I’m excited to announce that my inaugural quest as an artist building himself a grassroots art career has a name…
Yes, in fact it is Facelife. And here is what Facelife is: I will be donning a nice shirt and putting gel in my hair, walking through my neighborhood, and knocking on all 227 doors, by way of introducing myself to my neighbors.
I use Facebook quite a bit as a means of reaching people and building my audience, and I appreciate the site for its ability to keep people connected in new, strange, virtual ways. I will continue to use Facebook, and I may well take my friend Kerry Bill’s advice and jump into Twitter here before too long; but, I also want to defy the promise and the function of Facebook with this Facelife project, namely, by doing in the physical world what Facebook–really, any social networking technology–allows us to do in the virtual world. I am going to pound some old-fashioned pavement, knock on some doors, and literally say hello to real people whom I don’t know.
I’ll tell you, I don’t know what to expect from this expedition. I imagine no more than 5% of the people I talk to will end up having any interest in what I’m doing. I suppose a lot of people won’t answer their doors, and others will be terse with me, as anyone who makes a point to knock on strangers’ doors should anticipate.
But, I’m excited about it. What’s got my insides all full of the good jitters is that I want to do this both as an artist and a human being. The artist wants people to know who he is and what he does; he wants to build an audience and become a valued part of his community here in north Garland, Texas. The human being just likes to know people. About every other evening I take a walk through my quiet neighborhood, my home for the last 13 months. I like developing a relationship with the land, the weather, the streets, the houses, and the neighbors; and, I credit these walks with accelerating this period of adjustment to my still-new life in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Facelife will help me take my relationship with the neighborhood to the next level.
And, each motivation gives courage to the other. The artist is relieved that the human being just wants to meet and greet people rather than try to get something from them, be it a profession of faith, a donation, a sale. And the human being is emboldened by having a pretense for the visit; I’m not just there awkwardly to say hello, but to introduce myself as a local figure who does something the stranger might find interesting.
Of course, I want for these Facelife efforts eventually to engender sales so that I can make that ever-elusive living; but, as any visual artist knows, most of an artist’s audience is comprised of non-paying constituents. And that’s okay. Art can and should be enjoyed for free much of the time. If you’re really good, you figure out ways to scrape rent together each month.
So I’ve gotten my appearance as settled as I can for now, I have a name and a plan for what I’m doing, and I’m working on the map to help me keep track and share my progress as I go. I’ll continue to prepare through August–researching tips for door-to-door types, and so on–as we do some family traveling and wait for the heat to ebb, and I expect to hit the sidewalks at the end of August, just as JPG gets started in third grade. I can’t wait to see this play out, and to share it with you.