Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Art Blog: Artist COUPLES

This all started a few weeks ago. As I trolled the internet, I came upon a female artist who interested me. I went to her website and noticed all the prominent information on the page was about her husband who was also an artist. I actually had to dig in order to find out what kind of art she does. To me this was sad. I wondered why she allows this. The scariest part is she designed the website herself!

I was so disgusted, but quickly realized it is her life. This kind of tribute is something I will never understand. I have never been part of an artist couple. I have never been in any kind of healthy relationship. Even when I was part of couple, it wasn’t what I imagine to be the “real deal”. I always just did what I wanted and my partner was background noise. This is why I have ended up being single most of my life. I feared walking in someone else’s shadow.

This revelation came on the heels of realizing I knew far more about Leon Golub than Nancy Spero. This topic continued to float in my mind for days. I recalled reading the biography of Sonia Delaunay years ago. As I read about her life, I was so irritated she willingly took a back seat to her husband Robert. After finishing the book, I had such a sorrowful feeling. This memory opened the floodgates. I thought about O’Keefe and Stieglitz. Of course, there is Lee Krasner and Pollock. I would love to have been a bug on their studio walls! I started to wonder who else could be on a list of artist/artist relationships. I couldn’t find a list of artist couples online. So I started my own Artist COUPLES list.

I am not sure what I am going to do with the list. I know for sure, I am going to do research on every couple just so I become enlightened about the work of BOTH artists! I think writing a book about art couples would be a fabulous idea. However, that would be a daunting task. I am not sure why I am obsessing about this list. I do know this is very emotionally potent to me. This was made very clear yesterday when Eva Lake contributed a few names to my list. (SIDE NOTE: Eva has a fabulous radio interview show which you should check out! Art Focus: KBOO.)

Besides giving me more names of art couples, she also turned me on to a new movie just released titled “Guest of Cindy Sherman”. In this case, the shoe is on the other foot. The story is about Paul H-O, a videographer who has a romantic relationship with Cindy Sherman. During the relationship, he gradually loses his identity in the shadow of Cindy’s fame. In the trailer, there is a striking moment. Paul is being interviewed and while speaking about the relationship makes the comment “I know what it feels like to be the wife.” OMG! Did he really say that? Yes. He did. I actually felt pain in my chest when he said those words. I guess this answers the question why I am interested in compiling my list.

My next question is:

Where are all the movies about all the artists who were the actual WIVES?

Click to see movie trailer for “Guest of Cindy Sherman”

Monday, March 30, 2009

Art Blog: Getting older and BETTER!

I spent about an hour last night reading a book on urban art. With every turn of the page, I was reminded how young I am not. Every chapter glorified and illustrated the world youth culture. It is not really unusual for me to feel invisible. It is kind of scary when I flip through the TV channels and I can hardly relate to anything or anyone. I guess this is a good thing considering what is on TV. To be honest, I love my age. I wouldn’t want to be twentyish again. I really wouldn’t. I am so glad and thankful to have lived the life I have lived so far. I am so glad I am done with schooling. I am done with children. I am done worrying about stupid stuff. I am done with all the drama.

I really love where I am at right now. My age is not a problem to me. If someone takes issue with a person’s age, that issue is more about them then the person they judge. It is just getting so out of hand. I feel like puking when I hear a TV commentator say about an actress “Can you believe how good she looks at 40??” or wrinkle cream commercials with 30-somethings whining about their one wrinkle.
Shut up!

However, I am here to bring you GOOD NEWS. This will put a smile on your face! I promise. This is a brief video about Hazel McCallion. She is the mayor of the city of Mississauga, the third largest city in Ontario. Her city is debt free! She has been the mayor for over thirty years. Hazel is now 88 years old. Watch the video and I dare you not to laugh and smile. I want to grow up to be her!

Click the pic to see HAZEL in action!

Also on a positive note: Do you know our brains become more creative with age? Here is a cool little article which explains why.

Click to read: Creativity and the Aging Brain
By Shelley H. Carson, Ph.D.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Art Blog: Welcome to PARADISE

I am trying very hard to keep a regular routine during daylight hours. I don’t want to fall back into my vampire ways. It is so hard on my body when it is time to snap back. If I let myself stay up all night, it can take me weeks to get back to being able to function during the day. So I went to sleep at midnight and got up about 7AM.

This morning, I have been doing research for my new paintings. One of the topics of interest is predators in our society. I have been surfing around the internet looking at mug shots of predator scum. Gosh, this is like self inflicted torture. Why do I do this to myself? I hate looking at these animals. However, I must be onto something because my emotions are off the chart. I hope I can translate these feelings via paint.

I found one website in which you could search your own neighborhood for sexual offenders/predators. I knew this would be interesting. I live in a tourist area known for sunshine, palm trees, and sand. Criminals love it down here! So I put my address into the search engine and came up with this lovely map. This is just within a three mile radius of my home.
Oh this is so disgusting!!!

Welcome to paradise!
This is so creepy. I hate even thinking about this stuff.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Art Blog: Million Dollar Baby!

My vacation ritual has begun with a vengeance. Every time I have any kind of break in my day job routine, it never fails. I end up with an upside down schedule. It happens naturally. I am a night owl. I would prefer to sleep in the day and work at night. That is just how it has always been.

