Friday, July 24, 2009


"Yesterday I was a dog. Today I'm a dog. Tomorrow I'll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There's so little hope for advancement."
Charles M. Schulz

The art world is like a microcosm of the whole world. Just like all societies there is a social structure. I suppose you could say artists are divided into “classes” (upper, middle, and lower)? However, I think of grouping artists in a different way. I think of them as being like packs of dogs.

For example, there are the show dogs. Those fancy, smancy dogs who take part in the high end dog shows. Working dogs are those artists who relentlessly work in their studio oblivious to the outside world. Then, there are the hunting dogs. Those are the artists who do less creating and more sniffing around for art career opportunities. Let’s not forget the terriers! I imagine those to be the cheery, energetic artists who crank out gewgaws to sell on internet craft websites.

Sporting artists, opps I mean dogs keep a few paintings stored in the bedroom closet. They create just enough to call themselves artists. I guess they like the title. Of course, the service dogs would be the artists who make art for a cause. With relentless generosity, they create and give their work to save humanity.

The reason I started thinking about this is because I got an email yesterday. It was from a French Poodle. Her words nipped and nudged trying to put me in my place. She insinuated I was not good enough for her “pack”. LOL LOL LOL Well. This might be true in her eyes, but I know better.

You see I am a street dog. Yes. I don’t have a pedigree or a fancy collar. I have never been pampered nor had a rich daddy to buy me gourmet food. I have roamed free on the streets and learned how to survive on my own. I have a muscular burl from running wild. I am an alpha dog and gather other artist mutts along the way. We mingle and find art adventures together. We are a motley crew and have no problem with that. We know how to survive because we have to find our own way.
I am not sure you could say the same thing “Gigi”.

Photo credit: H.C. Barley

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I can't really write a coherent blog post right now. I am so excited and anxious. In fact, I am near delirium. I will be better tomorrow. I just got word our Twitter 140 art exhibition got picked up in a gallery in Arizona. I cannot express how this makes me feel. I am so happy. I am so relieved. It is funny. I just sent the proposal CDs out last Friday. I guess this is why I am in a state of quasi-shock!

Meanwhile, I have been studying for my annual Dave Matthews pilgrimage. I am studying the words of all the songs on the new album "Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King". This song seems so befitting right now.

"Funny The Way It Is"
Lying in the park on a beautiful day,
sunshine in the grass, and the children play.
Siren’s passing, fire engine red,
someone’s house is burning down on a day like this?

The evening comes and we’re hanging out,
On the front step, and a car rolls by with the windows rolled down,
And that war song is playing, “why can’t we be friends?”
Someone is screaming and crying in the apartment upstairs

Funny the way it is, if you think about it
Somebody’s going hungry and someone else is eating out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
Somebody’s heart is broken and it becomes your favorite song

the way your mouth feels in your lovers kiss
Like a pretty bird on a breeze or water to a fish
A bomb blast brings a building crashing to the floor
You can hear the laughter, while the children play “war”

Funny the way it is, if you think about it
one kid walks 10 miles to school, another’s dropping out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
On a soldier’s last breath his baby’s being born

Standing on a bridge, watch the water passing under me
It must’ve been much harder when there was no bridge, just water
Now the world is small. Remember how it used to be,
with mountains and oceans and winters and rivers and stars?

Watch the sky, the jet planes, so far out of my reach
Is there someone up there looking down on me?
Boy chase a bird, so close but every time
He’ll never catch her, but he can’t stop trying

Funny the way it is, if you think about it
one kid walks 10 miles to school, another’s dropping out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
on a soldier’s last breath his baby’s being born
Funny the way it is, nor right or wrong
Somebody’s broken heart becomes your favorite song
Funny the way it is, if you think about it
A kid walks 10 miles to school, another’s dropping out.

