Thursday, June 30, 2011

Me or the Area Around Me?

We move from one neighborhood to another, even across State Lines, because we want to improve our circumstances, get a better job, that nicer house, a better life style, be around more comfortable, nicer people.  Americans move more than any other people on this planet.
   Something is happening now that is different.  More adult children are moving back home.  It is not uncommon to find three generations living together in a single house.  There is nothing better out there, no where to move, no jobs to find.  Is this a generational failure? A  Societal failure?  or do we have an official 9.1% unemployment and an unofficial rate much higher because these people themselves are failures?
How does one really analyse this and come up with honest answers?  Until we discover what has caused these problems the situation will only get worse.
   We are like rats in a cage, eating and tearing at each other because we can't figure out how to open the door!  It is going to get worse.  We chip away at pension funds and that was okay because I don't have a pension.  We cut back and curtail unemployment benefits, and that is okay, I am retired!  We are union bashing now, against those that made the coal mines less dangerous and industry safer, with better wages for all.  I am not in a union.  We are cutting back on woman's health and children advocacy and that has nothing to do with me.  "I'm all right, Jack," is the attitude we assume, all of this has nothing to do with me!
   Eventually this attitude will bring us all down and they will come for us!  Now they are after Social Security and Medicare and I am wondering whether it is too late to complain?  Maybe I should have remembered what they do to the least of us they will do to all of us?
   America is rapidly becoming a "third world country" and we are doing it to ourselves.  We are to blame!
   Here is ONE incident, but there are many, all across America, in every little town.
   The Swedish furniture company, IKEA, pays their workers in Sweden $19 an hour and offers a huge benefit package including five weeks paid vacation a year!  It is unionized in Sweden.
   They have a plant in Dannville, Virginia, non-unionized with wages just above $8. an hour, no benefits, no vacations!  Needless to say they do not want a union here! ...and the profit that is made goes back to Sweden!
   How is any of this our fault?  We don't have to buy non-union.  We don't have to buy foreign stuff.  When we do there are results, there are consequences.
   There is no way we can get ahead, better ourselves in this life, by destroying and pulling down those who may have more than we do.  We are just removing that rung from the ladder that we too could use.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Truth and Consequence!

   Now is the time in the United States where we will get a year and a half of Political BS from the politicians.
This is a tradition in America, it is a multi-billion dollar a year industry, an economic driver in itself.  They are all lying, of course, both sides and the "independents" and just everyone.  We are lied to and attach blame to
how we got into this mess and we are lied to any way out of it. We form opinions based on distortion, fired with emotion.  The easiest way is to obfuscate the issues with hatred.
   We don't teach literature anymore, or ethics or even logical thinking.  We know nothing about economics;
we don't even know our own history.  And we Vote!  Politics today is a bit like "American Idol" and this seems to be okay with us.
   Henry Ford had it right.  100 years ago he invented the assembly line, mass manufacturing and ushering in the era of modern industry.  One key to his success created the rise of the American Middle Class.  He paid his workers enough that they could afford to buy what they were making.  Pretty simple arithmetic.
   These were the days, and they lasted for almost one hundred years, where a CEO of a company made about six times the wages of their average worker.  Now that figure is thousands of times and in some cases
with stock options and bonuses, millions of times!
   I am not discussing what is fair here or whether these people really work that hard, this is only a discussion about math.  Money is not printed on demand, there is only so much available.  If one person is getting a LOT, someone else is getting less.  It would make no difference if the money were all taxed at the same rate and if the money stayed here and continued to circulate, eventually "trickling down" so everyone could have a chance at it.  But that is not how it works, not today anyway.  Money is shipped overseas, invested in foreign manufacturing, off shore bank accounts and otherwise hidden and taken out of circulation.
We STILL offer tax incentives to the oil companies as if Billions of dollars a month in profits weren't enough!
We STILL offer tax incentive to the mega-farmers, giant chemical corporations and others.  "Mega money"
before the loopholes are figured in is taxed at 15%.  General Motors paid NOTHING! There are a lot of loopholes!  This money is NOT taxed for social security, Not taxed for Medicare.
   Why is this kind of wealth so sacred?  ONE simple tax would solve our budget problems and offer a surplus.  Close the loopholes and have a 3% tax on money OVER 100,000 dollars, or $200,000 for a family of four.  What would be the down side to this?  Do you think they would quit working in protest?
   Congress will get the money somewhere but they won't cut their wages or their benefits.  One term in Congress and you have benefits forever!  That is a pretty good deal.  I should have gone into politics!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Is it Real or is it Memorex?

