The way I prepare for a show is to go into hermit mode: Sequester yourself in the art cave and don’t come out until the work is ready.

That also means that most of the conversations I am having these days are with non-sentient beings (i.e., my paintings). It is in a small way like being in a gravity-free chamber with tiny porthole windows and filtered sound. A world out there? Could be, but I wouldn’t know for sure…

The extreme stories you hear about Jonathan Franzen’s elaborate methods for achieving a distraction-free zone to write make sense to me. Maybe the world is divided (once again) into two groups: Those who can write a novel in a coffee shop, and those who cannot. As for me, I know I need silence and privacy.

My cone of self inflicted silence did not block out Tom Ashbrook’s worthy interview with Frank Stella last week however. (You can listen to ithere.) Don’t you love when an elder still thinks and talks fast (and still drives that way too), is excited about exploring new forms (like digital media) and isn’t a solipsistic bag of hot air? Stella was charming, ingenuous and thoughtful. Worth the listen for sure.

A few highlights for me:

He started the interview by quoting Mario Andretti (Stella has a well known passion for car racing): “If everything is under control, you aren’t going fast enough.”

When asked about teaching art, his answer was simple: Be encouraging. Limit constraints. Keep enthusiasm alive. That is a kind of art pedagogy I can stand alongside.

Regarding the distortions of pricing seen in the art auction space, Stella was gentle. “Art world pricing is an illusion.” He graciously described the art world in all its many facets as “a complicated community.” And who is an artist’s audience, he asked? First and foremost, says Stella, you make art to please yourself. You are your own most important audience.

That’s a mantra for any studio wall.

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