So You Wanna Put On A Show
Artists are a breed apart from all others in the world. We are deeply insecure, wildly enthusiastic, mild to moderately arrogant and perpetually engaged and engaging (usually, at least in the sense that we are forever fretfully ferreting out new targets for our roving talents to explore) but above all else we are humblingly human. But just like Judy and Mickey, we seek approval from the rest of the world only we do it in a way that virtually assures we will have to contend with more than a fair component of rejection, whether outright in our face or more subtly subsumed though the DNA of the “quiet ignore”
I, never one for subtle or demure, chose to stage the first real showing of my photography at an actual gallery opening complete with wine and nibblies and arty types who would mingle and mange and evaluate and judge, all with me standing around trying to act nonchalant and oh so engaging.
Oh…….and trying not to imbibe more that the perquisite gallon or two of cheap wine that my fragile ego would require to keep me ambulatory, non-slurring, yet incapable of fleeing my own party as I have been known to do, pulling up my tent stakes and toddling off even when said party was happening in my own home.
“Where’s Robby??” Oh, he went to bed, party on. Not unheard of in the least.
But last night, in a town far from home (a good thing in many respects), I staged a showing of my work for the general public to come and judge. And now, in the bright glistening Florida morning while my hosts are off at church, I sit by the pool contemplating my navel and asking, in my very best Peggy Lee; “Is That All There Is?”
My home-host and gallery mentor-in-one, Tedd, is a master of the curated art show. He pairs his artists with great care, has a dead-on eye for hanging a show and a master’s touch at marketing and outreach. I learned so much just helping him arrange the show and watching him work the walls and the crowds.
I did not sell one piece.
And so in the bright morning light of the cheap wine after-ache, sitting by the pool trying to put some sort of context to the entity as a whole, I am left with a blank space where my emotional core should be. I am in no mood. I’m not in a bad mood, I’m not in a good mood……I.…am…..in….no…..mood. Neutral; gears unengaged; mind spinning in place; trying to psyche up for….what?
Here is where a disclaimer of sorts must be inserted.
My exhibit focused on graffiti penises.
My co-exhibitor is a detailed photographer/painter who takes a large scale picture, grids it up into one inch squares, cuts it apart, hand paints each square similar to the original print, and then reassembles them back to an approximation of where he began. Very intriguing. Very labor intensive. A visual dichotomy that provokes and perplexes, creating a slight-of-eye shift that pulls the viewer into the work.
He came with a following. His entire office. All 50 plus of them, all eager to support their coworker in his art and endeavor.
It’s good to have a crowd at an opening. They bring validation to the gallery, the artists, and to each other. There is a self-congratulatory air that reinforces the collective camaraderie of the art-going ethos.
A party is always better with partying people.
And on the opposite wall…………dicks. Loads of phallic imagery in stark contrast to portraits of Marilyn Monroe deconstructions, and Roman Coliseum reconstructions, and a co-workers sweet kitty portrait de-reconstruction thrown in for that softer, more personal touch.
To be fair, my story was more documentary in nature, an interesting and entertaining tale of American industry, gritty coal mining grime, and redneck ruminations spilled out in a public forum that actually boggles the mind and joggles the inner sanctums.
Burning Desire: The Show, is the culmination of months of work editing, curating, selecting, and de-selecting images that would, I knew, bear the patina of the priaptically challenged from the start. Genitalia are not neutral.
Yet these particular images are not real. They are no man, or man’s. These are chalk and paint doodlings of dongs not dangling. These are images out of imaginations brought forth with spray paint and furtive finish-art longings expressed on an expressway, literally. Perfectly private parts put down on primitively public places. An abandoned public blacktop highway seems the quintessential palate for prurient paintings, no?
Who could resist documenting this? Not I.
In fairness, most people I talked to about this project loved the idea. Now whether they loved the idea of the idea or loved that idea that I was the one actually “doing” the idea is still an unanswered question. A curiosity someone should explore and thank god Robby was the one who thought it up and did it. I’ll at least go take a furtive peak….if I get the chance….and no one’s watching.
And now the hanging begins; the hanging around.
My dicks are dangling, my time in the spotlight is over and my personal hanging around commences. We shall see if anyone sees what I see in these images of true Americana Graffiti. Bathroom ball prints? Guest room shockers?
And so I head hom-ish to Key West, former land of the vaginally challenged but now home to the ubiquitous Gay Guest House. Nude Gay Guesthouses, everywhere. The street schlock T Shocks are all boobs and crudes. You’d think a simple line drawing of penile portraiture would not shock and abhor but the general statement from ALL the people I talk to in stores and galleries is: “Key West is very conservative.”
I’m offering free art for Sexy Guesty rooms, with a tag attached, and they’d rather have street scenes and coupons for boat rides. Hmmmm
It’s a puzzlement.
I’m still gonna put on a show, it’s who I am, it’s what I do. Like it? Loathe it? I really don’t care. I get credit for the effort.
And now…..I am…..in a mood!