Thursday, October 30, 2008

England



Okay, this is totally at random, I realize, but the other day I was moving some stuff and found this picture of my brothers, mom, and me in England. I was about five or six and was attending the local peroqual school - hence the rediculous outfit with the little rams head on my blazer. It was around the beginning of the year, I can tell; the shorts give it away. I wore them until the teacher began whackng me on the back of my bare legs with a stick. Okay, so, I wasn't the best student in the world back then ... plus I was the only Yankee in the place. But, dang! that hurts on the bare leg. So, I started wearing long pants. That was when I began being whacked on the back of my hands with a stick. Hmmm. Not sure which was worse. But, look, matched sox!


One thing that I will say for the teacher ... wish I knew what her name was ... she was one of the first people to single me out for my artwork. Even though she didn't like me, she went on and on about some train that I painted. She made a huge deal out of it and hung it in the front of the room. I was embarassed -- almost as much as when I had to stand in front of the class to be smacked.


Ah, yes ... those fond old days. Aparently it was in fashion, back in the 60's, to wear clothing that didn't fit very well. Check out my brothers! Haahahahaha. What a bunch of dorks we were! Well, okay, so ... some things never change. We're all still pretty much a bunch of dorks. Here's a picture of Mark, Chip, and me some forty five years later.

It looks like our clothes still don't fit ... and Mark grew right out of his hair! Well, mines getting mighty thin too (thankfully I've had a thing for hats all of my life). Chip's just growing a tall forehead.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend Adventure

