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Monday, February 24, 2020

Improvisation of the Poor Creative

Creativity can be an expensive venture. There are lot of cool tools we wish we had and we yearn to make part of our studio. I wish that was reality for all of us. 

You have to think on your feet sometimes. 

About a year ago I chanced across a small styrofoam box sitting in a stores recycling bin. I'm unsure what its original use was. It was like a tiny cooler with a snug top that could be removed. I brought it home and tossed it in "might find a use for someday" pile.

Several months later I had an opportunity to do some outdoor photography with friends. Unfortunately there was rain in the forecast. I needed a way to keep my camera safe if the weather did indeed turn bad. I figured I'd just bring a bag to put it in when I noticed the styrofoam box sitting on a shelf. 

The camera didn't fit inside as there were several ribs the stuck out within. If those ribs weren't there, the camera just might fit. So I grabbed my heat pen and within moments had removed the inner ribs. The camera still didn't quite fit. So I decided to cut a hole where the lens could stick out. If I could do it right I might even be able to use the camera from within the box. So I cut a hole to allow the lens to stick slightly out. And just like that, the camera slipped in perfectly. 

Now I examined the way the camera sat in the box. What would I need to do keep the camera dry yet still operate it?

First, I needed to be able to reach the shutter button which also turned the camera on and off. So I cut another small hole on the right side that was just large enough to allow two my fingers easy access. 

Okay, what else? Should I cut a hole to see through the view finder? Wouldn't work, its too far away to see clearly any shot I'd want to take. 

So I took the camera back out and removed a third rib from the inside. The one was along the back wall. I then placed the camera back in and adjusted my digital screen so that it would lay flat behind the camera. I then Cut a third opening on the top at the back, just large enough to allow me to see the digital screen and thus see the what the lens was seeing. 

That was it. I had access to all the basics. There was one thing though that I would not be able to use and that was the flash. If I cut a hole in the top it would defeat the purpose. So did I really need the flash? No, ultimately as long as I was taking shots in the day, I could get by without it. I didn't use it very often anyway. Even at night I shot most photos on low light and without the flash. 

I placed the camera into the enclosure, replaced the lid and I was off to the races. Now I've seen rain gear for cameras. I've seen bags they can safely put in and I've tried out a friends a few times. But my trusty little styrofoam box worked perfectly. And if I dropped it (which I did several times in the rain) the styrofoam cushioned the falls. 

As I said, sometimes poor creatives have to improvise. This worked well for me. Maybe some day I'd buy something fancy, but the simple fact is, I found a way. 

Our creativity is not limited to our chosen creative path. If we think about it, we can often find a solution. This is the true nature of creativity and I would like to think it makes us better at everything we do. 


Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Death's Head Cards - A Conceptual Art Series

Death stalks its prey. 
It watches, savoring each moment before the final kill. 
It is the hunter, ready to take the soul the moment its laid bare.

Do you see death the way I do? 
Do you see its dark stare and its laughing grimace?
Do you see the way it watches and contemplates its victims?

No, you see only life, until it has gone.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

A Cinereal Mardi Gras - Conceptual Art Project

Many years ago I was asked by a friend why I didn't create more art that tourists would buy. It was a simple answer. I don't create the same art that a thousand others create. I wanted my work to reflect a unique aspect and not the same thing that every tourist wanted in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

I'd seen too many artists sell out to the easy buck. No offense to those who make a living with such art. 

I have one major rule in my career as an artist. "The artist with the most unique ideas is the artist that gets remembered." 

A good example was a recent estate sale that I attended of a great artist who had passed away. Her home was filled with her work. There was a variety of styles and compositions, but there was nothing that jumped out and said to me "this artist was truly unique'. Again the work was good, but it was the same as a thousand other artists I'd seen over the years. 

It is for this reason that while I have photographed the yearly Mardi Gras celebration for many years, that I rarely share the photos. Why? Because I am fighting with hundreds of others up and down the parade route who are doing the same thing. Why bother? What sets my work apart? For many years, absolutely nothing. 

