The Short Version
I've had an incredibly productive and enriching year, especially in the realms of AI and digital art, alongside my community engagement and travel. My experiences with various AI platforms like MidJourney and my deep engagement in the digital art community through exhibitions, online discussions, and the creation of a physical magazine demonstrate my commitment to the field. Balancing my digital explorations with physical travels, from the stunning landscapes of Italy and the UK to the vibrant culture of Mexico, shows how varied experiences can enrich my creative output. My work with local initiatives and the integration of travel experiences into my AI art illustrate a meaningful connection between my personal journey and my creative endeavors. As I reflect on the past year and look forward to the next, it's clear that my journey is one of continuous learning, creating, and contributing, all while maintaining a strong connection to my community and loved ones. Here's to a 2024 filled with even more growth, discovery, and success!
The Rough Details
As 2023 comes to a close, I reflect on my accomplishments and learning journey in the AI space, primarily documented through my website, calendar, and photographs. It's been a significant year, especially in my exploration of AI platforms. I've watched MidJourney evolve from V2 to V6, noting the increased realism in AI-generated content, though I find myself nostalgic for the more abstract styles of earlier versions like V5.2.
My engagement with the AI community is deepened through weekly office hours with the founder of MidJourney, where hundreds gather online to discuss updates and insights. Despite a sluggish market for NFTs and digital art, I've continued to create and share my work. My website showcases the exhibitions I've participated in this year, reflecting the recognition and appreciation of my art.
A couple of exhibits that I must point out include:
Times Square, New York - November 2023
This past fall I organized an open call to artists for Searchlight.art titled "Out of the Blue," receiving over 140 entries and curating 42 for a successful international exhibition. Creating a physical magazine for the artists and building metaverse galleries were particularly rewarding aspects of this project for me. We had artists representing 18 countries and 5 continents.
Exploring other platforms like zeroone has been enlightening. It's a trading site where artists can mint and collect works without financial transactions, fostering a vibrant community of creative exchange. My collections, which I liken to "short stories," have been a fun way to engage with this space.
Additionally, I've delved into Emergent Properties, a platform where AI becomes highly generative, offering numerous variables for creating unique art. This year has been about embracing the evolving landscape of AI and digital art, finding new ways to engage, create, and understand the ever-changing technology.
Continuing the exploration of creative platforms, Revel has emerged as a fun and community-driven trading site. Unlike the entirely free zeroone, Revel introduces a bit of economy into the mix. Users can create and publish sets of three cards—unique, rare, and common—every 24 hours, which others can collect. As activity continues, the value of cards fluctuates based on demand, and the platform's currency, 'revs,' can be cashed out when desired. My engagement with Revel has been prolific; I've created 61 sets, amassed collections from 1,280 sets, and attracted 384 collectors.
On a broader creative note, I've found immense inspiration and efficiency in the digital space. ChatGPT, in particular, has been a valuable tool for refining my ideas, crafting titles, editing my biography and resume, and enhancing my social media presence—especially during the "Out in the Blue" show. It's not just about saving time; it's about augmenting my creativity and communication.
As the debate around AI's impact continues, I see it as a dual-edged sword, capable of both good and bad. For me, the journey has been overwhelmingly positive, boosting my productivity and helping me articulate my thoughts more clearly. As we navigate the future of AI, I'm excited about its potential to further enrich the creative process.
The year 2023 was not just about digital exploration; it also marked a return to travel, reigniting my passion for discovering new places. The journey began with a couple days in Paris (unfortunately it was during the trash strike) and then a train trip to a long-awaited trip to Umbria, Italy, a destination that had captured my imagination just before the onset of COVID-19. The reality surpassed my expectations with its stunning architecture, bespoke furniture, and a beautiful stable of white horses, possibly Arabian. The attention to detail, the quality of materials, and the gastronomic delights, including aperitifs, made the experience unforgettable. The beauty of Umbria inspired a burst of artistic creativity, as I captured numerous photographs that later influenced my art.
I did a quick trip to Lisbon to a conference where my art was included in an exhibit and a visit with my family on the east coast.
Later in the year, I embarked on a cruise through Scotland, Ireland, and England, immersing myself in the breathtaking landscapes and vibrant cities. Edinburgh and Glasgow were particular highlights, with their unique restaurants and cultural offerings. Despite the intensity of visiting 10 cities in 12 days, the beauty and the thrill of discovery made the journey worthwhile. The trip culminated in London, where I indulged in people-watching, shopping, high tea, and the rich art scene, including a visit to the Tate. Dining experiences ranged from waiting in line for delicious Indian street food at Dishoom to a specially requested liver and onions dish at St. John's, which never disappoints.
My most recent adventure took me to Mexico City and Oaxaca, where I was joined by my nephew Josh. Mexico City resonated deeply with me, from its vibrant culture and art to the irresistible food. The quest for the perfect taco and the exploration of mezcal were just a few highlights of this trip. The year was filled with rich experiences, reconnecting me with the joy of travel and the inspiration it brings to my life and art.
My travels are more than just personal getaways; they're integral to my creative process, especially for my art collections. On my last trip alone, I captured over a thousand photographs encompassing everything from vivid street art and landscapes to local cuisine and intricate church architecture. These images become a rich tapestry of material for my new AI art. By integrating these varied elements, I can craft something unique and entirely new.
The unpredictability of AI continually astonishes me. I might start a project with a clear direction, but a single, unexpected output can take my work down an entirely new and thrilling path. This serendipity is something I deeply appreciate; it's like having a collaborative partner that brings its own sense of creativity and surprise to the process. Each piece of art, influenced by the diverse experiences and visuals from my travels, is a testament to the synergy between human creativity and artificial intelligence.
Back in Sonoma Valley, the girl & the fig, the fig cafe, and our catering department, have had a thriving year. I'm proud of the team's hard work and dedication; John has done an incredible job, the restaurant looks fantastic, and the food is as yummy as ever. I'm humbled to see my art displayed on the walls. It seems to be well-received, including selling a handful of pieces in which the proceeds go to the Sonoma Fig Foundation. This, in turn, supports vital community initiatives like Pet's Lifeline, the SonomaOvernightSupport with their new kitchen, among other local organizations. It's profoundly rewarding to know my art not only brings joy to someone's home but also contributes to meaningful causes.
Looking ahead, we're planning to refresh the artwork in the front room, bar, and lounge with a series I've been developing for some time. I'm eager to see the response and will certainly keep you updated on the progress. This blend of community engagement, culinary excellence, and artistic expression makes Sonoma a continually enriching place to live and create.
I anticipate my art being displayed in New York at Hudson Yards at the annual NFT/NYC conference in April.
Above all, the well-being of my family and my dogs, Remi and Rugby remains my greatest joy. Everyone is thriving, living their best lives, and cherishing our moments together. Despite the physical distance, our frequent conversations keep us close, and I deeply value these relationships. I'm eagerly anticipating a visit to see my mom in a few weeks, hoping for clear skies and no snow.
As we approach the new year, I extend my heartfelt wishes to you all. May your friends and family stay healthy, and your lives be filled with love and joy. Here's to discovering what 2024 has in store for us.
Thanks for coming along on this journey with me!
PS: Assisted by my microphone and chatgpt!