I've been thinking a lot lately about what it takes to be an artist in terms of creating a work and then sending it out into the world. My amazingly talented friend just completed a beautiful project designed to let ten random subjects know they were noticed in this life. She devoted endless hours and her personal resources to painting full size oil paintings of people she encountered in her daily life. Eight of the ten portraits landed in the hands of the subjects. The last two portraits remaining on the streets where she placed them did not.
In the days before these portraits disappeared I desperately wanted to protect them for her and their intended recipients, first from weather and then from people who wanted them for themselves. Another talented friend and I were prepared to pull a heist ourselves to save them from a relentless rain. We let it ride after meeting up with the artist. We wanted to let the project be seen by passersby. We let go, a little bit.
I have had a hard time letting go. This project and these last two paintings in particular moved me. They moved my family. My little girl ran her hands across the thick paint of a portrait of a surveyor, she kissed the bottom edge. I've spent the past few days walking my neighborhood with eyes wide, searching, hoping that one of the homeless people I know has squirreled the treasure away.
If we linger too long on the life of art after its creation we are choking out the art that is waiting to be created.