Monday, April 29, 2013

theory of relativity and photos

The theory of relativity as it relates to the passing of time kicks in about this time each year.  While it seems to take forever for my laptop to boot up, March and April whiz by in a blur.  I'm sure there were some other good things from March that I missed but here are a few things from the end of April:

 Graduation happened.  We had a fairly large group of students getting degrees again this spring.  That's the very short Amanda and regular sized Taylor looking proud up there.

 And that's the very tall Jermel (Canada) with the regular sized Jim on the left with a very strange  look on his face.

 And there's Haley (H-Dawg) making fun of my homemade Sculpture medallion.  She's obviously jealous.  

 And that's EllenBess squeezed in between her tormentors.  

 Over the weekend Blue's school had a day of races.  Blue decided he wanted to run in the 1 mile fun run and I ran in the 5k not-so-fun run.  That's him in the navy shirt blasting off from the starting line.  When the horn sounded he just stood there for a moment while everyone else took off running.  He caught up quick.

The races were trail runs, which I thought would be great.  My everyday running path is a trail so I expected to do reasonably well.  This trail, however, was filled with creek crossings, horrible hills and fallen trees.  This was Blue's first race ever so he didn't know how tough the route was.

 But that's him just a few feet from the finish line and his face says it all.  He did great.  He didn't stop or walk for the entire mile and he finished 5th overall.  I'm pretty proud.

 Technically he did better than me since I finished 6th overall in the 5k.  It wasn't a record time for me but I finished right behind the cross country track coach for the school so I'm trying to feel good about that.

 We've been seeing a bald eagle near our house for the last few months.  We always get a really good look at him but we never have a camera handy.  I did manage to get this one with the iPhone.  I named him Bobby.

And speaking of iPhones, I took this photo on Sunday.  That is Laura Jean in the center and that pink and white thing in her hand is HER new iPhone.  That's right, LJ has an iPhone.  She's already getting the hang of it too.  This also makes me proud.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

a glimpse behind the curtain

There's that scene in The Wizard of Oz where the magic disappears.  When the great and powerful Oz is revealed as the little man behind the curtain pushing the buttons and pulling the levers.  

When we go to an exhibit of visual art it's easy to feel the magic of the exhibition.  The creative works fill the room and there's communion between artist and viewer, perhaps one of the oldest forms of communication on the planet.  Most often the curtain is hidden and so we don't think about what has happened behind the scenes to make this exhibit possible.  For the non-artist, this is perfect.  The joy, the magic and the energy of the exhibit are the important things.  But for the artists and the soon-to-be artists, failure to see behind the curtain can cause some very uncomfortable moments.  For this reason, I'm going to part the curtains for a second.

In the last year I was selected to have a solo show in a small gallery.  A solo show is a big deal to an exhibiting artist.  It is a reason to get excited.  It is also a reason to spend a lot of unexpected money.

For this particular exhibit, the artist had the responsibility of bearing the total cost of the exhibit. It has become obvious to me over the last several years that the general line of thinking on this is that the artist has already made the work, so how expensive could it be?  And wouldn't it be worth it to have a solo show?  Wouldn't the artist get lots of press and publicity and wouldn't they sell artwork and actually make money?

So let's consider the costs for the artist.  The creative work is done, so let's not consider that as an expense.  In my case, I'm going to make the art anyway so having it ready for exhibit is just what I do.  So what other costs would there be?  Well, the artwork has to get to the gallery.  This includes transportation or shipping costs.  In this case I was able to drive the work to the gallery so gas was the main cost.  Nails are cheap so hanging the 2D work was basically free but those pesky sculptures can't just sit on the floor.  A group offered to rent me some pedestals.  You read that correctly, they offered to RENT their peds to me for the show.  No thanks.  Luckily I had my own pedestals but they were in a different county and were in terrible shape.  More gas and a couple of gallons of paint added to the costs.  

The show is hung and it's time to for that publicity.  Guess who gets to pay for the postcards to advertise the exhibit?  That's me.  And if any of you still use that old postal service you'll recall that postage is not free.  Postage costs?  That's me again.  Digital and physical advertising in the gallery space?  Me and me again.  

