on selling one’s art (or not)

I spent Friday night performing my music in the courtyard of a local store during the monthly Hamilton Art Crawl.  The Art Crawl typically falls on the second Friday night of each month where the art galleries, shops and restaurants of James St. North in Hamilton stay open late in a celebration of art and community.

One of the stores has acted as a catalyst, connecting artists, artisans, craftspeople and other local businesses to the community.  The Hamilton Store has been very supportive of my music career as well, providing opportunities for me to perform in a relaxed, calm environment.

During my time in the Hamilton Store’s courtyard, I have had the pleasure of meeting local artists and makers and have been inspired by their art.  One such artist, Bernie Hudecki, has provided artwork for my CD table for one. and also another work that inspires me daily in my studio.  The owner of the Hamilton Store provides a space where artists can display their work and talk about their artistic vision to a crowd of engaged art fans and shoppers.

This Friday, I was exposed to a digital artist whose work celebrated the City of Hamilton while also providing a unique filter to view the environs that surround us all.  I was inspired by certain works and considered adding a print or two to my collection.

But.

The courtyard housed the work of this artist on the walls that fenced in the area.  The back portion of the courtyard, furthest from the rear of the store housed a local maker who was ebullient, creative, friendly and a joy to be around.  I chose the back corner in which to perch on my tall stool with my guitar and music stand.

I arrived shortly after 6pm in order to be set up and ready by 7pm.  My stool and table were in use by the artist, to hold various pieces of artwork and her purse.  We were introduced and she brusquely acknowledged me and then went back to hanging her work.

Both the store owner and I indicated that the table and stool needed to be cleared in order for me to set up.  I had asked again at 6:30 also ensuring her husband knew that I needed the items to set up.  By 6:45, they both were still occupied, so I took it upon myself to clear and move the stool and moved a different table to my area.

Both the maker and I were up and running at 7pm while the artist and her husband were still setting up, hammering nails, dropping framed prints and yelling at each other over who was at fault.  Meanwhile the crowd was beginning to filter in, having to make their way around the fallen art, the empty bags and bubble wrap and, yes the artist and her husband.

Once the art was set up, the artist retreated to the store, where she was seen to be  rummaging through the store’s stock, having her husband take pictures of various items for sale and photographing pages of books “for future” work.  Hmmm.

Once she and her husband had ransacked the store (the owner unobtrusively followed behind to tidy up things while dealing with customers), the photographer sat in a chair behind the counter and spent the evening looking glumly at the floor or in her purse.  Her husband popped out a few times to photograph the artwork on the courtyard walls while the maker and I greeted guests and customers and sold our wares.

Many asked if the artist was here – we commented that yes she was and indicated who she was in the store.  When they went to engage, she often greeted them with an uncomfortable stare and what looked like to be terse conversation.  Most walked away after a very brief conversation.

When the evening was done, I had noted two works “spoke” to me and I went to find the artist to request a card.  Stating that I was interested in two pieces, however they weren’t in my budget at the moment – a mid-scale digital print in an IKEA frame was priced at just under $300.

After rolling her eyes and groaning, she told me, “It would be nice if you had the money for them now, as I just have to take them home.  It’s bad enough I only sold one piece tonight and the store offered to take one on commission, but call me when you have enough money to buy them.”

Wow.  I can’t understand why she didn’t sell more art…the whole evening it was clear that she wanted to be anywhere but there.  She was unavailable throughout most of the night and when people did go search her out, she was standoffish (at best) to down right rude (at worst) to potential customers.

Most artists understand that festival nights such as this don’t result in actual sales of product.  What they do result in is a chance for a creator/maker to sell themselves as an artist.  I sold 1 CD and a few downloads all night long, however gave out several business cards and discussed potential bookings.  Since Friday, several downloads have been purchased.

The hardest thing for any artist to do is to sell themselves.  The second hardest thing is to sell their work.  The artist Friday night was clearly unwilling to do either and drove at least this potential customer away.

Perhaps next time, she should have someone available who is willing to be available, be open and willing to talk about her art for her.  She might find the evening had gone differently for her.

