No Pictures / New Exhibit

The dude who manages my websites says I post too many photos on my blog.  Says it makes it more difficult to download.  Ok, so here’s a post sans photos.

Had a meeting today with an executive art committee regarding a major exhibition of exceptional work from my region.  And by ‘exceptional’ I don’t mean paintings of wheat fields and the Flint Hills–although those will be included.  I mean jagged work, conceptual work, raw work, along with craft and  semi-traditional work.  It’ll be a major gig.

Where and when?  Too soon to divulge that.  But as with everything I structure, the event will honor the participating artists, and blow away the public.  Does this mean we’ll upstage the 1913 Armory Show?  Sorry, I don’t think there’s any doing that. 

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Chocolates To Japan / Japanese Book Tour?



The Japananese woman I mentioned last month, Sachi, has returned home.  But she sent me this nice shot, which shows her dignity and elegance, while revealing me for the dufus I really am.  We’re sitting before a Japanese maple.  Serendipitous? 

Sachi wants to arrange a Japanese translation of the book, then a tour of Japan.  I asked her if the language barrier wouldn’t be an issue on tour?  She said no.  I said ok.  Perhaps I’ll finally get to climb freaking Mt. Fuji–but only after digging on Tokyo.

My friends and I have eaten all the chocolates Sachi so kindly gave us.  I suppose this means I’d better show a little breeding, and take some chocolates to her.  Hershey, do you think?  Nay.  Annedore’s.

Susan White at Block


This is one of two pieces that I acquired for Block from Susan White.  Elegant and yet bold. Pyrograph.  And while that sounds like a description of some of my more maniacal friends in high school, it actually is the name of the process: lightly imprinting heavy paper with a controlled burning technique.  I think the result is fantastic.  Trust you agree.  Piece measures roughly 12″ x 48″.

Lt. Dan Band / Operation Iraqi Children


Went with a good friend to see the Lt. Dan Band last night at the Uptown. Great show. Lot of R&B. Damned good vocalists. Many times the audience got on their feet to rattle and hum. Now you know a band is making the connection when that happens. Yeah, most of the crowd was made up of middle-aged hippies, but that’s what I am. So is Gary Sinise–who connected with the audience in a simple, laid-back way. I expected no less.

Apparently the money from the band’s gigs goes to benefit Operation Iraqi Children.  Now that’s something art rarely achieves: making a fundamental difference in other people’s lives.  I’ve begun that process through our outreach programs, and intend to expand it considerably.

Friday Tips for Artists: Excerpt from Chapter 1

Below�is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Living the Artist’s Life.� Why have I posted it?� Well, many people tell me they find it relevant.� Also I’m in a hurry to get to a concert, and I figured you’d forgive me.� Trust it proves worthwhile:


Now, Let Us Begin

All right, so you’re soon to graduate from art school, if indeed you haven’t already.� Or maybe you never did graduate but just dropped out; maybe you wearied of what all those professors were trying to teach you, and just wanted to dive into it on your own.� Or maybe art school was twenty years ago and you’re only now picking up where you left off.� Or maybe you don’t want to be an artist but simply want to live the artist?s life.� You want to create.� You want your life to be your canvas.� It can be.� It should be.� For all of us this should be so.� For very few, it is.

But in some sense, you’ve graduated.� Now what?

Assuming you’ve acquired the necessary background in painting or sculpting or printmaking, or maybe a smattering of disciplines, do one thing first: congratulate yourself.� It wasn’t easy.� It cost a struggle of emotions and finances and loneliness and exaltation and despair and odd alliances and odder rivalries but, in the end, it should have brought you closer to your calling.� If it didn?t, don?t worry, time and hard work will do that.� Time alone may do it, but not in the way that work will.�

Self-discipline, as you surely know by now, is far more important than trying to glide along on whatever level of talent you were born with.� Learn to rely on the former and to utilize the latter, but never assume that your talent alone will win you your successes.� Hard work will take you much further down the line than mere reliance on brilliance will, whether that brilliance is real or imagined.� In fact it’s astonishing to me how often an average talent blossoms, over years, into earned brilliance, while born brilliance often recedes into mediocrity.

Anyway, in some form you’ve graduated.� Now what?

You can travel, if you have the means, and even if you think you don’t.� You can go to Europe; you can go to Asia; you can go to the Middle East; you can go to South America; you can go anywhere you want.� It’s all a matter of preference, and inner desire, and the need to explore places that intrigue you, places that feed your art.��

Let’s say you choose Europe, as I have twice now.�� Yes you can still go there cheaply and live out of a backpack, tour all those great cities, taste of all those wonderfully diverse cultures.� If you can, you should.� Do it now.� It can also be done later.� If things go well it can be done several times later, but it will never again be as simple as it is right now, while you’re so young.� It is good, when fresh out of college, to go to older cultures and learn what they have to teach you.� It helps you set your bearings straight before starting the larger journey.� And setting the bearings correctly now is far easier than adjusting them later, in midstream, even though most of us are compelled to do that, often more than once.

