Monday, March 7, 2011

Nobody Reads This Blog

And now I know why. It's because I have not behaved like a leader. My thoughts and words and images fail to inspire. So says cartoonist Hugh MacLeod. He offers some ideas to a subset of bloggers who, blinded by their own feelings of self-importance, completely miss the point of blogging.

In reality, I don't think they apply to me entirely. I have gone where few have gone before, into an inhospitable wetland (The New Jersey Meadowlands) that is the unfortunate victim of public misconceptions and stereotypes because of rumors, anecdotes and folklore fueled by a hefty dose of the brutality of human misbehavior (pollution, unchecked sprawl and development, etc). I have returned from the poisoned and ravaged swamps with stories and images intended to educate and entertain. But does anyone care?

Well, yes and no.

The biggest problem I have as an artist, and something I'll have to deal with forever, is my body of work. It's exactly what has been holding back my success all along. It's a tough thing to admit, that your work is your worst asset, but it's true. Now don't get me wrong, I stand behind my work. I stand behind the work I've done on this Meadowlands project. Lots of people love what I do and are impressed with my skill level and the emotional charge that I put into an image. It's just an unfortunate fact that my work is a really tough sell to the segment of the population who has money to spend on paintings.

So what about this blog? If you're reading this than you have been sold. The difficulty with this blog is that it doesn't exactly spellbind many other pairs of eyeballs. Am I really that bad of a writer? I generally think of my writing as being somewhat captivating, and I have been praised for my eloquence and passion. So where is everybody?

The problem is the sell. And I don't mean the actual dollar sale where somebody hands me an envelope of cash for a painting, which, as I've already noted is something that I struggle with. I mean that I have not successfully convinced enough people to spend some of their valuable time reading what I have to say. It's hard to sell a subject, and I'm referring to The Meadowlands here, that has become what it has become because of a lack of interest by the public.

It's a downward spiral. If people cared about The Meadowlands, they would be a pristine, thriving ecosystem instead of a polluted wasteland, and therefore would not have captured my imagination as subject matter for paintings. And thus it's hard to interest people to stop what their doing and read the accounts of an unknown artist who has taken such a place and made it the focal point of his work.

And there's another problem. I have a day job in Philadelphia and I live just across the Delaware River in New Jersey. Philadelphia is a great city for artists, but I get the impression that a project on The New Jersey Meadowlands isn't really relevant around here. Add to that the fact that it's known as the home of the New York Giants, a professional football team that is vilified in this town. And anything from New Jersey can't help but be the butt of many jokes outside of the state. If I lived and worked in northern New Jersey, closer to The Meadowlands and New York City I might have more success. It really helps build your reputation if you live and work in a community and if what you do is something that the locals can relate to. No one in Philadelphia relates to The Meadowlands, but its what I've chosen to do. This project has become my calling, and I can't help but see this thing through. Like so many people who have come before me with grand ideas, I will either live or die in The Meadowlands.

This is not to say that it's impossible to generate interest in a piece of artistic work about the place. There are two great books that I used as research for this project, Fields of Sun and Grass by John R. Quinn, and The Meadowlands: Wilderness Adventures at the Edge of a City by Robert Sullivan. People bought these books and read them, and their authors are both very successful. So there's hope for this project, and for this blog.

And if you believe that, I've got some swampland in New Jersey to sell ya.

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