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  #1  
Old 06-18-2008, 06:24 PM
Biomorph Biomorph is offline
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happy, poor, old, city artists

I was working on some frames [for metal bas reliefs] this afternoon and listening to National Public Radio. They mentioned a study by Columbia Teachers College called Perfecting the Art of Frugal Living in NYC. They had studied a group of 213 NY artists 62 and over--average income $30,000. The thrust was that they had all sold something this year, had been artists for many years, and were extremely happy even if just getting by in a city where everyone else seems to deal in money. Being an artist was more important than gender, sex, or race. A couple of very happy profiles of some older artists who live to make art and will not stop.
You can find it at NPR.org.
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  #2  
Old 06-18-2008, 07:06 PM
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

Old artists, just getting-by in nyc (or anywhere else for that matter) selling somthing here and there, probably milking rent-contol...doesn't sound too great to me. I know there are a lot of them - and God bless em - but there something kinda pitiful about it. I've known (and still know) some artists in this "place" in their career. On one hand, they have enjoyed an entire life of artmaking...on the other, there seems to be a denying anti-climax to it all. there is no city or "routine" worth enough to squash or keep me in a 300 sq foot place or in any situation of perceived poverty. I'm not saying they aren't good artists...wouldn't know without seeing some work, but I suspect they could have been better.
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  #3  
Old 06-18-2008, 10:13 PM
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Happy, Poor, Old, city artists

I just listened to that NPR show from the furthest point of west Texas and thought about the time that I lived in N.Y. I went to High School there from 1972 to 1975. I enjoyed hearing that program and how content the artists were. I do not agree that they should have been better off. From what I heard, they derive pleasure in just getting by. And they enjoy what they do. A true assessment of the bulk of work they have accumulated through all those years may prove the opposite of poverty. If they are rewarded the true worth of what is already produced, I am sure they would be under the headline of a different story. One of them said that art was his therapy. I feel the same way. If I was not doing art I think I would be mentally and physically deprived. Not a bad state to be in but not one that I was born to live half a century in. Based on the income of the mentioned artists and their age group, I am not doing much better than they are financially. Like them, I keep the majority of what I create and I do not try to sell them. They have a value that is much more rewarding than a monetary one.
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  #4  
Old 06-19-2008, 09:05 AM
ironman ironman is offline
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Re: Happy, Poor, Old, city artists

Hi, I have 2 wonderful friends of mine living that life, she's a painter, he's a sculptor and they live in a dilapidated rent stabilized apartment in the city. No car, there bikes are kept in the kitchen and in order to open the oven door you've got to move a sculpture out of the way, no thanks!
Everything is a struggle especially for him, finding studio space that's somewhat secure and then where to put the sculptures when he's finished them, lugging sculpture around the city on the subway if he can't find a friend with a vehicle, no thanks!
Finding p/t teaching gigs to earn enough to get by.
Not to mention living in an expensive city and practically being in poverty all the time and they've been doing this for at least 25 years.
I love this couple, they're great friends but I wouldn't trade my life for theirs.
Have a great day,
Jeff
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  #5  
Old 06-19-2008, 12:20 PM
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happy, poor, old, city artists

On the other side of this fence is a third world country. Measurable with a measuring tape is the distance between a house in the United States, with running water and electricity and on the other side, a cardboard house with no running water and no electricity.
I admire this guy Rauschenberg. He donated millions to the causes of health and poverty. Some people are totally happy to live with the bare minimum. It may take an artist to survive this level of poverty.
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  #6  
Old 06-21-2008, 01:36 AM
cooljamesx1 cooljamesx1 is offline
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

some people are happy anywhere and other people are miserable anywhere.

so surprising...not
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  #7  
Old 06-21-2008, 02:28 AM
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Aaron Schroeder Aaron Schroeder is offline
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

CoolJames......you hit the nail on the head. Finding ones place/places is a lifes work. What I find so compelling is how people set themselves up to create the contrasts that are needed to tell the difference between their happy and unhappy zones. Finding ones self and ones happiness may be easy for some but for many it takes alot of trial and error. Happiness and fullfillment may ultimately be found within but when it lines up with the outside world .......it is even more meaningful.

I like to think I take my bliss where ever I go, but I've found that some places make it easier to be me than others.
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  #8  
Old 06-21-2008, 11:02 AM
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

I don't think happiness and money have much to do with eachother, if it did you wouldn't see jillionaire hollywood elitists all disfiguring themselves with plastic surgery. You'd think they had a better self-image.. I've been dirt poor and well off and that's all a matter of choice in a free country, not so everywhere..
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  #9  
Old 06-21-2008, 12:11 PM
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

Happiness is all about attitude. A person can find happiness in a concentration camp (JW's did as they felt they were being loyal to their God and derived happiness from this).

