Once an artist has put his final touches on a piece of art he is faced with a choice, to add it to the pile in the basement or offer it up as an important piece of art. Neither of these come naturally for a creative artist.
Certainly there are those who can go deep into the creative process completely immersed in their art and emerge transformed into a marketing giant. For these lucky folks the high from their success carries over to the final step of the creative process, that of sharing their work..
For the rest of us who create art, music, poetry, etc. we find our comfort zone is limited to the first stages of the creative process. For us this is where the excitement lies. The process can be tortuous, but the final result can elevate one to satisfying heights. Stepping back and reveling in this grand moment of success is often short lived. The reality of what you do with your creation is upon an artist much too fast. Fortunately there is often someone to partner with artists to help get them through this potentially ego busting exposure of their newborn creation.
Marketing, promoting, and encouraging art is an art in itself. I have found that those who bring good art forward have a passion for art and an understanding of the difficult.process. The challenge for the artist is to find that person or organization.
One day I found that I had run out of room for all the canvases that I had accumulated and found that I sure could use some refunding for my life. I started to look for a gallery to peddle my art. I had reason to be in Washington DC, Chicago, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles,Taos and Carmel over some time and made a point of visiting as many galleries as I could. I found some really well curated galleries but none were receptive because I was unknown and didn’t fit the current market as they saw it. I took solace in that this put me in the same league as Van Gogh and early jazz pioneers.
It is refreshing to come upon those whose interests go beyond what’s selling or being played in New York.
Here are a few:
COSIMA de’ MEDICI
In 1537 the young Cosimo de’ Medici (1519–1574) was plucked from relative obscurity in the Tuscan countryside to lead Florence. He elevated himself to absolute ruler of Florence. By 1569, when Cosimo convinced Pope Pius V (1504–1572) to bestow on him the title of Grand Duke of Tuscany, he had expanded his totalitarian rule throughout the Tuscan territories, sometimes violently seizing control of neighboring cities.
Cosima had a lot of power to get things done, but fortunately Cosimo also had a wide-ranging intellect, including a deeply rooted interest in art and literature and a keen fascination with botany, chemistry, and zoology. He became the prototype of the arts patron. His family’s patronage of the arts rather than their overbearing power has left a glorious legacy.
LORENZO de’ MEDICI
Lorenzo was the grandson of Cosima de’ Medici who became the most powerful and enthusiastic patron of the Renaissance.
He was a magnate, diplomat, politician and patron of scholars, artists and poets. He is well known for his contribution to the art world by sponsoring artists such as Botticelli and Michelangelo
Michelangelo was one of many artists whom the world can thank the de’ Medici family for. Because of their support Florence became known for its art, just as Detroit continues to be known for its music thanks to the contributions of Gretchen Valade.
Without Lorenzo’s help Michelangelo probably would have ended up selling miniature frescoes in a square in Florence. The large hunk of marble that is David would be a large piece of marble in the quarry.
Michelangelo’s works from this period continued to influence sculptors and painters throughout the late Renaissance and Baroque eras, all thanks to the passion that the de’Medici family had for art.
Closer to home are two friends that have given so many artists the help that they needed when they needed it. They are also a lot nicer than the folks the Renaissance artists had to deal with.
Much gentler than the sometimes ruthless de’ Medicis, Gretchen has become Detroit’s angel for jazz and has shared Detroit’s jazz artistry with the world.
Out of her passion for jazz she has successfully promoted our local artists and also offered them her friendship. She has always had an unconditional love for the music and a deep empathy for the artist. She has helped Detroit jazz to maintain its role in the growth of jazz. She has been the ultimate partner for jazz musicians especially when they needed a lift.
Detroit is a city that prides itself on being resilient. We are the comeback city. We get knocked down, and we get back up. We need some help sometimes. We look for a champion to appear. Sometimes we get lucky and one of our own steps up. They tell us we count and that we are special. They get strong when the weak walk away.
In 2005 a champion appeared. Gretchen Valade said “PHOOEY” to the people that thought Detroit was dying. She saw the vibrant talent in the Detroit jazz community and she knew that the people of Detroit have their hopes permanently entangled in the city’s music. She was all over this task. How lucky that it was someone of Gretchen’s integrity who took charge. She was determined to keep the Detroit Jazz Festival distinctively Detroit’s. Today it remains free for all to enjoy and is celebrated around the world as a symbol of the best side of Detroit’s character.
She made me aware that the festival doesn’t just happen. It takes planning, hard work, attention to details and oversight. Not just casual oversight but oversight that comes with purpose and a respect for the music and the people of Detroit.
She gets things done with grace and authority. The festival is the result of the right people doing their best to provide Detroit music lovers the best free Jazz festival in the world.
When Gretchen saved the Festival she was just getting started. She has continued to be the jazz artist’s best friend.
My wife and I just returned from France where we accompanied J.C. Mathes on a tour of the Rhone Valley vineyards whose wines he imported.
In the spring of 1992 I heard about this clever U of M professor who had worked out a way to travel to the south of France, sip wine, enjoy the good life and get paid for it. He eventually turned his avocation to find the best local wines into a full fledged wine importing business, J et R Selections
The winemakers have a personal relationship with the land and ask for the same personal attention when doing business. J.C. learned to be one with his growers. He was always a friend first because that was what counted. In a place where nature can steal away your season of hard work with an ill timed rainstorm at harvest time, friendships and mutual support are essential.
This spring when we visited J.C.’s friends they brought up their personal stories of meeting and working with a different kind of man. A partner that never got involved with their wines but rather tried to better understand them . They were never asked to compromise to appeal to an audience. They got respect from J.C. for their process of creating their wine and with J.C.’s help their wine has been shared by many in the form that these wine artists intended.
It was a great trip. It revealed to us what a life of sharing and passion looks like.
THIS WEEK AT THE DIRTY DOG
This week at the Dirty Dog will be two Detroit musicians who have received a gentle hand up from their friend Gretchen Valade.
Scott is a major talent who was given a chance to be one of the first to play the Dirty Dog. Every time he has played the Dog he has given back for the opportunity he was given. Scott, as usual, will surround himself with other remarkable players.
Dave has so much talent that he probably could play anywhere in the world, playing any kind of music. Fortunately for his myriad of fans he will return to the Dirty Dog and show his appreciation for the support they have given him.