Bless Jerry Saltz for keeping the cultural landscape lively. His Facebook page and passionate following are legendary and talked about everywhere (and sometimes with a derision that smells to me like rank envy.) His blend of the personal with a genuine advocacy for art and artists is unique in the high visibility cultural critic realm. I’m delighted by his invention of this unique hybrid position.

I recently wrote a response to a question he posed on Facebook about the real day-to-day life of the artist. My post, called Wisdom from the Art Tribe, included some of my favorite responses to that query. (At last count, Saltz’s question has garnered 445 comments.)

That post is now my go-to site when I am feeling discouraged. The range and abundance of wisdom (and honesty) that appeared in that exchange still amazes me.

Saltz’s latest question asks about the differences between writers on deadline and artists. As always, it is written in his signatory style, overly capitalized and freely punctuated:

What DO YOU artists do when the demons come?! Do you walk; drink; smoke cigarettes; masturbate; phone calls; computer; eat; cry. What? I’ve NO IDEA what yr. team does. WEEKLY CRITICS work on deadline so there’s no time for demonic possession. The ONLY thing we can do is say, “Shut the fuck up you fucks” & get right back to… work. But you artists! What DO you do when the demons speak?

With 440 (and counting) responses, the range of therapies offered is extensive. Some respondents took issue with the very use of the word demon since its connotations are tainted with religiosity. But we all know what he means, be it named or nameless.

For me it is not about demons but more about drying out. The absence of moisture, that’s the state I fear most. Like sex, an unlubricated studio session just can’t take you where you want to go! Being vigilant about staying in the oleaginous, that’s my best drought defense.

That, and patience.

Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles, and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself?”

–Lao-tzu

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From Still Water (The River Thames, for Example), by Roni Horn

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