Saturday, December 31, 2011

MCA and Iain Baxter&

new year's eve was Museum of Contemporary Art day in Chicago for mindy and i.  the skies were clear and the air was cold.  

Andrew Bird and Ian Schneller's Sonic Arboretum

we walked into composer andrew bird and artist ian schneller's sonic arboretum at the MCA today, greeted by phonograph horns rising like trees from the landscape.  then softly the sound came into focus, overcoming the ambient crowd noise.  soft violins and tonal rhythms bouncing through the hallways.  spinning double horns created a sound moving like cars passing.  i sat and listened to the sounds from a corner, drawing the installation in my sketchbook.  mindy walked through the forest investigating the shapes and recording portions of the music on her phone.  the installation gave a wonderfully warm feeling in the cold chicago winter.  from the color of the sculpture to the depth of the layered sounds.



after being welcomed by bird and schneller, we walked through a forgettable the language of less (then & now) minimalist show.  then moved on to look at memorandums of the work of gordon matta-clark's chicago exhibit from the 70's where he sawed through the interior of an abandoned building.  this was an interesting and intimate look at this exhibit through its letters, pictures, and accounts.

pieces from the Chicago Works by Scott Reeder

on the 3rd floor we saw the first solo museum exhibit by Scott Reeder.  He did 2 large paintings with stenciled rhythms of cooked and raw spaghetti.  there was a video showing the completion of the raw spaghetti painting on the floor of the MCA.  the simple techniques created deeply layered textures with a only 2 layers of paint.  His word-play lists of things from "new kinds of music" to "LOL alternatives"  were cheeky and fun.  his paintings contained the same kind of humor, only in pastel tones.  his work was quite fun to go through and mindy and i found ourselves laughing at much of the word-play he used throughout the exhibition.

the 4th floor held the gem of the MCA for this round of exhibits.  a retrospective of iain baxter& (the ampersand is part of his name. it indicates that there is always an 'and' in living).  this work was amazing from beginning to end.  mindy and i both found ourselves running around the spaces like children.  laughing at the satirical way he poked fun at art and culture.  using wordplay to make many of his points.  for one group of work from the seventies, he created a corporation entitled N.E. Thing Co. HA! that's just funny.  he 'bagged' the world as christo 'packaged' the world.  he bagged landscapes and water and boats.  one of my favorite pieces was 'dan flavin deflated' featuring a black vinyl tube hanging from a florescent light fixture.  hilarious.  also 'bagged rothko' where he made 3 layers of off set colors and put it in a giant vinyl bag.  HA. 'slip cover for judd' HA!  his polariods featuring a mirror reflecting everything behind the camera were a genius way to look at 'looking'.  his 'beauty spots' series placing a polariod landscape featuring a round mirror on a nude figure where a mole could be.  the dated, described, and corporate sealed photocopied photographs of landscapes and other artist's work that he sent to different galleries.  these works were just amazing in their clear and simple commentary on living and expectation.  and i must say that i hate photography, but this work i could interact with.  i could relate to.  typically photography is stand-offish and forceful, either for the artist or the audience.  but baxter& felt relatable.  my favorite piece in the show was a collection of reclaimed televisions, stands, and pedestals.  baxter& painted landscapes in acrylic over the tv screens, using the fuzz of the tv to make the image alive.  how incredibly simple and provocative at the same time.  Everything he worked in he was making satirical comments on culture, mass media, and simple daily life.  the work is amazingly relatable and truely a joy to experience.  i'm moving him near the top of my list of favorite creative people.  mindy and i couldn't resist buying a retrospective book in the MCA store.  i read the interview with him.  He studied buddhism, marshall mcluhan, and john dewey intently.  no wonder we loved his work so much.

clockwise top L to R: zero emissions, beauty spots, television works



Sunday, December 25, 2011

... and so this is Christmas

Saturday, December 24, 2011

12 wonky days of socks

merry christmas eve!
these are my wonky socks
they come out from a box
they cover my toes
now everyone knows
my twelve wonky days of socks :)

Friday, December 23, 2011

super cool


We got hooked on NBC's "The Sing Off" this season, and now we are captivated by this youtube.com video that features Kevin Olusola of the winning group Pentatonix. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

winter solstice


Even though it feels unseasonably warm out, today marks the first day of winter. The sun will set at 5:24pm and we will endure the longest night of the year. I'm glad it's finally winter, my favorite season.

