A couple years ago, I was contemplating what to write next, so I asked myself how I wanted to spend the next year of my life. We writers immerse ourselves in the world we explore in our stories. Our work feeds off of what we love or what obsesses us.
Writing a book, for me at least, takes a year or two or three. And at the end, there’s no guarantee that book will sell to a publisher.
So the question was important. How did I want to spend that year?
Art. I’d always loved art. I grew up drawing and painting. I made ceramic sculptures, did photography, wrote bad poetry, danced. I loved art history, but didn’t know much about contemporary art, because I’d aways been drawn to figurative art.
What if I spent the year exploring contemporary art? Even if I ended up writing a book that didn’t sell, I’d get to spend the time doing something I loved!
Incredibly, LA is now one of the top places in the US to experience contemporary art. As I wandered through exhibits at LACMA, the Broad, the Marciano, the Hammer and the Getty, I was captivated by the work of artists like Siamak Filizadeh, Gerhard Richter, Makoto Saito, Al Weiwei, Basquiat, Kara Walker, and James Turrell.
I read interviews with artists, essays and articles about art schools, auction houses, art fairs, collectors and galleries. I learned how few artists succeed and how many artists in NYC can’t afford paint or supplies.
I learned how contemporary art attracts big money, and how wealthy buyers may never display what they buy, but send it to specialized warehouses, intending to flip it. I read about art thefts, looted antiquities, forgeries, and organized crime.
Now I was excited.
I imagined what it would be like for someone who lives and breathes art, who knows they possess real talent to be dropped into this world and have to face the very real possibility their dream would be taken away.
It was a very good year.