Friday, February 1, 2019

February 1st First Friday @ Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitor Center

So right on the heels of last month’s annual retrospective comes yet another gig: this time downtown at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center. I’m very pleased to be the featured artist for February, and will have a couple tables + a wall display (culled from the distillery natch) for the opening reception, this Friday, February 1st from 5-8pm.

Seriously thinking now about changing the name of the feature to "Nuggest" because it is the nuggest.

This is hosted by the Fairbanks Alaska Public Lands Information Center - staffed by the National Park Service - (check out their official Facebook page here), and also a shout-out to the folks at Explore Fairbanks who stepped up during the shut-down and made sure everything was still gonna happen on schedule.

This is usually a one-night-only event, which due to the logistics of setup + breakdown can be an awful lot of effort to invest in such a short window of opportunity for many artists. It’s been somewhat mitigated by the recent inclusion of a little nook (see picture below) off in the main exhibit hall dedicated to showcasing the selected artist’s work for the remainder of their respective month. So a handful of pieces can remain after the opening reception, and I’m gonna use that as a toehold excuse to maintain a presence for the duration of the month on weekends.

Disclaimer: None of this implies any sort of implied endorsement or relationship whatsoever with any of the entities involved with the Center. While I've definitely gained from the handful of seasons working there in my capacity as a former interpretive ranger, enough time and distance (well over a year now) has grown so as to avoid any ethical hangovers. Whereas previously I’ve been able to utilize my unique skills on the job, and also fomenting many an opportunity for inspiration and fodder for many a blog post about some of the wonderful installations, not to mention participation in previous events like bazaars and exhibits  - now I get to finally enjoy the other side of the counter as a citizen in one of the crown jewels of our Interior community.

Given my notoriety in maximizing the marketing and promotional potential for such gigs, I look at this as an outstanding chance for prolonged exposure coupled with interaction with the public. While visitor foot traffic during February is only a fraction of the crowds that come through in the summer season, there’s been a real uptick in visitors over the winter. It would be super awesome to greet literal busloads of folks and regale them of tales of my time as a sourdough cartoonist, plus maybe even peddle some wares while I’m at it…

The flip side of this arrangement will mean plenty of down time so as to get some work done. Ain’t no different than what I’d normally be doing at home anyways, just out in public, just like I always have a sketchbook on-hand for “research purposes” whenever at a cafĂ©, bar or restaurant. I’m one of those comparatively rare artists that, while not necessarily a performance artist (excepting some instances when lecturing about comics), I definitely know the value of, well, putting on a show. And I’m more than comfortable doing the dancing bear routine presumably on account of my history as a waiter, which inures you to the audacity of introducing yourself to complete strangers.

Most important of all is to remove as much of the veneer of contrived mystery around creating works of art - not that many people ever get the chance to watch an artist do their thing; they normally only see the finished product. Best of all I just love hearing stories from so many different experiences and perspectives from folks who have come from all around the world to visit my home… it’s a veritable smorgasbord of inspiration.

Here's my tentative schedule will be these dates from 8am to 5pm… stop on by to say hi and check out works in progress.

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