The story of Small Drawings High Hopes is a tumultuous one. It’s a story full of highs and lows, and as its namesake suggests- hopes. It all began mid-2018. My dear friends were set to break ground on the construction of a new independent movie theatre in Indianapolis Indiana. It was an idea 5 years in the making and I wanted to help bring it to fruition. I packed up my car in Washington and made the cross country move back to my home state. Soon after I arrived, construction was halted by a rival theatre moving in. For the time being I took a job at a brewery as not to remain idle. As the months passed it became obvious the building of the theatre wouldn’t take place any time soon. Driving back and forth on snow covered roads, in the midst of Midwest winter, often at 4am, I began to feel like I had made a wrong turn. As I’ve reflected more and more on my life I’ve realized that creating art is a way for me to feel free. Its a way to explore, its limitless. Art is one of the precious few things to which there are no rules. It is  equally capable of being small and intimate or grandiose and groundbreaking. You are limited only by what you can dream. With little money to my name I devised a project to help my mental state. I thought that if I couldn’t change my situation any time soon, if I couldn’t help build the theatre as intended, at least I could count on myself to make a new body of art work. The challenge of Small Drawings High Hopes was to create a new six inch square, mixed media drawing each day for the year of 2019.

Two months into the project, my restless nature got the better of me and I called in a few favors. Weeks later I was back in Seattle, working odd jobs and couch surfing with my project in tow. Looking back it’s easy to see that by design, hard work, or fate incredible things were to happen over the course of that year. Among the most notable was a job I got with Apex Art Lab. I became a professional art installer and frame maker. The resources of working here allowed me the unique opportunity to frame all 365 pieces in the exact same and professional-looking fashion. Presentation for the display of Small Drawings High Hopes– check.

The most unbelievable thing which happened that year, perhaps in my whole life, was stumbling into helping build a brand new contemporary art center. For much of 2019 I worked long weekends tearing down walls, removing old ceiling tiles, landscaping, building new walls, painting, and just about anything else The Museum of Museums required of me. Venue for the display of Small Drawings High Hopes– check.

By the end of the year I couldn’t have been more thrilled with my progress. In just one year’s time I had achieved and built what were mere dreams just months before. And now this art show, that started simply to help me during a hard time, was set to be my biggest yet. I have participated in and organized many, many shows throughout the country but this one was going to top them all. My excitement was at an all time high. As the metaphorical “cherry-on-top” I even had the opportunity to personally invite the band Panic At The Disco- who’s song High Hopes is the inspiration behind the naming of the project- to the opening. Just as I wrapped up hand making 365 frames after hand making 365 works of art a wholly unexpected and unique situation arose- CoVid 19.

With the news of quarantine utter exhaustion washed over me. All at once I felt every minute of the year’s 150% effort I had been giving. I stood toe-to-toe in front of an insurmountable wall. The moment I began thinking clearly again and realized a multitude of others were experiencing  far worse I embraced one of Bruce Lee’s principles. I acted as water would and flowed around the obstacle. If there is one thing I am, and that most artists have to be, it’s resilient. Unwilling to postpone my show, but mostly from the desire to give people something live and unique to watch while stuck to their couches, I partnered with the Seattle chapter of The National Alliance on Mental Illness. Together we presented a week-long, live streamed art show. A show, I’m quite sure, was the first of its kind during lockdown. Throughout seven, one hour sessions, we, with the help of a few of my friends, explored selected works of my art. One thing that happens when you make a work of art every day is that it inevitably becomes your diary. By looking at a piece I can vividly remember almost every single day’s events. Events which inspired different works all stemming from any manner of emotion or feeling including wanderlust, frustration, persistence, sorrow, love, and the unexplainable thing that is kismet.

While this show wasn’t the door-busting, music blaring, rock band attending event I had dreamed it would be, it did move me one step (more like several) closer to my advocacy for mental health. If I’m being completely honest in my reasoning behind my advocacy it is because I can understand. Everything starts in your own mind. Its somewhere no one else can go. Its always with you. As an artist or just the way I was born- introspective,  empathetic, questioning, restless, relentless I know that one click of the dial in either direction and my disposition and health in general could have been wildly different. I believe we have to nurture our minds and care for them and if its outside of our own control then to know there are others and resources that can help. For as long as I can remember that’s all I’ve wanted to do- help. When you’re an artist and a highly capable human being that help can take many forms and can lead you down many paths- but quarantine showed me that I’m here for mental health. I’m here for my mental health, I’m here for your mental health, I’m here to remind as many people I can that they’re not alone and they don’t have to go through this life feeling like they are.

Throughout 2020 and 2021 I have continued to hold small sales and fundraisers for NAMI Seattle using my Small Drawings project, but they’ve all been via social media, with a brief, small exhibition in Indiana- yet another road trip as to safely visit my parents after being vaccinated. But now December, my favorite month, is upon us. It’s a month that has a little more light, a little more care, a little more hope. And so its my hope that you’ll be able to join me on the 10th, where we can all finally see this project as originally intended. With 223 of my pieces remaining, along with the stunning works of Aliza and her Monsters, Patrick Howe, and Jackie Loven it’s going to be a hell of a show. All works from my project are set at just fifty dollars each with 30% going to NAMI Seattle. That along with silent auctions, proceed donations, and representatives from NAMI on hand should all make for quite a night. Let’s get together, see some art, share stories about our journeys and help to more deeply connect artists and patrons with the mental health resources everyone needs. This exhibition is generously brought to you by the Belltown Art Walk and Sassafras clothing. I’ll see you on the 10th!

Kyle Krauskopf
Artist/ Creator/ Doer-of-Good