A few days ago I built a scale model of the main room of the gallery. Yesterday I moved the walls about and arranged scale model paintings on the walls. It proved to be a valuable tool for organizing the next show. Often the work is large and somewhat unwieldy, so to be able to at least make an initial plan without having to lug about large pieces has been nice. The gallery has three movable walls and I am enjoying playing with the possibilities as well as the limitations of the space.
I only work at the gallery six hours, four days a week, so I still have adequate time to work on my art when I get home. At least this is what I tell myself. But to be honest, since I have returned from my recent vacation, I have not been terribly productive. I feel myself climbing out of this rut, however, and have begun planning a solo show of my work that I will be hanging next August at the Koth Gallery in the Longview Public Library.
I will be exhibiting approximately 25 to 30 paintings and they will be available for purchase. This is part of an ongoing series titled, “I Just Don’t Read Like I Used To,” which is a commentary on our society’s shift from ink & paper books to electronic media. Simply put, since I mostly read on my devices now, I use my books to make art. These paintings will range in size from 12” x 12” to 48” x 60”, and they will depict scenes and characters from literary classics.
My project recently took an unexpected turn, however. Since I moved to Longview a little over a year ago, I have been shocked by the number of people who are homeless here, and I have been trying to determine the best way for me to help them. While I was on my aforementioned vacation, I read a John Grisham novel, The Street Lawyer, wherein the main character walks away from a lucrative law practice to provide legal services for people who can’t afford to pay him. I have read a few of Grisham’s books, usually on vacation, and have regarded them to be escapist fiction, so I was surprised to find myself so incredibly moved by this story. It made me realize that perhaps I can indeed use my art-making abilities to assist people who are in critical need.
I am therefore planning to donate my sales from this show to some groups and individuals who are already providing food and other necessities to the homeless people in our community. As I have been researching the best way to proceed with this plan, I find myself also wanting to get involved in a more hands-on way, preparing and distributing food and other necessary items for people who need them desperately.
Just the thought of this show has revived my artistic life. I had sunk into a kind of creative, or more accurately speaking, a non-creative lethargy, and the notion of “Art for art’s sake” no longer fueled my interest in making. Now, as I plan my paintings, I consider not just the visual or intellectual appeal of each piece, but how it might literally (couldn’t resist that book pun…) change someone’s life.
I close today with this:
"Trees bear fruits only to be eaten by others; the fields grow grains, but they are consumed by the world. Cows give milk, but she doesn't drink it herself - that is left to others. Clouds send rain only to quench the parched earth. In such giving, there is little space for selfishness."-- Munshi Premchand