Art Isn’t a Shelter

Art, regardless of its form, is dead. Art has always been dead. The romanticized view of art includes giving art a soul, a spirit or even an unexplained energy.  But art is dead, has no pulse and is cold. Art is a concept, a thing, a string of words, musical notes, an inanimate object, a product sold in the art market, a commodity.  I’ve kept a studio practice for over 30 years and this idea of lifeless art is fairly new for me and a little unsettling if I only stay on the surface.

Clouds For Lease.

Clouds For Lease.

But if I dig below the surface this lifeless thing called ART does enhance life.  It can introduce us to a range of thoughts and emotions. However we should not tag the actual emotions or feelings to art. Tag them to ourselves.  This is what art does…It’s a door that we choose to open to get access to our emotions, feelings and ways of seeing.  Passage through this door is often a luxury. We wouldn’t pass though the art door if we were seeking food or shelter. Art does not feed us. Art is not food. Art is not a shelter.

Finally, I note the coldness of art…the lack of a pulse. Art is not alive. Even dancing human bodies are only a series of motions that end.  Those artists who sacrifice all for their art…forgoing marriages, children and strong commitments to other people end up alone. They become just another notation in an art history book or the maker of some thing in a private or public collection. They create a void in their lives that art cannot fill.

I am an artist. I make things and write poetry ( but none of it has a soul. I am also a husband and father…and it is this part of my life that fills my heart and soul.


Zeorlin: Texas Regional Artists Exhibition

I’m happy to let everyone out there on the other side of this computer screen know about an upcoming exhibition which includes 13 pieces of my mixed media art….


The Texas Regional Artists Exhibition opens on July 9th at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts, Longview, TX. The July 9th opening night festivities go from 7 to 9 pm. The show runs through September 24, 2016. There are 4 artists participating in this museum exhibition.

I will show 12 pieces from my “Veil Series” and one mixed media sculpture. When you come to the museum make sure your cellphone has a QR code scanning application ready to go. The sculpture includes QR codes (Quick Read) that link the viewer to collections of poetry, simple blues-folk songs, lowbrow bumper stickers, odd videos and my “imaginary friends” like Average Male and Red Face.

Gregory Zeorlin Veil 75. 2014 Mixed media painting

Gregory Zeorlin
Veil 75. 2014
Mixed media painting

Semi-Quiet Art

The current paintings in my “Veil Series” began as thoughts on how I might reduce the distractions in and around me. The challenge begins with learning restraint. I have a tendency to crowd my physical and mental space with visual and audible distraction. My questions about reduction are not about wanting absolute silence. I think of absolute silence as a blank canvas in a room without light. Silence taken to such an extreme becomes a lifeless setting. My thoughts about being a little more quiet are in pursuit of enriching life. A life with fewer distractions becomes one with more discovery. Art can distill the chaos and mystery present in everyday life. Isn’t this why people seek out the arts? Most are not longing to become artists, they want the sense of discovery art brings to our existence.

Most of the paintings I’ve made over the past year confirm using restraint is a challenge. The power of understatement eludes most of my paintings. I have accomplished it in a few out of the group. So I will continue learning how to say just enough with the thoughtful application of  line and color. There’s not a formula as every painting requires a different way of completion. But the painting (below) titled “Veil 184” is semi-quiet and says just enough for my eyes.

Veil 184. 2014. Mixed + digital media on paper. 14"x11".

Veil 184. 2014. Mixed + digital media on paper. 14″x 11″. Gregory Zeorlin

So how much quietness can I allow in my art? I don’t know at this point as there is much work to do. But if this becomes a mental exercise in the studio I should stop working now. Such a reductionist exercise eventually leads to a blank canvas. I’ve seen blank minimalist canvases in esteemed art museums and have not been moved. When I watched others view such paintings, most barely pause. A quiet work of art  is not created to go unnoticed. A quiet piece of art may challenge our sense of timing and patience. An understated piece of art shouldn’t be consumed in a single 15 second glance. And what happens if the viewing leads to contemplation? Could we allow ourselves enough time to pause? “Looking at art has potentially unexpected side effects.” Should this statement be posted at every art museum and gallery entry?

I’ll return to the challenge of making semi-quiet paintings after making sketches, photographs and writing poetry for a month. After sorting this new information I’ll see what happens to the next group of mixed media paintings in the “Veil Series.” Maybe the next ones will even convey the quest of semi-quiet that I’m writing about now.

After all these thoughts about being quiet, I still have to make noise so others notice my semi-quiet work. I’ll post images of finished paintings on my studio website while seeking opportunities to exhibit them in galleries and museums. I don’t want my art to end up in a dark room.

