The Character of the Living

All photos on this page provided by Jerome Charles

I've been painting for a long time but getting ready for a show is still daunting. Creating the work is a very long and solitary activity so the transition from my quiet studio space and into a public showcase and throwing a party can be awkward for me. The thing is, showing your work is part of the art game so I try not to dwell on insecure thoughts for long.

On Friday, July 25th, I put some paintings up on the walls of 720 Music, Clothing, and Cafe, bought some wine and snacks, and invited a bunch of people to come hang out and look at my pictures. (It went really well and I even sold some things!) The show, titled Character of the Living, is up until August 15th when there will be a closing reception from 7–9PM. The title refers to the arguably non-cohesive nature of my work. When I started The AP Collection I had reached a point in my life where I wasn't making anything I liked and I wasn't sure if I ever would create again. After collecting the first round of interviews I thought I was going to start writing about my experiences and focus entirely on the interviews and writing about Pittsburgh. It took only three months to realize that I am not a writer.

Soon, I found myself setting up a studio in the third floor of our house. What came next was an avalanche of paintings: some were stories I had been told during chats, others were portraits of people with which I'd chatted. I challenged myself to paint scenes I had never tackled before, (the horse in the Fat Sally painting is the second attempt). The portraits felt like coming home, (I've been a figure drawing student since I was 15 years old,) while the more abstract scenes where pure torture to finish. When I stood back and took everything in though, I realized that the attitude in each painting was the same. Each is eager and a little awkward—trying to reach out and tell you its story. For the first time I had enough work to show.

During the reception I had no intention of standing around and watching people look at my paintings and I didn't want to try and explain them. Instead I set my laptop up in the back of the cafe space and asked people to play a friendly game of "Truth or Dare". If they said truth then they had to give me some information about themselves that what honest. If they chose dare then they had to draw something for me. The audio from that night is available here for your enjoyment. Listen as almost thirty different people told me something true about themselves. I normally ask a lot of questions but this time I wanted to put people on the spot and get them to come up with something random on their own...

Thank you to 720 Music, Clothing, and Cafe for being a supportive and delightful host. Thank you to everyone that came out and said hello—whether you know it or not it means the world to me that you took the time to pop by! Again: The show is up until August 15th when there will be a closing reception from 7–9PM