Sunday, October 30, 2011

DIA: I Know What This Person Is. It is the Person of the Moon.

What can I say? Friday evening began with heartbreak. We had already decided on the "Mysterious!" tour at the DIA ("I know you want scary. You're going to be disappointed," says Compatriot. "It's going to be HOKEY!" I exclaim, though, really I'm looking forward to it. We can do silly things together.)

But first, wouldn't snacks and a cocktail at Cliff Bell's be so very nice? Yes, most definitely. And for once, I knew EXACTLY what I would order. Junior's Siesta, one of the best cocktails I have EVER had, a few months ago. Could it possibly be as good as I had remembered? How could it? How could it not? The brain insists on its accuracy, even as it embellishes. A tattoo I saw in recent months: the delicacy of line, astonishing -- jarring -- given its subject matter -- but no, the next time I see it, it's merely typical. Much more interesting in the play space of the brain.  And so: how will it be this time?

"...Ohh, we don't make that anymore."

Seriously? ONE OF THE BEST DRINKS I HAVE EVER HAD and they don't MAKE it any more. HOW. How can they not MAKE it anymore. I. We're sitting at the bar. The bartender's apologizing. Like he's heard this protest before,  but not so many times before. Seriously, while I get on jags and I AM an enthusiastic person, I rarely pledge my loyalty to a special drink.  I look to Compatriot for help. "Perhaps, if you turn on the charm, he'll tell you how to make it. Not that you're not charming anyway." But I have no bartender ambitions. I merely wish for the drink to arrive. It is sweet and quite spicy and somehow the muddled cilantro is not off-putting ( I heart cilantro, personally,  but would never have envisioned it in a drink). Well, says Comp to me, if they don't sell that much of it....

The bartender goes away and returns. I am still at a loss. "Well. So, if I LOVED that drink, what else would you recommend?"

He purses his lips. "Well. There's really nothing else like it. A margarita?"

Why don't more people jump on the hot band wagon? It gives you the false sense of doing something good/needed/paring down.  C'mon. Your taste buds stand at attention and then your lips burn, or there's a tingling at the top of your throat --  either way: a focus of sensation. Why would you want to avoid this? The bartender returns at intervals. At first he thinks I'm phishing for details on the Ramos Gin Fizz, which is fine, but no Siesta...No...Well, he hasn't made that specific simple syrup himself, but one adds chiles. Or serranos? I suggest. Maybe serranos? He avers, yes he thinks that's right. We're jogging his memory. Oh nooooo, woeful, if he doesn't even care to remember, the libation is lost. This is a sorry affair.  After he has gone away, Compatriot says, I feel like there was lime in there~~ Oh, you're right~~ I say. He comes back: You know, there was lime in there, as well. Right. We piece it together, but it's still nebulous. I have no faith I can recreate this. But I suppose, it's better than nothing, being sent away empty-handed. We venture off to the DIA.

The docents are dressed in variable Victorian witch fare. Some families arrive, collectively costumed. The parents are putting a brave (ly costumed) face on. A pinnochio gamely wears his long nose throughout. A couple stormtroopers wave their guns around; boys flap the wings of their sisters' fairy costumes, much to the annoyance of the fairies. Numerous light-up sneakers. Our first stamp in our fake Mysterious! passport journey is a facade of a Philadelphia home. The docent is being theatrical. But not TOO theatrical. No one wants to scar would-be museum goers, and so nothing HORRID is brought up. Maybe a ghost. Maybe the whisper of a ghost.  Compatriot skitters fingertips across my neck: scary! I giggle. The docent continues her spiel. A guy knocks on the facade, "Hmmph! I won't just trust this is a real FACADE. I'm a show-me guy." I knock on Comp's shoulder: Are you real? *I* don't just trust these things. She giggles: Stop that. 

From that point, there was more navigating with a special map. At first I held my copy as if to consult. Eventually I just stash it into my girly bag and happily follow the navigator. Who am I kidding?  She would certainly get us where wherever we needed to go. At some point, I lost my black spider ring, which we had been *told* was the key to our protection. Somehow we soldiered on.

As predicted, nothing was truly scary. Though the installation of camel leg bones -- > "The Legend of the Red Ghost" -- was pretty damn cool. Did you know that the U.S. government imported camels for army use in the SouthWest? But then it was around the time of the start if the Civil War and the Army ceased to be concerned with the notion of foreign animals and then the dromedaries were just kind of left to their own devices? Not that they formed a cabal. I think they just mostly frittered away and died. But not before freaking out non-camel-savvy inhabitants.

We both strongly felt that real creepitude was being overlooked. To wit: ALL the creepy children paintings. HELLO: creepy as the twins in the shining. If you don't get this already, I *love* kids. But painterly depictions of kids, when the idea of childhood wasn't even fully developed? Totally ferkucked.Right? Right. A tour of *those* viewed, within a wee halo of light? I'd probably need someone to sleep over my house. Which is why I rarely watch horror movies (not slasher/gore fest) at home.