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Labyrinth Creators Journal - JM Rosenberry

Author: JM Rosenberry
Fargo, North Dakota 


 I had intended to write this blog about a childhood friend who was never actually a friend.  To this day it hurts that she can't seem to see past her own insecurities or even admit that she was completely wrong in attacking me the last time I talked to her. Real friends don't put each other down or tell your dad to call the hospitals when she loses you at a concert, do they?  Anywho- It's that dreaded love day that used to make me smile like a kid in a candy store....It used to be a day for flowers, jewelry, wine, snuggles and feeling apricated.  Now days I am lucky I get asked what I want from Burger King as I scrub the dishes that the dishwasher didn't want t to clean, even after two cycles.  Oh and my son has a new girlfriend, he didn't see the other girl as much as he wanted at the bus stop. He's 5 by the way.  Is it to early to start drinking? 

So I decided to buy my own Valentines gift as I have been doing for the past few years. I buy what I want for myself. I'm sure hubs would love for me to wait for him to surprise me with stuff but those days are long gone. Have I mentioned that it's our official anniversary as well.  Seventeen years together. We used to buy each other those tacky cards, I have boxes full of them. I eventually said that he didn't really need to buy me stuff so he stopped and the, I get what I want began. 

Those of you who have or had parents that lasted a long  time, or are still together will understand.  It's not about the things you buy. It's about the time spent together and how you live day to day.  Even if you can't seem to be in the same room with each other at times. If I feel sad or down then I go paint or write or listen to the bands he seems to hate just to spite me.  And no better Valentine gift could be given to me as one of the rock mags has put my boys on the cover once again.  Somehow this band ends up on covers when I need them to. Last time it was my mothers birthday, she had been gone for almost twenty years at that point and I had to refrain from crying on their shirts when I dragged my best friends to the concert in the town that l fled when she passed. twenty years almost to the day.  

Where were we??  

Oh yes.  That day of love and happiness crap.  What actually sparked this blog post was not my loathing of V day or how good my boys look on that cover. It's more of a political thing. I tend to stay away from both political stuff and religion on the grounds that I don't care to fight with anyone. I have my views and you have yours. Some people get certain art and some others will never understand. Art is subjective and seen in so many different ways. There is an artist from my hometown who does those old glass plate photos of people from different reservations. His name is, Shane Balkowitsch and he had a photo of that one girl...you know who I am talking about. The little blond thing that has everyone in such a tizzy. Greta something. 

Shane had been given permission to put his photo of her on the wall of a new bakery and you would have thought he was going to murder someone and put the photo up for all to see. He got threats, the owner got threats and everyone was up in arms over a mural. Luckily he was offered another building  a little East of Bismarck. Fargo has an emerging arts scean downtown, even if I don't like how pricy aartments are sprouting up like mushrooms, it's good to see more and more venues for shows and street art.  So the little blond girl will get her place on the wall after all.  Of course people are already threatening to boycott the building and damage the artwork.  Not sure how a peice of art is a threat to anyone but it seems that so much art is a threat in some way.  Is it because it makes us think?  I guess I will never understand some metalities. 

Fargo and North Dakota in general are so far behind other cities in the art and culture area.  We have began to make some changes, little things are happening that I see as a good sign and others don't want to see happen at all. We still don't have an acutual convention center.  Just this last year they have finlly begun to talk about building one.  Most big events are in bigger cities that are hours away from us. Change is happening but it's happening slowly. We  are a red state so rooted in the past and bound by our small town mentality that any amount of change that is outside the norm is scary for some.  I love my town, don't get me wrong. Winters, and cold winds, not so much, Being known as the top drunken college town also not so much. Don't even get me started on Bison football and the love of green and gold.  

And on that note I will leave you with a tight smile and a shake of my head.  It's trime for another cup of coffee and some Netflix show that I will probably turn off halfway through. 

Always ~


Thursday, February 6, 2020

The Glyph Dreams - Conceptual Art Project

I've always found creativity to be as much therapy as it is a life path. In fact I think creativity crosses over to so many other parts of our life that we don't even realize what an impact it has on us on a daily basis. 

