Saturday, January 26, 2008

Public Art, Public Censorship

I saw this article yesterday and it got me thinking. I have always been interested in public art opportunities. I have never applied to participate because I didn’t want the hassle of dealing with the cans of worms that come with that art package. I have always despised thoughts of making art to appease public taste or judgment. I have never been one to make art that is controversial. However, I even hesitate to sign up with galleries because I have found I don’t like being told the preferred direction of my work. In my career so far, I have encountered situations in which other artists work has been censored and I have seen both sides of the coin. In some instances, I found the public outrage understandable. For example, if an artist chooses to show work in a public, municipal venue sponsored with tax dollars (art center, government building, community art program, etc.) and that artist shows up with politically charged, vulgar, or downright gross art works, they should expect it will cause a stir. I am not saying the work should be shunned, vandalized, or dismissed. I hate censorship. However in this case, there is a good possibility some form of angry dialogue will occur. Artists should realize this. Private venues offer a safer sanctuary for this type of work. There is less chance for politics to be involved.
The article that caused this train of thought deals with art that is not politically charged or inappropriate. It is just an artist’s interpretation of human forms. Artist Richard White’s piece “Insignificant Works of Art” is not pornographic or even slightly lewd. The reason for censorship was a pure judgment call made by the gallery coordinator. In this case, I can see why the artist was the one who was outraged. He has every right to be really angry. I believe it is just that he made a statement about his dissatisfaction by removing his work from the exhibition. If I had presented a piece and it was accepted by the jurors or selection committee, then the piece was hung incorrectly because the coordinator wanted to rearrange or reconfigure the works form of presentation, I would be one hot tempered artist! Read the article and tell me what you think.

Click to go to article

Friday, January 25, 2008


Does it ever GO AWAY? I mean, come on now. I have been an artist for a long time. I have had all the ups and downs imaginable. Yet when I get a rejection, I still feel like…...SH*T! know the feeling.
Today, I got rejected from an exhibition of which I really wanted to be a part. I planned it out. I took care to submit appropriate materials. All my “T”s were crossed and all my “I”s were dotted. My interpretation of the "theme" was spot on. I sent out the application materials and felt really good. I even imagined the opening. I thought about what I was going to wear and who I would meet. I was full of mental smiles. Then today I got the notice I was rejected.
I sat for a moment as a read the notice. My heart was pounding hard. Then the thoughts began to race. I clicked on Notepad and started to type what I was thinking. The following thought process is silly, irrational, and a bit crazy. Yet, it is real. Here it is:
Thoughts the moment of rejection
"Oh well....."
Feeling the heat rising in my face, I think, "I can't believe this."
The heat rests around my jaw as another thought comes,"Those jurors are jerks!"
Feeling tears stop short of filling my eyes, "Why didn't they pick at least one?"
"Stupid show! Stupid gallery!"
I wanted to be in that show!" "I was looking forward to seeing my work in that gallery.”
"What is the point? I am just going to stop making art. Yeah right, get a grip Sheree!"
"I worked so hard to get that work ready for that show! Yeah, and now you have two more paintings done so GET OVER IT!!"
Sitting back in the chair, I stare at the rejection notice. "You have been through this hundreds of times before. Isn't it time for your reaction to be a little more subtle and matter of fact?" "You have sat with jurors; you have been a juror: you know how this works!" "Some good works don't get chosen. You know your work is not BAD! This is NOT a personal attack! Maybe it wasn't their taste. Maybe they didn't think it fit their asinine THEME. Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe.....ASSHOLES!" “Damn it, Damn it, Damn it!!!!”
I am pissed. I am sad. I am confused. I feel like crap. I am angry. I should do a painting about idiot jurors. Yeah....that's an idea.

After this mental rant, I took the rejection letter and tore it up. I took it outside, put it in a pot, and burned it. You might think this is rash behavior, but it worked for me!!!

The FUN part!
You burn me, I burn you!! TEE HEE HEE
I feel better now!
I gotta go paint. :-)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

God Laughs!

After writing my post yesterday, I went back to work on my painting. As I momentarily glanced around surveying various works in progress, I rummaged through piles and piles of paint tubes. I smiled. After writing about wanting to live my authentic life, I didn’t mean to sound ungrateful towards my day job. In fact, I am so glad my life took an unexpected turn. There is a saying:
“We make plans and God laughs!”
Well, I heard all the angels in heaven giggling when I started teaching. I have no regrets though. In fact as I worked through the afternoon yesterday, I realized I wouldn’t be able to do half the things I do now if I hadn’t taken that job. Becoming an educator forced me to become a techie. It allowed me to be surrounded with lots of technology to hone these skills. My educator paycheck has bought all the art supplies I always wished for and now I have them at arm’s length. Working for a “system” has helped me to be more organized, tolerant, and resilient. I am a far more skilled grant writer now too. My social skills have matured due to the necessity to work with colleagues. The job has brought me security for which I never dreamed of having. Also, I have met thousands of students who have touched my life.
I guess what I was trying to communicate yesterday is we must have balance in our life. I have found this past year, this goal is certainly possible. Once again, I am Sheree the ARTIST. However now, I am back to being an artist who teaches. Not the other way around. So I guess God’s plan was best after all.
I am thankful.
God knows that.

