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Re: Art Teachers/ Artists+ question


From: Larry Seiler (lseiler_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Oct 07 2000 - 07:41:47 PDT

> I've been following this thread and have been interested in
> the discussion of local artists turning up their noses at art
> teachers. I've been experiencing this for 5 years now even
> though there are other local art teachers who are successfully
> playing both sides.
> I've been asked to participate in an invitation only exhibit at one
> of the local galleries.

Congrads on the invitation to exhibit Donald!!!

I understand is a conundrum. I think in the end it is simply
about getting kicked around some, and learning resiliency- gaining strength
and character in the long run.

I've sensed the intimidation among other art teachers for my being an
artist...and it hurts to be shuned and left out of invitations such as
simple get togethers. I've been ridiculed for teaching art- was hailed
finally smart when I left teaching for about 12 years to pursue my art, and
as having failed in my pursuit when I returned to teaching art.

I imagine some of you are familiar with the big wildlife art publisher "Wild
Wings" and other such....which I was a part of. To some degree still am.
Some of my peers make $100,000 per year plus. Some publishers have joined
the high tech world. They track sales. "Hhhmmm, we had 1800 print sales
this month, of which 60% were wolf prints. Of those 80% were predominantly
snow scenes...and of those 65% were dominated by the hues of blue. How soon
can you put out a wolf piece in snow with blue hues?"

I live in Wisconsin, which I affectionately as an artist like to refer to as
a football/beer culture. People here have absolutely no concept of the
investment of time to develop artistic talent or reputation and expect you
to drop a $4,000 painting to $250 and then they'll buy it. After all...its
only talent, therefore it must have come easy for you to do! I guess the
more talent one has...the easier and easier.

When I became an empty nester a year ago...I had my bags packed ready to
move out west to an arts community albeit Laguna Beach, Calif; Taos, New
Mexico; Jackson Hole, Wyo; Sedona, Arizona; however, suddenly the wife says
she'd miss family, and one of our sons (married) could have children soon.
Ugh! So...I considered teaching again...and found a position in a beautiful
region of the state. A national forest.

So...did I sell out? Have I taken my talents that some have told me they
wish they had, and buried them? I'd be lying if I did not at times wonder
myself. Life is not always about "me" though, and the right thing is not
always the most convenient thing. I've adjusted, and see the value young
people will gain from my experience in a classroom. I measure success a bit
differently now... and I don't miss the pressure of having to sell my work
and not having complete control over what I want to paint. I am found these
days painting out of doors, enjoying and celebrating finding beauty in my
environment, and I guess if one day my many plein airs are found buried in
an attic somewhere and to be worth something is a pressure I am becoming
less and less concerned with.

What burdens me more these days is the lack of peace and joy in the lives of
so many people and that I have available at my disposal the means to "clue
them in" in how stimulating and activating their null creative potentials
can ignite a spark for life in a way they could never imagine.

Yes...I miss the hand shaking. The dropped mouths and wonderment of the
public at public events. I hope those days are yet ahead of me, but perhaps
with new directions, and when I'm ready to experience them without falling
into the trap of making that experience out to be everything. Balance. We
all need balance in our lives. I hope we'll get over making gods out of
artists, and the idea of art teachers doing what they do because they could
not have made it out there. "Out there" is not all that some have made it
to be. I know.

Larry Seiler