Last November, I learned that I’d be having my first gallery showing in more than 21 years. It would take place at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery and would feature at least 30 of my modern art and surrealist paintings, accompanied by the music of Tom Jr. and friends.
I was truly excited but March 3rd was a long time away back in early November. I began compiling a to-do list, starting with the overall invite. Initially, we were going to title the event “The Tom Blood Experience” – but since Tom was only playing for the opening night reception and because that title seemed a little self-serving to me, I opted instead for “Blood On The Walls”. It was simple. It was memorable. And it pretty much described what attendees would see – lots of paintings by Tom Blood, hanging on the walls.
The holidays came and went. I developed the invite and then began pushing it out, setting up a Facebook event page as well as personally inviting friends, family members and work associates both past and present. Tom Jr. began his portion of the event as well, working with several of his musician friends to plan the evening’s musical entertainment.
People began to RSVP, starting slow, but as of last week, the number eclipsed 200 and I was fairly confident, even with multiple no-shows, that we would have a great crowd on hand.
Tom and I made the painting selections, narrowing the number of choices down from more than 50 to what I thought might be a too many number of 40. It turned out to be just right. I created explanations for each of the paintings, trying to give viewers a glimpse into my thought process behind the painting and I’m glad I did as I thoroughly enjoyed watching people read the captions, then look back up at the painting.
It’s kind of unnerving when you see so many people staring at art that you created. But that’s why art exists – to be viewed and enjoyed and interpreted. It was so refreshing to unleash some of these paintings, getting them out of my basement and into a gallery.
It felt like they belonged.
The show officially got underway at 6:30. By that time, we already had more than 20 people wandering around. I was raffling off several items from my http://tom-blood.pixels.com site and the jars quickly began to fill.
People kept pouring through the doors. Cousins. High-school and college buddies. People I’ve worked with through my many years in advertising. Fellow parishioners from St. Gerard-Majella. Tom drew his own crowd and it was such a cool mix of people.
I wanted to talk to everyone – which made my attention span almost gnat-like. Every time I’d be talking to someone, someone new would enter and tap me on the shoulder or give me a hug.
At one point, I stepped off to the side and just gazed at the crowd. Though it wasn’t wall-to-wall people, it was crowded everywhere you looked. The band was jamming and I smiled to myself, knowing that, like all things, the evening would come and it would go.
By the end of the evening, I had lost my voice. Already, I was looking back, wishing I would have made an appeal for people to toss in a few bucks for the great music that was played. I wish I could have personally thanked every single person who came, (though I certainly tried.) I wish I could do it all again and savor the joy and warmth and friendship and soak in all the many compliments I heard throughout the night.
But the Opening Night Reception of Blood On The Walls is now in the past.
And all I can do is press onward and keep painting to assure that the next event comes a little sooner than 21 years from now.
Thanks to all who made this special night one for the memory books.
I shall return.
To see some of Tom’s work, visit http://tom-blood.pixels.com – there, you can order prints or a wide variety of items featuring Tom’s artwork to turn ordinary items like iPhone cases or pillows or tote bags into conversation pieces.