Thursday, May 20, 2010

All the rest in a neat little package. . .

Something that I have realized since glancing over my last entry regarding my excursion to Gardiner, Maine for an exhibit of my work for the grand opening of Monkitree, is that it is sometimes difficult to keep a blog updated when on the road. This is especially true if one is involved with an event that naturally demands quite a bit of attention – oh say – the opening of an art gallery.

I say these things only as I realize that I last posted here on the Saturday morning of the event. Now, however, I am home and it is Thursday morning a scant over 4 days since my last post. Be prepared to read. . .

Truth be told, that while there was a steady stream of attendees for Saturday's event, the largest crowd chose Friday evening as the night to explore the gallery. In any case, I enjoyed both tremendously and actually welcomed the opportunity to have a lower-keyed event Saturday after the tremendously busy Friday night.

Even though engaging in 5 straight hours of conversation about one's art work and creation process as well as art in general is relatively exhausting (though I love doing it), Saturday's event was less of  a whirlwind which proved to be a welcomed break in the storm of activity.

I now realize that the both of the events ( the First Friday Art Walk and the Official Grand Opening on Saturday) worked together really to create one big event with a smattering of hours between the two. It was a tremendous amount of work for everyone involved, but it came about beautifully based upon what seemed to be genuine comments of praise to Clare and Peter for the space and to myself for my work.

So, now I must mention that one overall characteristic that I experienced over my week in Maine was the tremendously supportive vibe that was so palatable from the other business owners, artists, and locals in Gardiner, Maine to Clare during the last few days before the opening event. Prior to the events and during the process, there was a steady stream of well wishers offering positive words of support and encouragement.

Many of this group were other business owners up and down Water Street.
For example, I met several of the artists connected with the phenomenal “Artdogs” artist studios and residency, as well as the enthusiastic and talented Mary Becker Weiss, artist and proprietor of Corniche (in one of many synchronicities that occurred during my visit, I discovered that Mary represents the work of my good friend Robert Saunders whom I met many moons ago while working as the model coordinator assistant gallery curator for the Washington Studio School of Art. I had not seen him since those years and had no idea he was in Gardiner – you can imagine our mutual and happy surprise), there was also the gregarious Roger of A1 to Go who makes a brilliant lobster roll, Michael of the famous A1Diner, Mary K. and Jeff Spencer of The Potter’s House, Carol Wiley, the awesome Rebecca and the twins from The Mad Dog Pub, and many, many more.

So, let me say that the weekend events were everything I wanted them to be and there is much more to post here – however – the contractor has just arrived to work on the windows in the room with this computer and I am having a difficult time concentrating with the windows literally being ripped out around me.

More to come.  .  .

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The morning of the Maine/Main Event. . .

It's the morning of Saturday, May 15th which also makes it the morning of the Grand Opening of Monkitree and my exhibit. Last night, there was a "soft opening" which coincided with the Gardiner First Friday Art Walk.

I was quite impressed with the amount of people that came out for the art walk which lasted between 5 and 9 Pm and I was even more surprised when I was told by more than one person that the turnout was considered "light". In a conversation with the mayor of Gardiner, I mentioned how the feeling that the support for the arts and for what was happening on Water Street where the majority of the arts related business are located was substantial. I even sold a few works which doesn't occur often on openings, especially "soft" openings. I'll post some photos soon after I have time to load them from my camera.

The gallery looks simply wonderful and it has this aura of being a place visually that just makes one want to go in. Of course, this is a very important factor no doubt when running a business - especially an arts related business. I think some people see art on a wall, and they feel as if it something unapproachable as if in a guarded museum. Fortunately, Clare's space seems to have overcome that particular hurdle.
The majority of yesterday prior to the art walk was spent finalizing last minute details through out the space. A large amount of that work began after the arrival of a stunning Victorian era wood and glass display case that was delivered around 10 AM. I will definitely post photos of this stunning piece of work as it looks like something that Sleeping Beauty would be found in gracefully braced on the somnolent threshold of eternal slumber while surrounded by a group of lamenting dwarfs awaiting a distant Prince Charming. . . 

For a while, I must admit, things seemed chaotic as the 5 PM deadline drew nigh, but this is the nature of such events as often there are so many things that need to be addressed before launching a gallery that it becomes difficult to address them until they are right before you demanding attention. Fortunately, between myself, Clare, her lovely mother Maryanne, our friend Liz (up from DC), and Peter we were able to each focus on different aspects of the ever changing list just in time to pull it all together before the opening of the doors.
And then - suddenly - it was all very lovely. What began as a small trickle of people soon grew larger and larger leading to conversations with some wonderful people - which I always enjoy at art events. It also, fortunately, lead to the awareness of a few slight other details that need to be addressed before the main event tonight. In fact, I think I need to jump in the car make a quick jaunt up the road to the Staples in Augusta to make some more copies of the price list as we ran out last night.
By the way, I just had an amazing blueberry muffin here at A1 to Go. I would stay longer, but there are things to do - and also, the chap sitting behind me has decided to sing quite loudly, and sadly quite badly with the wrong words, to Journey's "Oh Sherry" which is at this moment playing on the sound system.

