READ AT WOMEN'S SHOW II AT BULLET SPACE BY REGINA BARTKOFF
NOVEMBER 2, 1996
follow down the path of a painter is to want to dive into
the subconscious. To not know, to follow your instincts. You
follow down dreams, longings, yearnings, obsessions, passions
and you face the darkness of your own heart.
Using your blood and flesh, your guts and nerve endings while
working with a medium - oil paint - that is a mystery in itself,
that is alive and always changing and you can't get there
using your logic, and you can't plan how to get there by going
from A-B or from step 1 to step 2. Every
painting is a beginning and a journey into the unknown.
To be a painter is to be alone with your soul.
It is a calling out to your soul.
To get away from the pettiness of the dry afternoon of reality
where the chattering seizes.
Then you are free.
To feel the relentless passing of time, always.
It is an endless quest for truth and freedom.
It is to feel fully awake and alive...
for all of you out there who are artists, whether you are
a painter, a writer, actor, singer or musician, I must issue
you this warning:
Hold on to your dreams, like a pit bull holds on to his enemy's
throat, with your teeth all in, and don't let go...
Because if you are an artist - you are suspect - don't you
know? You're up to no good!
And the killer waits in the wings for you, smiling they will
come for you, and as they hug you, you will feel their sharp
knives go into your back.
And they come in many disguises, and you will not always recognize
them. It can start with your family or close friends when
you first have the audacity to tell them that you are an artist.
They will look up from their dinner plates and scream with
red faces that you cannot possibly call yourself an artist
because you make no money from it. But you continue on, because
you must. The die is cast. You've jumped in headfirst. This
is a way of life for you.
And if you're lucky, you may find 1 or 2 people who believe
And be on the look out and don't be shocked at what you're
accused of, because the artist's life is a way of life that
causes jealousy in the hearts of petty people.
You'll be called, lazy, crazy, immoral, amoral, unmoral, selfish,
not political enough, not communal enough, antisocial, subversive,
degenerate, even bourgeois! But what it really means is that
you haven't given up the ghost. And you refuse to apologize
for liking to be alive, and you refuse to walk around with
your head bowed. You feel the pulse of life beating in your
VAN GOGH said: "Mauve takes it amiss that I said,
"I am an
artist." Which I won't take back, because its self-evident
that what that word implies is looking for something all the
time without ever finding it in full. It is the very opposite
of saying, "I know all about it, I've already found it"
As far as I am concerned, the word means, "I am looking,
I am hunting for it, I am deeply involved."
You put your own self on trial; you ask yourself enough questions
to hang yourself. You don't need the petty tyrants to point
their fingers at you. Ignore them, and if you must, break
those fingers off and stuff them down their throats. That
should stop their wagging tongues.
feel the spark of creativity running through you, to be inspired
is something that is hard to explain. I can only say you are
very awake, and very alive, and it is all happening in the
moment. And the muse, she comes and goes. A lot of times the
work goes slow and it is hard and you'll want to throw your
brushes down in despair...but that is when you have to become
the work horse and fight your way through, because as in the
last words on painting of that great painter, Frances Bacon,
"A painter should be painting."
on to this way of life because it is one of great mystery
strong your heart
give up the fight!"
Regina Bartkoff was born and raised in New York City, the
daughter of a subway motorman.