Monday, June 18, 2007

Catching Up

It's been a while since I actually wrote anything for this blog. The reason: I've been up to my eyeballs in things to do, of course. But I've finally got a few minutes to bang away at this keyboard.

For several weeks, I was working on a painting for the Long Leaf Opera in Chapel Hill, NC. This was for their world premiere of Strange Fruit, which was based on Lillian Smith's novel of the same name, which in turn took its title from the Billy Holiday song. Strange Fruit tells the story of a doomed interracial love affair in south Georgia in 1920. It's a dark and bloody tale. There is only one sign of hope in the whole story: the baby, born of the black woman and white man, who embodies the potential of all races to come together. The painting was unveiled at a reception at Bill Hester Fine Art in Chapel Hill yesterday (Sunday). The photo below is me with Erina Newkirk (left) and Charles Stanton (right), who played the lead roles in the opera. Erina and Charles sang a duet from the opera, and then Erina sang a solo lullaby directly to the baby in the painting. Erina and Charles have marvelous voices, and hearing them sing gave me chills.

Today I got a call from Bill Hester about the painting. He has an extremely interesting idea about a way it can be used to benefit a specific group. We're going to work on the idea more this week, and once we get something nailed down, I'll give you the details. Suffice it to say for now that I'm really excited!

Last weekend (June 9 & 10) was the Studio Stroll. We made some changes this year that seem to have brought out a lot of new people. I had a lot more visitors to my studio this year than ever before, a great many of them from out of town (or even out of the country!). My paintings generally get a strong (and positive) reaction, but since they're edgy, they get very few sales. I mean, can you imagine somebody actually wanting to part with serious money in order to hang a satirical picture of George Bush over their sofa? Neither can I. But I view these Strolls as an outreach program, to show people that "art" in Asheville doesn't always mean beautiful landscapes or crafts. And in this, I seem to be successful: I'm getting more and more people showing up who are actually looking for me. Quite enjoyable. And, in fact, I really did make a few sales that weekend. So I came away very happy.

Yesterday, Janis and I drove down to Chapel Hill for the reception. We checked into the La Quinta in southeast Durham, just a few miles from the gallery. We like La Quinta's because they take pets and we always travel with our two dogs. This one was no exception: a really nice place, very clean, and staffed by friendly, courteous, and very responsive people. We'll definitely stay there again.

Not so nice was the Red Lobster next door. We went over there to have a quick dinner just after 5 pm. We got up and left, without ever getting our order, almost an hour later. Completely unsatisfactory. It's been many years since we've been in a Red Lobster, and it looks like it'll be many many years before we go back!

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