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Yay! I Won Best Of Show!

I recently created a piece out of recycled plastic bags and it was giant. Two things that have been on my to do list for quite some time was to create a life size sculpture, and create something awesome using garbage.

Nature Of Being Sculpture By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Being Sculpture By Rafi Perez

Crossing both of those off my list with this awesome Nature Of Being Sculpture that I created for the Artel Gallery show called “RECYCLE, REUSE, REPURPOSE… REPEAT.”

And guess what??!? I WON BEST IN SHOW!!! How awesome is that?!

Opening reception will be Thursday May 3rd, 6pm-8pm at Artel Gallery in Downtown Pensacola.

Nature Of Being Sculpture By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Being Sculpture By Rafi Perez

This sculpture is modeled after a series of mine called the nature of being. This series combines human beings with trees to create a beautiful symbol of being rooted yet consistently expanding towards the heavens. Connected, growing, evolving, expanding, and beautiful is the message that I want to convey.

In this piece I wanted to expand on that message, by using old plastic bags to create the form and pose. I wanted the piece to be dynamic, to show some distress, yet be fluid and organic in its movement.

The message is open for interpretation, but in my mind, it is nature reclaiming the world, and bouncing back from the brink.

Nature Of Being Sculpture By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Being Sculpture By Rafi Perez
  • What: Art Exhibition – RECYCLE, REUSE, REPURPOSE… REPEAT.
  • Where: Artel Gallery – 223 Palafox Place, Old Escambia County Courthouse, Pensacola, FL 32502
  • When: April 24-June 1st, Opening Reception May 3rd, 6pm-8pm
  • Why: Because it’s awesome! Come hang out with me during the opening reception!

 

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I’m pretty sure my dad hates my art.

As you know, recently I was invited to create an art chair. This was a big deal for me, because there is a finesse that needs to happen when turning furniture into art. I wasn’t really sure I could pull it off.

Art Chair By Rafi Perez
Art Chair By Rafi Perez

You might think that something as common as a “chair” just needs some paint and crazy designs to stand out. Not true, just like any abstract painting it can go wrong really fast, and just like an abstract painting you have to rely on your gut feelings and not technical skill.

All You Need Is Love Chair By Rafi Perez
All You Need Is Love Chair By Rafi Perez

So I went through the typical creative process of feeling like I had an epic failing every step of the way, until it finally started to come together.

So, I created my first art chair, worked through my own insecurities, pushed through the boundaries of what I thought was possible for me, and validated my self status as an artist.

All You Need Is Love Chair By Rafi Perez
All You Need Is Love Chair By Rafi Perez

That’s about the time my dad stepped into the picture.

He stood there and stared at it for a while… didn’t say anything.

At that point, I apparently felt the need to boaster the chair up and make it important in terms my father would understand… money.

“Yeah dad, people were putting $100 in raffle tickets for it!”

He pause, scrunched up his face and then said…

“Someone paid $100 for that shit?”

All You Need Is Love Chair By Rafi Perez
All You Need Is Love Chair By Rafi Perez

Yes they did dad… yes they did.

There are so many stories like this when it comes to my father and art, luckily, it doesn’t bother me any more… in fact, I find it kind of funny.

I spent a long time blaming him for my insecurities, and as it turns out, they were my own insecurities, and I needed to get rid of them myself.

It’s still a work in progress, but I think it will always be.

Watch this video to enjoy the full story, and more stories of my dad and my art… including a big event that took place at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago… Oh boy.

Have fun!!!

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The Critic Doesn’t Count, THE MAN IN THE ARENA

It was about nine years ago, when I ran across this excerpt from a speech by Teddy Roosevelt. This speech changed my life and my point of view of people who criticized my ability to succeed.

pa-hay-okee2
Klee and Rafi traveled the country and challenged their old way of living, despite the naysayers and critics saying it wasn’t possible.

 

I am working on a video that is about taking negative criticism, so I’ve been inspired to share it with you:

” It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. ”

— Theodore Roosevelt

UPDATE:

Here is the video I recently did about some of the negative critics I have had, and how I deal with them.

When you hold on to your vision, no one can ever stop you.

Vision In My Mind By Rafi Perez
Vision In My Mind By Rafi Perez

Stay endlessly inspired by the stuff of life. Love you. –Rafi

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The Origin Of Passion

Recently I entered an international art competition. Well, first let me say, I entered an art competition, which was nerve racking for me. Yeah… Nerve racking… Weird, right?

As part of my 2017 growth as a person, and artist goal, I’ve decided to enter as many international art competitions as I can. Some of you that watch my videos, or have read past blogs, know I have an unreasonable fear of art competitions.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my fear was getting in the way of my achievements as an artist. How am I supposed to win an international art competition, if I’m paralyzed by fear of being judged inadequate? Or worse, what if I win?

Yup, the closer I looked, the more I started to realize that I was also afraid of winning.

The Origin Of Passion By Rafi Perez

Now, let’s get something straight, I really don’t care much about winning or losing. I also am not very concerned about opinions or criticisms about my art. I rather enjoy them, I love hearing the unique perspectives that the viewer brings to the work. Even when it’s negative, I learn something about people.

I mean, c’mon, one of my best friends sees something lewd or sexual in just about every piece I create – sometimes he can’t help it. If I got offended or hurt , I wouldn’t be able to enjoy his genuine reaction to the art. Come to think of it, my father is pretty much a perverted twelve year old when it comes to my art too, so maybe that’s why it doesn’t phase me.

I painted a beautiful painting of a bald eagle for a benefit event, for the Northwest Florida Wildlife Sanctuary. My dad showed up and told everyone it reminded him of a retarded parrot. I didn’t care, he’s genuine… and a little like a retarded parrot himself.

