Mt. Royal Tavern Show on April 6

I'm excited about my first solo showing of work in ages this Thursday, April 6, at the Mt. Royal Tavern.  The wait list for the Tavern is somewhere upwards of 5 years, so I was 33 when I signed up.  The work in the show represents my larger figurative paintings that are more main obsession and focus as a contemporary artist.  People may be familiar with my still life paintings or landscapes, but studies are always a means of sharpening my paint handling.  My past interests in electron microscopy has led me to examine the human figure(s) in isolated environments as they shift under pressure.  The paintings are all on the largish side, which has kept me from showing in smaller shows recently.  The Mt. Royal Tavern is located at 1204 Mt. Royal Avenue in Baltimore.  As a staple in the artist corridor of the city, the Tavern is "The Cedar Tavern" of Baltimore.  If you haven't been before, and you like nice spiffy places, you might want to bring handi-wipes.  The opening starts around 5 ish, and I hope to make gumbo for the event.  

Hope is a Dangerous Thing

..........Tell them stories about your past and draw a connection between that and what's going on now....people will love'll be poignant....  Oh and hello.  The idea of a blog is still new to me, so please forgive my irratic entries, all my adoring blog readers.  When I was a small boy, I was bent on going in the opposite direction of anything country or religious in my small town.  Oddly enough, after hearing about the horror and macabre of Stephen King, I decided that his writing should be an avenue that I follow.  I borrowed a collection of short stories he published, by the name of Four Seasons.  They were digestable for me, and short enough that I could finish reading them at the young age of 10 or 11.  The story that stuck with me most was "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption".  Many years later I would see it on the big screen, but as a youth, the script made an impression.  First off, it wasn't what I was expecting of Stephen King.  I guess I was hoping for satanic ritual, and after reading his work as an adult, I'm sure I could have just as easily stumbled upon that.  But "Rita Hayworth and the Shashank Redemption" was a realistic prison story about pretty normal people.  It described prison life over 30 years in 1950's America.  That was new for me.  Above King's gritty portray of Andy Dufrane's frail character in Shashank prison, what struck me was how King captured the mentality that the inmates had toward about the hope for freedom, and how being institutionalized can change that.  As this is a journal of my studio practice and thoughts about such, I relate this quote from Red to my recent placement on the alternate list for the Graduate Program I applied to.  "Hope is a dangerous thing.  Hope can drive a man insane."  Hoping for a change of direction is a especially tricky, as one is always thinking about what could have been on the other path.  It's almost like finding yourself in a weird service lane, when you can see the highway you want to be on next to you, over a few concrete traffic walls, and a 50 ft. drop between them.  As an artist, the disapointment is almost tangible, even before a final verdict.  The work must continue to be made, despite any detour or redirection.  Hope can get in the way of that process.  In fact, there may be little room for hope in the work process of an artist.  I can't imagine anyone has ever relied on hope to get a piece done, and realistically, if the amount of hope that was had was ever quantifiable and meaningful, things like world hunger would be staved off.  When Red gives his two cents about Andy's hope to be a free, he is speaking as a broken man.  Although this makes him more appealing for parole later in the story, the conversation is what spurs Andy towards the climax of the story.  Andy's response is classic.  He says, "Either get busy living, or get busy dying", which was something Red had told him earlier.  In the context of hope, despite either option, we are obliged to move forward or not all.