Which brings us to the opening reception.  Wine and catering.  It would be difficult to do this any more cost effective than I did it but it was still a huge chunk of change out of pocket.  It is customary for the artist to attend the reception which added more gas to the receipt.  

Then the show comes down, bringing transportation costs again and adding in any packing materials that might be needed.  

Total cost for this exhibit:  $689.00.

Please note that my time and labor are not included in this figure.  

So $689.00 out of pocket for the exhibit.  Let's subtract the sales from that.

$689.00 - $0 = $689.00

So was it worth it? Good question.

My wallet says no.  Several months later and I've not been contacted by any galleries near the exhibit who want to market my work.  No other exhibits have been offered as a result of that show.  No one has contacted me to say they just have to have that sculpture or drawing they never got around to buying.  

But the crazy artist inside me says that it was worth it.  From a business point of view I lost almost $700.  But from an artist point of view, people who do not live in my house saw my work.  And really, that must be a huge understatement to say that they "saw" it.  They experienced it, they walked among it and they conversed with it.  I witnessed this to some extent while in the gallery and I had others tell me things that people said about the work.  That part was magic.

This gets down to the question of why artists create things.  Some may disagree on the surface but I think if you dig deep enough you'll find that we all want to share our work and in some way we want to reach out to people.  The purpose of that reaching out may vary, but we all want to make things for others to see and experience.  

I've accepted the fact that people will not come to my basement welding studio to see my work. Heck, I'm so non-social that no one ever even comes into the upstairs drawing studio to see my work.  If you want people to see it, you have to put it where they can see it.  Maybe one day I'll be successful enough that I will get paid to put the work where people can see it.  Maybe Mr. Saatchi will find something of mine he wants to buy and I could even make a profit while putting the work where people can see it.  Maybe.

Until then I'll keep putting my work wherever I can afford to put it, and I'll try to keep that curtain pulled tight.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

the idiot chronicles

On April 18, 2012 I decided I would try to run 3.1 miles every single day.  It sounds more impressive if we use the metric system and say 5 kilometers every single day.  When I set a goal, it's something I take seriously, no matter how idiotic the goal may be.

368 lucky days later I've not missed a day of running.  That's 1,140.8 miles or 1,840 kilometers I've ran in the last year and 3 days.  I use the word "lucky" because I'm sure I've been lucky to avoid injury and sickness during this time to keep the streak alive.  I use the word "idiotic" because I'm sure only an idiot would run in some of the conditions I've ran in for the last year.  

Aside from the bolts of lightning, the freezing rain/snow and the 200% humidity, I've enjoyed it somehow.  I find now that I need to run because of how it helps my head as much as it helps the rest of me.  Thoughts come together or sometimes fade away completely as I run.  Headaches have loosened their grip and some great ideas have kept up with me along the way.  For reasons I do not understand, I love running.  

So why should you care?  
That's simple.  If you and I ever find ourselves being chased by fast zombies or angry're probably going to get eaten.  At least I was nice enough to warn you.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

great moments in sculpture #2983

 It's a commonly known fact that taking a sculpture class is the most fun a human can have on this planet.  Take that sculpture class at Lander and have me for a teacher and the fun is exponentially greater.  True fact.

The hooligans above are my Advanced Sculpture students from the spring semester.  When you ask them to take a serious photo they comply by only putting rabbit ears on two of their peers.  Wonder what they do when when you tell them they don't have to be serious?  Stick around.

 Tuesday was their big day of installing their sculptural bugs in uptown Greenwood.  Professor Jon Holloway again donated his corner lot for the installation.  He's the nicest guy.  So for our final exam meeting, we loaded heavy sculptures up on a trailer and drove them slowly down Main Street to the corner of Maxwell Ave and Edgefield St.  

 Some of the ladies dug holes in the hard ground while the guys stood around and watched.  

 Last year we installed large steel flowers and they were very popular with the community.  This busy little intersection gets a lot of face time and the flowers were a nice change from the vacant lot.  The flowers were so well received that they stayed 12 months instead of the planned 3 month exhibit.  When we removed the flowers last week, several people stopped to complain about us taking them away.  This put more pressure on me, hoping that the new sculptures would satisfy the public.

