j o h n r a u x

Art work. Heart work. Work work. Hard work.

Art work. 

This Friday is the group show at Tapir gallery. Its hard to imagine 3 months have gone by already. I will be showing a 6ft drawing on paper. It was the first graphite piece that I finished while in the residency and signifies a major shift in my work.

Outside of my occasional etch-a-sketch portraiture, most of my art has been quite constructivist in its tendency to be pure process and pigment. The piece in the show is really my return to form, objectivity, and symbolism. What was once reserved for my overly esoteric poems and titles, I am now exploring visually. I’ve come to describe the graphite drawings as a group of creatures and cultures. (both imagined and represented)

The following Thursday, I will be opening up my studio to share the bulk of my work that has been created in Berlin. It will be an informal time for me to share my stories and new directions that have arisen while hosting a little celebration with the wonderful people that I’ve come to know in Germany.
Heart work. 
 In spending time with a beautiful and intelligent German woman, my heart has been awoken from a deep slumber.(not dating anyone for 5 years will do that to any dreamer). However, you can’t force love. My newly awoken heart projected feelings upon her which misinterpreted words and actions.(not to mention the cross cultural need to also translate nonverbals) So with a big smile and a little ache to the ego, friendship slowly got her wisdom through my thick skull and dizzy heart to remind me again that she too, is more than worth while. 
Work work. 
As I’ve completely run out of money a few times since being in Berlin and am now surviving because of a few gracious loans and prayer responding angelic internet surfing art and artist supporters, I am faced with the overwhelming sense that I need a more sustainable answer to income than selling paintings. Some of you are probably saying… Duh, but I’m stubborn.
I may return to manual labor. Creativity in my life seems to love rhythms. Fabrication? Merchant Marine? Construction?  Woofing? Cook?
Ideas are welcome. Seriously.
Hard work. 
I feel deeply alive in the wilderness. Being lost in the unfamiliar. The line between loneliness and solitude is however thin. The old motifs of home and journey continue to ebb in my life. My flight back to the states stirs up all kinds of emotion. I miss my community of friends. There are parts of me that only come out in the contexts of specific people. I’ve made wonderful new friends and have a portion of my heart now in Germany. I feel emotionally and spiritually exhausted. I am hoping for a much needed rest following a long prayerful walk by the river today.
Where do I go from here? Some paths are paved. Others are simply made. Some paths have signs marking the trees at the crossroads. Most crossroads have no signs. This pilgrim is going to stop thinking so far ahead and take in today as it comes. I hope to see you along the way. Tschau for now.

Perspective, Location, Surprise.

Perspective.

Believe me, when you feel like you’re in a creative rut, there’s nothing quite like visiting a few Holocaust museums to clarify the costs of apathy and provoke the absolute necessity of creatively maneuvering the present horizons.

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Its sad here. Winter in Germany is always moving. Unnerving public calm to the degree that all people in crowds seem lonely. Cold, five hours of sun yet everyone is underground on the ubahn(subway) or nestled in their labyrinthine apartment complexes, hiding from tease of vitamin D. Strong willed honesty fills the dinner tables. Brash, like my life in America is some kind of sitcom found on the internet. Cheesy, witless, and tiresome. The affluent fled when the wall fell and took industry and globalization west and south leaving in the wake an empty place for bureaucracy… and more importantly, opportunity to be born.

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Berlin is a common ground for the survivors, the refugees, the lost, those caught in the in between and no one wants to share stories. They want to write new ones down, right now. right here. The beauty is the cacophony of wayfaring souls. the layers and layers and layers. If you can see through all the history and the shit… the decay and death are acting like fertilizer of what is yet to come.

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I’ve heard tales of the spring in Berlin. When there is singing and dancing in the streets. When the sun reigns and the bars are empty because the whole town has fled to the parks and rivers to have picnics and romantic encounters. Performances leave the institutions and museum Island is abandoned for the tourists as happenings and spontaneous collaboration erupt in the strangest of intersections. Maybe I’m dreaming on this full mooned Valentine’s Day in Eastern Berlin… but this dream I’ve hopefully allowed to creep into my work. 

