Tuesday, January 25, 2011

State of the Squish

Room of Remembrance, Monotype, 15x22"

I'm going to wrap up a few odds and ends as I gear up for Spring. I've spent most of January spamming people. Or hopefully, bac'ning them. Bacn being the kind of spam that you voluntarily sign up for because you have a genuine interest in the subject matter.

As outlined in my last post, I've been trying to upgrade my presence on the web, and also took on social media duties for a couple of groups I'm a member of. I have a ton of workshops and shows coming up this year, and social media can really help one get the word out. Here are a couple of examples:

As you may know, I've joined Zip 37 Gallery in Denver, and will have work hanging there at all times, in their wonderful back room gallery. Each member has a little space for mostly small work, and many people already use it for one-stop art shopping. I'm handling their Twitter account, too, as well as my own.

I'll be starting my next workshop in early March, and it is registering now. It's designed to be a good introduction to Monotypes, but I also have return students who like to continue their explorations, and I try to accommodate both. It is a great way to start off a Tuesday morning; bring your coffee!

I've also posted a few images from 2010 ( including the one above) on my Facebook page as a review of sorts, with my commentary. Check it out, and if you'd like regular updates on shows and workshops, as well as new work, click "Like".

I also need to briefly update the post on the Tea Baggers' ironic ignorance of history in the light of recent events. I don't intend this to be a solely political blog, but the querulous effort to repeal Health Care reform, definitely affects those of us in the creative and small business economy, and so is relevant to what I am trying to do.

The GOP right's insincere promise to abandon their characteristic vitriol after the Tucson shootings went quickly up in smoke as they moved to reward their health industry sponsors with a "repeal" of the Health Care Reform Law.

This legislative charade has no chance of success, but offered a nice opportunity to go back to the name calling ("Obamacare") and outright lies they'd used to scare up the Faux News crowd originally. Even the name of their repeal bill ("Jobs-Killing-Health-Care") is a proven lie.

The numbers cited (650,000) link it to a non-partisan CBO report which actually notes the potentially POSITIVE effect of people leaving their jobs when they are no longer tied to corporate-offered Health Care. For example, to start businesses; or enter the creative economy. To innovate; to follow the American Dream. There is, to be fair, also a slight effect on the McJobs portion of the economy, which look good in Government reports, but do nothing to narrow the quickly widening wealth gap.

Having paraded that dog through the House of Representatives, the right then ponied up for their ultra conservative base by announcing that next on the agenda would be yet another attempt to erode Americans' right to reproductive choice. Not only is this narrow-minded and vindictive, it's plain stupid. At a time when the American public has sent a clear message in recent polls that the bi-partisan progress late in the 111th Congress met their approval, the GOP insists on revisiting past defeats in the Culture Wars. It's as if the Buffalo Bills demanded a replay of all their Superbowls.

This is a party that has completely "lost the plot". As we are reminded on Martin Luther King Day (the conservative's least favorite holiday), you cannot redeem the promise of American freedom without progress, and change. The Tea Baggers actually do have ways they can contribute to progress, such as in deficit reduction, which they have completely ignored when there are no elections in sight. The last President to balance the budget? a Democrat. His successor, the Deciderator, went "nuculer", and set a record for deficits. And their only substantive response to the Tucson tragedy has been shrill screeching about proposed common sense limits on high capacity clips for automatic weaponry.

The State of the Union rebuttals? Just a photo op for every Palin wanna-be that wants to tap into the anger of Tea Bagger booboisie. The deficit will never be eliminated without tax reform that includes increased revenues from the very rich, period. Targeting discretionary spending on already stripped-to-the-bone programs for arts, NPR and education are a straw man for GOP 2012 ambitions, and Obama has beaten them to the punch, anyway, as past grudges are vented in the House.

