I try to rationalize my current artistic state as best I can every time I think about what I’m doing…or not doing. Which is often. Its not really a “me” problem so much as my situation has been in transition for over a year now.
The transition? A creative career.
Don’t get me wrong, my new job is awesome and if anyone asks, I’m quick to characterize it as “the job I’ve been training myself for since middle school.” I love my job (corny…I know but, its true). And it affords me the financial stability to see a nice future for myself.
But, as many artist will attest to, It leaves little creative room for my fine arts after hours.
An more times than I would like to admit, the couch and the reruns on cable look pretty good on most nights during the week.
After a day designing on the computer and thinking of color, text, shapes and pixels in attempts to make an image that not only I’ll like, but one my account manager will like (and his client will love!) its sometimes hard to shift into “painter mode” and create something where the primary tool is a brush not a mouse and monitor. Its easy to forget your creative spirit is with you when you leave the office.
Hey there cable! What do want to show me today?
In all honesty, I was already designating a good portion of 2013 as a “hiatus” year, so this low point is only temporary. I have a few major projects going on at home that are going to make things work for the better in the long run. One of which is converting my outdoor shed with the collapsed roof into a studio.
The pull create is still there…so much so that at times it feels a little hard to breathe. When this pseudo-psychotic impulse of creativity hits, I become a scatterbrain. Ideas and projects burst inside my head with full knowledge that most of them will never become anything.
For instance, the latest project I’ve immersed myself in is shooting video clips of trains
and trains and trains (a stupid amount of train shooting) lights and whatever else I find
mildly interesting on my daily lunchtime walks.
The project is to shoot everything in digital black & white.
The project goal? I have no f#*kin’ idea….at all.
The only thing I know is I like shooting videos and stills, but that’s as far as I can go with explaining why I’m doing it. There’s a final project somewhere buried in the back of my mind, there’s the poetry I’d like to add to the video these clips might find themselves in and then there’s the guitar music I practice, so that’s where the soundtrack comes into play (excuse the pun.) But, given I hate the way my voice sounds on tape and I’m still yet to learn cords, I’m no closer to finishing this project than I was in October 2012 when I thought this thing up….sux.
I’m guessing I’m going to have to deal with this low-energy flow of creativity outside of the office for at least a while longer. In the meantime, the studio will be completed, the videos will be stored on the hard-drive and the “pseudo-psychotic impulse” will have to keep nagging me with full understanding that its only a temporary thing.
Thanx for viewing.
I don’t know what happened, but it fell on me like a dump truck falling from a downtown building.
My latest change in focus was inspired by talk of “steampunk” around the office driven by sketches and renderings by my co-workers/designers. The best way to describe steampunk is: if the Victorian age had technology without the use of modern materials such as plastic, what would it look like?
If you’ve seen the movie “Wild, Wild West” featuring Will Smith and a giant mechanical spider, you’ve seen steampunk.
As a life-long painter, I’ve never tried working in functional art. Although, I’ve tried to create paintings that would be thought provoking and political in nature, the only functional aspect to the work was being able to spark conversation. It wasn’t something that could literally light up the room or even keep your hat off the floor.
As I looked over one of the designers shoulder at his computer monitor, there was a mixture of antiques, old metal, and machine parts. Handcrafted creations, interestingly formed and, best of all, functional. There were images of some of the most beautifully designed and exciting works of art I’ve seen in a while, and I wanted to make some. The introduction of steampunk lit a flame under my creative stove and it was starting to burn red hot!
That evening, I began collecting bits and pieces of machine parts, nuts, bolts, springs, copper piping, and other items scraped together from my outdoor shed. I put it all in boxes and plastic bags and went to the studio to start working on something…..anything.
After viewing and studying images found online, the ideas began to flow. Steampunk encompasses everything from small, bug-like sculptures and figurines to laptop computers and custom motorcycles. After getting a handle on the aesthetics of steampunk, the focus became, “What do I make?”
I realized approaching it like a painter, which was “eh…whatever happens, happens,” seemed to work best with the miscellaneous items at hand. And, because of the random nature of the materials, sketches and preconceived ideas were out of the question.
I started putting parts and materials together and stood back to see what the “thing” was telling me it wanted to be.
After a few nights with a torch and solder, some wood, copper, and an old alarm clock, my first steampunk functional artwork turned out to be… (drum roll, please!)
