My soul up on the wall.

Well, if I do say so myself, Cream City Photogs Gallery Night was a huge success, more so than any of us thought it would be when we sat down last winter and mused to ourselves, "Wouldn't it be neat if…." We got very nice plugs in the Milwaukee Journal and MKE Magazine, and WUWM was kind enough to give up some 20 minutes on Lake Effect to plug it. I felt like I was on Letterman or something, plugging the show. This is how we knew it was a party: the cops showed up! Well, we had free beer and wine, but we also had a licensed bartender who didn't want to lose said license, so we really enforced drinking age laws, and the cops appreciated that. Still, it was quite the party. A lot of people who came were people we met in person for the first time, but have known for a longtime as online friends. People I haven't seen in awhile stopped in, and people who simply heard us on the radio or read about us in the paper were there too. I tried my best to welcome my friends and still make the strangers feel welcome, as opposed to "outsiders." I think we all did. I'd never hostessed anything like that, it's usually either total strangers or familiar friends at a party.

An art opening is a weird thing. I found myself trying to eavesdrop on people looking at my work, but the din of the room prevented me from doing so. I had to rely on comments in my guestbook afterwards, and frankly, I'm not used to that. I'm used to an audience immediately clapping (or screaming "You suck!"). Nobody gives you direct criticism. They either gush, or just nod "very nice" and walk out. But massive thanks to everybody who stopped by, either on the night, or afterwards. And I've already thanked privately my colleagues, but I need to thank them publicly here. They are amazing photographers, incredible artists and I find myself inspired and influenced by their continual wonder and vision. The fact they give me the time of day is a dominant reason I can now confidently call myself a "photojournalist." The exhibit will still be up through next week at Bucketworks. They're open from 5-10 weeknights, and Noon-5 weekends. And feel free to be brutal or leave me specific advice for improvement. I've had crap thrown at me on stage. Being a punk rocker puts callouses on your soul. I can take it. It makes me and my art stronger

I'll tell you though, slapping your art up on a wall, even if it is just to see what happens, is an emotionally draining thing. I found myself often physically going to this picture of mine, which isn't even one of my favorites (And certainly not my best, "Blessing of the Bock" is my favorite), but I found it brought me to my comfort zone: standing in front of a microphone, with friendly faces in the audience, (and a few hipper-than-thous dour faces -- wouldn't be a punk show without 'em, eh?). It was a conveniently virtual way to go to my happy place. I'll have the rest of my show available online in the future, but for now, you have to see it in person if you want to see it. And this isn't even the final version of this shot that's up on the wall.

Saturday during the day was much more mellow, more of the kind of quiet browsing you normally picture goes on in galleries. But we were all zoned out, partially recuperating from the physical drain of hosting an art opening, partially from the emotional drain of putting our souls up on a wall for everybody to see. For me, the prescripton was Dr Chow's Love Medicine at the Pub, featuring Brian sitting in on acoustic guitar. What a treat for both of us! A pub full of our friends, playing great garage blues and psychedelia, some of the best and most overlooked musicians in the city, and reasonably priced beer. And me getting to say, "I don't pay. I'm with the band."

It was also the birthday of Valerie Lawson ("Mrs. Fly") and we spent a wonderful few minutes persuing some of the fine literature given to her as a birthday gift by the fabulous Eliet Brookes. Vintage discussions of womens phisology from the 1930s, academic studies of the sexual habits of marauding seamen, and advice on where not to store poisonous chemicals will keep our Valerie well-infomed on these topics for many birthdays to come. Of course, I ended the night in my usual fashion, adding to my "self portraits in rock and roll restrooms" series.>

One more plug for me standing up in front of a microphone, for real, tomorrow (Thursday the 26), my band, Loblolly, is back for the first time in 8 years at the Circle A. We start promptly at 8. Then Darrell Martin and I will spin guilty pleasure music (that's how one patron at the Foundation referred to our sets) for the rest of the night as DJs "Veronica and The Brains."

For the rest of the weekend, I'm chilling out. Might check in with the Uptown Savages at Linnemans, or finally get my butt out and see my drummer Andy Pagel pretend he's Keith Moon in "Substitute" -- a Who tribute band. Saturday afternoon Linda Beckstrom will be displaying her artwork at Apple A Day studio, and Phat To Fabulous' L is having a birthday party. "The L" is an online buddy of mine who I am finally going to meet as I toast her birthday. She hasn't updated her blog in months, which is a damn shame because she's a riot. I'm going to give her grief about this.

Speaking of Bucketworks, what an eye opener of a place that was. Why hadn't I investigated it before? It basically reminded me of being a kid in school, with an art room chock full of supplies ready to go. Except there isn't an art teacher handing you some stupid assignment where you have to color inside the lines. At Bucketworks, you can paint, sew, work on computers, do fabrication, put on a theatrical production, or, (like we did), exhibit your work in a gallery, without thematic constraint.

Milwaukee desperately needs a place like this but of course, its not all peaches and cream. They need you. Their building got sold, and they were able to negotiate a lease extention to late summer, but they've got to be out by September. That's not a lot of time to find a new location and then move, and so they need your help. There's an organization meeting May 12 from 10am to 2pm where it looks like it's going to be a roll-up-your-sleeves and figure out how to continue to make this work. If you go check our Bucketworks, you'll see it's a place worth continuing.


czeltic girl said…
Glad to hear Gallery Night went so well. I was hoping to make it over to the shindig, but it just turned into another crazy weekend, and it wasn't to be. :(

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