For a good while now I’ve believed not only that bipolar disorder gave me the unexpected gift of creativity, but also that this very creativity became my way through and out of the illness itself—despite the ironic fact that the healthy “me” seems less creative than the symptomatic one.
I’ve posted a significant number of poems, paintings, and drawings on my blog and have had readers suggest I organize an exhibit of my work. Today, however, I thought I’d share a newspaper review of an exhibit I did in 2001.
First some background—
I was hospitalized in March of 2000 at Eastern State—a psychiatric facility here in Lexington, Kentucky—a hospital whose actual treatment may, in fact, be better than its poor reputation would have us believe. It was not an entirely bad place.
In fact, something rather good came out of the experience for me, as an occupational therapist noticed the drawings I was doing and recommended that upon discharge I contact an organization in Lexington called Minds Wide Open—a small downtown studio and day treatment program that took me under its creative wing and showed me how to submit an exhibit proposal and how to apply for a grant from the state arts’ council. I did both of these—ultimately getting an exhibit opportunity at the Carnegie Center and gaining a grant to defray the exhibit’s matting and framing costs.
I had shown my work twice on a small-scale when I lived in Dallas, but nothing that matched the size and scope of an exhibit that opened at a reasonably well-known gallery on the evening of a Gallery Hop in downtown Lexington. Gallery Hops in our town happen one Friday night every two months from late spring through early fall and focus the city’s attention on approximately 30 participating galleries that open new exhibits that night and host a wine and cheese event from 5 till 7 pm. Art lovers roam downtown streets not only sipping and snacking, but also enjoying the work of artists the galleries show off during the evening.
So I got an exhibit on a Gallery Hop evening in June 2001, and had my work featured two days later in the Sunday paper’s weekly art review. Unfortunately, no art sold during that exhibit, likely because I was still too sick at the time to interact successfully with Gallery Hop attendees, and the review in the paper was not necessarily glowing, a reality that I remember devastating me at the time.
The artist statement I used at the time–the one reviewer David Minton refers to–appears below:
The article follows in three pieces:
The next part of the review refers to a small drawing called “Eclipse:”
Unfortunately, the negative tone of this review proved more than my mind could handle at the time. I felt mocked and belittled by what I thought at the time was Minton’s implication that my work had less to offer than Gohde’s because mine was that of an unsophisticated and self-taught artist.
Now, a decade later, I read the review differently and feel empathy for the “Kathy” of 10 years ago who unnecessarily considered this review a form of public humiliation and has not exhibited seriously in Lexington since, apart from one small show done at my partner Sara’s urging.
Perhaps, it’s time to change all of that. It’s amazing the difference a decade makes.