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detail of Downtown River View, 14" x 48"
(click on image to enlarge).


2011 Ithaca, Brooklyn, Out of Bounds Interview
2010 ROC-ART Tour
2009 Boston, China, Rome
2008 IAP Tour & Today Show
2007 IAP New England Tour

BLOG: roc-art blog ; VIDEO: NBC today show clip; ARCHIVES

WINTER 2012 FEATURES: (click to link)


Painting during my residency at the Hotel Aspen


This recent story on Dave's Represent blog covers the eventful 2007 IAP tour while uncovering some of the more obscure motivations behind my ongoing project.

One of the great rewards of the Itinerant Artist Project is being able - at least for a little bit of time each year - to live and work in a way that actively engages a rich array of values and ideals that otherwise might do little more than catch my interest for a few moments every now and then. The IAP helps me connect satisfactorily not just with people and places, but also with thoughts I admire, stories I love, and the principles that move through them.

One of the fun things about doing the IAP for so long is having a chance to notice what those ideals and principles are and where they come from. From the outset, I've understood the IAP to be, at least in part, a deliberate philosophical exploration and a chance to exercise certain values that mainstream culture downplays, ignores, or excludes. But the project has been more of an intuitive leap than a carefully formulated program. Each tour or residency is a new leap, a fresh immersion, and also a fresh chance to see what the project's about.

Dave Dorsey impressed me by getting immediately to the heart of the matter and giving full weight to an idea I'd barely talked about in 12 years of doing the IAP. The concept of the "renouncer" is something I picked up in a college class on the Religions of India, something mentioned only briefly in a lecture but which stuck with me and resonated in a strange way.

This concept also happens to come close to the creative function of the Trickster figure as discussed in Lewis Hyde's book, Trickster Makes the World. Hyde's earleir book, The Gift, was the key inspiration behind the IAP. The Itinerant Artist Project is, indeed, an attempt to live by gift principles, but the reason for doing that in a market capitalist culture is not so much a utopian gesture as the exploration of a corrective outside perspective - a renouncer function. Thanks for noticing, Dave!

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2011 ended with a the only full showing of my ROC-ART painting series - 80 small panel landscapes and city scapes done in 10 locations in and around Rochester, NY. ROC-ART was a local variation on my Itinerant Artist Project (IAP) and involved my living with volunteer hosts. Included in the exhibit were 10 larger canvases originally done for Rochester Contemporary's State of the City exhibit thsi past summer.

For the High Falls opening I gave two talks about the IAP and the ROC-ART tour. Both were packed. Thanks to everyone who came! It was the first time I've had audience members reserve seats.

It was also the first time I've talked about the influence of Christopher Lasch on my work - an important Rochester connectiont I hadn't really examined before.

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Two of the host paintings I did on the last tour (click on image to enlarge).


The point of the road trip that took me to Aspen Colorado this past fall was - I hate to admit it - partly to get away from the Itinerant Artist Project. I'd noticed certain patterns and expectations working their way too predictably into my tours, and I also thought that breaking the IAP habit for a while would help me get deeper into studio work.

That said, I was
driving to Phoenix to give a set of talks on the IAP. And even though I'd used Couch Surfing to find places to stay along the route, with people who weren't expecting a painting...I did leave paintings as house gifts. And I was trading art for a week at the Hotel Aspen.

That last item is the story that ran in the Aspen Daily News. The next day I received an email from a B&B owner in western Nebraska inviting me to stay in exchange for a painting. What a fine idea, I thought, but how did you hear? "There was an article in the local paper," she replied. It turned out that newspapers, radio stations and other outlets across the country (including Wall Street Journal Online) had run the Aspen story.

Unfortunately, they focused on the free travel aspect, which is really just an incidental part of the IAP. Connecting with other people's lives through art is more of what it's about, and luckily I did that along the way.

In fact this last road trip was distinctive in relying mostly on spontaneous connections - hosts who'd never heard of me or the IAP until I inquired (through couchsurfing.com or other networks) a day or two before arriving. Usually everything's set up weeks or months in advance.

On the 2007 tour I did spontaneous bartering for the first time (including art for a speeding fine). On the 2011 trip I experienced something like pure vagabonding for the first time. It isn't something I'm naturally inclined to do, but not doing it had seemed like missing out on something important.

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Driving across the country to give a couple of talks may not be the best use of time. But it did put me in touch with time in a way I wasn't used to.

I was surprised, for example, to find that several hours spent driving across west Oklahoma wasn't just monumentally tedious. It turned out to be a way of distilling my attention, so that, on the two or three occasions when I stopped and got out of the car, everything I looked at - from a weedy flower to a fencepost to a gas station sign - looked astonishingly perfect, wonderful, and inspiring. Everything that caught my attention was filled with moment.

The Aspen / Phoenix trip included memorably nice encounters with a gas station attendant and a west Texas policeman (both of whom I gave IAP greeting cards to for being so friendly)...as well as with friends old and new. I'd meant to do a blog while I went but found living and blogging difficult to maintain simultaneously. A retrospective blog may be in the works.

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Description: Jim Mott Fine Art : landscape paintings(back to top), prints, greeting cards, commissions and sales;
also support site for the Itinerant Artist Project: traveling the USA and Canada, exchanging art for hospitality.

Keywords: Jim Mott, landscape painter, Itinerant Artist Project, landscape painting commissions, fine art prints, giclee prints, greeting cards, oil painting, itinerant artist, house portrait, house drawing, garden scenes, gift exchange, hospitality, traveling artist, travel art, USA, creative odyssey, art and spirituality, road trip, vocation, vagabonding, gentleman vagabond, Lewis Hyde, Arthur Danto, United States, American Artist, hero's jour