Found In Translation

Art = Literature = Music = Performance = Who knew? = Duh

All art is the same; all art is different; otherwise, it’s worthless.

This past week, I went to New York City with Larassa Kabel. If you lovely readers have been following along, you might remember that I used to be an art dealer. Larassa was one of the amazingly talented artists whom I represented, and she and I have remained friends even without the gallery connection. I have referred to her as my John Galt; I have mentioned her many times, most recently as the artist who created the 2012 White House Christmas card. Larassa needed to go to NYC for a portfolio review of her work, and I jumped at the opportunity to go with her. Like a trip in a time machine, I was transported back into the art world which I adored then, and still adore now.

The only change is that now I am bilingual. I speak ART and LITERATURE. And, I suppose, I have rudimentary knowledge of MUSIC/PERFORMANCE ART via my oldest son whom we saw perform while we were there. Each branch of the fine arts has the same ladder to the top, but in its own language.

As my friend and I attacked Chelsea, SoHo, the Lower East Side, and Brooklyn, she drank in the flavor-du-jour from fellow artists, dealers, and art critics in an attempt to assess her options and her competition. She wants a New York gallery as badly as I want a Big-Six publisher. And much to my surprise, I got as much out of the trip in relation to my writing as she did for her drawings and paintings. It’s the exact same scene, but with subtitles.

I’ve recently completed A Reasonable Price, technically my fourth novel, although if when it gets published, it will be known as my debut novel. That’s okay with me; think about the thousands of pages that any given writer wrote before s/he became “famous.” If they didn’t write (then burn) all that early crap, their debut novels would read like Twilight. (I make no apologies for that statement.)(I don’t care how rich she is.) I am currently looking for a literary agent just like Larassa is looking for an art dealer. I have often equated the two professions, which is one reason Rejection Letters don’t bother me—well, let’s say they don’t dissuade me. I’ve been on the other side of this equation.

For example, every artist being shown in New York has beaucoup talent. That’s a given. Correspondingly, every writer being published by a traditional publisher must be extremely talented. The competition in both fields is fierce. Every gallery has a niche; every lit agency has a niche; an artist/author must find the one where she fits perfectly. But, the artist/author must have a distinct style, or else why would the dealer/agent bother with her? She must have an edge that makes her work unique.

Although I knew all of this, conceptually, before the trip, I saw it in vivid color/line/material/sound in gallery after gallery. I saw what the dealers/agents see everyday, thus the level of talent that Larassa and I are being compared to.

I’ve often made the joke that if this writing gig doesn’t pan out for me, I could move to NYC to be a lit agent; I could go back to the business of finding and selling the talent. But that’s not going to happen for a lot of reasons, most of all, because I want to be a published writer more than anything. I am determined and focused.

Perseverance is my mission statement.

One day—unless the Internet goes the way of the Betamax—I’ll look back at this post of February 9, 2013 and laugh at the memory of when Larassa and I wanted to be famous… this as she and I are hunched over our respective canvases in the private studios of our neighboring mansions that overlook the Mediterranean Sea, creating yet another masterpiece to send out to the lucky sea of humanity.

Or maybe we’ll both stay in the thriving state of Iowa with our families and friends, and pursue our respective passions, and collect our modest but gratifying paychecks. Either way would be fine with me. I’ll bet Larassa would say the same.

And now, time for me to perservere. Au revoir, mes amis.

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