Weekend Adventure.
Saturday night (25 October ’08) my girl, Brenda, and I headed out on a little adventure. We left just as the sun was finished setting – which was a good thing, as we were heading west. I hate driving into the sun. We drove for several hours before stopping for dinner at a place called “Bobs” in Moses Lake, Washington. The food was palatable and the service adequate. The conversation and the companionship, though, were outstanding. We talked about everything and nothing – as usual. Just being able to spend time with Bren is a treat for me. She really is one of the great treasures of my life.
Around an hour after we left the restaurant, we stopped at a little motel for the night. It was really daytime for me … but I had only gotten about five hours of sleep today, and driving at night is kind of tiring anyway. At 2 a.m. I was wide awake, though. I managed to get back to sleep for a little bit, but was awake again by 4. I lay there for a little while before I got up and went into the bathroom. I had so many ideas floating around in my head that I wanted to get some of them down.
I lay in the empty bathtub with my sketch book and did some drawings for a commission that is due next week, and then I did a little writing. It was quite peaceful and very comfortable and, strangely, I enjoyed the experience quite a bit.
Eventually I went outside and wandered around in the dark. There was a small lake behind the motel and I attempted to walk round it but couldn’t see very well. The moon was only a fingernail in the early morning sky. There was hot coffee and packets of hot cocoa in the lobby of the hotel, so I made some mocha-java and walked around a little more. There were brochures in the lobby so I read some of the literature about the local towns which seemed very interesting. The town in which we were staying, Ellensburg, had burned to the ground in 1889. The town then began a great renewal and rebuilt itself, coordinating the styles that were to be used. There were some beautiful old photos of some of the buildings – most in the “arts district”. Perhaps we would have a chance to check it out this weekend.
We had other, more pressing matters, though, to which we wanted to attend.
As the sun peeked out over the trees, it made a wondrous view. Its fall in the Great Northwest – well, okay, so it’s autumn everywhere – but autumn means different things around the world. Here, in Washington, it’s a temperate zone (not a coconut in sight – though they are brought here – shipped, not carried by African nor European swallows), and in temperate zones the deciduous trees turn all sorts of lovely shades before the leaves plunge from their lofty perches. They glide through the air, softly landing on grasses, to curl into rust-coloured heaps beneath the trees.
The lake was a beautiful reflection of the early morning sky and the cold air made a silky mist that floated on its surface. I enjoyed the moment with a silent thrill. I will, most likely, try to capture this peace with one of my woodcut/intaglio/monotypes.
The sun was brilliant, though the day very chilly as we headed out on the last twenty or thirty miles to our destination. It was some of the prettiest landscapes that I’ve seen in some time. We were very close to the rocky, craggy, still snow speckled mountains that divide Washington’s “inland empire” from the western side of the state. This part of Washington looks much like parts of Alaska that I roamed through as a boy. Indeed, that’s probably what prompted them to pick it as a good location to film the television series Northern Exposure.
Last Christmas Brenda got me the entire series of Northern Exposure and we watched it in its entirety over the next six months. It was quirky and strange, yet deep, philosophical, and fun. We became very engrossed in the characters and felt a certain bond with both them and the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska. The real town that was used in the series is Roslyn, WA. It was, as you’ve guessed by now, our destination.
There’s something very surreal and wonderful about visiting someplace that you’ve only seen on movies or on television. I got to experience a lot of that a few years ago when I wandered around New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington D.C., and several other places. Sometimes it’s hard to get your barring because it’s just not the way that you thought it was laid out in your mind’s eye.
Now, I’ve been to Roslyn before – back in the 90s – when they were still filming the Northern Exposure series. My mom used to live in Bremerton when I lived in Hillyard (part of Spokane, WA), and every few months or so, I would take a drive over to visit her. Never often enough, as it goes – “but there never seems to be enough time to do the things that you want to do once you find them...”, as Jim Croce put it (Time in a Bottle). Many times I stopped in – and, almost without fail – each time they had either just finished filming hours before or they were going to film the next day … or filming had been canceled or delayed due to weather, etc. Grrr. I secretly had a dream to be a walk-on extra in the show. But, alas, my Hollywood career was just not to be. My regrets to Janine Turner; I’m sure she’s still heartbroken over it.
The series is mainly about Dr. Joel Fleischman (played by Rob Morrow) who graduates from Columbia University medical school and is assigned to work in the tiny Alaskan town of Cicely to pay for his education. The location is remote, the people are weird, and Joel just wants to return to New York. The series was created by Brand and Falsey, who also created “St. Elsewhere”. The show won an Emmy in 1992.
Bren and I pulled into an almost deserted street at around 8:30. We wandered around and took pictures before heading into one of the many restaurants in town for breakfast. We sat beneath a large photo of the cast of NE. When the waitress asked for our order I asked her what John Corbin’s favorite breakfast was. She informed us that she had only been in Jr. High when the series was airing.
After our delightful meal we wandered about town. We went into Joel’s offices, which are now the home to a dilapidated and musty curio shoppe, then we roamed down to the Brick (whose sign looks decidedly like a phallic symbol – maybe they should rename it the Prick). Of course this early in the morning the bar was closed. Directly across the street we peered into Ruthanne’s store. It was also closed and would be all day due to Sunday sales being poor, according to the sign. It’s a shame. I think that they really lost an opportunity today, as there was a dog costume contest and parade through town and the KBHR end of town was swarming with people and dogs in various states of apparel. True to the series, it still seems like a weird town.
By the time we peered through the windows of the Chris in the Morning, KBHR radio station, and wandered around town, purchasing stuff in the health food store and admiring the scenery with its many reminders and references to the fact that this was once a great coal mining community, it was after 11.
Our trip to Cicely couldn’t be complete, of course, without sitting down at the bar in the Brick for a cold beer. We ordered some of the local brew. It was exceedingly nasty, but we quaffed it along with some soup and onion rings. Holling sure can whip up a mess of vittles.
Sadly, we turned our wandering back eastward. We stopped back through Ellensburg, saw a halfway decent museum, and wandered through some shoppes, but most of the town was closed and looked nothing like the pictures in the brochures. So, we headed back home where our little Pfeffer was waiting.
It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed an outing like that. Brenda and I really needed it. We watched a couple of episodes of NE once we had unpacked from our trip. We used the fast forward button quite a bit, mostly focusing on the scenes of town – where we had just been hours ago.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Seminar/workshop



