Xoterica 24: The Shift

Artemis Sere Xoterica 24: The Shift
“What is” is constantly moving and constantly changing. If one is anchored to a particular view, one will not be able to follow the swift movement of “what is”. (Lee)

2019, by all accounts, was my darkest year. Death if a family member trumps any previous dark spell. Out of the ashes of a ruinous year, much artistic evolution and production arose - not without much pain and sacrifice, without unraveling much of who I have been for a vision of a different me.

I'd be lying if I suggested either identities are at a stable, understood place right now. Still searching for the answers to the questions of what's next, and who am I next. Once the answers fell like clear, pure rain; now, obscurious fog fills the air.

This is not an unfamiliar place, but I am not a familiar person. To myself, or many who claim to have known me. The reality is that few have known the person behind the metaphors, horrific  visages and recent accomplishments and successes.

Friends stay close through highs and lows; acquaintances check in as the hour allows.

That has also been my biggest disappointment of 2019:

as my truths have come forward, my friends who disagree with my messages and positions have stepped backwards, some have receded completely out of my life.

I've greatly sacrificed the harmony of my audience by confronting global problems, nationalism, racism, bigotry and other flaws that are frequent in our fabric of civilization. As a Humanist, my art has always stood for activism; that few knew about my motivations and passions reflects the fact that many were too caught up with my flash to comprehend what they were appreciating.

And so it goes: I look at 2020 with a healthy content calendar, growth goals and an Seretic Studios Patreon to  blow up, but I feel broken. The compass is haywire and the wheels of this vehicle have lost traction. Directional alignment as the polar opposite to current lies and liars has put me in a frustrating position of constantly fighting with my audience for positions that should be common sense.

Fuck it all. Truth: 2020 isn't about me, my goals nor the Art of Artemis Sere. The world needs a different voice in the coming year, one less focused on ego, self-promotion and greed.

2020 is about

  • finding ways to connect, not convert;
  • building bridges, not destruction;
  • empowering harmony and civility, not pushing for civil war, as some in my crowd and the media have discussed over the last year.

I am 100% anti-Trump, have been against the man since the 80s. If you know me, this is no secret. My disdain may seem partisan, but it stretches back farther than recent politics. He was made possible by a stark reality: the underlying current of pure human wisdom (common sense, common decency, common good) is broken, so his loud lies and offensive bullshit win the debate with those who are likewise broken. While I certainly sound "leftist" when it comes to the Trump debate, probably sound righteous to some, I am a Globalist and a Humanist and want to see the best, fair shake for any human, regardless of genealogy, status, caste, community or side of the aisle.

I am the antithesis of Donald Trump, whether I (and you) like it or not.

I had previously targeted 2020 to be my #yearofSerenity. The goal was to highlight my new work "Echoprism" and my Serenity Gallery -- with a share from my work every day of 2020. Instead, I'm going to shift to a content calendar that doesn't focus on me, but focuses on a return to harmony, caring and compassion.

Enter: the #yearofCivility.

I spent some of my "holiday time" this year going through old boxes and trying to minimize my life and footprint even further. While doing so, I came across a box of books that I had stashed away. In this trove of dusty pages and educational artifacts, I found a book that I'd tossed aside as therapeutic fluff: John Sweeney's "Return to Civility", a book published in 2007 by a Twin Cities publisher and Brave New Workshop comedy outfit.

For some reason, the book survived the shifting sands of my life and found it's way to the top of the heap, with relevance as a gem of clarity in this tortured, divided time. The book provides 365 tangible recommendations of how to engage in behaviors that lead to a more civilized balance with this civilization. This endeavor seems more useful, valuable and important right now than Sere and Seretic Studios content.

The Divided States of America will need a constant reminder of what it means to have a civil discourse and equilibrium in 2020, the year we fight to oust Trump and bring back integrity, honesty and trust to our civilized tribe. Yes, these words are distinctly partisan, but also purposeful. The United States has a leader that lacks civility, and  has sewn the seeds of civil, social and personal division in once-promising soil.

2019 may have been my darkest year, but I see charcoal clouds and firewind on the horizon. In 2020, I will try to plant seeds of civility, rather than rage and civil war.

Please join me in helping America return to civility by engaging with the #yearofcivility. More info coming soon.

