Is Anybody Out There?

And would you mind letting me know?

Hey, I'm in a screen!

Tap… tap… tap… this thing on? Hello?

I used to be much more prolific on this blog! Shame on me for not posting more often, I suppose, but if you’re one of the elite folks reading this now, could you let me know with a like or a comment, please? I’d appreciate knowing this goes somewhere… maybe? Thank you! 🙂

So where have I been?

When I started posting a few years ago, it was to educate myself on the nuances of WordPress and blogging, which I feel like I accomplished to the degree I was after. Then I got into my art site (RSMITHINGS.com), which has become my primary creative outlet, even creeping into this blog with posts about what goes into my art and the occasional exhibition. Add to that the fun but demanding task of raising a toddler, and well… you get the picture.

Many posts over here still get regular activity, like the one on Cheap Trick and the occasional blogging writeup, and there will remain forever those I’m especially proud of for connecting with authors (like Alexis Madrigal, Neil Strauss, or Jon Ronson). There’s just now a bit more time between them (more like a lot, but hey). Nevertheless, I’ll keep this thing going.

So anyway, thanks for reading, and know that I’d love to hear you’re out there.

What I Like About Surrealism

What appeals to me most about surrealism is a sense of connection and transcendence – or even just the possibilities of their taking place. I think we’re all looking to transcend in some way, to explore or become part of something outside ourselves. And yet mostly we go about our routines amid similar scenery so much that our days can seem to blur into one another.

Flying Into the Doric Sea - Richard Smith

Flying Into the Doric Sea – Richard J. Smith

I like to think of my art as an expansion or slowing down of time, taking a focused approach to those moments where ordinary elements from our regular experience become magnified and juxtaposed in ways that achieve transcendence on multiple levels – from the first sighting (“oh, hey, that’s cool”) to a deeper study (“woah… what is that???”) – so that my compositions not only bring dissociative elements together, but also offer deeper appreciation of elementary surroundings. And then all this coalesces in viewers’ minds in fashions unique to individual experience and interpretation. I’ve actually seen it take place in real time when I’ve shown my work, and it’s a great thrill to get completely unique reactions from others looking at my art, something I’ve put together on with my own hands, using pieces of my own ordinary scenery, magnified and blended with any number of disparate elements from all over the country. To me, that’s the ultimate and most rewarding transcendence, maybe even happening right now.

The above is a quick rundown of my thinking on and appreciation for surrealism that I wrote for surrealism.co, where I am a featured artist, among many other wonderful creators. The goal of the site, in its own words, is “to promote contemporary surrealism and surreal artists. Whether it’s Pop-surrealism, visionary art, psychedelic, or dark art, we love fantastic art.”

surrealismtoday

And just for fun, here’s a live version of “What I Like About You” live from 1980 that seems a bit surreal with the random crowd footage.

CLICK! Triangle Photography Festival – My Art Takes Part

Two of my artworks are featured as part of the CLICK! Triangle Photography Festival in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina.

Two of my works, "Momentary" and "Vision Deliberate" are included in the CLICK! Triangle Photo Festival.

Two of my works, “Momentary” and “Vision Deliberate” are included in the CLICK! Triangle Photography Festival.

As stated at its website:

clickThe CLICK! Triangle Photography Festival celebrates the medium of photography and its cultural influence by engaging the (North Carolina) Triangle community with exceptional photo-based works and artists. The month-long festival in October brings together exhibitions and programming while fostering dialogue between photographers and community members, all in hopes of inspiring artistic excellence, supporting professional development and promoting community engagement.

My works are on display in The Frontier building as part of the inaugural showing, “In an Instant: The 2016 Click! Pop up exhibition,” with Chris Ogden as a juror. In following the Frontier’s Twitter and Facebook, I’ve noticed my pieces in the background at other events in the building, most notably the Women In Tech Summit:


The festival includes a full month of photography events, shows, talks, and a keynote lecture by photomontage legend Jerry Uelsmann, my greatest visual art influence, whom I was fortunate enough to meet afterward at the Through This Lens Gallery following his talk at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art:

As one who appreciates and makes surreal photographic art, it’s wonderful to see and be part of a festival with such breadth, especially considering the inclusion of non-traditional photographic techniques like those pioneered by Uelsmann, whose work I revere. It’s also very cool to see my art on display via the magic of social media!

What do you think? Have you ever exhibited your art or creative works as part of a festival? Are there other creative happenings you’re a part of? Let us hear from you in the comments.

How to Exclude a Post or Page from WordPress Search Results

I needed to have one post in a site I’m building not appear in search results. I came across this handy bit of code that totally does the trick, and it works for a page, too:

/** Exclude from search */
function mySearchFilter($query) {
if ($query->is_search) {
$excludeId = 199;
$query->set('post__not_in', array($excludeId));
}
return $query;
}
add_filter('pre_get_posts','mySearchFilter');

Copy and paste the above code in your theme’s Functions file:

Dashboard > Appearance > Themes > Editor > Functions.php

Then, replace “199” in this example with the ID of the page or post you want excluded. To find the ID, edit the page or post in the dashboard and look for this number:

postnumber

You might need to access the Functions.php file in your themes folder via FTP if you have a custom install.

This right here is one of the main reasons I love WordPress. Because it’s open source and so widely-adopted, chances are there’s a solution for whatever basic issue may arise. To find this result I just Googled, “How to exclude page in WordPress search” and was taken to this support discussion from several years ago. Even though it’s from a previous decade, the advice still worked, and I hope it might help you also.

What do you think? Have you ever been led to WordPress forums via Google search for a how-to type of question? How do you prefer to find answers to these issues? Let us hear from you in the comments.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To A Support Ticket

No ticket – not an option!  Buh-bye!

bluehost1

My web hosting company, Bluehost, has opted no longer to offer tickets for support. Instead, they are seeking to focus on chat and phone as primary communication channels for website issues.

As someone who has run sites for nearly two decades now, this is unheard of. On one hand, I absolutely understand how support tickets can be a bottomless pit for support staff, often containing not enough information to address an issue.

On the other hand, I’ve often enjoyed the convenience of opening a ticket then getting back to work while awaiting a response, then having it documented as the conversation progressed, sometimes with it being emailed back to me for future reference (from Bluehost & others).

I had an issue with my art website, RSMITHINGS.com this morning, and within 10 minutes I opened a chat session and it was resolved. Plus, I’ve had great help from Bluehost’s phone support in the past as well.

bluehost2

So in my own personal experience, not having tickets has been so far, so good. Still, this is a major shift in approach. I reached out to Bluehost support via Twitter for some details, and they confirmed the switch:

https://twitter.com/bluehostsupport/status/751436024333660160

I have mixed feelings about this, but hey, if my issues can be resolved faster this way, I’m all for it.

What do you think? Do you prefer phone, chat or tickets for website tech support? Let us hear from you in the comments.