This is an 8-part blog series covering the history, highlights and future of the artist Artemis Sere — poet, philosopher, publisher, photographer, pixelfiend, painter, creator and imagineer.
INTO THE MAELSTROM
Billy Ocean harmonized in a popular 80s song “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. I’d never call Mr. Ocean a prophet, but he was right. When times are tough, change is unavoidable.
This is a story of a tragedy that evolved into majesty, the story of a broken, exasperated man who found solace and substance in the comfort of shadow. Who embraced the need to evolve, and rode the ghost until it was corporeal. Who discovered compassion, companionship, and confidence in the wake of days and in the shadow’s counsel.
But I’m jumping ahead. This journey begins in an empty Applewoods apartment on Pennock Avenue in Apple Valley, MN. For the first time in my life, I was faced with living completely alone in the wake of a major life collapse. In July 2007, my fiance decided to call it quits and drive separation between myself and her three children, some of which had taken to calling me “Dad”. Losing the woman and three kids that I loved dropped me into an abysmal depression, as I was still not healed fully from my painful divorce.
It was a violent, turbulent storm for the five of us. My chronic health conditions, her difficult divorce, and her mother’s heart problems all contributed to a maelstrom of stress that we had trouble distancing ourselves from. I sacrificed my physical, creative and financial self to try to keep our attempt at family together. But it was all for naught.
“We turn this wheel. We push people away, through our words and actions, when we should be healing each other and bringing each other closer. Where there was once a glimmer of me, now there is only him. Artemis. The dark archer. Shooting holes in the veil of lies of this world to get to the truth. Relentless. Unflinching. Separated.
It is the best defense against a world of hypocrites that would much rather cast you into darkness than bring you closer to light.”.
At the edge of the storm, I found a window into a new light.
PSEUDO – DEAD
As with every oasis, the illumination and the promise of respite from the wasteland were short-lived. My second major separation, coupled with a chronic health condition that never let me rest, regain strength or find comforting repose, dropped his human in a place so dark that I began to feel less than human. In the darker hours, I let the alien, the shadow, take over; its voice became mine, its sight seen through my eyes.
I began Journaling daily. It was truly the only way to keep from going insane, or returning to a suicidal solution (one I explored six years earlier after my divorce). I could feel the storms of darkness raging within me on a regular basis. Stricken with illness, separated from the path I knew and abandoned by most, my shadow surge enlivened Artemis Seer, my beast of creative burden and the herald of a new era. Out of early arrogance and assumption of skills and abilities I thought I possessed, I used the Seer surname. That changed soon after another event that would alter my future.
Be patient; I’ll get to that tragic day shortly.
Before 2007 I had published under the pseudonym K. Dorian Krowe. I had several poems published under that moniker while in college, and once tried to evolve my creative brand under Krowe Creations. But the ghosts were calling for blood, and I was happy to let the empire fall to ruin, erect a new realm in its place.
Every tortured artist dwells on the pain. In this somber and seemingly still place of residence, my dim shadow awakened with new purpose, passion, and orientation.
REBORN IN SHADOW
In the solitary hours and busy months that followed July 2007, the dark nucleus assembled. I worked 2 jobs for sixty plus hours a week to stay afloat — an administrative day job at the University of Minnesota, and a delivery job at Broadway pizza. I would work from 700 AM to 1000 PM five or six days a week, leaving me little time to grieve or breathe. During this time, my illnesses were never far away and forced me into a relentless battle against my body and my life. More to come on that too. Surviving my twin curses was a constant effort and an effort that fostered my artistic rebirth.
I used my past, present and passion for survival as fuel for my resurrection, and a journal as my vehicle of escape. I employed circles that kept me solitary but kept me writing, voiding the poison and vengeance that was borne from my unfortunate path. Every work day at lunch, I would take my 45-minute break with a journal in hand, sitting on the same bench, and staring up at the skies and busy bridge above me, screaming for retribution.
Seriously. I uttered and scribed words and thoughts that dark. We all do from time to time. Life puts us in maddening, depressing and aggressive places, even if we try to avoid them. With the burden of my past failures and present pain, it was easy to be selfish and scream out at those who had hurt me. Not physically, mind you. I don’t resort to physical violence. And I know the wisdom of digging two graves if vengeance is what you seek.
But it all became unavoidable when my dark fantasy intersected with present reality. One day, I walked under the bridge on my lunch break and was propositioned to cover a shift at my pizza job on a night that I normally wouldn’t work and under circumstances I normally wouldn’t accept. But, times were brutally tight, and I could use the extra $40 in tips the delivery job could guarantee me per night. I accepted the offer and zoomed down a different-than-normal road for my different-than-normal night.
A couple hours into my shift, I delivered a pizza to a house. A nice lady answered the door, and our transaction was relatively mundane until she asked me if I’d heard what happened downtown.
As someone that would rather jam to loud music, rather than listen to the news while driving, it wasn’t a big surprise that I completely missed one of the biggest tragedies in the history of Minneapolis, Minnesota. “No. What happened” I responded, fully expecting a report of a terrorist attack, but definitely curious.
“The 35W bridge collapsed”, she replied. “During rush hour.”
My mind zoomed back to my common nightly path and realized I should’ve been on that. I was immediately concerned for my coworkers that took the same road home. “Next to the University of Minnesota?”
“Yes”, she shook her head and responded, in visible shock. “It’s gone. Totally collapsed. There are casualties. Such a tragedy.”
I stood there in shock myself, shaking from head to toe. I was no longer at an affluent house in Apple Valley, I was amongst the rubble, pinned in a world of ash and dust and blood and twisted metal. At a parallel path in time, I was pulled into the buckling of concrete caused by failing gusset plates and swallowed by the void, its chalky breath filling my lungs, heavy lean of earth pulverizing my bones,
The bridge I sat under during my lunch time at work, my respite from the pains of the real world, collapsed into a wicked heap of death, tragedy, law suits and questions. Not for me, because words alone cannot fell a mighty bridge, but coincidence or not, something surreal happened that day, to the underside of a bridge I stared at with anger for 30 minutes while I had cathartic time with my journal. To this day, those pages burn with a seething rage that I cannot duplicate,
nor try to.
On that day, I reconcepted the pseudonym: I didn’t believe I could see the future. If I could, I would’ve stopped the collapse of the mighty 35W bridge, or at least saved lives by having the traffic stop, knowing there was structural instability. On that day, I surrendered the alignment to prophesy, and I vowed to be
An artist committed to pushing the human species to evolve through observation, evidence, and presence, aligned to continuous production, reporting and supporting of art and other artists. From that time forward, I approached my union of storms quite differently. Rather than existing as the victim of the wrath of Fate and Nature, I became the attacker.
With pencil, and ink and paper and patchwork.
With prose, and fiction and pixel and photography.