What constitutes a "real painting"?  Does it have to be oil on canvas, framed and matted, suitable for an art gallery?  Does it have to have lasting qualities?  Most of my paintings only exist in this computer and sometimes I wonder what they do in that world by themselves?  I paint when I feel like painting and have been known to paint on just about anything.  I take photographs along the way and it is only these that get preserved, their life limited to the digital world.  Oh, once in a while I may keep one.  I have four hanging in my house, two in my shop gathering steel dust, I have given some away and actually sold two!  But most live a short life, getting painted on top of each other, turned into something else or just plain crumpled up and tossed!
 an Experiment on tin foil
   One of my favorite things to paint on is tin foil, that kitchen foil we use to wrap up food!  That is almost as temporary as painting on ice!  I don't particularly like the canvas texture that is present with "professional" paintings.  I find that surface gets in my way of what I am trying to do.  I like how paint reacts and stays on the surface of the tin foil, alive and mixing, intermingling, swimming on top.  Easy to get depth and shadows.
 Color on Tin Foil
   They don't last of course, except in my computer, but they are fun to do.

 Ocean Waves on tin foil
Last Christmas I wrapped my gifts in tin foil that I had painted, temporary I know, but pretty and fun for the moment.

I wonder if you could paint the ocean from description? Never having seen it or heard its roar? Smelled it or tasted salt water?
More tin foil art and other stuff is HERE

Monday, June 27, 2011

The American Experience

There is something etched into our National Psyche, our less than three hundred years as a Nation, that has become part of the DNA of  "The American Experience".  We began as boatloads of mismatched immigrants seeking something better.  Leaving tyranny, poverty and oppression behind, we came here with an entrepreneurial spirit, thinking that if we started from scratch we could make something better.
   "Pack up our bags and go" is a particularly American expression and we conquered as we went.  Unlike the Canadian experience where they created pockets of civilization in a sea of wilderness, we cut huge swaths and brought civilization with us.  "Go West young man" became the American dream and "manifest destiny" our license.
   Not to argue here the good and bad to all of this, I am just saying the idea of moving, working hard, starting "from scratch" and conquering the elements is particularly American.  It is how the railroads were built and the West was won and how people became wealthy.  It is how common people became land owners and could have a place of their own.  It is a part of "the American Dream".
   And it is over.  No longer a common experience it is the realm of rock stars, entrepreneurial digital geniuses, the famous and the few.  We are soon becoming a nation of renters, unemployed or under employed, struggling without land or ownership and there is no more West to go to.
   "Change and Hope" is an admission that we are in a place, some kind of circumstance where we do not want to be.  Without the study of literature and art and theater and history we can not discover where we are and we will never get to "that other place", a place we can't move to because there is no more room, a place we must bring to us.
   Law and Order is an agreement that I won't steal from you.  It is an agreeable circumstance when a person has something to lose.  Tha "American Experience" is rapidly changing.

The Map to all of my websites is HERE

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Garden Today!

 My Garden Entry
Sunday today, June 26th and we finally have some sun, real
warmth for my garden!  These flowers are along the entry side of my garden, planted in what used to be light fixtures from a school gymnasium.  They have been patient and are destined to become a lot bigger and bolder.

My entire garden is HERE

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Big Box Stores

I'll be the first one to admit I don't know crap about the painter's art.  I wouldn't know a good painting from a bad one but I find it all interesting.  I was in my local "Box Store" the other day and there they were!  On display and lined up row after row were "real paintings', about 3' X 4', on real canvass, imported "Art" from China!  Mostly modern abstracts too with brush strokes from wire brushes, blobs from pallet knives so thick they hadn't cured yet.  All on sale for $79.
   They have the colors right, earth shades, colors from the sun, stuff to match my couch, something for everyone!  This must be discouraging for artists, those of you who paint one painting at a time and agonize over each inch of your work.  These are "factory pieces", done in a warehouse, where one gessos, another does the background, someone else the splotches, and on down the line.
   Truly I cannot tell the difference.  I have friends who paint and sell their work in the four thousand dollar range and I can't distinguish their work from these $79 pieces!  One is purchased from a big box store and another from a gallery.
   I think there is something special about owning a piece you paid four thousand dollars for.  It becomes something to talk about and people like that.  Art buyers are a bit of  a gamblers too and like the stock market there is a chance for a good return on the investment.  A four thousand dollar painting is treated with more respect than its seventy nine dollar counterpart.
   It is no different in the metal arts.  All sorts of things are imported in the famous brown cardboard boxes.
It seems that every backyard in American has the same Costco $79 trellis.  I couldn't make one for $79 if I did it for free.  My materials cost more than that.  The powder coating costs more than that.
   I think that is one reason that some artists are producing really big pieces, say four feet by eight feet!  It narrows the playing field and is not in competition with the imported factory pieces.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


