New stuff....

I’m pretty much energized right now, even though it’s a groggy end to a long day and a long week. What I’m working on has me excited and, when it’s complete, I feel it’ll be a significant contribution to the integration of a variety of creative impulses, with the kind of outcome that the interweaving of time honored, soul enriching expression, mixed with contemporary technology can realize, in ways never achieved before. I’ve done a couple of demo videos and a project profile that can be found on the PROJECT page here at my site.

Next on the agenda is finding a site for the show and a sponsor for the technology improvements I need to make to complete the effort.

Refining my direction

When I taught at CSUMB, I would sometimes get frustrated with the commitment to lesson planning, classroom management, meetings and all the collateral work involved with doing my best for the students and the institution. That frustration was compounded by my wish to get more of my personal creative work done, work that fulfilled my soul to a much greater extent. Now that the university life is behind me, I can understand why I put off the art part, to a large extent. It can be daunting, no doubt about it. I get irritated with the networking necessities. I have a hard time with it. I'm OK with the networking part, meeting other artists and talking about work, mine and theirs. The social media part is tedious, a bit of a bore. As a university teacher, I didn't mind it much. As an artist, I find it more difficult, doing the FB, Instagram, blogging, etc., as it definitely gets in the way of my creative progress.  

In the limited coaching I've had, one message comes through consistently. Be myself. Let my work be unique, unlike what's out there. In doing that, I'm having a hard time fitting into various notions of what's "artsy." Though people usually think my images are surrealist, that's not really the truth. These are literal paintings. They aren't surreal. The have a specific and coherent meaning. These are the visual complement to my poems and the poems are the magical word streams that conjure forth these images. The problem, for me, comes in separating my poems from my images and I've been struggling with the insistent notion to pull them apart and I don't want to do that. In my overall dream-scheme of things, I want to do a book of illustrated poems. The books would be the take-away from an exhibit where my paintings are on the wall, in full, physical presence, and the visitor can listen to my readings of the poems on headphones as they stroll through the gallery. I want it to be a full, immersive experience in the poetic realm that my consciousness inhabits. 

I took a look at the work accepted for the Artcore show and it's so different from what I’m doing and where I’m trying to go. From that, I ask myself, "Would I dramatically shift my conceptual vision to accommodate a shift in vision?" That's really a tough one. It brings to mind all the crazy sh*t that Sherry Levine and Chris Burden had to do to break into acceptance within the Big Deal Art World. I get it and I don't blame them. To be an “Artist,” I can visualize going through the labyrinth to gain recognition. I think I have enough talent to do that. If I did, I'd forever be peeved that I didn't stick to my guns and I guess I want to change the rules, rather than conform to them. When I taught at the university, I taught graphic design during a revolutionary time, when radical new ideas were coming from skate, punk and alternative culture, upsetting the conventional modernist approaches to visual messaging. When talking about that, I reminded the students that you can either try to be the best within the conventional rules of the game or you can push so hard with new ideas that you eventually reshape those rules. 

The world of gallery art might be going through radical changes. Obviously, something's shifting, though I'm not sure I fully understand where things are headed. I'm fortunate that I'm not trying to make a house payment based on the sale of my work. Though my pension is modest, I do have the means to exist independently of commercial sales, though selling what I'm working on is certainly an appealing idea. So, when I try to embrace all of this, all the variables of authenticity, acceptance, success, individuality, iconoclasm, expectations, commerce and everything in between, my brain gets bulgy and I just decide to work on what I'm working on and see where I end up. 

Moving forward...

I’ve been a member of the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art (SLOMA—a slightly weird acronym) for a few months and it’s been interesting to see the work of the other members, which is mostly abstract. For some reason, their work has inspired me to get some previous work out from under wraps and wonder about it. A number of years ago, I did a series of abstract paintings with the intention of creating deep, atmospheric visual experiences through the use of simple forms, acrylic glazes and gels and lots of texture. Here is a LINK to thumbnails of the images. If you’re reading this, let me know what you think.

