by YONA C. RIEL

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My favorite songs discovered this year

      I don't know if it's his dark moody voice or his equally dark and moody lyrics but many songs by M. Ward have appeared on my playlists this year.  I downloaded 'Transfiguration of Vincent" from the libary which I think I like better than "End of Amenisia".  Most notable are "Carolina" and his version of David Bowie's "Let's Dance".   The guy is definitely gifted when it comes to lyrics.  In "Carolina" he sings he "used to feel like California, now I feel like Carolina, split myself in two".  I bet even Tom Waits thought that was a good line for a song. 
     Speaking of Tom and good lyricists I think he is one of the best out there.  Last year I saw the movie 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" and just when it gets really intense Tom starts singing "All the World is Green" extracting uncontrollable tears and some serious shock and awe out of me.  It was really hard to leave that movie as they returned to the same song when the credits rolled.
     And then there's Alice.  I do have a really good friend named Alice but I am talking about the Tom Waits song with that name.  If you have never heard it get the cd of the same name from the library and download it.  "....with a secret kiss, comes madness with the bliss, I must be insane, to go skating on your name, and by skating it twice, I fell thru the ice, of al..ICE...".

     Maybe it is because I am in my 50's and I shared similar experiences, but Rickie Lee Jones is another amazing song writer that keeps on giving me 'ear candy' year after year.  Her new album "Balm in Gilead" is all good but my favorite is the one she wrote for her daughter's 21st birthday called "Wild Girl".  This song has everything that I love about Rickie; from her chords, to her pacing, to her particular way of articulating a verse, this song brings forth those salty tears again and again, letting me know she has hit my spot.
     Okay, yeah, I am a sucker for really good ballads.  But I also love a good world music sound.  Balkan Beat Box, who was last scheduled to hit Eugene at the Shed a year or so ago (and was cancelled due to imigration B.S.) put out an amazing song called "Ramallah Tel Aviv".  We are talking middle eastern rap (just for the record I detest rap music) .... and it was music to my ears.  Difficult to describe.  All I can say is it makes me wanna dance unlike any rap song I have ever heard.
     Then there's a band called Bajofondo.  I got into them because I like 'nuevo tango'.  But when I heard "Pa Bailar - Siempre Quiero Mas" I flipped.  Beautifully rhythmic.  Very danceable.  Gorgeous female lead vocals featuring Julieta Venegas.   It gets me all mushy even if I don't understand most of lyrics.
     I also discovered another singer songwriter this year, Devandra Banhart, probably because he was the free single of the week from either Starbucks or I-tunes.  Went to the library to see what else he had done and sure enough his album 'Cripple Crow' is a winner.  I love "Santa Maria da Feira" the most for it's beautiful vocals in spanish mixed with just enough folky guitar to appeal to a '50-something' like me.
   Perhaps none of these are new to you, but if even one is I will consider my list a success.  I would feel even more 'successful' if you left your favorite songs discovered this year.  They don't have to be new, just new to you.  And thanks in advance for reading and responding.
   

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The resurrection of Yo

     Being an artist, for me, has not always been pretty or fun.  Nor does my process fit nicely into the perimeters of a timeline.  I can start a project with a ‘guesstimation’ of when it will be done, but I never really know what will happen once I start.
     In September 2006, I started a life-size mannequin by covering a foam one (I had laying around) with papier mache.  Then, I used the plaster gauze to make a smooth, hard surface to collage upon. I then collaged the entire surface with maps I printed out from various sites I found on the web. In the next step, I laid tissue paper that sewing patterns are made of, and then finally I painted over the entire surface, thinking I was going to sand back through the layers and come up with some interesting texture as skin.  
     By the summer of 2007 she was completely covered. Her torso and arms were sanded down revealing an unusual textural surface with an occasional word showing through. Her legs had red and white striped ‘socks’. Her face had tiny words embedded deep into her skin and eyes.  She sat peacefully in a cross-legged position with her fingers laced together.  And I hated her.  I just could not make any real meaning out of her even though the surface of her ‘skin’  looked just fine.
     Day after day, my frustration with ‘the mannequin’ grew whenever I tried to work on her.  Finally, sick of the frustration, I cut off her arms, then I cut off her legs and I wrote ‘I hate you’ and ‘throw me in the river’ all over her.  That day I promised myself, tears flowing, that I would throw her in the back of the truck, drive down to the river and throw her in.  ‘She will finally stop haunting me',  I thought.

