Saturday, January 25, 2014

Art Blog: TIME OUT

I remember a time when I was an exhibition coordinator at an art center near Detroit. One day I went to work excited because I had just been accepted to a very prestigious exhibition. I told a coworker. Instead of congratulations, she responded by saying "You get into EVERY show! You never get rejected!". I was stunned. I did get rejected many times. I just entered a whole lot of shows. At that time, the odds were in my favor. I would enter 10 shows and get into at least 5 or 6. That was pretty good! I figured it would be this way always.

Well, that is not true. The past few years have been a roller coaster ride. I have entered so many shows and the stats do not look good. In fact, I am on the losing end of the data. This is very distressing, but valuable information. I mean, it is really something to think about and makes me want to figure out why this is happening. I try to keep my work current and relevant. However, I can't control the fads and fashion of the art world. Nor can I predict the likes and dislikes of the current jury pool. All I know for sure is that artists have to endure a roller coaster of subjective opinion regardless of time and place. It really is a crap shoot!

I am so sick of reading "We regret to inform you............" In fact, I think I have experienced the saturation point. So I decided to step back. What if I took a full year to just MAKE art? I don't want to enter any shows or try to be in this gallery or that art dump. I just want to concentrate on new work. That sounds like a good plan. It will give me time to emotionally heal from the constant pounding of rejection. I am putting myself in TIME OUT! Also at the end of this year, I will have a new body of work. Both strategies will help to promote a healthier outlook on art and my art life. This way, I will not feel like I am "Going Nowhere Fast".

"Going Nowhere Fast"
Click pic for larger view

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Art Blog: Who Are You?

Who are you? I am serious. WHO ARE YOU? Are you your job? Are you your family? Are you your friends? Are you the money you make? Are you the car you drive? Who?

There shouldn't be a person who reads this who doesn't relate in some way. The second year anniversary of quitting my long time day job is this week. I remember years ago wanting to quit, but I didn't have the nerve. It was safe. I finally got the nerve to make a move in January of 2012. It was like diving off a cliff. In fact, I am still in free fall. I don't regret leaving. I just wish I had a clearer picture of what was going to happen next. Unlike when I worked the same job every day, now, I have no idea what tomorrow or next week will bring. There is no predictable routine. There are lots of surprises.

It sure hasn't been easy. I wanted to experience other things. I wanted to spend more time with my art. I wanted to take a while to figure out what I want to do next. I wanted to really find out who I am. This 24 month experience has been interesting, but at times brutally painful. It has been like walking on an icy sidewalk. Just when I feel like I am getting traction, I fall on my behind. On the positive side, I have much more freedom. I have learned what having faith and trust in the UNIVERSE really is. Something must be working because I am still here and managing to keep my head just about the water.

My main objective has been to find out who I am without the perks and regiment of the "daily grind". Over the years, I have felt I have lost myself. This sabbatical has helped me discover things about my art life I would never have known. It has given me time to think about things in new ways. Taking away the cushions in my life has made me sit in an uncomfortable seat, but it has also given me moments of clarity. Just recently, I have had a number of experiences when I felt such joy. I felt like the real ME. In fact, I actually thought, that is SHEREE. I experienced my authentic self and most importantly, I recognized it!

At times, we all feel lost in the journey of life. We need a loud voice to wake us up. We have to do the work even if it causes discomfort. If we allow ourselves to learn to cope in new ways, it can be a great thing. Living in the now is a skill. There will always be challenges, but this is part of our life job. We have to do the work to find out who we really are.
Do you know WHO YOU ARE?

Acrylic on Wood
Click pic for larger view

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Art Blog: Your VIBE

I have never been able to figure it out. This has been happening to me for decades. I am not a traditional woman. I really don't have that maternal thing. I couldn't care less about having grandchildren. It just isn't my thing. I really love teaching though. My happiest moments are when I see a kid look at me with a "light bulb moment" expression. They finally get it. Yet, this post is more about why kids react more positively to some people.

Way back when even before I had a daughter, kids seemed to love me. I mean it was weird. I never wanted to be a mother or have a desire to be around kids. Yet, I would be walking in the mall and little kids would glom onto me like I was a cartoon character walking around Disney World. I didn't even have to have a costume. Their eyes would fix on me and then they would grab me by the leg. It happened all too often. While shaking my leg to get them off, I would ask their Mom or Dad to deal with it. I never had a clue why this was happening.

This phenomenon has never diminished. It still happens to this day. Currently, I am subbing at various schools to make money to support my art. It doesn't even matter if I have taught a kid. They still swarm me like they are bees on a field of flowers. Just today, a wonderful little special ed student who I don't even know, saw me leaving for the day. She ran so fast and hugged me so hard. Then she kept pointing at me asking "What is this?", my necklace; "What is this? That is my South American jacket; "What is this?" Those are my little, Chinese Mary Jane shoes! As I tried to move on, I wondered what is it that attracts kids to me.

It just has to be my VIBE. When I look at them I smile big. I speak to them, just like I would speak to you. Being so short in stature helps too. Kids can't figure out why an old lady is so short. I look them in the eye and they like that. All my colorful clothes and multicultural accessories are a big asset. Kids love color and feel the universal appeal of cultural artifacts. They don't have to study art history. They feel it in their bones.

Long story shorter, I have been working with the same students for the past month. Tomorrow will be my last day with them. I am more than sad. I know I will miss them. I told them I am moving on today. I saw tears. It was like a stab in the heart. We all have to do what we need to do. So why have we all bonded? It is our VIBE. They know I love them. They know I care about them. They know we can have a better life through learning, but having a fun time. They know Ms. Rensel wants the best for them because of her VIBE and because I have a wild, crazy love for their lives and their future. This is why I am a kid magnet.
What VIBE do you send out in your life?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Art Blog: How to Peel a Hard Boiled Egg

Each new year brings new dreams. Some of us make resolutions. Most of us want our lives to be better. There are lots of resolution jokes and witty quotes:

"Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual." - Mark Twain

Reading that makes me think Mark Twain knew me. Every year, I have big ideas and bigger wishes. I want to turn my world upside down and just DUMP!