Standing on a bridge, watch the water passing under me
It must’ve been much harder when there was no bridge, just water
Now the world is small. Remember how it used to be,
with mountains and oceans and winters and rivers and stars?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Art Blog: Artists and Motivation

“It’s not so much where my motivation comes from but rather how it manages to survive.” ~~ Louise Bourgeois

This post has been a long time coming. I am so thankful the time is here! The mission of this blog has always been to speak about the emotional aspects of being an artist. I didn’t want to go the “scholarly” route. I figured there are enough of those kinds of blogs around. Besides, I think speaking on how it feels to be an artist is far more relevant to artist’s true lives.

If you are a reader of this blog, you know I have been coordinating a twitter art show titled “Twitter 140”. I have lost track of how much time I have spent on this project in the past months. I don’t care. I wanted to do it. Why? Why would anybody volunteer to pull all-nighters, run around like a crazy person trying to get every tidbit of data out of artists, send countless TWEET announcements, write updates on the exhibition blog, and spend lots of money on office supplies/postage just to get the proposal out into the world? Why would anybody want to do this?

This show means more than you know to me. Really! Even if we get rejected from every gallery, I will still be happy because I know we all did our best. The reason I feel so strongly about coordinating this exhibition is because in the past couple of years I have been taking MY LIFE back. I realized it is my time to do all the things I love doing. No matter what life has brought my way, I have never, ever stopped being an artist. However, we all have to pick and choose our priorities as we try to survive our art worlds. All I could handle in the past decade was raising the kid, working my day job, taking care of my art house, and creating my art. Whew! That kept me plenty busy. Yet, I missed doing some of the other things I love doing and do well.

Along with being an artist, I have lots of experience curating and coordinating exhibitions. I love thinking of ideas and creating shows! I haven’t done that in a long time and realized I missed it. This twitter show idea came to me and I decided to run with it. It was a perfect fit.

I love coordinating and curating concept exhibitions that are cutting edge for the time. For example, I remember back in 1989 having to fight for my “A Day Without Art” AIDS exhibition. Literally, I had to nudge, yell, and scream to explain why this show was important to our gallery and community. The show came to fruition. It is interesting looking at this flyer now. It is like a “who’s who” of Detroit art. I can’t believe that was TWENTY years ago!

Another “sign of the times” type show idea came to me in 1990. I called it “FAX the FACTS”. The requirement for that show was all the art had to be faxed to the gallery. This sounds so tame now. Back then, some people asked what is a “FAX machine”? Seriously. Even this flyer makes me laugh because I had to “cut and paste” it together by hand! Every gallery coordinator had to have a good pair of scissors, a bottle of glue, press on letters, and a typewriter! We didn’t have a computer that could do stuff like this back then! LOL LOL

The show was a success. I was so proud of myself. I loved that feeling of making something happen. I still do. This is why I am creating Twitter 140. I am motivated to do this work because it makes me feel like I am accomplishing something for the best cause of my life: ART.

Click pics for detail views

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Art Blog: Mortality

I think it is rather common that once you get to a certain age, it hits you. This isn’t going to last forever. Of course, this revelation is startling at first. In the past few years, I have thought about this frequently. I look at all the stuff, collections, and projects all around my home and studio. I realize I could drop dead tomorrow. We just never know. Sometimes, I wonder what will happen to all this junk.

I have written about atree3 (Margaret Fabrizio) a number of times on this blog. I love watching her videos because she is funny, interesting, and creative. Also, she has a sharp wit and endless wisdom. I admire her so much. She is turning 80 next March. She just put out two new videos about her “Loose Ends Project”. She has decided to try to organize her life and legacy. I will let her explain. She does this so well. As you watch, think about how this relates to your own life.
Do you have any “loose ends”?

Part 1 = atree3

Part 2 = atree3

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Art Blog: Brain POWER!

It is so hard for me to believe that less than two months ago, I made a simple TWEET on Twitter asking if anyone would be interested in having a Twitter Art Show. That was less than 8 weeks ago. The reason I am so amazed is because it is happening right before my eyes.