Last night per usual, I woke up at 2 AM. I was frantic at first. I normally have to be at work at 6:30 AM. However, I realized I have nine days off. Oh. I see what is happening here. OK. I was too groggy to paint. I lay on my couch and started watching early morning TV. I stopped to watch a show about a couple who were looking to buy a vacation apartment in or around Paris. (Well, la dee da!) It might have been that show “House Hunters” or something like that. Anyway, their price range was between 300,000-500,000 American dollars. They just wanted a tiny, quaint studio apartment. Oh. OK.

As I laid there watching with one eye open, my imagination wandered. I wondered what it would be like to have enough money to buy a Paris vacation apartment. Shoot!!! I won’t even drive to Tampa. I hate traveling. Yet, this show made me realize how I live such a meager and sheltered life.

Then reality hit me. OH SHEREE, you would never do anything like this even if you had the money!! No, I would not. In fact, I have one “money dream”. If I had millions of dollars, I would buy an old building and convert it into artist’s studio lofts. I have always wanted to do this. Always. Back in the 80’s, I had a boyfriend who owned (Well, he didn’t own it. His father did.) a huge building in Detroit. I think his father bought it for him to keep him out of trouble. This guy went from room to room, floor to floor and renovated the building. Artist’s lived there. I was so jealous. I wanted that building. I wanted to be the landlord!

The only way I could ever do anything like this is if I won the Lotto or something. You see, I don’t want to do the grunt work. I want to be able to hire professional contractors to build the studios for me. I would need so much money for architects, lawyers, accountants, construction workers, personal assistants (Hey, this is a BIG dream!) etc. Forget about the Florida LOTTO. I think I need to win POWERBALL for this dream!!!! LOL LOL

Sorry Lotto.
I think I would need POWERBALL to make this dream happen!
Fantasy is fun!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Art Blog: It is NOT a SIN

For me, there has been a secret dread. Yes, I am a self supporting artist. However, my financial support is mostly derived from my teaching job. Oh, how terrible. How awful. How despicable. How NOT! A few years ago, I was involved in an online discourse about self supporting artists. There are bunches of artists who claim to be self supporting. I asked for more info. I mean, I really wanted to know about their lives! I got very few miraculous explanations. Even those they touted their self supporting status, it reeked of smoke and mirrors. Upon scrutiny, I found they do work as artists, but their spouse has a job which is paying the mortgage or buying art supplies. Another scenario was an artist's life that was a bit meager. Yes, they supported themselves sans any kind of life luxury. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.. That is not the answer I wanted to hear.

At that time, I really wanted a magic answer. I wanted to hear success stories. I wanted to learn the secrets of the artist who supported themselves all alone with their art. I didn’t get one example of this. OH WAIT. There was one. She was an artist who had been left money by her parents. This inheritance provided for her art life. How lucky she was! I envy her. I don’t have an inheritance. I never will. That means I have to make my own way. Bummer!

Even now during this time of economic downturn, I hear tragic stories of how artists are struggling. I know about this. I am old enough to have lived through a number of recessions. It isn’t fun. Yet this time around, I haven’t felt it. Well, I know prices have gone up. I know it is harder to live. However for me, I just need to adjust what I spend my money on. Of course, art supplies, entry fees, and art shipping costs are my first priority. Maybe I have to cut back elsewhere. However overall, I can handle the economic disaster right now. Finally, I know how and have the means to survive.

Yes. I can survive. This is because I teach. OH MY GOSH!!! OH HOW AWFUL!! She is a teaching artist. YUCK! Well, no. Being an artist who teaches is not a sin. In fact, I am seeing the benefits of this situation clearly and positively more each day. It is a way to be able to survive as an artist. It is a way to have money coming in regardless of economic times. It offers new perspectives because you get out and work creatively with others. In some instances, you can even get benefits like health insurance and retirement. I am really tired of having to explain myself. I am tired of apologizing. Even artists who aren’t signed on to do a full time teaching job, still teach workshops or art center classes. They might even do odd jobs. So? How is that any different? No, teaching is not a sin or something for which to be ashamed. More artists do it than those who admit it. I do.

As long as I keep my identity as an ARTIST, I am very cool with teaching. Oh and BTW, I am really good at the teaching part and the ARTIST part!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Art Blog: I Want To Be ME!

Sometimes artists experience a type of projection (similar to that which occurs during therapy). In the case of seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist, a person might glom onto the therapist emotionally or psychologically. They project their faults onto another person or see the attributes of another as something that they want for themselves.

It is very common to see a kind of projection in new artists. They research and find an artist who appeals to them and they emulate the work of that artist. I know I was guilty of this. In a very small way, I tried so hard to BE Eve Hesse. (Eva Hesse (January 11, 1936 - May 29, 1970), was a German-born American sculptor, known for her pioneering work in materials such as latex, fiberglass, and plastics.)
I read all about her. I loved/hated her life story. I wanted to make objects out of weird materials in honor of her life and work. I was in school then, so I guess I have an excuse. I was still very wet behind the ears.

Of course with time, I developed my own style as the years progressed. However, I wasn’t immune to the urge to want to project myself into a different art life. I think the most prominent surge of self denial was after I read the biography of Sonia Delaunay. (Sonia Delaunay (nėe Terk) (1885 – 1979). Her husband was Robert Delaunay.) I have no idea why this happened after reading her biography. I respect her work, but I didn’t want to emulate it. I think it has something to do with the fact she lived many years of her life in the shadow of Robert, her husband. This just didn’t sit well with me and I took her into my heart.

