Wednesday, November 30, 2011

slip-slide-snow

hooray for the first snow of the season.  it was HUGE snow globe globs of wet sticky slush.  so pretty.  so quiet, but for the wind howling through the empty trees.


ok, so it really wasn't that magical.  scary is a more appropriate word.  yesterday was a day of travel, delivery, shipping and shopping for mindy and i.  we drove in one of those gross grey mist rains to fort wayne early in the day to meet with the folks from Fort Wayne Museum of Art.  we dropped off their custom mugs, chatted a bit, then stepped back out into the cold grey mist to go to the mall do to a little christmas, anniversary, and general consumerist bullshit shopping.   we ate lunch at a less-than-good thai place, then headed back to portland.  by now the misty rain had become snowflakes and we rushed a bit to load up ourselves, our shit, and our cat and make our way to lafayette for the rest of the week.  noooo problem.

eerie iPhone snaps from behind the window ...

as we set off back to lafayette the snow began coming down pretty hard, and the wind had picked way up.  but it was light out, and i feel comfortable driving in the the snow and the light when there is traffic on the roads.  we did however decide to skip the county roads and take the state highways.  we figured they'd be plowed.  a mile from the house we saw a guy drive his taurus into a ditch/cemetary where SR26 splits from SR67.  the roads only got progressively worse and the wind was making the powerlines flip up and down in that fun wave pattern.  as we came near to hartford city we met a road-closed-due-to-a-rushing-drainage-ditch-river sign and had to get on the county roads anyhow.  surprisingly, they were in better shape than the state highways.  the snow just kept coming though and we made our way back onto SR26 to finish out the drive.  but we were in for a BIG surprise.

photo via the Journal & Courier online

that surprise was indiana's notoriously shitty road conditions, weather removal response, and budget cuts.  in other words, we saw 2 salt trucks in 110 miles of one road with 4+ inches of hardpacked ice/snow on top and in the middle of rush hour traffic.  we went 15-30 mph for 80 of those 110 miles.  this was the worst road conditions i've ever seen, especially for a late november wet snow that will be melted away later this afternoon.  as the light became dark the cat cowered in the back seat, and mindy screamed, squirmed, and nervously rode alongside in the passanger seat.  we counted 12 cars in ditches along the way.  and we nearly became a casualty of the indiana roads ourselves on a couple of occasions as we slid across the center line, the edge line, and the possibly careened over a ditch or 2.  since no plows had gone down the road there was no way to tell where the edge was other than the powerlines and fence posts (but you hit the ditch before you hit the powerlines).  following fast-disappearing tire tracks and trying not to be blinded by the headlights of the asshole with 4WD up in my bumber like colon cancer,  we slowly found our way along the edge of the road.  i gripped the steering wheel until my fingers were stiff in a grip position trying not to hit or get hit by on-coming traffic, make our way up hills coated in 2 inches of ice, and stay on the road.  this was a 4 hour challenge in a normally 2 hour drive.  my neck and shoulders were so tense i could have squeezed OJ from between my shoulder blades and could only take short truncated breaths of the nervous air.  once we reached SR75 and approached rossville the snow seemed to be letting up and the sleet/rain returned.  the roads were exceptionally better once we got further west.  after rossville the new rain had melted most of the new snow/ice from the road already.  we could finally see pavement.  once we got to lafayette, roads were plowed, cleared, melted, and drivable.  after the debacle of trying to get through the middle of the state, a slice of black pavement was a sigh of relief.  exhausted from stress and on-edge nerves, we rolled into the drive and unloaded.  we did nothing the rest of the night.  our volvo, jack, with his missing side marker (see winter graffiti for info on that) took great care of us as he growled and slushed his way back to lafayette.  but he definitely felt like a 14 year old car with a 150k miles and no traction control.  whew.

