Sunday, July 24, 2011

Who needs Soap Operas…. When one has internet scams!

I think most of us are savvy enough to know that the Prince of Nigeria does not really need our money or that the foreign lottery we never entered did not draw our name as the winner. Every now and then however one of those not to be trusted people can get really clever and downright convincing, at least for one exchange. The fun begins when the scam-er does not realize the scam-ee knows exactly what is going on and decides to play along.

A fellow artist friend of mine posted on his FB about a situation involving the potential purchase of some of his work from his website. As artists, many of us have websites in order to allow for a large number of people to see the bulk of our work in one place at one time. So it is not too farfetched to be contacted via email about some of our pieces and the possibility of buying them. Having been a victim of identity theft, red flags shoot up whenever any type of contact does not seem “right”.  So begins my delightful exchange with PS as the Scam-er shall be called (which stands for Poor Speller). 

I got an email from PS asking about a couple of my pieces which just so happen to be currently on display in my studio. Therefore it would seem logical that someone could ask about those two particular works. The email address was not odd although PS’s name did not appear in it anyplace which is somewhat unusual. I put out a flag stick just in case. My return email stated that I would get back to PS with the requested information and the terms of how I handle sales not done in person.  A 24 hour period passed before each exchange. PS asked for more info about my motivations behind each piece.  First I ran a red flag up stick number one then directed her to my website. The flag was because PS said she had seen them on my website and if you are familiar with my website then you know that the requested info is right there on the screen in English (which could be the problem.) Meanwhile I started to print out the emails and using a red pen, corrected the grammatical and spelling errors. Hopefully her self esteem won’t be too hurt if and when they appear in court. I suppose I could have used a yellow marker and just highlighted the errors…..

PS sent another email about shipping. I sent a return one requesting she hold her ponies while I explained that payment had to be for X dollars only, on a US bank, using a certified check and had to clear (both the bank and the FBI) before I would consider any such exchange. PS replied that her husband would send the money right away. Meanwhile I put up some more flag sticks and waited. Eventually PS wrote back. Seems the poor thing was in Cancun for her twin sister’s wedding but ended up the hospital with a possible miscarriage. But thankfully all is okay and the baby is safe and now her husband can send the check. Well my goodness, I felt so bad that I sent a nice sympathetic email about how bad it must be to be in a hospital in Cancun but I am sure the wedding was a blast and glad the baby is safe. Oh one more thing PS, I only use Fed-Ex with your credit card number called in to them. PS said I’d hear from her shipping agent because the work for her “decors” was going to London. Now that I can no longer see past all these dang flags, I contacted my artist friend who gave me the name used for his exchange. Hmmmm….must be the twin sister because they shared a same last name. PS did give me an address for the states and for London. Hello Google-earth… oooohh…a multi unit building with a pool on the roof and surround by parking lots (can we say hotel?).

 PS really wants her work though. Even a reference to homeland security needing to verify some info did not detour her from the quest for my work for her “decors”. The check arrived in the mail on a US bank but I got a large bonus on it! Really? You want to spend all that much more? What economy are you living in? I had to tell PS that though I was deeply appreciative of her generosity, that I could not accept it and would be shredding the document….the one with a list on the back to indicate what is a fraudulent check and hence did not even pass its own test. The local store is sold out of red flags by the way.

The shipping guy, I shall refer to as BG for Bad Grammar, contacted me right away but is from London so he wants to work with a local person. What part of Fed-Ex international does not register with him? Regardless, I let PS know that it would be a lot smarter to send the work to the US address at the place where I am still awaiting a unit number since the building is one of multiple units, and ship it with the rest of her “decors”.  Hey, just trying to help her save a little cash. So far neither PS nor BG wants to play anymore. Darn it, I was having a good time.  Maybe PS had a little problem with the law because an “SP” in the same location was in trouble with the parole board (Google, I love you).  Oh well, at least her baby is safe, the twin sister is happily married and BG is free to pursue other local companies and not negotiate with me. Maybe I will see if that Prince in Africa wants to come out and play. I could forward him the check since he needs the money.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Of Vice and Virtue: The Moral Universe of Marcy Axelband

On view through July 30th at Anderson Creative Gallery is a 13 piece solo show by Marcy Axelband conceived and executed around a single theme and meant to function as one unit. However, each piece in the show could also stand alone on its own as part of a larger group show with no central theme. Such a quality lends credibility to the quality of work. 

I get the whole good vs evil, positive vs negative, thing and her posted statement set the table for viewing the show, but not being a fan of theme shows, I preferred to look at the pieces individually as just paintings, not statements. My colleblog (a morphing of colleague and blogger) delves succinctly and knowledgably into the spiritual aspects of Marcy’s intent, but alas, I am not so deep. I prefer to enjoy the surfaces I see and the contents of their creation.  I came away satisfied in that regard.

For every learned viewer of art in our area, there are probably three times as many lookers who pass through for a few moments on the way to see horses, drink beer, buy a T-shirt or use a  restroom. I suspect many of the latter don’t bother to read posted statements so fortunately the pieces in this show also have a one or two word title in addition to the statement/title which provides further insight into Marcy’s thought processes and motivations behind each work.   I read all the postings first, and then did a few passes GP style to see how the images and the single titles worked together.

If one knows Marcy and her work environment, the show will contain many references to how the arts district has become part of who she is. If one does not know her, the works are big, bold, brash, and in many cases raw. Those who know her will see influences of others in her framing choices, in the depth of color found in “Zeal” and in the presentation of “Sloth”. 

The large posted statement informs the viewer that the depicted vice or virtue is more than just image, it is also color choices and references to content associated with each with the painter and person woven as one within them. To me, that is the enjoyable part, finding the elements of art and design as they relate to the concept, begin able to pull a thread and follow its path through a piece. So let’s go exploring…..

“Temperance/Moderation” is about minimizing things, so too does the unsaturated color pallet reflect this idea. A weak mint green, low contrast greys, whites and flesh tones, and smaller format all contribute to this virtue. My contrast, next in line is “Zeal” depicted as an exuberant African American guitar player on a wonderfully rendered harlequin background. I should probably say it right now, though I can appreciate the figures, I was most taken with the shapes, the colors, the abstracted areas and the images that were not of people, but of surfaces, textures and forms. She has an underappreciated talent in the ability to render such luscious and visceral elements that are just as revealing of her thought processes as are human forms.  I took five pages of notes while viewing the show, writing thoughts and comments about each piece, however over and over as I read them now, my little boxes and stars are next to words describing the backgrounds or the interior rendering of the figures, not so much of the figures themselves except for two, “Wrath” and “Envy”, the latter of which is sold and I can see why. The former, “Wrath” reads to me like a POW from WW2, the communist or Nazi red, with the greenish figure and his Eastern European features. My own person experiences figure into this interpretation for sure, but the piece spoke to me and that is what counts.

Some of my starred and boxed words are “richness”, “elegance”, and “robust”.  The mille fleur feeling of “Generosity” which has the image of a face behind its forms if one stands back and allows the underlying tonalities to take over is probably one of my favorites. So too is “Greed” with its incredibly deep layering of materials within a limited pallet of yellows, not an easy thing to do by any means.  Conceiving and creating this body of work must have been both draining and liberating for Marcy as she explored inside herself and then how she fits into the world outside. I think a phrase from her overall statement is an excellent way to explain this process…..when one feels they are “in life” and not just a part of it, then those are “shellac-able moments”.  So Ms. Marcy, you are probably feeling very shiny right now because these Vices and Virtues have confirmed that you are “in” your life, not looking at it anymore.