Accept All Damages

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2012 has been —interesting.  Not half as busy as 2011, and that’s all due to me.  Haven’t bothered courting many places to show my work.  I did the “Pancakes and Booze” show, and basically made my money back, no win, no loss.  That’s about done it for me and “paid” shows –“P&B” charges $15 per piece you show (but “you get 100% commision) for a one night event.  Recently P&B came back thru town and did a 2 night gig, but even so, 2 nights to make up your costs, selling to the bar crowd artwork that has to be at least what you’re putting out for it, which, subsequently, is what they just paid to get in and get two drinks –well, people are there for the fun, not for buying art.  Or maybe I’m wrong, maybe if I was just a better salesman that wouldn’t be an issue.  Regardless, I had a fun time and it was a good experience.  When you’ve got a town with hundreds of free or low commission  venues –yes, coffee shops, bars, and legitimate galleries — that usually have your art up for a month, you can see the pros and cons of this kinda thing.

In more recent events, I had my “Homage to Albers” series and the “triangle series” show at my church, Imago Dei Community.  This was something that took quite a while to “get the ball rolling” (not on my part) but once it was up, it was very gratifying.  Nice to see my Brothers and Sisters supporting my creative endeavors.   Actually sold a piece at that show too.  I know it’s not fair to say that no one likes my art because no one buys it, but when I have a sale, it reignites the idea that maybe someday enough people will buy enough of my art that I could make a living doing it, it affirms that people actually DO like it. “Put your money where your mouth is” goes through my head when friends say they like a piece, or “I’ve heard lots of good stuff about your show”.

OF COURSE, it should go without saying that I’m not doing it for the money –obviously not the case.  But it sure does make a person feel better about spending so much time and money into a project.

Now, as in a week from now, will be the opening of the “88 STRONG” show at the Goodfoot Lounge.  This will be the 3rd year I’ve participated in this show.  Basically, the good folks at Goodfoot give artists eight 8″x8″ wood panels to create art on, using 88 possible “themes”, which are single words/phrases.  Examples of this would be:  Art Mafia / Compost / Dreads / Eat your face / Hick / It’s in my mouth / Lebowski / Roller Girls / Vegan —you get the point, pretty random word/phrases.  Your blanks can be 8 different themes, or all the same, or any mix.  You’re given basically a month to turn these blank panels into art, which are then framed and shown (100 some artists x 8 a piece=’s a lot) and sold for $50, the artist getting the majority of the $.  It’s open to artists of all skill-levels and mediums, as long as it’ll “fit” onto the panels.

I love this show and “the big 100″ show (which is similar in concept, except no themes are given) because they’re basically a work out for me, and usually end up teaching me either a new technique or a new set of ideas or a lesson of some sort.  They’re a work out for me because I have to keep at it –8” square panels are small enough that they don’t have to be time consuming, yet having 8 to make in a month’s time makes it challenging.  My artwork typically takes a 3 to 6 month turnaround, mostly because I think a lot on the piece, making the revisions and figuring out the technique in my head before actually applying to the work.  And, honestly, I procrastinate a bit too.  The 88 Strong doesn’t allow that.  I’m always a bit of a mess at first, cause “whatamigonnadoohshit”, then when that’s figured out it’s “ohcrapi’mgonnarunouttatime”, but I have yet to fail with getting something made that I approve of by the deadline.  Well, I usually approve of most of it.  Sometimes it doesn’t all work the way i want it, but I allow it because others may approve of the final piece even if I’m not fully behind it.  The artist is his biggest critic, and all of that.

So, this year, my 8 pieces all revolve around the theme “DAMAGED GOODS”.  This started out with a roll of packing stickers I’ve had for at least 3 years, which is my argument for why artists (in particular collage artists) should not be criticized for being pack-rats.  As soon as i saw that phrase, I knew I had to use them –Neon Orange stickers with bold face ACCEPT ALL DAMAGES printed on them.

The process went something like this –cover panels with these stickers, somewhat randomly, then apply white spray paint over about 3/4 of the surface.  Then I took stills from a video, which then got worked and re-worked in Photoshop (I won’t go into detail, but I imagine anyone who knows photoshop decently could back-track the filters/brushes/techniques I used) then printed these out to fit specific panels and transferred them onto the panels via gel-medium transfer.  For me, this was good training on specific techniques I use in photoshop to take images and ready them for 4-color process printing, though the end result was not made into screen printed images (not enough time and too laborious for one small print), and was also educational on how to “colorize” a black and white image.

As for the subject –The stills were taken from a you-tubed video the house is black, a documentary made in 1962 about a Leper colony in Iran –very sobering, with it’s narration being parts Old Testament/Koran/Poetry, it’s beauty is it’s ugliness.  Leprosy (aka “hansens disease”) has been around since the Old Testament and many passages in the Bible are devoted to the diagnosis, treatment, and care of those afflicted.  Like the Plague, it is rarely seen today, though both still exist and both can still kill if not treated immediately and effectively (Paul Gaylord of Prineville, OR. is still recovering from the Plague, contracted from a cat bite earlier this year).  These people, no matter when in history, have had to deal with not only the devastation of their health and body, but their entire life.  Lepers in the past were kept away from everyone they loved, hushed away to colonies.  “UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN!” was their cry when coming anywhere near anyone, to warn them, to keep them away, strangers, friends and family.  In this day, Paul has the stigma of the Plague on him before he is even out of the hospital.  People who were going to help him have now bowed out, under the fear of being infected (even though it is not passed by human transmission).

Biblically speaking, Leprosy is considered a metaphor for sin.  As leprosy kept the afflicted away from others because of his uncleanness, sin keeps us away from God.  Unsaved people often say “I’m a good person” or “People are basically good”, and so go on with their lives thinking they’re “good enough” for God.  But God is not only a Good God, He is also a Holy God.  Impurity is NOT allowed in His presence, no matter how small.  Even if we ignore the doctrine of being born in sin, put under the magnifying glass of God, we all have sinned, we all come short, we all would come into his presence having to cry out “UNCLEAN!  UNCLEAN!!”.  Praise God that He provided us with His begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who can clean us of the leperous sores of sin, who can redeem us, who makes us presentable, righteous, in God’s presence.  Christ’s good work not only saves us from eternal death, but through the Holy Spirit, works on restoring us from the damages we’ve made to ourselves in this life.  Like a leper, we come to Christ as we are, dirty, damaged, falling apart, broken people.  As it’s said of the Church “it’s not a museum for the good people, it’s a hospital for the broken”.  (mark 2:17).  If you accept Jesus as your Saviour, He “accepts all damages”.

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