EXPLOITS: “Infinite Monkeys” – The Trunk Space 8th Anniversary Show

Lavinia

Michele Bledsoe “Lavinia” acrylic on canvas 10″ x 8″

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Today, May 7, will be the end of an era, as treasured Phoenix multimedia venue The Trunk Space leaves their current location after 12 years-a mighty run for an independent art space.

So many wonderful memories were created there. The first piece of art they ever sold, on their opening night in 2004, was one of my paintings:

Rookery3

Richard Bledsoe “Rookery” oil on wood panel 24″ x 24″

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The Trunk Space hosted one of the exhibits I’m most proud of: 2014’s International Stuckists: Explorers and Inventors.  We displayed works from artists from 6 countries in downtown Phoenix, cutting edge pieces that challenged the dreary conformity of the contemporary art market. Other highlights included 2015’s Booked: Contemporary Literary Art and 2016’s Spineless: Invertebrate Art.

But thinking over the glorious labor of the love the Trunk Space has been all these years, I had a flashback to an earlier anniversary, all the way back to 2012.

My wife Michele Bledsoe and I received the following email on January 20, 2012:

Call for Artwork
Trunk Space 8 Year Anniversary Show

“Infinite Monkeys
April-May 2012

In the 1913 article “Statistical Mechanics and Irreversibility” Émile Borel wrote “A million monkeys randomly hitting keys on a million typewriters, under the supervision of illiterate Editors, working hard ten hours a day. The Editors would gather these pages into bound volumes, and after a year these volumes would be found to contain an exact copy of the books of all kinds and of all languages stored in the richest libraries in the world.”

Of course, Borel wasn’t talking about literal monkeys, it was a clever metaphor for probability and randomness.

To put it another way, an infinite number of monkeys, typing on an infinite number of typewriters, for an infinite length of time would eventually type out the complete works of Shakespeare.

What the heck am I talking about?
The number eight.
See if you can follow me here . . .
Trunk Space is 8 years old this April.
The number 8, on its side, closely resembles . . . the symbol for Infinity.

Which bring to mind that quote (often misquoted, it’s actually a saying that ‘evolved’ more then ‘happened’). Which brings me to mind our 8 year anniversary art show.

Please let us know if you would like to participate in “Infinite Monkeys [Infinite typewriters, infinite Shakespeare] (aka infinite Art)”.

Any new (previously unseen) artwork involving monkeys, typewriters, Shakespeare, infinity, any combination of, or otherwise inspired by that awesome quote is welcome.

 

Needless to say we both created art for this exciting installation. Michele was inspired to paint “Lavinia” (pictured above) after a character in Shakespeare’s most gruesome tragedy, Titus Andronicus. 

This piece added a beautiful example of the generous synchronicity of the universe, as in 2010 we had seen the band Titus Andronicus at the Trunk Space, while I was in an obsessive frenzy over their brilliant album The Monitor.

For my painting for “Infinite Monkeys,” I went a different route, and tried to pack a lot of chaos and references into a small canvas:

Globe of the Apes

Richard Bledsoe “Globe of the Apes (London’s Burning Captures The Conscious of the King Kong)” 

acrylic on canvas 20″ x 16″

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Thanks to the vision of Stephanie Carrico and her team of super friends, I know the Trunk Space will continue, and evolve into evermore surprising forms. I’m looking forward to the next chapter in their ongoing adventures!

 

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STUDIO: A Full Day in the Studio

Crystal world

Richard Bledsoe “The Crystal World” acrylic on canvas 20″ x 24″

My first completed painting of 2016

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2016 and suddenly we find ourselves inundated with projects. I always say there’s nothing like a deadline for inspiration. Well, Michele Bledsoe and I have lots of inspiration right now.

This past Saturday, having so many time sensitive requirements pending led to a wonderful event: pretty much a full day in our studio, painting together.

Michele and I were both accepted into Inglorious Arizona, an upcoming exhibit co-sponsored by Artlink (a downtown Phoenix arts organization) and the Arizona Republic newspaper. We’ll be part of an upcoming Art Detour 28 group exhibit commemorating some infamous Arizona history. I’ll share more details on the true story I was assigned to depict in a future blog post.

