Blog

April 29, 2017

My Jerome Fellowship interview has officially been published on MCAD’s website! Read it here.

November 22, 2016

Now that the press release has been put out, I would like to OFFICIALLY announce that I am a proud recipient of the 2016/2017 Jerome Fellowship for Emerging Artists. This is the first year that all five winners have been women, so I feel like this is a historic year and I’m so glad to be a part of it. You can read the details of the fellowship and learn about all five of us fellows at mcad.edu/201617-jerome-fellowship-recipients-announced.

October 29, 2016

I am very pleased to announce that I have been selected as a finalist for the 2017 MCAD/Jerome Fellowship for Emerging Artists. The next round takes place in two weeks, and I will keep you updated! Wish me luck!

October 29, 2016

Mark your calendars! November is going to be a busy month, and my art will be available at several venues in Southern Minnesota.

Sat. Nov. 5th- Holiday Fare, Treaty Site History Center, St. Peter, MN

1851 N. Minnesota Avenue, St. Peter, MN 56082       10am to 3pm

Thurs. Nov. 17th- Opening Reception for the Annual Exhibit of the Emy Frentz Arts Guild

Twin Rivers Council for the Arts, 523 S. 2nd St., Mankato, MN 56001     Reception 5-8pm, Exhibit up until Dec. 14

Sat. Nov. 26th- Shop Small Saturday Artists Fair

Twin Rivers Council for the Arts, 523 S. 2nd St. (Studio #102), Mankato, MN 56001    10am to 4pm

July 18, 2016

This Friday (July 22) the prices on all of my work (originals and prints) is going to be going up. Why is this, you may ask? My work, although it may not always appear to be so, is incredibly labor intensive, and my hourly rate has not been raised in quite a long time. In order to keep up with inflation, cover the rising cost of materials, and counteract a local market that undervalues original art, it is necessary to raise my prices. If you are still interested in getting a piece at a current regular or sale price (see earlier posts from last week), this is your last week to do so. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, and remember that credit card payments and payment plans are always available. Thank you so much for your understanding, and for your support over the years!

February 26, 2016

Artist Grant

I am pleased to announce that I have been awarded a Prairie Lakes Artist Development Grant! The funds are going to be used to purchase photography equipment and studio time so I can learn how to photograph my artwork for documentation and printing purposes. This is going to make it so much easier for me to update my website and social media, create hi-res images for prints, and apply for future grants and exhibitions, and I could not be more thankful to the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council for funding my application.

I would also like to announce the creation of a new group on Facebook for artists of my genre: the Alliance of Fine Art Pop, Humor, and Kitsch Artists. This is a place where Pop artists can network, share their work, and inform each other of Pop-friendly organizations, exhibition spaces, and funding opportunities. If you or someone you know is interested, click here, and please feel free to pass this information along to individuals or organizations who may wish to be involved.

January 11, 2016

David-Bowie-1971-2-resize

I first heard the news at 4:00 this morning.

I usually fall asleep listening to MPR, and every so often the change in volume between the end of the BBC World Service and the beginning of Morning Edition is enough to jolt me awake, if I’m not already suffering from one of my bouts of insomnia. I heard the blast of horn music, and then the first news story of the day: David Bowie has died.

For a kid growing up a total outsider in a town like Mankato, Minnesota, a place where status quo was king and being a carbon copy of everyone else was something to aspire to, David Bowie was a breath of fresh air. The hair, the clothes, the theatrics, the music, and oh-my-God that voice; Bowie was one of those rare individuals who was an artist in every sense of the word, and he didn’t give a shit whether you liked it or you didn’t. I laid in bed for a good three hours, trying to fight off tears before falling back asleep. I’ve been hit hard before by the deaths of a couple of my heroes; George Harrison was particularly rough on me, and Lou Reed’s death affected me much more than I ever anticipated it would. Somehow in my own naiveté, it never even dawned on me that Bowie could ever die before he became a very old man. He had just had a birthday and released a new album, for God’s sake. Sure, he was looking thin, but he had always been thin. Bowie always seemed sort of immortal, and immortals aren’t supposed to die.

