DescriptionFriends James "Jim" Mott (60) and Michael "Mike" Farrell (79) share a conversation on the spiritual acts of being an artist and the role of social psychologists.
Subject Log / Time Code
- James Mott
- Michael Farrell
StoryCorps uses Google Cloud Speech-to-Text and Natural Language API to provide machine-generated transcripts. Transcripts have not been checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Learn more about our FAQs through our Help Center or do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.
00:01 I bet you want me to go first. OK, Google today is Friday, July 23rd 2021 in Rochester, New York, and I'm with Mike Farrell.
00:16 And he is a friend and mentor.
00:21 This is Mike Farrell. I'm 79 Jim and I have known each other for
00:29 About 20-25 years now, and we started out talking about his itinerant artist project, and my research and we became good friends. Since Jim said, we're in Rochester, New York.
00:49 I think you have said, Friday, July, 23rd, Friday, July 23rd, 2021,
01:01 Okay. All right.
01:05 Well, last year, the first question, but we were wondering how you knew about the direction. You want steak or special feeling The Ledger for your study of sociology and an art and creative Circle groups, develop over time and I said it in the laboratory and we learned a lot coding interaction. And for about 20 years, I did that and I just wanted to find somewhere. Where would we were learning quick connect with?
01:46 We do groups. And what day is reading, John Jonathan dreary Wallace story of the French impressionist and how they met and how their relationships, develop their what time, what they were doing at the point where they were most did their most creative work and then how they related, how they got it marketed, got it out and their difficulties with all of that. And then finally how they came apart because they they sped up, I got this is, is that when I had that sense, that this is something that I wanted to study big historical studies group said they crave work. It really mattered. I just had this this electric feeling in my arms. I get in my lower arms, and I've had it before but I know that that's what I have to do.
02:37 And damage. That's how I choose things for more responsible or more try to do it, but it just goes wrong. If you don't have that feeling that I should be studying real problems in the real world and that but I and I try to do it for a little while like I started when the bills shut down there wasn't that? I started to study by this. Turn that over to my gratitude is cuz I can't stay up just that I have to stay on this project that holds my heart that I for some reason I can't choose to do something else.
03:32 I think I kind of just feel pushed away from what everyone else is doing and thinking, interesting. There's a, a social psychologist and my bills her name. Is. She she says, there's one of their different ways of doing credit work, but the best thing when it's Stitch, some internally motivated and that that
04:05 That is so I come to respect that. I know what that's about, internal motivation. You can't do it for money. I can't do it because you ought to know this after. It has to come from your heart.
04:21 Yeah, it's a complicated business. I wish I had your clarity.
04:27 There are things like Kyle.
04:30 Well, that's, you know, I'm a painter and artist and sometimes it's nice to think of any money. And sometimes we organize our whole lives, that's artists around trying to find ways to get support and get money, but, but it isn't really the external motivation and it doesn't really do a lot for me. In. My project will be more motivated, some of taking a nice meal and I see that work and I love they're putting into it. I feel ready to try them up anything but took me to the same amount of time and effort as I might sell it in the gallery for $500 and it wouldn't
05:22 I might not even want to let it go.
05:25 So, it's a journal.
05:32 Method. That sucks. Something. It's always.
05:37 Interested about your project, the itinerary artist project is your rum.
05:44 Each of the marketing of artwork at this point is done almost anonymously and you go into a motel room and they spank that but no idea who did these things and more and what they don't mean anything to you. They just decorations and purchase an Auctioneer often is just the, but their value will increase. So it's an investment. But
06:16 Your project could seem to me like you, you were by stepping that hope.
06:25 Marketplace kind of exchanges. And I wonder, could you tell me what made you what? What you were thinking at the time, when you first had this idea going to people's houses in painting?
06:41 On their premises.
06:44 Yes. Yeah, there's that that whole Market thing. This is so it's okay until I think, but right is pretty impersonal. And I noticed when I was fresh out of graduate school, actually living in the suburbs are the Pittsburgh art fair outside and I knew that I wanted to earn some money from it. So I did a very picturesque scene with with these buildings that everybody loves them. But beautiful light and $400 and that would make my day worthwhile and then I put I put out that and then I'll buy other work if it mattered more to me and everybody stopped and looked at that painting and there's one guy who'd grown up in the village and he was clearly not well off.
07:34 His son with him, and he wanted to buy the painting.