In other related news, there's only three more days to Christmas ...
... do you know you can track Santa with Google Earth? Check it out here.

... want the perfect song for the winter season?

... how about the perfect cat & Christmas video?

... Christmas around the globe.

... we've been watching (and enjoying) Jimmy Fallon's 12 Days of Christmas sweaters. Here's a pretty awesome list of outrageous Christmas sweaters.

... I did this!!!

... a "letter blocks say what?"-inspired treasury on Etsy

... Winter solstice Winter Fields print can be purchased here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

running with creativity

as a kid i had no interest in art.  i played sports like most other midwestern males of my generation.  
i wasn't very good at many though.  i sat on the bench and got cut from all-star, aau, and traveling teams.  it was never a good experience.  when i was 15, i decided to run cross country to get in shape for basketball season.  then after a week of basketball practice, i quit the team to go back to running.
i was pretty terrible my first season, nearly last on the team.  but i got to compete in every race and complete every practice.  i never had to watch from the sidelines.  through the rest of high school, college and into graduate school, running became my way of life.  


i tell this story because i believe that running gave me the best creative education i could ask for.
i never took art classes at community centers or signed up for art club in high school.  i didn't have any interest.  i took pottery my senior year of high school as a blow off class with some friends and decided i enjoyed making pots enough that i continued to take it as a blow off class when i was in college.  i had my first drawing class in the summer after i graduated from college and had decided to pursue art in graduate school.  

running is good creative education.  i cannot say that for all sports.  but the mind that it takes to be a distance runner is very similar to the mind that it takes to make art.  the practices that it take to be a runner are very similar to the practices that it take to make art.  self-motivation and self-criticism.  knowing you have to work constantly and knowing you can always be better or at least different.  

there is very little difference in making 100 bowls and running mile repeats.  by the end you feel exhausted.  but you still have to do your 3-mile evening recovery run or do the next step in finishing the 100 bowls.  i think part of the reason i'm drawn to making multiples, no matter the medium, is that i believe experimenting within a framework (be it the bowl, or the print, or sculpture, or whatever) is similar to doing interval training on the track.  as one progresses through a workout of 200m repeats at 30sec each with 30sec rest in between, the mind begins to experiment with the way you distribute effort. repeat number 12 is a lot different from repeat number 1.  in the same way, each multiple is created with the previous piece there to build upon or diverge from, but still within the same framework.

china painting, 2006. 400+ porcelain and stoneware bowls arranged
multiples: temporal/timeless, with china painting in the background, 2006
multiples: tea set, with china painting in the background, 2006
multiples: tea set, 2006

running and art are closely linked in their physical/mental nature, as well.  both are physical expressions of mental efforts.  trying to think through creating something new is quite difficult and requires a lot of will power and effort, just as pushing through the pain of running requires an intense mental effort.  making art also requires the same persistence and devotion as running.  it is a way of life, meditating on a practice.  competing in high school and in college required running every day.  working in the art world requires that same type of devotion.  then you see your efforts in practice come to fruition at the competition.  setting up for a cross country meet is similar to setting up for an art fair.  you drag in at some ungodly hour and put up your booth and get ready for your competition and you do your best, competing against your previous efforts as much as you are competing against your fellow competitors.  then you tear down and drive home with the days efforts in mind.

i do not run very often any longer.  my devotion lies elsewhere these days.  however it is always good to lace up my shoes and remember what running feels like.  i love visiting the trails of shades state park in western indiana and running through a place that was a refuge for me as a runner in college.  distance running allows the mind to wander.  out for an easy run for 6+ miles takes a while and your mind gets to study clouds and trees, people walking past, buildings.  the rhythm of shoes on pavement or hard-packed dirt and fallen leaves.  you're in your own little world, just like creating.


