In the Florida Times-Union (8-3-7.) Byron King curated an art show in May at a Springfield gallery after using a variety of ways to connect with emerging artists from around the country on the Internet.
Baltimore is cool. It has history. Real history. It goes back hundreds of years. Has great universities. Has world class hospitals. And it’s convenient. And it’s not nearly as hot there with four seasons! Affordable too. Compared to New York and such that is. The architecture there is wonderful. Old and new. The harbor is great. Actually the inner harbor shares the some of the architecture of the Jacksonville landing. People are everywhere. Federal Hill is great. I have family that lived there decades ago. Their old brownstone is now worth over a million I’m sure. Really, Baltimore is a cool town. And it’s smack dab in the middle of the northeast. You’re a stones throw from DC, Philly, New York, and Richmond. If art is your thing that’s a good place to be.
And then we meandered down to Lynchburg, Virginia. A small little town. 65 thousand souls. It has a couple of universities. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University is huge there. And everyone
loves and misses him dearly, liberal and conservative. Seems he did a lot for Lynchburg.
The only thing I could compare it to is how Tallahassee would react if Bobby Bowden died. It would be a sad day in our states capital. Anyways. I really thought Lynchburg was going to
be lame but it snuck up and bit me. It’s affordable and historic. They’ve done a great job restoring their downtown. It’s thriving. Loft apartments and little cool restaurants. We ate Indian for lunch. A really great children’s museum called the Amazing Square. Also, I saw
a really great artists coop building across the street. Ten stories tall with contemporary art galleries and 25 artist’s studios. Also housing an art store. Really, really cool. Right on the water. And there are hills, and it’s really just a great little town. Liberals are thriving there. It’s a miracle.
And then we stopped through Asheville. I want you to know I’ve heard chatter about Asheville
for close to ten years now and have never had the chance to visit. I expected a lot out of Asheville after all of this talk, and it delivered. It’s just an amazing little town sitting right at
the foot of the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains. You can see wonderful scenes with billowing
mountains right from downtown. Breath taking really. Not to sound giddy. But it’s really
awe inspiring for someone like me who’s from Jacksonville to see mountains. And the architecture is great downtown. The very contemporary right next to the very old. People walking around all over downtown. All over. Musicians playing on corners. Jazz, blue grass, folk. Right there. Like waiting for a subway in Times Square. All free. All culture. We ate at a vegetarian restaurant that had an entire menu of wonder. Everything could be ordered vegan also if so wished. They even brewed 6 organic beers.
I mean if Jacksonville had a place like this it would be a landmark. And in Asheville it’s just another restaurant. The parking was affordable and easy to get to also. To sum it up I was so impressed with Asheville that it took me a day or two for it to register. They even have a really cool arts district in a warehouse area down by the river. The only thing negative about Asheville I might have to say would be that it’s too cool. One could easily feel uncool. I did feel a bit old.
But it really is made up of all types. Sort of like Atlanta, San Fran, or New York. A microcosm of culture at the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains.
And then we had a little visit in Greeneville, South Carolina which was an absolute surprise. I had no idea that Greeneville was as frickin cool as it is. I mean for Pete’s sake they have a waterfall creek running smack dab through downtown. Kids and such playing all over swimming and screwing around. The river park goes for like half a mile! Along the stream are several band shells shaded by trees. The downtown is really developed. I mean many many blocks. Enough developed blocks that we were tired as hell after walking for three hours. There’s a trolley car that goes all the way down Main street. There’s even an arts district right on the river where several artists have rented studio spaces. I mean it’s developed. Big money. Great restaurants. Great hotels. Very historic. Historic markers all over with associated statues. And while looking at the real estate for the city I found houses for 150K. New construction. Really amazing to find deals like that in a city with that much culture.
And if that wasn’t cool enough after messing around in Greeneville for a few hours we drove only about a half hour or so and we were up in the Blue Ridge Mountains to watch the sunset. I want you to know those mountains are amazing. They aren’t as impressive as the Rocky Mountains, but they are gorgeous in their own right. Not a bad batch of mountains to have in your backyard. The mountain biking there must be out of this world.
