Here's the piece as it appeared in the show. Ain't nothing like the real thing, though. You see this full size and it makes you want to sacrifice a goat to it. A thousand bucks and it's yours.
I know, I know. I've been ignoring the blog the last week or so. Sorry about that. I've been going through it a bit -- not the kind of mood where the missus cries and worries that I might be arrested, just the kind where I'm pissy and useless. It happens some times.
Part of that has been my nervousness and doubts about participating in this art show up at Gualala. It's my very first outing into one of these things and while I'm not sure where the Gualala Art Center fits into the academy's hierarchy it's definitely a couple of notches up from a pizza place or a realtor's office. What I'm saying is real artists, real art, real display space.
It had me nervous, especially given my stated opinions on the fine art world.
Also, I was part of the group responsible for the food and had no idea what was expected of me and what I could count on from other people. That had me nervous as well.
Then there's the old social anxiety. I'm trying to tackle this one and so was looking forward to using the event as a therapeutic tool as much as anything else -- but I was going to be dealing with a bunch of people I don't know.
And I was spending a ton of money in preparation for this and I really doubt that I'm going to sell my piece and even if I do I'll just be making a couple of hundred bucks and what the hell is going on, oh christ the earth is spiraling into the sun...
... and so on. It is my way.
And here I am standing next to it. It really happened! Really! The observant will notice that since the print is three by four feet and I'm around six-three, that means that my legs are two feet long. Which disturbs me on some level.
The good news was that my family rallied around me. My sister Charity, bless her heart, rented a wonderful, luxurious house for us up in Gualala. My dad Verle came along, and his wife Lisa (we're too close in age to make me feel comfortable calling her my step-mom, same as with me and the missus's daughters) and of course the young ladies Ava and Una.
I can't tell you how much this helped. Being around them socially puts me into a familiar and functional mindset and their pride and support really made me feel good.
So I contacted the other food people, made a shitload of sandwiches (artisanal ham, aged Gouda, and pickle with mustard, sopprasetta, hot coppa, and a nice nasty provolone with vinaigrette, fresh mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes and basil, dressed with a lot of sweet balsamic vinaigrette to make up for the weak out-of-season tomatoes), threw a fistful of Jack Vance novels (perfect for insomnia reading) into my knapsack, and kissed the missus goodbye for the weekend.
Since Lisa was taking the pictures we have no record of her, but here's the rest of my family. From left to right, Ava, Charity, Una, and Verle. You'll have to excuse the expression on my dad's face -- he was overcome by his love for the sea.
The preparations for the show went well -- the people getting the food ready to roll worked well and neatly together and the overall contributions were enough to provide an impressive spread.
By keeping busy I was able to keep my jitters under control. The beauty of the area helped a lot -- nothing like trees to calm me down. And that's how I handled the show. I'd go inside, cruise around, gulp some beer, talk to anyone who made eye contact, then after the conversation I'd go out and walk around, check in with the family, breathe deeply, and return to the fray.
That's how you do it when you're a grownup, right?
It was nice -- not my idea of a good time but not painful.
As for the show itself, it looked good. Really good. It struck me that arranging a collection of extremely diverse art like that is the same kind of exercise of taste as putting together a good mix tape, and in this case the results were very pleasing -- exhilarating jumps and bumps with no jarring transitions.
It's funny. I'm so used to thinking about this stuff from the creative perspective that it was kind of a numb shock to see people looking at it as, well. Art. It left me with a sense of vague dreamlike unreality.
There were all kinds of crazy visual details at the beach. I've got to take photography next semester -- and I think I might try and tease Lisa into taking her photography a bit more seriously. Honestly, throw a little Photoshop on this and you've got a great print right here.
That night we went back to the house. A little wine mixed nicely with my back pills and a hot tub to render me more physically comfortable than I'd been in some time.
And the company was great. Honestly, if you were to record three or four hours of my family hanging out you'd be able to put together a solid forty-two minute show for Comedy Central. They're smart, funny people with a combination of edge and heart that just makes me feel good. I'm so grateful to spend time with them.
Then two things happened the next day that gave me a bit of a slow-burn realization. We were checking out some nifty dinosaur sculptures at a nursery-cum-giftshop, and when I complimented them to the woman running the place I mentioned that I'd done some paleo art. She asked for websites, talked to me about her own background -- a nice little conversation that left me feeling as though I were on the inside.
And then after our delightful excursion to the beach (full of top-notch crabby kid drama; the ladies can sulk like nobody's business when they throw themselves into it, so the inevitable happy ending makes for a good story arc) we went to fetch the cooler I'd borrowed from Dad and Lisa from the art center. While we were there, I asked Lisa to take a picture of me next to the print for the blog.
And when I was looking at the picture on the camera's monitor it hit me. The thing that had been hanging over me the whole time, the reason I had put myself out with no real expectation of selling the work and no real profit even if it did sell.
There I was, in a real gallery, standing next to something I'd done myself. There was my work next to the work of my instructors and TAs and the ringer students, the real artists. And it belonged there. And I belonged there.
It was kind of like a graduation, a bar mitzvah, a wedding. Or like the first check I ever got for my writing. I was different.
I've been faking it out of a combination of intellectual knowledge and bravado. Now I feel like an artist. Doesn't matter if I ever achieve any success. I now know that my work is at that level. I have that. It can't be taken away from me.
It feels good.