When I was growing up, I was the only teenage girl in town that I knew of who played guitar. When all of my female friends were obsessed with Lillith Fair and Johnny Depp, I was buying Bowie and Steely Dan and Humble Pie on vinyl and trying to learn to play every song in the Beatles catalog. I had crushes on Paul McCartney and Dave Foley, not Johnny Depp. When I got to college, I didn’t fit in with the Art Department because I made Pop Art when everyone else was painting abstracts. I didn’t fit in with the Music Department because I wanted to play Rock and Roll when everyone else was playing Classical. And I was still the only female guitar player. I was repeatedly told that I should drop one of my majors because no one can pull off being an artist and a musician. David Bowie was one of the few role models I had. He was a musician and a painter. He did what he wanted, loved who he wanted, made the music he wanted to make. He was weird and talented and wonderful, constantly reinventing himself whenever he saw fit, all the while never giving a second thought to the opinions of anyone else. In a world full of phoniness and superficiality, Bowie was the real deal.

This afternoon I will be teaching music classes and guitar lessons to kids who were just like me, and I will be trying to keep it together. Thankfully quite a few of them know who David Bowie is; whenever I teach my History of Rock and Roll class, I make sure to include artists like Bowie, the Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop, Big Star, and all the other outsiders who deserve to be known. They have always loved learning about him, and I think that after all these years he still has the ability to connect with those kids who don’t quite know where they belong. For this I will always be eternally grateful. David Bowie made the world an infinitely better place, giving a voice to those who needed it the most and creating some unbelievably beautiful art along the way. Rest in peace, sir, and thank you for all you have given us.

January 7, 2016

I’ve always loved the promise of a new year. No matter how good or bad the events of the previous year, each of us is given a blank slate and a chance to start fresh. After taking a three month sabbatical from my studio practice, the time finally feels right to dive back in and start creating again, and the start of the year seems like an appropriate time for a new beginning.

I have to admit that choosing to take some time off was not an easy decision to make. I’ve learned that the practice of taking a sabbatical from one’s creative pursuits is a rare occurrence, and a highly controversial one at that. Some people were incredibly supportive. Others were anything but. In the end neither opinion really matters, because no one else has walked in my shoes. Yes, I am an artist. I am a musician. I am also a daughter, a sister, a friend, a teacher, a mentor, an employee, and a business owner.  But most importantly, I am a human being, and not a human doing. I’ve learned the hard way that once your tank is empty, your vehicle isn’t going anywhere, so there’s no point in trying to force it.

I have never believed in the philosophy of cranking out piece after piece of mediocre art just for the sake of being prolific. I have also learned just how full my tank needs to be in order to create work that I can be proud of. After taking the last three months to take care of myself physically (including recovery from an unplanned surgery), emotionally, and creatively, I am eager to spend some time in my beloved studio and begin to make the kind of art I know I should be making. My Etsy shop has re-opened for business, and I am enjoying playing music again. However, I am also aware of how important it is to take care of these things on a daily basis in order to prevent the burnout that led to this sabbatical in the first place. My goal is to make this a productive year, but not at the expense of my health and well-being, and I would like to encourage all of my fellow artists to do the same. Don’t be afraid to take a break when you need one. Only you can know what is best for you, and what’s best for you will ultimately be the best for your creative practice as well.

December 8, 2015

ONE WEEK ONLY! Now through December 16th, save 20% on all purchases in my Etsy shop (http://www.etsy.com/shop/ShinyBlackVinyl) with coupon code JINGLE. Spread a little retro music geek love this holiday season!

What's Your Name, Little Girl?, acrylic, mixed media, canvas, 18" x 14"
What’s Your Name, Little Girl?, acrylic, mixed media, canvas, 18″ x 14″

November 7, 2015

I’ll be selling framed and unframed prints at the Arts Center of Saint Peter’s Holiday Fare today from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Stop by and say “hi,” and get a jump start on all your holiday Pop Art shopping needs.