     Then in December of 2007,  I had a near-fatal head injury to the right side of my brain caused by a sinus infection.  I was in the hospital for a month. By the time I got home I still had very little use of the left side of my body.  I could not put on my own clothes, tie my shoes, zip up my coat.  Making art was out of the question.  But everyday for several months I would walk up to the hospital for my physical therapy appointments then walk back.
     Eventually, I learned to read again, type, use my cellphone and most miraculous to me the pictures inside my brain came back.  (I had secretly feared I had lost my imagination).  To make art I would collect things in baggies and hang them on the wall and try to extract meaning from them.  And  I spent a few hours everyday writing.  The mannequin was the last thing on my mind though she still haunted me whenever I went out to the shed.  (I never did make it to the river.)
     I spent the next year volunteering at MECCA trying to learn how to work with others with my new limitations.  The head injury caused a lot of fatigue along with heightened anxiety when dealing with people.  The volunteering helped me learn how to negotiate my new limitations.
     When Mija (the director at MECCA) first said the words ‘Art Challenge’ I immediately knew I had to resurrect the mannequin.  The moment I saw the old lamp I knew that the lampshade was the skirt I had been looking for. And the base of the lamp would be heavy enough to hold up the mannequin.  So inspired was I, that I strapped the lamp onto the back of my bike because I had to start work that day.

      This is when it dawned on me that resurrecting the mannequin mirrored my own resurrection from the brain injury.

     Everyday, for the next two months, I would find little things at MECCA that spoke to me and I knew they belonged with the Resurrection piece.  Death sits on her head to remind me that it is always near, and a skull sits in a closet (or a coffin) on her back to remind me that grieving is a very necessary part of the healing process.  As I first said, for me, making art isn’t always a pretty or timely process.  But, at least this time, it is what makes meaning in my life.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

nuno and needlefelted mixed media..

     Last winter while I was recovering from a head injury a friend turned me on to nuno felting...(a technique where you felt through a porous fabric like cheesecloth or lace).  I was addicted almost instantly.  As with any new activity there was a learning curve.  I made several scarves using all kinds of fabric as a base.  Some I liked.  Some not so much.
    For awhile the scarves just sat there in a pile collecting dust.  Then one day after acknowledging that this was a process, I hung them all up on my wall in the order that they were made and made a sign "Progression of the Scarflet Species".  It helped to know that just because some of my attempts were less than perfect I still learned something from the experimentation.
     This year for Xmas I am making everything (as opposed to buying stuff).  A few friends got scarves made just for them.  One friend will get something a little different.




   I cut the winged portion of the above piece out of one of my 'failed' attempts.  I cut the heart portion out of another one of my "less than perfect scarflets".  Since I like to mix things up a bit I embellished the winged heart with an old button, several different beads and a leather cord with some red beads on it.  Here's a picture zoomed closer in...


Now, lets see who gets it.. hummmm... i think i will keep that to myself a few days longer... xoxoyo

Friday, December 4, 2009

La madre de todas mis santos patronas (the mother of all my patron saints)

     If you been following my blog you know that a month ago I returned from Oaxaca.  I went down there to take a class with Michael deMeng.  The class was of the mixed media/assemblage variety and it focused on diablos and santos (devils and saints).  I had a few ideas about what I was going to do down there but foremost was to celebrate the death of a relationship I no longer wanted hanging around in my psyche.  What better place to go than Oaxaca for 'dios de los muertos'. 
     I packed a rusty old vintage singer oil can into my bags along with several of the paints Michael recommended.  I also packed a couple of gears and an old round tin that used to hold saddle soap.  Below you will find an image of La Madre in her first incarnation.

     By the time I got home I already knew she wasn't done.  She was supposed to be the mother of all my patron saints.  When I left Oaxaca 'La Madre' could barely stand up without leaning against something.  And where were all my patron saints?  I liked the singer oil can for a body and I liked the gears.  I also liked that I used some tin pieces from Oaxaca like the flaming heart on the front of her body.  The wings hung downward like a mother bird protecting her young so I knew those were okay too.   First thing I did once I got home is I added a base.  It made the whole piece a lot more stable.  Then I painted the red lines along the bottom edge of her wings so they would not be so distracting.  After about a month of toying around with 'La Madre', I am pretty sure she is done.  Below is a view of her in her new incarnation.

       The pink and gold spirals going around the base have the names of several made up patron saints written in black.  I purposely wrote them in the spirals, in spanish, making it impossible for anyone to read.  (I guess I forgot to say before I started this piece that I am not religious and it's just catholic kitch to me).  First I made a patron saint for older women who live alone.  Then I made one for women who feed the birds and for women with long necks.  There is even a patron saint for all the goddesses (diosas) and one for whimsical women.  I added yet another heart that I found in Oaxaca to the top of the figure thinking it needed more overall balance.  Then I added a glass bead in the shape of a spiral in the center of the base that she stands on.  Lastly I wrote her name in gold on the top of the base.  "La Madre de todas mis santos patronas".
     I'd say she is done.  Tell me what you think...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

the Thanksgiving Blog.. (it's gunna be long cuz I got a lot to be thankful for)

