Some Arty Farty Things I’m Doing

and stuff…

  • There’s a Kickstarter I’ve involved with by BJM of Silber Records. He’s doing artist magnet and button sets, some of which features paintings of mine + an original painting as a high reward. Check it out here.
  • Prints of “Dahling” released by WWA Gallery in Los Angeles are now available, only $35! Visit here.
  • “The Dress Says It All” was a great success for the opening reception, one of the best attended I’m told. You can go see the show at BAYarts now through the 31st. And have I mentioned you can purchase prints of my painting framed or unframed here?
  • Oh hey, are you into Russian literature or the history of the Soviet Union censoring authors and books — not to mention the company my parents started? Well goodie! I made this video finally, of all the interviews done in 1999 in Moscow. Sorry a lot of it is in Russian, but some isn’t. Go grab yourself some tea and learn things, here.

In other news it is about as hot in Cleveland right now as it is in New Orleans, so thank Zeus for central air! I’ve moved much of my art supplies from the studio to my home, because even with a portable AC until in there, I was dying by that west facing window! Let’s see how many cat hairs appear in this next small painting I’m working on, shall we?

DSC05396

oh Ike.

Funding for Creatives: Is the Age of the Foundation Over?

I see so many great artists, designers, creative entrepreneurs who apply for funding, and after going through the ringer, get denied. It seems that it you don’t fit into a certain stereotype — or aren’t already known — the traditional route of seeking business loans, grants from foundations and various non-profits is almost futile. This is especially true if what you are doing is something new, different, or in an industry/genre that these people aren’t familiar with.

Let’s face it, many people who sit of boards or head up foundations are living in a bubble going for the same kinds of projects time after time. In fact, how many artists or writers get grants or funding consistently? Quite a few! It’s almost as if they’ve proven they got funding from one reputable source, then it’s okay to give the green light because it looks good for the foundation to be in the know, not to mention an opportunity for press. Again, most board members and judges don’t go out of their comfort zone (ask any of them if they know about new art movements, and they don’t), and many really don’t care but are partaking for social cache. Then there are the ones who grant to former colleagues (cough*cough* NEA grants cough*), former students, or as in the case of a Rome Prize juror — their girlfriend. It really is like winning the lottery sometimes and not just based on reputation or quality of what you do. This isn’t to say everyone who gets awarded isn’t deserving, but it can be very spotty at best.

More than a few friends have also applied for “yay small businesses!” grants that are supposed to help the local economy or contribute to culture, but because the industry wasn’t a familiar one, got denied. It’s also hilarious when this happens with the last resort: bank loans. How many programs are there for small businesses, women-owned, minority, arts related? How many of them actually hand you down a loan for something creative that isn’t a total raw deal? Sure it’s good PR for the bank to have these programs, but they are so muddled with bureaucracy that you’d be amazed how many deserving recipients get denied. On the flipside I’ve seen hucksters who claim to be a non-profit, but in fact are a for-profit business, and yet they’ll get awarded funding thanks to friends or grant writers who know how to spin it.

I’ll admit I was incredibly disappointed when I filed for an emergency funds grant for artists. I have my medical bills, and pretty much lost a year of taking care of business, even having to turn down teaching gigs because I was either undergoing radiation or couldn’t walk. This foundation in New York came recommended, not to mention I saw some of their past recipients and thought I had higher quality work, but the grant wasn’t based on the work itself. Or so they claimed. I gave them everything they asked for, they still wanted more. They wanted 3 references — they called them all, and yet still then wanted another 3. After 4 months and a financial paperwork enema, they broke their own rule and wanted to see my work. Oddly they only wanted 2001-2004 (?) and I was flatly denied. This was supposed to be a grant based on medical expenses and lost income, not if you liked my art, if I was part of a certain clique, or if you “got it”.  After demanding so much from me to prove I was worthy, they never even responded to my query as to why I got denied. Way to treat artists you supposedly are supporting. I had been denied grants before — no one can seem to decide if I am fine art or illustration — but this was the one that pissed me off the most, because I was still hardly able to move and hadn’t even been able to get to my studio except for one event. They couldn’t even dignify me with a reason. The experience has put me off ever applying for a grant with any non-profit from now on.