   Selling art is not so much who you know but rather who knows you.  If you hide and keep your stuff in a drawer, by one definition it will never become art and you will never sell.  Networking and the Internet is the modern way to do this but don't dismiss old fashioned leg work, people to people, one person at a time.
   My advertizing is all word of mouth now but I never fail to begin the conversation.
   One place often overlooked in this attempt to sell yourself is your old High School.  The love of gossip that you might have hated then can now be used to your advantage.  People like to talk.
   Sleepy towns can produce great people.  Clint Eastwood and Ken Kesey were both from my little town, Springfield, Oregon.  I was raised in Corvallis, Oregon, even a smaller town which has seen the rise of other now famous people.  I know a Movie Star, a Writer and an Artist, all from my little high school, all childhood friends.  Reconnecting with old classmates is another way to enlarge the circle of those who know you.
   My barber, my banker know what I do and have my business card on their wall.  I don't join clubs but that would be another way, some kind of opportunity to tell people what you do.
   I need the help of other people or I can't continue what I do.  The next sale allows for more materials for the next piece I have yet to think of.  People want to be helpful too.  My "stuff" has been in the lobby of my bank many times, it is the rack you might hang your hat on at my local barbers, and above your table at a local cafe I frequent.
More of my STUFF is here.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Now is the time...

It is all Now, we even look upon yesterday with filtered eyes and tomorrow is the only dream we have.
   My neighbor  got a new puppy, just nine weeks old, and it is the most amazing thing to watch this little dog.
Every weed is a flower of curiosity, every butterfly a color to chase.  It is learning to run on wobbly legs.  She pauses between pursuits with her tongue hanging out, ears up already, she will be a good dog.
   At some point we realize that there may be no gold at the end of the rainbow, leaving only small accomplishments on undisturbed snow.  I am reminded of my youth when I had places to go and the world was pretty big.  Every color new, each sound a type of music, all foods were desserts in a way.
   I seem to have a memory cast in stone, little iron ingots, islands of experience.  They come and go and I dismiss none of them, curious always as to why they would surface, bubbling like a stew in an unattended pot.  Eveyrthing I have ever failed at I failed because I quit.  Distraction.  Like the neighbor's dog, chasing the butterfly until I saw the ball or stopped to dig a hole.  Roll over, good dog.  She takes a nap and maybe forgets that she even is a dog?
   The truth is as we get older we just plain get tired.  When we wish to live to be a hundred years old we never mean long extended years in a nursing home.  What we really want is more years between twenty and forty where ambition and energy meet.
   Oh, I am still a goal setter, I still have things to do, but if I don't write them down I may forget them and I have a tendency to realize that deep down inside they were not very important anyway.  Memories today are written in oatmeal.
   Now is what we have, probably what we ever only had.
Some more of my websites to visit are HERE

Friday, June 17, 2011

Water, water everwhere!

I have lived in the same house for over forty years.  It sits on a big city lot, about one-third acre. Twenty years ago I built my shop/studio but there is still plenty of space for gardens and they are everywhere.
Growing things has always been an important element to my life.  This is a "project property" meaning I always have something to do here.
   One of my earliest projects, almost forty years ago, was to put in a well.  We have city water for the house but I think they charge by the ounce and I wanted lots of water for the garden and even then I had an idea to build the little pool.  Wells are one of the mysteries of life that I do not understand.  My first two attempts were failures, one a dry hole and the other I must have hit a rock the size of a bus!  I just couldn't drive through it.
   The third attempt was interesting in itself.  I had it witched and let me tell you, that works!  My uncle did it for me with a branch, a forked twig from a willow tree, like a "V".  You loosely hold the ends in each hand with the point aimed horizontally in front of you and just walk forward slowly.  If you find water the point of this twig will shoot down marking the spot.  It really works and even if you are a nonbeliever you can't prevent it from working!
   Anyway he found it and that is where I drove my two inch well pipe only 20' into the ground.  I have no idea how this works, it is as if there were a lake down there.  I have unlimited water and in forty years it has never run dry or slowed down.  It is magic.  Turn the hose faucet and water appears!
   Over the years I have added so many faucets that now I have one about every twenty feet in any direction.
 My unlimited source of water!
 One of several "manifolds"
 My pool today, free water!
The longest hose I own is 25' long.