That episode of the “wannabee” syndrome was years ago. In fact, I thought I had finally become immune. I have been doing my own art for a very long time. However, I had a little glitch this past month. I watched a Nancy Spero video that made my jaw drop. (Nancy Spero (born 1926) is an American artist. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she has long been based in New York City. She was married to and collaborated with artist Leon Golub (1922–2004).

This is very weird. I know I am very well schooled in the art history department. I have no idea why Nancy Spero has been under my radar. I watched the video. It mentioned Leon Golub was her husband. My mind did a back flip. HUH? Leon Golub/Nancy Spero? HUH? I thought about it again and realized I knew the name, but I didn’t know of her at all. Shame on me. Then I thought of the Spero/Golub connection. I said shame on me again and again.
So now I am on a Nancy Spero rampage. I am sure there will be more videos and surely many books about her in my future. So do I want to BE HER? Well, no. I am old enough and wise enough now to realize and understand, I can only be Sheree Rensel.
Yes! I finally want to be ME!

“Maypole”, Nancy Spero

Monday, March 23, 2009

Art Blog: You Knew It Was Coming


Click pic if you want to know more.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Art Blog: What REALLY Matters

Well, I have bunches of new art supplies sitting here looking at me and can’t decide what to paint. I want this new work to be fresh and improved, so to speak. I want to create something different, yet familiar. I want these pieces to be pointed in a direction for which I am proud. I want to be spurred on by each finished work to make another and then, another.

For this to happen, I have to paint about things I care about. I want my work to be meaningful. My art is my voice. Every mark is proof I have been here on earth. I want those marks to mean something. This is why I love those paintings about social issues I have done in the past. They were about issues for which I felt strongly and for which I needed to make a statement.

I got a “tweet” yesterday from a young artist and it said she interpreted my work as daring. When I read that, I almost felt ashamed. I really did. I know how cowardly my work has been lately. I have been doing wimpy subject matter this past year because I didn’t want to make waves and I was trying to appease more people in order to widen my audience. Well, that hasn’t really worked. I knew I was being insincere. Also, I am not the kind of artist to make products for the purpose of sales. I want my work to mean something despite the public distain. Many don’t want to hear it. So perhaps, I will die poor. This is a trade off. Regardless of the art I do, my audience is still small enough to fit in my hand and I have SMALL hands!!! I don't think it matters what kind of art I create. This is not a popularity contest. It is just fine with me.

It is important for every artist to find their niche. The only way we can be truly successful is to make art about things that make us FEEL. If you look at a landscape and it takes your breath away, paint it! If you are a people watcher and love interpreting the human form, make that a part of your life’s work! Neither of those genres appeals to me. What really floats my boat is when I take on social issues that make my blood boil or makes me want to cry or rejoice, injustices, ignorant antics, and that news story that makes me want to jump up and scream. YES! That is my cup of tea! I want my work to have meaning and purpose. If I paint about social issues, I feel like I am accomplishing something by taking a stand. My paintings take the form of my opinions and make the noise of my tiny voice speaking out. I don’t care if I get flack for being depressing or painting about ugly things. Hey! It is a Yin/Yang world. There is beauty and there is the grotesque. I don’t care if people don’t agree with my stance either. I just don’t care anymore. I am doing what I want to do. I am throwing away the fear. It is time for my little light to shine. I saw this quote and added it to my sidebar today. It is very apropos.

"Miracles start to happen when you give as much energy to your dreams as you do to your fears."
Richard Wilkins

Baby Angel (left), Predator Scum (right)

So as I sit here and look at the blank canvas, all I have to do now is pick a topic. Hmmmmmm….what will the first one be? I think it just has to be about Jessie. She is on my mind always. I cry tears for her. It is hard for me to even think about her life and death. It is so hard. Now, it is time to make art in her honor. I just have to make a painting about Jessica Lunsford and all the other baby angels. I just have to do this.

Art Blog: AIG

This morning I saw a news story about a memo sent to AIG employees giving them security advice. This memo is in response to the recent outrage and lynch mob mentality brewing over the company’s financial dealings.

As I read the list of suggestions (including not wearing their AIG badges in public, walking in pairs to the parking lot, etc.) I couldn’t help but want to suggest they wear a mask similar to the ones I painted on the rich guys in this painting I created last year.

Click pic for detail view

“Wise?” Sheree Rensel
Acrylic/mixed media on canvas, 20” X 16"

Even though I hate explaining my work, this is exactly what I was talking about when I created this painting! I saw all this coming. The point of this painting is in my opinion, just because you have money, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are a person of wisdom. You know?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Art Blog: How did I get so LUCKY?

Sometimes, I ask my special ed students who need a glimmer of hope,


I say this intentionally and sincerely. They need to hear it. I need to say it. We all win. I feel the same way about my art life. I have been through a whole lot of changes in the past few decades. This afternoon, I heard a sound outside. I stood up from the computer and gazed out onto a busy street in St. Petersburg. Strands of a Japanese Plum tree obstructed my view. As I watched the cars wiz past by my picture window, I scanned my art house walls. I had a flashback to my roach infested apartment on Third Ave. in Detroit back in the 80’s. For a quick moment, I felt like I had been hit in the head with a bat. I mean back when I lived in the Third Ave. “estate”, I could never predict I would be able to look out of MY house or any house. I never even expected to own a Japanese Plum tree. I never expected abundance. This is all so weird.

