The New Propaganda © Jeffery Saddoris

Create & Release 17: Expectations are Funny Things

Well, here we are at the end of another year. I don’t know about you but somehow 2021 flew by — maybe that’s because 2020 felt like it lasted for 17 years. Despite the fact that we’re still quite a ways off from things being back to pre-pandemic “normal” — if we ever get there at all — I’m trying to remain optimistic about the new year ahead. A few episodes back on Deep Natter, I said that if I didn’t feel some sort of “movement” in the creative work that I do, 2022 would likely be my last year. And while I meant it and have no reservations about throwing in the towel and potentially going off in a completely different direction — like opening a donut shop or something — what I first need to do is define what I mean by movement, so that I have a target against which I can measure (and manage) my expectations.

Expectations are funny things — especially when we’re talking about something as nebulous as “making art” or “being creative” and what we expect often changes. For example, when I was in college, I thought wanted to be Rauschenberg or deKooning, or any number of other famous artists whose work hung prominently in museums and galleries. When I picked up a brush again after a 20-year hiatus (brought on by the realization that I would never be Rauschenberg or deKooning or indeed anyone else at their level), it was to explore a series of physical and material processes that I had learned about from other artists to create my own hybrid of fusing analog and digital workflows. And now, 13 or so years later, I’m thinking about legacy — both in my painting and in my podcasting — and making bodies of work that say something important or meaningful (to whom I still have no idea) to mark the time that I was here.

In terms of the movement that I mentioned needing to see, I’m still not sure what that looks like. It really depends on what shows/projects I decide to pursue in the new year. One of the projects I keep coming back to is based loosely on my own family history. It’s called Blue is the Collar and it’s an exploration of labor in America, with a big focus on — as the title suggests — blue collar workers, which is what the men in my family have been for more than four generations. I had every intention of being well into it by now — recording interviews and making portraits — but COVID has made some of those logistics impossible, so I need to rethink what I want it to be relative to what it can be. Again, it’s managing expectations of what I’m able to produce.

I’m sure I’ll write more about this in future editions of Create & Release, which I think also needs some attention. You know, if I’m being honest, I started this newsletter mostly because so many people were (and still are) beating the “you have to have a newsletter” drum, but I’m really not sure what it wants to be or what you as the reader want or expect it to be. I often struggle coming up with ideas of what to write about. Do you want advice? Tips and tricks? Or are you enjoying just reading about how I’m trying to work through things in my own life that might apply to you as well? If you have any feedback you’d be wiling to share, I would love to read it.

This has been a weird and difficult year on the back of another weird and difficult year. I know that next year will be more of the same because we’re all still people, just doing our best to try and figure it all out. Maybe next year, together we can try to make this more of a dialogue instead of a monologue. I’m game if you are.

What are some changes you’d like to see to Create & Release?

Hit the comments and let’s talk about it.

Before you rush out and buy that shiny new thing for your special someone this holiday season, consider going pre-owned. Our house is filled with vintage things that Adrianne and I (mostly Adrianne) have found at estate sales, thrift stores, even the random curb. You can find a ton of great stuff at and they’ve just redesigned their site to make it more user-friendly. Both Adrianne and I have saved searches that we check regularly for things we’re looking for, like these vintage Olivetti typewriters.

Since the pandemic started in 2020, I’ve been making an effort to really watch my screen time and read more books. NPR just released their Books We Love list of more than 360 titles. If you want to read, but don’t want to spend $25 or more a pop on a hardcover just to read it once, consider apps like Libby or Hoopla, both of which have terrific selections. Hoopla also has a massive selection of graphic novels, including a fantastic series called The Department of Truth.

One of the projects I’m working on for next year is a body of work around the assassination of JFK. The Biden Administration recently released a ton of redacted documents related to the assassination as part of the National Archives. As much as they have released, I can’t help but think there’s still more they aren’t telling us.

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