The Mayor of Dallas recently hosted an arts discussion in respect of Dallas Arts Week. The meeting was a good start to a discussion that I hope will be continued. Although many thought provoking topics came up, there wasn’t enough time to include all the questions (and maybe even answers) that were on the tips of the tongues of the local talent sitting in the audience. The driven point seemed to be how could Dallas become the next art mecca, like Austin, or NYC? Also, what should Dallas be doing to convince the young, up and coming creatives to do their thing right here in Big D? After all, as it was mentioned during the discussion, the money is here. So, where are all the artists?!

Silly Dallas! We're right here, living in your backyard and supporting your very own cultural centers that have struggled with budget cuts. We're right here, conspiring at this very moment to volunteer time and talent that will meet in a borrowed warehouse for no other reason than to present a charitable contribution that will support other creative organizations. We're right here, organizing our own co-ops and collectives in hopes of promoting culture and inspiring the arts in your neighborhoods. We're right here, setting up shop at the art fairs, at the local coffee shops, on social media sources, and any other venue that will allow us to share our talents with you. We are right here.

Certainly there is always room for more visionaries, and nothing makes a community more exciting than the opportunity for growth. Creative people get that, and are inspired by that word…opportunity! Perhaps the best way to bring in fresh faces and to convince the younger artists to stay, is to begin by appreciating and recognizing the deep rooted talent that is already planted in Dallas. Those who proudly call themselves Dallas artists and are at this very moment creating, collaborating, submitting, volunteering, donating, learning, teaching, writing, painting, dancing, sculpting, sketching, composing, performing, working day jobs, paying taxes, buying supplies, bartering, and always… testing and stretching their wings. Perhaps it's only a little respect  that's needed to prevent them from flying elsewhere.

I've heard people say that everything they need to know to get along in life, they learned while they were in kindergarten.  Or, from their dog. I believe it's true that 5 year olds and our four-legged friends understand the basic life skills of loyalty, sharing, unconditional love, and a natural sense of wonderment for the simple, but special things;  hugs, treats, summer days, shooting stars, pats on the back, and naps curled up in a favorite blanket. As we grow up, there's less time for naps, and we've busied ourselves with jobs, bills, groceries, and all the other grown up things that often leave us too hectic to wish on shooting stars.  I find myself far from my sweet kindergarten days, and even further from the tail wagging, glad to see you, loyal attitude of our furry friends. Some days, my overstimulated brain is just too stressed to appreciate the small, happy things.

Wishing for a nap, instead I jump in my car with plans of marking one more thing off my never ending to do list. I turn on the radio and scramble the stations, landing on The Beatles singing All You Need Is Love. My ears perk up at the recognizable tune, but it is my attitude that perks up as I sing along. Then all of a sudden it happens. I find myself in the moment. My heart feels happy. I have temporarily forgotten about my to do list. I turn the radio up, roll down the window. The crisp January air makes me think of popsicles, and I find myself craving the banana flavored twin pops I loved so much as a kid. Unintentionally, my mind wanders backward to lazy childhood summers. All of a sudden, every single memory is, Truly. Madly. Deeply. In an 'ah-ha' moment I realize  that everything I need to know in this life can be learned from a love song. Love Will Keep Us Together. As soon as I pick up popsicles at the grocery store, I'm going home to take a nap. Betcha, By Golly, Wow.

 A salon style exhibit features art displayed in a non-conventional manner, often stacked in no particular order,  from floor to ceiling. Quite opposite the standard 'all in a row evenly spaced' gallery style display commonly seen in most galleries and museums.

Although the popular French Salon shows were government juried and considered a regal event in the early 1700s, it wasn't until 1863 that an uproar took place as a result of a conservative jury's lack of appreciation for  the non-traditional styles of the Impressionistic painters. That year, the jury members with their taste for the traditional rejected a disproportionate amount of impressionistic works for display.  To unruffle the feathers of the multitude of regular participants that were rejected, Napolean III made a democratic move when he implemented an entirely separate show (the Salon des Refuses), which was held on May 17 in 1863. From that date forward, continuing throughout the 1800s, the artists we know from our art history lessons as the 'The Impressionists'  held their own independent exhibitions. This was the beginning of the avant garde movement.  

In 1881, the government officially bowed out of their sponsorship of the annual Salon exhibits, turning the event over to the Société des Artistes Français, which is still in existence today, and continues to organize the annual "Salon des Artistes Français".

Artists, who left an impression on the world in more ways than one.
One year ago, a group artists pooled together their creative efforts towards the mission of starting an artists cooperative. After a few brainstorming sessions, we opened our first show as an art collective on October 9, 2011. With many friends and family supporting our efforts, the Ghost Story reception was a success. 

