I keep telling myself that I will start writing a new blog post at least twice a week. How do people do that, I wonder? Especially working artists. Especially working artists that are also writing a book, with friends and a life, that go to art shows, that have partners, that like to garden and watch a bit of TV, go to a couple of movies a month and have a dog?
If you have the answer to these questions, please reply, or email me. I’d like to know.
Since I have blogged, or rather, wrote the little review about the Avenue 50 show, Seven Beauties, on the Huffington Post, I have finished a couple of new paintings. Perhaps one of them I finished before that, called In Training. I mentioned it in a previous blog post. I was nearly finished with it then, but I had to allow that yellow to dry before I went back and cleaned up those black outlines. So here it is finished:
This is like the rest of the series: 24 x 24 inches, Oil on birch panel.
Yellow takes forever to dry, as I am learning – so does orange! I am still working on Rabbi Says. So in the meantime, I finished up another piece that I now know is my most favorite in the whole series! It only took two days, but I thought about it for a month. I even want it to be the cover for my book, if that’s possible. It’s called, Survivor: 24 x 24 inches, oil on birch panel:
Still wet, I took these and about 4 others with me to Shulamit Gallery yesterday down at Venice Beach. We had been trying to set up a meeting for a few weeks, actually for a studio visit, but that’s not going to happen until July. So, they asked me if I could come there with a few originals and paper works along with a few of my artists’ books. I would up staying there for nearly three hours. It went very well and we all know each other a little better. What will become of it, I do not know because I’m not absolutely sure I want to be in a gallery again just yet.
But maybe by the time they offer me something, IF they offer me something, I will be.
In the meantime, I just feel so good about painting right now, I’m just going to keep on going on my merry way. I am loving this path.
Speaking of the book, I finally got back to working on it just a bit. I even interviewed a couple people from my past and I think that is going to help me a little in writing this because we don’t always remember things exactly the way they happened. I probably will only use a fraction of these interviews, but I think it’s good to reconnect, let people know they might appear in the manuscript, and in what context – especially if I am going to be making fun of them.
No one gets made fun of more than me, and that I can guarantee all of them!
One of them was an ex-boyfriend. He is significant for a few of reasons. First of all, he pretty much turned me on to oil painting. The relationship was a whirlwind: very unlike me to move in with someone so fast, and then it ended as fast as it flew together, yet I learned a lot about art: the application of it, a little bit about the sales of it, the dichotomy of it, and some of the hard lessons. I think he was the first person I dated outside of my own circles and I learned a lot about sharing, compromise, tolerance, acceptance, all in such a short amount of time. At the time, I am not sure I even knew I was learning this. Ha!
I also am importing in a shit load of data from, get this, on-line forum dialog! I have typed more about my viewpoints on art than I have even talked about to any one person. So now I have to weed through all of that stuff and use it where it’s usable.
I was also lucky enough to make a couple of sales in the past couple weeks so I could get more panels – small ones – so in the next couple months I will have more affordable works on hand, which I think is smart.
That’s all for now.
Once Upon a Time in the land of Highland Park, if you don’t know where that is, it is in Northeast Los Angeles on the west side of the Arroyo Seco. This neighborhood has gone through an abundance of changes over the past 20 years, yet it has kept its original flavor and family history without becoming too gentrified. Perhaps that is because there is still a bit of gang activity, but nothing like it was before the mid 1990s.
Since then, artists of all stripes have made it their homes and low-rent studios. But as the story goes, this is exactly what proceeds gentrification. Whether long term or for a short time, artists inevitably find many of our LA neighborhoods for what they are: gems, before the poor and the artists are squeezed out to make way for Starbucks and Banana Republic. But not just yet in the area around Figueroa and Ave 50.
Enchanted Forest (and golf course) by Kim Abeles.
About 13 years ago, Kathy Gallegos founded Avenue 50 Studio. A social, cultural, and political activist for most of her life, Ms Gallegos has helped Avenue 50 Studio sponsor over 300 events as a source of cultural responsibility. She recently approached award-winning artist, José Lozano, to curate a show at the gallery. In his own words, José’s ideas for the exhibition, Seven Beauties, were:
I had the phrase seven beauties in my mind for a while when I was approached by Avenue 50 Studio to curate a show. I know seven beautiful female artists whose work is spiritually and intelligently beautiful, and whose work I really admire. These are disciplined artists producing very wonderful art. My first choice was Kim Abeles who is my mentor. She was the professor at Cal State Fullerton who directed me toward the artist I am today. It’s an honor to have her in the show. This is not a feminist show. It’s just art done by women. Many different approaches and sensibilities run through this exhibition. It shows where women artists are at today in the making art in Los Angeles.