A paperclip holder.
The materials that made it into the final piece were a combination of copper piping screwed to a wooden base, an old alarm clock that still makes a cricket-like rattling sound when turned on, and some foreign currency to add
to the aesthetics.
The paperclip holder was the first stop on the steampunk path my creative mind is traveling on; the second was a desktop pen holder made from copper piping, springs, and a Campbell’s soup can. Currently, there are three lamps in the works at the studio.
Steampunk is the natural progression for the direction my work is moving in, and there is no telling where it’s going to lead.
But, what I truly understand is that sometimes inspiration is a whisper in the breeze and sometimes it shouts through a bullhorn.
I’m just glad I was close enough to hear it.
thanx for viewing…
A conversation about the latest political works with the artist (RAMSEY) from 1-2pm with music by My Son the Doctor 2-4pm Refreshments and wine.
“HourTime” the new series is making its debut at the VISUAL ART STUDIO at 208 Broad Street, in Richmond, VA and so far I have realized one thing.
This work needs a broader audience…more so than what Richmond can provide.With it’s one night a month during the First Friday Art Walk, for the most part, art viewing in the River City is fairly pedestrian. With most of the public being directed to the arts only on the few nights they’re told art should be viewed.
It’s not the fault of any one person, place or thing, but as an artist who has worked hard at his craft for many years, I need more…much more.
Yeah, sure, some people may say to me that my work doesn’t warrant the attention of a wider, more consistent viewing public and they have that right to that opinion. But, I’m not going allow that bullsh*t to keep my work from reaching beyond the bubble of a RVA and a public that only values art part time.
Just as I’ve heard over and over again:
“Live in Richmond, but make your living somewhere else.”
So, it maybe futile, pining for shows in the River City.
Maybe, politically charged works are not what people want to see or invest in. Which is unfortunate for an artist prides himself on the ability to illustrate political issues that can be interpreted in a variety of ways by the viewing public.
Maybe politics have dominated so much of peoples lives that art needs to have less meaning to it so people don’t have to find meaning in a piece and it can serve as just a “pretty….something” on the wall.
I don’t know what the answer is, maybe a pseudonym and pedestrian work maybe the ticket….something to think about.
But with the art viewing in RVA being as it is, it seems this body of work gets angry on the gallery walls when it’s shouting and no one is willing to listen.
Thanx for viewing.
I wonder if that cop will be anti-Obama enough to take out his frustrations, with a president who’s black, and will threaten my life.
I also wonder if that cop will choose to kill me on the spot like Oscar Grant and make claims of why he did it.
Would that cop be believed?
Or will that cop take me into the station, gather other officers and beat me to death.
Or, because they’re angry, will they find a crime to fit a black man, who lives on south side, in the “wrong” neighborhood and who lives by himself.
Will the prosecutor (who can’t ever be wrong because of personal political aspirations) convict me with no evidence and a white family that wants SOMEONE, anyone to pay for their pain?
Will the jury be of my peers or will it be all white? Will my lawyer be competent?
Will my State of Virginia set me to die despite my obvious innocence and the international outcry at the injustice.
Will the state kill me on a Wednesday…or Thursday night?
And years later…will the prosecutor call my mom and dad and tell them he made a mistake…and that he’s sorry.
Its all too real.
In the recent weeks America has shown the world its true face. The blood-lust of the Republican right (Reich) was on full display when Texas Gov. Rick Perry said, so assuredly to a crowd of Tea Party supporters, that Texas has an un-failing justice system and no innocent man has been killed. The presidential candidate said in no small terms that if Texas killed you…you deserved it.
And oh, how they cheered.
Georgia is set to murder Troy Davis tonight. Although, the overwhelming evidence supports his claims of innocence, if something doesn’t give, they will kill him.
I don’t pray often…but, I pray for Troy today that his life is spared, and that this country will begin to realize what it has become. Some people just want to see a nigger die. Those people vote Tea Party and they have a presidential candidate that speaks their language, rising in the “polls”.
Personally, I feel guilty that I hadn’t said anything or added my voice to the call to save Troy’s life and its all too obvious now, injustice will happen again.
Looking at this situation as an artist who works more on political themed works that any other subjects, I never thought about the death penalty for inspiration. But now it seems there’s much for me to think about on this subject.