This last week there have been several other artists on the property. A Russian painter, Alex, brought several of his students to join Del for a seminar. I was invited, but – once again, because of my shift, I had to miss most of it. I did get to sit in on a few of Alex’s lectures and got something out of them.One of his lectures was on painting with only three colours (plus black and white). Not an unusual thing in itself. What was unusual was his pallet. The blue was Cerulean, the red was Alizarin Crimson, for yellow – cadmium yellow medium (which is not so strange). I’ll admit that the mixtures produced by these colours were rich and vibrant and it was a nice day for the whole thing …….. too bad it was right in the middle of the time that I usually sleep.
I’d like to say that I’ll be using that pallet from now on. It sure would save a lot of money in different paints, and it would give me so much more room in my paint box – however, I don’t like the thought of learning a whole new combination of colours, or the thought of having to mix so much. Many of the combinations I do use already, but I do like the idea of not having to buy so many different paints, and I will look at eliminating some of the colours that I do purchase.
Last year Del was telling me about Zorn (Anders Zorn 1860 - 1920), who only used three colours plus white: he used black for his blue, cadmium red, and yellow ochre. I tried it and was pleased with the results … however, it wasn’t really the direction that I wanted to go.
The whole limited pallet thing is intriguing – I did a painting last year in which I used only red, green, black and white. I was amazed at the range that I could get with those.
Colour is amazing. If one could live to be 200, they’d still be discovering new and interesting things to do with paint combinations (course, they’d need to have someone else mix the paint for them because they'd be too old to pick up a brush).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Harvest

Yesterday I went out and pulled the corn from the stalks that I’ve been nurturing all spring and summer. The whole growing a field of corn thing was kind of an experiment, really. I didn’t expect much – just wanted to try my hand at a plot of corn. I grew a few stalks last year but didn’t have much luck. A few of the ears were okay, but some sort of weird blue growth thing happened. The thing was, though, that I liked the way that the stalks of corn looked – the dimension that they added to the garden and the way that the sunflowers grew with them and then towered over them. So, this year, when I planted the seeds, I edged the plot of corn with Sunflowers … and put a few in the rows too.
I had six rows that were about thirty feet long – about twelve or fifteen plants per row. No one could be more surprised than I had been when 95% of all the kernels that I planted actually grew. I’m always amazed with the whole growth process. It’s like magic that something stately and beautiful as a sunflower or a tree can come from a tiny seed.
I’m amazed by a lot of things, though. Anyone who has ever ridden in a car with me knows, to their chagrin, that I spend almost as much time looking at clouds, trees, and mountains as I do looking at the road. The whole world is a wonder to me.
When I was done harvesting the corn, I put the stalks together, just like I’ve seen some of the farmers do. I never really knew why, but Del said that it was probably for their cows. Hmmm. Well, I have no cows, but the corn stalk sentinels look cool, anyway.
“Y’know, not everything is an art project,” someone who had been close to me once said. I gave her a blank look. “What?!” At the time I think that I was carving a pumpkin. How could that not be an art project? She didn’t understand me at all. And – she’s no longer part of my life … not from that one incident, but you can see that it’s a basic part of me; art, experimentation, and the wonder of the world around me. None of it seemed to be a wonder to her.
I’m a vegetarian. Well, that is to say, I don’t eat meat (not much anyway – every once in a while I treat myself -- I’ve found, though, that I don’t really enjoy meat all that much). Really, I’m more of a pastatarian. I love pasta. I’m probably the worst vegetarian on the planet because I don’t even like vegetables much. I do like to grow them, though.
A garden is like a big sculpture. The medium is dirt, water, sun, and time. Well, let’s not forget the planting, weeding, pruning, weeding, tying, weeding, exfoliating, weeding, and harvesting (ah, finally, no more weeding). The beauty of a garden is amazing. In the spring I’m always excited to see little green shoots sprouting forth … then the buds … flowers … and fruit as they grow and produce.
I had some great crops this year. I made over a dozen jars of pickles with my cucumbers and lemon cucumbers, we also had tomatoes coming out of our ears practically … we’ve got lots of carrots, potatoes, and corn. There was also delicata (which I have no idea what to do with – it look suspiciously like squash), blue Hubbard squash (yeccch), eggplant, cabbage, Swiss chard, peppers of all sorts, watermelon (which didn’t get very big – but I did take a few bites of one and it wasn’t bad – for a melon), and we still have a nice row of Jerusalem artichokes (Bren’s idea – I have no clue what they’re all aboot or even what the fruit looks like yet). Oh, and we can’t forget the quintessential, ubiquitous Sunflowers.
The bad thing about my big garden (besides the f-ing deer) was the amount of maintenance that it took. Although, I’ve got to tell you that there is something about working in the soil that is really relaxing and therapeutic. But, I hardly got to paint any of it this year (course, I work nights and it’s hard for me to stay up past ten in the morning). Next year I may not make my garden so big. I’d like to spend a little less time weeding, and a lot more time painting the stuff that I do grow.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