Periodically I use the dream state to help me flesh out ideas which I want to pursue in my art. But recently I had the opposite occur. I used my creativity in a therapeutic way to understand a specific dream. 

I can't say the dream was a nightmare, but it was definitely one of the odder I've had. I dreamed that there was a glyph-like shape hanging over the bed. It was a turquoise and it twisted in upon itself over and over again like a DNA helix, but not the same shape. That was when I sat up in bed. My partner was laying next to me in the dark reading a book on his Kindle. I am not even sure what I said, but I know I asked him if he had put the glyph there and I pointed to the space over the bed. Then the glyph faded away into the dark and I fell back to sleep, leaving my partner a bit confused. 

The odd thing is, that the dream didn't fade like most dreams do when they end. When I woke up again I still remembered it. 

So what was the meaning? Was there any meaning at all? 

There is a theory out there that occasionally gets pushed around in theoretical science, that this is a holographic universe and we are really just a unique piece of programming that is reflected by a line of code that is our true form. 

Whether this is true I suppose we will never really know. What I do know is that I woke up thinking about glyphs and could not shake them from my mind. 

So I used my art to exorcise my dream a bit and I see if I could flesh anything out by creating images of glyphs. I am not really sure it yielded anything of value yet, but it did help to let my mind wander while I created. The value may yet come, or it may remain a mystery. 

We all need a method where we can flesh out meanings in our lives. My creativity gives me an advantage in doing so. 

With that in mind, its apparent that this is turning into a series of art. Your guess is as good as mine as to the meanings.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Labyrinth Project Creators Journal - Diana Whiley (New Entry 01-31-20)

Author: Diana Whiley
Adelaide, South Australia


I am looking for a small side project to engage in while working on my novel. It helps motivate me, as well as gives me a way to look at my work from a different perspective. 

I saw an exhibition of Japanese stencils at my state art gallery once, the templates for silk printing. Their delicate, intricate lines were as fascinating to me as the end product. 

Much like lace making and its intricate winding of thread and bobbins into shape. 

An Australian artist John Wolseley reminds me of lace making. He created a sense of movement, a pattern in his painting “ Symphony.”  Bits of bark, birds, odds and sods flow through the air in a rhythm you can almost hear. 

The stencils and lace have their own story. Years of history and culture. All underpinning the movement and spaces that convey the emotion and action in their making. 

The artist and writer, Shaun Tan’s story “The Arrival,” with only images is a wonderful example of emotion seamlessly flowing.  He also creates pauses, like spaces in his narrative.

 I’d like to go into the spaces between moments to explore the before and afterward.  What can they tell me?  How can they be interpreted, expressed?

I’ve always had a secret yen to make a film. I see all my stories in cinematic form and have wished sometimes I had a recorder to voice what I see. It brings me back to how much music also plays its part in films. 

I have several lyrics I had set to music. How could I interpret them with images?  Where to start? 

I can already imagine going back to the botanic gardens; nature ever one of my greatest inspirations. Use the video on my phone to take micro shots. Pan the surrounding area then zoom in.  

Find the spaces, shadows and mystery in the Needle Pines. The droplets of spray from the fountains. Reflections in the lily pond and hopefully a dragonfly or two. A start.  

Once I’ve made a story that I feel works, I’ll look at posting it up on You-Tube. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Graffiti Wall - An Exploration of Evolutionary Art

Within the 3D Canvas, Is an 8' x 8' wall that was designed specifically to allow other artists to place their marks upon the wall. Paints are provided and an artist can put anything upon the wall from a simple message, to tags, to pieces of art. 

This is called an Evolutionary Wall because it will constantly change as it fills and is overwritten, just as real wall would fill with graffiti. And just like a real wall it will change with the weather. 

Because it is sheltered within the four walls of the 3D canvas and is shaded by the tree above, the weathering should be a relatively slow process. 

Periodically I will photograph is as it changes and add photos to this page. It is a microcosm within the larger context of the 3D Canvas. This means that it is its own individual piece of art, but part of the larger art of the whole space. 

