You Have Won 2nd Place in a Beauty Contest

You Have Won 2nd Place in a Beauty Contest

(Collect $10)

The Artist’s Circle Gallery recently held a juried abstract show and accepted four of my pieces for it. One, ‘Blue,’ took 2nd place. And I am thrilled. It’s the first time I’ve ventured out – electronically this time – since we left Vegas.

James Dingman, Blue

There I had established myself at the Arts Factory and was showing – and selling – regularly. Since moving to Texas, I have been cocooning and have done little to promote myself. Last year I entered and was accepted into a big open air show in Fort Worth, but the dates ran very close to my hip surgery, so I had to cancel. Good thing I did, too! Mike and I went and I hobbled around on a cane. It was clear this was not the show for me. There was lots of jewelry (nothing wrong with that, it’s just not me), and booths featuring copies of superheroes and movie stars. You get the picture.

I know: that’s nasty. We are supposed to encourage everyone who embarks on a creative journey, no matter how crude the output. And I do. I guess what I’m saying is that I didn’t belong in that show. And frankly: I am tired of going to art shows to see pictures of monsters, super-heroes, rock stars, movie stars, and all that jazz. Part of being creative is being original.

When Carson Turlington, David Powell, Phillip Groen, Tom Burdine and I set out to become the world’s greatest rock n’roll band (1968), we played our own material. We wrote every song and the joy of it was in unpredictability. You never knew what would come next, and we worked hard at not repeating, not copying, not sounding like anything else. I’m proud of what we did, though ultimately, the drugs and craziness of the day got the better of us.

As I worked on my own abstract style over the past fifteen years, I experienced some early success. It was gratifying! I thought to myself: wow! people really like this! And I set out to recreate it over and over. And I was a miserable failure. I became obsessed with detail, with being careful, with being very judgmental about my work. I had to get back to the garden, so to speak, to rekindle the joy of exploration and discovery before I could create anything worthwhile.

I remember saying in an interview a couple of years ago that art was a matter of three questions. First was, ‘What If?’ What if I did this, or tried that or broke that rule. Second: ‘Now Therefore.’ Now that what we have on the canvas is already telling a story, where to I take it? Finally: ‘How Do I?’ How do I bring this piece to conclusion, resolution, and finality?

That’s all fine, good, and true – for me. But it all starts with ‘What If?’ Any art is an exploration of possibility. And you can’t do that if you are following a formula.

I don’t know what all of this has to do with The Artist’s Circle Gallery and my acceptance into it, but I am very proud of that fact. I invite you to take a look: The Artist’s Circle Abstract Show

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