 

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why i self produce/promote

Recently, people have been asking me why I book, produce, promote and arrange my own gigs?
The answer is pretty damn simple. Despite producing, promoting and advertising years of house concerts, producing annual multi-act Christmas gigs, connecting acts with one another as well as some awesome alternative venues, nobody else seems to remember me when it comes time for an opener, “and friends,” etc. etc. even for volunteer/charitable/tribute stuff..
I therefore have to make my own opportunities…otherwise I’m a lone voice, out in the wilderness…
I’m not complaining, this situation does allow me full artistic control in what I do and how I present myself. However it kinda feels like people don’t take me seriously as an artist and music professional.
For instance: at a DJ gig I did, the venue only had one working turntable that night so the set I spent weeks preparing had to be completely scrapped because I couldn’t mix properly and needed to bounce between my laptop and vinyl…killing the flow and vibe I was hoping for. The crowd was pretty patient and receptive as I worked out mixing on the fly, using my tempo list, however it felt disjointed and schizophrenic…I did the best I could under the circumstances, however it left a bad taste in my mouth.
When someone DOES give me a shout out and opportunity, I’m truly grateful as it is a truly rare thing. This is why I am truly thankful for people like Alfie Smith, Lori Yates, Donna Reid, David Bartlett, Lee Andrews and Tania Sheeler.
But c’est la vie – I’ll soldier on.
BTW I’m gonna be reaching out for the Christmas thing…consider yourself warned musical peeps.

changes to the terms of service

For 2019 I decided to make some changes in how I handle relationships. My last post – the bluntly honest and realistic personal ad – was a hint of my growing attitude towards expending social, emotional and personal energy on others these days.

I’m honestly pretty tired these days trying to be sociable and available.

Recently I’ve noticed that a good number of my relationships have become decidedly one-sided as far as effort goes, particularly in maintaining contact. I expend a fair amount of my energy keeping in touch with friends and family and doing so is quite draining on my reserves. Some days I feel like just trying to be a good friend and acquaintance is an uphill battle and it’s leaving me drained.

I get that people have busy lives, but why should I expend effort in keeping in touch with people when it’s clear that I’m barely an afterthought in theirs? When it seems that my presence is treated as being a necessity or perhaps even a burden, why would I want to force that on a person?

I’m not going to cut these people out of my life, however why should I expend excessive energy keeping our contact open when it’s clearly not of value for them to reciprocate? Why should I feel obligated to maintain contact with people?

That being said, in a similar vein, the people who always say that we should get together but never accept an invitation, even if it’s just for a coffee or lunch or are “too busy but maybe next time.” Once that invitation is extended and refused, I’ll leave the ball in their court so that they can choose the “next time.”

The ball has been served. It’s up to them to smash it home.

single caucasian gay male widower too young to know any better but too old for your bullshit.

The byline says it all.  I’m a single caucasian gay male who is looking for friendship with another gay male first, then seeing where that takes me.  If you’re expecting a quickie at the bathhouse or in the back of your car, I suspect you’ll be disappointed in me.

I’m clean and sober 14 years, so please don’t try to buy me a drink at the bar, please also don’t expect me to get you drunk/high/crunk/hammered/fucked up so you can loosen up.  I’m not interested in someone so inhibited that they need to be out of their minds to be with me.  So, please, no meth heads, coke fiends or tweekers, PNP guys or whatever.  If you are not interested in being with me sober, I suspect things will not work out over the long haul.

I consider myself sapiosexual fellas, I enjoy stimulating conversations, probing questions, slick dialogue and juicy, hot, hard facts.  Get me interested in you and I’ll be interested in you!

I see all these poor souls on the dating sites and social networks who were apparently born without heads or faces.  If you are such a person, I applaud your conviction and desire to find love, however I prefer my partners to have heads on their shoulders and be open about who they are.  Thank you for your interest, I suspect it was my facial picture that brought you here – by the way, how DID you see my photo if you don’t have eyes?

Please try to be clean and well-kept, however don’t drown yourself in scents.  I like a guy to be clean, fresh smelling but not like a 14 year old who has just discovered Axe body spray, at the same time, I’m okay with a hint of natural male, however if you can be smelled from 5 feet away or tasted downwind, shower, put on clean clothes and maybe we’ll talk.  I’m okay with a little natural “musk” however “eau du toilet” does not mean smelling like an actual commode.

Once again, I’ll reiterate that I am gay, queer, homosexual, and prefer men.  If you describe any part of your lower digestive tract as your “bussy,” “pussy” or “c*nt,” or express a desire to be “daddy’s little gurl” I suspect we won’t be a good match.  I’m fine with your desire to wear lacy things, but am not interested in hanging around you while you’re wearing them.  I have a number of intelligent, powerful, beautiful women as friends whom I enjoy hanging out with – I don’t need a poor facsimile.

Also – if you feel that dressing as a woman somehow “lowers” or humiliates you, I *DEFINITELY* have a problem with you.  Most of the women I know have seen things or had shit done to them that would make a grown man weep like a newborn.  Calling anyone a “pussy” is not an insult – have you ever seen a video of a woman giving birth?  That’s a show of fortitude that is superhuman in my opinion.  Take your internalized misogyny elsewhere.  By the way – most drag queens I know dress in drag as a source of empowerment and homage to the strong women in their lives, NOT as a form of submission or self-humiliation.

