August 20, 2008
What was Surreal was being on Tjorn on the West Coast of Sweden, and walking into the Nordic Watercolor Museum, only to see a show entitled Pacific Light: A Survey of Californian Watercolor 1908-2008. What I expected was a quaint display of coastal landscapes, and I was up for it on a Sunday afternoon after the Saturday wedding of GK’s cousin & his Swedish wife. I didn’t expect much more from what I thought was a small town collection of pretty things. Instead, it was a show that blew me away in its breadth of work presented and in the quality. It was no small town show.
So being in a foreign country (and not just in the big city, but in a town an hour north of the second biggest city- Gothenburg- which is on the opposite coast of the big big city) and to be observing locals and European tourists observing art from exactly the place that I’m from… it was super strange. I wanted to say- I am a Californian! I am an Artist! I am a Californian Artist in this show about Californian Art! And of all places, halfway around the world. I felt mentally (delightfully) jerked back home to California while at the same time having two feet planted on the ground of this Nordic museum on a grey very rainy day.
Apparently, I come from the land of Sunshine & Dreams.
Lovely. And I agree. I am a California girl from the start, and I am certainly a dreamer. I am still dreaming about being some kind of recognized artist (whatever that means) even though I am something like a stay-at-home parent pining for more. I am on pins and needles waiting for notice of whether or not I have made it into a show in San Francisco, and I am anticipating that if I make it, I will take it as sort of a rubber stamp that Yes, I am accepted into this Profession of Artist and if No, then perhaps I should just accept it and just arrange my home artfully, design my kids’ birthday invitations, and giving my life that artist treatment without actually making art. I fear that I’ll get a rejection, and that I will deflate and wither as I waffle back and forth about still trying to pursue this art thing. Because if it’s a No, I’m afraid I’ll tell myself, Of course they don’t want your work, you don’t know what you’re doing.
And then if it’s Yes, then a whole other internal dialogue will happen. I knew I could do this! I have a future in this! Maybe I will do show after show and something amazing will happen! I knew it! We’ll see. I have always held that there is a flame inside my heart that will not go out, no matter the life pressures that make it go dim. I have always believed that within me is that artist, even if it’s not apparent outwardly. I just hoped time would bring it all about. I have been so inspired my women artists who lived their lives and afterward still achieved a measure of greatness. One that comes to mind is Tillie Olsen. She worked hard as a mother before finishing the literary work that she started as a girl. And really, it was that life as a mother that informed her work. I only hope that the years I collect as I go will serve to enrich my life work as much as they did hers.
So here, Zee is off to his first day of preschool (this morning) while Enn and I shop for Kindergarten, which starts next week. Time is flying, and I am comfortable with seeing my boys grow up into a bigger version of the little kids that they are. Somehow I know we are just flying through time, and this is just a moment in a whole string of moments that I need to treasure and appreciate.
So much is changing in my family, and I only hope that I get to be a part of it as I see my work accepted into a San Francisco show for the first time.
Keep your fingers crossed!