Friday, September 14, 2012

Staycation Success

To sum up: I kept very busy the first several days of this third Pete Retreat, but then I took it easy on the last day. After all, time off is supposed to be a mental break!

On Wednesday, I went into the city and had fun. Went shopping at an independent record store and spent an hour exploring the dusty shelves of a used book dealer. Then took the el to River North for gallery hopping. Gretchen joined me here. Unfortunately, the artist whose work I went to view turned out to be much less impressive 'in the flesh'. I often find that photos of art often do not accurately represent them. There is always some distortion. Perhaps an impasto technique the camera can't capture or the colors are faded compared to the actual piece. There's always something.

In this case, the artist in question uses metallic paint sparingly on his canvases. This did not show up in the photos I had seen. Personal taste: I dislike metallic paints, as I it makes a work look glitzy in a cheap way (sort of on a par with black velvet art). There was another artist at the gallery whose work I liked, but it doesn't fit with my sense of what I want to buy. So there seems little point in doing more than just appreciating it.

We ended up going to another gallery, that was about 'crafts' rather than painting. Here I found some really exciting work. In fact, there were five artists that jumped out at me and none of them were painters. One worked in fiber/paper, while the others worked in ceramics to fashion vessels, vases, and wall decorations. Although they had very different approaches, what they had in common was an element of nature as basic inspiration yet, despite this starting point, they abstract the inspiration rather than directly reproduce it.

Positively, it wasn't until after I had homed in on which works I liked on a gut level that I realized it was all part of the same aesthetic I respond to when I look at paintings. Also positive was that this aesthetic spoke to me in forms of art beyond painting. This taught me that I can have a much more varied and rich collection by including pieces from multiple traditions. I'm definitely figuring things out!

After gallery hopping, Gretchen and I sat outside and drank too much while people watching. We also got a chance to talk tons and peruse the free Chicago art scene magazines we had picked up. It was a beautiful day, and we just relaxed until it was time to head up north for dinner with Gretchen's partner Camilo. Then Gretchen gave me the tour of the commune she lives in, providing encouraging feedback on my vase picture, and showed me her reel. A long, busy, and fun day.

After all this activity, I decided to have a slowed down kind of day yesterday. I did a 22 mile bike ride (see prior post), practiced piano, did a little writing, and shopped for art supplies and music. At the art supply store, I got extra oil pastels. I never knew this, but the crayons also come in a large size, and I realized these would be useful for the same reason I bought extra large tubes of white and black oils when I was painting. You know you're going to use it, so buying the small tubes is just inefficient. So, now, I'm equipped for more work!

I had lunch with my friend Paul, but he had to beat the rush hour so I wasn't able to get him to sit for me. (Maybe the fact I told him I had no idea whether the output was going to be any good scared him off!). Then Jimmy returned and we went out for dinner to celebrate his homecoming. I got to show him the photos I took of the works I was interested in.

All in all, I feel rested but also that I accomplished something meaningful in this time off. Best part is...I still have three more days to play!

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