Thursday, July 28, 2016

Memory Now!

I took these photos a couple days ago, as I was backing out of our driveway to go erranding. The shots aren't great, but the moment held the quality of a vivid dream: a memory in the making. At first, Oyo was grave, but then she waved vigorously, moments before I got my phone in hand. Later on, I was simultaneously dismayed and satisfied by their blurry faces. Two of the most central figures in my life, clearly defined from a distance, surrounded in all directions by light and shadow, at the center of the path. And so tiny, that little being! Next to her father, letting her set the pace; and the three of us together, connected by our gaze.

inevitably twigs and stones win out
In her great memoir Hold Still, photographer Sally Mann charged photography with "impoverish[ing] your memory...sort of take[s] away all other senses"; elsewhere, she positioned her medium as untrustworthy, capable of rewriting the experience. Is it inevitable that great art is equally capable of capturing the essence of people/events in a given moment in time and of manipulation, rewriting? Photography does seem especially suited. Her sentiment certainly goes deeper than the snapshots above, but the odd sensation of...feeling nostalgic for something as it's happening? left me grasping at straws.

On the other end of the spectrum from our continual, casual documentation (/rewriting) with our phones, I hereby offer you some of my recent favorite vintage photos. I picked these up on my first visit to the glorious King's Books in Detroit. The photos were jumbled into boxes, as such items usually are, and it can feel a little depressing that their images have come to this -- did their family branches die off? Or just knowledge of them? My own family history is relatively hazy even a couple generations back, though my sister did a wonderful job researching our genealogy a few years back -- life just continues on, so full, so quickly -- how is their space to keep it all alive? But maybe it's exactly the mystery of these images that is so appealing, paired with the fact that family photography was such a special event.
The first one to suck me into the jumbled boxes:

Proper but spirited! Wry sense of humor?
Award for sweetest baby goes to...

Flouffy collars!
A rarity: name on back -- Billy Galbraith
Actually a postcard. Even if staged, I love it.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Ann Arbor Art Fair Stroll: Shadow Play, Barking Dogs, Anything's a Toy

Call him Vincent and buy his paintings
What to do when you'd happily pass the days as a large scale figure painter, but the market isn't aligned?  One answer: Edward Vincent Wood III's hand shadow series, a playful exercise allowing him to paint extremely realistic hands with defiantly unrealistic shadows. His love of capturing the subtleties of flesh is evident in his large- and small- scale oil paintings. His painting practice extends 16 years, though he had natural drawing aptitude from childhood. Give him a friendly welcome him to his first year at the Ann Arbor Art Fair (the Original on East Washington, near Hill Auditorium, booth A146). 

Just a few doors down, Kent Ambler returns with his fantastic woodblock prints. I still love the textural quality to his work -- he's always improvising with new tools to create different marks. I visited some favorites from last year like "Crow in the Snow" -- they still appeal. I asked for background on a newer dog portrait ("Mug Shot of a Serial Barker"): "Oh, yeah," he says, "that's a new dog I got in December. The local shelter had a photo from above, so he looked like a dachshund mix; but when I got there he was long-legged and actually a hound mix, but I took him anyway. He barks ALL the TIME, howls, too --" What's his name? Mr. Whipple Was that the name he came with? Nah, they were calling him 'Roman' or some such. (booth A154)

Elsewhere in the Original, Katie Musolff won a well deserved Award of Excellence, as her River Journal watercolors continue to fly off the booth walls

Connie Verrusio returned with her found and upcycled metal jewelry. I bought a surprisingly comfortable bangle fashioned from a carpenter's ruler, which I thought I could actually wear around Oyo. More accurately, it is a bracelet she can wear around me, as she pointed to it the moment she saw it and repeated the word "Off" until I surrendered. She is content to play with her sorting cups, with the bracelet bouncing around her arm. On North U.

enviable business card
Busking Bonus:
Guitar-yoga double play!

Art Fair Stroll Sans Stroller: Surprises on Main Street

Initially you're texting as you walk down Main, approaching this section as your "waking up" portion of art fair. Your friend is hiding in her house, away from the heat; you offer to buy her a leather fanny pack, but she demurs ("-only if it has a bird or a flower on it!") You mocked them, but the joke's on you. The non-fanny pack bags at KT Leather Designs feature strong, solid colors, contrasting zippers, and clean lines; the closer you look, the better they become. Especially the cleverly designed double triangle bag, if you're in the market for a go-to purse. Booth D178.

Surely you know someone who needs dinosaur pottery? I'm in a hard position with this medium: I love it, but have so little space for it. Figure out someone to buy these for. Keith Hershberger, Booth D187.

Ayyyyand, most exciting! At the other end of Main, Detroit-based Corbe is brand new to the fair, but have already snagged an Award of Excellence. Ceramic as simple and beautiful as smooth river stones. My favorite: black speckle glaze. Also on their website: United States in plates. Booth 323.

the dalmation vase wouldn't take up much room

...And with that it's time for a dip into Literati before hitting other areas. You pass through a ragged man's monologue loop at the intersection: "...Spiced meat, well we all need body parts. You're not taking mine-" and feel relieved by the more inane art fair overheards ("...Ohhhh, can't we get ONE more dragonfly thing?")

