Thanks for Sharing
The Art of Instant, Global Inspiration
Northwind Arts Center, Port Townsend, WA. April 2017
Nineteen contemporary artists from ten countries connected via Instagram to inspire and influence each other regularly, share their work with nearly 200,000 "followers", and cultivate relationships with other artists, collectors, and arts organizations.
We all know, the internet can be a black hole that any of us can dive into and lose ourselves... Thanks for Sharing demonstrates one way out.
Original works by the participating artists came together in the same physical space for a group exhibition highlighting the evolving practice of artists forging real world community online. Thanks For Sharing also notably connected this unique global online arts community to the small, relatively isolated community of Port Townsend, WA.
chicojefferson - Josh Jefferson, Boston
deedeecheriel - Deedee Cheriel, L.A./India
hardgraverw - Robert Hardgrave, Seattle
igorulangin - Igor Ulangin, Russia
inaluxe - Kristina Sostarko and Jason Odd, Australia
joehengst - Joe Hengst, San Francisco
lasseskarbovik - Lasse Skarbovik, Sweden
maria_lundstrom - Maria Lundstrom, Sweden
mbc_1000 - M.B.C., Ontario
mikebiskup - Mike Biskup, Port Townsend, WA
mina_hamada - Mina Hamada, Barcelona/Tokyo
nachoeterno - Nacho Eterno, Barcelona
robertpokorny - Robert Pokorny, L.A.
sophie_roach - Sophie Roach, Austin, TX
tbiskup - Tim Biskup, L.A.
tylerkeetonrobbins - Tyler Keeton Robbins, Vancouver, BC
raymondlemstra - Raymond Lemstra, Seoul/Netherlands
wissamshawkat - Wissam Shawkat, Iraq
Artwork below is from the Exhibition in April of 2017. Most of the work was created in 2017 specifically for this show. Click any image for a closer look.
Thanks for Sharing: The Art of Instant, Global Inspiration. (The Story)
From 2002 - 2007 I showed my artwork in just about every venue in Port Townsend and found a small, yet receptive audience for my watercolor and India ink improvised imaginary landscapes. While this was rewarding on many levels, it was not looking like a solid pathway to making a living. At that time I knew that if I wanted to share my work widely and have a serious career as an artist, I would need to move to a big city with a robust art scene. As a lover of Port Townsend’s quietude, natural beauty, and friendly community, and a father of three young children, I wasn’t interested in moving to Portland, LA, New York, etc. Serendipitously, I fell into an online job managing a software sales website owned by my brother in law in 2007. In order to make some decent money, I bought a computer, learned how to use it and put my art career on the back burner. During my seven years working online helping small, independent software developers market and sell their products, I watched the internet explode as a network for sharing anything with anyone. In the back of my mind I wondered if eventually I would find a path to sharing and selling my artwork to a worldwide audience also…
In 2014, things were shifting in the Mac software world, (The Mac App Store opened and change the face of Mac software sales) our sales were dwindling and my job was in need of either a serious revamping, or abandonment. Things were also shifting in my personal/emotional/spiritual world. I’d found years of powerful support for my “self” in an amazing worldwide men’s group called The Mankind Project, I read a book called The War of Art, and generally speaking…I’d grown up! After 35 years of self doubt, fear of starving, and general sidestepping, I committed to unwaveringly follow my childhood dream of becoming a professional artist.
Also, my brothers and my dad and I had recently started meeting monthly on the phone to talk about our lives. Those guys know me very well. They know my dreams and passions and began to help me stand up and have my life reflect those things. My brother Tim had been a professional artist for over twenty years and agreed to be my mentor. Between his advice, and what I had learned in The War of Art, I began to pursue my life’s mission wholeheartedly. I set aside some time to paint every day. I focused on making great work over everything else. And as Tim suggested, I started sharing my work and following artists I liked on Instagram. I posted daily, found a plethora of artists whose work I LOVED who were also sharing their work and Tim occasionally shared my paintings with his huge following. Over time, I found I had a growing audience who were truly interested in what I was doing in my studio every evening. I built a website with my portfolio, my story and eventually an online store offering my original paintings to anyone anywhere.
As a resident of Port Townsend, WA with it’s population of 10,000, no major art museums, and a very small contemporary art scene, I found Instagram to be an amazing way to easily discover artists working around the world. Meanwhile a growing number of artists and others were discovering me.
One evening in mid 2015 I posted a photo of a painting to my account (you can see a screenshot of this Instagram post at the bottom of this page) with the following note:
“Kapture Momente, watercolor, 24" x 18”. We're definitely doing something new. I'm sure I'm seeing influences in my work from paintings that some of you completed yesterday - On the other side of the earth! We've got an amazing system of sharing here that creates a whole new set of dynamics for creativity and painting. Thanks to those of you whose work springs to mind as I stand back and look at this tonight... @maria_lundstrom @lasseskarbovik @tbiskup @igorulangin @hardgraverw @tylerkeetonrobbins @inaluxe. I appreciate being able to swim in this giant pool with you! Lots of others in this painting too I'm sure... I've always believed that we are all one on some level. This worldwide instant creativity sharing platform functions in some ways as a single being. Your Thoughts?”
The artists I tagged agreed wholeheartedly with the inspirational power of instant art sharing. (You can see that in the image below also.) Soon after, I began thinking how amazing it would be to curate an exhibition which brought many of my favorite artists, whom I had become aware of through Instagram, under one roof. And how incredible it would be to bring this international body of work to my/our relatively isolated town of Port Townsend, WA. I invited 19 artists to join me and 18 said yes. I had never met any of them in person, except my brother Tim.
Today, as the US republican administration blabs aimlessly about making "America First" Thanks for Sharing: The Art of Instant, Global Inspiration makes the case that we humans are all in this together and that humankind can maximumize it's peaceful potential by working together, sharing ideas, and respecting one another.
- Mike Biskup, Curator and paticipating artist