José Lozano is also exhibiting small portraits of each artist in this show and these are just wonderful. I thought they were truly great additions to the exhibition and brought the whole thing together to make it more meaningful.
Kim Abeles by José Lozano.
Daylight Savings by Leigh Salgado.
I went to the opening on Saturday, May 11, 2013. Much fun was had, and I have to say, when most galleries in Culver City, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica are having their own opening nights – of which I have been o’plenty – none of them have ever held a candle to what I saw at Ave 50 Studio’s amount of hors d’oeuvres and wine, and variety, plus mojitos. Spectacular! All of you prestigious galleries: learn yourselves something.
During the course of the show, which runs until June 2nd by the way, the gallery will be screening the film, “Seven Beauties” by Lina Wertmuller. Participating artist, Poli Marichal, will lead a discussion on how the movie relates to feminism paralleling and modifying the present day. More information on this screening will be forthcoming, so you can still see the show and participate in this upcoming event, which should be quite interesting.
Blessed Mother and the Dragon by Lili Bernard.
The opening reception was absolutely packed and it seemed like more than 10 different people were taking photographs with expensive cameras. I have a feeling I’m going to wind up on Facebook with my eyes in a half-blink between a couple of these great looking artists, a few of whom I know very well. Had I known I was going to wake up today and write about this show, I would have brought my own fancy camera so I wouldn’t be hunting down all the artists down today for images.
Agnes by Linda Arreola.
Now, even though I had good friends among the crowd with their original art hanging along the walls, I have to be honest about my very favorites that stood out for me – without playing favorites. You get me?
Rochelle Botello, who usually produces sculptures with colored tape and cardboard, or rather, more like installations, since they really are temporary constructions. Most of them are destroyed after they are exhibited and documented. Here, she has created two dimensional pieces with basically the same media. They are framed as 2D art and hung on the wall, akin to abstract paintings and (hopefully) not temporary at all.
This was something new for her and in some ways, I preferred it. Actually, I can’t make up my mind. I might miss the absurdity of her installations. Those play with my dark sense of humor and I understand them easily, and now, this new work is a challenge. It’s contemplative, and a new side of the artist I have never known. Her 3D is at times contemplative as well, and so I wonder if, like her drawings, if she could accomplish the same balance with only tape and paper.
Kiss Off by Rochelle Botello.
Stephanie Mercado – she took over my old studio in Highland Park – has been outrageously prolific, cranking out seemingly a dozen amazing artworks at a time. Whether they are paintings, etchings, or dry points(?), she’s mastering her crafts quickly and the subject matter, floating on water or not, is beautiful and brilliant! I can easily spot her work from across a 100-foot room and my eye sight sucks ass! She has come into a singular vibration that can not belong to anyone else even if they studied for their Masters in “Mercado.” It’s a kind of Raphael effect.
Untitled silkscreen print by Stephanie Mercado.
Now, just because I had favorites in the show doesn’t mean the rest of you chickies didn’t make me swoon and soar, ooh and ahh. You did. But you always do.
Seven Beauties is a MUST SEE! (Through June 2, 2013.)
Oh, and don’t miss out on the little exhibit in the annex room by Frank Gutierrez called “Explain Yourself.” Very cool, colorful and interesting paintings.
Avenue 50 Studio, Inc.
a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts presentation organization
131 North Avenue 50, Highland Park, CA 90042
Ph/Fax: (323) 258-1435
Yesterday, late afternoon, I sent out my Spring Newsletter. It was the first time I ever used Mail Chimp, which is an email marketing/list manager. There were some good things and not so good things about it, but even worse, I was so impatient to send out the letter in the new template, I neither proofread it or edited it!
Now I am mortified.
First of all, in my Google account, my contacts are beautifully organized. I have my Newsletter List: People I know want to receive my seasonal newsletters because they specifically signed up for them, or I personally asked them if they wanted to be on the list – and they agreed. Then I have my SoCal List: Local People I promote to when I am having a significant exhibition in the Los Angeles Area; my Promote List: Galleries and news media that might like to know about a press release that relates to art, particularly mine; No Spam: People that do not want any mail from me unless it is personal; Family: A group of top priority people that are, or might as well be, family; Book Promote: BookArts people that I can promote to when I have a new handmade book to pedal.