Since that October in 2011, The Collective has hosted numerous successful exhibits and workshops at Art Hotel. The events have all been free and open to the public, as part of The Collective's ambition has always been to inspire the community's participation and appreciation of the arts. A year doesn't sound like a very long time. And as time tends to do, it has flown by as the co-op group finds itself smack dab in mid-October, only this time in 2012.

As with any thing  that requires 'team' effort, The Collective events require all hands on deck to make an exhibit 'happen'. It is a lot of work to keep something moving forward for one full year!  Thank YOU for helping us make it happen.  We hope you will join us at our one year ARTiversary as we celebrate with The Open Show reception on Sunday, October 21, from 6-8pm.

So here is my Made In America thought stream: Nice touch, the flag on the door.. Space is empty but still talkin', Laurie's class totem is AMAZING, how did they hang that? 3D art works well together, JQ cigar box guitar then Rita blocks , then light with people wrapped in flags, freedom of spirit/Rita and JQ collaboration, powerful combo! LOVE the new arragement of benches, pedestal, rolling walls, etc. Kitchen and bath got make-overs, wow! Back room looks great; Vinyl letters nice with Marilee liberty girl, collages compliment each other, Ally's photo is up-she'll be pleased..Back up front; cool retro art by KJ. & Marilee, damn that Rita is good! I will miss her. Like how Laurie finished her piece. Sherry art is witty this time and Michelle art is dreamy, whoa - How long have I been staring at this dark gunmen collage by Carol? Mels sweet love letter piece is perfect with the soldier notes...sorry to have missed this show and glad to know your art so well that I can hear your voices in it.  Being in an art co-op is good for the soul.

Johanna Roffino-Hulsey
Founder of Art Hotel

With a Presidential election upon us, I presume many Americans are watching or listening to the debates, contemplating who they will vote for.  

The above sentence takes liberty at assuming several things:
A.   You have access to media that provides you with current event information.

B.  You have an opinion on the candidates, which may or may not differ from that of your boss, your spouse, your neighbor or even the kid who mows your lawn.

C.  You are a registered voter, but even if you’re not, you could be if you wanted to.

D.  You don’t care anything about the candidates, or the debates.

E.  Your religion doesn’t allow you to vote. Or, possibly your religious beliefs inspire your choice on who you will vote for.

F.  You’ve recorded the debates, and will watch them later at your convenience, because you have other errands to tend to, such as grocery shopping, filling out your student loan app, or reading that controversial novel that was banned in other countries.

Who would have thought so many liberties could be assumed from a single random statement? But remember, we live in a country where liberties are endless! Things are not always perfect here. We’ve taken land from others, fought amongst ourselves, impeached, conspired, accused, abused. Our politicians will most likely always debate over taxes and the welfare system. Some of us will sleep in warm beds, while others sleep under bridges. We have spilled blood, as well as oil.  Democrats and Republicans will agree to disagree. You have a sticker of the Christian ichthus fish symbol on your rear window, while your neighbors’ decal reads ‘co-exist’. 

Despite our differences, we stand on common ground. It is a ground poets call the fruited plains, the land of milk and honey. It is a place that hosts abundant liberties and freedoms unimagined in other countries. It belongs to we the people. It is the land that I love
…does that make it worth a thousand dollars? Or maybe a better title would be Blood, Sweat, Tears, because when you ask an artist how they came about their price structure, it can be a sensitive topic.  Could this be because it is difficult for an artist to distance themselves from their finished work?  After all, original art is not created on an assembly line.  It is one of a kind. We made it with our own two hands. It’s a piece of us.  How do you put a price tag on that?

I know artists who are firm believers in pricing their work according to the amount of hours they spent creating it.  Others price according to size. Some feel it is important to place a higher value on their work,  to be taken seriously by collectors. I personally price my work at a point that I feel is affordable to the average tax payer, although still possibly a small splurge for some. There is no secret formula behind my own pricing method. More so, it involves my personal shopping strategy. It doesn’t matter whether I’m at the grocery store purchasing two for one pineapples, or discovering a sale at my favorite bookstore. I have even bartered, trading artwork with other artists.  For me, the reward of purchasing comes in the treasure hunt!  I realize not everyone shops like this.  Still, it is a good analogy for considering that how one prices artwork is not always a mathematical formula, but often just a personal preference.

When contemplating price point, maybe a good starting point for artists is to ask ourselves why we are creating. Are you finding your reward in the process of making art?  Does your fulfillment come from sharing your inspiration with others?  Is creating therapeutic for you, giving your art added personal value, other than monetary?

