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." 


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...




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.
i went to bed.

My garden

Gosh, I love my garden.  I do wonder, though, if I should take the reams of time I spend there and apply them to gardening at my home...soooooo shady here, because yes:  I already gardened the living f**k out of this place.  LOL!  Also, didn't know what I was planting (15 years ago) and some of my plants that were supposed to be bushes, actually turned out to be taller than my trees!

Anyhow.  In my very weed-cluttered back yard I have: 

At my community garden I have decided to structure the design of the plots to what's already there.  Meaning, I have a zucchini volunteer -very healthy looking- I don't know if it will produce good fruits, but I'd like to see.  I have strawberries in a mound...I didn't put those there intentionally, rather, when I cleared an abandoned plot last year, I grabbed a few and put them in a conveniently located empty spot.  Those are doing well, and will stay.  I cut a path around their mound, and everything is/will be patched-in at odd angles.  I like that a lot -it has a natural feel to it.  Also, once I get the beds established this year, I can over-winter things properly and NOT have to re-till the entire thing AGAIN, because this is Year 2 of major digging and weeding.

Another thing:  everything is mixed up.  So the tomatoes live next to irises live next to Echinacea.  and there are no rows.  I don't like rows.  It's like Hitler came and forced the plants to line up and be straight.  no.  Patches, yes.  Rows, no.

My students gave me plants this year.  It'll make me happy to see those come to life. 

Palomo Spain Fall 2017 menswear

In contradistinction to the fashion reviewer at WWD, who opines that Palomo is tapping into the current gender fluid vibe, I have to say that I don’t see it that way at all.  Most of the transgender and gender non-binary folks I know are NOT trying to look like a spectacle, but to look on the outside like they feel on the inside.  (Here I don't mean to downplay the importance of social critique.  I know that many also want to shine a light on gender in relation to cultural expectations.)   If this fashion line is a nod to gender fluidity, then it feels like an insult to me...like Palomo is making a joke out of a serious set of ideas that people are wrestling with.

The fact is, we have seen these fashion monstrosities on women for years.  --the overly puffed sleeves, ruffles and feathers and netting, exposed shoulders and chests, transparent body-suits, etc.   This is the same old shit, just cut for men.

But also interesting:  this line of clothing is showcased on models who have been made up to look ill, so if you weren’t sick enough of seeing women painted to look like heroin addicts, here’s your chance to revisit that again...only for dudes. 

I would be interested in knowing what the artist’s intentions are.  Perhaps in the same way that painters create paintings about painting for other painters, maybe Palomo is creating fashions for other fashion designers about fashion.  Or maybe this work is intended as a critique of the objectifying impracticality of women’s fashion designs...something we, the viewing audience, are blind to because we all look at fashion (among other things) with the same distorted perspective that our cultural lens affords us --a lens that warps women into sexual objects.   Or maybe this stuff is simply meant to show the ridiculousness of the fashion industry.  Or maybe it's supposed to show the double standards we have for men and women?  Or is it, as many commenters on the WWD website seem to believe, just an attention-grab?

Regardless of the intent, though, the most interesting about this line of clothing isn’t the clothing but the fact that the designer’s intentions are so unclear.  And with images like the ones above, I'm having a hard time as seeing them as anything more than satire. 

...And I keep hoping that if I click long enough and hard enough, Tim Curry will appear in his corset and fishnets.

I wanna be bored.

Finally, school is out.  Or rather, I have one more round of meetings on Friday, but not many students at that school. 

It's been a drama-packed quarter all around...so much turmoil within the ranks, and I'm supposed to be the stable one, lol.  I wish my dad could see that people consider ME the stable one. 

Then a couple of weeks ago my mom had a stroke -I really will have to talk to her about the timing of that.  and I had to travel to Chicago in the last week of school or run the risk of never seeing her again.  I've been at my job for 18 years...I have left in the middle of a quarter once before -when Eliot died.  I hate leaving school...I mean, my chairperson and dean were both awesome, but still.

Anyhow, I am looking forward to staring into space for a bit.  This summer I have to paint the house...I know it's a big job and I should be dreading it.  But the idea of standing in the sun on a scaffold with a brush and slowly painting my house?  Nothing sounds better than that.  I hope to hell I get bored. 

I also have a shoot scheduled with Betsy and Alder on July 10th!  I can't wait!  And I have a whole bunch of drawings that need to be made into wall-pieces!  And I have a bunch of fabric and wanna make some dresses.  And there will be SUN and HEAT and watermelon!  My favorite time of year.  I wish it lasted more than 3 months.

little discoveries!

Well, I just discovered this Instagram post created by 555 Gallery.  I never knew she posted it, and she never sent me photos of the show, so this is a first for me.

Top 10 WTF

So tonight I stopped off at the Safeway for a light grocery shopping escapade.  You know, the basics:  milk, eggs, fruits 'n' veggies, and donuts.  As I walked into the store I was greeted by a very friendly, snack laden kiosk.  And yes, I gave in and got myself a "skinny" turkey sandwich, to offset the extra calories hiding in the donuts. 

When I got home I was pretty excited to chow down.  I opened my sandwich to put mayo on it and this is what I discovered:

ok, I know this is a minor thing...but why do they so frequently do this?  All the turkey AND the lettuce is clumped in a ball in the middle of the bread.  It doesn't go out to the corners or even to the edges, and once you re-distribute the turkey, you can see they probably did it that way to make it look bigger.   PEOPLE.  YOU NEED TO SPREAD YOUR INGREDIENTS OUT.  if you are too lazy to do it, then for christssakes get a smaller piece of bread. 

Anyhow, this terrible experience this evening got me to thinking about other things that really need to be rectified here on planet earth.  Here are a few...

1.  (Appears above)

2.  Perfume-y products designed to hide the smell of something that stinks (kitty litter, for example.) because yes, poop + perfume = better than just poop.  (NOT.)

3.  Blue carnations and cyan colored orchids. 

4.  People who hear "YES" or "MAYBE" when what you said was "NO."  

5.  People who are too wimpy to say "NO."  So they say, "maybe" and then simply become unavailable or elusive at the designated time.

6.  Plastic pour spouts in milk cartons.  Seriously, folks...was it that hard to unfold the paper tops? 

7.  People who never stop talking, because it's the people who never stop talking that seem to have the least to say.

8.  People who say they have a top ten list when all they have is 7.  :)


her hand on the edge of my mattress
soft and curled round like pulled taffy.
zephyr to zero point gravity...right there, on the nape of my neck. 

and she holds me now as nest and fur and sweet-worm-earth pull to pin-points. 
and speaks to me of trees uptorn and vessels lost.
we are as sea of vapors 
as deep and cold 
distilled to a single line 
of pins and needles 
end to end.