More of my garden is HERE

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Father's Day...

and a lot of other holidays were created to sell more greeting cards but it is a special day for me.  50% of American households are single parent, mostly headed by women and the father isn't there at all.  I couldn't imagine anything worse.  To have an unbreakable father-daughter bond is the most special gift I have ever received.  I wish I knew the recipe for this so I could share it with everyone but a lot of it just develops without a plan.
   I admit when my daughters were very, very young and we were alone I would sing to them but as they got older and winced at my voice while singing that pretty much stopped.  I did go to the dreaded soccer with them but I think they always knew I hated that.  I listened politely as they suffered, or mostly I suffered, their playing the piano or the violin.  They were horrible, probably inheriting their father's ear for music!
   Mostly what I was good at and shared with my daughters was talking.  I always treated them like real people and listened to what they had to say because it was important.  We didn't always agree on everything and they learned that that was okay.  I wanted them to stand up and be proud, to defend their position and not be fearful.  Confidence is a singular key in being successful in life.
   I did have expectations of my daughters. From the day they were born we talked often of going to the University.  What they were to study was up to them but going there was never a choice.  That dream alone controls a lot of behaviors and they did well in school.  I think we all live up to our expectations...or down to them.
  I have a million great memories of my children, growing up and falling down, getting up again, their childhood, youth and now young adulthood.  I am lucky, we are close and although this economy has driven them farther away we have a connection, unbreakable.  A father-daughter love.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My baby daughter, lawyer girl!

My youngest daughter takes her oath to the Court today. She will be a real lawyer!  She is 3000 miles away in Washington DC and I can't be there.  It is interesting the steps we take and how we get to where we are.
I have often retraced my own path on this blog to discover that very thing about myself.  One step this way or that and everything changes, although we may not realize it at the time.  Life is a journey all right but we have no idea of where we are going.  With some self reflection we can look backwards and see how we got to where we are but the future is always cloudy and we never know that a particular step will lead to a certain outcome.
  My baby daughter never had a real job until she was 22 years old, no "McDonald's Experience", not even baby sitting.  She worked with me and was a pretty good welder by the time she was 16 and had no fear of masonry, getting dirty was never a problem.  We always talked while we were working, about this and that and politics and religion, what was in the newspapers and Paris.  Yes, France. I would always tell her of my traveling adventures and try to expand her horizons beyond Springfield, Oregon, our little town.  It is difficult to imagine better things when your vision is limited, restricted to your own neighborhood.
   I grew up in a house full of books and so did my daughters.  I don't think I have ever thrown a book away.
I just keep making more book cases.  My children were read to from the day they were born and when they grew older had their own book cases in their rooms.
   Both of my daughters became travellers, inheriting my wanderlust and fearless of adventure.  Both have been to Europe or African, volunteering, teaching or just traveling about.
   Now what happens?  It is often the accidental ebb and flow of life that leaves a lasting impression, something not planned at all but found washed upon the beach.
You can always find me HERE

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New York, New York!

I can't really even imagine living in a Big City but it might be fun having the potential of Eight Million Customers!  I have been to New York but it was over a half Century ago and at the time art wasn't invented for me yet.  My daughter, my lawyer baby girl, lives in Washington D.C. and I have visited her and we spent lots of time walking the streets, seeing the National Gallery and others.  Everything is bigger in a City, art included.  A one percent budget for art in a city of eight million is a lot more money than could be found in my tiny town of fifty thousand!
   But I wonder where the potential is?  Certainly living in a Big City would expose a person to the greatest of art, lots of it, you would be surrounded by it.  In D.C. even the manhole covers were works of art compared to what I was used to.  In my little town the biggest public sculpture would fit into the back of a pick up truck!  I wonder if living in a Big City could someone get the idea that "everything was done"?
There is a cost in the production of art.  You need some kind of supplies and room to work.  All this would cost more in a big city.  I wonder how this reality affects any potential?
   I am so lucky in my little town.  My Studio sits in the back quarter of my little third acre, my garden wonderland!  I have a thousand square foot shop in my backyard!
 View from my shop
   New York might be fun to visit but I can't imagine making anything there.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Simple Bench...

