Monday, April 24, 2017

Finishing Touches - April 2017

A lot is happening these days. Five months ago I started a new job, my paintings are getting better, I will be purchasing the house next door for teaching art, my work has been selling and I am moving in the direction of making merchandise out of my botanical work.

People who have known me a long time know that I can be a very productive person. But I feel recently foundational change has been happening with each new decision. How has this situation come about?

I have a daughter who is attending college in a foreign country. Before she left I always had a track in my brain reserved for her. Whether she was around my house, at her mother's house or somewhere else, there was a part of my brain that constantly cared for her, wondered what she was doing, worried that I might need to act at a moments notice. I still think about her all the time, but that worry track in my brain has been freed up giving me more creative space up in my noggin'. My new job also is much less stressful than my last. I no longer am trying to run five different programs with forty community partners. I now am setting up one program focused on one thing: public art. This has also loosened up creative space in my brain.

Financially, last summer I was able to unload a house that I had inherited in a divorce. Although there was good reason to keep the house all these years since I inherited it, it was a financial drain. But it was time, and because I sold it, I now am able to purchase the house next to me and expand what I really like to do.

I have always been someone who has not focused on himself. I have been happy over the years to be a bit of a caretaker. I have a lot of abilities and have been happy to share and help where I can. But I would also use this as an excuse to not focus on myself. Somewhere in my travels I came to realize that not focusing on myself led me down a road that did not make me happy. Now, of course, I am not going to go super-gonzo on myself and exclude helping others, but I have learned that true happiness cannot happen if you are not fostering yourself -- if you are not creating opportunities to grow into yourself. I have been acting on this new understanding... and seeing a difference.

I do not take all this for granted. I have been around long enough to know that anything can end at a moments notice. I am happy to move forward into my most full self while knowing that one of the fun things about this is that I get to bring my friends, family, students and art fans with me.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Jack in the Pulpit Art Studio is Moving!!

Classes at my current studio are coming to an end this month. I will soon be moving classes to the house next door to me at 1022 Burgess Street. This small house will become a teaching art studio. I will be continuing to teach watercolor and oil painting classes, but will also have some friends teaching a class or two. I will be renovating the space this summer and classes will begin again in the fall of 2017.

Students will enjoy this space more as it is dedicated art teaching space, there will be no stairway to climb and there will be a little more room than in my studio. There will be updates, as well as before and after pictures, here at this blog and at Jack-in-the-Pulpit Art Studio.

Oil Painting: Granite Face

Granite Face
Oil Paint on Canvas
48" x 48"

This painting is of a face of granite on Mallard Island of Rainy Lake near International Falls, MN. Although, from the island, this bit of water seems open to the great waters that stretch twenty three miles to the east, this area can be calm as there are islands on three sides. I find the rhythm of this lake captures my own personal rhythm and calms me down, simplifies my understanding of life, and brings me internal peace. I try to capture this by heightening the rhythm of the water pattern. Strong geometric shapes across the water's surface bring a sense of strength and calm to the landscape. To me, that is the North.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Upcoming Exhibits

I have a solo exhibition at Reverie Cafe and Bar  in South Minneapolis from **June 1 - July 31**. *Note the date change for this show.

I will be exhibiting work from the Edibility series. There won't be an official opening, but I will be hanging out at the counter at Reverie on Thursday, June 22 and Tuesday, July 25 from 5:00pm - 8:00pm if people want to say "hello" and ask questions.

 In September, I will be in a three person show at Banfill-Locke Art Center in Fridley, MN. More details to come.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

What's Cooking in the Studio - March 2017

A couple of blog entries ago, you read about the Sinkside Compost series that I have started. Here is a photo of another compost painting I am working on. I am enjoying playing with the placement of the container on the canvas and including the bottles and glasses of which you only see parts.

I have also been working on a large 4' X 4' landscape from northern Minnesota. The challenge of this piece is to incorporate the patterned water ripples with the wilder strokes of the plants and rocks. Water can have very sharp markings, or ripples/waves, when looking at it.  Here I try to create that sharpness while trying to capture the calmness of the water by using sharp geometric shaped markings. I am complimenting this pattern with the black outlines found in the rocks and trees. To me, the North has a patterning and rhythm that is body-related, which helps me to align my self - become more grounded. I hope these paintings feel that way for the viewer.

I am still researching onion rings in order to paint the companion piece to Cigs, Twigs and Fries. Research has been intense and consistent... and may be why my doctor has recommended that I lose weight and exercise more. More on this front as it develops.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Let the Feminine Rise!

"We got this," she responded to the man having trouble determining how best to support progressive issues. The response made me laugh because of its confidence and I thought this is what's needed. Even as an artist, I have never found archetypes to be particular interesting, but I have come to believe over the last several months that two great archetypes our battling it out across our entire planet and life itself is in the balance.