But, when I tried to import my Newsletter List into the Monkey Mail, it pulled in every contact I ever had. So, I have annoyed every contact on all my other lists. Shame, shame, SHAME on me!
Now, for the actual writing in the newsletter, WHAT AN EMBARRASSMENT! I probably started three different chains of thought that I never even finished. I just left them floating out in space like some kind of airhead. THEN, there was reference to spin art that I DID edit out, yet I referred to it later in the paragraph, giving the reader no sign or signal as to why I would mention LSD or “spinning,” which only made me look like a complete ding dong!
What I meant to say there was: what if there was an artist that created circular spin splatter paintings, and that was all he did for 20 years? Every day, he went into his studio and created these paintings that all looked extremely similar to one another and he sold every single one of them for a large amount of money. Enough money to pay for his house, his car, his wife’s, and put his three kids through college. A LOT of money. Do you think he is doing these paintings for himself, the money, the process, his audience, the father that never loved him, some or all of the above?
That was really the question I was posing.
What I didn’t share then afterwards, was my own personal strife, outcome, realization, etc. regarding the same question: Who am I trying to please? And all this time before I recently pondered this question, who was I trying to please?
Wow, so many people other than me. Mostly, the made-up God in my head. Do you have one of those? In psychology it is called the Super Ego. That was usually my problem, and not just with art.
Now, it must be me. Id, id, id, id, id! I want to paint what I want to see. Period. Life is too short to try for anything else. That million dollar idea…what if I didn’t like how it looked? It would probably look stupid. Look at all the other million dollar ideas out there. Would you want that over your fireplace? There are very few I would want to own. I know what I like and I know I can make it, so there it is.
Now, I know there were some other points in that newsletter I forgot to tie up, but I’m starting to get spaced out again. So, until I can just trade my brain in for something better, see you on the flip-flop.
Let’s see, what the hell have I been doin’ that I can’t write a measly blog post for the last several days? And how can I be tired?
I know I have been painting. I am nearly done with number 6, which is now called, In Training.
Took a while. Now I have to let that yellow oil paint dry before I can go back in there with the black and tighten up my mistakes. There were plenty.
You saw the black one already (King of This, AKA Number 4), so I can’t use that one as an excuse. Number 5, Rabbi Says, will take the longest time of all because I am painting around words, but I do not think I have even shown the preliminary drawing for that one – or anything about that one yet. Okay, so here it is so far. It doesn’t look like much yet:
So far I have done the black, the white and the purple. It really doesn’t look very spectacular does it? I have a kind of half sketch/half Photoshop deal. I’ll pull that in…
That gives a better idea, I mean, without the painterly feel, because I lay the paint on pretty thick. You should see my art in person sometime.
I went through a lot of hemming and hawing with this fucking thing too. The cartoony rabbi, should he be there or not? Should he be there like that or not? I tried numerous alternatives. The rabbi was represented differently: as a black hat on a stick, as a hei, a hei with a hat, with and without peyos (the little curly hairs on the sides of, usually, an Orthodox Jewish man’s head), a more “proper” cartoon – that one would consider more “respectful” of the rabbi, yet it’s not about The Rabbi in particular exactly, and it’s not about Judaism either!
However, I am referring to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. THE Reb Moshe (1895-1986). Descendant of writers of the Talmud, Father of North American Jewish Law and blah blah blah…
Now, I have a big problem with authority on anything. That’s just how I am. But part of being Jewish is to question, to study, to learn, and to be a scholar as much as possible. Reb Moshe would have told us that. Even the meaning of Israel, which Jacob was renamed for, is “one who wrestles with God.” It is supposed to be a struggle. So I chose to leave the funny looking rabbi the way he was! And still, I struggle with it.
He is spouting out part of an actual quote of Rabbi Feinstein’s, which says, ”There are many times when a person feels that he cannot move forward because a dark cloud hangs over him. One should know, however, that nothing can stop him! Sometimes one can make a path through the cloud…”
Pretty nice, eh? Ya, I liked it.
Now, likewise, I had pause with the wheels on In Training -
still on the cartoony thing, stay with me…
I thought to my self, self, should I put wheels on this composition? Should I leave it be? Without them, it’s more of a “grown up” work of art. Or is it design? Shit, I sure as hell don’t want it to be that! I do think putting wheels on it would be pretty funny. But then, does that make my work a joke? Maybe all my work is a fucking joke! Uh oh. It will make it “cute.” There’s that “cute” thing again. Run away-run away! …but you can’t run away from your self…
Okay, so. I can’t control it if someone else thinks my work is “cute.” Let em. I’m quite serious – well, I mean, about my art. I am very serious about my art actually. Can’t you people see that? As far as making it a bit funny, well, I can’t help it. If I could be a comedian, I’d do it. But alas, I don’t think even I am that depressed.