In opposition to it (on the other side of the space) is the body painting enclosure which looks like a dead end alley, but like the graffiti wall, will evolve with each body painting done within it. Each body painting will lend its own individual paint marks upon the wall. 

So whats the point? 

When a piece of outdoor art is created, it most likely stay the same as when the artist created it. Only weather and vandals are a threat to it and depending on the materials used, such a marble or steel, it may last for a very long time. 

But the point of the Evolutionary Art process is to create a piece of art that will not be the same thing from day to day and year to year. In this case if you visit the 3D Canvas here in New Orleans and then come back again in six months, it will resemble what you saw before, but it will also contain a lot of changes. It will have evolved into something totally new. 

As artists we have a hard enough time getting people to look at our work more than once. In this case the opportunity to return and see the changes brings the viewer into contact with it more than once. 

Because the entire canvas is built from styrofoam, it also means that even the form can change. It is never static. 

Make them look twice should always be the mantra of an artist. 


Sunday, January 26, 2020

When the Machines Came - A Conceptual Art Series

How does a machine attempt to understand things that are built from emotions in the human mind?

Six months ago I created a piece of art that looked at something purely human through the eyes of an intelligent thinking machine. Much in the same way that the City of the Dead series views cemeteries through the eyes of the dead rather than the living, this piece of art attempted to do the same with mechanical minds.

It was not my intention to take it further. But over time I kept coming back to the idea and could see it was forming into something more than a single piece of art. An art series has to have an idea behind it. The more intriguing the idea, the more interesting the series. If the concept was just "robots" it would not be as interesting. With the idea comes emotion. The emotions behind a machine trying to see the universe through a human lens may have no emotions for the machine itself, but it has a whole host of emotions for the person viewing the art. 

So with that in mind, here is "When the Machines Came". 

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Abstraction of Humanity (Session #5)

The Abstraction of Humanity series is an exploration of humanities interaction with art. This conceptual art project is conducted in sessions involving body painting, abstract art and graffiti balanced. This is session #5

All art is the creation of Grey Cross Studios unless otherwise designated as the work of one of our collaborative artists.

A complete list of links is located to the left of this page.

Session #5 - Model: Jace Lee Ledet
New Orleans, Louisiana 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Paint Splatters - The Trance Dance of Color (UPDATED)

Photo Courtesy of XXX Zombie XXX

Many view Jackson Pollock as one of the genius artists of the 20th century. Others view him as a that dude that splattered paint around and called it art. I once heard a father at an art museum say to his young son. “You made better art when you spilled those finger paints”.

Sadly for a long time I counted myself among those who just didn’t get it, even though I am an artist myself. Yet, even as I didn’t grasp Pollock, at the same time I found myself having a fascination with splatters of paint. An inadvertent droplet of acrylic on the ground opened a whole new vista to my imagination. The way it was shaped, the curve of its tail where the gravity laid it out. Why would I enjoy this? What was I getting from it? And then suddenly I grasped something crucial about Pollock and this form of art.

Simply put. It’s not in the splatter of paint that the art is found. It is so much more complex than that. It is about chaos, and it is about uniformity. For me, I often start a piece with total chaos. The random splatters spilling across the canvas are merely a starting point for developing something much more complex. How does one line of paint interact with another? How does it form a whole? Layer upon layer it caresses the canvas until suddenly, almost like magic, there is art. It is the artists’ imagination and perspective which create art from the madness which is life. In a sense we do this every day by ordering our lives into meaningful sense that others might not have the ability to grasp. But we understand it and it works for our pattern of life.

But it is even more than that. In an article about Pollock an observer told a story about being in his studio once and watching him work. His canvases were laid on the floor and the artist would move across it as if in a trance. His steps were intricate, almost like he was dancing to a hidden tune, the paint spraying from his hands to the canvas beneath.

This was story that brought a revelation to me. That trance state was something I understood. I'd done the same thing in countless body paintings moving around the model like I was dancing with them. Sound receding to the point where all the was left to me was the paint and a grand cosmic design that only I could see. 

But where was I to go with this revelation? Deeper into the design. I dropped the pretext of trying to create a specific idea onto the model and merely let the paint speak for itself. I began to develop new ideas for how the paint could flow. Sometimes heavy splatters, other times merely drizzles across the models form. 

