Hustle & Flow

Lately, I have felt utterly stagnant. As the economy dwindles, the impact has diminished my art sales, as I observe consistent confirmations by other artists, dealers and galleries who are feeling the same crunch. A friend of mine just returned from Hawaii, where she told me both the local galleries and restaurants alike had witnessed a 60% decrease in business in the last year. Another friend attended The Armory Show in New York City (a very high-profile art fair) and commented on how quiet attendance was. I recently wrote about the cancellation of The Artist Project in Chicago this year.

Admittedly, the situation has taken a toll on me; it has been a challenge to remain hopeful in the midst of all of this bad news. Never the less, I have been determined to move forward and believe the key in doing so is changing things that are within my control. The first change I have been focusing on is my attitude. Negative thoughts have plagued me for the last year, ultimately causing major anxiety attacks. After I determined anxiety was the root of my problem, I sought to counter it through meditation and have been practicing Vipassana meditation now for the last three months and I cannot begin to tell you how liberating that process has been for me. That alone, however, was not enough for me to make the necessary change.

Vipassana meditation is also referred to as “insight” meditation; becoming aware of your body, thoughts and feelings by quieting your mind of ideas stemming from memory or anticipating the future, thereby becoming fully present. Though I have been successful at calming myself through meditation, the practice by itself has not changed my circumstances and I have continued to fight feelings of dissatisfaction. In spite of the state of the economy, I know I can change my circumstances, but in order to do so, I not only have to think differently, I must act differently. Meditation made it apparent I need to change the way I live my life. As a result, I am more conscious of how I interact with others and how I treat myself, while considering what exactly I am doing to make things better for myself and those around me. Simply becoming conscious of these things, again, was not enough to facilitate change.

For the last two-and-a-half months, I had put off clearing piles of paperwork that accumulated on my office desk over the course of the previous three months. I neglected to put away packed boxes of clothes and belongings since moving in with JQ. I recently realized all of the clutter was only contributing to the stale mood preventing any progress from happening, and I simply couldn’t stand it any longer. So, yesterday, after another sleepless night, I woke up at 4 a.m. and with nothing to do, I started tackling the long list of small things I had procrastinated from doing: I cleaned up my office desk; I put clothes away and threw out boxes; I filed papers; I sent out e-mail correspondence to art partners and job prospects. I took care of the seemingly little things that were within my control. In doing so, my intention was to make space for new energy and a new flow of positive things in my life by doing away with the lifeless clutter I had allowed to weigh me down. I have read about this type of thing before and now it was time to put it to the test.

Later in the day, I met a friend for coffee. I must admit, I thought about cancelling, but I hadn’t seen K in some time and though I felt like I had more pressing things that required my attention, I wanted to honor my commitment. We ended up having a great conversation with many ideas for me to consider regarding my artwork. It was very positive. After our meeting, I went to the studio and had a very inspiring painting session. When I returned home to check my e-mail, I was amazed at what I found. In the last 24 hours, I was offered an interview, an art showing with a potential patron, two additional art contacts and a meeting with somebody interested in helping me sell my work. I hardly think this is all a coincidence. I feel better than I have in a month and look forward to writing about more positive updates in the near future. Stay tuned.

Welcome Colorado

Today, I co-hosted an event with my fellow RiNo Neighbor, Sharon Brown. The occasion was a private studio show for Welcome Colorado, a group of local women dedicated to showing other women of international backgrounds a slice of Denver life through various activities. Sharon and I agreed to host a private showing of our paintings along with a verbal presentation and discussion around the work.

The occasion had been planned for months and I really wanted to make a good impression on the group. Yesterday, I hung my work up at Sharon's Pattern Shop Studio and only hoped my verbal presentation would be nearly as good as the visual. I began planning what I would say about a week ago. As the time drew nearer, my ideas began to solidify. Over the weekend, I wrote them out and rehearsed the material from flash cards. I was prepared, but admittedly a little uncertain I could manage speaking without fumbling around a bit, at least in the beginning.

This morning, before I arrived at the studio, I meditated. At first, I went through a succession of familiar mantras, but then I did something a little different. I visualized the event, intending the outcome. Knowing what I was aiming for gave me the ability to see the event from its ending back to its beginning. The exercise relaxed me and facilitated a confidence boost to interact in a way that often escapes me. In short, the actual experience turned out very much as I had visualized it. I never even bothered to use my flash cards, as the words flowed out effortlessly with great enthusiasm. I was radiating the very energy I convey through my artwork. I had a wonderful time and I believe the women of Welcome Colorado did too. My growth as an artist seems to be expanding in all directions and it feels miraculous.