(more photographs from the Multiples installation can be seen here)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

winter walk

It's been a sad and frustrating couple of days around here ... but after a few good cries, lots of confiding and quiet moments in prayer, a wonderful impromptu lunch date with Zach, and several calls home later, I'm learning that being joyful and thankful is a choice ... I'm realizing that happiness is a mere matter of happenstance and it's okay to mourn and be sad ... I am finally feeling my dark cloud lifting ...


We'll be back to regular blogging tomorrow so stay tuned. In the meantime, thank you for being patient and allowing us to rant on here!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

dear delta airlines

dear delta airlines,

you stole our money.  mindy's grandfather died and we needed to cancel our plans to go to vegas and seattle.  you stole our money.  you would not allow us to cancel our flight.  only 'change our itinerary' at the cost of 50% of the ticket price.  fine.  but we do not even get the other 50% returned to us.  and the phone operator would not even guarantee us an email confirmation that we could use our remaining 50% on a different flight.

wait a minute.  back up a moment.

last week mindy received a call from delta informing us that our return flight from seattle had an 'equipment change,' meaning they switched to a smaller plane and were overbooked.  she asked if we would like to give up our seats, leave 6 hours earlier, and fly through memphis with a only a 40 minute layover time.  um. not really. but we'll discuss it and get back with you.  we decided to stick with the original flight even though we were not guaranteed to have seats.

then last night mindy's grandfather lost his long bout with illness.  we quickly changed all the flights for her parents and got them booked and on their way home for the funeral.  we decided that since we were flying to vegas to spend time with them there, that it would no longer be worth it for us to go alone.  so we decided to cancel our trip in the wake of everything that was going on.

back to the non-cancelation cancelation.  hotwire.com also would not let us cancel our hotel room in vegas, for the 2 nights we were staying there.  ok that sucks and i feel screwed, but at least they weren't rude about it.  with hotwire screwing us and delta screwing us, we're now in the hole nearly $650, not counting the 50% of our airline ticket price that is rightfully ours to use, that we are not guaranteed to be able to use, making a grand total of nearly $1K in screw jobs from the travel industry.

so in the end we tried to cancel a flight that you changed on us.  and when you would not let us cancel it and made us only 'change our itinerary' you also make it difficult for us to use the remaining money you are holding hostage. what a load of shit.  thank your delta for being horrible to my wife on the phone.  stealing my money.  holding the rest of my money hostage like you're some kind of terrorist organization.  and generally making my holiday vacation hap-hap-happy.  fuck you very much, you shitty deceptive corrupt bunch of economic terrorists.

sincerely,
us and every other customer you've screwed over and treated like shit

r.i.p.

I don't quite know how to put into words all the events that have happened in the last couple of days, except to say we've been through a roller coaster ride of emotions ... my mom and dad flew in from Singapore to spend the holidays with us. They arrived last Thursday night and were supposed to be here till the end of the year. But instead, they are making their way back to Singapore as I write this. We found out yesterday that my grandfather died after a 6-year struggle with glottic cancer and a strenuous 18-day battle with pneumonia.

L to R: me, Grandma, Mom, Aunt Shandy, Grandpa in Genting, Malaysia

I can only imagine how this is probably the longest flight my parents will ever fly. 

r.i.p. Grandpa Chua. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

negative dialectics


Thinking men and artists have not infrequently described a sense of being not quite there, of not playing along, a feeling as if they were not themselves at all, but a kind of spectator. Others often find this repulsive; it was the basis of Kierkegaard’s polemic against what he called the aesthetic sphere … The inhuman part of it, the ability to keep one’s distance as a spectator and to rise above things, is in the final analysis the human part, the very part resisted by its ideologists … But the spectator’s posture simultaneously expresses doubt that this could be all.

