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Thursday, March 6, 2014


found art

Day 6 of blogathon concerns one's idea of a perfect year in art. I don't have a perfect year for art. I am not one for factory production, nor am I one for perfect. "Art" is not a career, a business, something I worry over and push myself to accomplish and keep on accomplishing. I don't put things in shows or competitions--have a little bit in the past, where I learned not to. I don't pursue galleries. In Sparta some artists who have moved here from other places have socialized into an artist co-op. I've been asked to join, but it's $40 a month and I don't have the money. I could volunteer a day a week and do it for $20. I still don't have the money. I don't want to anyway, but don't have the money, so it doesn't matter if I want to or not. Forty dollars was a tank of gas last year. I've been told in a snippy way by Ms Bizzibodi that it would be to my benefit to pay more attention to that bunch. One of those moments when she was talking with somebody in the coffee shop, time to put on her coat and go out the door, on the way it's, Oh, TJ, It would be to your benefit to pay more attention to these people. All I could think was, My? Benefit? Couldn't say anything, it was such an obvious bitch-slap. Satisfied she had her say, she wiggled her tochas out the door. One day I walked into their showroom and was met by another of them that starts with a B, "How long has it been since YOU'VE been in here!" I about turned and walked out the door, but said casually, "About a year." She said, "That's what I thought!" I said, "Then you'd be right." They talk down to me like that because they think I'm stuck up for not wanting to be a part of them. OK. I'm stuck up. I confess. Besides, I'm not necessarily drawn to company that only speaks to me in wisecracks. If I were to talk to them in the tone of voice they use to talk to me, their ass-ends would be hopping up and down like Donkey Jenny's looking for somebody to kick. Stuck up is the least they'd be saying about me. They'd call me stuck up for a compliment.  
jeff gordon pit stop
Long before these artists showed up from the Flatland suburbs, I'd found my artist friends in musicians. At least my first whole lotta years only a few other visual artists were here. We knew each other. I've found my need for the company of other artists in musicians. I fell into appreciation of mountain musicians for their art. Mountain music is an art form, an art form as pure as Chinese poetry, until recording and money got involved. The people that played the pure art form, fiddler Arnold Spangler, banjo Bertie Dickens, are long dead and gone, and everybody before them. Fiddlers conventions changed the music, recording changed the music, money changed it. I'm not saying it's better or worse now than it was a century ago, only different. The culture has changed. It's automatic that the music changes with the culture. I found in the musicians I became acquainted with some serious artists. Scott Freeman, who is around 40, has composed I can't imagine how many songs in the contemporary style mountain music is played. He's made at least ten cds, every one of them dynamite. His band Alternate Roots played music as art. His other band, Skeeter and the Skidmarks play music as art too. He and his musician friends do not draw attention to themselves, on or off stage. They just make music. Scott is a master mandolin player and fiddler. He's an artist. Back when I had the radio show, I made a cd for a show from every song Scott had recorded to then that he had composed. It had at least 16 songs, just the ones that he had recorded himself. It made a great radio show. I have found mountain music to be an art form I hold as high as any other art form and any other form of music. I have the same artistic respect for fiddler Pop Birchfield as for Jascha Heifitz. There is a kind of joke that goes around, what's the difference between a fiddle and a violin? The answer is, Whoever is playing it. Then I met Tim Smith, who is from this county, bluegrass fiddler with the Bluegrass Cardinals when younger, has played fiddle with several bluegrass bands and has done fiddle tracks on albums by about every bluegrass band recording. Several bluegrass albums of his own. He also plays classical. He teaches classical violin, and he teaches bluegrass fiddle. When Tim plays it, it's both violin and fiddle.
bill birchfield, son of pop birchfield
he made the fiddle
it sounds good too
