My dad is currently exhibiting several pieces of his artwork at his college’s faculty show.
They’re still hanging as I write this, but I went to see them at the opening a couple weeks ago. Seeing the artwork hanging against those stark white walls always gives me a little thrill.
Watching people wandering around the gallery, stopping in front of a piece, reading the small plaque to the side–it’s something I’ve seen over and over since childhood, but I still enjoy watching it.
I still enjoy doing it myself.
A Gallery Of My Own
It got me thinking about where I want my own work to end up. Right now my writing is mostly on notebook pages and in my head. Not exactly a well-known gallery.
I often wonder whether I should put my own work online. It seems like the thing to do. But the internet isn’t a pristine, white gallery waiting for my work to hang and people to walk around quietly.
I grew up in a household dominated by books, newspapers, and magazines. It’s hard for me to see a blog or a site like Medium as an appropriate place to put my ideas and opinions.
To me, it looks like a crowded, howling thing — a gallery packed with a mass of shouting people all vying for attention. As soon as I write something I want to post, I get indecisive about adding my voice to the millions already out there. I tend to put it off and forget about it.
A Note From The Past
A few weeks ago my dad got an email from a friend he hadn’t seen in quite awhile. The friend was emailing on behalf of mutual friend of theirs who lived in Chicago. It had been even longer since my dad had seen this mutual friend. Long enough that neither of them had an email address, or even a phone number, to get in touch.
Years ago he had given this friend in Chicago a print he had made, titled Demons on the Bus. At the time, my dad was taking the bus to work at a job he hated. Hence, demons on the bus.
The print shows a man sitting on the bus, surrounded by a group of wild demons inspired by the likes of Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and Albrecht Dürer. One of them is pulling the man’s hair. He’s in a pretty unhappy state.
Album Cover Fame
This was part of a series of prints that my dad did while he and my mom lived out in Washington state.
The print is decades old now. It’s from another time in his life. He honestly couldn’t even remember the print when his friend first emailed him about it. They had to send him a photo of it to jog his memory.
But his buddy in Chicago had formed a band, and they were producing an album. They wanted to know if they could use his print as their album cover. He thought it was pretty funny, but he agreed to it.
My dad was a little wistful about those prints. He has no idea where most of them are at this point. He told me that he wishes he could see them now.
What’s There To Worry About?
That got me thinking again about my own work. I’m normally reluctant to publish it in places like Medium, or anywhere online, really, because I don’t think a lot of it is worth publishing. I like to reflect on it on my own. But I’m also a little scared. Scared that I’ll look back at it and just shake my head.
“This is terrible.”
I mean, that’s how I look back at plenty of the things I’ve written from just a few years ago. Wincingly. Do I really want all that online for everyone to see, hanging in a gallery that never closes?
Probably not. I don’t think there’s much that I have to say or write about that I’ll think is brilliant when I come back to read it in 20 years. I’m sure my dad doesn’t look at those prints as the height of his artistic abilities.
Looking Back and Smiling
But he does wish that he could look at them now. And there is only one way to get better at something. By doing it. Over and over. And hopefully, I will look back at my writing and wince a little. Because that will mean I’ve gotten better. I’ve grown.
And maybe I won’t just wince, but I’ll also feel a little bit of pride, or take an interest in the person I was at that point in time. So for better or for worse, I’m jumping in. Week by week, piece by piece. I’ll have some fun with it.
I don’t know what I’ll think about it a decade or two from now, but I do know what will happen if I don’t put it out there. I won’t think about it at all.