Today is the day I finally bust across the state line to start meeting with galleries and setting up exhibits outside of Florida. I’m not allowed to drive in Georgia but – now that I’ve got Spillane with me – I’m able to make Atlanta the first stop. Cities are cities to me at this point though so priority #1 is to get out of the heat. To that end, we’re gonna try to get everything we wanna get done within the span of a couple days – maybe stick it out through the weekend just on account of gallery hours – and then get heading further north.
Right now, we’re en route to get the transmission on the van serviced but we should be on the road by 6. This stop in Jacksonville was only supposed to be a day or two and turned into ten. I’m happy to be moving on but that’s nothing against this city. I’ve been in and outta Jacksonville for the last few months now but, in that time, it’s started to feel more like home than any other city out there. There are a lot of people that made it that way: Tim, Shanna, and everyone else at Sun-Ray Cinema; Christina and Ian at Rain Dogs; Mandie, Rosaly, and Richard of Wunderground; the whole crew at Burrito Gallery (with a special nod to Julie for getting me in the door); Janet Harper and Folio Weekly; Regina and The Silver Cow; Pugsley and Ian at Dark Side Tattoo Gallery; (most recently) everyone at On Point Ink and Ryan Rummel at Club TSI; Heather Pierce; Alex Zalo; and all the friends I’ve made and supporters I’ve found here, who are so many in number that (as much as I wanna) I won’t call out by name ’cause I’d hate to leave somebody out. You’ve all been so excellent to me and I’m not gonna forget it anytime soon.
And that goes double for Mikey “twoHands” Kelly, who’s been the best fast friend I could have ever asked for. Half the shit I’ve done here would have never happened had it not been for you, buddy. I’ll miss Jacksonville and I’ll miss you.
I haven’t had the time or the internet access to update my blog much in the last four weeks. For the sake of posterity and the benefit of anyone not clever enough to follow me on Facebook, here’s what I’ve been up to in the last month.
On March 29th, Mike and I went to buy some art supplies and I couldn’t help myself when I saw some ninja turtles masks for sale by the register.
On March 31st, I wrote: “As I go to bed on the last night in March, it is with the satisfaction that comes with having met my income goal for the month. And my income goal for next month. And the NEXT month. Things are going well. Here’s to keeping it moving, carrying it forward in April (which I already have fully blocked out in three cities). I love making art. I love that I’m able to support myself doing it. I’m really, truly happy. I am fulfilled.”
On April 2nd, I participated in Jacksonville’s monthly Downtown Artwalk. It was – at that time – the single most profitable evening of my career as an artist. I made more money in one night than I had made in an average month in 2013. As I put it at the time: “Fuckin’ slaughtered at Artwalk tonight. We’re talkin’ Friday/Saturday night STRIPPER MONEY. I love you, Jacksonville.”
Later that week, I hit the road for the premiere of “No Real Than You Are” at the Sarasota Film Festival. On the same day as the premiere, I got to play director for Rational Anthem’s music video, “Darnit.” Or as I told my friends, “I’m playing HOLLYWOOD all day!” I posted a photo on Facebook with the caption: “Directing a music video today; got the sunglasses to prove it.”
Getting to see myself LOOKING COOL on a seventy foot screen, in front of a sold out auditorium was pretty alright and though I didn’t have time to stick around and finish the music video shoot the next day, it turned out pretty excellent even without my BRILLIANT hand at the wheel.
On my way out of town, I had a thought: “We give meaning to each other’s lives. We give meaning to all the little things of our everyday. It all means more ’cause we make it mean more.” I was thinking about a lot of spectacular people in my life, but mostly Chris Hembrough. And the new Banner Pilot record.
The reason I left town in such a rush is that I had been invited to sell prints of my artwork outside of Burrito Gallery during One Spark. I set a goal for myself: to make more money over that weekend than I had ever previously made in an entire month. And I succeeded. On the last night, I wrote: “To celebrate my earning four months income in FOUR DAYS. I am taking the night off to shower and then watch The Simpsons while I eat pizza and then sew up all the holes in my clothes.” A few hours later, I added that: “All truly great works of art can be divided into two categories: those that are pop punk songs and those that are Simpsons episodes. I’m exaggerating a little but not at all kidding.”
