Project Progress

PROJECT PROGRESS: To date, I have collected three gallons of pennies! Will tally them soon. Check here for Project Progress throughout the year.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Making Progress

I know it's been a while since I posted anything... but things have been moving along. I did an Afternoon Salon (art and opera), which exposed this project to a whole new audience. While there, I met a woman who is on the board of Young Arts Arizona which, among other things, partners with local schools to bring art opportunities to children and teenagers. I'll be doing an "artist in residence" gig at a local high school... teaching them about digital art and other work I do. I mention this because this organization might be another worthy group to reap the benefits of the charitable component of this project. More on that as my relationship with them continues. In the meantime, I have an appointment next week with the Shemer Art Center to discuss the same thing with them. I'll keep you updated on both of those possibilities.

I am also attending a meeting next weekend to discuss the future of the artLink organization. artLink sponsor's First Friday, Art Detour and other events in Phoenix. I used to serve on its board as Treasurer (in my previous life as an accountant). If I could interest artLink in participating in this project somehow, it would be a good shot in the arm in terms of expanding interest and participation. We'll see.

I've now filled almost three gallon jugs with pennies! I'm pleased that so many people like my work and want to be part of this. It is a testament to people's appreciation of the arts... and that is what I hoped for.

The Arizona summer is a trying time and I haven't been doing much in the way of exhibitions at my studio, so things are slow. They should pick up in a month or two. But know that even when I'm not posting, I'm always involved with pursuing this project and its progress!

That's it for now....

Saturday, May 14, 2011

One Thing I've learned...

As I've said in earlier posts, I'm learning a lot about myself as I pursue this project. The most recent revelation: I'm a lousy blogger! "They" say that to have a "successful" blog, one should post daily. I can't do that for a variety of reasons. First of all, I don't have that much new to say... Unless I get comments from the public to respond to, there are only so many times I can describe the project and my vision for it.There are only so many times I can talk about the difficulty I have asking people for pennies, the gratitude I feel when people participate. Since the idea is to wait till the collection process is over at the end of 2011 before making any decision about the piece to be created and to give people a chance to add their suggestions, I can't really post about the idea for the piece taking shape. Second of all, I follow several blogs belonging to friends of mine and I have to admit that after the first couple of posts, I feel more obligated than excited to read them. I don't want to inundate people with new posts, new facebook updates about new posts, emails about new posts. I think it's a turn off sometimes and a display of self-promotion that I'm not all that comfortable with. Third of all, I don't really know what constitutes a successful blog in my case. I do know that popularity is not necessarily an indicator. I care more about participation. According to my stats, people are reading this. According to my ever more full penny jars, people want to see the project completed and want to be part of it, at least in terms of providing the pennies (materials) for the artwork. So I continue to blog when the spirit moves me and hope that is ok with all of you.

I do have a few items to report. My studio mate, Elise, is an art teacher. Her students just sent me over 800 pennies that they collected. I am very grateful to them and look forward to hearing from them on this blog. I'm sure they'll have something to say about how I use the pennies. Also, I spoke yesterday withe the director of the Shemer Art Center and Museum in Phoenix. I am hoping to meet with her again to discuss the possibility of Shemer being the recipient of the charitable component of this project. I want to explore the possibilities of donating the piece to their sculpture garden, or auctioning it for their benefit at some sort of event to be held there. I think this fulfills my wish that the project benefit the community and especially the arts in the community. I will keep you all posted of any progress in that area. I've also fleshed out a little more of my vision of the piece. I'll keep this to myself for now since I won't necessarily be making my vision of the piece. There is still plenty of time for members of the community to add their ideas and I'm not making any decisions yet. But if I don't get the input and have to rely on my own ideas, I want to have something in mind. Of course, as is the norm with my art, the final product may not even resemble what I have in my mind when I begin. That's the fun part of the creative process... seeing ideas come to life and then take on a life of their own that could be very different from what was first imagined. I love seeing art develop into what it was meant to be and knowing how small a role the artist sometimes plays in that process!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Emotions and Progress

This project is turning out to be about emotions and ideas: Gratitude. Appreciation. Admiration. Community. Sharing. Participation. Creativity. Expression. Symbolism. Financial Concerns vs. Art For Art's Sake (a big dilemma for artists). Giving Back. Individual Taste. Merging Input.

