The northerly migration has officially started. We're heading back to Nebraska on a roundabout route, the first stop being at Bumblebee Arizona, north of Phoenix. I love this place because it is a little green rocky valley that cuts through the desert. There are tons of species of cactus and desert plants and a lot of wildlife. It's already late spring here, the cottonwoods, willows and grass are in full splendor at the bottom of the canyon. It's on BLM land (Bureau of Land Management), managed by the government but open to public use.
You can't swing a stick without hitting a mining claim (basically an official federal sign telling others that it's illegal to look for rocks on the claim). People still prospect here, and anyone can stake a claim. I don't think much gold comes out of these hills, but small-scale prospecting is a fun pass time, a lot like fishing. Personally, I'm more into hunting for free-range rocks. I try not to take very many home. It's more like catch and release unless I find one I just can't live without.
I’m looking forward to going home and moving forward with my plans. Last year I got my ducks in a row to have work in galleries and exhibits in 2021. I’m excited, but a little bit anxious. I sat down with myself and explored why I feel apprehensive. I think its coming from a sense that I don’t really belong anywhere, and putting my art out in the world has always been unsettling. There's a push-pull going on. Do all artists experience this? Why do we do it? Just sitting alone in a studio producing art is essential, but not wholly satisfying for me. It needs to go somewhere, to be in action. When I was younger, I wanted to be recognized for my skills and gifts. I needed a sense of identity as an artist that was acknowledged by the world so I could find my place in it. I no longer feel a need for validation and admiration. I'm pretty content on the outside at this point in my life. Frankly, it makes me a little uncomfortable to be the center of attention at gallery openings.
So why do I keep going back? I had a very insightful experience a few years ago at an opening of a solo show. I was able to observe as people walked around and looked at my artwork. I got to see the process of a few peoples' immediate visceral connections with the work. I witnessed love at first sight as I watched my art provoke deep emotion. It was then that I realized that getting work out there isn’t about prestige and money, but rather sharing something bigger than that. My job isn't to paint pretty pictures. Its to lift the veil between the worlds of flesh and spirit. The role as an artist is to be a modern day shaman, a conduit of profound human experience. When people connect with art, something is activated; magic settles in and the spheres of the universe begin to hum. I want the art on the wall to be a little doorway into an alternate dimension of experience. One where people get goosebumps from the muses’ breath on their skin and sense the electric smell of being.
I’ve been painting a little bit again, letting whatever inspires me lead the process. Recently its been garden vegetables. Must be spring fever. At this point I'm more inspired to paint vegetables than plant them. For the first time that I can remember, I’m not drooling over seed catalogs and planning a spring garden. Last year gardening was exhausting. We fought to just get seeds to come up, and by the time the season was over, not much came out of the garden. Mice took over at the beginning and weeds took over at the end. As each year passes, my energy becomes more finite, and I need to choose where I spend it wisely. I still want a garden. I don’t want it to make me miserable.
When I first moved to Nebraska, I went crazy with the wide open spaces, abundant water and rich soil. This year, I’m retreating to my Colorado gardening techniques. I’m only going to plant in raised beds (some old stock tanks filled with dirt that I found around the farm). They're already set up to be low maintenance.
Part of my strategy to my artwork 'out there' is to sell prints. These cute little 5"x7" veggie paintings seem like a good starting point.
Artist, homesteader, teacher and adventurer. Turning over every literal and figurative rock that I can find, living curiously and creatively outside of the conventions of the common world.
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