I've had this discussion with Melinda: "What's the important thing about the work we're doing right now, that it gets seen, or that it sells?" We have an agreement, pro tem, that we'd concentrate on getting it seen, and worry about selling later.
That's not to say that even showing work isn't freighted with emotional landmines. But Dinnerware was terrific to put together this show, taking all comers, throwing a kind of potluck, with several artists bringing big crocks of their best soups, and asking a small donation for ladles full of lovely hot home cooking.
I kind of thought the accordian was a fine bit of bistro atmosphere, too. I'm afraid I didn't get the gentleman's name, but he knew his way around the classic German folk songs. (And it was very kind of Melinda to take some photos to help me record the event.)
All together, music+food+original art on walls (and floor), from dozens of artists, gave the evening a welcoming, festive air. And made for an interesting and varied opening reception. The theme: to mark the passing of the last administration, and the entry of the new with art that dealt with the times.
It took me a bit of nerve to even submit my work for a show. I'm not sure I'm ready for an audience, so I was nervous to begin with. And, given the theme, the nature of the call to the artists, and the no-jury entry -- well, it goes without saying that the work is going to be highly granular in texture. Or maybe the metaphor is "all over the map." It's a big subject, and everyone's got a hobby horse to ride. The point is, Dinnerware provides a rare venue: a chance to display without value judgements intervening between the artist and the audience. This is important. It is not just freedom to be whoever you want to be... it's unconditional acceptance.
There were entries in ceramic sculpture, digital video, and large stenciled cloths on the floor. Paintings, drawings, prints, photos and collages. The content -- and let's face it, this was a highly charged theme -- ranged from lamentations to jubilant, from snarky to histrionic.
In one room there hung a 9 foot tall American flag, done entirely in black velvet -- even the red, white and blue bits. A Mac showed image collages morphing behind phrases taken from speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr and Malcolm X, while voiceovers from historic gatherings muttered along behind.
One artist took the front page of the New York Times, which featured an array of 9 photos from Bush's final news conference, showing his alternately combative, smirky, and defensive expressions. On each photo, a little "Hitler" mustache had been added. Some images challenged the viewer to accept a pair of nude white guys, or lampooned the "border fence", wherein America looked like the metropolis in the second Babe movie.
Yes, the show was cathartic. Yes, some was hilarious, some was haunting, some cliche-ridden. Some work was pointed, some blunt. Much was petty, some obscure to the point of opacity. Me, I liked the turkey soup, the whole-grain shepherd's loaf of bread, and the peppery corn chowder. Because, sometimes, a hot meal is as good as a come-to-Jesus altar call.