A cool stop in the tour was provided by "Night Songs," by Joseph Cornell. This is a nice little atmospheric shadow box by the king of shadow boxes (? or at least assemblage boxes). The dark blue conveys a sense of night and the repeated visage-- with lines bisecting it-- is haunting/disconcerting. A nice choice for the pseudo-spooky. As well, as the docent points out, the main image -- which feels like a reflection-- would be a reflection of the viewer, if physics held out in Cornell's world. The docent alternates between being overly leading and appealing for interaction from the younger attendees.

"So, who could this person be? Who do we think think this person is?" The docent scans the motley crew.

In front of me, almost under the Cornell display, is a young boy with floppy brown hair and a striped shirt, who darted into the prior (full) grouping, before the parents even noticed.

"I know what the person is," says striped shirt. "It is the person of the moon."  I like him. Not least of which because he ran ahead, before he could be told no, like I always did. I also like the weird, formal language (which, to be fair, echoes the guide). Within the next few minutes, he becomes emboldened by faint praise, shooting his hand repeatedly into the air for the next docent.

The docent seeks out more answers. "I know!!" a older boy bursts out. " It looks like they're hunting her down~~"

"So you think it's a her~~" says the docent~

"Yes, and they're going to set her on fire!" His delivery is triumphant with confidence. The docent is at a loss. She makes a lame joke and attempts to move the small crowd along. Haha, kids! And their incendiary highjinks!  Count on them to make the PG-spooky tour scarier. See also: Lord of the Flies.

Naturally, there is more. I feel like with each blog post, I end before it is done. Which, maybe that's a cool -- or at least hopeful -- thing. More stops on an insufficiently scary tour, entertainment provided by people standing around the corner. You just can't see them yet.

I'll say Happy Halloween, since it's that time. Give a scare to the cocky, under-dressed teenagers who skulk by, to swoop candy into their pillow cases for one last go...

Where is Cakeasaurus? Upcoming schedule.

Quick-and-dirty schedule update:

I'll be selling prints at Art on the Farm 10-4PM this Sunday, Oct.30th. Based on set-up, it's going to be coooooold in that barn! But most excellent. In addition to blown glass, photography, paintings, stained glass, vintage book journals, goat's milk soap (photo of their favorite goat on the wall!), there'll be live blue grass, hopefully hot cider, possibly blacksmithing...Good for a meander, a Sunday stroll, with or without intent...

I have a mixed media piece in a cool group exhibit at River's Edge in Wyandotte, MI (pay a visit to Sports Brew Pub, while you're at it, dang, their beers impressed me)

Upcoming solo show at the U of M hospital, December 12-February 6th, woohoo! Main building, second floor, just west of the cafeteria. Being a hospital, this venue doesn't allow for openings, etc. But hopefully, the prints will make passersby happy, or at least distract them from larger concerns...

I'll be selling at the Rust Belt Market in Ferndale, MI. on Saturday, Nov. 12th, Sunday Nov. 27th, Saturday Dec. 10th and Saturday, Dec 17th.

Friday evening and Sunday day, Nov. 18th and 20th spells the Art Open House at Jeanne Joesten's: a gorgeous home setting, enticing nibblies, the work of a dozen+ talented local artists.

That's that. A little and so much!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why Would You Buy Halloween Candy Early? You're Just Going to Eat It.

Between Valerie Mann's people-packed and impressive exhibit opening at WSG in Ann Arbor, followed by the equally packed Reclaimed opening in Wyandotte, Friday was a whirlwind of visual stimuli and conversation. For me, the WSG openings have morphed into this lovely, warm opportunity to reconnect with acquaintance/friends in the local art world and I would have happily spent the entire evening there...

Each interconnected evening gown that Valerie had sewn was different from the next. The roughness and text printed on the feed sack material was a great counterpoint to the cool elegance of the vintage pattern lines. The sack wording only appeared in choice parts of each garment and so avoided overkill. Periodic use of raw silk(?) provided lustrous highlights among the swaying beige forms.

I LOVE the detailing on this!
I brought my camera with to take snaps, but strongly suspected any of my attempts to capture the installation would be inadequate. I often bring my camera places, but then become shy about actually taking pictures and wind up with 5 photos that don't reflect the event in any way whatsoever. This evening was no different: I am ashamed to say that there's a photo of myself from the night, but not even one of the guest of honor!  And at River's Edge, I didn't remove it from my bag once -- even though I probably won't trek out there again during the show -- and several of the artists I wanted to meet where there. Last month, one of my favorite people advised me to just "be ruthless and amuse yourself." She wasn't taking a keen interest in my mediocre photography skills, but maybe I'll just apply it there.
No crowd shots, but I did snag two Barbaras: a talented glassblower and a Goethe-quoting bookmaker/paper artist.                 

Isn't her necklace delicious? So rich and berrylike.

She offered to take my photo in return, because I was flitting about in the dress my Mom sewed for my junior prom. Hahaha! I thought I'd get ironic/jeering comments about it at the next destination, but no, women stopped me with compliments, on the sidewalk and as I walked past them at the bar after the Reclaimed show. No ironic armor needed!

Yes, I stepped inside the exhibit. Friend privilege. I also touched one of her sculptural purses. They kind of invite it. Or so some would say. Wow, I'm really not good with limiting for captions, hunh.

Kicky pattern paintings. They are so pleasing, grouped together like that! 