It has taken a whole lot of organization and time. I was willing to do that. Also, it costs a bit of money. So far, I am chipping in to cover the costs. To me, it is worth it. Even though there have been some very LONG days and hours of frustration, the fact I can see it starting to come together now makes me feel so proud.
I am reminded of how there have been so many times in my life, I take an idea and make it happen. I love this! Brain power is such a mysterious and wonderful thing!

It is so magical to take a thought and make it concrete. This ability makes you feel like a sorcerer! You don’t even need a magic wand. You just think a thought and DO IT!

During this stint as Twitter 140 coordinator, I have met quite a few wonderful artists. I have learned a whole lot about myself. I realized this week that despite my age, I am still learning new things. Most importantly, I have learned to just be quiet, keep working, and do what you know how to do. There is no need to defend or justify myself. My art experience speaks for itself. To realize this gives a great feeling of freedom.

My computer room has turned into “Twitter 140 Central”. I love seeing this physical manifestation of my brain cells. It is just like doing art. We think and envision; then we work to make things come to fruition. It just doesn’t get better than that!

Yes, it is a lot of work. Hard work, blood, sweat, and tears.
However, it pays off in the end.
I know this to be true!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Art Blog: Process vs. Product

I have always been one to try to keep up with the times. I keep my nose in the news so I am aware of trends no matter how silly they might be. I am always buying and using the lasted techno gadget. I pride myself on being knowledgeable in all facets of contemporary life. Yet, there are some things that I don’t care about in this world right now. It seems that there is a changing mood about art, its purpose, and why it is made.

For the past few years, I have noticed an increasing number of art marketing websites, art marketing coaches, and more art sales everything. Even many artists I meet online tout and hawk their newest art “products”. There is nothing wrong with this. I have sold art. I have seen my own work as product many times before. However, the primary goal for me is the process. If someone buys work from me, it then becomes a product.

My first priority is the creative thinking, collecting, and sorting of concepts and ideas. There is the push and pull of materials. There is the angst and pleasure of bringing to resolution a new creation. I guess I am truly “old skool” when it comes to this philosophy. I am more concerned and dedicated to the act of making the art. I am interested in the creative process first. Making of the art is of paramount importance. If the work turns into a product after the process, that is secondary to me.

This is a very heady topic and anyone of us could write a thesis about it. For me, I think this is an issue of the purpose of art. I see art as being an intensely personal endeavor. I don’t make art which aspires to be a part of home décor. To me, art is not about matching the color of anyone’s walls or couch. Art shouldn't be just pretty pictures. Art is an expression of the artist. Art should speak about life. Art should reflect the artist and the society in which she lives. Art should have content which is expressed by the artist and interpreted by the viewer. I can’t imagine cranky out gewgaws for the pure sake of selling internet junk.

This topic has made me irritable lately. I didn’t realize how uncomfortable I was until reading so much about the new, art reality show being developed by Sarah Jessica Parker. I am a fan of many reality shows. I couldn’t figure out why this show concept raises the hair on my arms. I think it is because it fans the flames of the “art as product” idea to a new level. I see it as promoting not only the art as commodity, but the artist as a product too. It denies the purity and essence about which being an artist should be.

I don’t want to sound like a naïve, Pollyanna. I am very aware artist's need to make a buck too. Maybe I am behind the times in this area of our lives. However, I think too highly of art and artists to ever accept this new way of thinking about the creative process. This is ok for me. I don’t want to think of ART on any other level. If I do, it makes me feel dirty. Now I realize this is why I have recently felt annoyed.

No matter how hard I try, I know for sure I will never change this one part of me. In regard to ART, I will always view process over product. To me, art is not about making widgets or creating, new hipster art celebrities. Art and creativity should be seen as far more important than this in our world.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Art Blog: Psychedelic!!!