I now understood Pollock in a more complete way. I was trance dancing to the colors but I was doing so in 3 dimensions rather than in one. The model had shape, they were not flat. 

Its at that point that I devised the concept of the 3 dimensional canvas. A space with walls, floor and ceiling and the model in the midst of it and that intricate dance to merge the model with the space around them. 

Now my mind races with ideas within the space of the 3 dimensional canvas. If anything I fear I will lose the rhythm of the dance if I don't move quickly. I can almost understand why Pollock took to drinking. Its almost too much to grasp at times. 

Abstraction can be so much more. It may start with drizzling paint on a 1 foot canvas, but in those tiny steps there is a whole dance that we can achieve. We are both the dancer and the choreographer if we just let go and stop worrying about the perfection of our art. Let the paint flow.


I've begun the first full session using the "Trance Dance" concept. It will be in the experimental stage for the next several months but it was an interesting experience working with a model without any plan of action and merely experiencing the paint. Surprisingly it took a lot more energy out of me than a normal body painting session usually does. Its difficult to surrender totally to the way the paint moves. It will be a learning experience for sure as I proceed. Here are the first pieces of finished art from the session.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Understanding the Future of Digital Art

We've discussed before the role that Digital Art plays in the modern art world. Its still considered a borderline art form to many. Some of the older professional artists look at it as cheating. The computer is doing all the work, so it can't really be considered art. 

I always cite a discussion I attended years ago with the great and dearly missed photographer  Alfred Eisenstaedt. This was in the 80's, long before digital art, photoshop or any other similar programs were in existence. "Eisie" as he was known to his friends, was discussing his techniques in the dark room. He said that he would spend days and weeks in the dark room with a single negative, playing with it, changing it in a hundred subtle ways. It was his belief that anyone could be lucky enough to snap a good image, but that it was in the skills within the dark room that the true photographer emerged. 

This has always stuck with me. As I moved from being an amateur photographer to a professional I always kept this story in mind. But the times had changed. What had to be done in a dark room once, could now be done right on my desktop. But in the end what Eisie said was still true. It was not just in the snap of the camera, but in the manipulation of the image that a lot of the work was done. 

Friday, January 3, 2020

The Quantum Postcards - Conceptual Art Series

I once had a fantasy when I was just 12. We lived in a big old house that had been converted to apartments. At the top was a rickety old attack with a tower room that looked out over the town. It was my own personal hiding place and fantasy world. 

Against one wall was a giant steamer trunk, covered with molding labels from all over the world. Even though it was very old, it was locked with a giant rusting paddle lock. 

I would day dream about what was hidden in the trunk. Sometimes I'd imagine exotic swords with dried blood on the blades. Other times I'd imagine queer items from around the world. Shrunken heads and cursed statues. 

But my favorite was the postcards. Not common postcards mind you, but postcards from odd places that were not quite in this world. Postcards with unusual postmarks and strange pictures. Locations that were only in my dreams, not in my reality. And messages from strangers who left cryptic thoughts and memories behind on each card. What does it all mean? 

As I've aged (a lot) I've been able to use my art to make a few of these childhood fantasies come to life and to leave a few cryptic messages of my own behind. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The Three Dimensional Canvas

I talk a lot about the new outdoor studio. I suddenly realized today that I'd been misnaming the whole area. There is a studio being built with tables and supplies and room for teaching. But the images I share the most are of the large area being created in the courtyard. This is not a studio. While it has elements that I will use that could be considered a studio, the reality is that the whole courtyard space is giant three dimensional canvas. 

This is so difficult to explain in just words. Sometimes I don't have the proper language for what I am doing and have to invent new words just to have it make sense. But this whole space is made of individual panels that are and will continue to evolve as separate works of art. 

When I am done the whole area will be surrounded by panels. You will no longer see the fence line. When you step into the space you will be transformed into the middle of the art. You will be immersed in an other worldliness that is composed completely of art. 

