So I will be the first to grant that in this day and age creatives sometimes refer to curating in the context of their Instagram feed. I don’t know if my feed comes off as “curated” and I am very intentional about it. I post every 4 days (3 posts) with every third one featuring other creatives.

Curating also obviously refers to organizing an exhibition. When I first began studying art in an academic setting, this activity was reserved for art historians and professionals involved in the critical discourse. I feel like that has shifted over the last decade, possibly sooner (which I wouldn’t know because of the long break I took in practicing) towards artists themselves organizing and curating exhibits.

I got back into this game to create culture- to not only make but teach about, talk about and write about creative activity that makes this life more. No there’s not a word missing in that sentence. This reason and the general context I outlined above is why I made a commitment to trying my hand at curating in 2023, and I was fortunate to have a proposal accepted by the Durham Art Guild for a show this spring, which is titled Extra Spectral.

Extra-spectral colors cannot be evoked with a single wavelength of light, rather, they can only be seen and created by a combination of them, so you won’t see them in the fantastical prismic illusion we call a rainbow. The exhibit highlights artists Jane Cheek, Jerstin Crosby, Zach Storm, Tonya Solley Thornton and Leif Zikade. All five ask color to play a primary role in drawing audiences into their work, colors in most cases that are “extra” in the recent, common parlance. This is where their commonality ends.

There is a pre-opening and artist talk on 4/6 that you can register to attend and otherwise I hope to see many of you on Third Friday in Durham (gallery will keep normal hours including recognizing Monday the high holy day of museums by being closed).

BTW, I was also successful as part of this goal in getting another show programmed at several venues, this one including my work. Open Source will open this summer at LUMP project space and Sertoma Art Center.


Trying to pay attention is part of my practiceto the work, to the art world, to the overlap of late capitalism with it all. Plenty of times, the universe serves me up something and occasionally my practice includes words, too, so, here we are.

Recently I was reading an article one of my professional contacts posted on LinkedIn from Harvard Business Review about the value of changing how you are looking at things as a catalyst for thinking differently (I know, right- of course I’m clicking on that topic). In it Adam Brandenburger notes, of thinking differently, that it can be driven by learning to see differently, which hooked me immediately because of my personal journey and that word contradiction I’m always on about.

The thrust of the story is about people like Robert Taylor, who invented Softsoap after he saw how goopy bar soap became after a few uses, the main point being that “we can think of the effort not just to think differently, but also to see differently, as a way of countering our built-in tendency to habituate, to sink in to the familiar way of seeing and experiencing. One way in which great artists, entrepreneurs, and creators of all kinds come up with the insights that enable them to change the world is that, very literally, they do not see the way most of us do. Their methods teach us that by seeing differently, we can end up seeing what no one else has yet seen. This is how the future is built.”

(Ideas and discussion of what building and specifically building the/a future which were already developing in my mind aside, stay tuned…) I. Love. This, and not because I’m an entrepreneur or buy into America’s cult of personality around them. The article really got me thinking about habituation as it pertains to the visual arts (it certainly is well-trodden territory in the sciences), at least for creatives that spend time thinking about how their work is physically perceived by the audience (I would argue that my maximalist “remixes” are anti-habituation). It appears the Architectual (A)cademy has given this topic some attention but the Art critical community? Guess the thing I got served is the motivation to move from passive observation to active engagement…

Drawing inspiration

So I’ve been drawing a bit more lately. I know I’m not the only artist to center. drawing in their practice, and I think there will be a couple of bodies of work that will spin off of this addition to my practice including more drawings that are finished works, something I haven’t done since 2019, example in last image.

Interestingly, I’m also seeing some of the lessons I learned from my most recent painting series (example in first image) in my drawing approach. I usually incorporate a “pattern” of 3 different, alternating tones that never touch themselves. In these series of small paintings, I abandoned the limitation of 3 tones entirely, which really flattened out the work and creates a nice dynamic with the implication of rendered space created by default when one draws a “solid” shape.

Another theme that has appeared in my paintings over the the last few years that’s found its way into the drawings is variation in surface reflectance, so the appearance of tones change as you move around a work (last row are examples of using flat, carbon black and shiny, graphite grey to get this effect).