Still working on “Frantic”
I want this painting DONE!
Ahhhh…patience! The end is near.....!
Take it one brushstroke at a time!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Things are starting to gel. I am starting to understand the expression “You don’t see the forest for the trees”. Back when I started this blog I was in the midst of taking my life back. I wanted to be an ARTIST again. Let me explain. I have always been an artist. I never stopped. However, when I moved to Florida “Sheree the ARTIST” got this teaching job through serendipitous circumstances. I never wanted to be a teacher. It just happened. I should say, I allowed it to happen because it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. I took the job. I had to for financial reasons. Raising a daughter alone was very difficult. She needed health insurance and a nice place to live. Before she came along, I didn’t care if I lived in a trashy neighborhood, lived hand-to-mouth, and paid my bills whenever. Having a kid changed everything.
So when I got the teaching job, I needed to understand what being a teacher was all about. Being the Type A personality I tend to be, I jumped in full force. I got teaching certificate(S). Oh yeah, one wasn’t enough!! I won teaching awards and I became a nationally known teacher. Slowly, ever so slowly, my identity as an artist started to fade to the background. Three years ago, I was frustrated and angry with myself. This feeling of discomfort was exacerbated by constant emails from teachers wanting help or googling my name and finding education links. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
It was then I decided to do something about it. I wanted to be Sheree the ARTIST (who taught). Not Sheree the teacher (who made art). I set forth with a plan. I would shift the tide by concentrating on my art, reconnect with the art community, and go back to my old ways of art promotion. In the past year, at times it seemed like I was spinning my wheels. Actually, I just wasn’t seeing all I have accomplished. I am starting to see it all coming together now. I have new bodies of work. I have started my little art video campaign. I have a direction. I know where I want to show my work and where I don’t want to show my work. I have concrete goals for my art for the coming year. When I am away from school, I spend all my waking hours in my studio working. So I see the forest now! It feels so good to be back. I feel like I am revisiting my authentic self. HELLO Sheree!

At work on “Frantic”
It feels so great to be making “jello”!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


This week I had a few "nibbles" on my art hook. I had a couple of tugs of interest. Oh, these perks of interest or nudges of hope make you stand erect. At least, they do me. Actually, I am starting to see the humor in all this. I know I was put on earth to be an artist. This fact was condoned by years of working to develop and hone skills that would allow me the privilege of claiming that moniker. I wear it well now. In fact, I am proud as I thrust my chest forward to display the vibrant "ART" emblazoned on my chest. Yep. I am proud because I have earned this tag!
I can't be specific about inquiries or interest. I can only say, there are people looking. That is such great news.
The past couple of days I have thought about how these "nibbles" are so important to an artist. I mean, what keeps us going? Why do we keep making art in times of economic stress and general hardship? What is it? Do you ever wonder what it is that keeps you motivated despite the odds? Do you ever ASK?


Monday, January 14, 2008

Loving it!

My enthusiasm for making art videos is growing by leaps and bounds. I just love editing and putting together my own little art presentations via video. Also, I am amazed and clearly see so much potential for these skills to be used within the context of art marketing.
I am still a total newbie at this craft. I will never be Spielburg, nor do I want to be. I am just learning and experiencing all the excitement and motivation that comes with any kind of creative endeavor. Each time I make a new video, I learn from my mistakes. I think of ways to capture my message in a more succinct way. I am organizing, changing, and rearranging footage so it shows my art in its best light. I love this new activity.
Yes, it takes time. That is such a treasured commodity among artists. However, this is time well spent. Not only are you forming a tool to showcase your art, but it allows you to document your own progress as an artist.
In the past few months of experimenting, I have taken baby steps. At first, I just talked. I don't really like those videos. I found out I can't paint and talk at the same time! Then I started making little videos about my art and the various series of paintings I do. These videos are like little packages. I wrap up months of work into a three or four minute video. BOOM! It is there all wrapped up in a pretty bow to behold years from now as a record of my work and energy.
Seeing the potential to use these videos as an art marketing tool, I started getting serious about using royalty free music in the soundtrack. Using “canned music” isn't as cool or ear grabbing as using pop music. However, it is another facet of the creativity. It allows me to find ways to jazz up elevator music to suit my needs. Also, it keeps me LEGAL!
I made this video titled "The Making of Imprisoned". I laid a tribal drum soundtrack behind it. After watching the finished video, I said WOW!
LOVE it!
I hope you do too!