07:38 Is she said how much you liked it and how much, you know, he'd grown up, right? When you're buying and Let It Go for $40 $50 and in front of his son. It's a know-it-all $400 painting. I need the money. They've been here for his wife removing and I let it go. But that's the Dilemma that kind of feeling like to
08:23 I got hit the gallery shows and I did sell some paintings and it always felt strange unless had a relationship with the person who bought it either before or after and so
08:35 Are they shutting down. I wasn't sure what to do with the yard. I was making and it seems like a very important.
08:43 Thing that I was working with the Beauty and the Mystery of the visual world and
08:55 And I just happened at a party to pull up. Walk off. The bookshelf, called The Gift by Lewis hide, and the coast of the parties that you might like that book and I read it. And it talked about art being properly, part of the gift economy. Not in the market economy, and I hadn't thought of it that way. I'd know that Clarity and even less idealistic to find ways to earn Capital examples of myths and legends and other cultures and earlier times exchange without without money without money. And
09:36 The idea of living for part of the year like that soon, formed in my head. And then that way this seemed the best to do that was to
09:46 Go on the road and I'll stay with people. I didn't know for a few days at a time and they would feed me and put me up and get to know me and I would make a penny for them. From what I saw around there. How did you get that idea though? That's going to their homes to do it.
10:04 Well, I had in the past stayed with friends and people, I noticed that other people would bring wine or they would bring know something some sort of present. I felt insecure about using, or maybe I do a payday advance. I did it rolling on this site and they liked it so much, and it felt very
10:24 Good. Have a means so much to someone.
10:30 Possible with evolution of the idea.
10:38 And she suggested I left art for a few years and I was going back into it when I came up with a project idea and she said if you're going to stay to be an artist these days you're going to need to live with other people meeting. You're not going to be able to afford your own house. But I took that as meaning that I could be like a folk singer in.
10:57 Go from City to city and Aunt Eva's. She was staying with strangers who would put her up for music. And so that's all. That's how bad. Just look up. The gifts gave me the incentive and in the end she gave me the model. And can you remember the first time? I felt like it took me three years after I got the idea to get up the nerve to do it, right? But I think, you know that.
11:27 The project, which is
11:31 Arranged ahead of time. People, preferably strangers all around the country who would want to put me up for a few days in exchange for painting and then string together tour and then just go hit the road in and go place to place and
11:52 It involves art being a drunk part of their lives, take out of the gallery, out of the studio and into people's lives. And so, I get people who have to buy a penny, but they would put me up for a few, and it seemed to us a little bit of a critique of the art world to, where art is, not about connecting with people or beauty, or or love. It's about these
12:17 Critical principles that you have to follow up a Ryan Bingham strangers houses, and I didn't really like painting on the spot.
12:34 And I didn't know if I could pay him on short notice. I usually would take a few weeks to get a painting done. But for the project I had to paint every day.
12:44 It's also the first to respond, I started out. I was really excited, really terrified of it. Like I said, it took three years to get up the nerve and then I finally just did it. And I was driving away from home. I was accepted by World, expanding and excitement. And then the next day, there was
13:03 A sense. I stayed with friends the first night and then I pulled off to the wild. It felt like the big unknown and I didn't know what I was doing. But actually the first of the first night that I could pick him up.
13:18 I'll put it towards first year, but the first stop was really a great one because I was on the Chesapeake Bay after he was also an illustrator.
13:33 He liked art was a good artist and he knew everything about nature and you know, all about the history of the place and you know about the nature. You could name the birds mammals and where to find things to catch. And he knew how all his neighbors made their living by fishing or, or grabbing and retake locks, and pull a bottle out of the mud. And tell me, the history of the bottle was amazingly different place for me, and with a guy who knew all about it. It was so exciting that I felt like I was on there.
14:15 It is a paper a while the first time because that is Rusty. But it did pick up from there.
14:21 How many paintings? Did, what did you do that? Simon? What's the usual routine with painting. What did you pick the paint? The bottle of milk and I will take whatever I tried to do one or two small paintings had a small. These are about 6 by 9 in, I could definitely do one in an hour to take a lot of energy. So it's up to be like running a couple of races in the day. I do to panties that I do that.
14:58 Every day, except when I was driving for the first 3 months. So it was a lot of painting. It wasn't it?