From Dictionary.com:

civility[ si-vil-i-tee ]

noun, plural   ci·vil·i·ties.

1. courtesy; politeness.

2. a polite action or expression:

3. Archaic. civilization; culture; good breeding.


Xoterica 23: The Forty-Six

Artemis Sere Xoterica 23: The Forty-Six

"Attain stillness while moving, like thy moon beneath the waves that ever go on rolling and rocking." (Lee)

After 365 days of rising and falling during my 45th year, I awoke to a headache and incessant snow on my 46th birthday. Slick roads and chilling temps forced me to reschedule lunch with my Mom, who now lives 20 minutes away from me for the first time in my adult life. Instead of finding some way to enjoy my day with warmth, love and excitement, I'm repeating the recluse state that has become my comfortable existence. Birthdays should be far more vibrant than mine today, but we don't get to choose the weather of our day - we only get to choose our attitude and activities.
So, since I'm stuck inside working on "Echoprism" on my birthday, I'm going to take advantage of the serendipity and assess the past.
Things lost in my 45th year:

1. My Hair.

I'll start with something terribly frivolous before I dive into the deep stuff. On 1/1, I chopped off my shoulder-length hair in exchange for a distinctly-artistic look. Thinning and graying robbed my locks of health and consistency, and I found that I was constantly putting up my hair in a pony tail at work instead of letting the mane flow. And even as I did so, I was constantly reminded of how I didn't fit into a professional mold. I was once told by a senior sales person at my previous company that "I'd never get anywhere in the company because of my look". I'm proud to note that I exited on top - with a Global Marketing Excellence award and a trajectory that had me locked into a executive development program. Despite my artistic flair. In year 45, I cut off my shoulder length hair and created my own hairstyle.

2. My Dad. 

I've blogged about and talked about my Dad quite a bit over the course of the last year since his death on January 31st. My relationship with him wasn't always perfect, and over the last decade of my life he became more of a stoic observer than participant in my life. He never understood my artistic side, never read one of my books, never made it to one of my gallery shows, nor made it to my St. Paul home where I have hundreds of my paintings hung and stored. There is a vast side of me that he never got to know. This subject is covered in a couple of my blogs in greater detail - Cryptographer's Epitaph and Fog of Death - so I won't drone on about it here. But, for the first time in my life, I don't have a call or message from my (joined) parents doing their best at singing "Happy Birthday" to me. My Dad's nickname for me was "Kitt". Evidentially, a nickname for  American historical figure Christopher Carson, who was a pathfinder of his own in the 1800s and was celebrated for killing Native Americans as America expanded west.  I'm sure he would've denounced my dismissal of Thanksgiving and my celebration of the National Day of Mourning for Native Americans, if he was still alive this year. He and I seldom agreed on subjects, even though he was a smart man who spent most of his time reading books. The nickname was updated in the 80s with my love of Knight Rider (K.I.T.T.), and my Dad was the only person to consistently call me that nickname throughout my life. On my birthday, I miss that nickname and his voice, which I took for granted for many years. He no longer is gifted with birthdays, and my birthday today feels like more of a mourning than a celebration. In year 45, I lost my Father -- flawed mirror and misunderstood friend.

3. My Career.

If you could call it that. With some experience in Marketing via temporary jobs and my art brand, I used my raw intelligence, intuition and talent to excel within a global company in a professional job that many would "die for" (or at least spend six-figures on an education that didn't guarantee the trajectory I was gifted). But constant stress, an always-on existence and a meeting slate that had me running from dawn to dusk made me question my chosen path in the wake of my father's death. The money and benefits were generous and enviable, and the friends I made at the company were reason enough to stay as long as I did, but death opened new doors for me. It opened my eyes to a life that was swiftly drifting away. It awakened me to a landscape of creations and expressions that I had left a chaotic mess as the years drained away my energy and time. It convinced me that I needed change, to follow my heart and gut into brave new worlds and adventures. It tempted me to find a new path, one that would allow synchronicity with happiness and my creative goals. My ex-wife once talked about the necessity to have a "career", and she's lived that one completely - even to the point of following me to the company I left, in a cube one floor above me.  However, I'm more interested in a "life" than a "career". The career I chose has been wrapped up in hollow propaganda, inhumane metrics and shallow experiences for years now, including helping manipulate the 2016 election through fake content and social media campaigns aimed at redirecting the populous and confusing facts around candidates. As marketing drifts into automated experiences, programmed audiences, deep fakes, and AI mouthpieces, I am further repulsed and alienated by the direction of the career I chose. As a genuine creator and transhumanist, I understand the role of machines in our future, but our digital gods reflect all of our human flaws, and luddites have the ultimate trumpeter. In year 45, I sacrificed all that I was.