Pieces for this show are due by early February, so we are in a real time crunch to get them done. Michele especially takes a long time to craft her elaborate and detailed imagery, so she has already been in extreme painting mode for days now, ever since we were notified of our acceptance.

On Saturday, when Michele woke me up at 7am she had already been at her easel for hours. Before I joined her I had to take care of some typical tasks and errands: exercise, shower, an abbreviated internet news and Facebooking session, then a quick run to the grocery store for the week. But by about 10am I was done and at my own easel, where I more or less spent the next 12 hours.

There will meals long the way, and even a brief nap. But the majority of the time we were both blissfully painting away.

Did I say blissful? You might not think so if you heard the way we act when painting. There is cursing sometimes. And screams of horror.

As we are intuitive artists, working out our own imaginations, we are trying to create something never seen before. Sometimes the struggle to get it right leads to some raving. We are passionate people, very engaged with a complex task, and occasionally we need to vent. Loudly.

However, the appearance of being upset is misleading: we are having the time of our lives. Like the Stuckist Manifesto counsels, “Painting is the medium of self-discovery. It engages the person fully with a process of action, emotion, thought and vision, revealing all of these with intimate and unforgiving breadth and detail.”

Like usual in the studio,  we played music to keep our energy up. Yesterday’s play list included:

Woven Hand – Woven Hand

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Soundtrack

Mark Lanegan – Blues Funeral

Electric Light Orchestra – The Essential ELO

Kaizers Orchestra – Maestro

Paul McCartney –Ram

Rimsky-Korsocov – Scheherazade

Inglorious Arizona is just one of the projects happening now. Another is a show I’m curating at the Firehouse, one of Phoenix’s leading alternative art spaces. The exhibit is Epilogue: Contemporary Literary Art.  It’s kind of a sequel to Booked, a previous literature inspired show I assembled at the Trunk Space.

I’ve been working on my own contribution for this show, and during yesterday’s painting frenzy I completed it: a work inspired by author J. G Ballard’s strange apocalyptic novel The Crystal World.

I’m looking forward to many more days like this in the upcoming months as we keep making art happen.

EXHIBITIONS – Spineless: The Invertebrate Art Show at The Trunk Space

Forever (2)

Michele Bledsoe “Forever” acrylic on canvas 6″ x 4″

“Spineless: The Invertebrate Art Show”

January 2o16

Opening Reception January 1, 2016 6pm – 9pm

The Trunk Space

1506 Grand Ave, Phoenix, Arizona 85007

Some estimates say up to 97% of animal life on earth lacks a spinal column. Their range is staggering: from microscopic protozoa to colossal squids that approach 50 feet in length. Insects, crustaceans, mollusks, worms, jellies, and arachnids take on an amazing array of shapes, colors and structures that vary from the beautiful to the grotesque.

In January at the Trunk Space, a group of artists display works made in homage to our backboneless fellow creatures.

The Trunk Space is one of the best alternative art spaces in Phoenix, Arizona. For almost 12 years now the venue has featured local, national and international performing and visual artists right in the heart of the downtown.

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The view from the Trunk Space parking lot

I have been fortunate to not only take part in many of the Trunk Space’s monthly art exhibits, I have the honor of being invited to curate shows as well.  January 2014 was International Stuckists: Explorers and Inventors. January 2015 featured Booked: Contemporary Literary Art. For January 2016, I was of a biological state of mind.

I wanted to paint a jellyfish. What a strange and beautiful animal-but also, potentially dangerous. The image of such an exotic creature joined with both the portentous archetypal icons and the B-movie monster mash that are programmed into my psyche, and I knew the picture I had to make.

Jelly from The Black LagoonRichard Bledsoe “The Jelly from the Black Lagoon” acrylic on canvas 20″ x 16″

The subject matter of the boneless animal seem to me a intriguing starting point for other artists as well. So many options available. As is standard with my curatorial philosophy, I selected artists, not individual works. I respect the inventiveness of these creatives, and I always find the show comes together best when I invite them to give whatever they feel represents the theme.

