The post card invitation to my first solo exhibit.

First Solo Exhibit: The Extraordinary in the Ordinary, 2000

“The Extraordinary in the Ordinary: Celebrating the art in everyday life”

In every moment of every day, everywhere I go, I see something extraordinarily beautiful and inspiring.

 The post card invitation to my first solo exhibit.

The post card invitation to my first solo exhibit.

I left my day job to work at home as a commercial artist, fine artist and writer on January 1, 2000 after freelancing as a graphic designer and participating in art exhibits hosted by membership organizations. One of the primary reasons I left my day job to work at home was to have more time to develop my career as a fine artist and “get to my writing” whatever that worked out to be, so one of my first priorities, since I already had a list of regular customers, was to plan my first solo art exhibit.

I actually began planning in January, only waiting because I really wasn’t totally certain when I’d leave my day job, but a local gallery where I’d hung my artwork for years would be the place, and they could fit me in later in the year. I was grateful because other than promoting it I had no idea what to include or what to say.

I’d been working in advertising and promotions for years so the place to begin was a title. I had a good idea of what inspired me and that was what I wanted to use, but how to sum it up? I remembered this phrase, “the extraordinary in the ordinary”, from something I’d read over the years and it stayed with me, and I knew it fit well with my work: finding those moments that took my breath away and interpreting them as best I could in whatever medium seemed to suit the moment best, from my cats to landscapes to flowers and the streets of my home town.

I would have an opening reception on a Friday night, and then an afternoon reception on Sunday.

The back of the post card invitation to my first solo exhibit.

The back of the post card invitation to my first solo exhibit.

The artwork I chose the exhibit was, well, just about everything I’d done to that point in my life…I’m a little embarrassed when I think about it, but I was almost afraid I’d never have another chance! But as much as I liked the older paintings, the image I chose for the post card was a newer painting done in a looser style, and though not en plein air I had tried my best to capture that feeling of walking up a path and seeing this, and carrying that inspiration into my little painting. It’s called “Into the Woods at Frankfort Springs”, stepping into the wooded path and seeing the sun-splashed clearing, the ancient cabin, the dense shadows and brilliant sunlight; I didn’t get a good clear photo of it before it went off, so the image is a little soft.

In addition to the artwork I worked my writing into the exhibit by pairing images with poems or essays or statements to make little flyers that I could print out on 8.5″ x 11″ paper and mount on the wall. I used the poem Clouds featuring the autumn landscape from my four seasons series because those purple clouds are just as much autumn to me as the colorful leaves.

I had all the artwork framed and only had to organize it, and planned my post cards, the food and publicity and the program, back in those days when you still faxed a press release and color digital printing was available but expensive. I thought I had it all well in hand until my brother suffered a traumatic brain injury at the end of April, and his care and progress through the system made me consider postponing or cancelling the show because I wanted to give my show all of me, not the leftovers, but friends and the gallery owner convinced me that wasn’t necessary. I was also a little scared, and I was glad everyone insisted I follow through. I worked on the program between work at home and doctor appointments, designing it to be printed at home on my trusty laser printer using some of my art in pencil and charcoal and ink, and I settled on legal size paper in a light kraft color, which I tried to represent here but did not, but that’s okay. You can see some of the art in the pages of the program, and a list of the paintings, some of which I still have, and many you can find by title on my main website.

In the end I didn’t sell much but I knew it was because I hadn’t curated the content. I learned quite a bit, and decided having shows wasn’t so frightening after all, and that I’d look for opportunities to have others because I already had ideas for new artwork, and how better to share it? It was not too early to start thinking about my exhibit for 2001 so with ideas from my first exhibit I decided that June was probably a good month since my commercial business began to slow down about that time and I could have all new artwork.

Visit the page for this exhibit, “2000: The Extraordinary in the Ordinary” to see more pieces of the exhibit as well as much of the art.

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