     Those of you who have known me for at least 2 years will remember I had a near death experience in December of 2007.  The last thing I remember happening that year before going into the hospital for a month was Thanksgiving dinner at Michael's house.  So, this holiday is tinted with other meaning for me.
     After close to 2 years of healing I can say I am thankful to be alive.  I am also thankful for the numerous people who helped saved my life.
     First, there was George, my neighbor, who 'knew something was wrong' after not seeing me for 5 days and finding me unconscious, so near to death that my imagination was sending me pictures of myself already dead and his wife Betty who insisted I might still be alive and calling 911.  Then there was Micki, the chaplain on duty who held my hand and kept vigilant eye contact with me while I was being wheeled around the emergency room, all the while unconsciously deciding whether I was going to stay with the living or pass over to the other side.
     I am thankful to Tina, Suzie, Sandy and Joan and Michele (who drove all the way from San Francisco) for bleaching my house and disposing of everything tainted with the bodily fluids of my dying process and to Tina again for asking my mother to buy me a new bed.  I am thankful to Dan, my old boss, for getting a hotel room for my mother and brother during that first weekend when no one knew whether I was going to make it or not. 
   During that month in the hospital so many people came to visit me.  I know now that all the love and attention is what helped me decide to stay with the living.  I am thankful to Carole for getting the Buddhists to pray for me, to Amy for playing french music on her accordian, bringing tears of joy to my eyes.  I am thankful to Jennifer who brought me her lucky chinese dragon jammies and later when I could eat bringing dinner and setting a little table so we could eat together.  I am thankful to Michele who brought me silly things and made me laugh.  And to Maram, who decorated my room with Jewish stars and read me poetry when I couldn't read myself.  To Lisa, who lent me her vintage Avengers videos, and to Lanier who fed my cats everyday for a month.
     I am thankful to Candy who brought me magazines and lattes and later when I was home her amazing homemade corn chowder.   And to Joan who came back up from San Francisco and stayed with me for 2 weeks, shooting me up with antibiotics everyday.
    I am thankful for finding Bean, the neuropsyche lady, who became my therapist and continues to lovingly listen to me every week.  And to Kendon who asked people to bring me food when I couldn't ask them myself.  I am thankful to Pam who wrote me everyday for 6 months and called me as often as she could.
    I am thankful to Suzie who went to every doctor's appointment with me and wrote down all the facts.  And to Tina who paid my bills and took the brunt of my negative emotions and who continues to give generously of her time to our undefinable relationship.  I am thankful to Alice and Gaylyn and Jill for visiting me whenever they could and spreading their brillance throughout my hospital room.
     And I am thankful to the nurses and doctors who cared for me like it wasn't just their job.  And lastly I am thankful to 'the Gauds' who have been with me through out this process which I now understand to be a soul retrieval.  I thank you all for loving me and not letting me leave planet earth just yet.  I am forever grateful for your love.  You are the village that has helped to resurrect me.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Volkswagons, Bicycles and Taxis...

    My first occupation in this life was that of a volkswagon mechanic.  Remember the very first 'idiot' book that came out?  Well it taught me everything I needed to know about repairing most volkswagons.   Imagine my surprise in Oaxaca when every other car was an old volkswagon, usually chopped and painted like the one below.  This one was made shorter, into a two seater and I presume it was not originally a convertible.  I know it's a bit weird but all the volkswagons made me nostalgic for the 70's.  So, I took about 30 shots of the most interesting ones.  I won't bore you with all of them but indulge me with just a little browse....

  I found this one.. an art car... kinda like one of my bugs from the 70's.  I had 20 of them during the 10yr period between 1972 and 1982.  Okay enough about the bugs.





Here in Eugene we are proud of our homemade bicycles but i have never seen one like this here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Sand Sculptures of Oaxaca

One of the surprises for me about Dio de Los Muertos in Oaxaca was the tradition of making sand sculptures.  Enormous sand sculptures.  Some were easily more than 50 feet high and 25 ft wide. 

     They started bringing the sand and the bricks to contain it on the 29th of October.  By November 1st several sculptures/paintings were well under way both around the zocalo and on one of the main streets leading down to it.  Of all the questions I asked I only got one definitive answer about the tradition.  The Sand Sculptures/Painting were done by students of the local art schools. 

 Some were religious in nature but most were depictions of huge skeletons.  Occasionally mystical creatures were drawn. 
     Primarily red, blue and yellow were used but occasionally a golden glitter was added, especially when the drawing was religious in nature. 
     Some were pretty funny like this last one of a skeleton crawling out of his world and back into that of the living.  Beer in hand, smile on his face, it looks like he just might make it back. 