But not just art. Art that evolves. Over time the panels will change, the art will shift and new art will emerge. This is the evolutionary art concept. Everything is in transition, always! 

But then again its not just a gradual changing of the art. The area that is brightly lit is an evolution cube. I will have models in there who will be painted and with that paint the space itself will change. Eventually those walls will be covered in color and from it will emerge new art that comes from the models themselves. 

This whole thing is a conceptual art project. Things will come from it that I cannot even begin to imagine. 

I lay in bed last night, considering the idea of a three dimensional canvas. I even got up and looked at others ideas of three dimensional art and what I found was mostly sculptures, or raised canvases with parts which stuck out past the borders of the canvas. 

Yes this is three dimensional art also. But its not what I mean when I use the term. For me its about the fact that the art surrounds you. Yes some of the art will take on a sculptural appearance, but that is not what the term means to me. 

Its so confusing. If I sound frustrated, I am! But not in a bad way. More in the way of knowing you are doing something so different that you can't explain it to anybody else. Well...it is what it is. 

With all that in mind, I lit the space up tonight and put a short video together. Although its far from finished, I think you will be able to see the potential over time. For me, this space not only represents art, but represents my center of balance. It lends me a peace to be out there under the trees, surrounded by my own little world. Naming it Grey's Imaginarium is the perfect name. It is an extension of my own mind. 

Enjoy the video! 

Monday, December 30, 2019

The Shores of Duat - Evolutionary Sculpture

The Shores of Duat is an 8 foot high and 4 foot wide contoured treasure map of the Egyptian underworld.

Duat is the realm of the dead in ancient Egyptian mythology. The god Osiris was believed to be the lord of the underworld. He was the first mummy as depicted in the Osiris myth and he personified rebirth and life after death.

When complete it will be an ever changing treasure map where features are added or removed when I see fit to do so.

This will use the OCTAS method of secret messages, cyphers and other hidden clues.

The map is created on a heavy piece of styrofoam which has allowed me to create contour through. Melting the foam allows for simulated ocean depths. Clay and foaming glue is used to create mountains and land rise.

The art form for the whole studio is called Evolutionary Art. This means that the walls constantly change with new features and with the weathering of the elements. The longer a wall is left to the elements the more realistic it becomes.

It is located as a permanent feature of the new outdoor studio known as Grey's Imaginarium. When finished visitors will be invited to view the map, take photos and attempt to puzzle through its mysteries.

Here are a few work in progress (WIP) photos to give you a taste of the concept.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

In the Grand Ballroom - A Conceptual Art Project

A few years back I did some work on mega-scale digital art. These were pieces of art which were created on a massive scale with tons of detail hidden within them. The point was to create art which COULD NOT be viewed on a smart phone screen. The scale was so large that you would either have to view it as a mega piece of wall art, or have the ability to zoom in on smaller details. 

As I've said in other blog articles, I find it abhorrent that artists now have to create art that a viewer can see easily online on the smallest of devices. We lost something when we started dumbing down our art for this purpose. We also lost the ability to tell an in depth story in a single piece of art. 

Well in the long run I found that creating mega-scale art was difficult because not only could most viewers not see the details, but the software just didn't have the capacity to keep up with a piece of digital art which was 50-100 megabytes in size. Consider if you will that an average piece of digital art may be 15 megabytes at max. Most of the programs I work with just spaz out on graphic files of the size I was working with. Hell, even the blog I use won't accept files that large. Everything had to be dumbed down and I finally gave up on the idea and set the files aside. 

As is inevitable when I work on conceptual projects such as this, other ideas come along in the process. One such was the concept of the Grand Ballroom. Using the finished image seen above, the idea was to see how many variations I could create of events taking place in the Grand Ballroom. But also inevitable is that ideas get shelved away and sometimes forgotten about. While looking for something else today, I rediscovered the original base art for the Grand Ballroom and decided to resurrect it. Questions or comments always welcome on these conceptual projects in the space at the bottom of the page. I'd suggest if you have the ability to zoom in that you do so. You can click the image to enlarge but some of the details in these pieces will be rather small. 

Welcome to the Grand Ballroom.