March 20, 2015
The lesson I’m learning is that if you start a Kickstarter campaign, you get scads of spam offering to help you reach your goal for short money. Costs range from $49.99 to “we’ll discuss it.” Here’s a typical one:
“This is some interesting stuff Marc . I would like to reach out and offer my assistance in getting the word out the best way possible! Do you have a minute to talk about the strategies you’re using to get this thing funded? Let me know what you had in mind so far.
“I’d love to chat more! smile emoticon”
“Since I’ve posted this Kickstarter campaign, I’ve received a half a dozen emails from people offering to help me reach my goal, for a fee. You at least took the time to address me by name so I’m responding, but I have to tell you, your offer seems awfully similar to the others, and when I checked your link, it appears you just signed up with Kickstarter last month and haven’t started or backed any projects. I have to wonder what kind of experience you can bring to the table and what differentiates you from the other folks trying to get me to hire them. I’m just a poor, starving artist, I’m not trying to raise all that much money to begin with, and I’m afraid I have no free cash to invest in outside marketing services. If I’ve read you wrong, I apologize; still, you must admit your offer looks suspiciously like the others.
This is analogous to the “I want to buy your paintings, please deposit this check for more than you’re asking and mail me back the balance” emails I get occasionally. Is it just a matter of scammers targeting artists as vulnerable and needy victims? God knows we don’t have any spare money lying around for the taking.
March 19, 2015
If you are in Cambridge on June 6th, please come to my showing of Panhandler portraits at the Democracy Center. The Democracy Center (45 Mt. Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA) has very kindly offered to provide a venue for the paintings, on very short notice. The Democracy Center is engaged in an interesting project of its own—development of an urban farm to provide fresh organic produce for the homeless population of Cambridge.
The show will be up for only a few days–it’s a community center, not a gallery–and then the paintings will go to the National Coalition for the Homeless in Washington on permanent loan, so this is your chance to see all the paintings in Massachusetts. The opening should be fun, and I’m hoping to put on a big feed for the local homeless folks.
March 16, 2015
Down in the basement this winter… painting skulls.
December 1, 2014
I set up a dingy little studio in my basement and did my annual self portrait.
Generally speaking I am not one of those “If I didn’t do art I’d kill myself” types—I find painting deeply satisfying, but hardly therapeutic in a clinical sense—but I’ve been pretty down in the dumps lately and doing this did make me feel better. I’ll try and get some more painting done this winter, maybe set up some still lifes.
On the panhandler front, the weather has been mostly miserable for the past few weeks, alternately rainy, snowy and ice cold. I saw Justin and Lauren (“The Lovebirds”) last week and asked how they were doing. They were very excited about moving to Michigan—Lauren’s mom was taking them in and had sent them money for bus tickets. Justin insinuated that they were somehow “pulling a fast one” on Lauren’s mom, but whatever floats your boat and if their self esteem requires them to downplay or trivialize Lauren’s mom’s generosity, I’ll be happy to be grateful to her on their behalf.
November 17, 2014
I went to the Goya show at the MFA the other night. Oh my God, what a brilliant, tortured man. On the plus side, as far as my personal ego goes, I got to get up close to most of the paintings for a good look (museum guards hate me), and his handling of clothes and drapery, I’m happy to report, was clumsy at best. I just don’t think he was that interested in it, an attitude I can completely understand. However, on top of all the other superlatives one could care to bestow on his art, I was especially surprised and impressed by his use and depiction of light. Astonishing, modern and even cinematic in its intensity.
Then I went to the Jamie Wyeth show, and I was eaten up with envy. Not at his artwork; I found that rather banal, technically proficient in the Brown Gravy style but not extraordinary (the same criticism I have of Andrew), nor particularly insightful, but of the apparent ease and leisure to do whatever he wants provided by his famous name. Shit, I wish I owned a private island off the coast of Maine. I wish I could afford to buy Rockwell Kent’s house on Monhegan. Then I could paint eight foot canvases of pumpkins too. Small of me, I know, but that’s how I felt.
October 31, 2014
Maria was eating an apple outside the Coop. She was wearing a hoodie and, incongruously, a mink coat. A gentleman with a Duck Dynasty style beard, Indio, was introduced to me as her husband. “You’re her husband?” I asked. “I take care of her,” he said.
Because of the paucity of shelter caused by the closing of the Long Island Shelter, I asked Indio what their plans were for the winter. “Heading down to Raleigh,” he said. Apparently Raleigh, NC has an enlightened attitude towards the homeless. “Maybe out west.”
I didn’t get a chance to talk with Maria, who didn’t seem to be the talkative type anyway, because as soon as I set up a drummer of the plastic bucket and miscellaneous cooking utensils variety set up behind me and starting banging away. He was quite good and some of it reminded me of gamelan music. After I finished painting I chatted with him a little bit and asked him if he’d ever heard of John Cage. “He wrote a lot of music for prepared piano,” I said. “What’s that?” he asked. I said, “He put little bits of metal, forks and washers, things like that, under the piano strings and then played the piano. Your music reminded me of his a bit.” “You’re shittin’ me!” he cried. “What do they call that kind of music?” “I guess it’s classical, but back in the day it was called ‘Avant Garde.'” He found a John Cage video on his smart phone and started to watch. “His most famous piece is called 4’33,” I said. “The performer comes out and sits in front of the piano for exactly four minutes and thirty three seconds without playing a note.” “No way!” he exclaimed.
October 26, 2014
I buy a Spare Change News from Frank almost every week. He was standing in front of my office last Saturday when I came out and eagerly agreed to pose.
Frank is 63. He told me he had been an artist himself but nearly tore his thumb off when he punched a wall in a fit of rage and he could no longer draw. His brother, he told me, is a well known artist, and indeed he is–a successful comic book penciller when I looked up his name on-line.
Frank was in Viet Nam and spent several years as a POW. We discussed his career options–he had been offered a job handing out the free Metro newspaper, but preferred “making my own hours” as the much-less-lucrative Spare Change vendor. “Plus they check up on you. The manager comes around and makes sure you haven’t just ditched your papers.” Like John, he was intensely interested in and (from what I could see) unwelcomely forthcoming with his compliments for passing women. Frank didn’t like his portrait.