Monday, November 28, 2011

the new yuletide spirit

So much of the hype this past couple of days has been about shopping for the holidays ... it's on the news, the t.v. commercials, the web pop-ups, the radio ads, the brochures that jam the mailbox full ... on billboards, Facebook, my spam mail folder ...  it's even on the place setting at the local deli where we had lunch today. It's hard to focus on family, food, and thanksgiving when you have to start strategizing your "attack"plan for black friday, small business saturday, and cyber monday.

The shopping frenzy pretty much sums up the yuletide spirit. We buy gifts and give gifts to the people we love and care for. We partake in this shameless capitalistic commercialism sometimes because it seems like we're expected to. And it appears nobody's spared. Even pets expect gifts.

I am not above all this. I'm currently working on putting together a special gift bag for Zach. If there's anyone who is staying sane in the midst of all of this, it is him. And perhaps, from what my mom's been telling me, my dad too. The men in my life don't believe in gift-giving on designated days. They work hard enough all year round so us women can have what we want when we want it. I'm so blessed I'm not going to complain about a christmas without presents. I'm gonna approach the yuletide season with this attitude instead:


the simple, joyous embodiment of giving.

... and now for a shameless obligatory plug. Anyone who's still in search for one of a kind gifts need to visit our Etsy shop. Zach and I have stocked the shop with our favorite pieces from every kiln load. Go see!


Sunday, November 27, 2011

post-industrial

i received my installation, post-industrial, in the mail the other day.  it returned from california where it was in a two-person exhibit entitled 'archaiologia' along with will ashford from northern california.  the show was about words and multiples and storytelling.  will prints on top of book pages and uses words as a context for his stark imagery.  i on the other hand, use multiples, and combine pieces like a hillbilly pack-rat to create context.  we both use repetitive imagery.  Amie, the gallery director at College of the Sequoias, sent along all kinds of literature from the show, including, articles, postcards, posters, images, guest ledgers, and anything else that had to do with the exhibit; a very thorough collection of materials.  it seems that the show was thought provoking and well-received by its audience of students and community members.  and from the images it looks like the 2 bodies of work contrasted well with each other, especially in terms of approach to printmaking.


this is the first time i've had an invited solo or small group show and did not attend.  i had every intention of attending and even installing the work myself when the show went up in october, but california is a long and expensive flight and stay.  and when it came time to book tickets and set aside time, it just wasn't reasonable.  so i boxed the work the best i could and shipped it out there with instructions for installation.  the 75 lbs. box, of course, arrived 4 days late and i'm certain Amie suffered the install.  i'm not known for writing the clearest directions and a short turn around time cannot be fun.  but she got it all done.  after we shipped off all the boxes, we only assumed the box arrived, but we didn't know if the piece got installed, until we saw a review of the show online and a big fat blurring perspective shot of post-industrial.  i was relieved that it arrived, was installed, and functioning.  

post-industrial installed at College of the Sequoias gallery

the piece was an approach to the idea of intangibility in communication in our society.  i used images depicting travel, human movement, distraction, cityscape, suburbs, and rural landscapes.  i used the rusted steel, the clay, and the video to provide different, but understandable textures to the images that they were exhibiting.  this is the first time i've attempted using video in a piece.  one of the comments in the guest book was 'the video distracted from the rest of the piece.'  which i imagine is true.  it is moving image in a world of static images.  your eyes will naturally move to that which is changing.  but i feel like the distraction of the video to the rest of the work was intentional, meant to draw attention to the fact that we ignore our surroundings most of the time.  the statement for post-industiral was a poem entitled: distant.  wanna hear it?  here it go...










that is the word/emotion you are experiencing
isn’t that a bit of what it feels like outside these days?

balancing your concept of self with the concept of society
texting instead of talking
processing instead of producing

experience has become intangible
or at least indefinable
perhaps a product of the television
consumerism
or time spent in the bubble of our cars
traveling between cities, suburbs and small towns

post-industrial is not necessarily defined by a lack of industry
but rather as a shift in the way we, as individuals, interact with society.

…intangibly

in the end i feel like this piece came off a bit muddled in its message.  perhaps i needed to use words to help pull out some of the meanings. but as it was, it was quiet and a bit confused feeling.  which is, i guess, a bit of how i feel about living these days.  everything is such a pile of bullshit and truth that you can't tell the two apart and the more we talk to each other from behind a screen the less we actually talk.  


