Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I’ve gotten to the point in my art practice where I can identify some of my tendencies as well as things I need in order to produce something that’s worthwhile. For example, I tend to be too lazy or forget to change into crappy clothes before I paint. Therefore, I have splotches of gouache and acrylic on almost every article of clothing I own. A pair of black slacks that fit me really well (which is, as you laydays out there know, is a hard thing to find) and a blazer that I wear when it starts getting’ chillah have both been tainted by little teal spots of paint. As for necessities, I need deadlines to get anything done and most of the time, I need a really clear idea and a good understanding of my subject matter. Tonight I was working on a birthday present for a friend. I’ve started making like, four different things, but I haven’t been connecting with any of them. So now, weeks after her birthday, I have a stack of unfinished paintings and an idea for a completely unrelated project. Last night, feeling really discouraged about my drawing and painting abilities, I thought of what my drawing teacher Richard Deutsch* * said to me last week in class when he saw the third drawing I’d done that day, “You love your subject matter.” We’d been working in charcoal (BIP) and I hadn’t been interested in the angles I’d had during our model’s first couple poses (I couldn’t find another spot because we have a big, 18-person class), but the last one was really cool and I felt way more excited about drawing it, which showed, as the drawing was a bit better than the other two I’d done earlier. So, yeah, Richard was right. Subject matter makes a difference. You have to be interested in what you’re working from. Anyway, so last night, after spending four hours having another go at Aury’s birthday present*, I decided to draw something else to get some new juices flowing. I started drawing a Victorian house. It felt very storybook to me, so I started thinking about the person who lived there and the story that it might accompany. I then added some text and got an idea. Wouldn’t it be cool if family and friends gave me a sentence and I’d illustrate it? Simple, right? I know but I think it’d be neat. I need to build up my portfolio and I’m sure you have something in mind you’d like to see illustrated so do it. Send me a sentence or a character description or whatever and I'll make something and post a picture.
p.s. I made an edition of thirty exchangeables for my Artists’ Books class. They’re little mask kits. I’ll put up a picture in my next post. Yip.
*It’s always hard for me to make gifts and cards for people because I feel really pressured to make them something great. I think I get so scared about making something they’ll hate, that I just screw up again and again and end up getting it to them really late, or I just give up and buy them something, which is boring. It’s also hard when I have friends who are really, really good at what they do (which is all of them) because I feel like I have to prove, through my birthday presents that I’m good at what I do.
Damn. I need to chill out. This is not fun for you to read.
* * Richard Rules. He gave us all the produce that we used for a still life one day saying. “it’s organic!” He’s all about showing us alternative, more healthful ways of doing things so we don’t destroy our lungs and such by using harmful materials. The way he critiques is effective because he’s chilled out so you don’t freak out further if you hate your drawing and he’s so knowledgeable and passionate about drawing that he can almost always offer solutions to any pickle you may be in. He reminds me of a really nice, cool version of Dustin Hoffman. Like, if he and Dustin Hoffman were long lost twins, Richard would be the good one and Dustin would be the evil one.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
So aside from seeing a guy on the Red Line with a braided beard, one of the highlights of my weekend included a trip to the Renegade Craft Fair.
I went last year and golly, the weather was so much nicer this time around. There seemed to be like, twice as many vendors this year, too, which was rull, rull cool, if not a little overwhelming. Luckily we got brekkie and sang the Flight of Dragons theme song at the Alliance Bakery to get pumped up before hittin’ the 300+ booths.
I saw lotsa cool things and plenty of barf bag artmanboyboos* selling their wares. I got a giant stack of business cards, asked several stationary companies if they were taking internship applications (look at your little tax deduction networking, Papa G!), saw an ewok, fat babies, and a plethora of typewriter key jewelry... actually, too much typewriter key jewelry. As a matter of fact, I noticed lots of the same subject matter and material use throughout the Fair. Journals made from old books, MUSTACHES (they were errywhurr!), repurposed vintage jewelry, birds, weirdo creatures and buttons were all really popular among vendors. There was also the occasional booth dedicated to something original. One booth housed nothing but stuffed felt penises (why?) and another was filled with earrings made of paper (again, why?).
Most of the artists were friendly and welcomed us as we entered their booths, while others were busy working on making more stuff to sell later. Others just looked sad and preoccupied, as if they'd come from Narnia and didn't know how to find the secret portal through which to get home. One vendor was there with who looked to be her mother. They sat in their empty tent, waiting for somebody, anybody to come in, and all I could think about was that lady trying to convince her parents a few years before that she'd get a lucrative job after graduating art school. Actually, I thought a lot about what I'm going to to after I graduate when I was at the Fair. A grad student in my Why Make Art Now? course brought up the Renegade the other day in class, saying that a lot of her friends who were vendors there told her their business had never been better. The recession has made it possible for them to live off their work, which we (my classmates in WMAN?) decided makes sense because middle class folks are focusing on making their immediate communities as fantastic as possible which means local artists and crafters are being supported. People want well-made, local stuff and that makes me happy.
The point of the story is that Renegade rules and if I never see another facial hair (it was funny the first five times I saw it) or owl-themed object again, I will die a happy woman.
