Branded

I’ve been working on small watercolors lately, which seems to be all I can do for now. The healing process is going well. Just slowly. Some of the paintings I like, and some are just a’ight. Maybe they’ll grow on me. We’ll see. It happens. I wonder if that’s the same with other artists.

If only there was a magic bean I could take to make that shit go away.

Magic Bean, watercolor on Arches, 10 x 7 inches.

I wouldn’t much know about that anymore. The truth is I feel more and more isolated out here as far as any art community goes, but I know that is 99% my own fault. I could easily blame this on Covid, but I know myself too well. And while I really do wish myself the kind of person that likes to make a difference in my community, I just haven’t been the sort of person who likes to engage with others. I guess not anymore. Talking to one or two people at once is my limit, and I’m very picky about who those people are to boot. I have this crippling social anxiety. That’s the problem I guess

Being around people only makes me feel exhausted. Going to an art show or a powwow with other artists in person makes me feel crazy. I wind up crying on my way home, then I won’t get out of bed for a few days after that. In my head, I play back all the missed social opportunities I had as they passed me by in the awkward moments. I feel like a stranger. And I’m as never as laid back as I can sometimes pull off. I can’t be bothered with small talk. It irritates me. I’m pretty sure I’m on the spectrum.

Yesterday I came upon a couple of articles written by an artist I know who lives out here in Joshua Tree. The article opened up a whole world of goings-on for contemporary artists who get together and talk about their work in the park once a month. Artists I respect but doubt they know who I am. These are desert artists, many are transplants from LA. All I keep thinking is how nice it would be to join their “club,” but on the other hand, I feel petrified. Even if I was welcome, I don’t know if I would be able to contribute much of anything.

I used to be on art committees in the past. I once tried to get my artist co-op to do short residences in the JT National Park. I got all the logistics arranged, which wasn’t easy to do with the park bureaucracy and the park ranger. It was a ton of work. In the end, the artist membership wasn’t into it. They weren’t interested. They thought it was dumb. This was almost 20 years ago when JT wasn’t such a hip and trendy thing to do. I guess people didn’t recognize the inspiration the high desert had back then.

From that, and other things that have fallen through, I guess I got slowly beat down about wanting to be part of a “community.” I got butt hurt. I think people mean to be supportive but wind up saying things by accident. I guess they don’t realize how badly they can affect you. But ya gotta roll with the punches.

I have always wanted to help other artists. But some of the things I’ve tried to put together to help others wind up biting me. I keep doing it anyway though.

Another little watercolor:

Turn of the Season, Watercolor on Arches, 10 x 7 inches.

Now I’m at a place, where I’m convinced I am definitely below all these hipster artists on Instagram with their fancy high studio ceilings and workspaces, giant canvases, and industrious work ethics. Seems these artists are able to churn out two or three massive paintings a week. They also manage to get 1000+ likes on each thing they post. I’m lucky to fit a couple of hours of painting time into my life a day. I usually feel sick and fatigued (lately). From where I site, it seems like everyone is 18 and smoking crack.

It makes me feel fucking old. I used to be crazy busy in my 20 and 30s. Even my 40s. But I guess I never felt like I was doing enough. I did a lot more than most of these Instagrammers I see now. Maybe I burned out? Because now when I look at everyone, it gives me a heart-attack. I honestly don’t think I could have kept it going like that forever. I was still going strong up to the moment I got dropped from my gallery in 2015. I felt that was during my most ambitious path/point in life. It was like nothing was going to stop me then, and I’d never been so happy with my art too. Then, pow!

I only takes one person to chop you off at the knees. It was like I’d been hearing a cash register ringing noise ring over and over in my head, and then suddenly the words, “You’re just not cuttin’ it anymore Babe.” Words that will reeled in my head for a good long year.

I dove into my book after that. I also really disassociated. I could blame that on digging into the literal content of the book, facing so many awful memories, or just the residual of the gallery rejection. Rejection can bring up a lot. I feel like I’ve been spaced out ever since then, as if I’m on drugs.

All that being said, and with so much time on my hands lately, I’ve been doing a lot thinking about my given name, “Carol.”– how I’ve never liked it. (How’s that for switching gears?) I mean, I never have liked it. And look what my name has come to mean? Bupkiss. No one knows who I am anyway. Who and what does Carol mean? A song? A poem? Der. That sounds cheesy to me.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve struggled with my name my whole life and how feminine it sounds. It’s always reminded me of a 1950s housewife’s name. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I had the male spelling: Carroll, but that still isn’t my favorite name in the world. It just would have been better to live that way. Having a man’s name would have at least given me more power. I would have been a lot less afraid of stupid things in life. That’s for sure.

For a couple of months now, I’ve liked the name Adin, pronounced ay-den. The Hebrew spelling is Adin, the Gaelic spelling is Aiden. Adin Es.

Ever since Hannah changed her name (though it’s not yet fully legalized), I’ve been inspired. I’ve thought about doing it too! How hard could it be? Well, it’s complicated. And I probably won’t do it because I feel I’ve forever branded myself as “Carol Es.” Whatever that means. Maybe Carol really means bumbling fool.

I have been Carol Es my entire life–the drummer and the artist. It’s my identity. I feel I’ve made a name for myself. Maybe it’s not a vast empire–not by any stretch of the imagination–but I’ve builtĀ something. Even if it’s teeny tiny.

Even transitioning over time seems impossible. I keep thinking, what about the 1000+ paintings I’ve signed? What will they mean? Will they lose their power, meaning, or value? What about the people who invested in me/my name ?

There’s a huge part of me that’s attached to the Carol Es identity. I changed my name to this when I was a kid. Hardly a teenager, and it was a profound statement for me then (and still is). It was a very Malcolm X-inspired thing to do–a way to claim my independence. It was how I would intend to build my world–the world that would spit in the face of my family. It represented the little confidence I had hiding inside of me. It still represents that.

I also have the most bitchen letterpressed business cards you have ever seen. Seriously. They are printed on the backs of cereal boxes. I absolutely love them. They all say “Carol Es” in big, bold letters. Though, they also have an antique image of a little girl on them. She is painting on an easel. That’s concerning now. Ha. I have a zillion of these business cards and they were not cheap to make or easy to come by. What would I do with them? I can’t just throw them away!

But it’s not really about the business cards. And it’s not exactly that my past paintings are all signed by Carol Es. Nor is it my identity so much. Believe it or not, it’s my internet presence. That might sound silly, but that’s a big fucking deal to me. I’ve been building upon my internet presence for a very long time. It is also my only real connection to the world since I have no real social skills to act on as a real human being.

Back in the earlier days of the internet, I wasn’t able to get the caroles.com domain. I was a few months too late. Back then, domains were about $100. That was a lot of money for me then. I’d been saving for it, and when I finally had the money, it was gone. Taken my some woman named carol with a flower store, so I bought esart.com instead. That will still work no matter what I change my name to, so at least that’s reassuring.

Ironically, when I came to buy the hosting for the domain, the order wound up on Hannah’s desk at Affinity Hosting. That was where she worked at the time. I’d been talking to her via email over that last year and had no idea she worked there. Hell, I didn’t even know she had a job. It was nothing short of synchronicity. It was just one more kismet that made it seem like we were meant to be.

Anyway, I’ve had that domain for more than twenty years now. I will always keep it. It will be relevant whether I change my name or not. But there’s another artist that owns adines.com. Though, his name is Adi Nes. I’m sure he wouldn’t sell it to me, especially for anything I could afford, but it would sure be cool to have it. That is…if I ever get the confidence to change my name to Adin.

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