And specifically for me it's about:  Staying Open. Being Patient. Allowing Things to Develop At Their Own Pace. Putting Myself "Out There." Separating Myself From My Art. Accepting That I Might Fail (and very publicly, at that). Being Flexible. Weathering Disappointment and Disillusionment (at times). Keeping Focus. Persevering. Facing Apathy. Risking Rejection. Feeling (sometimes) Over-Committed and Under Qualified. Needing Help. Creating Buzz. Second Guessing Myself. Listening. Personal Growth. Stretching Beyond My Comfort Zone.

The year is 1/4th over... 3/4ths to go. I have jars full of pennies, bunches of ideas about what to create, several suggestions for a charitable component. The project is moving along. An art teacher friend of mine has her class participating by collecting pennies and will be having them get on this blog to contribute their ideas. Other people have expressed excitement and a desire to be involved. I have other artists lined up to help with the actual creation (as a digital artist and maker of decoupage toilet seats and painted bark bustiers, I don't have much experience with sculpture or installations - actually, I don't have any (and that's the fun part)! I've received some good publicity about the project. I'm still psyched about it and am giving it constant thought and attention... So much so that it's probably taking most of my creative energy and my "real," or "other," or "old" media and art forms (the digital, the toilet seats, and the bustiers) are suffering a little from lack of attention and interest. But I love working on something new. Learning new skills and techniques and ways of expressing myself, ways of communicating thoughts, ideas, values, and emotions. I have no definite idea of what the final product will be... I only hope I can convey all of these wonderful (and not so wonderful) feelings. Certainly a year gives me lots of time to live with these emotions and let them percolate and congeal into something less ambiguous than the hazy sensations of comfort and discomfort that one generally feels. Once that happens, I think the final design for the project will become clear!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I played hookey...

... from April's First Friday so I don't have much progress to report re the penny collection. But... I have been thinking more about what to make from all the pennies and how to incorporate all the suggestions I've received. At these times I have to remind myself that the idea is to collect the pennies (and the input) for a whole year before making any decisions. I may have mentioned before that patience is not my strong suit. This whole project is a lesson in letting things percolate and develop on their own and in their own time. I'm learning (hopefully) not to force anything, not to allow my preconceived ideas to shape any particular outcome. It is an incredible lesson to learn. And a difficult one.

Things have been up in the air at my studio lately. I thought that I would have to move at the end of March, but things worked out so that I'm able to stay put, at least for the time being. So continue to drop by (with pockets full of pennies) the MonOrchid at 214 E. Roosevelt in Phoenix.

I've completely redone my website and launched it just two weeks ago. You can view it at If you see any images you like there, remember to bring or send me a penny! Your pennies are the materials and inspiration from which art will be made!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Another Day, Another Thousand Pennies....

March has been a good month for the Penny Project. What with a show for First Friday rolling into a three-day Art Detour weekend, there were plenty of people roaming through the gallery where my art was up. I was heartened to see so many reading the information about this project and adding their pennies (and nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollar bills) to the jar. I also checked the stats for this blog and it's getting good views. People are really responding to the idea of me making art from their pennies and their compliments. And we've received several good comments/suggestions on the Group Discussion pages.

I've given up on the idea of counting the pennies regularly and posting a running tally. Impossible! Maybe I'll have a "Guess How Many" contest when the year is up... "For now, suffice it to say that I estimate I have collected the equivalent of over ten thousand pennies!

