Dear Harry Thompson,
Boy did you ever blow a big beautiful bubble of light into my world today. I have never met you. I have no idea where you live or how you became aware of my art works.
Yet you nominated me for the Catherine Doctorow Prize for Contemporary Painting, a national painting prize that recognizes exceptional artists in the United States. That’s what the e-mail said that came from Utah Contemporary Museum of Art.
I had to put my glasses on and look harder. “Is this for real?” I asked myself. Maybe it’s a phishing scheme. I looked up Utah MOCA. I looked up the people who sent the e-mail. Yep, they’re there. I replied to the e-mail asking them to verify this nomination. They replied immediately writing that yes, Harry Thompson had nominated me for the award and I needed to send in images of my work, curriculum vitae, reviews, news clips about my work. You bet I’m going to do it. Except for the last part. You see, I live in an area where there are few if any, bonafide art galleries are willing to let me in. And a local artist association that I thought of joining a few months ago wrote me that I was not professional enough to enter their ranks.
I’ve lived in an art desert and prisoner of my own psychological making for several years. South Dakota, state of very little average income per person doesn’t lend itself well to showing work of contemporary or emerging artists, or any artists for that matter. Neither does northwest Nebraska where I lived prior to Hermosa, SD. We have some places that show original art, and those places are usually stores catering to tourists and have very particular and mostly traditional views of art that they are willing to show and sell.
So this letter, as a heartfelt essay on why I create and what I’m creating will have to do for a while. Is it a long shot that I will win this award? Hell yes it is. But to know that some art lover out there somewhere saw my creations and felt I was worthy, to me that is winning in itself.
So at age 50, as some of you know who have been following this page, blog, works, from the beginning know, I took stock of my life and decided that I had to get back to myself. And I AM AN ARTIST. I chose my focus. When I looked back at years of my art works I saw it was there all along. All I had to do was become super aware of it myself.
I’ve been earning a living as a mental health counselor. Hardly a day went by that I didn’t urge people to be true to themselves. Then I finally saw that I must put my money where my mouth was. And there was no looking back. Across the road, the roping nights and rodeos go on. The karaoke in the Trails West Saloon continue, and one artist chasing her dream and destiny paints in her spare bedroom of her mobile home. Queen of the Walnut Grove Trailer Park.
Sincerely and With the Greatest Respect and Gratitude,
Dede Farrar, M.F.A.