend of
a friend that came to do monotipos (grafic work) a few
months ago. A few friends came for the weekend and the
serious artists produced good work. This man during
the weekend made about 8 and then a week ago sent us
an invitation to his show. I was a bit perplexed by
his hurry to proclaim himself "artist" and have a show
with the first 8 prints he has ever done in his life.
I think that an artist is an artist in their studio,
in private. The great challenge is with oneself and
the material you use. What comes after, selling and
showing is just that after, after producing work that
has its own voice, strength, and that takes a serious
I started working in clay when I was 15 as a student
in a great high school clay program. I went to college
and worked nights in the ceramic studios. I lived in
france and found a studio, then Berlin in another. I
have always worked on my own. I am now 36, live in
Mexico with my husband and 11 year old boy, and built
my own ceramic studio about 6 years ago.I have never
exhibited. Later I will tell you why.
My husband is a painter, he studied formally almost 8
years. He sells his work and we live a life that I
could never dream of from paintings. Sometimes the
money is tight but his philosophy on life is to spend
it and then something will happen which it always
does. He can earn a living from his work!!I have a
great respect for all those that can! He would
never,though, let a painting leave his studio that he
didnīt feel could stand on its own.
I am very close to the art world through him and
because I am also an artist. I go to exhibitions, put
together dossiers of his work, try to keep a bit of
order in the books, help him send in applications for
grants, entertain collectors. I have seen shows of
brilliant artists (my husband being one),and those are
always the most important, the ones you remember. I
have also seen shows that even embarrass me. I think
to myself that this person should change professions.

Why have I not til now exhibited?.I think the first
reason is that I am shy.
My friends, mostly artists always ask me and you
Karen when? I answer "oh in a year or two", when I am
ready, when I know that I
have a bit of control with what comes out of my kiln.
Last year all my work cracked for example.
Since having my own studio I have had to decide many
important things. Ceramics can be vast.So many
temperatures and glazes. I chose low temp, burnishing,
terra sigs and smoke firing. I have worked now for
years to find my own recipes and ways to find the kind
of pots that please me. I do the work, and when I need
help reread my ceramic books , ask questions on the
list, call local artists, tear my hair out, and
usually find the answer staring me right in the eyes.
Thats the fun of it. Last year all my pots cracked. I
learned a lot though and the strongest forms from that
year I will rebuild, and the weakest I wonīt.

This year I am pushing myself. I am not a young artist
starting out.I have built hundreds of pots and am
finally feeling that my work can stand up all by
I am though young ,very young ,in a professional way.
I am finally feeling ready to take the step that the
majority on the list have taken ,sell my work,
exhibit, and stand up to all the demons I know exist
in the art world. I will write contracts, put prices
on my work,take professional photos, and do that all
that I "should" do. Then I will be a mature
professional artist.
One day I will even feel confident to help others on
the list with my technical know how.
If you are attentive to why you create then I think
your own questions as to selling immature work can be
answered by your own private voice.
I think the first chapter in Leaches book I believe it
is call "Towards a standard" hits the nail right on
the head.
Anyone have any opinions?
Best Wishes to you
Karen L.

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