It was a great show. Artexpo was an incredible experience. It was also overwhelming, inspiring, and tiring. I was one of 135 artists; I had over 80 friends show up; and nothing broke. I also sold two pieces.
I couldn’t have done this without my honey Marie (on the right), and my dear friends who helped run the booth; Meryl (on the left), Joan and Rob. Now comes the time to deliver the work, run down all of the leads and thank everyone who showed up.
By far, the most inspiring part of attending the show were th artists I met. Not only were they talented but they all made me feel welcome and were only to happy to share their insights with me. To name a few:
- Anita Varadaraj
- Cameron Neilson
- Jeremy Bortz
- Jodi Simmons
- Julianne Snyder
- Mia Gjerdrum Helgesen
- Seth Apter
I have written, in the past, about the problem of what to create. It is no small task to find your voice. It has occurred to me that, completely unrelated to this, but just as important, is persistence. To stick with something until it is right. The problem is, when is sticking to a particular artistic direction a sign of tenacity and when is it a sign of mere dysfunctional doggedness? Rita Mae Brown once wrote “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”
So what am I expecting? Am I doing the same thing and expecting different results?
Clearly I am looking for recognition. Most artists do—from the admiration of the work itself to sales and placement in prominent galleries. There is also another understanding and that is, as important as it is to explore, I have come to understand that it is just as important to stick to something. To push it. To refine it. To get it to a place that is beyond impulsive. There are many art forms that appear to happen quickly, like Japanese ink paintings. But although the act itself is quick, the process and the training aren’t.
It has been over eight years that I have been pursuing the creation of these Foundlings. They have evolved—as I have. It is clear now, that I am also trying to explore persistence as well. To refine something until it is right… This is gonna take time.
It’s such a simple thing. Cut on a 45 degree angle, the angled corners will match making a frame. Framers do this all of the time. Unfortunately, I am not a framer nor do I have the tools to be exact… and you have to be exact.
This piece is called Ketch and I was simply looking to frame the oyster. Like any frame, this would separate the focal point from its environment, drawing more attention to the oyster. The frame I made not only did not have enough presence but wasn’t square. To make matters worse, the box itself wasn’t square. So I found a framer. Chris, from Gallery 25, has been most helpful in making frames for me. I still had a fair amount of fitting to do — like I said, the box itself isn’t square — but this frame added so much to this piece.
The piece was almost done when it occurred to me that it still needed something… a little piece of fan coral to complete it.
This piece is tentatively called Autumn. Here it is on the floor of my workshop and it is only loosely fitted together at this point. I have learned, before I actually put these together: that I have engineered how these pieces will stay together; that all of the parts fit; and to make sure the direction I have set out on, aesthetically, is still true.
Only weeks ago this piece was twice the size with twice as many components as you see here. At first I was rather pleased with the new direction and complexity. I was intrigued with the unusual configuration but as the days turned into weeks, it just wasn’t right. I kept pulling elements off a little at a time. It is so difficult to see a work freshly—not unlike looking into your own heart. Can you see clearly where you are going or are you merely proceeding in a direction because that is the way you have been going?
I”m about to take another leap. I have gotten into Artexpo in New York. Although the show is juried, I suspect it’s more about buying a booth. Still, if my work wasn’t up to a certain standard, I would not have been accepted.
The show will be in the beginning of April and it will be in Manhattan (Pier 94). I have no idea what to expect and I have a million questions. Will this be “proof” of how my work is received or is it merely another small step on the path of being a fine artist? Will this be a “one time” show at Artexpo or is this an event that I will have to exhibit at annually? Am I trying to sell or is this an opportunity to connect with gallery owners and art buyers?
Whatever happens, I am very excited. I have a lot of details to figure out and a lot of preparation to do.
The holidays have past and a new year is before us. It was a busy year: five shows, a few sales, and more pieces created. This is a good time to look back, as well as looking forward.
This was one of the first few pieces that I created with my friend Dave. In fact, pieces for this Foundling came from Dave’s father, Morris. In his honor this piece was named after him, “Memories of Morris” or “MOM”. I am grateful for how helpful and encouraging he has been in my artist pursuits as I am grateful for all who have encouraged me. This is not an easy path.
