The Big Story: The cross-country move

I would like to start out by apologizing for the total length of this entry, and also for failing to update my website and post regularly on my blog these past few months. But, that's been taken care of now! Enjoy some of the new (and likely still changing) formatting of the site as well as a few new images and this post. I hope this post will be the first of many as I get into the full swing of both my own art practice and being a graduate student. So be sure to keep checking in from time to time to learn what I'm up to and see if I've posted anything new that I was working on in the studio. And now to tell the story of the past few months and how I ended up here...

Chicago. As seen from the Signature Lounge in the John Hancock Center. It's shots like this that support the claim that the Hancock has one of the best views in the whole country.

Chicago. As seen from the Signature Lounge in the John Hancock Center. It's shots like this that support the claim that the Hancock has one of the best views in the whole country.

The ferris wheel at Navy Pier

The ferris wheel at Navy Pier

     After being accepted to SAIC's graduate studio program, the plans for moving to Chicago started to fall together. I asked Kaitlyn to come with me on this life-changing adventure, which she gladly agreed to. Excited about our new horizon, we boarded a plane in May and set out apartment hunting.

     Our week long search included a fair amount of fun in the city, from strolls through the park as a storm rolls in over the city, to deep dish pizza, to being driven around Lincoln Park and River North in a convertible with the top down.

Flying into Midway in May

Flying into Midway in May

     After a false start, we finally settled on an apartment on the north side of downtown. The surrounding architecture was great, it was very close to a Red Line stop and several bus stops, was surrounded by great restaurants and several stores, and was just a quick hop away from almost anything you could possibly want to do, including work in my studio at SAIC. Plus, it had a huge bay window overlooking the treelined street that we knew would be awesome for our cats.

     We took a celebratory stroll around our new neighborhood and walked the short distance from our apartment to Oak Street Beach before ending the evening with a celebratory cocktail and duck nachos at the Signature Lounge in the John Hancock Center.

     Once back in Texas we began packing and making the final arrangements for our trek up north. In the next month and a half we would paint a mural, sell over a dozen works of art, and catch some of our favorite Denton bands and musicians. Thank you to those who made purchases of art or furniture, those who helped us pack, and those were all around supportive! We couldn't have done it without you.

     Our final shindig was a cookout on our front porch complete with buffalo burgers, grilled salmon, and a Texas style twist on a Chicago hotdog (everything grilled over mesquite charcoal and red wine barrel staves, of course). We made homestyle fries in a cast iron skillet and had watermelon and other fresh fruit on the side. Everything was paired with a selection of Texas and Illinois craft beer. It was delicious, and it even rained a little. And of course the company was great! It made for a perfect punctuation to close our time in Denton. 

     A few days passed and we had loaded up a U-Haul and Kaitlyn's car and set off on the road, our friend Frankie along for the ride.

Oak Street Beach looking south toward downtown and the John Hancock Center

Oak Street Beach looking south toward downtown and the John Hancock Center

     When we left Texas the high for the day was 99 degrees fahrenheit, swelteringly sunny, and one can only guess at the horrific heat index. When we made it to Chicago, at the peak of the day's heat, it was 61 and cloudy. After about an hour it started to rain and the temperatures dropped down into the mid 50s. After several days of packing and moving in the miserable heat, it was a welcome relief.

Kaitlyn and I with Frankie in a garden at the Art Institute

Kaitlyn and I with Frankie in a garden at the Art Institute

Ellsworth has even begun to rock a bow tie 

Ellsworth has even begun to rock a bow tie 

Gigi enjoying the bay window and nice day

Gigi enjoying the bay window and nice day

     After a few days of hanging out in Chicago, Frankie returned home and Kaitlyn and I were left to explore our new city and get settled in. Over the next month we'd find plenty of things to do and get visits from our friends Jay, and Rachelle, who was in Chicago for an opera audition.