One other material that I have rediscovered recently is pastels. The left image below is a drawing I did that is the reason I began drawing my way through Oblique Strategies when I was feeling stuck. I hope the reader will agree that the color in this piece was worth exploring as a painting study (last row) that I’m pleased to report has ended, and there’s now a 5′ x 5′ piece of canvas stapled to the wall of my studio, ready for me to embark on a larger piece. I’m happy with the framework I’ve built for this one- lots of room to make in-the-moment decisions- and the composition will happen the way much good abstraction does, by stepping up to a blank canvas and being present in the moment. I will do the drawing using the overhead projector but only so that I can make slight tweaks to the size of the cubes, by changing the distance between the projector and the wall) if I desire.

Michele Araujo

Sharon Butler notes that in “The Vulnerable Paintings,” recently on view at OSMOS Address, Michele has decisively found her voice. After working on rigid aluminum panels for years, Araujo has shifted to sheets of vellum, unapologetically embracing the beauty of color and the seductive nature of process. The result is a handsome and satisfying kind of arrival.



So about contradiction…

The universe served me up some enlightenment this week. Well, maybe that’s a bit much. I did get the opportunity to re-realize the importance of remembering that two contradictory things can simultaneously be true.

Prominent NC art gallery Hodges Taylor has apparently worked really hard to get 3 commissions contracted and completed for the opening of Duke Energy’s newest building in uptown Charlotte.

The work looks ah-mazing. As an artist whose practice is not full time I am admittedly envious of creatives that have the capacity (because of their hard work, and in this case, their gallerists’) to take on work of this scale. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Luftwerk‘s installation, I’ve been following their practice through the ‘Grams for a bit now.


See that word? It’s important- specifically, it’s there instead of “but.” 

The work, according to the post above, was commissioned to celebrate the city of Charlotte and Duke Energy’s “clean energy mission.” I’ve spent two decades of my life working- professionally-on the clean power revolution. I’ve spent a lot of time in close contact with the impacts of much of what Duke Energy does and you know what?

Fuck Duke Energy. Seriously.

Clean energy mission? Duke has never built a single kilowatt of renewable generation in or for North Carolina that they weren’t mandated to by our state legislature. The amount of work that goes into getting legislation that will force them to use or buy renewable generation is herculean- and if you live in NC, they are using YOUR RATE PAYMENTS to fight against any change to their business model. I was on the staff of the North Carolina Energy Office in the early ‘oughts when a coalition of stakeholders worked to pass our state’s first Renewable Portfolio Standard under Senate Bill 3. Later in my career after coming over to the dark side (IE working in the private sector) I was fortunate enough to be involved in the stakeholder process behind Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 80, which really created our state’s carbon obligations. Most of the good stuff in this bill became part of a 2021 piece of legislation, HB 951 (which further expands on some of the great programs in 2017’s HB589– both of these bills took immense lobbying to fend off efforts by Duke to crush them). Being in that process and seeing the amount of money and effort Duke was spending to sabotage it all was nauseating. And btw- that 2021 legislation is a real piece of work… Duke basically got the ability to set rates for 5 year periods with no changes allowed and no oversight. What could go wrong?


I don’t know the owners of Hodges Taylor personally. I do know they’ve got a real track record of picking art, which means they’re good at it, and I wish them continued success at it. Going to Hodges Taylor during Art crawls when I was in art school at UNC Charlotte (when it was downtown) was a real treat- it was the “big time” gallery, the place we art students would gawk at our elders and (hopefully, eventually) peers who had “made it.” And I’d be willing to bet the gallery got their artists paid for these commissions. This is all great and makes my heart happy. IE, this blog is not a drag- I have no ax to grind (other than perhaps with Duke Energy).

Why is “and” (instead of “but”)- thinking important? My hypothesis, which is also at the core of dialectical behavior therapy, is that striving to use it makes truth and honesty possible. When I talk about contradiction- about two seemingly contradictory concepts being simultaneously true- I mean this type of conflict. “The world is far better with this art work in it” and “the source of the check that paid for it is an entity I find utterly distasteful” are most definitely both true and I doubt I have much work to do to convince the reader that they appear to have or be in conflict. We get ourselves into trouble, often, by framing two concepts in ways that makes them seem so diametrically opposed as to clearly be a choice and not an observation of facts (my therapist would say perhaps the biggest part of the challenge is making fact-based statements but now I’m really digressing)

And… one of these two concepts existing doesn’t mean the other can’t, which is another trap we too often let ourselves fall into. So, yeah, I try to look for contradiction and use it as a way to think myself towards truth and honesty. 

BTW, if you want to find out more about just how rotten utilities are and what you can do about it, you should check out the Feb 10 episode of Volts podcast by David Roberts who is one of my mostest favorite climate journalists.