Barry, Tamara and I went to the Dougherty Arts Center yesterday, February 17, 2018, to see our friend's work in the new exhibit, Refigured: Radical Realism. It is an brilliant show and I am reminded again how lucky I am to be surrounded by the talented people that I know. Alejandra was in good company, and I regret that I was unable to get pictures of all of the artists' work there. I'm afraid you're going to have to visit the exhibit for yourself. I highly recommend it. The show will be up through March 10, 2018.
Take a moment this Christmas season to relax, to sit in a quiet space and breathe. This thought has a new meaning for me this year, as I find myself in – while it's not exactly retail...Read More
Another Art Festival has come and gone. I love going with Barry to these things, and I have seen them change in the short time that I've been going with him. I've been going since around 2005; he's been doing it for thirty years. We talked with other artists, talked with his customers – new and established. We had wine and water, food and candy while we talked about art, techniques and life.
What I've always loved about these festivals is the family that has sprung up between the artists. They would run into each other around the country on the circuit of festivals, and after a few years some very strong friendships emerged. People ask after each other. This weekend I heard people talking about an artist that they hadn't seen in a while; all trying to figure out if everything is okay and telling stories about that person. They talked about people that they had seen recently. They talked about health and how much longer they can continue and who is thinking about retiring to the Carolinas.
And, of course, I love the art. I am partial to ceramics, but there is a special place in my heart for painting. There weren't actual paintings this weekend. Liz Conces Spencer is a painter, but the work she was showing was glass. She kind of painted with glass and it's beautiful.
There was a time when people came to these shows with the intention of decorating their homes. Some still do, but the concept seems to have declined in popularity. I think that the possibility isn't even in younger people's minds any more – the idea of decorating a home with art. But, one of Leslie's accent tables would be perfect for the smaller homes and condos that are becoming so popular these days. Paintings and 3D artwork make for wonderful conversation, and as soon as people learn how to have conversations face-to-face again fine arts could have a renaissance. I'm certain that the next generation will revolt against the Communication Machine and hold conversation in cellars of coffee shops. Maybe they'll have somebody accentuate their more important points with percussion instruments. It's a nice thought. Somebody is bound to do a painting about the Burning of the Devices. There could be a novel about it as well, akin to Fahrenheit 451.
In the meantime, feel free to ponder over these pictures I took this weekend. My plan is to do more in-depth entries on some of the individual artists – their history, their art... their stories. Stay tuned.
It's Thanksgiving Day. I hear Barry in the kitchen making the dishes that we'll be taking to his mother's house. I should be in there making Green Slime (AKA Ambrosia Salad), but I'm still drinking my first cup of coffee.
I can reflect, though. I can reflect on the recent political upheavals and remember that I am thankful that we still have a free press, where opposing opinions can be published. I can be thankful that I am employed and I have a place to live and food to eat. There was a time, not too terribly long ago, when I wondered about these things. (Poor life decisions have a way of catching up with you.) Amidst the cat hair with which I live, I can be thankful for the feline personalities that have taught me to understand cats and myself.
I am thankful for art, now more than ever. As I slowly drag myself to the canvas again, I am grateful for the artists that I know. I am so honored that they consider me their friend. I am thankful for the studio that Barry has been working so hard to remodel, and the opportunities that it offers us – an opportunity to bring the community to us, to engage with us at one level or another.
So, I will share a couple of images from an artist that will be a part of our studio this year. I have been asking her for a few years if she'd like to join us, but she has always had conflicts with her own studio's schedule. This year, something cleared up and she said she'd join us. (I'm a little guilty that I feel grateful that a workshop she had planned didn't work out, but I'm too happy for her to be with us to be very guilty about it.) Barbara Francis combines two things that I love – ceramics and doodling. I love her ceramics and I love the patterns she incorporates into it. I saw her briefly describing methods she uses, and I hope to talk to her more in depth, so that maybe I can write a post all about that. In the meantime, here are a few of her images.
In some ways it's easier to communicate when you're alive. You have a voice, for instance. Hand gestures, facial expressions, these things lend themselves to relaying what you're trying to say, inasmuch as people are willing to listen.
There's the key. That's where you can really take advantage of having passed from human life. I always told everybody that I would come back as a dragonfly. Who knew that would really be an option? So, I make an appearance occasionally to remind the ones I love of who I am. This is SO much more effective. I could talk until I was blue in the face and my friends wouldn't listen. Let me die, and suddenly everything I say is golden. Why? Who knows? Who cares, really? I just take advantage of it.
At first it was ridiculous. For instance, I love Johnny Depp so they had to go rent every Pirates of the Caribbean movie ever produced. And, then cry. Who gives a rat's ass about that now?! Move on. I didn't even like them that much. Or if I did, I stopped once I crossed over. (Okay, maybe I liked Chocolat that much.)
A dear friend of mine has been struggling. I know it; he knows it. The world of fine arts has been turned on its ear and he couldn't navigate the new currents. The internet creeped into every aspect of the art world and suddenly anybody could be an artist at a minimal initial cost. We used to have to have several sets of slides created of our work, to send to galleries and festival promoters - professional slides. Nowadays, everything is submitted online, images are tweaked and the general expectation is much lower. The promoters are making money hand over fist on application fees alone with thousands of applicants. Why should they care any more about how the show runs? Suddenly, all loyalty to the artists who they had worked with for decades was gone, and a new generation of promoters and curators emerged. A somewhat colder, less involved group. We used to be a family of artists, all traveling on a circuit of festivals and galleries, running into each other periodically. Little by little my friends complained that they didn't know anybody any more; that the people they knew weren't there any more. I wasn't alive to see that shift happening; I could only watch from a distance.
I really wanted my dear friend to get in front of the change, though, and take advantage of the new opportunities. They were there, just in different places. The people who were familiar with the new world were the ones who would succeed. But, I had to start slow with him, at his level. He was at a street festival, so as a dragonfly I flew around his jewelry case, then popped out and landed on his foot. I sat there on his foot, slowly fanning my wings. He didn't seem startled or curious, even. He just watched me as I sat there. Eventually, he talked to me. He asked how I was doing, how I liked his art and his new designs. He gave me updates on some of our friends. Me talking to him was the challenge. I wanted to say, "I'm with you. We're going to make it through this together." Just to comfort him at first, then to kick him in the ass to get him moving.
Later, I had to move coins and such to get his attention. I would time my dragonfly appearances when I felt his thoughts were heading the right direction. Just, nudge him into facing the future - turn his head, little by little. Open up his mind to what he could do now, to the possibilities. For a long time he focused on what I had said before, back when we talked about the art world and how to make it. When I was alive, I would encourage him, but I would try to push him as well, to apply to more festivals and galleries. To pay the extra amount for the professional photography because that made all the difference. All of that may have been true then, but times have changed and it's not all true any more. It's difficult to make people change, to see things from a new perspective – especially when they've been doing something so long. In some ways it's easier for me now, though. (Now that I'm no longer among the physically alive.) Why the hell people listen to the dead more than the living is beyond me. I know that's the way it is though, so when I can communicate with him now, everything I say has that much more value.
I don't know how much longer I can do this. I've used twenty dragonflies to channel me so far. I'm a little tired – a spirit kind of tired, not a physical one. I feel like I need to stay around to see my friend through just a little more, but part of me feels like I need to move on. Like, maybe I'm the one who is trying to cling to the past. I keep getting the feeling that I've almost broken through, like I've almost made him hear me... and then I'm back to where I started. Maybe I'll try a wasp. To sting him. Just to take my frustrations out, and for no other reason. I might do that, but no, I won't go anywhere. I'm with him... still with him.