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.