Book Review: “The Art Life” by Stuart Horodner

by Rachel Hooper August 29, 2012

The Art Life: On Creativity and Career
Atlanta Contemporary Art Center
Pbk, 6 x 9 in., 183 pgs, 30 color.
Pub Date: 3/31/2012

Stuart Horodner may be best known to those of us here in Houston as guest editor of the Art Lies issue on “second acts”—artists, curators, and writers who are deeply involved in other things such as roller derby, fishing, or soccer. True to his fascination with diverse interests, Horodner has worn many hats in his day working as an artist, gallery owner, curator, and currently as artistic director of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. His first book The Art Life: On Creativity and Career is an extension of his own creative practice and offers advice on an array of topics from motivation to success. Although slightly scatter-shot in its content, it is a great book to have around and occasionally pick up to find inspiration and renewed energy. As an added bonus, it’s actually affordable to artists and writers at $25.

Horodner’s book is essentially a curated collection of quotes that seems designed to reach out to readers who may be discouraged or teetering on the edge of indecision, apathy, or despair. There are some real gems in here including a quote by Jim Jarmusch via Tom Waits—“Fast, Cheap, and Good . . . pick two. If it’s fast and cheap, it won’t be good. If it’s cheap and good, it won’t be fast. If it’s fast and good, it won’t be cheap.” Quotes such as this are interspersed with Horodner’s own astute observations. A favorite is ,“You will expect others to do the right thing (i.e. give you what you want), and some will and some won’t. You can only keep at it, be pro-active and receptive, and try to be generous whenever possible. You are trying to get from no, to maybe, to yes.” The creative life can often be a lonely one. In the isolation of the studio and office, it is easy to forget that many have come before us and struggled with the same issues we are going through. Rather than offering advice per se, Horodner makes available the ideas and role models that have kept him going in the hopes that they may do the same for us.


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Rachel Hooper September 6, 2012 - 15:40

I had an interesting little conversation with @Gulf_Coast on Twitter about this review. They made a great point that “Writing and art are often solitary acts, yet they connect us together and make us feel human. The best kind of loneliness?” I love this observation, so I wanted to share it here too.


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