On Navigating Stuckness

I’ve loved a lot of cities, but I didn’t know what it was like to be *in love* with a city, until New York. 

Today I take my flight home (and i’m bringing the shingles back with me too). Whilst I’m not best pleased to leave, it marks another summer that I’m still here, kickin’ it and this fact feels good. After a year of falls, bike-accidents, too many punctures to count,  fires, shingles, doom-headache-facial-numbness-from-hell, treatments, steep learning curves, sleep-less nights, never-ending deadlines, constant doubt and having to rebuild my confidence to name a few – I’m feeling pretty [very] lucky. 

Time is already a tough customer, but it is torturous when you start measuring it. Becoming a new parent is a struggle (as most of my friends are now new parents! congrats, guys!). Starting a new course is a struggle. Staying with your values and staying healthy and keeping a good perspective is a struggle. But struggling is good. It is one of the only things that exercise the deep well of will and vitality within us. That help us dig into ourselves deeper, that push us to grow.

I went back to Sandy Island this vacation on different terms than previous years. And I was welcomed with so much warmth and posters everywhere that said WELCOME BACK SMIZZ! I felt like I had come home. I can’t explain the feeling.

When I think about my time at Sandy I just don’t know where to begin. It was there where I started to get the help I needed when I fell sick a few years ago now, and well, it’s always on my mind because ALL of my friends (sandy, donx, sheffo, nyc, everyone!) came together to help me through it all – and they still are. falling sick has taught me a lot about loss and resilience and the will to live and adapt. I feel broken, always. But when I start talking about the outpouring of love and support that I had received since my illness and accidents, ect, I become really weepy. Because I realized that for the first time in my life, I was truly letting love into my heart. Losing a small part of me has connected me to others in a way I had never felt. And whilst I feel broken, a sense of myself lost from feeling constantly tired and in pain, in a way, I feel as if I have gained much more.

This trip I’ve had the chance to see people I never thought I’d get to see again (or for a very long time). I got to see friends, and meet their friends, and meet their awesome boyfriends. I got to go to my first ever garage jamming session. I got to drink in brooklyn dive bars and see a record album release party! I saw a hipster version of charlie & chocolate factory store, got to see more of the sketchbook project, tried properly independently brewed coffee (still think coffee is gross), I gave up my seat on a bolt bus so 2 kid brothers could sit together and then the people on the bus all gave me an applause?! i went into the lake, felt sand between my toes, watched a new hampshire sunset. Went to my favourite chinese restaurant in  Meredith, NH with 3 great amazing people and the owners remembered not only who I was – but also what my favourite dish was! I went to my favourite thai-food place and managed to get really good Thai-iced tea. I survived 3 craz thunder-storms, including when I was on a BOAT! I made some cool new friends, and stayed up until 4am learning all about my new friends lives. I got a t-shirt with my artwork on ! And then managed to get a ride all the way from NH to Brooklyn, for free, so I could get there to NYC in time to see the US Open with another super special person who took me! I officially fell asleep on the streets of NYC whist waiting in line to get super awesome improve comedy free tickets. and I’ve drank enough delicious horchata to last until my next trip. 

I’ve done lots more, and ate a lot more food than mentioned here. But this stands out.

 I can say that i’m old enough to have a past with some regrets, but young enough to feel like I have a stake in the game for righting the course, and self-obsessed enough to have a hyper-vigilant sense of justice. I feel it. Life is a set of nested envelopes. 

“In the trade off between timeliness and timelessness, choose the latter. The zeitgeist rewards timeliness, but your soul rewards timelessness.” – Jonathan Harris

My trip reminds me that we need to work on things that will last.  I leave this here as a reminder to write the counter-point to this quote. My current belief is that after timelessness comes a second stage of timeliness: attention to quality time with people and interests you love, independent from their longevity.

As I’ve said before, I have some time left, and if I use it well, it will be more than enough.

Hopefully I will see you USA folks soon (without the gross shingles), and to my UK friends – I’m going to see you all super soon to catch up! 

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Everything is fragile.

Mid-20’s isn’t that old, but I feel like I’ve aged 2 lifetimes in the past 3 years. Maybe aging like that makes you look back a bit more. Just as you can see from my blog, my focuses in life have shifted; I’m not just looking for self-improvement in what I can change per-say, but  more to learn how to have grace in the parts of me that won’t budge, or have grace in things I can’t control right now.

