Hey everyone…Welcome to my first blog post!!!
I want to announce that I am appearing this fall in Creativebloch magazine issue #5. I am very honored to have been chosen. I have to admit it has lit quite a fire under my ass. I have known about being accepted into this outsider art publication for months and it has pushed me to go down a path I have been avoiding most of my artistic life; structured online self promotion.
I have dedicated my whole life in one way or another to making art; the vehicles I have chosen, the crazy alternative spaces I have created to live/work in, my circles of friends, my career paths. I’ve spent endless amounts of time and financial resources to curate the objects and tools I use to practice my craft. I have made hundreds of pieces of artwork in my life. I can’t help it. I’m surrounded by it. This is not the “fire under my ass” that I am talking about.
The fire is the realization that I need to do more than just make art. I also need to make it available to be seen by others. This is something that had come naturally to me in the past, living in the big city, but has now become harder with my rural life.
I moved to a small town in southern Oregon from Chicago over 13 years ago. In Chicago, I had a successful decorative painting business that kept me busy. I painted murals in kids rooms. I decorated a lot of restaurants and nightclubs. I learned a lot about paints, brushes, glazes, patinas, and color theory. It kept me financially stable and up to my neck in art supplies that I could write off on my taxes.
I was in a city full of culture with a thriving arts community. Most of my friends were artists, musicians, chefs, and actors. They worked in restaurants, gallery’s, and nightclubs. If you weren’t creating you were participating. There was always somewhere to go… something to do… something to see. Galleries, alternative art spaces, charity art auctions, coffee houses, and art collectives were everywhere. It created all kinds of situations to see and be seen.
I am a very social human being. I loved all the human interactions that come with going out to see live music or going to an underground art show. Music venues like The Empty Bottle, The Fireside Bowling Alley, and Lounge Ax were providing the opportunity for bands like The White Stripes, Wilco, The John Spencer Blues Explosion, and The Eagles of Death Metal to practice their sorcery. The alternative art scene was alive and well. With neighborhoods like Wicker Park, Logan Square, and Pilsen not being gentrified yet, rents were low. Underdeveloped spaces were readily available. It was the perfect environment for artists to move in and thrive.
A group of my fellow undergraduate art crew and I all moved in together after college. We rented a six thousand square foot space on the 3rd floor of a retired cabinet factory. We called it The Loft. It was located in Pilsen. We made it into a space that supported the exchange of ideas, music, and art. It was happening all around Chicago. People were transforming raw spaces into places where creativity could be expressed. One artist friend of mine Scott Wolniak opened a gallery called Suitable in the garage behind his house. Another friend/artist Vincent Dermoody opened The Law Office a gallery in Wicker Park. I was asked to join C.H.A.R.C.O.A.L a.ka. The Chicago Artist Collective. We had a massive ground floor space right in the heart of Pilsen, and had a different show in the space every month for two years. The opportunity to create art work and have it seen by a live audience on a regular basis was woven into the fabric of my life. Social networking was an organic process. Getting to talk to people, watch them interact with the art work, and building face to face relationships was the way the art web was spun. It came naturally to me and I was good at it. Make art. Hang art. Hang out with art. Connect with people. Sell art. This process worked really well for me until I decided to move…
I know you’ve heard this story before. I bet a lot of you have lived some part of it yourself. I met someone super special. I fell in love. I bought a house in the city. My painting business got busier. I hired some help. I bought a work van to keep up. Got a cell phone. Got insurance. Got credit cards. Refinanced mortgage. Rehabbed house……blah, blah ,blah. I believe it’s called growing up? I was self-employed and constantly having to hustle to keep up. Living in the city is expensive. My life had gotten expensive. I was spending a couple hours in traffic every day trying to get to my different decorative painting gigs. I was making decent money, but I was getting paid to manifest other people’s dreams. I was finding less and less time to create and manifest my own creations. I was 35 and I felt stuck. My restlessness was reeking havoc on my relationship. I was unhappy with my life. I felt trapped. I was acting out in unhealthy ways and hurting the people that loved me the most. It was mutually decided that I needed to take some time off and find myself—a 6 week road trip—followed by a year and a half of hard decisions. I needed a massive change in my life. I broke up with my partner. Sold my house. Sold most of my stuff. Packed up a trailer, and headed west.
That was over 13 years ago and I still feel like I’m finding myself. I Found someone… a beautiful artistic women named Brook who I am proud to say I am married to. And I found a place. A quiet rural town in southern Oregon. It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It’s an affordable place to live. Everything is less expensive here. Land, taxes, insurance, and building supplies. The pace of life is super mellow, and there is not a lot of distractions to spend time and money on. I have all the time I need to work on what I want when I want. I’ve spent the last six years developing a piece of land, and building my dream studio Moon Tail Arts. I’ve taken some welding classes, and I spend hours on Youtube University learning about other skills that I can apply to my artwork. I have more space than I ever could have imagined, and I get to work on my art all the time. Like I said earlier I am surrounded by it.
This brings me to where I am at now… This is the “fire under my ass” scenario I mentioned at the beginning of this story. It’s good to be given a deadline. I’ve had to sit in front of a computer a lot since learning about being accepted into the magazine. I’ve had a long list of projects; Learning how to build a web site, creating an online store, organizing photos, figuring out drop box, linking all my social media sites together, creating a logo, and writing this blog. These are not my natural tendencies. I am using tools that I don’t really understand. I can barely type. Computers confuse me. When I lived in Chicago, Social Media was just in its infancy. I had dial up service on my computer, and a flip cell phone. Trying to use Social Media to connect with people, instead of the face to face networking I had practiced living in the city seemed very distant and isolating.
I wasn’t aware of the power of Social Media until I started using Instagram. Several artist friends of mine had recommended it, and encouraged me to get my work out there. I blew them off. I was happy in my little bubble. I didn’t want any other reasons to be distracted. Who would want to look at what I was doing any way? My friends are smart, caring, and very persistent. Resistance is futile….I dragged my feet as long as possible… finally I checked it out. I was blown away at all the crazy artists I found. It was simple enough for me to understand. People from all around the world were creating art, and posting pictures of it. It was inspiring. I was hooked. I started a page, and started sharing what I was creating. My artistic world expanded and I felt like I was involved in a artistic community again.
A few months ago I was scrolling on Instagram. I saw a open artist call for Creativebloch Magazine #5. I thought why not me? Isn’t this a part of your dream? Don’t think... just do. So I did, and here I am. The last few months have been quite a stretch for me. I’ve spent hours sitting at my desk instead of in my studio. Learning to use a whole new set of tools to network. There’s been a lot of I don’t know moments. A lot of reaching out for help. It’s been a crash course on what it takes to be an artist, living in the middle of nowhere, and have my artwork be seen in a technological world.
Creativebloch Magazine should be showing up in my mailbox any day now. I finally feel prepared. I can honestly say that I am excited for that moment to happen. Was it all worth it? Yes!!!!!!!!!! My art is being published in a magazine!!!!!!!