A dissatisfied artist
Robert Genn

April 17, 2009

Dear Rodney,

Yesterday, Colorado painter Tom Lockhart wrote, "I work 50 to 65 
hours per week, teach workshops and serve on the Board of a Local 
Arts Center. I judge art shows and travel to locations to paint. 
I earn $75,000.00 to $100,000.00 annually--too much to get a grant. 
I pay more than my share of taxes, expense out what the law allows 
and still find it difficult to make ends meet. I'm constantly paying 
entry fees, dues, advertising, framers, suppliers and travel expenses. 
I can't understand why the public insists on buying cheap, crappy art 
from poorly educated artists who suffer for their craft. Yuk! There 
are constantly retired lawyers, doctors, architects, dentists and 
other professionals who decide to become painters. They put their 
work in galleries and sell to the unsophisticated, taking sales away 
from deserving, serious artists. And now with the economic bad times, 
it's even harder to sell your art. What do you think about this?"

Thanks, Tom. One of the great features of our game is that it's a 
level field where anyone can come and play. You may have noticed 
that a few years ago when you first ran out onto the field. While 
you have managed your career well, it was the quality of your work 
that ultimately got collectors' attention. While there are back eddies 
and fearsome rapids in the river of creativity, it's my observation 
that quality is still pervasively on the rise.

We in this brotherhood and sisterhood live in a state of uncertainty 
and flux. One year's laureate is next year's dead poet.

When we get too stuck in the relative affluence game, like some of 
our friends in the cash register of commerce, we lose sight of the 
truly great thing we do. It is to live this life of exploration and 
daily delight. It is to be free of the grind and indignity of working 
for someone else's gain, of commuting to some office, factory or 
field. Of selling our souls for pay cheque and pension. Of joy in 
struggling with our shortcomings and weaknesses. Of ultimately making 
a wholesome product that fine people cherish through generations. 
Tom, practically everyone thinks you've got it made. Fact is, you have.

Best regards,


PS: "Paradoxically, I have found peace because I have always been 
dissatisfied. My moments of depression and despair turn out to be 
renewals, new beginnings. If I were to settle down and be satisfied 
with the surface of life, with its divisions and its cliches, it 
would be time to call in the undertaker. This dissatisfaction which 
sometimes used to worry me has helped me to move freely and even 
gaily with the stream of life." (Thomas Merton)

Esoterica: Some segments of the art world are a remarkable meritocracy, 
while other segments are living proof that idiots have taken charge 
of the asylum. The wild cards are not always the artists, but the 
critics, media, dealers, interloping amateurs and the incorrigible, 
unsophisticated public you mentioned. Leave out those other guys 
and we'd be a pretty happy bunch. Leave out those other guys and 
we'd all be dead broke. FYI, we've put some of Tom Lockhart's work 
at the top of the current clickback.