Did I mention that he whistles out of tune as well?

More to come. . . .

Friday, May 14, 2010

Maine remaining bits of day one, day two, and the beginning of day 3

Truth be told, it's really the morning of my third day in Gardiner, Maine so this post will be covering day two and catching up a bit on day one. If you find that confusing, be thankful that I'm not trying to give your directions. I really did try to compose an entry for this blog early this morning while enjoying a cup of coffee on the corner at the end of the block at a place called A1 To Go, but I forgot to bring my power cord with me and this work horse of a laptop wasn’t keeping enough juice in it do keep up with my thoughts so I passed opting rather to update now.

Thursday was somewhat of a zen day in the “one hand clapping” sense as I was busy – yet not busy – at the same time. Or, perhaps, it would be more fair to say that while we were busy hanging the show, it was enjoyable, so it didn't seem like work.

The day started beautifully with a pristine azure sky and bright  sunshine. I stood quietly by the window and looked out upon the morning as the sun rose in the horizon. I could tell that even though the sun was abundant, the morning air was cold as I could see relatively heavy frost on the windshields on some of the autos in the parking lot directly behind the gallery, and sinewy clouds of steam hovering over the small river/massive stream that boundaries the same parking lot.

Much to my surprise, I saw a stout man in shorts and sandals fly fishing in the the same body of water. He seemed totally impervious to the cold - which I found amazing - and certainly something only a Maine native could be capable of. I kept watching him through the window as I brushed my teeth and I found his movements with the reel and the casting of the fly slightly mesmerizering. For a moment, I became lost in it. These thoughts were tempered though by my sheer amazement at this chap's ability to be standing by the edge of the water in 34 degrees wearing shorts, sandals, a sweatshirt and fishing vest. The trance ended just as quickly as it came about however when thoughts of locating a tumbler of morning coffee took control. . .

It wasn't long after a quick shower and a shave that I put on a few extra layers, grabbed my digital camera that I headed up the street to the coffee shop that I knew from reading the sign before opened at 7 AM. I had also read that they had free Wi-Fi. It seemed like the perfect morning retreat for this very early riser.

As I walked out the door of the building where I am staying, I was greeted with an gentle breeze that was scented by a lilac bush somewhere. The scent was delicious and sadly, it dissipated as easily as it had come upon me. As it was still rather early, the street was very quite save for the passing of a handful of locals on their way to their respective 9 to 5s. It gave me the perfect opportunity to snap some quick pics without having to deal with traffic and litter. . .

Here is the Mad Dog Pub which has in the span of only 36 hours has become one of my favorite places to hang out. It helps that it happens to be literally right next door to the gallery. It's really everything a great pub should be with a robust, red decor, friendly and witty staff (i.e. - Rebecca the bartender ) and wonderful food and drinks. I've met some great folks there as well - such as the Amy and Michele (twins), a really interesting drummer named Ginger (with whom I shared a "small world" moment via mutual connections to Nashville), and a friendly retired ranger who goes by the name of Buck.

The earlier mentioned "stream" is photographed here - though I now know from a brochure that I picked up that this is feed by the Kennebec River. On the map, it is simply listed as "stream". It runs directly behind the parking lot, behind the gallery, and it lives there as if a jewel on the street.

Of course, it has a history of flooding and I've seen a few of those posts about where historic high water marks have been painted and have heard tales of flooding of the past. This is one of the the unfortunate events that will inevitability occur though to towns built on the edges of stream-rivers. Occasionally, the waters rise. . .

Yesterday - the focus was for the most part - all about hanging the show and getting inventory into the computer system. I hung the show, Clare did the computer work, and Peter helped install some more lights. But one of my personal highlights of the day was when all three of us worked together to hang the sign out front of the gallery.

The sign, which was literally created over the original hanging sign from the building's previous incarnations, is rather heavy and it took all three of us plus the ladders to host it in the air, and over our heads to be bolted into place. I think it looks wonderful if I do say so myself ( I designed the logo) - but more than that, I can say that I had a helping hand in hanging that sign. There's something comforting about that - perhaps it's like smashing a bottle of champagne over the bow of a ship.

There is still much to get done today before the "soft" opening at 5 for the 1st Friday Gallery Walk here in Gardiner. I'll also be giving an artist talk to a group of Middle and High school students and I need to ponder what I want to focus on in the talk. Frankly, there are many different avenues worthy of discussion but I will only select a few and see how it develops. There's also several small items left to purchase and a few preparatory details that need to be addressed before the event.

