To celebrate my next-to-last-day of summer off, and some good things happening my wife's way, Kris and I hit some beautiful vineyards to sip some wine and take in the gorgeous weather we've had today. After an afternoon well spent relaxing and reflecting outdoors in the shade, I thought the day couldn't get any better, until I checked our mailbox and found a nice surprise waiting for me to open. It was a small package from artist and fellow Virginian, JJ Cromer, whose work I first noticed in an article of Raw Vision magazine a couple of years back, and have been a huge, huge fan of ever since. If somebody would have told me I'd be trading artwork with the man two years later, I would have never have believed them, but enter 2012, and that's exactly what happened this past week.
I recently featured his work at my Go Flying Turtle blog as part of my weekly artist spotlight series, and posted about some local shows JJ's art was featured in during the past few months. I began following his blog, and he started following mine, and after I dropped him a kind word at his Old Old Old Virginia blog, he did the same at my Splotch Monster blog and offered to do a small art trade by mail, if I was interested. Since the offer, I've been eagerly checking the mail box daily, and the short wait was certainly well worth it. I posted some photos above, showing JJ's gift, including a wonderful pack of postcard prints, an original collage postcard piece (with a condor, yes!), and an amazing, original drawn piece featuring his signature asterisk characters. It's this later style that caught my eye a couple of years ago, reminding me of the late Hundertwasser channeling the tree spirits from the world of Princess Mononoke. Below are some photos I took from a newly opened show in historic Old Towne Alexandria, Virginia, at a wonderful old structure known as the Athenaeum, called "Likeness/Interpretations of Portraiture", featuring a new piece by JJ called "Father Figure (with Pipe) Before and After the Setback". I found out about the show at his blog, and it was well worth the short trip to see his, as well as the other works in the exhibit in person.
The good news is Mr. Cromer really liked my Splotch Monster work, after receiving some pieces in the mail, and offered to work with me on a collaborative series involving them. So, we've set the details in motion and I've just started getting to work! It's going to be a lot of fun and a good challenge for me, as all artistic collaborations can be. If you want to see more in-depth footage of the Athenaeum show, check out the short video from Twig Murray below. Also, follow JJ at his brand spanking new Facebook artist page when you get a chance as well!