Eyes on the road, hands upon the wheel


Now comes the tricky part. Producing and preparing for a show in August. Should be a quiet summer, as the last one didn’t produce much cash. So plenty of time to make and frame prints, and hope that Salida is a bit more art-oriented than Casper during these recession times.

I will also be preparing for a September show in Albuquerque as I got accepted for that this week. Then a small show in the Open Press Gallery for October, along with the start of my Art Students League Workshop. So keeping busy won’t really be a problem, it’s feng-shui-ing my noodle to eliminate distracting money worries.

I am definitely accepting hints and advice from all you teacher-types out there as I gear up to teach an 8-week workshop! What’s the most important thing to remember?

The Weekend Squishtoid

I’d like to think of me returnin when I can
to the greatest little boozer and to Sally MacLennane

-Pogues

I found out, to my dismay, that in the frantic preparations for Casper, I’d missed the announcement of Pogues tickets going on sale in Denver Friday. They don’t like touring much, and usually California or Chicago is as close as they get to Denver. So it qualifies as a rare, and possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see them at the Ogden Theatre.

Fortunately, there were still tickets left when I got back ( after all, this IS the city that didn’t sell out for the Beatles)! So now, all I have to do is pray for Shane MacGowan’s liver to hold out till October.

It’s been a momentous summer for my (admittedly, off-the-beaten-track) cultural icons. The US National Team reached its first FIFA Final, A new Pynchon novel, and now the Beatles of Irish-American punk-folk. There will be a review of the show here after it happens.

Days without getting a job: 93

Squishometer: Was feeling A BIT SQUISHED after the Nic show; now, having scored Pogues tix, WARM N SQUISHY.

“Sad to say
I must be on m’ way
So buy me beer and whiskey, boys
I’m goin far away”

Casper, Wyoming isn’t much more than four hours from Denver, but it feels like a distant land.

The Nicolaysen Museum show was a success in every way except sales. I loaded up and zoomed up past Cheyenne and into the open range. This is great driving, with few other cars and a road that pays dividends for the attentive; I’ve seen plenty of wildlife and the nuances of the high plains landscapes make for sublime vistas. Nonetheless, I had to keep a good pace, and the weather was a worry. I went through a T-storm about Douglas and wondered how that would affect setting up for the show. But it cleared up about the time of the show, and the crowd was good, with one sale.

That seemed like a good omen. Saturday, quite a few people took an interest, but no sales. However, enthusiasm was high. The people that bought SNOW FENCES 287 on Friday, Dan and Mandy, sent three other people in! But the hours were brutal. I put in 16 hrs on hot asphalt.

Sunday: one sale, an architect named James who bought RAVINE AT DUSK. Then it was time to pack up and get the rental back down the dark highway. Got in at 1 am, and just in time, too! My eyes were beginning to cross, and I nearly drifted into the other lane a couple of times.

But it was a good experience. Casper is a nice little city with a lot of people who seem desperate for a little culture. I met classical musicians, architects, and photographers, many of whom seemed to know each other, and to be sending each other to my booth. But for whatever reasons, they seemed unable to commit to buying work.

The Nicolaysen seems to be trying to lift the city singlehandedly. Nic Fest is their Capitol Hill People‚Äôs Fair, and shows potential. The museum is a spectacular resource for such a small city, and the staff shows a lot of leadership and vision in presenting the town as a cultural tourist stop. As the Executive Director, Holly, told me, ” We make our own fun here.” Meaning, they can’t easily escape to larger cities in bigger states, as the border cities such as Laramie can.

And their vision doesn’t seem all that far-fetched. While Casper doesn’t seem quite ready to pay for (my) contemporary art, and the show was choked with cowboy tchotchkes, they do seem to support the idea. And I counted four(!) restored movie theatres within a few blocks downtown. Whatever I expected from this experience, a 10 PM traffic jam downtown as the Festival let out, and the movie-goers streamed in, was not it! Well done to a vibrant little city!

Things are a little slower this week, and I will try to post a bit more. July looks set for a more relaxed pace, and after a very frantic June, that sounds good to me! Note to self- two shows in one month- pretty tough! Time to start acting like a retired person, at least for a couple of weeks. My most pressing upcoming deadline is Aug 4- the day Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, Inherent Vice comes out.

Oh- and there was very nearly one disaster as a result of this show, but I’ll save that for my next (and first Weekend Squishtoid) post. There is a clue in this post, however.


“Gonna be a twister come
blow everything down
that ain’t got the faith
to stand its ground”

– Springsteen

Here’s what I SHOULD have made the epigraph for the last post, but I’m just a baby blogger yet! Off to Casper, WY, this weekend for a fair/show at the Nicolaysen Museum

This could be an entirely different type of crowd than Capitol Hill and to top it all off, The USA is playing Brazil while I may be standing around getting blank stares from people looking for nature photography. I’m probably being way too simplistic, my experience of WYO is always that it can’t be stereotyped, but the irony is there- the “retired” guy can’t drink beer and watch football ’cause he has to work! I’ll post a bit more in depth when I get back.

