Marzen, Wisconsin, and why strangers are just friends you have yet to meet…

I’m really pleased to announce that my next exhibition will be at Marzen Gallery in Madison Wisconsin until 5th January. I’ll be showing as part of Layers: A Multi-Artist Exhibition which features the work of Elsie Berget, Mary Bero, Rhea Ewing, Dennis Nechvatal, Paula Schuette Kraemer, and myself. I feel really privileged to be finally showing in Marzen and to be amongst such talented artists. The opening reception is this Friday as part of the Atwood-Winnebago Winterfest. You can read more over on the gallery website by clicking HERE.

What’s really exciting for me is not just that I’m part of this event, but how this exhibition even came about. It’s a long tale which started back in 2013 when I travelled to New York for my sister’s wedding. It’s the furthest I’ve ever travelled on my own so I was very careful to make sure my accommodation was as welcoming as I could find. So I stayed at the awesome 3B Bed and Breakfast in downtown Brooklyn and where I found myself sharing breakfast with an eclectic bunch of travellers and artists from across the globe.

The running joke since then is that I’ve seen Michelle more in her pyjamas than I have in any regular clothes. Her and husband Jim were living their own story which involved Bette Midler, Coney Island Mermaid Parade and a whole heap of other adventures during their travels to New York from Wisconsin. [You can read Michelle’s story HERE] We got talking and kept in touch and through the next few years exchanged conversations, photographs, and common interests via the wonderful thing that is the internet. One of the strongest connections we discovered is that we have a common belief that destiny is something you create for yourself. Motivation and movement doesn’t happen through the power of memes; you have to make it happen. You can try and you can fail and that’s ok, but you have to be prepared to try. And so, even through we have different life stories and are thousands of miles apart, each day we set our own goals and we try.

Fast forward a few years and I’m looking for new places and opportunities to show my work in the Americas. The art I exhibited as part of my New York Collection travelled to New York Fashion Week in 2014, over to Colombia, and then out and about on the West side of the world*. All the while Michelle managed to miss seeing my art anywhere near her home. In 2016 she even planned to take a 400 mile round trip to see one of my sketchbooks showing at The New Bohemian Gallery in Brainerd Minnesota but snow stopped her from getting close. She continued to follow my art adventures and I continued to follow her disappointment at being unable to see my art. I figured there was only one solution; if I couldn’t get Michelle to my art I had to get my art to Michelle. Simple really when you think about it. Just send a bundle to her on permanent loan. It’s bound to be bringing her more pleasure to have it on the walls of her home than it is for me to just have it in storage in a cupboard somewhere gathering dust.

Michelle couldn’t believe her luck. Here is someone she only met for a day or so in 2013 taking a chance and sending her a bundle of pictures. I mean, when does that ever happen? You meet an artist and that’s usually it. If you see their stuff in a gallery and if you want it in your house you have to give them money. Who would trust you with their art and send you seven pieces in the post and ask you just to enjoy them? Well I would and I did. I figured it’s pragmatism over pride, common sense over covetousness. To me, they’re beautiful pieces of paper and glue expressing some ideas I had in 2014. They are worth more to my soul than they are to my wallet and I would be happy knowing that they’re enriching the souls and the lives of other people across the other side of the planet.

With this ethos in mind Michelle has done all the hard work in finding a gallery to show my artworks. It’s taken a while, what with real life taking precedent, and that’s more than ok because real life should always have precedent over my little pieces of paper. There was never a time limit on her sharing these pieces or any conditions, contracts, or obligations on how and when my pictures should be shared. All I ask is that they are enjoyed and that they are shared. Art should be seen rather than a scene. Art should be something accessible and obtainable.

So what’s next? Neither of us knows, or dare to dream. We’ll continue to motivate and inspire each other and see what life deals us and where it leads. With all the dark and horrible things that the news tells us are happening in the world, it’s important that we all do our best to counter this in some small way. This world is a wonderful place full of chance encounters. If we’ve both learned anything over the last few years it’s that strangers in a Bed and Breakfast in Brooklyn are just friends you haven’t met yet.

Thanks to Michelle and Jim for all your support. Thanks to Margaret for curating my work. You can see Layers: Multi Artist Exhibition at Marzen, 2345 Atwood Avenue, Madison WI 53704  until January 5th.

 

*Before you get excited Mr Taxman, I’m a nothing so as yet nobody wants my stuff. I’d love to sell in Sothebys for millions but I still have both my ears and have failed to grow a twiddly mad moustache of any kind. I’m always at the point of giving up on any of this stuff because I’d make more money working in McDonalds.

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