Only two weeks ago this all was still just a dream. To be paid to fly to a major metropolis in a foreign land, present my art, and design buildings in architecture all sounded too good to be true, but I when I woke in Shanghai this morning, the surreal became my reality.
Sitting and sipping on Tsingtoa beer in the trendy urban lounge of 188 Art Investment Group, and listening to our translator and guide, Julie, it feels more like downtown Seattle than the far side of the world. Just a few hours ago I met up with Parks Reece, Joe Faye, and Ed Enders at the Bozeman airport to board our flight for the largest city on the planet, Shanghai at 24 million. Parks’ paintings were up on the walls of the airport, and fans of his art talked to him about how they enjoy his work as I walked by unseen, but smiling at the joy of the prospects of this trip. For me, just being able to do an art show with these guys is a wonderful experience, because I too have been a long time fan of Parks’ humor in his paintings, as well as both Ed and Joe stylistically. For me to be flying to the far side of the world for an art show with well established artists that I have grown up seeing, is really beyond words except to express my gratitude for such an opportunity.
On our layover, we talked more and and got an understanding of each other quick. This crew is great. Lots of jokes and an easy manner, all seem very comfortable in their own skin. Part of this may be from baring their ideas in a public way for so long. As an artist showing your works, you suddenly feel naked and exposed, all sorts of doubts run through your mind: “will they like it? I could have done that better. Is it good enough?”. You have to really push past all that and just finally accept who and what you are, and no matter what you were hoping to make, the paintings or sculpture are done and that is that. I can't speak for the others, but I can say there is a great freedom in this, and it takes a different kind of bravery to bare not just your ideas, but you have to be there as the audience looks at and judges it. It makes for a very unique experience and a great thrill.
Wandering the streets, seeing the billboards promoting us, and visiting the gallery where will be presenting as one show is being put up by a team of what looks like 6 or seven young college graduates, I am wild with excitement. We just finished our tour of the 188 Studio, and their auction gallery and the whole while I am being given information on the new and burgeoning art scene of China. A country that has a new middle class emerging with wealth, and will have 100 million people traveling abroad by 2020. We are the first Americans to be showcased here, and the billboards and banners all are promoting the event throughout the city, including 4500 LED video billboards throughout the city. We will be interacting with masters in Porcelain, and working alongside them, traveling to visit a national park where I am supposed to work on designs for buildings over the course of the next three years, and we will be doing a bit of sight seeing along the way. To top it off, our exhibition show, “East on the Left, West on the Right”, may be attended by Max Baucus, the US ambassador to China. If so, we would be on international news. Needless to say, the gratitude I feel for the opportunities now match my excitement to begin work.
I have always held a vision in my mind of what I have wanted to do. This trip is really covering all aspects of my life that I believe I have actively pursued. One of those things is get a mermaid tattooed in Shangai. I’m off to get living with glorious joyful vigor on the far side of the world.