I haven't showed my work in a long time. The last group show I was in was about 2006, and my last solo show before that was in 2001. I'm both surprised and ashamed that I've let that much time pass.
I got really lucky early on. At the end of college, and just after I showed a lot. Between 1999 and 2001, in the midst of that post college/I've got life by the balls euphoria, I had four solo shows. People came. They looked and talked. They congratulated me and understood what I was trying to do. They bought art - my art. A lot of it. And I liked it.
There is something to be said for having a captive audience all pouring over your work. It's not just ego either. Don't get me wrong, there's a healthy dose of that included, but it's not just ego. A lot of it has to do with the idea that your work is getting to someone. They understand it! They get what I'm trying to say. It's a powerful thing to feel like someone gets you. If art is a communication, then having your words fall on receptive ears can be a very powerful thing. I miss that.
Don't get me wrong, I know I'll show again. When the work that I'm making now starts to pile up, I'll have to do something with it. I think a big reason why I haven't shown is that I haven't felt worthy. Artists who show are proud of the time that they've poured into the body of work on display. They need it to be seen. They are ready to make their next public pronouncement.
The early success I experienced set a standard, and during the last decade of teaching and coaching and being the professional that I thought I needed to be, I haven't really met that standard. The pragmatism that comes with experience has taught me something that I hope many artists already know - which is that sometimes you just have to give yourself a break.