Artists Create in the Year of Protests, Marches and Resistance

Stand-Up Comedy, Mixed Media, 30×40

 

Artists unite to create resistance pieces during the past year of protests and marches.  If they have not, they should.  I have the pleasure of creating “Stand-Up Comedy” for a group show called Truth and Consequences  at Art Access Gallery in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The vision for the show was:  “A multi-media exhibit exploring Salt Lake City based artists’ attempt to make meaning out of the socially turbulent early days of the Trump presidency… Using the capacity of artmaking to try to make sense of the impact this time has had on our communities, our neighbors, families and ourselves as artists.”

Following is my statement regarding “Stand-Up Comedy,” the piece shown above:

“The World is laughing as the Orange Twitler pretends to govern our nation and make it great again. He seems to be against many of the programs and infrastructures that have already made America great… education, justice, freedom of speech, the Affordable Care Act, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, all of which affect every American community and many American citizens. Furthermore, he seeks to ban immigration, the backbone of our culture.

“What dominates the Twitler’s thoughts and actions, golfing, tweeting, Putin, lining his pockets and being reelected? He claims he stands for patriotism. He bashes the NFL players for kneeling and expressing their freedom of speech. He claims he supports the troops yet he shows no compassion for fallen soldiers or their families. He dishonors a POW by stating he’s not a hero. He teeters on indecisiveness as he sides with white supremacists.

“With this ideology I painted “Stand-up Comedy,” leaving bits of newsprint in the oil paint that represent, to me at least, the half-truths that spew from Twitler’s self-aggrandizing tweets. I am angry that our system of government is failing America and has disintegrated to such depths. As I painted, I returned again and again to my embarrassment that the World is laughing at America and it hurts. Perhaps it’s more of a tragedy than a comedy… yet it’s the Orange Clown, his Cabinet of Jesters and Congress of Monkeys that makes it a stand-up comedy, a comedy of errors.”

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Road Trippin Vacation to Southern California

 

For several years, my wife and I go on a Road Trippin Vacation to Southern California. It is usually centered around tennis and art. It’s good to get away from distractions of daily living and enjoy each other’s company. We both like tennis and my wife likes art by default.

 

Vegas Layover. For us, our Road Trippin’ involves an overnight stop in Las Vegas. We have a nice dinner, gamble a little (I came out ahead), and then pig out on the breakfast buffet at the Golden Nugget.

 

Paribas Open at Indian Wells. For two weeks during March the World’s greatest tennis players descend on the desert at Indian Wells, California.  In one day, we saw Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Fernando Verdasco, Venus Williams, and Novak Djokovic. All our favorites.

 

Palm Springs. We stayed in Palm Springs. After a great breakfast at Rick’s Restaurant & Bakery on N. Palm Canyon, we enjoyed walking the streets (shopping) and browsed through Stewart Galleries where we purchased a piece of Steampunk art. By the way, the staff at Rick’s is very friendly and the food is great.

 

Los Angeles. Then we were off to the Hollywood Historic Hotel on Melrose in Los Angeles. An old hotel with a lot of charm and within our budget. Our room was small by today’s standards, but I would definitely stay there again and would recommend it to anyone.

 

The Broad. Pronounced Brod, not Brawd. It’s a relatively new contemporary museum in downtown LA. Watch for a separate post about this venue soon. While in downtown LA, we also visited the Last Bookstore. I could have spent hours there. It had a lot of booklover charm with most of its volumes being recycled from previous owners. We capped off our day with dinner at Engine Co. #28.

 

Road Trippin back to Salt Lake City. Another layover in Vegas with an Italian dinner, and back to reality the following day.

 

 

Picasso on the Beach – “In a Season of Calm Weather” by Ray Bradbury

Can you imagine having seen Picasso on the beach? “In a Season of Calm Weather,” a short story, author Ray Bradbury did. The story was first published in Playboy in 1956 and again in 1960 in “A Medicine for Melancholy,” a collection of Bradbury’s short stories.

