Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rust Belt Post, Take Two: Now with Misleading Photos!

I don't understand where my Rust Belt photos are hiding. I don't understand why they are hiding. What errant button did I push? At what point did I deviate from the normal uploading procedure? I have scrolled through myriad picture folders, to no avail.

Chickens descending on a gingerbread house? Got it.
Hen carefully absconding with a prized Ritz cracker?
Rooster showing off his high-step, lest I dare to misbehave in his hen yard?

Blurry photo of my Raccoon-in-Residence, who helps me decide I don't really want to dine on my deck?

But of course.

But photos showing you how fun and multifaceted a trip to Ferndale's Rust Belt Market would be? HELLL NO. Clearly asking too much.

It's not like they haven't received attention. The brainchild of Chris and Tiffany Best, Rust Belt is meant to be a weekend smorgasbord of art (/crafts), music, vintage items and food; to act as a business incubator for vendors, where they can trade tips & network; and get to know their communities. Some vendors sign on for month-blocks of Saturdays & Sundays, while others periodically dip in. The end result is an ever-changing affair, a medley of usual suspects, peppered with surprises.

To wit: apparently I missed when popular Detroit illustrator/designer Kill Taupe was selling recently. Oh, the aggravation! His sharply-lined images are a cute/sinister mashup. My favorite Kill Taupe painting (from years ago) was of an affronted green onion, crying and exclaiming something along the lines of "WHY don't they understand that I'm the most BEAUTIFUL of ALL the vegetables !?!?!" Favorite.

Kill Taupe aside, things you are likely to run across on an average Saturday/Sunday at Rust Belt:

  • handmade soaps & candles (from vanilla and lavender to....less vanilla, like bacon! and gin and tonic!)
  • individually sewn hats, dresses, purses
  • coffee fiends who roast their own beans, grind them up and serve them to us cup by cup
  • fine painting
  • the darker side of felted toys
  • mehndi/henna  (within my lost photos, there was a somewhat bashful young woman, holding up her hennaed hand, clearly very excited-- so cute! but at least the google image search contains a My Little Pony. Who knew?)
  • Astounding pie from Rock City Bakery. Almost all of the vendors bide their time until pie. Salted caramel apple. Chocolate blackberry mint. The compatriot said she had apple with crumbled bacon. She doesn't usually bother with apple pie.
  • Jewelry of all stripes: intricately beaded, using natural materials, edgy, funny, kitschy, sparkly
  • Art with reclaimed elements, both grungy and sharp. Rusted metal, baby heads, old factory pieces.
  • Reclaimed, solid furniture
  • Terrariums
  • A little girl, slowly riding her bike in lazy arcs 
  • Super-cute retro aprons that make you forget about the nasty underside of the 50s. This would put a spring in my step, spice up the kitchen, no doubt! Care for a cocktail?
  • And you know, sometimes printmakers~~ I'll be selling this Saturday and August 16th. Come see Lost Cake Anxiety, hot off the press and freshly editioned! Also, my wee sleeping Cakeasaurus cards.
  • Free performances from up-and-coming bands and DJs!

I can't stress how much the music adds to this sense of a "community happening." Spending the whole day there as a vendor, you really notice it. It can go both ways, natch. I won't say I have loved every act, but I have loved a handful -- and they're bands I wasn't aware of before. Folksinger Alison Lewis delivered an impressive version of "Jolene" a month or so ago. Fledgling band Hand in the Ocean totally pleased me, despite the fact that their second set was the same as their first~~ I look forward to hearing more material from them.