15:11 Necessarily anything, especially significant about what I saw. It would just be in one place that with the first tree I saw it and the background looks good. It's just start painting and do it or else or else. I start sitting around and not wanting to paint. That sometimes there would be something of particular interest to the post or you're really hard to resist, sunset, or sunrise or something. I tried to, I tried to bury it. So I painted some boats on the water and some birds eat grits. And then the next stop was in Chapel Hill till I paint campus. Beautiful campus scenes are in bloom in the spring time.
16:04 And then,
16:07 At the Texas. Special I remembered panties on his porch and that was different with the tree at the chairs. In the flowers on the porch, with the afternoon, light coming in. And then I did some night seem like I drew up to something a little different every time but something distinctive.
16:30 You know, I think I told you before I start of artists and writers and how they develop over time. I used to go to the one that we did a survey and then follow up with about 20 different families that are all over this big city, where we were and
16:54 I have to find their address. This was before there was MapQuest and get lost and find their house and finally arrived and are the door. And and what we did was offered them $100. This is from the 70s to run to come to their house and then have dinner with them. And then they would come to an officer we had. And then let his interview first, the whole family together to look at how they interact together, and then the husband and wife for about half an hour or so about 3 hours for the way I do and then let your husband alone in the wife alone, that focuses on how the the the family in the in the
17:38 In the forties and early 50s. How the family and middle-aged other relationships changed between family members and
17:48 That for me, what was just blew my mind and put me into studying family for a long time was you take a family out of bed that model of humanity and it's like they look at a crystal every the interdependent in a way that you just never can. Guess what it's going to be when you get there. It's it's that was I was in the family systems theory than in each one of these.
18:17 Personas that they projected where there was a domineering father and the
18:27 Rebellious adolescent. Then each one of these was like a puzzled understand that I
18:38 Dream of going to them, as you did to go around. Then take a sample of people in the
18:46 Just go to their home and then died during an analysis of their families and they probably throw me out without your work, but I don't know. The way you appreciate the different facets of people and how they interact.
19:08 Didn't seem to be what I did best, but
19:13 I really want to connect with people that I mean inside Kroger of an introvert and and, and very much on my own laundry in nature and sketching. But, but I really like the one on one. Sure that's interested. I think I was thinking about started and one of my earliest, real thought, I'd probably for these amazing things. I starting to see it in nature, like the patterns of thought to look under the bark of a fallen limb. Sometimes you'll see the excavations of a boring Beetle at their Dish. Network's of squiggles shirt little. That's nothing. I didn't know what they were almost magic, like, some other language and things like that. Would catch my attention. That I thought were talking about anything like that. I think I must
20:15 To grow up and hold on to that, and try to try to be able to connect with people about that kind level of stuff. Even even though we're growing up in the front living there with him on the Taurus, if there's an intimacy coaches.
20:31 In about sexual, just sure emotional intellectual, and it's so it's so much when I leave for. I think they aren't the most just a pretext but it's, it's my contribution to
20:46 But I don't know anybody that would take you in for 3 days with your test and then come back and tell him. I'll here's here's your here's how you looking cash, how you compared to the rest of you mad at you.
21:10 Small group after we met each other. But I think and these strangers who like what I do enough to put me up. That's a really good kind of support to you. When we met I had this is one of the projects I thought I should do. I should study a life group tonight that where you got to hit it off. And then yours, some of the other painters in your group, that was painting Landscapes around the Finger Lakes in Rochester at that. Well, this is interesting. I should compare them to the French impressionist.
21:55 And then then I missed the whole life course of these groups. Not just a snapshot of them, a particular afternoon. All that probably should do that, but
22:18 Have a farm, David the roles in the group, get the card out. And I remember the first meeting. I went to the gym play groups and it becomes part of the young, your person personality, in the group. And they they just negotiated in there. And then they form of about what they wanted, what they're trying to do, or they take the theories and they take their, they argue about it. They never sell that ever. The argument never gets out. But then they they start doing creative projects with that new vision that they have and then they revise division. It's a not us and then if they do more in a revised it again and eventually,
23:18 Set up a unique group style in that group style than the problem becomes trying to Market it and win some kind of approval from the authorities in the field end credits. And so on, and they the French impressionism are so fascinating because they met when they were students.