So go to Europe if you can.� Let the Europeans humble you.� They’re good at it, and enjoy doing it.� Then when they’re done, ask them if they remember Harry Truman and George Marshall, and their reconstruction plan.� Marshall and his peers helped pull the western Europeans’ butts out of the fire during World War II, and during the reconstruction after, when those same Europeans had nearly nothing left, having collectively, through the absurdities of the Versailles Treaty, brought on a war that destroyed a great deal of their continent, and damned near their civilization.� And while it’s true that we may owe them much, gently remind them that they owe us too.� That’s what makes the relationship work.

But maybe you can’t go overseas now.� I couldn’t either when I finished college: I was simply too broke.� So I wandered America� instead, eventually covering every state in the union.� If this is your only option, then forget other cultures for awhile.� Believe me, there’s plenty to see in this country: its vulgarity, its beauty; its greed, its generosity; its violence, its compassion; its appalling ignorance, its stunning levels of enlightenment.� It’s a country of extremes, and to know it you must accept those extremes, and all their contradictions, and their wonder too.� Also it is a country of many fine museums.� Visit them.� Visit as many as you can.� And don’t tell me you can’t, because you can.� How else will you see the masters?� Who else will you compare yourself to?� How else will you rate your own work?

Go to New York, Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, St. Louis, Denver, Dallas, Washington, New Orleans, Miami, Kansas City and anywhere in between.� No matter where you live in the contiguous forty-eight, there are fine museums within a day’s drive, and many smaller ones within a few hours.� Get to know them.

You can’t afford a motel?� For a long time I couldn’t either.� That’s why, in my early days, I did all my traveling by motorcycle, often sleeping in a tent at the edge of each city, or in the apartments of friends.� Lord the scenes I witnessed, the people I met, both maniacal and kind, and the experiences I immersed myself in.� That bike was a cheap and incomparably stoked way to get around, although of course I had to accept the risk of possibly getting killed on any given day.� For some people that risk is worth it; for many it’s not.� Me?� It was the only way to see Key West at sunrise, Hollywood Boulevard at sunset, the Olympic Peninsula in full rain, and Cape Cod in summer.� For me, at that time, it was the only way to really travel, and understand, this country.�

In later years, when I had all kinds of art to lug around, I slept in the back of my aging minivan, always in a safe part of each city.� I don’t advise that you necessarily do the same, but if you’re streetwise and know how to do this without setting yourself up, it will allow you to eat well, and to spend money on worthwhile things like books, decent meals, and gifts for loved ones.

Driving anyplace is an adventure.� America is a land for driving.� Enjoy the privilege while we have it.� Dig on the old architecture, the old barns and farmhouses and train stations.� Dig on the small towns, on their tranquility and simplicity and on their limitations as well.� And never cross a major river–the Ohio, the Mississippi, the Columbia, the Hudson–without once stopping and standing at water’s edge, trying to behold all that has passed there, and all that is yet to.� Toss a coin in it.� Toss a rock in it.� Pee in it if you must.� But most of all feel it, and the life it speaks of.� Then rejoin the masses of cars on the interstate.

(Note: I will finish posting this section next Friday)����

Michelle Dreher’s “Smoker”


I installed this piece adjacent to the door, at Block, that leads to the Smoker’s Balcony.  All the smokers have thanked me for it.  I think they feel I’ve done them honor.  Wasn’t my intent; nor was dishonor. 

Beautiful linoleum-block print that I adore for its simplicity.  The scene depicts Michelle, outside her studio in the West Bottoms, cranking a butt.  I didn’t acquire it to celebrate smoking, but rather to celebrate her talent.  After acquiring it, the obvious place for it was the smoker’s balcony.  Simple as that.

I don’t smoke meself, but I don’t care if others do.  Everyone has a vice.  Sure this one will cut your life short, result in ill health, ruin your taste buds, ruin your breath, ruin your teeth, and ultimately your lungs.  But hell, I’ve seen worse vices.  Plenty worse.  Either way, this is one of my favorite pieces. 

Pink Floyd, via Australia


Sent my 16-year-old son and one of his buddies to the Australian Pink Floyd show last night at the Uptown.  Was tempted to join them, as I stood outside and watched everyone filing in.  I mean a real wave of nostalgia damned near carried me through the doors.  But no, I had other plans, and I saw all that stuff in the 70s anyway.