Oh yes! I am so jazzed and freaked out right now. You know I love to make videos. I have had a Flip Video camera (and others) for years. I love my Flip the best! However, I had a first generation Flip. It had batteries and you could only delete one clip at a time!!! It was a dinosaur!! LOL

Well, today the UPS man came to my door. I have joined the 2009 version of Flip videomania. Yes. I bought one that is Psychedelic! It is so befitting for a crazy, oldish, hippie lady like me. YEAH! :-) !!!!!!!
Can you tell I am happy??

My new FLIP VIDEO Mino HD!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Art Blog: The Human Being

One thing I don’t like about the world right now is the ever present buzz of media mania. Everyone has an opinion. Those opinions are shouted continually via television, blogs, news/gossip websites, Twitter, etc. etc. There is a continual barrage of screaming voices that has come to resemble a 21st century, technological Tower of Babel.

Unless you have been living under a rock this past week, you have experienced too many yakking beaks commenting on Michael Jackson’s life and times. His death was the spark and there are millions of people standing around fanning the flame. Now that the burn has reached far beyond three alarm status, people scurry and scream “FIRE, FIRE!”. It is a spectacle of self induced mass hysteria.

I have never been a Michael Jackson fan. I think I might be the only person on earth who has NEVER bought one of his records. This is weird because Motown is my home town. I appreciated his work. I remember watching the Jackson 5 when I was a little girl. I just never collected any of their songs. I thought the Thriller video was stupid. I did appreciate his style of clothes. It is undeniable he was a great artist. I was in awe of his ability to write, sing, and dance.

One thing I have thought about for days is how celebrity distorts our vision. As I watched MJ clips, interviews, and memorial telecasts this week, I was reminded that even though Michael was a superstar, he was first and foremost a human being. He made mistakes just like all of us. He had dreams and wishes. He felt the pains as well as the joys of life. Every time I saw Michael on TV, I always noticed the sorrow in his eyes. He didn’t really need to wear that surgical mask. All his plastic surgeries masked his true identity long ago. His sadness and emotional confusion was always so apparent and obvious to me.

One of the most chilling things I heard this week was a radio interview with MJ. In his own words, he described how the music industry is so destructive. He mentioned all the young musicians who succumbed to death via alcohol and drugs. He reminded listeners to take care of themselves and their bodies. In light of Michael’s early death and the mysterious details surrounding it, I find these statements so tragically prophetic and ironic. However, it reminds me Michael struggled with life just like the rest of us “normal” human beings.

Good-bye Michael, R.I.P.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Art Blog: Dead Horses

One thing that is on my priority list right now is clearing out some of this deadwood work lying around. I decided not to start anything new until I find a resolution to some of the work I have already started. I work on many paintings at once. I alternate between those in progress in my studio. Sometimes, I lose interest in one or the other and put them aside. I might get back to them eventually. Sometimes, they sit there for months (years?). This is just fine with me. I call these discarded pieces “Dead Horses”.

I rarely throw these pieces out. Usually, I stare at them, swear at them, and then think what I will do to them if I ever get back to them. One such painting is “FRANTIC”. I worked on this painting for a long time last year. I hated it from the beginning. I have no idea why I kept working on it as long as I did. It was awful. Besides looking very ugly, it didn’t fit its theme. A few months ago, I started to paint over it. Then it sat for a while again. Last week, I got it out again. I finally resolved it. I really like it now!

“FRANTIC” is part of my “States of Being” series. These are paintings that have one word that would follow the phrase: “I am ….” I have included a brief time lapsed video of the transformation of this painting. I am glad I got this done!

By Sheree Rensel
CLICK pic to view video
CLICK title to view webpage

Friday, July 3, 2009

Art Blog: Treasure Map Series

Ordinarily, I shun artist statements. I have always had the feeling, I make the art. I don’t need to explain it. LOL The downside of this habit is many people viewing my art say things like “I don’t get it!”

Well, I am turning over a new leaf. I have always made art that is narrative. The problem has been I am the only one who knows the story. I am now going to start telling the stories behind my art. This will help me understand my path, as well as help my audience “get it”. Here is an explanation of my new painting series “Treasure Maps”.

Click pic to see video