     One thing is certain, this particular sculpture got his picture taken often during the course of dio de los Muertos.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sofia Reyes, famous crafter of 'black pottery'




After a visiting the several shops where they make alebrijos we came upon a tiny town where the famous potter Sofia Reyes lives.  Sofia is 90 yrs old.  We were so honored when this living legend gave us a demonstration of her technique.  She uses NO pottery wheel. Instead she balances the clay on two inverted dishes.  The picture to the left shows her transforming a lump of clay into a vessel.  Note, only the hands are moving.   She has been doing this all her life and has also taught her daughters and their daughters to make the black pottery.  The pottery is fired in an outdoor, underground 'kiln' of sorts.  It looks like a simple hole in the ground though I am sure there is much more technology to it than that.  I had no more room in my luggage by this point so I did not buy anything from her amazing inventory.  But many of the group I came with did.  While we were in her shop much ruckus could be heard in the streets.  Turned out a mini parade was going by with all the town's children dressed as muertos.   I went back to sit on the bus with Damien the handsome and flirtatious driver who offered me some local made bread.  I had to refuse since most 'local's' food is made where they have no running water and it is way too easy for a gringa like me to get sick.       But as I was waiting for the others to return I saw a lovely little old lady walking home in the rain and I took a picture of her thru the bus windshield.   I thought it came out pretty sweet.  Next entry is a vignette with pictures of the visits to the alibrijas wood carvers....                                                                                                 


                                                    


Saturday, October 24, 2009

"It Felt Good", a show at MECCA

     With a title like that I bet you thought I was going to talk about something else.  This will be my last blog entry before I head south to Mexico.  Michael deMeng, the teacher has been sending plenty of photos from Oaxaca and I already know I am not going to want to come home.  But knowing I have wonderful extended family and friends here will sure help.         
     Also the show "It Felt Good" with so many wool creations  I am sure it will knock your socks off.  Here's my latest scarf.  The base layer is a blue silk chiffon that loves to get all bubbly with texture when Nuno felted.  What looks yellow in the picture is really a chartreuse that compliments the soft rose colored yarn.  This is my favorite combination so far and if I don't keep it for myself it will be for sale in the show.  
   I got another picture for you.  It is of my tee shirt that I made from several other tee shirts for Day of the Dead in Oaxaca.  I love the dreamcatcher image in the center with the whimsical bird and horse on the side.  I make these shirts for myself cuz I just love to indulge myself with some wearable ART....
See you when I get back.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A creative's journey: The Felting has Begun...

A creative's journey: The Felting has Begun...

The Felting has Begun...

     On Friday, November 7th, just after I return from Oaxaca, I will be part of "It Felt Good", a show at MECCA dedicated to a wide variety of local felting artists.  From needle felting to Nuno felting and everything in between there will be much for the eyes to feast upon. 
     I intend to have ten new scarves for the show; each one unique in color, material and design.  And, this time I am actually going to put sale tags on them.
     In the scarf shown to the left I used a 4 inch wide, black cotton lace with a floral pattern as a base.  Then I laid out gold merino wool roving to make for some contrast.  Next I made circular patterns using the curly red mohair yarn.  Finally I finished it off with some lime green kid's mohair in the center of the patterns made by the red yarn.  Red, Black and Green... an old favorite of Bay Area politicos and an awesome combination that mirrors all those bloody leaves that are falling everywhere.
    I hope to see you all there on First Friday.  We will have some goodies to munch, a little vino and lots of beautiful felted eye-candy.  And I am sure I will have lots of great stories fresh off the road from Oaxaca.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dios de los Muertos

     Perhaps because I lived in San Francisco for so many years with it's enormous hispanic community my version of Halloween in much more akin to Dios de los Muertos; a celebration of those who have died.
     Every year on November 1st and 2nd all over Mexico people 'celebrate' the lives of their beloved dead ones.   Lovers, brothers, mothers and sisters not to mention 1st and 2nd cousins and anyone else deemed important.  Little skeletons of these special people are made, often doing what the person being honored used to do.  In my collection of 'skeletons' one is a camping scene.  Two skeletons with yellow hats are sitting under a full moon playing music as they lean up against a Joshua tree.  Laying at their feet, is a sleepy eyed dog, just waiting for the next adventure.  The most recent addition to my 'skeleton family' is a sexy woman in a red dress showing just a bit of leg.  I love the playful nature of Dios de los Muertos which is why I have been wanting to go to Mexico during the holiday for over a decade to celebrate.
     I am so happy to say this is the year.  Because (due to my own recent near death experience) I couldn't possibly go alone I am going with Michael deMeng (google him, he's fab)  and a group of a dozen or so others.   Michael is an awesome assemblage artist who I met several years ago at Artfest.  He was teaching a class on using old polaroids as mini canvases.  The end product was a 3 dimensional piece that you looked into as if it was a little world inside a 3" x 3" frame.   I would have dig around really deep in my old files to find the pictures.  So you will just have to trust me on this one when i say they were 'fricken awesome'.