Friday, November 25, 2011

thanksgiving in pictures

i am thankful for families old and new, for zach, and for cat

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

winter graffiti

the windshield wipers screeched across my eyes passing grey skies and blank landscapes of already harvested corn and trees with leaves already blown away.  and cop after cop after cop.  indiana in late november.  ugly. or beautiful. but nothing in between.  in indy we hit a piece of cardboard on the road that was unavoidable.  it ripped the turn signal off our trusty volvo with 150k miles.  so sad to see our jack get his eye punched out by indiana's hazardously shitty roads.  this was driving to louisville in the rain.

we installed my 2D installation winter graffiti at Heine Brothers Coffee off of Westport Rd. in Louisville.  we met Ann from the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft at the coffee shop around 1pm to begin install.  she was already there and hanging the other artist's fabric work.  we walked passed her not even paying attention and then had one of those awkward 'oh, wait, there you are' moments.  i forgot to bring my drill, so i had to make a run to a home depot, bought a set of drill bits, and made my way back to Heine's.  i drilled holes in my crusty, rusty, white washed metal panels and screwed them into the wall. as i began to magnet the 75 printed cards to the panels, mindy stopped me, "wait, i have the ipad in the car, wanna film the install?" "YEAH!" i responded.  so i took down all the cards i'd already put up and mindy ran out to get the ipad. then we started again.  one card at a time.  one magnet at a time.  the piece slowly came into view.  each card is an individual print, but 75 together create a snowing winter scene.  and the magnets are porcelain snowflakes.  card. magnet. card. magnet. card. magnet. magnet. card. magnet. magnet.

                                               

last thursday, when i finished printing the cards, i haphazardly laid out the piece on the garage floor, but without the magnets, and it felt a bit scatterbrained.  but after installing and getting the 148 magnets on top of the cards, i really like the result.  the piece feels different from different perspectives.  from far, it looks like a snowing scene, but up close, you can see all the different magnets, and all the different images and colors.  we priced the prints and magnets to sell, and my hope is that people will buy and take, and watch the piece change as elements disappear.  the work will be featured through february.

details of winter graffiti

we decided on the title winter graffiti after much discussion around what to call it.  i hate titling work.  the reason i make it is, typically, because i have no words for what i'm trying to make.  i've never titled a piece prior to making it; only after it's finished, been lying around, and collecting dust.  it is a very rhythmic piece, so we tried to title it something that had to do with music, but it wasn't working.  in the end, we considered the impermanence of the piece, the multiple elements, and the 'quick-pop-up' nature of installing this piece and decided it had a spirit of street art in it.  and by titling it 'winter graffiti' we thought the words would help people to notice, literally or metaphorically, the elements we wanted to draw attention to.






after installing winter graffiti, and it took all of 15 minutes, we installed 5 framed prints, from the series i just completed.  fellow indiana artisan, brian gordy and gordy's fine art and framing in muncie, did a fabulous job framing the work.  the delicacy of the paper and the images and inks are really set off by the short-matted black framing.  the pieces pop off the grey wall at Heine Bros.  the cool thing for me about showing at Heine Bros (as i don't normally hang work in retail shops) is that they feature my mugs in each of their stores in the louisville area.  They also work closely with KMAC to provide fabulous artwork for all their locations.  so i also delivered a new round of mugs to Heine Bros, to restock for the holidays.  i couldn't promise to have all the mugs made and delievered by thanksgiving, but i received the order, processed it, made a shit ton of mugs, and got everything made and through the kilns in 8 days.  i've never done that before.  needless to say.  i'm tired.  mindy was there to help me print and glaze, which is the only reason i got all this done in 8 days.  but after all the hard work, it was great to get to see it all come together.