The Fair was wonderful this year. If you didn't get a chance to go, stop by the Renegade Handmade store on Division, or check it out next summer. There's also going to be a Holiday Sale December 5th and 6th at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse. When and if you do go, wear comfy shoes, bring sunglasses and dress in layers (Love, Mom).
*Young and attractive male artists who are sickeningly cool or wonderfully dorky who make me feel like I should set up an eHarmony account and go back to the Nasty* * and work at LoBill's or something instead of trying to coexist in their hip, happenin’ universe
* * My native land, Cincinnati, Ohio a.k.a. The Nasty ‘nati
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
On Sunday, my friend Cleo and I went to see Redmoon Theater's 2009 Spectacle, Last of My Species: The Fearless Songs of Laarna Cortaan. I'd been looking forward to seeing the show all week because Redmoon is, as my aunt Dixie would say, "off the chain." I'd taken classes with two of it's head honchos- Blair Thomas (founder) and Jim Lasko (former Artistic Directer, current Resident Artist)- and seen several shows there, each time leaving the theater feeling inspired and excited about making art. The space itself-an old ink factory- contributes a great deal to the overall mysterious and magical vibes the shows exude, so when Cleo told me the performance wasn’t at the theater, I was a bit disappointed. One of my favorite things about seeing a Redmoon show is looking at props and set pieces from past performances on display in the lobby. My disappointment was quickly abated as we approached the South Belmont Harbor to see a huge lawn hosting a gigantic scaffold system. A crowd had formed in the area between the playing space and two sets of congested bleachers. Families sat on quilts eating picnic dinners and people waved excitedly at their friends, pointing out open seats. Cleo and I found a nice spot in the center section on the very top row of one of the bleachers where we had plenty of space and a good view. After a few minutes, someone announced over the speaker system that the show was completely sold out and that we were to squeeze in toward the center to make room for any stragglers. A moment later, a set of couples came along looking for seats. They split up, one pair claiming the bench in front of us, their companions, taking the spaces on my right. Within like, two minutes of sitting down, the woman beside me pulled out a big-assed bag of pre-packaged croissants, showing it off to the rest of her party. A little while after that, the guy in front of me rolled out a coupla submarine sandwiches and some fancy-butt drank-dranks. Not to further either the starving artist or poor college student stereotype, but damn, that was a fwiggin' feast, and Cleo and I struggled to focus on the show as we watched them divvy up a giant scone, little bags of potato chips, homemade chocolate chip cookies and a Thermos of hot coffee over the course of the performance. As I looked upon the man in front of me gnoshing on baguette-wrapped tuna salad, I had flashbacks of eating peanut butter from the jar earlier that day, and I cried a little bit inside.
Okay, now for the show.
In the Artistic Notes section of the program, Artistc Director Frank Maugeri says:
"Last of My Species is an exercise in the discipline of collaboration, the potential of design, the act of celebration, and the construction of spontaneous community."
I'm not so sure they did a fabulous job of disciplining themselves. To me, the collaborative struggle was pretty apparent. It seemed like the show was lots of little shows thrown together: a few songs and disparate story lines here, some acrobatics and weird machines there. Separately, all of the individual elements were intriguing, but collectively they just felt chaotic and confusing. The first half of the show was pretty much concert-based while the second half was more story-oriented. The performance got more interesting as it went on, but I consistently felt like I was being performed at and that I should have better known the characters or understood the premise more than I actually did. This was clearly illustrated when in the last third of the show, we were introduced to a new, but surprisingly significant story line which took us to the end of the performance. As we got up to leave, I looked at Cleo and asked, "What just happened?" It was frustrating having sat through something and feeling like I hadn't taken anything away from it.
Despite my dislike for the piece as a whole, there were some really beautiful things about the performance. Watching something so bizarre against the serene backdrop of lake Michigan on a perfect September evening was quite lovely. The use of masks and strange, obtrusive mechanical contraptions satisfied my craving for traditional Redmoon oddities. The sound and lighting were good, which is nothing to scoff at, and the choreography and logistics employed in moving the large ensemble about the space were truly admirable.
Please keep in mind that I hadn’t researched the show at all before I agreed to go, and that I was expecting a play in a smaller venue featuring puppetry and maybe some animation. I mean, I laughed and gasped out loud a few times and enjoyed most of the music, but I had a really hard time becoming engaged with the show. If you’re looking for visual spectacle (it is Redmoon’s 2009 Spectacle, after all) without tons of character development or cohesion, then maybe the show’s for you. If you get easily distracted by large, delicious-looking sandwiches, bring some damn eats with you, so you can focus on what you paid fifteen bucks for. Be sure to bring bug spray (the mosquitos are out on the prowl during that time of night) and don’t forget your camera. Whoever takes the best picture during the show wins a prize. The sun sets during the Spectacle, so you’re bound to get some really beautiful shots.
If you don’t go to this show, go see a show, any show at the Redmoon. It’s an amazing place run by really talented, innovative people.
Also, if you’re interested in puppetry, deifinitely check out Blair Thompson’s work. He’s sensational.