Tuesday, October 5, 2010
After Posting "Coffee Break" to my ArtTraffic profile, it has become the most popular piece on Arttraffic.com/uk
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Americans Dream at the Suite 106 Gallery.
When the homeless lady was waiting outside the glass doors of the Suite 106 Gallery in the Jacksonville Landing the second day, I’ll have to admit to a touch of both anxiety and irritation.
She had come by the day before and commandeered the one desk in the front exhibit room of the gallery, slowly exploring her wishes and asking over and over if writing one thing or another was acceptable, even after I had assured her each time she asked that the point of the little paper “thought cloud” she was crowding with cramped words was to be a place for her to be honest about her own dreams. She had told me she had no living space of her own, and didn’t even want to admit where she had been staying. Four or five times, she asked for help with spelling. Although she was a bit strange, I could tell she was harmless and probably just lonely.
And here she was again, asking when “I” would be open and if she could write some more dreams. How could I possibly say no? I told her to give me some time to get organized and to come back in a few minutes. And indeed she did come later. And once again she agonized about what and how to write. When she finally finished and asked me to read her work, I realized she had written essentially the same as yesterday’s wishes for a better life, including a Publishers Clearinghouse win, but that the wishes today had slowly evolved into a prayer. And both days her hopeful list ended with a desire to help the homeless.
As she left, she said she was going to get some of the cookies down the mall a bit, cookies so good she knew she was addicted to them. Along with the overwhelming sadness I felt as I watched her walk away, I also experienced not a little shame over my minor impatience and vague distrust .
She was not the first nor was she the last of the gallery’s visitors to touch me emotionally as I have volunteered there on Thursdays and Fridays this month.
Artists Kim Barry and Joey Thate (full disclosure: I am Joey’s mom), whose studio is in the large back room of the Landing suite, planned a front gallery red white and blue /American flag painting/sculpture/pom-pom/star-spangled tennis shoes exhibit appropriate for the month of July 4th to open on the night of Art Walk. But they wanted an interactive component, so on a perhaps 15 by 20 foot wall they painted a huge rough outline of the USA which they filled with thousands of the tiny play money one, five, ten, and twenty bills you can buy at the dollar store, the kind elementary teachers like to use to demonstrate equivalent values.
They wanted visitors to share what it was they most valued. Was it what we often assume is the highest goal in our country—the money? Or something else? Would people be able to imagine beyond the perceived limitations lack of money can impose?
They decided to couch their questions in a slightly oblique way—asking people to share their dreams, their hopes, their desires. Visitors could write their cloud-shaped dreams and tape them floating above the money-encrusted map of the nation. It’s the kind of exercise that can teeter pretty easily on the brink of being hokey. Frankly, hokeyness was what I expected. I was wrong.
My “job” on those volunteer days was to collect these dream clouds.
The map is now completely covered with hundreds and hundreds of clouds, and they have even spilled over onto other walls and the windowed doors of the suite. I’ve collected maybe half of them—and each, because they came from somewhere real inside such a wide variety of people, has changed me a little bit.
There are those who dream of wealth—from “enough” to fabulous riches, but they are the minority, actually.
There are the frivolous and funny dreams—of being the 5th Beetle or building a snowman in Jacksonville, for example.
There are the dreams of budding artists that their music or painting or acting might one day support them so they could do what they loved for a living.
There are the dreams of parents for their children to be healthy and happy and successful and safe.
There are the dreams of what could be done for others—inspiring students to become lifelong learners, or opening a half-way house for aged-out foster children, or teaching kids entrepreneurship and financial wisdom, or loving the unloved, or—helping the homeless.
There are dreams of love—marriage and children or just “a man—preferably wealthy.”
There are dreams of being free of fear and anxiety.
The dreams came from all over the country—Texas and New York and North Carolina and Tennessee.
There are dreams in Russian and Dutch and Spanish.
The dreams are global and specific.
The dreams are for right now and for always.
Older people were less likely to share a dream, as were the time-constrained business men and women who frequent the Landing for lunch. The later are understandable. The former made me sad, because I too am old but not yet ready to give up on dreams—and I don’t look forward to losing hope.
Kids, of course, entered the activity most easily. Each knew exactly what he or she wanted, from Justin Bieber tickets, to training dolphins at SeaWorld, to riding a bike all day, to seeing a shooting star. A group of late teens from a pre-law job corps group visiting from Gainesville wanted jobs with the CIA or FBI or with their local police force.
I’ll never forget the one very solemn little girl, probably five or six, one of a yellow-shirted day camp group, who waggled her finger for me to come closer to hear her say she wanted to help those people who need it most. Her teacher later told me this was an accurate expression of this child’s deepest self.
In that same group was a small boy about the same age whose face and smile bore more than a passing resemblance to the president, even a little with the ears. What was his dream? To be president and superman. I thought to myself, Go for it, buddy. And you really do kind of need to be both to make the president gig work.
There are way too many stories recount them all here.
I found myself constantly moved both to laughter and near tears. I hadn’t expected the fun—or the honesty. And the experience has reawakened for me a sense that we have not, collectively, lost our way as a nation because we are a collection of so many good and hopeful people.
