I’m back. The Redwoods were beautiful and so was the show in California. I’m happy to be here in Timber Valley again even though I’m facing a huge pile of work and responsibility that are starting to panic me. So first of all I’ll cover immediate business. I have a watercolor class coming up at The Dalles Art Center on September 26th and 27th. All I can tell you now is that we will be doing some self examination and self portraits. It will be fun and is for all levels of experience. This is a Saturday and Sunday from 11am-4pm and you will laugh, paint and maybe even cry. That’s as much as I’m saying. Please come. I’ll also bring a few of my Queens of Maryhill framed paintings for you to see. Definitely worth showing up! I’ve enjoyed teaching these classes so much and hope to continue throughout the fall and winter, one weekend a month. My friend Bill has left for the East coast and I miss him already. He has spent some wonderful time here at the cabin this summer and has become part of our family. We said our goodbyes at the airport early Saturday morning. When I came home I hesitated to change sheets and pillowcases in the guest room because I wish he’d come back…but he’s on to much more exciting things than watching hornets and deer wander our garden. I’ll think good thoughts for him and send him some prayers for the next turn on his wild journey.
As I surveyed my studio when I got home from California I realized how close I am coming up on the “Darkside Show” at the Attic Gallery in December. The show is with my friend Sandy Visse and if all of my fantasies come true is sure to be the best show we’ve ever done. I’ve been working for a year on ideas and titles for pieces but now am down to the real work of drawing and painting the actual inventory. First you might like a little history on this dark side I talk about all of the time. I mostly work with humor in my art. I love laughing and making other people laugh but sometimes I worry that my work won’t be ever taken seriously just because it is humorous. Sandy Visse is a little like myself in that way. She sculpts animals, incredible pieces that have been loved by the public for many years, but also has more than a humorous side to her personality. Years ago she and I were talking about this topic while having coffee in her studio. One of us had been rejected from a “serious” show because our pieces were far too “whimsical”. We started to laugh and our minds started to race. We came up with pieces, titles and ideas that would chill your bones. I liked working with “banned” words. You know like those words not supposed to be used in public or even thought about without feeling guilty (twat). Sandy liked the idea of putting her “whimsical” animals in adult and serious situations (a wolf and a lamb sharing a bedtime story). I loved old B movies and black and white pin-ups. Ellery Queen was my hero writer. When I was little I stole and read all of my Uncle Ike’s True Detective and True Crime magazines and have been addicted to the subject of crime and punishment ever since. I have never missed an episode of Law and Order. As some of you know I worked as a teacher at Multnomah County Juvenile Court in lock up for boys and girls who had committed felonies. I also worked at Rosemont (a locked facility for girls) developing a group home school for status offenders. I cultivated a sharp sense of dark humor. When you have students who have committed terrible crimes, have had indescribable childhoods, childhoods like stories from your worst nightmares and are downright scary you have to use humor to keep yourself going. Teaching the basic skills to an average of seven children locked up for murder a year along with all of the other frightening crimes (prostitution, robbery and rape) makes the need for some laughter a must to keep you sane. Cops know this. Lawyers know this. I think in their hearts everyone who has seen suffering knows this. We need to laugh. So Sandy and I came up with an idea for a once a year “Darkside Show” where we could be as bad as we wanna’ be while still keeping that humor truck rolling. The idea grew bigger and bigger and for a few years we kept the show small and at Sandy’s studio usually around Halloween or Day of the Dead. Everyone was invited to dress up in their darkest outfits and we had some of our best times showing art at these get togethers. The shows were a huge success. So to make a long story short Diana Faville, owner of the Attic Gallery in Portland, overheard Sandy and me talking about the Darkside Shows. Diana suggested we do one at the Gallery. We thought that would be a great idea for us and for all of our crazy dark friends. (Rick I mean you!) So opening on December third at the Attic Gallery in downtown Portland will be “Northwest of Normal, the ‘Darkside’ of Sandy Visse and Jerry Fenter”. We promise it will be hilariously disturbing and unforgettable. Mark it down now on your calendar and save the date. Get out your costumes. The print “He Shouldn’t Have Gotten in the Way of the Bullet” as seen here on my blog is from a past Darkside show. It’s available if you’re interested in purchasing it from my website. I have so many new ideas it makes me rub my hands together with glee. (Visualize that! Now that’s scary!)
I’ve written enough for now. I’m moving on to my creativity counseling work. I have enjoyed my class from Eric Maisel so much and have enjoyed working with all of my clients. I’m so proud of them and myself and hope to start up a small business working with creative clients from all areas of the arts in the near future. I’ll put that Master’s Degree in Psychology to work with my talent, passion and years of studying writing and painting and will add “Creative Counselor” to my resume. I feel like after all the rejection, low self image, and silly self doubt I’ve experienced in my years of becoming an artist I have now learned enough to have earned my Third Degree Black Belt in Creativity. Imagine that!