The Creative Endeavors Thread Gets Ready To Rumble

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Happy Tuesday, folks! The “Paper Chase” Guy here, facing down the barrel of a very busy month.

Sunday I visited the venue where I’m supposed to show next Friday—a super twee coffee/tea place and talked to one of the baristas—who’ll also be taking part—and got a better idea of what they’re looking for. It’s (happily) a lot more bare bones than I expected; basically we’ll take tables, set out our work, and that’s it for the next five hours. Already brainstorming activity ideas to interest people (most likely real-time drawing), but it doesn’t sound like they’re looking for anything more than that.

Alternately excited and uneasy to actually bill myself as an artist in public, let alone figure out prices. It’s a weird time for me right now; I’m flying to Wisconsin tomorrow to spend a little time with my mom, who recently suffered the loss of her partner from Parkinson’s (long expected, but no less sad for it). I was going there anyway, but am not really sure what to expect. I’ve gone on about our complicated relationship before, so one way or another I’ll be glad to get back, if only to plunge again into worrying about next Friday.

Last Friday I took a late birthday jaunt to Detroit, doing a circuit of the DIA and its new Asian galleries, stopping off at Blick to pick up some wood panels to try (Michaels is great, but it was mindblowing to actually shop at a dedicated art supply store), and visiting MOCAD for a number of exhibits, including two devoted to Tyree Guyton of Heidelberg Project fame. Then “Midnight Madness” in Ann Arbor—shops around the downtown area stay open later than usual, there are carolers, drink specials, etc—and I took the opportunity to check out a couple of local galleries, including probably the showcase venue downtown where I don’t think I’ve actually set foot in over fifteen years of living here.

There was a lot of great work in the latter—including some spectacular, almost fluorescent gouaches done by an artist whose name escapes me, which means I need to sneak back in there and sharpish—but it was all very… safe? There were lots of landscapes of Tuscany-like places, flowers, animals, but very little that remotely compared to the hard-hitting, socially incisive stuff I’d seen at, say, MOCAD; it was basically the bourgeois liberal stereotype of Ann Arbor rendered into art. On the other hand, art should speak in both private and public spheres, and I couldn’t imagine many of the complex, thought-provoking pieces or installations I’d seen in more avant-garde venues sitting in, say, someone’s house or even studio apartment. So I’m starting to think there’s a missing middle here; maybe it’s the John Sloan fanboy talking, but it feels like there should be room for fine art that visually appeals while sparking socially or politically relevant thought or reflection at the same time.

Like I needed more to think about going into the next couple of weeks. The header, by the way, is a premature Christmas picture I did several weeks ago, titled In Hoc Signo Vinces. The objects on the flag are gumdrops. The only “War on Christmas” meaning I remotely intended was massively sarcastic. I still have to do something with Hallmark movies.

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