  


    It's occurring to me as i write this that both of my most recent pieces have had a distinctly hispanic edge to them.  In my piece called 'the resurrection of Yo' she looks to me like she was born and raised in Oaxaca.  The piece I did at Art and Soul begins with a drawing of a skeleton's head with a blood red path that flows from the area where the doctors drilled into my head.  No wonder the minute I saw the drawing I knew I had to work with it.  (There's a small picture below... before I worked with it and another one after.  I am aware that many might see it as a tortured soul sort of piece.   Especially if you don't notice all the music that frames the collage.  But it was really done in the spirit of Dios de los Muertos; a tribute to my previous self and to the new person I hope to become.

      Nothing like a 'near death experience' to turn one's life around.  And I am so looking forward to this trip to Oaxaca, Mexico and all the transformations it promises to bring. Many, many pictures when I get back, I promise.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Art and Soul and community...

     I am sitting here in my living room, pellet stove putting out the heat, music singing in the background and I can't help but to reflect on the many incredible moments I experienced during the brief 4 days that was Art and Soul 2009.  It is held every year in various parts of the country but generally hits Portland sometime in early October. 
     Just last night Mija, Christina, Helga and I were laughing so hard we could barely stop ourselves from wetting our pants.  We had gotten together after dinner in our hotel room to share our 'finds' and show each other the art we made in class.  It was already 9:00pm by the time we got up to the room. After all the excitement of our little "Show and Tell" wore off, the wine and the chocolate helped loosen our lips and soon we were telling our secret pasts lives to each other.  One person's included tales of being a proprietor of LSD during the Haight-Ashbury days.   Another's including stories of illegitimate sons.  But soon the wine had us entertaining thoughts of the absurd.  Someone mentioned suppositories and suddenly the idea surfaced 'next art challenge: things you last put up your butt'.  Howling with laughter our imaginations brought us to ever more absurd places until around 11pm we were suddenly too tired to continue. 
    After everyone was gone I lay in bed pondering the conversations of the day.  Aside from making some amazing art and some even more amazing new friends I suddenly realized my 'artist construct' had dramatically changed.
     I, like many of my generation was taught that artists were tortured souls who had no other means to connect with people.  Jackson Polluck got himself so drunk that he killed himself in a car crash, Van Gogh spent too much time alone and ended up cutting off his ear.  Seraphine made her own wine and though she sold a few paintings in her lifetime, died in an insane asylum.  The list is so long that many of us have been convinced one must be crazy to be an artist.  Although I have disagreed with this construct for many years it wasn't until this weekend that I reaffirmed the importance of community.  Artistic community.   Making art with other people and sharing it.  When creatives get together an 'energy' bounces between them in an almost manic manner.  Call it what you like but it is so robust I can almost see it's presence.  And it is this 'energy' that keeps me coming back year after year to artist retreats like Art and Soul.  That, the laughter, the crude jokes and the secrets too.  Tonight, I am in love with almost everyone.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Blabbing on about Rob again and the meaning of love...

Every week Rob Brezsky puts out a little column of jewels (in the form of words).  Last week i wrote a bit about his new book but i find myself wanting to write about him again this week.  Am I in love?? you may ask.  Probably in some form or another.  I like peeps who say things that help me to feel good.  Share the love as some would say.
So this week what caught my eye the most was this little shpeal...

'"I may not love you," wrote R. R. Doister, "but I can certainly love my fantasy about you." Personally, I've been guilty of embodying that attitude toward certain people in my life. There have also been allies to whom I could have said, "I do love you, although I love my fantasy about you a little more." And it has even been the case on numerous occasions that I've been proud to declare, "I love you even more than I love my fantasy about you." What about you? Where do you stand on the issue? This is an excellent time to get on the righteous side of the great divide, which is to say: Adore your special people for who they really are more than for your fantasies about them."

For my own 'bit' i seem to be struggling with falling in love with the image of something or someone.  I have more often than I would like to admit fallen for the way a woman looks or the way she moves or the sound of her voice as opposed to what she is really saying.  Lately I have been falling for the excitement of a bigger city (portland) and a living situation in which i can fire up the chop saw in my living room and no one will have a problem with it.  Is this somehow a 'low-level' search for my union with my gaud?  or is it my firey desire to create whenever i feel like it?  Who knows.... but at least I am thinking about stuff before making life altering decisions.
PS.  i am listening to 'the black heart procession' this week especially their nuevo tango jaunts like 'voiture en rouge' and 'tropics of love'.  If your into accordians and waltz-like music check em out...*

