In art, there is no guide. How do you know what the next step is? I don’t (laughs). I don’t know. I may decide to do something totally different (than what I was doing) the creative process leads you where it leads you. But if you start selling work people know you for a certain type of work and people expect it, it’s sad but it is a reality. I like Picasso because he did so many styles. People ask me why I do so many styles, and I say if Picasso did it, why can’t I?
How do you feel about the fact that most pieces exhibited in contemporary art museums are often by artists already deceased? One artists told me once, they like you poor stupid and dead. That way they can manipulate your image. However, I think to be totally fair there are some museums and art centers dedicated to showing living artists. Two that come to mind are the Kohler in Sheboygan, and the Museum of Wisconsin Art, even the Milwaukee Art Museum. But when you talk about the Milwaukee Art Museum you’re talking about artists of a certain stature. I think the Kohler looks at what is out there.
What role does/ have art dealers, gallery owners, and the like played in your career? Actually a lot, for example some galleries have gotten my prices up. Some galleries show you to different audiences. Even collectors are important and play a role. It may determine how much money you get, but then it may not!
What do you feel is the best role for art criticism or the art critic to play? Do you think the art critic is more harmful or helpful? Number one I think the age of the art critic making an artist’s career is gone. I think the internet plays a part (in that). I think the art critic should know what they’re looking at, don’t make crazy comparisons. I once told a critic she didn’t know what she was talking about, George McCormick was compared to Betye Saar and his work wasn’t like hers at all. Here in Milwaukee (often people) don’t know what they’re talking about and they don’t understand it.
Do you collect any art work? Who? Yes I do. I have Annie Gerich, Michael Banks, I have a small Sheron Kerry-Harlan, Jimmy Lee Sudduth…I have a bunch of people, George McCormick, bunch of people.
Do you collect any other items? Yeah, teapots, dolls, suitcases. I like a bunch of stuff. Lamps, I have a lamp fetish. A bunch of things.
Okay I have to ask, why suitcases? They have to be old suitcases, like suitcases from the 40’s, 50’s 60’s, they give me a sense of history. I think they’re more interesting than the suitcases now. I like old things. I collect old dresses too.
What advice would you give artists just beginning? First of all know who you are. Know who you are in your work. Don’t get caught up in what I call foolish art speak. Find someone who’s successful who’s doing what you’re doing. Learn the business of art, and understand when you’re being used. CHOOSE how you’re being used.