Friday, December 26, 2014

Sometimes in rains...sometimes it freezes....

Sometimes what happens to us in real life is way too funny to have been made up. On that note, and by request, I shall now share the “story of Jesus” as it happened to me this past November.

It started with a phrase from the pulpit….”that I do not care if it rains or freezes”…. Spoken by the senior pastor of a prominent church that has graced its corner of a major city for 195 years….  Now if you are of an older generation, you very well may know the rest of the quotation. And if you do, then you know where this post is going and can opt to leave us now or continue on knowing that we are not going to be telling any biblical verse and may very well offend those who lack a sense of humor.  Make your choice now….

So the entire phrase from which came the quote is thus… “I don’t care if it rains or freezes, as long as I have my plastic Jesus, sitting on the dashboard of my car!”  Now I grew up hearing that from my Dad who in turn heard it from his Mom, so imagine the delight in hearing it spoken from the alter itself.  I was not present for this sermon but the reference was related to me as soon as the doors were open and phones turned back on.

The senior pastor and his wife, and others who attend this church were to be my guests at the upcoming Serpentine Table, a mere 5 days away. An idea was hatched. I had to get my hands on a plastic Jesus.

My best bet was to check the local Catholic store down the street. I am not Catholic but still a Christian so I figured I was allowed in. It is a big store. I wandered through items for the car, table ware, books, games, audio things, decorator items, toys and as I told my friends later, a lot of Pope. I was not sure what I was looking for until I found the boxed saints. Now I am sorry if I offend anybody with my next comment, but to me, since they were lined up three deep on metal hanger pegs, row upon row, my first thought was that they looked like action figures. The contents (the Saint) was visible in the plastic window of the packaging. The packaging had images related to the Saint, and a story/description was on the back. I figured I had to be in the right place.

The Saints were arranged in alphabetical order so I naturally looked under the J’s.  No luck. But maybe “last name” first was how I should approach my quest, but nothing under C either. Hmmmm… best to just start at one end and work my way across and down the three panel display rack. Not being Catholic I did not know of any other way to search.  Wearing a skirt, the process of nearing the bottom required me to kneel down on the floor. And there he was…..

At that moment, I kid you not, a very helpful sales lady came over to me and with her hands clasped together, leaned over and asked me “Have you found what you are looking for?”  In my hands is the boxed Jesus….I had just been given the most perfect opening line…. I so wanted to say it…my lips curled in tight and I stifled the urge to laugh out loud…..but I did not. I could not in all good faith reply that “Yes, I have found Jesus.”  A moment passed while I pulled the box off the hook and knowing I had to say something, asked her in the calmest voice I could muster…”Do you know what these are made of?” She replied that “yes, they were resin.”  I smiled and said thank you. In my hands was the coveted official plastic Jesus. So I bought two.

After dinner and before dessert, I made my presentation of the plastic Jesus to our senior pastor (and one for my Dad) who both erupted in fits of laughter as I reenacted my finding of Jesus. But once we all calmed down and the tears were dried, I had to remind him of the best part yet….Christ is resin.

It was a moment that shall live in infamy at all Serpentine Tables to come. God bless you all this coming year. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Translations Transitions…after the reunion is over.

Blennerhassett Island Trees (not in the show at Translations)
     No longer new or shocking news to those in the local art world, Translations Gallery is transitioning from “brick and mortar” to “bring and move”. Craig Joseph’s next reincarnation of his vision will bring the water to the horses and hope they are thirsty. And if they are not, at least the reluctant creatures might get their feet wet. The CAD is an ever evolving entity so it seems and may yet become more of a CED (E as in entertainment) than a CAD over time but we creative types seem to always find a way to cling like burrs on your socks after a walk in the woods….itcy, scratchy, a pain to remove and always one embedded someplace deep in the fibers that remains a constant reminder. I have no doubts that Craig Joseph and his fertile imagination will be leaving burrs all over Stark County…reminding folks that art and artists are out there…just waiting to snag you as you walk by!

     The last show in the current location, “All Good Things” is more of a reunion to pay our respects to yet another venue passing the torch than a curated exhibit. The only stipulation to be included was that you had been a participating artist at some point over the past five years and that the piece(s) exhibited had not been on view before. Keep’n it fresh and keeping it all inclusive.

     Both engaging and sad at the same time, one cannot help but walk past the pieces and read the names, wondering if we will ever all be together again. I don’t go to reunions (for a variety of reasons) but I imagine that classmates look over pictures and reminisce about various times and places and people. With almost 100% accuracy, the works included here are signature of the artists who made them. One who knows the local “scene” would recognize the creator and their creation….a fitting tribute. The space is a living breathing gathering of artists even if we are not physically present in the building because what we make is who we are….we are friends, we are classmates, we are one school. This analogy could really be taken a step further in that there are obvious “cliques” within our community. Not in a bad way, not like it was as kids, but in a way that has followed any creative field for decades if not centuries. The classical vs the cartoon, the traditional vs the tawdry, the abstract vs the realist… different than the jocks vs the geeks, the nerds vs the varsity…..

