I was talking to this woman at this opening the other night. She's an artist and teaches at a school upstate somewhere, but she was in town and we bumped into each other. We go back a long way and she was talking to me about the big SNAKE OIL signs that I recently showed and how they reminded her of the big sculpture that I made maybe 10 years ago. We were in a show together out on Roosevelt Island. The show was of outdoor sculpture and the sight was under this cement parking garage. Some people Incorporated things like the cement support columns, that held the parking lot up, into their pieces. This woman hung a car off the ceiling and covered it with foam.
I remember when I went out there to look over the sight, it was the first time in my life I had ever set foot on Roosevelt Island. I was smoking back then and I remember needing some cigarettes and looking around for the familiar deli. Back then there were lots of these red corrugated awnings with flashing colored lights in front of every deli or bodega or newstand. Particularly in Brooklyn and Queens. I couldn't figure out where to get my cigarettes without the familiar flashing lights, so I ended up building one of these awnings, and hanging that from the ceiling.
I remember after I finally got it up there on the ceiling, I was back on the ground looking at it and a Roosevelt Islander was walking by and stopped to look at it with me. He said, "I moved out here onto this Island just to get away from that shit...."
Anyway- This woman whom I was talking to told me that she often uses our works in this venue when giving her lectures to students. She likes to tell of how when she set out to make her piece, she had worked up an intense proposal with lots of samples of materials and made a presentation for the curator to look at. She said that she spent hours on this. And that she also remembered that I had basically done a drawing in my notebook and tore it out and sent it to the curator with a brief note. Basically saying "Here." And that we both were recipients of the same reward. This was her long-winded explanation of how things can work in the Art World.
I told her that I have this theory. It goes like this: Every one's first show in New York City comes about because somebody else cancelled. Being an artist has a lot to do with luck. Being in the right place at the right time and being smart enough to take advantage when something opens up. She laughed and sort of agreed with me, although I could tell this all made her pretty uncomfortable. She was after all a planner. Maybe that is why she has a real job now and I am still floating around. I used to laugh at people like her for getting all tied down with jobs while I kept myself nimble and free, waiting to pounce when the opportunity came up. The only problem with my theory is that just because I have a theory, doesn't mean that I also have a strategy. And maybe I have kind of based a little to much of my plan on luck, since looking back I have to say that I am probably one of the luckiest people that I know... even though I would also have to say that at least half of my luck usually turns out to be bad.