It’s been three months since my crazy busy summer began with the Mighty Real Queer Detroit show and exhibitions at The Bethlehem House Gallery in Bethlehem, PA and I’ve finally had some time to put my thoughts together to write a blog post. I confess now thinking on all that I did it all feels like a blur. Thinking on Detroit, the arts community there is extremely vibrant and encouraging of each other’s and of visitors. I was treated with kindness and midwestern courtesy wherever I went. Detroit is an interesting town full of odd contrasts. Dilapidation and repair-from-blight duke it out block by block in this amazing way that gives the city a type of urgency to get someplace, tinged with a hint of danger that reminds me of New York’s Times Square before it’s Disneyfication. I’d forgotten how exciting feels it being 20 years since I’d graduated from Michigan.
The work in the show itself was of course all over the map both in its variety and frankly it’s quality, though the preponderance of work I saw was of the highest quality. Being attracted by decorative things, I of course gravitated to and noticing the quantities of bright shinny glossy pieces that looked like rainbows exploding. I also think I really noticed the great craftsmanship of the artists there. I enjoy works that feel like they were constructed by hand, sweat equity being such an important aspect of my work. I think what most impressed me about the Detroit Arts community that I witnessed was that the creators there knew their importance as cultural innovators, and were not waiting on anyone to activate them, be it some patron or governmental agency. That’s a really invigorating environment to exist in and it makes one feel like all things are possible.
Shortly after “Mighty Real” I exhibited in the House Gallery show. I’ve been in the House Gallery 4 times so far and I’ve always appreciated its Director Ward Van Haute and the confidence he has placed in my work over the years. I think it take a lot of courage and resolve to do something like run an art gallery in the middle of a global pandemic. I have another friend Nina Boodhansingh, who recently opened a gallery, Midnight Gallery in Schnecksville PA, and she’s also a ballsy one for stepping up to the plate. One thing I’ve noticed about these two gallery directors and “Might Real” curator Patrick Burton is the extraordinary patience they have with artists. Were an odd sort, us artists. We are always dreaming, are often procrastinatory, forever broke, and constantly scheming. To cast your lot with an artist must surely somewhere be the definition of madness. Thank god for people like these three, people with financial means, vision, and a steely resolve.
The Summer quickly moved to the Fall faster then I anticipated and so much happened that its all hard to remember but one thing that did take place that I want to speak briefly on was my residency at the Vermont Studio Center in July and August. What a wonderful experience. I made so much work and met so many amazing artists. I truly felt at home amongst my people. And, unlike in 2016 when I was last at VSC, this lot were so generous with their contact, experiences, techniques, and time. The residency was smaller then when I went there in 2016, by about half. I think this made the experience more intimate, even though while I was there I often wished it were more cacophonous; being a person who often wants more. One of the things I caught a glimpse of during this residency that I didn’t see before when I went – and that I have been thinking on often – is what a unified artistic life looks like. I have become accustomed over the years to a degree of bifurcation in my life, art over here, money-making jobs over there. Sprinkle in some friends for some seasoning and there a life. Well, I think its possible even doable to bring all those pieces together into a seamless whole. I met artists at VSC who go from residency to residence and who are always on the road with shows. One artist I met even managed to maintain a relationship with all his activities, the amazing artist Paolo Arao. Others like the equally awesome June Edmonds, seemingly get grants and awards every day. They and all the artists I met hustle constantly, with several plans happening in their lives simultaneously. Its dizzying talking to any one of them, and their success I believe is directly related to this constant grind. So that’s what it seems to take.
I’m sure the folks I met have some degree of balance in their lives but my takeaway from VSC is that there is no weekend when you’re an artist. We’re always busy at work.
I’ve been all over the map with music this summer but the two musicians I’d like to share this go around are both artists I listened to non-stop at VSC. The artists are Ty Segall, who my buddy Nate Lewis introduced me to; and the other is of course Beyonce. I fell in love with Ty Segall listening to a very un-Ty Segall album while finding some local Johnson Vermont swimming hole with Nate. “Hello, Hi” is Ty Segall’s latest project released this year. Its quieter and less California beachy garage-rock then his other records, but it has my favorite song of his which is unsurprisingly also called “Hello Hi”.
Beyonce is the queen who will never die. I’m writing this a day after the Queen Elizabeth died and thinking a little about whose passing we might also regard with as much pomp and circumstance. I think there would be self-flagellation and gnashing of teeth if Beyonce died. Speaking an ill word against anything she does is already an offense punishable by death, I dare you to say otherwise. Watch your social media accounts go crazy. Anyway, her song “Church Girl” is awesome! Here are the YouTube videos of both songs.
I’m catching up with loads of commitments this September, trying to get in fighting shape to take on new projects later this Fall. Right now, I’m trying to finish two commissions by the end of October and to work on a painting about Black Jesus. I’m hoping by the end of the next few weeks I will have a handle on what I’ll be obsessing on for the rest of the season. I’ll next post about these pieces and hopefully it won’t take me 3 months to report on studio happenings. Until then do be well!