Four Years and More
Man... it feels really odd to think back on the last four years since we opened our doors to the public at Process Art House.
I feel like this work that I do now is the work I have always done, I just didn't know where it was headed in the early days.
Process was born of frustration and panic. Many of you know this, some of you may not. But it is the truth.
About 10 years ago I was still an employed type. I had a great job at the Art Museum. It kept me close to Art, but I was still not doing what I knew I was capable of. I felt frustrated by the lack of opportunity for a working artist to make a living. Late one night, battling insomnia, I wrote a rant into my sketchbook about the missing middle class for creative workers. The fact that most of us remain underpaid for the work we do because people know we are so desperate to do what we love we will take low wages just for the chance to be validated as professionals is a driving force behind my ongoing efforts. The rant ended with me listing everything I knew how to do. I broke the skill list into three categories. Things I loved to do but wouldn't pay, things I was capable of doing and would pay, and things I knew how to do and that paid but that I hated doing.
I changed jobs a few times. Lost one due to a huge personality conflict and my own poor response to finding out the job I was offered was not the job I was going to be doing. We found out a week later we were expecting a child. We were uninsured now. We lost my half of the income. I hustled side work based on my lists in the sketchbook and spent most of my day looking for a job. I got one. A good one... or so it seemed.
After busting my tail for three years I was cut from my job due to a budget crisis. I was given no notice, two weeks pay, and a thanks for your time. We were 6 months pregnant with our third child and I was yet again without income. I took one day off to settle my head. I then divided my day into two parts. Job hunting and hustling work. I applied for well over 100 jobs and didn't get a single interview. The job hunt took less and less time as I ran out of places to apply to. So I changed focus. I took the list and started exploring the options more fully.
After a few months I realized I was making more money working out of my studio then I was when I was employed. The amazing Rhoda Gwyn Breeden and I talked about what was happening and she took a huge leap of faith with me. We decided to give it a go. The only rule was that I find a way to make more money this year then I did last year. The rule still applies (in my head, at least).
The list became a skeletal business plan. I signed up at theWest Texas A&M Small Business Development Center and started working with a consultant. After a few weeks I had a working business plan, a viable option on a space (though that was the biggest leap of faith of all - PAH lives where a hell hole used to be...) and letters of support from a few people who believed in us. I took those things to a dozen banks and was rejected 11 times. ANB came through with a small loan and we were off. A few other lovely people made small investments and PAH was born.
It's changed so much over the years. The days of working 90 hours a week are gone. Thankfully. (and thanks again Rhoda for putting up with it. I know it was hard as hell) The days of worrying about the wrong things are gone. It's still an incredible struggle. But it is OUR struggle. It's ours to push and alter. It's ours to celebrate and explore. It's ours to fail at, and ours to make into something amazing.
In the last few years, with the help of the West Texas A&M University Enterprise Center and my coach Matty McLainwe've learned what it takes to run a business. I still don't know what the hell I am doing most days. But I know I can make things work if I trust my process.
We are in the last quarter of our best year ever at PAH. Next year we launch into a huge new concept. Change is beautiful and amazing.
I want to say thank you. Thank you to Harold Breeden and Debra Breeden and Chuck and Ronda Gwyn. Not only did you provide support, but you kept us sane by keeping the kids happy and entertained. Thanks to George F. Ingalls,Christian Price Frazer, Kathy Dryden, Mary Taggart Emeny, Nancy Walker, and Amy Henderson for believing in us and backing us. Thanks to Joe Bob and Debra Mccartt for opening up a space for us and spreading the word about what we do.
Thank you to every artist who has trusted us with their work. You are the reason we keep at it.
A special thanks to Carlos Cuevas for always being there as a friend and a peer and a solid voice of reason. Even when I messed it all up and lost my way.
Without the friendship of Mardy Lemmons and Hunter Ingalls, both gone too soon, this would not have become what it is. Rest well gentlemen. I miss you both.
I can't even begin to tell you how important my amazing wife has been throughout. I don't think words can do justice to what she means to me in life. She has never wavered in her support of this madness. And that is beyond amazing...because this is, and has always been the craziest thing I've ever done...
Nothing good happens without a community. And you have been incredible. You make all of this possible and I will never forget that. I work my tail off everyday with the intent on repaying your belief in the power of creative work. My goal is, and has always been to create something new and exciting that benefits this town into the future. Maybe we pull it off, maybe we don't. But I can't imagine not giving it a shot.
Four years. Damn...
I love all of you. And I am grateful for all that you do.