One of the hardest parts of having to adapt to being a much slower, less  interesting and hardly a multi-tasker Smizz due to illness, is being observed 24/7. I used to invite people to watch my performance of trying to make it in the artworld— I’d post lots of things I’d make, constantly advertise myself – I kind of craved the attention— but I had no idea that it was going to open me up to some damaging mindsets. It now makes me feel like I need to be on top of my shit 24 hours a day, and I can’t do that anymore. Mainly because I’m either in bed (mostly), studying (secondly),  drawing, or out trying to live life (making up for 1 & 2).  I’ve been trying to learn the “It’s okay to say no to things sometimes. Because if you can’t say no, you can’t fully say yes”.

I’m no longer  living up to the persona I assigned to myself.  I feel like I’m not only letting everyone down who invested their time into me, but I’ve let it make me believe I’m letting myself down too.

So after feeling like I was going to die, and feeling really sorry for myself. After not having the mental /energy capacity to work on my own work, just enough to work on others (which has been/is amazing, and I needed it to survive- both mentally & financially). After seeing people who I admire and respect because of their vision & dignity, struggle in this world. After months and months and months of wishing I could be part of it,  I returned from this ordeal to resume work and rejoin the artworld, but  my membership had expired. I felt like the Artworld had forgotten about me. And everything I made and saw seemed like trivial bullshit—because quite a bit of it was/is (not all of it). Disingenious money grabs.  all speed was stupid.  Some things was just despicable, because it stole the dignity of everyone involved. We deserve better.

This is harsh criticism, and way super cynical, but it is how I felt at the time. These feelings have eased a lil bit, but I’ve always had a critical view on the Artworld because I’ve always been coming from a disadvantaged point anyways. And I’m a Marxist. However, noticing the bad also makes it easier to see and notice the good. Many of the things I love about the artworld are still here, and doing maybe better than some of the crappy parts of the Artworld.

 

My friends, Lesley Guy & Dale Holmes did this super cool show  at Bloc Projects in Sheffield about Pizza  a few weeks ago. It was so good I went home & ordered a Domineos.

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One of the best artists out there Gregory Sholette is trying to crowd-source this phenomenal project. http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/imaginary-archive-kyiv –  Which is an Imaginary Archive – a collection of fictional and real documents from a past whose future never arrived of Ukraine. It’s such a special and important exhibition, and so necessary at this time, so if you can find the time/$ to support it, that would be amazing!

 

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I really, really, really want to see William Powhida’s phenomenal “overculture” show at the most AMAZING gallery Postmasters NY, that just opened this week. Powhida’s practice is about helping us see how fucked up things are and to inspire us to strive to a world of justice, supporting (art) world which encourages criticality and  risks.  it’s basically the (art)world we all really want, yet too scared to bite the hand that feeds us.  I keep putting (art) like this, because the artworld is just a microscopism of the ‘real’ fucked up world. Every problem within the artworld is a problem within non-art-related society. Mainly because it’s the same shitty force that drives both: greed and value in the banal, and unethical under-valued/under-paid labour in order to make $$. When in actuality, there’s significant power in our dark-matter-ness if we realize it, together.

 

My focus  and definition on “progress” made it easy  for me to forget that you can turn around from traveling in a wrong direction, and return to the place where things last felt right. You can go back. Now I feel like I’m starting from the beginning with my personal art practice, and it felt like a failure. But I’m slowly accepting that sometimes going back is sometimes progress.

A few painful years has taught me 1 of the important lessons about life: you only become bulletproof when you refuse to disguise your injuries. The wounds are a gift: You learn how to accept help, and better yet, how to better give it. This in turn is another reason why I’m studying again, to emulate the best care & understanding I kind of know that the patient needs. Remember: if you need help. Ask for it. We can’t do it all alone. All the time.

Life is now somehow more precious and less. I’m now back to my humble beginnings: To share what you know.

So that’s part of what I’ve been quietly doing/working on with F/O/R/C/E, a collaboration with Paul Harrison and a few others – >  forcelectures.org

Don’t wait for a life disaster to be the thing that spurs you into action. Everything is fragile and you are more resilient than you think.

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Some Doc/Fest 2012 awards I’ve drawn

I’ve been quiet on here for about a month. Which has actually been a really good thing! As i’ve been busy, busy, busy!

