What is art good for? What is my art good for?
Those questions haunt me. I don’t know how to answer them. Not fully. Not in a way that truly encapsulates everything I feel.
I know that creating art is good for my own mental health and sense of spirituality. Being able to create—performing that act—is a gift. But what about the end results? What are my paintings good for once I’m through placing strokes of color on them? What is their value?
Are they just decorative commodities? I’ve never thought so. And that’s where I’ve struggled.
When I look at my work or the work of other artists, I see the expression of something greater than any one artist. I see evidence of invisible currents that connect us to each other and flow into everything else. That may sound crazy or “hippy-dippy,” but it’s what I experience. I don’t just see those connections; I feel them.
But in today’s world, competition and separation form the dominant narrative. Barriers are everywhere. We’re encouraged to see individuality as one of the highest ideals.
Don’t get me wrong; I value individuality. I just think the pendulum has swung too far in that direction. I think it’s blinded a lot of humanity to another possible reality.
We’re interconnected. But we’ve done such a good job of erecting walls and other barriers around ourselves and our “tribes” that it’s easy to miss or deny the clues of our inter-being. Clues like a deep sense that something is wrong. Clues like an internal hunger or void that we try to fill—usually unsuccessfully—with shallow amusements.
What does any of this have to do with how I sell my art? Three words: Hunger. Family. Connection.
Hunger—physical hunger—is still a major barrier in the lives of many people. It’s one of the consequences of our current paradigm. When any human being struggles to put food on the table, it’s a sign that, collectively, we’ve lost the plot.
Hunger is disheartening. It deepens the sense that the things we need to thrive are scarce. It entrenches the current paradigm of “everyone for himself.”
I want my art to help remove that barrier. I want it to help nourish people so that they have greater freedom to follow their hearts’ desires and be who they really are.
Family is a uniting concept that we mostly use to describe our relationship with close friends and relatives. But why does that concept have to be applied so narrowly? What if we made a bold leap and extended that concept to describe our relationship with all of humanity? Why does it have to be “Us and Them?” Why can’t it just be “Us?”
I want my art to help foster an expanded concept of family. I want it to help invite new ways of thinking about—and caring for—the people we “don’t know.”
Connection is at the heart of it all. We may appear to have separate lives, but our actions have ripple effects that extend farther than we probably want to imagine. We are all a lot closer to each other than we realize. We should celebrate those connections instead of trying to deny them or fence them out.
I want my art to help deepen our human connections. I want it to help poke holes in the illusion that we are all separate creatures so that we can imagine a better way forward that serves all of us.
That’s why I’m going to experiment with karma pricing and donating my proceeds—beginning with the Okanagan Art Fair on April 8th and 9th in West Kelowna, BC. I’m lucky to not be a starving artist. Since I have a day job with an exceptional employer, I also have the opportunity to try this model.
After the Rotary Club of Westbank (the organizer of this event) receives its 10 percent, the remaining 90 percent of my proceeds from each sale will go to either the Lake Country Food Bank or to one or more of the other artists who are displaying work at the event. The choice will be up to each buyer.
In addition, for each original painting, you will have the choice of how much to pay. You get to choose what the art is worth to you. I don’t want price to be a barrier to finding good homes for my art. If you connect with a piece, you should have the chance to own it.
I will also be selling lithographic prints of my popular John Lennon painting at the event, with $20 from the sale of each one going to the Lake Country Food Bank.
Come say hi if you’re in the area. Here are the details:
4th Annual Okanagan Art Fair
Westbank Lions Community Centre
(2466 Main Street, West Kelowna, BC)
Saturday, April 8th from 5 pm to 9 pm
Sunday, April 9th from 11 am to 4 pm