One thing that has me really excited about this project is the opportunity to work in new media. I'll be learning so much, no matter what we decide to make from the pennies. I imagine there might be some mosaic involved. Some woodworking. Perhaps some welding too! Lots of opportunitites to get dirty and wield power tools... I can't wait! Several other local Phoenix artists have been kind enough to offer me help and advice. Thank G-d! I have so much to learn and they appear to be willing teachers! I love that this project may bring me (and other interested community members) together with local talented people who are willing to share their expertise.

Next on my list is to talk to people in the know about Public Art and see if there will be a place for this piece in that arena. I'll also be applying for some grants that will hopefully fund the purchase of materials needed for the project. If you have experience with Public Art or Arts Grants, I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Good Press

The March issue of Phoenix Magazine has come out and there is a wonderful article about this project on Page 46 (in the Artist Of The Month column)! Although it has been mailed to subscribers, it has not yet hit the newsstands. I'm very excited about this bit of press. Now the pressure is on! We have to come up with a great idea, and a great piece of art! There is some discussion going on the "What Should We Create?" thread. Some very good ideas have been proposed. If you haven't checked it out it's at Be sure to add your comments about these ideas or propose your own ideas. All input is welcome!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Putting The "Public" Back in Public Art

My vision for this project is one of Community. The Community, at least here in Phoenix, is very involved in Art. Thousands of people turn out for the First Friday Art Walk every month. They look. They like. As my penny jar fills up, we can measure this appreciation… not just of my art, but of art in general. I notice that many donors read the information and participate without even knowing which of the pieces on the wall are mine.  Their appreciation (physically represented by the pennies) will be the stuff of which the art is created. That is the first way we are putting the public back in public art. They, and their appreciation of art, are providing the raw materials.

This blog is the second way. By following the blog and adding comments and suggestions, everyone will have the opportunity of being involved in the design of The Piece. At this point I have no idea what it will look like. I envision this as a communal decision with discussion taking place here on this blog. Most “Public Art” is decide upon by a small group of “experts” and the community has no say. We, here in Phoenix, have seen this backfire with loud public outcries over the content, and the cost, of some of the art. There has also been public dismay over the fact that local artists have been overlooked in favor of out-of-town artists. My hope is that the Community will participate in designing and building the installation and those areas of discontent will not be an issue.

In addition to helping to design The Piece, the Community, via this blog, can participate in making other decisions about the art: It’s symbolism/meaning; it’s title; where it might be displayed, how it can tie into an as yet unnamed charitable component; what to do with it when it’s done.  Further, they can sign up to help “construct” it.

I will be posting pages to address each of these areas where people can participate. There will be links to these posts under the heading of “Discussion Pages” on the left side of the blog so that comments can be added all year long while we make these communal decisions.

That is my vision… to have people participate in the entire project and to create a truly Public piece of art. If you have ever wanted to be involved in “The Creative Process,” from beginning to end, this is your chance!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It's going pretty well...

Another First Friday has come and gone, and things are going well in the penny department. Collected a lot of pennies... not as many as last First Friday since I wasn't showing in the gallery, but we had some action back in the studio area. We (the MonOrchid Artist Collective) were selling Hot Chocolate back there too which didn't hurt in terms of traffic. Anyway, I really need to make time to count the pennies (and nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollars) so I can update the count on this page.

By the way... what are your thoughts about using the silver change and dollar bills in The Piece? Or should we convert everything to pennies as originally envisioned?

Response was pretty good this time... at least in terms of pennies. Several people I approached had already heard or read about the Project. That's a good sign! One Art Teacher, a member of my Collective, has got her students involved collecting pennies for us. Many people I talked to seemed interested in getting on this blog and adding comments. Unfortunately no one has yet. Someone needs to break the ice! It won't be much of a community project if there's no community. But I'm committed to doing this... collecting pennies for a year and making art out of them. I'll do it with or without the public input. But honestly, without public input it won't be the project I had hoped for.