Before One Spark came to a close, I saw that the new split from Apocalypse Meow and Todd Congelliere (of Toys That Kill) had gone up for sale online. The artwork features my painting, “Poetry By Girls I’ve Brutally Fucked.” In the midst of everything else going on, being reminded that I had been lucky enough to contribute to such a cool project was really fulfilling. Icing on the cake. I posted a link on my Facebook with the caption: “We do cool shit every god damn day.” I’m lucky to have a lot of really talented, creative friends. And I fit right in with them these days. It puts a smile on my face.
On One Spark Saturday, I met Zack, in whom I immediately recognized serious talent and I promptly offered him a job as my thirteen year old business manager. Not only could he close a sale but he reeled in the cute girls like there was no tomorrow. Here he is posing with a print of “Modern Art is Stupid (Everything Is).” I paid him in plastic chrome sunglasses, Mello Yellow Root Beer cocktails, and COLD HARD CASH (that I can only hope he doesn’t blow on bullshit like plastic chrome sunglasses and Mello Yellow Root Beer cocktails).
About a month ago, I recorded an interview for an internet radio show. Last week, I finally noticed that it had gone online. You can listen to it here: V For Vitality with Sammy thrashLife.
Facebook post from April 15th: “Sittin’ outside the art store, waiting for it to open so I can spend $200 on markers. For COLORIN’. I am a professional child.” One of the first projects I’m going to use my markers on is re-coloring “Still Sick (The Illest).” Seein’ as I didn’t know any better at the time, I used cheap markers that fade with time and the piece has lost some of its color since I made it.
On April 15th, I dismantled my exhibit at Burrito Gallery so that I could move all my original pieces over to The Silver Cow for my last Jacksonville art show. I did, however, replace the original pieces with a display of prints. Since I’ve now left, Burrito Gallery is the only place you can go in Jacksonville to buy my prints.
April 16th marked the opening day of my last exhibit in Jacksonville, as well as the publication of an article about me in Folio Weekly. There were a few emotional hiccups that morning and I wrote:
“Today is not going exactly as perfectly well as I wanted it to and EVERYONE NEEDS TO FEEL REALLY BAD FOR ME. I am such a fucking crybaby. When I inventory my problems, I can’t even phrase them in such a way that the OVERWHELMING POSITIVES aren’t totally obvious. And yet I’m still feeling crippled by despair and just wanna give up on everything. BUT I’m not giving up; I’m still doing everything I need / am supposed to do. It’s just a little bit harder today.”
I’m really happy with the article though. You can read it on Folio’s website or in the image below. They also gave me the biggest photo in the table of contents.
My last show in Jacksonville went really well and I can’t think of a better way to have concluded my time there. Late last night, I got into Delray Beach, where I’ll be posting up for at least a week. I’ll know more about my time here within a day or so. Until then, here are some photos from the weekend.
On Saturday, March 22nd, I set up at Rain Dogs for a Wunderground art show. There were bands playing too. A poetry troupe. A stand-up comic. I knew all of this when it was booked in January. “Can I sign up to go on stage too?” “For poetry or comedy?” Mandie asked me. “I guess that all depends on the audience’s response!”
I had two poems I wanted to recite. They’re really bold. The kind of stuff that I’ve held off even from sharing on my website. A lot of my writing is painfully honest and extremely vulnerable but these are on another level. I didn’t know if I’d have the guts to share them for the first time from a stage. I also had some “material” that I thought would work as a stand-up routine. In the end, I didn’t prepare myself for poetry or comedy. About halfway through the night, I remembered that I had said I wanted to perform and – as tempting as it was to not bring it up and not take the stage – I didn’t want to be all talk. I had said I was going to get on stage, so I was going to get on stage; it didn’t matter how scared I was. I decided to just tell my story and then speak off the cuff about some of my pieces. I chose a couple dozen and put them in an order that’d flow well.
Rosaly said I’d go up in forty-five minutes. I was nervous. I scratched it out onto the canvas I had started that night.