23:40 In the 1862 RAV4 with a core member is Moana, a red wire Cicely and Buzzy or who I never heard of before bed because you got killed in the war and it concerned. But he was, he was the gatekeeper the group and put them all together and they their relationship evolves over the whole course of the life, the life course of the group and then it went on for almost 20 years before they began to develop separate Styles and then began to pull away from the group Culture and that's what interests me. So I try to set of your group.
24:22 I can't. Going to hang around for 20 years of the group, didn't either? I don't think we were unified by.
24:33 Play ideas. Well enough, we were friends who wanted to help each other out. Sounds like big groups. Have a real sense of collective purpose. That's different that they want further together.
24:53 That is their group. I'm studying now or are around that. I've been Gathering data when I get there, letters in their biographies in their journals. And so on. Is that the one that I
25:05 Wasn't drawn to and recently was the Kerouac Ginsberg and homes in the Beat Generation. Initially said this was one of their biographers of pieces, but we weren't, he was in the group b generation consists of about 8 people.
25:42 I forget where I was going with that for that.
25:46 They have a life course like the impressionist where they intensely involved with one another and developing a unique style of doing literature focusing on by a graphical as opposed to something out there. And if it cuz it's very personal way of writing and that they were
26:15 Intensely involved with each other in the forties, in the early 50s, and then, they started for different reasons, drifting into my shepherd horses and they became part of that that
26:32 Experience of adult groups, friendship groups, and what are should be writing should be and what their relationship. They should have to the dominant culture of the 50s with the cold war. That they
26:56 So one, electrically terms of how they fit subjects a pic to work on it, and it all came out of this group discussions. So that's what I'm waiting for you guys to do. Well, I know I don't think,
27:24 Are you even though people like the beach and the oppression of spur? Probably his Rebels or or outside the norm they were they were still doing what it was.
27:38 Connected the other girly to mainstream culture. I would think our culture in the sense that
27:44 That might be participated in by everybody to some degree or not.
27:53 I don't know if that's a fair statement. But but now it's the pursuit of Fine Art or serious, right. In your anything like that is
28:04 Almost to take it seriously and earnestly. I think all the other artists and writers or any good. Do it to take it very seriously, but the culture is so the dominant culture is so heavily.
28:20 Profit in market and entertainment through, but it's not it's not easy to do something serious and have it taken seriously.
28:31 That they certainly took themselves seriously, but they were not taken seriously by The Establishment for sure there. They seems that they talk about. They would
28:47 Except if there are any people would come in for laughs, there was none of it had a very hard time getting accepted, but they were all your that sense of being challenging conventional ways of doing highs. And the last. Of course, the same thing was true with the Beat Generation group. They are still not fully accept that. I don't think in the rug.
29:35 Mainstream, although they are the English departments, I guess, but they're saying is done the delinquent 7th. I have art in some way but that that that rebellious as much chance of challenging but they conventions this summer as part of that package. That's for Billy Scripps. I think.
30:05 10 minutes left. Okay, baby. Can we talk more about the tour? Is that alright? I want to hear there, but I was kind of tied together with what you were saying.
30:21 Which is.
30:26 But I felt you were somewhat. The trouble with your hand against the marketing of Art and this this unique way of connecting with the people who buy it. And I bet that was a young.
30:45 It is very unconventional. Richardson's. No, I have not got them and I guess I was a little bit of a rebel.
30:55 No, I bought us. I started in 2000.
31:06 Stay with people, mostly strangers and painting little painting since
31:12 It wasn't just about that. I wanted people to hear about it so that I thought I was challenging. The art World, a different person.
31:25 Meaningful people's lives on a one-to-one basis.
31:39 Take things and then take money.
31:43 And Anna nothing to do with spirituality. I think art is basically and benefit. The reason people do it, mostly spiritual ends, and the benefit people get from. It is also that, but when you write art, Satan's, if you want to get taken seriously by Gallery, don't mention spiritual the picture playing in in the redefinition of space, and stuff like that, which is also true.
32:18 I was able to get really good publicity because people were interested. The media were interested and people I can give talks at colleges and
32:29 Sometimes Museum Center.
32:31 Been in the national press in bed interviews on public radio and stuff like that and walk Dayton Public Radio.
32:39 And, and
32:42 It gets around people are really interested and people tend to have it but they don't think it would have been funding the other than spending money and
32:51 I'll tell you the story for my last tour in Vermont when I stayed here and I just done.
