Ever finish a big project and think to yourself: “Now what am I going to do?”
I’ve been asking myself that question for the past couple of months after mounting a show this spring. I took some time to recover, meditated on the cycles of input/output and came out of it without a clue of what I wanted to do next.
Or, at least that’s what I told people – you know, the people in our lives that care about us and that are curious and excited about “what are you going to do next?” God bless them.
But inside was this little quiet, almost a whisper of a voice saying: “Ok, you did a really pretty show, now: Do something that matters.”
To which I would promptly freak out about and freeze in fear whining in response: “But what? What matters anymore?”
Then another voice would boom in: “But you’re an artist - you’re supposed to ‘know’ what matters! – you’ve been trained and this is what you’ve wanted to do all of your life!” and it would usually add something like “And you HAVE to do this.”
Ugh. Shut the front door. “How?” I would whimper.
At this point I spent a good 6 weeks in total frustration. To say that the area I live in is saturated with visual arts is an understatement. From artists busking their work against a chain link fence around a vacant corner lot to “burner” extravaganzas to major exhibitions of the masters at haughty museums -it’s easy to just shut down and say: “I can’t. What’s the point?”
But there’s this thing we have. This thing that WON’T LET US be shut down. This thing that keeps nagging and nagging and nagging at us to DO SOMETHING! This thing that is insatiable and absolutely doesn’t take no for an answer. This thing that keeps us asking questions and pushing ourselves and giving our lives meaning. This thing that makes us “different” from other “normal” people, that gets us labeled and scoffed and chided about. This thing that does not give up on us. This thing that keeps us up at night and distracts us from what we’re “supposed” to be doing.
And like Smokey would say: “Only you know what you’re passion is.” Damn bear – stay in the forest.
But he’s right – so, giving in to this thing, I looked around to see what was going on that I might have a connection with. A friend curates shows and I kept feeling guilty that I wasn’t showing up for his openings, (and blamed the people who wouldn’t hold my hand and go with me for not showing up).
So, one night I just went. The show was called “My Brother’s Keeper? Expressions of Our World Today” – a group show curated by Derek Hargrove at the Back to the Picture Valencia Street, here in San Francisco. Photos of my favorite pieces are below. Real art with something to say.
It was totally cosmic timing. One of the best exhibits I’ve seen in recent memory and it was the reassurance I needed to say to ‘this thing’: yes, I hear you. I get it. I can do this. I’m listening and have an idea and I'm inspired.
And then I remembered – oh, this is how inspiration works. Now it’s time to do some art that matters.
|"I TOO, AM AMERICA" | Acrylic and Photo Collage on Panel | Mark Harris|
I love both of these pieces by Mark Harris. Saying something with found images. Telling stories and making a statement. Hand cut and assembled. Amazing. They brought me back to my collage days when I was coming out of the closet and didn't quite have the words to express what was going with me.
|"RISE AND SHINE NO. 1" | Acrylic on Panel | Mark Harris|
|"Mendo Rebozo" (detail) | Consuelo Jimenez-Underwood|
I thought this piece by Consuelo J. Underwood was brilliant. My understanding is that she hand silk screened each piece of fabric. This is just a detail of a piece that stretched from floor to ceiling.
Copyright of the art in the photographs remains the artists. Shown here for educational purposes. All other content © 2016 Michael Kerner