Be Rewarded: Memories and a Thank You Note
As I was running through SFO to catch my flight to Los Angeles, something caught my eye. Always a sucker for quotes, when I saw a few words painted along the ceiling of a terminal store, I had to stop to see what it said.
"Love what you do, put your heart into it and you will be rewarded"
I smiled to myself and sighed after reading this. 30 minutes prior, I was in the back of a cab, cursing myself. I rummaged through my wallet as the cabbie waited to be paid. I looked at my credit cards and wondered which one would self-destruct in protest if I swiped it one more time. I could hear my Mother saying, "Art doesn't pay."
It's funny how the dreams we had as children never die. They may simmer, but the flames of those dreams seem to continue to burn for a lifetime. "I want to be an artist" was my answer to the classic question "What do you want to be when you grow up?". My answer never received much applause. "Don't you want to be a teacher or a doctor?", my Mom would ask in response.
I remember being overcome with jealousy when I would walk by the Ottawa School of Art. I chose to study Politics in university. I didn't hate my major, but what I liked most about it was how "safe" it was. My degree would help me get a cushy office job with great benefits and an early retirement. Yet the thought of being in a cubicle made me feel sick to my stomach. I'd fantasize about dropping out of university and going to art school. That never happened. My bravery was much more inflated in my daydreams than in reality.
In my last year of university, I had a hell of a time finishing my final paper. I sat down one morning before sunrise to write my essay. By the time the sun set that day, I had maybe written 5 paragraphs. Instead of writing about the theories of Aristotle, I researched how to create a website. Coding and linking domains were foreign concepts to me.
I also poured over photos from my travels and recalled all of the artists I had met abroad. There was the stain glass artist who I chatted with at the art school (Academy of San Carlos) in Mexico City, the clay artist I met at a marketplace in Gothenburg, Sweden and the abstract painters in Havana, Cuba who invited us into their homes and studios to share their work. This was the world I wanted to be in.
I walked by an empty gallery that night while doing a coffee run for my inevitable all-nighter. I snapped a photo, posted it online and wrote "May 6, 2011: I saw this space and got excited. One day I'll have a space like this covered in art".
These are the memories that I play on repeat in my mind when I have moments of self-doubt. My self-doubt in the back of that cab was suffocating. I asked the driver to roll down the windows. I have fond memories of my Grandmother rolling down the car windows during long car rides, sticking her hand out and slowly twirling it as the wind gently brushed against her skin. When I need to get out of my head, I roll down the window, twirl my hand in the wind and think of my Grandmother. She is my rock. She always told me I could do anything as long as I was willing to work hard and never look back.
This quote I saw at the airport blew out the flames of my self-doubt that day. Everything I had envisioned years ago while ignoring my term paper, unfolded during ArtCrasher's Los Angeles gallery show. There we were, over 300 artists and art lovers celebrating and supporting each other's work. I met Nina Parys from France, Ank Draijer from Costa Rica, Kaillee Coleman from Seattle, Lyn Pacificar, Nora Novak, Greg Anka and Todd Silver from Los Angeles, Rachel Goldsmith from NYC, and many, many other artists from all corners of the US and the world.
The way I felt that night surpassed any corner office or job title I could have received if I haven't changed my life path. A huge thank you to all of the artists who participated in the Los Angeles show. I am so grateful for your support. That night I was reminded why I love what I do. I am so happy to share and celebrate your work. Continue to work hard and you will be rewarded