Archive for August, 2015

Making Art for Yourself and/or Giving it Away

August 31, 2015

Date Stamped dn “People beg to give themselves away.  But who can give one’s self away in a world that no longer knows how to receive?” -Franz Kafka


In the United States, it’s very difficult to be an artist.  I suppose that this is true in many countries.  I’d like to study statistics and see which countries are best for artists to live in, and why.

The countries where it is bad for most of their people are also bad for artists.  That’s obvious.

For me, it’s been difficult.  Yet I stick to it.  I persevere.  I’ve had to.  I’ve been luckier than most.  I’ve had my share of press coverage,  Every few years I get an article, a review or an interview.

I did a successful, massive street art project.  I did this without permission and never got into trouble over it.  They did blow up my artwork, though.  I didn’t get to keep any of it.

I helped run an art gallery in Detroit for over ten years.

I showed my art in France and was there for the opening event.

I get to organize and maintain my own digital collections archive of my artwork.  This is through my library job at the University of Detroit Mercy.  When I do this, I get to go though my material archives and decide which works I consider to be most successful.

Yet in a way, it seems as if I make all my art first for myself.  I’m the one who has to store and organize it all.

I rarely make large paintings, because I’m running out of space to store everything.  My largest painting is rolled up like a rug, in my way.  It’s too big to store anywhere.  I don’t want any of my art stored in the basement or the attic.  If your art studio is also your living space, eventually the accumulated art will take over.

Yet I draw obsessively, every day.  It’s mostly small sketches.  It’s what I do.  I experiment. Not every experiment works, yet I’ve always tried to push the envelope.  I keep on keeping on.  Why do I make art, and where does it go?

I’ve had encouragement from friends and family.  I’ve had three or four collectors who have bought good groups of my work.  Other individuals have also purchased work from me, mostly from gallery exhibitions.  Thanks to you all.

Greenia_Index_021For the most part though, I’ve given it all away for free.  I’ve done this through my street art, on abandoned buildings and on sidewalks.

I’ve created, copied and distributed a free poetry two-pager for thirty years plus.  It comes out once a month.

Most of my musical and puppet performances are done for love, not money.

Some people take issue with this.  They think that it’s very wrong to create only to give it away.

We’re not doing it because we’re trying to make it harder for those who want to be paid every time.

We’re doing it because the way things are set up, it’s the only way that we can keep going.  It’s either “do it for free most of the time” or else just stop doing it.  For me, the choice is obvious.