Latest Entries »

Website updates…

So just a quickie post here…

I have made some major changes to my website. For starters, I upgraded to the paid version so I could add more stuff. Secondly, that’s exactly what I’ve done. I now have nine galleries, whereas before I only had three. And those galleries are now organized (mostly) by series, rather than by media type. I have galleries for my new Iconology series, and for the first few of my Musings Of A Predator Drone pieces. There are galleries for a bunch of older series, and one-off works and things that just don’t quite fit into any series are organized under the old system, with galleries for miscellaneous paintings on canvas, paintings on paper, and drawings. And to top it all off, I’ve updated my “about” page to include links to Zapow and The Updraft, along with a more up-to-date listing of shows that I’ve been a part of. So there you have it, the new and improved (how can something be new and improved?) Chris Ortega Fine Art And Illustration. Go check it out. Now. Seriously. Cat videos can wait, this is important…

 

Advertisements

My Art @ Zapow!

GREAT NEWS EVERYONE!!! (and I seriously hope you read that in Professor Farnsworth’s voice)

My space at Zapow is up! As careful observation of the photo below will reveal, the space includes a handful of original pieces, along with two hanging racks of prints and greeting cards (all very reasonably priced)

For those of you who don’t know, Zapow is a gallery of fun and funky pop culture art and illustration. It’s located on Battery Park Ave. in downtown Asheville.

Be sure to come on by and check out my stuff… and if you’re feeling generous, buy some prints or original artwork. Support local artists! Specifically me, your dear friend who could use a little extra cash šŸ˜‰

 

Zapow wall

 

Enjoy the rest of this rainy Sunday evening. The end.
Sincerely,
Your Pal, Chris

 

A Week Of Insanity

It all began last Saturday. Walking home from work, I found an unopened roll of Sweet Tarts on the ground. Believe it or not, that was among the more expected and “normal” things to happen…

View full article »

*deep breath*

The past week or so has been a little on the crazy side…

I’ve spent the vast majority of my free time working on new art. I’ve been trucking right along with my “Iconology” series. I have two of the six panels completely finished, two more that are a little more than halfway finished, and two more that are waiting on me to buy some more gold leaf. I took a shitty photo and posted it to my tumblr. Eventually I’ll get some good photos and upload them to my main page.

When I haven’t been working on those, I’ve been dreaming up new ideas. I bought some four-packs of 6″ x 6″ canvases on clearance at Wal-Mart for $5 each, which I will be turning into rather minimalist miniatures. The first series to come out of these tiny canvases will be called “Musings of a Predator Drone.” I’m not sure how many of these I’ll do, but basically they will be simple ink drawings of predator drones, with collaged words cut out of newspaper, making ironic and cheesy poetry. I figure since I got them so cheap I can sell them cheaply as well – probably somewhere in the range of $6 or so.

And when haven’t been working on one series and dreaming up another, I’ve been printing labels for the back of my art. I bought a new printer (since it was cheaper than buying new ink cartridges for the one I already have) and some transparent address labels, on which I put my website address and a cropped version of the painting that’s on my business card. I’ll be putting these on all of my bagged prints and on the back of my canvas, wood, and framed pieces. Makes my stuff look more professional, yo.

This past Friday we had an opening reception at work for our artists of the month, the husband and wife duo of Bob Martin and Betty Carlson. The artwork is really great stuff, and they’re both such cool people in every possible way. The turnout wasn’t quite as good as for our previous opening, but it was a lot of fun, and a lot of important players in the local art scene were in attendance. After that I went to the opening at Zapow, which featured artwork inspired by Star Wars, Star Trek, and Dr. Who. Can’t really complain about that now can we? Well, not if you’re a nerd like myself anyway.

I’m still attempting to get my artwork into some local-ish galleries, and it looks like I might be making a little headway. Assuming my finances are okay at the end of the month, I’ll be renting a space at Zapow. I’ll probably put a few of my icons up there, along with some of my political drawings, some magnets and assorted miniatures, and a ton of prints. Hopefully I’ll be able to sell enough to offset the cost of renting a space. Fingers crossed! As far as other leads go, at our opening I gave my card to a woman who runs a gallery in the River Arts District. She went to my website and really liked my stuff. She talked to me for a little while about the possibility of doing a joint show with another artist who has a lot of politically themed works. Tomorrow I’m going with my neighbor Joshua to this gallery in Tryon that wants to hang some of his work. I figure I’ll show them my stuff, and then we can check out the other gallery in Tryon, which is more focussed on contemporary art and would possibly be more interested in my work. And last but not least, this guy came into the store the other day and was telling me about an art collective he’s trying to start. He helped to create something similar in Atlanta, and now it’s a pretty big deal. I showed him my stuff and he likes it. He said he’ll keep me posted, so hopefully something good will come of that.

