New Space 100% Complete / Grand Opening





I know many of you must be wondering about last night’s turnout, so I’m taking a minute to post these photos.  We went through just over 400 bodies, and god knows how many bottles of wine.  Only one drunk, but he behaved himself.  I let the friendly drunks stay.

Sales?  Now you know it’s uncouth to discuss those things, but we did well.

Laughs?  Many.  Vibe?  High energy.  Artists and clients?  Ecstatic.  Director?  Absolutely exhausted.  The funniest part?  We were still hanging track light on the lower level when people began flooding in.  Well, you just make a joke about those things, and they tend to work out.

Now?  Put my office together and get back to biz.  I have several projects to oversee, and dozens more to finish landing.  But lord it’s nice to have this thing done.  Working with this incredible space, I know we can finish achieving what I originally set out to, 16 years ago.  Intend to have a positive impact on multiple lives along the way.  Otherwise, what’s the point?  Profit only?  That ain’t good enough.

Friday Tips: Taking Risks




These shots show the new gallery at 90% of completion. Grand Opening tonight. Expect at least 300 people. It’ll be a riot.

Does moving to this enormous space involve a risk? Oh yeah. Couldn’t I have just stayed in our smaller gallery? Not if I wanted to grow. What will happen if my plan doesn’t succeed? I’ll fail. Do I consider that an option? No.

I can’t move this whole dream forward without a larger space. Yes, we burned a lot of capital renovating, and I spent much more time overseeing the work than I wanted, working 80-hour weeks to balance this transition with new business, old business, and everyday operations. So it’s a toss of the dice, again–and I find I’m compelled to toss those dice about once every couple of years. But I don’t really consider myself a risk-taker; rather I consider myself a risk manager. Either way you’re welcome to track us for the next year or two, see if we pull off the whole thing, or go down in flames.

As I believe you all know, you can’t realize great dreams without taking certain risks. It would have been far more comfortable, and less costly, to stay where we were. But I was being hampered by the limits of the space, location, etc. My new location offers only opportunity: a classroom for a whole range of instruction, endless floor and wall space, several offices for staff, a reading area for clients to sip coffee, and quiet little sleeping loft for afternoon naps.

Setting up this gig has damned near worn me out. But the whole time I was working so hard, pushing my body and mind to their absolute limits of endurance, I just kept thinking of how grateful I was. I mean rice farmers in Vietnam work this hard their whole lives, with almost no chance of breaking out. I have nothing but opportunity before me.

Yes, this move is a considerable risk, just like choosing to live the artist’s life itself is a risk (as if we have a moral choice). But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Jeremy Collins Paints and Climbs


Natural Progression, Acrylic, Jeremy Collins

Good old Jeremy Collins has joined the new gallery.  Met him a few years ago, after I’d finished work on the OP Convention Center.  Didn’t seem the right fit then.  Does now.  Timing.  Sure, his work incorporates elements of illustration.  That’s one of the things I like about it.

Also he’s a rock-climbing fool.  Has climbed El Capitan in a single day, lord knows how many sheer faces in Colorado, and a similar number in Utah.  He’s the climber I always wanted to be–if I hadn’t raised a family and run a gallery.  Oh well, still time.  Until then, I’ll live it vicariously through Jer.

Want to Get in the Art Biz?

It’s midnight. Just got home. Worked from 8:00 to 12:00 yesterday also. But the previous three weeks were easier: 8:00 to 10:00 then. All this just to get the new bloody gallery open on time, keep my clients happy, oversee three new projects, submit for three others, and try to stay caught-up on work. Well, many of us have to do this from time to time, whatever the profession.

Either way, I’m too damned tired to blog tonight. Trust however that my artists won’t be disappointed with the new space, and resulting crowd, come Friday night. I don’t plan to be disappointed either.

Want to get in the art biz? Good. Just be ready to work hours like this when the occasion calls for it. The alternative? You’ll be rapidly getting back out–likely with a loss.

Lawrence Art Auction


My lovely wife and I went to the Lawrence Art Auction the other day, seeking out new talent.  Found several artists that were exceptional, like you will in almost any college town.  These were mostly of craft, but also a couple of painters.  Believe we’ll dig bringing them in.  Auction was held, like it always is, at the Art Center.  Amazing, and very active, place.

Always love going to Lawrence.  They don’t call it The Berkley of the Midwest for nothin.

New Space 70% Complete




Yeah, I know it still looks a bit rough, but you should have seen it a month ago.  Will it be done in time for the Grand Opening next Friday?  Sure, but only by the skin of our teeth.  As I’ve probably mentioned before, the new gallery is in the Brookside District.  I’m looking forward to the move–or rather to it being over.