 Location, location, where to put it?
is done!  Sometimes simple is best.  I never really know what a bench will be until I finish it.  I only have the basic shape and size in mind when I begin it.  They sort of grow and take a life of their own.
   A lot of it depends on what I have in my shop or the graveyard behind my shop.  I almost never buy anything specifically to make a bench.  The seating area is concrete, I have shown you how I do that.  I thought seriously about "painting" this bench; I've shown you those also. You would think that painting a bench with $2 dollars worth of paint would be easier than the slate that I did, but my hat is off to artists who work with paint.  It is a lot of work!  Slate is pretty easy and Nature supplies the colors for me!
   I am still "between jobs" so I am considering making a little table to go with this bench.
   I go on about the weather like an old man!  We got 2 days of sun and then the rains came.  The forecast is more rain for a week.  I gave up on my late corn and tilled it in.  My early corn is up but barely and will never make that "knee high by the forth of July" rule.  The tomatoes look healthy but it is too cold for the blossoms to set.  It will need to be a late, hot summer for them to produce anything.  Funny weather all over.
More of what I do is HERE

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Abstract Paintings

Are not meant to do what a camera can do.  They came to us gradually, one brave painter and then another,
 Three Orange Koi
painting something and then twisting it a bit, not so much to blur it out of focus but maybe to see something in a different light.  They paint the feel of a thing rather than duplicating its image.  This is all the more interesting because each of us feels a bit differently towards anything in particular and all of a sudden a painting can be what you want it to be.  It is personalized in a way a photograph can never be.
   The "painting" on the left is a photograph but it contains the perfect left to right eye movement, nice balance and amount of curiosity.  It would make an interesting begining to an abstract painting.
Where do you get Ideas for your paintings?  What stops you and makes you think, "I want to paint THAT!" That landscape, or texture, or color, emotion or just the feel of life?  Yesterday I was stopped by three fish in a pond.
There is always more HERE.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

How Long Does it Take?

Every artist gets asked this question and I have asked it myself. Sometimes it is asked out of shear amazement, how can something so incredible be created in such a short time, seemingly with so little effort? and other times we are trying to put a value to something, equating dollars to hours.  Artists who paint have a wastebasket of missteps at their feet or paint overs, reusing the same canvas until they get it right. Writers, even Stephen King, hit the "delete", edit and reedit what they are trying to say.
   It is no different in the steel arts.  I have a graveyard behind my shop, sometimes piled so high it becomes dangerous to venture there.  I make mistakes.  And there is a certain cost in developing an idea, there will be prototypes and the beginnings that failed to be what was dreamt.
   I mine my junk piles and cut from this or that, creating something from from wasn't.  Not counting drying time for the concrete to cure I could make a bench in one day but it certainly didn't begin that way.  Most benches on the market have a separate concrete slab for the seat and so I began mine that way also.  I quickly realized that I was competing with outfits that had forklifts, lots of molds, big warehouse space and churned these things out.  My back just wouldn't allow that. and my brain says that I just couldn't do the same thing day after day.
   But I still wanted to make a bench!  The process begins with an idea and a list of problems to be solved.
The desire has to be stronger than the obstacles.  I did do my research, spent some time at the local shops to see what was available, what was selling and more important what was missing?  I went to seven local retail outfits and they pretty much all had the same thing: rectangular benches, concrete slabs on concrete pedestals, and pretty much all the same price.  The price of something is never the limiting factor but it is always the beginning.  So my first thought is what could I make and sell for about $200?  In reality, not much.  I am a one man shop competing with an industry, but it is a challenge so that is where I begin.
   My goal is to always raise the bar.  I remember when I was told "arbors don't sell well in this town, Jerry".
I took that as a personal challenge and changed the market!  The stores all had the same thing, flimsy made in China imports that wouldn't support themselves let alone a vine and they were all about a hundred bucks.
I raised that bar considerably and have made arbors for upwards of Three thousand dollars!
 My Bench In Process
   It is really pretty easy to see what is missing in any art field, it just takes courage and a little risk to try to fill that gap.  Oh you can ask yourself "what happens if I fail?" but the truth of the matter is nothing happens, nothing bad anyway.  A little more junk to mine behind the shop, a missed television program, or yes, Soozie, I could have cleaned the shop!

