Further art discussions and notifications for the artwork of Sam Thorp

Friday, January 18, 2013


anxiety du'jour:

Fresh out of school I got my first art show.
It was a coffee shop in Shadyside that doesn't exist anymore.
I had no idea what i was doing. I had no access to email or social media at the time.
I made postcards and mailed them to anyone and everyone I knew.  When I was hanging the show the Cafe owner commented that I was the most professional artist he ever had. The compliment made me feel awesome. Only a few friends actually showed but I still sold out the entire show.
Imagine, complete strangers bought my art.
Near the end of the opening this guy comes running in, looking around trying to catch his breath. He turns out to be a gallery director from the current big time hot spot of the Pittsburgh scene. He buys the last piece available. He starts raving on about my work. He thought i was a brilliant talent who could do great things.  He wanted to offer me a show at his gallery on the Southside. He starts telling me what I need to do, such as tips on framing and showing.
I'm delirious.
I want to go home and make new art.
The only problem is... my personal life is a mess.
This was the time my parents had divorced and moved out. I was living alone in the family farm house with my brother. The house was up for a sheriffs  sale. I had two shitty part time jobs at minimum wage that barley made 20 hours. I had a psycho "girl friend" who treated me like dirt.
I couldn't concentrate enough to make any new art.
I went to see this gallery and was blown away. The work was out of my league. The gallery was breathtaking and most of the clients assumed I was some homeless person who wandered in for the free food.
I had no idea what I would make for this place. Do i make the same stuff? Or do I make something different. What if it isn't as good? What if I can't pull it off?
Within a week there's a knock at my door. Some guy bought the house at the tax auction and I had to move out.
I had ot find a new place to live.
I had to do something with all this stuff (3 generations of stuff) in the attics and basements and workshops.
I had to get a new/ better job to afford a new place.
I had to do something about this, that, and the other thing.
So the art show ended up on the back burner.
It's completely understandable.
And the amazing thing is.... I handled pretty much all of it.
Got a new apartment and foudn a home for most of the items and antiques. I moved furniture, refridgerators, washing machines myself with a station wagon. I didn't even have a dolly. I just moved it at all time sof the day and night becuase of the schedules between two jobs.
 Got a new job teaching. That would eventually lead to me being the Dean of the school.
Got a new girlfriend who was actually a decent human being.
I was even able to start paying off that student loan.
I had everything ... except art work. I didn't know what to draw or paint. The offer from the big time galelry was way in the past. I blew it. I choked.  I kept myself busy with  a few comissions and class projects. During htis time I made the figure drawing book. And I was good at it. I did great commssions, great class projects, I was a pretty good teacher. I told myself this was enough and I was still contributing to the "art scene" in some small way.
I should have been content and happy.
I wasn't.
After a time I couldn't take it anymore.
I had to ruin it all.
The job, the home, the girl.
I couldn't make just any art... i had to make THE ART. My art.
Not for anyone else. Not about anyone else.
The "Art"  wanted to be made.... and I was neglecting it.

The only problem is:  I still had no idea what I was doing.

It took a while to find the right balance of work, money and free time, finding the right place to make work, the right subject matter, the right method; and the right outlet to show it and get feedback.
Don't ever think this has been easy. It took a lot to get back on track.

I suppose it had to happen this way. Who knows what would have happened if I had that show.
And  imagine my chagrin when I witness the cycle repeat itself with someone else. Perhaps there is something to be learned from this .... some giant cosmic truth, some grand quantum secret. Was I supposed to fix it? Make up for it?  For the longest time I though the lesson was to make art no matter what. To be dedicated and produce even if the world is crashing about your ears.
And maybe that isn't the lesson at all.
Unfortunatley .... I still have no idea what I am doing.
But I have to do something.... this is it.

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“You will unconsciously attract into your life those people and situations which will likely stimulate the unresolved issues of your childhood. Life condemns you to repeat whatever it is that you didn’t find the courage to fully complete. In short, all of your past incompletions in life will always keep showing up for you. As somebody once said, ‘The past isn’t over. In fact, it isn’t even past.’”

—Chuck Hillig
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