New Show

With all of my work out of the gallery, I could plan a new show. I wanted something totally different. Not with the thought of sales in mind, really, but, rather, the thought of providing something new for the public to see, and a venue to finally show some of my prints.
I spent the entire weekend (my weekends were Wednesday night and Thursday night off) planning and working on putting together a new show. I cut mats, I bought frames, I sifted through about four years of printmaking stuff (that’s all the longer that I’ve been doing printmaking) and framed/matted enough work to have a decent showing. As it turned out, it was more than enough.
The gallery people had begun to wonder about me. I had pulled all of my stuff down on Sunday morning and hadn’t put anything up by closing time on Thursday. Friday was the first Friday of the month (October ‘08) – first Fridays in Spokane are when they have the “art walk”. Every gallery in town stays open late and serves hors d’oeuvres. Probably 90% of the gallery sales are on first Fridays.
By 7:30am on Friday I had all of my work there in the gallery and ready to hang. Standing there in the quiet gallery in my sox, I once again gazed at a blank wall. How different the feeling was! It was a feeling of peace and, yet, expectation. I was excited that my prints would be seen. Most of them for the first time. I have had some shown with my paintings previously – and even sold a couple – but this was to be my first showing as a printmaker – it made me feel good.
I took my time but my mood was kind of dark. I’d felt very stressed out and overwhelmed with the task of putting all of my work together over the last few nights. When I started there were prints and mats and frames everywhere … and many of the older prints had no notes on them of when they were done or which number out of how many. I had to dig through and count and number and do all sorts of book keeping things – including signing many of them, before I could even begin to hang ‘em.
As I was putting up one of the pieces I became agitated. I was standing on a ladder, trying to find the nail with the wire hanger and I couldn’t get it to hook. The place was very quiet (I think … I had my ipod on and I’m not sure how well that I could hear anything, really). At one point, in my frustrated state, I yelled out “fuge!” Only, I didn’t say “fudge”. I said the F, dash, dash, dash word. The queen mother of all swear words.
In my head I could imagine what the other people in the building thought. Earlier I’d heard people upstairs in whatever business is up there, moving about, getting ready for the day, and I know that the deli people next door were busy with their prep work by then. I know that they’d heard me hammering nails … then the quiet … then my profanity in an agitated voice. It reminded me of my dad in a way and I just started cracking up.
I’d needed that mood buster. The rest of the hanging went well and I felt much better afterwards. Too bad that I couldn’t have just sat down and relaxed and absorbed the peace for a while – I still had to go home and put together a poster explaining all of the printmaking techniques, an inventory, and I had to do place cards for all of the work. The hardest thing, though, was that I had to figure out prices for everything. Then I had to get some sleep, come back, put up the cards, hang out for the First Friday event … then I had to be at work at 10 pm.
Several people from the gallery commented on my work and were pleased that I had shown yet another side of my work. I felt that I had, indeed, prevailed.
All said and done, though, I managed to shake the malaise and to rejuvenate myself. I don’t really feel like I have something to prove to the world, but I do feel like I need to step up and put more into things.
I do realize, though, that change can be slow … and I need not take myself too seriously while I am taking my artwork seriously.
“The oxen are slow, but the Earth is patient.”

