Month: March 2017

TRUST

For eighteen months I have created, opened, managed, and owned my first and only art gallery in far East Texas. No real vacations, no employees other than an occasional shop sitter, and few work days off. I’ve seen more than a hundred artists come and go as part of the consignment sellers. We’ve made more money than I’d expected and certainly more total money than most artists in our part of the woods would have imagined. Like any new business we’ve made almost, but not quite enough to be self-sustaining. However, we’ve done alright enough that I’ve been able to make up the difference from personal savings in order to stay open. You might ask, why would you do that, and my answer is simple….I’ve always wanted a venue for the vast number of artists I know to have a place to exhibit….sort of a bucket list thing. No, I’ve no plans to kick the bucket, but I am at retirement age so from some people’s perspective it just seems nonsensical to do this. Not to me.

What I was, though, was burned out and I was keenly aware that it was showing in my daily performance in the gallery. Enter Lisa.

Lisa Casey Perry is my cousin and with her husband David recently moved to Marshall where she was born and our parents grew as children. For the most part we both spent the majority of life living in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, but as Fate would have it, I moved here twenty years ago and they came about 5 months ago. Lisa listened to my moaning and longing to make a final decision about keeping the gallery open. I struggled with needing a break, fresh inspiration, time to work on my own art, and my commitment to the artists I represent in addition to wanting to make a final decision regarding the destiny of Gingko Leaf Gallery. Early one morning I awoke to an email from Lisa with a proposal. She explained how she had some ideas that I might consider and let me tell you, I read about two sentences and knew I was all in.

Trust. That’s the hardest thing I had to deal with. That proverbial letting go to allow someone to come in and take care of my “baby”. I mean, who could EVER nurture your child as good as the actual mother? Well, I gave her permission to do her “thing” and it’s been an amazing thing to watch. We are twenty-one days in and today I stood at the gallery door and cried. My gallery felt alive and new again to me. I felt good about everything, even things that I might not have ever considered I was happy with her decisions. Ideas and new approaches were just brimming out of her. The biggest irony is that Lisa has never worked retail before. However, she was raised with culture, art, music, literature, education, and all the personality of a rock star. She’s lifted GLG and me from the doldrums and I couldn’t be happier. Our website will now include a shopping cart, shipping, and upcoming events. We’ll be able to sell more online and reach a broader audience. She’s quite “crafty”, too, and will begin teaching a craft class once a month. Her job performance is beyond my wildest dreams and the big bonus is that people LIKE her. Of course she isn’t burned out like I was, but after March she’ll be coming in once or twice a week and we’re seeing that with the ideas implemented there is the distinct possibility we will remain open longer that anticipated. It took me letting go of the reins and allowing her to run with it. Now when she has an idea I say, do the research and get back to me. Wow, that was the most freeing experience I’ve ever known.

So, trust is huge….no, MONUMENTAL for me. I have found out that sometimes letting go enables you to receive and man, have I been the recipient of a true and gifted blessing. Lisa is the official Assistant Manager (because she’s got the nametag to prove it) and I’m grateful for her enthusiastic embracing of my little project of the “Best Art Gallery in the Upper East Side of Texas (awarded by County Line Magazine for 2015 & 2016) and has caught the vision I had several years ago. I’m glad she’s really home again.

ENCOURAGEMENT

Encouraging another does not come naturally for some people. In fact, there are some who seem to have either a jealous streak or negative comment toward any endeavor an artist attempts. This is true not just in the visual arts, but in all creative arts. People either “get” what you’re attempting to do or they don’t. Those who do not seem to relish squashing ideas, ruling out any possibility of success, or question your motives. Oh my….can’t they just let us be?

Creatives are sensitive, but it’s imperative that we turn a deaf ear to the naysayers. Because of our unique sensitivities there could even be a tendency to be a chameleon artist who buys into all the doubt quickly shifting a productive mood to one of wallowing self-doubt. Do NOT fall for that!

I am truly one of those who have difficulty shaking off negativity delivered to me by others. Especially when it’s from someone close to me. Over time I’ve tried to use it as a catalyst for productivity, even if it means I create something with a thread of anger running through it. Keeping my eye on the prize is my goal, though I’m not always pleased with the end result. The prize, for me, is completion of a project under the most dire of circumstances. I can stand back and evaluate the product, and hopefully it results in an intensely passionate piece of art that moves me as well as other viewers. It’s a hit or miss proposition, but regardless, I can know I overcame the unwanted commentary from outside sources.

Be an encourager to every creative you meet whether a beginner sculptor, an intermediate painter, fledgling songwriter, or experienced writer. Pull the lever that catapults them to reach higher and further than they believed they could. Help them to believe in their ability to create, and keep your negativity to yourself. They have enough stacked against them to overcome without your comments. Constructive criticism is helpful, not destructive. You know the old saying, “If you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all.”

Claudia Lowery

March 6, 2017

TEMPUS FUGIT

Tempus Fugit is Latin for time flies and as I return to post a new blog it’s a bit disconcerting to see it’s almost been a year since I last blogged. I could say tempus fugit while I’m having fun, but unfortunately that’s only partly true. Summer 2016 was slow as molasses with flies hovering overhead. I had several things to distract me and fill my head with creative inspiration, but as July progressed I lost a dear friend, only 53 years old. Then September was a low point. My brother died, I had knee surgery, another 52 year old friend died and the month ended with a young man taking his own life. I questioned a lot of things, clinging to the comfort of love, and somehow, slowly I got through it.

All these months later I look back at the strength of human spirit to endure tragedy, entanglements, doubts, relationship difficulties, and wildly unexplainable creative outbursts that produced some of my best artwork. The fiery furnace of life provides fuel for creativity. Is it worth the trials to see the end result? I think it is food for thought, but I really don’t know the answer. What is sure is that time will indeed pass and if we take the opportunity to create, whether it be a painting, sculpture, song, poem, or story there is value in the healing quality of making something from nothing. Time will surely pass even if we do not “make”, but what a wonder it is to look back and see that thing produced as a result of those lean and struggling hours. Maybe it was the very thing that carried us through to today.

So look back at the calendar pages and ask yourself this….did I create during the darkest days and brightest nights? Either with or without it time will, indeed, fly so why not go ahead and continue on the path most loved? Creatives cannot live in a vacuum void of product. And do not judge the value of the creation for everything has worth, if only for your own satisfaction. You survived that period of time. That’s all that matters.

Claudia Lowery