LACDA and steps forward

First off, I write this with no discernible readership. I’m not worried. It’ll happen. My doubts are easing as I formulate a working idea for my next steps.

Last Thursday, I went to the LA Center for Digital Art. I was recommended there by Nancy Jo Ward. Her work intrigues me because it deals with so much of what’s right and wrong with digital art, as does LACDA. Her work, with is primarily collage/montage based, is done in Photoshop, which means it’s primarily composited images from disparate sources. The work looks great on-screen. In looking at it, I’m reminded of my struggles with getting the screen image into material form with the same visceral, intuitive feel that resonates independent of the format. I can’t speak for Ms. Ward but, for me, the disparity of the material work (on paper, canvas or whatever substrate) has never had the impact I’m looking for. I’ve long thought that happens because the essential media are so far removed from each other that one will never equate with the other, in terms of the gestalt, the overall aesthetic impact.

The one piece she showed, as a material object, was printed on glass or plastic and that made sense, as that’s the presentation form that most closely aligns with screen display. That really makes sense and the presented work looked good. I believe that when you attempt painterly effects with digital images, it needs to have real paint when it comes to material form. You can use the digital image as an underpainting but the materiality of paint has certain qualities and, in encountering the work, our eye, mind and heart have certain expectations that paint compliments the conceptual effort to a large degree.

From Ms. Ward, I learned of LACDA. Last week, I needed to go to Tijuana for dental work and I thought I’d make a stopover down south and take an evening to do the DTLA Thursday night art walk. The work at LACDA was interesting but didn’t resonate very deeply with me. Further puzzlement came when I went through some of the higher end galleries that also participate in the art walk. The work on display there was expensive and nicely done but it didn’t resonate, either. I’m no longer interesting in pushing pigment, drizzling media or abstract smears. The notion that an open, primal expression of the artist’s spirit is best embodied through expressive or explosive eruptions of emotion on canvas has been done to death.

I have a similar exhaustion with postmodern appropriation, collaging and randomness in the hopes of evoking startling, juxtaposed insights into the human condition or, worse yet, the banality that is human life. That last statement calls my own work into question because so much of what I offer is, initially, based on composited, juxtaposed images. The hypocritical inference in all of this is problematic, to be sure. But, I think it can be reconciled. All art is an amalgam of what came before, blending ideas, practices and experiments that result in a cumulative effort that is unique in its own form while referencing selective elements from current and past practices.

That gets to my key point. What I’m working on is a unique blend of past and present, of visceral, material, virtual and digital, different media that are unified in theme and concept. The bridge between the virtual and material doesn’t happen through technology, as that will always end up highlighting the technology. When all the technical aspects (painterly and digitally) focus on the intangible aspects of human experience and expression, then the resulting work can demonstrate unity and coherence.

So, I’m ready to start formulating a plan. That comes next.

Thoughts on the opening last night...

The opening for the SLOMA show, Brushstrokes, was a marvelous experience. It’s such a wonderful experience compared to my life at the university. It was all art. No programming. No LMS (Learning Management System). There were a lot of good paintings in the show. There were a number of awards and I didn’t win anything but I can understand why. This round of paintings has been a bit restrained. I’ve been relying on subtle wordplay, small mind games and cleverness in my work. What the intention of the other artists is, I can’t be sure. But, I’m pretty sure this current round of work isn’t the most forceful artistic statement I can make. It’s nicely crafted. It’s cute. It’s clever. But, it doesn’t have the power that compelling art needs to have.

At this point, it appears that I can make my most forceful statement through the animations. In thinking through my life history, that’s not surprising. In my childhood, I spent a lot of time watching TV and, easily my favorite time of day was when the cartoons were on. One of my earliest recollections is of a dream that was a synthesis of life experience and an old MGM animation. Early one, I recognized the underlying malevolence inherent in the Warner Brothers cartoons that I loved as a kid. I remember in college, in my film history class, being fascinated by German Expressionist cinema, as well as the movies of Jean Cocteau. Then, later, much later, when I was teaching about digital culture at CSUMB, I learned how Japanese anime artists had used the animated form to deal with powerful emotional and spiritual issues and I’ve had tremendous admiration since then for their efforts to make animation a reflection of deep experiential issues.

These current animations are an attempt to blend those inclinations with the forcefulness of short form poetry and German Expressionist art. My paintings are about the intrigue of meaning and playful manipulation of visual convention. The animations have morphed into something with much more powerful intentions and I think that’s what art should be about, pushing the boundaries of the medium to open passageways of meaning, powerful meaning, shaped in a way that changes people’s lives.

I know it’s rather a delusional notion but I don’t care. If I can create work that can change how people see and feel, that’d be my life’s achievement. I can make images that charm and evoke a certain admiration for skill but so can a lot of other very talented people. Perhaps, these animations have something unique and powerful to offer. In the recent past, I’ve gotten feedback that my animated work is really getting at people’s sensibilities. Yeah! That’s what it’s all about.

