by YONA C. RIEL

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.