 Lots of relatives, friends and spectators came out to watch the last touches be put on the installation and to get a peek at the new work.  Kids posed with their favorite bugs and some of the nice people helped lift things and dig holes.

 The students were even nice enough to provide some sweets and drinks for people to enjoy while they were there.  "Ladybug" by Whitney Upchurch is in the foreground of the image above.

 The spectators above are standing behind "Donnie" the dragonfly by Samantha Brown.

 Fred Parker's "Stickbug" sits near the sidewalk.

 Bethany Murray's "Honeybees" hover above the pine straw.

 "Jermel & Rochiel" are two compound bugs made by Jermel Kennedy.  They represent Jermel and his twin sister Rochiel.

 "Cicada" is a wood and steel sculpture by Whitney Price.

 This creature is "Small & Mighty", a rhino beetle made of steel by Danielle Tavernier (The Tavmanian Devil).

 "Malaria Hysteria" is a giant mosquito standing in a puddle of blood.  The sculpture is made of steel rods and was made by Haley Brunhilda Floyd.

The early word is that the sculptures were successful in pleasing the community.  This less abstract installation is perhaps more accessible to the public.  We had some positive comments from drivers and passengers and the spectators had very kind things to say.  

If you plan to come to the Festival of Flowers in Greenwood this summer, make sure you stop by the corner of Maxwell Ave and Edgefield St to see the exhibit.  Come near lunch and you can  treat yourself to Kickers on one side or Millhouse Pizza on the other.  Both spots are musts for food in Greenwood.  

And here's what happens when you tell the sculpture hooligans they can have a goofy photo.  I'd say this captures what my semester with them has been like.  Work, work work!!!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

a cry for help

Want to help an artist/teacher make it through the tough summer months of no paychecks?  I hope to provide you with ample opportunity to do so this summer and the first opportunity is here.

ArtFields is THE new art festival and competition for southern artists.  Artists from 12 states submitted entries to the juried art competition where $100,000 in cash prizes are up for grabs.  Yes, that comma is in the right place and I counted the zeros.  $100,000.

This is a 10 day festival featuring music, food and art in a place you've probably never visited before, Lake City, SC.  You've passed the exit on your way to the beach and if you eat fruits or vegetables from SC, you've tasted a bit of Lake City since they probably grew it.  

778 entries were considered and 400 artists were invited to compete.  Artwork will be exhibited in several main street venues including this guy:

"The One About Scrimshaw" will be exhibited at La Bamba Mexican Restaurant at 114 West Main Street, Lake City, SC 29560.  

This means I'm competing for the Top Prize of $50,000, the People's Choice prize of $25,000 and the Juried Panel prize of $25,000.  This make the house payment through the summer and maybe even buy a little steel.

How To Vote:

Here's the catch, you have to go to Lake City to register to vote.  Come on, you want to go to the beach anyway.  Take a bit of time to eat and vote, then be on your way.  You can get all the information you need by going to  You must register to vote in Lake City by going to "ArtFields Hub at the ROB", 245 South Church Street, Lake City, SC.  You'll need a photo ID to register.  The registration times are pretty normal (9 am to 7 pm most days) but check the website before you drive down.  Registration days are Friday, April 19 to Saturday, April 27.

Once you've registered you may vote at the ArtFields office at 110 East Main St or the Public Library at 221 East Main St or you may vote online at  You'll need your registration number to vote.  You may vote for a single artwork one time but you are allowed to vote for several different works of art.  I suggest a vote for me, of course, but you might also want to vote for Jon Holloway's beautiful photograph as well.  Then tell him you did so he'll give me a cut of his prize money.

How to continue to help:

Put this on your Facebook page and ask your friends and family to go register and vote for me. Tweet it, blog it or stand on the sidewalk dressed as the statue of liberty and wave a poster at people.  Get the church group on the bus and drive them there (that's what Jon is doing).  

