It's not about Objects

 

"Art" is a concept often misunderstood as "object". There are objects involved - sometimes. They represent the lowercase "a" of Art. As in, this is a piece of "art". 

Art as a practice is more like Science.

Art is about exploration and discovery. It's about experimentation and practice.

Art is about telling the story of these explorations and experiments to an audience. 

Art is a broad term encompassing all aspects of creative invention. Visual art, music, performance, film, dance, writing, poetry, song... They all fall into the broad landscape called Art. 

Cheers to all the explorers, the story tellers, the music makers, the dancers, the makers of things and the keepers of the traditions we all hold dear. 

You are the last defense against the hollowing out of the human brain through junk consumption of empty media. 

The world is coming around to see the value in true creative work. Someday we may even find our crafts taught again as valid options for young people looking to carve their way through the education system. 

Until then, keep on doing what you do. People see it and it works on them. Sometimes very slowly, but it does work. The best changes are the kind that happen persistently over time. The kind that slip past the gate unhindered by authorities too busy paying attention to their own reflections to notice. One day they wake up and change has come about right under their noses. And it's too late to stop it. 

Happy day to you, friends. Let's go exploring...

Four Years and More

Man... it feels really odd to think back on the last four years since we opened our doors to the public at Process Art House

I feel like this work that I do now is the work I have always done, I just didn't know where it was headed in the early days. 

Process was born of frustration and panic. Many of you know this, some of you may not. But it is the truth.

About 10 years ago I was still an employed type. I had a great job at the Art Museum. It kept me close to Art, but I was still not doing what I knew I was capable of. I felt frustrated by the lack of opportunity for a working artist to make a living. Late one night, battling insomnia, I wrote a rant into my sketchbook about the missing middle class for creative workers. The fact that most of us remain underpaid for the work we do because people know we are so desperate to do what we love we will take low wages just for the chance to be validated as professionals is a driving force behind my ongoing efforts. The rant ended with me listing everything I knew how to do. I broke the skill list into three categories. Things I loved to do but wouldn't pay, things I was capable of doing and would pay, and things I knew how to do and that paid but that I hated doing. 

I changed jobs a few times. Lost one due to a huge personality conflict and my own poor response to finding out the job I was offered was not the job I was going to be doing. We found out a week later we were expecting a child. We were uninsured now. We lost my half of the income. I hustled side work based on my lists in the sketchbook and spent most of my day looking for a job. I got one. A good one... or so it seemed. 

After busting my tail for three years I was cut from my job due to a budget crisis. I was given no notice, two weeks pay, and a thanks for your time. We were 6 months pregnant with our third child and I was yet again without income. I took one day off to settle my head. I then divided my day into two parts. Job hunting and hustling work. I applied for well over 100 jobs and didn't get a single interview. The job hunt took less and less time as I ran out of places to apply to. So I changed focus. I took the list and started exploring the options more fully. 

After a few months I realized I was making more money working out of my studio then I was when I was employed. The amazing Rhoda Gwyn Breeden and I talked about what was happening and she took a huge leap of faith with me. We decided to give it a go. The only rule was that I find a way to make more money this year then I did last year. The rule still applies (in my head, at least). 

The list became a skeletal business plan. I signed up at theWest Texas A&M Small Business Development Center and started working with a consultant. After a few weeks I had a working business plan, a viable option on a space (though that was the biggest leap of faith of all - PAH lives where a hell hole used to be...) and letters of support from a few people who believed in us. I took those things to a dozen banks and was rejected 11 times. ANB came through with a small loan and we were off. A few other lovely people made small investments and PAH was born.

It's changed so much over the years. The days of working 90 hours a week are gone. Thankfully. (and thanks again Rhoda for putting up with it. I know it was hard as hell) The days of worrying about the wrong things are gone. It's still an incredible struggle. But it is OUR struggle. It's ours to push and alter. It's ours to celebrate and explore. It's ours to fail at, and ours to make into something amazing. 

In the last few years, with the help of the West Texas A&M University Enterprise Center and my coach Matty McLainwe've learned what it takes to run a business. I still don't know what the hell I am doing most days. But I know I can make things work if I trust my process. 

We are in the last quarter of our best year ever at PAH. Next year we launch into a huge new concept. Change is beautiful and amazing. 

I want to say thank you. Thank you to Harold Breeden and Debra Breeden and Chuck and Ronda Gwyn. Not only did you provide support, but you kept us sane by keeping the kids happy and entertained. Thanks to George F. Ingalls,Christian Price Frazer, Kathy Dryden, Mary Taggart EmenyNancy Walker, and Amy Henderson for believing in us and backing us. Thanks to Joe Bob and Debra Mccartt for opening up a space for us and spreading the word about what we do. 

Thank you to every artist who has trusted us with their work. You are the reason we keep at it.