As far as the “women” part of the subject of this blog goes… I still haven’t heard anything from Katie. When she didn’t have a phone or internet she made no attempt whatsoever to get in touch with me and let me know what was up, so I went over her place one night and then decided I would let her make the next move. She never did anything. So basically, even though we haven’t had “the talk” and my Facebook page still says otherwise, I’ve considered myself single since that night. She doesn’t seem interested, and I see no point in trying to be with someone who doesn’t seem to want the same. I’ve been looking into other options, and thus far there’s a few. A girl came into the store the other day and we started talking, eventually adding each other on Facebook. I can’t really tell if she’s interested or if I have a chance, but she’s incredibly gorgeous and a pretty talented artist. I met a girl on Plenty Of Fish who is really awesome, but she’s only 20 and a little hesitant to meet someone so much older. I’ve recently started chatting again with my friend Cassidy, who I haven’t talked to in about a year or so. And then of course there’s the cute pharmacist at Target who I never seem to find the guts to ask out. So perhaps one of those possibilities will turn into something more, who knows.

So yeah. I guess that’s a pretty exhaustive account of what’s been going on in my life lately. The End.

 

How about a little rant?

I’ve been an artist for basically my entire life. Over the years I’ve studied and learned different mediums, techniques, etc. I’ve read about artists, genres, and movements. I’ve been to countless museums and galleries. The arts, visual and otherwise, have always been a huge part of my life. I’ve absorbed so much of what I’ve seen, and it would be crazy to deny that I’ve been influenced by a lot of it.

In school I was forced to try mediums I didn’t like and to learn about artists I didn’t find interesting, all with the intended purpose of making me a better and more well-rounded artist. My learning didn’t stop when I finished school. In the years since then I’ve learned about countless artists and techniques that I never knew existed. Not to mention many new products and technologies that weren’t around even a decade ago.

When you add all of this up, it sounds like diversity would be an accepted part of being an artist. There’s so much out there, so of course you’re going to dabble in as much as you can. But for some reason, that’s the exact opposite. The art world wants you to find one distinct style and stick with it, and never vary your work more than one or two degrees to the left or the right. This has always infuriated me, and probably always will.

An acquaintance from the gas station where I used to work is an art consultant. When I showed her my website, she commented that my work was too all-over-the-place and that I should eliminate a few galleries and styles from my page. Last week I went to a gallery downtown and spoke briefly with the owner. He told me that the epic neoclassical paintings of gods and warriors in the main gallery were done by the same artist who painted the pretty bowls of fruit in the auxiliary gallery. The artist uses a pseudonym for the fruit paintings, because “if he used his real name, neither of them would sell.” A quick flip through any contemporary art magazine or a quick browsing of Deviantart will reveal that most artists these days just keep reworking the same images and styles over and over again until every piece by them starts to look almost identical. Having your entire body of work blur into one singular style is the name of the game.

But why is this so? If I’m influenced by and appreciate different styles and mediums, why am I wrong for wanting to work in those styles and mediums? If I have different ideas and emotions, why should I be expected to express them all in the same format? And when did it become this way? Contemporary voices in the art world seem to forget that there is an overlap between Picasso’s cubist works and collages and his “blue” period. Richter painted photorealistic candles and skulls at the same time he was throwing paint on canvases and painting squares of color. Artists have always experimented and developed, and their progressions weren’t always linear. But for some reason, these days we’ve decided you have to fit into a little box.

That’s really what it’s all about – marketing. If you stay within one style, you’re easier to market. If people can more easily understand and digest your work, there’s a better chance they’ll be drawn to it. We’re afraid of what we don’t understand. But if we can categorize something, we have power over it. This is the antithesis to what art is really about. Art is freedom. Art is expression. Art is power. It has power over us, not the other way around. As for me, I’ll continue to let art exert its power over me. I’ll continue to follow my muse wherever it may lead. I feel that when we’ve collectively recovered from this contemporary era of art where marketing is more important than talent, expression, and beauty, it will be whether or not you stayed true to yourself and to art itself that separates the great from the mediocre.

