Saturday, August 30, 2014


Blue Van Gogh is an example of serendipity.
"You can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket."

There are many kinds of winning. When we win a lottery, or even something as simple as a raffle, it feels good because it's fun to get lucky like that. Even though we know it was just a game of chance, we enjoy the feeling that accompanies our good fortune. But there are other kinds of contests and competitions that bring a deeper kind of satisfaction.

This afternoon I will be hanging artwork at Benchmark Tattoo here in Duluth and the title of my show is Influences. One of the pieces in the show is titled "Winning," a mixed media composition that includes a front page story on a yellowed Maple Heights News about an eight year old boy named Eddie Newman who won the Grotto Circus Contest. I was one of four winners of the contest and received $87.50 for correctly guessing the number of animals, performers and personnel in the circus that was coming to Cleveland soon. I also received eight free tickets.

I remember well the pains I took to logically figure out the solution to this problem. I was lying on the living room floor with a sheet of paper, picking my mom's brain. "What other animals are in the circus besides lions and tigers?" She said there would be pigs, and I guesstimated 32 of those. As it turns out the number I came up with was accurate, even if there wasn't a single pig in the entourage. I didn't win because I was smarter than anyone else. I won because I entered the contest and tried.

But winning that contest did influence me. So did winning a halloween costume contest around that same time in my life. A half century later someone contacted me through social media saying they remembered my costume from that evening. I was dressed as a blob, rolling around on the floor inside two sheets that my mom dyed and sewed together for the occasion.

This art game is one of the prizes if you play and win.
In high school the Bridgewater Jaycees had an art competition in which students were invited to submit illustrations for the cover of a program for the Winter Carnival. I won $25 for a humorous set of ink drawings depicting a skier losing control on a slope and ending up splayed in a heap.

One way that winning contests influences us is that it reinforces the notion that sometimes there are good outcomes when we throw our hats into the ring.

There are many kinds of influences in life. Some we choose and some are thrust upon us. All impact us in varying degrees and who we become is directly related to how we respond to — or synthesize — these influences. Life is the process of digesting these influences.

Winning the art contest was meaningful because it utilized skill, imagination and creativity. It wasn't just a lucky number pulled from a pail.

Entering contests did not suddenly become a way of life, but these wins did produce a confidence that inspired me to enter other contests. In 1991 by story "The Breaking Point" won the Arrowhead Regional Fiction Competition, a five-state short story and poetry competition. (The story is a centerpiece in my third volume of fiction titled The Breaking Point and Other Stories.

SPEAKING OF CONTESTS.... This week I read about some kind of global activity in which artists hide art and people can search and find it. I believe there was a specific day in which this was to happen but since I did not save the link I don't know any more details beyond what I shared already.

I've hidden these somewhere in the Twin Ports.
SO, I am making a contest for you, if you happen to be here in the Twin Ports. I will be hiding five baseball sized reproductions of my art this weekend. If you find one and come to Friday evening's art opening at Benchmark Tattoo, you will win a copy of my book Unremembered Histories. If you find the reproduction of my ink on paper drawing titled Masquerade, you will win the original, which happens to be a favorite of mine. If no one finds this hidden art card, then anyone can purchase the original for $45 at Benchmark Tattoo during the month of September.

The theme for my show is Influences and the art here expresses a variety of the primary influences on who I am and have become. It is not a comprehensive “explanation” of where my attitudes and convictions come from, but it does express a large swath of the territory from which my creative passions were derived. Ask and I will explain in greater detail inasmuch as these are but smatterings and hints.

With regard to the hidden art cards, I WILL BE GIVING CLUES so do return to Ennyman's Territory and see if you can find something worth looking for. First Clue: The five art cards pictured here can be found at places I like to frequent in the Twin Ports. Second clue will be posted tomorrow here and will be Tweeted, which means it will also show up on my Facebook page.

Good luck! Maybe you'll be a Winner!

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