"Universal Dump" by Sheree Rensel (shown upside down)

This year, I could write a LONG list of resolutions and things I want to change. Instead, I am not going to be so specific. I remember this Einstein quote:

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

I am really tired of being insane. I really am. So, the key is just to do things differently. The reason resolutions don't work is because many of the changes we want to make are rooted in habitual behaviors. We get up each morning and do things the same way we did yesterday. If I were to have a resolution, that is it. I want to do things in new ways each day. I would like to make fresh habits that are more positive and useful in my art life. Not only do I want to dream bigger. I want to dream BETTER!

So what about the EGG? Here is the very first thing I am going to do differently. So simple. So useful. So funny!

Click pic to watch.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Art Blog: Ah, but WHAT IS IT?

During the very early years of art school, something happened during one of my classes that has stayed with me for decades. It was a true art life lesson. In fact, it was one of the best lessons I got during all those years of art schooling. It was an ordinary evening. I think the class was a drawing class. I had a professor I loved for his way of thinking. I was a kindred spirit. He had set up the slide projector (this is back in the old days!). The room was long and narrow. Easels littered the room like a forest of metal trees. I positioned myself in the far left of the very back of the room. After he fiddled with the projector, he calmly went over to the wall and switched the lights off. He walked back to the projector and said "Now, be quiet!". He then pressed the on button. Slides of images started glowing on the screen. All the photos were close ups of textures, forms, line, color, etc.

Almost immediately, students in the class started yelling stuff: "leaves, cactus, seashells, car tire, etc......" He yelled "STOP! Be quiet!" Despite his warning, people kept trying to identify each image that popped up on the wall. After a few minutes, the professor started yelling and quickly shut off the projector. Then, he ran out of the art studio. We all just stood there, finally silent. You could tell he was PISSED off. Most of us "wet behind the earlings" didn't understand why he was so upset. It took me a few years, but I finally understood his angst.

I had a flashback of this scenario recently on Facebook. I saw a post by
Frank Strunk III. He posted a pic of one of his works.

There was no title or description. It was just a beautiful metal form. It was a sculpture. People started to comment immediately and the nouns started to fly. It is THIS. It is THAT. It is WHATEVER. I commented it is a sculpture. It doesn't have to BE anything else. This made me start thinking about why we need to label things. Why do we humans feel the need to name what we see? Apparently, this is a common response to our world and especially, when we see art. Are we trying to make sense of what we see or is this a push to understand things we don't understand? It seems to have to be SOMETHING other than just art.

Almost simultaneously to this incident, I watched an interview with sculptor Richard Serra on the Charlie Rose Show. This same topic became part of the conversation. Currently, Serra is showing his work at two Gagosian Gallery locations in New York. The work is beautiful, monumental works of steel. Mr. Rose mentioned that one of the pieces was being referred to as the "Cemetery" by some patrons.

Serra balked at this reference. In fact, he seemed flustered for a moment. Rose saw his reaction to that interpretation and asked why it seemed to upset him. He went on to tell how giving things names limits our art experience. To use "monikers" tends to give in to a type of judgment that narrows the reaction to the art. He went on to describe what a cemetery was: burial ground with stones with words, things lie beneath, etc. He emphatically defended his work as being none of those things. Instead, he wanted observers to walk into the piece and experience the weight, form, and juxtaposition of the materials without a preconceived notion of what is was supposed to BE.

Serra at the Gagosian Gallery, NY
Runs through January 25, 2014

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Happy NEW year! Some might think this post is a downer. It is not at all. In fact, it is a strong, positive grab. Please don't comment about how we will all feel better. If you watch the "Big Bang Theory" you will know what I mean when I say I don't need a "hot beverage" and a "There, There". Also, don't be alarmed. It is OK.

I am so happy for this new year. Like a prisoner in a cell, I make a chalk mark on the wall. I got through another year. Hooray for this. This post is about depression. STOP, don't leave. This is a hopeful post about this treacherous malady. I have dealt with depression since I was born. I am not talking about the "oh, I don't feel happy" kind of mood. I mean the kind of state of mind that causes a person to just stop moving. It is something that is so difficult to describe because unless you have lived it, you just don't get it.

I have dealt with depression forever and have the genes to prove it. Treatments? Been there done that. Nothing really works for me except pure, tenacious WILL. I taught myself to just deal with it on my own. Things have always worked out. However back in 2009, there was a major shift in my life. The downward spiral began as usual. I started dealing with it. The difference now is I haven't been able to shake it. Instead, I have spent years trying to rid myself of this feeling of hopelessness and now, increasing life altering anxiety. In fact, what Solomon describes as anxiety is spot on to what I go through every day now. It is horrible, but I am working on it.

I saw this video and it made so much sense to me. It gave me a totally new outlook. Andrew Solomon speaks on his depressive background and his research dealing with other who suffer this disease. One thing he speaks about is the definition of depression. Some people think the opposite of being depressed is being happy. He says the opposite of depression is vitality. I so understand this. Of course, we all want to be happy, but having vitality is what brings us happiness. This is one reason I have been so blue. I need to conjure up the energy that is inside me waiting to get out. It is there. I just have to open the bottle and let it fizz.

I toast to the idea and manifestation of VITALITY!
This video isn't for everyone. It is for those of us who struggle everyday to get up and live.
Click pic to watch. The minutes are worth it.