 

March Madness

It’s been almost three weeks since I wrote anything here, and I’m not exactly sure why. It’s not like a whole lot has actually been going on in my life. So yeah…

A guy came into the store a few weeks ago. He’s a photographer who works at a print shop, and he said some friends of his were trying to open a gallery. I showed him some of my stuff and he loved it. We set up a time to meet and talk about stuff, but he had an appointment that went late, so we decided to reschedule. That was the last I heard from him – he hasn’t replied to my emails since. I’m not sure what that’s all about.

It’s been about a week since I’ve heard from or seen Katie. Last Sunday we got together, and I called her in the middle of the week to see what she was up to. She had some family stuff going down, so we talked about possibly getting together on the weekend. She posted on Facebook a few days later that her phone had died, and she would be getting a new one on her next day off. I sent her a message and asked if she needed a ride or anything, but never got a reply. Last night I messaged her again and asked if she got a phone yet, and gave her my number again in case she lost her contacts. I haven’t heard from her since. I’m not sure what that’s all about either.

It snowed last night. The weather has been absolutely insane lately, and my sinuses have been killing me. I have a weird schedule this week, with two days off, then a day on, then two more off. I’m trying to wrap up some art projects, and hopefully check out a few more galleries and coffee shops that might be interested in my stuff.

But the main thing going on lately is college basketball. With the exception of a stinker of a loss to Duke, my Tar Heels have been pretty hot this month. And now of course we have the NCAA Tournament. I’ve entered three different bracket games, and so far I’m doing pretty well. I doubt I’ll win any grand prizes, but a small prize would be nice. I’m doing better than the so-called “experts” at the CBS Sports website, so at least I can gloat about that.

There really isn’t a whole lot else going on. Like I said, my life is a little on the boring side lately. But I suppose there are worse problems to have, eh?

 

Last night I went to the Grey Eagle to see a personal musical hero of mine, Ken Stringfellow. You might know him as the co-leader of The Posies, my favorite band of all time. Or perhaps you know him as That Guy Who Played Keyboards On Tour With REM. Or maybe you know him from his time with a reunited Big Star. Or with his garage rockĀ  side band The Disciplines. Or from all the albums he’s produced. Or maybe you don’t know him at all. But you should. His solo stuff has leaned heavily on piano-rock and experimental jams, all with super-catchy hooks. Good stuff.

The show was a seated event, so I made sure to get there early. Evidently I didn’t need to do, because there were barely more than twenty people who showed up. I was a little bummed out at that, but oh well. As he would later point out, this was his first time playing Asheville, and you have to build your audience somehow. Better to have a passionate and enthusiastic few than a huge crowd of people who don’t care. But I digress.

The opening act was a guy named Greg Cartwright, who plays in a local band called Reining Sound. It was just him solo on electric guitar. He was a good guitarist, and definitely had talent, but it just wasn’t my thing at all. His voice was a little on the nasal side, and he didn’t have much concept of melody. He said that he was so used to playing with a rock band that he had to shout over, and it showed. His songs didn’t hold my attention at all, but the little bits of lyrics I was able to catch here and there sounded pretty cool. Perhaps his songwriting works better in the context of a rock band, but solo he just didn’t grab me. It didn’t help that he played for almost an hour, didn’t speak much in between songs, and spent most of the night walking back and forth between the microphone and his set list sitting on a stool some ten feet away. Maybe his style works for others, but it didn’t for me, so I was kinda glad when he walked off the stage.

After a brief intermission, Ken Stringfellow took the stage. He spent the evening alternating between guitar and a baby grand piano, which evidently belonged to The Grey Eagle. He remarked how he usually has a digital piano with him, but that you just can’t pass up an opportunity like this. In between songs he talked a lot, about anything and everything. Things got off to a rocky start with a groaner of a joke about all of The Eagles being grey, but he somehow made it work. But anyway, about the music…..

