2369 Miles, 2369 Art Conversations, and 23,690 “Sick”

swamisThis last month I ventured down south for two art shows. The first was a solo show at Bliss 101 in Encinitas. The second was the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach. Months of preparation went into these two events. Fortunately, all that work paid off!

I seem to be developing a bit of a fan base in the Encinitas area, largely due to my art presence at Bliss 101. The night of my solo show had a great turnout, with many art buyers! Bliss had one of it’s best opening nights ever, and so did I. I honestly don’t expect that there are people out there who like my art, want to buy it, or want to meet me in person. I’m just a guy in a box, from Oregon, who likes to see what happens when I put paint on wood. There’s obviously more meaning to it than that, but that’s a simplified reason of why I do it. I had great talks about art with people interested in learning more. Yes, they were partaking in the complimentary wine, and I had some beers, but it was still good chats. To me, it feels nice when you see that what you’re doing is inspiring others. Maybe they’ll become painters, or already are, or maybe you somehow tap into something deep inside them. Whatever it was, there was good mojo that night, and people caught me in rare form…publicly talking about art and painting.

Next was the U.S. Open of Surf. This is an event that I’ve followed since I was a little kid. So when I was asked if I’d like to participate in it, I said yes. I had an art tent on the beach for the NINE day event. I really don’t recommend trying to pull this off on your own, like I did. It was a marathon, and like a marathon you need to think through your strategy and pace yourself. This meant, no late nights, eat right, learn to conserve your conversations, and most importantly, I treated my neighbors well so that they’d watch my booth when I needed a toilet break. I was always peppy after that.

I think my art presence added a bit of soul to an event that was mostly about advertising brands. I’m not trying to say I’m above what these bigger brands are doing. I also sell things, so therefore I am in a sense a brand. Spreading the word about what I make was a reason why I was there. Art has the ability to touch people in a deeper way than some of the cheap freebies that were being given away. Age, gender, and race were irrelevent. It was just people taking in art, and that’s a nice feeling. Hipsters still don’t care about what I’m creating though…oh well.

When thousands of people a day are passing by your artwork, you begin to notice common themes. For instance, if a person said the word “sick” in reference to my artwork, 99.999% of the time they weren’t any sort of buyer. Yes, mostly it was teenagers saying this, but there were definitely older people saying it as well. In regards to my need to conserve conversations, this was a red flag that I could go back to what I was doing before they entered my tent. I wasn’t rude to them, I understand it was a complement, I just felt the need to pace myself over the nine days. I repeated myself my art blurb probably on an average of once every three minutes, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. I felt like Bill Murray on Groundhog Day, except my new day started at the end of my blurb. When it was all said and done, I met a bunch of great people from around the world, but the people that made the biggest impression on me were the Huntington Beach locals. They had very encouraging things to say to me, and have a lot of grace for the throngs of people that come out of the woodwork for that event.

I also have a newfound respect for the 100’s of people behind the scenes who work tirelessly to basically build a small city on the beach for this event. It makes me sad that a few dumb people felt the need to destroy what wasn’t theirs, and that becomes what most media outlets choose to focus on.

The further I get down the road of being an artist, the more I realize I can’t do this alone. I’m so thankful for all the people that come by my side and believe and encourage what I do for a living. Sometimes it’s friends and family who’ve supported me since the beginning, and other times it’s new acquaintances who blow me away with their generosity. You all are making me strive to be a better person. Thanks!

 

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