This show was no exception. Once again, Spineless demonstrates the power of synchronicity unleashed.

Hang 1

Hanging the show, with Trunk Space owner and artist Steph Carrico

Hang 2

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It always amazes me to see the sheer individuality that inspired artwork displays. The artists of Spineless aren’t just depicting invertebrates. They are showing you something about themselves.

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Barton

Leslie Barton

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Michele Bledsoe “The Edge of Reason”

The Secret Kingdom Blog

Immortal Hyrda

Richard Bledsoe “The Immortal Hydra”

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Carrico

Steph Carrico “Swineless”

http://carricophotography.com/

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Soft Things

Dan Pederson “Soft Things”

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LB

L.B. Paintings “Vital Impetus”

 L.B. Paintings Fine Art

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Dadsocks

Bill Taggart

Dad Socks: Stencil Art by Bill Taggart

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Thrrop

Ron Throop “Sure, I Like the Way Sparkling Earrings Lay…But I Won’t Sleep in the Desert With You”

Tam and Friends: Ron Throop Painting and Writing

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Walsh

Hannah Irene Walsh “Apophis as Round Worm”

The Art of Hannah Irene Walsh

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Whiting

Shelley Whiting “The Deadly Leeches”

Shelley Whiting’s Art

The Artists of BOOKED: Contemporary Literary Art

KEVIN

Michele Bledsoe “Dear Franklin…”

Inspired by Lionel Shriver “We Need to Talk About Kevin”

 

I really enjoy assembling group art shows, an activity I’ve done for years in many different capacities.

I’ve been the exhibition committee chairman of a non-profit gallery; run my own open studio in the warehouse space I lived in for 2 years; been part of a long running and beloved cooperative gallery in downtown Phoenix. I volunteer  to hang shows for our church. I’ve hosted pop up art installations and performance events in my home and other assorted venues: hair salons, coffee houses, office buildings, street fairs, and even a trailer in the middle of nowhere. In 2014 I brought the works of 28 artists from 5 countries to Arizona for International Stuckists: Explorers and Inventors.   It’s all been a labor of love.

In my mind an artist should be an exhibitionist (but only of their artwork!) and should take every opportunity to have their work seen, by as broad an audience as possible. If art is not shared it remains incomplete. Through these experiences I’ve developed a certain curatorial philosophy. I usually don’t select pieces.  I look for artists whose work inspires me, and invite them to show what they want. I respect their creativity, and give them a chance to display their own vision.

Theme shows are fun in the sense that some boundaries are set that will create a cohesive experience in the exhibit, but will still give the participants a chance to innovate and show their own character by their unique approach to a common subject. I’m always amazed by the results. It evokes the energy of synchronicity and highlights unexpected connections.

This is the case once again with “BOOKED: Contemporary Literary Art.” Artists were invited to create works inspired by favorite books. I sure appreciate everyone who took the time to make something that shows what they’ve enjoyed; it is thrilling to me to see what this independent group of creatives devised. It’s also an impressive reading list!

Barton

Leslie Edeline Barton “Flowers for Algernon”

Inspired by Daniel Keyes “Flowers for Algernon”

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Richard Bledsoe “A Horrible Hopping Creature in White”

Inspired by M R James “Casting The Runes”

Carrico

Stephanie Carrico “Mechanical Turtle”

inspired by Salvador Plascencia  “The People of Paper”

 

Anna Dufek

 Anna Dufek “Lucy”

Inspired by C S Lewis “Chronicles of Narnia”

Hassell

Annette Hassell “John Uskglass the Raven King”

Inspired by Susanna Clarke “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell”

Martin

Clay Martin “Uzumaki”

Inspired by Junji Ito “Uzimaki”

Montano

Joe Montano III “Young Naked Mary”

Inspired by The Bible

Morgan

David Morgan “New Breed”

Inspired by Daniel H Wilson “Robopocalypse”

TheAngelDescends4

Larry Ortega “The Angel Descends”