Race, class, politics, religion, justice and death will begin to work its way into my art in the style of Diluted Loss.
And its going to be dangerous.
thanx for viewing.
In the past couple of months, I’ve had some time to think about what I’m doing as an artist and suffering thru frustrations of those internal battles. But I do consider my time in ( and out of ) the studio to have been very productive over the past month.
The latest work features a change in direction for my art. Being inspired by street art, employing the use of stencils and ,influenced by my experience with the “Theater Row” mural project , I’ve begun the challenge to my artistic ability by doing something I’ve never done before. Thanks to the shed in my yard, the left over paints from the mural and some salvaged wood, my first mural is on its way to completion.
Please view the 6 latest works from the studio that will have a few changes to them prior to the next public showing, but here they are for now.
Thanx for viewing…
A few months ago I entered four designs in the RVA Creates banner contest and although I didn’t win the big cash, the next best thing was to get my work around downtown Richmond.
Out of the four banners I submitted, here’s the two winners in a few of their locations.
Honestly, I have to admit, it is pretty cool to see something I created hanging as public art…
even if most people downtown don’t look up.
Thanx for viewing…
First I’d like to start by saying Diluted Loss is one of the proudest achievements of my life when it comes to my art, so it’s probably normal that I feel the profound heartbreak I felt on Wednesday June, 1st when I took it down, probably for the last time in Richmond,VA.
I don’t mistake that feeling as some anti-euphoric depression that its going be put back in the studio and stored away till next time a show falls my way.
The real depression creeping into my mood comes from the fact that this is the first year that I can remember since 2004 that it was showing on Memorial Day. Unfortunately, the Richmond Public Library was closed on that Monday. As well it should have been, being a national holiday, I can understand that.
But the fact is, for the entire day, and even now while I’m writing this, I feel like Diluted Loss missed a great opportunity to be relevant on a day or event that was much larger in scope and the point of the series has once again been lost in the wind due to my shortsightedness. Maybe not that, but for some reason or another I feel like this series has a lot to say and it once again missed a chance to be heard.
Damn, left out once again.
Realistically I know the show was under cut by the library being off the beating path Richmond’s monthly art event the First Fridays Art Walk promoted by Curated Culture, and most of the gallery activity is two blocks away on Broad Street.
Another thing that hampered the exposure of DL to the public was the show didn’t have the media coverage it should have had. It didn’t show up on the public radio arts calendar for the day, although it did get a off-the-cuff shout out from Ana Edwards on the Defenders Live program on WRIR, which was pleasantly unexpected.
Because of the subject being about black soldiers, racism and WWII, I thought I would surely get support from Richmond’s leading African-American weekly newspaper. Although, I could easily have provided them with photos and copy, they claimed to have no one to cover it because of budget cuts and suggested I buy advertisement.
Maybe they thought I was selling the show, but clearly I’m not and the subject matter was about black history, and its goal is to educate the public about racism and the issues black soldiers had to face during the “great war”….. but to no avail.
The conversation came to a swift end.
It wasn’t a total loss. During its run some friends took their own time to go and view the show and had an inspiring response to the art. A few collectors were there on opening night to see the new work and lend support. With its 4 new pieces, the show was clearly at it’s best! I heard good things from individuals who have seen the show and hopefully some people walking thru the marble hall that served as the gallery for the show, stopped to take a look at the work, showed their kids and had discussions about the subject of race, America and war.
Diluted Loss ready for a museum presentation outside of the boundaries of Richmond, VA, there’s no question about it. I’m aiming for next year in the Washington DC area and during Memorial Day Celebrations.
It may happen or it may not happen, but the prospect of having a more successful public viewing of the series makes me feel like there’s a future for Diluted Loss and the message it’s trying to promote.
And hopefully, a future for me as an artist in a world outside of the River City.
Thanx for viewing…
I’ve been itching to do serveral things in the past few months to shake this annoying drought of creativity and a build up of frustration with myself as an artist. It really comes to head in my post “A Flood of Creativity & Questions” from a few weeks ago.
It all started one afternoon in downtown Richmond on Broad Street. As I was driving up and down the street, looking for a place to park so I could go to Lift Coffee and get my first cup of the day, I noticed a flurry of activity in a few places that seemed to be out if the norm for the typical pace of people walking up and down the street.
