Photos from Uganda: Gloria Baker Feinstein


Girl in Front of Blackboard, Gloria Baker Feinstein

Gloria Baker Feinstein’s opening is a week from Friday.  She’s one of only a few photographers I represent, and the best figurative photographer I’ve ever encountered.  The show will focus on children who live in the St. Mary Kevin Orphanage in Kajjansi, Uganda.  All of the kids there either lost their parents to AIDS or war; some of the kids have AIDS themselves.

This is a reality the harshness of which few of us can imagine.  Hence the show will in part be a fund-raiser for the orphanage, which desperately needs funds.  The above photo, along with 23 others, will be displayed.  I expect a very strong turnout, and plan on sending a significant check to the orphanage afterward.

Open Studios at the Hobbs Building

Went to Open Studios last night at Hobbs. Great old warehouse in the West Bottoms, about 7 stories, with artists’ studios from stem to stern. I always take the stairs, but the freight elevators are pretty cool. Forgot my freaking camera, so couldn’t shoot the crowd, but the above shot gives you an idea of the joint. Beat-up brick building near the rivers, built about 1900; love the grimy feel of that part of town. One of my favorite places for a bike ride. The things you can sense there…

Anyway, there was some whacked out erotic art that bespoke enormous frustration; refined photo transfer onto junk metal that bespoke serenity (both of course are valid); some great abstraction by Catherine Vesce; skilled encaustic by good old Keith Kavanaugh; and some well-done ceramic. Think I found a few new artists. Also kept running into that blasted Tom Deatherage from The Late Show Gallery, who I never tire of teasing. The hell of it? He’s got a better eye than I, just don’t tell anyone I admitted it.

Friday Tips: Getting Your Work Before The Public


Blue Koi, Where they serve great Maylasian and show great art. 

When I first started my art business in the basement of my house, in 1991, I had no public space for my artists. Did this mean that the work wasn’t any good? No. I was happy with much of it, and grateful that these artists had entrusted me with their careers. The challenge was to get them public exposure until I could afford to open the gallery–which came two years later.

Consequently, I set up exhibits in corporate lobbies, upscale restaurants, and the homes of wealthy socialites (which inspired Matt Kirby to remark: “Oh sure, we’ll get a bunch of rich folks and throw them through the door.”) I also entered the artists in juried shows all over the country. The initial sales we made in the restaurants weren’t numerous, since no sales staff was on hand. So I offered the wait staff a 10 percent commission on every prospect they brought me, which increased sales–not a bad beginning.

Please understand, displaying in venues like these doesn’t make you look less credible. You’re in the process of establishing a your collectors. Any appropriate venue is fine. After all, a gallery will look on you more favorably if you’ve sold several works than if you haven’t.

Regarding restaurants: These can work well for selling your art over time, but only if the lighting is good and the setting upscale. It also helps if the managers and wait staff feel genuine passion for what you do (remember, many artists are also waiters). Just make sure that you provide plenty of professionally laid out postcards printed with your contact information and, if possible, try to have an opening that’s listed in the paper. Beyond that, simply enjoy the gig. When done well, it can be a major step toward gallery representation. In fact, I discovered one of my best young painters–Allan Chow–in the Blue Koi, a Malaysian restaurant. This was five years ago, and has since turned out to be a very good thing for both of us.

Sure, you don’t want to stay in the restaurant-display gig too long, since this is only a step toward bigger things. But it can be a worthwhile step, which you shouldn’t shy away from just because the snobs look down on it. Snobs look down on everything, including each other. What do they know about making it as an artist? Very little. I advise you ignore them and do what you have to in developing your career. Please just make sure you have some fun along the way. The snobs will applaud you after you’ve succeeded; that’s how they work anyway.  Well, a few of them.

Arlie and Dave Regier II


See this wall?  This is where one of the two sculptures mentioned yesterday was supposed to go.  Why isn’t it up?  Because my installer had a disagreement with the client’s staff, and, owing to his foul temper, was invited to depart the premises.  Hence it looks like I’ll be installing the two pieces after all, with a rather more diplomatic carpenter.  The installer in question has been relieved.

Why am I telling you this?  To let you know that, even at our level of achievement, we encounter hiccups just like everyone else.  The remedy?  Keep your humor, treat the client well, and proceed to surpass all expectations.

Then go out for a drink and tell a few jokes when the job’s done.  Remember: humor, humor, humor. 

Arlie and Dave Regier / University of Kansas Hospital / Boston Museum



Disc I, Disc II, Stainless Steel, Arlie and Dave Regier

We’ll install these two wall pieces today at the University of Kansas Hospital.  They’re by Arlie and Dave Regier.  As it happens, Arlie will have two pieces on exhibit this summer at The Museum of Fine Art, Boston.  Did I think that was possible when he first brought me his work in 1995?  No, but I hoped it was.

Anyway, these mothers weigh 100 lbs each.  I used to personally install all of his commissions.  I don’t do that anymore; I just take photos while my crew does.

Infozine Posts Blog on Out-Of-Control Radio Stations

Infozine posted my blog of Monday on out-of-control radio stations, and that pathetic spot on The Buzz.  Good.  Then let something worthwhile about the whole mess begin from here.  For you parents, please just remember, stations like this are interfering in the raising of our kids.  It ain’t like we don’t have already have enough negative influences to counteract without these clowns making it worse.   Hey, I don’t care what they do on their own time, but when they’re on the air, that’s another matter.

