As the first day of 2014 unwinds, I reflect a bit on 2013. Looking back, so much has happened, some of it seeming so long ago. One highlight includes having a dual art show in February, along with my favorite living artist JJ Cromer, at the Off-Rhode Studio in DC. It was a marvelous collaboration and exhibit and we managed to raise a good chunk of money for Art Enables, through sales of our work. I couldn't be more grateful to JJ for taking the time and making the effort to work with me, as well as Art Enables for granting us the show, and finally, the wonderful people who came out to the show and workshop, as well as bought our pieces. The whole experience made such a dismal month all the more tolerable. Kris and I also found and purchased a house the day after my last day of school last June. We had been looking for quite a while and became pretty frustrated with the whole experience, then suddenly the place seemed to have fallen in our lap. Our realtor did a fantastic job of helping to make this happen too. It was a big step for us, and owning a home has its challenges, but I have no regrets.
In between and up to now, both Kris and I kept active with our art-making, something which is very important to both of us, and I held quite a few little local workshops and exhibited in some great shows, including one in London for the awesome Mail Me Art 3, Short and Sweet book. I also finally got on Facebook, for better or worse, and opened up my own online shop, Splotch Monster Island in late 2013. I had dabbled in both in the past, several years back, but didn't really commit to either at the time. Now I think I've got a handle on both Facebook, and the online shop thing, and so far so good!
Perhaps the lowlight of 2013 was when our turtle Gammera (pictured above) nearly died after the move into our home. He had gotten a bad cold that left him lethargic and not eating, with one eye swollen shut and snot dripping from his little turtle nostrils. It's funny how attached you can get to an animal, and despite being a reptile, Kris and I love him like family and couldn't imagine the thought of losing him. Thanks to several trips to Pender Exotics in Fairfax, VA, and lots of TLC, the little fella, who I've had for eleven years now, is back to his old grumpy self. Thankfully Gam is back, and that was the worst that happened last year.
I'm looking forward to 2014 and what it has to offer. In September/October I'll have a Splotch Monster-based solo show at Off-Rhode studio in DC again, as well as participate in a handful of other art exhibits. I'll have work in a new book edited by Matt Dembicki and released through Fulcrum this spring. I'm also going to have artwork featured on the cover of a favorite local news publication soon as well (at least as far as I know so far). This spring will also be my five-year wedding anniversary with my wife Kris and I can't believe how the time has flown! The past five years have been the best five years of my life. Last but not least (at least so far) in the summer, I'll be attending a week-long artist/art educator fellowship at MECA in Portland, Maine - a state and city I've never been to yet (thanks Laura B. for the heads up!!).
More than anything, I've found that none of these things would have ever happened without the help of so many other good people, and I've felt I've made a few new friends along the way last year. I'd also like to learn how to relax, slow down and simplify my life, despite all that's going on. We take so much pride in being busy and "useful", attaching and justifying our very existence on such behavior, that it can get pretty absurd to the point where we're sort of missing out on life and not really living it. The truth is, you don't have to accomplish anything - just be, as long as you're a good person, that's what's important. One way for me to slow down is to actually take up sketching in a sketchbook again. While it might seem like busy work, it actually forces me to focus and eliminate the chatter in my mind. Some would refer to this as meditation, and I'd have to agree.
So, here's to 2014 and all that is has to offer, including the good, the bad and the ugly. Bring it on!