Coming up this Saturday is Royal Oak-based I Love Lightning Bugs. I have been revisiting OkGo's "Of the Blue Colour of the Sky" -- fun, poppy, with a nice electronic feel -- and ILLB seem like they're in the same vein. My reaction, however, is solely based on a cursory listen to a couple of their songs, so I could be off-base. {Yep, off-base. Not really similar. Lush guitar, good energy.} The point is, I heard enough to feel like we have a good afternoon in store for us.
And apparently they're also making a video in Rust Belt tomorrow night, with CW50?? {for "Stars"} Points for the band and points for the venue.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rhymes with Comestible: Detestable, Digestible, Investable

Naturally, following Art Fair week, when the weather is reliably horrid, it's absolutely gorgeous outside. The kind of weather Michiganders like to fool themselves into thinking we get way more often than we do: sunny, warm, breezy. A millionth play of Sarah Harmer's "All of Our Names" is mellowing me out even further, so it won't be long before I pack up a blanket and go read on a little square of park grass.

The book of choice will be "My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me," a collection of new/reinterpreted fairy tales. It's pretty strong so far. It's dedicated to Angela Carter, so that was promising from the get-go. You're probably already aware of her sexy/evil/subversive fairy tale reinterpretations...but if not, The Bloody Chamber packs a lot of sly sophistication into a slim little volume. Check it out. But be warned: she loved upsetting the apple cart, creating dis-ease within the reader's experience. Carter definitely was of the "Let's put the Grim back in Grimm's!" school of thought, no shying away from savagery there.

Apparently, Carter's works are also still keeping college professors and students busy. A brief googling (oh dear! I meant to say: a casual search, using the Google search engine) gave me college flashbacks:
  • "Deconstructed Masculine Evil in Angela Carter's Bloody Chamber"
  • "The Bloody Chamber and the Decolonization of Feminine Sexuality"
  • "Living in the Present: Tense Switching in Angela Carter's Stories"
  • "This essay examines the different levels and meanings of liminal experience"
I used to live for stuff like that! I...don't know what changed, but this time around, it seemed a little cringe-worthy.

In any case, I'm really enjoying the new collection. Stand-outs so far: "Dapplegrim" by Brian Evenson, "Snow White, Rose Red" by Lydia Millet and "The Swan Brothers" by Shelley Jackson. The latter is one of the most experimental ones I have read*  -- it comes quite close to going too far, but the ideas are interesting and the lyricism, lovely. I have dog-eared several pages in that story.


"Things You Learn from Reading
Women are trouble--if it isn't an evil wife, it's an evil stepmother. Or mother-in-law. Mothers are usually all right, unless they're witches--watch out for the witches. And their daughters.

You might be all right with kings, princes, and fathers, unless, as is usually the case, they're under the influence of someone else, usually a woman. Men are weak. Sometimes they rescue you, but they always have help -- from ants or birds or women. Sometimes you rescue them. This is kind of sweet.

You can trust animals. Sometimes they turn into people, but don't hold that against them.

Children had better watch out."  -- Shelley Jackson

Sweet bit of writing, Ms. Jackson!

Well, the original plan was to spend a moment on the above book, before some after-the-fact art fairing. But it seems I get easily carried away with the blogging. It's still nice and bright out there, though the shadows are stretching out. Best to be on my way. A breadcrumb trail would do me no good, with so many aggressive geese on the make.
*except for  "A Day in the Life of Half Rumpelstiltskin," though maybe I got through 5 minutes of that one -- seriously? You want me to read about HALF a character? I'm sure you have some neat ideas you're exploring, but if you need to remind the reader in almost every sentence that this is NOT about Rumpelstiltskin but about HALF of him, that's inelegant and irritating.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Something Strange Is Afoot in Hannibal, Missouri

Something in the water? A certain frequency transmitted from their cellphone towers? Could be something to do with Mark Twain relics...I really can't say. I have never ventured to this town, whose population was logged at 17,606 residents in 2010.

But consider the work of Joachim Knill and Matthew Naftzger, two Hannibalites at the Ann Arbor Art Fair this year. They're both transplants, which complicates matters.

I have several bad photos of Knill's fascinating offering, which is ostensibly a shipping crate. It is filled with oil paintings of toy stuffed animals. The paintings are ominous and mysterious rather than cute; claustrophobia elbows fun to the side within the viewing area/crate.