He mostly played selections from his newest album, Danzig In The Moonlight. By my count there were three songs not from that album, including two from 2004’s The Soft Commands and one from 2001’s Touched. He didn’t play any Posies songs, because as he explained, he wanted to show people what he did when he wasn’t playing with others. Most of the newer songs worked naturally on just guitar or piano, which forced the listener to focus even more on his always intelligent lyrics. Some songs, like “Superwise,” sounded radically different from their album forms, but most stayed pretty much the same. For the most part he chose to completely forgo the use of the microphone, and when he played guitar he spent more time standing on the ground in front of the audience than up on the stage. It genuinely felt like he was just hanging out playing for some friends in their living room, rather than being a paid performer at a venue. He took the friendly vibe to its logical conclusion with a plea for someone to put him up for the night. This was, as he put it, a “cultural event,” and part of enriching the cultural landscape of a town is to ensure that culture does not freeze to death in its van.

On Danzig In The Moonlight there is a song, “Doesn’t It Remind You Of Something,” that is a slow, countryish duet with Charity Rose Thielen of The Head And The Heart. For this song, he was joined by an audience member, a girl named Vickie who is in a local band called Warm The Bell. I haven’t gotten a chance to check out their stuff, but they have a CD release party coming up in a few months, and based on their descriptions I think I’d probably like them. I’m really only writing this paragraph to remind myself to check them out. If you’re not interested, feel free to ignore it. But I really need to give them a listen, sounds like it might be my kind of thing.

You really couldn’t have asked for a stronger performance. His songs are well written, melodic, and catchy as hell. His passion for music shines through every word and every note. And when he’s not playing, he’s pretty good at soliciting laughter. After about an hour and a half of music and banter, Ken announced that he was finished and would be heading to the merchandise table. He commented about how much he loved Asheville, and that even though the crowd was small, this was a great gig.

He hung out for a good half hour, making it a point to meet everyone and shake their hands. There was no one running his table, so he personally sold everything. I snagged a show poster and got him to sign it. He asked what my name was, then proceeded to give me an Irish sounding suffix, signing it “Chris O’Moon.” Right on the picture of the moon. Well played, Stringfellow, well played. He fielded a lot of questions, cracked a few jokes, asked for coffee-house recommendations, and eventually had to call it a night. I got a strong impression of sincerity from talking to him. This is someone who doesn’t fake anything – when he seems like he’s enjoying himself, that’s because he actually is. His personality shone through no matter what he was doing – he seemed like the kind of guy you’d want as a friend. Oh, and he makes music too. Awesome music. You should check it out.

 

This just in from the art world of yours truly…

You can now see four pieces of my artwork on display at The Updraft Gallery in downtown Asheville. The four pieces in question are the Tree Rings series (here, here, and here) and The Tree Of Life.

The Updraft is a fairly new gallery, run by artists. They have a lot of variety – many different styles of painting, decorative stuff, jewelry, pottery, glass, you name it. The location is great – in addition to being downtown, they’re right across the street from an expensive tapas restaurant. The guy who runs it is pretty cool, and he also runs Art In The Park and has some good connections in the community. There’s really no telling whether or not my stuff will sell, but it’s definitely good exposure, and it could lead to even bigger things.

So if you happen to be passing through downtown Asheville, come check out my stuff, (and the other work there). And if you’re nowhere near Asheville, then by all means go to my shop. Yay!

 

A Blogless Week And A New Website

Once again, it’s been a while since I wrote anything here.

First, Valentine’s Day happened. I made Katie pretty much the most epic present imaginable, which took up a lot of my time. I bought a clay-board box kit from work. I painted the sides with tempera, lined the inside with felt, and on the top painted an icon of a T-rex. The hinge setup that came with the box was basically retarded. They didn’t cut any sort of recessed groove or anything, so when you screwed the hinges onto the box, it didn’t close all the way. Not only that, but two of the screw heads broke off when I was screwing them in. So I decided to just give up on the idea of screws, bought some leather, and stapled strips of it for hinges. I made a clasp for the other side of the box using a strip of leather with a slit cut in it and one of those tiny eyelet screws. It turned out pretty amazing, and if I hadn’t gotten so caught up in other things I probably would have posted a picture here earlier. But oh well. It’s never too late for an awesome pic, right? Without further ado…..

TRexBox

Of course she absolutely loved it, so yay. Her present to me wasn’t nearly as involved, but equally heartfelt. I’m always giving her crap about never dressing up, so she dressed up. She shaved her legs and put on makeup and wore a very cute mini-dress. As if that wasn’t enough, she also got me a big heart-shaped box of chocolates.Ā  We spent the evening bundled up on the couch watching King Of The Nerds. I really couldn’t have asked for a better Valentine’s Day.