Today we had a local artist and LA ex-pat, David Limrite come in and do a critique of the groups paintings. He had a few things to say that I found pretty interesting and also some things that I disagreed with. But, it was great meeting him and talking with him and, coincidentally, he grew up in Salinas and we know a number of the same people.

Too long...

It’s been way too long since I posted here. During this time I’ve moved to Cayucos, gotten quite a few paintings done and now I’m on the path to showing my work.

I don’t know if there’s anyone out there paying attention to this blog and if you are, thanks for hanging in there while I get myself off the dime and make a move towards showing the work I’ve done.

I’ve got more to show and I’ll up something new very soon, as in, very, very soon.

Adding Another New Image

I'm getting enough images posted to feel that I've got a decent catalog of ideas to present. On May 22, I go for a review of my recent work with a trio of gallery directors. Stephen Wagner recommended I have 20 images on my site to start contacting galleries but I've got 15 and, with that, I think I've got enough to show the breadth and depth of this series. 

The most important task, in addition to creating new art is to fine tune my artist's statement. It seems like I have nice nuggets of insight every day and then I forget them as soon as I sit down to do a rewrite. It's like trying to remember a dream. If you don't jot it down right away, it's gone and it may or may not ever return. Lost in the cosmos, vapor into the ether. 

New Image

A longtime friend and local arts administrator dropped by yesterday and contributed some nice insights to my recent work. It's great to talk about art. I love it.

Speaking of work, I've got a new image on this website, Engendered Memory. Because it's new, it's at the bottom of the list. The list is getting long so I might need to add a new page and put work there. This image now has me up to 15 new images. Stephan Wagner, the consultant I've worked with through Arc Gallery recommends I have 20 images. Hopefully 15 is close enough. I've got al the ideas in my noggin. It's just a matter of getting them onto canvas.

If you want to comment, be sure to do that, on the new image or any of the others or, the web site if you're thinking something should be changed. Not sure anybody's been here in a while but I haven't been updating my posts since the site was relatively new. Now that I'm updating regularly, the early visitors may have wandered away. 

Someone else mentioned Linked In and that I should keep it updated. Oy! One more aspect of social media that I need to attend to. Obviously, it's all part of the process.

Next week, SFMOMA has a show opening that I'm really ready to see, Rene Magritte, The Fifth Season, opening May 19. His work has been an ongoing inspiration and it always intrigues the eye and charms the mind. 

Survey

Through Stephan Wagner, at Arc Gallery in SF, I've scheduled to have my work reviewed by 3 gallery directors. When I did this last time, I was told I could only show 3 of my works. So, presuming that I'd have the same constraint this year, I started the process of figuring out which 3 a gallery director might find most compelling. One idea that came to me was to ask a number of my friends which images they think a gallery director would find appealing. The survey results have proven very interesting. The most interesting thing has been that the problem I have is reflected in the survey results. The votes are relatively evenly distributed, with only one image getting minimal votes (The Blessing). All the rest generated interest some interest with a close enough grouping to satisfy me that the entire group is close enough in theme and quality that they hold together as a body of work.

At this point, Cloud Mask and Venus Ex Machina are the two with the most votes. Leela And The Shrine and The Past follow closely with the other paintings within one or two votes of each other. A friend suggested I divide the votes by gender to get a sense of preference between the voting groups. That proved interesting in the overwhelming preference among women for Cloud Mask and Leela And The Shrine. Venus Ex Machina was a preference for male voters. Other than that, the men voters had more evenly distributed vote totals. 

The gallerists are all women and so I'm thinking I'll take Leela And The Shrine, even though it didn't earn enough votes to get into the top three. Cloud Mask wasn't a preference among male voters but I'll take it, too. Venus Ex Machina was a preference among male voters but there were enough women who liked it to incline me to take it, as it's one of my favorites.

May 2nd, I'm doing the deal....