From the artist's statement, we learn that some of the dis-ease can be attributed to past events:

"'National Treasure' is a shipping crate containing a
portrait room from Anilife, a place inhabited by stuffed
toy animals. The room has been forcefully taken in a
regional dispute, acquired by a kingdom, seized in a
revolution, captured by a military authority, and now
dropped onto the streets of cities to be shared, viewed,
and consumed by humans unfamiliar with this foreign
cultural artifact."

Knill has been racking up Best in Show prizes for this installation (see more details here), including from the Cherry Creek Arts Festival (CO) and Bucktown Arts Fest (Chicago, IL). Before this, Knill created a series of 20" x30" polaroids (you read those dimensions right), from a kerazzzzy large camera of HIS OWN MAKING. The photos were of surrealistic landscapes he also created .

Does he realize some people just take pictures of (naturally grown) flowers and call it a day? This guy is really showing the rest of us up. I bet Knill's someone who forgets to eat. You know, food growing colder by the minute, and he's wondering, "How, HOW can I fit 50 large plastic baby heads in a freezer compartment? THERE MUST BE A WAY." (Disclaimer: Ahem. I respect your work.)

Maybe they don't sleep in Hannibal. That could be it, they have discovered a way to forego the daily respite. I mean, dangerous, certainly. Everyone knows that. A friend from college thought she had escaped the sleep blindness/craziness, while working in Alaska, until she saw 50' geese. This didn't actually tip her off; see also: sleep deprivation. But luckily she muttered to her friend in the passenger seat,"FUCK. THOSE are going to be hard to drive around." To which her friend replied: "PULL OVER."

So, the geese bring us to Matthew Naftzger (Works of Man). While he is a long-time jeweler, this year his booth was focused on several intricate, so-called "Ridiculous Vessels," all moveable and made out of titanium (yes, DJ Saint, you want ALL of these). They immediately call Tim Burton and the steam-punk movement to mind; and are simultaneously impressive and really, really fun. And really, how many artists remove things from their glass cases, so you can play with them? Answer: very, very few.

While Naftzger initially balked at being in a photo, only a few moments had passed between the balking and him arranging vessels on his head.
According to his web site,"Works of Man creations are a mash-up of space traveling circus acts, post-apocalyptic sideshows, Fabergé eggs,
 rocket-building Cro-Magnon men, wonderfully terrible “B” sci-fi movies, 
future explorations, societal comment, and naval gazing."
While IN his booth, however, there were NO mentions of Faberge, Cro-Magnon men or the like.
Ridiculous vessel Phineas knows how to make Naftzger laugh. 

He also looks a bit sleep deprived, non? Though that could simply be the Ann Arbor Art Fair and not mysterious conditions in Hannibal. It's likely that both artists will return next year -- they both had shiny award badges adorning their signs.

I have the day off and should be gallavanting outside in the sunshine. But before I go, here's a photo from yesterday's print-pulling session. A wee Cakeasaurus design, destined for cards-- in advance of the larger, complete design:

So that brings us full-circle back to stuffed animals, I guess. Good luck trying to get the bunny away from him.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Post-holiday Slump, No Berries (Robot Parades, Astounding Top Skills, Cake)

The last day of Art Fair I refrained from wandering. On Saturdays, I usually volunteer for a couple hours at Liberty St. Robot Supply & Repair; and this Saturday I had taken on 11-4. Working in the store during Art Fair is as close as it gets to *feeling* like one is back in retail.'re volunteering in A STORE, right? Well, true. But it's dual purpose: we serve the robot needs of the MidWest AND we defray the costs for 826 Michigan's literacy programs.

So, I feel like my primary role there is of an organization evangelist, who happens to occasionally ring up merchandise. Not everyone wants to hear it. Some people concertedly avoid eye contact. Others start nodding prematurely, as if this will somehow alter time a bit and shorten your exchange. But there are always enough whose excitement blooms across their faces, who ask follow up questions, who either wish to volunteer or sign up kids for workshops.

