ORIGIN: Late 17th century: from Latin solus ‘alone.’
noun – a thing done by one person unaccompanied
adjective or adverb – for or done by one person alone: [as adj.]: a solo exhibit
verb – (soloes, soloing, soloed) to perform something unaccompanied
Ok … so you already knew all that. I’m sure you use that word all the time …
everyday even. It’s an everyday kind of word.
But let me tell you this, when you’re actually doing it? Soloing … yourself … all by yourself? There’s nothing everyday about it. It’s the tight fist that grips your windpipe. It paralyzes and catatonifies … dries up every drop of saliva you ever had in your whole life. It’s terrifying. Gut wrenching. Spinal tapping. You feel like you’ve jumped off a city building without wings or parachute or even clothing; unprotected, undefended, unsupported by anything save whatever gumption you begged, borrowed, stole or convinced yourself you possessed … which is how you got into this soloing fix to begin with.
For me, it’s usually flattery that’s gets me in trouble. “Oh, Bim, you’re so good at this! You can do it! You’ll be great! …” What’s the saying? Pride goeth before a complete and total bare-assed mortification?
So here I stand … before the fall … ass in hand, so to speak. The paintings have been painted and dried and framed and logged. They’ve been on Facebook and Instagram and http://www.bim-jones.com. People have seen them and been incrediby supportive and appreciative. Many even expressed a wish to attend the opening and you first 10 (to which this private venue limits me) are now officially on my guest list; duly confirmed and apprised of location, date, time and dress code (aye yayay!). Now all that’s left is to hang the show and ATTEND THE OPENING.
And, as quoth Shakespeare, “there’s the rub” … the exposed and vulnerable scary rub. Sure, I’ve been nose to the grindstone, painting my heart out for months and am very jazzed and happy about this body of work. Sure, Facebook and Instagram have flashed my work all over the world wide web-iverse already. BUT I didn’t have to see the people’s reactions. I don’t have to know that even though oooo-gobs of lovely people “liked” and “loved” my paintings online, that there were oooo-gobbier gobs more people that were not impressed at all; or, god forbid, were repelled by my efforts. I don’t have to know about them. And I don’t have to make small talk. I am soooo not good at that.
Here’s me making small talk:
Hi. How are you? I’m fine, thanks. Yes, this is my work. I did it on … some days. It was fun. It keeps me out of jail. Yeah. Excuse me. I have to go to the Ladies Room now.
At a solo show, you see it all: if anyone is interested enough to attend; who will look, who won’t look and all the reactions. It’s all on you. You can’t even pretend that any distasteful faces and hand-hid whispers are about someone else’s work because all the work is yours. … All THIS work is MINE.
There it is: my fear … my awkward, childish, unprofessional, completely human fear: naked and afraid. (… my brother’s favorite reality show… HE should come to the opening.)
Still … that said … my ever faithful Mom will be there! … And my husband/agent /biggest fan (who is a saint!) … And one of my 5 favorite sisters! … And some of my most dear and treasured friends, no few of whom are driving a good distance to attend.
So I guess, really, I won’t be solo. I won’t be alone. I’ll be bolstered and buttressed and beatified. I’ll be shored up and shining. They’ll refer to me as “the artist” not in its usual connotation as a synonym for “not-making-minimum-wage,” but rather as an honorific. And I’ll bask in that for exactly half an hour. Then I have to get up and “say a few words.”
Yikes! Naked again … with black socks and bed-head.
Disclaimer: Any utterance I might make at such times of duress and doleful duty is totally not my fault.