I have always supported myself and my daughter. Even during the MINUTE I was married, I was the bread winner. I am a boot strap kind of girl. I have had all kinds of jobs. You name it, I have done it. (Well, nothing illegal!!!) I just wanted to make enough money to support myself, my daughter, and my art. Yeah, I had degrees. However, if it took doling out Mexican food, working in factories, and doing whatever would bring a buck to make my life happen, I would do it if it helped me make art. That has always been my primary goal.

I just got a shipment of new birch wood painting panels. I took one out of the huge box and laid it on a table. I looked at it. I looked at it again. It is so beautiful. I remembered when I was happy to have a piece of jagged plywood on which to paint. I remember this. I can remember that yearning feeling. This is why I am so appreciative of my art life right now. I have pristine, birch wood panels now. Rather than be so humble and inquisitive, I will admit, I have worked my butt off for all this. WOW.
How did I get so lucky?

Looking at the bare wood, I can’t explain or express the magnitude of my delight. The most exciting thing is as I gaze at the blank surface is I have great ideas!

Like I asked: How did I get so lucky?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Art Blog: IN SYNC

You know you do it. I do it. We all do it. There are times when we think about our art and wonder “Is is me? Maybe I am just not with the program. Maybe my art really sucks. Maybe I am out of touch. Maybe I am out of sync with the world?????????”

I have spoken about rejection lately. This is because I am on a rampage entering a lot of shows. Of course I will be rejected from some, but I have been getting into quite a few too. Even though I still try so hard to be optimistic and change a life of glass half empty thinking, negativity still rears its ugly head every so often. The biggest problem with this in regard to art is I forget about the successes and focus on the rejections. This is not good.

This last time I wrote about being rejected, my friend Gilda emailed me. We exchanged emails back and forth. To sum it up, I confessed to her that I have been thinking I am just heading in the wrong direction with my work. This confession was during a blue funk that lasted only one day. It was on the heels of a rejection I took hard. However during our email conversation, I also mentioned a bit of confusion I was having. My mind was telling me to think of something different to do art wise, but then my eyes saw this:

Left: The work of artist, Shadi Ghadirian. “Untitled” from the Like Everyday Series featured in a show at Art Threat.
Right: My own mixed media painting “Translation”.

When I saw her work, I just laughed because it was so similar to one of my own pieces. It gave me a nudge and I thought maybe I am not as out of the loop as I think. Then I got another nudge. Today I saw this:

Left: A photo on the National Geographic website showing a digital rendition of locations of all the “space junk” surrounding our earth.
Right: My own painting/collage titled “Universal Dump”

Hmmmmmmmmmmm. I had also mentioned to Gilda I have many pieces that NEVER get chosen. I have no idea why. One such piece is “Happy?” I love this painting. I just love it. To me it is funny and tragic all at the same time. Today it was chosen! Hooray, Hooray, Hooray!! In fact, it will be in the Southern Open in Louisiana. The juror was New York-based critic and contributing editor to Art in America, Eleanor Heartney. Yeah! I will take that! I trust her judgment far more than the last few fuddy duddy jurors who gave me the boot!

So the moral of this story (are you listening Sheree) is not to change what you are doing with your art, but change the way you think about your art life!

OKEY DOKEY. Sounds like good advice to me!

“Happy?”, Sheree Rensel, acrylic/mixed media/ canvas
This baby is on its way to Louisiana!
Another star for my Exhibition Chart!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Art Blog: She LIVES!!

Ha ha ha ha ha LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL !!!!!!!
Doctors are so funny!

I hurt my leg six months ago. I ignored it for the first three months. By the forth month, I was still walking, but totally grounded from exercising. This past month, I have been dragging my leg around like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I hate going to the doctor but I have been gaining weight like crazy from the lack of activity, so I made an appointment. Arghhhhhhhh!

I just got back from my second doctor’s appointment in the past two weeks. I have seen two doctors and I have two different opinions. I like the opinion of the doctor I saw today! I like that prognosis much better and it makes so much more sense.

The first doctor thought I had severe hip arthritis and/or my hip joint was shot. He said I might need a hip replacement. This sounded too weird for me. I mean, I am a crazy person when it comes to physical activity. I ride my bike like a lunatic all the time; I rollerblade; I dabble in kettlebell weight lifting. I use my treadmill and I swim. I have never had any kind of debilitating issues with my hip or any other part of my body. I told him my leg hurt like I have a charley horse in my thigh muscles. He kept saying hip arthritis, blah, blah, blah. I didn’t tell him I didn’t believe him because I wanted to wait and see. He sent me for X-rays and referred me to an orthopedic doctor.

I saw her today. After examining me, she said I did have MILD osteoarthritis in my joints, but the primary cause of the pain is a strain of my hip flexors. This type of injury is caused by overusing your muscles and not stretching before exercise. This type of injury usually happens to bicyclists. BINGO!!!!!!

She told me not to exercise until I see the physical therapist. I start that routine next week. I just want this to be over. I can’t wait until I can zoom, zoom, zoom again on “Violet” the bike!!