Dealing with it

A few days after the library show I had to go down to the gallery (Avenue West Gallery, Spokane, WA -- http://www.avenuewestgallery.org/) to take down my paintings. The gallery is a co-op of about 18 of us. We share the rent, chores, maintenance, and running of the business. Every few months we switch spots so that when people come into the gallery everything is different. I also like to change the images that I show each month. This is for several reasons. One is that I like having my work seen for a change – for many years it has gone from the easel to the closet. I like to bring stuff from my studio that has never been seen before. Another is just the fact that people like to see new stuff. Some of the artists in our co-op have shown the same work for years, I’ve heard. I find that rather sad.
In August I was the featured artist and had a large area at the entry to the gallery. When that was over I had to pull down more than half of my work and was relegated to a rather small portion of wall space in a part of the gallery that is, quite frankly, an afterthought as far as viewing goes.
I was glad to be moving. I was to be going into the second room on a nice, big, white wall.
But – the malaise – my old nemesis, had a grip on me. Pulling down all of my paintings was almost more than I could abide at that moment. I hadn’t sold anything in some time and I felt worthless as an artist. Back to the “what is it all for?” question.
I had visions of driving to the Monroe Street Bridge and flinging paintings off of the side. I wondered if I could get one to sail through the air far enough to reach the falls. What was the point of all of this anyway? It’s art – which, to the majority of humanity, is superfluous. At least, that’s the way that they think. The masses don’t realize that art is all around them … that a day without art would be like time in a mental ward.
So, there I was, after work on a Sunny Sunday morning, taking down my stuff. I stood in front of the blank wall for quite a while, too weary and depressed to even move. In a daze, I loaded the stuff into my truck and went home. I had just enough energy to pull the stuff from my hevicle and dump it into my studio, then I went to bed and fell to pieces. It was the lowest point in my emotional psyche that I can remember for quite some time.
I lay there for a while and went through with the fantasy of flinging the paintings off of the bridge. How much of a release would that have been! Then, in the little scenario, a couple of cop cars raced up to the bridge.
Both cops screeched to a stop a few feet from the sidewalk, their patrol cars angled so that they could use them as protection against me if it should come to that. Who knows, I might have hit them with a portrait - or something worse. The cop to my left crawled through and climbed out of the passenger door, ducking behind the cruiser, holding a microphone.
“Drop the painting and step away from the railing,” came his tinny voice from the speaker mounted to the bubble gum factory on top of his car.
“Or what, you’ll shoot me?”
“Now let’s take it easy,” replied the cop from the other car who was now hiding behind her door. “Nobody’s going to get hurt here,” she said to me soothingly. “Frank, you dumb ass, put the gun away.”
The other officer holstered his weapon and muttered something about the other officer.
“I’m officer Amy,” said the patrolwoman as she stepped from behind the door of the car, “what’s your name?”
“Don’t play that shit with me, lady,” I retorted, “I know all of that psychobabble. We’re not friends and you’re not gonna get into my head.” I raised the painting of the very bridge on which we stood. “Another step forward and the bridge goes over!”
She stopped about ten feet from me.
“It’s okay. I won’t try to get into your head. We just want to know what’s going on here.”
“I’m personifying the cliché of the angst-riddled artist, you silly bindt!”
“Why don’t you just hand me the painting and we can sit down right here and talk.” The officer soothed.
I acted as if I were going to give in to her without any further trouble. I held out the painting, as if I were going to give it to her. As she reached for it, I pulled it back just a little and let it drop. As I suspected, she lunged for it, throwing off her equilibrium. As she was distracted, I quickly stepped around her and into the cruiser which was still running. I jammed it into reverse and backed out about ten feet, then spun the wheel as I slammed it into drive and peeled out past the other cop car, heading south on Monroe, towards freeway. Haha …. GTA in Spokane! Hooo – hooooooo.
I came out of my little fantasy laughing at myself. At least I had broken the black mood.
I lay there and rethought about the other night in the mall. A few days before the watercolour show I had been listening to a tape that I had made for my sons back in ’94. I had been giving them advice.
“What makes a man successful,” I had been telling them, “is not the lack of adversity that they face in their lives; it’s the way in which he deals with it.” Those words had haunted me then, mulling it over even as I mulled the pizza in my mouth, and they shone again there in my darkened bedroom.
The words didn’t make me feel much better at either time, but I did realize that both of those moments were crucial. I could either hide under a rock somewhere, keep proceeding in the same manner that I’ve been going, or I can attack with a new enthusiasm and alacrity.
I had known that the malaise would persist for a time and I gave myself permission to feel badly about things for a little while. There is always some frustration when growth occurs. I always have to remind myself of that – and rejoice when it comes. I am equal to the task at hand! I will prevail.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Late September

