Just finished hanging twelve pieces at a place called The Hourglass in downtown Jacksonville. That’s in addition to the large pieces that just went up at Dark Side and Sun-Ray. In two weeks, Mikey twoHands and I will be doing a split exhibition at Rain Dogs in Riverside. After that, in February, it looks like I’ll be putting some stuff back over at The Silver Cow.
A lot of this stuff’s never been displayed publicly before and a few of the pieces have yet to even be shared online. If you’re interested in buying an original, this is gonna be a great month to run around town and see what I’ve been up to. The prices on this stuff ranges from $200 to $4,000 but – as always – you can hit me up for prints of any of my pieces (which range from $30 to $100).
Cool. Here’s the flier for my show with Mikey…
Mikey and I are at Rain Dogs tonight, working on art and listening to punk rock. Swing by if you wanna say hi but hit me up ’cause we’re in the back room.
I started this piece the night after I met a girl in Jacksonville. She was just visiting, from Tampa, but we went out once before she went back home. Over the next few weeks, we texted a whole lot and made plans to spend a night together the next time I was around Tampa. She may or may not have sort of had a boyfriend that she lived with. About a month after we had met, I was on my way to Sarasota for the premiere screening of No Real Than You Are. I invited her to go with me. She didn’t respond. I tried to call but she didn’t answer. I don’t know if I did something wrong or if the reality of my actually coming around didn’t quite mesh with her boyfriend situation, but I never heard from her again. That hurt my feelings, especially since it coincided with similar developments in my “relationships” with three other girls (all in the span of a couple days)! This particular rejection was the only one I didn’t acknowledge at the time ’cause it felt the worst and struck me as being the most petty / trivial. On the one hand, it was really casual and I obviously wasn’t taking it too seriously. On the other hand, I really liked her! I did my best to not let it get to me but it made the next rejection hurt that much more.
Luckily, I fell in love with another girl a few days later and everything was okay again.
Some less interesting details: I worked at this piece on and off for three months because I just couldn’t seem to get it to look like anything I could be happy with. Somewhere in there, I glued some cardboard and a piece of a reflective sun visor to it, even though I sort of hate collage / mixed media stuff; I just felt like I needed something to sort of shake it up a little bit. It’s also on a small canvas board (11×14″) – way smaller than anything I’ve got any interest in painting these days, but the board was given to me on a night when I didn’t have a fresh canvas with me and I figured I’d roll with it. I’m pretty sure I spent at least forty hours on this tiny little thing – every bit as much time as I spend on my
huge canvas paintings. I got the idea for the pattern in the lower-left (“mummy”) figure after painting the white slip-on shoes I bought at Walmart for ten dollars.
Just like “Blueprint For a Successful Evening,” this isn’t really a new piece. I originally “finished” it in December 2013 and until recently it’s existed in limbo. It felt finished but I didn’t like it enough to actually do anything with it. I took it back out on May 15th and put another fifteen to twenty hours into it and now I’m finally happy with it. It used to look like this:
The journals I wrote around it back then aren’t particularly interesting. It’s a whole lot of “I don’t feel okay but I know that I don’t have anything to not feel okay about.” It’s disturbingly similar to the shit I was writing last night. It was only about a month later that I totally rearranged my life and got a lot happier. Makes me think that maybe I need to do the same thing again but I’m not sure exactly what that would mean this time around.
Aside from the main caption, I Feel “Weird” When I’m Unconsciously Unwilling to Admit What’s Really Going On, the only text in this piece says: “I’m playing with textures because I hate myself.” Someone had told me (back when I made this piece “the first time”)| that my art was “too flat”; for some reason, I listened and that’s why I created a bunch of different textures in this piece. It’s [whatever]. It’s all part of the process of figuring out what’s me and what’s some other artist. I don’t seek out advice and I definitely don’t ever seek out art by anyone else (for comparison or for any purpose) but little things leak in to my head now and then that either take hold or don’t and that’s okay.
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.
Immediately after completing “Nothing’s Good Enough Because I’m Not,” I pulled out another canvas and got to work. I set out to do something a little different: a landscape. Not a traditional landscape but, still, a landscape of sorts. Pretty quickly that idea fell apart and I found myself working on another painting not radically unlike all of my other paintings. Which is cool – I mean, my paintings look like my paintings for a reason… (’cause they totally are!) But you can still kinda make out what was (supposed to be) my orange sun, pink ocean, and blue sky (with purple clouds)…
I left Sarasota for Jacksonville, to set up downtown for One Spark. I wasn’t an official “One Spark Project Creator” but that just meant that I could sell whatever I wanted without playing by their rules. I got the same spot on the street (outside Burrito Gallery) that I had taken at March’s Downtown Artwalk (the night I had sold so many prints that I told my friends I was “makin’ STRIPPER MONEY“). I was excited for the weekend and my snarky, (gleeful), sorta tongue-in-cheek caption, “CORPORATIONS ARE COOL – YOUR COMMUNITY IS DUMB,” is a reflection of that.