If you have a wife or husband or significant other and “have to keep things on the down low,” I know full well we won’t be a good match.  I’m not *against* polyamory, however I am totally against cheaters and liars – if you’re in a couple/partner situation, I expect everyone to be on the same page with regards to a relationship.  Plus if you’re going around behind the back of someone you’ve made vows to in front of your friends, family and deity…I get a pretty damn good idea of how much “your word and honour” are worth.

You should be employed or at least have a regular source of income, I won’t discriminate if you are retired, on disability, or temporarily on unemployment insurance.  However, as I own a dog, I already have a dependent for whom I provide food and shelter; I’m not interested in another one thank you very much.  Similarly, if you’re outside of Canada, and express a desire to move in with me – you’ll have to show me that you have gainful employment and that appropriate steps have been taken to achieve permanent residency.  You’d have to be someone pretty damned special for me to want to sponsor and support through that process.

Hey Toronto guys – guess what?  I work in your city 5 days a week and can visit you most afternoons (except Thursdays).  However, the remarkable thing about highways and transit is that they often travel in BOTH directions and the world does NOT end west of Bathurst.  The 55 minutes it takes to go from Hamilton to Toronto is the same 55 minutes it takes to go from Toronto to Hamilton.  You may wish to try it, Toronto Life magazine seems to have a hard on for Hamilton, so you should see what all the Yuppie/Hipster hype is all about AND I’ll even take you for at least a coffee, if not a meal and perhaps a hike to those “Toronto area” waterfalls that Blog TO likes to write about!

dear santa

Dear Santa,

Once again at this time of year, I am writing to thank you for all you have done for me throughout the past few years.

When Larry decided to portray you, I was introduced to a world of incredible people who set aside their lives to portray you, eventually leading to their being shaped by you and what you represent.  I thank you for Larry’s friends and mentors who continue to don the suit of red.  Many have become good friends, mentors and spiritual advisors to me.  

Having you in my life figuratively and in many cases, literally, has helped me survive the past five years as there is a constant reminder of the magick, spirit and love that you represent.  The men in the red suit who have remained in my life are blessings to me – I am reminded to love and give freely of myself through their actions.  My faith in humanity is refreshed when you show your presence in them.

Your biggest and best gift to me was Larry being given a focus and drive – even through the worst cancer threw at him.  Your next greatest gift to me has been that the men who portray you that stood behind and beside me and supported me when my world crumbled, many of them propped me up to ensure that I didn’t fall apart.  At least two of these folks have been a large part of my life before you entered it and they remain a large part of my life.  They continue to support me in their actions, words, prayers and deeds and they remind me that faith can be a powerful thing when given the right intent and reason.  I believe.

You have given me a good friend who both portrays you but also has taken me under his wing and works with me musically.  David has been my most ardent supporter, believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.  He still does.  I was able to reconnect with him this year after some time away when I was not in a good head and heart space and I’m reminded that the spirit of St. Nicholas and St. Francis of Assisi can still exist in an over noisy and complicated world.

Make me an instrument of your peace indeed.  David is such an instrument and he brings peace within him wherever he goes.  Thank you.

You have given me a number of spiritual supports and guides who are showing me that faith is a personal thing and can be balanced with my scientific mind’s desire for rationality and evidence.  Just as I believe in your existence in the hearts of the people who portray you, I believe in a higher power that exists in the hearts and minds of people who are searching for more.

Michael, Glenn, Hal, Bruce, Lee, Leon and Stephen have shown me this higher power through their actions, words and hearts.  Again, they all have shown faith in me, when my own faith and belief in myself has been sorely lacking.  I thank you for their presence as it’s nice to have someone in my corner when I don’t feel like it’s warranted.

You have given me the drive to keep going when everything within me fought forward motion.  I continue to make and release music that represents who I am and provides a glimpse into whom I am striving to become.

You have continued to keep my family in my life and I am blessed with a supportive and caring Mother and an amazing brother, sister-in-law and nieces.

So.  For once, it’s time that someone thank you for all you have given me.  Gifts that aren’t material, however gifts that have supported me, provided me strength and kept me alive.

Thank you once again, Santa, for all you have given.

I love you dearly,

myke.

P.S. I’d still like to ask you for one thing.  Can you see to it that the good things that happen to me this year aren’t immediately followed by not so good things?  I understand the need for balance, however 2018 was like one sucker punch after another and I’m getting pretty winded and sore.

a tale of two businesses

Or Fear and Loathing on James St. N.

