"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from." (TS Eliot)
It began in 2017 with the tenth anniversary of the Artemis Sere concept, brand and art via the #yearoftheSere tag.
It continued in 2018 with an exploration into the Sere philosophy and life practice with #yearoftheSeretic.
It continued in 2019 with my adventure into art-first existence and living the Artrovert idea via #yearoftheArtrovert.
And most recently, I charted a course to personal civility, connection, and community with the #yearofCivility. At a distance, it would seem my distance ran counter to being a civil artist and change agent. But I think you'll see in this blog that my personal exile was an important step in my own redefinition of civility and connection. I lived the theme more than I shared it on social media platforms. Finding a way back to being a bridge builder involved living in the shadow of the goal.
Much like 2021's #yearofSerenity, the progress of evolution is slow, imperfect, and turbulent. Serenity is more than a state of existence; it is a process, and the fight for equilibrium and calm in a human life is constant.
I have formalized the years into themes to mark the passage of time for my brand, and try to align activities, publications and events around these themes. Often, my human life parallels these themes without me trying very hard, life imitating art.
Like chapters of a story, each year provides a fresh opportunity to add value to the plotline, and I'm driven to make meaning of this jagged path.
As suggested in my Year of Civility blog, 2021 will be my #yearofSerenity. The next chapter focuses on the art of my legacy and the content that exists within the volumes of "Echoprism". The Serenity Gallery is sometimes serene and beautiful and inspiring and gorgeous.
But it's also violent, horrific, challenging, and macabre, the shadowy, cacophonous discord of serenity. No path is free from obstacles, stresses, or thorns. The gallery includes both the ying and the yang of progress, because no light is complete without the darkness that accompanies it.
2020: The Year of Civility
Every year starts with so much promise and hope. I never celebrate new year's eve or new year's day. Mostly because of the drunks and dangerous people that are out during the evening, but also because my years are the bleakest in winter. 2020 was no different - following the death of my Dad and the misfire of my metalmorphosis in 2019, I was ready for a less dramatic, more agreeable year.
But, due to the election, I had a feeling that 2020 was going to require a different kind of focus, a different sort of commitment to the causes I stand for. Thus, I targeted 2020 as my "Year of Civility", with the intention of sharing wisdom daily and trying to drive the conversation in a more civil direction in America.
The inertia I hoped for in 2020 didn't last long. Once covid-19 settled into America and the political firestorm began, I found myself unable to be civil. I found myself unable to bridge. I still find myself unable to talk to some people and may never view some people the same way I did before. I'm sure the alternative is true when people look at me.
Cowardly liberal humanist, snowflake with a loud mouth and a slant of socialism.
It's true, though I'm no coward. I'm aggressive as a humanist, or can be. I'm prone to heated debate, pushing the envelope of argument in unhealthy directions. I know many in social media will admit to the same post rage that I once felt, the same burning desire to be right more than respectful. I have opinions that others don't share, and propaganda tactics were my passion.
They still are, but I've learned that I need to redirect the voice and content of my persona.
For a long time, I needed to be validated and have my voice heard. I've run forums and communities in my past, and was known for heated debates around sports. I've spent countless hours in Facebook and Twitter feuds…
that eventually went nowhere, that eventually benefited no one.
So much wasted breath, so much wasted time. Social media is a lot about selling your opinion to the masses, and finding collaborators or colluders to your truth.
It's no surprise to say that modern society is rooted in a popularity contest called social media, where being social and connected is paramount to our perplexing existence. It drives commerce, community, and economy. It delivers our news cycles and manages our connections.
It is the web of Arachnation, and we're all trapped in it, some more stuck to its poisonous strands than others.
In March, as the coronavirus pandemic closed down the United States for the first time in its history, I recognized my inability to engage in a civil conversation with those who oppose my views, and I retreated from civilization instead of drawing closer. It wasn't an act of cowardice; it was an act of consideration.
While most of the country was drifting towards digital platforms to maintain society, I drifted away.
