Two Art Shows, Two Art World Adventures

I didn’t sell either of the two paintings that were selected for the Labor Day Show, though a friend was surprised to happen upon “Ascending” at the show and surprised me in turn with a photo of it on her phone.  I was, however, fortunate enough to have another painting, “Streaming No. 1” (shown below), juried into the Yellow Barn’s 23rd Annual Members’ Show, which ran for three weekends in December.  The painting, acrylic on canvas, is based on one of my watercolors, which was inspired in turn by the late, redoubtable Zao Wou-Ki, whose work I have mentioned in an earlier post.

Streamings No. 1

Now for the adventure part.  During the fall, I was contacted by a New York City art gallery, which shall be nameless, seeking to represent me in the art market and sell my work.  I was initially interested, but my enthusiasm waned once I learned that the representation involved a minimum payment of $3,850 for ten linear feet of exhibition space in the gallery.  I thanked the gallery for its interest and declined the offer of representation.  I subsequently learned that the gallery, described on-line by others as a “vanity gallery,” has an extremely mixed reputation for its representation of artists like me.  I may have dodged a bullet there.

Adventure Part Two.  Later in the fall, I received an email from a “Patrick in Ohio” who described himself as an “ocean engineer” who was about to relocate to the Philippines and who wanted to purchase two of my paintings to present to his wife — she very much liked my work, he said — as gifts on their next wedding anniversary.  He said that the shipping agent handling his relocation would pick up the paintings and deliver them to him.  He could not pick them up, he said, because he was on a training voyage in the Atlantic Ocean with a group of graduate students.  Fool that I was, I eventually shared with him information about various paintings and their prices and some non-sensitive contact information as well.  I was then startled to receive a confusing email from him suggesting that in order to complete the transaction, I would have to make a payment of some kind to the shipping agent.  I began to wonder whether I really wanted to sell my paintings to this particular “ocean engineer.”

My doubts were almost immediately confirmed when I received another email, this one from a “Mark in Jacksonville, Florida,” an “ocean engineer” who was relocating to Ireland and who wanted to purchase two of my paintings as surprise presents for his wife on their next wedding anniversary.  He too explained that he could not pick up the paintings himself because he was on a training voyage in the Atlantic Ocean with a group of graduate students.

At this point, even I got the picture.  I called the Washington, DC, field office of the FBI and was advised to have no further contact with “Patrick” or “Mark,” and to consult the FBI’s “Internet Crime Complaint Center” at http://www.ic3.gov.  I have had no further contact with either “ocean engineer,” and I have learned from ic3.gov that the scam they were attempting to work on me is often used in connection with on-line auctions, where the target is the seller and the scammers try to persuade the seller to make various payments in order to compete the sale.  When I mentioned “Patrick” and “Mark” to Walt Bartman, the Yellow Barn Studio’s director, he assured me that my experience with people like them was far from unique.  I think I dodged another bullet — two of them in fact.

On the brighter side, I’m taking an enjoyable portrait and figure class from Christine Lashley at the Yellow Barn during the current winter session.  I hope to post some of my paintings from the class on this website once the session ends.

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Labor Day Art Show at Glen Echo Park

For the past 46 years, Glen Echo Park, an arts and cultural center in neighboring Glen Echo, Maryland, has hosted an art show over the Labor Day weekend.  This year’s show, Number 47, runs Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, September 2-4, from 12 to 6 p.m. each day.  The show includes two-dimensional artwork (paintings and drawings), three-dimensional pieces (pottery, sculpture, works in glass), jewelry, sleeved prints (linocuts, woodblocks, and prints of two-dimensional works), and all works are for sale.  I’ve entered pieces in several previous shows, and even sold a drawing a few years ago.

In the past, the show accepted every work submitted, but the number of submitting artists has grown to such an extent that the show is now at least partially curated, and artists must send in digital images of their works before they are accepted.  I submitted images of two abstract acrylic paintings, each 24″ by 30″, both reflecting the influence of the late Chinese-French artist Zao Wou-Ki, whose work I mentioned in an earlier post.  I learned a few days ago that both works were accepted, each priced at $350.  Images of both appear below.  We’ll soon see if anyone is interested in buying.