Even so, I told my son to wake me on coming home, so he could tell me all about it.  Just seeing the excitement in his eyes, and listening to his stories, made the $50 tickets worth it.  Yeah, they had a blast.  Good.  Now he’s got one more memory of his own.

The Lt. Dan Band plays on Friday.  I’ll go.  The money serves to benefit kids in Iraq.  Hell yeah I’ll go.

Stem Cell Victory

Well, the Stem Cell Initiative in Missouri passed–narrowly.  What does this mean?  Simple: stem cell research can be carried out here, unimpeded by zealots.  This research has nothing to do with fetuses, just embryonic tissue.  How it became such a bizarre, and ugly, shouting match is a wonder to me–but no great surprise.

How do I feel about the rest of the election?  Well let’s put it this way: in political history, I consider FDR, Elinor Roosevelt, and Truman to have ranked among the outstanding leaders of all time.  The same regarding Teddy Roosevelt and of course Lincoln (who was a Republican, by the way). 

Leaders of that calibre can be found again, and will be–we just don’t normally recognize them until long after they’re gone.

Bronze from Oregon



Reinmuth Bronze, in Eugene, is casting a piece for my H&R Block project.  The top shot shows two elements in wax, this being lost-wax casting.  The bottom shot shows one of the same pieces after casting, but prior to assembly, chasing and patina.  The sculpture is by the incredible Brent Collins, and will be placed in Block’s South Plaza, facing the Power and Light District.  Hmm.  Wonder what it will look like?  Well, I ain’t gonna divulge that just yet, but I can tell you the sucker will weigh 1200 lbs., and I’ve got to devise a way to get it into the South Plaza without a boom truck–meaning a flight of 20 steps.  Great, another engineering challenge.

Reinmuth is a first-rate foundry that utilizes old-world discipline and current technology.  I know an outstanding foundry when I see one, and this is one.

Friday Tips: Websites, and Their Relevance


I wouldn�t have bothered with setting up a website in, say, 1995, when the Web was less a part of our culture than now. But by 2000 I was obligated to bother with it, and now certainly have no choice. All galleries have a bloody website, so we have to have a website too. I advise that you, as an artist, maintain a website as well. Besides, the Web is slowly replacing the Yellow Pages as a resource.

Actually the site’s been beneficial, though I�ve yet to see any great boon develop from it. Art buying, by my experience, is a firsthand sort of business, where the client normally must see the work before making a decision. This is where the Web is at a disadvantage. But it can serve as a useful tool in introducing prospective clients to a gallery, who can then view more of the artists� works through e-mailed visuals, mailed visuals, or by appointment. The tough part is getting those clients to find you within the informational black hole that the Web has become.

Normally it is easier for a gallery to be found on the Web than individual artists. Why? Because any well organized gallery will make certain that their web address is listed on all business cards, stationery, postcards and ads. They�ll also place their website with a wide variety of search engines. With the amount of marketing that most galleries do, this spreads the information rapidly. Artists, by their very nature, are less likely to promote their website so extensively. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the attempt.

If you�re already with one or more galleries, try to make certain that they include your work on their site. If possible, try to get them to devote an entire page exclusively to your work.

You want to set up your own site? Good idea. Just be aware that setting up a stunning site can be an expensive undertaking, costing several thousand dollars if done through lavish means, or several hundred dollars if done through simpler means (in other words, through a web-savvy grad student). I set up our first site through a freelance designer for a little under a thousand dollars. You can do the same, and probably for much less.

For individual artists, setting up your own site can have obvious advantages. If you�re a painter, you can be listed under �Artists�, �Painters,� �Muralists,� �Impassioned Lunatics,� and as many other descriptions as you can come up with. Artists in other disciplines can also be listed under a wide variety of headings. The difficulty lies in making certain that the right prospects are able to find you should they undertake the search.

In all likelihood, few clients will achieve this by tossing an electronic dart into the expanding ether of the Web. As with the galleries, you�ll have to file with as many search engines as you�re comfortable with, falling back an advisor or consultant for the most effective approach.� That same consultant will need to advise you on the simplest way to update your site, since this becomes an essential ingredient as your career advances and changes. Also list your web address on all business cards, postcards, stationary, and your forehead. Without these steps, your site will just become more and more deeply buried, bringing you little impact beyond the monthly fee you�ll pay to maintain it. If it comes to this, you may as well scrap the thing.

Still a well laid-out site can achieve favorable results, especially as you approach new galleries and clients. It will probably not affect you dramatically, or make you a rising star overnight, but it will provide one more piece in the myriad puzzle that is your career, and further help in establishing it.