"Earth’s distant orb appeared the smallest light that twinkles in the heaven; whilst round the chariot’s way innumerable systems rolled and countless spheres diffused an ever-varying glory. It was a sight of wonder: some were hornèd like the crescent moon; some shed a mild and silver beam like Hesperus o'er the western sea; some dashed athwart with trains of flame, like worlds to death and ruin driven; some shone like suns, and as the chariot passed, eclipsed all other light." From "Queen Mab" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1813)

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Museum Memories

Here are a few cool moments and highlights from The Smith & Jones Museum of Folk Art.

A lovely woman called Lou from the second hand clothes shop next door came in a few times. She gets to see all the exhibitions at Room 212 and she said ours was easily one of the best she had seen there. Lou recommended the exhibition to a number of people who then came to check it out, including her partner who also really liked the show. I think he particularly liked The Dolls Have Eyes exhibits, and showed a lot of interest in Mrs Kitsch’s brilliant but bonkers Barbie picture.
Lou liked the atheist aspect of my work as did someone she brought to see the show who purchased one of the atheisticks. I need to make more of those.
I’d had a chat with one bloke who liked my work and he told me that he had a friend in Arizona and he went out there at least once a year for a visit. Apparently, he also has a massive Arizona state flag which he puts out when his friend comes over here to stay. Anyway, this man came back to the gallery later in the week with this amazing thing as a gift for me.
It’s the dried up innards of a cacti and will look great next time I do a shrine display. How sweet that he came back to give that to me. The most gob smacking moment of the week though was when on the Wednesday, just 15 minutes before we closed the gallery for the day, I sold this painting “BANG! BANG!” for £300.
It was bought by a couple who chose it after deciding between it and this one, “Helldorado Cantina”.
I was stunned when they bought it. Having taken the painting over to their house after the exhibition I’ve also seen where it’s going to hang. It’s going in their living room over the dining room table. It’s going to be hard to miss.

My favourite moment though was when a guy called Valentine came in and bought a small painting. He had a good look round first and told me that he was driving to work taking a different route to normal. He saw the exhibition as he was driving by, stopped his car, parked up and came in to check it out. I think it might be stretching a point to say I stopped traffic but it’s one thing to pop in for a look as you are walking by and quite another to stop your car on the way to work. He also enjoyed hearing “Ace of Spades” being played in the gallery.

I think it’s fair to say that I connected with some people through the art, or at least differing aspects of it mean something to some people, and that’s something I hadn’t even considered. I thought some people might like it and others would hate it, but I hadn’t thought about it in terms other than that.

Not everyone connected with the work though. When we were setting up one man stuck his head into the gallery and asked why I had so many of the same cacti books. “It’s part of the display” I told him. “Oh right. Well, I’ll have one of those then” he said. “Er, no, they’re not for sale, they’re part of the display”. “Oh right. Are you getting any more books in?” “Well, I’m going to be using some other books in another part of the display but they’re not for sale either, this is a gallery not a book shop.” “Oh right, OK.” Not a word about the art.
A little later someone else asked how much the cacti candles in the window were and another person wanted to buy one of the plastic display flowers but I suppose it’s a compliment that my choice of display items was popular. Oh yes, one bloke with a dog told me he thought the art was a bit morbid. I tried to explain that the Day of the Dead was a celebration of life but I’m pretty sure he didn’t know what I was talking about. I thought I was going to get more comments like that but he was the only one who said anything to me.

I was really apprehensive about showing the work when I was setting up on the Sunday but now that I’ve had a week at a gallery, I can’t wait to show it some more.

Finally, with some of the many peppers and chillis I used in the shrines, I made a chilli for dinner.
As you can see we also used up the last of the tequila too.

You can see a video of the gallery at http://smithandjonesmuseum.blogspot.com/

Suggested listening: “Left Bank Two” by The Noveltones

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Show’s Over, There’s Nothing To See Here

The week of my first exhibition has come and gone. It went by so quickly. I suppose it’s bound to feel like that, especially after locking myself away to paint and create for just over a year. It certainly was the most important week of the year for me and, as I mentioned in the last blog, the positive comments came as something of a validation of the work and the concept behind it. I loved being in the gallery, the whole experience was amazing. I hope I get a chance to do it again soon.

Mrs Kitsch and I are a bit knackered after such an intense week and I think we’re entitled to a short break now. We’re off to the Bengal Raj for a celebratory meal tonight, which I’m looking forward to.

So what’s next? Well, I really have to get myself a job, so I’ll be looking into that. I’ll continue painting and I have a great idea for an art show involving music and members of the public, which I’m quite excited about. I just need to persuade a gallery to let me do it.

Thanks if you came along to the show this week. Even bigger thanks if you bought some of my work. If you didn’t make this time, I hope to see you at the next one. Watch this space.

Suggested reading: “The Observer’s Book of Cacti” by S.H. Scott

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Folk Art of Cactus County #22

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front of late as it’s been full speed ahead for the exhibition. Well, I’ve got a spare moment now so I’ll bring you up to date.

Sunday we had the preview show in the evening but before we could get to that we had to put all the pictures up and decorate the windows. This took all day and even by the time of the preview opening we still had a few things left undone. Little things though, nothing major. I got a bit worried during the setting up when one guy poked his head into the room asking if he could buy one of the books I was using in the display, followed a little later by another bloke asking if the candles were for sale. Again, they’re part of the display. They completely failed to show any interest in the actual work. This spooked me a bit I can tell you.

Anyway, we had almost 30 people attend the preview and everyone was very positive about the show. Both Mrs Kitsch and I even sold a couple of pieces, which was nice.
The next day we opened the gallery up to the general public for real. Monday was a bit quiet but we sold a few items, mostly badges and postcards but we had some good feedback. Tuesday Mrs Kitsch stayed at home while I held the fort. A few more people came in and there was more positive feedback. I even sold a very small picture. Not a bad day.
Today, the weather was much better and we had a lot more people come in for a look. I sold quite a few badges, a couple of postcards and had loads more encouraging comments. Then with about 15 minutes to go before we closed for the day this couple came in with their young daughter. The mother and daughter had popped in the day before for a look. This time she wanted her partner with her to see the paintings. At this point, Mrs Kitsch and I were being distracted by another person in the gallery who was intent on chatting at us about her trips to the States, when I realised the couple were trying to decide which of two large paintings they wanted to get. It appeared they were going to buy a painting. A large painting. A quite expensive large painting. After a short chat they had made their decision and wanted to buy this picture.
I was absolutely chuffed. They talked about the picture being up in their home and it being something of a talking point. They genuinely liked the painting, obviously, or they wouldn’t have bought it but it’s a new experience for me to have someone like my work so much that they would part with a three figure sum for it. And the fact that they had to decide between two pictures, well, how cool is that?

Now I’m going to have to sell a lot of paintings at this price before I’m bringing home a living wage but it’s a start. And as much as I hoped that I might sell something at the show I really didn’t expect to sell one of the large pictures on a Wednesday just a few minutes before we closed up. When they left the gallery, I was in shock. Now I just want to jump up and down shouting about it!
Today has been something of a validation of what I’ve been working on for the last year or so. Not just selling a big picture but many of the comments have confirmed that I’m on the right track with the concept behind the work. Earlier today, one woman said she liked the fact that I was doing an atheist version of the Day of the Dead; there have been a number of similar comments about the secular nature of the work; also other people have said how much they like the bright colour I use. It’s always felt right to me but until someone else says, ‘yeah you’re right, I like that’, well, you never really know for sure.

So, just three more days to go and if we don’t sell another thing, it’s already been worthwhile.