“I am trying my best to kill time and anxiety. I know there is a certain weight and power to the things I do. I am not incredible but some of my actions might be. I hope this goes well but the response I get doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I’m doing it.”
The room had maybe thirty people scattered across it. Some of them continued to have conversations while I spoke. I just went on ahead and didn’t let it get to me. One guy in the back of the room started heckling me. He said I should’ve killed myself. He called me a “jerk-off.” I kept going. It helped that I couldn’t make out everything he was saying.
For the most part, I thought it went well. I got laughs at the parts I wanted to get laughs at. I got applause a couple times. People came up to me the rest of the night and told me how much they appreciated and liked what I had said. Still, I had somewhat higher hopes in terms of response. All I could think when I got off the stage was, “So… I did it, I guess…”
I don’t think my performance had an incredible impact on my income that night but it was still the single most profitable night I’ve had selling prints. It didn’t really phase me though because that’s the direction things have been moving. Consistently and quickly. I think that’s because I’m constantly facing my fears and acting in spite of them. My artwork and my writing, my stories, they’re intimate. I’m never excited to walk into a gallery, meet with some stranger (who’s probably itching to dismiss me the moment I walk through the door), and open myself up to him or her. But I fucking do it anyway. I don’t enjoy walking up to strangers on the street, smiling, and offering up a flier to my art show. But I do it anyway. Because that’s what it takes and that’s what accounts for my success thus far. And that’s what this painting is all about. As I wrote in the green box near the top left corner:
“I’m not terrified of the future the way I used to be but it’s scary enough to keep me moving. I’ve learned that “success” is possible but it’s something I have to be perpetually working toward and for. I’m not gonna sit back and wait to be discovered. I don’t WAIT for anything. I have to make things happen. It’s all on me. Success / failure – I’m responsible. I’m happy I found something where – whatever happens – I’m having fun along the way. I feel successful already. (Most days). I’m tearing forward and I don’t see my momentum dying anytime soon. But each milestone, every new achievement sets a new bar that must continually be surpassed. Four figures is no longer a huge deal. Sometimes I look into the future and I’m afraid. That IT’S NEVER GOING TO BE ENOUGH.”
There’s one more scrap of text on the canvas that I think’s important. I wrote it last night just before I finished the painting. “I won’t let me defeat me.”
STATUS UPDATE for 4/21/14:
I wrote the statement for this piece three weeks ago but held off on sharing it until I had a good photograph of the painting to share. I’m really happy to report though that the weeks following what I’d describe as a painting “about ambition” have been some of my most successful. The rate at which I’m moving forward this month has been a little unbelievable. And while I’m definitely not going to allow myself to sit back, become complacent, or breathe too easily, I’m really happy with where I’m at today. I’ve been slacking on updating my blog regularly but this week should be a relatively quiet one, so – in the next few days – I’m going to spend a little time detailing this last (incredibly eventful) month. (Though anyone that follows me on Facebook probably already has a pretty good idea).
So far as basic/practical stuff (today) is concerned…
1) My exhibit at The Silver Cow has opened and closed.
2) Issues of Folio Weekly featuring the article about me are still on newsstands for another couple of days, in and around Jacksonville.
3) My original pieces are no longer on display anywhere in the city of Jacksonville but I have about two dozen different prints hanging (and for sale) at Burrito Gallery (21 E. Adams St.), probably for another two weeks or so.
4) My run in Jacksonville is officially over and I’m currently focusing on Delray Beach (for an as yet undetermined length of time). While here, I’ll be operating primarily out of/in conjunction with Ettra (149 NE 2nd Ave) and will have more details concerning that later in the week.
5) “The Future Scares the Sit Out of Me” is available as a 7×14″ print (if you can find me!); the original painting is already sold.
In early January, I went to a reception/get-to-know-each-other kinda thing for the artists participating in Wunderground’s quarterly “Look! Listen! Buy!” event. At one point, I was telling another artist about my tendency to isolate – staying home and spending all of my time painting and writing. “Do you get social anxiety?” she asked. For whatever reason, I wasn’t totally honest. I told her that I didn’t. Which – OBVIOUSLY – is slightly less than the truth. I think it’s because I didn’t feel anxious in that moment. Either way, before long, I was proving the falsity of my claim. I tried to keep myself moderately engaged in and attentive to the conversations around me but I was primarily focused on scratching out some artwork in the tiny notepad I kept in my backpack. Eventually, I put it away and got involved in the slightly more socially appropriate activity of doing the exact same thing, only with the pretext of “entertaining a child.”
