“Tag! You’re it!”
I never really liked that game. You’re popular for one moment, then everyone scatters like you’ve got cooties or something.
That’s what it first felt like when I joined Instagram.
Except I had to keep tagging myself.
But people still scattered.
In “Insta” (or “The Gram” as it was called in my day) you have to use #Hashtags… that’s the old pound sign (or number sign for you Boomers) followed by some magical word that’s supposed to get everyone to flock to you.
This was before Reels, mind you, so they were really, really important at the time.
I tried them all… #BigOnes #LittleOnes #RedOnes #GreenOnes.
And they were #OK.
Until one day I stumbled upon #LosAngelesArtist (and #LosAngelesArt).
That’s when the DMs started (“Direct Messages” which was a culture all its own).
Within 15 minutes of using this hashtag, a promoter from “Art and Beer” asked me if I would be interested in a show in Downtown LA. Out of curiosity, I asked if they were inviting me to submit my work for consideration or inviting me to be in the show. They said it was “mine if I wanted it.”
It turns out that there are a lot of these pop-up art shows that travel around the country, renting out a garage or loft space for an evening, then transform it into this loud and lit pARTy. All with unusual themes… “Art and Beer” … “Chocolate and Art” … “Pancake and Booze.”
You’d think they weren’t real, but it turns out they’re really fun… even if they’re way past my bedtime.
Once you’re in, you’re “in” and you can easily find yourself in an art show once a month.
In fact, I had 10 shows lined up when I did Chocolate and Art in February 2019.
There were rumblings of some troublesome flu-like thing that might postpone some, but really not more than two weeks. So, the March show was moving to April, that’s OK. Yeah, we can skip the spring show. Catch you in the Fall.
Fall of Humanity!
Like dominoes, they all went down, and no amount of #Hashtagging was going to bring them back. #MaskOrNoMask … #VaxOrNoVax … #SocialDistance changed everything we knew about life, and art, and ourselves.
It was such a crazy, trying time, but I adapted (after all, the key to survival is adaptation, right?). Everything went online and we learned how to make owls out of hoarded toilet paper rolls.
Two weeks had turned into two years. We were all shell shocked but deeply grateful as we slowly returned to the venues. Art and Beer and Chocolate were all back … and it was good!
And then the #Hashtags started to work again.
And then came the email:
I found your work on Instagram @sturosenart … I especially like your depictions of dogs … We have a Works on Paper exhibition from the 11th - 24th April 2023 that your work would be perfect for. You demonstrate incredibly impressive skills within your medium and we would love to show your art in our gallery.
And thus, the journey to London began.
#ForeverGrateful to #Hashtags.
#LondonArt #ArtShow #ArtGallery #TripOfaLifetime #ThisAintCheap… Help bring this story come to life in the Art Gallery in London, in April 2023. Every bit helps. https://gofund.me/f6cfc391