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rob's new book

This week, with the failure of my computer and other unsettling mini dramas I did not get to do my blog post.  But, I do have something to share.  Rob Brezsny who does the Free Will astrology column has expanded his book Pronoia.  Do you remember when Ram Dass wrote 'Be Here Now'?  I was dazzled by all the wonderful drawings and sideline distractions.  Rob's book is much the same, a wonderful right brain journey for those of you who are into it...
     On a side note this week in his free will column Rob got waaaaaaay political.  here's an excerpt:   



'During the dialog about health care in the U.S., certain highly relevant facts are never discussed. For example, it's ludicrous for right-wingers to fear that a government-run health system would freshly infect our capitalist system with the stain of socialism. The truth is, America has long had the biggest socialist enterprise in the world: its sprawling military establishment, which is completely paid for by
taxpayer dollars and run by the government! Another unacknowledged fact in the dialog about health care is this: The single smartest strategy for financing a new health care system (as well as dramatically improving the economy as a whole) would be to reduce military expenditures.  Americans don't seem to realize that their monstrously huge military empire is a case of supreme overkill: It girdles the globe in ways that are unprecedented in the history of civilization. We have 761 military sites in over 100 countries! I bring this to your attention to illustrate the way that a seemingly serious discussion can be thrown off course and rendered unproductive when it ignores critical information. Please make sure nothing like that happens in your personal sphere in the coming weeks'.    The link for Rob's revised book is http://www.amazon.com/Pronoia-Antidote-Paranoia-Revised-Expanded/dp/1556438184/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253901312&sr=8-1  and at a mere 14 dollars even I with no job can afford it... 

Monday, September 14, 2009

Artist Trading Cards and Candy Boxes

Every month on the last Saturday we hold an Artist trading Card party at MECCA. Although I am currently working on a few larger pieces I love taking a little break to make up some ATCs for the trade.  It is like having a wild fling in the middle of a serious relationship (without all the complications of course).  This month my love affair came in the form of these strange little candy boxes from china that someone donated.  They are too small to work as ATCs on their own so i cut down some Tarot cards that I found to 'frame' them.  You can still open the little boxes so inside I put several bits of miniature ephemera; plastic numbers, fortunes from cookies, old stamps, chinese game cards, letters, stickers and whatever else i could fit into the little boxes.  If you live somewhere near eugene oregon and are available Saturday, September 26th from 11am til 12:30, come by MECCA with a few of your own cards to trade.  It's a fun easy way to have a little creative exchange in your life.  And, if you don't live near and want to trade with me, just send me a message via facebook and we can work out the details in private emails. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Purple Velvet Dream

  Volunteering at MECCA is an unusual adventure, especially if you like to dig through the remnants of someone else’s life.  People come in and donate anything from bottle caps to costume jewelry, old art supplies and sometimes even unfinished creations.
     Tuesday was like any other day, sorting through boxes and boxes of  junk.  It’s a mind absorbing process for anyone... (what is this?, where should i put it?, and do we keep this or give it to st vinnies?), but for me with the damage to my right frontal lobe I can only do it for an hour or two before i have to run outside and listen to some music.
   It was some time around three (which is when we close the doors) that  debbie’s daughter said “Hey mom, look what I found.” 
     Being exhausted and needing a break I dropped my sorting process and went over to examine the find. (Treasures are one of my main sources of entertainment and what keeps me coming back day after day.)  It was a piece of paper that had been folded and unfolded so many times that it tore but instead of throwing it away the person had taped it back together, continuing to fold and unfold for what I imagine to be several more years.  On it was written a love poem.  “Plastic bags float down the street, I let myself wander into you, and it’s like a purple velvet dream....”.  It continues on in this vain till we get to the last line which reads ‘and you laugh, laugh and laugh and as you laugh i heal, i heal and heal for who i love you heal me”.
   Or at least that is what I think it says.  It is items like this that command my brain to make up stories for.  Could a guy really write this or was it a woman?  How old was this person and how old were they when they finally decided to give up the love letter?  Or had they simply lost it, leaving it perhaps in a journal or a book only for Debbie’s daughter to find it? 
     What is so attractive to me about this ugly little piece of paper is the that it was kept (folded in a pocket?) over such a long period of time and that it had been read and reread so many times that it had begun to actually disintegrate.  In other words it was something worth believing in.  And the person believed in these scrawled words over a long period of time.
   Is it only first loves that we do this with or is it obsessive loves that we do this with?   One thing is certain; there are more than just one of us carrying around scrawled love poems.
 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Object Afterlife Art challenge