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Evidence of a Scattery Life

Yesterday evening I thought, "Okay NOW I could write a blog post." I sat on our front stoop*, enjoying the golden late evening sky, our leafy street, a Corona, and bevy of presents newly arrived in the mail. The Oyo, not-quite-asleep, was barely rustling in her darkened room. The baby monitor called out, "Baby!..Bayyyyyyybee. Wawa?" before subsiding. Logistically speaking, blogging wasn't realistic: the stoop just barely fit a chair and the disgorged boxes -- name aside, perching the laptop on my lap seemed like a recipe for disaster. Leave it to the less clumsy among us.

The view from my foldy chair showed the flip-side of 1960s nonconformity: a row of little ranch houses, identical but for siding decisions and window treatments, with varying degrees of yard tidyness. The tidiest of all yards sat across from me: the lush grass carpet was approximately three times thicker than our piebald mess; timered sprinklers shot to life, first on the verge, followed by the main expanse of yard. Oh lovely, spotless greenery! Our Neighbors of the Perfect Lawn predate my time here, but are rarely seen; they neither walk down the sidewalk, nor chat about brownouts or dear prices at Plum. The husband mows the lawn, or rakes; and returns inside. A couple years ago, they attended a neighborhood gathering, with the wife helpfully explaining to us that there are sporadic security checks at her job -- so if anyone contacts any of us, now we can say we know her. And that was about the length of her socializing. I don't remember either of their names.

Obviously, neighborliness takes many forms and everyone is entitled to be as involved or removed as desired. Opinions on the ideal neighbor differ greatly**. I remember moving onto this street and another friend, who grew up in the country, warned me against overly-friendly space-invading neighbors***. As it turned out, it seemed like a year or two passed before I even talked to anyone on the street for more than 5 minutes, lacking a child, dog or church, what seemed to be the social sealants at the time. Now, I count a few neighbors as loved ones, which is the first time in my life I can say that; though I have yet to connect over parenting, which surprises me a bit. Though to be fair, I'm not prone to insta-bonding, so the Mom endeavor of quickly sussing out potentially like-minded souls and exchanging texts is...uneven on my part. 

And then the few moments passed, Javier arrived home; and here I am at a cafe while Javier watches Oyo. We had a lovely non-characteristic July 4th weekend -- Javier arrived back from a week away on Friday night and it was a relief and a bounty to have him home again. Some of his family were also visiting from California and they a.) were great to visit with and b.) Oyo-sat so we could have a leisurely day-date on Sunday -- fabulous!

I also joined the ladies of the group for a mani/pedi, something I have never done in my life; it was a lot more fun than I would have thought. A layer of fluffiness was removed by Javier's sister-in-law giving me a snapshot of the political players involved in England leaving the EU. Afterward, I walked around feeling like I had a doll's hands, a comparison which makes no sense to anyone, because what dolls have painted fingernails? Regardless, this still pops into my head. I also come off as an addled traveler, who had been holed up in some godforsaken corner of the world prior to her maiden journey. "They had these warm stones! Which they ran along your arms, like this~~" I ran my hands along Javier's arms. Javier wore the plastic expression we use for Oyo when she wishes us to share in the wonder of a sock she has found for the umpteenth time.

"Ohh! nice!"

"And massage chairs. Though I think that's only if you get a pedi. But with different settings and everything--"

"Well, that sounds like fun. New experiences!"

"I got a different shade on my feet. I like it, though--"

"Oh they just did the tips--"

"Well, no. I was just about to say it highlights how freakishly small my toenails are~"

"Wow, they really are--"


"I don't think I've ever seen such small toenails before. This changes everything--"


Forty Minutes Later

Javier, peering downward: "You know, you're really not supposed to cut your nails shorter than a certain amount--"

"I KNOW how to cut my nails! It's the size of the nail bed! I didn't tell you so you could make a bigger deal out of it" I harrumphed and took myself elsewhere.

--> Nothing exciting for feet or toes here, but check out old slang for body parts!

So, um, in other news. I solved the riddle to life's persistent questions? And daily life is scintillating, clearly. But good. Smallish, vigorous, and changeable as a toddler. So, what else?
  • My work got accepted for a large exhibit, Spring 2017! All picture book! More on that in a couple weeks.
hahaha, no mice in story
  • Photoshop noodling continues. Simple color layers added to my conch mouse card. Next up: pigeons.
  • "If you exorcise your demons, your angels will leave, too." Agree, disagree? Song writer Joe Henry with Krista Tippett
  • Really into This is Criminal podcast these days
  • Local toy store Learning Express advertises "Bunch o Balloons: Fill 100 balloons in 60 seconds!" I plan to steer clear of such things for as long as possible.
Burbling from the nursery, time's up.

*step. It's a big step. Changing a couple letters gives a different feel, doesn't it? Queue up nice Summer jam
** ...and change with circumstance. July 4th revelers compelled to set off their own suburban firework display have never been my favorite, but now? They are nothing other than IDIOTS GONNA WAKE MY BABY.
***i.e. "You've got to shut that sh*t down" this remark was made after a surprisingly perky young woman popped up from next door to borrow a potato masher. "Well if she doesn't return it, I know where she lives, haha~" Compatriot raised her eyebrows to reiterate: trouble. Said neighbor had a name like Charity/Chastity/Serendipity and moved out within a year or so. 
**** but without ketchup, because I have a weird tomato allergy.