The battle is between the Masculine and the Feminine. The Masculine, with its aggressiveness and desire to control has taken a dominant position over the last seventy years. It has manipulated situations to the point the the Feminine is hard to find. Masculinity, unbridled, will push until it controls everything and bends reality to its own perception.  It will push until its whim becomes the command of thousands.

Weak people, power and money are its tools.  Masculine is smart and will use the greediest and most capable people to lead the others to His stable. His lieutenants use money and power to manipulate masculine people while punishing feminine people. The less capable masculine people live vicariously through their leaders and support the attack against the Feminine, even if it means attacking the ones they love or even themselves.

Masculine creates identity by creating a team.  The team members need testosterone, a reason to be excited and revved up. They are whipped up by Masculine to a point where they are beyond reason, caught up in the rush of Him through their veins. Being beyond reason is a problem in a breakable world. It is like being a bull in a china shop. But, at this point, the bull is not just breaking dishes, he may destroy the shop itself. How can this bull be stopped before its too late?

Telling Masculine's people to be less masculine does not work. They will feel unappreciated because they are being asked to be something other than what they desire to be most - resulting in their pushing even harder to prove that the world does not need the Feminine, that Masculine is all that is needed and all will be right. But, of course, all will not be right for Masculine does not know how to stop, how to assess, how to heal, or how to have compassion.

The only answer that will save this world is that the Feminine must rise.

I wish it was as easy as Wonder Woman swooping in at the last minute to save the day.  But Wonder Woman really is just Masculine in female form. Masculine has dominated the world to the point that He has been defining what is and what is not Feminine in our eyes. We need the true Feminine to rise, to stride onto the scene in Her full glory, healing people of all stripes, healing the planet, having compassion for the weak and even the masculine people

The current talk is that for things to change, for the world to be saved from itself, people need to protest, vote, and call their representatives. Perhaps, more importantly, it is incumbant upon every person to bring forth the Feminine, to clear the way for Her ascendance. This is done through fostering actions of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness.  These are not of the world of the Masculine and are the only things that will bind Him.

So, in response to the woman's "we got this," I say "yes, yes you do." As a man I will listen to you and have faith in your ability. I will love you and seek to be at peace with you at all times. I will support you and wait patiently until your goodness shines forth.  Whenever the Feminine arrives, today, tomorrow and in tomorrow's tomorrow, I will blow the horn and announce Her, embrace Her and rejoice in Her so that Masculine will retreat to his rightful position of being in balance with Her. It is the only way we will survive.

Let the Feminine rise!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Upcoming Exhibits

I have a solo exhibition at Reverie Cafe and Bar ] in South Minneapolis from June 1 thru July 31. I will be exhibiting work from the Edibility series. There won't be an official opening, but I will announce a day or two when I will be hanging out at Reverie if people want to say "hello" and ask questions.

In September, I will be in a three person show at Banfill - Locke Art Center in Fridley, MN. More details to come in the next newsletter.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Upcoming Watercolor Class

A Wednesday night watercolor class is ongoing. People can join anytime, but if you like official start dates, the next round of sessions will begin on March 15, 2017. Classes run from 6:30pm - 9:00pm. It is a relaxed non-judgemental environment in which to learn how to paint. Come join us. For more info and to register, go to: Jack-in-the-Pulpit Art Studio.

Big news about art classes at Jack-in-the-Pulpit Art Studio coming soon.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Thoughts on Culture

I have been thinking about two unrelated but synchronistic experiences recently. I read an article  online about the four things white Americans fear about racism. One of these fears is the fear of losing control of the cultural narrative of this country. They believe, until now, the American culture has been defined by white people. With the rise of minority populations and (I am adding this male perspective here) equal rights for women, white men are afraid they will lose control of their own culture, one that has benefited them more than others.

I recently purchased Laatikko/Box, a sound recording by my friend Sara Pajunen. On this recording Sara plays her violin, edits in other sounds and effects and has documented interviews with five or six Finnish immigrants. Sara and I both share a Finnish heritage. This project was highlighted in City Pages. In that interview, Sara stated that one of the things immigrants said they missed the most was their culture. In essence, by emigrating, they lost their culture.

As an artist who spends his time consciously creating culture, these two revelations hit home for me. I find the relationship between one's personal culture and the larger societal culture very interesting. The United States has always been a culture of immigrants with various influences coming in waves from overseas. With each wave, individuals found their own space in which to foster their own personal culture; their set of values, conventions, or social practices.

It seems obvious that, throughout history, one's personal culture was almost a subset of the societal culture - communal shame and influence were so great. But in these anonymous times of 7 billion living people the sheer number of personal cultures have watered down the control mechanisms of societal culture. It has become like news on the internet, you can find a culture that resonates with your personal psyche and claim it no matter whether it is your original culture or not. Or you can create a new culture if you find enough like-minded people. Emo and Goth are examples of this.

