I haven't written here in a long time.  I haven't written in my paper journal, either.  Me, of flowing text and 1000's of tiny drawings...there's nothing but silence here.  It's OK.  Sometimes being quiet is what should happen.  People aren't quiet enough, I think.   Or slow enough.  When was the last time you read a book?

I'm uncomfortable with the way my town is growing.  I moved here in the mid-90's when this place was still a haven for idealists and religious freaks; there was something about the floweriness of the 60's that had lingered in this place.  It was green.  People rode unicycles (yes, really) and drove crazy-painted cars.  People believed in alternative ways of living.  There were cob structures, hand-painted neighborhood intersections, tiny "libraries" in people's front yards where a passerby could trade one book for another.  Most of that is gone now.  

We are adding 111 people to this town every DAY.  And they are coming with all their habits and ideas.  Our old Portland homes are being torn down en masse, replaced by multi-family complexes.  I wonder how many bodies we can actually cram into this town.    this article in the Oregonian ranks neighborhoods, showing how many single family homes have been destroyed.  I live in the Woodstock neighborhood where 2.24% of our homes have been demolished.   

I guess I'm thinking about this now because I received my second solicitation of the week from a company that wants to buy my house.  "THIRD ATTEMPT" (you'd think they would get the message, no?)  and that I should call their phone number to listen to a recording they made especially for my house.  Like, NO.  Go away...this is my HOME.

I have a bunch of projects to do this summer...still working on my studio.  Man, talk about slow-growing.  It's OK.  One step at a time!  Esteban put doors in my garage summer before last, and I am finally getting around to painting them.  So far I've got this done:

 Sculpture studio in progress

Sculpture studio in progress

I still need to do the caulking, and finish painting...then I have to do the west side of the house.  I would also like to finish the ground in front of this studio.  I would like to put in a mosaic made of recycled ceramic bits.  We'll see...

 

 

Getting ready for my show in March

 Bearing the Bones

Bearing the Bones

It seems I'm in the mood for videos.  Anyhow, I find this woman amazingly beautiful and she should live at the top of my page for awhile.  yes?  yes!

gee whiz...who knew?

There are very few actors who draw me into a theater simply because they appear in the movie, but Guy Pearce is definitely one of them.  Who knew he had musical talent?  not me.  This video is also really beautiful...full of evocative images and beautifully lit.  Love the anti-gravity water, the flying shards and ashy bits, the way the figure moves or doesn't) in the frame, the facial expressions.  Not sure about that bit there on the hands and knees, but overall it's pretty to watch!

the allure of authenticity

I think I know at least a part of the reason why I like these little snaps that I posted last night.  They feel authentic to me. 

I don't usually think of myself as a person who admires "capture" very much, so maybe I'm changing just a little.  Maybe, like so many of my students, I also find myself searching for photos that have a certain "realness" to them -that give me a sense that the people in them were actually like that

In the photos I posted last night the subjects are not at all embellished.  They're not photoshopped to death; they're not posing.  That's just how they were at that minute.  Especially when I think about these particular photos and know how old they are...some of these people are now dead and these photos give me a chance to view the mood and character of their life experiences.

Very little mind is given to composition.  The people aren't carefully centered or balanced.  The pizza girl is falling out of the frame.  In the photo of the farm women, entire left hand side of the shot is blown out, the women have their backs to the camera and all the forms are bunched up -like a clot- in the middle...there's also that strange little half-person on the right hand side....etc...

They are unstudied and unpretentious.  They're nubby -like fabric with an uneven weave- imperfect.

Whenever I go to Photolucida, what I see are portfolios with projects that are well-considered, highly polished...they're like the difference between valium and valerian.  They're these refined, sliver-thin slices of perfection.  And don't get me wrong: I like them.  A lot.  But I miss the simplicity of the transparent window that photos used to be...of things as they actually are.  OK, yeah...I know this is dumb to say.  That "things as they actually are" is a ridiculous idea to even consider.  Because perspective.  Because interpretation.  Whatever.  I'm saying it anyway, and then tomorrow I'll change my mind again.

LIL SNAPS

A few years ago my friend Chip gave me a big box of bones (he had them all identified and labeled) and an old family photo album that he didn't want.  A lot of the pix were not too interesting to me and I finally cut those up and used them in little collages.  But there were a few that I really liked and didn't want to cut.  Tonight when I was cleaning out my shelves I found a few of them between a couple of books...

 These elders chillin on the steps.

These elders chillin on the steps.

 These sun-baked farm women

These sun-baked farm women

 The pizza girl and her friend.