Seven days later, I was at “Look! Listen! Buy!,” sitting at my table, not enjoying myself. The music was too loud to really talk to anyone and – having just faced the consequences of some bad weather and an outdoor set-up – I wasn’t in the best mood. Things didn’t seem to be going especially well and I found myself back at work on the drawing I had started the night of the reception. I didn’t like the band that was playing. I had my headphones in. This was antisocial as fuck and I didn’t care. “I don’t want to be here anymore,” I thought. “All I want is to go back home and eat my leftover pizza. More than anything. SO BADLY.” (Not super-poetic but – when I’m falling apart emotionally – it’s not unusual for me to look to pizza to make everything okay again).
Which isn’t to say that I’m not grateful for the opportunity or that I don’t love the fuck out of Wunderground (because I really fucking do). I’m so happy to be a part of that group (though that doesn’t really have anything to do with Wunderground as much as it does the people behind it). Which kinda goes to show that (1) I don’t know shit about shit, (2) I’m a crybaby, and (3) everything works out exactly as it should / everything’s got a silver lining. I don’t make “friends” outside of punk rock (or treatment) – or so I thought. And I definitely didn’t think I’d make friends in Jacksonville. I’m not sure why that is… I get along with just about everyone I meet. I like just about everyone that I meet. But I just don’t usually feel connected to anyone. I was thinking about it recently though and (especially) last night. I’m kinda, sorta actually a part of a little crew of friends / artists here now. They like me and I like them. They invite me to do stuff with them. That feels nice. It makes me feel good. I’m grateful for it (and for them).
Rain. Tent started leaking. Put things under the table for cover.. Moved some paintings inside. Ground was flooded when I got back. A lot of stuff is very likely damaged. Trying to figure out whether the appropriate respond is to kill myself or to just laugh it off.
Right now, all I can really manage is to smoke cigarettes in the rain, listening to The Credentials with a blank expression.
I’ve got this group show coming up and, last night, the organizers hosted a reception for the artists to meet each other. One girl was in another room most of the night but I did eventually get to know her a little bit when she asked if I’d like to sit down and draw with her. As it turns out, she just tagged along and isn’t actually participating in next week’s show. Although (while I’m not sure if she meant “professionally”) she did tell me that she’s an artist.
She ALSO told me that she has two nannas (who are both very nice), that Madelyn and Mikaylyn are twins (her favorite twin is both of them), and that she likes to make her own soup in her belly. Yeah, right. “How do you do that?” I asked incredulously. “I eat sweets and vegetables and that’s how I make my soup in my belly.” I had to concede. That’s a dynamite soup recipe if I’ve ever heard one.
So Marley’s pretty great and I’m not saying that just ’cause she gave me some of her drawings.
Is it just me or is this way too close-for-comfort to my art (considering it was drawn by someone who won’t be starting pre-kindergarten for another eight months)?
In any case, I DON”T MEAN TO BRAG but I’m pretty sure I’ve got at least a year or two before she catches up to me in terms of technical ability. I mean – she’s good, but not Sam’s-motor-skills-are-fully-developed good.
Here’s the picture I drew for her.
Shit… Looking at these side by side… If I’m being honest, I think the only real difference is that she got bored and moved on to another drawing (and then to dancing, and then to showing me some toys, and then to watching TV) in the time that it took me to draw mine. Focus might be my only edge over Marley… If she gets a Ritalin ‘scrip when she starts school, I’m gonna be shit outta luck.
Oh well. No use in worrying today about what may or may not happen tomorrow.
has borderline personality disorder and a heroin problem. In 2012, he got clean, discovered art, and traveled the country, painting and writing. Three years later, he went back to heroin and quit painting. He's currently hard at work trying to get clean or kill himself (depending on the day).