Recently I entered an art competition. For those of you who know me, this was an extremely odd thing for me to do. I enjoy writing. I am easily bored by art even though I think some art is aesthetically pleasing. But those of you who really know me also know that I would do anything to be published and to get my written work “out there” for many people to see. So that’s what I did. I got a poem “out there” by putting it in a painting.
“Out of the Ordinary will feature creative works in any media that use all or part of a “fat quarter” (18″ x 22″ rectangle of fabric) donated by WebFabrics. Any media is eligible and encouraged. The only condition is that the fat quarter from WebFabrics must be used in your piece. Fabric may be manipulated, shredded, coiled, braided, glued, painted etc. You may use any other materials (i.e. paper, wire, paper maché, etc.) along with your fat quarter. A cash prize of $300.00 will be awarded for Best in Show and a complete set of fat quarters in 360 colors from the Collection of Hoffman Bali Batiks (an $800.00 value donated by WebFabrics) will be awarded to the Most Innovative Work.”
The fee was $5 to enter and get a fat quarter of fabric. I thought it was worth the price so I entered. One afternoon Gabe (my 8 year-old son) and I drove over and we picked out a good fabric to use. I wanted something that looked like foliage. Gabe and I spent a lot of time going through all the fabric. They have tons over at WebFabrics so it was quite a task. We narrowed it down to 2 pieces and I let Gabe have the deciding vote.
Then I started the daunting task of getting a page from The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Turns out copying centers do not know copyright laws off-hand. You have to bring whatever section of the law with you when you come to copy a text. So I found Wikipedia‘s break down of US copyright law stating that all materials published before 1924 are now in the public domain and brought it with me to my friendly neighborhood Staples where they made me a large canvas sized copy of the page I wanted.
Then I started working. I glued the copy to my canvas, put down an initial layer of water-color and then got cracking on making my mountains out of the fabric Gabe had picked. I left the part of the book that was to be my poem surrounded by white so it would stand out. It’s mixed media consisting of a couple of different fabrics, acrylic paint, and water-color. When all was complete, it probably took me about 8 hours.
I’m sorry to report that I didn’t win, nor was I a runner-up or honorable mention. What I am happy to report is my art sold. When I went to drop it off, the woman asked me if I wanted to sell it. I said, “Well, if anyone wants it, they can have it.” She looked at me and said,”Why don’t we put a price on it then?” I said, “Well, it cost me about $35 to make it so how about $35.” She just stared at me. “$50?” I said. She said as an up and coming artist it wouldn’t be unreasonable for me to put $75 on it. So I did. I got the email yesterday. It sold. I was shocked… and really, really excited.
So here it is. It’s about Dominion Power’s controversial power lines going up in Loudoun County, VA right now.
It’s hard to read the poem in the picture so here it is:
It was nearly up
plunging foot by foot
it knocked many out.
the enemy conquered the forest.
If any of you have The Jungle by Upton Sinclair it’s taken (in my copy) from page 110.