Bad girl Violet!! You hurt me!
(I am just kidding! I know I did this to myself. From now on, remind me to stretch before we do wheelies!!! LOL LOL)

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I took this weekend to chill out because I was going bonkers the past few days. I know myself well. I know when I am heading for an emotional crash. Luckily, I can now stop myself from falling to the ground head first with a big splat! As I regained my energy and my brain became more alert today, I realized something very interesting happened this week.

This revelation came while watching Suze Orman on “Sunday Morning” today. I love Suze Orman. However, I can’t watch her show regularly because I want to throw shoes at the television when she tells someone with over 100K in savings they can’t afford an iPod. SHUT UP!! She might be right, but I get jealous of anyone with that much money in the bank. My Bad! LOL LOL

Anyway, today she gave simple advice that could be applied to us “little people” to help weather the economic storm.
1. Look ahead, not backwards. What is done is done. If you have lost money or the value of your home, it is what it is. Move on.
2. Create an emergency fund. Even if you have to pay the minimum on your credit cards, start creating an emergency fund first.
3. Keep investing wisely. Don’t stop putting money away if you have a retirement fund.
4. Pay off your mortgage. Even if you pay a little bit more each month, keep doing it!

Finally, she said things in which I can relate. All she said made sense to me and made me feel a teeny bit more secure. I have been pretty poor all my life, but when my daughter left a couple of years ago, I finally started to do all four of those things she advised. HOORAY! I am certainly not immune to the financial crisis, but at least I don’t feel so frail now.

Almost immediately I thought about my ART IMMUNE SYSTEM. We all have to be healthy in every way. We need to be prepared for our art life ups and downs. Just as we don’t want to end up being financially vulnerable, we have to take care of our art selves too! For example, this week I took 3 rejection hits. Monday and Wednesday I got news of rejections. It didn’t even faze me. I walked straight into the kitchen, threw the notices in the trash, and got busy with some projects. Friday’s rejection was a totally different story. I went berserk. I started doubting myself and my art again. I drooped for nearly 48 hours. I felt like I wanted to punch somebody. So why did I have the different reactions? This is easy. I didn’t eat well during the last half of the week, didn't get to bed early enough, and I was overtired when I got home on Friday. I wasn’t taking care of my own artist’s immune system. Even after all these years, I am still learning!

So what do you do to protect your

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Art Blog: You Have Always Had the Power

Did you ever feel like you were chasing your tail or in a whirlwind spinning out of control? This is how I feel right now. I feel like I have been putting so much energy into everything I do. I am frantically working, pushing, and grasping for self satisfaction and peace of mind. Yet instead of finding my truth, I have just set myself up to spin faster.

This morning I was thinking and this installation popped into my head.

“Emerald City”, Sheree Rensel
Installation, Michigan Gallery, 1986

I guess I thought about this piece because it has to do with what I feel right now. One of my problems is that I am looking outside myself for answers to my art, my life, well…..everything.
I know better.

Trying to concentrate and keep focused on your true heart’s desire is very difficult. This is especially true in this age of technology. I find myself searching, reading, looking, tweeting, blogging, marketing, connecting, befriending, researching, etc. etc. at breakneck speeds. I am not even sure of what I am looking for anymore. I see a lot of these distractions as a deflection and a diversion from what I really need to be using my energy to do. Also, all the media over stimulation turns your brain to mush if you overindulge.

The GOOD WITCH was right.
There is no place like home.

We all have everything we need within us. We all have our own unique powers. I have known this most of my life. However, I get tangled up in the rat race we call life and forget what I know sometimes. I need to use my power to look within. I have all the answers right here inside me. It is time for me to start clicking those heels!

GOOD WITCH: Dorothy, you’ve always had the power to go home.
TIN MAN: Why didn’t you tell her?
GOOD WITCH: She had to learn it for herself.
SCARECROW: What have you learned?
DOROTHY: Well, if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire, I won’t look any farther than my own back yard.
GOOD WITCH: Now the ruby slippers will take you home.
DOROTHY:Toto, too?
GOOD WITCH: Toto, too. Close your eyes. Tap your heels together three times, and think to yourself “ There’s no place like home.”
There’s no place like home.
There’s no place like home.
There’s no place like home.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Art Blog: Exhibition Jurors

I am a smart cookie. At least, I like to think I am. As I go full force while focusing on my art life, I have been entering shows like a mad woman. I have a routine. I find a prospectus, read it, research the juror, and then decide if it is worth it to apply. My criteria of the “worth” is manifested by facts. What is the type of gallery, the location of the gallery, and notoriety/history of the juror? In other words, do I have a chance to get into the show and will it give me a bang for my buck?

The last few weeks I have been on another REJECTION tour. Yes, I am being reminded weekly, my art is crappy. Ironically, I made up my mind a week or two ago, that I will never do another “States of Being” painting if one doesn’t get in at least one show soon. I set a deadline. I had the last show in mind. Today, I got another big “R”. So I am saying goodbye to that series. Apparently, it has art cooties. I have two or three in progress. I will finish them and call it a day. No more. Obviously, nobody is “getting” or wants them. They must be stupid, idiotic, boring, painted badly, whatever. Too bad. I like them. I think they hold their own. Wrong again, Sheree!

Oh well.

However, I am very excited about today’s rejection because I had a grand revelation! When I entered this last show, I saw the juror was from Michigan and had moved to Florida. I have known of him since I lived in Detroit. I was surprised to find out that he lives in Florida now. When I researched this juror, for some reason I kept thinking of that connection. You know “Michigan to Florida”. Maybe he will respond to my work(?) Well he didn’t.