     One of the first things we learned was that we live in a "walker's paradise." Seriously. Our apartment has a walk score of 100/100 with transit and bike scores not too far behind. Between Treasure Island, Jewel, CVS, Walgreens, and an Ace all within two blocks, you don't have to go very far to get anything you might need. Also within that same distance are a train stop, several bus stops, and even a public bicycle station, which give easy access to virtually every other part of the city. We are also surrounded by great restaurants, and not far away from good shopping. If this level of convenience still doesn't sound easy enough, Chicago has delivery services for just about anything you can imagine: fine dinning, fast food, groceries, booze, furniture, cat food and litter, laundry...I could go on and on. On a nice day I can walk from home to the Art Institute or my studio in 40 minutes, tops. If I take the L, I can cut my commute to 15 minutes.

     Some of our favorite places within walking distance to frequent are Lincoln Park, Old Town, and Oak Street Beach. Lincoln Park is massive and has something for just about anyone. It is the location of Chicago's public zoo, a conservatory, lilly pool, many gardens, both natural plant life and manicured displays, several lagoons, kayaking, bike trails, walking paths, benches, sculptures, public playing fields, and a great view of the downtown skyline. It also has ice skating in the winter months.

     Old Town is a nearby neighborhood with some cool restaurants, a few great bars, comedy clubs, and several points of shopping interest, including the General Store, Spice Merchant, The Fudge Pot, a cigar store, and a cooking oil shop, among many other things. Old Town used to be a haven for beatniks, hippies, hipsters, and the early LGBT community.

     The beach may be the biggest surprise for me, however. I hadn't ever really thought of myself as a beach guy, but sitting in the sand under the Chicago skyline, on the edge of the vast blue watery expanse that is Lake Michigan, I've begun to rethink my stance. The beach, along with parks like Lincoln Park, are wonderful pockets where the pulse of the city gives way to peaceful meditation and the urban environment engages directly with the natural environment. We made several visits to Oak Street Beach over the summer and I can see it becoming a regular spot for me during the summer swim season. In fact, it was where we spent our Fourth of July, eating hotdogs under a Big John crowned in red, white, and blue, watching the fireworks at Navy Pier, and wading into the cool night tide of the nearly sea-sized lake.

Outdoor lunch just around the corner

Outdoor lunch just around the corner

There's not much more American than Chicago architecture, a building named for John Hancock, red, white, and blue, hotdogs and fireworks on a lake beach for the Fourth of July.

There's not much more American than Chicago architecture, a building named for John Hancock, red, white, and blue, hotdogs and fireworks on a lake beach for the Fourth of July.

Jay and I out for a swim

Jay and I out for a swim

Kaitlyn and I at Oak Street Beach

Kaitlyn and I at Oak Street Beach

From Oak Street Beach on the Fourth of July

From Oak Street Beach on the Fourth of July

At Old Town Ale House with Jay and Kaitlyn

At Old Town Ale House with Jay and Kaitlyn

Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park

     The John Hancock Center may be one of my favorite buildings in the whole city, and it plays prominently in the skyline of northern downtown. It is also visible from our apartment's rooftop pool and sun deck on the 8th floor. As I mentioned before, the Hancock's perch over Chicago has been listed as one of the best views in all of America. You can check out the observation deck, or skip the ticket price and spend the money on a drink or a bite to eat at the Signature Lounge instead. For those of you more daring, somewhere in Chicago you can find a job climbing to the very top of the spires and antennas to do repairs.

     There are several great ways to take in the architecture of Chicago, but few are as fun or informative as a boat tour affiliated with the Chicago Architecture Foundation. There are a variety of tours available, but all of them are excellent. We took one along the river and the lake around sunset and got some great shots of the city. In addition, you always learn something new one one of these tours!

     I've also found the city to be gorgeous in the rain. There are some storms where a combination of low clouds, fog, and heavy rain will obscure buildings just a few blocks away while the thunder rolls slowly down the streets and between buildings.

     Public transit is important in Chicago, as well, and I've enjoyed riding the L, both the elevated tracks and the subway.