Now here’s the funny part: everyone I know who has been denied grant or bank loans went to the internet and got funding. In fact, many got over-funded! Thanks to websites like Kickstarter, funding isn’t based on a small group of old ladies who don’t like nudes in art or a guy in a bad suit looking at your credit score. These are contributions from people who actually get what you are doing, or are just interested and want to be involved. No politics, no bullshit, and if one person isn’t into what you are doing, you don’t get outright denied. An arts foundation that wouldn’t give one friend the time of day? She was able to raise over $10,000 to do her art project. Another friend who was denied all the “yay entrepreneurs!” grants AND a bank loan? She raised over $12,000 to start her business. Yep, they got more from the internet than from the organizations who exist for the purposes of funding.

In the digital age, and with all the things it is rendering obsolete, is “crowdfunding” going to replace these organizations in the long-term?

Please share your stories, because I’m very curious to see where this is all going.

I’m a Painter, Not a Historian

I get a lot of emails from people asking about the “historical characters” that I “base the portraits on”. Or they ask me if there is a Wiki entry, or book on the person I can point them to, as obviously I have quite a bit of knowledge on these subjects and study them often. Then they also ask where exactly in Europe some of these counties or locations are, and have I ever been there? Some people seem to get worked up about it too, because when I tell them it is all fake they are convinced they knew of this or that person so it can’t be made up, they even went on a group tour of their residence in England! Infidelity, eccentricity, egomania, crime, bizarre and horrible deaths, none of this is unique to anyone in society with money — not even today. Perhaps because of these common themes, it takes time for these people to realize they’ve been had; this is why I try to insert humor or ridiculous circumstances into my biographies more and more.

I guess it means that I am a pretty convincing liar that I can have people believe that these were ever real people, with real lives, in real locations. Although when I don’t get credit for the writing part, I do get miffed a bit that I spent so much time on something that people assume I lifted from a history book! The question then gets posed if I’ll ever do a comic book, but I hate doing anything sequential — doing hand-drawn animation projects at CalArts killed any desire to do ever again. I went nuts! But, I would love to someday finally publish a quality book of all my portraits with their family trees, maps and crests in full glory. Anyone wanna publish it,  fund it, or get Kickstarter involved somehow? Anyone?

I’m very excited I finally came up with a bio for this chicky-poo portrait! She’s kinda mean and has bad taste in decor. It also made me realize the math is a little off when it comes to some of my family trees I have created for my portraits. This week I actually had the calculator, a costume history book, and all my scribblings out trying to correct it so that it made sense. I had a few goofs, like people who had become grandparents at age 6 and stuff. Glad no one noticed!

Nayanna of Alia, Countess of Luc, (1527-1586)
11×14 inches
The chance to marry “well” came thanks to the lucrative family lumber business, and two uncles who served as tutors to a succession of royal children. Marrying the second Earl of Luc and becoming mistress of Barrole Hall, she had a son – fulfilling her expectation. The countess conducted her life autonomously; the earl was hardly to be found, a ghost moving in the background of her life while he hunted, traveled, and philandered. While she kept the chattels of Barrole Hall in tact, her additions to the home became a triumph of original bad taste. The madness of her egomania revealed itself in mixes of Oriental, Greek, Venetian renaissance, bronze statues draped with silver jacquard, and her collection of bizarre wax dolls. Nayanna gained notoriety later, as a widow, when her majordomo of 30 years appeared next her to bedside stark naked and professed his love, she replied, ‘don’t be stupid, and put that awful thing away!’ The butler promptly retrieved a gun from the library display case and shot himself. She was most distressed about replacing her rare, and now stained, Oriental rug.