My first “craft fair” was a big one. It was actually not my very first, there was one held on a card table in a hallway that no one frequented in the winter, but I am not going to count that one.
No, my first one was the Hoboken Art and Music Fair in Hoboken, NJ. There were over 300 vendors and, in a town with a population of over 50,000 (2010 US Census Bureau) in one square mile, a lot of residents, not to mention visitors. Think Mumbai or maybe just about any town in Hudson County, NJ.
Anyway since I have justified “big” let me get down to the experience, what happened and what I learned.
Having spent much of the winter producing “product”, I was ready to go. I had the tent, I had the tables and the chairs, one for myself and one for anyone else who cared to spend the day, racks to hang photos and bins for customers to sort through. I had the iPad and Square for credit cards and about $300.00 in singles for change, maybe a little overkill there. I even had the car, or so I thought, having had to give up my Jeep Wrangler for the ubiquitous Ford Escort, the “art car” as someone so kindly called it (a minor miscalculation, bad math, I should have gone with the Edge, the racks did not fit).
Then came the anticipation. The event was to be on Sunday, May 1st. I got increasingly anxious. I could not manage the tent by myself, I would not make the sign in time, I would forget something and on and on. It pored on Saturday, I packed up half the car on Saturday night, unpacking, rearranging, repacking, no way those racks were going to fit. Wet and exhausted I called it a night, never checking my email. The rain was so heavy, the event was canceled, but there would be a rain date, June 12th.
I was much more calm when the new day rolled around, after all I had almost done it once. Things went well and I sold enough to cover the cost of the tent and part of the entry fee. Since then I have done two more. I am able to take the tent down by myself, given up on the racks and covered the cost of my investment. I have also learned the difference between art and craft. Art, it seems, is about me and people at craft fairs don’t buy me. Craft is about the buyer. It is about them and fits in with their life style and decor.
It’s back to the studio.
Sunday begins the final week for “Looking into the Light” at hob’art gallery. I will be speaking about my work on Sunday, April 17th, along with the other artists whose work is represented in this show. It is a stop on Hoboken’s 3rd Sunday Gallery Tour.
I do not like speaking to this type of audience. I do not enjoy speaking about my inner workings. So I am figuring it out here. My work in this show is very different, or was supposed to be, from the work I usually do. I put it up as a challenge to myself to step out side my comfort zone and view it as art. I have tens of thousands of images. As I go through them I know that many tell my story, but in this exhibit I wanted to look at form and line and how color can define shape. It didn’t work out that way.
As I have said, all of my photographs tell a story, my story of course, but they can easily be made into anyone’s story. After all, we bring ourselves to all of our experiences.
The story beneath these images is one of rust and renewal. This is my story. It is what happens when things fall apart and everything we expected becomes a fine cloud of dust as it slips through our fingers. That’s the opening, the time where things can be renewed, “the crack where the light gets in” to paraphrase Leonard Cohen.
In 2009 I kept a photo journal on tumblr.com. I carried a camera, a small Canon G7, with me everyday and took pictures. I posted one every day with my thoughts. It turned out to be quite a year, more than I deserved or expected. The blog is still up and once in a while, less as time goes on, I revisit a day. It serves me well, I understand the code in the captions I wrote. I recommend trying this some time. It is shared here just as a reference hobokendays365 24/7
In case you are unable to see the show before it is taken down:
April 1, 2016 to April 24, 2016
A few days ago I was privileged to see the film “Make”. Up until then I did not think about makers or outsider art. I had to look it up. Outsider art is created by “self-taught” artists. It is produced by people, often institutionalized, sometimes handicapped, who don’t know, understand or care about the cultural restraints of art.It has been around since people first decided to paint on the walls of their cave dwellings. In the early 1920’s, outsider artists started to be recognized when European psychiatrists published two pioneering studies of art made by asylum inmates. In these studies, an attempt was made to find universal truths about human creativity. In the late 1940’s it was embraced by the art world. Jean Dubuffet, French artist and curator, called it art brut, French, but the meaning comes through. He said, “We understand by this term works produced by persons unscathed by artistic culture, where mimicry plays little or no part. These artists derive everything…from their own depths, and not from the conventions of classical or fashionable art,” a beautiful sentiment.
