So, I had my second, and I believe final, showcase with RAW Artists at the Mod Club Friday night as an artist.
Did I sell anything?
Did anyone come out to support me?
Do I measure the experience as a success?
Let me explain from the beginning.
My first showcase was huge for me. It gave me the confidence I lacked, to do, and continue doing, something I hadn't touched in twenty years.
I was invited to do the Toronto show rather than the Montreal showcase. As much as I love Montreal, I still consider Toronto home and I understand it a bit better.
By the way, I hadn't been in Toronto since last year. What I noticed this time is the amazing cultural diversity everyone says Toronto is known for. It really gave me faith in humanity and made me proud to be 1, Canadian and 2, human. It showed me that there is hope that one day, maybe, the biggest fight between races is who gets the tv remote.
This last year has been very trying on a personal level. I went through some extreme hardships that only a handful of people know about and I was (and still am) fortunate that they were there. No details, not here, sorry. Let me just say that simple daily tasks became monumental efforts during the darkest parts.
To rise from that and keep going meant some changes. And change I did.
I try to face challenges head on. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes a distraction is more viable than dealing with a cold hard fact. One of those distractions was Art. I'm capitalizing the word now, but I didn't back then. Then it was a crutch, now it's a Voice. A croaky, rusted unused Voice, but it works. I'm using it and it feels great. I still need to sand and oil it but it's going to look and work like new, trust me.
That Voice, and a new house with all the space I need to exercise it, have really helped me heal parts of me I was worried were damaged forever. It was extremely cathartic... So cathartic, that the transformation from broken shell to "plays well with others" literally happened overnight.
I had actually and gradually cured, to a large extent, my years long fight with insomnia. I woke up one Saturday morning to continue working on a few pieces, and I looked at them for a bit, noticed they were silent - the cacophony they started with, like screaming birds, was gone - and I said to them, "Goodbye."
And I feel nothing for them. Would they have been cool to look at, finished? Hell yeah. Would I have been happy they existed? Hell no. That's why they were pulled apart. Pieces got used in other things. Other parts will be used somewhere else. Canvases sanded down and reused. When they start talking again, I'll take notice. Hopefully, they remain silent. I fixed some things by the simple act of creating
That out of the way, I have achieved an inner "something". I don't think a word exists to really describe it but it pulls together so many righteous and positive things all my heart at once. I'm sure the Germans have a word for it like Schadenfreude (something I try never to practice) Their language is awesome for that.
Anyway, That "Something", became besties with Voice and Art. They're usually inseparable but once in a while they have an argument about something like what show to watch and who should have the remote. It doesn't last long and before you know it, they're binge watching crap like two and a half men, and swilling hipster beers. Dicks.
These three things are my super power. I can't fly (yet) but they are an incredible cure for having a direction and a place where you want and need to be.
Where I NEEDED to be, was Toronto, doing this showcase and it came very close to not happening.
My car sucks and I had to get a rental. That delayed my departure I was behind in what I wanted to accomplish so I had to make some decisions: what got left behind, what could work, etc. I really wanted to get my latest piece working, a capacitive synth, with 12 triggers that could fire loops I created. Next time.
I had to make sure I had everything I needed… I couldn’t dash home and get it.
I was running on fumes. I was up til 3:00AM mocking up my placement of my pieces, gathering cables and packing my crash kit in case something decided not to work. Like the Atari Punk synth, which was working again finally… somehow and somewhere a bunch of wires pulled out of the circuit board. I packed the SUV very carefully and after some initial settling the ride was very quiet. I left at 12:30, three hours behind when I wanted to leave and I was going to hit much hour.
The 401 was great until near Ajax, for no reason, we were all at a standstill for 15 minutes. Half hour later, same thing. I started to panic a bit, it was going to be close. At the RAW show in Ottawa, I was late setting up and it showed. I wasn’t going to let it happen again.
So, finally I’m on The Gardiner nearing my exit but I need to get in the right lane. Didn’t happen, which added 20 minutes to my journey. That dull panic earlier is now my rapidly increasing heart rate, becoming and audible thing.
I get to the venue and I like the area, never been. It’s ten to six and I hold off until I can park on the street, pretty close to the front doors.
I start bringing things in. Its warm and humid which is my least favorite weather. I perspire a lot, I’m wearing jeans and the shower I took just before leaving is a distant memory.
This is where things go totally pear shaped really quickly. The artist on the other side of my setup has used up all the outlets. It takes some convincing to free one up (she was charging her phone… seriously?)
I had a plan on setting up everything that needed power, had a screen was gallery height and clustered together. I had to change that. A big problem I had in Ottawa was the two power bars I brought didn’t work. I brought two different ones. THEY DIDN’T WORK EITHER. Internally, I am freaking the hell out now, sweating profusely. I need to take a step back, calm down and figure this out. I’m shaking and not thinking right. Daniel Anaka, one of the other artists, comes over and introduces himself while I’m flying around like a madman. I wish I had been a but calmer so I could give him the attention he deserved. Sorry about that, Daniel. Also, apologies about not being able to shake your hand but you could see I was bleeding like a stuck pig. Blood was everywhere. I brought Windex, thankfully, wiped up what I could and tried to figure out power situation.