I've been on both sides of the spectrum financially as well. Living in a studio apartment with not a penny in my pocket- people using the dryer at all hours of the night (attached to my living space). Cockroaches crawling on me in the night! To boot- was in a bad marriage! My escape was my art but didn't have money to buy but a few meager tools. Didn't have money to travel and see art to inspire.

Now, in a great marriage, I live what I consider the life of luxury, and hard earned it all. Yesterday my husband lay upon our hammock reading his final draft of his book before it goes to print- listening to the birds and enjoying our little 6 acre plot. I got to sculpt after a 2 month hiatus. I have all the tools I could possible need and a peaceful environment to create- without the stresses of worrying about money.

Money can't make you happy but I've seen the lack of it cause a lot of unhappiness. If you're already happy money can add the icing on the cake and deepen the happiness with creature comforts and fulfilling adventures and wonderful food in the belly.

Having said this- in my congregation we have what are called "pioneers" and they pretty well have a vow of poverty in a sense, they spend all their time knocking on doors (giving to others) and serving God. They are some of the happiest people on earth! They live in apartments and just get by.

As I said- it's all about attitude. I suppose I should have been grateful for the roof over my head and smiled at the cockroaches as they crawled by... but the big thug I was unwisely married to, well, there was no getting around him in such a small space.

~Tamara

Last edited by HappySculpting : 06-21-2008 at 12:13 PM. Reason: spelling
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  #10  
Old 06-21-2008, 02:43 PM
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

I recall very fondly some of the periods in my youth that I had nothing, nothing but adventure and opportunity ahead. Situations, relationships, jobs...all would have seemed certainly horrific to "normal" people. Yet I was delighted and inspired, strong and enthusiastic, driven and fatally optimistic, nevertheless. There was never a moment I would have traded to anyone. BUT, all this achieved sense of excitement and worthwhile was attached to a forward momentum, a predicted fulfillment, an inner security...a certainty that all was going exactly as it should. I always knew that limitations, be they spatial, physical, interpersonal or financial, would be overcome. I knew when I was 24 that I wanted to make a 6000 lb sculpture...the circumstances to do this did not arrive until I was well into my thirties...perfect timing.

It depends upon what you wish to accomplish. If you make choices that permit you to do the things you must do then all is well. If you make choices that PREVENT you from doing the things you wish to do, then you have failed.

Presumably, artists with 300 sq foot studios, making little money in the most expensive city in the world, do not want to make certain kinds of things. They can, I suppose, be just as happy as anyone else though - making the work that fits properly within their chosen situation.

I'm looking forward to a 25 foot junk piece that will come into being when the time is right...its all ready to go, just another couple things need to fall into place. So lookout!

Last edited by evaldart : 06-21-2008 at 08:34 PM.
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  #11  
Old 03-17-2009, 08:02 AM
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cheesepaws cheesepaws is offline
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

Sorry, I have nothing to add at this time but that frowny face from the "sandstone" thread just wouldn't die and was starting to bring me down.

This thread seemed more interesting to have on the opening page.
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  #12  
Old 03-19-2009, 09:07 PM
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

is it better to be old and poor in the big city or poor and old in a small town?
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  #13  
Old 03-19-2009, 09:51 PM
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

Doesnt matter where you're poor and old...or where you're rich and old. Because by then, if you've done it right, the "place" you've made for yourself wont be within the scope of the regular folk. Oblivion can be anywhere...enjoy.

But is DOES matter where you're poor and STRONG.
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  #14  
Old 03-20-2009, 07:23 PM
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

One of my favorite artists is Van Gogh. Ridiculed through-out his life, hanging out with harlots in the bowery, poor his whole life and one of the most inspiring painters i have known the work of. What would you give up to be great? I don't think you have to but that "tortured soul fighting demons" is in many artists. It is some kind of connection to a higher plane of existence. I don't think you have to be poor but i don't think you can do work just based on what sells to be great. Money has a way of adulterating our thoughts.

Z
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  #15  
Old 03-20-2009, 08:11 PM
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zophia View Post
One of my favorite artists is Van Gogh. Ridiculed through-out his life, hanging out with harlots in the bowery, poor his whole life and one of the most inspiring painters i have known the work of. What would you give up to be great? I don't think you have to but that "tortured soul fighting demons" is in many artists. It is some kind of connection to a higher plane of existence. I don't think you have to be poor but i don't think you can do work just based on what sells to be great. Money has a way of adulterating our thoughts.

Z
is it a torture soul or to many thoughts in to few of time?
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  #16  
Old 03-20-2009, 08:40 PM
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

Most "tortured souls" dont ever manage to elevate themselves by creative efforts. They just stay miserable...would be better off blissfully ignorant. No, squalor and personal impoverishment is in no way conducive to Art. But Art can happen in spite of it.
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  #17  
Old 03-21-2009, 10:24 AM
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

MAny "tortured" souls have made their way into art. Call them crazy or what ever- sometimes this is what drives art. I find in my life i either create or i get in trouble there has to be some way to get what i have inside out. MAny artists are driven by something. No matter where they are they will create art. No matter what materials they have they will express. It is getting down to rock bottom that finally gives something solid to stand on. No there is no RULE you have to be this way but there are many artists where this is their mode of operation. I don't think you have to be poor to be this way. Dali could fit into this group and he was wealthy. Our path to and through art is our own. That is what makes our own art live a voice that can be told through no one else.

