The Obligatory Abstract: So Passé

“California” and “Balloons Go ‘Round” were accepted into the Mistlin Gallery’s 58th Annual Spring Show, which is now over, so this post is much belated.  One of my paintings was in the Spring Show about ten years ago as well.  That show provided much more of an ego boost.  I was an artist among ARTISTS then.  I felt honored to be included. My memory hasn’t retained the image of the Best of Show winner that year, but I do remember that it was beautiful or at least skillfully rendered, i.e. deserving of the award (in my opinion).

At the risk of being labeled “bitter” or, even worse, “close-minded,” I will now commence the bashing session that this year’s Spring Show necessitates. Plainly stated:  the best of show winner sucked arse!  The colors were muddy, it lacked skillful execution, depth, emotion, energy or any other redeeming asthetic quality.  If you didn’t get a chance to see it at the show, it was an abstract in neutral colors that can best be described as what appeared to be a kindergartener’s attempt at recreating a Jackson Pollock.  But Jackson Pollock’s splashes in neutral colors have energy and clarity.

I am not the only person who thought it was ugly. Therefore, I can only conclude that the judge (yes, there was only ONE judge) felt compelled to obligatorily (my new made up word) award an  abstract the best of show prize. So passé.  Abstract expressionism reached its peak in the 1960’s. 

That being said, if the best of show had to go to an abstract, Alice Richards had a couple of abstracts in the show that were simply beautiful and full of energy, life and color.  Someone must have agreed with me because she sold one of them.  I wonder why the best of show winner didn’t sell?  Oh, wait, I know:  because no one would actually want to look at it every day.

Does this rant contradict my long-held belief that (in the words of Andy Warhol) “art is what you can get away with?”  Mr. Best-of-Show got away with it (“it” being the biggest prize); therefore, it must be art? Then again, we are talking about Modesto, after all, which begs the question: why do I even care?


“It was a wild success!”

Well, maybe not wild, but my art show was a success nonetheless. I sold a few things, passed around my name a few times, heard a lot of gracious compliments.

You would think that all of the props from everyone would have propelled me into an accelerated level of inspiration and productivity. Nope.  Haven’t touched a brush since, except to give one to my granddaughter so she can learn to paint.  

But I did make a dress and some yummy cupcakes with butterflies on top and repotted some cactus plants and cleaned my refrigerator.

Who’s Elizabeth Taylor?

After all, it was Anne Bancroft who kept her acting chops (and her figure) until she died in 2005.

Anne Bancroft

If you haven’t seen the movie version of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations with Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow and Anne Bancroft, you should. Netflix it, stream it, whatever it. Just watch it – in memory of Anne Bancroft and Ethan Hawke’s once viable acting career.

Not that I think that my art show will duplicate the success of Finn’s, but my imagination keeps drawing parallels. I must remind myself that not only is the story fiction, but also that the only reason Finn’s first solo art show was such a success is that a wealthy benefactor who owed him a favor bought all of his paintings.

Chica Boom!


Consistent with my resistance to following the ways of the sheeple, I attempted to relay my very simple, non-flashy, old-school design idea for my business cards to the digtal native behind the counter at the print shop:

“I know exactly what I want, and it’s really simple. Black letters on white paper.”

“Oh, that is simple.”

“And I want that old-school raised lettering.”

“Oh, do you mean thermography or embossing?”

(She shows me examples of both. Embossing is too expensive so I go with thermography.)

“Oh, and one more thing. I want a little paint brush with drips of paint off the tip that form the “s” in my name.”

“Our graphic artists charge $60 per hour and they can design that for you.”

“Can’t I just draw it for you? I know exactly how I want it to look.” (I quickly sketch a little paint brush on her note pad.)

“Do you have a design program on your computer?”

“Ditch the paintbrush idea.”

Done. Well … after I chose from 5 different shades of white and about 1,500 fonts.  I guess there is only one shade of black.

Word of the Day

I would have nothing to write about if it weren’t for all of the funny things that other people say.

Like “sheeple.”

Apparently I have missed the usage of this noun in discussions about how human behavior compares to that of sheep. People, like sheep, follow the leader:  sheeple.  Who is the leader? The media; fashion (media); our media influenced peers. We are herded in masses by mass producers.

We are sheeple.

Well I don’t want to be a (insert appropriate singular form of “sheeple”).  That means I don’t want to write my artist’s biography in the third person, and I don’t want to answer questions about what my art means.

Will I sell less art if my answer to “what does this symbolize” is “it means I had some extra wire laying around my garage?”

Do I have to be a (insert appropriate singular form of “sheeple”) to pull off a successful show?