After Zao: Ascending

After Zao: Beanstalk

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The Takoma Park Reading — The Video

The video of the March 16 reading at the Takoma Park Community Center is now available.  Just Google “Third Thursday Poetry (March 16, 2017).”  The video is almost an hour long.  As I noted in the first post, Mary Beth Hatem introduces the program, and reads the slightly modified John O’Donohue poem in the process.  Nancy Arbuthnot begins to read from her poetry at about the 8:00 minute mark.  I come on at the 29:00 minute mark and read until about the 51:00 minute mark.  Mary Beth comes back and ends the program with the George Saunders poem.  I hope that you’ll have a chance to view the video and will enjoy it when you see it.

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The Takoma Park Reading

Thursday night’s reading at the Takoma Park Community Center Auditorium was most enjoyable.  Nancy Arbuthnot, Professor Emerita of English at the United States Naval Academy, read several of her poems first, and then I read four poems from Food for a Journey, “Cloistered Life,” “Visiting Saint-Sulpice,” “Tribute,” and the book’s title poem.  (A late-arising family matter prevented Nicole Bresner, the third poet scheduled to read, from participating in the program.)  In light of the current political situation, my wife Ann had suggested that I be sure to read “Cloistered Life”; the poem is based on my memories of the immigrant Italian grandmothers of my elementary school classmates.

Though not large, the audience was attentive and enthusiastic.  My daughter Kate attended the reading along with Ann, and all three of us appreciated the opportunity to chat with members of the audience at the reception that followed.  I am very grateful to Sara Daines and Marilyn Sklar, who arranged the reading for the Takoma Park Arts and Humanities Commission, and to moderator and Takoma Park poet Mary Beth Hatem, who enriched the evening by reading two topical poems, one at the beginning of the event and  the second at its conclusion.  The first poem was an amended version of “A Blessing for a Friend on the Arrival of Illness,” by John O’Donohue, with “these days” substituted for “illness”; the second was “Trump L’Oeil” by George Saunders.  If you are not familiar with “Trump L’Oeil,” it is worth Googling.

The reading was taped for Takoma Park’s CityTV, but the video is not yet available on YouTube.  I will update this post once it does appear.

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Progress Report, March 2017

Once again, I’m playing catch-up.  My last post here was in October of last year, but that should not be taken to mean that nothing has happened since then.  A lot has.

There have been several developments on the art front.  I’ve taken multiple watercolor classes over the years from Bonny Lundy, one of the founding teachers at the Yellow Barn Studio.  Last fall I took her class in Experimental Watercolor at the Artists and Makers Studio in Rockville, MD.  We focused on the work of artists Helen Frankenthaler, Gerhard Richter, Sean Scully, Piet Mondrian, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and Virginia Cobb.  Currently I am in the midst of another Experimental Watercolor class with Bonny, again at Artists and Makers.  This time we are focusing on the work of Henri Matisse, Richard Diebenkorn, John Marin, Arthur Dove, and a Chinese-French artist named Zao Wou-Ki.  I had never heard of Zao Wou-Ki before the class, but I found his abstract expressionist work very impressive.  It’s worth checking out on Google.  Some of the watercolors I’ve done in both of these classes seem to merit preserving, and once I’ve sorted them out, I’ll post them on the website in the Prints & Paintings section.

Still on the art front, I’ll be participating next month in another abstract acrylic workshop with Carol Jason at the Yellow Barn Studio.  I’ve done two workshops with Carol in the past, and several of the paintings from those workshops are on display in the Prints & Paintings section.  In the upcoming workshop I hope to produce some paintings that reflect Zao Wou-Ki’s influence and can be added to the other works on the website.

