Transformer: Lessons Learned from TAP

I was in in the middle of downtown Chicago, my van full of paintings, awaiting to be called back to the loading dock at The Merchandise Mart to unload my work. I made it! I was finally in Chicago for The Artist Project after months of work, fear, and all the other emotional baggage that comes with trying to anticipate the unknown. As I waited in the dirt lot with JQ, there was nothing left then but excitement.

All too soon we had unloaded the artwork, got lost in the giant building (twice) and, eventually, found our way to Booth #3048 on the eighth floor. JQ and I wasted no time in hanging up the work, all the while I had a grin from ear to ear. As I looked back at the booth which was now furnished with my art and ready for the show, I was proud of myself for how far I had come in the last two years. This was certainly my best effort.

The show began two short days later and I was in awe of both its magnitude and quality. Artropolis: five shows, five days, 768 exhibiting artists, galleries and museums all showcased within three floors of The Merchandise Mart. We literally saw thousands of people walking up and down the aisles to look at artwork. I had a great deal of time to contemplate my work: what can I do better next time? As I sat there reflecting on my paintings, I discovered that being around other artists and great work really inspired me. I was eager to get back to my studio. Five days surrounded by a variety of artwork and people, trying to enjoy the moment, while wandering occasionally to ponder the future. The information from the experience flooded my brain, leaving me in a daze. The show ended. We tore down and the refrigerator door of my mind was plastered with mental notes and new pictures tacked on with magnets.

Since then, thoughts have swirled inside my head like serpentine ribbons of smoke floating from a cigarette, teasing me as I wait for them to take shape. It has been two weeks since my return from the trip. It took me a week to pick up a brush again, but I can finally start to see my vision manifest itself as the ideas become clearer; the figure emerges from swirls of paint, revealing itself to me. I am excited to begin new work, to execute new ideas and grow in a way that will make good on all that I learned from my experience. Tomorrow is now today.