Ohhhh, bad stab and my comic pals. I apologize. But they get paid about as much as I do, and they are far more talented.
Anyhow, Funny-looking rabbi with one leg and sharp teeth, kooky wheels on my figure 8 design, little feet on most everything else, and I wonder why I can’t afford gas.
Here is a new painting! Number 4:
It is called, “King of This.” It’s 24 x 24 inches, oil and pencil on birch panel.
I betcha wouldn’t think that would take a long time, but it did. Oy vhey did it ever. I can’t say why. I hardly know why myself, but here it is now, finished.
The one that is taking the most time, and believe me, I have been working on it between all these other ones, is Number 5, “Rabbi Says.” It has a partial quote on it from Rabbi Moshe Feinstein going around in a sort of spiral and I previously had to paint the outlines, then the lettering, and now I am painting the colors around the letters. Today I painted around the words, “however, that nothing” and it’s not that it took all day, it just took a long fucking time!
Before that I spent a longer time messing about with the photograph above in Photoshop, and before that I was at the post office, if you must know.
Here is Number 6 on my easel:
I have not been working on my book for a long, long time. It’s so hard to juggle all that I have, but I’m not taking on any new shows for a while, so I hope that I can dedicate some time to my writing when I’m done with these eight paintings
Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley, as it it is called for now – and I don’t foresee changing it – has been the toughest project I have probably ever had to do. I am reliving all the parts of my life – all the hardest parts of my life. Sure, I will be editing out the boring, the non-pertinent, the lengthy rants that are similar to my blog (because in using anything like those, they won’t necessarily be to promote, protect or to entertain), but the rough draft inevitably needs to be written. I’m living through all of it just the same.
It is much harder to remember it and write it out than it was to experience it at the time. Doesn’t seem possible, right? But when you are going through a traumatic event, you go into survival mode. We all do. We dissociate to some degree, or we find a way endure it. We have to. Then we move on. Because we have to. And in moving on, we most likely do not think about it. That just works wonders.
Diving in and out of this book is bitter sweet. I like writing about the first time the light bulb went off for me in terms of art, music, love, friendship, independence, and stuff like that thar. I’ve been writing pretty much in chronological order, so knowing that something horrible is coming up, just makes me avoid getting back to a writing session.
I wish it was done, really. I’m 75-80% finished with the rough draft. That is far from done. That is bare bones stuff. I have never written a book before. I know nothing about how it’s done. I only know how I am going to do it before I hand it off to the editor. She might change everything, but I know exactly how I am going to structure the thing – section by section, chapter by chapter, because sometimes the helicopter flies high over miles of mountain ranges. Sometimes, it flies lower and circles around a camp. And many times it will land so the pilot can get out to get a really good look at the dirt.
Some future problems with this thing that I needlessly worry about are:
SUBJECT: What the hell is this? A memoir? Autobiography? Creative non-fiction, Artist memoir? Family memoir? Music biography? Women’s biography? Religious biography? Dark humor – non-fiction, …and HOLY SHIT! I’m sorry. I was just reading something that I did not realize on Barnes and Noble. Is this true? Someone please tell me if I am misunderstanding this:
Is PUSH fiction???? It is filed under fiction. I’m having a heart attack! I did NOT know that!
I am totally baffled now. I will be back when I get my head on straight. I am just….baffled. I can’t finish this blog entry right now. Sorry.
7:16 PM Okay, I am back now. I’m over it. I painted. I got some stuff done. I made decisions. I feel better. Fuck it.
When I read The Color Purple, I was well aware of Alice Walker. I guess I was stupid enough to think that Push was actually written by a young, illiterate girl who experienced these things and still on her way to becoming educated despite being such a young, single mother.
Now, both books do not lie. I am not mad that it is fiction, because it is not a fictitious story. My mind was just blown, that’s all.
All this time, I have been somewhat modeling, or rather just thinking about where my book belongs in terms of Push. That book was giving me courage to tell my story! I figured it would be, if published, close together on the shelf in the bookstore. I felt like, if people accepted her story
and believed it
and still loved her
maybe I had a chance of receiving the same reaction.