The documentary, MAKE, examines the lives and art of four American self-taught artists: Prophet Royal Robertson, Hawkins Bolden, Judith Scott and Ike Morgan. Each artist finds his medium and is able to transcend their limitations and produce unique works of art.
Ike Morgan, institutionalized for violent schizophrenic behavior, spends his days painting as he says, “… to pass the time away.” Although his imagery is not new, his rendering is and that gives his paintings a unique quality. He has, over the years produced thousands of portraits ranging from George Washington to the Mona Lisa.
Royal Robertson, originally a sign painter, deals with an apocalypse of his own design. His small house is covered with doomsday warnings, biblical quotes and alien creatures. As a self ordained profit he holds tight to the anger he feels for his ex-wife and her imagined infidelities. In his art he tries to bring sense to his madness and to create road maps to salvation.
Hawkins Bolden, was blinded at a young age. He created scarecrows to keep the birds from his garden. His scarecrows are created from the flotsam and jetsam of society’s thrown away objects, which he collects and transforms into sculptures. His totems all have many “eyes” and crowd out the plants they are protecting.
Judith Scott, was born with Down’s Syndrome and institutionalized when she was 8 years old. Years later her twin sister found her and removed her from the institution. She was enrolled in a program where she could create art and she set about creating cocoon like sculptures of string.
I recommend seeing this movie to anyone who wants to understand the creative process more thoroughly. Of the movie, David Byrne (Talking Heads) said, “Here is a real testament to the power of making art (or music, for some of us) – how that process not only heals and energizes, but the results move me as a viewer as well. They’re touching something deep, as any artist should. There’s a little bit of all of us in this work. This is as high and as fun and beautifully primal crazy enlightening as it gets.”
Tags: "Make"film, art brut, Hawkins Bolden, Ike Morgan, Jean Dubuffet, Judith Scott, outsider art, Royal Robertson
Posted in Art and Life, Art Education, Being an Artist, Gallery Exhibit | Comments (0)
I am thrilled to be showing my work with the following artists in this four person show. I have shown with Tom Egan and Don Sichler before, both photographers, and always look forward to seeing their latest work. Donna O’Grady’s work is unique combining old tin ceiling tiles with her wonderful paintings.
I have chosen four of my photos for this exhibit that focus on getting up close and personal with the everyday unseen. I will be talking about my work at the Artist Talk on April 17th at 3;30 as a part of the Hoboken Studio Tour.
“Looking Into the Light,” an exhibition of traditional and digital mediums by four artists, will be open to the public from April 1 to 24, 2016 at the hob’art gallery, Monroe Art Center, 720 Monroe Street, Hoboken. The artists, Don Sichler, Ann Kinney, and Tom Egan and Donna O’Grady experiment with established painting and photographic mediums to produce avant-garde images. A reception to meet the exhibitors will be held on Saturday, April 2nd, 6-8pm. On Sunday, April 17th at 3:30pm, the artists will talk about their artwork and welcome questions from visitors. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 1 to 5pm and by appointment. The artists thank the Monroe Art Center and the hob’art gallery for their support of this exhibition.
“Looking into the Light,” accurately describes the compatibility of the four artists who are part of the hob’art gallery’s upcoming exhibition. Like four notes blending harmoniously, the thread of abstracted realities and ‘other worldliness’ is immediately apparent although each artist executes their ideas with a different technique.
Don Sichler: Don’s photos in this exhibit are called street art. The images were all found and photographed on his frequent walks around town. Don says he is an artist but he doesn’t create art, he discovers it and records it with his camera.
Ann Kinney: Her images are derived from nature with and underlying current of earth, water, fire, air tempered by human forces. Images that intrigue her, combine shape and color in time and place, which tell the stories of everyday lives. They are the result of her journey during which she has been photographing people and their places. She would like her photographs to serve as springboards for the viewer’s imagination.
Tom Egan: His photos are reinvented landscapes that are created from local parks and scenery in the intensely colored mirrored imagery
Donna O’Grady: Her paintings incorporate antique ceiling tiles that frame her portraits and landscapes. Using underpainting techniques to capture light and atmosphere, her pieces capture mysterious snapshots of the mind.