Grad School and doubting yourself

I just applied to Graduate school for Fine Arts.  I'll be honest, its the second year the I've gone through the process.  I applied last year and made the alternate list.  Only one school interests me, and that is the only school I've applied to.  Reasons I'm drawn to this school: 1. A director that is knowledgable about a broad range of current art movements.  2. The studios that have amazing natural light.  3.  The student from the program I've met this past year looked like she was a burner. These are all serious deal makers for me.  I've been painting for a minute now.  A lot of years.  There really isn't a guarentee that goes with putting in time making art.  Some people do it their whole lives and nobody else is aware, and some people don't make work very often at all, and everyone knows who they are, and where they drink.   And so is art.  Nobody ever told me I'd grow up to be widely acknowleded when I pursued it, certainly not painting.  But, after however long its been, I assumed I'd be "good" enough to get accepted into a graduate school, albeit one of the top schools in the country.  I'm up against kids who were into Justin Beiber 10 years ago.  Surely I had this.  But nah.  Artists have to be resilient.  Blows to your ego can knock your whole shit out of wack.  So I'm back again this year.  It's tough thinking that I'll be denied again this year, but as the homie Devin the Dude once said, "hope for the best, prepare for the worst."  And I'm starting to think about what the next year holds and what the attack plan is like for the application again, for a third time, next year.  It reminds me of James Clevall's novel "Shogun".  The main character, who is Portuguese in fuedal Japan, ends the book completing a ship that he will use to sail home.  The Daimyo, or new Shogun, sabotoges his efforts buy burning the ship in the dock.  Although the main character is pissed, he begins to rebuild his ship, and thus begins a cycle of destruction to rebuilding, forever. 


Traveling to Europe

This bridge is in the Gothic Quarter.  It's part of Barcelona's Gothic revival efforts around the turn of the 20th century.  According to the legend, which was fabricated to make the structure seem antiquated, King Phillip hung the heads of traitors off this bridge.  The homie Sergio said this wasn't true.

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Upcoming Show: Fall Art and Wine Pairing at Jazzway 6004, October 22. Information at


This October, I will be presenting a show themed around matching wines with paintings.  This isn't my idea, and I owe a great deal of gratitude to Jen at the Artist's Angle in Fredrick, Maryland.  We sat down one morning for brunch with my mother-in-law, and Jen, who organizes multiple art functions, such as Art-o-Matic in Fredrick, mentioned the idea as a way of bringing people together.  When I thought about what I wanted to show, and what would look good in the Jazzway venue during the Fall, my landscapes were the first thing that came to mind.  I have alway produced landscapes wherever I find myself, and over the past years I began to see a reoccurring theme in what types of paintings were produced where, and what kind of influence setting exerts over the creative process.  This is something I've considered often in regards to being an Alabama transplant in the city of Baltimore.  How does the artist adapt to their surroundings when making their art, and how do you detect that influence?  Having an oevure of plien air landcapes and still life paintings done from observation gave me the opportunity to really look at their differences and similarities.  Initially, I divided them up into themes, but having landscapes vs. still life wasn't a very interesting narrative for a show.  I decided instead to seperate them by location, which gave the body of work a little more flexibility.  

Dutchess County, New York had to make the list.  I have a large body of work that I've made in the town of Rhinebeck over the years, and all of them happen to be plien air, or on location, landscape paintings.  That area of the Hudson River Valley is magical to me, and I'm lucky to have made the acquaintance of a family that hosts my visits.  I've only been in the summer, and even in July the nights get down the low 80s, which is such a welcome change from the oppressive heate in Baltimore.  I recently got a chance to see that area of mid state New York when I traveled up to buy wine for the Art&Wine Pairing.  The colors were in full swing on October 15, and as I drove back to Baltimore, it was almost like a drive back into the seasonal colors of summer.   

The two areas in Maryland that are represented in this show are the rural areas north of Baltimore, and the western county of Fredrick.   Baltimore county is home to many of my older friends and Baltimore natives, and gives a respite from the rigidity of the City.  Fredrick on the other hand, or more specifically the Rocky Ridge/Thurmont area, is where my lovely in-laws live, and since they have opened up their arms to me, I have often found myself there throughout the year and in many seasons.  There are some places, such as churches or delapated structures that draw my interest in both places.  Maryland still has a newness that makes me want to study it longer.  The similarities to what Fairhope, my hometown, looked like when I was young are visible in the farming and fishing equipment strewn across the ladscape, but every area does the two-step a bit differently, and seeing those nuances are what draw me to the subjects that I paint.  Being close to my residence has given me a little licencse to use oil more often, or bring the pieces back to the studio to finish.