When I was growing up, my dad and I used to go to movies together all the time. One night he asked if I wanted to go see something called “Star Wars”. Neither of us knew anything about it, but we decided to give it a shot anyway. The next day at school, kids were absolutely losing their shit over the movie. There just weren’t any other topics.
Not long afterwards, I read an interview with George Lucas in Starlog magazine. All I remember from it now is that Lucas intended to make three trilogies, and only R2D2 and C3P0 would appear in all nine movies.
So in effect, it was their story.
Many (and I mean, many) years and thousands of miles later, I decided on a whim to do a pair of paintings featuring the two droids, just to have a couple of large-format showpieces on hand. I didn’t know at the time that we were on the verge of a brand new installment in the Star Wars franchise; I just wanted to paint some robots. Once that started, I realized I wanted to paint stormtroopers. And landspeeders. And starfighters.
It all grew pretty organically from there, till I had the makings of a new brand show on my hands. And that show happened the night of Thursday, December 17th, at EXP Restaurant.
(EXP, for the record, is one of my favourite venues. Excellent lighting (plus the option of having a slideshow), a crowd that really gets my art, great food… you get the idea.)
The day of the 17th, it seemed like everything was taking much longer than it should have – packing up to go to EXP, hanging the paintings, processing the files for the slide show, getting home and back to shower and change. Nothing went wrong per se; time just wasn’t on my side. Of course it was raining, so there were transit delays. By the time things really kicked off, I was a bundle of nerves. But that’s usually the case. And once I’m at the venue for the night and the paintings are up, the pressure generally eases off – particularly once there’s a drink in my hand.
I got back to EXP around 6:00PM. People were already waiting patiently, despite my tardiness.
Looking back on it now, the rest of the night feels like a movie montage or highlight reel. People just kept showing up, and for the first few hours it was tricky to actually have a lengthy conversation with anybody. Staying focused in these situations is a challenge; there’s just so much to take in. I’m sure there must be someone I didn’t get to talk to at all – and if that’s the case, you have my heartfelt apologies.
(Once again I never thought to take photos of the festivities. So what you’re seeing in the slideshow at the top of the page is more a means of summing up the process of putting the show together.)
I got to meet a bunch of new people, which for me is the best part of putting on an art show. I’m a social creature by nature, and new friendships mean a lot.
Less than a week later, I finally saw The Force Awakens, which brought it all home for me. The first thing I realized was that every theory I’d read or formulated prior to seeing the movie was bullshit. And I’ve never had another movie push so many of my buttons so well. On the way home I wanted to walk up to random people on the street and scream “Star Wars!!” It’s a true love letter to the original trilogy (and to the collective childhoods of the original viewers).
Which, of course, was my intent with Han Shot First. I can’t begin to explain how much those movies shaped my consciousness, so it was nice to work some of that out artistically.
Now it’s a brand new year, and I’m planning to see The Force Awakens again soon. You should, too.
And without further ado, I’d like to thank some people:
My dad, Frank Ricketts, who started the ball rolling way back when.
Brian Vidovic, for providing the venue and generally being a prince among men. And the staff at EXP for their heroic efforts (especially with regards to the Commander Shepherd’s Pie).
Annie Friesen, the Queen of Buttons.
Charlie Ritchie, who provided some much-needed and unintentional inspiration.
Holly Morrison, for her continued support of my art career.
Opus Art Supplies, Michael’s, and DeSerres.
Meghan Kilner, Edi Mange, Lori Kittelberg, Barbara Sweeney, Alec Von, Michelle Bischoff, Chris (whose last name I never got. I hope your friend liked the painting), Kyle Reid, Marga Lopez, Shamil Meghji, and Dawn Danger.
Rachael Taylor, for representing the Empire.
Jay Holtslander, who came to the show twice in the same evening.
Cailan Fox, who has now attended four consecutive art shows – no small feat when you’re barely a year old. But then, he attended his first show while he was still in the womb, so he had a slight headstart.
Michael Fashionista and Dani Heavenor, who went the extra mile and came to the show in costume.
Cristina Weir, who arrived directly from the seven-movie Star Wars marathon, and then went for pulled pork poutine with me afterwards.
Jack MacKinnon, Daniel Heim, and Steve Robinson, fellow veterans of many a battle.
Adam Carlson, Rachael’s mom, Andrew Wong, George Smeltzer, Donna & Dan Fox, Alan Chuck, Shona Massey, Laurie Casey, Salisha Miles, Chris, Jonathan Franco, and Mark Sweeney.
Jill Sinclair, Alison Tedford, and Todd Hancock for the free publicity.
My hat is off to every one of you.