Tornado Discount? Hell, yeah!

I wish all Art Fairs were like the Art Students League of Denver Summer Art Market
The crowds are always there, and they are rarely there for the hot dogs. They are there for art. It’s a great little fair. I’m never bored there, partly because of the strong crowds, partly because it’s such a social occasion. Also there’s the weather in Colorado in June, which can be …dramatic.

This year people were buying smaller (at least in booth #57), but they were still buying. Sales weren’t as strong as ’08, but they were solid, and as it was my first real chance to make money at my new profession, that’s huge.

I might actually have approached last year’s total, but the whole thing ended in chaos. Around 2-ish, the clouds came in, and tornado sirens started wailing. From experience, I keep a tarp and trash bags, tubs, etc, for quick wet-proofing, and I had a friend there who could help pull framed pieces off the walls when the wind kicked up. I happened to be finishing up a sale as the eerie sirens started, but with my eye on the rapidly thickening sky, I figured it wouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to pack and zip up, get in the building and hope for the best.

Then another woman wanted to buy 2 small pieces. These were, to coin a phrase, some cool customers! A steady crowd was streaming into the building, but not Monotype collectors- they’re not easily intimidated! Putting the whole ‘squish or be squished’ manifesto to its first test, I completed the sale as quickly as I could. I couldn’t find the tax chart, so I simply rounded it off and called it good, got the nice lady a bag to protect the prints from raindrops and the odd flying trailer home and thanked her as she and her friend exited the tent.

“Okay, Nicole, let’s zip it up and get inside.”

Only, as Nicole zipped up the front flap, the lady and her friend popped back in the back flap. Her friend wanted to buy a small framed piece. I’d already packed it into a tub, so I dug it out. “Is there a tornado discount?” She asked. Like I said, cool customers! Hey, if I die, at least I’ll have art! “Shit, yeah, there’s a tornado discount”, I’m thinking as I knock 20% off the price, again round off the tax, bag the art and even, out of habit remember to ask for her phone number on the check.

The sirens are on their 3rd go-round, weird suspicious tendrils are trailing off the thick dark clouds, which are beginning to swirl. Someone has taken a cell phone photo of a funnel cloud. By three thirty, the sirens, after 4 warnings, are finally silent, and there’s even brightness in the west. We throw the tent back open, and a steady stream of people wanders by, but the crowds never really return. At about 4:30 there’s another thundershower, and we pack it up for good. 4 tornado warnings and a thundershower and not a piece of art damaged. Plus 4 sales while the sirens are sounding. A good omen for this Squishtoid, I guess. As for the Summer Art Market, drama is nothing new there. One year it took place during the Hayman fire in the foothills. That Sunday, the sky turned orange, the sun was a big red ball behind all the smoke, and pieces of ash rained on the artwork. Strange days, indeed.

“Some are mathemeticians,
some are carpenter’s wives;
I don’t know how it all got started;
I don’t know what they do with their lives…”

-“Tangled Up in Blue”, Dylan

The first thing that strikes you is: How did I ever find time for a day job? To explain- owing to economic and political realities, I recently retired.

I always envisioned a life with a lot of free time. The question of how to pay for the “free time” ? Ah, there’s the rub. So this is a blog about not getting a job.

I’m an artist, and the weekends have been a time split between traditional leisure/social activities, such as sports, art shows and music, and more professionally oriented ones, such as making and selling art. Then back to my job, often at 4 am Monday morning. Now I schedule my own time, a great advantage which I really appreciate. It’s rare for working people to retire these days, and most seem to have their next job lined up before the retirement party even begins. My next job has been lined up since I graduated with a BFA: unfortunately, it pays even less than the classic retirement job, wal mart greeter.

I’m going to be a Squishtoid. I won’t bore you with a long drawn out definition of what a Squishtoid is, especially since I just made it up and haven’t really defined it yet, but I can give you the manifesto: squish or be squished. As background- I’m a monoprint artist. I paint ink on a plexiglass sheet and run it through a press at 2000 pounds psi pressure. What I painted comes out the other side, backward and totally squished. Kind of like life itself.

Then I sell them at shows, most of them street fair type shows. My first show was June 13-14, a chance to keep wal-mart at arm’s length and keep scheduling my own time. I’ll tell you how it went in my next post. For now, suffice it to say:

Days without job: 76.

Feel free to comment. Let me know if you are in a similar situation. Or contemplating it. For artists, I hope to share some of the things to look for as I stumble into my new career. For art lovers, I hope to share some of the process and thinking that goes into a monotype. For people who hate single subject blogs, I’ll slip in a little “weekend squish” about books, music, cooking, entertainment and living the good life on the cheap.

I hope you enjoy, and I hope it happens to you sometime.