See? What you can't tell from the photos: people everywhere, more formal wear, both serious and campy; wayyy more to the exhibit and the other exhibit spaces, Val's daughter crawling underneath one of the dresses as a shortcut to rejoin her friends, good conversationalists spied across the room that I had no chance to pounce on before leaving...

I can't really do the Reclaimed show justice -- or maybe not at this point in the evening anyway. Overall, the quality was really high: the pieces were variously cool, intriguing, kerazzzy-intricate, or confidently simple and slick. Especially appreciated, after the long drive! And man, the 12 mile stretch of Eureka is U-G-L-Y: strip joints and chains that I thought had gone under decades ago. Plus several guys in pickups looking over at red lights: bizarre. I have no sense of the area outside of that, just the last leg of the drive itself felt odd.

So, Boom! I almost walk past the River's Edge, it is packed to the gills with art, but not in your staid gallery way. More gritty/urban/hipster. Another opening was happening upstairs, plus more gallery space on the third floor. Reclaimed was just to the left of the entry way, all the artwork hung in close quarters. I was excited to be able have a few "How did you DO that??" conversations and a couple times that was directed my way as well, which was gratifying. I could basically shout-out most of the folk that Perfect Laughter has already profiled, but that would be silly.

Ryan Weiss, of the postcard, was sweet and quite engaged with his art. I asked him about the significance of the houses and he said that when he first started doing them, a couple of his friends had actually just lost theirs. "So, I don't know, it was kind of like, the more I made these, the more people would have houses. That's kind of naive, silly~" This is the gist of what he said, not a direct quote. And he was wasn't being gormless. I get it : I find it almost impossible not to take things symbolically at times. And isn't that kind of perfect symbolism? And a wonderful impulse? I like it.

A handful of us grabbed a couple beers at the boringly named Sports Brew Pub. Tip: if you're ever out that way, definitely try their brews! Their weiner dog stout was as rich and full-bodied as a stout should be --  and the fruit flavors within the cherry ale perfectly balanced the beer. Stongly recommended.

The rest of the weekend I was hermitty. Last gasp for getting things ready for next Sunday's Art on the Farm! Somewhat productive, somewhat trudgy. I did a few more wood panels with print snippets:

Unlikely saint. First attempt at a halo. Maybe should have gone with red.

this came out a bit different than I meant, but could be interesting

My favorite part is actually the side.

So that's about all in that department. Card snippets all over the sofa, framed prints leaning all over each other in the living room, for the hospital show.

I eventually ventured outside to bag the leaf piles I raked up yesterday (no neighborhood kids eyeing my yard for leaves this time around). I didn't anticipate seeing anyone, what with the dinner hour, Not that I *didn't* want to see anyone, but I definitely was in my not-leaving-the-house attire. One friendly acquaintance strolled past, carrying his little boy; grandmother, in tow. I see him and his family maybe once a year. We chatted for a few minutes.  After a few exchanges, his son couldn't hold it in any longer: "I have a TRAIN set!!" We paused to contemplate that. I praised him for it and noted that my Dad, who takes pictures of trains, would LOVE that he has a train set. He nodded, happily.  His Dad asked whether I was doing any art, which enabled me to bring up the hospital exhibit again (how can this NOT be anticlimactic? Because I'm rawther excited and it's not like there's an opening.)

A few moments pass. "*I* have finger paints!!" Oh, that's great, I say. "You have paint on your pants," he adds. Yes, I agree, that's true: "Because I was also painting, earlier today." He nods, but gazes at the multi-hued pants. "But I don't have a train set," I add. At this, his face takes on a somber cast.

"Well!" says his Grandmother,"You can't have it all!"

True, I agree, true. Somehow, I'm holding it together without the Lionels.

Candy tip: "fun size" more fun when doubled or tripled.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reclaimed Count Down!...And Bunnies Shall Rule the Countryside

Perfect Laughter has been quite good at posting features about the fellow artists who will be in their curated "Reclaimed" exhibit. Initially, I just loved playing around with mixed media for it. Here are the other pieces I affixed to wood panels, but did not use for the show. I think I'll bring them to Art on the Farm at the end of October:
Now, I'm also super geeked to check out all the other artwork! Take, for example: 
  • Stunning -- and hot -- woodblock by Taro Takizawa. It blows me away. See also
  • Strong graphic design goodness from Jeremiah Britton
  • Super-cool process shots on the great mixed media piece by Ryan Weiss, which Christina and Dennis put on the exhibit postcard. Check out a related piece here, one little house, one little inverted tree.
  • There's a trippy, atmospheric collage of screenprints from Megan Frauenhoffer. Check out her body of work here.
Opening reception is on Friday Oct. 21st at the River's Edge Gallery in Wyandotte, MI.