4. My Metalmorphosis.

My determined direction out of the gates of my Marketing "career" was as a Welding expert. I've covered my thinking around the "why" of that decision in my Metalmorphosis blog. I followed my gut, but things haven't gone as planned or expected. Ultimately, I was a victim of my own success over the last decade - both positively and negatively. I rushed into the decision to follow the path to Dunwoody for welding, and made the choice before I had all of my information figured out. I expected that "the Universe would help me with the path", as it had so many times over the last decade when I was living a charmed life. Well, it turns out that 'the Universe will come to your aid" is a nice bumper sticker or t-shirt slogan, but bullshit when it comes to reality. In order to complete my schooling at Dunwoody, I would've had to come up with at least $50,000 out of pocket for a two-year degree that would've guaranteed me a decent salary on the other side of training. It was an investment in life that I decided I had to figure out. However, I failed to research the scenario completely and, when reality struck with how much I was going to have to fund to make the degree happen, I was forced to make the tough decision. There was simply no way for me to get enough funding to help with school without getting a full-time job again, and there was no option for financial aid without either a full-time job or a cosigner who was willing to take a financial risk on my future. Ten years ago, my government and family may have been able to assist me with my decision to go back to school; if I had stuck with my company of the last ten years, I could've pursued a Business Administration Masters and had school paid for. Turns out no bank or social program wants to help a 46-year-old white man with few family members, a successful professional history and a desire to find a new path in life. For the first time in my life, all decisions that I made led me to being stuck without a path at all. My metalmorphosis certainly isn't dead, but as I face a $9,000 bill from Dunwoody for completing one month of school and then dropping out, my path is being decided by the bad luck of year 45.

5. My Path.

I speak a lot about "pathing". I was once so sure I knew where my path was going. When I got my "professional job" a decade ago, I did so because I discovered that I'd never evolve as a man in this society and attract a life partner (eg. "get a date") if I was delivering pizzas and hopping from temporary job to temporary job. My English degree hadn't led me to much success, and I was frustrated constantly. Prior to my professional job, I worked multiple low-paying jobs for 70 hours a week for a couple years straight. I couldn't afford my life, much less the wooing of the opposite sex, if I was constantly struggling. It was bad enough that I was challenged daily with my chronic condition, but I couldn't seem  to win at any angle of the game at that point. So, I dedicated myself to getting my priorities straight, working hard and focusing on evolution -- putting S.E.R.E. into practice. I exchanged time and personal progress for a paycheck and a pat on the back. I wore the suits. I presented in front of audiences of hundreds. I won awards. I traveled the world. The path exposed me to boundless opportunities, but offered me little time to explore them. My professional life became like window shopping at X-mas with an empty wallet and Salvation Army bugging you for change - I experienced a lot of amazing places through the window of a conference room, was constantly disengaged from the real problems of the time because of my affluent salary, and lost connection to the things that really mattered… because I didn't have the time to fully care. In year 45, I lost all of my known paths.


Things gained in my 45th year:


1. Unification.

A big focus of mine since my exit from the professional path has been stabilization of my art business and brand. I founded Seretic Studios LLC in March and applied for a SERE trademark in April. I recreated my Sereticstudios.com website to reflect the various business lines - Artrovert (my blog), Antithesis Press (my publication arm), SereFire Candles (my candlemaking efforts), and Serenity Gallery (my fine art gallery). Before this year, my story and storylines were a scattered mess. I've spent hundreds of hours redoing the inventory of all of my products and creations, making logical sense of all that I've created and shared. I've fixed content that was inherited from older blogs and spent time bettering the overall experience of my content. My Serenity Gallery inventory currently includes around 550 pieces and I have many more to include. The Gallery stretches throughout time and across my lifespan; it will include comics from my K. Dorian Krowe phase when I produced a weekly for my college paper, digital creations that I created for Instagram but never took time to track, and pieces that I've rescued from Secondhand stores and inherited from various people throughout my life. In year 45, I came to appreciate the weight and direction of my legacy, as well as the flaws in my previous approach. It needed far better attention and unification if it were to be taken seriously. In year 45, I took my time and freedom of direction back.

