I am staring at a blank 4 x 4″ square and waiting for inspiration.

The square is a tiny white canvas, and my job is to fill it in with something inspiring, beautiful, original, shocking, or otherwise creative, as part of the Lovely project currently on exhibit at Double Daughter’s Salotto downtown. Lovely: An Exquisite Community Project, is a collaborative arts project to benefit Working With Artists, a non-profit photography school for adults and children. Local artists contribute a $5 donation to create a square, and then the squares become part of a larger mural which will be auctioned off, square by square, at the end of the project later this month. According to the project description by organizer Katie Taft, the concept is “based on the Surrealists’ Exquisite Corpse method of collecting words or images and collectively assembling the submissions into a unified body.” Exquisite Corpse, eh? Right-o.

So here I am, tiny blank canvas at the ready, wondering what to do with it. Other local artists have used their squares to create mini masterpieces of line, color, and form. Some are simple pencil drawings that may have been doodled at Double Daughters, and others — like the newest piece, submitted last night by burlesque queen Vivienne Va Voom and covered in black paper with a silver spider web, miniature beads, and a tiny, glued-on revolver — are tasty little pop-art nuggets.

Should I whip up a quick poem, since my talents lie more with the written word than in visual arts? Or should I create a whimsical collage of girlie-girls, dancing shoes, and martini glasses? The reason I’ve been asked to participate is because I spoke last night about my nightlife book at Katie’s weekly artists’ salon, Self Made, where a local artist or creative type speaks about his or her personal journey and experiences. And I truly enjoyed it. Not surprising, right? I am a chatter. Ask me anything, and I’ll happily tell you about my sex life, my favorite TV shows, my childhood, my educational philosophy… you get the picture. But I am feeling utterly silenced by this small white piece of drawing paper. Guess I’d better get busy and find my inspiration; this project is scheduled to wrap at the end of the month.

If you’d like to get involved yourself, head to Double Daughters’ Salotto, 1623 Market St., and start getting creative.