Many visitors thanked me (really Joey and Kim) for allowing them this chance to think anew about what they really want. One lady said, as she left, that she felt this was a spiritual place. I think I understand what she was trying to say: when we reach down for our deepest dreams we are in touch with our spirit selves, with what we really believe. The real spiritual space is within.
Downtown Vision and their Off the Grid galleries deserve praise and gratitude for their work towards renewing the spirit of Jacksonville.
The “Across America” exhibit will continue throughout the month of August 2010 at Suite 106 inside The Landing. Come for Art Walk on Wednesday night when a local group, Pretty to Think So, two talented young musicians at the beginning of their dream career will be performing all evening with special performance by Jessica Pounds. Or stop by Monday through Friday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. all month.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
For years now, I have actively avoided painted anything that resembled a reenactment of anything pre-set for me-- a scene, a picture, anything around our current surroundings and limited by our 5 senses. Being raised on the tit of scenic artists and grad student teachers so willing to make you their copiers to get the grade, I was over it. It was too easy to recreate what was in front of me. I am copying yet again. A little technical ability and it soon felt like I was well on my way to become a paint it by numbers mass producing Red Roof Inn hotel artist. What about the emotion underneath all this matter? The soul of it all if you will. I went to a funeral in 2002. I lady I knew to be feisty as hell and tough as nails. When I looked in the coffin , the essence was gone. Even her technically correct features weren't right anymore. She was not there. I began to search for that vibrancy that is life. So, there explains the last 4 years of my journey in and around figurative abstracts. Reality is not in the technical details for me but in the energy and vibrancy that runs through the details. But throughout, I have kept the idea of going back to portraits once I felt I could satisfy both demons. For me, I can only paint those who I have great understanding of and a great emotional investment in. I need to tap into their essence before ever feeling right lifting the brush. It's the only way for me. I have been collecting photos dear to me and preparing to attempt this. Feeling a bit technically amnesia-tic I figure the best person to begin this project with is myself, Here is the start.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
"The Golden Bough" 2010 Shown at Suite 106 May Exhibit
So I made mistake. I had laid a loose piece of canvas on the floor of my studio and began pouring my secret clear ingredient along with paint until too much had been put on at once and it leaked off the canvas to the floor. Sh#$! Then I thought "leave it" so I did. 3 days later when it cured it came right up. And there we have "Breaking Chance" 2010. The idea that the paint was perceived separate of the canvas was overwhelming and new to me.
"Breaking Chance" 2010
So I went a step , a BIG STEP further and proceeded to pour 6 gallons of the secret stuff directly on the floor and paint in it as though the floor was the canvas. All the while crossing my fingers that this giant blob on the floor would actually pull up eventually. And so it did, not without a minor set back or two. The original top didn't make it. But other than that, success!! With the help of my devastatingly handsome hero, Joey Thate, and friend and artist Megan Cosby, we attached this blob directly to the wall with adhesive and pins as added support. It has since been rolled up like a carpet, laid on the floor like a carpet , etc and is strong as ever. This experiment will continue in the future. A grant would be nice since this is not cheap! Here in the progress. Enjoy...
The blob curing on the studio's floor
Detail of Dancers in gray and Passions in red
the final installment 13' x 8'
Once the piece cured, the dancing figures became so much more alive and within this organic womb, so to speak, became their little universe. A heaven to attain to, a hell to get lost in, a birthing womb into this world and the temptations (the red dancers) right along side representing our passions and desires. I found this world created could not have been anything but free of any "box" -- canvas being the traditional captor. The limitless movement of this little universe translates into how we can perceive our own. So, at the opening, I still had no name for this. In talking with friend and fellow exhibitor, Jay Antablian, he spoke of "The Golden Bough" myth written by Sir James Frazer. And it all came together. Here it is...
This king was the incarnation of a dying and reviving god, a solar deity who underwent a mystic marriage to a goddess of the Earth, who died at the harvest, and was reincarnated in the spring. Frazer claims that this legend is central to almost all of the world's mythologies.
"When I first put pen to paper to write The Golden Bough I had no conception of the magnitude of the voyage on which I was embarking; I thought only to explain a single rule of an ancient Italian priesthood." (Aftermath p vi)The germ for Frazer's thesis was the pre-Roman priest-king at the fane of Nemi, who was murdered ritually by his successor:
The book's title was taken from an incident in the Aeneid, illustrated by the British artist Joseph Mallord William Turner: Aeneas and the Sibylpresent the golden bough to the gatekeeper of Hades in order to gain admission.
Monday, June 14, 2010
This month Joey & I racked our brains to come up with some sort of installation concept that would complement Ezra Marcos' photoshoot. The idea was the common thread in all of us and accepting some truths in stereotypes-- good and bad. So, what did we do? We called up our friend & artist, Dolf James, for a lunch meeting. We had some ideas about large restroom symbols-- the ultimate basic symbol for men and women-- and epoxyed food. But we needed his advice on the process since he was an epoxy (and later discovered) restroom symbol drafting master. Well after thinking us a bit stranger for the idea next thing we know he, his wife Anna, Joey and myself spend the rest of the day creating the forms from wood and managing to create a sample epoxy from our leftovers from Cool Moose Cafe.