Location.

I haven’t drawn from a model in over a decade. I seem to always be late for the drawing sessions so I always end up on the floor and wrestling with foreshortening.  

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I have German lessons once a week but I’m still feeling overwhelmed by fragmentary understanding. Listening ever so intensely for the recognizable syllable or associative gestures, my eyes glaze over as the sound and layers of meaning grind my face into the sand of the cultural shore break. This is how I feel.

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I’ve been working on a Sci-Fi novella as a knee jerk response to my frustration with my paintings thus far. Sometime last week when I was trying to describe the loss of self felt when teleporting (becoming temporarily omnipresent) I looked up at my paintings and realized they are exploring the feeling of being lost and disoriented and the longing for language to make sense or culture to give meaning and context to that feeling. So I’m going to try to finish the series this next week(Ill post detailed photos), now that I have direction about being directionless! 

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Surprise

I painted some hearts to send as mail art this month but the Deutsche post did not like the shapes of my envelopes… so sorry that they will all arrive a bit late… except the one I delivered in person tonight. I hope it was enough to spark what was unvoiced in my ranting nervous wreckage… that namely, when faced with a smile that can melt the sun, can this fragile little heart find the courage to pursue such a light.

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Inside.

Sushi Sunday.

Last week I hosted a mix of travelers, residents, and resident artists (semi-transients) for a night of sushi making at my flat. I took the day to rearrange my studio and make it appropriate for 10-20 people. The back of my bookshelf was transformed into the main table with my bed and bedding surrounding as padding for all to sit on the floor.


1. Use what you have available.


I asked everyone to chop the vegetables that they brought, while I finished the tea, miso and first round of rice. I did a brief run through of terminology and demonstrated making maki and uramaki rolls. Of which I had just learned the process from the internet earlier in the week. There’s nothing quite like jumping in the deep end first.  And then everyone had a chance to make, eat, watch and refine the process together. Like any new experience there was an explosion of conversation, laughter, trial, failure, mess, noise. (I even set the bamboo mat on a lit candle during my demo!)


2.  Everyone has a part.


The Japanese term wabi-sabi was something that I have been meditating on for a long time… but didn’t know it. Wabi being the beauty of imperfection. Handmade quality. The catalyst of formational dilemmas and experiential processes. Sabi being the beauty that comes with age. Timelessness. The patina of lessons learned and life experienced. The two together are a dance.


3. Learning something new is the beginning of creativity. Applying it to your life and traditions is an artform.

Outside.

Saturday Saunter.

Lukas and I took a train just out of Berlin to Melchow to spend some time with the sky, trees and animals. We followed an old forest road for an hour before opening our backpacks for chocolate, tea, and butter croissants. The light was low and dramatic. Every step was a crunch of snow and a telling rhythm of our attention and the effects of the cold on tired legs. Stopping, we found silence and a bird or two in the distance remarking on our invasion.


We took a 8km turn to Biesenthal and on our march through wilderness and wintered farmlands we lost the trail marker at a crossroad. It was getting dark. With some time and luck we rejoined the trail and increased our pace as the natural light and my headlamp with dead batteries would not be able to guide our steps. Finally there was a lone light cutting through the blur of forest and we arrived at the Train station just in time to enjoy the last bit of chocolate in my backpack before returning to the city, indoor plumbing, and cellphone reception.

First things first. 
I received the INSPIRATION AWARD from ARTSKC this year which helped me grow the wings to cross the Atlantic to Germany! (The Drug Store will host a reception and artist talk when I return to KC) 
I’ve officially started the residency at Takt in Berlin and currently have a studio on Müggelstraße 6 (M-6) about 3 blocks away from the Tapir Gallery in Friedrichshain where I will exhibit near the end of my stay.(in 3 months)