Friday Tips: Self-Doubt


Note: This is excerpted from Chapter 8 of the book. 

Every living artist I’ve ever worked with, and every deceased artist I’ve ever studied, have all shared one simple trait: each of them has gone through varying levels of self-doubt; each of them, at different times in their lives, has questioned the worth of their talent.  No one that I know of has ever been exempt from this.  For some, like the poet Sylvia Plath (who was also a talented illustrator), their spells of doubt and depression were mind-numbing, paralyzing, and, in the end, beyond their control.  For others, like Picasso, those spells were nothing more than a minor dip on their emotional graph.

However severe or mild your spells might be, I bring this up to assure you that they are common, and that, after you weather each one, your confidence and perceptions will likely grow— provided that inner growth is a process you embrace, and are willing to struggle toward. 

I feel that spells of self-doubt occur so that we will reassess our lives, and work.  For some, these spells can virtually destroy them if they don’t keep their emotions in check.  But for most artists, the spells serve as a tool for reevaluating their work, and deciding whether they want to continue in the same vein.  In other words, this entire process is a necessary thing and, like most occurrences in life, can have a positive outcome—but only if you decide that it can.

Yes, you’re supposed to enjoy the gift of creation, and create with it what you can.  But if that same gift doesn’t on occasion hurt, if it doesn’t make you howl with self-deprecation and questions of self-worth, if you don’t sometimes wonder whether everything you’ve done up till now is pure crap, then something’s wrong.  You’re supposed to feel these things.  They help keep you on the edge of your passions, your inspiration, and your drive.

However it strikes you, please don’t believe that self-doubt is limited to you.  We all share it, we all struggle with it, we all struggle to overcome it.  Let it serve you in the way that it’s meant to, but always try to stay in control of it.  Like so many powerful emotions, this one too contributes to the energies of creation.  

How do you break free of it?  You can discuss it with friends, you can whisper about it at night with your lover, you can reread this passage, but really there’s only one way that I know of to break out, and that is through work.  Work, and then more work, and yet more work after that.  That is what you’re here to execute, that is what you must continue doing, no matter what it takes, or what it takes out of you.  Besides, the thing it gives back is always far richer than the thing it takes away.

Return of the Natives / No Pregnancies As Yet


The college men have returned from their first non-parent trip, all smiles. This shot is of them a year ago, when we were camping on the high prairie, and I was teaching them to throw a hatchet. I’ve taught them many things over the years. In fact, with one kid whose father split on him, I discussed high school relationships, birth control, drugs, the harmful side of our commercial society, the value of dreams, and so on, as much as with my own sons. He always listened; I was always honest. He’s a great guy. They all are, and each of an artistic temperament. As of yet no drugs, very modest drinking, and no pregnancies. Aim to keep it that way.

That’s my oldest, celebrating with hatchet in cottonwood. Yeah, they had a great time in the mountains. Camping at first, hotel with hot tub later, and plenty of stories about chasing chicks around town. The best part? You can tell they grew measurably from this simple journey.

Glass by Janine Daniels

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Untitled, Cast Glass, St. Regis Hotel, Laguna Beach, Janine Daniels

Janine is an incredibly skilled woman who blows glass in a 50s apron and dress.  That’s very cool, and funny, but it’s the glass that caught my eye.  I like her female torsos best.  Unfortunately I don’t have a shot of those, but I do of a glass wall she executed in California.  I feel it speaks for itself.  Either way, very pleased to have her in the new gallery.

Road Trips and Birth Control


When They Were A Few Years Younger

My 18-year-old left on a road trip yesterday to go hiking in the mountains with some buddies.  Spring break from college.  Gone for several days.  I believe he’ll be just fine.  His mother and I have helped him develop independence, good judgement, dignity, etc.  But man it was a major step watching him leave, not without a certain sadness.  I sense that all will go well though.  So does my wife.  But that doesn’t explain why she didn’t sleep well last night.

Despite how swamped I am with the new gallery, I made sure my 16-year-old and I had lunch together yesterday, and that he ran some errands with me.  This gave me time to have a no-bullshit talk about birth control (again), how Playboy and Maxim don’t know sh-t about sex or relationships, and how there are no winners with an unwanted pregnancy too young.  He listened well, and asked many questions.  As he did, for a moment I was 16 again, facing the same daunting yet fascinating choices.  I hope I’ve made them well.  I believe he will too. 

I do dig being a dad.