Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Walkyrie" (Cannonball)

This piece was just accepted into the "New Media" exhibit that opens on this upcoming 1st Friday at the Fairbanks Arts Association's Bear Gallery. It was spawned largely as a counterpoint to a commercial gig that was running simultaneously in the studio: nice to have a creative outlet to temper any resentments that were arising from "art-by-committee." Unfettered expression is so rarely equated with financial reward: a client always likes to know what they are getting, and in cases like this particular piece, even I didn't know what was ultimately going to evolve. What's even worse is doing art for, or hearing criticism from other folks, who only know what they don't want, or don't like, when it's hard enough mentally chasing the tail of some elusive idea inside your own head. That's the tipping point between fine art and commercial - the tug of the leash... "Help! Help! I'm being repressed!" Above and beyond that, one often encounters artists who are wracked by melodramatic angst because they cannot manage to create what they "see," and when the manifested reality doesn't match up against the vision, it is cause for frustration or depression. I say to hell with that and just keep swinging from vine to vine, (me Tarzan Artistman) reaching out to (hopefully) grasp the next link in an unfolding mystery, materializing as it mutates right before your eyes. 

More mullings below the fold....

If my overall output wasn't leavened with enough random surprises, and if I weren't okay with what I do and how it looks, then that'd be cause for either the aesthetic coma that sets in for some artists, or time to cap the pens, fold up the easel and retire. The reboots and retreads are often enough to keep moving along, juggling expectations from within and without, one for me, one for you, three for me, a couple for us both. Rejection is hand-in-glove with putting stuff out, damn the torpedoes. Case-in-point right here on Ink & Snow, in how obviously writing isn't my strong point, and coupled with how mounting technical issues are an impediment to blogging. Still hasn't stopped me yet (though in the latter case, it has slowed me down considerably, even typing with two fingers), and boy am I ever having some serious fun regardless. A couple of my students overheard me giggling at my own demo in this morning's class, maybe the capacity to endlessly amuse myself comes from being raised an only child? Unadulterated entertainment isn't anywhere near as rich as the amusement had at one's own expense: sure, the laughter of a child is honest and free, but it's empty compared to cynical barks from the belly, ones that actually release and purge.

I'm reminded of a recent exchange with some students over critiquing: it's not often you hear a college teacher make an analogy between the studio art class with other courses (must be a College of Liberal Arts), in that just because you don't get A's or even fail at a particular line of study doesn't mean you can't still do it if it interests you. Squelching passion has to be the absolute worst thing a teacher can do: our job is to nurture and encourage, but balanced with honest appraisal, with no illusions about the reality of the situation. Aspiring talents face grim odds, and more often than not discipline and conviction are trumped by circumstance and blind luck, good or bad. So say you got into a show: congratulations, and so what. So you didn't get into a show... same goes: so what. Don't let either go to your head. Perseverance has its own intrinsic and relative rewards, and is probably one of the singular attributes of "success" - however that is measured by each individual - that has been demonstrated time and time again throughout the community of artists I've met over many years of wondering and wandering. Teach by telling, show by doing, learn by asking.

More and more my life and art has been turning into a giant, metaphysical sluice-box, ferreting out the nuggets from the overwhelming amount of crap that's all around. But half the time it's not about what comes out the other end, it's the reclamation that becomes truly important, as what's left behind is often as much of a creative testament to the process than any particular piece.

The eye of a hurricane as viewed from space is merged under an equally altered droplet, both against a curtain of northern lights (courtesy of NOAA and NASA): slinging around a 300+meg file on my antiquated war-pony of a Mac was almost as tiresome as hand-placement of individual walrus whiskers... at some point enough's enough and you just gotta let it go. The idea initially stemmed from an idle doodle coupled with a cryptic note: "they swim around inside the aurora chasing after star-clams." Born from storms out over the ocean, it's the sound of their wings that one hears in the whisper of the Northern Lights at forty-below. No, really.
Ambient imagery in part fermented from Brian Eno's "Evening Star" and "An Ending/Ascent" plus Robert Fripp (w/David Sylvian) "Bringing Down The Light." 

As mentioned in the post opening, this was submitted to an annual juried digital art show - the same one I got a couple large-scale figurative pieces in last year. It was printed up at a whopping 24x36" size on Date-Line Digital Copies' awesome new color plotter. They also provided a generous donation so as to showcase the spiffy technology they now can offer to local artists who would like to see their work flawlessly reproduced at mind-bending dimensions.


  1. Looks like to me to be a very nice cover for a children's book. Maybe something like, "Benny the Walrus' Fantastic Dream Machine".

    Better yet a comic book.

    Love your stuff,

  2. Hey thanks Jeff – that’d make for some weird kids. Probably grow up to be cartoonists.

    The only walrus I got to see in the wild was on a two-week hike on a stopover in Nome. Two juveniles were arguing over a prime haul-out rock: got more material watching them for half an hour than I could ever use.
    Although their behavior (and sounds) weren’t all that different than seeing some locals wallow and grunt around the local watering hole.

  3. I'm very, very tempted to get a tattoo of this (at least the walrus angels) -- reminds me of the walrus-playing-harp shirts sold at the Farmer's Market.

    Does this make me a bad person?

  4. Your relative badness would be directly proportional to the strategic placement of the walruses.
    Either way I freakin'guarantee I’ll post a picture of it. If you’re around for the opening I should be packing posters.
    And damned if I had forgotten that design: the walrus with a harp + angel-wings done by the most awesome Inari Kylänen!

  5. I love this piece so much! I wish I could be there for the opening. I miss Fairbanks terribly. I always love seeing your work, Jamie! I'm saving my pennies for an original!