I met with a marvelous sculptress, Marilyn Kuksht, yesterday and talked about art, marketing, style, philosophy and all sorts of stuff about the mundane, technical aspects of being a presence in the art world. It was a marvelous talk and she's a wonderfully talented artist, see this LINK. In her work, I see a lot of references to artists from the surrealist approach that I really admire, Ernst, Klee, Art, Miro and a couple of others, maybe.

Tonight, I've got a new idea that's percolating in my noggin and I've started the first stages of visualization. Stay tuned if you want to know more. 

I had a couple of friends, Rick and Bob come by after a bike ride and check out my stuff. I've got a gallery review coming up soon and their input adds to the very interesting summary of preferences that I've gotten from numerous friends. In short, which of the currently posted images does someone think a gallery might like. As with many artists, I work on something and sort of get lost in it. I know when I'm happy how an image turns out but I've learned there's a lot more to it than that. So, getting external feedback is always good. Sometimes what I like of what I've done isn't the same as with a portion of my viewers and supported. I've been surprised and intrigued by the results of my casual survey of what a gallery director might like. 

I purposely stated the inquiry with the notion to set aside personal preference and tell me which images YOU think a gallery director might like. That instruction pushed it into a more objective framework and, hopefully, gave me a less self-identified preference. 

As of now, Cloud Mask and Venus Ex Machina are the two favorites. Most of the rest fall within one or two votes of the best two. Fragile Dancer and Leela and the Shrine are the next two vote-getters. The others get the rest, except for The Blessing, which doesn't get a lot of votes.

Good advice

I've been working hard on the new series of paintings. As interesting background noise, I've been playing art videos on my iPad while I paint. Some are instructional, some are theoretical and some are art historical talking heads type stuff. A few things have come to mind that are good reminders, like the different white pigments and stuff like that. One comment from Stefan Baumann is to keep my blog updated, as that way, when Google does a search, there's new content to connect with. That way, my newest posting gets my site higher up the most recent list in the search engine. I knew that but had forgotten it. 

I did a number of touch ups and I have to do new photos of those images to get the site up-to-date. I've got the latest painting in the queue and the presentation to gallery directors in SF is coming up soon. When I signed up, it was late at night and the first thing that caught my attention when picking a time slot was that one reviewer is from SF MOMA. That got me pretty excited. On second look, the other two reviewers are from galleries that I'm thinking won't find my themes a good fit for what they show. We'll see. 

I did submit 3 images to the Xanadu Gallery printed magazine/catalog and a friend referred me to Saatchi.com to list myself at their site. I like pursuing ideas like that but my highest priority is to first, get the paintings done and second, get a show as soon as possible. Speaking of such things, I did submit a nice copy of "Nostalgia" to the PG Art Center for their annual patrons fundraiser. I'm hoping that generates a sale for them and helps curry interest in a show for me. (http://pgartcenter.org/Exhibits.html)

Today I go meet with a local sculptor who's been doing well for herself as an artist. I hope to glean some tips from her on who to contact and how to speed up the process of getting a show for myself. But, as has been the case throughout the previous months, first priority is getting enough paintings done and I'm still way behind on that. I like what I'm doing so much that I want to take my time but that complicates hitting my time markers. 

If you read this and you're so inclined, go to the paintings page and find the three images you think would most impress a gallery and send me an email with your preferences. 

Lastly, I'm still looking for a nice place to live and have a painting studio. As you can imagine, painting in my dining room isn't the best use of space. 

Day 2 of For Reals

I hired an art consultant to review my work and website last year. The first time around, the critique of my work said I was trying to do too many things and suggested focusing on one facet. The critique of my site said the same thing but was a bit more brusque. That was a few months ago. Soooooo, I've focused on one thing (my surreal paintings) and I've greatly simplified my site. The latest review is really positive. The only caveat was the suggestion that I have 20 images before approaching galleries for shows. Ack! Does he know how long it takes to do these? This isn't abstraction or casual impressionism. This sh*t takes time.

First contact...

I headed to the Monterey peninsula to make first contact. The Monterey Museum of Art was closed for renovations, reopening in mid-March. OK. Reset. Then, off to Carmel, with attitude fully engaged ("If it's rejection, bring it on. If not, whoppee!).

