Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Time for Schoolin'

The Tea Baggers are abandoning national priorities they are uniquely qualified to contribute to in favor of another battle in their ongoing war on the middle class and the American healthcare system. And why? Because they flunked American History, not to mention Civics.

The holidays, for me, are the time of year for friends and talk, and reading. I like to take a little staycation of the mind and consider the year gone by and the one to come. One can't help but think about life, art and politics, and the connections between.

A couple of things I've recently read come to mind. First up, in the New Yorker, is an account of the rather spotty tale of the first Tea Party, in which merchants like Sam Adams and Hancock were far more interested in inciting mobs to protect their smuggling businesses and prop up their prices than actual patriotism. It's an article of faith with the conservatives that the Boston Tea Party was the epitome of patriotic fervor that united the colonies, but both Washington and Franklin, along with a huge segment of the colonial populace, deplored it and it was really the ham handed reaction by Parliament that brought calls for a Continental Congress, and consequent colonial unity of purpose. Ultimately, it was left to progressive thinkers among the Founding Fathers to focus the mobs on truly unified and progressive patriotism, and thanks to "England's dreaming" good things eventually happened.

Now, after a very productive lame duck session, in which several Republicans bolted the lockstep agenda of "No" their leaders had for political purposes employed, and actually contributed to important legislation, the Tea Baggers/GOP are now insisting on a return to "No".

As in, no immigration reform, no deficit reduction, no tax reform. These are all crucial issues that the GOP is uniquely capable of contributing to, and politically benefitting from, if they work together with mainstream legislators in the Dems and in their own party. And judging by wide ranging approval of the stimulus and other accomplishments of the 111th Congress, it would be in their interest to do so.

The leadership has instead decided that a vindictive war on the American Health System, and tarring and feathering Obama must be top priority in their ongoing crusade to enlarge the wealth and income gap at the expense of the middle class. So let's have a return to gridlock!

The agenda of No is an agenda of merchant profiteering and states rights. Let's see, manipulation of angry boobs by rich merchants to keep prices high, and social progress stalled. Sound familiar?

The only way for this to succeed, to paraphrase, is for true patriots to say nothing. The nation could be spared a lot of grief if the Tea Baggers and states righters would simply look past their anger and self interest to see that they are on the wrong side. Again.

Something even a child could see.

In the Times' Opinionator blog, which is now running an excellent real time review of the Civil War's seminal events in anticipation of the 150th anniverseary of that essential struggle, one of the current posts concerns the cleverness of Major Robert Anderson to outwit the Confederate militias, and withdraw his men to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, where the first shots of the war were fired in the name of states' rights. That left other forts in the harbor undefended, and one was held with only a token force: an officer, an enlisted man and his daughter were left to await occupation by a large Confederate militia. The Sergeant's daughter Katie Skillen, as the American flag was lowered to be replaced with a Confederate banner, burst into tears. The militiamen assured her that she wouldn't be hurt, but that wasn't what she feared. It was the raising of "that dirty thing", the banner of states' rights, that saddened her. As it should any thinking person.

Similarly, the Tea Baggers waving "that dirty thing", are trusting that we don't know our history. States' rights, once used to justify slavery and segregation, is now being trotted out by the corporate interests to derail Healthcare Reform.

But that won't happen. It's going to be a long tough struggle, and free thinking Americans will need a bit of Katie Skillen's wit, pluck and sass. But the militias of greed and self interest will in the end be defeated. Again.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Doesn't Follow

I have to say, I crack myself up a little when I do this stuff, and am not totally convinced that anyone else really gets the joke. This is a ghost of a fairly experimental picture that I called "Incomplete Still Life", which contained the distressed table and distorted perspective of a floor, or maybe even a DiChirico-like plain. Weird enough.

Then, on a second drop I added a black squall in the upper left, possibly as a result of too much LSD in the younger day. I think it's pretty clear this pic has no real coherence, unless you count the synaptic mysteries of a visual non sequitur. Which I do, so of course this is one of my favorite pieces.

It's pretty rare that one of my favorites actually sells; this one did last year about this time. So I guess someone got the joke. Actually it was a couple that very often get my jokes, they have a large collection of my work.

I have a show scheduled in August, so I'll need to get to work on some larger stuff after the holidays. I'll be looking for something visually arbitrary and disconnected, yet vivid and very present tense. That's the best I can explain a print like this.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blu Xmas

Blu Xmas, Acrylic, 12x12"

My friend Dea down at Plastic Chapel on Colfax invited me to enter her Square Footage show. Plastic Chapel mostly sells cutting edge toys and collectibles, such as Smorkin' Labbits, and Neo-Realism in her small gallery. So I decided something fun was in order.

