"The climate in today's market is the worst since 1929", says NPR as I drive to work the day after new years eve 2008. I barely notice the road while pondering the repercussions for artists. I was one of four fortunate enough to receive a bump in income last year from an economic stimulus package awarded by Critical Mass, a non profit organization headed by Roseann Weiss, Sara Colby, Kim Humphries, Emily Blumenfeld and Meredith Mckinley.
Four artists got a bump and I was able to get some cheap microphones on Craig'sList . I'm cool with that. There are other artists that deserve this and I have a bad relationship with the idea of deserving. You get what you get...that's how I roll. Sure you work hard, are sincere, serious, smashing your soul against rocks but who cares. I know you shouldn't look up to see who's listening. If you stop to look then you've stopped and have entered into nostalgia. That's usually a sad occasion filled with drinks and loathing unless it was the best blow-job you ever got. So deserving; whether it's a blow-job or cash - you never can tell and I wouldn't hedge my bets...you just make your work and forget the rewards
Greg Edmondson is an artist who's probably made a life of saying forget everything else. As an artist, I can't think of anyone else more "deserving" . For another blog I'll talk about Joseph Havel and how he scored a poem under my nose - John Berryman's, "The Dream Songs 46". Until then, it's the end of this poem that concerns us:
"Man has undertaken the top job of all,
son fin. Good luck.
I myself walked at the funeral of tenderness.
Followed other deaths. Among the last,
like the memory of a lovely fuck,
was: Do, ut des."
I'd say that like the life of men or women the artist selects the only life they know. And according to J. Berryman it isn't very fun unless there's some good sex. There are other ways of getting satisfaction and this is what I'm trying to get to - the other "lovely fuck".
I first met Edmondson while working at Laumeier Sculpture Park. I think it was 1998 or 99' when we had the task of rebuilding the walkways along Beverly Pepper's, Cromlech Glen.
We worked that summer hauling 80 lb. granite steps and large chunks of flag stone. We were museum monkeys as they are often called...people with MFA's working like they've got no other choice. We wouldn't wait tables, flip burgers, wash dishes or do any of the other unskilled jobs waiting for newly graduated or semi graduated or highly successful and now treading water artists...even it killed us. Greg is the later.
While working with Greg, I found him knowledgable in such diverse subjects as the physiology of reptiles, Greek mythology and Shakespearean play, German language, New York and European art scenes of the 1980's, landscaping and stone setting and whatever bullshit we talked about while making Beverly Pepper's dream come true.
I ended up moving into a loft one floor above Greg in 2000. We ended up as drinking buddies but also helped each other out on projects. We've never exchanged money, only a helping hand. Greg is a true sculptor in that he knows material, space and the properties of both when combined. He's also the kind of guy that scares other smart people because of his uncanny ability to match wit quickly and in different languages. Greg has been making work non stop since the early 80's. How many St. Louis artists do you know that have done this despite the many drawbacks? I wont go into that because no one cares, just look at the work. Holly Berry and Elton John liked it enough to own it. One thing I would bet on - if I had a flat tire I could count on Greg to help me out.
- Picture is of Greg and Brett Underwood helping me out with a project.