The pizza girl and her friend.

The pix here on my computer screen are actually somewhat bigger than the actual pieces of paper.

Paying to work...it's a new thing!!! or is it?

Many years ago I attended a Photolucida portfolio review.  I don't remember the exact year it was, but it was back when the cost of attending was somewhere in the neighborhood of $675.  These days Photolucida costs over $900 so that should give you a little idea, perhaps, of how long ago the first event was. 

Each time I've attended Photolucida, it has been a stretch for me financially.  My college does pick up part of the attendance fee, but the attendance fee is where the costs BEGIN.  There are perfected prints to create, cards and other leave-behinds for the reviewers, portfolio cases & various gizmos to carry them all, and on and on.  Furthermore, if you are successful and get shows, the expenditures begin anew, as now the work must be matted and in many cases framed, then there is packing and shipping.  All in all, it's a lot of money, and it is money that the artist has to come up with.  This is all on top of the normal, expected costs of doing the work:   cameras, lenses, paper, darkroom supplies and equipment -it's all $$$  some of us also spent a lot of time and money on our education. 

The first time I went to Photolucida, I was disappointed that I was not scheduled with Marita Holdaway.  I thought, "oh well...she's just a few hours away in Seattle.  I'll seek her out after the event."  Only to discover that she wanted $75.00 just to look at my portfolio.    Last time the same thing happened.  Two different people recommended I seek out Jason at Panopticon.  But I go to his website and it's the same thing.  In a way, I understand that such a fee helps filter out people who are not serious about their work.  But some of us ARE serious, and should be applying, but can't justify laying down $75 for the privilege of hearing how great we are, but....

But I have always wondered:  In what other profession does the person working pay like we do?  I am really curious about that. I mean, if a student in medical school knew that they would have to pay for the privilege of performing double bypass surgeries there would be no doctors.  So why are so many people dying to be photographers?  What are they looking for?  Is it fame?  Recognition?  It is one thing to be a photographer for the sake of self satisfaction...it is quite another thing trying to "make it" in this field, where every Tom, Dick and Keri think they are a photographer just because they purchased an iPhone.

*** *** *** ***

OK.  So something a little bit similar...today today I received a catalog from Breitenbush Hot Springs.  And found an entry for "Winter Service Week."  I am completely serious when I say that this is an opportunity for people to go to Breitenbush to PAY TO WORK.  Yup.  the "discounted" cabin fee?  $310 for a cabin with no toilet.  Those who enroll are asked to bring clothes for physical outdoor work...here is the ad: 

breitenbush ptw.jpg

But paying for a cabin at Breitenbush for a weekend work-toot is not the same as building a career around an activity that requires lifelong outlay of resources with very little return.

*** *** *** ***

I did think of one more example of a person who got others to pay him to allow them to work for him.  Tom Sawyer, right?  And the damn fence...where he convinces other little kids that the job is so cool that they offer him gifts so they can have a chance at it.  And we, the readers, all knowingly nod our heads at their folly.   I have finally gotten to the point of being able to nod my head at my own folly, I suppose.  I am finished with conventional ways of engaging the world of art & photography.  I've gotten recognition, it's true.  But I live in the real world, where real money is required of me in order to stay alive.  So, sorry, but I am checkin' out of this rat race.  What's next?  Not sure.  But I'm interested in finding out!

my gobbled summer

Well, it's OK.  I mean, I chose to do this, but I did TOTALLY underestimate the amount of time this would take.  I am painting my own house. 

First the scraping...

 Worst task on the face of the planet:  scraping the house.  Wearing a half-mask with cannisters in 100F weather is just awful.  Replacing caulking is not so bad, but many of my shingles were (IMHO as a novice) too far apart.  So I caulked between those, too.  Then I primed with lead-binding primer. 

Worst task on the face of the planet:  scraping the house.  Wearing a half-mask with cannisters in 100F weather is just awful.  Replacing caulking is not so bad, but many of my shingles were (IMHO as a novice) too far apart.  So I caulked between those, too.  Then I primed with lead-binding primer. 

 Staining was visible in the scraped zone of the lead-binding primer, so i went over it with Kilz.  re-caulked the windows, etc.... all the prep took a LOOONG time.  Also, in that time frame, we had 105F weather, so I did not work on those days (there were 2 days of that.) 

Staining was visible in the scraped zone of the lead-binding primer, so i went over it with Kilz.  re-caulked the windows, etc.... all the prep took a LOOONG time.  Also, in that time frame, we had 105F weather, so I did not work on those days (there were 2 days of that.) 