I think I will add a bit of slate to this?
So, what was "missing" in benches?  Music!

and, "How long does it take?" a lifetime!

you can also visit me HERE!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Upside Down Bench Gives Birth!

Okay, I can't stay away.  The garden is weeded and some corn, a bit splotchy here and there, is up!
 concrete waiting to dry
The sun is out today and it will be a good day!  just like that and just because I said so! Attitude is everything, I know that, it is what allows me to carry whatever it is I want to carry. 
   Catchy headline, huh?  I am thinking of writing for the National Enquirer and have few words to catch your interest.  This is a true story though, it is what guys do.  It is interesting how men and women react to any kind of emotional issue, whatever it might be.  Women may cry or lose sleep or lose weight, talk with their friends, commiserate, that is a word women will understand more than a man. We are loners and just sort of suck it up. We are not good at talking "issues" and probably not much good at listening either.
  On a construction site if a guy were stupid enough to bare his soul and attempt to describe what was really bothering him, the response would be, "yeah, too bad, now let's get this roof on buddy."
It is not that we don't think while we are working.  We do, but we need the distraction. It is easier to feel our muscles ache than wondering the source of our tears.
   So, I made a bench!  It is all made from scrap and left-overs from my shop. I have made hundreds of benches in my life but don't own a single one. Most sold out of my shop before they were even finished.
 a slated bench
This one is mine!  It is steel, of course, with a concrete in-fill for the seat.  I think you can see how I do it from the photo. I am not sure how I will finish it, that remains to be seen. I could "paint" it, some kind of art paint stuff, or perhaps I will slate it.  It will have a back for sure, benches should encourage relaxing and contemplation.
   My benches are never rectangular,
 Another bench that isn't mine!
 A "Painted" Bench
I leave those shapes to others. My only rules are flat, stable, heavy, comfortable, and never the same one twice.
This is the first "Painted" Bench I ever did and sold it while the paint was still wet.  If you are over 60 you might remember the song, "Sugar Shack".  The guy who wrote it is Jimmy Torres and you can google him for fun. He lives in Eugene, bought this bench from me and we have since become good friends.
Funny, the accidental things that happen in our lives!
More of my "stuff" is HERE.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Rebellion Then and Now...

 It is the duty and age old custom of older people to complain about the youth of today.  This has been done since before Socrates's time, my parent's generation were critical of Elvis Presley and the Beatles, and now it is my turn.  I still have part of my youth within me and have always been suspicious of any people, any generation that thinks they got it right.  I am plenty critical of my own generation, think we have muddled along strewing a path of garbage along the way.  We have created an era of "entitlements" where we think so much is owed to us.  All along this garbage littered path we have sought more and bigger and we have never paused to find a sense of direction, to wonder where we really are, to find our bearings and get an idea of where all this leads.
   We make choices that have controlled our behavior.  We have made choices that affect our children.  It seems that we have dug a hole so deep our only solution is to pass the shovels and encourage other's to dig deeper.  It takes two now and has for some time to get "our share", to fill our need for more and bigger and better.  No one is home when the kids get home from school.
   School is the institutional implementing of our ideals.  There we want bigger and better and more too.  We do this by subtraction.  We eliminate the arts, theater, literature, history.  We add computer technology and math and science.  We teach that wealth is the measure of success.
   Rebellion is a good thing.  Without stirring the pot we would all be living in ancient Rome and things would always be as they were.  Without the guide and gentle mentoring, without the learning of past rebellions, without music and art and literature rebellions can become self destructive, an invasive disease.
   I think in the past, youth, our next generation, didn't always like the world as it was offered them.  Today, I don't think they like themselves.  In our youth, where we might ride a "freedom bus", join the Peace Corps, run away to a Parisian cafe to write bad poetry, the worst we did was not to participate.
   Today, it seems, so many are hell bent on self destruction, self mutilating and destruction of brain cells by the millions.  It is one thing not to like the world; it is totally another to not like yourself.  The world had always had lots of room for criticism, a million ways to improve it.  The difference today is a loss of empowerment.  I think young people feel as though they can't improve it.  It is this loss of hope that leads to despair and ultimately to self destruction.  Many people in prison commit suicide.
   The irony of this is that it is so easy to fix.  It is not expensive.  It begins with a shared altering of the environment.  It can begin with doing the dishes.  NOT you do the dishes because I am tired or any other excuse, but let's do the dishes together!  Let me help you or even better, I need your help!  Not only does the kitchen get clean but an opportunity for discussion and communication arises. Where we got the idea for different tasks for different people is beyond me.  It is always a direction for isolation.  It is always an opportunity for an excuse.  It is not my job!
   Not my job is an abdication of power.  When I was a school teacher it always amazed me that a school might have 2,000 students, over a hundred teachers and dozens of administrators and you discover that the hallways need painting!  No one can find time or inclination or a gallon of paint to improve their environment?
We have no power, youth is right about that.  We have given it all away.
My other blog is Here.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Dictates of Art