Looking up at the John Hancock Center

Looking up at the John Hancock Center

The downtown Loop's northern edge along the Chicago River

The downtown Loop's northern edge along the Chicago River

     This summer was milder than usual in Chicago, but not too drastic. The weather was gorgeous most days and, with a few exceptions, and even the warmer days left room for a few extra degrees before it would really start to be problematic. I actually spent a fair amount of time outside, walking around, swimming, just enjoying it. Most of my summers since I stopped playing tennis as much have been spent finding ways to stay inside and avoid the Texas hell-heat. Now I'm beginning to understand the appeal of summer again.

     One day in particular stood out as unusually hot, but also a great example of how quickly the weather can change. It was the day of graduate student orientation and the day that my private studio was assigned. It was early in the morning with the sun beating down on the pavement, the air thick and damp and still. I checked my phone for the Weather Channel and saw that it was in the upper 90s with a heat index of 103. No relief was expected until late that night or early the next morning with a little bit of rain. This was all by 9:00am, mind you. By noon most of orientation was wrapped up and I went up to the painting studio floors to wait to get my studio. At this point it was still in the 90s but not as high. A few clouds were starting to float by. I took the picture below sometime in that hour. After 1:00pm it started to pour rain. Heavy sheets drenched the city and made for a great sight from the 16th floor. By the time the rain had let up, temperatures had dropped as low as 73. We didn't break 80 again for a few days.

A storm moving in over Lake Michigan viewed from my studio floor

A storm moving in over Lake Michigan viewed from my studio floor

My studio

My studio

     As August rolled on, our vacation period came to a close. I began my first semester as a post-bacc at SAIC and Kaitlyn began work as a sales associate at Arts and Artisans soon after. This means my art practice and my studies are in full swing again. There are so many great things about the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Having my own studio space is wonderful, as are all of the facilities and equipment available to me. The faculty are exemplary, lending to its reputation. The school has expansive libraries on art as well as the whole Art Institute as an included supplemental educational experience. My graduate art history course actually has discussions every week in the museum. Entrance is free for SAIC students as well as at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The Art Institute, which one group recently named the nation's and the world's best art museum, was actually created to searve as a resource for students at SAIC.

My studio

My studio

     The Art Institute itself is surrounded by Grant Park and Millennium Park, with Michigan Avenue to the west. Millennium Park is a stand out with numerous iconic art works (Cloud Gate, or "The Bean," and Crown Fountain to name a few), numerous gardens including natural swamp and prairie grasses as well as fruits, vegetables, and well manicured patches of flowers, an outdoor pavilion, and numerous ways to enjoy yourself and relax. Millennium Park was a new take on the urban park and has ultimately succeeded in its goals. It is now frequented by both locals and tourists and is one of the most photographed places in the city. Between the park and the Art Institute's sculpture gardens, I never really need to worry about finding a place to eat lunch, take a stroll, read a book, or just take in the city while I'm down in my studio.

     So far we've loved Chicago. Things will soon get busy, but a good kind of busy. And this is where I must leave you. I'm sorry the post was so long, but it's been a while and I wanted to keep those of you interested in the know. For more on me and my adventures in Chicago, you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. If you've read this far, thanks for sticking with me! I hope to update and manage my website more frequently, including regular blog posts on a range of subjects from reviews, things I find interesting, opportunities to see my work, studio updates, and maybe even some of my art history and theory writing. Expect a new artist statement soon, as well. And with that, I welcome you into the official start of the fall season (my favorite) with these photos from around Millennium Park of our colors changing and fall truly setting in. It's also starting to be fairly cool up here. I'm quite ecstatic to experience a true Autumn and see what Halloween is like in Chicago. Check back soon!

Chicago (More news and excitement)

On March 1, Kaitlyn and I sat in a small cafe across Michigan Avenue from the Art Institute of Chicago and next door to part of the School of the Art Institute. We hurried to eat our fresh organic chicken and veggie sandwiches as the time for my interview at SAIC drew very close. It was as I was getting ready to go that we heard it. The restaurant's speakers suddenly started playing a song all too familiar to us, and very strange to hear in the situation. It was Midlake. For those not familiar with Midlake, change that. They are a great band based out of Denton TX and the owners of one of my favorite local haunts, Paschall Bar. What are the odds that we would hear a song off of one of our favorite albums by local musicians who happen to own one of our favorite local bars, hundreds of miles from home, and just 10 minutes before an interview that might determine what I do with the rest of my life?