As I ripped the exhibition selection results envelope open today and saw I was rejected, the very first thing I thought was “HE REJECTED ME????” Then I stopped for a moment. I thought. I asked myself why I had that reaction. I realized it is because I hate his art. In fact if I think about this, I am not surprised at all. We aren’t of the same art ilk. I have been a juror. Within just a couple of minutes, I had a daydream scenario. If he had submitted work to a show I was jurying, would I select his work?


So now, I have another way to look at things when I enter juried shows. It is another piece of the criteria puzzle. From now on if the juror is an artist, I will ask myself, would I jury his/her work into a show?

Bye bye “States of Being” series.
Apparently you SUCK!
Click pic to see series images

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Art Blog: Art as COMPETITION

When I started to do research for my Ph.D., I quickly learned the difference between quantitative and qualitative research. To explain this in the simplest terms, quantitative research is the kind that deals with numerical data. There is no emotion or opinion involved. Just like Jack Webb would say in the old TV show Dragnet, “I want only the facts, Maam!” Ok. So it is. Then there is qualitative research. This is when data is collected through observation and experience. This data is subjectively interpreted by a trained scholar. In essence, the outcome is revealed in the form of her/his opinion.

Hold on here…I AM getting to the point.

I do 5K runs. Every time I do a 5K, the race results are posted on the internet. There is a long database type list which includes runners names and times they ran the race. This is an example of quantitative data. When it comes to things like this, there isn’t any source of qualitative data posted. It just lists runner’s times. That is it. Qualitative information could be posted like this: “She did well in the race because her form was great. She ran slower, but she smiled the entire 3+ miles. She is a really great, happy runner. I like her!” Of course, I am being facetious here. However, I am trying to make a point. Personally in this kind of situation, I want to see the race time spreadsheet. Who cares what anyone things about how somebody runs. Did they make the time?

Then there is ART. How can you judge the performance of artists? How can we compete with each other? Do I get more points for using more colors? Do you get more points for making your art trendier? Do we all get more points for sticking with it? Huh? Tell me, please? Explain this to me.

In my life, I have been included in many shows which had the prize money thing. I have steered clear of any with the “popular vote” feature. That is just too weird for me. Besides I know for sure, I am not a popular vote kind of human being (Thank GOD!), let alone popular vote kind of artist. The strangest thing is when I have been involved in exhibitions with prizes or honors; I have never entered them with the intent of winning diddley squat. I just wanted to be in the show. I have won BEST of this and FIRST PLACE in that quite a few times. In fact, I have won BIG time on a few occasions. It was always a surprise. I am happy it happened for the simple reason I needed the money! However, I don’t believe in the whole idea. I realize that it is all about smoke and mirrors. I am not the best at anything at least compared to any other artist. I just happened to be there when the right juror liked my work and in their qualitative opinion, they honored me with a prize. I understand this. I accept it. However, I am not going to get my panties in a wad promoting this kind of practice in regard to artists. I just can’t because I think it is idiotic!

I mean, if I said “Jaf, Deb, Nancy, Eero, Eva, Gilda, (and all the other artists who comment here), I CHALLENGE you to an artist duel! I want to prove I am the BEST artist!” Doesn’t this sound ridiculous????
YES, it sounds ridiculous because it is ridiculous.

So would I beat you or would you beat me in the ART race?
Art is not a competition.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Art Blog: The WOW Factor

I am thinking out loud here. Bear with me. The inner turmoil continues. Well, it isn’t really turmoil. (Drama Queen? LOL LOL) I will call it the search for inner truth as it relates to my art! LOL LOL Oh geesh. Now that sounds more than a tad pretentious! (GAG)

Seriously, I will cut to the chase! I see this dissatisfaction with my art as a kind of renewal. It is like an art “makeover”. Finally today, I said to myself “JUST PICK ONE DIRECTION!!!” Ok. I will pick one direction, but which one?

There is a part of me that wants to peddle backwards. I love the work I used to do dealing with shape, color, and texture. There was minimal imagery, but the work had a life of its own.

Another part of me wants to do three-dimensional stuff again. That is unlikely. It takes up too much space. I have even thought of renting another studio. Hmmm.

I love my recent mixed media stuff, but I think that is the cause of the “funky” description. (last post) I want to move away from that. What I am really searching for the “WOW Factor” again. I am not talking about wowing anybody but myself. This is the kind of work I have done that makes me the most proud.

(Click any pic to see larger version)

The only problem with this kind of work is I LOVE the outcome, but the process is so tedious and time consuming.
It makes me crazzzzzzzz-y!
I wonder though if it would make me crazier than I feel right now. Still thinking……..

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Art Blog: Spitting in the Wind

I have been thinking a lot about the direction of my own work. I looked on my website and I just wasn’t feeling the love. Recently, I have mentioned being restless. I like what I have done overall. However, the work I have been doing the past few years isn’t really me at all. I think I have been trying too hard to make “products”. I am a process girl so that goes against my nature. It is as if I have been trying to make nice, neat little packages. Easy to ship and palatable enough to please more people. In fact, I think this is the reason my art is so scattered right now. I feel bored with my own work and I can’t keep my own attention long enough to make a solid series of honest work.

