in with the whirl, out with the swirl

don’t struggle against the irresistible: the answer to surviving a fall into a whirlpool.

A small madness took me, and now I am back from Chicago. Four hours in a line stretching around a city block, a five minute interview and a thank you very much and I’m out on the street again, glad I didn’t haul a lot of crap up with me. It looked like somewhere between 1,500 to 2,000 artists were there in line. All genders, sexes, sizes, ages, colors and probably the whole human range of maturity, ability, native talent and training, attitude, aptitude, genius.

Informal portfolio reviews were happening all down the line as people got to know their neighbors and shared their work. I stood in line with theresa handy, who showed us beautiful, evocative painted landscapes with structures, figures, bare trees and other elements drawn from nature, placed in her pictures and half concealed by her washes and stark design and muted colors. She lives in St. Paul and shows in Chicago and Minneapolis. I would trade work with her. With any of these artists, actually.

theresa handy

Wading Boy, by Theresa Handy

christopher stuart, of Noblesville, IN, was next to open his portfolio to us there on the sidewalk. Multi-talented, capable and brilliant; well known as a product designer as well as a sculptor and a hell of a painter. Check out his website.


Noblesville Co-op by Christopher Stuart

Nancy Pirri, Chicago artist, and a spirited magnet, draws and prints on ceramic vessels and large sculptural pieces and figures. Textured and evocative work by one waiting in line with the rest of us.


from Ancestry series, tiles by Nanci Pirri

Chicago Artist, Rodney Swanstrom showed us prints of paintings based on geometric skylight shapes, using interference colors which do not read well in this photo but shimmer in life.


Skylight Forest, by Rodney Swanstrom

I wish I had collected more contact info as others around us were equally interesting and accomplished artists. Up and down the three block line people spontaneously divided into groups and clusters and shared their work with each other. Too bad the energy and talent could not have been further mobilized by the event organizers to somehow offer a larger show and share event.

So, while my trip was impulse driven and still strikes me as and absurd thing to do with my time and money, it was also an exercise in following through with something new. I met and enjoyed people outside my circle, pulled together my portfolio and prioritized my intention to move away from film work and back into my studio.

Also, I saw a little bit of Chicago, and I want to see more.

This entry was posted in 2, 2000 artists in 4 hours, Bravo's Untitled Art Project,, christopher stuart, Nanci Pirri, rodney swanstrom, theresa handy. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to in with the whirl, out with the swirl

  1. Jo says:

    All of their work is beautiful…… is yours 🙂


  2. nanda says:

    Welcome back! you went through the washer and dryer spin, you must be happy to be back. I’ll call you. Love


  3. chris says:

    thanks for the kind words. it was great meeting you and talking shop with you in line. the artist camaraderie made the trip entertaining. it was nice to be surrounded by such a strong group of personalities and artists.

    so- i was probably one of the last people to see the judges and by that time, i was starving! i hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast. apparently, the judges must have been hungry, too. the staff was telling us to be fast, have your ports ready to go. i heard that it should have lasted 10 minutes with them, but everyone was flying in and out including myself. i lasted about 2 minutes. i was giving my pitch on the first couple concepts and they were already most of the way through my port and were obviously not listening to anything i had to say, so i stopped talking and just waited for them to say thanks, but no thanks. i was so tired that i don’t even think i was upset. all i could think about was getting something to eat and drink.

    in the end, the experience was worth it and eye opening!


  4. Tara Bogart says:

    Hello Rick-

    I found a post you made on Twitter and decided to check out your blog…I too was at the casting call in Chicago. I kind of looked for you because I have been following your posts prior to the casting call….but alas…..
    The best part was meeting the other artists..hands down….

    and although I did not have high expectations and I only traveled from Milwaukee…I was surprised that I made it to the 2nd round……but that was the end of my journey….would have liked to have met up with you….as I have been enjoying your posts AND your art work.
    Having been thru a part of the process…it will be fun to see who they picked and how the show turns out….hope it is not a total bust…that would be sad for us all…I think…


  5. rick mobbs says:

    thanks for your note. I found your blog and I like your work, a lot. Some of it makes my heart hurt. Which doesn’t sound good, but it is. That would have been cool, if we had met in line in Chicago. I’m surprised more artists didn’t write about the process. Congrats on making it as far as you did. And congrats on doing it, going for it.

    it was great to meet you. Good luck with your next gig. I think you would have been perfect for Bravo but it sounds like their attention was elsewhere. Their loss, but ours, too.

    nanda and jo. i wish you guys could meet each other. love to both of you.



  6. Rick: My man….hey, you saw the lines in the those photos from earlier. Over 1,500 to 2,000 souls all in line, ports under their arms. Damn, sounds like something out of the Great Depression—2 jobs and 1,000 applicants; wait all day and then be turned away. Looks like you made some lemonade out of the lemon turds who ran the event, and that is a positive spin. I used to head to similar cattle calls as a pro actor, several times a week. It is one reason I no longer endeavor to make a living as an artist; the negative energy runs deep, and wears down the soul, and the resolve. Too bad your blog pals did not have a vote. You would have been a shoe-in.



  7. Dan & Jim says:

    got a taste of your art with one piece. very lovely.

    look forward to caffeinization – menage a trois, soon, if indeed the Pecos St. place comes through ( we’ll find out Friday).

    otherwise, we’ll pack up and head up that way to look for a place again.

    hasta la vista, baby!


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