We had the good fortune of connecting with Helen Buck and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Helen, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Taking risks means weighing a number of factors. Sometimes those factors are incomplete or unknown and require a gut check without acting on impulse. I’m not afraid to take a risk or a chance on an opportunity. The important thing for me has always been, to begin with, as much information as I can garner and then make a decision. In this way, I lessen the risk factor but there is always a risk. It’s as if there is a built-in momentum once I make the leap and take a risk; like there is magic in that step. It may be a daring and undaunted step but it’s a start. The first time I approached a fine art gallery, I did exactly what you are not supposed to do. I walked into the gallery, introduced myself, and asked if I could have the opportunity to show my work there. It was awkward, my voice was a little shaky, and my work was out in the car; that’s right, no portfolio, no CV, no written artists’ statement. Just little ole me and my work out in the car. They didn’t show me the door though. They were quite kind and asked some questions. Then to my amazement, they asked to see my art! I did wind up showing 4 pieces in their this gallery on Michigan Avenue in Chicago for 4 months. I like this quote and keep it handing in my list of motivational quotes. “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” — attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The most exciting thing about my career is always the next canvas I work on. There is no way to really describe the feeling. Although, the next best thing is standing near my work at a show and hearing an audible gasp as a viewer takes in my artwork. It’s like somebody just said, “your baby is beautiful!” My journey has not been in a straight line. I took a few detours along the way, moving frequently, working in a high-stress and demanding corporate job causing me to stop working in a studio, then back to painting in my studio and now opening my new studio. My path also took many turns in my approach and subject matter. Today I am focused on a project, developing a series for a one-woman show. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. What I’ve learned is that I must create images that make me proud or that speak to me very deeply. That is the reason the “audible gasp” I spoke of earlier is important to me. It means my audience “gets-it” and understands the meaning I was trying to impart. I trust that there is an audience for my work and continue to pursue those subjects and the imagery that elicit dialog. My concern is not focused on making a sale; it’s focused on making a statement.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If a friend were to visit my town, the first thing I’d do is make sure they could stay in a hotel that is convenient to local activities. Of course, with the current health concerns, this trip will need to be far off in the future so all the galleries and artists studios will be open for business. Then it will be a daily dose of art, history museums, live music venues, dining and, of course, hiking! Not all on the same day of course!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
So many people and organizations are responsible for my success. For this reason, it is important for me to provide mentorship and support when needed for those entering the field. The Creative Arts Society of Central Texas (CAS) ranks high on my list as it provides me with not only many opportunities to showcase my work, but also many ways in which I can give back by volunteering and mentoring newer members. The camaraderie within the group is fantastic. I can call or email just about anyone in the group if I need anything from a pep talk to an opinion on some projects. I am proud to be a member and thrilled to help the “Artist in Everyone” for the expanding growth and diversity of our community. Earlier in my career when I was fresh out of school, I opened a studio in the Pendleton Building in Cincinnati, Ohio. An old shoe factory with high ceilings, big windows, 8 floors and a freight elevator was converted into artist’s studio spaces. It was a magnet for artists from many parts of the country but it was in my backyard. Many of these artists were open and willing to talk shop whenever they could. Having working studios all around me was a dream come true. I learned more about studio practice, diversity in approaches, methods, and much more. When I visit Cincinnati now, “final Friday at Pendleton” is one thing I try to check out. There are so many individuals who deserve a “shoutout” as well. The list is long so I’ll just mention a few: Leslie Kell, Kathi Herrin, Greta Olivas, Jane Fier, Debra Newby- Link and Pin Gallery, Litsa Spanos – ACD, Tom Towhey, Robb McKensie, Lyle Adair, and so many more. I couldn’t imagine my art world without them!
Nominate someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.