And then there are people who are delightfully off-kilter, with whom you can volley jokes and bits of randomness. And then, of course, there are people for whom the ties to sanity are just a bit too tenuous. Be careful. Retreat from friendliness. Do not convey that you are withholding gleaming robotic secrets, or can understand what the neighborhood birds are talking about.

During Art Fair, you need to keep in mind that this may be a one-shot deal to connect person A with 826 National. There are opportunities here! And true, a couple individuals did donate money to us after we had talked for a bit yesterday. But on the whole? It seems to me that the out-of-town browsers are a lot less inclined to listen. Lots of fanny packs (still! really!), trudging combined with grimly set faces; the kids tend to be a little more wacked out, due to the combination of too much heat + people+ head-sized funnel cake+hours of wandering; and more people who don't answer you when you say hi. For this last part -- folks, I'm from the East Coast, I didn't grow up talking to people at bus stops, or in grocery lines, etc. But here? I just said,"Hello!" An easy and polite reply is this:"Hi."

So, I guess what I'm saying is that it was little bit of a slog-through. Kind of like this post: sorry Reader. Perhaps it's time for


The simple solution is often the best solution! The white-wheat flour is mildly odd, but the buttermilk saves it. and the chocolate chips are a nice boost. More coffee: okay.

So, bright spots in the shift:

A family entered, all dressed in tie dyed shirts. Three (or four) younger boys, a solemn girl with glasses, and stolid, solid parental figures. Baseball caps abounded. The oldest boy was desperate for his younger siblings' audience. Over and over, he tried to organize their behavior into a little sibling team, with him naturally at the head.

He stood at the wind-up toy table, which they all had access to: "Okay!! WHO wants to see this monkey FLIP?? Who? Do you want to see him flip?"

His hands were cupped loosely around the monkey, so no one else could touch. The younger tie dyes leaned against the table rim.

"Are you READY?? Because he's going to FLIP!" The tie dyes were paused, but somewhat listless. In the manner of a freaky child preacher, Eldest thrust a pointed hand at the monkey moments before the flip. The monkey flipped, but also fell over, due to his oversized price tag. The tie dyes began to filter away.

Eldest: "I have been here SEVERAL TIMES before!" This was also repeated several times, during their stay. Was he really the eldest? Had some older children refused the tie dye or shunned the fair? His need for attention certainly spoke to being a middle child. We shall never know, most likely.

Within the next five minutes, he called out, "Hey! Let's have a ROBOT PARADE!!" This call to organize was much more successful. The parade was also conducted at the windup testing table, with each sibling clutching a robot windup and singing a song.

The song, in almost-piercing (but really, nice) pipsqueak voices, went like this:


at some point this mysteriously morphed into

Popcorn! POP! CORN! We can eat it OURSELVES! 
POPCORN! All by ourselves!
  Which, honestly could morph into

Chocolate Cake! Chocolate Caaaaaaake! 
For breakfast!

Here, because that never goes out of style.

Back in the store, a polished and sculpted family quietly entered. They were all beautiful and reserved; were dressed demurely and expensively. The girl child was tall, maybe 8 years old? with delicate features. She trailed the room and lightly tapped her index finger on the tops of boxes. She arrived at the testing table and set one of the many tops to spinning.

Within the group, one woman cooed to another, with a note of awe in her voice: "She's so ...intuitive!!!" I almost shot a disbelieving look their way, but thankfully did not. The second woman murmured back in sage agreement. They were impressed by her spinning a top? Had she been sequestered from tops up until now? Did they house her in a tower that shunned quotidian playthings? To be fair, I had not interacted with her much. Maybe she had deficits that did not easily come across. Or maybe they had set the bar sadly low for this one, and they would be always issuing gross praise over nothings; and she would be resentful and bored. Or maybe I was sick of being at the counter. Very odd.