A special thanks to Carlos Cuevas for always being there as a friend and a peer and a solid voice of reason. Even when I messed it all up and lost my way. 

Without the friendship of Mardy Lemmons and Hunter Ingalls, both gone too soon, this would not have become what it is. Rest well gentlemen. I miss you both. 

I can't even begin to tell you how important my amazing wife has been throughout. I don't think words can do justice to what she means to me in life. She has never wavered in her support of this madness. And that is beyond amazing...because this is, and has always been the craziest thing I've ever done...

Nothing good happens without a community. And you have been incredible. You make all of this possible and I will never forget that. I work my tail off everyday with the intent on repaying your belief in the power of creative work. My goal is, and has always been to create something new and exciting that benefits this town into the future. Maybe we pull it off, maybe we don't. But I can't imagine not giving it a shot. 

Four years. Damn...

I love all of you. And I am grateful for all that you do.

Yawn

I really love those moments when you realize very few actually understand what you do, or what you are trying to do (or care, for that matter). There's always a little sting at first...

But that's always followed by the real pleasure of knowing that a few people do. And they are the one's who matter.

Those who lack patience will always default to playing the same old game by the same old rules. No matter how dull, boring, and flawed that game may be, they stick to what feels safe. 

Yawn....

Cheers to those who believe in the new, those who pursue new ideas with sincerity, and everyone who hears them out and supports their vision. Keep tearing the old shit down. It's time for something new. The same ol' same 'ol boring ways of doing things has run its course.

Worse Every Day

It gets worse and worse everyday. Name calling, shit talking, condemnation, animosity... 

Have you ever stopped to think who actually benefits from dividing a group of people in half? A people divided are a people easily distracted. Easily distracted people are easy to control and manipulate. 

Politics is nonsense at the national level. Even at the state level it is nothing more than a show. Beyond the local level, none of us make much of a difference. And at the local level, where you could actually make a difference, almost no one pays attention or gives a shit. But I digress. 

The next time you find yourself "engaging" in some form of political debate, remember that the politician you are attacking or defending gives no shits about you, your opinion, or your value in this world as a human. You are simply a form of energy in the machine they require to maintain their wealth and power. 

The person you are "debating", however, likely does care about you. Or at least has the potential to. They might actually lend you a hand if you needed it. They might join you for a meal or a drink. They might play some ACUTAL role in your life if you allowed them to. 

Elections will happen. People will disagree with each other. Facts will still be facts. How much attention you pay to the pompous, self-aggrandizing bullshit, is up to you. 

The real benefit to having real conversations with real people is that you meet on the level ground of being human. Name calling psuedo-friends and strangers over manufactured outrage about hollowed performers called "politicians" serves only to make you look like an asshole and grants these frauds the ability to fuck up your day. 

Have lunch with someone you love today. Talk to them about your day. Ask them about theirs. Listen to a real human talk about real human things. See if it makes you feel better than you do after you type-shout about politics with people who don't actually exist... 

Or don't. It's a free country. 

But I will promise you this... These "emperors" wear no clothes. The sooner we can all see that, the faster we can get back to being awesome. Being awesome sure sounds like more fun than being pissed off all the damn time.

Have a beautiful Friday sweet people.

Meeting Cheech

Meeting Cheech Marin was awesome last night. Right as my dad and I walked into the museum, we did what I always do and walked up to the bar. As we ordered a drink I turned around, and there was Cheech. We shook hands and had about a 10 minute conversation. He was humble and genuine in our conversation. My dad got to talk about the delays in Cheech and Chong movies and albums due to his growing up in South America. Cheech really got a kick of that...

That was a good start to the evening, indeed.

We had stage front seats for the talk. Cheech talked about art in a way that most people don't. It was incredible to hear a real collector talk about why he collects. It's not just a hobby. It's not just a way to decorate his home. It's a true passion for paintings. He has a style and school he loves, and he supports it every way he can. He knows every artist he collects by name. He knows what they do and why. He has over 700 paintings in his private collection....

He talked about the way the paintings he owns speak to him. He talked about the languages of painting. The beauty of paint, even when the subject is brutal. I hope people heard him last night.

I really think the world needs more people who are willing to stand up and support the things they believe in.

Cheech was funny. He was really funny. He was passionate. He was articulate. He was certainly a little buzzed from the drinks. But he really hit it home for me last night. It was good to see that there are people out there who understand that art is more than just objects on a wall or shelf.

End of man crush gushing. But the man crush will remain. I mean, for fuck's sake. The guy was part of my upbringing. Now he's a huge part of the world I want to be in. Hard not to crush...

Back to the Playa

So.... amongst all the other excitement of the last few weeks... This happened yesterday. It's official. The crazy hard to get tickets have been procured. Much thanks to a damn fine friend (who knows who he is) for helping facilitate another journey into the dust.

