Brenda Edwards



Because I have a new show up I’ve heard a question a lot recently, and that is: Is there some work you don’t want to give up? The answer to that question is generally, no… I’ve thought about that response and how callous it might seem to others (like nothing is sacred), so I decided to address it in a blog. I have a lot of art in my house, as you can imagine. There are some pieces from a long time ago in my life, and they have come to be a part of me. For example, the studio has a group of 6 paintings that I will probably never sell (maybe), and that is because they were set pieces for a play that I wrote. I painted them as the character in the play would have painted them, not as I would have. In that way, they are not really my work, and they are abstract so they don’t conflict with my current work, but serve more as a colorful backdrop to my daily view. They also provide soundproofing for the studio.

I have also carried and stored pieces from my very first solo art show for many, many years. This is because they were never for sale. They date back to about 1979 and they showed first in the Women’s Center Gallery in downtown Phoenix, now defunct, and then they were shown in the West Wing Gallery of the Arizona State Capitol Building. It was a statement show – about feminism and much more, and it included written content with each piece. A friend of mine got me the show at the State Capitol. A curator for the space, she said she’d heard about the show and was very interested in rocking the capitol with some controversial art. I said, “Really? Do you know what this show is about?”, and she said, “I don’t want to know, because if I don’t know, they can’t blame me.” What was perfectly acceptable at the Women’s Center Gallery, was probably NOT at the State Capitol, and I did know that.

But, I was young enough to believe this was fate, my God, it was my OPUS and it was going to be in the State Capitol! The first day was like a dream. The building was abuzz… everyone was being told to run out and look at the show. One woman was asking me if I would consider teaching art classes to young students and the Capitol Art Director came out and shook my hand and said, “Thank you! I can’t believe you’ve done this!” (he’d already read the show). And then the message began to sink in – the reading material took some time to absorb. The Capitol, bless their smart hearts, never chose to pull the show down, they were not going to be accused of censorship. I have to say, I was a bit notorious for some time because of that show. And I learned from that.

First, never say you will never sell a painting, because then you will have to carry it with you for the rest of your life – and life turns out to be quite a long time, if never long enough. Second, never predict your future, because you will most likely not be right. Third, people don’t really want to know what you’re thinking. Fourth, you will pay greatly for mixing politics with art, so you’d better be ready when you do so. And finally, never think that you have done your best work. Because you haven’t. I don’t care how old you are.

And that is why I don’t get too attached to my art. I’ll most likely make more. The piece featured on this post is from the Capitol show. Please forgive the quality of the image – the original is tucked away and very hard to get at, and this is a shot of a 5 x 7 photograph of it taken a long time ago. It is a watercolor called, “Where Do the Children Play?”. Another painting from that show hangs in my house. It is one of my favorite paintings. And I really won’t ever sell it, or any of them. But I might one day give them away, who knows?