     I know many of you are tapped out this time of year buying presents and such at the mall, buying “things”, but considers stopping by one last time and giving the gift of art to someone, get that hard to buy for teenager a one of a kind piece by someone whose career they could follow….sort of like the stock market but more personal. A person’s investment in a work of art increases if they can get others interested in that artist’s work as well. With so many talented and ambitious artists in our area, who knows down the road whose work may be on the next national art mag cover or filling the halls of a NY gallery. It takes all of us to work together to make dreams come true so I look forward to supporting Craig’s next step and watching herds of horses suddenly come across water in ways they never encountered before! 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

That Special Gift

One of our creative Stick Figure Challenge entries! "Stick Ohio"

Our December “Leave your Mark” question of the month proved to be a rather emotional one. I had not intended that to be the case but when people are faced with thinking back to childhood memories, sometimes the eyes get a bit misty. Our demographic last night was on the older side due to Light Up Night being a day before which drew away the younger folks.

I have compiled the answers which filled our main board and one extra side panel this time as people are now coming (after only three months) specifically to answer our question. It is going to be a challenge to come up with a new one each month that is not a “yes or no” answer or a tally of any kind. I want to draw out one’s thoughts and feelings with a question that requires some personal perspective or investment. If you think you have such a question, please pass it along. I want this monthly inquiry to be a regular First Friday feature along with our community participation project. The Stick Figure challenge was just that, a bit of a challenge to get people to even agree to do that basic of a pen on paper commitment, but I am not to be deterred. We shall preserver at asking viewers of art to become participants in the process, even just a little bit. We as artists and gallery folks and business owners are not here just for entertainment on a Friday night, we want you to be a part of what we do and who we are. Just as patrons eat the food of a chef, or tap their feet and hum along to our guest musicians, so too do we want you to connect with us. See you on January 2nd. Until then, the board and one panel of the challenge will remain up in Snarky Art so participation is still encouraged. The Sticks will be recorded and compiled for final presentation at our summer sidewalk art show.

I have organized the answers into categories so they do not appear below in the same order as written on the board.

The question: What was the most memorable, precious, wanted or special gift you received as a child?

Toys: Powderpuff Girls backpack, Stretch Armstrong, anything Barbie, a doll and crib, teddy bear, doll house, Lazy Dazy Doll, Barbie Playhouse, Rock’m Sock’m Robots, American Girl Doll (2 listings), Madam Alexander doll, Barbie Hair Salon, dump truck, Baby Alive doll, Brix Blocks (Lego knock off), Legos, a Barbie, Lite Brite, Laser Tag, hobby horse, doll house, High School Musical dance mat, easel and box of paints, Etch-a-Sketch, Easy Bake Oven, seat belt pet

Music related: tambourine, Chord organ, Magnus Chord organ, Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge over Troubled Water album, 40 records

Personal items: pair of shoes that fit, make-up, fuzzy sweater, a dog

Mechanical things: spring loaded rocket ship, Erector set, Radio Shack Electronic kit, cash register, Camera 1966, Mr. Machine, Robot, a microscope, a chemistry set, 22 cal rifle

Sports oriented: snowboard, Sears Victory bike, ice skates, Snow sled – white cloud, Schwinn bike (2 listings), my 1st bike, pogo stick, baseball bat, Honda 3 wheeler, Largent jersey

Books: The Secret Garden

Reading over this list makes one wonder what the answers will be in 20 to 30 years from now. How many of them will consist of name brands and numbers of electronic devices rather than toys or sports equipment. Not sports played on a hand held, but a real ball glove or a sled. Do our kids today even know what a sled does? How about a pogo stick….no wonder we have a problem with obesity. Many people really had to debate which one thing they wanted to include. I offered the option to list several, but no, they wanted to remember that ONE thing, and choices seemed very personal. A few people wanted to discuss with me which one to write and others wanted to justify their selection. What a wonderful and dynamic way to interact with strangers, many who are become friends… thank you.

Thank you to all who came through the doors of Snarky Art or Journey Art Gallery on a rainy evening. Special thanks to the Pal Mission for sharing their wonderful and moving exhibit by homeless young adults, many of our visitors came especially to see the photographic works and read the stories.

PS - Snarky Art now has note card packets available featuring images of some of my most popular paintings. I will be releasing sets of 4 images every few months. Find them on the rounder in my studio.