I know i have been blabbing on about this show but today i just got a look at the poster.... (hopefully it gets bigger when you click on it so you can actually read it... ).  I am so excited to see what 38 different people did with 38 different 'weird things' and to read about their process.  The show will be as varied as the artists involved and i am sure will be a worthwhile stop on your first friday walkabout.  And if you miss that show during the eugene celebration it will be continuing in our new space at 449 Williamette st.  The opening reception for that show is sept 12th.  I hope to see all your sweet faces out and about.  And if you see me out there be sure to say hi (there's nothing like real face time). xxxyo

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

american dream


I woke up the morning of August 2nd prepared for a 43 mile bike ride. (the blackberry bramble).   I had chosen the shortest distance as I had only been back in the saddle for a few months to train. 
When i got down to EWEB plaza to check in i was met with my first disappointment... no caffiene for the riders.  So after i checked in i rode over to allann bros, ordered 2 cups of tea and put em in my water bottle to suck on till i got to the first stop (20 miles down the road).
     The first 20 miles was a pleasant drift out loraine hwy and spencer creek road.  My Ipod sang my favorite tunes and everything was right with the world.  The temperature was a lovely cool 60 something degrees and still too early for any kind of wind.  As I rode past the fields of Queen Ann's Lace and wild grasses i could feel their faint 'bouquets' crawl up into my nostrils.  It was just me and the road.... 8am on a sunday morning.  Before I knew it I was pulling into the first pit stop at Applegate elementary school in Crow.  After slamming about 2 quarts of water I found bananas, mixed nuts, granola, and peanut butter all just waiting for me to pick em up and put them in my mouth. 
     I felt really good after all the carbs and fresh air so instead of heading back to town (the 43 mi ride) I took off out towards Noti on a road I had never been on before (the 65 mile ride).  There were broken down houses, mobile homes and mansions all interspersed with each other.  At one point i passed an old wooden structure (i think it was a school bus stop) and it read "Cougars Only". 
     Then I meandered into Noti.  It consisted of 3 buildings all on the same corner that looked like a big wind would bring them all down.  On the sign outside the tavern read the words: "Wanted Beer Drinkers, Details Inside".
     After crossing hwy 126 I got to poodle creek road which had more houses with 'for sale' signs on them than houses that didn't, a blatant reminder of just how bad the economy was.  I indulged myself in a brief fantasy of living out on this lovely little country road with it's own private creek running right next to it, but too suddenly, i had to make a turn on highway 36.  Big jacked up four wheeling trucks were barreling by as if the sight of a cyclist pissed them off.  By this point I was about 50 miles into the ride.  My feet were starting to swell, the knees were feeling a bit weak, and my thoughts turned to "What have I done?"
     Just then I stumbled upon a pile of rubbish (see picture above).  There was an empty bottle of vodka, some plastic jugs filled with motor oil, two old window shades and a dead rat.  Sitting amidst all the rubbish was a steel sign that someone had painstakingly cut the words 'American Dream" into. 
Immediately I knew this was the reason I had decided on the longer route, even though i was going to pay for it with pain later on.
     I jumped off my bike, moved the vodka bottle to the center of the 'composition' and took three or four shots of it with my portable camera.  In my mind, I had myself a perfect little Tom Waits American dream moment. 
     When I got home that afternoon I was too tired to jump in the car and go get that sign, though i really really wanted to.  So I promised myself i would do it first thing on the next morning.
     I guess someone else had the same notion, (or possibly a neighbor had put the sign out just for the day?), but by the time i got out there (around 9am) the sign was gone. 
     Driving home I figured it really wasn't about having the sign anyways, it was about the photo op.  American Dream, indeed!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The resurrection of yo