I really wanted to give people an opportunity to be involved in the creative process and in the creation of The Piece. But all I can do is offer the opportunity. So that's what I'm doing. I'm a little disappointed about response to the blog so far, but then it's only been a month or so. We have a long way to go. There's plenty of time to discuss details. And no decisions can really be made untill we see how many pennies we have to work with. I'm trying to remain positive about the eventual outcome. Next month I, and this project, will be featured in Phoenix Magazine... so there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic! It's another lesson I'm learning as a result of this project. Optimism, along with Patience and Perseverance, are the traits I'm developing right now.

Monday, January 31, 2011

What should we make?????

So… we’ve got pennies! Lots and lots more pennies still to come, I hope! Now what? What kind of art should we make? I’ll start out with a few ideas I’ve had, and you can post yours as a comment below. This page will be accessible from the left side of the blog homepage all year long (under the heading "Group Discussions - Add Your Input!"), so keep those ideas coming! And feel free to comment on my ideas and the ideas of others.

1.     A Penny Fountain – A pool of pennies with streams of pennies coming up out of it and falling back into it. Representing, perhaps, a love of art (symbolized by the pennies which represent compliments) flowing up and out of the artwork and then back into itself as it enlarges the piece itself. Other interpretations abound: any ideas? Plus, the pool can continue to grow and become an on-going and forever changing work in progress!

2.     Along those same lines, we can add a figure to the pool… an artist drowning in a sea of compliments? Or perhaps an artist simply bathing in the compliments?  Again, many interpretations possible, as there should be!

3.     A shrine made from pennies – A shrine to compliments? A shrine to money (pennies are, after all, money)? A shrine to art? A shrine to Community? A shrine to creativity?

Some other thoughts phrases to get you thinking: Pennies From Heaven, A Penny For Your Thoughts, Penny Wise and Pound Foolish, A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned, In For A Penny, In For A Pound,  My Two-Cents Worth, Penny Lane, Penny Stocks, Penny Pincher, Worth Every Penny, Lucky Penny...

These are YOUR pennies. How would you like to see them incorporated into art? What would you like them to say?

Once we have a piece in mind, we can start discussing what it should look like and how it should be constructed. Do we shine the pennies, or some of them? Glue them? Solder them? Seal them? Spell something with them? Jingle them (to add sound to our piece)? Do we incorporate the silver change and dollar bills I've received or convert them all to pennies?

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Some Housekeeping Issues

So here's how it's going to work: I'll be using this blog  as the communication tool for those who want to be involved in the conception and construction of  a truly PUBLIC art project beyond just the donation of pennies (the materials from which the art work will be made), I will post several topics seeking your input... the nature of the piece we will be creating from the pennies; how we should create it; what to name it; what it should look like, what it should symbolize, what to do with it when it's done; how to incorporate a charitable component into the project, and how, specifically, you can be involved. On the left side of this page, under the heading "Group Discussions - Add Your Input!" there will be links to those specific  posts that will remain up all year so that we can all post our ideas and discuss them. The first one, "Charitable Component," is already up.

Remember, I could easily make a piece of art out of my own pennies. That's not the point! The point is to allow people who appreciate art (as symbolized by the collection of pennies representing compliments) to participate in the creation of a piece of art and be involved in the creative process of conceiving it and carrying it out! This is something meant to involve and reflect the entire community! I'm not sure it's ever been done before! It is a journey we can all take together and yet, we will all take away from it something completely individual. We will each get something different out of it, depending on how we have, or have not, participated in this type of process before. How much we get out of it, as individuals and as a community, will be directly proportional to how much we put into it. Even if you are not local to Phoenix, you can, through this blog, be involved in this creative process. I hope you'll enjoy taking part!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Charitable Component

What type of Charitable Component should this project have? 

This thread is dedicated to discussing and ultimately deciding on what kind of charitable component the project should have. Obviously, we won't be donating the pennies, since they are the materials for our art piece. But we do want to do something that will encourage additional participation and  something we, as a group, can all feel good about. Please add your suggestions and comments below. Everyone will be able to comment and, hopefully, we will come to a decision soon.  Some ideas:

1.  At the end of the project we can auction the piece and donate the money to a cause we agree upon... perhaps something that supports the arts in general or public art in particular.