It will be a busy night, as Valeria Mann's solo installation is also opening at the WSG Gallery in Ann Arbor. Her Fortunes installation at the same gallery is one of my favorite installations ever -- see some snaps here, but they don't adequately convey the feeling that exhibit did. As you walk through all the hanging rows of baby gowns, they brush your shoulders. The delicate old garments, holding such a variety of grim and hopeful messages embroidered in red thread, wonderfully called up all the lives around us -- and how the potential lives, even at their beginnings -- or especially at their beginnings -- are already so tied to class, adult outlooks and expectations...Her new exhibit is titled Evening Gowns for the Midwestern Woman. Attendees are encouraged to show up in evening gowns/prom dresses/etc.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Don't Let the Ducks See You Naked. Listen to the Monkey. (DIA visit)

It's been over a week since I visited the animal print exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Art -- seems like 6 months ago -- and sadly it's down now, but I still want to talk about it!

Weather-wise, the day was idyllic -- unseasonably warm, sunny.  The drive in was blissfully uneventful-- fast, calm, music-filled.  By the time I got in, a fortifying snack seemed like a wise idea. The huge iced brownies at the gorgeous Kresge Court seemed like too much, without Compatriot to share them with. Oddly, however, I felt perfectly fine with a slice of chocolate mousse pie in the cafeteria. I savored my silky confection in a small sea of mostly empty tables and mused over my good fortune for the afternoon. Nearby an older man hunched over his tray. There was nothing unkempt about him, but he still struck me as someone making a rare venture into civilization. Curious. His smallish frame was dwarfed inside a bulky brown corduroy blazer. I sighed over the finished dessert and gathered my things. But where to put my tray? I always forget this part. I wandered over to a likely receptacle.

"Just leave it at the table," Blazer says kindly. "Excuse me," he adds. His voice is beautiful-- quiet and deep.

I pause outside the cafe doors to write a note to myself. Blazer walks past me and inquires, "Are you finding everything ok? Do you know where to go?" A museum badge dangles down his front. I assure him that I'm fine, thanks. Hahaha, take that knee-jerk brain! He probably has a PhD and three masters. Which...uh, more unfounded assumptions, just made in the opposite direction...

Before the exhibit proper, we pass through a hall of Native American pieces.

Trapped within a glass cube, for all eternity.
Better than "wrapped in plastic," haha

I always like walking past this melancholy Anishnabe figure from the late 1800s. So expressive even within his reduced state.

Same with this rich "New England Landscape" by George Morrison-- huge, wonderfully textured. Simultaneously abstract and completely believable as countryside.
Just a wee detail
Less fond of this Inuit sculpture from the 50s. Not debating the artistry. I think it's the walrus ivory teeth that push it over the edge for me. She looks just a little too bitey for my comfort. She's happy -- and hungry.
I challenge you to find a creepier "bust of a girl."

But! On to the main attraction, "It's a ZOO in here! Animal prints from permanent collection." This print exhibit was SO.SO. fun! Had I gotten my sh*t together earlier in the season, I definitely would have revisited it. Woodcuts, lithographs, etchings, mixed media, screen prints were all represented. Political commentary, moralizing, religious symbolism, realism, nifties-fifties type visuals, Renaissance mastery-- all here. Heavy hitters included: Albrecht Durer, Picasso, Eduard Munch, Edouard Manet, Eugene Delacroix, Francisco Goya, Mary Cassatt and Honore Daumier, John James Audubon.

A fun touch from the museum-- periodically throughout the display space, there were panels of terms for animal groups. Many I was familiar with, like a "murder of crows" and "ostentation of peacocks," though others struck me as bizarre:

  • Rabbles of butterflies (such troublemakers!)
  • nuisances of cats
  • sleuths of bears (really? I just don't see them gathering clues around the edges, falling beneath one's radar)
  • lounges of lizards (hee!)
  • smacks of jellyfish
  • peeps of chicks (fitting, sure. Apparently the scary marshmallow makers knew whereof they spoke)
Favorite title:

"Fashion Notes for Goats" (Mahonri Young). Later tied by a Tudlik stone cut titled "Excited Man Forgets His Weapon!," of an Eskimo-looking hunter ineffectually chasing after his prey. Excited artist also drew an extra finger on the left hand of the hunter.

One of the most bizarre nudes I have ever seen was the etching "Surprised Ducks," by Felix Bracquemond. It depicts a young woman bathing in a pond. Figure-wise, she could have walked out of a Renoir. She is modestly covering her breasts...due to the presence of three ducks in the foreground. Let's say this again: she is trying to hide her nudity. From BIRDS. And the birds are watching her. More specifically, the middle duck is staring straight at her; the ducks to either side are looking at each other over the back of the middle duck, in a consulting manner. I ....don't even know what to do with this one.

"The Temptation of Eve," an engraving done by Jean Mignon in the 1500s (favor to yourself-- refrain from googling "temptation of eve" without adding the artist~~), was replete with members of the animal kingdom and also totally bizarre. Most fascinating to me was not the horribly freaky lion thing, but Mignon's decision to make the apple-proffering snake ALSO female. The she-serpent twines around the tree and extends the fruit down to a seated Eve, her snake breasts also hanging with fullness, echoing the fruit. She also has a classically elaborate hairdo. Eve is more normal: full-bodied, but doomed.

An adorable monkey sits on a nearby outcropping. His delicate paws are emotive, with one extended outward and the other almost pointing. His face is aghast and shows his desire to avert disaster. It is the face of someone engrossed in a horror movie:

"No! DON'T GO in the BASEMENT!! ...OMG, LOCK the DOOR!!!!" 