     Being an artist, for me, has not always been pretty or fun.  Nor does my process fit nicely into the perimeters of a timeline.  I can start a project with a ‘guesstimation’ of when it will be done, but I never really know what will happen once I start.
     In september 2006 I started a life-size mannequin by covering a foam one (I had laying around) with papier mache.  Then I used the plaster band aids to make a smooth hard surface to collage upon. I then collaged the entire surface with maps I printed out from various sites I found on the web. In the next step I laid tissue paper that patterns are made of and then finally I painted over the entire surface thinking I was going to sand back thru the layers and come up with some interesting texture as skin. 
     By the summer of 2007 she was completely covered.  Her torso and arms were sanded down revealing an unusual textural surface with an occasional word showing through. Her legs had red and white stripped ‘socks’. Her face had tiny words embedded deep into her skin and eyes.  She sat peacefully in a cross-legged position with her fingers laced together.  And I hated her.  I just could not make any real meaning out of her even though the surface of her ‘skin’  looked just fine.
     Day after day my frustration with ‘the mannequin’ grew whenever I tried to work on her.  Finally, sick of the frustration I cut off her arms, then I cut off her legs and I wrote ‘I hate you’ and ‘throw me in the river’ all over her.  That day I promised myself, tears flowing, that I would throw her in the back of the truck, drive down to the river and throw her in.  ‘She would finally stop haunting me‘ I thought.    
     Then in December of 2007 I had a near fatal head injury to the right side of my brain caused by a sinus infection.  I was in the hospital for a month and by the time I got home I still had very little use of the left side of my body.  I could not put on my own clothes, tie my shoes, zip up my coat.  Making art was out of the question.  But everyday for several months I would walk up to the hospital for my physical therapy appointments then walk back.
     Eventually, I learned to read again, type, use my cellphone and the pictures inside my brain slowly came back.  To make art I would collect things in baggies and hang them on the wall and try to extract meaning from them.  And  I spent a few hours everyday writing.  The mannequin was the last thing on my mind though she still haunted me whenever I went out to the shed.  (I never did make it to the river).
     I spent the next year volunteering at MECCA trying to learn how to work with others with my new limitations.  The head injury caused a lot of fatigue along with heightened anxiety when dealing with people.  The volunteering helped me learn how to negotiate my new limitations.
     When Mija (the director at MECCA) first said the words ‘Art Challenge’ I immediately knew I had to resurrect the mannequin.  (The pieces I was originally given to work with (two thermometers from the seventies) just didn’t fit into what I wanted to do).  But the moment I saw this old lamp I knew that the lampshade was the skirt I had been  looking for and the base of the lamp would be heavy enough to hold up the mannequin.  So inspired was I that I strapped the lamp onto the back of my bike because I had to start work that day.  This  is when it dawned on me that resurrecting the mannequin mirrored my own resurrection from the brain injury. 
     Everyday for the next two months I would find little things at MECCA that spoke to me and I knew they belonged with the Resurrection piece.  Death sits on her head to remind me that it is always near and a skull sits in a closet (or a coffin) on her back to remind me that grieving is a very necessary part of the healing process.  As I first said, for me, making art isn’t always a pretty or timely process.  But, at least this time, it is what makes meaning in my life.

Monday, August 24, 2009

more from milepost5 exhibit

 One of my favorite rooms was filled with mystical angels made from various materials.  Most were made using shrinkwrap, but this one really stood out for me.
 Another one of my favorite rooms used some interesting design elements.  The carpet was cut and peeled back making a line which pointed to a large sheet of mylar that was hung from the ceiling.  Red string made hortizontal lines across the room.  here's the picture..

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Milepost 5 exhibit in portland






WOW. yes i am still saying that word even though i saw the exhibit yesterday. Milepost5 is a community of creatives that i had been thinking of buying into before my head blew up in december 2007. i am still on their mailing list so when i got the email regarding the 'Manor of Art' show i knew i wanted to see it.
there are two buildings there and the manor of art show transformed every room in one of the buildings into art installations. About 100 artists collaborated, each having a room of their own to do with as they pleased.
The rooms ranged from graffiti to meticulous design and everything in between. i am just going to focus on a few of my favorites here and post the rest of the pictures on my flickr page. 
One of the rooms that i loved was about death. the artist makes burial cloths and (i believe) offers a natural burial service. In her room there were skeletons in the closet and a form wrapped into one of her burial cloths. Here's a picture...
One of my very favorite pieces was a mannequin cut open and rooms intalled. here's a few pictures. I loved how home was literally embodied in a human form. And each floor inside had minature furniture like small beings lived there ...

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here's a closeup.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The things i find while biking


being both an artist and a biker makes for some interesting experiences. Today i took a 20 mile ride up crow road and back down spencer creek road. Both are rambling country roads with not too much traffic. About 10 miles into my ride i saw a turkey vulture lying dead. Oddly enough there was another one just across the road. Neither of them looked like they had been run over because they were both fairly intact. And the hornets and wasps were still feeding on them so i figured they were pretty fresh. Had someone shot them? I wondered. After taking a few pics and a few feathers i rambled on. within moments i began to have yet another 'letting go of my old self' moment (so that i can let in the new self) and i realized the next step on my path. Coincidence? Or does roadkill always give me a letting go experience?

The beginning of blogging


today, august 20th, 2009 i am starting a blog. why? to share with you what i am excited about. first thing i can think of is wanting to get to the show at milepost 5 in portland. They turned the studios bldg into a huge 3 floor exhibit. i was going to go today but it turns out it will have to be tomorrow. more on this when i get back...
so, instead i will post a picture of my most recent piece.. which will be part of the art challenge show in eugene during the eugene celebration. here's the picture....
She is an abandoned mannequin i started in 2006. For whatever reason the moment i saw this lamp and it's lampshade i knew that it was the mannequin's skirt. and so i pulled 'her' out of the shed and began work that day to resurrect her. it has been a month since i brought the lamp home and it feels like she is finally ready for the art challenge show. the process has been identical to my own process of accepting my new, less than perfect version of myself.