Commercial Art needs to be bulletproof no room for graffiti, a lot of safety concerns, if it is painted it may not rust, low maintenance, not climbable,
no public risk.  The gentle scrolls and open spaces found in older metal work are made busy with the four inch "rule" so a child's head cannot pass through the space.  A vertical structure, like a railing must be able to withstand 300 pounds of horizontal pressure, no wiggly railings allowed.  Sharp edges are not allowed.
   These are not bad rules, they have probably saved lives over the years.  Like a poet limited with iambic pentameter, they set conditions for a particular art.  Within these parameters you can pretty much create anything you want to.
   I think there must be committees that choose "Public Art" and I think they have a bit of a McDonald's Complex.  It is strange to me that one of the great successes of McDonald's is that one can get the very same cheeseburger anywhere in the world.  We LIKE that yellow color, those reassuring arches, the plastic tables.
We find comfort in the familiar and reassurance in a standardized french fry.
   Something different can just cause problems.  We want the reassurance of acceptance, others like it.  It is tested and true and safe and acceptable.  Without controversy or problems.
   A local metal artist created a really nice safety rail system for our bus transit system and with three styles available you can see his work all over our city.  He did a great job and I admire his work.  He is clever and industrious and a great marketer and soon you will find his same three rails all over America.  That I don't like.  Oh, more power to him.  He will gain wealth and fame but shame on the purchasing agents who will reduce his work to the standards of McDonald's.  Like "golden arches" soon we will recognize public transport by the rails they display.  And shame on us that we would even want such sameness everywhere.
   I know now why graffiti artists crawled out of the woodwork demanding to be heard, wanting to express themselves, making something individual and personal in a world increasingly the same.  A muffled cry in a sea of yellowness.
You can get lost HERE

Friday, June 3, 2011


People  who know people who know people.  That is the trick.  You don't do it by yourself.  Getting your art known is working the streets, yes, talking about yourself.  If people don't know it is really your fault.
Some of it is simple, you just have to be brazen and get over the embarrassment about self advertising.
When I am asked how I am doing, "How are you, Jerry?" I could respond with the expected "fine", but I never pass up the opportunity to let people know that I am a welder! I am an artist!  "Oh, I am busy! I just came up with this great idea and I am working on a commission!"  Most often people are curious and it is another opportunity to pass out my calling card.
    The strange thing about being an artist is it is not very different from any other profession.  People LIKE busy people, drift toward the positive and are attracted by your success.  It is a conversation stopper to say that nothing is happening, everything is slow, "I'm not doing nothing man!"  That just doesn't attract anything!
Years ago I discovered that I am busiest when I am working, that work begets work and days off beget
 My first gallery pieces!
Years ago I was asked why my work wasn't in art galleries and the truth of the matter is I had just never thought about it.  It was not really something I was after.  My work sells out of my shop and I always "did" the Home Shows where I had an audience of upwards of 50,000 in a long weekend.  Galleries can charge 50% commission and I thought I didn't need them.
I did visit some one day out of boredom and a curiosity of what other artists were doing and what surprised me most were the prices!
People like the comfort and reassurance of buying from a gallery.
 My first experience at a local cafe.
Sort of, "it must be art" it was bought in an art gallery!  It was pretty easy to see what art galleries were MISSING.  None of them had interesting tables and pedestals to display their stuff.  I love it when I can go to a client's place and instantly see what I can do to improve it.  It makes my job so easy. The truth is any idiot could have made these tables but it was me who knew they were needed.  I discovered that once you are in a gallery you are IN a gallery and gallery people talk to gallery people and they know people who talk to people and all of a sudden people are talking about you!
   I didn't start with galleries but now I know I could have.  What stopped me was confidence.  I didn't know "those kind of people", didn't know the language, probably didn't have the right shoes!  I started with a little cafe and I was invited to hang my wares on their walls.  This is really a lot easier than you might think.  If it is not a chain, some kind of franchize with rules and regulations then these little cafes like to change their decorations and will be receptive to your art.  There is a little risk involved, the artist has to accept that their work could be damaged or even stolen so you have to weigh that but the exposure could be worth it.  And just to say, "yes, I am an artist, my work is here and here and here" is a bit of an accomplishment in itself.
   Once IN it is easy to jump from place to place, always bigger venues, bigger crowds, more acceptance.
That is when you realize there is such a thing as an "artist's tax" and you can quit working by the hour.
You learn things too, being exposed to the public, having your worked judged, ciritcised by others.  To me the best judge of art is cash.  I may love a piece but if I can't sell it I can't afford to make a better one.  I don't think being in a gallery means you have succumed to the color of the month, doing what is popular, standard and accepted.  If I had thought that I never would have gone there.  My stuff is too weird, never seen before stuff.  I really think it is as simple as convincing someone that they need what you do.
   I am not a painter, although, maybe one day... If that should ever happen I am absolutely bored with square and rectangular paintings!  I think the framing and matting industries have dictated these shapes for too long.  Galleries NEED paintings with wonderful, sexual, exciting shapes!
   When I visit a client or, on rare occasion visit a gallery, what I am on the look out for is when I lose focus.
Art is about direction, line of sight, lighting, color, texture, shape to make you feel, see something, or for a moment, to be something, about fantacy.  Sometimes it is easier to see when this isn't here and then fill that need.
You can get lost HERE