The bunny meanwhile, nibbles grass, but looks like he has things on his mind. Lots of the animals are just hanging out. Adam's toes are disturbingly long.

One of my favorites was this etching by James McBey: Dawn, the Camel Patrol Setting Out Museum dated it at 1917, though the link says slightly later. So dramatic. I love the empty space, featureless land, high sky. The camels themselves also kind of remind me of some of Degas' wonderful equestrian paintings and sketches. Incidentally, this was a curious omission for the show, given all the famous artists featured -- there was a jockey from Degas, but no horses...

The DIA posted a small handful of the images from the exhibit up. While I don't love Emile Nolde's panther, I *do* love how you have to peer into the painting in order to make out the back half of the animal. That's how it would happen, right? Slinking around the edges, you'd only see him when he's halfway past; or were being mauled. 

Hour Detroit featured a nice review of the exhibit also showed several prints by Charles Culver. I was completely unaware of him before! I absolutely loved his Bobcat and Longtailed Teetotaler. Wonderful strong lines and confident splashes of color.

Honore Daumier's political commentary features sweet sheep figures with targets on their foreheads and the following words: "Poor sheep...Ah You Struggle in Vain...but You Will Always be Fleeced." Ah, Honore: true as it ever was. A nearby polemical piece shows Napoleon with a tiger's body; he looks like he could have been drawn by Maurice Sendak, but was naturally drawn several centuries ago.

Across the way, a couple Picasso prints remind the viewer --as if s/he could ever forget-- that he was master of myriad media and styles. His "Owl with Chair" lithograph has a jaunty fifties vibe. Meanwhile, another lithograph titled "The Dove" is poetic, soft and beautiful. It carries a sense of tenderness and vulnerability. The kind of print that would bring you a sense of calm whenever you passed it.

After two hours in the gallery, I could have stayed way longer, but it was nearing closing time. The guards gave off a sense of heightened waiting and began to chat with each other.I did a rushed final pass, as if I could magically soak up the last little bits, and headed back into the sunlit Fall day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hold On While I Enter My Coordinates

I have been meaning to write about my jaunt to the DIA last week. And that's really my goal: a post about their "It's a ZOO in Here!" animal print exhibit, which was really great, despite a hokey title. Points for being kid-friendly, I guess. But the draft didn't even make it off the highway. I got myself waylaid, as it were. Which I guess I do in all areas, really, so why should my sense of direction be any more...straightforward?  If you know me well, you already know about my mystifying lack of direction. If you're a loved one anyway AND you have demonstrated the ability to very simply-- and yet not condescendingly! --  walk me through to a destination, I may love you just a little bit more (xoxoxo! Compatriot, Ginger, Curly Girl, RecordFreak). If you don't know me, why are you reading this? The internet, it is also mystifying. No, I keed, I keed, please read...

First things first: I love my GPS. I love my GPS. I love my GPS. "I know," you say, "I love mine, too!" No. I get lost. Horribly lost. Easily lost. I also get lost when I let my guard down -- to myself -- about this deficiency: "Oh, you've been there so many times, no need to dig out the directions again~~"=Lost. It has always been this way. My family has never understood it. My Mom, she is not fantastic about directions, but she is within the norm. At first Mom theorized once I got my driver's license, my sense of direction would organically grow as I covered miles of asphalt. I won't lie, this had a nice ring to it.* We both eventually tossed that notion. Nevertheless, even now, when she tells me about businesses moving in or out or rare excursions, she feels compelled to "place" it for me: "Oh, you remember where that it is, it's near X. You know. Off of Meh Avenue. Near where that old office supply place used to be. Like three streets beyond that old pool...You GREW UP HERE" It depends on my mood whether I continue to alternate no/nope/hmmm... don't know/oh that sounds kind or I give in: "Ohhhhhh, riiiiight. Yeah, I got it. I think, yeah." No, no I do not.

*{She was also quite insistent that I would grow taller past 11th grade, which I somehow knew would not be true. It made no sense to her that she'd have such a short daughter. 5 '2 1/2"-- Though they have told me I am now shorter. I respectfully disagree each time. One very nice nurse told me how we do get shorter throughout the day! No lie, we're taller when we first get up -- even 1/2 "}

My father and sister? Aces. The first time my Dad came to Detroit with myself and an ex, our normal exit was closed off. "Let's see," said my Dad. He leaned forward from the back seat and started navigating. "Take the next right and then let's go up a couple blocks. Go left. LEFT." A few minutes of this and we arrived at our destination. Helpful, but totally irritating. To me, mostly because of this utterly foreign ability. His lack of understanding on something that comes so easily to him is complete. I remember sitting at the dinner table, while he taunted me, "Yes, but you aren't STUPID. You're not STUPID ARE you??" He was smirking and waiting for me to parrot a denial back to him; I was livid. We all have our limits, hey.

