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No, I didn't go to art school. No, I didn't take many classes. My mom definitely supported me making art when I was a kid, and I think if she hadn't had so many responsibilities for other people (and hadn't been swayed by the 80s backlash against feminism) she would have called herself an artist.

Family photo from the late 80s, white woman in her 30s with big tortoiseshell glasses and permed honey blonde hair, with two young girls on other side of her. They are sitting on a bench and the older one on the right is giving her bunny ears.
Me on the left, my sister on the right. Wild to think my mom is younger there than I am now. Also that my sister's outfit has come back into style several times.

I grew up in small town-- Marks, Mississippi is my hometown, in that that's where they brought me home from the hospital. I lived there for the first 7 years of my life, avoided drowning in the river in my backyard, lived through the 1990 flood from the river in my backyard, falling through the shitty bleachers at the football field, somehow wasn't brainwashed by forced bible lectures at the private school. The 1980 census (I was born late 1982) counted less than 2,300 people in that town. Imagine!

Imagine my opportunities for art education. We did still have art in schools, but I was less than 8 years old so I can't testify to the breadth of the education. I don't think I visited an art museum until we went to Washington DC in 1989 or so. Then it would be a few more years before I did that again. Once we moved to Brookhaven, MS (a CITY with a WALMART, population 10K in 1990) I remember my art classes in public school better, and really loved them. My parents enrolled me in a sculpture class. It was only a few weeks, and my dad ridiculed the abstract pieces I brought home. He was one of those Silent Dads of my generation, except when he could make fun of something. I made fun of it too, since my dad was talking to me. It was a chance at conversation.

Father and daughter, daughter resting her head on her dad's while he sits in an armchair showing his birthday cake.
Me, my dad Mike, and some Mike-approved artwork.

Once I got to junior high (two moves later, into the low-mountain city of Harrison, Arkansas, population back down below 10K, but still had a Wal-Mart and a quasi-mall) I was on to poetry. Writing poems, songs, plays and veryshortstories was my life from ages 13 to 22. I did very little visual art, mostly creepy acrylic paintings on cardboard boxes to further alienate my parents. No art classes after Jr High- I was busy with marching band and Drama. Then I'd go off to college to become a writer? teacher? poet? I have the degree but I am still not sure.

Author as a 17 year old on stage with a guitar. Black and white photo.
Author as a 17 year old on stage with a guitar. I cringe thinking that I debuted a song about an ex boyfriend incredibly shortly after the breakup, knowing he was in the audience. Sorry John.

Ok, so I didn't know I was here to write my life history, but that's part 1. Maybe I'll share a few poems from the before times. Luckily, very few people had cameras or video back when I was playing guitar, so there's not a lot of embarrassing evidence of that period of my life.

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Hey-o- thanks for coming to my show if you did. And if you didn't, I'm sure you were doing something really lovely. Like talking to a potted plant (they need that, they can't go out) or fixing a breakfast with those plums you were saving in the icebox.

The last weekend of the show is here now-- you can see it at The Arsenal on Saturday, September 18 from 1pm-5pm AND on Sunday from 10am-3pm. Sunday is VivaCalleSJ, a huge open streets festival, so please don't drive that day. No, really. It will not be fun for you. If you can walk, roll, ride or skate, it WILL be fun for you.

After that, I am taking the show down and putting most of it up in my studio. It is up to you how much I take home with me (please contact to schedule an appointment and buy some of it, please.) I am doing an OPEN STUDIO at The Alameda Artworks with my buddy Sara, and a whole lotta other artists in their spaces. That's September 25-26. Lots of artists will be out doing their thing that weekend for Silicon Valley Open Studios. I may even have some Jumbo Jibbles stuff out. Or some prototypes!

The Alameda Artw

orks is at 1068 The Alameda in San Jose. You can't see it from the street- it's behind Recycle Bookstore. If you walk in from the street, you can also see my artwork in the window display on the children's side of the bookstore. There's parking on the street and in the lot behind our studio. Look for the colored doors. My studio #12 is through the red door between the bike and bus murals (another way you can get here). Then the PINK DOOR, then #12!

I hope it goes without saying, but please wear a mask so we don't have to be safety wardens. Wear a cute one. If you don't have one, order one of mine on JUMBO JIBBLES and I'll go outside and hand it to you.

That's me, painting the window for Recycle Bookstore back in March. It hasn't rained since then so it all still looks fresh. MY GOD!

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After the pandemic times, this is the biggest thing that's happened to me (that is positive) in a long time. My art isn't about anything deep or important, unless you think rolling your eyes in pleasure or feeling the subtle shift from feeling like you're just alive to feeling like you are full of life isn't important. I am so lucky that I'm a person who can get excited about literal trash on the street. People make fun of that plastic bag scene*

from American Beauty but guess what-- plastic bags ARE kind of beautiful blowing around. Yes, they are trash. Yes, they will be stuck in a tree- but at that exact moment they fill with air and look like they are billowing of their own will, it is pleasant. There is a podcast I enjoy called Everything is Alive, where the host interviews a different inanimate object every week. You get to hear about their experiences, as they give you a view of life with the limitation of immobility and treatment at the hands of humans. The first episode is with a soda can, and let me tell you I SCREAMED at the end. When I was little (before kindergarten) I had imaginary friends and would also grant humanity to just about every non-living object around me. We make all these things, some we need and some that we absolutely don't, but once they exist it would be wasteful not to be thankful and appreciate them as pieces of matter that are now in our world. Do I think there is too much? Oh heck yeah. But like the Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, CA or the collections of Lego Lost At Sea, we can derive enjoyment from our imperfect behavior and creations. We've made a big mess, and hopefully it's possible to change and clean it up, but in the interim, to stave off hopelessness, look at that puddle or pile and appreciate how it has changed what was once to what is now.

Rag Soup & Sugar Sandwiches opens tomorrow at 2pm-5pm at The Arsenal in Japantown. Come say hi. And follow me on insta at @artwormsbrown.

*Come on, that character was a teen. TEENS FEEL THINGS and it is beautiful. Let's all forget that Kevin Spacey was in that movie and just remember Annette Bening just acting the hell out of each scene with her roses.

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