Think I’m uninformed?  Hell, man, I grew up in the 70s.  I’ve seen all that destruction: the wasted lives, suicides, car wrecks and addictions.  All I’m asking for here is dignity and consideration–though that may be a lot to ask of certain stations these days.

City Council Approval / Independent Lens Feature: “China Blue”

Had to attend a city council meeting this evening to gain approval for a sculpture project.  I’ll not mention which city, but they’ve been a great client.  Even so, I had to sit through 90 minutes of discussion regarding some new ordinances.  Thought it would never freaking end.  Then my part came.  I got up, did the power point, told a few jokes, elicited a few laughs, won approval, and marched out the door at 9:00.  All in a night’s work.

At home, my wife and I watched an Independent Lens documentary on teenage factory workers in China (mostly girls, in this case), the conditions they endure, the insanely long hours they work, the terrible pay, the denied pay, the lost pay, the cheating of the factory owners, and the endless travail that has been life in China for so many centuries, no matter under what regime.
Rather puts things in perspective.

The Two Jeremys



Shots of Jeremie Hoffman and Jeremy Collins cleaning Vernon Brejcha’s glass sculpture at the Overland Park Convention Center.  I used to have to do all this stuff myself.  Now I just instruct whilst sipping espresso.  Nice change.

Jeremy brought his climbing gear so that he could rope off at the uppermost level (55′), and clean that sectio via rappelling, but I don’t see any shots of that.  Perhaps later. 

Friday Tips: Forming Your Art Gang

Toulouse-Lautrec, With Some of His Gang

(Note: I wrote this a year ago, but it’s worth posting again.  Artist Magazine also published it.)

This is a great idea, backed by great tradition. Groups of artists have played a role in the development of one another’s careers throughout history–in terms of support, inspiration, and in some cases dissipation.

There was Degas’ group that gathered each summer in Brittany, which later gave rise to Gauguin’s group, which gave rise to the brawl that got his shin shattered. There was Lautrec’s group that roved in and out of a variety of Montmartre cafes, and experimented with a variety of absinthes. There was Benton’s crowd on Martha’s Vineyard, the American Impressionists at Old Lyme, and Jackson Pollock’s band of merry drinksters at the Cedar Bar on Long Island.

If you know these stories, then you know that brilliant work is associated with the usual suspects. You may also know that drug abuse and alcoholism was in some cases associated with same. It seems in many instances that there is a steep price for brilliance–although of course this is not always the case.

But it hasn’t just been artists who have banded together. All kinds of people engage in this practice for obvious reasons of mutual support, shared contacts, and shared beliefs. To me, young Ben Franklin’s coalition of intellectuals, entrepreneurs and artisans–called The Junto–is one of the best examples.

How do you form such a group, regardless of where you might live? Start by approaching the local paper. If you live in a fairly large city, it’s not likely that the major daily will do a story on this, but it is likely that a smaller, community-oriented paper will. But if the town where you live is moderate in population, it’s virtually a given that the daily will do a story. Why? Because journalists are often sympathetic to the arts, being part artist themselves.

So call the paper, get the name of the appropriate editor, and send them a press release. You can do this via e-mail or regular mail. I recommend the latter so that you can include visuals of your work as an example. The release is nothing more than a one-page business letter, explaining your idea, the story behind it, and why there is an element of human interest. Make the story as interesting as possible. Include details of when you want to meet, where, how frequently, etc.

And while you’re at it, you might want to mention some of the groups I alluded to above, and how this has always been a practice of dedicated artists. Just try to avoid the various aspects of drunkenness and hell-raising–unless you need that sort of thing.  If so, then be my guest.  Just get used to picking up the pieces, and issuing apologies.

Once the article comes out–assuming it does–undertake an e-mailing campaign with art teachers in your area, both at the college and high school levels. Many are artists themselves, hang out with artists, will gladly pass on the information, and probably join. It will be up to you to decide if you want to restrict the group to the kind of work that you do, or leave it wide open.

Just be sure to ask yourself, is this group going to merely be a collection of polite coffee sippers who gather to socialize, or are you going to get down to the blood-and-guts aspects of creating art, and be honest with yourselves in the process? This doesn’t mean that you can’t be polite, or that you can’t sip coffee. You should always be considerate, as I think vitriolic criticism is counter-productive, and rarely inspires change. But candor, when born of mutual respect, is essential for the advancement of individuals within any group.

Your purpose should be growth, both as individuals and artists. Growth is best achieved by grappling with and overcoming adversity, in both your work and personal life. That, in turn, is best dealt with through candor. When everyone understands that this is among the group’s goals, then you’ll be creating a coalition that may well leave a significant stamp on each of you for the rest of your lives. Good; that sure beats staying at home and doing nothing in perpetual solitude. There’s already enough of that in our society; too much in fact. This is one way to break out of it.

Have a great time with this. And hey, swap the coffee for wine if you want, or better yet, bourbon (then I’ll join). Absinthe? Man, I think I’d stay away from that.  Bad news.  Just ask Lautrec.

40 Feet Up


I shot this last week, when I traveled to a client’s site where we’ll be installing a massive glass sculpture in a year or so.  I’d taken a lift up to the ceiling, and was doing site-verification for overall specs, placement of downrods, avoidance of duct work and sprinkling systems, etc.   Sculpture will weigh 3000 lbs, and involve nearly 400 pieces of glass.  The beauty of it?  I don’t have to install this one.  Two artists will be involved.  Details later.