Tuesday, May 17, 2016

El Velorio de Doña Mary

A "velorio" is a wake. In Puerto Rico (as in many Latin cultures) the body of the deceased is often laid out for viewing at home. Neighbors, friends and family gather to pay their respects or say last goodbyes. There is always food and often music. Crying, singing and laughter are all sounds heard at a velorio.
I remember going to my first one at around 5 years of age. Doña Mary (Mrs./Ms. Mary) lived two houses away from us. She was heavy-set and dark skinned with wiry wild hair. She was loud. Her voice, no matter how sweet her words, always sounded chastising. As a child, I was afraid of her. But my mother was not. My mother befriended Doña Mary and while neighbors steered clear of her she was often at our house. I can close my eyes and imagine myself looking out our front door and seeing the backs of Mom and Mary swinging on porch rocking chairs and chatting away over a strong cup of cafe negro.
Doña Mary's son lived with her. He was greasy and lazy...and abusive. I don't know whether she had other children or where they might have been but one day my mother received a phone call from, of all places, the morgue. Her number had been found as emergency contact in Doña Mary's wallet. She had been struck and dragged by a bus less than a mile from our homes and my mother was called down to identify her body. Not long after, we had to go pick up her belongings (or perhaps someone took up a collection, it was so long ago and I so young) from her place of work. She was a cafeteria lady at an elementary school. Much to my mother's surprise all of Mary's co-workers knew who she and I were when we arrived. She spoke to them about us as if we were her daughter and grandchild.

The imagery in this painting romanticizes her wake just a bit. Her house was drab and there were perhaps less flowers or ceremony. Unshakable, for some reason is the memory of mosquito netting draping over her casket to keep bugs at bay during what was probably a nearly-summer month. Unforgettable also is the fact that at the time Mom was unemployed and we did not have much money so we could not afford flowers from the florist. A Peace Lily plant (given to her by Doña Mary) had just come into bloom. Those were the flowers we took to the wake.

El Velorio de Dona Mary, acrylic and ink on canvas, 30" x 40". available

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

New "Boxed" Series

I am in the process of starting a new series I'm calling Boxed. I stumbled upon this concept while painting pedestals for our studio gallery. I'm quick to announce new series because I feel like it's  a good thing to put out into the world thoughts and concepts that excite us. Sometimes I make premature announcements and a concept loses steam and falls by the wayside, but there's no harm in that. I feel strongly, for a number of reasons that this one will see the light of day and possibly then some.

I'm a fairly good recycler of things and pride myself in not being terribly wasteful. I do forget to shut the water off while brushing my teeth...nobody's perfect. Whenever possible, I pack my own artwork for shipping, using already used boxes. Sometimes they're boxes I've received things in; sometimes they're moving boxes still hanging out in our garage from previous moves.

It was one of these moving boxes that I split open and used in place of a tarp when painting the pedestals for our gallery. After 3 or so uses I began to fall in love with the outlines left behind and the wheels began turning in my squeaky, but still functioning brain. My first thought was to simply create large "industrial" decorative abstracts which I could offer at a lower price point (given their size) due to a lower production cost afforded by reusing materials rather than buying large canvases. I was also motivated by the idea of getting the chance to paint large with ease of storage. With this goal in mind I put paint to can-, wait no, cardboard.

As the first piece started to evolve the materials (not only used cardboard, but bits of tape and labels) inspired thoughts about what a moving box means. They hold our prized possessions, hopefully keeping them safe in transit. They hold and carry our lives (necessities as well as cherished items and memories) from one place to another; sometimes again and again, sometimes across the planet. They perform an incredibly important role in our life journeys yet we view them as dispensable and insignificant items. Only children seem to find new meaningful, if only temporary, second lives from them as forts or robot costumes. As a child I remember we would use them as sleds with which to slide down grassy hills. This is what I wish to explore with this new series. Who knew I'd be going on about a cardboard box like this?

At the moment I envision the pieces being abstract, but that is not to say that fragments of representational images won't make an appearance. I am also interested in possible collaboration or input from sources...meaning, I might ask that recently-relocated people provide me with a box from their move and incorporate narratives of their moves (reasons for the relocation, hopes for their new home or details about the items the box carried) into the works. Boxed is but an itty bitty newborn art baby right now and I hope to watch it grow and blossom into something substantial.

I hope all of this made at least a bit of sense. I am off to play with boxes.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

ArtMode 2017/Call to Fine and Style/Fashion/Beauty Artists

The Studios at 5663 (5663 Park Blvd, Pinellas Park, FL) will proudly host ArtMode 2017: Art Meets Fashion on Saturday October 22nd, 2016 (time TBA). This will be the inaugural presentation of what is planned to become a yearly event at the Pinellas Arts Village/Creative District. We are currently accepting submissions from local and regional designers and fine artists who wish to create and showcase 5-10 piece micro-collections of original and unique artwear. Collections may be Avant garde in nature, but they must be wearable, not costumes. Proposed collections may be submitted by teams comprised by members of any given combination of the aforementioned art and style fields or by individual creatives. Everything from artful daywear to dramatic evening pieces and statement jewelry will be considered for showcase in the jurying process. If it’s wearable and artful, it will be considered.
Please submit photos and sketches with a brief description of collection concept as well as a list of team-members (if group submission) to event organizer John Gascot: jgascot@gascot.com
Selected samples of past works which might help support your eligibility or concept are also welcome.

Submission Deadline: Friday July 1, 2016
Notification: All submitting will be notified of acceptance or otherwise by no later than Friday July 15.
Show Date: Saturday, October 22, 2016.
A fee of $25-$50 per collection (depending on size) will apply to final round artists/designers who commit to showcasing at the event. All fees will be applied to promotion and execution costs.

