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.”

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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!

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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.

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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:

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.

What Do You Do When A Song Is Stuck In Your Head?

MusicOnTheBrainI experience music looping in my head on a regular basis, and I’m sure you can think of several times this has happened to you. I’m also a self-taught musician, having learned to play guitar by ear from an early age through careful listening, so, I have a hunch my brain is more active in the “melody-analysis” area, and that I’m prone to experiencing this more often (or at a higher volume) than others. This doesn’t affect my life in any huge external way — I carry on productively and engaged in most any situation. But in a moment of relative quiet, the internal soundtrack often cranks right up.

But Isn’t That What Vocal Hooks Are For?

I’ve found it’s usually key phrases from songs that stand out — like dramatic flourishes or expressive riffs. It’s not always the “pop hook” or vocal element that grabs me, and it can be any obscure track from any time in history, of any genre, not just so-called “popular” music specifically music designed to lodge itself in the brain.

And then, after a few hours… it’s gone. Maybe I’ve made an effort to listen to the track somehow and exorcise its hold on my spirit. Or, what was there before just gets replaced by another track.

Rick Neilsen of Cheap Trick

Rick Neilsen of Cheap Trick – Power Pop Hook Maker Extraordinaire

Why Does This Happen?

Perhaps as early human cave dwellers, the ability to memorize sound served an evolutionary purpose. Hearing a growl in the distance might have prevented being eaten by a bear, so that would have been a good sound to repeat into memory for an advance warning next time. Or maybe hoofbeats in the distance signaled a tasty herd of beasts just over the ridge. I’m totally guessing, but it’s not implausible given what we understand about the fight-or-flight response.

What Do You Do?

I really wonder if there’s a course of action here. Is there some type of “resolution” or lesson to be learned — or does there even need to be? What purpose does having a song stuck in your head actually serve?

What do you think? Do you find that actually playing the song works to “release” the melody from your brain? Or do you find that songs usually dissipate on their own? Any guesses as to why this happens? Let us hear from you in the comments.