Altria & City of Richmond had created a public arts/mural project and this was the day volunteers were helping the artist get a start on their work.
After getting my coffee and spending a few minutes online at Lift, I took a stroll down the sidewalk. To my surprise I ran into Hamilton Glass, supervising his site that composed of two huge walls in which murals were to be created on panels that were fixed to the buildings. We shook hands and talked a little about the project and the road ahead for the work. He let me know the Altria volunteers were only there for the day and without even thinking about it, I told him to call on me if he needs the help.
Two days later, he did.
At the site, working on the erected scaffolding, I realized this was the event that I so desperately needed in my life. The specter of working with other local contemporary artist I respected (the artist, David Marion is also working on the mural), helping to create public art and volunteering was the “perfect storm” to shake me loose from the suffocation that was strangling my creativity.
All the things I needed to happen had come true in a months time!
The project is coming to a swift end, and there is lots of work to be done to bring the piece to completion and I’m happy to say, not only do I help with the painting, I was able to provide water when we were briefly cut off and , to my surprise, with the help of my best friend, I was able to locate a generator and lights when they were needed.
(Truthfully, I always wanted to be “that guy”, you know, the one who could make things happen….and damn if that didn’t come true too!)
These things have made me feel as though the stagnation in my creative outlet has broken loose. When Ham(?) told me I was helping him out, I made it clear that he was helping me out as well by allowing me to help on such a grand piece of art.
The experience has made me understand what I’m capable of and has help me find what I was searching for in my career.
And the best part about it…. I feel excited about being an artist once again.
Thanx for viewing…
Yep I said it…
After being treated to the huge Picasso exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on Friday by a dear friend of mine, I came to the conclusion that me and the world-famous artist, timeless historical figure and cultural icon have approached art in similar fashion.
Although his work has ultimately changed the way millions of people view art, while I was taking it in, I wasn’t in awe by the name (and the astronomical dollar amount) associated with the collection.
Not being blinded by the fact that it was Pablo Picasso helped me enjoy the pieces that struck me, walk pass pieces that didn’t impress me and look critically at a few I really didn’t like.
The great painter is known primarily for his innovation and daring approach to try imagery that defied the convention of his time.
My friend and I saw the work past the other museum patrons milling around the art and talking to each other or listing to the audio devices, and the experience lead me to reflect back on the many different approaches and experimentation in my artistic history. I began to remember paintings in my past that suffered a lost focus and were either stripped or “whited-out”, only to have new images created in their place.
Sculptures in steel and wood, oil paintings and found objects, I tried it all and I realized, if my whole artistic “career” was put on display in a retrospective showing, from the time before my college education up to the present, there would be a long line of successes, missteps and out right failures scattered along the path to the artist I am today.
Having that in mind made me appreciate his work even more, especially the pieces that looked like he tried a technique, then moved on to another piece with different material and style while only glancing backward.
As long as I’ve known about the great artist, I never thought I would have the opportunity to see his work in real life, even more so, I never thought comparing my own path to his would be possible. But, chances are, I’m not unique in feeling that way. The evolution of artists continue to follow similar lines with each other in trying new techniques and styles with success or failure behind each approach to their work.
As long as we continue to work and evolve without giving in to societal pressures that get in the way of doing what makes us exist as artisans, we’ll continue to innovate, stretch the imagination and display the human experience in a multitude of mediums.
I enjoy imagining, if he were alive and living in Richmond, Picasso would frequent my favorite south side coffee shop. He and I would sit down over a cup of joe and we’d have casual conversations, a few laughs and could relate to each other thru the experiences with our respective arts.
And quite honestly, that feels pretty good.
Thanx for viewing…
“Tortured by self doubt & tormented by anxiety.” —Frank O’hara
For the past couple of months I’ve become brutally honest with myself, from questioning my choices to become a professional artist in the first place, to the increasingly disparaging thoughts of why I went to school and drove my future into personal debt crisis.
Starving artist? Not yet, but…
Although I love the creative voice this talent and education as afforded me, the fact is the majority of our society has discounted the arts as something that is not important enough to apply a financial worth to it.
I can’t help but to feel duped by the university arts program.
There should have been a greater focus on the business of art, the marketing and management of the talent. I could have done without some of the required history courses and AFO.