Well, Art Fair may be over, but I collected scads of cards and took a bunch of photos, so in case people are curious to check some other folks out online, I'm going to post about more artists in the coming week. With the hope of more photos, less blather! Happy Sunday. Soon, am off to pull some new prints...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Compatriots, Artists, Weathermen (That's Meteorologist to YOU)

Yesterday, I put in a brief Art Fair wander with a dear friend. It was more stroll and less hustle, we both met other friends along the way, and there was also the worrisome business of the darkening sky that would likely curtail perusal.

Regardless of how much we would see, it would turn out well, as we share strong Day Trip Sympatico -- i.e. we both get museum-weary at about the same time, we understand the importance of good snacks (and food in general and a nicely made g&t). We interrupt conversation to call attention to babies and dogs. If, at a dinner out, her gaze suddenly shifts down and to the side, I can safely guess she's listening to nearby diners talking about something randomly juicy or betraying an odd, interpersonal dysfunction. Our shared anecdotes periodically end, "but if that [overprotective father] wasn't there, I could have held that baby!!!"

Let's call her Compatriot. Which would cause her to snort, most likely, "Really M? We live in the same country? Ya think?" Which, fine. That's the technical definition, sure, but I'm thinking of it with a bit of kinship and fellow-feeling in there.

So, Compatriot and I, we wander. We chortle and heh-heh to each other in Chris Roberts-Antieau's booth and decide that while we love the fantastic humor of pieces like "Awkward Social Encounters" and "If I Had a Monkey," we'd both love to own pieces like "Night Birds" or "Ghosts of Birds" (I heart heart HEART the latter). I don't need to write an ode to CRB here, as the likes of Oprah and Ben Folds own her works, whose images are created entirely from beautiful fabric and a prolific, quirky mind.

So, onward we go.

Compatriot: "...oh."  The utterance falls halfway between "oh" and "ugh." We peer over.

There, just where we were about to venture, is a TV crew. A guy in a red shirt is breezily talking into his hand-held microphone. The camera guy is hunched over and doing a smooth backward walk (not like Michael Jackson. but that would be unexpectedly cool). To put it mildly, Comp dislikes getting her photo taken. I am okay with it, though the camera is infrequently my friend. You certainly aren't going to see me Hi-Momming it up in the background. We dart into a booth. We are booth-bound.

Luckily, John Whipple's booth is a good booth to be in. Whipple's highly textured paintings and sculpture share a good, dark Circus-y quality (duh, current series include "Side Show" and "Misfits"). Playful meets bad-turn-in-a-dark-alley. Whipple ticks off different materials he uses to create texture: acid, glue, wood shavings, sawdust...basically, if it's near him he'll use it...and then he'll set it on fire. I like it! Time having passed, I popped my head out. They had inched down a bit. We scooted into the next booth.

Which, as luck (well, planning) would have it, belonged to Lynn Whipple. The Whipples, who met in film school and have been married for some 20 years, try to swing getting into shows together and exhibiting nearby. I imagine this usually works, since they are both quite talented and held in high regard. Her collages and mixed media paintings have a sunnier quality than her spouse's, though elements of off-kilteredness flow through both their work.  Her ninnies are always popular and her new work is simultaneously nicely layered and sharp and clean, with wonderful pops of cherry red.

Lynn Whipple's blog has a section titled "100 Bad Paintings," which strikes me as ballsy. The page begins,

"okay. these are so bad, I am not even putting them up. yet. But, the idea here is, that I believe that in any new pursuit, creative or otherwise, there is a learning curve. the learning curve, quite often, is not all that good looking. it’s okay. really. how in the world are we going to get better at anything if we are a-scared of the messy beginning parts."

This is such a  lovely reminder. I took a beginning acrylics class earlier this season and it was virtually impossible for me to remember this, especially since I hadn't taken an art class in years. Thanks, Lynn!