I can't really convey my hatred for exchanges that begin with, "Oh let me tell you, it's EASY, I'll just tell you, you don't need to write it down~~" This is usually followed by "you know how x fits into y, you know THAT right, well then 97W is obviously what you'll take from there and that will curve around for maybe 20 minutes and then arrrrrrgghblsdfuikckmzDifaewalwrkjwuj but DON'T take THAT exit, lord knows you don't want to get stuck on there!" Haha, right! I Sure Wouldn't Want That! Lost. Already. So anyway, long way of saying, I should have bought a GPS the first moment it came out. But no, I held out until last year, because, why? Punitive? I don't know. I also don't tend to drive a ton and until this past year have avoided highways when possible. With respect to the driving wussiness, it's a pretty chicken-eggy affair.   

During one yoga class last year, our teacher said something along the lines of: "That which is in your way is another form of where you are going"...which doesn't quite make sense? And yet holds appeal. I mean, the problems upon which you focus also direct your action, because action follows gaze, as with driving. Right? So our anxieties or our focus upon limitations actually do wind up limiting us. And it's interesting how life -- at least seems to -- throw things at you in phases. Like this driving anxiety and lostness for me. Even though I have the privilege of working remotely for a good portion of my work week, my few days of driving an hour to the office (one way) has increased my highway driving over the past half year more than the past five (or even ten) years. It was dreaded. And panicky tentacles would unfold during most drives. This has been the case so very long that I had no faith it would ever be different. It would never NOT be a big deal. If I made the effort to drive a long(ish) way to something appealing, I knew I would feel jittery by the time I arrived, hands shaking, kinda exhausted.  I thought it was my lot, something unchangeable.  But it seems this past year has conspired to have me work on this. And somehow, now, between the GPS purchase and a longish work commute, things farther afield feel a bit more possible. I doubt I'll ever relish getting lost (I'll leave that to those golden navigators), but this is just a little smaller than it used to be. Easier to focus beyond that~~

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Liberty Local Wind-down

After day two of Liberty Local, I am feeling tired and lazy. The show went really well for me, which was especially nice after several low-sale days elsewhere. I *CAN* sell well! Doggone it, people like me!  Today was definitely more of a mosey than a sprint, but friend visits (yay!) and cool vendors saved the day. I definitely flitted about a bit more, which also resulted in vendors buying from and trading with each other. In case you don't already know, especially when sales slow, we are swapping goods and money in a crafty zero-sum game. With few exceptions, we kinda can't help ourselves.I am sometimes able to be more stoic and money-minded, but temptation+boredom/restlessness*=ah, sweet surrender...

*boredom NOT divided by restlessness.

A few things I did not resist:

Pottery courtesy Janelle Songer, brooch/lapel pins (/hair blooms, if one had hair), court. Deid Goods, Sea Monster! from Andrea Everman. There's another great something, which I can't mention, as it's gifty. I don't think I'm materialistic, but I *do* rather love having pretty things around.

As you can tell, the first photo's a bit overexposed. Here you get a better sense of the glaze, plus the pretty reddish-brown clay at base. Janelle has been working with clay for the past three years. I really enjoy her splashes of color combined with more delicate drawn lines (the delicacy is better conveyed on the glass). She also has some groovy vases that are in the shape of leaves and flowers.

I got to chat with Andrea of Owly Shadow Puppets a little bit, which I was hoping to do. In addition to owning a small laser cutter, with which she creates all her shadow puppets, she also does set design for the Red Moon theater, in the Chicago area. 

"Oh, do you perform, too, do shadow puppet theater?"

"Oh no, I'm shy." She frowns and shakes her head. Which, it makes me think of Jim Henson and the like, because they tend to be shy characters, but they are obscured by the platform stages, so it works out. But this still won't work, I guess. She comes across as somewhat serious, though you can detect a nice, wicked sense of humor threading through some of her pieces. I deliberate over my puppet options.
"Do you need to see what kind of shadow it casts?" What a thoughtful, perfect question!

This is delightful. I want to ask her to demonstrate each one, but I don't want to overstep, or be an nuisance, or seem like I am six years old. 

There's a fun short video of what she does, at the bottom of this post. 

She cited Lotte Reineger as an inspiration-- check out a snippet of the paper cut silhouette animation she made called The Adventures of Prince Achmed or just a Googly image selection -- either is quite impressive.

I seem to be running out of steam, despite my will to hang onto the dredges of vacation time. But tomorrow brings the return of the early morning rise. This morning I dreamed I completely spaced on one of the important daily client reports, delaying it by half a day. Wouldn't happen, but clearly my subconscious was reentering work mode. So be it. 

Off and away, or to bed, to bed~~ Best wishes for a good week to Everyone.   

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Shhh, the Halibut is Resting (see also: Liberty Local)

Why, Hello Again. I've got some time, you've got some time...I have dishes to do and clothes to fold and crafty detritus littering my entire Ranchy house.  Clearly it's time for more bloggage.

I am happy to report that from where I stand, Day One of Ann Arbor Art Center's Liberty Local was a solid success. Traffic waned, but started off gangbusters; and when sales were slow, appreciation was nevertheless evident and...appreciated (dur). Organizers Sam and Amy were enthusiastic cheerleaders throughout, volunteers popped over to see if we needed to go on snack runs, and lovely local friends came through, perused my wares, allowed me to wake their sleeping babies, bought cards and were their supportive sunny selves.

