There’s a curator at a museum here who cuts a certain figure in this town. Smart and smartly dressed, sweet and hard-hitting, he’s built a reputation for cutting right through the rhetoric to get to the point.
I was sad to learn that he was leaving for another job, a bigger one waiting for him in Hawaii; he, his partner, and their brand new baby girl would soon be gone.
Until his last day here though, he was working. And there he was on a panel as well. The topic that packed the auditorium? How to get a curator’s attention. He said it straight, as always and maybe especially so, for he had nothing to lose.
Do this, this, this, and this, he said, ticking off the basics, and a roomful of artists scribbled down every word.
And then he added one more thing: Think about the friends you keep and make sure you hang out with other really good artists.
He said that if he sees an artist who’s connected to someone he already knows or admires, it tells him certain things:
- that the artist in question is serious about his work, serious enough to want to learn, to want to take a risk and jump into the conversation;
- that the studio visit will be interesting;
- that the conversation will be substantive; and
- that any business that might ensue between them will go smoothly.
Does it mean that he will like the artist’s work? Not necessarily, but with his curiosity sharpened, he will look.
So, what’s this mean to a writer? Two things. The first is that you must continually seek out and learn from your betters, that to do so will not just improve your work but mark you as someone to take seriously. Second, if you are still debating whether to attend that class, that conference, that lunch, that gathering, that lecture, that forum—put on your smiley face and just go.
Comments welcome and edited to include first names only, and website, if provided; never your email. Photo credits: three women “Grandpa’s friends” – freeparking; two boys – Stu Seeger.