Saturday, 31 December 2011

Onwards, upwards

This year has been, quite simply, my best year as an artist, indeed it might almost be the first year I have truly considered myself an artist. I know that I have been an artist in the past, however this year I knew I was one and I knew it all year.

© Stewart Bremner 2011
Sold by Union Gallery in June
I've made better paintings this year than ever before, paintings that speak to me, that mean something, paintings with thoughts and feelings, with depth. This, above all else, is probably the single most important thing that happened this year. It is not the only thing to happen, though.

I have been in more exhibitions this year than almost every exhibition in all my previous years combined. It has been very exciting and not just because they were on two continents!

I've also sold more paintings this year than… well, you get the idea by now. Thank you everyone who took the chance to buy one of my paintings. It is because of your patronage that I am able to continue on this path.

Let Go
© Stewart Bremner 2011
Sold at the Fayetteville Underground
in October
All of these amazing things came about with the support of two special people. Close to home is Alison Auldjo at Union Gallery, who has stuck with me through times when normal gallery owners may well jumped ship. But then just as Union Gallery is no ordinary gallery, so too Alison is no ordinary gallery owner! Thank you Alison (and Rob too, of course!).

Further from home but immeasurably closer at the same time, Megan Chapman is the one person without whom I doubt I would have had the year that I did. She has been an incredible source of support, inspiration, ideas, knowledge and so much more. She has been truly indispensable and I cannot thank her enough. Megan, you are a star!

I have some big things lined up for next year and this afternoon I took my first step towards them. Next year is going to be exciting. I hope that yours is going to be as good as mine promises to be!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Begin again

This week, finally, the shared dream that a group of us had for what the next incarnation of the Fayetteville Underground was going to be, died. One more body blow was dealt by the soon to be ex-board and that was pretty much the end. It made for a pretty gloomy week, although it also marks the end of having to think and care about the place and so there is relief too. It is time to move on.
Kevin Low and I at Union Gallery (thanks Rob!)

Happily, there is a lot to move on to. Top of the list is my show next year at Union Gallery with Kevin Low, which has just been confirmed to start on April 5th. I do not yet know what I am going to paint, however I have the beginnings of an idea for what I want the work to be about, which is almost as good. Today I picked up some boards in order to start some preparatory work. Making the work for exhibition is going to be a big challenge and I can't wait to get stuck into it.

The shortest day of the year has passed and the northern hemisphere is starting its slow journey back into the light. Even though there are still plenty more dark days left, nonetheless it is a relief. Soon, I am going to paint.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Shoulder to shoulder

My artistic week has again been dominated by events at the Fayetteville Underground. Unfortunately it seems that the vision for the future of that organisation, as the Fayetteville Arts Alliance, is on the verge of expiring.

From my distant hideaway my thoughts swing between anger and depression at this turn of events. Up close, I cannot imagine how it must feel to have spent so much time and effort on the enterprise and to have put your reputation on the line, only to witness this sad decline.

Of course, no one asked me to get involved, nevertheless I did because I believed in the organisation. I believed it was more than just the sum of its parts and that it would go on to bigger and greater things. It is a terrible shame that this belief was not wholly shared.

St. Hope, originally uploaded by stewartbremner.
An easy lesson to take from this would be that one should not act for the (perhaps only perceived) greater good, that it is easier by far to simply look out for oneself because that is what everyone else is doing. I have never been one for taking that easy path and, as a socialist, my entire belief system is based upon the idea that when we act together, we are stronger. It is who I am and what I do.

Ironically, I realise now that I share some ideals with my father, as he was thirty years ago. At that time he was a shop steward for his union, which marked him as hard left and a trouble maker, at least as far as the establishment was concerned. In standing up for his beliefs and for those around him, he was black-listed by the Thatcher regime and was never again able to work in his trade. I am very glad that today, it seems, standing up for ideas beyond the self is becoming a global phenomena, even in places such as the United States where for so long the individual has been prized above all else.

