DARts' Editor takes this moment, just before the big show to spout some notions he's been mulling lately about his own work. He suspects he's not the only one to be thinking these things just now ...

Personal Reflections Before the Big Show

by JR Compton

I-- and probably every other DallasArtsRevue.com Supporting Member in the 1026 Tranquilla show -- have been thinking a lot about our own art lately. I don't even remember the last time I showed more than a couple pieces in the same show, but I do hope to get that chance this week.

I told everybody in the show to bring more than they think they could possibly show. I took my own advice. Now I'm wondering if all of mine will fit in my little Honda. And whether all of our work will fit in a little 1026 Tranquilla.

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o there'll be a lot of work brought in this week. When the Hanging Committee (or should that be the Exhibition Committee?) takes on the task of picking, choosing and placing the best of it -- and the best that goes with it, it will be a revelation to us all. Me included.

Over the years, I've come to believe a significant showing of one artist's work is impossible with fewer than three pieces -- and difficult even with that little. I know I'm not the only one entering more than ten pieces, but I've been thinking about that elusive term I've so often denigrated when I didn't have one:

Body of Workis one of those terms I've never had much time for. Before. Now, looking at a substantial body of my own new work, I'm beginning to understand the concept. It's been rare for me to enter any competitions or shows with more than just a smattering of what I thought might be my best work at that given moment. The entries rarely went together.

Now, suddenly, I realize I've been working in series for the last couple years. Looking out over my living room full of clean and serenely framed photographs, I think I might be on the verge of becoming a mature artist.

At long last! The thought shocked and amazed me. What have I been doing these last 38 years? Learning the craft? Getting better? Figuring out what I want to do, and finally learning that I can. Taking gobs of pictures and weaning most of them out. I haven't seen anybody else's yet, but my work in this show is, despite its three main series, remarkably similar.

The series are: JR's New White Rock Lake Journal; Tanks and Towers; and My Windows. The Journal pictures all premiered online. The lake is close. I like being there. It's healthy for me to walk it often. Best of all, it makes me happy. It reminds me what soul work is. It's as good as any reason for my existence. If I'm jangly, I take my camera to the lake and take some pictures.

This version of the Journal began with my new 5-megapixel camera. The resolution, although 26 times overkill for the Web, is important when I print up to 11 x 17 inches, which seems immense, although I look forward to the next, slight, jump in size -- and all new frames...

I didn't know it when I shot them -- I'll snap almost anything that stirs me -- and with digital, I can simply delete the almosts. But it turns out that this Body of Work is -- implicitly and explicitly -- about atmosphere.

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 jrc photo

My favorites show the many forms of water -- falling frozen as snow; subliming into the air on a cold, splashing spillway; rippling to distort reflections; cloud shapes and textures; and birds flying free over it.

Windows and the translucent things that fascinate me are, after all, dryer, less liquid forms of that same stuff. The colors are delighting and delicious, but it's their water-like ability to bounce and transluce light that draws me and my camera again and again. It's why I decorate my own windows, and why I am so drawn to other examples of those amazing transitions.

Giant tanks and water and other towers play that water allusion over and over. Mostly I'm fascinated by big repeating patterns, simple colors, how the light lilts off them, and how these humongous, sometimes beautiful, man-made structures just stand there, in the big middles of our lives, and we hardly ever even notice them.

Of course, as artists, we all truly need to show our work. The reasons are many and go way beyond validation. But there is that, too. In ourhearts, we each know we're good. Yet are never quite sure. Even if we unreservedly believed our friends and families, our own PR, and even the odd critic who might respond favorably to our art, we'd still need to show our stuff.

It's one thing to express ourselves in our studios. It's something quite else to share our visions. Even if no one ever says anything about it, although I still find myself wanting to lurk near my exhibited work. Hoping someone will say something, anything, so I'll know if it causes another human to ponder the things I think are in it.

etting to show with other artists -- people who are accustomed to saying what they think about fellow artists' work -- is perhaps the best part of this opportunity. Opinions can be dangerous, but we all have them, and when it's safe, we express them. As artists, we live for them.

I expect there will be a lot of art talk on the otherwise tranquil street this weekend. And that idea of it excites me to my core.

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