Thank you for reading this blog. Please forward this post to friends, art lovers and art gallery/museum professionals.

Artists Emerging From Dirt

The term “emerging artist” is a perplexing and amusing one to me. It generally indicates an artist is rising to the surface. As if, before making it to the surface, an artist is in the dark. They are like an organism in the dirt that slowly takes on form until it mutates into a real walking artist complete with a cover letter, bio, image list and artist statement. Emerging artists who are deep underground can only see a faint light from up on the surface.  So we squirm around in our dim dirt piles wondering about that light up there coming from the art world.  When an artist starts to emerge, does their head push out of the dirt so their face can follow the light? I wonder about such things.

Of course, sometimes I wonder if I’m more of a pre-emerging artist and not an emerging one. Then my mind races to all those galleries I contact that respond as if I’m just another weed to spray. So they ignore my wildflower blooms and unfamiliar perfume or tell me I cannot become part of their carefully arranged bouquet.  I return to my dirty studio to continue working and mutating. I’m slowly becoming a stronger, vibrant wildflower/weed with a variety of unusual blooms. Those blooms are fade resistant and able to tolerate heavy doses of weed spray. Could I be like a plant in the desert that knows it will bloom in the light when the time is right? Sure. Yeah, that’s me.

Plus think about this…Hothouse flowers shrivel up soon after being cut and arranged. And many hybrid blooms are only arranged a certain way.  Sometimes those flowers start to look like plastic. It’s a good thing there many vibrant weeds out here with ample roots. Even when transplanted into a variety of pots you know they will bloom where they’re placed.

Being a pre-emerging or emerging artist is OK. I do long for a bit more of the bright light. And when the bright art world light beams on my uncommon selection of wildflower blooms, I’ll keep the roots in moist soil.

Thanks for reading this bit of playful sarcasm. I’ll keep working. You can see my artwork by clicking here.


Veil 126

Veil 126

The Democratization of “Good” Design

I recently read about the latest software application promising to put good design into the hands of all.  But do you ever wonder who determines what is “good” design?  Certainly there are general rules that are broadly applied to theories of design.  But as we know, sometimes the theory results in homogenized designs.  A design trend develops and nearly all business graphs, charts, ads, architecture, autos and more become too familiar. Does this come to mind when you think of a certain nationally franchised coffee shop? (I will not name it but it is on nearly every other block in larger cities).

The interior design of this coffee shop chain has “inspired” updates in many homes with the goal of having a cool coffee shop feel and look.  It’s actually too bad when this happens. Individuality gives way to a corporate look.  Such ubiquitous good tastes becomes bland.  We are constantly sold on how to look all the way into our homes.  So, think about good design means to you.  Design is not an adjustable rubber stamp.  Design should show an individual’s tastes and not corporate branding.

It’s time to wake up.  Go ahead and make some design mistakes. Find out what fits you instead of trying to fit into another “good design” theory of the decade.  Many home remodels will happen once the current design trend for coffee shop style and color moves on.  And some will have to buy new art and decoration for their homes since they followed design trends and not their own tastes.  The last thing you want to do is buy art based upon trendy good design theory.  So next time you change your home or buy art figure out what moves you instead of chasing a trendy design.

Blue Apple

Blue Apple

Looking Hastily At Art

The glance. The pass by. The, see everything in the room in less than a minute shuffle.   Sometimes I watch people looking at art more than looking at the art myself. We generally zip by most pieces or migrate towards some huddle of people trying to get a glance at something famous.  So we squirm up to the front to get the glance. Nice.  I saw it.  Keep moving.

But at least people are in the museum and almost looking.  It is a matter of trying to slow down.  To look means to pay attention. Many spend more time reading the museum’s café menu than they do reading a curator’s comments by a work of art. It’s hard to slow down when nearly everything else we encounter through the media lasts for less than a minute.  But it is worth trying.


081 b web



Veils, Missives + Relocations

Those who follow this blog might know I’ve posted several invitations to download a free digital book titled “Not Memorized.” It’s odd to self-promote, but very silent if  I don’t.  So, click here to go to the pdf download.

As a reminder, I’m an artist who also writes.  I’m one of those “mixed media” types. This convenient art category gives me plenty of liberties as I work in my studio.  The downside to such flexibility is that fitting neatly into a category makes the marketing of art easier.  So much for being widely collected.

Here’s a link to a 97 second video featuring images of my mixed media art.  It is so short you can’t finish a cup of coffee before it ends.  So go ahead and watch it:

Thanks.  Now I must actually head to the studio…