MAN, I think I had lost sight of how very nice it is to sell somewhere close to my house. Love Rust Belt and such venues, but after driving almost an hour, part of me is already tired before I even unload and set up--  or talk to would-be fans, friends, the bizarre and the indifferent. I wasn't exhausted when I got home! I arrived home dinnerish time! Halibut is currently marinating, waiting to transform into a hopefully luscious curry, with yogurt, ground cashews, paprika (odd, Neelam Batra, did you really mean it?), wonderful green cardamom...In the meantime, we have a nice Founders Breakfast Stout. Oh! Also, when I got home, I was faced with this:

Several neighborhood kids in my yard. I slowed my driveway entry. Many halted upon seeing me, including a boy who had been trundling a wheelbarrow rapidly up my sidewalk. I love my neighborhood. I am, however, odd (wo)man out: single/no pets/no god-- so, I lack strong ties with the neighborhood youngins.

"Can we rake your leaves?" Hmm. My yard seemed to be mostly raked. Was this a minor shakedown? Or was I seen as a pity-case/eye sore?  B/c while I am lazy with these matters, my background also makes me loathe to pay someone else for what I would miserably do myself.


Another kid: "It's free!"

Me:"Oh!" Now I was totally confused.

"We're making a huge leaf pile!! In our yard!!"

Me: "Oh! Sure!~~"

Them, emphatically, victoriously: "YESSSSSSSSS!!!!"

Well, alright then. Can't imagine that will happen too often, but pretty awesome.

Weren't you talking about the art thing? WTH. We now you blather, but, g-d.  Well, true. So. To my left was Laura Eckert of Albino Dino. She was doing cute things like snipping fringe into the scarves of long-necked plush dinosaurs. They also sometimes have mustaches and glasses. She also has zombie photos and an elephant, but really, she's on team dino. On my right, Deb of Deid Goods-- she has gorgeous pillows, ipod cases and bags made from felted sweaters. Lovely bright colors, lots of texture and appealing dahlia shapes. One table down was Heather of Bettula -- neat lacquered jewelry from birch bark and small boxes of dried mosses. I love how with table neighbors, it's possible to chat, delve into deeper conversation; and then retreat into more solitary bubbles.

There are so many people I am also tempted to mention, but then this would expand and expand. And while we want the halibut to be sufficiently spiced, we do not wish to eat at 10 PM. Mid-morning I got a text from Ginger that the (NOW LOCAL, kerrazzzy!) Onion had a.)written up Liberty Local   and b.) given me a shout-out, describing me as an "absurdist woodblock printmaker" (LOVE LOVE LOVE). Also given props: Chicago-based Owly Shadow Puppets -- I love the Yeti and dragon especially. But also love the anti-valentine at the Etsy shop "Your crazy emotional needs give my life purpose," which I did not see at her table. Her laser-cut shadow puppets are SUH-WEET.

Aside from my little cards, which usually do pretty well, my "Geese Suspect You Are Withholding" print was the star of the day (at my table, natch). The favorite purchase background I got (which I ALWAYS love) was this: "I MUST have that because I am heartily terrified of geese. I had a very bad experience as a child. And now every morning I go for a walk and there's a gaggle of them. I am convinced one day they are going to launch an attack. But I am ready! I've got my ninja moves ready... This will have pride of place in my home."This was also delivered in a British accent, which we can all agree makes most anything better.

Several people, upon buying this print, confirm a deep fear of geese. I had no idea I was tapping into this well of anxiety (though obviously, I do feel they can be demanding. Swans scare me more. A swan once stole my beach towel when I was studying by a "lake" on the campus of the University of Massachusetts. Aggressive swan! Mean swan!)

I imagine the halibut is sufficiently spiced to take to the next level. I have cashews to grind. Rufus is wondering:

"Why am I always on a plane or a fast train
Oh what a world my parents gave me
Travelin' but not in love

Still I think I'm doin' fine

Wouldn't it be a lovely headline
Life is
Beautiful on a New York Times"

Liberty Local has one more day, tomorrow, noon-5 PM. Maybe I'll see you there, or just online...

Liberty Local!

I suppose this is an eleventh hour post, but I have been meaning to put up a couple more pics about the Ann Arbor Art Center's Liberty Local fair....course, I have been spending more time doing prep for it (except for Thursday, when I ran off to the DIA, to catch a changing exhibit, more on that later). If you're in the area, today's the day! And a fine day it should be: it's supposed to reach the 80s. Yayyyyy, last return of the Summer Dress.
The AAC folk have been doing a wonderful job of promoting the event. I have seen thimble posters all over town, plus take-away cards and artists features on Facebook.

For my own part, I decided to break out those smaller wooden panels for a little bit of block print-collagey action:

Have a glorious Saturday, All!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Duck, Duck, Goose

A lovely first day off. Very quick to slip into the sleeping in. Hours mysteriously whiled away. A good catch up with Curly Girl, which I won't detail a la Mom call.

Eventually I descended to my favorite basement work bench and noodled around. I had planned on pulling partial prints for the newly arrive small wood panels and for cards, for this weekend's Liberty Local show.

I thought the polar bear from Trouble would work well on a nice 8"x8" panel, so I pulled a few of him. It's been awhile since I have spent time pulling them by hand.  I listened to this Alexi Murdoch song on repeat for a ridiculously long time. Love the lyrics! I get on jags.