On her About page, she lists some of her likes, an excerpt of which is:

art, artists, cake, making art, animals, birds, orange dogs, all dogs, cats, (aka fur people,) collage, people, bacon, laughing, music, kids, mixed media, drawing, painting outside, singing, playing games,

Lynn could walk with us. We could laugh and eat bacon together. She is not, however, in her booth.

I stand close to Comp, but crane my neck toward the walkway and the TV crew, which is taking forever to go away.

Me: "Hey! It's Jim Madaus!" I don't quite squeak.
Comp: "...Who?"
Me: "He's the weather man!"
Comp: "Shhh. You're making me giggle."

I shush. I don't really know why this has me excited. Maybe at the kid level? Like ooooOOOOOooo, the MAIL MAN~! You know, as in: "Who are the people in your neighborhood" The last time I was home, my Mom gestured toward the mail truck and said with a sigh, "And there's our nice little mailman." Patronizing aspect aside, it was amusing in the way my Mom usually is.

Poor Artists, Poor Art Fair people, it is raining again outside. Hope it clears up nicely for the last day.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Iccccce cold conversation! + Cody Miller

The euphoria from Day One of Art Fair wandering gave way to a bit of weariness today and irritation with yesterday's lack of restraint. Not that I regretted any purchases, but having grown up in a stolid miserly family, I felt mildly ill with myself.

Yesterday, however, the well-oiled justification engine was revved and purring, smoothly urging:
  • Artists need support! 
  • It's not like you go on any REAL vacations.
  • This only happens once a year.
  • Presents! You'll find presents!
  • On the touchier-feelier side of things: You are only honoring what is important to you.

Did you gag at the last one? That's marketing gold right there, the sweet spot that marketers are endlessly trying to tap (wow, that sounds even MORE unpalatable~~). Because buying is empowering, folks. I think the consumer frenzy aspect of the fair is another reason the more high-minded Art Fair haters hate, right? Roger that.

Luckily, since I mostly gave into temptation yesterday (thanks Oscar Wilde), the engine calmed down significantly today and I....meandered. And shockinlgy got some presents.

But obviously, more interesting artists of note!

Cody Miller (see his Elijah print here) was a surprise on Liberty St. His mixed media paintings have an almost urban feel to them at times, are very colorful and bold; and all deal with Biblical stories. At their best, they are truly arresting.

To quote his artist's statement:

"This scripture swims in my head each time I begin to paint: 'Therefore we do not lose heart, though outwardly we are decaying away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day.'" (II Corinthians 4:16)"

I'm not religious, but I appreciate the sentiment. And his treatment of the subject matter is fascinating.

He also had a book recommendation, which I'll pass along. The Arrival by Shaun Tan is a wordless graphic novel, conveying the immigrant experience. Intriguing! The illustrations are reminiscent of Chris Van Allsburg.

I could easily go on to more artists, but I suspect I could be testing readers' (/reader's) patience. So I'll just toss in a few overheards/quotables for fair atmosphere:

  • "Enter to win ladies! YOU look like a couple of WINNERS!"
  • "Reeeeeeeeeecalllll Governor! Snyder!"
  • "Let's talk Jesus & his grace."
  • More ominous, from a youngish guy strutting by on his cellphone:
  • "I've dealt with enough teeth & I have seen this all too often."
And my favorite, delivered by a (drunk?) man walking down the yellow line of the closed street, in a good carrying voice, over and over:

"Iccccce cold conversation!
            for a dollar.
KEEP it moving!
   And KEEP your hands
where I can SEE them."



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I think kick-ass is hyphenated.

Glorious day! Am listening to (new to me) Tuneyards BirdBrains and drinking an Oberon after a little spell of carving. I have blisters, a sunburn and sore ankles and wrists (damned aberrant fussy joints), but am happily exhausted.

