Mentor vs. Mentor

29 Dec

Lets talk about art.
My other passion.

I’m waiting out my last few days in Los Angeles before I go up north.
So I go to an art show that an old friend of mine is hosting.
It’s last minute but she tells me to bring a couple of pieces to show
because she knows I need the money.

I reluctantly bring some gem pieces from home (you know – the ones you want to keep for yourself and secretly hope no one will buy, but you have to sell them because you really need to.) Mostly mixed media but together they look like very cohesive pieces of work and are meant to be sold as a set.

Before I say this, let me start off by saying that I’m finally fucking getting laid, casually.

Its an artist I have known for a few years and we got down after I ran into him on the rooftop of the Standard Hotel. Cliche, I know. But there he was schmoozing like he usually does, dressed up looking mighty dapper.

I don’t know if you know this but when you are a young girl, every man who is older than you and is somewhat successful or higher up in the arts scene wants to get all possessive of you, wants to take you under his wing, wants to shape you and mold you like Michelangelo saw that angel in the marble and set him free.

The difference between Michelangelo and these guys is that Michelangelo used a chisel, and these guys fancy using their egos and dicks.

It’s ok, I’m used to it by now.
I’ve been doing my art since I was too young to remember…..
and had my first art show thing before I could drive,
so by this stage, I’ve seen my fair share of men try to mentor me.

However – the first mentor type who ever caught my attention was this British bloke.
I think my mom was still driving me around at this point, and by the end of the thing
I ended up getting my drivers license…and somewhere between our times of working together in his art studio, we went to some party and I was totally determined to fuck this guy.

He might have been my first conquest, now that I think about it.

I wore at the time what were my pointiest shoes that I could have at the age of 16, and my most deep v-neck shirt, and I tried to pull off actually looking as close to 22 and as close to the photo on my fake ID as possible. It was one of the first times I really did any drinking of hard alcohol, and I don’t remember much about this party we went to, but I remember it being the only time I’ve ever fallen over drunk, and I remember thinking that the shoes and the cleavage shirt did their job because after he drove me home to my parents house, he fucked the shit out of me…but like the 16 year old I was, all I could remember thinking about the mistake of the night was,

“I think I’ll wear sneakers next time.”

It was then that I learned that sex with your mentors and people you work with…sometimes its something you have to do continually, and sometimes its a thing you have to get out of the way.

He was young to the arts scene and had just come from England, fresh off the boat really, and it became extremely clear that he was TOTALLY uncomfortable with having fucked somebody so young and didn’t want to do it again. He ended up dating this totally stupid, totally shape-able, generic blonde who was much taller than he was. She was very sweet and a “model” but not like a real model…one of those models that pays to take model photos so she can say she’s a “model” – cuz she was JC Penney Cute, not Victoria’s Secret cute. (Ok maybe with a Boob Job and Collagen and teased hair but without all that shit, she was very girl-next-door.) I was thinking that he probably banged her the very next night after he banged me, since they were together as a couple shortly thereafter.

I’d run into him periodically at functions and it was awkward for a good two years but now that I’ve known the guy 6 years or so, he seems to think that I’m a little more grown up. I hadn’t seen him in about 3 years, and a friend of his came up to me at this party and said “oh Mr. British art guy is here, I told him you were here Bambi and he’s so excited to see and hear about your work!”

Instantly my face turns red and I get mortified and go “OH GOD NOT HIM, not Mr. British!”

I can still smell this guys pheromones from across the gallery and he’s got his back turned at the cocktail area but I know, Brit-man is in the building. Fuck my life.

I reach for my purse to grab one of those treasured anti-anxiety pills.
I get to talking with the other artists while some uppity people are speaking at the front of the gallery talking about the artists encouraging them to buy the pieces, and my name comes up.

He goes over to the pieces and starts exploring them.
Exploring.
Exploring.
Looking intently.

I walk off not wanting to be too nervous, chit chatting with other friends letting him critique my work, and I’m almost certain that he’s not going to have much to say after he’s done.

I grab a drink and he’s waving at me to come sit by him at his table… and wouldn’t you know
he’s all sparkley eyed like he’s met a new woman.

“Where did you learn all this stuff, Bambi? Who did you study with?”

I said,
“I let every artist boyfriend I ever had take me under their wing,
I let them verbally beat me to a pulp, I took lessons, people gave me advice, and I listened to everything they said.”

Soooooo I said, “maybe you can give your opinion”
I told him about how I was trying to work with a new fellow who was trying to take my work to the next level, which usually involves marketing, and sometimes they try to make suggestions on concept pieces and how you can change your work.

I show him all different pieces of my work,
works in progress….
I even made a new piece for him,
to his specifications,
yet all this guy can do is look at the canvas and talk about what he’d change.

I tell the Brit,
“This fellow says that 90% of it is GREAT”
so I’ll tell him,
“Why can’t you start off saying it’s 90% on its way? Tell me whats good about it before you start picking on me, and if you’re gong to pick on my work, please speak to me like a lady.”

I tell my Brit friend – this artist gent has never mentored ladies before. That’s why he sticks with men.

My Brit friend goes off on how mentoring and working with artists is a tender situation and a careful thing, and 80% of it is psychology and learning to deal with people, and if the person doesn’t know how to deal with people…it will be a lost cause.

I tell him that I have more work than I know what to do with at times,
and that I asked this guy,
“Why can’t you just let me be the artist? Why can’t you let me do it my way and let me be me, and you do your thing with what I give you?”

My Brit friend I could tell, really sensed how frustrated I was that I didn’t get to just…be an artist. Be me.

Somehow we get started talking on some other project and some film projects and he brings up a fellows name and I look at my Brit friend with some telltale face….the face that says, “no no why did you bring up that guy!?!”

and my Brit friend says,
Is that who it is? Is that who you’re working with?!?

I laugh like a confessional and say YES!”
and we both burst out laughing
laughing at how small the world is…
laughing that I told him all my frustrations
and how he knows who the hell I’m talking about.

He asks where he can see more of my work.
I say, “You’d look at it?”
He says, “I’d LOVE to look at it.”

I grab a napkin and write down the web link to my art portfolio (which is all online) on a piece of paper…its an up to date web site which has the most recent pieces that are all pretty, polished, ready for sale. 16 pieces, all part of a numbered series.

I get home to a facebook request from him with this message attached:

“Okay, I looked at all your pieces. Pieces 11-15 are the best. The stone starts to change around there and when I got to #11, I started
digging it, like really diggin’ it. I expected something over the top. You can tell
you’ve done some studying with people I know who’s style I don’t prefer – (not a bad thing), but overall some great pieces. Keep up the good work. And
remember this is your work and you’re not going to take any more
shit, stand up for your rights….it’s your art and by the looks of
it, you seem to have a much better hold on it than most folks. Happy
New Year.
Dig ya soon”

If that’s not vali-fukin-dation, I don’t know what its.

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