I have to say, going with the amazing Rhoda Gwyn Breeden to Glastonbury in Europe, followed a few months later by a return trip to Burning Man, is one of the most epic set of plans a boy could make.

I love this world of Art. And I love that I have the support and encouragement of an incredible woman when it comes to exploring it more fully. And that I have friends willing to take these journeys with me.

What may seem like simply a party to many is much more than that to me. In these places where people truly come together to celebrate creative output, to let themselves be fully who they are, lies the core reason I am obsessed with Art. Art is about exploration and discovery. It is about digging into the wild parts of your mind and shoveling out the madness that matters. And when this happens to a large number of humans in the same place at the same time you can see humanity for what it can potentially become. It's never perfect. If it was, it would be hollow and awful. It's chaos is part of its beauty.

Onward into the fray, my loves. It's wonderfully absurd out there.

PS - The party part is pretty good, too...

Us and Them

Them. Us.

Us. Them.

It's a type of thinking I had convinced myself was unhealthy. "Don't categorize people!" I'd tell me. "It's not fair to compare people", I'd remind me. And in many ways, I was right in what I was telling myself. But I was also wrong. Very wrong.

It is wrong to lump a person into a category without any precedent or just cause. It is also wrong to draw comparisons between people when you have no evidence on which to base your comparison. It is also unfair to judge an amateur as if they are a professional, regardless of their field. Those things are true and right.

But, and this is where I was wrong, it is perfectly acceptable to compare people's efforts. Particularly the efforts of someone who claims a professional title. Artist, musician, accountant, bartender, chef, driver, writer, foremen, or doctor – a title is something that is earned.

Effort is made up of three main components: work, dedication, and persistence. How hard a person works, how dedicated they are to exploring their craft, and how persistent they are in the face of epic failure and resistance are all quite valid characteristics by which to make judgments about someone’s status as a professional (or not). How else does an amateur become a professional but through effort?

So, who are Us? is Us? are We? are Us, Them? are...um...Fuck it. From hence forward, professionals are Us, amateurs are Them. Clear? Clear. Good.

Are you dedicated to your craft? Do you work hard at what you do? Does the idea of 'boredom' seem alien and impossible to understand? Well...you might be a professional. Or at least on your way. Professionals don't have time for boredom. It's a luxury of the amateur. Boredom implies that there is nothing to do – and for Us, there is always something to do.

*Now, don't get me wrong. If you know me, you know I am not a work-a-holic. I LOVE my leisure time. I sleep in on the weekends. Sometimes I drink too much. I procrastinate. I spend most evenings and weekends with my wife and kids soaking up every moment of this beautiful life I live.

That does not mean we don’t have leisure time. We do. But it seems to me that leisure time is misunderstood. For the amateur, it's all they think about. Every moment 'working' is a moment wasted not being wasted. This is not so for the professional. For Us, it's not 'taking a break'. We're not 'getting away from it all'. There's nothing to get away from...What we do for income, how we make our money, how we support our families is not some terrible burden from which we want only to be free. It's an amazing challenge. It's an opportunity to do something brand new. A chance to create something never before seen. Every moment spent 'working' is treated as what it really is - a moment 'creating'. And remember kids – work does not always mean what you do from 8:00am to 5:00pm. Work happens when it happens.

It doesn't matter what you do (lordy knows I've had lots of different jobs in 20 years). You have the chance to push the boundaries of your occupation every time you punch in. Making the leap from amateur to professional is right there in front of you -if you make the choice to jump. 

And making that choice puts you in with Us. Loafing around hating your life and demanding recognition you haven't earned puts you in with Them. Us vs. Them. If you hang out with Us, you get to explore, expand, succeed, fail, struggle, and strive. If you hang out with Them, I think you get to watch American Idol, or maybe The Apprentice.

Is this a competitive way of thinking? Yes. Does it tend to hurt some people's feelings? Yes, probably. Will this mentality make people think you are arrogant? It seems to. Is this way thinking in direct opposition to the mamby-pamby-hand me everything on a platter-lazy-ass-entitled-American way? A-B-S-O-F-U-C-K-I-N-G-L-U-T-E-L-Y. But that's the point. Once we get to grown up land - not everyone gets to play anymore. Not everyone gets a trophy. Its tough, but its life.

My wife's asleep, my kids are asleep, my dogs are asleep. Most of Them are busy watching the TV or getting all excited because tomorrow’s Friday and they don’t have to work for a few hours…Me? I'm going to create something cool. What are you doing?

Feels good.

It just feels good.

I am a huge fan of that line of reasoning. It's a fine reason to do all sorts of things.

It's why I build things. I've been reminded several times lately that I need to -no...have to sculpt. I make things. It's what drove me into art in the first place. The first time I poured motlen bronze into a mold I was hooked. I changed my major from graphic design to sculpture and have never looked back.

