Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Decade Done

"A new decade is a time in which to declare everything you know is wrong. A fresh decade is a time to jettison secure old knowledge and grope around for new."
So writes Scottish musician and polymath, Nick Currie (better known as Momus) on his always thought-provoking 'blog, Click Opera. He offers some Eno-esque advice about where and how to look for the new. B
efore "groping around" myself, I thought I'd cast my eye over the "old" one last time – specifically, the ten year span of my professional career as a painter.
When I finally committed to the idea of myself as an artist, in late 1999, my ambitions were tempered by a lot of self-doubt. I had mounted three solo exhibitions – two at a commercial gallery. All of them had sold out. And yet I hadn't made enough money to cover the cost of materials. I was still living and working at my father's house. I held down a part-time job to make ends meet.
Then: My art dealer told me I had to chose between being commercially successful
and critically admired. When I insisted that I intended to be both, she burst out laughing. I burst into tears. Secretly, I dreamed of my work hanging in major institutional collections.
Now: I choose
not to be represented by any gallery or dealer. I produce my own exhibitions. My work enjoys commercial and critical success but I've also helped drive a global revolution in art marketing and communications. My work has been exhibited in a number of institutional galleries but it has yet to feel as good as I'd imagined. I have a great home and studio of my own, a couple of good assistants, and my earnings during the past four years add up to over a million dollars. Unfortunately, so have my outgoings – but that will change.
Then: I dreamed of being able to work full-time on art, and of making only bold art about which I was passionate. I wanted to be travel regularly and exhibit overseas but I wanted to live on a cliff facing the sea. I thought I might achieve one of these things within 20 years, if I was lucky.
Now: I work only on my art. I would still like it to be bolder, more experimental. I've travelled as much as I've wanted during the last couple of years and I've been in a handful of solo and group shows in the USA, the UK and Japan. I live on a cliff-top above the Pacific Ocean, in a fashionable suburb north of Sydney.
Then: I believed that the internet might become quite useful for artists, even if I wasn't quite sure how.
Now: The internet still hasn't been used in a groundbreaking way to make new forms of art. But it has liberated artists from an oppressive, male-dominated, commercial and institutional gallery system and given us greater control over the way we communicate the ideas and intentions of our work and how and where it is sold. It has also enabled direct, unmediated dialogue with all those who take an interest in it, wherever they happen to be.


Michael Douglas Jones said...

As if on schedule,each decade brings major change to my artwork and my life, so it took my breath away somewhat to read the parallels in this post. Hazel Dooney has indeed done much to show us the revolutionary potential of the internet and her words about the liberation of artists should be taken to heart by each and all.

Rasul Sha'ir said...


LOVE,LOVE,LOVE this post! I particularly love the statement about your wanting to be critically acclaimed AND commercially successful (and then the curator laughing at you) and then making it happen! In order to do that you had to think radically different about how to engage yourself with the world. I'm so, so, excited for you and the work that you are doing (and doing it successfully) I love your work, attitude and how you've created your own driving lane in today's traffic of marketplace ideas. You're an awesome example for the type of energy I too am trying to push into the world (the intersection of creativity, technology, and commerce) I look forward to more of your work, ideas, and your musings.

indigene said...

Ah, if I had to do over again, I would be bolder and more fearless, it's something that I'm doing at 50 and my motto, is never too late until you're dead! Happy 10th, modern diva, hang on even if its by a thread!

Debra said...

I too love this post. You have been blessed with clarity, strength of character and determination to know what you want and go after it. I am painting and selling now at 50ish, but sure wish I had had the foresight, courage, and determination that you have at your age. As Beverly Sills said, "You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try". Happy 10th Hazel.

Jonathan A. said...

So this post is basically amazing. It actually makes me feel good...and although i guess i could say i already knew an artist could truly make it...it brings it all into a different perspective. You see last year i decided that i would go to art school...at 16. i "broke" the news to my parents and they were very supportive of me, although they wanted to know that i had a back up. The thing is that i feel as though art is the one and only thing i every want to do...it is my passion. Next year i will hopefully be starting art school, but recently have been looking at the amount of money that goes into school and am getting more and more worried i'll be poor for the rest of my life. I would love to actually eventually "make it" in the art world, im just scared. I don't really know why im posting this, but i think i just had to get it out.
well Hazel...happy 10th :D
-jonathan h alfaro

angelo said...

You've come a long way! Congratulations! I have decided to seriously get back into arts in 2006 after a long stint in the academe. I felt that it may be too late. But I have found hope through your story.

Aaron B. Brown said...

Thanks Hazel, it's good to see someone realizing their dreams, thinking about where they want to be, envisioning it and then making it happen. I think there's an art to that in and of itself.