I suppose all paths have their difficulties and I loath to single out artistic pursuits as being more difficult than any other path. But the path of the artist is particularly poorly lit and the path is not merely about doing your best but also about finding your way. Like walking through a forest at night, you only know that you have succeeded when you have come out on the other end.
I have now ventured into white. This provides a beautiful contrast to the dark wood but can also make a piece look too contemporary so I have to be careful with how much white (and what kind of white) I use.
I am wrestling with this one. Is it too pretty? Is it too minimal?
Having a peacock feather as the focal point can make this piece feel like merely decoration. The feather has been bleached so it’s more an exercise in form rather then in the beauty of peacock colors, but I am still not sure where to go with this. I can add to this and have more focal points. This comforts me by looking more like a “traditional” Foundling. But then I come back to the minimal approach which can be so shocking by its simplicity.
This piece is another one of those that came together so quickly that I have to wait a bit. Take a breather. To wait until the assessment catches up with the reality of a new piece. I will call this one “cr” after an artist friend of mine who has the only other white Foundling I have ever created. I will listen and see if this piece is kind enough to tell me in which direction I should go.
Recently I was reading an article about Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi. There was a little quote by him that said “New? New is easy. Right is hard.”
On one level, “new” is difficult — to see past what is done and make it unique. To make it your own. But on another level, new, for the sake of new, has no substance, no underpinning. Without effort, new is merely novel. The art world, these days, seems so taken with new. “Right”, on the other hand, seems much deeper. Whether it is “right” to the artist or right to the answer of a problem, right has a quality to it that is usually beyond explanation. This kind of right is also incredibly subjective. For me, when I make something right, a collection of unrelated objects fit together in a way that looks as if it they were meant to fit together. If this then relates to beauty in a way that suits me, it becomes art. It becomes right.
Trying to describe this process in words is so difficult but putting this in words also helps me understand. There was a time when I would say that this is all just semantics and yet, when “right” happens in the process of creating, it is so gratifying.
This piece is call Last Stand.
Over ten years ago, I went to an “art happening” called Burning Man. This event takes place once a year, in the middle of a desert, in Nevada, at a place called Black Rock City.
I was so unprepared for the all of creativity I saw there,… and the chaos. The artistic expressions and the shock of the things that I had never seen before demanded to be reckoned with. I wanted to remember the wonder and the amazement of it all so I took pictures, hoping, in some small way, to capture the essence that is Burning Man. But the idea of putting these images in a little photo album just didn’t seem right. I was inspired to push myself to make something that would keep these images more present. I just didn’t want to forget how inspiring the event was.
I decided that I wanted to present these images in some sort of shrine. At the time, I wasn’t very handy and was certainly pretty scared of power tools. Within a few months of starting the shrine I stopped. Distracted by life, I felt unsure of where I was going with this project but I had already accumulated lots of antique wood, tokens from Black Rock City and a ton of items that I have been collecting over the years. Timidly, I thought that I could make other shrines or objects with these spare parts. In time, these art projects became Foundlings.
Like so much in life, what you get form an experience is largely what you bring to the experience. This event is not for everyone but for some, this event can be so transformative. Perhaps I was ready to start expressing myself and just needed a little nudge.
In the last month I have finally returned to this shrine and am determined to finish it. I am not sure that it is, strictly speaking, “art” but it will be an important tribute to inspiration. I am so grateful to Burning Man for inspiring me. Have a good burn.
This Foundling came together so quickly that it was almost a surprise. I have learned to humbly accept that some of these pieces happen very quickly and some happen very slowly. And some, never happen at all.
So as a working name, I called this Speedy Gonzales, the speedy cartoon mouse from my childhood. Later, in thinking about the name, I decided to name it after my dear friend Gonzalo. A very talented graphic designer, a great father and a very funny guy from Chile. His name was, after all, so very close to Speedy Gonzales. Gonzalo helps me see American culture from a totally different point of view (not to mention his wonderful, funny insights about the English language). He taught me that beauty, art and design are indeed an international language.
In telling him the story of how I came to name this piece after him, I wondered if he knew about Speedy Gonzales. America tends to export some of the very best (and very worst) of our culture. Gonzalo knew of Speedy and added “Why of course. He is actually a national hero”.