It took me 289 days to return to Facebook and Instagram. It took my girlfriend and good friend to remind me that I have people out there that care about who I am as an artist. It took my dismal website traffic to remind me that without traffic generation activities, I wasn't going to be read or engaged with as an artist. It took a year of highs and lows to put me back at the painter's brush with my art.
And the art is what it's all about. The art is what I'm all about. My art. Your art. Art history and the evolution of humans through our art. We express our dreams and nightmares through art. Our losses and failures. Our demons and angels. Our discord and serenity.
2021: The Year of Serenity
The passion behind formalizing a gallery of my own began when I started to have stacks of paintings laying around my orbit with names that were only shared on social media, and with product information that was only captured in picture comments on shared platforms. I didn't have a formalized Gallery until 2010, when I seriously started painting again.
For many years I didn't have outlets for artistic expression, and/or my output was limited. Human life intervened in artistic evolution, and disrupted the balance in my process and creative framework.
It wasn't until I inherited paintings from my parents that I understood my role and responsibility to my artistic legacy. It's my story, and no one else will tell it better than me, especially if no one tells it before I've moved on from this place. Time erases us swiftly, and I want future generations who hold my pieces to know who I am and what I've done.
Is that a selfish goal? Is developing your legacy as you're living it self-absorption? Or is it prudence in preparation for the great goodbye, not happening tomorrow, but possible someday?
I don't know the title of the famous Luzon painting that hangs on my wall in my living room, but my parents were once interested enough to purchase it and hang it in their home. The artist was once popular enough to have a cultural following. The artist had a story that will disappear if I don't carry what I know of it.
Eventually, all the details that matter around a piece that an artist has worked very hard on can be erased by the passage of time.
Oblivion awaits the underprepared and legacy-less artist.
I'm set against that destination. Almost losing my right thumb to a work injury reinforced the importance of continuing my work and my story. For a while, the injury was gruesome enough that I worried I may never draw or paint the same again.
If at all.
I healed myself carefully, cautiously, meticulously. I bonded skin back together, built bridges from old skin to new, while constantly fighting the infections that worked to take over. I healed myself to have another chance at this legacy.
The injury was a good reminder that I need to share what I have while I can. When I was writing my "Year of Civility" blog last year and planned pushing off "Year of Serenity" to 2021, I had no idea the supreme importance of bringing the gallery to life. Out of the closets and into the populous. Out of the shadows and into sight.
The Serenity Gallery is my formalized gallery experience. It includes pieces that I've created, and pieces that I've purchased or inherited. It is this artist's formalized legacy, captured in catalog format. I've taken formal pictures of all pieces in the gallery, and am developing web pages on my Seretic Studios website to hold the halls of this digital gallery experience. This gallery numbers in the hundreds, so there are many experiences to build and share in 2021.
Following the inventory structure of the Serenity Gallery, I plan to share a piece from "Echoprism Volumes 1 & 2" throughout the year 2021 in Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (other platforms may apply). All pieces will be tagged with the #yearofSerenity hashtag, and highlighted on the Seretic Studios website. Sharing 365 paintings twice a day will be a lot of work, and I'm using Buffer to execute this campaign.
Hopefully, I'll be able to maintain the daily cadence without disruption, but I except I'll have some days that I have catching up to do.
Either way, the #yearofSerenity will be anything but serene for me. It will be full of personal discord as I get my life back on track, while the country does its best to recover from a devastating pandemic and society-changing event. My contributions to the fabric of serenity may not always make sense in 2021, and may not always err on the side of peace and calm.
But balance won't be understood until the end. And we're far from the end.
There's a lot of life left to live, a legacy of art yet to give.
Every year I also collect a soundtrack. Subscribe to my Artemis Sere YouTube channel, and follow along with my Year of Serenity background music. These channels inform my annual Best of Music album lists as I discover new music throughout the year.
My official theme song for my "Year of Serenity" is Testament's classic "Return to Serenity". It will be shared regularly on my channels.