Art on Armitage: Work-Life Balance

Installing the ‘Haath Gaadi’

Art on Armitage is a window gallery in a predominantly working class and Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago. It brings art out of the confines of the traditional art gallery and into the realm of the public. It is reputed for demystifying and making art accessible and showcasing artists who have strong social messages to convey.

When I secured a space to show here, I decided to display a combination of installation and paintings. The paintings were from the ‘Burden of Dreams’ series. I used to photograph manual workers at construction sites- some of these images included them carrying heavy material on their back/ head/ shoulders and this became the starting point for ‘Burden of Dreams’.  Bricks, used in construction, unite to form walls used to divide spaces. They are the perfect metaphor to compliment the work. They also add weight to the paintings.

The installation was a haath-gadi that fluidly converts itself into a home/ sleeping bunker. The interior of the haath-gaadi- created by found strips of wood, plastic tarp and jute strings- is decorated with a good luck charm of the nimboo-mirchi, images of lord ganesha and hero-worship film posters. The tarp itself has graffiti-like scribbles of text from school books, poems and math equations. Labor in all developing nations has been the job of the poor- where you use your body rather than your mind to earn. I called it Work-Life Balance because of the irony- it is such a white-collar term and the life of these workers actually has no balance. Their time is spent struggling for survival and dreaming of a better future. At the time of installing this work, I was reading ‘Beyond the Beautiful Forevers’ a book by Katherine Boo, which was also a source of inspiration.

I am an avid reader, and stories form an essential part of my life. They can be escapist, yet thought provoking; a poem can alter my mood and reading an article can elevate me. Literacy is a privilege- though those who have it take it for granted and those who don’t can’t even begin to imagine how it could change their lives. The reason for using illegible text was to momentarily evoke the feeling of helplessness in the viewer that an illiterate person feels every day.

All these elements were things I’d already used before. It seemed logical that, in time, they would come together.


Book Review: “Starving” to Successful

In this book titled “Starving” to Successful | The Fine Artist’s Guide to Getting Into Galleries and Selling More Art by J. Jason Horejs, the author gives some simple tips to art marketing from the point of view of a gallerist. It is a simple read in conversational style and drives home some  basic key points on making your art a successful business. There are two key aspects to being a successful artist- making good art and marketing it. The author focuses on the reality of the latter- which is an area which most artists tend to neglect.

Artists are either afraid of criticism or generally believe that they must keep producing and wait till their work is ‘discovered’! That does not happen in the real world. “I discovered,” says Horejs, “there was very little information out there for the aspiring professional artist regarding the business side of art, especially in terms of the crucial relationship between the artists and the fine art gallery. Even artists who have graduated with master s degrees leave school having never heard a word about how to approach galleries.”

As an artist, I think when it is time to create- do just that. Don’t think about what sells or anything to do with art marketing. Find yourself and make art that is true to you. But when the time comes to take your work out there and lay yourself bare- take some tips from this book. As a gallery owner- Jason seems to know what he is talking about. Some good advice, some basic stuff- a lot to ingest and difficult to implement- but definitely worth a read and worth a shot.

Monday late night musings

My musings today are small paragraphs from Salman Rushdie’s book ‘Fury’ which I am currently reading

“To live in metropolis was to know that the exceptional was as commonplace as diet soda, that abnormality was the popcorn norm”

“.. the anguish of lonliness and ignorance, needle sharp torment of cities and the dull mad pain of empty plains, the pain of wanting without knowing what was wanted.”

Enough said.

An Eye for Color: Olga Gutierrez De La Roza

 An Eye For Color: by Olga Gutierrez De La Roza

I am a color junkie. I love bright vibrant colors flooding my canvas- the challenge is obviously to keep the harmony and knowing when to stop! This book was the perfect find for me. It helped me to create my own color balance and develop a sense of what works and what doesn’t.

She divides the book by color, taking a chapter for each and commencing with the work of a painter or designer and breaking it down into the palette used (RGB and CMYK). Next, it is up to the reader to create a file of swatches based on these, in order to create an inspiration reference. It is also possible for you to simply refer the variety of groupings in the book. It is an enjoyable and handy tool, with barely any text, keeping it uncomplicated. The kind of nicely-designed book that makes you want to just leaf through it before starting any new project.

No More Secondhand Art: Peter London

“No more Secondhand Art- Awakening the artist within” by Peter London
“A joy to read. In a style both conversational and precise, London questions the conventional attitudes that form a barrier to keep art outside most people’s lives. London shows us that making images is as natural as speech, as dreams.”—Yoga Journal

Technique is relatively easy to learn. It takes some good tutors, books, materials and perseverance. What is much more difficult, is of course- Originality. How to find your style? How to make something different that no one has made before? This book really helped me look at art differently. In the past few years, whenever I have felt devoid of ‘inspiration’, I went back to the book and worked on the exercises.The ‘Creative Encounters’ are designed to help you find your inner voice.

Peter London, an artist and art therapist really knows what he is talking about and I would recommend this book to every artist looking to make a mark and to every art teacher attempting to teach how to make art.