With Age Comes Experience

Brian J. Sullivan

With age comes experience; at least I would hope. For instance, I've learned to poke a sweet potato several times before I put it into the microwave oven. It’s a small thing, but forget to do it and you will be picking orange shrapnel from the inside of your microwave oven. Now if I could only remember to do it, I'd be all set!

Another advantage of age is I can wear the same size clothes I've been wearing for the last 25–30 years; even though styles have changed, I have not. But it’s the little things that make the difference.

As I get older, I grow more skeptical unless I see or hear something myself. I basically trust people and believe what I am told. When I drive my car I assume that the speedometer is accurate and in fact I am driving the stated speed showing on the speedometer.

When I cut a mat board and use a ruler to measure the window size, I again assume it is correct and simply cut the mat. Then something happened that changed me for life. I saw an exhibition with three rulers all measuring three feet. The problem was each one of them was a different length! It forever changed my beliefs, perceptions, and trust. What is real and what is not? I could see all three rulers but how do I know which one is in fact accurate, if any? Or for that matter, what is the standard of measurement used to compare and calibrate all the other rulers? Is it objective or subjective?

Art fairs and ratings are like rulers. I can read all the information from the fair promoter, the rating books, the reviewers, and that from fellow artist. In addition, I may have been personally at many of the fairs. But the more I think I know, the less I find I really know. Each person's perceptions and experiences are different, even if they are right next to us at an art fair.

Sometimes I feel like I'm back at the three ruler exhibition, more confused and not knowing what to believe anymore. Maybe you have been to some of these shows. Your friends may be selling their work like hot cakes and you can't make dinner money. The promoter says one thing but you experience something totally different.

Damn that three ruler exhibition! If it was not for it, I would simply believe that when a fair promoter says attendance is 600,000 I would believe it. Or what about art fairs which are unofficially "closed" to new artists, but they continue to promote and accept artists' $35 application fee year after year knowing there are no spaces available.

Now I question everything. As for three foot rulers, I use them to hold my tomato plants up. I poke my potatoes before I put them in the microwave oven, and my 60s outfits are back in style.