Here’s some drawings I’ve done for Doc/Fest this year. I will be Live-Illustrative-Mapping the Summit and some talks at the Festival on Weds and Thursday. And also TEDxSheffield through an app called Mixel. It’s gonna be something different & hopefully exciting!  I’m super excited and really incredibly nervous for both TEDx & Doc/Fest.  What incredible opportunities to have?! I can’t thank them enough for it because it really is something i look forward to each year. If you’re heading to either or both of these events, make sure you give Sarah Smizz a holla. I need to shake off my ridiculously awkward shy-ness with meeting important and awesome people. And i need to get better at the networking but most importantly i just genuinely love meeting amazing and inspirational and motivated people! Which is you if you’re going there!

I hope to post some stuff this weekend as a taster of  what to expect from the TEDx stuff! Maybe.

 

RoadTrip USA inspiration blog

You know tumblr’s are all the range right. It’s because they make other peoples images look awesome. As a lil something, something to inspire me – keep me focused for the summer – take my mind off my weird health issues, I’m putting a kick ass tumblr together of great images of America & roadtrips – Until I can pop my own up during/after the roadtrip. Keep it locked here! http://roadtripsmizz.tumblr.com/

Other Tumblr’s of mine: http://streetarchitect.tumblr.com & the old journal of my Chicago days: http://chitownsmizz.tumblr.com/

THE SLAM IS BACK! ‘NOW IS NOW’ 1st Feb – 7:30pm, Bloc Projects, Sheffield. FREE

 

Do you remember SlamJam, followers? Do you even remember CAKE? After months of cruel neglect, or as we would call it re-branding, re-structuring, re-analyzing, I wouldn’t blame anyone who might turn tail in search of other, more dependable art-project-spaces, esp. in Sheffield. But this is what happens when you and your collective-team-mates, like jerks, leave everything and everyone you know behind for a new job in a new country for a bit, then have to work long hours away from the hub of it all. These past few months have seen more changes in CAKEs life than I could ever have anticipated – mostly exciting, some heartbreaking. I intend to resume a dependable regime of posting, and events and discussions in order to document what happens next. Can you forgive us? I hope so. Let’s do this thing.

 

SLAM: ‘NOW IS NOW’

WHERE: Bloc Projects, 71 Eyre Lane, Sheffield S1 4RB

WHEN: 1st FEB 2012, 7:30pm

OTHER INFO:  OPEN-MIC but book your place for a definate spot by emailing: hello@cakeeveryone.com. FREE. CHEAP BOOZE. AMAZING TALENT. GREAT TIMES.

ABOUT SLAMJAM:

SLAM (JAM) is a bi annual slam poetry and performance night. Started as an event to involve audience members as well as an open platform to share existential and poetic actions, SLAM became an exciting improv night of performance and community.

Starting with a line – up of already confirmed impressive performers, the poets/artists/amazing folks who participate  usually create an ecstatic environment that makes the rest of the audience (YOU) want to get up and perform. We engage such a great community that there aren’t any feelings of being inferior, or any need to worry about failing. There’s not a competitive edge, but more an equal platform to experiment on. In just one moment  at SLAM-JAM, you can get up, and test, practice or perform something, an idea, you’ve had brewing or just thought of. We think that this is what makes SLAM different from your normal poetry-reading night. No experience necessary. Perhaps the liquor served (donation based) also helps set the tone of openness. Oh, and did we say it’s completely FREE. (Donations are always welcomed).

Poster coming soon.

The Network of Power: Adventures in Capitalism (work/part. 1)

Hello.

So I guess my new work is sort of a comic, but I don’t mind it being classed as a comic because… well, comic-artists are some of the coolest people I know. And they speak to a way bigger audience than you know – showy, polished gallery only artists. (Nothing wrong with gallery only artists though!). I think it’s a great platform to really experiment with a political narrative in a metaphorically, illustrative and poetic manner.

Here’s the 1st page. The intro page to chapter one: A Brief History of Time

The series is called: the Network of Power: Adventures in Capitalism.

The comic experiments and  entails re-imagining not just the content of history but how it is circulated: comparing folk traditions with grass-roots activism, both of which are passed from person to person rather than codified in a lecture or mass-media. However, despite this fascination with the past, my main concern is with the present, in the search for alternatives to our own remit as artists (and individuals), and the economic and social conditions that the ‘artist’ (or individual in general in society) is, traditionally, bracketed off from.

The comic mines history for such cases; i’m interested in movements organised by groups in order to empower individuals, which i then explores through a paranoid structure of poetic, funny realism. By doing so, I hope to also seek to reveal the converse of these examples, exploring present-day assumptions and structures that enforce social hierarchies.