Archive for February 11th, 2022

Little Gems 2022


This year’s edition of Little Gems opens today at the West End Gallery in Corning, NY.

It’s an annual exhibit of small works that is near and dear to my heart as the 1995 show marked the first time I showed my work publicly. I have detailed that show here several times over the years, describing how I was torn between exhilaration and terror.

At the time, it was all new and unexpected. When I had started painting after injuries from a serious fall from a ladder left me with some time to fill, the idea that it could turn into something more than a way to burn off nervous energy wasn’t on my radar. But something clicked and it became an obsession, one that filled my evenings once my injuries healed.

A chance remark in a conversation with artist Tom Gardner, who co-owned the West End Gallery with his then wife Linda, led to an improbable critique of my work. Even then, I had no expectations and was anticipating that he would tell me politely that I had little talent.

But that didn’t happen. Linda came over as Tom was going through my ragtag milk crate portfolio of bits of paper and after a few minutes asked if I could have some of the pieces ready for their next show in couple of weeks.

That was that.

Though I had never framed or matted a painting in my life, I somehow got together 10 or 12 pieces for the show and suddenly began to believe in earnest that something could come from this thing that had been my preoccupation for the past year.

I didn’t know what that thing might be but it was exciting just to ponder the possibility.

The show itself is a blur now. I remember standing off to the side. I wasn’t close enough to let people know that they were my paintings but close enough that I could watch people and perhaps catch anything they might have to say about it.

That sounds creepy but, hey, I felt a bit desperate at that point. I viewed this as perhaps a narrow window of opportunity, one that might close as quickly as it had opened. So anything I could glean from the viewers’ reactions that might encourage or help me in keeping that window open was an imperative.

I didn’t sell anything from that show but I wasn’t discouraged. It served its purpose. It revealed a new path that could finally see with some clarity and strengthened my resolve to make my work speak with more forceĀ  so that I could move forward on that path.

And best of all, I knew that I could do it on my terms and in my voice, from my own mind and hands.

Something I could call my own.

You can see why I view this show with great regard.

This year’s version is a truly beautiful show and the gallery has went through a renovation with new flooring and improved lighting that illuminates the work at its absolute best. I hope you can make it out to the West End Gallery for this one.

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