The need to look out for each other has never been greater, than it is now. We are under constant and daily threat from the powers that own our governments, powers that have caused our world to turn away from post-Second World War dreams of liberty for all, into an undemocratic pro-capitalist corporate entity. Only by standing together can we hope to make it through this time, which I fear is likely to be the most difficult and dangerous that most of us will ever see. We need to stand together in every walk of life, in every way we can.

The Fayetteville Underground will cease operations at the end of next week. If anything is to take its place, if the Fayetteville Arts Alliance is ever to become a reality, at the core it is going to need a family of artists who will look out for each other, who will stand together, and do what needs to be done to support the group which, in turn, supports them. To me the Underground, at its best, was such a group. The Alliance needs no less to succeed and I wish those who are part of it every success in their future.

Friday, 9 December 2011

See you next Tuesday

Winter Wonderland at Union Gallery,
December 8th-January 24th.
Last night saw the opening of Union Gallery's new exhibition, Winter Wonderland. I have six pieces in the show and it was very exciting to see them on the wall next to four by Megan Chapman and just around the corner from three by Trevor Jones. We had our own little mostly-abstract corner and I enjoyed spending time near it last night.

The weather, rather unfortunately, played against us last night and the turn out was much lower than usual. With luck, all of those who did not make it along to the opening will turn up in the coming weeks. In fact, if any of those who missed the opening come along on Tuesday  (13th December), they'll find me in the gallery all day!

I'm very much looking forward to spending more time in the abstract corner and in the exhibition, which being busy, full and colourful is the perfect antidote to the short and dark winter days. I am also hoping I'll get to talk to visitors about my art and Megan's. If you are in town on Tuesday, come past and say hello. The gallery is open from 10:30am-6pm.

I have also this week been continuing to think about making art and especially my two major joint shows next year. Very soon now, I am going to start working on the first of them, that will take place in Union Gallery in April, with Kevin Low. I'm very excited by this and, even though I have an idea of what I want the work to be about, I do not know yet how it will look. It is going to be without doubt my biggest artistic undertaking to date, indeed I don't think I have yet taken in the magnitude of the challenge that lies before me. Just now all I feel is excited. Would anyone care to predict when the fear will kick in?!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Show time

With the creation of art currently on hold, this past week has been more about the showing and selling of art and the showing and selling of art that is to come. To begin with, I have work in two end of year shows.

Sold this week: Make it
(Mixed media, 10x10"
© 2011 Stewart Bremner)

The third annual Fayetteville Underground Art for the Holidays exhibition got under way this week, with a selection of my work in two of their galleries. Some of my Hidden Message series, as well as six pieces from Craig Munro and my Iteration/Span photos are on show in the Hive Annex, while the remaining sixteen of my Fading Glories and a few more Hidden Messages are in the Revolver. Happily two Hidden Messages sold in the first 24 hours! The show runs until Christmas, so do head down there if you're in Northwest Arkansas.

On the home front, six of my small paper works have been chosen for the Union Gallery's Winter Wonderland show! They are currently at the framer and I am looking forward to seeing them all spic and span and ready to hang next week. The show opens on Thursday night and I will be there, so do come along and ask me about my work. Also on show are four of Megan Chapman's Sometimes I Love You paintings and I'm really looking forward to seeing them out in public in Edinburgh. Naturally, I'll be very happy to speak about them as well. Come out and get the inside scoop!

This week also saw some more developments for the year to come. The big new news is that Megan and I have been offered a show next year at the Art Center of the Ozarks! We've not made any definite plans yet, other than to decide that we will be creating a new body of work for it. This work will follow in the footsteps of our A Question of Chemistry series, which in itself will be showing over March and April at the Northwest Arkansas Community College.

I also this week briefly met Glasgow artist Kevin Low and we tentatively discussed out joint show that is happening next year in April at the Union Gallery. Again there is not much to reveal as yet, but plans are afoot and I'm very excited!