Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Of Candy Bars and Candidates

If you ever try and sell my paintings, I will leave your gallery. If people really want them let them buy them, but don't ever try to sell them.  - Agnes Martin

I'm no authority in the genres of artwork, yet I think what is generally termed postmodernism, in which the brilliant Agnes Martin and her washed-out, virtually colorless approach to the canvas was well known, can hold a timeless beauty by influencing all of our lives. 

The act of an unconventional, skeptical, and most importantly for these purposes - subtle view - of anything which allows it to stand on its own merits, to strip away the loud, hustling, full-color sales pitch coming at us; to question, after all, what it is we're really looking at? The thing itself, or the advertisement of the thing? And this examination can include both our own selves and others; and both personally and professionally.

Whether or not one appreciates the beauty of hazy, unfocused pastels and seemingly blank canvases with only a few modest pencil lines, really doesn't matter much; what the artist, I dare interpret from my own view of her, is really asking us to look closely at the underlying reality of whatever thing we're really looking at, to remove the vivid hype being pushed onto us, and to see if the thing feels right; to see if it feels true. 

And if it does, it doesn't need to be sold - it can just be bought.

They didn't have to sell themselves to anyone.
Such was even the case with iconic Hershey bars, most fondly which I remember from my childhood; and in its own formative and first seventy-five years the company had a policy of no media advertising. Because Hershey felt, and rightly so I'd say, that a thing which was good enough would stand pretty firmly on its own real merits - without need for big splashy advertisements or even too much trying; a simple preference for putting the thing within reach of those who may want to have a look... and to then sit and wait, and as Agnes Martin would say, to "let them buy them."


Looking back over the years, I recall the times when either I have hired a candidate for a domestic staff position available on the estate I was employed, or otherwise had produced a referral, were always the candidates who had an impressive history of skills themselves - and, seemingly, an innate talent to know what a good employee really is, and not those candidates whose resumes only screamed out some famous names, or shouted out some outlandish claims. Because those candidates who'd tried so hard to impress me with a slick pitch, to name-drop every movie star they'd ever served a drink, to convince me so hard they had navigated to each of the Saturn moons and back... something about them I just got the feeling it hadn't really happened, just got the feeling it wasn't really true and yet if it had, that splashy color didn't matter much to me, anyway. Because I knew it wasn't really looking at the thing itself... the thing which I was trying carefully to see.

Yet, those other candidates, the ones who could speak quietly, the ones who'd discreetly
listed on their resumes their past family-office company names instead of name-dropping their billionaire or celebrity employers' personal names, those truly talented ones who could sit in the stillness of quiet confidence, reflecting humbly on what actual abilities and team talents

Agnes Martin: not too splashy or exciting here. 
And maybe that's a good thing. 
they'd learnt in the past either from on the job, a training program, or, most impressive 
of all - those who'd taken the initiative for spending their off-duty time with self-study and perhaps reading books, telling me what they hope to accomplish in the future; those candidates who could let me just sit with them and quietly savor the soft, milk chocolaty comfort of their amazingly sweet skills; those careers which always spoke both warmly and impressively for themselves without any need for quick hustle or pitch; discovering just how pleasing each new bite of subtle, rich tidbit of talent turned out to be... those were the candidates I still now remember, and those are the ones I'd really want to meet again.

Because I just never had to really sell those candidates to my employer or to a client and truth be known, none of them ever sold anything to me.  

And because of that, because of their ability to strip away the hype and simply present their honest and talented selves, as I think anyone who appreciates Ms. Martin would understand, just like the Hershey bars of my youth - I always wanted to buy them.

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