For those of you who hate the Ann Arbor Art Fair, no need to read further. For those unfamiliar, it's one of the oldest and largest in the U.S., bringing half a million people through wee Ann Arbor, with 1,00 high- and low- brow artists and crafts people. I have lived here 17 years and feel compelled to go yearly, though at this point I cruise through most areas, until someone's work grabs at me. Here are a handful of my faves, just in case you're local and aren't familiar with them -- or you want to check em out online:

First up: Michael Paul Cole. He's a great photographer who uses tons of found objects for his frames. I bought this dreamy photo of giraffe silhouettes stretching their way across a field years ago and now I mostly can't help visiting. Cole always has interesting anecdotes/stories. He used to live in an old church. That literally had secret rooms. Knock through a wall...and there's a room he hadn't known about.
Apologies for the reflections on his great tree photo, but you can visit his official page. And really, I wanted you to get a sense of that wonderful architectural frame, with its peeling wood. And the rusty square nails holding the image in place. And the plastered surface between the photo and frame.

He asked how I was doing and I confessed that I always get restless during art fair time, feeling that art isn't central enough in my life, yadda yadda yadda. And get this! He says, "Oh but everyone feels that way. I used to work for Dale Chihuly and he never felt like he was doing enough. He would walk into his workshop and announce,'ALL OF THIS IS CRAP.'" Which, can you even imagine?? This Dale Chihuly. Total. Slacker.

Cole is near the Bell Tower.

Next up: Shandor Edward Madjar. He's a fabulous silversmith from Colorado Springs, CO. I bought a ring from him years ago that I wear every day. He seems like such a lovely person, though of course, I know nothing about him. I was thinking about this odd positive sense you develop for an artist whose work you wear or view everyday. While you obviously don't think of its creator, in a sense it becomes part of the fabric of your everyday life. And so clearly, they must be good or likable, or fellow minded, right? Silly, but not so surprising, or horrible, to feel that way.

It also reminds me of Famous by Naomi Shihab Nye, a poet I used to read a lot. It begins:

"The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,   
which knew it would inherit the earth   
before anybody said so."

So anyway, I mooned about his booth again and he was gracious enough to let me take some pics. The hinged moveable items are especially kick-ass.

Well heck. I only got through two artists. The Tuneyards CD is done and so am I.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

While Monsters Lay Sleeping

Before my brush with productivity last Sunday, in which I pulled enough for an edition of Lost Cake Anxiety, I had also scheduled this coming Sunday for studio time. Now, it's not like my friend bars the doors against me otherwise, she's extremely generous with her space, press (and, well, everything else. She's most excellent and a talented artist, to boot.)  That said, it seems wasteful to not take advantage of studio time. And then this evening, it hit me! I could easily carve an excerpt from an upcoming Cakeasaurus design, print up a bunch and use these for cards at the Rust Belt Market.

You'll be shocked to learn that the text accompanying this image reads, "Cakeasaurus dreamt of cake." He was originally snoozing in a more people-type bed, but then I decided I liked the idea of him sleeping with his tail curled near his nose. More doglike. He looks so harmless asleep. Doesn't everyone? Ahhh, how we get sucked in by vulnerability. The bunny was an afterthought. And yes, a dream cloud hovers above his head in the larger design. This is more of a peek.

So here we are, about to apply lacquer thinner to the wood in order to bleed the photocopy ink onto the wood surface. Works great!
Except when it doesn't. Why?? I rubbed my (lucky) wooden spoon on the paper, applied more thinner. No dice. The stripes weren't going to transfer. No ghost of a bunny. No nuance. Alas.

I wound up going over it with some carbon paper. Not as hoped, but it will have to do. I'll get some carving in tomorrow, as long as I manage to avoid heatstroke while walking around the Art Fair for a few hours.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Got elbows? Or perhaps a coin purse?

What does it say when you spend a couple hours of a Monday evening, only to conclude that you can't draw a character that you yourself have created? A sorry state of affairs. The table-facing surface of my right hand is covered in leaden smear. My dastardly eraser is more prone to sullying paper than to restoring it to a white(ish) surface. Let's skip the "progress" photo.