Then on Sunday, I pushed some painting through, and now have this on the side:

 the bottom part is double-painted.  the part close to the camera still needs another coat.  Then on Sunday I went to the Home Depot to get a decent scaffold.  And am doing this:

the bottom part is double-painted.  the part close to the camera still needs another coat.  Then on Sunday I went to the Home Depot to get a decent scaffold.  And am doing this:

 I'm changing the color of the triangle in the front...going from very very dark brown to a caramel color.  I love the lighter color and the artwork will show up better against the lighter color.  The ceiling above will be the rust color.  it then matches the cob sculpture on the porch, which I am also in the middle of refinishing (re-surfacing and weatherproofing.)

I'm changing the color of the triangle in the front...going from very very dark brown to a caramel color.  I love the lighter color and the artwork will show up better against the lighter color.  The ceiling above will be the rust color.  it then matches the cob sculpture on the porch, which I am also in the middle of refinishing (re-surfacing and weatherproofing.)

In the midst of all of this, I discovered that I have carpenter ants.  And I can't put that off.  After I get the front and side completely done I am taking a break to do something -ANYthing- else.  Wouldn't it be awesome to read a book?  lol! 

Anyhow.  Gobble-gobble...there goes my summer, but the result will rock, so it's all good.

Olive Cotton portraiture award in photography...

An interesting discussion broke out on my Facebook page yesterday about the Olive Cotton award in photography.  The Australian-only award for the best portrait was $20,000, and the winning photograph was Justine Varga's portrait of her grandmother, shown below.  It's created on a 5x5 piece of film, and is a print of her grandmother's spit and scribbles.  Here is the piece:

Usually, I have clear cut opinions about such things.  But on this issue?  I am very divided and can see both sides of the argument.  My own experiences and sequence of thoughts on this issue went something like this: 

1.  OMGPLZ, what a load of shit.  More of "The Emperor's New Clothes."  More art world blather about art...more conceptual crap that leaves most viewers at the door. 

2.  But OK.  Do I like it as an image?  No.  Not really.  I don't think I'm unique in that...most people probably won't spend a great deal of time studying it.

3.  It doesn't really need to exist at all.  Because it's not about the image...it's about WHAT IT IS, not about what it shows.  It's about process, it's about traces, about what we leave behind, about what we are made of, what we do, what we are capable of.  

4.  Do I care about it?   No.  Well yeah.  Yeah...No.  Absolutely not.  Well kinda.  Gee, I dunno, I think I do actually care about it.  I do care that it turns the idea of Portraiture on its head -that it goes against what we generally think of as a portrait.  I also like that it goes against what we think a photograph (not just portraiture) IS...that a photograph may indeed be an object that never had fuck-all to do with a camera or a lens.  I also like that it focuses on the nature of authorship.   These are all important things that we take for granted in Photography. 

I mean, we all know what a portrait is, right?  From Wikipedia

A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person. 

And what most people expect from portrait photography is a rendering of the face and shoulders...maybe a part of the torso.  But how boring is that?  And why should that be the one standard that constitutes a portrait?  In traditional portrait photography the interest in the photograph then hinges on whether or not the SUBJECT in the photograph is interesting, not on whether the photograph itself is, or on whether or not the process is meaningful. 

Regardless of where I end up in further ruminations, I'm glad she won...it has opened up the world of photography just a little bit, and I think it was brave for Shaun Lakin, the judge, to select it knowing as he must have, that the shit would hit the fan.

Here is his statement.  I like it a lot.

 

 

I was talking to my sister on the phone a couple of days ago and she told me a story about something that had happened to her.  She was sitting at a stop light looking across the intersection at at truck that had, "C H I C A G O" emblazoned upon the cargo compartment.  As the traffic light went from red to green, it simply passed on by her, and disappeared into the population of cars on the other side of the highway.  And she thought about the phenomenon of things passing through, passing by each other, brushing against one another and then disappearing in whatever direction life (or death) takes them.

Funny, how similar her thoughts are to the crux of my show at the Wolff Gallery in March - I mean, my "ghost ships" show.   I went to the first Friday opening at Wolff tonight.  Everybody there was nice, but I felt awkward anyway.  I don't do small talk well...or at all, really.  I said some things that were ridiculous at best, and then my talking companion was pulled away for a photo op, and I seized the moment and went home to my cats.

Speaking of cats, I was lying there on my bed this morning, and as always, Punkin was right there by my side.  And I thought to myself, "Thank the Universe for letting this particular being come into existence at a time when I could be his person." 