"tortured souls" dont ever manage to elevate themselves by creative efforts." when that is said you sound very narrow minded, and you are wrong. there is no ultimatums in art.
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  #18  
Old 03-21-2009, 08:51 PM
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

Dont misquote me Z. I said MOST tortured souls Dont. And its true, most dont find their way out by Art. SOME do...but uniquely creative individuals are still very rare no matter what scenario expels them. And you're right, a real artist wont be kept down by anything. There will be NO excuses. Excuses include: finances (too much or too little), mental/ psychological/emotional state, excessively low or high IQ, injustices, oppression, repression, rejection, narrow mindedness, addictions, shitty weather and having to endure harsh words. Those are just a few excuses. Most of the would-be artists you encounter can add pages to that list if you care to make a note of it.
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  #19  
Old 03-23-2009, 10:12 AM
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

Iíd side-step the line of this thread, myself. Art is often part of a state of mind, or a Ďmid-setí, or even an aspect of the personality. For me, itís a channel grooved into the mind over many years Ė well worked, and getting richer all the time. Now, that art groove can be expressed by just looking at art, by visits to the museums or galleries, walks through good sculpture parks, or by good art books, (Iíve had some exciting and completely fulfilling visits recently, and Iíve just got a superb book on Juddís work). Or it can be by making. However, if you are making money, or having a Ďcareerí through art, thatís something else, categorically speaking. Donít conflate these different things, Iíd say.
As for artists who are prepared to be poor rather than do something else - well, we have all had that art experience Ė it must be hard to give up on that groove, the central complex, living, creative thing in your life.
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Old 03-24-2009, 09:05 AM
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

I don't care what state of dishevelment they call home, assuming of course their "starving artist" routine is not subsidized by me.

I am a working artist and have made a nice living for going on twenty years. I know many other sculptors, some of them with great talent. What I have found by and large is that the ones who wish to become successful, do, and those who don't become successful often revel in the bogus starving artist caricature, and take some odd dubious trophy from it, as though there is some twisted sense of nobility in poverty.

See, it's easier to accept the struggling artist model, relish the image one thinks it portrays, and then never look to succeed. It's much harder to set a goal to be the best one can be, and actually support a family with a career in art.

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  #21  
Old 03-24-2009, 10:02 AM
Portoro Portoro is offline
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

Personally I donít know of anyone who Ďrevels in the bogus starving artist caricatureí. The old Bohemianism of the later 19th and early part of the 20th century was a vibrant, creative lifestyle out of which a great many great artists emerged. Others didnít, and thatís tragic. But nowadays? Bohemianism hasnít the cache it once hadÖ.

Of course, there will be those in all walks of life who persist despite their (or others') better judgement.
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  #22  
Old 03-24-2009, 11:38 AM
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

Everyone has to make a living...and most regular folk do. Not a big deal at all. If your creative abilities can feed you and your clan, great, you get to sculpt instead of drive a truck or run a turret lathe. But if you think that merely earning a decent "living" is getting you to where Art should get you, you are wrong. Yes, apply your abilities back there in the weather of humanity, for shelter, but dont drag those "jobs" into the studio when its time for serious work. Its nice to have your REAL work financed, but a creative force will not be denied. It is probably the case that most people waving the Art flag are not artists at all. And it is for US, we sorted individuals, to decide who is who. Of course, you neednt tell them all and start a ruckus. Bad weather (wars, criminals, speeding cabs, bullys, plane crashes, etc) might get in the way of progress. So let them alone and go about your business.
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  #23  
Old 03-24-2009, 12:26 PM
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

maybe it depends how you access that beatific inner landscape, door, window or tunnel. And once there...
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  #24  
Old 03-26-2009, 03:16 PM
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

you always here about all these"sculptors" in Ny,but if a livingspace is 300to 700 square feet where the heck do they work,or afford studio space.Is materila availability good or bad?Probally some great scrap yards,but do ya need wise guys to get ya in.I love the the big city,well for one weekend a year,give me green grass,big trees, blue sky, and materials a plenty.read the short book the Starving Artist,about a circus freek that goes around and starves for thirty days or so at a time ,while people come to watch,it will make you think about "starving artist" in a whole different light.......IA
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Old 03-26-2009, 05:26 PM
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Re: happy, poor, old, city artists

I had eleven thousand sq feet, 27 foot ceilings, views of manhattan out the windows. All I had to do was work hard to get it...no prob, anyone can do it...unlsess all they need (are willing to need) is 300 measly sq.... I sold the whole shabang in favor of the green stuff and peace for my kids.
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