I know silence is golden, but I have taken it to the limit on this blog. I have been busy in my creative pursuits since May and every time I think of settling down to post about something I’m working on I end up just drifting back upstairs to work on it instead. Such is the obsessive-compulsive state of artisthood.
But at last! I have news to share. I am in eleventh hour negotiations to bring Monkey Hill Creative Arts to a flesh and blood – or brick and mortar, as it be – reality!!! If all goes well Monkey Hill will make its debut appearance in the lower level of an existing gallery on James Street North in Hamilton, Ontario. The Blue Angel Gallery at 243 James North has been a second home to me for years and it will be my pleasure to work in partnership with the gallery’s Grand Dame, Cynthia Hill, an eccentric and delightfully talented artist who has been a pillar supporter and Creative on the art scene for more decades than she will allow me to state publicly.
The lower level of the gallery has been closed off to the public since it opened so no one knows that it is essentially the same size as the gallery above, though without the lovely high ceilings, of course. They’re not a bad height though and I think I can work with it. It will be a mad, mad, MAD dash to ready the space in time for the Supercrawl on James North which takes place on September 14th and 15th this year. *Thousands* of people will swallow the art disrtict whole!!! It will be a whirlwind of activity and music. Bless us all…oh my…
Because I am slated already to have an exhibition in the gallery on the main level I may be renting out the entire Monkey Hill studio space to others for the sake of my sanity for the month of September. Thereafter I will delight in renting out half of the space to one or two other artists for about $125 each, no commission, each month. Keep in mind now, the space is HUGE! And it is on the Art Crawl and will receive at upwards of a thousand or two patrons per month. A steal of a deal. I cannot bear to merely hang art on walls. ACK! Darlings…I put on A *SHOW*
In my old gallery I took *immense* pleasure in redesinging the space each and every month. People came back just to see what I’d done with the space THIS TIME, and THEN they got a kick out of the art displayed. Without the ubiquitious uber-high ceilings of regular gallery spaces I will have my creative display fun cut out for me. But I am sooo up to the task! I’m already pawing through my collection (albeit small for now) of luxurious fabrics and props. I will definitely – as is my style – be setting up a small cozy space for patrons to stay, lounge, and talk. Monkey Hill Creative Arts is not one of those space you herd through with a glance at the walls. You stay. You talk with the artists. Have a coffee or a glass of wine and some treats and enjoy the atmosphere and the friends you brought with you. One of my favourite activities I enjoyed in the old gallery was the inclusion of at least one public interactive display. I can’t wait for the fun to begin!!! anyone interested in renting space with me to get in on the fun – or to get more info about it – please email me *soon* at firstname.lastname@example.org
It was 5 years ago this last Saturday August 11th that my daughter passed away and I closed my brick and mortar gallery to go into mourning. A mourning that went deeper and longer than I could have imagined. I am taking it as a strong sign that this business proposal to re-open my creative space and come back to my Life as hostess and art promoter came on this anniversary. For these five years since my life as I knew it literally came to a crashing halt I have been existing. Yes, creating art….after a very long hiatus, that is, and showing and selling well, too. But still spending most of my days and nights at home, away from the energy of crowds and parties and daily fanciful hoopla that ebbed and flowed around me when I was centre court running my gallery and raising my family, both gone in a blinding flash.
I have taken a couple of solo trips during this “Who the hell am I now?” and “Will anything ever matter again?” mission to reconnect with the world as is to me now and with myself as a person and no longer a list of Roles. One trip covered a couple of countries and lasted a month. It was the Game Changer. It brought me back home, on many levels. The other was a shorter one that set a few more things straight in my head, some that I didn’t expect, and some that I didn’t like! But there is truth. It’s like that. It doesn’t care if you like it or not. It just *is*.
My last exhibit ran from May through June, held over for a second month because it was a success and very well-received. It was the visual manifestation of the experiences of living with Bipolar type II, which is largely characterized by depression. All of the pieces sold went to who were Bipolar except for one person. I was and remain humbled by the welcome and warmth and understanding that the art and expression was received by all who attended, whether they were similarly afflicted or – as it turned out to be common – knew and loved someone, family or friend, who was afflicted and living their best lives possible with either Bipolar I or Bipolar II, or Depression. I was deeply pleased these kind people were able to identify the natures of their friends’ and family members in the images I created.
The motivation for this next exhibit come from an old friend who passed away in a suicide. His name is Donny, and I’ll love him forever. Donny suffered deeply from depression, but he was adept at remaining postiive most of the time. A time came, however, when it was too much for him. The Big Lie that Depression tells us is that what we’re feeling right at that moment-day-week-month is what we will feel forever-and-ever-amen. Suicide happens when we believe The Lie. But the show is not about suicide. It’s about a great, great gift Donny gave me one night (one of many gifts). I
After a get together with a group of friends I was leaving late one night, getting a drive hom with someone else, when from out of the pitch darkness across the street I hear Donny’s voice call out to me, “HEY! What would you be doing right now if you weren’t afraid?!” I stopped in the street and just stood there, shocked. He caught me flat out without an answer.
Donny and I talked often, sometimes all through the night, and he knew I was stupefied by my many fears. I was suffering desperately from agoraphobia still then and couldn’t go two feet out my door without a companion, and then only to a small place with people I knew. I had so long, so so so so long been afraid that my life had been cut off to just about every choice, every avenue of change. My world was as small as I could get it and keep it. And I had given up trying to fight against the limitations. I had resigned myself to my weaknesses. I no longer dreamed of places to go or things to do. I had no fantasy trips or fantasy houses in my mind. Not even any fantasy relationships to sigh over. I Just. Didn’t. Go. There. Anymore. I had given up. But until he asked me: What would you be doing right now if you weren’t afraid? I honestly hadn’t realized that I had totally given up on any future freedom for myself, any future pleasure and joy and experimentation…any ‘newness’…anything different at all.
And that is the show. What would you be doing right now if you weren’t afraid. The art I’m working on is not like the art I’ve shown in the past long while. It has bright – wild, even – metallic colours paired with background colours you may not expect. Or like. Ah well. It is a Dare, a Fearlessness I’m flowing with. Every day I sit down to work I say, “Okay Donny…let’s go…what do I really want to be doing right now? Help me out?” and I summon up the guts to paint what I want to see today and try to shrug off the cringes when I think of how the public will react. It’s about Freedom and Fun right now. After the last show, I simply feel that I need…out. To dig out those instincts in me that aren’t just about survival, be it survival of emotional tragedies, of the stresses that accompany bipolar illness, or of the ceaseless daily cycle of pay-all-the-bills-and-eat-and-clean-stuff-and-STILL-get-enough-sleep.
I am looking forward to September. Judging by the weather it’s already here. What a change, my lord. It’s a nice break for the utility bill, in any case. I was afraid if I didn’t turn the air conditioner off soon it would explode from constant use! I would enjoy some sunlight to paint by, but I will enjoy the cooler weather break for what it is. The rain is a delicious soothing sound. Just the right background ‘music’ to create art to answer the questions of a fearful heart and mind deserving of some fun, freedom, and flights of fancy.
And if any of this art matches your couch, honey, I’d like to see where you live.