The Art of the Possible

A short story about being open to the possibilities.

A short story about being open to the possibilities.

Joe's Painting #125 - 1965
Joe’s Painting #125 – 1965

My day started early, 05:21 early to be precise. An unfamiliar timezone, an unfamiliar bed, and the oh so familiar nerves and excitement that come with doing something new and unfamiliar.

Today marks a key point on a journey. Today – for the first time, Joe Gerstandt and I get to work play together, for the good people at Illinois SHRM. I first met Joe in the Autumn of 2012, very briefly, at Ohio SHRM. He and Jason were doing a book signing after their conference keynote, and I was in the queue. Jason kindly gave me a copy of their book, Social Gravity, and I bought a copy to give to someone else who was at the conference. Joe was busy, I was holding up the line. Hi and bye – that was about it. Joe and I kept in touch on social media and via Skype, and a few months after we first met, we agreed it would be fun to work together – some day, somehow.

Often when I am away on holiday, I collect little shells and pebbles on the beach, returning many, keeping a few. The idea of working together became one of those pebbles. It was kept, turned over and admired from time to time, and put back in my pocket.

December 2013 I submitted a proposal to speak at the 2014 Illinois SHRM conference. My proposal was a talk based on what has since developed into Art For Work’s Sake. Sabrina Baker responded positively, and offered something unexpected. She suggested that I might develop the proposal into a workshop to take place the day before the conference. Would I like to do that? The pebble was back out of my pocket and looking smoother, and rounder than it ever had before. I responded positively and in our exchange of messages I asked Sabrina if it would be OK for me to approach Joe, to suggest that we might do this work together? Sabrina agreed in a heartbeat and so I contacted Joe and told him I’d found that opportunity we’d spoken about so often. Thankfully, he agreed to play.

Joe and I met up yesterday at the Art Institute of Chicago. We’ve been exchanging thoughts and ideas on how to make our time together useful and fun, for us both, yes – and more importantly, for the curious minded adventurers who have kindly agreed to invest three hours with us today. Joe and I talked and walked – it was great fun to be with someone I respect, in a building I love, admiring the art. Here are two pieces I particularly enjoyed.

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Shiraga’s piece has a real depth and sense of action about it – messy play I think they call it at nursery? Kawara uses art to document his days. He has produced over 2,000 works which are either completed on the day, or destroyed. His work is a record of his creative energy, on each day he works. I love the idea behind the body of work and I love that this piece was painted free hand, no stencils here.

It’s now four hours to go before we start our session. I’m writing and pacing the floor in between sentences. I am nervous, excited, and open to the possibilities.

Sabrina – thank you for your lovely idea. Joe – thank you for agreeing to play.