After a few busy and social days I quietly hid out here for Christmas. It’s been a nerd’s paradise of sleeping in, hanging out with the dogs by the wood stove, waxing my skis, not answering the phone, and listening to opera and David Sedaris on the radio. The best Christmas present was to not get the predicted -30; instead, a balmy zero with fresh snow. Perfect.
So what to make of 2011? A few highlights (and maybe a couple of lowlights. . .)
This was the first year of testing the theory that I do as well or better financially mainly working at making art and things related to making art. The final report has not been submitted, but things look encouraging. (Of course, I’ve never made a whole lot of money at anything, so it’s not that high of a bar to clear!)
It is also interesting to remember how 2011 began. I started the year off with an experience that had me questioning my work in a pretty serious way. You can get very good at dealing with rejection, but once in a while something sneaks through the fence and hits you hard. It took a little while to get up and shake off.
Good things were in store, though. I was floored by the response to my summer shows in Fairbanks and Homer. Even the quirky and less “easy” pieces found an audience and most of them found homes. Having my favorite wood panel purchased by the UAF Museum of the North was a big validation – I’m not one to hang on to my own work, but it is nice to know that I can visit that piece whenever I want to.
2011 was a year of seeing new places in Alaska and Canada and catching up with old friends. New communities crossed off the map include Hope, Northway, Atlin BC, Carcross YT, Golovin, Glennallen, Chistochina, and my first experience of Skagway where I didn’t want to run away screaming. (Thank you, Robin!)
I also had the pleasure of doing projects with four different schools in very distinct communities. I hope that in some way having kids meet an artist who is FROM Alaska and is now working IN Alaska sticks with them – I think we often suffer from a collective lack of confidence as to how our skills stack up when compared to “Outside.” And if nothing else, I hope they had fun and were proud of what they did.
In November, I was asked to give a talk to Mareca Guthrie’s economics of art class at UAF. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I would have liked to have known as an undergraduate or MFA student. I laid all my cards on the table in terms of my experiences as an artist trying to make a living – good, bad, interesting – down to the actual numbers. I realized that although the equation of what I need to learn vs what I know is still heavily weighted on the need to learn side, I do possess some useful information.
It is discouraging to see the third gallery in as many years prepare to close in Fairbanks at the end of this month. It was also very sad to hear of the end of the Montana Artist’s Refuge. We’re not out of the woods yet. If you have the means, please support the arts organizations you care about.
The holiday season brought a windfall of home canned food from friends. I am encouraged by what seems like a move back towards “making” in our busy and high-tech times. The combination of high/low tech in my own life makes me laugh (no indoor plumbing but wireless internet comes to mind. . ) There’s no reason not to embrace the best of both.
Lastly, I think Pete the juror would agree that it hasn’t been a half bad year. (Better, though, if I’d get off the damn computer and take him skijoring!) I guess I need to get that taken care of. Happy holidays and thanks to everyone who helped make this a good art year – there are lots of you – and I promise I’ll keep working if you keep looking.