Creating a career as an artist is not easy. It's not a job that you just wake up one morning and decide to pursue. It takes work. Hard work. The funniest thing about it is that you paint about 10% of the time -- the rest is all dedicated to building and maintaining a solid network of amazing people, creating a crumble proof foundation and running your business.
If I didn't have the support and know-how of the many amazing people I have in my life, I wouldn't be where I am today. Without their belief in me from Day One, their ability to see beyond my talent -- to see my willingness to work hard -- I would be too scared to put my work out there for all to see.
Being grateful for those who have helped me along the way is the most valuable lesson I have learned on this journey thus far. That is why I have started this project, #facesbehindthework -- because without them, I would be lost.
Barbara Nowak, owner and curator of Horizon Fine Art Gallery in Jackson Hole, WY, was the reason my art career became a reality. When I first met her at 18 years old, I was a doe-eyed high schooler dead set on going to art school and becoming a full time artist. With an art teacher on my side, I was sure I had it all figured out. I approached her with my 30x36 hand held portfolio and pulled out my school projects -- various watercolors and acrylics of wildlife, some landscape and figure paintings I had done and a few self portraits. I remember her face -- not impressed. But her words were kind, "come back when you have some work framed or on some gallery wrap canvas."
Instead, I convinced her to hire me for the summer. I came back to work every summer for about 4 years when I would return from college. I was 21 when I put about 4 paintings (on that gallery wrapped canvas she had requested) on the wall, and they sold within a month! All of them! I remember getting the voicemail when I was traveling down in Costa Rica. After hanging up the phone I took my journal, walked down to the beach and wrote that all I wanted was to become a full time artist -- and that now it seemed within reach. Over the years I worked my way through obstacles to make it work. And lordy, lordy, lordy were there obstacles. If I ever write my book, I will share those obstacles.
Aside from my work, Barbara's gallery has been and is home to some of the big names around Jackson Hole, the country and even the world. She is always the first to know about them because she has an eye for art. I remember working for her and hearing her clients talk about how her gallery was so well curated. Eclectic but not mismatched. Contemporary but traditional. Western but coastal. She has it all -- and very tasteful. She also throws a good party -- and art connoisseurs love a good party -- who doesn't?