Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Reading List

"How To Be An Artist"
by Jerry Saltz
published by Riverhead Books

Due to the pandemic, I read that the initial release of this publication that was scheduled for Strand Books in New York City had to be scuttled, probably at the last moment ( sorry for Jerry Saltz! ).
I built my library  by visiting Strand Books and had I been able to, I would have loved to see how they launch a publication like this...

The author, Jerry Saltz, and his new book

So this virus crisis should allow for a lot of reading, and I can say that I enjoyed this little guide of 125 pages, mostly at the end of a very long day, unpacking all the art books I had purchased over the years in the new home we have acquired recently.  Moving is not for the faint of heart, needless to say!

Reading "How To Be An Artist" causes me to think back to what I was doing when I was younger ( I am about to turn seventy! ) and did I follow a path that Jerry Saltz lays out in his text that is broken down into several steps and 63 easy to read,  instructive chapters - some with exercises that you can do on your own schedule!  I think early in life,  I was introduced to the life of an artist through my family, as both of my parents practiced their art at our home, and I have an older brother who also followed in their steps, so art is in the genetic make-up of the Singer Family!

This is not necessarily a "How To Paint" book, more of a Self-Help Guide for the Aspiring Artist...
and it has a personal twist, especially because  the author wanted to be an artist from a young age, and has ended up being an art critic, and someone who is worth reading in this day and age.  I did find his quick little chapters a little glib at times, but I appreciate his honesty, especially in the beginning where he did share his doubts and frustrations with the reader.  One thing that must be dealt with is the amount of time that one needs to spend - alone in a work environment that is conducive to making art.  This might be pretty difficult if you are part of a big, gregarious family, or if you don't have the requisite patience to see how things turn out.

Also on my reading list for this unusual period pf time, I have completed a very finely detailed book on the art of Romare Bearden that I mentioned in my last post written by Mary Schmidt Campbell  ( see below ).

"An American Odyssey" by Mary Schmidt Campbell

From the photo on the cover to the last pages, I learned so much from reading this book.  I grew to be a fan of Romare Bearden's artwork while he was still alive, and I could relate to his struggle, and I could applaud his success.  The author takes us into the milieu of pre- and post World War ll to inform us about what life was like for an aspiring African American artist.  Along the way I had met Romare Bearden and got to shake his hand.  I realize that this is a momentary gesture, but it meant a lot to me, and that is the kind of thing that I hope people will go out and do.  Follow the work of an artist, and by chance approach the person if you can at an opening and ENGAGE!

Readers of this book will learn that it is not necessarily a straight path to greatness, and there were many roadblocks for the African American artist in mid-20th Century America!  I can count myself very fortunate to have studied the art and creative impulse guided by some of our talented folks like Roy DeCarava, and William T. Williams to name a few.  I knew even at the time I was a student,  that an African American artist might have a hard time just showing up, being part of the scene so to speak.  I am glad to see - that though it has taken most of my lifetime - things are getting better!
And anyway, I have to get back to unpacking and arranging my books, see you later.....