I Stopped at the gallery where the staff person previously said she liked a photograph of an image I'd sold. Didn't see the first person I had earlier talked with. Those present (a painter who'd done some of the beautiful clouds that I find inspiring and two staffers) weren't thinking the surrealist angle was a good fit for them. Not surprising, as the gallery is largely seascapes, Mediterranean harbors and bucolic scenes of cows, pastures, etc. They also didn't particularly like the promo card. I was told that the card didn't give any sense of the scale of the work; big, small, whatever. They think I should take a finished canvas around with me to show what I've got.

Not sure on that. Suggestions would be welcome.

They referred me to a place down the street. That gallery featured a lot of very slick, corporate-type abstracts. Anodized, crystalized metal sheets, op art style visuals, color field abstracts. They weren't interested unless I had already been in some major museum shows ("Not yet, but soon." I said to myself). Stopped into another gallery that had some nice surrealist style work and the lovely woman there (with a fabulously sexy middle eastern accent) said they were definitely interested in showing some selected works of mine but... the owners of the gallery were currently in divorce proceedings, closing two of their galleries and consolidating all the works into the Carmel gallery. They like my work but wouldn't show anything until early next year when the current artist contracts get reviewed. I then dropped off a card at the Marjorie Evans gallery at the Sunset Center and went to do some chanting and meditation. "Om Namah Shivaya...."

Primetime

I've got a majority of the paintings completed and now it's time to do the deal, starting with the cold calls necessary to make all this go. I freely admit to being scared. I've done nice work and presented it in various ways in the past and... nothing really gained traction. This time around, I'm relying on my unique vision, my digital skills at visualization and my love of paint to create work that is thematically and spiritually challenging, while being technically skillful enough to draw admiration for technique. Technically, if I could, I'd like to work like the best of the Baroque and Rococo painters, with a style that's flashy, skillful and bombastic; combining that with the mystery of the surreal, not just the surreal, but the surreal world of someone like Poe. Now, that would be an awesome accomplishment. Boucher meets de Chirico, meets Poe. I wish!

I guess it's time to venture back to Facebook, which I've been avoiding since God knows when. It's time to network and get the word out.

Here's a copy of the promo card I intend to send out. Let me know what you think. 

postcard_01_test01.jpg

"Sometimes the shortest distance between two posts...

...is a crooked path through the twilight zone." That's a paraphrase and the complete quote is at the bottom.* I think I have to go back through my artist's statement and cite Twilight Zone as a major influence in my life and my artistic journey. From Twilight Zone, I learned the compelling call of twisted narrative, turning straightforward storytelling into an interdimensional pretzel of unlikely and possibly insightful meaning. For that, folks, is a core concept of my consciousness. 

On this day, February 16, 2018, I think I've completed the hardest work. I've reinvented myself and taken all that I could from the old life and molded it into where I go from here. I've reshaped my skills and applied them to the dream, the dream I've had since I was young, the dream to be an artist worth knowing about. Long before I wanted to be a good teacher or a skilled surfer or a dedicated father, I felt the impulse to be an artist. My first awareness of intellect was a visit to LACMA when I was still in grade school. The work I saw resonated so deeply that it amazed me that I was paying attention. I knew I was young, too young for such an impact from the work in a museum. But, what I saw in the museum that day clicked something deep within me that has focused the primary intention of my life ever since. 

And, now today, I've got a series of serious works that I'm preparing to show to the world, in an attempt, courageous or frivolous, to change how we think and feel about what we see.

*Narrator: "In a way, it can be said that Walter Ryder succeeded in his life's ambition, even though the man he created was, after all, himself. There may be easier ways to self-improvement, but sometimes it happens that the shortest distance between to points is a crooked line - through the Twilight Zone."

First try

Welcome to my site. I've done a site or two before but I was never all that serious about the construction or the content. This time, it's more for real and I'll keep it updated on a regular basis. If you're following along, nice to have you visit.