“Reaching” is beadwork art about chronic illness

Rungs of a ladder of multicoloured beads care strung from a wall. Strings of horizontal beads bow under their own weight horizontally across the piece.

It’s February 1, so the art show that “Reaching” was showing at (Return of the Light at the LoveCraft Gallery) has just been taken down. The installation can be set up on any indoor wall, and serves as a reminder of both our aspirations and challenges, as people who struggle with mental health, chronic illness, or physical disability. The $450 sale price includes installation anywhere within the city of Calgary: send me an email if you’re interested.

The idea for this piece came from an earlier work, and as I was editing/rewriting the written notes to post online with my photos, I realized that I could come back to it with a lot more nuance now, given my more recent experience with chronic pain and anxiety. And the resulting piece did seem to resonate with a lot of people (but maybe especially my fellow artists). My fondest memory from the gallery opening is probably when one person came up to me to tell me about their reaction to the piece. They told me that they had looked at the artwork, read the accompanying statement, and immediately said: “Jerk.”

It’s my hope that this piece helps to provide more words that people struggling with health problems can use to describe our world to the more healthy people around us. Any feedback you have, or any stories you’d like to share are most welcome.

My Artist’s Statement:

jack-giesen_reaching-V2-700pxA touch of the unreal can help us better understand our fellow human beings, and that’s the premise that guides me as I explore fantasy, folklore and metaphor in my paintings and site-specific installations. So many of the stories we were brought up with from childhood still deeply resonate with our current selves, and our empathy is inspired when we see those stories play out in front of our eyes.

“Reaching” is a beadwork installation that attempts to capture a feeling that you may not be familiar with if you haven’t struggled with your mental health, a chronic illness, or a physical disability. That feeling of seeing something that you want to accomplish—or a place that you want to get to—and having an obstacle in your path that no one else can see.

Through “Reaching,” you can see the path that could lead you there: tantalizing, bright, shimmering, like the acrylic beads that comprise the installation. In some ways, the ladder it creates is a symbol of hope, but you know that if you were to reach out to climb it, it would break—and you would be surrounded by a cascade of falling beads.

The LoveCraft Gallery in Southeast Calgary is across from Elliston Park, and is easily accessible from downtown Calgary via Memorial Drive. Hours are Tuesday – Friday, 12pm to 9pm, and Saturday 11am to 7pm.

The Tupperware Model: Selling Your Art Through Direct Sales

Written by Jack Giesen for Art is My Business.

The direct sales model has taken North America by storm over the past couple of decades. You’ll probably recognize some of the brands involved: Tupperware, Partylite, Stella & Dot, Jamberry, Avon… the list goes on. Some of your friends are probably sales consultants for these brands, and you’ve probably received at least a few invites to parties where you can buy these products.

And that isn’t a bad thing! While I think that a lot of young entrepreneurs overestimate the income they can earn from these ventures, (and it’s easy to go overboard and annoy all of your friends and family) these programs are helping a lot of people gain entrepreneurial and business skills—and that includes young artists, who don’t tend to get business education in school. And the reason that direct sales are so popular? The low barrier to entry. The cost of a starter kit is usually quite low, and some programs say that if you and another consultant sell a few hundred dollars worth of stuff, you can get your starter kit without an upfront (monetary) investment.

So am I advocating that artists join up with Tupperware now? Not really, although a few young artists that I know have gone the Partylite and Jamberry route for some extra cash. I think it’s more worth your time to shamelessly poach the direct sales strategy from the companies that have been doing well at it, and apply that strategy to selling your own art.

Read the article for 4 reasons why you should use direct sales to sell your artwork.


8 Gallery Opening Tips for Artists

Written by Jack Giesen for Art is My Business.

Art receptions and gallery openings are par for the course when it comes to selling art, but a lot of artists find that even speaking about their own art to strangers can be intimidating. With tensions running high, maybe that’s why there are so many horror stories about gallery openings gone bad, but it doesn’t have to be (and usually isn’t) that way. With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you feel prepared…

Read the full list here.

Authors, Read Your Contracts

It looks like most contracts for new authors have two big drawbacks:

  1. The publisher gets the rights to any TV shows, movies or merchandise based on your work. If the publisher chooses to make this happen, and the contract only lays out the the royalties you’ll get for book sales, no money at all goes to you. You just hope that the TV show or movie is effective advertising for your book.
  2. The rights will effectively never revert back to you, because books don’t go out of print these days: publishers can continue to sell ebooks without the overhead of printing thousands of print copies at a time.

