Re: J. & J.

Nourishment from Debra Brehmer.

Several people from yesterday’s Achievement Award event at MOWA asked if I’d post the acceptance speech I gave for Shimon and Lindemann’s award. It wasn’t really a speech, just a Top Ten list of what I’ve learned from being their friend and gallery dealer. It was actually a Top Seventeen.

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“What does it really mean to ‘achieve?’ With a nod to David Letterman’s top ten lists, here are my top 17 important life lessons I’ve been fortunate to absorb through my friendship and business relationship with J. Shimon and J. Lindemann.

1. I’ve learned from them firsthand that persistence and faith in your ideas and vision are the essential ingredients in an art career. They have had a 30 year career of steady, continuous work. It took 25 of those years for the market, museums, and collectors to fully respond.

2. Organization and professionalism, ‘taking care,’ paying attention to details, loving the details… in every aspect of any undertaking these have profound repercussions. It is not just good business practice. This care and focus that one applies to every task, from the large and conceptual to the cleaning the glass for the frames, shows up in multiple sparkling ways and sets the right tone for any serious endeavor. It means something. It shows you care. It is a strangely undervalued and concealed aspect of love.

3. Kindness can and should be at the core of our existence, often expressed in the simplest of means, which is the sincere use of ‘thank you.’ Of course you must really mean it, but it goes a long way. And I’ve also learned that toughness, exactitude, and high standards can indeed coexist with kindness.

4. They taught me to value the people in our lives, warts and all. To make them part of your family. To extend love to them. It will enrich their lives and your own.

5. They have taught me what living your life in the art world really means, at its most essential core: it means you have chosen to stay connected, to stay thoughtful and reflective, and that you will take on the large challenge of processing what you see and experience in life… slowing down your contact with where you are and what you are. Making art is a way of noticing and noting, of getting more out of life, via awareness.

6. They taught me to never undervalue the ‘familiar.’ I complain about how many times I’ve driven up Oakland Avenue to Pick ‘n Save over the past 20 years. It’s so easy not to value that, to be completely blind to the amount of content, information and weirdness in those seven blocks. The familiar becomes mundane only when we allow ourselves to become numb.

7. Stay connected to the handmade, the quiet time. Focus and process, sit at your desk and draw a picture or write about your day. And listen to music or make music.

8. Be sure to balance your life by getting out of the art world and into nature. Grow things. Connect with the earth. Feel and appreciate a sunny day on the farm. Applaud when it rains just enough. Celebrate when the apple tree blossoms.

9. J. and J. have reinforced my already instinctive desire to be aware of history. Take a long glance backward to fully understand where we are now. Be sure never to feel like we are somehow more special than what came before. Look at history to remind ourselves that we are part of a continuum. And that the history of humanity is actually very short. One Million Years is 3 Seconds: that was the title of a show they did at the Wristen at Lawrence University in 2008. It was about “four older Wisconsin men who avoided the homogeneity of American consumer culture.” We truly cannot understand anything about our current lives if we don’t think about history.

10. To value the ‘elders.’ This relates to number 9. With the fire and impetuousness of youth, we move fast, all the time. People who are old and settled, who have found certain comforts in where they are and how they have lived, are like engrossing novels. Find good friends from other generations, both younger and older.

11. Never trade old friends for what seems like new more powerful ones.

12. Know, as securely as possible, that the work you do, if done with earnest intention and thought, is its own reward, regardless of public recognition or sales.

13. Believe in the value of being human and try not to fear the pain.

14. Send handwritten postcards to friends and acquaintances, and not just for birthdays and holidays. Enrich your snail mail life while we still have this antiquated system of hand delivery. Marvel over it. It is so retrograde and so the opposite of how we do things today. Allow your own handwriting to be an intimate ‘hello.’

15. And related to Number 14, remember the notion of a ‘parlor,’ a place to sit, sip a drink, and converse with friends. A parlor, as defined in the dictionary is: a room for the reception and entertainment of visitors to one’s home; In Latin it is called a locutorium. ‘Locu’ meaning to talk. ‘Torium’ is a place. The civility of an unrushed conversation is a beautiful thing. I’ve had many with J. and J.

16. And almost last, and perhaps the most profound J. and J. inspiration of all is that wherever you are, is the place you are. Don’t waste your time wishing you were somewhere else or the conditions were somehow different. Accept the good and bad of the place and love it like an ugly puppy.

17. And last, the most simple but most important and difficult thing to remember: we won’t have each other forever. Not even in a photograph.”

Also from Ms. Brehmer: http://portraitsocietygallery.com/2015/05/24/wis-con-sin/

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