over a hundred mugs ... 96 to Heine, others are custom orders from Etsy

then we found a sushi place, Mikato, that was open at 4 in the afternoon and ate lunch/dinner.  it was super cheap and the fish was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  $55 for 12 nigiri, 1 normal roll, 1 roll that was a meal in-and-of itself, 2 salads, awesomely huge fried calamari, and a freshly made mochi with red bean ice cream.  no groupon needed, just delicious and cheap.  it's pretty amazing when you can eat that much 'expensive' food for that cheap.  but then we had to drive home.  as many of you probably know, indiana had to close the I-64 bridge over the ohio river because it is unsafe (i love our rotting infrastructure).  so all the traffic leaving louisville was forced into 2 lanes.  it took us an hour to get out of louiville.  then we drove in the dark and the misting-windshield-glaring rain with our poor dangling turn signal flapping along the side of the car the rest of the way back to west lafayette.  it was a long day, but the work looks good on the wall, and we made it back safely, even if we did have a couple of scars on our car.

special lobster roll of the day

Monday, November 21, 2011

finishing day

today was a long day finishing up last weekend's mugs...i wrote a poem about it.  it's called 'november20.'  wanna hear it?  here it go....





coffee.
unload the kiln.
load the kiln.
stain.
turkey sandwich.
glaze.
load the kiln.
on the kiln.
bears win.
coffee.
reduction.
spaghetti.
neutral.
reduction.
hot chocolate.
bears lose cutler.
neutral.
blog.
cone7.
november21.
soft reduction.
blog.
neutral.
cone9.
soft reduction.
neutral.
off.
shower.
sleep.

most of the end of this poem is assumed.  kiln gods or chaos could cause alternate conclusions.  but we'll go with that which is expected and most probable.  these kinds of long days that sometimes last for two seem necessary for most of us around the holiday season.  whether we work for a living or make work for a living, we're all putting in stupid hours right now and i bet we're all just a bit on edge.  i snapped at mindy over menial bullshit today.  it seems stress turns mouths into assholes.  at least it does for mine.  the other day my neighbors were screaming at each other in the backyard.  some straight up jerry springer action.  

fire!
this long day is nearing the end though as i finish up firing the kiln.  it's 1AM and it has about 2 hours left.  it's reached cone 7 and is holding steady, about ready to go back into neutral on it's way to cone 10.  i love firing the kiln like it is breathing. oxidize to breathe in, reduce to breathe out.  take slow and deep breaths and fill all chambers of the lungs.  firing this kiln has become like a relationship.  sometimes it doesn't work.  sometimes you have to work it.  sometimes it makes magic.  sometimes it comes out just dull.  but every time is different.   i hope this time is magic.  stay tuned for results...


Friday, November 18, 2011

dishing

Most couples I know register for a new set of fine china when they are getting married. Kim Kardashian, as ABC News reports, had a set of Hermés black and white dinnerware on her list. Of course, we all know by now that her marriage lasted a whooping 72 days. Those Hermés dishes, in comparison, will last much longer with proper care and affection ... except that is not the point. The point is, every bride-to-be always plans for a brand new set of dinnerware. 
Hermes Balcon Du Guadalquivir Black Bread and Butter Plate

I was the same. I coveted and received new dishes too. The only difference is, Zach made all of mine. We only had twenty guests at our wedding, and he made all the dishes that were used at the dinner reception (that I then got to keep). He also made the tea set for the traditional tea ceremony that we had with the family.


Zach loves making me things for the kitchen that he won't make for anyone else. He likes focusing on the imagery and simplifying the forms of the things he makes to sell. I like function and form. But either way, in addition to the wedding dinnerware and tea set, I've also accumulated one of a kind  soufflé  dishes, a colander, a berry bowl, two noodle bowls, a sturdy pair of mixing bowls with apple-print, giant mugs, one very goofy casserole dish ...




You see that casserole dish with the wonky cows in the first picture? I absolutely love it. We used to break that out when we bake beef stew, but lately, it's also been put to use for ratatouille ...


