On Sundays I reflect.
I didn’t drink alcohol this week, nor the last few weeks. I have been too busy to write my blog the last two weeks but today I’m back. There have been temptations to drink the last few weeks that I have overcome. I just want to take a special moment to share a special “FUCK YOU” with Facebook and the overlords. Every time I log into my Facebook when I begin scrolling I see suggested ads trying to persuade me to drink alcohol. Most of these are paid ads featuring memes with jokes about drinking instead of managing personal responsibilities. We all know these social media platforms gather all of our information through data and cater these ads to us. If Facebook is really targeting alcoholics in recovery with ads trying to get them to drink I think it is pretty clear what the agenda is of these assholes. In my own life I just keep scrolling, but I recognize the subconscious effects of the advertising and know how it could affect people who are in a worse situation struggling with alcohol than I am.
I spent most of a week in Miami for Passover with my family. I had one work meeting and was able to turn off work for the rest of the trip and be present. It was nice. My brother and his wife Pri hosted both of our immediate families at their apartment for a lovely Passover Seder. Finally I got to meet my sister in law Michelle for the first time, after dealing with travel and visa issues from Brazil for the last few years. The weather was decent with a few rain showers and otherwise sunny and warm. I was able to see a few art exhibits and museums with my family too, some of which I have already seen and some for my first time. Miami has a vibrant and thriving art scene, which is a nice change of pace for me.
Upon my return to Colorado, my friend Germ flew out from Philadelphia with his girlfriend Anna to spend this week working in my studio with me. This is Germ’s second trip to the mountains, the first being a few months ago in November. We also got to spend time together recently on my birthday trip to NYC and Philly. For many years Germ has been a teacher and somewhat of a mentor to me, in addition to being a friend. Over the years we have collaborated, which was always more of a favor Germ did for me until recently on his trip last November when we made work together that I am proud of and excited about. Most of that work has found homes, so this week we worked on more advanced projects together for upcoming shows that I am producing. At one point I asked Germ to help me with the final flatten on the bottom of our fully worked pint glass. He joked that he was too afraid to execute the move so I quit being intimidated and did it myself. The cup is one of the nicest I have made in the series, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop teasing Germ about how I carried the team on my back!
I have been working with Jeremy OLDGREED on a handful of projects as well. One of those projects has been the embroidery of our psychedelic sweaters. Recently, other shops have begun carrying our line and now you can find the psychedelic crew neck sweaters at Purple Haze in Denver and Ruckus in Philadelphia. Speaking of Purple Haze, my next popup show will be at their Wadsworth location in Arvada on May 7at 4pm. We have some very special things planned for this show so if you are in the area I hope you can make it by!
I am also planning the summer Vail Cup Collectors Club for June 25 so make sure to mark your calendars. VIP tickets will be available soon along with GA tickets for the summer show, and this lineup is one that is going to blow you all away! I have been spending all of my time planning these shows on top of managing regular daily sales and blowing glass most days. Sometimes I wonder how I can fit everything I do into a day. It takes a village. Marta has been around for anything that comes our way, and Jeremy OLDGREED has been coming up weekly to help with projects. Seth is always helping in the background and Van Grow has been by a few times lately to help keep the train rolling. My neighbors at Weston and my team have been sharing space since January and I couldn’t ask for better neighbors. The list of people who help and support me goes on and on, and I am grateful to everyone who believes in my vision. Without all of you it would be impossible to bring my vision into reality. Thank you.
After five years of what I describe as being married to work, I have finally begun to create some balance in my life. Recently I went on a few dates and in the last few months I have been able to take two vacations. One trip for myself over my birthday, and one for the family just last week. I haven’t been snowboarding much lately but I had a great season without injury and full of powder. All of this for me represents a massive shift in my life. For the last five years (and longer really) I sacrificed most everything in life to build this business. It consumed me night and day. It was worth it. It has created my dream studio where on the rare occasions that I feel like creating art, I am uninhibited by constraints.
After exploring some of the art in Miami through a different lens on my recent trip, I began to think about the art that I create and the work I want to make. Most of my time is not spent as “Ben the artist” but rather as “Business Ben”. Over the last few years I feel as if I have had to put my creative and weird side on hold. If I am blowing glass it is rare that I am making something other than cups and drinkware. That of course makes sense and is a part of my business. What I want to create next and share will be abstract work completely unrelated to my business or my “work”. This will not be as rooted in glass as a medium, but may feature glass components. I am committed to making time to be creative and be an artist outside of my business and brand, and I am excited for the work that will come. One of the earliest art projects I can remember was in middle school art class with Mrs. Lind. We were given a pile of “crap” and told to create sculptures. My parents still have the “bird” I made with a clothespin, glue, and various other pieces of scrap from other projects. After gluing a few things together I painted the bird maroon and maybe gave it some embellishment of other colors in small patterns on top. At the time I thought it was dumb but looking back I now realize that it was a true creation of free uninhibited expression which for me is actually quite rare. My life is very planned and calculated despite coming off as sporadic and free. I am hoping to make a return to that in the coming year with some fresh new work unlike anything you have seen before (at least from me).
Sometimes I practice self portraits in my privacy. Most of them end up in composition notebooks that I send back and forth with friends. I am attempting to separate Artist Ben from Business Ben this year, at least to some capacity beyond what I have in the past. I am making more time to create art and putting business on hold even if just for brief moments. This might be the greatest challenge I face, as I spend every waking moment thinking about this business and following this art movement. We are in a very special moment in time I remind myself, and sometimes I have to just put my effort into being present.
I began reading a book Germ gifted me called “The Jew In The Lotus” on the plane to Miami. The book is a story of a Jewish man who was part of a group of Jews invited to speak with the Dalai Lama and bridge the gap between two faiths. I have another hundred pages to finish the book, which has got me thinking about my own spirituality. While I identify as Jewish, I have not been actively practicing or observing for many years now. A lot of what this book addresses is the lack of spirituality in modern day Judaism (as well as other religions) and the way that impacts people’s relationships to those religions.
These are just some of the things on my mind lately and admittedly subjects I am unable to write about in more depth as I process them internally. As this exploration continues I look forward to sharing more of it with you here. Today I am feeling pressure to spend as much time creating with Germ as I can before he leaves town tomorrow. I will definitely be offering Sunday Specials from the studio between projects so make sure to watch my story on Instagram and tune in live for dibs deals!
I have been listening to Blue Mountains by Diamond Rugs on repeat for a few days. It’s a catchy little diddy I found on my discover playlist on Spotify. That and a lot of Gorgon City lately.
Thanks for reading today’s blog and sorry for the two week absence. Consider this week a warmup and hopefully I will have a better blog for you next week.
Enjoy your Sunday!
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