Gallery Hours: Thursday – Sunday, 1–5pm and by appointment, (201) 683-6252
The building entrance is on 8th Street between
Monroe and Jackson streets. Free parking is available at the rear of
the building on Jackson Street.
According to latest research, marketing research as well as medical research, art is for all and being an artist does not have to be a career. We are all artists. It is one more milepost on our quest for a holistic life. In her article “We’re All Artists Now” author Laura M. Holson says, “Our best selves are merely one doodle away.” Adult Coloring Books, Zen Tangle, and the availability of art classes on-line, in community centers and in art centers make it ever more accessible for people to develop rudimentary skills and, best of all, confidence to “just do it!”
I think what is most important is need to slow down and to connect, to redefine ourselves in a more holistic way. Connection is essential and we are losing it. We can connect through creativity.
Yesterday I volunteered at a senior center, One Care in Wayne, NJ. I did not know what to expect. The attendees were all seated in a circle and some were singing along with the music, some were staring into space and some were sleeping. They were not volunteers for the program, but since they were all in wheel chairs they would be staying. The project wasn’t much, painting ceramic fish and piggy banks with tempera paint. Some did not want to paint, but before long they were giving advice from the side lines. What I found most interesting was that they wanted to talk. They wanted to tell their stories and they wanted to tie-up the loose ends they felt were out there. They drifted in and out of their stories but the art seemed to keep them a little more focused.
I am a Master Gardener in training and part of the program includes volunteer hours, so I agreed to sit at the Flower Show at the NJ Convention Center in Edison, NJ. I had not been to the Flower Show in well over 15 years and it seems to have changed into a quasi flower show with a lot of crafts and people selling solar panels, “Bathfitter” conversions and pillows. But that is not where I am going with this. I want to talk about murals.
When you sit at a table at a public interest venue, you meet all sorts of people and so it was that this 60 something man came to talk to us. His wife had a booth selling jewelry and he was just checking things out. He claimed that while his wife was an artist, he was not, but simply a supporter of art, one who pushes it forward.
He was, he said, very much involved with a program called 20/20, which grew out of a need for NYC’s under performing (read under funded) schools to bring art back into the schools, where it had been lost due to budget cuts. This was accomplished through partnering with community organizations and churches and artists. It started with the visual arts and bringing murals into the school buildings or, I should say, on the school walls and buildings. Now called Thrive Collective, it includes music, media and mentoring.
All murals are student designed under an volunteer artist. It is all about encouraging collaboration and building community and in the end the completed mural stand as public art for everyone.
The process is a step by step process. Beginning with a concept and design, to surface preparation, design transfer, coloring and completion.
Check out some of the murals:
I just wanted to thank Matt Burton, owner of m.t.burton gallery & 19th St. Clay Studio, for sharing this and I am sharing it forward for my artist friends:
“It’s a good thing not to go back in your life.” -Robert Frank, 2016
A retrospective of Robert Frank’s work is now at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. At 91, I have to agree with his thoughts about going back in your life, there is just too much and not enough time.
I have always admired his book The Americans (1958). Born in Switzerland, he came to America in 1946, after WWII and with the perception of America as “the” place to be. Robert Frank was greatly influenced by Walker Evans and in 1955 he traveled across the United States photographing its people in their places. What Frank found was the contrast of wealth and culture with poverty and race. His work ended up being much like Walker Evan’s view of America chronicled in American Photo-graphs (1938). Although his style was very different, since he deviated from traditional photographic constraints and was much maligned in critical reviews. This style soon became the norm for photo-journalists, made possible, in part by smaller cameras.
The retrospective runs until February 11, 2016, There will also be screenings of his documentary films.
I have recently gotten into mosaic art, primarily through the back door of stained glass, which left me with so many small shards of glass that I was running out of shoe boxes for storage. I understand it is a form of therapy for me and although my real therapist worked wonders, this is a lot less costly if not more time consuming.
Although I am not up to doing the house yet, excessive is not something I shy away from. I can glue down little pieces of glass for a long time. I admire compulsiveness in a strange way, so that when I first heard of Cheri Pann and Gonzalo Duran, I had to see more.
This video is on Houzz, and although I have seen many pictures of this house, I think the video shows the human side of creativity.
You can also Like them on Facebook and visit if you are in the area.