Well, we took it as a sign...

A view of the Loop in Chicago and a very much frozen Lake Michigan from the top of Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower)

A view of the Loop in Chicago and a very much frozen Lake Michigan from the top of Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower)

Today I received a phone call and can officially confirm that I have been accepted into the School of the Art Institute of Chicago! I was granted immediate admittance today into the Post-Baccalaureate program in Studio Art for Painting and Drawing. I am also on the wait list for the MFA program in the same area. The graduate review board expressed a very strong interest in my work and want me to attend the school starting this next fall. Whether I will be fully accepted into the MFA program is yet to be determined, but should there be no space available I will still be attending and completing the Post-Bacc certificate. The invitation was extended to me from the director of the program herself and I consider it a great honor for SAIC to have taken an interest in me and my work. I am proud to enroll in their program and continue my artistic pursuits amongst some of the nation's most talented artists and at such a prestigious institution.

Also, Chicago.

A snow capped "Cloud Gate" by Anish Kapoor looms over a very festive ice skating rink as it snows the night after my interview.

A snow capped "Cloud Gate" by Anish Kapoor looms over a very festive ice skating rink as it snows the night after my interview.

The prospect of living in a new place full of things happening all around and a world class art scene is incredibly exciting to me! I've enjoyed Chicago every time I've visited and have had an interest in the city for quite some time. Now I'll get a chance to live a whole different experience and see how that takes my art in new directions as well as my own personal life.

There will be quite a lot happening over the next few months and I will keep you all posted. Check in here for more info.

Snow at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. This may be the answer to my complaints about the Texas heat.

Snow at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. This may be the answer to my complaints about the Texas heat.

Chicago (And related things)

It's been a while since I've been able to make a decent post on my website, but I thought I'd take a quick break from all of my busyness and activities and write some news in my blog that has been very exciting for me!

Opening reception for amalgam d(8): A selection of Denton's best emerging artists

Opening reception for amalgam d(8): A selection of Denton's best emerging artists

First, thank you to everyone who came out in support of my curatorial debut, amalgam d(8): A selection of Denton's best emerging artists! I know that was a while ago, but it was an amazing showcase of some great talent and I'm glad I could put it together and work with so many great artists coming out of the University of North Texas' College of Visual Art and Design. The response was overwhelmingly positive and what critical reception I did catch wind of was also quite reassuring and encouraging.

Also, thank you to the folks who attended or celebrated my graduation in December! I managed to complete my degree with Honors College Recognition and graduate Magna Cum Laude.

Now to the really exciting news...

I was invited to interview at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for the MFA program in Painting and Drawing! I completed my interview just over an hour before writing this post, which I made sitting in the lobby of the museum of the Art Institute. And it's snowing!

Keep your fingers crossed for me. I'll know by the end of March whether I will be attending or not. More info will be on it's way soon, along with more pictures and details from my trip! Stay tuned and check out some new images of my work in the Installations gallery.

Busy (All of the things I've been working on and more things to come)

It has been a terribly busy month with a lot of things happening. Sorry I've been away for so long. The good news is, there are plenty of opportunities coming up to see my work!

Imagine Gallery Grand Re-opening

Imagine Gallery Grand Re-opening

My work at 2013 500x College Expo

My work at 2013 500x College Expo

First, thank you to everyone who came out to the 500x College Expo or the Imagine Gallery re-opening! It was great being included in the juried show, and the re-opening was a success.

Next was Oaktopia, a music and arts festival in downtown Denton. I did a couple of installations on the courthouse lawn, one of which was removed after a police officer voiced his disapproval of a lightbulb hanging across one of the paths. Another was a modification of Untitled (Construction of green and daylight II) with the light hanging from a tree and the turf nailed into the ground. My third piece was fairly performative. Later in the eventing I hung a CFL bulb over a 12 x 9 ft canvas nailed to the ground. I then took a page of out Gutai artist, Shiraga Kazuo's, book and poured layers of latex enamel on the canvas, spreading, blending and painting with my feet and hands as a group of people watched. I also drew a square around the square in chalk. I may post videos and photos of this event in a separate, later blog post.

