The Creative Epiphany – Not Quite Sophie’s Choice


This post should be sub-titled, “Moving, Part II” since it is another installment about the process of changing my residence from northern CA to Denver. In a deeper sense it is about choices in general – difficult choices – and the agony of making them. Did you see the film “Sophie’s Choice”? If you did, you remember the painful circumstances and how her impossible choice was made. My recent choices cannot compare with hers, but still they are weighing rather heavily on my shoulders.

It seems to me there is seldom a clear-cut easy decision about life’s pivotal transitions, because the pros and cons often seem almost equally balanced. That’s one of life’s little tricks when life is being a bitch – offering two alternatives that for all practical purposes might each work out just fine…or not. Which is which? After some thought the pros flip to being cons and then a day or so passes and they flop back again. Would it really matter what your decision is, you wonder? I believe the bottom line has to be to ask yourself which alternative might haunt you the longest and forever be second-guessed. Wouldn’t  just one  clear choice make you unquestionably more happy? Either way…you have to live with your decision for a long time. Perhaps you need a third choice. A compromise. There was no compromise for Sophie.

As an artist I consider my art collection my most precious group possession – each and every piece of it. I own a modest assortment of things that have been carefully selected down through the years based upon what was always my  emotional reaction to that piece. The collection includes just one piece that my gifted father created, some art by prominent artists I admired and could afford, some art gifted to me, and a lot of my own art – images I just can’t part with, which I would never sell. My own art is the art that is the problem, of course. I don’t want to be an art hoarder – a wacko, wild-haired artist who keeps producing paintings like cats keep multiplying, and then one fine day I don’t have room to sit down and I can’t even locate my bed. There is art crap everywhere and the neighbors are talking. They swear my art has begun to smell; paint fumes fill the house.

Most artists have done pieces that feel like multiple umbilical cords to their soul – it’s not uncommon. Your own art carries great significance because it chronicles your life – you the artist can recall exactly what you were about when you worked on it. Much is recalled to you in the character of each image. So there you have the issue – leaving behind some of your own best work, your most revealing work, your “art journal”, does not happen without a struggle. Hanging on to your own art is absolutely an exercise in honoring your life and times – egocentric to be sure. But all the “greats” – the true masters – did it too. After their deaths the families often reveal hundreds of paintings and sketches squirreled away in some attic or barn. And aren’t we glad to see what is in those stacks of stuff? Hell yes we are. But I am not a master.

Whether you sell it at a good price or too quickly and maybe even dirt cheap for the sake of expediency, or flat give it away to admirers who are also friends and collectors or donate it to charity, there are choices that need to be made. Gut wrenching choices. This or that. Too many to move…too few to keep…which ones will make the cut? The train is waiting at the proverbial station. Hurry up and make a choice. If you can’t get all your baggage on the train it will leave without you.