I know I’m not alone in this practice, but I also know that others do the complete opposite… Before launching into a new series/painting/production run in the studio, I clean the space more thoroughly that a quick sweep. Yesterday, the day after returning from a relaxing beach trip, I spent a couple of hours cleaning and organizing suite 262. And, today when I arrived, it felt clean and “right.” Between now and the end of the year, I will be deep into a couple of different series, and messes will be made. That being said, I am not the artist that thrives with messy, it just doesn’t work for me. After twenty-five years of painting, studio tendencies are strong, and that is all part of the equation of my success (call it what you will).
The next few weeks will bring canvas stretching, paper cutting, wood sanding, and any number of other mess making tasks, and certainly another round of tidying up the place. The cycle goes on and on, and that’s one sure sign that the Work is getting made. Using the word “success” is strange, as I have spent much of my professional art life feeling like “success” has evaded me. There were always moments where I could put it all in perspective and claim a little bit of it, but only in the last couple of years has it settled in with me. Creating a clearer understanding of what success is has been truly helpful, and simply having a wonderful studio to clean before making more work is proof enough of “success.”
Over the last several years, Nashville latched on to the mural craze. It went a bit overboard and lacked any air of authentic evolvement. Many of the ones that I have seen simply don’t work in one way or another… some, are terrible in all the ways. In a couple of small towns in south Alabama, there are some “murals” that have a quality about them that I much prefer to the Nashville style. There’s no doubt that I am hyper critical of visual art/design such as this, and though I seek to see the “good” in the disliked murals, I often can’t.
A seven hour car ride turned into nine. The usual effed up, no good reason traffic jams between Montgomery and Birmingham on 65N did it again. Then, three different levels of hell poured out of the sky. My wife would have appreciated me pulling over to let the storms pass, but I crept along with the others that weren’t too scared. The reward was a fine Indian dinner at Sitar and knowing that story is worth the cost of admission.
The last of the seven vacation sunsets was enjoyed this evening. We have a fairly new tradition of eating steamed and seasoned shrimp on the beach the final night of vacation. Time plays funny most of the time, but vacation time really works trickery on the vacationers. My family seemed to get on board with “man, this week flew past,” but I’m not sold on that. I don’t particularly feel that it was fast or slow. Sinking deep into moments helps keep perspective on time, or, it just washes it out completely. Regardless, it was juicy and full, mellow and joyful, salty and sweet.
There’s a competition every morning on the beach, usually before anyone has really started their day. The “Shoreline Land Grab” is intense, and there aren’t hard rules. First come, first serve… and, it’s crowded as Black Friday at Walmart. What gets me the most is the use of tents. This was not a thing when I was growing up, and I’m not sure what the future holds for this play in the game. Where does this story end? Will we soon be constructing fences of some sort to keep others out of our claimed beach? This morning, I squeezed our four chairs in between two sets of double tents. One of these sets eventually hosted four grown ups, two per tent. Is this an American thing? I don’t want to play this game.
Some people make better leaders than others. Of my experience, I am neither a good boss or employee. Well, I have been a great employee, but not really as an adult. This has been very useful information that would have served me well in my younger days, but hard lessons needed to be learned. I’m not sure that there’s a place in this pelican formation for me… maybe, second bird.
I spent an hour on the beach tonight, tucked under a full moon. Soft sand underfoot. Fire in the mind. Magic making is often a quiet, undisclosed adventure.
I spent an awful lot of time with this song on repeat in my early twenties… So painfully beautiful. Thank you, Jimi.
down the street you can hear her scream
“you’re a disgrace”
as she slams the door in his drunken face
and now he stands outside
and all the neighbors start to gossip and drool
he cries “oh girl, you must be mad
what happened to the sweet love you and me had”
against the door he leans and starts a scene
and his tears fall and burn the garden green
and so castles made of sand,
fall in the sea eventually
a little indian brave who before he was ten
played war games in the woods with his indian friends
and he built a dream that when he grew up
he would be a fearless warrior indian chief
many moons passed and the dream grew strong until tomorrow
he would sing his first war song
and fight his first battle but something went wrong
surprise attack killed him in his sleep that night
and so castles made of sand
melts into the sea eventually
there was a young girl whose heart was a frown
because she was crippled for life and couldn’t speak a sound
and she wished and prayed she would stop living
so she decided to die
she drew her wheel chair to the edge of the shore
and to her legs she smiled
“you won’t hurt me no more”
but then a sight she’d never seen made her jump and say
“look a golden winged ship is passing my way”
and it really didn’t have to stop
it just kept on going
and so castles made of sand
slips into the sea eventually
– Jimi Hendrix
I had the good fortune of taking many summer beach trips with my extended family. My mom’s dad (the one that started Jim’s Steak & Spaghetti House) would make it possible for everyone, and he thoroughly enjoyed doing it for us. One of the greatest joys for him on the trip was watching Wimbledon, as it always coincided with our trip (Jim’s closes for two weeks every summer). He played tennis into his eighties, and the spectacle of Wimbledon was a treat for him as he vacationed.
This morning, on our first day at the beach, Federer faced Djokovic in the men’s finals. I wasn’t able to commit to the entirety of the match, but I caught the very beginning, and the epic end. For the first time since recently enacting a new rule, a final went to a tiebreaker after the deciding fifth set ended in a 12 – 12 tie. Unfortunately, Federer lost the tiebreaker, succumbing to the younger star. I flashed back to my Giddo, and a wave of gratitude washed over me. I am guilty of sometimes taking for grated the extremely fortunate circumstances of my life. I have experienced my own hard times, and some were very hard. But, putting everything in perspective adds light to any amount of present darkness.
I get to wake up at the beach tomorrow and make a French press and have a breakfast with my family on the balcony that overlooks the ocean… that’s amazing. No need to compare anyone’s outsides to my/your insides… that is the worst trap. Social media really makes a mess of things sometimes. I wonder how we are going to wash ourselves of this gigantic digital turd.
Sometimes, after waiting months for the beach trip, you arrive to find out that you’re not allowed in the ocean. It seems very strange that someone can close the ocean… I guess it’s just a case of “litigation nation.” Well, I am hoping for a changing of the flags tomorrow morning, but I’m doubting that will happen. Regardless, we are on vacation, and we will do vacationy things… starting with donuts.