First couple of days.
Upon arriving to Berlin I got my bearings with my friend Lukas and had MOMOs! Nothing like Targan’s cart in Kathmandu, but the achar was actually good. Later went on a very jetlagged tour of the Boros Collection with my fellow residents at Takt. It was located in an amazing WW2 bunker and had the very berlin-esque juxtaposition of graffiti/patina/texture/decay with contemporary works made and collected in Berlin by the Boros family. It was hard to connect meaningfully with the art due to the fact that I was running on fumes. Nonetheless it was a great night and perfect time to meet the other residents.
The following day I tried to set the studio up. I went on an extended adventure to find Aldi and the local art store. Ended up finding an asian grocery store 2 blocks away. Hello vindaloo. Hello sushi. Tapir had an opening that evening where I met a very wonderful mix of people. Went out afterwards to a hole in the wall speakeasy around the block called the “antlered rabbit” for a late night of laughter and cross cultural storytelling. 
My first day of painting.
I hung up craft paper to write notes on the walls and to keep them relatively clean. Starting slow. I’m going to let the ideas lead me in the direction of my new work.  Its still nice to make a few marks on a blank canvas. Not everybody loves a staring contest.
After making a little mess I took the train to Rosenthaler Platz for a super packed opening. In trying to find the gallery I found a killer Bahn Mi place as well as the Barn(one of the coffee shops on my checklist). Afterwards Elisa took the takt crew to another italian friend’s house, where we watched videos, drank wine and were introduced to Ramon Angelow… professional fingerboarder and my future guide into underground dub-step mosh pits. seriously. haha.
Siesta at Six: the secret to being a morning person in Berlin without dying when people choose to go out after 1am.
On another note, I’ve started Jonathan Collin’s Shift Fit Light training program and am totally being destroyed by it. In a good way. I hope. Going from the random exercise of necessity and play to intentionally designed training by an elite athlete is no joke, even on the light “setting”. What can I say?
I’ve slept well.

First things first. 

I received the INSPIRATION AWARD from ARTSKC this year which helped me grow the wings to cross the Atlantic to Germany! (The Drug Store will host a reception and artist talk when I return to KC) 

I’ve officially started the residency at Takt in Berlin and currently have a studio on Müggelstraße 6 (M-6) about 3 blocks away from the Tapir Gallery in Friedrichshain where I will exhibit near the end of my stay.(in 3 months)

First couple of days.

Upon arriving to Berlin I got my bearings with my friend Lukas and had MOMOs! Nothing like Targan’s cart in Kathmandu, but the achar was actually good. Later went on a very jetlagged tour of the Boros Collection with my fellow residents at Takt. It was located in an amazing WW2 bunker and had the very berlin-esque juxtaposition of graffiti/patina/texture/decay with contemporary works made and collected in Berlin by the Boros family. It was hard to connect meaningfully with the art due to the fact that I was running on fumes. Nonetheless it was a great night and perfect time to meet the other residents.

The following day I tried to set the studio up. I went on an extended adventure to find Aldi and the local art store. Ended up finding an asian grocery store 2 blocks away. Hello vindaloo. Hello sushi. Tapir had an opening that evening where I met a very wonderful mix of people. Went out afterwards to a hole in the wall speakeasy around the block called the “antlered rabbit” for a late night of laughter and cross cultural storytelling. 

My first day of painting.

I hung up craft paper to write notes on the walls and to keep them relatively clean. Starting slow. I’m going to let the ideas lead me in the direction of my new work.  Its still nice to make a few marks on a blank canvas. Not everybody loves a staring contest.

After making a little mess I took the train to Rosenthaler Platz for a super packed opening. In trying to find the gallery I found a killer Bahn Mi place as well as the Barn(one of the coffee shops on my checklist). Afterwards Elisa took the takt crew to another italian friend’s house, where we watched videos, drank wine and were introduced to Ramon Angelow… professional fingerboarder and my future guide into underground dub-step mosh pits. seriously. haha.

Siesta at Six: the secret to being a morning person in Berlin without dying when people choose to go out after 1am.

On another note, I’ve started Jonathan Collin’s Shift Fit Light training program and am totally being destroyed by it. In a good way. I hope. Going from the random exercise of necessity and play to intentionally designed training by an elite athlete is no joke, even on the light “setting”. What can I say?

I’ve slept well.

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