The right wing GOP/Tea Baggers continue to be the party of fear, demagoguery and narrow self interest. Their biggest lie of all? Calling themselves "patriots". Real patriots would get down to work on real problems, not be staring into space on Faux News, trying to cover talking points for the next election.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I love this time of year, as the days brighten a bit. It's also a good time for a fresh start in the studio, and I plan on some sketchbook time with new ideas later. I'll post some of these, as well as work from the end of 2010. But first, I'll wrap up some recent posts.

My "techie week" went pretty well, all things considered. Launched a FB page for the soccer supporters group, and took over the Twitter account for the gallery. I realize this is simple stuff for the generation that doesn't remember lp vinyl, but it's a somewhat slow process for one who remembers watching the Kennedy Inaugural on b&w TV. Social media come with a new learning curve, but I also need to clear the decks for the ancient technology of making monotypes.

New media are important business tools, but spending a lot of time on them to the detriment of studio time is frustrating. However, the only real way to smooth the learning process of marketing in social media that really works is to just jump in and do it. it isn't so surprising that those of a certain age didn't realize that making art was a business when they started. But many of us now realize that making art without a Facebook account these days makes about as much business sense as making pizza without a delivery truck. I secretly suspect some in my age group of pooh-poohing these new media simply because they know the learning curve will be steep. And it is.

Then each new medium seems to open up a whole host of other tech mysteries. One finds many eager to compare notes on the head spinning profusion of new technology. My neighbor is an architecture professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. Because there is online teaching involved, he's had to become familiar with certain Open Source applications and Wiki technology (with the help of University IT, he was thankful to say). My brother also extolls Open Source, which he uses for animation and e-publishing. I've enjoyed several Wiki's related to one of my favorite authors, Pynchon. It's all intriguing stuff. But my initial reaction is much like Popeye's after one of those spinning Bluto roundhouse rights: aigetty, aigetty!

I'll continue to tinker with the Facebook page, and you can also find me on Twitter. One of the biggest challenges for me is learning how to keep the posts regular and substantive. But now, the library wants their "Facebook Marketing for Dummies" book back, and it's time to carve out a little time for a technology I'm familiar with, pencil and sketchbook.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cold 'fusion

Winter finally did arrive here, 6-7 inches worth, along with the frigid local tradition known as "Stock Show Weather", named after the National Western Stock Show.

I don't mind. We need the moisture; it'd been mostly 50's with sun all through December- and I have a long list of computer projects to catch up on. Checking my pantry- veggie burgers, beans, bacon- Hey! Somebody send beer, quick!

Well, never mind. Weather droid says it'll be back to 50 by the end of the week, anyway. So now's a good time to sit down and focus on some computer projects.

I've become a new member at ZIP37 Gallery, and my contribution there is to take over the Twitter account( stop laughing, please). I've actually been tweeting more on my own account, @hggns, as a result of walking into a soccer party, and one of the young tech-savvy friends there saying: "Boy, you don't tweet much, do you?" Well, no. But I knew I was a logical candidate for running the ZIP account, when one of the other, similarly middle-aged, artists confessed that she hadn't figured out how to make labels on the computer yet.

So I'm trying. Twitter lists me with 35 followers, and 189 tweets. I'm informed that I've been listed in "Good Tweets 2" by a fellow tweeter in the creative economy, and I hope to find what that is (Is there a cash award?) , but I'm honored. And in my own defense, for the first two years of my Twitter account, I didn't actually own a cell phone.

Now I'm trying to get in the habit of tweeting on a regular basis, and taking over the ZIP account fits right in with that. I'll also be posting video of each show to the Zip Facebook page, something I started doing when I took over The Class VI Colorado Rapids Supporters Group page, all of which actually fits in with stuff I want to do on my Joe Higgins Monotypes page. I may be confused and over-extended now, but soon I'll be very tech-savvy, and over-extended. Or maybe I'll just retire to the bar.

Any way, check back here and on my Facebook page ( link at right) soon, as I'm reading up on how to better use them, and there will be interesting changes ongoing. I promise I won't be videotaping the inside of my pocket, as I did the first time I set out to create content for Class VI.