The event photographer was also pressuring me to pose for my headshot. A few things had to happen before I could do that but most importantly I wanted a goddamn shower. I was soaked and felt 100 different kinds of gross. I was not a happy camper and I was questioning my involvement in the show, my parents conceiving me, art in general, people, everything. For a brief time there I was not to be approached. I was fucking pissed at myself.
Around 7:45PM, I think, I had no choice but to take my packing stuff back to the car plus some extra pieces I didn’t have room to show. Maybe, magically, a power bar was lying in the back. I need to clean up. The blood especially. I had so much adrenaline flowing through me, I felt no pain but that small cut was like a fountain.
Haha. Made it downstairs to change shirts, took a pic of my hand, posted to Facebook “shit start to the night.”, got rid of all the blood I could, washed up and TRIED to look dry long enough for my headshot. Didn’t happen.
Make it upstairs, get my headshot, and the photographer (you were awesome, dude) lends me an extension powerbar. I still have to move my car. Meter’s run out and I move it to the parking lot across the street. $20 but it will be safe for the rest of the night.
Park the car, light a smoke, take a deep breath, count backwards from ten, look at the sky and ready myself for a busy four hours, reach one, look at the venue and there’s a line up and people are already heading in.
I run to get inside because my booth still looks like crap, I need to put price/name tags on each piece, plug my backup battery packs into what won’t fit on the extension cord and light everything else up.
Something else I was dealing with, somewhere dimly, was possible repercussions regarding the Blue Violin. My imagination is… very cinematic. Very dark, violent, twist ending, Indie, cinematic which isn’t helpful. My worry was someone would make things difficult. But, honestly, once the place started filling up, I didn’t think about it again. I did have a 90 second smartass stop motion video (GREAT Idea, Jenn. Thank you!) of the violin being caressed by the spider legs on loop all night. And I enjoyed telling a few people parts of the controversy. Snigger.
I think it was around 9:30 that I was finally relaxed and was enjoying myself. I was kinda hoping to sell a piece or two, ergo the price tags. However, I can’t price art worth crap and thought my prices were too high so I surreptitiously, removed all the tags and would give a lower price if asked. Molly Koenig, who I shared a fence with HAD IT TOGETHER. A very talented young woman, she had her original watercolours available as well as smaller flammable prints. She accepted credit cards. Business for her was booming. I learned so much from her approach and took mental notes.
That mad against the world angst and anger I felt earlier was gone. I was here for a reason. I was doing it and I felt great. I still wanted a shower more than ever.
I met some very very cool people that night and connected again with a couple of people I knew already. Michelle, the director is an awesome person. We shared a smoke and we talked music after listening to The Scroll play. Great MYL, eighties sounding band (check them out). Turns out, she loves synths as much as I do. The event DJ spun some great industrial (sploosh) during a couple of performance breaks and that really helped me calm down and focus on the here and now. People were curious and asked questions, and I chatted with genuinely interested people.
As it turns out, anything I brought that was a noise maker would have been lost. My only complaint was the volume throughout the night. Great sounding system. Just was too loud.
Again, did I sell anything?
Am I disappointed?
Not in the slightest. I wasn’t there for that. I was there to grow. The business cards I received, the box of business cards I gave out, the upcoming interview with Culture Fancier, the chance to submit for MUSE 2016, the amazing Torontonians I talked to, are things that would not have happened, sitting here in Ottawa.
I was also surrounded by incredible talent. I was humbled by what I saw and very happy to have had a chance to meet some of them and friend them on Facebook. It would have been nice to meet everyone. Maybe another venue.
RAW Artists, the organization, gives the aspiring artist - whatever it is you do - a real chance to get out there and be seen.
I’ve learned patience. I know rejection. It’s cool. Some things take time. Some things will never happen. I’m happier engaging the Here and Now, expecting nothing but appreciating living those moments fully.
THANK YOU RAW Artists, your organization and the faith you place in us. I am so grateful for these two opportunities. And, a huge thank you to Michelle Bylow, who unfortunately got tangled up with the Blue Violin fiasco, for seeing it for what it is. Thank you to all the RAW Artist Toronto/Ottawa staff. Your events are flawless.
THANK YOU fellow artists that I have met, friended and become genuine friends with. I appreciate everything about you and I gain strength from what you do. I wish you all the success.
Molly and Tara Koenig for offering to help me bring stuff to my car. That was such a nice unexpected gesture and it was a pleasure chatting with you. Thank you. And congrats, Molly, you had a very successful night!
Thank you Daniel Anaka. The brief chat we had about what I should charge for my pieces opened my eyes and frankly shocked me. I have much to learn
Petr and Steve. I enjoy the spitballing ideas, the casual hang outs and trading bits of junk to make new stuff. Petr, we will make the Analog Electro Sounder. I’ll leave out the Radium and Asbestos for MKI.
Stuff I learned:
Power bars inexplicably die on me for some reason
Leave more room for debugging and breadboard before assembling
Bring a duplicate of important things
Have an assistant
Show up in grubs, shower, change before show. Man, I felt so gross all night.
Arrive the night before, relax and enjoy a few drinks after, stay the night, leave in the morning
Don’t bleed all over everything
I have a couple of art things I need to finish up but I'm taking a bit of a break. I have a couple of REALLY COOL projects I'm just starting.