Rogue Buddhism offers a unique look into the world of art via artist, curator, gallery owner and collector Nicholas Harper. Along with offering a rare peek into gallery life via his Minneapolis art gallery, The Rogue Buddha, (now in its 20th year) Harper shares stories about his own art, the art he collects and the artists he exhibits. In addition, Harper shares his personal perspective on topics concerning the arts in general.
“I bleed Art.” That may not be literal. But then again, perhaps it isn’t just hyperbole either as art certainly runs through my veins. This hasn’t always been an easy reality. That old cliché of the starving artist is something that I know intimately. I also know what it’s like to have an exhibit that no one shows up to or where no one buys a single piece of art. I also know what it feels like to be laughed out of a gallery when attempting to show my portfolio, at one time a collection of Polaroid’s of my art leaning against my 1974 candy apple green VW (dune buggy wheels and spoiler, also in the photo). I also know what it’s like being kicked out of an art studio co-op.
Then I opened my own gallery. With the opening of said gallery I learned what it was like to become even poorer than I was when I was just a struggling starving artist. I also learned how to recover from exhibits that bombed. I learned how to deal with negative press and I learned how to go into debt and worry when an economic recession devastated any momentum that I had built up over the years.
I also know what it’s like going to a pristine, and dare I say, sterile art gallery and feeling like a fish out of water and thinking that I don’t belong. I know what it feels like to think to myself “I could do that” or “I don’t get it” when looking at a painting or sculpture that offers little by way of obvious merit. I know what it’s like falling in love with a painting for the first time and not being able to afford it. I know what it’s like to wonder as to why something costs what it does.
Then I began to get involved with politics on a local level and to sit on the board of directors for various arts organizations, business committees and other non-profits that affect my local community. Here I learned how much work goes into getting anything done. I learned how to sit through meetings that can be tedious when all I want to do is paint. And I also learned how to take on more responsibility than I could possibly handle, after all, I am still a full time artist and a full time gallery owner/curator, and fairly lazy if I’m being honest. Really I just want to watch reruns of Northern Exposure.
Then I decided to begin writing a blog that explores the various facets of the art world I described above and the arts in general. While still new to this I have already learned how hard writing is. I have learned that I am not necessarily a natural at writing and therefore struggle on each post to be succinct, informative and just to use the right punctuation marks or the right form of a given word. (I still don’t know the difference between the words course and coarse.) I am also learning how hard it is to build an audience, hone my vision and deliver information and content that is both appealing and informative within an entertainment climate dictated by 5-second sound bites and click bait. I am also learning how hard it is to not just become a curmudgeon and swear every other word when writing about modern mainstream institutionalized art.
That all being said, I love my life, I love the arts and I love being immersed in them. For every challenge and every hard lesson learned I have emerged perhaps a bit battle scarred but much wiser and that much more appreciative of my life and the journey that I have been on and where it has led me to be in this very moment. The world of the artist is one of uncertainty and always evolving challenges, but more importantly, of massive rewards, inwardly and outwardly.
It is out of this gratitude and my state of joy and abundance where art is concerned that this blog has originated and why I want to share as much as I can about the arts and my involvement with them. Whether you are an artist, student, collector, patron or an art enthusiast, I know you will find something of value in these pages.
My intentions for this blog are fourfold: to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for the arts, to alleviate negative preconceptions or barriers of entry to the world of art, to cultivate and champion a culture of patronage across all spectrums of society, and lastly to inspire a deep sense of abundance and appreciation for all aspects of life. How hard can that be?
So while I may not “bleed art” literally, I certainly try to live according to its pulse as it courses through my veins. Hope you enjoy and Cheers!
P.S. I also love conspiracy theories so don’t be surprised if an article about the chupacabra and yeti make it into these pages from time to time… 😉