But, now I’m becoming angry, and that burn swelling inside is starting to focus my attention on the work’s evolution to a new way of looking and thinking about my art.
The fact is, I can’t “shut up”.
Not being able to paint just for the sake of painting, the work produced seems to always speak with some sort of “message”.
And this society doesn’t fuckin’ want to hear it.
If I were to completely flip and become an “abstract expressionist”, I’d be fooling myself and lying to the public just to try to sell art. I’ve been doing this work too long to change from being the artist wanted to be, to become something I’m not.
Employing the use of stencils in the current work has the effect making me excited about working again. Combining the use of my graphic design skills into the process has altered the way I paint, at the same time, helped me design differently as a graphic artist!
The deeper side of this evolutionary track, is what interested me in becoming an artist in the first place was the graffiti art in New York in the early 1980′s. For “street art” from the U.S. and Europe to begin influencing the work in 2011 has made a 360° turn to my creative life.
Although, to some it may seem like I’m jumping on the “street art movement” to create “salable” art without having the credentials of a criminal vandalism record. And even though I asked myself about the real reasons for the change, the conclusion is, if this is what I have to do to keep from abandoning the arts, it’s what I’m going to do.
I don’t need nor want a police record.
But now, when I see a piece of “public art”, graffiti, tag or a paste-up, I look at it differently. The person who took a chance, did not wait for a gallery to approve them to show their work to the public. Their mark is out on a wall, a fence, a train or on the side of a box van, being seen by society.
Like it or not, it “exists”.
As for the new direction, I welcome the inspiration from the “vandals”. I’m tired of waiting and sick of feeling suffocated, so damn the criticisms…from others and especially, from myself.
thanx for viewing…
That sums up the change to style and subject matter in my art, although, I wouldn’t classify it as a “whole sale” abandonment of my current work, but I do realize in order for me to want to create, some new elements must be explored to get a the result in the work that makes me exited about painting again.
In all honesty, I find myself asking if the work is “too deep”, as in if the public doesn’t react to it or it they miss the point of what the work is communicating because I’ve drawn on subject matter that is obscure and too political to immediately understand.
After over a decade of being topical with my art, its hard for me to shut-up in my work, But I do recognized the social value of “pop art”, and its at this point I find myself at a crossroads.
Do I continue doing work that express political topics or do I let go for a while and explore “pop” and create it under a pseudonym?
Still seen as contemporary expressionism, elements of my past are really starting to emerge and take form in the way of stencils and basic more simplified elements and color. The evolution of my creative expression is also attributed to being stirred by “street art”. Its inspiration has also drawn me in because of the fact that it is art that doesn’t sit in a studio waiting for approval by a gallery to be approved or denied to hang on their walls. I feel like I’m suffocating looking for approval from other people to show my work and I seriously asking myself if it’s worth the wait.
While trying not do anything “illegal” to get my work out in public environment, the pull to “just fuckin’ do it” is almost like a constant scream in my ear, a tug at my heart and a shove at my back. With so much the work wants to say, it’s shouts to “stop waiting and get on with it!” has kept me up at night thinking about the “what if’s”.
Not to disparage the artwork created over the more that 20 years as an artist, I continue to be so very proud of it, but I think its kept me a little too grounded, so much so that I’ve became afraid to take off and see what flying feels like.
Maybe this frustration waiting for clearance is going to force me to take flight without waiting for someone else to allow me too.
Thanx for viewing…
I used the accompanying text to the Diluted Loss and created a video in honor of the men & women the series is dedicated to. The show opens (First) Friday, May 6th 2011 at 7pm-9pm @ Richmond Public Library: Main Branch Downtown Richmond, VA.
thanx for viewing.
The latest edition to the Diluted Loss series brings in focus the military and civilian aspects of the Jim Crow laws that insured a white dominated society rule by suppressing the lives of the black american population as well as the black soldier and sailor.
According to law.jrank.org:
“By the start of WORLD WAR I, every southern state had passed Jim Crow laws. Becoming entrenched over the next few decades, the laws permeated nearly every part of public life, including railroads, hotels, hospitals, restaurants, neighborhoods, and even CEMETERIES. Whites had their facilities; blacks had theirs.
The white facilities were better built and equipped. In particular, white schools were almost uniformly better in every respect, from buildings to educational materials.