Seems to me, this year is as perfect a year for art as I could ask. I mean I'm well into the flow of writing in the blog every day, such that it's become what I do. I usually keep something of visual art going. Have just finished the Sparta courthouse boxes. Have begun a Walt Whitman box. And I have another wooden box with a specific plan. It just needs the doing. It is a square box with a sliding lid. It was made to hold two bottles of George Dickel Tennessee whiskey. I don't know what it is unless it would be bourbon. I can't drink bourbon. Once my palate discovered "mountain spring water," nothing else satisfies. I'm looking at putting a mirror in the bottom of the box so it will be a mirror hanging on the wall, and in the front of the box vertical posts like prison bars. Slide open the lid and there you are behind bars. A surrealist toy. Fun. Today I attempted to paint Donkey Jack in a dark red with blue lines. It was a "sketch" toward something I'm wanting to do next. I'm wanting to find a way to paint Jack and Jenny simply, but it still has to look like them. I'm making pencil sketches of donkeys. The one today showed I'm not there yet. I did it for the experience of it. Next one will be closer to what I'm looking for and the next one closer than that. Donkey proportions are peculiar. Huge head in relation to the body, body like a barrel and thin legs. The big ears are another feature out of proportion. No matter how big I make them, I go back and make them bigger. It is the proportions that are giving me a fit. It doesn't seem like a head that big goes with the body. It is their huge jawbones that make their heads big. I want to make donkey images that are not Hee-Haw humor. An awful lot about donkey falls under slapstick. Might see about bringing out the humor in them, but not the cliché humor associated with donkeys. I want to somehow make them give the appearance of a rubber stamp in bright colors, all colors maybe. Wouldn't a black donkey with white belly and nose be fabulous on a field of just the right green. Blue donkeys, red donkeys, yellow donkeys. That's the direction I'm looking, colorful donkeys suggesting big rubber stamps--if I can get that. It may change before I get there. I'll let it roll and see where it goes. Did you ever see two kittens tear into each other and roll around on the floor like a wobbly bowling ball? Let it roll.
dale junior a-runnin his wheels off
I like these points in the daily prompts for each day's writing. I chose today not to go there, because it doesn't apply to me. And when I get right down to admitting what I'm seeing, it seems somewhat academic, though not meaning the standard association of the word, the reason I hesitate. The perfect year sounds too much like a church retreat question to answer in a circle of folding chairs. That's kind of vicious, and not how I mean it, but I think what this is getting at is not something that applies to me. If I were in the city and showing at a gallery, getting set for the next show, I'd have to set goals and so forth to keep myself going. At this time in the life, I don't realistically look too far into the future. I can entertain looking a year ahead. I look forward to Jenny's baby donkey a year away. I can look ahead to something like that realistically, but as for watching my baby friend, Vada, grow up, not practical to look forward to it. Don't feel sorry for me. This is the best time of my life. And given the direction our racist government is going, I don't want to live very far into police state with tanks in the city streets and troops everywhere. I cannot ask for better than what I have. Netflix keeps me in international films three and four times a week. For me, that's the same as heaven. If heaven turns out to be a movie theater with all international films, I'll be at home. I've never been one to look to the future. I figure I'll go on like I'm going now, writing daily and painting some. I'm hoping more frequently over the next year. The DCP group is so inspiring to me I'm looking at new things to do, new ways to approach what I do. I look at this coming year being one of figuring out how I want to paint donkeys by trying different approaches. I see what I want, it's just  matter of getting there. Without it being a goal (gaol) I'll let it roll like a ball of two cats on the floor and see where it goes.
the eyes of the blogger, by Cheyanne, age 6
(that's some serious eye bags--it's a new day)


  1. TJ! I just roll into your being you. I am also like you and Darlene in that I don't want to conform or be a part of a group where I can't be myself and it excludes other people. I love your presence in The Daily Creative Practice. I had been hearing your name for years from Judy and Lucas and eating dinner looking at your painting of a parasol. Who is this TJ I used to wonder. Now, I am getting to know you, love you through your blogs. You bring me home somehow. Thank you.

  2. I agree with Ruth, TJ, reading your words is like coming home to my favorite chair that was nestled in my Granny's bedroom. It was my safe spot as a kid. A place where I learned about real life from a very authentic woman. She wasn't who she had thought she would be she'd be but she was who she wanted to be just the same. I continue to look for her in others. I find her in you. thank you.