So: polar bear, polar bear, polar bear.
 And then when I was pulling the "You" portion from trouble, it occurred to me that this could be a card, with the bottom border. So that was the next step.
double boards! Where will the madness end?

 To conserve paper, I did one on each end of some nice thick Rives paper that I had already cut down. But then these began to beg for things in between them:
So now I think I have some more "rogue prints" going on, rather than the stock of cards I was trying to build up. I haven't listed any of these one-offs, but maybe I will. Maybe the rogues are my new direction, for a bit. They're kind of fun, no? Man, I have gotten so much mileage out of this pushy goose. He pops up in everything. He cracks me up. See also: I crack myself up. 
So maybe tomorrow I'll go back down and do what I had originally tasked myself with doing. Maybe not. 

PJ Harvey Long Snake Moaned me into my second run in a couple days. Sore, but pleased-- let's see what the third day brings. I no longer listen to "Lose Yourself" on the runs, but keep returning to the gospel version when I'm hanging about on el computador. 

Perfect Laughter posted about the upcoming Reclaimed show in Wyandotte, for which I made the headstone piece-- color me geeked! Exciting.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Your Mother Loves You and Would Like You to Wear Lots of Gloves

"Did you get the box I sent you??"
"Yes! yes, I'm sorry, the work week was really hectic, I --"
"I *assumed* you got it. But it's nice --"
"--I did!Thank you!"
"----to *know.* I assumed it arrived, anyway."
"Lots of gloves, they'll be very useful."
"And nuts help to lower cholesterol. *I* should eat more nuts. Anyway, the pistachios were on sale."
"and the clothes pins, I have never seen any like it, with that clip at the top~"
"I figured you could use those to hang prints. And I certainly have enough clothes pins. They don't do anyone any good sitting in a box!"

They are pretty cool. Substantial!
"True! Yes, thank you."

"You're welcome." We settle in. She asks about a slow-burning health insurance nightmare that I have been contending with for half a year. Shockingly, a ray of hope has developed. Unlike previous unseen letters written by various departments noting in a fuzzy way that doctors ordered tests because they felt they were necessary (cagey doctors!), a newer, more precise letter has been written. And I have actually seen it. Which is helpful, but odd, mainly because of the first statement, which goes something like: "Patient has an x% chance of developing dreaded nastiness over the course of her life." Well, ok. It's just...odd.

"Hmph." says Mom.

"I mean, honestly, I know they have all kinds of ways of estimating, but that's difficult for me to believe. And maybe this is a dodge, but over a they include 90s? Everyone gets sick in their nineties."

"Right, everyone gets sick then. Plus, you could trip and fall down the steps and be taken out!"

"Well, true--" I love that the phrase she uses is "taken out."

"And how do they figure THAT in? The doctors, they don't know." While you may already be aware that she is a medalled athlete in the National Worry Triathalon, we are now encountering her in her circumspect aspect. "You've got to die of something. Who's not going to die?" 

We mosey onward. I tell her about some new characters wandering through. "Is this person gay?" She has progressed a bit over the past few years. "Gay" is no longer uttered in weird italicized fonts. Nevertheless, the question momentarily startles me. "Um, nope. I highly doubt that." She asks enough questions to establish that she doesn't really need to keep these people on her radar at this point. She doesn't usually note my friends/loved ones until they have been in my life for some time. Her interest shifts to what she really wants to talk about:

"Did I tell you I bought a tiny rug?"

"....No. Do tell."

"Well!" and she was off. I confess, the details floated past me. There was a sale most likely, there was fringing, but it was dry clean only and though it wouldn't be high-traffic area, this seemed worrisome.  But then it seems she MUST have gone with it anyway, because it doesn't match the powder room curtain "And your father went to Calico Corner with me and helped me pick out fabric for a new curtain. I'll send you a swatch."

On a more substantive note, she talked about an editorial she read in the Philadelphia Inquirer about how the Amish community is handling the Nickel Mine tragedy, five years on. Five years ago, a disturbed man within the Amish community entered a schoolhouse and shot ten school girls (five died), before shooting himself. It was devastating to read the coverage. Makes me think of the movie The Sweet Hereafter, based on a Russell Banks book about a horrendous accident with a school bus and how the small community is affected in so many awful ways. The Pennsylvanian community has taken pains to care for the shooter's widow and their surviving children. The editorial speaks about forgiveness, and how the community tries to embrace it as a journey. It's something you develop and tend to, like gratefulness. I think Maestra would really appreciate this conversation and add to it; wish my Mom could talk with her.

Mom reads me a quote from an Amish farmer: "Acid corrodes the container that holds it. That's what happens when we hold onto bitterness."  Pretty spot on. Good food for thought.
Post script from Mom: "And also, you may hold a grudge against someone and they don't even know and they'll just go on with their own stupid way of things." Heh. Also true.

A good meaty chat with the madre, repeated visits to the domed cake plate for plum-frangipane pie (thanks again SBS, such a treat!!), a hilly run to exorcise aggression...not a bad Sunday. A return to art projects tomorrow. Happy Sunday, All.