2. Freedom.

Sure, I gave up a six-figure salary. Yes, I gave up a crazy amount of benefits and upward mobility. I surrendered a comfortable life for a dream and the yearning for a different existence. I'm no martyr, just a human trying to live a humble, honest and harmonious life. I became more vocal about the things I want to fight for, even if it resulted in driving a wedge between certain friends (I lost a lot of "friends" during year 45) and exposing myself to scrutiny and dangerous positions. I became the person that I hid under the mask for a decade. I came to realize that I'm a Globalist, which has put me at odds with most Americans. I've surrendered my "American identity" as a response to the Cult of Drumpf and all of his crooked, corrupt tribe. With complete freedom also comes complete chaos. In the wake of questioning everything, I'm still searching for truth. But now have the complete freedom to understand and embrace the truth without having to wear a daily mask, put on regular airs, be someone that I'm not for someone that would rather make me into their image. In year 45, I made freedom of thought and expression my priority.

3. Priorities.

The air and the view are very different at the top of the mountain compared to the bottom. Once you reach of pinnacle of position, where you are celebrated and embraced for the person you became, you are allowed clarity of direction. You can unapologetically claim that you did what you aimed to do, and no one can question your resolve. But that gregarious glow only lasts for a short while, before "what's next?" begins to consume your conscious thought. In scaling the peak, you gained wisdom, strength and experience you never had before, and are ready to help the world in more authentic and genuine ways. Most will reach the top of the mountain and look for another mountain. I reached the top of the mountain and realized how bad the sherpas and climber's support staff have it at base camp. What's the point of enjoying the apex alone while the world suffers and schisms beneath you? You only have one shot at getting life right - if you spend it scaling the mountain in some selfish egostroke, you become less human and more separated from the simple folk that will never know what the ascent is like. Those who are addicted to the climb are the descendants of Sisyphus, destined to have their boulder roll down to the depths at some point in their short lives. In year 45, I realigned my priorities to my purpose.

4. Purpose.

The word "purpose" is a variant of Middle English "to propose". To live a life of purpose is to live a life of proposition, often a setting forth onto an unbeaten, unpopular path. I'm not talking religious or mythological or heroic purpose. Human purpose. A life dedicated to helping others evolve without pious reasoning. A life proselyting the dangers of being an alpinist. A life of striving to find harmony with the planet and its people, knowing that continuous maturity is necessary for each of us, even though upward mobility is only guaranteed for a select few. A life of fighting for balance, of trying to equalize the major resource imbalances that plague or creature and cultures. A life of advocacy and activism, in pushing for better, even if it pushes us out of control and out of comfort zones. A life of answering the question of "why I'm here" and "what's next" at the same time. A life of antislavery and antithesis. In year 45, I entered a life of movement, of anti-stillness, of evolution through the prism of this artist.

5. Prism.

Specifically, "Echoprism", a poem for Chris. The synthesis of a year of creative work, the most powerful, pulled-together and poignant thing I've ever created. While "Obscurious" was my dark start and "Xenomorphine" was my drug of change, "Echoprism" is an assessment of 20 years of visual work with all of its variants and vibrancies. Over the course of my "career" as a visual artist, I've created a lot and shown very little. People really don't know the artist, and it's time to change that fact. My gallery shows have been sparsely attended. I make very little money off of the creative works that I've produced. And even though I push my art over social media regularly, my audience, followers and fanbase continues to decline. I "bought" the expanse of my current audience through clever marketing tactics (I didn't buy followers, but I did promote my page in order to gain them). Beyond the splashy marketing metrics, the bottom line is a difficult one to digest: there are very few people that actually know my art, and I need to change that, if I truly believe in who I am and what I do. In year 45, through pain and death, I found my voice again; through the void, I found my light again; and through this Sereverse, in year 46, I will find my orientation again.

If you're reading this, I thank you for your time. It is a valuable thing that I don't take for granted. I appreciate your attention, and your interest in my art. I'm in this for the legacy, and am proud that you're along with me on this ride. Here's to year 46, with much hope and heartiness.

Be well.

