Creating Art: Toward 500 Images – Part I

“As an artist, you will know who you are, when you have created your 500th image,” stated one of my UW-Milwaukee art professors in the 1970s. Often I pass his statement on to artists desiring their art careers to “hurry up and blossom” or their personal styles to “hurry up and blossom.” As a benchmark worth aiming for, a commitment to 500 images sounds like a stretch, but it keeps one busy creating – the most beneficial element of a successful art career.

Mosaic fabricator Catherine Lottes & workshop leader Evelyn Patricia Terry flank "Life's Garden." Photo: Yokesphotography.

So that is, of course, what I told Kevin Boatright, Mikal Floyd-Pruitt, and his brother, Anwar Floyd-Pruitt, after encountering them in October at different locations during Milwaukee’s final 2011 Gallery Night and Day’s 23rd annual event. The afternoon of Gallery Night, Anwar and Mikal attended the unveiling of a public art project, “Life’s Garden,” created by Catherine Lottes and installed at 6th and Reservoir. In 2010, Lottes invited me to assist her with my expertise in facilitating watercolor workshops. Pieper Hillside Boys and Girls Club’s art students and Lapham Park’s resident seniors attended separate workshops – developing images for Lottes’ innovative mosaic tile production process. During the reception, Anwar, Mikal and I talked about art, and shared desires and life situations.

About 10 p.m. that evening, I encountered Kevin Boatright in the Third Ward. As we sat talking about art and visibility, Kevin said emphatically, “I want more for my career.” I concurred with that desire “of more” for my career. Kevin then said, “You may be down now, but at least you have been up.” “Down,” referenced my statements that I needed my large pastel and monoprint sales — so robust once-up-a-time — to resume.

Both fortuitous meetings compelled me to offer the Terry McCormick Gallery: Contemporary Fine and Folk Art, as a stepping stone in their journey and point them in a direction that would eventually propel them toward “prosperous” career goals. I recalled speaking with renowned artist, Faith Ringgold. She stated that “lack of money flow” was never an issue in her career — so “continuous” copious money flow tops the list of my present career goals. These three artists desire a career in which their art will make money for them also.

I requested their input, but my initial and ongoing advice was that they consider choosing healthy lifestyles to be holistically successful artists. Being sick is a mentally and physically challenging environment to create in. Consequently, our meetings included freshly juiced green vegetables and small amounts of fruit, along with Caroline Carter’s raw crackers, dips, and granola. Kevin eventually acquired a juicer and Anwar has been looking for the right one.  Until it is acquired, he began blending raw vegetables and fruits.

During brainstorming sessions, Mikal and Kevin developed the exhibition title, “Imitating Life: Synthesizing Saneness.”

Imitating Life: Synthesizing Saneness, Postcard, 4" x 6," designed by Mikal Floyd - Pruitt.

Mikal designed an energetic invitation, reflective of dominant color choices evident in his paintings — red, blue, yellow, green and white. Artists’ statements, artwork presentation, titles, prices, signage and press releases were tackled, as basic foundations that fueled my career. Anwar and his father, Dr. Eugene Pruitt, graciously assisted moving furniture from downstairs to upstairs to create more wall space.

The opening reception, December 10, 2011, was well attended. I was acquainted with a few people, but many new faces were in the crowd. A resulting visit from Barbie Blutstein during the first week of our exhibition, netted an invitation for Anwar’s artwork for the next Gallery Night and Day, January 20 and 21, at Blutstein Brondino Fine Art. They are located in the Marshall building, 207 East Buffalo Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1-800-737-3715). With a self-taught theme, this exhibition additionally includes folk art selections of George Ray McCormick, Sr., Ktinsley, Prophet Blackmon, Richard Mynor and Rev. Josephus Farmer from the Terry McCormick Gallery.

Daily goal setting, intense productivity, record keeping and audience cultivation must be focused on to reach my instructor’s “500 – image” benchmark and/or the success that they desire. They have the “God-given gift.”  “The rest of the story” as Paul Harvey, so aptly included in commentaries, will be individually honed.

Anwar Floyd-Pruitt, Kevin Boatright & Mikal Floyd-Pruitt in front of Mikal's paintings. Photo: Terry McCormick Gallery.

Kevin’s, Anwar’s and Mikal’s artists’ statements, aesthetics and more information of our earlier art encounters, continue in my next blog. The Terry McCormick Gallery will be open again on Gallery Day, Saturday, January 21, 12–5 pm. It is located at 2522 North 18th Street. Call 414-264-6766 or email terryevelyn@hotmail.com. Check my website for our press release and other images: evelynpatriciaterry.com/news.

–Evelyn Patricia Terry

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