Dada

Wanna know how often I go out to things like concerts/shows/performances?  Like, hardly ever.  I can't remember when the last one was...maybe 5 years ago?  Longer?  shorter?  I dunno.  At some point I got over wanting to immerse myself in the scene.  And that goes not just for the music scene, but for the art scene too. 

Tonight I totally went out!  My friend, Joie, put me on the waiting list for Dada, and I have now finally seen him/them play in real life.  (as opposed to Youtube) 

Here are a couple pix I quickly snapped tonight -proof that I actually went somewhere besides my studio.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Phil's wife, Genevieve.  She is their manager and told me tonight that the desk person at their hotel told her that female band managers are almost non-existent.  She also told me how much she liked the photos I created with 7Horse, and that they might ask me to do another shoot with them.  I don't show those pix as part of my portfolio because they are nothing at all like my regular work, but I also really loved how those pix turned out.  Also, the shoot itself was really fun.  here are my favorite pix from that shoot:

Genevieve mentioned that she would like to come along for the next shoot to see what goes on.  I was, like, "yeah!  that would be great!"  then I thought...oh jeez...so she can see my tin foil snoots mounted onto shop lights.  LOL!!  I am just SOOOO professional. 

After doing the shoot with 7Horse I thought it might be fun to do a girl-group.  And start a page on my site with these kinds of band photos.  Meaning, NOT the kind where they are playing on stage...i don't actually like those kinds of pix.  but studio pix where I get to make little installations based on the band's theme du jour.  I guess there would have to be a sort of meeting of the minds, though, vibe-wise in order for it to work.  or maybe not.  I dunno; I've never done it. 

Good night, world.

odds n ends

Last night I discovered that all the photos I have on my computer are now reflected on my phone.  OK.  not necessary and kinda cumbersome.  My phone and my computer are different tools.  I also don't like that private photos are on my phone.  My phone isn't a private device and i do have a way of losing things. 

Today it is supposed to reach 101 F.  Yesterday at mid-90's I was happy.  But 101?  That's a bit too hot for comfort, even for a heat lover like me. On days like today I work my activities around the heat so that by fry-time (4 PM) I'll be inside messing around at the work table.  I need to stay out of the sun for a day, anyway...tonight I'll pick up some sunscreen.

I fixed my serger.  *iz proud*  But oh please...of course I did!!   So I saw this dude on TV awhile ago and he said that nearly everybody can fix broken items, but nobody seems to be aware of it.  It's like, as a culture, we've forgotten how to problem-solve, and how to arrive at conclusions using deductive reasoning.   So true...I see it in the classroom to more and lesser extents.

Next photo shoot is Monday, July 3rd.  I'm working on a new idea!  and it feels good to be excited about making new work.  I actually have 2 ideas i wanna futz around with.  One involves sewing and photos and constructing wall pieces out of my antique plate holders...

 

 

LETTER TO MY SISTER:

boy did i have a fuck-awful night!!

went to sew my dress.Got the fabric that I've been dying to use for about 2 months.cut out the pattern pieces to new specifications to make it longer and swingy-er.It's gauze.So i have to serge it or it will unravel.I have learned from past experience that I should always test a sample first.so i did that and noticed the loops were too big on the edge.

I re-threaded the machine, being very careful to keep all the threads going in the right direction, and following the pictures carefully even though I've now threaded this fucking thing successfully many times with no problem.Second threading -nope.
Third threading seemed OK, but for reasons unknown the needles snapped and i ended up with a huge wad of fabric stuck in the machine.

I open the machine, and cut the fabric out, wiggled out all the bits and cleaned the inside with the mini-brush.Never re-needled my machine before, but it was obvious how to do that.I allen-wrenched out a tiny screw in the front of the needle casing, and with the screw stuck onto the wrench i placed it on the table next to me. Now unscrewed, the needles are free, and proceeded to then drop out of the casing...and INTO THE GEARS OF THE MACHINE.WTF.

I lifted the machine and shook it hoping to dislodge the needles. One came out...where's the other?I still don't know, even after getting on hands and knees to look for it on the floor.

I then tipped the machine on it's side (fuck you, gravity) to re-load new needles.My fingers are too fat for the space, but I finally managed it...I reach over to where I'd placed the allen wrench.--oh look!there's the allen wrench, but the mini-screw has vanished into thin air.

Back to investigating the floor on hands and knees.I finally find the fucking screw in the dustpan from where I have previously scooped up debris while looking for the needle.BUT...as I reach over for the dustpan my arm hits the tip of the iron, and I burn my forearm.

At which point I understood that the universe wanted me to go to bed.
so.
i went to bed.