Since then not a lot eventful has happened. I’ve hung out a few times with Katie, but no big dates or anything. We got rid of another person at work, so things have been a little stressful this past week. Other than that I’ve just been working on art and lounging around the house.

However, I did make a new website… Frustrated with my Fine Art America page and the complete lack of interest it has generated, I’ve been looking into other shops. I decided to set up a shop at Zibbet, which is basically an Etsy clone, except with more of a focus on fine art. I’m still in the process of adding things there, and I’ve been working a lot on having product to sell. Nice fancy paintings are great, but in this economy not many people are buying. If I’m going to make any money from art, it will most likely come from things like prints, greeting cards, magnets, etc. Which reminds me, I need to photograph my magnets and uploadĀ  them.

But yeah, that’s about it. Go buy my stuff!

 

It’s been a busy week in the Asheville art scene. On Wednesday I attended a reception of works by the late painter Vadim Bora at Mars Hill College. I get the impression that he’s mostly unknown outside of his native Russia and his adopted hometown of Asheville, but that doesn’t say anything about the quality of his work. He worked in a ton of different styles, yet everything is instantly recognizable as his. Last year there was a retrospective exhibit, and this show was the highlights from that show. There was a curator’s talk, which I missed, before the reception. I spoke to his widow, and while she seemed pleasant enough, I was a little put off by the way she appears to be handling his estate. She said none of the paintings are for sale, and there are no prints available of anything. She literally told me that if I liked a particular piece, the only thing to do would be to keep coming to all the future exhibits so I could see it again. Her attitude came off a little snooty, like selling prints was beneath her or something. I’m sure that’s not how she really feels, but based on her wording that’s how she came off. But that’s a minor complaint about an otherwise wonderful exhibit.

Friday night I went out to the ARTery to check out a show by my former coworker Joshua Spiceland. They let him paint on the walls, continuing the designs and patterns from his pieces and connecting everything. He had 3D glasses available for viewing, even though they didn’t seem to really add much. The turnout seemed pretty good, and it seemed like he sold a few pieces. He’s clearly a local artist on the rise, but I guess I’m a little burnt out on his work after seeing so much of it over the past year or two. I haven’t been to any other openings at the ARTery, so I’m not sure the calibre of artists they usually have or what the turnout is usually like. I know that their hours are a little weird, which is something I’ve discovered to be pretty common with galleries and studios in the River Arts District. I always feel like I should venture outside of downtown and see more shows and try to get my stuff into more venues, but so far I haven’t been very impressed with the RAD. Who knows.

Tonight I managed to squeeze in two openings. First we had an opening for our artist of the month, Kristalyn Bunyan. She does a lot of monoprints on handmade paper, some of it with alpaca yarn and fibers. I really love her work, probably more so than any past artist of the month. In the year or so that I’ve been helping coordinate things, she’s been one of the easiest artists to work with as well. She submitted a listing to the Mountain Xpress, and not only did they run it, but it was about a quarter of a page with a picture. We had a busker providing live music out front and wine and refreshments inside. The turnout was amazing, and she sold quite a lot. I actually bought one of her cheapo unframed prints, and probably would have bought a few more if I had the money.

After our opening I went down the street to Zapow for a “steam punk carnival.” All of their shows are group shows with the majority of their member artists contributing. With Mardi Gras right around the corner, they decided to do a carnival theme, but steam punk style. There was a lot of great artwork, and some really cool music by a band called The Extraordinary Contraptions. I got there about halfway through the show, so I missed all the refreshments and about half of the music, but it was still pretty cool. I didn’t stay very long, because by then I was pretty tired and hungry, but it was definitely worth checking out.

In my own personal art world, I’ve been keeping pretty busy as well. I’ve been working off-and-on on several projects, including (but not limited to) a late birthday present for my neighbor Michelle, Katie’s Valentine’s Day present, a few really neat watercolor/mixed media pieces, and putting the finishing touches on my tree ring series. Between seeing art, reading about art, and creating art, I haven’t had a whole lot of time for anything else. Not that this is a bad thing. Well, except for sleep. I wish I had a little more time for sleep. Speaking of which, I should probably go do just that…..