I would rather have genuine reactions, no matter how childish, than polite smiles and scripted responses because people are afraid to hurt my feelings.

That being said, I feel like competitions can be a bit cold. The human interaction between the work can easily be mechanical, because you are comparing pieces to one another and not allowing your relationship with the art to fully form.

The Origin Of Passion By Rafi Perez

But, either way, what was I talking about? Art competitions, I’m doing them this year… Why not?

So my first piece that I’ve created is based on a competition with a tag line of “Passion To Perform.”

I struggled a little with this because the word perform has such a corporate connotation to me. Your performance is evaluated at the end of the year, and the over all performance of the company, and blah blah blah.

You can imagine how the word passion just didn’t seem to fit in my mind.

Luckily, I’m married to an extremely brilliant woman, who also happened to be a vocalist for over a decade, and has a different spin on the word perform.

“It’s like, when you get up on stage and sing, or you dance at the ballet, or act on Broadway… If you are passionate, it shines through.”

Oh… Duh…

So I created this piece called the Origin Of Passion. It is the representation of how I believe the seed of passion can bloom. That contemplative moment, where you are thinking about giving up, and realize that you must move forward. Despite the roadblocks, naysayers, and dark days, you are determined.

The golden words in her hair are the reminder of the power that this passion brings you. Courage, strength, growth, determination, perseverance, inspiration, boldness, vision, and creativity.

The Origin Of Passion By Rafi Perez

I remember back when I quit my corporate job and was reevaluating my life, and wanting to be more creative, a lot of my friends and family were not supportive. In fact, not supportive is an understatement, I’m sure there were a lot of concerned conversations, judgement, and name calling.

But I didn’t care, because I was, and am passionate about my life, creativity, and spreading a positive message into the world. I think if you are passionate about something and you practice courage, strength, growth, determination, perseverance, inspiration, boldness, vision, and creativity… You become unstoppable… Even when your aunt thinks you’re crazy.

 

 

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Drunk Art Critics And Masochistic Angels

Have you ever had somebody just destroy something you created with an unwelcome verbal assault? That’s what a lot of us artists feel it like when we get any type of negative criticism.

“She looks like an amputee, do you find amputees hot or something?” Said drunk she.

Rafi Perez Art 2016
Rafi Perez Art 2016

 

As an artist I expose my emotions to the world in my art. This can be slightly terrifying unless you have a particular mindset when showing your work. I’ve had the benefit now of showing my pieces in just about every venue you can imagine. Some prestigious events and showings, such as my solo show at Marty Campbell Gallery, and some not so prestigious such as the flea markets and drunken parties.

“Some artists that I talk to, believe you have to develop a thick skin in order to be able to take the criticism.”

Personally, I think a thick skin only suppresses hurt emotions and leads to other issues. I’ll give you an example, recently I was showing my pieces at an event and a woman who had been clearly plastered made it a point to make a snide comment about every piece I was exhibiting.

“Is she supposed to be an amputee, is that what you where going for?” Said drunk she.

“Nope.” Said me.

“She looks like an amputee, do you find amputees hot or something?” Said drunk she.

“Sure… Being an amputee doesn’t make someone less hot.” Said me.

“Well, that’s fucked up.” Said drunk she.

“Guess you would know.” Said me as I walked away.

rafi-perez-art-show-136

Admittedly, I could have just walked away without making that last comment. The truth is it wouldn’t have mattered if she was standing in front of a masterpiece or a turd on a stick, she was trying to be funny for her friends and acting like an idiot. That’s not to say that she is an idiot, she’s probably really sweet, but she is definitely not a very good art critic when she’s drunk and trying to be funny.

“I think you can easily get wrapped up in an “us” versus “them” mentality when you are showing something so intimate.”

Had I developed a thick skin, I probably would have just gotten mad under the surface and ignored her. But later on, I would be talking crap about her to my friends and complaining about stupid people who don’t appreciate art, and on and on.

What you have to remember is that everyone sees what they see. You see something special when you look at your art. Someone else looks and they may see something special to them, but they are not seeing the same thing. Reality is subjective and everyone sees the world through their own filter of understanding. That is what makes being an artist such an awesome thing, you get to hear all kinds of different interpretations of the world through your art.

Some are easy to hear because they resonate with you, some don’t and you consider it negative criticism of your work.

rafi-perez-art-show-109

 

“He stared at me for a minute like I was the biggest idiot on the planet and then stormed off.”

I had another guy look at one of my pieces and tell me that my art was just ok, but it could be great if I followed his advice.

“That angel piece is cool, but it could be so much better.” Said drunk he.

“Really, how so?” Asked me.

“If you had her cutting her wings off, you know, because she hates herself and doesn’t think she deserves them.” Said drunk he.

“Um, that’s not really my thing…” Said me, gesturing to all my paintings.

“Bro, if you did that you would be famous! You Know, she’s a cutter and hates herself, and she’s cutting her wings off and there is blood. She doesn’t think she deserves life, she doesn’t deserve her beauty, so she cuts her face! You do that and I’ll buy it from you! And…” Exclaimed drunk he passionately.

I cut him off at that point.

“Not my thing, but thanks for the input.” Said me as I walked away.

“I’m sure there is a big market for masochistic angels who hate themselves, and he’s probably right, I would make the big time, but it’s not who I am.”

I’m am always aware of how powerful emotions play in creating a piece, something like that would require me to go down an emotional path that I’m not willing to take. That being said, it doesn’t mean he was wrong or stupid, it was his opinion and feeling of what he wanted to see. It has to do with him, not the art itself.

Basically, everyone sees your art through their eyes, 10 billion different interpretations of your work. Whether they are drunk or not. Love it or hate it. Don’t take it personally, it has nothing to do with you. Enjoy the ride, the criticism and remember that if no one was saying anything about your work, that would suck way worse.