Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Not So Scary Monsters exhibit, in words and photos

It's hard to believe that the opening night for the Not So Scary Monsters exhibit has come and gone. Since last weekend I've had very little time to process my thoughts on it all until now, as the work week was in full swing the minute my alarm clock went off at six-o-clock, Monday morning. 

I decided to do a somewhat more thoughtful and comprehensive post about the show, as well as show some of the few photos I took, and post them in chronological order. It was late last summer that Judith Olivia HeartSong had contacted me about hosting a Splotch Monster art exhibit at Artists & Makers Studios, Parklawn location, after seeing me post some photos of my work online. Surprisingly enough, most of my exhibits have happened this way, and it's testimony to the positive side of using social media. Even still, I'm always surprised when a curator asks if I'd like a show, considering the wealth of talent in the DMV. 

However grateful I was to Judith and however joyful I was about getting this solo exhibit, I wouldn't be able to think about it for long, as I never was able to fully recover from a work-filled summer with little room for any break or a recharging of the batteries, since I had also been called to host two educational workshops for two sets of faculty, at the beginning of the new school year, with only about two weeks (my only two weeks off from work) to prepare. It had definitely taken its toll on my physical and mental health, and as any professional teacher can tell you, time away from work (and kids, or at least large numbers of kids) is absolutely essential to retaining one's own sanity. Still, I'm not much for complaining or dumping my issues on other people, so I decided to bite the bullet and move forward. 

Perhaps the part I loathe and complain about the most is the framing. It can be expensive, and when doing it yourself, time consuming, painful even (that part I just won't go into). I guess that's the downside to exhibiting works on paper, and it's been nice working on a recent series of acrylic abstracts on canvas (completely not related to Splotch Monster Island), knowing that when I do eventually exhibit them, there will be no need for any type of framing whatsoever.  

Luckily I had plenty of time in-between work to prepare, as busy as the school year has been for me, and before long, it was time to select from a body of recent work that had been created and accumulated over the past couple of years. I enjoyed the challenge of working within a relatively small yet adequate gallery space, as it forced me to comb through and evaluate what I feel was my better work. I was also forced to group my art into the series I had explored, including originals shown for the first time from the year-long, weekly Endangered Kingdom Meets Splotch Monster Island series, the daily black and white Inktober series from every day of October, 2018, the daily, year-long and newly resurrected A Splotch Monster a Day series, and the Asian dragon-inspired Four Seasons series, made specifically for this particular exhibit. I probably could have filled every wall of Artists & Makers with quality work, but again, I liked the challenge of whittling it all down to the essentials, even though I still ended up using forty-one pieces in the exhibit. 

There is also the anticipation of a solo show, both gleefully exciting and at times, painfully nerve-wracking. As exciting as it may be, will it all be worth it in the end? Should an exhibit's worth be based on sales, attendance, or is it more about the process leading up to an exhibit? I guess it depends on the type of exhibit you're doing, and I personally feel that it's a little bit of all of those things. It's good to see your long hours of artistic practice on display in a way that speaks to you in a positive light, but it's also good that it speaks to others as well, in some way at least. As with getting a show, it still surprises me, after doing this kind of thing for several years now, when folks show up, and even more when they pay money for my art. As it happens more over the years, I've gotten a lot better at accepting such acceptance regarding my work, thankfully. Last Friday night was no exception, and you never forget the people who walked through that door and gave their time to you.  I was talking with a few people last weekend who were complimenting me on my sales, telling them that I make the art I make because I love to make it, and making some money from it is always a nice bonus. Somebody told me to consider it an even exchange of positive energies, which I thought was kind of profound, and despite the wet and rainy weather, and feeling like a bundle of nerves last Friday for the opening, it was definitely an all-around positive experience. 

Of course there is that one person who has, excuse the tired cliche, been my rock, and that has been my wife Kris. In fact, she's been more like my shining, radiant diamond emitting infinite rays of light. It's those behind-the-scenes things most people will never know or see, that makes the good stuff happen, and while Kris wasn't able to attend the opening, she was there to help hang (most of) my work. I know how hard it is for her to do the superb job she does of managing an art gallery in Leesburg, VA (again, the behind the scenes that most people will never know or be able to comprehend), so I never drag her along for the ride unless she chooses to come along. I know for fact the last thing she wants to spend her weekend doing is hanging more art work. Yet she insisted on coming along and, much like Eno was to U2, or Martin Hannett was to Joy Division, she was the secret ingredient that made the magic happen. If that's not love, then I don't know what it is. 

I'm so grateful to Judith at Artists & Makers for giving me this wonderful opportunity, to both new friends and old friends who came out to the show, and to those who couldn't but wished me well -words can't accurately express my gratitude.