A lot of people take it for granted as meaning/being whatever they want it to (genuine or sarcastic) but some people like to ask me what I meant. “Nothing,” I say. “I’m just a little shit-eater.” Which is to say that I like to (playfully) fuck with people (just a little bit, innocuously). The truth is that I don’t care about corporations or community; I care about me. There are three spots on the canvas where I journaled and, while I didn’t intend for them to relate, they all sorta do. More to the point, they reflect the kinds of concerns that actually bounce around in my head.
On April 10th, the second day of One Spark, I was handing out fliers when some woman actually crumpled up my li’l bio sheet and handed it back to me. Seriously?! I get it if you’re offended by the word “fucking” [as in “I’m a fucking artist, guys“] but this thing says I have a personality disorder and used to shoot heroin but now manage my illness with art. That’s like – the sweetest thing ever! How the fuck is somebody gonna crumple that shit up? (I got a personality disorder! I’m fragile!). Anyway… my journal from that day says: “Every rejection today hurts a lot more than usual. This is probably the best or worst possible path for someone like me. I don’t expect the world to baby me but… well.. maybe I sort of do.”
A week later, on April 17th: “I’m depressed ’cause I’m at my exhibit and yesterday everything was set up awesome and today the owner came in and was all bent outta shape about a bunch of stuff and now I don’t know what’s cool and what isn’t. I don’t even want to set up to paint so I’ve got this [canvas] on my knees, propped against a wall awkwardly. It’s too windy outside. I just wanna leave. The lights aren’t even on. My art is in the dark. I’m done showing at anything but galleries. I feel sleepy and lethargic and I wanna give up again.”
In hindsight, that stuff shouldn’t have affected me as much as it did, but (as angry as I once was) it’s pretty rare that I even so much as encounter anyone getting really angry these days and it, consequently, fucked with my head a little bit, even if it wasn’t directed specifically at me.
Lastly (and best of all), from April 19th: “By 11 AM this morning, I was at work on my painting and I had already eaten half a cake, drank a BANANAS FOSTER cappuccino from 7 Eleven, gone to the [art] store for more supplies, and shown my penis to TWO girls.”
(just to be clear)
“YOUR COMMUNITY IS DUMB”: If you’re doing cool shit, people are gonna wanna be close to it and are gonna be inspired to do cool shit of their own. Suddenly, it’s gonna feel like you’re part of a pretty rad community. On the other hand, if you’re one of those people that sits around griping about how “there’s no community here” or preaching to people about how “we need to do more work to build community!,” nobody’s gonna give a shit about any of that and you’re gonna be spinning your wheels in that same mindset forever. Either way, community is made up of people, we’re all flawed, and sometimes shit’s gonna be great, sometimes it’s gonna be not.
“CORPORATIONS ARE COOL”: Big multinational corporations are mixed up in some pretty fucked up shit, pretty much across the board, and that’s like – a total bummer, dude. But you know what? Home Depot is open late, pretty close by, and has the wood screws I need. Coca-Cola makes sugary bullshit that tastes good and doesn’t cost all my moneys. That local coffee shop is a nice enough place to sit for a minute but they don’t have internet on the weekends and they charge FIVE TIMES more for a refill than Starbucks. And where the fuck else am I gonna buy a 12x18x6″ lockbox other than Walmart? The Dead Kennedys were boring and I’m pretty sure they were aiming for SATIRE when they said, “give me convenience or give me death,” but… take out the dramatic ultimatum and it’s right on target. I’m not trying to save the world with my “dollar votes” and I’m not trying to spend all day driving around to support independent businesses that don’t offer anything more than the corporate stores. I got bigger fish to fry, funny faces to paint, and girls to show my penis to.
When I sent cards to the people I care about for the holidays in 2012, I didn’t end up getting most of them mailed out until early in 2013. With that in mind, I figured I’d play it safe this time around and draw something that’d play off my anticipated tardiness. So (of course) the cards ended up being totally ready to go with more than enough time to spare before Christmas. But that’d mean my joke wouldn’t work! So I held off on asking for addresses ’til I figured it was late enough that people wouldn’t suspect I was asking for the sake of Christmas cards and then waited even longer (January 1st) to actually drop them in the mail.
I held off on sharing this cartoon ’til now because I wanted my friends to see it for the first time when it showed up in their mailbox. And then a couple months went by and I just forgot about it.
So here it is, “Happy Martin Luther King or Valentine’s Day! (punctuality’s not really my strong suit).”
If we’re pals and you didn’t get one, it’s ’cause (1) I asked for your address and you didn’t give it to me; (2) I didn’t ask for your address ’cause I thought I already had it but you’ve moved and I don’t know it; (3) you were just one of those unfortunates that was probably on my list but got lost in the shuffle. Better luck next year! (And in the meantime, send me your god damn address). I love all of you.
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).
Sam struggles with borderline personality disorder and heroin addiction. When not on drugs, he has his art and writing to thank for it.