Artemis Sere Xoterica 23: The Forty-Six

Xoterica 21: The Why

Artemis Sere Xoterica 21 The Why

“By an error repeated throughout the ages, truth becoming a law or a faith, places obstacles in the way of knowledge. Method, which is in its very substance ignorance, encloses truth within a vicious circle. We should break such a circle, not by seeking knowledge, but by discovering the cause of ignorance.” (Lee)

It's fair to say that I've lost the most in my lifetime in 2019. Between the death of my Dad, my departure from a six-figure career, and my disappointing exit from welding school, the scales of this year have been overwhelmed by loss. My former company is struggling. The country is slipping into recession and deep social division. I've lost 25 lbs.
For the first time in my lifetime, I'm considering protesting a sitting president while he rallies his hate troupe at a downtown arena. In the rain, amidst tens of thousands of supporters and fellow anti-Trumpists.
A year ago, I was struggling through drama at home and at the office, but both had a certain stability. My newly-purchased Trek Roscoe 8 was my passion, art was my escape, and life was relatively predictable, as my blogs from last year can attest.
A year later? Chaos and regression are the order.
But in the rubble of a burned-down life -- where I cling to a small semblance of survival and have more questions than answers about my future -- I've been offered the greatest, most valuable, most appropriate gift that I've ever been given: time.
For someone like me, time is an escalator ride moving too fast. I have more to do than time or financial resources to do it, the polar opposite of the last ten years of my professional success. And while the success of the last ten years erased many problems from my youth and set me up for the freedom of now, it doesn't come without sacrificing the future. I'm cannibalizing the resources of then for now, burning the wick of life at both ends.
Inviting ruin you know you could avoid is a scary prospect. Most just repeat what has worked previously. Surrender to the stranglehold of responsibility and duty, conform to the blueprints of the comfortable life. Reinvent yourself in the same way somewhere else similar and familiar. Repeat until balance is re-achieved.
However, when equilibrium is broken, it must be repaired.
Freedom has allowed me to dig into the artist that I became over the last ten years -- the pained, tortured, stressed, anxious, hopeful, scatterbrained, impatient, adventurous creator. Dedication to a 50 hour/week Corporate global job offered me bountiful financial and tangible  resources to create, but little time to use for it. Rapid fire methods of creation became my outlet. Splatter art. Pour art. Resin art. Abstract art.
The rage and fluidity of my life became my method of expression.
I envied the artists that could sit down with a single painting for 10 or so hours, really put attention and heart into a piece; that kind of focus was unavailable to me, due to the time management challenges and work stresses that spilled into my personal life.
I lived to work, more than I worked to live.
Today, the opposite is true. I'm struggling for survival but productive, with nothing but creative time on my hands and a list of projects a lifetime long. I'm halfway through my first book in 4 years, even if it is just a gussied up inventory book of what I've made in my life. I have enough content for Vol 2, and plan to release it next year. It is the culmination of hundreds of hours of focus, and reflects attention to detail and discipline my previous life didn't allow me. It has led to an output few artists get to realize:
a cohesive story.
"Echoprism" covers the legacy of this artist across a life-long timeline ("a visual poem to Chris") -- not only my legacy, but the contained, capsulized remnants of all the genetic lines that went into the making of my brothers and I, as well as the different artistic versions of me throughout time - the cartoonist, the decorator, the designer and the heretic.

In my Serenity Gallery, I've gathered the works of my Great Uncle Lou. I never knew my Great Uncle Lou, only knew him from a distance. I can't summon an image of his face in my mind, but his style stuck with me. His breathtaking watercolor paintings. His underrated talent. His home with a ski-jump roof and stream of running water cut through the floor of his house. His line of artistic offspring that I was never close to (I have a couple of their works too). His blood is in my veins, his talent in my blueprint.
I am his distant echo, and also the keeper of his memory and legacy.
His art is now viewed through my prism, as one of the last remaining living from the family lines. His art was handed down to me for safekeeping - without titles, without helpful details, without the stories behind the work. There are few people left now that can tell Lou's story, and can provide the clarity I'm looking for. His hard work is tucked away in the dark, dusty portfolio of a man he never knew, his memory left to me to decipher.
Or dismiss.
His why has been mostly lost with time. I won't let his (or my Dad's) pattern of oblivion repeat with me. 
Artemis Sere Xoterica 21 The Why

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