Ah, the ever-changing dynamics of the ecosystem shared by Art and the Internet. This has come up in every peer conversation, every artist statement, proposal and grant application I’ve written this month. Think I’ll write an essay about it & post it here.
But this is not my purpose right now. I’ve been doing some house cleaning on my blog site, and noticed to my dismay that there is no post devoted to the sale of my paintings. This is an incredible thing. When asked about my current explorations as a visual artist, how can I send people here if they need to dig through seven years of musings just to find out what is available for purchase?
Here it is, then. The November 27, 2015 post of all paintings currently available from my studio (work from 2001 to last week). To see past work that’s sold, surf through the gallery to the right of this post. There you will find photo reference, promo shots and visual art from the past 15+ years. Eventually I will dig up the older digital archives that go back to 1975, but for now we shall celebrate the present moment! Each piece is published under the title of the show it was in, with reference to blog process work, or a brief description.
Please note the distortion in size – an internet specialty. Some of these pieces are quite large, and those are the ones that appear smaller. The smallest also appears to be the largest. If you’d like a studio tour of these so you can see them in person, come on over to the open house on December 5 (10-4, Saturday, third floor collective at 1190 2nd Avenue East [enter through 2nd Ave. door), or write to me at email@example.com – I’d be happy to set up a time to show them.
Anyone interested in owning any of these pieces should also know that I LOVE instalment payments, even over a year. Really – I just love them.
The Bells that Still Can Ring (Studio Tour and Bean Cellar, December 2015)
This is work in progress as of now. Check out the posts in the menu bar under “Art” for concept & research.
#Selfie (June 2014) – see posts under Art for concept – this was a social media show as well.
Curious, to see this thing I’ve worn for 30+ years… Who made it? Why so tight? Why the rough rope? It’s ingenious, actually. There’s a pull cord I see that will jab thumbtacks into my backside when I’m slowing down, and simultaneously tighten the collar around my neck… added incentive to get through the last 10% of every project?
I recognize that this harness was designed by me, however unconsciously, from the inherited protestant ethic of Work as Suffering. Life is work, therefore (inevitably) Life is Suffering. Extrapolated: If you don’t suffer, you’re not working hard enough. This idea can take the joy right out of any task – even if it’s your highest calling. It can in the extreme lead to the wearing of hair shirts, to self-flagellation, martyrdom/victimhood, the false rationalization of the need to live like a starving artist …
To be clear – I’ve had a super-productive, satisfying time since April, when I began work on the #Selfie project. It’s been an experience full of engagement, surprise, transformation – rich with reward on every level. I also met my harnessed self full-on several times, too, and recognized someone driven in a way that is not healthy.
With several new projects on the table now – each one full of promise, potential and fascination, I find myself wondering about this. As I take the breath one takes before diving in, I wonder
Do I really need the thumbtacks?
Does it need to come to suffering and self-denial, this finishing?
Must it be a battle, every time?
At the very least I need to radically alter the design. To find and use material that I like – softer, padded. No thumbtacks, no injectors full of anxiety, no neck collar. Maybe it should be more like a well-crafted tool that will help me to pull a heavier load.
Or maybe the work isn’t heavy, and I don’t need a harness at all.
This is quite a thought.
Maybe I just need to change my mind.
This is exciting. So is 2014-2015. So many neato, challenging collaborative and solo projects ahead. So many Incredibles to work and play with. Without suffering for any of it.
So, Honoured Protestant Ancestors. What you lived and suffered in protest to is no longer life-threatening; the ethic no longer applies in any way that’s healthy and life-affirming. Sleep in peace, with big smiles. Grins, even.
“If you bring forth the genius within you it will free you. If you do not bring forth the genius within you, it will destroy you.”
– Jesus, gnostic Gospel of Thomas (which didn’t make it into the bible. Too bad.)
As predicted, each painting for #Selfie has had it’s own arc of becoming. They have all been surprises, have all taught me things I wouldn’t otherwise know. It’s been a privilege to be at the centre of this project and participate in the discovery, the shaping and polishing of each facet. Quite a geological process – I am changed by it, I know.
I sat down to pull the book together and realized that even though the whole project has a broader, wider arc I was still inside it, making. Still in process, still on the curve…
It became clear over the days of showing up for writing that this lovely broad #Selfie arch also had a corresponding shadow. As I walked along this one it became narrower, and darker, and steeper – in descent.
Then I realized, “Ah. This is personal now.”
also, “Ah. This is writing of Book”.
#Selfie has been a great collaborative experience – music, performance art, spoken word, poetry, well-considered response and story. Ron de Boer and staff, david sereda, Kristan Anderson, Larry Jensen, Coco Love Alcorn, Christopher McGruer, Paul Hartmann, Christian Wilke, Marcus Vichert, Norm Bell, Thom MacFarlane, Kate Walsh, John Fearnall, Brad Morley, Frank Klaassen… so many more who climbed in and on to add thought, response, notice, rhyme, feeling, rhythm, comment. Highly resonant, this idea of examining #Selfie.
Did I think it had already got personal, in the making of the paintings? Yes. Yes I did think that.
But the paintings were one of five components to #Selfie. There was also the collaborative performance; the collaborative spoken word; the blog (the way in to the paintings); and the book. The book is the larger arc – both visible and public, and invisible, personal. Not a compilation (though I thought that’s what it would be), not a summary or a closing paragraph. It has elements of those ideas, but the book needed to be a distillation of the experience into something …chewable.
So I wrote a folk tale.
It begins this way,
A girl was born with a sleeping wound buried deep inside her. She also had joy, which was clear for anyone to see.
While she was growing up, her family, who loved her very much, gave her another wound to keep, and buried it deep in her future. They also gave her love, which was clear for anyone to see.
They made the wound they gave her out of pieces of their own memories, fragments of their parent’s arguments, scattered bits of rage and anger that they had collected from behind the doors and under the carpets, in the chesterfield beneath the pillows, under the beds, under the kitchen sink. they put all of their hopes and dreams for her in the wound, and wrapped it all up in a beautiful cloth made from their love.
That was the way it had happened for them, the way it had always been, and the way it would always be.
I’ve loved the essential nature of Folk Tales for as long as I can remember. They don’t mess around with descriptive filler or emotional drama, but deliver metaphor in layers which the reader can take in and combine, to build their own image and intuitive response. Always I’m trying to do this with my paintings. This last #Selfie painting more than any of the others – possibly because of the book writing, and the Folk Tale…
When the time came for the girl to leave her parents and seek her fortune, everyone agreed that she was well-prepared. Beautiful and full of life, promise, intelligence and talent, it was clear that she would have no trouble finding success, fulfilment, happiness and love.
And so she did. As the years passed, everyone who knew her was reassured by the clean arc of her life, since This was the way it had happened for them, The way it had always been, The way it would always be.
She herself was happy, content and grateful for the comforts she enjoyed, until she came to the day in her future where her parents’ gift was buried.
Today from 6 until 8pm we will launch the book and this final #Selfie painting. The show will come down on August 8th, and then #Selfie will be in Chapter Two, which I’ve not written yet, but I shall. Here’s the link to that event if you’re nearby & on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/748736241853940/
The story to be told there is a more introspective one – it’s mine, certainly, but also it belongs to anyone who is pulled to #Selfie Examination. Good heavens there are riches there – fragility; audacity; strength; disempowerment; blind, mute sadness; singing joy; risk and nourishment. It behooves one to keep walking down the path….
In the story, the girl meets a Hermit. Then she meets the Great God Pan. Then she meets Baba Yaga, and ….
Well, write to me if you want the rest of the story. It belongs, I think, to all of us.