As a result of the notes about Food for a Journey that appeared in Notre Dame Magazine last fall, a couple of my classmates were kind enough to purchase copies of the book.  One of them, Terry O’Loughlin, inquired about the availability of prints of two of the paintings on the website, “DeKooning Colors” and “After Diebenkorn.”  My answer was in the negative, for the simple reason that I had never looked into having prints made.  Spurred by Terry’s question, I asked Jerry and Sandy Miller, the brother and sister team which manages the Minuteman Press office here in Bethesda, for their help.  They agreed to give the project a try, and a few weeks later they provided me with attractive, reasonably-priced, 22″ by 28″ prints (the original paintings measure 24″ by 30″) of both paintings.  I sent the prints along to Terry and his artist wife Mary Kay, and now, after suitable matting and framing, the prints grace the walls of the O’Loughlin home in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.  If anyone else should be interested in having one or more prints of art work from the Prints & Paintings section of the website, just send me an e-mail at tmgannon46@gmail.com, and we’ll see what we can work out.

On the book front, I recently sent review copies of Food for a Journey to the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, the New York Times Book Review, and to Commonweal and America magazines.  Given the flood of books for review that inundate those publications on a regular basis, it is at best unlikely that they would bother to review a first book of poetry by an unknown author.  Still, the multiple mailings seemed worth a try.  Aside from the postage, I didn’t have much to lose.

One last item on the book front.  I have another poetry reading coming up, this one at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, at the Takoma Park Community Center Auditorium, 7500 Maple Avenue, Takoma Park, MD.  The reading is part of a series of Third Thursday Poetry Readings sponsored by the Takoma Park Arts and Humanities Commission.  I’ll be reading with two other poets, Nancy Arbuthnot and Nicole Bresner.  The reading will be broadcast live on City TV (a local access network, I think) and can be viewed online at a later date.  Should be fun.  And that’s all for now.

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An Award and Some Recognition

A Canadian arts organization, Book Excellence Awards, has informed me that Food for a Journey has been chosen as the winner of the organization’s 2016 Book Excellence Award for Poetry.  A year ago, when the book first appeared, my publisher at Antrim House, Rennie McQuilkin, told me that he thought the book might win a prize or tow.   It turns out that he was right.  The prize package that accompanies the award includes access to a variety of promotional and marketing resources, and I look forward to using those resources in the weeks and months ahead.

In addition, three magazines published by universities that have awarded me degrees along the way have taken note of Food for a Journey.  The Spring 2016 issue of Fordham Magazine focuses on the title poem, which deals with, among other things, my 1970 encounter with the late Vince Lombardi, famed football coach and a Fordham alumnus.  The Class Notes section of the Fall 2016 issue of the New York University Alumni Magazine mentions not only the book but my last job before retirement, with the Appellate Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  Finally, the Creative Works section of the Autumn 2016 issue of Notre Dame Magazine contains brief descriptions of three of the book’s poems — “Cloistered Life,” “Food for a Journey,” and “Bargain Hunters” — and in the Class Notes section of the magazine, the Class of 1960’s redoubtable secretary, Joe Jansen, not only mentions the book but recommends a visit to this very website.

As one can imagine, I am extremely grateful to the folks at Book Excellence Awards and to the staffs at all three magazines.

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The Writer’s Center Reading

The summer has sped by, and I find myself playing catch-up with this post about my joint poetry reading with Carol Jennings on July 10 at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda.  The reading went well, although on a smaller scale than our joint May 22 reading at Politics and Prose, which attracted a standing-room-only crowd.  Carol and I read from our books to an audience of about thirty people who listened closely, as audiences at poetry readings usually do.  Carol read several of her poems first, then I read five of mine, three of which I had read in May, “Visiting Saint-Sulpice,” “Tribute,” and “Food for a Journey,” and two I had not read publicly before, “Metaphor” and “Gun Return.”

One of the rewarding features of poetry readings is that often people whom you don’t know come up to you afterwards to talk about poetry in general and your poetry in particular.  That happened to me with two different people after the Writer’s Center reading.  I was grateful for their interest.  I am grateful as well to Sunil Freeman, the assistant director of the Writer’s Center, who arranged the joint reading and seemed very  pleased with the way it worked out.

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