Monday, October 21, 2013

Art Blog: Square Peg

Sometimes you have to go through trials to figure out what you really want. As an artist and person, I am a self improvement addict. I am all about spirituality and self realization. All this work is done for the sake of betterment. One of my biggest issues right now is the feeling of alienation. I haven't felt comfortable in my own skin. In order to alleviate this tension, I decided to start a very specific task for myself. I wanted to put effort into trying to fit in more. I wanted to put time into being more comfortable in my environment. I have been working on this for over a year now.

My strategies have worked in some ways. I see, look, and know what is around me with much more clarity. Rather than being held up in my art house and studio, I have gotten out into the provincial world that surrounds me. I have taken it all in with deep breaths, wide eyes, and fine tuned ears. Oh. Now I get it.

Yet, I realize now I have come full circle. There was nothing wrong with my art life in the first place. Even though I felt bad about not showing locally, I now realize that is OK. I don't have to be a "local". The irony is I will never be a local. I am an immigrant, so to speak. I live in my own land. I tried to become a member of another world and I really don't like it. I have realized my independence is one of the most important attributes I possess. I want to be the Queen of Sheree World. There is no harm in that. So, I am going back there. I can hear Glinda's words to Dorothy: "You've always had the power....."

The moral of this story is you have to be true to yourself:
If it doesn't feel good, don't do it.
There is truth to the idiomatic expression about trying to fit a "square peg into a round hole". It just isn't going to happen.
Now, I am OK with this.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


I have written before about my fascination with self taught, naive, or outsider artists. I love their work because of the purity of heart which drives them to create. Ultimately, this same energy emanates through their work.
One such artist is Emery Blagdon (1907-1986). He was an ordinary man. He was very eccentric, but not a recluse. He was from a small, rural town who accepted his unusual ways. Emory made what he called "Pretties". For most of his life, he worked on a large vernacular environment titled "The Healing Machine". He did not identify himself as an artist. He liked to be considered an inventor of this magical installation which emitted static energy and had the power to heal. His story is as interesting as his life work. I don't need to explain more because we are lucky enough to have this beautiful video that summarizes his life and the happy ending for his obsession. This video is a bit long (26:40), but well worth the watch. Bookmark it for later if necessary. It will inspire you to create and live your life with magical motivation.
"The Healing Machine" Video
(click pic to watch)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Art Blog: Popular or Pro?

What is your preference? Popular or Pro?
Read on, I will explain. I remember a few art shows ago, we were dismantling an exhibition. As I was taking my work off the wall, this artist asked me if I sold anything. I nodded, "No". She quickly boasted "I sold two paintings!" I congratulated her and went back to my own business. As she walked away, I visualized her work in my mind. She was a painter of clowns. Her work was very relatable to much of the public audience. Obviously, her work was popular enough for someone to buy her art. That is great for her. More often than not, my work doesn't seem to be understood by the average Jane or Joe. Even though I don't really care, I was a bit jealous of the clown painter.

This week the Grand Rapids ArtPrize competition was held. This is a huge art contest drawing international attention. The most interesting part is the fact the judgment comes from two different entities. In one category, the prizes are determined by popular vote. The second group of prizes are given by art professional jurors. The person who wins the $200,000 grand prize given by "the people" gets lots of attention and press. The winner of the jury vote, not so much. In no way do I mean to downgrade any of the artists in this art contest. However, I have noticed a common thread amongst the works that win the popular votes over the past few years. Generally, it is very straight forward, representational, relatable, and usually quite traditional. The juried winner's works tend to be esoteric, academic, intellectually driven, and to put it simply kind of weird. At least that is what the average person might think.
So this brings me back to my original question. As an artist, whose vote would matter most to you? Would you prefer the popular votes or be given kudos by the art pros? I suppose ideally, it would be wonderful to have the best of both worlds. Is it possible to have art professional approval and still get the popular vote?
Tell me what you think.
Here are this year's ArtPrize winners (Click pics for more information)
ArtPrize Grand Prize Winner (Popular Vote)
"Sleeping Bear Dune" by Ann Loveless

ArtPrize Grand Prize Winner (Juried Vote)
"Ecosystem" by Carlos Bunga