States saw to it that their black citizens were essentially powerless to overturn these laws, using poll taxes and literacy tests to deny them the right to vote. Jim Crow even extended to the federal government: Early in the twentieth century, discriminatory policies were rife throughout federal departments, and not until the KOREAN WAR (1950–53) did the armed forces stop segregating personnel into black and white units.”
“Capt. JIM CROW Civ. JIM CROW” is created as a reminder of the trials the black american soldier had to overcome to become some of the nations finest warriors. With the overall image of a painted american flag transitioning to burned, the photos of black men and women in their military roles.
What makes this a powerful and telling piece about the history of the county’s racial strife is the inclusion of, not only actual Jim Crow laws, but also the words of former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) speaking in front of the 2008 National Tea Party Convention who advocated for “LITERACY TEST before people can vote “, which pointed straight to the will of some politicians to stoke the fires of racism to further their own selfish political careers.
What the Diluted Loss/ Capt. JIM CROW attempts to accomplish is for the viewer to realize the racial issues of the past and recognize it when the same segregationist drum beat is pounded into national policy to this day.
Thanx for viewing.
Digital Short video for the May 6th, 2011 show at the Richmond Public Library: Main Branch.
Thanx for viewing…
On a seasonably warm Saturday last weekend, cities around the United States held rallies in support of Public Sector unions and worker’s rights, not only in Wisconsin, but in all 50 states as well. In Richmond it was held on the lawn of the Virginia State Assembly, underneath the historic bell tower.
The message was straight forward, workers need protection from poverty/slave wages, dangerous working conditions and a courrupt company bosses and politicians who seek to impoverish the lives of americans and destroy the country they’ve created thru the hard work.
Sat, Feb 26th, 2011 12:14pm
Upon arrival while walking up the hill you instantly noticed a small crowd of about 75 to 100 people trading personal stories and frustrations about the state of affairs in relation to workers rights and politics. Made up of mostly older citizens of an age range of 45 – 65, there were from a mixture of occupations such as teachers, electrical workers and law enforcement plus others that came from as close as the Fan in Richmond to as far away as Lynchburg, Virginia.
As people continued to show up, spray painted hand-made signs and printed protest signs were on hand for people to take and display during the rally and at their homes later that day.
Though not everyone on the grounds were there for the protest. A few families with children wearing school uniforms were taking in the day, but almost seem to be hurried thru by their father while a seemingly annoyed grandmother walking thru the protest with a small child was overheard saying “…. all these people scared the squirrels away.”
The only local TV station to make a report about the protest was WRIC Channel 8 news. Chelsea Washington was seen with an assisting cameraman asking questions to receive answers from not only union members and protesters, but a local Tea Party member who was in support of the Wisconsin governors decision.
I made an effort to monitor all three channels at the 11pm news slot Saturday night to see if there was a report on the day’s protest and Chelsea Washington’s report was aired, while the other local TV news organizations, WTVR 6 & NBC 12 were a no-show.
Bell Tower 1:00 pm
As the bell tower tolled and Joe Cook, MoveOn.org Council Coordinator of Hampton Roads, began the chants to warm up the expanding crowd or supporters, while Viginia State Police were making themselves present by standing on the peripherals of the protest. A few imposing men in suit and sunglasses made their way into the crowd after speaking with the troopers. It was later realized that they have come as security for one of the speakers.
As the rally got fully underway the crowd grew to about 300+ people, while more were still coming from behind the belltower and adding to the rear of the crowd.
the event speakers included: Richard Hatch of the Communications Workers of America, VEA President Kitty Boitnott, Suzanne Keller of Williamsburg, “UNPAID” Washington lobbyist and former Regional Coordinator for MoveOn.org Andrea Miller, J.R. Tolbert of the Virginia Chapter Sierra Club, Larry Yates and Sandy Delano of Williamsburg.
One of the most compelling stories came from speaker Bill Schaffer who told of his father’s fight for better working conditions in his home state of Wisconsin in the early 1930′s. His father’s experience with a boss made it known that, as a worker, he was worth less than a horse whose stable conditions where far better than those of the men who worked for the company. Being easily replaceable made him expendable, so poor working conditions were not treated as essential to management.
He also spoke to the fact that, as americans were watching what was happening in during the uprising in Egypt, some Egyptians were aware of what was going on in Wisconsin. As this came out a young middle eastern man enthusiastically shouted out that he was there and he had seen that sign.