Monday, April 25, 2016

May U Live 2 See the Dawn

I've written so many times about my icon of icons, Prince. If you are a long time reader of this blog you can probably imagine how I must be feeling at the moment. My life has not come to a halt, as I didn't personally know the man, but I have shed a few tears and am deeply saddened to know that I will never again feel the excitement of standing a few feet or rows away, seeing him work his magic on a stage. I will never await, with anticipation, the release of new purple music. I will never again be inspired by a Prince song, just written. I am thankful for the vast catalog he left behind and what might be to come if the vaults are opened and its contents released.

Farewell, Prince.

May U Live 2 See the Dawn (Farewell, Prince)
acrylic and ink on canvas, 16" x 20", original and prints available.
Limited edition prints available.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mr. John's Summer Art Camp @ 5663

My Summer Art Camp will kick off on the week of June 13th through 17th with a week long camp comprised of 2-project 2 1/2 hr sessions lead by Studios @ 5663 artist Loy Khambay-Correa and myself. After the initial week I will be offering camp sessions comprised of creative projects and activities on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays 10am-12pm.

Paint Camp with John & Loy
Monday-Friday, 1:30-4:00 pm
June 13th-17th, 2016
Ages 5-12
$30 per session per child includes all art and creative materials, project guidance, light snacks & juice.

Mr. John's Summer Art Camp
Mondays, Tuesdays & Fridays, 10am-noon
June 20th through August 19th, 2016
Ages 5-12
$25 per session per child includes all art and creative materials, project guidance.

Spaces limited. Book today.
Email: jgascot@gascot.com
Pay by phone: 727-313-2250
Paypal: http://paypal.me/gascot
A minimum of 1 session non-refundable payment is required for reservations. Weekly or session by session payment accepted from that point on.

Paint with Mom this Mother's Day!

This Mother's Day (Sunday, May 8th, 2016) I will be offering two Paint with Mom paint party sessions. The first is a Brunch Paint Party 11am-1pm at my Latin Pop Shop Studio located at 5663 Park Blvd. in Pinellas Park, FL. The second will take place at Pom Pom's Teahouse in St. Pete, FL 3-5pm. Click on the links below for details on what is included and to make reservations. You can also use the Buy Now button provided (please specify "brunch" or "afternoon" session in your order details).

$40 per person includes:
-1 12" x 16" canvas per guest
-all paints and creative materials
-project guidance and hosting
-bagel/muffin/juice/tea spread for brunch session or first pitcher of sangria for afternoon session

Mothers' Day Paint Party
Paint with Mom Brunch Party
Pom Pom's Mothers' Day Paint Party

Monday, April 18, 2016

Best Weekend Ever

How is it that on a Monday I have rolled out of bed, achy, exhausted and worn out yet smiling from ear to ear; invigorated and fueled with excitement?
I blame the best weekend ever.

I don't usually make a huge deal of my birthday, however, this year I decided, back in January upon moving into my new art studio, that I would like to celebrate it by throwing myself a Grand Opening. Some dear long time friends from all over the country made travel arrangements to join us for the occasion. It was a plan.
In the interim, we juried 5 artists into our studio complex. With over half the available studios occupied it the event took a life of its own and it made perfect sense to plan for a Studios @ 5663 Grand Opening. And so we did.

We worked hard at promoting the event. Our director of Cultural Affairs, Debra Rose and I gave many a tour of the studios and developing Pinellas Arts Village. Our studio artists spread the word and so did their friends and their friends' friends and so on. We did television and newspaper interviews. We spread invitations around town and blasted the news on social media. But as anyone with any experience planning an art opening or event knows, there is no guarantee when it comes to attendance.

Because nothing I ever do ever seems to go off without some sort of glitch, I arrived at the studios Saturday afternoon in time to let the caterers in to discover our building had no electric power.
Don't panic, John. Don't panic.
The electric company predicted the issue would be resolved by 6:30pm. Our event was to begin at 6:00pm, of course. I watched nervously as early arrivals began to gather outside of our doors. Not only did we have no lights with which to SEE the art, it was now beginning to warm up inside. We are in Florida, after all.

As 6 o'clock struck, we had no choice but to open up and apologetically welcome guests into the building. "There is electricity next door, so if you'd like to check out their collection first and then come back...we will have live music as well...he he." People seemed undaunted by the conditions at hand. They had heard the buzz about our little growing artist village and wanted to be a part of it. It isn't every day you see visitors so determined to see art that they provide their own lighting. This was the case, exactly, as person after person switched their cell phones to "flashlight" and began illuminating our walls. This community seemed ready to receive what we came to offer.

The final outcome of the Studios @ 5663 Grand Opening exceeded every expectation and hope I had. My night was officially made when word reached me that our parking lot was full and people were having to park on side streets. What?? We had a full and happy-to-be-there house! The positivity was palpable. Visitors spent time with the art and engaged with the artists. They are invested in what is here and what is still to come. That is all the validation and assurance that we are moving in the right direction we need.

I want to thank my fellow Studios @ 5663 artists Kim Alderman, Bob Canning, Linda Costa-Cheranichit, Loy Khambay-Correa and Isis Navarro as well as Debra Rose, Directors of Cultural Affairs for the city of Pinellas Park for all of their hard work and support. It is invigorating and empowering, sharing common visions and goals for the Pinellas Arts Village. I would also like to thank the city and community who have rallied behind us. The Pinellas Arts Village and creative district is an investment from which we assure you will see many returns.