 

Bradbury must have been a Picasso fan and surely fantasized about this scenario as he created the character “George Smith.” George was a Picasso fan and he and his wife were on vacation in the south of France, what he called Picasso country.   He heard rumors that the artist was also in the area.

 

After a long day of sunbathing and cooling off in the ocean, George Smith took a lone walk along what appeared to be a deserted beach.   Finally, George came upon a “another shorter, square-cut man,” who thought he too was alone and grabbed a stick on the beach and began drawing in the sand. George was awestruck, as he had surely encountered his idol, Picasso.

 

George Smith wanted to run back to his hotel for his camera to capture the images in the sand. Unfortunately, he knew he could not before the tide came in and washed them away. When he at last returned to the hotel, his wife asked “was there anything interesting on your walk?” George replied “no,” as he read a dinner menu and listened for the tide.

 

Picasso was on the beach that day, at least in Bradbury’s imagination. Was he also in George Smith’s imagination?

 

Art – My “Sanctuary”

Sanctuary, Acrylic, 24×24

I have been doing acrylic studies on paper for over two months now. Rarely on canvas. Today, I chose one of those studies to enlarge onto a canvas. Keep in mind, abstracts are very difficult if not impossible to replicate stroke for stroke. Rather, I was recreating areas and colors. If I were to place the study and the canvas sided by side, you could see the similarity.

 

As my title indicated, Art is my “Sanctuary.” More specifically, painting is my “Sanctuary.” In 2006 suffering from depression after my poor health knocked me out of commission, my younger son encouraged me to paint to ward it off. I hadn’t painted for over thirty years. Painting became my saving grace… my lifeline… my “Sanctuary.” Today, it remains just that. My favorite quote is by Cecile B. DeMille, “Creativity is a drug I cannot live without.” If I don’t paint everyday, I become depressed.

 

Not only is my “Sanctuary” an emotional support, but I have created a sanctuary in my home where I can retreat and share my soul.

 

Recently, I have been sharing my soul through the written word (duh, you’re reading some of it, and I hope you follow my blog, “Studio Scoop”). Creating with words is now just as important to me as painting… my “Sanctuary.”

 

If I Can, You Can – Accepting Challenge

As a kid, I had a bad habit of ripping off my fingernails.  I would start with a hangnail but usually I would work on a jagged edge until I could get a hold on it and then just rip it off.  It was a nervous habit.  I was always picking at my nails and my parents repeatedly told me to quit.  Why did I develop this habit?  I don’t know and would probably have to go through psychoanalysis to find out.  Not worth it.  It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I challenged myself to quit.  And I did.  At some point, I challenged myself with minor goals.  I thought that if I could accomplish these goals, I could do anything.

After I conquered the nail-ripping-habit, I knew I could quit smoking.  It was 1973.  I had smoked since I was a sophomore in high school, and smoked at least a pack a day.  It was a nasty habit.  I would wake in the middle of the night just to have a cigarette, and that’s the first thing I would grab upon awakening each morning.  Smoking affected my weight…  at that time, I was a mere 120 pounds.  Once I accepted my self-imposed challenge, I quit “cold turkey.”  Actually, I have to admit that I did not have even one quarter to buy a pack.  I had to quit, and it was not easy.  But I persevered.  I developed restless leg syndrome and my legs ached painfully.  You know how people say, “Oh, food tasted differently?”  I don’t remember experiencing that.  During that first year of snuffing out that last butt, I gained about forty pounds. A nice benefit.  After some time, I smoked a cigarette and my reaction was “What did I ever see in this?”

Now, I was ready to tackle the World.  I had been an unhappy teacher for some time.  I was only earning $13,000 annually after having taught for thirteen years.  I could see a bleak future.  I had always wanted to be a professional singer.  That’s another story, but I had to try.  From there, I applied with a major transportation company.  To be hired for a ground-level administrative position, I had to pass a typing and shorthand test.  Typing was a breeze, but shorthand?  I had two weeks to learn it and had to pass a test at 90 words per minute.  I made it.  I applied myself and advanced from a clerk, to a secretary and then to a management position.  In the final years of my career, I had a nine-state territory.  I flew somewhere almost every week.

