I suppose there are many different reasons why artists stay here; the wrong reason would be that it is safe. Define safe….well, here safe means not much competition or risk. These would be bad reasons. Someone asked me if Picasso would have made it if he had been in Kansas. Well, he wouldn’t have been Picasso. There would have been an acute lack of cafe intellectuals to hang with. Nowadays someone in Kansas or Indiana could read Flash magazine or another art publication and see what is happening in lots of places. But that is not as good as talking and working with other artists and getting out of town and out of state once in a while.
The biggest boost I got was from going back to school and getting an M.F.A. This gave me a chance to really work with other artists. My fellow students were strong, dedicated people, and I learned a lot from them.
Back to the title, artists stay here for some good reasons. Grant Wood came home to Iowa after Paris. His paintings of rural Iowa people and places and his gumption owe a lot to him leaving. There is something about Kansas, Iowa and Indiana that stays with some people who happen to be artists. Whatever that thing is, it fosters an eye that looks harder, and eye that has a grin, something that doesn’t let you take yourself too seriously, and believe me, that it as very good thing.
I stay in Indiana because I can be myself here. I live in a very rural area, the nearest Starbucks 30 miles away, the nearest art museum 50 miles away. I can visit, but I find I can grow and make art that is true for me right here in the middle of farm country. Like I said to someone once, “If we are so creative why can’t we solve the problems in our lives as well as ones on canvas?” In short, a challenge is good. Living in Indiana for an artist is a big challenge, but that is a good thing.