It feels good to make things. It feels good to know that some of your blood, sweat and tears are in every pieces that leaves the studio.

Every year I go through what my wife calls my "winter funk". I have had the problem for years now and have never really been able to pinpoint a cause. I think I have.

When it gets cold and dreary outside - I don't go into my shop as often. I use lots of excuses to stay inside where it's warm. I avoid doing the hard work of sculpting because it feels good to stay inside.

I realize now that I am sacrificing my longterm happniess for a momentary sensation of warmth and comfort. It's the same concept as having a day job. Sure its nice to have benefits and a paycheck - but if you ever get too comfortable in that safety net - your days as an artist are at risk of being over.

I am committed this year to making my artwork happen. I committed to being the artist I know I can be. I committed to paying more attention to my tendencies towards comfort and safety and being damn sure those tendencies are not making me lazy.

Going to make more art this year then ever before. That feels good.

Broken.

I would compare the song below to modern song writing - but there's not really any fair way to do that. I'd put these words next to a Justin Bieber song - but that would tarnish the beauty of what Townes put to paper.

Used to be, there were poets. And an audience who appreciated them. It seems that both are lost, or at least hiding. What the heck happened?? When did we lose our love of beauty?

We can fix it.

If artists agreed to only create things with meaning, purpose and passion - could we, as the audience, agree to only support those things created that met our new lofty expectations? Is it within us to deny the power of pop culture and turn ourselves away from cheap entertainment and towards the incredible struggle that is genuine creativity? I think we can. I think many people already have.

If enough of us agreed to this, it could begin a cycle that might actually become self-sustaining. What's it take?

It takes commitment from both artists and audience.

As an audience, we must be patient. And critical. As audience members we must not accept shit as art. There is nothing wrong with encouraging an artist as they grow - but not everyone who puts paint on a canvas is a painter, not everyone who learns three cords is a musician, and not everyone who hated their daddy is a poet. We have to raise the bar. But we must also be patient. We must support artists as they produce good and meaningful work, even if we can't see the output right away. The days of instant gratification must be put behind us.

The artist must be dedicated. The artist cannot leave the road less traveled. Even if it means working 80 hours a week to make a living and make art. It is the struggle to create that is beautiful. Not the object itself. Artist's will have to remember that.

This will lead to some people's feelings being hurt. So be it. But the hard truth is that not everyone has the commitment required to be an artist. If you 'occasionally' like to paint but just can't make enough work for a show, if you learned a few chords from a book but just haven't found the time to write your own songs, if all of your 'poetry' still has to rhyme, if you spend three hours a day watching tv but don't have time to get into your 'studio', if you can imagine your life without your art in it...this life is not for you. You can hang out from time to time - but you no longer get to claim to be something that you are not. I'm not trying to be a dick. But if you spend 20 minutes a month dabbling some paint on a little canvas you bought from the Hobby Lobby - is it really fair to put yourself in the same category as someone who has committed decades to studying their craft and might spend a year on a single painting to get it right? I don't think so. I occasionally have to do some math - but I don't get to call myself an accountant.

If you cannot function without creating. If you cannot picture a moment in your life where your art will not be essential to your sanity. If your work is an amazing and terrible struggle. If you are willing to sacrifice every free moment you have in order to get just a little more work done. If you create knowing that what you do does not have an end, a conclusion, or even a good place to stop...then you are part of the family. Keep it up.

Now. The song I referenced above. Townes wrote about his life. He lived his art. And his poetry reflects that struggle. And its beautiful. Happy Birthday Townes.

Rake, by Townes Van Zandt

I used to wake and run with the moon

I lived like a rake and a young man

I covered my lovers with flowers and wounds

My laughter the devil would frighten

The sun she would come and beat me back down

But every cruel day had it’s nightfall

I’d welcome the stars with wine and guitars

Full of fire and forgetful

 

My body was sharp the dark air clean

And outrage my joyful companion

Whisperin’ women how sweet did they seem

Kneelin’ for me to command them

And time was like water but I was the sea

I’d have never noticed it passin’

Except for the turnin’ of night into day

And the turnin’ of day into cursin’

 

You look at me now, and don’t think I don’t know

What all your eyes are a sayin’

Does he want us to believe these ravings and lies

They’re just tricks that his brains been a playin’?

A lover of women he can’t hardly stand

He trembles he’s bent and he’s broken

I’ve fallen it’s true but I say unto you

Hold your tongues until after I’ve spoken

 

I was takin’ my pride in the pleasures I’d known

I laughed and thought I’d be forgiven

But my laughter turned ’round eyes blazing and

Said my friend, we’re holdin’ a wedding

I buried my face but it spoke once again

The night to the day we’re a bindin’

And now the dark air is like fire on my skin

And even the moonlight is blinding

All images within this site  are copyright Jacob Breeden 2014. Make more art.