33:06 The twenties in 2015. I did that my last three months ago. It was huge and it was really rough, but it was so funny. 15 was going out to California. Trying to make it a cat named in Silicon Valley and all these things that didn't quite work out, but then I followed up a couple years later by going a week in Vermont with she and her husband invited me, but she's some
33:46 She thought I had a crush on in the 80s, guess you was on the cover of art news. I've heard in this big-ass truck paintings that were mystical and we stayed in touch and they finally invited me out. She and her husband, too.
34:02 Do my tour with them. So here's a spanner of masses pennies are in museums all over the country and she was taking me seriously, doing this little paintings of trees and things around her house. And she told the local paper to come in and do an article of generous spirit that she has and her husband translate in Chinese, I felt totally understood and at home and everything, we all loved each other and that was great.
34:35 College classmate on Lake Champlain that I did with before actually. And he said is it last time you do not give him a credit card out of it? And they wanted lots of people in my neighbors, have this car and they just they always keep talking about how much they like it. They want to meet you. So you got to come and then they're going to come over for drinks and
34:58 And a
35:00 And we can have a good time. So that was my last stop. I said, then that the neighbors came over for dinner with this couple.
35:08 And the man said he was an investment banker. He came over and shook my head is at. If I had one-tenth your talent, what I could do is a and then and then 45 minutes of his does monologuing me about his art collection and how he understood are better than other people and how is really worthwhile collection? And I thought maybe it was going to be if he wanted to buy some of my work that was going to get a patron and he didn't really care what I thought at all. And I kept looking at his wife and she kept not looking at me and I could tell by how he was talking about. You didn't understand art at all yet. Advisors, who made him? Think he understood that he would buy expensive work. That wasn't good at all and
35:53 And it was just this horrible thing. You just listening to me talk about how he
35:58 I wish you understand. Greatest work with said he spent money on and then and that was the end of the evening. They got double DIN guide, my hand and said we had your card on a refrigerator. Look at it everyday, and I love it makes me so happy and that you just left.
36:20 And I thought. So that's my face.
36:27 I can do images that connect with people but I can't break into the market. I'm very curious about what that means to you, too. Many people that they did this to them. The spirits are things that float around in the are there religious icons and so hard that it existed for centuries. Are there people they pray to, and I'm curious about what the, what Spirit when you are that woman. You touched her spirit. And the question is, what does that mean to you? What did, what did when you bring that Gifts of your spirit and body than that painting?
37:13 What do you mean when you say it's spirit, is the spiritual? I mean, I think invisible. I don't know. I think the what animates Us in, but it gives us life and just a sense of meaning. But if you can't break down into physical material thing of the Quakers, have this notion that it's not just the preachers that have access to that quote, spiritual brothers, that of God and everybody.
37:48 And that spirit is what you connect with. I think. Yeah. And everybody, and I think it does connect us all in the end part of the process for all of us than Gardasil specially. Not maybe, especially this is
38:08 To uncover those that sense of connection to my life simple. Is it? The spiritual world is the invisible world. That's inside our hearts, inside her head suit, that's invisible, not floating around in this space, but it's inside human being. And when you connect with that invisible Parts in less people at, that's, that's a permit in each other and feel it. That's it. That's it. That's a gift. That's part of the gift. Economy is the commodity Academy. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
38:49 It's one of those things in, in spite of all my wish for security and money and recognition at all that. It's really that just that connecting in the humble, way with anybody that matter, that's really what drives and sounds like I don't have that person. Reading historical cases. How are we doing for time to think? I don't know.
39:26 What made you interested in art as part of your study of groups?
39:33 Aurora's a Quaker about artist, is they leave tracks in their psychological in their Spiritual Development?
39:47 Map out their ears in their life and their is in their in their development with that and you can compare and see when they were in synchrony with one another and then when they part from one another. So and it was a way to study people that I gave me a
40:06 An index of who they were, and where they were at different points to their lives. Your subtle thinker. Are you from day one, builds the final day, and look at how they evolve over time. Are they digging zag? Depending upon where you are fun for me, too. Well, let's meet again.
40:35 Are we out of time?
40:39 We're not hearing you right now.
40:47 Are you have you thought about where this is ending? We like to keep going for a long time.
40:58 Do you think it was? Okay, if that's a typical, okay?
41:03 I want you to drive car. Twenty one of the cartoon things of Jim showing up at somebody's house with a painted with his paintbrush. And thank you for sharing. Thanks for helping out or doing anything else.