“…I think I've got something to say to youIt's late September and I really should be back at school…”
R. Stewart
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the upcoming adventure of painting for a year and of going back to school to get my Masters degree. Both ideas fill me with a sense of excitement and of concern, as, I suppose, they would anyone … but maybe for different reasons.
Recently I submitted a couple of paintings to the annual Watercolour Society of America show here in Spokane. Both pieces were accepted to the show, which was a great relief to me – it’s always devastating not to even be selected to be in a show. However … I went to the judge’s lecture on the day that the paintings were accepted/rejected.
The show is in the long, wide hallway of the meeting room wing on the ground floor of the public library in scenic downtown Spokane. The paintings weren’t hung yet as I entered, but they were all there, resting on the floor, leaning against the walls – just waiting to be viewed by the public. I walked around and looked at them. There were quite a few that I would not have chosen to even be in the show and several that were border-line. However, there were several which I felt were better than mine. I could see that I wouldn’t be in the top three for sure. That wasn’t much of a concern, really. I love to see good art and I would hate it if there were no great artists around.
Let me just say that I don’t consider myself to be a watercolourist. Well, that is to say, watercolour is not my medium. I’m an oil painter first, draughtsman second, and, I’d like to say, printmaker third – when it comes to two dimensional work anyway (as an artist, writing is still my first love – though I’ve never made a penny from it – and have chosen not to pursue it as a vocation). Watercolour has always seemed like a sketching medium to me; something to use when taking “notes” on something – to use as a reference later when putting together an oil painting.
I do realize that there are those who work exclusively in watercolour … and I do appreciate the wonders of the medium. It is like no other. I have never mastered it and haven’t really tried to. It’s not that I haven’t ever done it – I have hundreds, if not thousands of hours of experience in working with water paints – I just have always preferred oil paint and have only done a few “finished” watercolour paintings. Last year at this time I did three “finished” works … quite possibly the first real “finished” and framed watercolour works that I’ve ever done. I entered two of them to last year’s show and one of them won an award (one of the lesser awards). I also figured that one of Del Gish’s pieces would take first place. They were both amazing, especially the landscape of Russia.
All of that having been said, I did two more this spring and summer in preparation for this show. The first is one of my wonderful woman, Brenda working in a little window flower garden with the evening sun radiating off of her. I thought that it turned out quite well – if, maybe a little stiff for a watercolour. The second was of an old house that I’ve been watching in its slow decay over the last thirty plus years. I used to think that it was haunted when I drove past it on my bicycle during my teens. I worked on the painting for a couple of weeks (a little at a time – as I had other projects) … and it was just not working. There were moments when I thought that it was coming together … but it just never did. I overworked it I think.
So I chose another painting – one that I had done last year – a portrait of one of the guys with whom I worked at the County Parks.
As I perused the work there on the floor of the library, I felt that both of my paintings looked strong and was confident that I would at least win one of the lesser awards, which were usually gift certificates from art vendors or stores. While I was standing there I noticed Stan, an artist whom I had met the previous evening at a little soirée that a local collector had put on. He had seemed very full of himself as he had preached design to Del Gish and me. Who was this guy that thought he could give design lessons to Del? And to me, whose work he had never even seen!