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I like "Craigslist" but not everybody does. It is a world wide section of classified advertising and, like "Alice's Restaurant", you can get anything here. I have both bought and sold from Craigslist and always direct people to my websites from there.  Many of my customers first found me on CL.  It is bargain hunting and so much more.  I can go all over the world from Craigslist, discover what art supplies cost on any continent, where to find cheap housing, a job even, and a free way to get there.
   Sometimes I will get a comment from someone, maybe in Florida, maybe Russia, anywhere almost and I will go to Craigslist and find out what is for sale in their community, what jobs are available or how much a house costs.  There is a "Rant and Rave" section I look at sometimes and realize that all over the world we complain about the very same things!  There is an "Artists and Craft" section and I am aware that artists all over have the same struggle in attempting to sell their wares.  There is a "Community" section where you can find galleries, what they are after, visit them and see what is selling and for how much.
   Like anything on the Internet, there are a million scammers there, sharks waiting in the deep end for the vulnerable and those who can't swim.  I learned a long time ago to be careful of what emails I open!
But I like Craigslist and in minutes I can discover a lot about an area I knew nothing about.
   What is your best and worst experience with Craigslist?  Or an even cooler question!  What is your best and worst experience with the Internet?
   I cleaned up my computer and rediscovered all my websites!  They are HERE.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I'm fixed!

When I first got this computer I was fifty times its age, now, ten years later I am only six times older than it is.
Time flies, huh?  With this math soon we will be the same age!  It was a junker when I got it, way past middle school, old and slow.  It was good in its day but the average cell phone has more memory now, faster, better, more.
   It was "top of the line" when I bought it for my daughter when she went away to college and cost a pretty penny, lots of them in fact, about $2,000.  Four years ago when she went to Law School she needed a laptop and found one for $750 that was way better, faster, more!  Fewer pretty pennies too.  This one, the one that I am using wasn't worth anything, not a plug nickle!  So it is in my shop, dirty, yes, filthy covered in steel dust.
   It can still do more than I can do with it.  I have discovered though that the damn thing needs a periodic
cleaning.  Every discovery I encounter, every google search, each website I visit places "cookies" in my computer.  They know who I am and what I did last summer!  They know everything about me, too much it seems. I had 25,000 cookies all at once and they were fighting each other for supreme cookiness (spellcheck says "cockiness" but what does one call the supreme cookie?)  They don't share, or they do, I don't know.
But they were fighting and that is what didn't allow me to comment on any blogs!
   Barbra Joan, my computer advisor, life skills teacher, guru, Gypsy Friend, solved my problem for me with her expert diagnosis:  clean the cache!  Like I'm supposed to know what that means! Somehow I did it and all's well that ends well.  I am back in business, watch out I will be commenting like a mad man now!