It took me a long time to get to where I considered myself an artist. Perhaps it’s because I stepped away from it when I left art school in the 1960’s and mostly gave up my creative endeavors for many years. Art school was tough for me. I suffered from two major health crisis while I was there, plus super fights with my parents during my freshman year. Hard to imagine now, in retrospect, what could have been in my brain, thinking it was a good idea to continue to live at home with my parents while attending college. I suppose I’m not the only one to do this, and I’m guessing my parents were the ones pushing it. Mom always seemed to want to keep me close to home. And probably the money was no small matter. They were both professionals, both with what looked like good jobs but not exactly rich. Money was always tight. Mom worrying over the bills each month. Smart ass kid, I used to try to understand it, thought I could help. By getting a job maybe.
When I left art school I moved to New York City. I had big dreams. I wanted to sing. I wanted to perform on the musical stage. I got accepted to a small show being put on by a choreographer named Phil Black. I was used to high school performances, big shows with lots of performers, no expense spared. Beyond that all I knew was Broadway. I didn’t have any understanding of the way things worked. I stuck with the show until I saw the public school in Queens where we were going to perform. I was disappointed and totally creeped out. I thought, “What am I doing here?” and quit.
Lots of auditions followed but the process was not easy and the boys and the beach called out to me. In no time I was dating and having a great time. I got married, had a baby. Life got to be more about family. I still liked to paint, draw, but there was a baby around now, and making a mess was not possible. So over time, my art form became photography. For years it was just a distraction, something to entertain myself. Not serious.
I do take it more seriously now but still, what is it that makes it art? Is it when it’s beautiful, like some of the flower photos I take? Or is it when it reflects the human condition in some way? Or is it just some innate quality that make some think, “Wow, that’s incredible,” while others think, “Boy is that weird!” That’s kind of how I feel when I look at the choices for museums and award winners for arts grants and such. So I don’t know what makes something art in the wider sense, but I do know, today, that I am an artist and do say that with pride.Whether others think my work is art or just pretty, or interesting, informative, I’m happy if it pleases me. I am my first and most important audience.