For more information on this cool new event, go to and download the April edition of the magazine.  You can also go to

Saturday, April 6, 2013

i hate the tv parts 1 and 2

Part I

For Lent this year, I gave up watching TV.  Compared to most of the things I've given up in the past, this one was easy.  Easy and also very good for me.

There were some bad things about not watching TV.  There was some family time lost.  The kids love their TV and when they feel bad and ask you to sit and watch TV with them, it's tough to say no.  Once I did have to let Violet sit on my lap while I stared out the window trying my best not to watch Dora or whatever she was watching.  

G mostly played along with my weirdness.  She taped a ton of shows for me on the DVR and even waited on Easter to watch a few of them with me.  Some I'll still have to watch on my own, but she was nice enough to not tell me what happened in them.

There were a couple of nights when I had worked hard during the day and was dog tired.  Those nights I wanted to collapse into my chair and zonk out on the TV.  I resisted.  As time went on, it got easier and easier to resist.  

I've decided that TV is a presence.  It becomes a character in a house.  You spend time with it and it provides things for you.  Sadly, these things can get in the way of being productive.  Yes, it's tempting to just sit and not think when you are mentally and physically exhausted, but maybe it's better for you to draw or read.  And that's pretty much what I did during Lent.  I finished a book, completed 6 new drawings and started another book.

 "Joe & Chloe"
12" x 12"
ink on wood panel

 "The Brothers"
12" x 16"
ink on wood panel

12" x 12"
ink on wood panel

 "Dang I'm Old"
12" x 16"
ink on wood panel

 "That's His Row To Hoe"
12" x 16"
ink on wood panel

 "How About A Waffle?"
12" x 24"
ink on wood panel

Part II
 Easter weekend seemed to come quickly.  On Saturday we fished out the baskets and headed to Fountain Inn for an egg drop.  G found this in the paper and we decided we'd go see what it was about.  

 There were tons of bouncy things for kids to do and tons of kids there to do them.  So many kids, that the lines were super long to get into each one.  Think Disneyland in the summer.  It was crazy.  And it was a people watching goldmine.  All shapes, sizes and backgrounds were represented.  So we stood in line and stared at people.

 We were told the helicopter would be coming soon and we took our places at the barrier around the egg field.  The instructions were clearly repeated again and again.  Stand at the barrier.  Wait.  Watch the helicopter drop the eggs and prizes.  Wait until the helicopter clears the area.  You will be told when to grab the eggs.  Please limit each child to 10-12 eggs so there will be enough for everyone.  That's pretty clear, right?

But that's not what happened.  The helicopter dropped thousands of eggs with a tiny piece of candy inside each one.  Then it dropped these little Chick Fil A cows with parachutes.  They dropped straight down and the downdraft would scatter them across the field.  As the helicopter repositioned itself to evenly distribute the goods, the downdraft pushed some close to the barrier.  The temptation was apparently too strong.  These kids wanted the stuffed cows so bad they pushed past the barrier and spilled onto the egg field.  Thousands of other kids, feeling like they were being cheated, raced onto the field just a few feet under this flying machine with steel blades rotating above them.  The helicopter fled the scene and within seconds the eggs were gone.  Or, not gone exactly.  Most of them were opened, emptied and crushed on the grass.  Blue got 7 eggs and 2 of those were empty.  Violet got 2 eggs and both were empty.  They were not happy.  Running children crashed into each other violently and full baskets flew into the air.  Parents and other adults who were old enough to know better, ran through a sea of tiny children chasing after the stuffed cows still falling from the air from the helicopter now high above.  When a parachuting cow would fall a huge crowd of big people would gather and jump. Then, they'd grasp and fight for the cow.  A cow I'm pretty sure you get for free if you go into a Chick Fil A restaurant with a kid.  Who needs TV when you can this kind of reality train wreck in real life?

 Violet overcame her sadness long enough to hug the Easter Bunny.  The Easter Bunny looked like he needed a hug.

Then came the real egg hunt on Sunday after church.  My kids' eggs were hard boiled and decorated by Sharpie markers.  There were no mobs, no helicopters, no flying cows and no TVs.  Only happy kids playing outside - the way it should be.