Last night at the SLOMA opening (Brushstrokes), another member of the painter’s group approached me and told me she’d seen the Engendered Memory animation and she found the visuals and the sound, including the poetry, powerful and compelling. That was the best moment in the evening, though the whole event was really wonderful to be a part of. It’s the first time that I’ve been part of a relatively large-scale opening.

Digital Art Talk...

Today’s September 7 and there are a few edits to include. Today I talked with an appreciative audience at SLOMA (San Luis Obispo Museum of Art) and I thought it went really well. I’ll embellish this post later today but, for now, I said I’d post a link to the PDF presentation that I used for the talk. LINK

Also, if you’re interested, here’s a LINK to the most recent version of The Gorgon Drives At Night.

Art is...

I’m doing a presentation at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art this week and, in an effort to generate interest, I posted a draft of my presentation online. In my presentation, I’m dealing with digital art, what it is, what it isn’t and the surrounding issues. Of course, one of the first things any opinionator needs to do is to define their terms. In this case, that means defining, most importantly Art. One visitor responded and suggested we have a talk about fractals as art. I seconded my original opinion that fractals, like the programming that spawns them, isn’t art. So, the question comes up, according to Pat, what is Art?

So, as I point of reference, here’s my summary opinion on what constitutes Art. I extrapolated these statements based on an interpretation of Aristotle’s Poetics. Those principles were authored to deal with poetry, which Aristotle considered the only true art. According to some, his idea of poetry was the poetic narrative that was authored for Greek plays. I believe the principles he articulated are easily translated into concepts that apply directly to contemporary visual art.

Most anything created with intention has at least one of these attributes but, in my conception, the more of these concepts the artist deals with in any given work, the more artistic it is.

RHYTHM (movement)— Rhythm means that the elements in a piece prompt visual movement at an understandable progression and regression of how the eye travels, resulting in the viewer’s eyes flowing back and forth in appropriate sequence with the piece.

LANGUAGE (message)—Language means that the piece contains forms that convey message and feeling, the language may be literal, using words or it may be musical but, for us, the most important form is visual language.

HARMONY (agreement)—Harmony means that the discrete forms in the piece have convergent and divergent rhythms and use the language of movement and message to contrast and complement each other.

OBJECT (focus)—The object is the primary element (the focal point) of the artistic piece. It’s what the piece is about, whether that be a naturally existing object, a feeling, a story, an internal structure or other recognizable entity. The object originates in the natural world and is interpreted by the artist. This interpretation is called mimesis.

MODE (genre)—The created work demonstrates an awareness of the genre the piece was created in (painting, music, video, etc.) by referencing past incarnations of the genre and redefining that history in new and contemporary ways.

HISTORY (tradition)—The piece connects to known and understood events, culture and the practice of art. For instance, a sculpture should demonstrate that the person who executed it, the sculptor, has studied other previous sculptures. The work should demonstrate an obvious awareness of the world beyond the immediate concerns of the artist who created it.

TRAGEDY (emotional tone)—The emotional content and tone should be unambiguous, determined by such factors as the color scheme, lines of movement, rhythm, the softness and angularity of the shapes and the literal or depictive content. The piece should have a recognizable emotional tone and content with understandable clues that access this content. It can be tragic or comedic, but it needs to evoke some kind of emotional response or it’s not art.

STRUCTURE (composition)—The organizational relationships of the piece determine its structure. The placement of the elements within the visible framework should demonstrate an awareness of rhythm, placement, size, overlap and other abstract principals of visual logic. The structure of the piece should be understandable and it should have an anchoring point, the object, and the ancillary elements should work in concert with the foundation element.

UNITY (coherence)—The piece should be primarily about one thing and that thematic or aesthetic core should be the primary meaning from which all other considerations of the piece relate, in contrast or in concord.

UNIVERSALITY (breadth of message)—The piece should strive for meaning that transcends the primary issues regarding the artist and the audience, connecting both parties to larger issues that deal with interpersonal, social, cultural, psychological, political and archetypal themes or content.

ASTONISHMENT (expectations)—The piece should offer us the unexpected, presented in a way that balances out against our expectations.

REVERSAL (irony)—At some point in the presentation, our expectations are to be upset with the point of departure clearly defined and the reversal of expectation has a clear indicator or direction and point.

RECOGNITION (accessibility)—The elements of the piece that make it work must be recognizable in their origins and reference (semiotics).

So, there you go, my conceptual framework for determining the authenticity of the artistic effort.

Back at it...

I write this after a week away from the blog. At this point, I don’t think anyone’s following this and I don’t blame them. There are so many ambitious types out there hoping to become something or someone significant through the authoring of regular blogs. With that in mind, I wonder why I’m doing this and, as I try to connect the dots, new insights emerge.

