Art for the Long Haul | Behind the Canvas with Jim Klein


Longview by Jim Klein

All art is immortal. For emotion for the sake of emotion is the aim of art, and emotion for the sake of action is the aim of life. 

– Oscar Wilde, Irish poet and playwright


Last year, Jim was chatting with an internationally known art critic, who relayed to Jim the following: 

“Enjoy your art and have fun, but it will never become much more than that. It won’t take off and it won’t ever be of great acclaim. Create your art to do it for art’s sake. This effort will never amount to anything more and you will never become a famous artist.”

Unlike most of us who would probably throw our art supplies away at such a harsh dressing down of our creative pursuits, Jim took the comments in stride.

How did you take this assessment?

Jim: I respected their opinion but I don’t believe them. I know it’s based on previous industry knowledge, and they’re reporting to me what they know, but they don’t know what dwells deep inside me.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve received comments like these.


What other sentiments have you experienced?

Jim: Art is very subjective and personal. Like most artists, I’ve had quite a few experiences where the viewer doesn’t enjoy what they’re observing. It’s important to take it in stride. 

I’ve had many experiences where visitors come up to me -sometimes while I’m standing in front of the J Klein gallery display window- and they’ll offer their opinions about my work. It’s usually some variation of the things you often hear people say about abstract art: “Oh my, a third-grader could do that!”, “Why is that in a gallery window?!”, comments like that. I will think nothing of it, play along, and just have fun with it. Sometimes, they’ll even go into the gallery for a better look and our consultant will point me out to them and tell the critic “that’s the artist”, and then they get embarrassed and apologize. I always tell them not to apologize, that’s your true opinion! If that’s what you feel and think, that’s what you feel and think. I don’t take offense.

One time in particular, I was idling by a Colorado gallery’s display window of my art when a lady walked up and observed the art with me. As I often do, I asked her what she thought of paintings inside. Without hesitation she told me, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe that this could be in a gallery!” I went along with it. We discussed the other paintings and she gave them similar assessments. After a bit, she paused, turned to me and asked “Are you the artist?” and I answered her that yes, I was. This lady looked me right in the eyes and said “Dude… they still suck.” 

She was very honest!


How do you keep your creative flow after such brutally honest opinions?

Jim: When I receive these kinds of opinions and remarks, I never take them to heart. 

People have even laughed and scoffed at my work in front of me, but they don’t see what I see. I know based on past experiences that I have to stay focused and on target. Given enough time, it will seem as though, all of a sudden, the viewpoint will change. 

For example, after the gallery was a mainstay on Main Street for five years, people recognize us. Especially in the local community, we have received so much positive feedback.

It’s also important to cultivate a strong internal vision and direction. I know deep down in my soul I am creating art that will be enjoyed 100 to 200 years from now. There are things that I want to express and share that I can’t say in words but can in art and music.


Do you have advice for people that struggle to keep their creative compass aligned?

Jim: Some folks will hear negativity or criticism once and immediately put down their brush. I believe that’s a travesty. 

Several years ago this couple came into the Art Factory. After speaking with them for a bit, I learned that the wife used to play the piano. Of course, I immediately encouraged her to hit one note on our piano. She did. Then, I encouraged her to just simply sit down at the bench. This woman sat on the bench and started playing Mozart! Her husband told me she hadn’t played in 13 years. This woman kept playing until she realized Art Factory patrons were enjoying her impromptu performance. She panicked and stopped. Before they left, she gave me a big hug. I really hope she got back into playing regularly because she was an incredible pianist.

My advice is to pay attention to the creative person inside you and ignore the outside voices. That’s what gives me the courage to go on. Just stay laser-focused on your creative goals and forge ahead. 

2022-02-02T13:01:04-07:00 2021-12-29, 2:11 pm|Categories: Blog, News, Uncategorized|