I envy you because so many of us don't even know where we want to go, we don't even have a dream to start with, or even worse we've given up on finding our dream and our purpose, because that's all we've seen in our lives, people who've given up and decided to settle for whatever is thrown at their feet. Lately I've found myself more and more uncomfortable around those type of people. And have searched to find those who still believe in their dreams, perhaps that's what brought me to your blog, and has drawn me to some of the people I've come into contact with lately.

Things have been exceptionally difficult for me recently, losing touch with the only person in my life that offered me any inspiration since... since my fraternal grandmother passed away some years ago. Although I find inspiration in in people I meet out in the world regularly, I realized that truly inspirational people are rare and wonderful creatures, not to be taken for granted or trifled with.

Each day I plod forward, one foot in front of the other, not always understanding where I'm going or why, and once I get there not always finding many friendly faces. Difficult to know who to trust in a world populated by so many people with shattered dreams. But it's funny how easy they are to spot, not quite sure when I inquired that ability.

Recently I've taken some risks, something I hadn't done in a long time.

Personal risk, gone out on a limb for someone I trusted and then they sawed it off behind me and I plummet towards Earth while they watched with indifference as I fell. And they did this thing to me for no other reason than to make themselves more comfortable in their present temporary position. It's one of my only experiences with genuine betrayal, and it was tough, but in retrospect I'm beginning to appreciate the experience. Perhaps if I was more of an ego driven person I would be flattered, no one ever thought enough of me before to go out of their way to betray me, or do things like attempting to erase and cover-up all contact with me. It would be kind of empowering, if I actually believed in that kind of power, I don't.

Financial risk as well, using credit to acquire some needed equipment for an important job where I looked forward to creating something special for someone, only to have that arrangement fall through at the last minute, perhaps as a result of my own unwillingness to compromise on the creative side when it came to important logistical and organizational issues. There was a time when I might've just kept my mouth shut and taken the money and produced something that I wouldn't have been comfortable putting my name on, but that time is gone, and I'm glad.

Even in the face of these serious setbacks that made me feel really awful at the time, I'm beginning to realize that I made the right decision, my decision to be truthful on important issues of character, and uncompromising when it came to my feelings and expressing them openly. So here I stand a little worse for wear, but undaunted and unbowed by things that in the past might have defeated me. Funny how clean I feel at this very moment...

Aaron B. Brown said...

...And just as importantly, I have a better idea of where I want to go, and I'm not going to let anything or anyone stand in my way. All these setback are only temporary while my resolve is a permanent part of me. So I welcome these challenges and more, because the forces that seem to have allied against me this year, they had no idea how strong I am, no conception of what I've been through already and survived. They underestimated me, that's always been my secret weapon. :-)

It's true what they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and sometimes even when it kills you, if your will and desire is strong enough, you can come back, that's when they really have to be afraid of you.

Interesting how young children and those who still hold onto their dreams, how they aren't afraid of me, and never have been, how they smile and step aside for me, while the rest, those who let their dreams slip away long ago, interesting how they feel compelled to stand in my way and block me, and how utterly petrified they appear to be of little old me, how I provoke anger and contempt in some, and I think I only just figured exactly why just now. I can see it in their eyes and in the way they move, it's so obvious.

I suppose that is how the world is really divided, between those who still have a dream, and those who only find satisfaction in crushing the dreams of others, because they can't stand to be reminded of how they give up on themselves and their dreams at some point. I think I counted myself among those people for time, I didn't know you could come back from that kind of thing, but apparently it is possible, or maybe I was just fooling myself, pretending to be one of them in order to fit in, if you can believe that. :-)

Perhaps this is where the next great evolutionary leap for human consciousness will occur, when the dreamers finally and forever outnumber those who kill dreams, when the creators finally prevail over the destroyers. I think that time is coming, because I can feel it.

I know where I stand now, where I have always belonged, and probably just lost sight of for a time. And strangely I have the deepest of personal betrayal to thank for my recent reawakening. Funny how life works out sometimes, isn't it. ^__^

TartanBaboon said...

Love the change of image. Visceral, immmediate, raw, unique, challenging, brilliant, Hazel, Dooney.

Caio Fernandes said...

this is a really cool work .
in 1999 i gave up of everything in my life ( job , pos-graduation , marriege ) and decided to assume the artistic carrier too .

Nats@Hina's Apprentice said...

Kudos to you Hazel. Your journey (and willingness to share it) gives others hope and inspiration; the gumption to think outside of the box and have some cajones. Gosh, I too would like to live on a cliff over-looking the sea. One day...