So anyways. That’s it. A little road trip. Several cities with bustling downtowns. What are they doing that Jacksonville isn’t? How long will it take before we can catch up? Are we playing catch up? If so, why? Hope you all get to get out of Jax for a bit when you have a chance. Check out the other cities. Get an idea of what works there, and bring that idea back here and implement it. Our Southern neighbors are doing it. Let’s use them as examples of how it can be done here.
with my little girl. We have one of those backpacks for strapping your little ones in and just going. It is a sunny day in Riverside. I absolutely love the architecture here. It makes me feel like I’m in another city. That’s a good feeling because Jacksonville can be a bit depressing at times. Especially when you know friends of yours are out and about in great cities like New York, Seattle, and San Fransisco.
We went to Memorial park after a stop by our neighborhood Starbucks. There isn’t a mom and pop coffee shop in the area. I don’t think folks would go there if there was anyways. Starbucks is so accepted by everyone. All types. Folks were there who just got out of Sunday school. Folks were there who were just waking up from a Saturday night binge drinking session. Piercings, tattoos, and Sunday school. All in one happy environment curated by the all knowing Starbucks cultural committee.
The park was interesting. My little girl Claire had a blast trying to get as far away from me as possible when I put her down. Walking fifty meters away then she was returned by the invisible leash she has for her parents, she has yet to understand. Security being something she needs. Something we all need.
Homeless folks were gathered in a little secret corner of the park. Picking flowers it seemed. I heard one mention a caterpillar. They were rough looking with beards, and such, but were picking flowers in the park. What a great scene it was. I wondered about the homeless situation in Jacksonville. I wondered about art making and how it fits into social issues such as homelessness. To be honest I feel a bit stingy directing my creative energy towards a canvas that folks will judge and talk about, and eventually put above their couch. I feel it is possible that artists owe it to themselves to use their creative energy for the good of mankind. Possibly?
My mind began to drift towards the issue of low pay for school teachers for some reason. That’s an issue that everyone understands. Knows about. Talks about. Yet nothing is done. Folks have decided that that’s just it. The reality is that if you decide to serve your community as a teacher you will struggle to make a living the rest of your life. I really don’t understand why everyone accepts it as a reality and doesn’t try to do anything about it?
I have decided that if we really want to make change on issues then we must act individually. Since our government will not make change on the issues that we care about then we must act publicly as a whole. Or not? What do you think? Can we make a change? Do you want to make a change? How should we begin?
ideas. invent. define. refine. this world.
I want to have roof gardens in Five Points.
I want biofueled RVs that are totally off the grid and can sustain life fully, forever.
I want to start a cooperative art boutique.
I want to curate local storefront windows with local contemporary art.
I want R.A.D.O. to develop an arts community that uses all green building supplies surrounded by sculpture parks and live work spaces for local artists.
I want to go to graduate school for arts administration in order to learn more about nonprofit arts management.
I want to start a nonprofit that develops an after school program that is run by emerging local artists.
I want to start a flourescent light bulb door to door sales program.
I want to open a green products local hardware store.
I want to buy a historic home and restore it fully.
I want to be involved in social programs that use art as a vehicle for social change.
I want to buy a trailer and use it as a traveling gallery of contemporary micro art.
I am interested in the connection between our own perceptions and the unknown. I am interested in trying to percieve the pattern of the golden mean and to try and draw from it’s energy. I believe that as a visual artist there is a great responsibility to attempt to capture beauty and truth.
I believe that these qualities are natural and pure and live below the surface of our consciousness, even in the worst of us. The goal for me is to take a step back. To detach myself from the activity or process of making art. To allow it to have a voice of it’s own. To allow it to draw it’s connections. To work off of my own internal rhythms. To work off of my own childhood dreams. My own adult awakenings.
In order to find a sublime subconsciousness that shapes my identity. Through this detachment I attempt to achieve perfection. An inner reflection. An outer reflection. A mirror of myself. A mirror of us all.