Off-the-cuff e-mail to Josh Schrei that I just had to archive:
Here's what I'm thinking about right now:
yesterday, I took an out-of-town guest for a drive out to Madrid, a cruise into the past, if you will, along the Tourquoise Trail. we stopped in at the Cerrillos Mining Museum and Petting Zoo, which was open, much to my surprise, so we went inside. We ponied up two bucks a piece to go into the museum, and got to see natural sheet copper and antique butter churns and hand-blown whiskey bottles from the late 19th century.
At one point, I was staring at a display of chunk torquoise along with pictures of early propsectors wearing phase one style silver trinkets, wondering to myself why I didn't just bag it all and take a jewelry class and be like everyone else I know around here "turning nutty hobbies into gold" learning tufa carving and such from my dad. And all of a sudden it hit me how I am SUCH a product of my environment.
Fifteen years ago, I knew nothing about art and could've cared less, and yet, ART is the only game in town here other than restaurants, so now I'm a fucking critic and I spend every Friday nght inside of an art gallery talking to other semi-hip peeps like me about Biennials and retrospectives. It could be worse, I could be an utter nobody, instead of a minor somebody, working PR phones for artists whose lives seem even drearier than mine - at least I get to spend the day on the phone, while they're slavishly working away at raw materials trying to make something someone will buy. I gave in to what was around me, and there's now only two ways out:
a) impresario/curator/gallerist, all of which vaguely intrigue but only because it's the only game going, or
b) ARTIST, which strikes me as totally absurd and something I couldn't manage at all because it requires making something *pretty* (mostly, which is why I loved your confetti-pantied pinata whore because it was Just So Wrong.)
And I just stood there having City Envy - thinking about if I could be in New York or D.C. for just six months, How Would it Change Me? Would I be More of the Same? Or would the possibility of Choice lead me to more interesting options than becming a silversmith, "like me father before me..."
Right now, I'm more comparitively sane and stable than I've ever been in my entire adult life, and yet...so what? I live in a city that is 90% comprised of trust-funders and know-nothings and there just _aren't_ a lot of choices for someone like me At All. Dig this, man - *everyone* I know around here with a brain is DYING to figure out how to work for Richardson's Presidential campaign - only god-honest New Mexicans think he's got a snowball's chance - but any opportunity to do something other than Art or Lunch is just so damn exciting that they'll play whatever kind of pretend they can just to Do Something Else. Santa Fe is built on nothing if not artifice (sunsets not withstanding) - surely, these bright and risen angels could build a platform for Bill, couldn't we?
I tell you this as I list New Mexican folk art for sale on E-Bay, hoping to catch an out-of-town rube on the line. The fresh meat off the bus goes straight to the Plaza and I can't afford those rents - with luck and pluck perhaps I'll convince some starry-eyed dreamer who believes in the hype that this is paradise and they'll send a few sheckels my way to keep me believing long enough that there's something more to all of this than dusting off my daddy's anvil and making fine art knock-offs of early 20th century Navajo belts. But I may get there, soon enough, and buy into the New Mexico land-grab dream of owning a little piece of the Cerrillos hillside...with my own damn Airstream and a pickup to keep the wolves at bay.