To my surprise that story begin to make my eyes water, and as continued to shoot photos of the crowd I found myself wiping away a few tears that had escaped down my cheeks. Quickly wiping them away I remained listening while shooting, letting out a few shouts of approval as I worked.
Nearing the end @ 2:00pm
After an hour of listening to the speeches and the stories, hearing and repeating chants of “THE PEOPLE UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED”, the rally begin to come to a conclusion. The signs were dropped down to the sides of those holding them and faces of the people who came out to voice their support and outrage were becoming more subdued as they walked thru the crowd shaking hands, sharing hugs and moving on to the rest of their Saturday afternoon, not knowing what was to come next in the fight to preserve the American workers’ rights. But for one afternoon in February, Richmond became one with a much larger cause in america…. and around the world.
For the rest of my life, I will remember standing in front of a room full of veterans from the Vietnam & Korean Wars at the Veterans Outreach Center and thanked them for their service.
And in return, they applauded me.
It happen on Tuesday, Feb 22nd when just before I begin to talk about DILUTED LOSS and who I am as the artist and what drives the work. The room was packed from front to back with a mixture of black and white vets and a few of their family members.
At first I was more nervous than I’ve ever been before when talking about the series. It was because of the collective experience of these older warriors that was, at this point in time, focusing on me at the front of the long room.
After the initial applause, a small joke and some laughter, I was back on my game and began to speak with confidence.
For this particular Black history Month presentation I wanted to try something new, and other than speaking only in relation to the work, the goal was to focus on the historical significance of the work. Studying had prepared me with historical facts about the Tuskeegee Airmen, the USS Mason DE-529, the 761st Tank battalion and the 555th Paratroopers.
Pointing to these stories made the work more relateable to the crowd. They seemed impressed with the fact that I was not willing to “sugar coat” the racial aspects of America’s military past, even in mixed company.
I also made a note about when WWII ended and what came next for black the Americans who fought for the country. Everyone was in agreement about the fact that, while the war was supposed to change life for African-American civilians and the soldiers who fought during the conflict, American racism and Jim Crow laws were still a weight on their lives and a detriment to their citizenship and participation in politics.
Creating a civil rights time-line and displaying the years between the ending of the war on August 14, 1945 and the 1954 Brown vs Board of Education, decision, the year 1957 when 9 black students were blocked from entering the school on the orders of the governor of Arkansas and 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march for voting rights, illustrated the lack of change in the lives of millions of Americans after they assisted in the success of freedom around the world.
All these things created an atmosphere that facilitated conversations from the soldiers, prompting them to tell of their own experiences with the war and racism, bringing up past and present issues that we face as a country.
To my utter surprise, at the end of my talk, the administrators of the Veterans Outreach Center presented me with an award that for participating in their program, which left me speechless. But what really struck me was the men standing in line to come up and shake my hand.
The honor of being able to present Diluted Loss to these men and women was more than I had ever hoped for with this series. I never thought it would lead me to this point in my artistic career, but with my representation from Clarke Art, it feels as though this is just beginning.
Thanx for viewing
“THE MISSED KISS” 2011 Mix Media,
I created this piece after thinking about what I wanted to say with regards to the soldiers coming home after the war. Like today, some soldiers are celebrated and some are left to fade into the background, or worse yet, left to fend for themselves if they come home with Post-Tramatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), in which soldiers are basically told “its better you come home dead than broken, the military can’t use a broken soldier.”
As far as the black soldiers of WWII, when they came home from the war, their lives were still victim of U.S. “Jim Crow” laws, where they weren’t celebrated, but left under the oppression of the white dominated society that concluded black soldiers were to not forget they were still less than American.
Black Soldiers missed out on the celebration of America’s victory over Nazi Germany and Japan, to this day black soldiers are receiving awards that should have been recognized decades ago. After the war, Black Americans still had to fight for Civil Rights, the right to vote and against job and housing discrimination to this day, while the legacy of their heroics in “The Big War” are being steadily eroded away by time.
Thanx for viewing…
After weeks of thinking about the message the new work for DILUTED LOSS would focus on and would attempt to say, I woke up at 4:39am with ideas scraping on the door to my mind. Immediately I got out of bed and went into the office to sketch the ideas down before they escaped my creative grasp. Before my eyes could focus clearly, I had the titles of the pieces that would be added to the series and shown in May 2011.