Wait!  I had some intermediary challenges.  I was forced to give presentations within the company as well as to the public.  I was a horrid public speaker, but I joined Toastmasters and not only became a proficient speaker but also an accomplished trainer.  Having overcome my weaknesses was very satisfying.

Fast forward to 2006.  I suffered two heart attacks and two strokes.  The nature of my challenges changed.  I was dizzy 24/7 from August until December.  I walked with a cane during that time and when I did I was taking baby steps.  I took physical therapy and speech therapy.  The most difficult challenge was overcoming depression.  My youngest son encouraged me to “take up my brushes and once again paint.”  I did, and I have been painting over ten years now and consider myself a professional painter.

Have I completed all of my challenges?  I hope not.  Recently, I had open-heart surgery and all the resulting challenges.  My latest is writing this blog and also writing a newsletter.  I want to build my email list Studio News.  I go to the gym six days a week.  The list of challenges gets longer.

The take away for you… it’s in the title of this post.  “If I Can, You Can.”  Start with a small challenge.  It will give you confidence to move on to a more difficult one.  You will eventually become the person you were always meant to be.

 

 

 

Painting a Super-Series

The Quiddity Series of 5 grew to four series, hence a Super-Series

quiddityQuiddity, Acrylic & Resin, 24×24.  A series of five paintings started with this painting, Quiddity.  By the way, “Quiddity” means “the quality that makes a thing what it is; the essential nature of a thing.”

To call a group of paintings a series, it should have from three to five paintings in the group.  The Quiddity series actually has five paintings.  I did not, however, stop with just this one series; I created three more… you might call the four series together a super series.

I created the second series as a daily painting campaign to attract email followers, “75 Paintings in 75 Days.”  The series became the “MiniQuids”(a word I coined).  I enjoyed it so much that I continued painting past the original 75.  I believe I stopped at 94.  I was very fortunate to have sold over forty.  Pictured here are a few of those still available:

  

MiniQuids 58, 94, and 8, Acrylic on 8×8 Canvas

Next came the daily painting series, “29 Paintings in 29 Days.”  This one became the “Kwid” series (another word I coined).  The paintings in the series are again acrylic and are 10x10x1.5.  Several are still available:

 

Kwids 23 & 27

Finally, the MaxiQuids have been painted at random.  There are only four in the series.  They are 12×12’s on canvas.

MaxiQuid 4

I enjoy challenging myself with new and ever-changing goals.  Challenges are invigorating and inspiring.  Now, I am doing “60 Paintings in 60 Days,” all on paper.  You can view the MiniQuids, Kwids, and MaxiQuids on my website under Artwork, go to http://jerryhardestystudio.com. To view the paintings on paper, please subscribe to my newsletter, also through my website under “Studio News.”

Hiding Under My Desk to Paint

My love of painting was born

My resume includes thirteen years as a choir and band teacher at a public high school. Can you believe after thirteen years, my highest annual salary was $13,000?  Poverty level.  Obviously this was several years ago and times have changed for the better, or have they?

It was during this time that I began painting with oils… wasn’t aware of other mediums. On my salary, affordable housing for my family and I was a mobile home. As you can imagine, an art studio was out of the question. When passion takes over, however, there is always a way.

I made do. I had a tabletop easel that I squeezed under a desk. I sat on the floor with my legs crossed and painted from photographs and magazines. My favorite subject was clown paintings. To this day, I still have three of those paintings. Each of my three kids have laid claim to one of them. I enjoyed clipping black and white photos from magazines and newspapers and imagined the colors for those clowns and their costumes. Additionally, I created still life paintings and gave them as gifts.

When I left teaching, I chose a different career path as a manager with a large transportation company. Having sacrificed my need to be creative and the stress of corporate demands may have contributed to failing health and I suffered two strokes and two heart attacks. I survived but lifestyle changes I made caused major depression. It was actually a blessing as my younger son encouraged me to once again take up painting. I did. I now consider myself a professional artist and I no longer have to “paint under the desk.”