Obviously, not all whites fear this loss of cultural control. Many have very little say in the overall cultural narrative as it is. We just bump along and use what we can and leave the rest. As I stated, communal shame has been watered down, so people are more free to choose. My latest thoughts are that those who fear losing control of the cultural narrative are really just afraid of not being able to shame people. That is their trade, as we've seen these last few years. Trading shame and fear is more important to them than any narrative, and we know this because their narrative changes monthly, if not daily.

There are places in this society where people find peace and acceptance instead of confrontation, shame and fear. My goal is that Jack-in-the-Pulpit Art Studio is one of those places and that this is apparent in my work and in my interactions with others. The world will only move forward if we create cultures of acceptance, kindness and love.

Oil Painting - Sinkside Compost #2

Sinkside Compost #2
Oil Paint on Panel
9" x 12"

I have a tupperware container next to my kitchen sink where I place all my food scraps that will end up in my compost pile. As part of my exploration of "edibility" I have found my sinkside compost an interesting subject. It changes weekly and contains food that either once was edible but now is not or it contains that part of food that is inedible; egg shells, potato peels, etc. These compost paintings (I plan on making a series) are painted on a cradled panel that I constructed. They are small and intimate, like food scraps. I will share more as this series develops.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What's Cooking in the Studio

I have been starting a couple of Modernist landscapes. I am working from photos I have taken of Rainy Lake and the Review Islands (Crow, Mallard, Gull, Hawk and Fawn Islands). My thoughts about these paintings have been careening from one idea to another as I am discovering what these paintings are about for me.  I often start a series of paintings with a sense that this is the right direction for my work even though I can't explain why.

As I paint I have been pondering this selection of subject matter: landscapes done in a style reminiscent of early to mid-Modernist (1880's - 1930). Why do this? What, for me, is the connection between the style and the subject? The North, the Rainy Lake area, harkens back to an earlier time for me. When I travel to the Review Islands I think of growing up and visiting my grandparents who always lived on a lake. Like the historic buildings on the Review Islands, my grandparents' houses were not filled with the newest technology. Some items in the houses dated back to the 1800's. Having been born in the early 1900's and never having lived in a city of appreciable size, their ways made their home a unique and pleasant visit. For me, early and mid-Modernism handling of the water in these paintings gives me the same feeling of being a kid and watching the patterns on the water for hours at a time and allowing my imagination to become one with the sparkles, ripples and waves. I think of dock spiders and sitting and fishing with my grandfather, I think of hunting for crayfish under rocks in Agate Bay. Even now, on this cold Minnesota night, I can conjure up the feeling of the sun on my shirtless back and neck, the feel of my hand hovering in the warm air and then slipping slowly into the cool water to quietly lay on top of a slimy rock. Then, the slow extraction of the rock to find my prey laying still, as if its hiding place had not been removed, as if it was a rock itself. Finally, the plunge to grab the prize before it squirted away to another rock not that far away - and the process would start again. Memory, like this Modernist technique, is odd in its ability to focus.  Sometimes it takes the complexity and depth of events and packages them into a simple emotional experience of appreciation.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Oil Painting: Dinner (unfinished)

Dinner (unfinished)
Oil Paint on Canvas
48" x 48"

This large canvas is part of a small grouping of paintings within my larger series called _Edibility_. This small group of large canvases is exploring meals that we eat. _Dinner (unfinished)_ is a completed painting about food that is not processed or prepared to be eaten. What we consider edible is a funny thing.  We have food products that do not nourish the body, we have food products that harm us, and we have food products that are very healthy but you have to process or cook them to make them edible. We have odd cravings when it comes to food.  Perhaps the strongest craving we have for food is a craving for convenience. In order to have something quick, easily accessed, we are willing to eat items that actually are not good for us. We will eat food that can sit on a shelf for months, or even years, and not change its basic structure or freshness. This says a lot about us as a species.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A New Year Deserves a New Website

I have revamped my website, stripping it down to essentials, and adding simpler navigation. I was visiting a friend's website and thought her work was so well presented, cleanly, simply, that I decided to change it up on my website.  It had been awhile since I'd changed much on the site, so it was due.  I hope you like the new look. You can visit it at Let me know what you think!

Monday, January 9, 2017

2016 Was A Good Year!

Mixed Nuts
30" x 40"
Oil Paint on Canvas

2016 was a good year at my studio. I started the year in a group show at the gallery of 801 Washington in Minneapolis. Last winter and into the spring there were fun watercolor classes held at Jack-in-the-Pulpit Studio. From the beginning of the year, right until the end, I have been busy painting - producing 24 paintings this year! I'm also very happy to say that I have been painting bigger, with a few canvases 48" x48" or larger. I sold several pieces, many cards and one hundred and sixty fine art prints. Its been a good year at Jack-in-the-Pulpit Studio. With two shows and probably a studio sale coming in 2017 I am looking ahead with anticipation!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Watercolor Class Begins this Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Watercolor class begins this Wednesday, January 11 from 6:30 - 9:00 pm at Jack in the Pulpit Studio. For more info and to register: