(One of the posts I wrote on my Swell 24.7 blog in my previous life as a gift store owner in the busy tourist town of Provincetown on Cape Cod; posts that are grouped here under the category What Else Is Swell?, and are generally about life in Provincetown, life as a retailer, our fabulous dog Jack who sat outside the store for well over a decade, and other random things that grabbed me at the time.)
I've written before about being a member of the Provincetown Art Association and how encouraging it is that I get to show my work there as part of their members open (and sometimes even their members juried) exhibits. And I did have my pieces in the store over the fall and winter last year, but mostly just to fill up space. Other than that I have not had my work 'out there' much, so to speak. Which is why I was so honored and pleased to be asked by my friend Gabby, who is the Executive Director of the Provincetown International Film Festival, to be one of the 30 or so artists contributing a piece to the 'In The Can' auction to raise money to help with their purchase of the Whalers Wharf movie theater. I figured it would be great exposure for me, a fun project, a worthy cause, etc. All good.
Until I had to produce something!
Gasp; what to do; when to find time to do it; will it be good enough?; will people think it's lame? will it sell?; will it be the only one that doesn't sell?; will Gabby and Marcy buy it out of sympathy?
Oh my God. Why did I think this was a good idea?
And to further erode my confidence I saw the poster and the little that was left was all shot to hell.
We were each given a film can to with whatever we wished and I pondered many possibilities of what to do with mine. Usually my art revolves around cutting pictures out of magazines and making collages with them so I considered images of movie stars all covering the can - too simple. I toyed with the idea of using film related questions from the entertainment category of an old Trivial Pursuit but couldn't quite formulate what to do with them. I wanted it to be film related but not in a lame way. And I felt it lent itself to being 3D, but what? So hard; so hard. I was unusually uninspired. I think that because it was such a small number of artists and such a public thing it really was hard to get past the fact that people really were going to see it. At PAAM I am one of 100 or even 200 artists exhibiting, so it's very easy to hide; unless it's juried and therefore much smaller but someone 'in the know' chose mine so right there it must be good!
This time I was so, so terrified of mine being, well, crap.
Nick to the rescue. He is a big film buff (seriously, take his phone number with you if you are ever on Millionaire) and he works for the Film Festival so he loves all things movie related. He remembered a quote he had written in his Journal Of Films I Want To See.
Enter the dream-house, bothers and sisters, leaving
Your debts asleep, your history at the door:
This is the home for heroes, and this loving
Darkness a fur you can afford.
Brilliant. And I was off and running.
The quote is from the poem Newsreel by Cecil Day Lewis, and it was published in 1938 just as Germany was stomping over Europe towards Britain and it is really about how people went to the movies as an escape but they also began to see the newsreels as fiction because they are watching them in the movie theater, the dream-house. It's a great poem and made me think of fiction and reality and dreams and how all those things blend and you don't really know which is which.
So I decided to put the quote around the edge and on top have images of movie theaters through the years, from the old picture palaces through the multiplexes and imaxes and finishing with the one at Whalers Wharf that the Festival has bought. And to mix up the fiction and reality thing I would make the theaters look like movie set buildings; flat and with struts holding them up at the back. By printing several copies of each and cutting out the pieces that were (in the actual theater) sticking forward of the main building and adding them in front, it gave the theaters a 3D look but still in a 2D illusion type of way. If that makes any sense! To finish it off, a roll of film in the center with miniature figures of a film crew (not the actors pretending to be someone they are not, just the crew doing their real jobs). And, to further blur the reality/fiction thing, they are on the wrong side of the movie set pieces.
Well, that was the thought process behind it anyway. Whether or not I pulled it off you can judge for yourself, either through these pictures or, even better, at the exhibit that opens tomorrow June 10th at the Schoolhouse Gallery in Provincetown, and closes at the Film Festival closing party at the Boatslip on Sunday June 19th.
The thought that what I produce might be terrible is stifling almost to the point of stopping me making anything; but I find that once I have produced something, and I am OK with it, then the thought that others won't like it is something I can (despite the churning in my stomach) live with.