“THE MISSED KISS” & “Capt. JIM CROW, Civ. JIM CROW” will be worked on this week and hopefully it’ll project the message to the viewing audience as clearly as it did when it came to me in a dream.
The work is becoming more relevant to me after I read an article during my research that stated:
“The opening speaker at the first National Tea Party Convention, former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Col) called President Obama a “committed Socialist ideologue” who was elected because “we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote.”
While the “JIM CROW” laws were being enforced, Literacy tests were a tactic to suppress the voting rights of African-Americans, while poor whites had a “Grandfather Clause” that allowed them to vote regardless of their educational knowledge.
For a congressional member, former or otherwise, to trumpet “Jim Crow” era laws is unacceptable and repugnant. There’s no question he said this because of the high poll numbers of black support for Barack Obama in the 2008 election leading to the first African-American U.S. President.
The comment by the congressman to the Tea Party, in 2008, shows a willful and quiet march of the political class toward a future that mimics America’s racist past.
It doesn’t matter that Rep. Tom Tancredo, later stepped back from those comments or not.
The ugly truth is, the congressman revelled in the statement all the way to the point where he stated plainly, “Its our nation.”
I’m assuming he isn’t talking to me.
thanx for viewing
After learning about the cancellation of “COUNTDOWN with KEITH OLBERMANN” after the sale of NBC to media bohemoth, COMCAST. I felt like the progressive voice in america had been effectively silenced in the universe of “cable news”.
With that loss, the conservative voice from FOX NEWS became louder and the pro-war, pro-corporate and anti-worker point of view will be the only view in corporate news.
If the corporate dominated news seeks to be the voice of the right…
“CIRKUS” will be my progressive voice to point it out.
Although, now I’m wondering if I’m speading myself out too thin with beginning a new series when DILUTED LOSS is getting traction and starting to heat up with a major show in Richmond, VA in May 2011.
Right now I don’t know if I should limit myself or continue to widen my artistic voice.
Something for me to think about.
thanx for viewing
“CIRKUSMAN” 2011 acrylic on panel
As I completed the graphite drawing of “Toy Guns”, I knew exploration of the issue of media manipulation in america was beginning to surface as a direction for my art. On a slow creative night, I began to working on a familiar piece from my CIN series, but it failed to retain my interest.
My focus became clearer when I sketched out the central element in “Toy Guns” on a scrap of plywood laying in my studio.
Right at this moment, I don’t know if this will become a new series of work or if it will be part of the “HOURTIME” series, but one thing for sure, there’s more to come on this work and much more to add to the “CIRKUS”.
thanx for viewing.
TOY GUNS: created with graphite on paper, is a commentary on the role the media, in particular political right-wing pundants, use fear tactics, violent imagery and paranoia to stir those traits in their viewers.
Those who employ these techniques, possess a level of manipulation that have the real possibility of introducing political violence, not unlike the Tuscon, AZ terrorist attack.
They are fully aware of their actions and often distance themselves, pathetically, from their own actions.
all at the same time, making obscene amounts of money while society cleans up the blood.
Is it a game to them?
In my thinking of a new series of work, I wanted to revisit painting with a political theme again. Social and environmental issues became my focus after hearing so much about the economic and social implications from Global climate change brought on by capitalization of the food and farming markets, and the victimization of the country’s poor population.
why is the work important?
it’s important to me because it’s working me out of a block I had with my other series, CITYSCAPE IN NOIR. I wanted to work politics back into my work, but not focus on “party politics”.
what does “the block” feel like?
it feels suffocation, I end up wasting time in front of the canvas and money using material on “bullshitting” around trying to make something work.
are chances being taken or sticking to familiar practices?
I’m taking chances by approaching the canvas with dark base color and using it as an outline for some of the subject matter. also introducing organic as well as inorganic material in the pieces to formulate a more dynamic message.
what is the future with these pieces?
having this be shown in and outside of the Richmond area in galleries.
The feed back on the new works have been very positive. Local world music band RATTLEMOUTH is considering using one of the works from the series in the new album cover, which would be a hell of an honor. But even if it doesn’t get that far, just to have the work thought of like that is tremendous.