During this session of analysis, I had the thought I wanted to take every piece of art I own into my studio and paint it over it with white paint. All of it! Luckily, I decided against this primal urge. I am glad I wasn’t drunk when I thought of that idea. I might have actually done it! LOL LOL LOL

This feeling of wanting renewal has haunted me for days. I want a fresh start. Today, I got a push in the right direction. Somebody called my work “funky”. OMG! I know the person meant it in a good way, but to me that description is almost as insulting as saying my work is “whimsical”. NEITHER ADJECTIVE applies! NO NO NO NO NO!!! I don’t want my work to be perceived this way. However, I am glad this was said. I am so glad. I was in my studio when I read that interpretation of my work. I turned around, grabbed a bunch of paint cups, and went crazy wild. I spit in the wind! I painted over every canvas in my studio. I didn’t white them out, but I colored them out! I am making a huge, wide U turn. “Funky” my ass!

Of course I have nothing done. In fact, the only thing I accomplished was to make some really big messes this weekend. However, I am feeling the love right now. These are lovely messes that are going to help me find a true direction.
This one will be part of my “Treasure Maps” series. I like the way it is going.

“Ice Road”, acrylic on canvas, 24” x 36”

Here are two more treasure maps I have shown here before. Those images are gone now. I just wanted to show you the transition. They are not done at all. They are still works in progress:


“Going Home”, acrylic on canvas, 24” x 36”



“Not in Kansas”, acrylic on canvas, 24” x 36”

I sure am glad I am calling this the “Map” series because I sure don’t know where I am going right now!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Art Blog: P.S. Armory Show


Source: Via Bloomberg.com
Yan Pei-Ming, watercolor, $100,000
Portrait of Bernie Madoff

Art Blog: Armory Show

Now this is clever funny. I like this sculpture though! I saw it in the current James Kalm tour of the Armory Show. I am still giggling!

Engraved marble
I didn’t get the artist’s name. If you know it, let me know and I will give credit!
Click pic to see more of the Armory Show via James Kalm.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Art Blog: Oh So CLEVER!

To me “CLEVER ART” is the kind of art in which the idea and statement behind the work supersedes the image or physical presence of the art. In other words, it is idea art that you look at, scrunch your brow, read the description/artist statement, and then say to yourself “Oh that is CLEVER!”
(Please pardon the fact I am speaking in every day, pedestrian, human being language and not speaking “Artalkese”. I am trying to be real here.)

Currently, I am not a fan of clever art. In fact, I get very bored very fast looking at such creative endeavors. I suppose there is a place for it in an art historical context. Shoot, Duchamp’s toilet was clever art. Personally, I can take or leave it. I leave it more often than not.

I haven’t always felt this way. Oh no! In fact, back in the mid 80’s, I was holding up the flag for the cause! I was an exhibition coordinator at a suburban Detroit art center. I curated shows for the galleries. I invited all kinds of artists to show their clever wares. For example, I curated one show that dripped with clever. There was the artist who picked up trash on the street, bagged it, and put a hang tag on it which documented the time, date, and place he found it. Then there was the “organic” sculptor. She showed huge 2’ X 3’ blocks of chocolate which proceeded to mold during the month long run of the exhibition. Then there was the installation artist who hauled in real, live sod and covered the gallery floor with growing grass and broken blocks of concrete. The director of the gallery almost had a heart attack when I tried to defend this work. So I am no stranger to CLEVER.

Today, I saw a post about some photos on a website titled “Urban Camouflage”. When I saw the work, I laughed. I have to admit, the photos are very amusing. They do make a statement about society and consumerism. Also, they represent our need to mask ourselves in “fashion”. Oh I could go on and on with more explanations of what I think the message is here.

However, I don’t feel like being CLEVER right now.
Let the clever artists use their energy to explain this kind of stuff!

“Urban Camouflage”
Click the pic to see more!
What do you think about CLEVER ART?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Art Blog: Be on the LOOKOUT!

I just wanted to write a quick post about a documentary I just heard about. It isn’t out on DVD yet. However, be on the lookout for a showing near you. It is about women in the arts. “Who Does She Think She Is?” speaks on the issues such as the misperceptions, ignorance, and inequities female artists have faced throughout history.
Click the pic to view the brief trailer and join a mailing list for the movie.

Boy, do I understand the gist of this movie!!!
I am actually afraid to go to an auditorium to view it because I might start screaming vulgarities at the screen.
I think I will wait for the DVD! LOL

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Art Blog: Hindsight

When you make art, there are stages you go through in the midst of the creative process. There is the initial desire to create and a feeling of discovery. We take time to think and organize our intentions. Those thoughts turn to passion and the willingness to commit. During the creative process we can encounter smooth flows and moments of frustration. Sometimes during the creative roadblocks, we retreat to lick our wounds. Hopefully, our energy is renewed, we march back into the studio, and we go in for the attack! If we are lucky, the battle will be won and we grin with satisfaction. We take pride in our accomplishments and then let the work go. With this release, we start the process all over again and begin new work.

Right now, I am in between stages. I have started my Treasure Maps series. I have finished licking my wounds after feeling they are not going the way I want them to go. This past month I have thought a lot about the direction of my work. Also, I have been looking back on my past influences. Hindsight helps to see the present with 20/20 vision, right? As I look at all my work, I am asking “How did I get to this art place?”