Two businesses on James St. N.:

  1. A business who has existed since 1999, starting as a record company who highlighted and supported local musicians, moving to a regular newsletter that both advertised and connected the local arts scene, finally becoming a storefront which sold art supplies, the creations of local artists and as a place of connection for the Hamilton arts scene.
  2. A business that’s existed since 2009, a night club that has hosted bands both young and local and legendary international acts within its walls.

Business One announced earlier this year that it had been given the opportunity to move to another location within the city.  A location with a decades long history of supporting the local arts scene.  A location that is known for its tireless support of local authors and publishers while providing impeccable service in a beautiful environment.  A location that is minutes away from the proprietor’s home and allows them to continue to provide the stellar service for the Hamilton area arts community.

Business One is still attempting to operate the original location as a “pop up,” offering a reduced inventory of the best sellers while also allowing the artists who are staffing this location to display and sell their wares.  This will continue while the location as Business One invested in the James St. location, buying an empty building, slowly renovating it into retail spaces with studio and office space above.

Business Two announced in the media that they would like to sell their building for $2.15 million, and are “testing the waters” to see whether they can reap a profit from their $350,000 investment after being approached by a local real estate agent.

In an anti-gentrification round table Business One was castigated as selling out and placed on the same platform as real estate investors, developers, predatory absentee landlords and a city government who uses the local arts scene as a branding tool without actually supporting the local arts scene.  Business Two (who coincidentally hosted the kickoff party for the anti-gentrification round table) was hailed by one of the speakers at the round table, “I hugged the wall and had a bit of a moment … it’s the end of an era and the end of a great space in the city.”

It’s very clear to me that Hamilton tends to have a conveniently short memory and willfully forgets all that people do for the community as a whole.  Decades of work are forgotten in a world of butthurt and feelings that people are “owed” because they frequented an establishment and gave them business over the years.

I guess some people are less scary targets than predatory investors with lawyers.  Bravo Hamilton, once again you target the little guy who has tirelessly worked to support the community, was a trailblazer in revitalizing an area of the city that even city council had written off and gave of himself and his family to uplift the arts scene to what it has become.

Dear Hamilton arts scene:

All I can do is quote Bernard Baruch:

“Do what you want to do, say what you want to say – because those who matter don’t mind and those who do mind don’t matter.”

Mixed Media and Dave Kuruc will carry on, despite what you say about him in local forums.  He’s suffered slings and arrows from all sides and continues to thrive on.  Perhaps it’s time that you turn your mirror and microscope on yourselves and ask what you’ve done to uplift the city and how you’ve contributed to gentrification.

pensivity

People have commented on how quiet I’ve been as of late and some have indicated that they are finding this concerning

I haven’t written or posted much, because I’ve been processing a lot of thoughts and emotions as of late.  I have found life to be increasingly noisy and I’m not interested in further contributing to the noise and chaos around me so I’m focusing on listening to discern some semblance of order.

My personal chaos includes:
  • the loss of a musical friend and mentor due to cancer.
  • the loss of a musical friend and collaborator due to cancer.
  • a relative being diagnosed with a terminal form of leukemia.
  • a relative being diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer.
  • family members being physically hurt and injured and dealing with the frustrations of rehabilitation and recovery.
  • co-workers with 18-35 years’ experience losing their current positions and being let go or demoted.
  • friends whose parents are severely ill and not expected to see the new year.
  • friends and mentors experiencing financial hardship as their city government is tying a project up in red tape and affecting their ability to proceed forward.
  • an individual from Larry’s past making an unexpected return to the scene.
  • many friends are leaving the city for greener pastures and forcing me to re-evaluate what “home” means to me.
  • at the same time, under the tutelage of Lori Yates, I’ve written two good songs and have the bones for a third potential song underway.
  • I’ve also achieved a goal in my spiritual studies which allows me to continue onward towards ordination.

There is a lot of “noise” in my life and it’s taking its toll on me, so I’m having to take time to withdraw, regroup and sort through.It’s especially difficult when there’s little I can do about any of these issues beyond mitigating my reactions to the situation and offering what support I can to those directly affected.  For someone who tends to be a care giver and likes to have some control over any situation, this is a difficult thing to accept and I’m trying hard not to beat myself up over being ineffectual and feeling impotent.

These surprises are also forcing me to re-evaluate where things are in my life.  To take a step back and consider what is important to me and why this is the case.  As I do so, it’s clear that simplifying my life must continue and I need to stop trying to be all things to everyone and just be who I am to be.

And right now I am tired and kinda lonely – but this too, shall pass.