After twenty years in the Army, you get a few token things to remind you of the odyssey. The tie pin is one of those things many toss in a drawer, if that, never to be seen again. I guess because it's an odd thing, this retired Army tie pin. Still, it is a reminder that you put in 20 years, or more, in uniform getting your boots dirty around the world. It says you made it pass go and got to collect $200. But what do you do with it if you don’t wear ties? Do retired women get one too? I think they should replace the tie pin with a “Retired Army” coffee cup (one of the nick names, in the Army, for coffee was ‘lifer juice’ – alluding to those who were in for the long haul) or a “Retired Army” shot glass, that way we ‘lifers’ could get better use out of the ‘gift’. It's been 13 years since I was given this tie pin. It seems a lot longer than that; it seems a lot farther away. Well, I'm on a different journey now. My goal is to be a working artist. That is to say, I earn my living from being an artist; you know, my ‘day job’ is being an artist. I hope I stressed ‘artist’ enough. The tie pin is a good reminder that this present goal is achievable too, but it takes time. And it reminds me to have fun with the adventure as well, like I did with my Army adventure (it wasn’t fun all of the time but there were a lot of fun moments). And having things to remind me is good because sometimes I forget to have fun every now and then – really.
Saturday, August 18, 2018
Sunday, July 1, 2018
Do you follow art news or the website artnet? I have recently started to follow art news – it’s like a break from stories dominated by an orange dude who… Like I said, a break from other kind of news. I read this story about how the Baltimore Museum of Art sold some of their top dollar artwork by white guys (Andy Warhol, Franz Kline, and Robert Rauschenberg, for example) so that they could acquire some top dollar artwork by people of color and women (Jack Whitten, Amy Sherald [the artist who painted Michelle Obama's official portrait], Wangechi Mutu, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, and a bunch of others). The personally sad thing about this was that I did not know who these, people of color and women, artist were – and I’m a studio art major. Hell, I graduated with honors on top of that. I felt like a dumbass and I know I’m not dumb. I know it goes without saying but I did know of all the white guys they mentioned in the article. So, I had to look up a few of these artists whom I did not know. I was really flabbergasted by one artist in particular – Isaac Julien. This dude… Wow! Well his website says that he is a “filmmaker and installation artist”. But he makes photographic prints too. And “Julien was awarded the title Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s birthday honors, 2017.” So like yeah. Well, you never stop learning. I need to hurry up and get my stuff out there.
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Here’s the thing, I exist in, I think in, I work in the extremes. For me, it takes daily effort – all of the time – to operate in the middle where most people are; and are comfortable with me. It doesn’t help that I’m a little bigger than average. Nor does it help that I’m black, an African American, a person of color, etc. And I, if I’m not monitoring myself, can be loud – or say nothing at all. Both ways make folks uncomfortable. But I have been managing myself all of my adult life – I’m in my mid 50s now. Unless you are like this, you may not be able to really grasp how this is not an easy way to live.
So, let me narrow in on my art. As far as what I would like to do with my life – I just want to be a working artist – predominantly working with photography. Why working artist? I don’t want to do anything else – employment wise. But I do have a fulltime non-artist job so I work on my art as time permits. I go to non-artist work to help provide for our family. We have kids, my wife and I, and we both work. That’s good and I love my family. It’s just the non-artist work part – I want my job to be an art job, not non-artist work.
So what does that have to be with being on the extreme? When I do work on my art, I push it. I’m back in the extremes and I am comfortable working on my art that way. I have recently joined Instagram and I push my art there too – working on exposure and learning how to make Instagram work for my art. When I’m creating, it’s just me in my head so it doesn’t involve anyone else. But when I’m doing the Instagram thing and trying to gain exposure, I wonder if I’m pushing too much. I don’t know. It’s obviously not too much for me but I don’t know if it’s too much for everyone else – I don’t get that type of feedback from Instagram (at least not that I’m aware of yet). So, I will back it off a bit – put that Instagram thing in “the middle where most people are”. Just saying that makes Instagram now feel like…
Well, I just had to write this down.
Saturday, June 2, 2018
I am the new director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles! Ok, not yet but I should be. Let me tell you why. I have leadership experience (over 20 years in the Army – I was a platoon sergeant for crying out loud!); I can handle pressure and stress (did I mention the Army thing – tours to Iraq); I’m educated (a BA in studio art and a minor in business – and I graduated with honors); I love art (see the BA in studio art thing); museums like to have older folks running things – I’ll be 56 within weeks; diversity – I’m black; need to show some love to America – I’m a #vet and you know this (from above sentence); I support the #metoo movement (I’m married to my beautiful wife who is a college professor and we have 4 daughters between us and my mama lives with us – I’m no position not to support women in all of their struggles – and again, I can handle pressure and stress); management potential (see everything above); and I really want to work in the art world – really, really want to.
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
It was a real uplifting feeling reading about the painting, “Past Times” by Kerry James Marshall, selling for all of that money. Not because of the money but because the valuation of the work of a person of color – a black man. It’s good to hear good stories about black people. It’s good, as an aspiring #artist myself, to hear good stories about black artist too. Thank you for doing your work, Mr. Marshall.
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Saturday, May 19, 2018
Way back on Cinco de Mayo, we dropped in on SPACE Gallery & Records in Claremont. I wanted to have a look at Celia Sanchez’ work, “SAINTS”. And I wanted to say hi to Christina Franco, the gallerist, whom I had not seen since the Pomona days. Well, we ended up chatting it up for a bit and I basically ran out of time and we had to go. I did manage to have a look at the Ms. Sanchez’ work and it’s really good. But I did not have the minutes to meet her. That I regretted. Ms. Sanchez is a professional photographer and artist who has had her work featured in a few places. Check out her website and Instagram to learn more – that’s what I did. And after going to her website I really regretted not meeting her. The body of work she presents on her site is incredible. I was drawn in initially trying to find out more about her project “Saints” but I discovered this very thought provoking project, “Devoted”. It begins as portraits of #tattooed women. I won’t spoil it for you as to how it changes along the way. It is truly great understanding of how we misjudge people every day. I really enjoyed all of her work though, especially “Abandoned”, as I too work with abandoned structures too. Ms. Sanchez’ take on the subject is a powerful journey in story telling though – really remarkable work. I believe “Saints” is still showing at the Space Gallery but don’t know for sure. But I know Celia Sanchez’ website is fully operational.