Inspired by The Bible

rippledavecooper

Shelley Whiting “Ripple 2”

Inspired by Dave Cooper “Ripple: A Predilection For Tina”

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BOOKED: CONTEMPORARY LITERARY ART

Artwork Inspired By Favorite Books

February 2 – February 28. 2015

Opening Reception First Friday February 6, 2015 6pm

Third Friday Reception February 20, 2015 6pm

THE TRUNK SPACE

1506 NW Grand Ave

Phoenix, Arizona 85007

602-256-6006

EXHIBITION ANNOUNCEMENT – “Booked: Contemporary Literary Art” at The Trunk Space

Portrait of EG

Richard Bledsoe “Mark Twain’s The Portrait of Emmeline Grangerford”

acrylic on canvas 30″ x 24″

“I got sick and tired of all that Purity! Wanted to tell stories.”
-Philip Guston
Back in the day the genre of history painting was considered the highest form of art. That type of imagery included not only actual historical events but religious, mythological, and literary  scenes.
Modern art turned attention away from narrative forms towards more theoretical and abstract concerns, with the practical effect of losing a great portion of the general audience. Telling stories is the way we connect with one another, and the visual arts have suffered from this disregard for such a fundamental means of communication.
In February Remodern America and the Trunk Space present a group show which embraces the art of the story teller, and pays tribute to beloved authors whose works have moved us, inspired us, and enriched our lives.

Participating Artists:

Leslie Edeline Barton, Michele Bledsoe, Richard Bledsoe,

Stephanie Carrico, Anna Dufek, Annette Hassell, Clay Martin,

Joe Montano III, David Morgan, Larry Ortega, Shelley Whiting

BOOKED: CONTEMPORARY LITERARY ART

Artwork Inspired By Favorite Books

February 2 – February 28. 2015

Opening Reception First Friday February 6, 2015 6pm

Third Friday Reception February 20, 2015 6pm

THE TRUNK SPACE

1506 NW Grand Ave

Phoenix, Arizona 85007

602-256-6006

 

Exhibition Announcement- INTERNATIONAL STUCKISTS: Explorers and Inventors

Man-in-Top-Hat-600

Charles Thomson “Man With Top Hat”

INTERNATIONAL STUCKISTS: EXPLORERS AND INVENTORS

January 14, 2014-February 15, 2014

Opening Reception Third Friday January 17, 2014 6pm

THE TRUNK SPACE

1506 NW Grand Ave

Phoenix, Arizona 85007

USA

602-256-6006

“The Stuckists have earned their place in art history more convincingly than many of the overrated artists they have been so rude about for so long.” Jonathan Jones, The Guardian

In January, a special exhibition is being hosted by Phoenix’s premier  multimedia  arts venue, The Trunk Space. In this event, independent artists from Phoenix’s thriving underground scene will be displayed alongside a special travelling small works showcase of international artists: The Stuckists.

The art movement known as Stuckism has scandalized the  establishment art world in many ways. The group grew out of an association of British writers, musicians and artists known as the Medway Poets. Since their founding in 1999, the Stuckists have issued manifestos, punctured the conceits of mega-collector Charles Saatchi, called conceptual artist Damien Hirst a plagiarist, and in general critiqued the excesses and absurdities of our contemporary creative class. The annual Stuckist protest of the Tate Museum’s Turner Prize has become part of the award’s tradition; they dress as clowns to demonstrate the general beclowning of the culture industries.

But the controversy the Stuckists generate is not the most important aspect of the movement. Stuckism was based on the radical idea that art is important in life. Unfortunately, what a small elite have decided represents the art of this age has failed to fulfill our basic human needs for expression and connection. A different philosophy is called for.

To the Stuckists, art is an inclusive, spiritually driven activity. They celebrate the amateur, those whose art is a labor of love, where the artist takes chances, learns about themselves and the world, and honestly shares their discoveries with the rest of  us. It’s this approach that has made Stuckism a world wide movement; there have been 237 Stuckist groups founded in 52 countries. Stuckist shows have been held across the United States and Europe; the most recent exhibition was  in Tehran, Iran. The Stuckists have made the grassroots a global phenomenon.