Saturday, January 12, 2008


I missed my “anniversary”! I am talking about this blog’s anniversary! I can’t believe I have been doing this blog since January 6, 2007. The year did go so quickly. It amazes me how much I have written too. I printed out all the pages so I can have a hard copy of this “Visual Blog”. The binder is THICK with pages! I have noticed some bloggers do a year’s “highlights” post. I am not going to do that. I am just proud of this as an accomplishment and another way to organize my thoughts as I live my art life.
Today, I made a video about my “Sight Bite” series. I love doing these videos because it is another form of creating. Also, it helps me to make order out of the progression of my work. It is like cleaning out your closet or arranging the elements on a shelf. It gives you a fresh eye and a new way of seeing your work.
Another reason I love doing videos about my art is because it allows me to reflect in a visual way. I can SEE my past. I can look back and follow the direction I have been going. My art videos are like moving mirrors. With their reflections, I can see the concrete manifestation of my energy.

”Sight Bites”
the video

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Subcultural Personalities

As I type this, I am not really sure how I am going to explain what I am thinking. I have noticed this before, but today it was carried on my mind. I have always been interested in subcultures and their individual personalities. I am sure you might understand what I mean. This is when a mass of people with a common interest or trait take on a group personality with its own identifiable idiosyncrasies and attributes. An easy example could be golfers or fishermen. When we think of either of these sports, we don’t necessarily think of the individuals. We think of the stereotypes for which the group has linked to them. Rich golfers? Stinky fisherman? Whatever.
I have been the owner of many online groups. Since I have varied interests, I wear different “hats” often. I noticed long ago that teacher groups are very chitty chatty. There are many know it alls. Yet, these boards are inevitably information rich. Every artist listserv I have run is nearly silent. Oh there are a few of the same posters, but the majority lurk. It pans out like a poker game with big stakes. Few are friendly. Everyone guards their cards. The members want information, but give little back. Hmmmmmm
On YouTube, I am affiliated with two subcultures. I have an artist channel. I have a fitness channel. Both groups of people in these two subcultures are both using YouTube simultaneously, but never intersect. Two days ago, I got “tagged” on both of my channels within hours of each other. If you are TAGGED, it means someone makes a video telling about their life and then tags five people to do the same. It is like a video chain letter of sorts. So I made my response for my fitness channel. I got all kind of email and comments from the weight loss / fitness crowd. They were cordial, friendly, sweet, thoughtful, and generally very loving people.
When I got tagged on my art channel, I used the same video response. I just changed the names of those being tagged. The video fell on deaf ears. I got no response to speak of except SILENCE. So what does this say about the artist subculture? I wondered about this. I find it to be so enlightening and interesting. I have my own theories. I realize why this could be. I am sure some of you can think of reasons too. However, I also think it is kind of sad.

"Birds Eye View"
Graphite on Arches
Click to Enlarge
I thought of this drawing while writing this post.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy New Year
Happy New Work!

Knock, knock, anybody home?? I feel like I have abandoned ship!! Well, I am back on track now. I have been so busy painting, painting, painting, and making YouTube videos; this little blog was put on the back burner. However, I am very proud of myself. I had a looming deadline. So I kicked myself into high gear and finished two paintings. Whooopeeeeee! I even got the CD in the mail a day early! Hooray for me!
I have been creating like a Mad Woman. I love this feeling. The only problem is I would scare anyone who might come to my door because I haven’t combed my hair in days. I have stuff going on in every room of my house. I had been working in my studio, but it is getting cold out there. I set up more space in my living room and have been painting away.
One of the pieces I finished is titled “Imprisoned”. It is part of my “States of Being” series. The second piece I finished is called “Healthy, Wealthy, WISE?” This is a part of my “Sight Bite” series. Today, I was going to start a whole new painting, but stopped myself. I have some small pieces that I need to finish. I am going to do that first.
I had the quietest, most sober New Year’s Eve every. I sat here alone sans alcohol and watched the TV while surfing the net. I was proud of my restraint the next morning and woke up without a hangover. I thought “This is a great way to start the New Year – ALERT!”
I hope all of you have a wonderful, prosperous, and creative new year!!!

Acrylic on canvas
24" x 24"
Click to Enlarge

Acrylic / Mixed Media on canvas
20" x 16"
Click to Enlarge

I made videos of the progress of both of these paintings.
The videos can be seen on the Wizzle Workz Channel