My next big challenge was Senior Exit Review at UNT. This went quite well and all of the Painting and Drawing faculty seemed to greatly enjoy my work. I am now clear to graduate on Dec. 14! Feel free to come! I'll be earning my BFA and graduating Magna Cum Laude and with Honors Recognition.

4 of the 5 pieces I presented for Exit Review

4 of the 5 pieces I presented for Exit Review

This Saturday, November 30, will be the UNT Painting and Drawing Association's senior showcase last call. It will be at Denton's Panhandle House tomorrow evening at 7:00pm. There will be free alcohol and food. DJ Yeahdef will be there providing some tunes. It is a pretty solid selection of work from several artists graduation either ind December or May. For more info visit:

amalgamfb.jpg

Perhaps my most exciting news is the upcoming show amalgam d(8) : A selection of Denton's best emerging artists. This show is my curatorial debut! I'm also one of the artists included in the exhibition. This should be a really good one! All of the artists are exceptional and the opening reception should be a blast. The show will run from December 6 (maybe 5) through December 30. If you can't make it to the opening reception, you should definitely try to make it up there at some point! This should turn out to be a pretty great show with a strong presentation of work by the artists. The opening reception will be Friday, December 6 from 6:00pm to 10:00pm. Make it if you can! You don't want to miss it! There will be live music from local Denton musicians, a possible performance piece, free beer samples provided by Denton brewers Perception Brewing, additional local craft beer and wine available (we ask for a small optional donation), and face painting by the UNT Painting and Drawing Association! This will be during the Denton Holiday Lighting Festival and Wassail Fest. Imagine Gallery is hosted at Denton Square Donuts, and they will be providing wassail samples as well as part of the festivities of the night. Come by, check out the show, walk the square and enjoy the festival, try some wassail, come back to the show for more enjoyment of the art, some drinks, music, and a pile of donuts!

Artists include: Kaitlyn Arnold, Maren Henson, Caroline Irvin, Maxx Martinez, Jordan Miller, Justin Nguyen, Catherine Parkinson, and Katie Vallee

Below are links to the Facebook event and other listings of the show:

Last but not least will be the UNT Senior Show. This will be a collection of work from all of the senior Painting and Drawing students who will be graduation this December. The show will be held at the Cora Stafford Gallery from Tuesday, December 3, through Friday, December 13. The opening reception with be Thursday, December 12, from 5:00pm to 7:00pm. Official College of Visual Arts and Design Commencement will be at 1:00pm on Saturday, December 14, at the UNT Coliseum.

 

Stay posted for more info, slight format changes, additional art work that will be coming to you online soon, and photos from the shows!

Update (More projected light to receive and decipher as text)

There has been a lot of stuff happening in the past couple of days! The website updates are mostly finished and I've added a few more images of my most recent work into the web gallery as well as a couple of images from past work. My curriculum vitea has been updated and all images in the web gallery are now organized reverse-chronologically as opposed to chronologically. Enjoy the minor alterations and I hope that it makes viewing my site and my art a more pleasant experience.

Now for the news! 

I received notification that I was accepted into the 500x Gallery's College Expo- Student Discount . This is exciting news! I was selected to join a handful of artists, out of over 110 entrants from all over Texas, to be featured in this juried show at 500x. It is an honor to be included and a great opportunity for my work to be seen. The jurors for the show are LauraLee Brott, Jessica Iannuzzi Garcia, and Lisa Hees, of the McKinney Avenue Contemporary in Dallas, TX. The show will run from October 11 through October 27, with the gallery open on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5:00pm. The opening reception will be held on Friday, October 11, from 7:00pm to 10:00pm. Please come see the show at some point if you can't make it for the opening! The gallery is located at 500 Exposition Avenue, Dallas TX. Below is a link to the gallery's website and a link to the Facebook event.
www.500x.org
https://www.facebook.com/events/524517257622741