Next step was to load up and head to Suite 106 and plan a food layout and storyboard. 36 hours, 8 plates of food, 2 gallons of expoxy and 2 markers later, we got this.....
then we created "the bathroom honesty walls in the very front for everyone to write anything. That's when it got interesting.
Inside, Ezra was creating his own thing....
5 models of different ethnicities each did a shoot for charity-- Compassionate Families which raised $600 that night. It was a a wonderful way for young photographers to learn how a real shoot happens. Starting at 5pm, they didn' t wrap until after 9pm. We had a great turnout and thank you to everyone who came out and made the night a bit more special.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
a downtown gallery update
published: May 7, 2010
You don't have to be keen on anything "art" to know about Art Walk. The fifteen block self-guided tour of Downtown Jacksonville held on the first Wednesday of every month has grown to include much more than a few galleries. In fact, at the end of 2009, there were not a large number of galleries in the Urban Core, but because of the tenacious attitude of Downtown Vision, Inc., there were still over forty venues that participated every month. I'd say this is primarily due to businesses seeing the benefit of displaying local art on the walls, even if it is between racks of dry cleaning and jewelry cases.
Today there are more gallery spaces, due to property owners recognizing that an un-leased retail space gets a lot more attention when hundreds of people file through because someone finally gave them an excuse to. Landlords who've had their space lay vacant for years have little to lose when artists use the space. That's the idea behind Downtown Vision, Inc.'s Off the Grid program.
It's hard for anyone to ignore the role the arts play in urban revitalization. On January 26th, 2010, Mayor Peyton held a meeting with the Northeast Florida Builders Association with the mindset that spaces for artists to work and exhibit downtown equals artists wanting to live near their respective work spaces, which equals more Downtown retail which, to me, seems like a reasonable formula for my Saturday evening bike ride involving more than the sound of crickets.
Just before that, almost in conjunction with Peyton's thought, Downtown Vision, Inc. and the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville combined forces to kick start Off the Grid, inspired by local artist, Jim Draper, pairing artists in need of a space with landlords in need of a tenant. On March 18th a launch party was held to point the last piece of the puzzle, the collector, in the right direction. Within one month of opening night, there are already seven studios participating in this Off the Grid partnership.
In addition to the studio spaces that are part of the Off the Grid program, privately funded galleries are popping up in unlikely spaces. Over on Union Street across from Winn-Dixie there is an un-assuming two-story beige brick building that is home to 323 Modernism. The Modern Art Gallery is owned and operated by local artist JD Lambert, who seems to have a knack for finding interesting work whether it is painting, sculpture or furniture. After a tour of the 5,500 sq ft. space equipped with all the amenities including a full-sized air hockey table, I am convinced that where there is a will, there is a space and, whether you are an artist looking for a place to show your work or a collector of local art, I urge you to do a little research of your own about what is brewing with our Downtown art scene. You can find more information at www.downtownjacksonville.org.
off the grid galleries
323 East Union St.
Hours: By Appointment
Art Center Cooperative
31 W. Adams St. & 111 E. Bay St.
Hours: Tues.- Sat., 11 am- 3 pm
The Adrian Pickett Gallery
2 Independent Dr., Suite 112
The Jacksonville Landing
Hours: Tues.- Thurs., 11 am- 7 pm
Fri. & Sat., 12:30 pm- 8:30 pm
228 E. Forsyth St.
Hours: By Appointment
The Next Gallery
203 N. Laura St.
Hours: Mon.- Fri., 10 am- 2 pm
108 E. Adams St.
Hours: By Appointment
100 N. Laura St.
Hours: Tues.- Fri., 10 am- 2 pm, or call or email for appointment
Suite 106 Gallery
2 Independent Dr., Suite 106
The Jacksonville Landing
Hours: Mon.- Fri., 12 pm- 3 pm
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Crash The Satellites
Wild Life Society
After The Bomb Baby
Music starts at 6pm
Art filled room of amazing pieces. We are holding a silent auction and the artist being kind as they are donating their amazing works, for the cause.
And ALL money raised will directly help all the unfortunate people in Haiti.
Moon River Pizza will donating a ton of pizza and refreshments will served.
So eat the best pizza in town, listen to the beloved music of Jacksonville and, bid on your favorite artist and 100% will go to the poor folks in Haiti.
Matthew S. Bennett
With your kindness of just five dollars will provide: Housing, Food, and Clothing. So be a part of the world here at home and have fun doing it at Suite106 Gallery in the Jacksonville Landing!
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Joey Thate and Andy Chritton
Scott Bufis and friend
Kim Barry and Joey Thate
two paintings by Joey Thate- " Allotment of A Dragon" on left, "Premonished Number Nine" and center drawing by Matthew Bennett
works by Matt Salazar and Sarah Colado
3 center pieces by Kim Bary-- left to right, "What Happens Above, Happens Below," "Mischief," and "Continual Chase of A Moment" top right piece by Sarah Colado, bottom right "Joy" by Kim Barry