The minute that he saw me there in the library and started talking with me, I regretted running into Sophomoric Stan. Wow, what an ego. He went on and on about his own piece. It was nice, I’ll give him that, but what I found amusing was that it refuted some of the principles of design that he had been on about. I tried to brush him off but he followed me into the lecture hall where the judge was about to give his talk.
Del and Marge arrived just before the speaker.
The speaker was Charles Reid, an internationally known watercolour artist who has put out many books. I’ve seen his work and enjoyed it immensely – even if I do think that it’s kind of sloppy. Loose is one thing – runny and drippy is something else. Although, I am forced to admit, there is a certain charm in a lot of that. But it seems to me that most of the “happy accidents” with watercolour are a little too much luck and not enough skill. One of the reasons that I’m not a watercolourist, I suppose. I do realize that I do need to loosen up a lot though.
Before Charles went into his talk, he listed off the winners of the awards. He didn’t say which paintings and he didn’t say what awards they got, just the names. Two of the names were sitting on either side of me … Del and Stan. I was kind of bummed when I was not listed there. I put it out of my mind and tried to focus on the talk. But it was there, waiting for me. At different moments it threatened to come back and slap me in the face … but I kept it at bay, refusing to let it spoil the moment. I had been accepted to the show and I would be hanging in yet another place in Spokane. Advertising, exposure, these are what I need to concentrate on right now … networking and all of that.
I did enjoy the talk. Charles Reid is a class act. He’s modest and self effacing, and he was kind to all of the little old ladies who had, apparently, been at his recent workshop. I made a note to look at his books again. Del said that he has some of them that I could borrow.
When I walked out into the gathering gloom of the city I was almost crushed by the sudden depression that enveloped me. It wasn’t the coy, cat-like mist of T.S. Eliot’s poem that coiled about me; it had a more snake-like grip.
I had heard that a non-objective piece had won first place. That disturbed me more than anything. I don’t like abstracts. It’s a personal choice. I don’t think that they take much talent, and I don’t consider them to be fine art. Art is subjective, true … but there are different forms of art. If, say, a dress maker were to do their designs in watercolour, I don’t think that they would really belong in the watercolour show either … nor would the architectural renderings of an architect belong, or magazine illustrations … even if they were done in watercolour. It’s not that these things aren’t good enough … it’s just an apples/oranges thing. To me abstracts are design … pure and simple … something on which to plan a painting or arrangement. It’s a craft, not a fine art. I think that some judges include them just so that they don’t have to take any heat from art critics (most of whom have a cranial-rectal issue) or something. If I’m ever in charge of a show … or a judge of one, I’ll make it clear … “no crayons, no comic book illustrations, no dress patterns, no architectural renderings, no designs, and no abstracts”.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hold it against people to like abstract art. Thank God that we don’t all have the same tastes! We don’t all believe in the same things and that’s fine. I never try to convert anyone to anything. I accept people for what they believe in. I just don’t think that abstracts belong in the same show as fine art. Abstracts should be hung with, and judged against, other abstracts. That’s what I’m saying.
I couldn’t go straight home. I had to be at work in a few hours and I hadn’t eaten, so I called Brenda and told her about the show and that I was going to go into the downtown mall and get something to eat. I tried not to sound down … but I don’t know how successful that was. I could barely even concentrate on the conversation.
I rode the escalator up to the food court, got a slice of pizza and a Sprite then sat down at a booth. I was amazed at my sudden depression. WTF?! Had I really set my sights on winning? Had I been so naïve?