Saturday, July 16, 2011

Lessons From The Road

July 16, 2011

I saw a wide swath of the Southwest in the last six days, from Texas to New Mexico and back to Arizona. Road trips always give me a fresh perspective on the world. For me, seeing other towns, other people's homes, different communities of artists, cowboys and even renegade lawyers, helps me understand what others are doing to cope and survive and what some are doing to fly high. In some cases, very, very high.

Random notes from the road: if your art space is cluttered and narrow, that's how you will paint and that's what your paintings will look like. You need to keep things wide open and make space to paint big. Thank you Buckeye Blake.

I admire bold honesty, especially in the world of commerce. When a Southern California art gallery called and relayed a question from a prospective buyer, "Was the painting of Doc Holliday painted by a Native American," Thom Ross told the gallery to tell the customer, "No, tell them it was painted by a bigoted Jew." Thanks Thom Ross!

I enjoy brash and honest people, but sometimes you can be too outspoken. A certain artist friend of mine was in his favorite Seattle bar and the Japanese bartender started going off on the American atrocities in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and my friend asked the bartender if he was familiar with the "Rape of Nanking," in China, when Japanese soldiers slaughtered an equal amount of Chinese. My friend was told to never come back to the bar. My friend also admitted he has been kicked out of four bars and one restaurant in his old Seattle neighborhood. Lesson? When it comes to being brutally honest and outspoken, choose your battles (especially if you like the food in the restaurant). Thanks Thom Ross!

If you want a killer Manhattan and a taste of elk meat chaser, check out the upstairs bar in the Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe. Thank you Ken Amorosano!

Tequila can be a powerful muse, and can lead to a lawyer attacking an 85 foot wall with a charcoal briquette, illustrating the stations of the Billy the Kid cross, I mean story. Thank you Rocky Aragon!

If critics and fellow artists start sniping at you for your success, make paintings with targets on them, just to rub it in. Thanks Donna Howell-Sickles!

If a minister at the Billy requiem takes twenty minutes to read a book report about Billy the Kid complete with every myth about the Kid that we today know to be untrue, thank him and make a gentle jab at the fact that yes, Billy was a choir boy who loved his mother, but that there are other attributes about him that make him appealing as well. So mature, and oh, so gracious. Thank you Paul Andrew Hutton!

If the locals at one of the last surviving coffee shops in Vernon, Texas asks you to play a high-low coffee game, by all means play. You will learn something about small towns and Texas good ol' boys. Thank you Buddy and Joe Chat and the Perkem' Up Coffee Shoppe!

"Civilization is a movement and not a condition, a voyage and not a harbor."
—Arnold Joseph Toynbee

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