Here's what I came up with, a tribute to all the fun alterna-babes who've kept me company in the Colfax dive bars during holidays when I couldn't get home.

I've always wanted to do more cartoons, but haven't had a lot of time till now. I've been sketching more 'toons, and I'm resolving to finish more of them. I'm also going to dig out my early cartoons done for my high school paper and scan them. All this after I had a reunion with high school buddy Spencer this year, when he mentioned them.

Most of them are pretty weird and twisted, so they'll fit right in to this blog!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Checkin' the List

Sun breaking through the clouds after a gray morning; shimmering on the lake, shining on dry fallen leaves. I'm on my second pot of coffee, catching up on blog and Facebook posting, and sorting work for a group show at Zip37 gallery.
Last year at this time, I didn't have a lot to do, so I mostly read. It was very relaxing, but I was dead broke, to be honest, which isn't that much fun. I realized that I needed new revenue streams, however small, to tide me through the slow months, when there were no major shows.
So I got to work, dropping off flyers at art supply stores to fill workshops, going on eBay to sell books for extra, well, book money, and doing odd jobs for friends and family. I even got a temporary job, filling in at a college bookstore. Now things are better, but I don't really have a lot of time to read. I decided to fix that, and walked up to the branch library to pick up some books. First one I saw was a Facebook Marketing for Dummies type of thing, and since my marketing has been sort of... dumb, I picked it up. A real busman's holiday, there! Now I've joined a co-op gallery in North Denver where I can have work available all the time, but of course, I need to frame work to fill the wall. And on and on.
But as I learned from the temporary bookstore job, it's a lot more fun to plan your own tasks than have them assigned to you ( though the bookstore is a very pleasant place to work). I'm not really killing myself, but there is usually something on my to-do list. None of which provides a regular paycheck, but all of which seems related to the overall cause. Even the studio time is pretty un-romantic right now. I haven't really created any new images in a month. I've mostly been inking etching plates to complete my many unfinished editions, some of which will become holiday gifts, others which will be offered for sale in the gallery and next summer's shows.
People don't have a lot of understanding of what artists do. Some romanticize it, making reference to some sort of vaguely divine gift while protesting that they can't even "draw a stick figure". I tell them that it's mostly about working at it, putting in time, practicing, but they don't really want to hear that, I guess. Some are a bit patronizing; "you are so lucky to be able to do what you want", and some frankly, are plain clueless- "I want you to paint my child's wall with a unicorn."
If the long litany of little tasks that fill my days sounds like complaining, let me reassure you- I'm having a great time. But the arts are this state's 5th largest employer, and contribute greatly to the slowly improving economy. Let's stop pretending it's magic, or child's play, or some sort of overgrown hobby, though all those are certainly part of it. Mostly it's just hard work.
One more factoid- your holiday dollars, when spent on the arts, tend to return very quickly into your local economy (try me!). Unlike Walmart, the arts work very hard for your money.

Monday, December 6, 2010

An eventful fall around here, not you all might be expected to know it, from reading the World's Worst Blogger! Here's a quick recap of what I've been up to:

*Two workshops, an eight-week and a one-day, completed this Fall. They were well attended and a lot of fun. The next one begins early in March, and I'll post reminders here and on my Facebook page.
*I have work in several places right now. The highlights would be the Zip37 Backroom Gallery, which will be a permanent spot to find my work, open most Friday evenings and weekend days. Also Open Press Small Print Show, open Fridays and Saturdays through the Holidays.
*My favorite football team, the Colorado Rapids, got on a major roll, and won the MLS Cup. Not that interesting to those of us who are not soccer geeks, but I took the opportunity to brush up on my video and social networking skills, and I'm now planning on posting art shows and possibly workshop videos to the web, not just ecstatic footie fans. It's always fun to learn new software (iMovie), and I think writing and video-making are fun ways to exercise the creative muscles.
*This was also an important season politically, as everyone knows. I've been pretty active in writing and volunteering for issues that I think are important to creative business and other innovators, and although there were setbacks this year, I remain positive that progressive change can still happen. The politics of fear, greed and self interest are rampant right now, but I'm not ready to give up on America as a great nation.
I'll try to keep things a bit simpler around here as I slip back into a regular posting schedule. Next up: some of my favorite work, mine and workshop artists, from the past year.