Art at Work Linda Bensley, Photographer
It’s rare that my creative act allows my ego to think in terms of masterpieces. I say this because I look at my canvases as my children. If I am arrogant about my children, then how can I love them with a father’s heart; how can I sell them without anguish? How can I exist without being humbled by the spontaneous visionary gifts in my art that makes all my pigment have some sense of soul?
It’s not really important that Saudade be proclaimed to the world as a masterpiece. If it satisfies a deep feeling in my spirit, then I know I have accomplished a part of my creative soul that was satisfactory. And to call it a success; well, if while looking at it one of my viewers has tears in her eyes…it has to be executed to a passionate depth to bring that kind of heartfelt emotion; and that’s good enough for me. Saudade does not have to be the rage of the day; it just needs to make a little splash in pigment, and the ripples that come from this will take care of the rest of any of what my future viewers see in it.
It’s not my ambition to judge my work whether it ever becomes a masterpiece or not. Without a sense of humility towards my work, without a sense of forty-six years as an artist; and still working as a laborer for my daily bread and a roof over our heads-how can I afford anything but humility?
The Big Sky of the plains has been good to me. My Montana prairie home gives me my perspective as an artist: “It is better to be unknown in sagebrush and happy, than to be known in neon and sad.”
I know my work has dramatic power. I know it will make me a living if I live long enough. But the key here is not how much money my work will make. It’s my involvement with translating life into beauty with sweat that keeps me alive creatively, that keeps me young, and that keeps me before the public eye because those people who read my poetry, and view my canvases are truly my people. I don’t do anything in the abstract when it comes to how I feel. I’m inspired by the man behind the bullfight barricade. I’m indebted to real people like Eugénia Botelho who has something simple but profound to offer our culture. I owe not one brush stroke to my artistic life in regards to any hint of fame attached to my name because I have to stand on my reputation; what I have given to my art and what others have received. I owe it entirely to people who inspire me not only to fulfill my gifts, but also to rub off onto me the depths of their own humility. If I have one reward coming from what I have given in my art, let it be in this one solitary poetry line of mine: “If I die without mercy, put my tombstone under the ground.”
P.O. Box 249, Big Timber, Montana 59011