There are many reasons why someone may be inclined to purchase a piece of art.  It reminds them of someone.  They are emotionally attracted to it. They like the style.  Maybe it simply matches their sofa.  I suppose there are just as many reasons why an artist assigns a particular price point to their creation.  The good news is, art comes in wide variety of styles,  sizes and price tags.  If you've always wanted to start your own art collection but are worried you can't afford it. Keep looking!  Sooner or later, you're bound to find an original treasure.
 …Sports metaphors do not apply to Art.  I make art.  I seldom watch (or play) sports, unless a blood relative is kicking around a soccer ball with me, or I’m watching kid-pitch baseball.  One reason I was attracted to making art from the sweet age of eight, was because of the magic moment of getting totally sucked into the creative process.  It did not require a “team”.

For other kids my age, maybe it was connecting the bat to the ball at just the right moment, and watching the crowd go wild with excitement, that drew them to sports.  Making art, rarely has anything to do with an immediate public reaction, but instead, takes one on a journey into the inner self, through play, research and obsession.  The process is its own reward.

     The reward is there until the day you decide to put your stuff out for others to see, react to, and possibly not in the way you desire.  Entering a juried exhibition is a risk that many artists prefer not to take.  What If???...IT does not get accepted?

   Over the years, I’ve learned that it can be an emotional experience to have a piece that you’ve nurtured like a new baby be rejected. HOURS spent sketching, thinking, pushing around paint. Why Did They Not Accept It? One’s critical eye and over-active imagination could easily propel one into a wrestling match with inner gremlins.

   But, what if, instead of roiling in a self-induced state of despair, one relies on others (did I say “the team”) for an objective critique? If you can be willing to look at something with a fresh eye, and listen to comments, whether or not you agree with them, if might send you back to the easel or workbench with a newfound determination to work through the  “loss.”  Ask more questions, look more deeply; try new ideas, and maybe the “loss” will be turned into a “win”.   The  “win”, ultimately is very subjective, and can’t be measured in points, goals, or public reaction.  Now…on to the new canvas.

Sherry Houpt
Member, Art Hotel Artists Collective

Are you old enough to remember the childhood game 'Operation'?  Before Wii and XBox Live, even long before Pong or Pac-Man the closest thing to an electronic game was 'Operation'.  Although it did not involve the  realistic graphics gamers of today are accustomed to, it did make noise and light up. Assuming that is, your hands were jittery as you tried to remove the funny bone from your patient. If you were a wobbly surgeon,  you'd be called out with a loud buzz when your tweezers touched the no-zone, causing your patient's nose to light up Rudolph red.  There were multiple tiny  choking hazard sized items which required precise extraction, including butterflies in the stomach. Only the most sure-handed got the opportunity to continue the game. Maybe a few of those kids actually grew up to be surgeons, who knows?  What I suspect is, at least a few of them grew up to be artists. 

With  serious focus on carefully tweezing out the individual love themed pieces for a February exhibit, h'ART Attack jurors  (Michelle Stroescu, Karen Jacobi, Linda Ford) proved themselves a skilled team. The participating artists, also steady handed in their creations.  Still, don't be surprised if you hear a loud buzz. Unlike the game of 'Operation', it's a good thing. It will be coming from those taking in the visuals and finding the funny bones and broken hearts at h'ART Attack.
I saw the light.
I also saw Elvis, complete in glitterfied regalia, hanging out with Barbie, Tiger Woods, Elephant Woman, and some guy with a leopard fez hat.

None of this was in a dream, nor the influence of my imagination.  Rather, it was the imagination of the artists who hosted Cosmic Carnival.  True to the title of the show, the artwork was colorful, wild, imaginative and fun.  Popcorn was served, and calliope music jingle-jangled through the crowd. 

There were pieces with multiple eyeballs and numerous legs, worthy of their own sideshow pedestals. Elvis hung from the ceiling, in the form of a gold glitter swag lamp.  A tiny Tiger Woods figure complete with golf club, perched on piece titled 'Tiger Swings His Big Stick'. Barbie pranced on a banner with pickles parading around her.  There were multiple mixed media boxes one could peek inside, and find delightful vintage wind-up toys or profound phrenology heads.

The only thing this carnival was missing, was a barker to guess your weight. That's ok. Because with the smell of pocorn in the air, I felt light-hearted, like a kid.  I saw the light and I went into it. Although my life didn't flash before my eyes, I don't think I'll ever be the same after seeing Elvis on the swag lamp.   Plus, I now have an unnatural craving for cotton candy.