Maybe Not So Crazy
Black ink on paper.
5″ x 5″ (12.7 cm x 12.7 cm)
For me, 2017 was a mixed bag of lows and highs indeed. I’m grateful that on balance the highs prevail. My practice as a “culturally subversive artist” was a significant factor in the highs.
Half the year was occupied weathering personal crises of varying severity, including significant health scares. For the moment I appear to have dodged those bullets. My gratitude goes to healers, professional and professing, from whom I benefit in ways big and small. Other events occurred, which momentarily rocked me hard back onto my heels.
In a larger context, I’ve grown more anxious in the past couple of years at the looming political-economic environment. The events of this past year have raised my level of alarm.
Truly I would say we’re living in the best of times and the worst of times.
What the Dickens do I mean by this?
It’s the worst (and worsening) time in that fascism has emerged in the U.S. as a popular movement with significant foothold in official government and policy on multiple levels. I’m warily on-the-lookout for Reichstag fire-style incidents that bring this to an even more violent and established stage.
For creatives and humanists it’s a great time for us to be alive and vibrant, exercising our birthright in finding solutions to these challenges for this nation and the world.
To quote the acclaimed author and activist Riane Eisler, “the degree of emancipation of women is an index of the degree of a society’s emancipation.”1 I’m heartened by the resurgence of women on a mass scale this year past asserting and reclaiming their equality and right to respect, as this portends the potential to humanize society as a whole.
In my own personal life, I’m grateful to a network of supportive friends, who show me love in the best of ways.
I’ve benefited in past years from teams of dedicated men’s counselors whose aim is to facilitate men learning to live more fulfilling lives as partners, parents and friends, and as champions for all children, women — and other men, as they redefine their roles and identities. I’m proud to have been able to pay forward some of those benefits as a volunteer myself. As I approached the milestone of my sixty-fourth birthday in the month of September, I concluded my fifth consecutive team participation.
Completing several paintings gave me great joy and satisfaction; and I ended the year 2017 with a new portrait painting underway.
The great time and effort spent over many months resulted in a portfolio website and blog I’ve upgraded to my satisfaction. I began publishing a newsletter, which I look forward to sending out on a more reasonable and timely basis notifying subscribers of art events in which I participate and of the more substantial writing content in my blog — and I’m grateful to a growing list of subscribers. Thank you!
Speaking of art events and exhibits, I participated in six this year. I might have even over-extended myself in this regard, given that I still work a full-time day job that entails commute times burdensome to say the least. (Hint: That may change sooner than later — so, stay tuned, folks!)
Of these events, my best art sales to date occurred at a well-attended open studio at the end of September. I’m looking forward to bigger, more consistent and more frequent sales – more, more!
I made my first – and successful – forays into the medium of comic art and a long-in-coming return to pen-and-ink work.
Using the vehicle of Inktober, I produced thirty-one concept drawings, some of which I’m happy to say can stand alone as respectable artwork in their own right.
You can now be assured of seeing more of both comic art and ink in 2018 and beyond.
Black ink on paper.
5″ x 5″ (12.7 cm x 12.7 cm)
What are my hopes and expectations for 2018, especially the next nine-and-a-half months leading into my sixty-fifth birthday?
My intention is toward a deeper self-mastery over triggered, childhood-rooted negative emotion.
It’s taken me a lifetime to engrain these in my neural pathways, so they are tenacious; but I’ve come a long way in the past five-and-a-half years.
Increased self-mastery this year will include moving faster up the emotional scale from these negative states whenever they rear their ugly heads to intermediate stages of letting go and self-care, and then moving on to hopefulness, optimism and positive expectation.
Creatives take note: there’s a lot of explosive energy stored up in emotion. Much of that energy is wasted in either bottling up emotion through fear, or in letting it fly uncontrolled in wrong-headed directions. My expectations are that I’ll express my creative energy in more dynamic art of emotional depth.
I now have no doubt that “subversive art” is my voice and my mission. I’m contributing to subvert the patriarchal culture that was centuries in the making as the dominant paradigm.
To my view, the prevailing culture is the “operating system” by which society runs, which underlies the basic assumptions on “how it is”. To extend the analogy, we live under a deeply flawed operating system with bad code embedded every hundred lines or so within it. It’s a system that continues to chug along, with crashes that increasingly endanger the subsystems within it. I see my role as a subversive artist not in “fixing” a bad operating system, but scrapping and replacing it altogether, even as I help engineer the workarounds that allow various beneficial subsystems and applications to survive in the meantime.
At the same time as I’m striving to make my art a vehicle for social transformation, I’m also increasingly rigorous in defining it as my spiritual practice.
I’m searching for and discovering ways that the visual images I make can better reflect the unseen and universal – the ineffable (play with THAT!), the noumena, if you will. The dreaming of dreams and the making of images are how I connect with that which is larger than our immediate physical existence in time and space.
While those are my “resolutions” for 2018, I fully realize that they – along with spiritual practices in search of wholeness – are tasks for a lifetime and beyond.
1 Riane Eisler. The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future. (New York: Harper Collins 1995)