If you love vegetables, you'll want to try the recipe. It's delicious. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

muggy weekend


as you can see we have a sparkly new title bar. hooray for finally firing the letter blocks.  the robot on the mug in the background was NO help.  damn lazy robots.  other than that it was a muggy weekend in the dungeon studio.  i wrote a poem about it. wanna hear it?  here it go...







wedge. size. pile.
center. dive. pull. 
open. pull. foot. 
wire. lift. place.
repeat 138 times.  

wedge. size. pile.
pull. flatten. pull.
cut. score. slip.
curve. tack. stick.
repeat 138 times.

thrown, handled, and printed

it was really that kind of weekend.  i'm really not looking forward to staining and glazing all of this stuff. but i certainly look forward to firing it.  and seeing what it looks like when it comes out of the kiln.  i was in the studio from the time i got up until the time i went to bed, skipping 3 hours on sunday to watch the bears pummel the lions.  mindy ate an allergy pill and spent several hours in the basement with me printing mugs and making ornaments.  outside, the november winds that rip the last leaves from the trees whipped and wheezed past the windows.  in indiana if you have a perfect day in november to clean up the yard with a rake, the next day will surely blow them all back where you didn't want them.  so bright, cheerful and wonderful saturday turned to a sunday grumbling mess of grayness as everyone saw their efforts returned by the weather. i didn't rake anything.  i made mugs.  people always tell me i'm lucky that i get to make pots for a living. and i agree, but its not all its cracked up to be sometimes.  its a pain like every other job sometimes.  when i'm done with a project like this, my back is sore, my arms are shaking tired, my hands are raw, and my mind is numb.  but i think of it like running.  soreness goes away, and i have to be self-motivated enough to push on through.  the reward is building toward something.  i'm thankful to be lucky enough to get to build toward whatever 'something' is.  up next is staining and glazing.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

busy busy busy

video

Zach is on a mad tear to finish up a huge order of mugs for both the Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft and Fort Wayne Museum of Art this weekend. This time of the year is also always filled with a good amount of  requests for custom orders and gifts. We're glad to have them even if they mean late nights in the studio and a short time away from blogging (for him). Zach did, however, manage to make a little animated clip to share ... this one is called fall into winter. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

a day shy of 11.11.11

pictures of Zach in the woods in Wisconsin. We are loving this crazy chilly fall weather.


Update: it's even snowing a little now ...


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

thoughts on thinking ...

Two years ago, Zach and I attended a talk by Bill Ayers at Purdue. Only a select group of less than a hundred were invited to attend and we were stoked to be invited. That evening, a group of area residents came out to protest his appearance on campus. People were outraged. News teams were on the scene. Security was tighter than usual on campus. The crowds that gathered picketed with signs that read “Purdue is Un-American,” “Bill Ayers equals terrorism,” “Swine Flu Better for Purdue than This Guy.” We got booed as we entered the building but that only fuelled my excitement … I was gonna get to meet and hear from a revolutionary. How awesome.


student protest signs, some referencing Ayers' involvement with the Weather Underground group

The very fact that there were protesters delighted Ayers who said although he will have to “speak over the pitchforks,” he admired the proactive courage and conviction of people who would take to the streets to voice their unhappiness. Ayers was on campus that night to talk about educational reform. He spoke about the need for teachers who cultivate students’ creativity and curiosity instead of obedience and conformity. He lamented the current state of education and the lack of divergent thinking. Since Zach and I teach, this issue was a pressing one for the both of us.

But just what exactly is divergent thinking and why is creativity and curiosity important? What happens when education becomes a commodity? Zach and I left the talk with our minds spinning in our heads. We decided that perhaps an artistic education was the way to go. Knowledge acquisition is worthless without the ability to use it. An artistic education encourages children to be creative, original, and promotes complex critical thinking skills. When we emphasize the experience of learning and the activity of making art instead of the “final product,” we allow children to grow their imagination. 