Read more at artismybusiness.com.

“Return of the Light” Opening January 2

Close up from the installation process of Jack Giesen's "Reaching" beadwork installation. Several strands of multicoloured beads hanging vertically against a wall.Here’s a sneak peak of the artwork for my first time participating in a group show as an artist in a gallery. The opening is on January 2 from 5-9pm at Lovecraft Gallery (across from Elliston Park in Forest Lawn), and I’ll be there to show off my art and talk about what I’m working on next.

My beadwork installation, which will be on display throughout the month of January, is an attempt to capture a feeling that you may not be familiar with if you haven’t struggled with mental health or physical disability. That feeling of seeing something that you want to accomplish—or a place that you want to get to—and having an obstacle in your way that no one else can see.

If you can’t make it on January 2, stop in at the LoveCraft Gallery Tues-Fri 12pm – 9pm, and Saturday 11am – 7pm.

Event Details:
Opening Reception: Return of the Light at the LoveCraft Gallery. This show and sale celebrates surviving the long night of the year and celebrating return of the light as we progress towards spring.
Time: 5 to 9 p.m.
Location: LoveCraft Gallery, 121, 1803 60 Street SE, Calgary, Alberta
Price: Free

Starship’s Mage Episode 5 out Dec 15

Starship's Mage: Episode 5 Cover: The Blue Jay erupts in a fiery explosion.The fifth and final novella in Glynn Stewart’s Starship’s Mage series will be released December 15, 2014.

OMNIBUS (All Five Novellas): mybook.to/stmageomnibus
EPISODE 5: mybook.to/starshipsmage5

Ship’s Mage Damien Montgomery and the crew of the Blue Jay have run to the edge of the Protectorate, beyond the reach of civilized law.

But even at the outlaw station of Darkport, their enemies have sought them out – and now the very leader of the galaxy’s largest crime syndicate pursues them with a stolen warship.

With their backs to the wall, the Blue Jay’s crew must seek any edge to survive, for one thing is certain:

This will end in fire. 

Children of Prophecy Now Available!

CoP_GlynnStewart_TinyUp until today, this was a super secret project. My husband, author Glynn Stewart, has been working on polishing up some of his old novels (at the same time as he works on current ones!) for sale on Amazon. The ebook for Children of Prophecy is up now, and the print version will be available before Christmas.

An age in the past, the world’s two greatest Mages fought a bloody war to a draw that slew them both.

In the time since, the Kingdom of Vishni has known quiet, and the Swarm beyond the mountains has grown in strength and numbers. Now, with the Time of Prophecy at hand, dark forces move to fulfil ancient visions.

Two men, born to poverty but bearing the blood of those ancient Mages, will rise to decide the fate of both Swarm and Kingdom as the fires of this ancient conflict rise anew.

Check out some photos of the painting in progress after the jump.  Read More…

2008 Look Up! Accessible Space Installation

A beaded ladder stretches up to an industrial-looking ceiling at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design UniversityI was digging through my art files from the last few years, and came across a neat installation that I had done back in art school in 2008:

Construction workers, maintenance personnel, architects and civil engineers all use a plethora of signage and techniques to make dangerous and useless spaces seem inaccessible to us. But at the same time, public and private spaces that are meant to be accessible to everyone will often accidentally exclude people—sometimes those with disabilities—due to poor planning, lack of budget or bad design.

In this piece, I explore the creation of a seemingly accessible space that deliberately excludes the viewer. A ladder is a tool that many of us use to get (vertically) from place to place. When the connection that it provides is too fragile to hold our weight, it leaves us either stuck in place or surrounded by a cascade of falling beads.

This installation was completed as part of an assignment in exploring accessible space, at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University in Halifax, NS, Canada.


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On art school and preparing to be an artist

I have a lot to say about the way we run our four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts programs here in Canada. And it’s not because I think everyone should go into engineering or a trade. It’s not because I think the artistic skills students learn aren’t worth the money—not entirely, anyway. No, the problem I have with art schools is that at the end of four years, you know how to make art, but you have no idea how to be a professional artist.

Read my blog post at artismybusiness.com.

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