2.  At the end of the project we can donate the piece to the city for all to enjoy.

3.  ??????

What do you think of these ideas?  What ideas do you have? There is a link to this post on the left side of the homepage of the blog, under the heading "Discussion Pages." Feel free to add your comments all year long!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Off and Running

We're off to a VERY good start! This past week there were articles about us in the Phoenix New Times Jackalope Ranch Culture Blog and The Town of Paradise Valley Independent Newspaper. Additionally, I was informed by Phoenix Magazine that I will be their Artist of The Month in March and have been interviewed by them about the Penny Project. So we're getting some buzz. Now the big question: will people participate?

Last night, at my show in the MonOrchid Gallery (Phoenix) for First Friday Artwalk, I had a sign up over a Penny Jar (see photo) and I also carried information cards and a smaller penny jar during the show. I collected hundreds of pennies!!! Perhaps over a thousand (I'll count them tomorrow). I should say the equivalent of hundreds of pennies as some people gave me larger change or dollar bills. It was one of the more interesting evenings of my recent past.

I was heartened to see many people stop, read the sign, and drop in their change. Other people I approached directly and asked if they'd like to participate in a community art project. Most of those people responded positively. Some simply gave pennies willingly. Some became very excited about the idea of being involved in the project as it develops. One person even used the word "inspiring."

And then there were the others... the ones who read the sign with great deliberation and moved past without contributing, the ones who I approached and refused me the way people refuse a beggar ("sorry, I don't have any change on me," no eye contact, won't take the information card), the guy who put flyers about his own event in my penny jar and on the pedestal around it. That particular guy (who I met later without knowing it was him) called it "the tip jar," hadn't bothered to read the sign, was thrilled to meet me (my reputation preceded me, I guess), and promised me lots of pennies if I come to his event next month.

As for me, I certainly could have approached more people, but I found it hard to do. First Friday brings out a strange crowd. It's impossible to judge who might be interested. I viewed the people most interested in my art, the ones who didn't go by it at a slow trot, as the first subset. Of those, I gravitated to the older, more mature among them. This may have been a mistake. My approach varied with people. I'm sure it will come easier to me and I'll hone my skills at it as time goes by. I overheard so many people commenting about liking my pieces; people I didn't have the time, or the guts, to ask for pennies. I guess I owe the project at least a couple of dollars since I said that if complimentors didn't put a penny in the jar, I'd put one in for them. I also should mention that I found, at times, talking about the project was a good ice breaker for talking to people in general. One person I spoke with later commissioned me to do some collage work for him based on his appreciation of my decoupage toilet seats.

So, all in all, for a first week, it rocked!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Well, Here Goes...

Happy New Year and Welcome to the "If I Had A Penny" project. Today I'm off to buy penny jars. Wonder how many I'll need. I'm going to start out with a small one to carry during shows as I, hopefully, collect pennies. Will I come off as a beggar? Hope not (I'll have some information available to explain what I'm doing and how people can participate).  I'll have another larger penny jar back in my studio which I'll use for permanent storage of pennies after they've been counted. Photos to come!

Lots of ideas running around in my head, but we've got a whole year to let this project evolve. This may prove very difficult for me... I usually go with an idea right away and see it through to completion. Patience is not my strongest virtue! I know this project will change me in so many ways. I hope to gain a new understanding of, among other things, the relationship of a piece of art to its audience. It will be interesting for me, as an artist, to seek so much input, to possibly end up working on a piece that does not spring from my own ideas or experience, and to work with materials that represent an appreciation of my work.

It is that representation of appreciation that will probably have the strongest effect on me. As artists, we tend to value our "success" on sales. Compliments are nice, but they don't pay the studio rent. Now those compliments will have a physical existence: they'll have a quantitative value, a visual presence, and will become the materials from which a piece of art will be created by both the "complimentors" and the "complimentee." I'm very excited! Let the changes commence!