Friday, August 19, 2016

A Gallery Show At Last

500 Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, CA
One of the things every artist desires is to make it to a bono fide art Gallery, in this case Gallery 500 in Palm Springs, CA. Showing in a gallery is something that I've always wanted and while I did come close at a show in San Dimas, CA, it was spoken of as one of the slowest shows in years. I did manage to sell a few small mini birdhouses.

You can imagine my surprise at an acceptance letter after I showed both paintings and creative crafts ... birdhouses and such with some very talented artists here in the Coachella Valley. The letter said that I had been accepted to show my birdhouses now and paintings later at a new gallery, Gallery 500 that was being constructed. I received that letter on a trip and only after returning realized that of 87 artists submitting their art, I was one of seven selected for the initial opening show!

At a local show in a temporary gallery in Cathedral City from March to May of this year, I had 4 or 5
Pennsylvania Dutch inspired wooden tray
paintings on the wall but when I asked if I could also show my birdhouses, they took one look, I received a resounding yes, then they hunted down a table for me to display them and urged me to bring more. Someone even had a black tablecloth that showed my wildly colored items to their best advantage! I even managed to sell a few!

I imagine that many crafters are like me. Art is something that I have dabbled in since I was a child. My Dad was manager of a shaver shop in downtown Portland, OR that was open half days on Saturday. Around the 5th grade, my Dad, who really was a talented artist but didn't explore his talents much, discovered the Portland Museum of Art had kids classes Saturday mornings. So, for a few years I would go downtown with him every Saturday morning to take classes. In the remaining time after class I would explore the museum.

For some reason Portland had amazing traveling shows. The first one, I remember, that started a lifelong love of Van Gogh, was their traveling Van Gogh Exhibit that seemed to be there a long time. I studied them carefully each week, admiring his amazing use of colors and remembered many of them when I finally saw them again at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam 50 years later!

Blue Mailbox Birdhouse
The Chrysler Collection was next and I can still remember the huge Waterlilies by Monet that hung near the entrance. Its jewel like colors seemed to drench the entire museum with color. They left an impression that lingers still.

Over the years I took an art class here or there but never made it my major though as a Journalism / Advertising major, being able to draw helped me in the days when we had to often draw our own products and hand letter a variety of type faces with India Ink. I broke all the rules and often, got an "A" in spite of it.

I taught my students art as a Peace Corps teacher and was amazed at how their drawings changed from a near Ancient Egyptian view of the world, two dimensional, to three dimensions after showing and explaining the use of perspective.

Returning home, I really didn't draw nearly as much as I had in high school and college. Then I got married, had kids and started gardening losing my interest in art. However, around 52, quitting my job and starting my own graphics design business, my interest in art returned. After wrestling with computer software all day creating catalog sheets, newsletters, price list, etc., I bought a birdhouse at Michaels and finding a

Patriotic Birdhouse
pamphlet on Pennsylvania Dutch designs started painting. First one, then another and before long I had a collection. Never one to stay mired in one style, I experimented.

The turning point for me was going to the Las Vegas Painting Convention taking as many classes as I could. I had resumed an interest in painting, already started with a class in oil painting I was taking in Sierra Madre, CA and broadened my skills in craft painting. Usually the only man in a class ... you can't even imagine the feeling of walking into a room full of women who stare at you like you don't belong ... I learned techniques that gave me better skills and I thrived. For two different years I submitted projects to teach and was accepted only to have serious health issues that made it impossible for me to teach. I regret that opportunity deeply.

While I lived in the assisted living home returning to health, something I wrote about last year, I finally got a chance to teach but discovered seniors can often be as stubborn as youngsters. However, when I would see them clutching their latest creation during the day, it made me proud to give them something to stimulate them and something they were proud of.
Perfect example of modifying - raffia,
trees, behaves were added changing
this item completely!

While the gallery is being constructed I discovered that their store was looking for small items people could buy and carry home. I approached the gallery manager, submitted the items, some shown here, and asked if there were any he might be interested in. He called and said, "All of them." He drew up a contract, I took them over and we priced everything together. I stressed again, after being told of comments at the earlier show, while I did not build them due to issues with blood thinners and sharp tools, I did modify them and painted each and everyone by hand. No, they were not made in China and being resold. There may be some interest as a customer at the shop fingered them and expressed interest as she bought a Coke.

While I was extremely busy with a move to Palm Springs, a divorce and all that entails plus several long distance trips overseas, it has taken some time to rekindle an interest in art. However, a group of us are supporting studio space and when I went over this week to set up my own work table and chair, I sat down and began doodling and chatting with the four other artists there. There really is something to be said about working with other artists. We all have different styles and interests but there is a synergy that I realized I missed. Coming home that afternoon I started, at long last, to get my artistic interest together readying new birdhouse based on my doodles at the studio. I finally appreciate the studio I took such time and effort to create.

I am very excited about the coming opportunity and hope that finally, at the age of 70, I can make, if nothing else, a small local name for myself. My advice ... NEVER GIVE UP! We never know at whatever age when what we have created is appreciated by others! Remember Grandma Moses. She started seriously painting at the age of 78 and lived to 101. Some of her paintings have sold for over $1 million dollars, a sum you can bet she never saw! So ... pick up that needle, brush, knitting or crochet hook, saw or welding torch and get to work! We are all rooting for you!!!

Thank you for reading my blog! Please check out earlier blogs that talk about many things but each and every one with an eye on design ... the designs of modern living.

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