Suddenly, I feel the clock ticking and realize that I need to step away from the keyboard and out of this bakery that charges full price for refills on coffee even though I purchased coffee at $1.90 (mediocre) and a chocolate croissant ( even more mediocre) just 35 minutes prior. By the way, it's not A-1 to Go, which I think I will frequent during the rest of my stay. . .

So - on that note - let me close with a random list of new things that I have learned so far since my arrival -
  • While Maine is known for such grandiose seaside vacation spots such as Kennebunkport and  Campobello, the state overall is financially depressed and many of the locals have lifes very different from those whom can afford to visit such places ( i.e. - "Dolores Clariborne" )
  • General Benidict Arnold led his regiment into battle not far from here before he decided to switch teams so to speak
  • Lobster is still expensive, even in Maine
  • People here really are more accustomed to the cold and seem to be able to get sunburned in the slightest bit of sun
  • There is a local beer I like that begins with the letter P with a name that I couldn't pronounce properly until I had had more than one. . .
  • People from the state over who drive badly and/or rudely are referred to as "Massholes".
  • Portland is supposedly a very hip town. . .
  • Only three types of trees grown in Maine  - though I'm not sure about the validity of that. . .
  • There are no naturally occurring poisonous snakes in the state of Maine.
Well - much to do now, so on with the show. More to come.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Welcome to Maine. . .

Some of you may know that I have spent the better part of the last two months preparing for an art exhibit at the Monkitree Gallery in Gardiner, Maine. This will be the grand opening of the gallery which is co-owned by a very close friend of mine, Clare Marron and her partner Peter Maylon. 

I arrived this early in the afternoon after driving up from Delaware and am happy to say that I have found both the gallery and Gardiner to be lovely. 

Initially, the thought of driving to Maine from Delaware was a bit intimidating as I've never been particularity found of spending long stretches of time spent behind the wheel of a car navigating through lands unknown. But, I bit the bullet so to speak and set off on my journey yesterday morning beginning with a ferry trip across the Delaware Bay, a drive down the entire length of the Garden State Parkway, and then a variety of interstates which led me to choose a landing place of Bethel, Connecticut to spend the night before finishing the last leg of the journey this morning. By the way, if you ever find yourself at the Best Western Berkshire Inn  (a lovely and affordable hotel by the way) do yourself and favor and choose not to dine at the restaurant across the street as suggested by the front desk clerk. I can't remember the name of the place at the moment, which may be for the best as what I do remember is wildly overpriced mediocre food and a bartender with as much charisma as a constipated mortician.

When I awoke this morning, I glanced out the window to the surprise of steady rain, fog, and based upon the clouds of mist hovering about the exhaust pipes of passing vehicles, unseasonably cold temperatures. This created a bit of anxiety as I despise driving in such conditions - but I had 5 more hours ahead. After checking out, I picked up a huge cup of coffee at the nearest 7-11 and a sugar-free Red Bull, gassed up the tank and headed out.

The drive went better than I expected initially until I hit AM rush hour traffic around Hartford where there was also major road work occurring. After about an hour and half of white knuckle driving through terrible weather and road construction while battling well road versed locals maniacally flying through the lanes on their way to 9 to 5's, I managed to eventually get my groove on with the road and eventually found myself crossing into the state of Massachusetts. 

Now - this is where something interesting occurred. . . I was actually born in Massachusetts though I was raised in Kentucky after my family moved there in the late 1960s. There was something grounding about crossing the border into the state where I was born. Even though it really wasn't a major part of my life after the age of 5 ( though I still had - and do to this day -  family there and we did visit on a few occasions after the move), I guess part of me still felt connected to it. And here is where it gets a it uncanny - as I was pondering these thoughts, I noticed that there were suddenly very few other cars on the road, save a truck that I could see approaching in my rear view mirror. Also, at the same time, the rain had stopped and the sun had began appearing in the sky. The two events seemed to coincide. As the truck came upon and then passed - guess which state it was licensed in? - Yep. Kentucky. . .

I took that as a personal sign from someone, or somewhere, that I was indeed on the right path.

Tomorrow, I'll post a few photos of the progress of the hanging of the show at the gallery, discuss meeting some very cool locals here in Gardiner, and much more. Right now - it's been a long day and hitting the hay.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Do YOU know the way to San Jose?

I’ve been in the mood for the music of these two legends all week. I can’t seem to get enough of it and even created a special Pandora station with them just to soothe the craving. . .


Sunday, May 02, 2010

Portrait of Billie

Hey folks – I spent most of my Sunday drawing which is something that goes well with a lazy, rainy Sunday afternoon. I scanned one sketch that I was pleased with into Photoshop, added some color – and ta da – a new drawing now available as a high-resolution, archival fine art print on my site at

Here’s the work titled “Portrait Of Bille”. Unframed, archival, high-resolution and quality prints are available at starting at prices under $20!