Also, a reminder that Friday, October 4, will be the grand re-opening of Imagine Gallery, run by Chris Arnet, and hosted by Denton Square Donuts. I will have several pieces on display there and the show will run through the month of October. Feel free to join us for the opening reception on the 4th, from 6:00pm to 10:00pm, which will be part of downtown Denton's First Fridays celebrations and events. The event will be BYOB. Please come check it out! You can also view the work at any point during Denton Square Donuts' regular business hours. Not only will my work be exhibited, but you can also see some great paintings done by my lovely lady-friend and fellow artist, Kaitlyn Arnold. A few other Denton artists will be included in the October show for your enjoyment as well. Below is a link to the gallery and the Facebook event.
https://www.facebook.com/imaginegallerydenton
https://www.facebook.com/events/205641392942109

Hopefully I'll see some folks around Denton or Dallas at one of these events. Spread the word and keep on looking at art! 

October 1 (Twenty-13)

Fall has officially rolled into the North Texas area and brought us nice weather and plenty of things to keep us busy. This will be the last semester of my undergraduate education, culminating with my graduation from UNT with a BFA in December. In the meantime, however, there are plenty of things I'm working on and several opportunities for you to view my work. 

First on the list is the grand re-opening of Imagine Gallery hosted by Denton Square Donuts off the downtown Denton square. The opening reception for the first show in a year will be Friday, October 4. The event starts at 6:00pm and go until DSD closes at 10:00pm. There are several interesting artists who will be featured in this show, including Kaitlyn Arnold and myself. It will be one of the better opportunities to catch some quality art here in Denton this month. The show will be up the whole month, so if you can't make it out for the reception, feel free to stop by at any point during DSD's regular hours through the month of October and experience some quality local artwork. However, if you can make it to the reception, I would recommend it. Several of the artists will be there, myself included, and the event will be BYOB. So this Friday make a stop in at Midway Mart and buy a six-pack of Armadillo Aleworks or something from your favorite area craft-brewer and head on down to Imagine Gallery!

Also coming up is the 500x College Expo- Student Discount. This is a juried show open to Texas artist currently enrolled in a Texas university. I have applied for the show and will know by the 4th if I am accepted. More updates on this will come soon. The opening reception will be on Saturday, October 12, at the 500x Gallery in Dallas. 

More images of recent work will be uploaded to the site soon, as well. This will be accompanied by a slight format change on the webpage. But don't worry! It won't be anything drastic. 

I have also been approached about showing work or doing an installation for the upcoming Oaktopia Fest in November, here in Denton. I will keep this blog updated with information as it comes to me.

On an extracurricular note, Canned Fest is this Saturday, October 5, on the Denton Square and will feature plenty of local craft beer and live music from some great bands, including Pageantry, Chambers, and, one of my favorites, Hares on the Mountain.

That about sums up what I've got to share for now! I hope everyone is enjoying the nice weather, getting over their Breaking Bad heartaches, and getting into the Halloween spirit. Now go bake a pie or something! 

Website (And this blog)

I'm pretty excited to have my own website up and running. If you can read this, it worked! Be sure to spread the word, pass on the link, whatever, just make sure people are coming here to check out my work and see some art. 

There are a few new things coming to this website, even though it's already brand new.

First, I'm going to be using my home page as a gallery for collaborative projects I do with other artists. Every few months I hope to produce some interesting collaboration and showcase it there for everyone to check out. It'll be changed each time to keep the site relatively fresh. I can't say for sure when the first project may be up, but I'll be sure to post about it here and on my Twitter and Facebook.

Second, I'm going to keep posting on this blog! This is where I'll keep everyone updated on shows I'm in, involved with, or just think are worth checking out. I'll also keep the blog updated with my artistic developments and anything cool I may be working on. Occasionally I'll make a post about a local band or brewery that I enjoy and would like to share with the world. Anyway, be sure to check the blog every now and then!

As far as the website goes, I hope you enjoy it and find it an easy way to look at my work. If you have any suggestions or questions, please feel free to contact me through (the artist) page.