After all the recent work and thinking about art, my art and the art that surrounds me in this life, I’ve come across some thoughts that help me anchor my practice.

First of all, art is revelatory. Through our work, we show who we are, one way or another. So, to have any worth as an artist, what gets revealed needs to be authentic. The work will show who we are so we might as well be truthful.

Second, art isn’t just about personal expression. Art is a form of communication that can’t be achieved through any other method. What we see has it’s own system of seeing and showing. That system is frequently beyond the scope of what the written word can encompass. This is an aspect of the essential “thingness” about art that Clive Bell refers to. It also harkens back to Lessing’s essay on Laocoon, which leads to what we call, “formalism.” There are things that sculpture can do creatively that a symphony can’t and vice versa. There are feelings and perceptions that a poem can evoke that a painting can’t. This uniqueness of each form of artistic expression hints at the deeper truth that art communicates in ways that can’t be explained and achieves meaning that evades rational explanation. As Paul Klee put it, “Don’t talk painter, paint!”

Third, this leads to one of my core concerns, that art needs to resonate and, how that is achieved needs to be through meaning that goes beyond what shocks, startles or grabs our attention. The resonance needs to go as deeply as possible into the core or our shared experience. There are many ways to get this done within the arts. Music is an incredibly abstract form, capable of bringing us to tears through a combination of notes plucked on the strings of a wooden box. Some have been deeply moved by the paintings of Clyfford Still and Mark Rothko, with others dumbstruck by the contorted metaphors of Salvador Dali. Others are moved deeply by the poetry of Emily Dickinson or Sylvia Plath. Each form has its unique qualities that can evoke deep responses through separate means.

Maybe last, for now. I believe that each era has forms that resonate because of the complex matrix of experience unique to that time and place. Some work resonates deeply for a short period of time and is then forgotten, or largely forgotten. Alphonse Bourgereau was widely honored and acclaimed during his time and is now little more than a footnote.

For me, that means that I’m searching for a creative form that is unique to my experience, resonates deeply with whom I share it and has qualities unique to our time while still conveying eternal complexities of human experience.

Why Read My Drivel? Dribble? Drizzle?

With the emergence of the online world, there is so much content available that the easiest thing to do is to skim and move on. Delving deep into what’s offered online is rare and so, I ask myself, why would anyone want to stay long enough to read what I have to offer?

To establish and maintain interest means I have to have something to offer that can’t be found somewhere else and to do it well. Even if what I have to offer is similar or akin to something else, then it has to be better.

That’s what I intend to do, offer something that is unique and better and all you have to do is subscribe by paying me $20.00 per month to ramble on about “Art.” No? I’d like to make money doing this but that’s not why I’m here. I’m here because Art (with a capital) is an essential part of our human experience. Art is the manifestation of our creative spirit, how we bring into being the creative nature of our soul. It’s a beautiful and joyous part of who we are, even when it depicts or conveys troubling, sometimes terrifying aspects of our shared experience.

People frequently assume that the work I do is a form of self-therapy because I have such and uneven and sometimes traumatic background. I appreciate the sympathy but that’s not really the case. On some occasions, I use pieces of my life experience as the basis for the work I do. More often, I use what I know and feel and then let my imagination unwind the notion with empathy, trying to feel for the authenticity of a scenario.

This isn’t really about me. It’s about the importance of the artistic impulse, it’s essential nature in our lives and I want to show all of that, it’s personal rewards and its interpersonal rewards, how it reveals our commonality as human beings hoping for understanding in our experience.

So, that’s why you should read this. It will make your life better.

Yes... I'm delusional, and you?

I do this to transform the world. That’s a grandiose and very unhumble notion but I don’t do it to be grand. I believe there is a lack of empathy and depth in our experience. We lack a deep understanding of how vulnerable we all are and how much we need to share the depths of our sadness and our humanity. Only in that realization can we attain our best realization of this precious life we are given.

The creative arts are how we find that fundamental truth of who we are, through all the layers. I think it’s originally found in yoga, the concept of the glass onion as a metaphor for our experience. Each layer is transparent and when we look at only one layer, we think we see clearly. Yet, when you put all the layers together, the cumulative effect of one slightly distorting layer on another eventually distorts our perception to the point where we can’t really see the real world at all.

Through creativity, we open ourselves up to truths that are inaccessible to our “rational” minds, as the creative realm accesses parts of us that the logical part, the pre-frontal cortexian part, doesn’t have a connection with. Well, the connection is there but we don’t have the words for it. There are experiences that go on within and without us for which there are no words and no rational explanation. One of my heroes, Paul Klee, said it well, “Don't talk painter, paint.” But yet, we, as artists, continue to talk about our art. Words, combined with rationality, are wonderful and they do wonderful things but the best they can do is to point our consciousness in the direction of what’s going on, creatively.