             

Art is experiential. Art is about problem solving. An aesthetic thinker is an authentic thinker. If you're curious why you think the way you do, you might be interested in the New Thinker's Index (and while you're there, check out the clip of Joseph Fiennes rapping Shakespeare's Sonnet 129!)


p.s. also check out the Journal and Courier's write up of Zach's Christmas ornament project with the 6th and 7th graders at Battle Ground Middle School. 24 of those ornaments will represent Indiana on the White House Christmas tree!
p.p.s. my cousin Bernice will be reading our blog for the first time, so HI BERNICE!!!


Saturday, November 5, 2011

the container store

mindy and i made a day trip to indy this afternoon.  more like an extended detour through indy on our way back to portland.  i dropped off new work at the Indianapolis Art Center's Basile Studio Shop and we stopped in the gallery to see charles gick's new show called 'involving the sky.'  go see it.  it's incredibly refreshing.  he uses different kinds of media, materials and surfaces to present a truly midwestern take on art.  you can feel the slow moving breath of clouds and life.

Dome, 2010
Caged Cloud, 2010

we ate lunch at taiwan tea house on 82nd street.  i had black pepper chicken.  mindy had the asparagus and chicken.  we both ate our own full order of turnip cakes.  bloat. bloat. bloat. then just to top it off, we ordered bubble tea to go.  feeling full.

Taiwan Tea House

after lunch we set off for muncie to check on framing prices for some prints, but got side tracked by a phenomenon of suburbanite hell.  the CONTAINER STORE.  brand spanking shining white new container store.  shit.  a big box that sells only big boxes (what a genius/idiot idea).  mindy's eyes lit up like flash bulbs.  shit.  so i whipped into the turn lane and we parked and walked into a different dimension.  the sliding glass door welcomed us into a world of plastic tubs, tubes, trundles, and totes.  i tentatively followed mindy's excitement at the overwhelming piles and shelves stacked to the ceiling with empty boxes.  boxes to store your shit so you can buy more shit so you can buy more boxes to store that shit to buy new shit.  it's a vicious shit cycle ya really don't want to get caught up in it.  we walked through most aisles,  got accosted by an overly friendly employee overly excited about our bubble tea cups, tripping over women in sweatsuits.  ugh.  i'm frightened now and the piles of boxes are causing me a bit of suburban claustrophobia.  when i snapped out of it and hit the bit of white noise that allowed me to breathe a breath of plasticy fresh air, i realized i was the only man in the store.  check that, there's another sad old man in a too small trophy store nylon jacket pushing his wife's cart of empty boxes.  and wait, there's another.  similar to the other.  wait, where is a mirror?  am i wearing slacks?  it amazes me that a store can exist to sell you overpriced boxes to store your shit.  i thought wal-mart and menards had the market on cheap boxes.  besides,  the container store was not that cheap.  this is what makes it a phenomenon of suburbanite hell.  could the fact of where you bought your cheap plastic boxes to store your cheap plastic shit indicate your status?


i spent $68 on boxes -- 2 for under the bed to use mostly as a cat fence, a basket for cat toys,  and a box for the stamps and inks we use to print our cards.  sixty-eight dollars.  i feel fleeced.  and i grew up in the suburbs.  i should know better.

(Photo for 'involving the sky' via charlesgick.com)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"the most beautiful fraud in the world"

I have trouble sitting through movies. It’s true. Just ask Zach. We pop in a DVD, cuddle up, start the movie, and I’d be fast asleep within the hour! The last time I actually finished watching a movie was Monday on Halloween night … for spook’s sake, we decided it would be fun to turn off all the lights and watch the original 1978 release of “Halloween” (my first time). Super hilarious acting, Jamie Lee Curtis. Super creepy music, John Carpenter. I can’t get that bone chilling tune out of my head ...

video

I find I have to watch my favorite shows in 30-minute intervals … as a result, a 2-hour movie turns into a 4 episode ordeal. Works well for me, but is most likely an inconvenient nuisance for Zach.

Here’s a list of some movies I love and can remember watching in just one sitting …
Bettlejuice (we’ll both watch anything by Tim Burton)
Departures
Death at a Funeral (the British version)
to quote the famous screenwriter/film director Jean-Luc Godard, "Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world."

what are some of your all-time favorite movies?

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