Instead, here's something cuter:

Isn't he great? A coin purse that wants to be a Muppet. The photo really doesn't do justice to his glittery emerald vinyl. Clearly the crafter must be a fellow Henson fan, which made me predisposed to like her. Amber( WoollyMammothDesign ), was selling her wares at Ypsi's Shadow Art Fair this past Saturday.

It was a fine time with a wonderful friend, a pint of Bavarian Bliss Hefeweizen, and loads of visual stimuli. Oh! Also scored a couple old nude drawings from the talented Helen Gotlib, who was wedged into a corner, but seeming to hold up pretty well. Shadow is always 12 hours long, which is a bit brutal on vendors, IMHO.

In any case, anyone who can successfully draw the human form is pretty amazing in my book. My woodblocks have cartoony attempts at people. After tons of redrawing, they strike me as relatively ok (in a highly stylized way) until after I have printed the designs and they are drying. At which point, various internal reactions begin to flow through my brain, in an unfortunate fashion, like so:

  • "Hmm. If that person were real, her neck would snap under the weight of her cantaloupe head."
  • "Really?? Is one arm....LONGER than the other?? Seriously?? Damn, it is. Damn." 
  • Of course, my Mom is also happy to periodically offer reactions. Surveying a design:"Well. I mean, with you, it's more about the WORDS, more about the ideas, isn't it? So, I'm....okay that this arm...doesn't have an elbow. You can get away with it. It's"
Well. I'm really not selling it, here, am I? But hey. At least I got style.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Greetings, All! Greetings, No One!

Just what the world was aching for, another blog in search of an audience! An *ambivalent blogger,* no less, fully aware that there's too much navel gazing, tweeting and focusing on ephemeral moments and that anyone in THE KNOW has long ago abandoned blogging in lieu of faster, shinier self promotion... And yet, even with this awareness, one who will gleefully post food pics. I know it: Run Now. If it makes you feel any better,  I hereby promise NOT to share links about social media itself.

Primarily, I'm starting this blog to chronicle my printmaking, as well as share the groovier aspects of my (admittedly somewhat mundane) existence -- cool, local creativity, general visual stimulation, food awesomeness, unexpected randomness (doesn't everyone have such an annoying umbrella disclaimer? As if we're all on the verge of running into kind individuals with three arms or talking llamas. "This blog is about orchids, man's inuhumanity to man + WHATEVER THE HELL I WANT. AND I'M ZANY, BELIEVE ME.").

But so: today. I spent the day in my dear friend's studio, using her printing press. Like so.
It was an extremely productive day! Sixty prints from one unhappy woodblock, with intoxicating oil based ink (mmmmm), a record for me. I was RAWTHER proud of myself. Bought some celebratory sushi for dinner +red wine, for a good day's work. Shall we venture closer?

This relates to the title of my blog. It's part of what will be an extended project on Cakeasaurus. His existence is simple. He takes your cake. He's quite good at it. He's stealthy. He has astounding focus. For his size, he's remarkably nimble. His conscience, however, is undersized.

And here we have a nod to the fall-out. Because repercussions always exist, no? Children with lost cake anxiety. What's to be done? There will be PSAs, surely, and pill development. Pharmaceutical reps waiting in the wings. For now, all I can hope to do is identify the condition. And so we have it. The prints are wafting about in the studio. They should be dry, come next weekend, ready to be editioned.

Cakeasaurus has been roaming about my head for a few years now. Here are past cake prints, to give you a better sense of his demeanor:
and also:

So you can see, he's also kind of self-satisfied. Focused on his quest for momentary pleasure, subject to some degree of self-aggrandizing. And yet, how not to like? The rebel holds appeal, even as another voice says, "Who does he think he IS?"
And so, a fabulous weekend ends on a good studio note, with pool time wedged in between printing press and sushi. Next up, the work week plus the chaotic and wonderful (or horrid, depending on your viewpoint) Ann Arbor Art Fair, with the streets teaming with marauding art/craft seekers, who lumber across streets in defiance of street lights and oncoming traffic...

Coming soon: sharks.