Holiday Fare

September 26, 2015

I recently decided, after much deliberation and research on the topic, that it would be in my best interests to give myself the gift of a sabbatical from my creative work. In all of my years of working in both the art and music professions, I have never, ever given myself permission to take a break, fearing it would be the kiss of death for both my creativity and my career. (The only exceptions came during a couple of periods of severe illness in my twenties, when I was too sick to work; even then, I had to be near death to stop working entirely.) I have two other jobs teaching music in addition to creating my own art and music, and recently put myself through graduate school full-time while working all of these jobs in order to earn my graduate certificate in Nonprofit Leadership. And sadly, I have not had a real, honest-to-goodness (non-work-related) vacation in four-and-a-half years. No human being can sustain that level of activity for that long without incurring negative consequences, and I am no exception.

In the weeks since I’ve finished graduate school, I have had little desire to pick up a paintbrush, attend openings, or finish the stack of half-written songs I’ve accumulated. Most of my attention has been focused on applying for jobs, paring down my possessions, and getting every major cleaning project done in my apartment. I’ve thrown out about a metric ton of useless paper, magazines and catalogs from my studio, and I’ve reorganized and re-hung everything with the plans of having a studio sale soon. I am at a point in my life where my dream of leaving the conservative Midwest- the land of bars full of country music and heavy metal bands, and galleries full of paintings of farm fields, haystacks and dogs- is a real possibility, and I am doing everything in my power to get myself ready. And as satisfying as that is, it hasn’t quite been enough rekindle my enthusiasm for my work.

That being said, I have decided that for the next few months my focus will be on refilling the wells of my creativity. The problem is not that I don’t want to be an artist or a musician; it’s that I’ve given so much of myself to my work, my day jobs, my friends and family, and my graduate program that I simply don’t have anything left to give. I’ve neglected to put back anything that’s been taken out, and now the well has run dry. I’m now reading books for fun- lots of them. (Serendipitously, I just finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book on creativity, Big Magic, and I highly recommend it.) I spend my evenings watching films, going to the gym, or catching up on the few television shows I really love but haven’t had time to watch. I’ve been practicing my gourmet cooking skills, and I’m eating better than I have in ages. And you know what? I’m beginning to feel like a normal human being again. Trust me when I say this: if you don’t think that spending your free time watching Blow-Up or Masters of Sex or making bourbon French toast for breakfast on a weekend will change your life for the better, you’re not doing these things nearly often enough.

If you’re worried about the availability of my work drying up during this period of time, please don’t: I still have a large number of paintings and mixed media pieces available for sale at the David Leonardis Gallery in Chicago, as well as a number in my own studio in Minnesota. My Etsy shop will remain open for sales of prints. And I am planning on participating in the Emy Frentz Arts Guild group show and an open studio in November, unless a job offer takes me elsewhere. I have simply put any new work on hold, including my work on the Tonys Project, (my new series of Kids in the Hall-themed work) and am not currently applying for future exhibitions until my sabbatical is over. I do not want to put a lot of half-assed work into the world simply for the purposes of creating. I am going to use this time to explore the things I love and take care of myself the way I deserve to be taken care of. I will not disappear, and I will check in every once in awhile to let you guys know that I’m still here. I’m excited to see what my creative brain has in store when it’s no longer overloaded and worn out, and I’m especially excited to be able to share those things with you when my work starts up again. I’ll see you guys soon.

August 20, 2015

It’s the Grand Reopening of My Etsy Shop!

As the Record Turns, Amanda Wirig, acrylic, mixed media, collage, canvas, 24" x 36"
As the Record Turns, Amanda Wirig, acrylic, mixed media, collage, canvas, 24″ x 36″

Shiny Black Vinyl, my Etsy shop of retro-inspired, music-themed digital inkjet prints has reopened with new merchandise, and to celebrate the occasion, I’m offering a 20% discount now through Labor Day. Just enter coupon code HOOTENANNY at the checkout. Click here to shop!