Creativity comes from a time and place far removed from our contemporary lives. Some ancient traditions think that the fundamental force responsible for the manifestation of the known universe is the ineffable but undeniable force of creativity. Before that, there was nothing. From that, came everything.

So, I don’t do this as a way to provide self-therapy, though the process reveals the deepest and most troubling parts of my experience. I do this as a way to be a better human, taking two roles, both the “me” that I call myself and “me” as a humble member of a broad and diverse community of beings. Each of us has been given gifts to offer each other to make our lives richer and more responsive to the ultimate needs that surround us. The gifts given to me allow me to make work that engages and challenges people to deal with aspects of experience through a viewport that I can open. At this point in my life, after the labors of conventional career and family have evolved, I find I’m driven by the call of a muse that demands I do my best to realize a vision that, apparently, few can offer.

From what I know about the world of art and creativity, what I have to offer is something unlike anything I’ve ever seen. When I work on it, sometimes it makes me cry. Sometimes it makes me laugh. Sometimes it makes me giggle with delight at my cleverness. In the end, it’s something that’s unique and I’m doing my best to make it change lives, as delusional as that may sound.

Good Art, Bad Art, High Art, Low Art... No Art

For some odd reason, now I feel like an artist…

Decades again, when I taught art at Sierra Nevada College, I felt like an artist. Then, I got hired at CSUMB and though it wasn’t strictly art, I got to teach Digital Art and Design, which seemed like a perfect fit. Weirdly, as the years marched on (18 of them at CSUMB), I felt less like an artist and less like myself.

Today, pulling into the driveway at my place in Cayucos, I feel the art part in me in such a way that I’m once again ready for the full advocacy of art. In my recent past, I’ve entered the conversation as to what art is, who we make it for, what it should do and all that stuff.

This shouldn't be about me and MY ART. That’s not the purpose. Art is a message and it needs to be a powerful message. For that message to come across, the art we make has to challenge. It needs to challenge us to see and feel the world in a different way. That way needs to embrace our shared history and be relevant to our time. It needs to open the pathway to a more vibrant, healthy and sane community.

I write this not sure if anyone else but myself will ever read these words. Why should someone visit my blog and read what I have to say? That’s a great question as there’s a lot of good stuff out there and, with the overload of content that comes online, what I have to offer might be little more than a drop of spittle in the ocean, a single tear in a stream of feeling, a spark of hope in a fire of anguish and so forth and so one.

At the very least, it needs to be interesting. What you have to offer has to be worth seeing, reading or listening and, if you’re lucky, it’s good enough to experience again. That’s where I run into doubt and, as you may know, doubt is the pit of despair that sucks the life out of any ambition.

So, in this ramble, I need to focus on why I came here in the first place, the disparate considerations of good art, bad art, high art, low art and no art and… where does what I do fit in and why should anyone care.

First of all, good art needs to command your attention. There’s a lot of art and good art has to be attractive in that it needs to draw you in. That’s a complicated phenomenon and I’ll cover that more some other time. Secondly, good art has to keep you with it long enough to sustain attention and convey an essence, a message, a feeling that resonates deep down inside. It needs to uncompromising, unapologetic and, at the same time, accessible. Lastly (for now at least), it needs to prompt reflection so that, after you leave its presence, you recall it again and again and think about it in its relationship to your life and experience.

Bad art is decoration or so explicitly self-referential that it ends up being a vanity project. This is difficult to deal with because our visual culture is so packed with work that is attractive and/or provocative, both of which can command attention but do little more than generate a quick look and then a dismissal as the viewer moves on to something else in their lives. It make look nice but that’s little more than attractive home decor, which can be very nice but it’s not art. Craft is wonderful but it’s not, by definition, art. Accidental aesthetic pleasure, which is what happens with a lot of abstract painting, is little more than a visual equivalent to the monkey with a typewriter trope about the creation of poetry. Creative visualization, as with doodling, recreational sketching or exploratory pleasantries with the tools can be intriguing but they aren't Art because they don’t take on the challenge of being Art.

High art is what you get when the art is very conscious of History, in the proper sense, as a nearly sacred pursuit, where the created work interweaves our past and present awareness of the most notable work done by artists and explored by art critics. When the work opens the door to and extended discussion of Laocoon, in all its referential glory, that’s High Art.

Low art comes from our shared experience of stuff that somebody else calls crap but we find interesting, engaging, fun and culturally engaging, even though it originally had no artistic or aesthetic intentions. The generally anti-elitist approach of Postmodern art and art criticism validates the legitimate cultural analysis of cheesy visual stuff, which may or may not be art but it looks pretty cool and it’s worth thinking about.

No art is an interesting notion. More on that another time. If you’ve read this, cool. Hopefully you can return for more. I promise to make it interesting.

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. 


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 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. (

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...."


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.