When I did those awful heart paintings, (They aren’t so terrible. Even though they served a purpose, I just hate them because they are too cliché.) one good thing that happened was I began thinking about a long lost favorite artist Antoni Tàpies. His surfaces and use of materials has always fascinated me. When I was in art school, he was my hero. I would add sand and gunk to my paint back then. I loved textured surfaces and unusual matter. This is why I remembered his work while working on the Love pieces. For the first time in long time, I added sand to the paint. The sand is the only thing I like about those paintings.

Another blast from the past who has been on my mind constantly is Rauschenberg. I just bought four books on his work. My favorite is this huge book called “Rauschenberg: Art and Life” by Kotz. It is gorgeous!

Continuing thoughts of past influences, I picked up a book on Paul Klee. I love reading about artist’s lives. His work was my first love and my indoctrination into “modern art”. It is great to look backwards like this. I see things in such a different way. Also during this exploration, I am finding little surprises about me, artists of the world, and my own art history.

This made me laugh out loud! As I read the book on Paul Klee today, I came across this familiar painting. I looked at it with fond memories. I didn’t remember the title though. I looked and read the caption.
I just laughed! Klee was making a statement about how society was relying on machines and forgetting about nature. In our current TWITTER world, I realize Paul Klee’s insights were so true!
I love this trip down memory lane!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Art Blog: I REMEMBER now!

PICTURE THIS: I needed to visit a doctor for my daughter’s sake. I don’t have any money. She can’t breathe. We go to the free clinic. They can’t handle it there. They send us to another facility. I am holding a 35 lb child on the hip of my 95 lb body. We both board a city bus. We get off at the stop in front of the hospital clinic. I kick trash from the walkway, just to make my way in the door. Rats scurry away from us. We enter an auditorium size room. People are coughing, look dismal, and obviously need lots of help. I go to the check in counter and I am told to sit and wait. We sit and wait for 5 hours. While I am there, I look around. There is the teenage mother with her three children running wild. There is the guy who looks homeless(?) He doesn’t look well at all. I glance face to face to face. The only thing that comes to my mind is “This can’t be happening to me. I have a Master of Fine Arts degree!” I am a self supporting fine artist! LOL LOL LOL Well, it didn’t matter who was smarter or more credentialed than whom. The thing we all had in common was we needed a doctor and we didn’t have money.

Flash forward to 2009: Now, I have physical issues. Even though I hardly ever go to the doctor for myself, I had to go today. I have been having a problem with my leg. This has been going on for six months! It is really pissing me off. I am not a couch potato. I need to move around! Despite my desires, my body seems to have other plans.

Finally last week, I just surrendered. I made an appointment and went this afternoon. Instead of a nasty clinic, I went to a beautiful medical complex. The total visit took less than an hour. My doctor said he doesn't think I pulled a muscle. He said he thinks my hip is shot. His hypothesis is that arthritis has taken over and my hip joint has gone bad. He gave me a script for an anti inflammatory drug and sent me downstairs to get X-rays.

I really don't care about any of this. All I want is my life back. I told him that! He smiled and said we will see. He told me he thinks I will either have to take the meds for a while OR if the X-rays tell him what he thinks is happening, I will have to have a hip replacement. SAY WHAT????????

I kept smiling and as I walked out of his office I said "Hey, see you in another five years!! (The first thing he said to me today was "Long time no see. I haven't seen you in five years!") Well, he looked over his shoulder and said "I don't think it will be five years this time Sheree.".

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. That remark sucked.

So, now I remember why I have a day job. I went to a beautiful complex with chrome and palm trees. This whole episode cost me 20 bucks. I was on my way home within the hour knowing that at least, I was dealing with all this. As I drove home, I realized how lucky I am. I realize how far I have come. I am so thankful I have health insurance.
Then I remembered, this is why I keep a day job.

I just don’t want to hear any of this medical mumbo jumbo! I don’t want to hear even a word. What I WANT is to continue being a JUMPER. I want to ride my Stingray bike, rollerblade, lift my kettlebells, slide down the twirly YMCA water slide, and jump, jump, jump whenever I want. I have a feeling I am going to win this battle. Watch me.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Art Blog: Virtual Art Opening

I went to an opening in Atlanta, Georgia on Friday night. I didn’t really go there physically. The opening for the Art House Sketchbook Project (<---More pics here) was broadcast live via their website. It was so cool! If you logged in early enough (space was limited), you got to be a part of the chat room that showed the opening in progress.

The camera placement was not ideal. Most of the time, you could only see the backs of people. Also, it was a bit dark. Even so, it was so much fun watching the people and talking to the others in the chat room.

There was a microphone on the camera too so it was kind of weird hearing little bits of chit chat as attendees stood near the camera. I heard one guy working the room too! Every female he met, he would hand them a line.

I LOVE this kind of opening! I have said before, my art zooms around all the time. I don’t like to travel, so obviously, I rarely go to openings. I really don’t miss that because I am not a smoozer and hate crowds. However, this kind of opening was fun because I could sit here in my sweatpants and not worry if I didn’t feel like smiling at people.

Once the opening was underway, occasionally someone would hold a random sketchbook up for the camera to see. I was so excited when they held up this one. I am pretty sure it is our own JAFABRIT’s book! I was so excited! I was yelling in the chat room. “Jafabrit! Jafabrit! That is Corrine’s!!! I know her! She is my friend!!” I am sure the others in the chat room were thinking “Gee wizzlewolf, get a grip!” I didn’t care though. I get excited easily.
Tee Hee HEE