Says Stuckism’s co-founder, painter and poet Charles Thomson, “The purpose of art is to enhance life. The experience of art should result in the viewer feeling a deeper and more satisfying state of being.”

Edgeworth Johnstone has been extensively documenting the artists and exhibitions of Stuckism with Youtube videos and his own newspaper. He was an early adaptor of the movement, caught up in the excitement of it all. “I liked the manifesto and some of the artists, so I started The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists. I was the only member of the group at the time. I didn’t have much idea of why I started the group, other than wanting to join in,” he states.

Bringing the cutting edge art of renewal that Stuckism represents to Phoenix has long been a goal of mine. I was inspired by the principles of Remodernism which the Stuckists articulated when I stumbled across them on the internet.  I realized I had hitherto unsuspected kindred spirits everywhere; there were others who cared deeply about art, and were concerned about the harm the misdirected priorities of the cultural apparatchiks are doing to our societies.

While the aristocratic  art world might be setting sales records, the visual arts are suffering a crisis of relevance in everyday life. Many artists working today are focused on substituting hype, networking and baffling jargon for actually making expressive art capable of connecting with people. The Stuckists caused a lot of art establishment heads to explode when they pointed out how much of the contemporary work being promoted actually fails to function as art at all. For too long artists have been focused on making art that’s only relevant to other artists, culture industry bureaucrats, and trophy hunting elitists. I admire the Stuckists for making a stand that both creating and experiencing art is for everyone.

I wanted to share their spontaneous creativity and ideas with a new audience, while at the same time paying homage to the dynamic artists that live and work in Arizona. Putting together this show has given me this opportunity. I’m proud to be holding the exhibit at the Trunk Space, which for going on a decade now has been a beacon of cultural ferment in downtown Phoenix.

Artists are explorers in the sense we are navigating the existing terrain of human nature. We are inventors in that we innovate solutions to the situations we encounter. Everyone lives these processes every day; artists just happen to document their experiences so they can be shared.

-Richard Bledsoe

December 2013

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Richard Bledsoe “Prospecting”

EXPLORERS AND INVENTORS coming attractions-scroll down for more pictures!

INDEPENDENT PHOENIX ARTISTS

Leslie Edeline Barton

Richard Bledsoe

Michele Bledsoe

Stephanie Carrico

Michael Denson

Joe Montano III

Chris Mudhead Reynolds

Shelley Whiting

INTERNATIONAL STUCKISTS (From England unless otherwise noted)

Charles Thomson, Co-founder of Stuckism

Ella Guru, original Stuckist group

Edgeworth Johnstone, The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists

Shelley Li, The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists

Artista Eli, Malaga Stuckists, Spain

Chris Yates Stuckist, The Bury Stuckists

Jasmine Maddock, Merseyside Stuckists

John Bourne, Stuckism Wales, UK

Mary Hamill, London/Kent

Andrew Galbraith, Waterloo Liverpool Stuckists

Terry Marks, New York Stuckists, USA

Annie Zamero, Crouch End Stuckists

Jacqueline Jones, Cardiff Stuckists

Remy Noe (landscapes)/Catherine Noe (mythological), The Maidstone Stuckists

Wagnoir alias Elsa Dax, Paris Stuckists, France

Darren Udaiyan, Cambridge Stuckists

Jiří Hauschka, Prague Stuckists

Jaroslav Valečkan, Central European Stuckists

Markéta Urbanová, Central European Stuckists

Emma Pugmire, The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists

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grandfather

Shelley Whiting

Bourne

John Bourne

thelovers

Michele Bledsoe

Guru

Ella Guru

Galbraith

Andrew Galbraith

Dev1

Darren Udaiyan

midnightparty

Jacqueline Jones

ELI

Artista Eli

Maddock

Jasmine Maddock

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Wagnoir alias Elsa Dax

Comet

Jaroslav Valečka

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Chris Mudhead Reynolds

Johnstone

Edgeworth Johnstone

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Terry Marks