                                 --Theodore Adorno, Negative Dialectics


Eugene Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

the block print t-shirt project and the national christmas tree

in november i worked with three different groups of high school students from lafayette jeff hs, oakland hs, and cary home on a t-shirt project.  my goal for the project was to introduce kids to alternative uses for simple linoblock printmaking methods.  so we made block printed t-shirts.  i met with each group for a total of about 4 1/2 hours stretched over a 2-3 week period.  within that very short time frame students had to sketch a design, cut at least one block (most did several or multiple color layers), layout their t-shirt design and print their images.  students were asked to develop images revolving around a theme of 'self/society,' and to think about their place in their local community.  they were also asked to freely share their blocks with other students to collage with and to think outside the box in their design.

i also had the honor of being chosen to work with 6th and 7th graders to create the ornaments that represent indiana on the national christmas tree at the white house.  i worked with Ying Larimore's art students from battleground middle school to create the 24 ornaments.  and instead of selecting 24 students or the 24 best pieces, we decided to create 24 blocks where each kid would get one of the 144 sides.  each student cut a linoblock image that had to do with either indiana or the holiday season.  then we combined all the different images to create the blocks.  battleground also did a fundraiser to send Ying to Washington for the lighting of the trees!

after some bloody fingers and several bandaids, a whole roll of linoblock, and a whole ton of ideas, images and effort these groups of students created an incredible show at tippecanoe arts federation's student show.  we had over 300 people show up for the opening to support these kids and their efforts.

this project was part of a community service class offered by purdue university school of technology.  the students in the class applied for and received a grant to work with at-risk and high-risk students in our community.  they chose tippecanoe arts federation (TAF) and the after school arts program (ASAP) to work with, and TAF chose me as the instructor.  this could not have been possible without the efforts of paige sharp of TAF and Purdue representatives michelle, denise, steven, mike, eric, steve and brenda for all their efforts in pulling this all together.  

laundry hung out to dry

here are a couple of my favorites from the students...


at the opening
buffy rogers and student teacher, catherine bowyer's class at jeff high school created this mural by combining all the images that they made in class




p.s. see more pictures from the National Christmas Tree project here.
p.p.s. an article about the projects.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

'tis the season ...

We unloaded the kiln last night and spent a good hour going through all the pieces. We then divided up all the work ... some pieces are going to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, some to Artists' Own, and my personal favorites will be listed on Etsy over the next few days. At over a hundred pieces, I'd say our Etsy shop is finally stocked for the season. Take a sneak peek and then head on over to our shop to browse the whole gamut of work!

mugs galore!
Thank you for reading our blog and bearing the hawking. We don't want to be shamelessly, excessively, and obsessively promoting our own work, but 'tis the season for sharing and caring and we wanted to extend an exclusive promotion for our blog readers: use code 'BIGBLOGDEAL' from 12/8 through 12/18 for 15% off everything in the Etsy shop, including sale items! And even if you don't shop with us, we still hope you choose handmade gifts whenever possible!

p.s. the last shipping day for items to arrive before Christmas is December 18th.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

re-working

ahhhhhh...sun...where did you go?  it's been rain/mist/snow/icing for the last week it feels.  i haven't seen the sun in forever. but today a timid yellow light is peeking from above the clouds.  finally the grey is dispersing.  after everything has been soaked to the frozen bone and the dead leaves have been left rotting in the gutters and corners of our yards, the sun shows his face.

the grey finally leaving
last night i fired the kiln until late and we get to see the results soon.  hopefully all the grey in the world will allow the color to explode from the kiln.  like that timid light, which now is exploding into full-on sunshine.  it is the last kiln load of the year, mostly packed with student work, only a few of my pieces are in there. a few finished up custom orders and several snowflake pieces for the winter season.  the end of the christmas pottery scramble.  now i can get back to working on my next show.

in january i'll be installing county fair for the 3rd time.  this time it will be in elizabethtown, ky, outside of louisville.  each time i've show this installation it's been different.  radically different.  the piece has morphed from a stark look at the summer cultural event of the rural midwest, to a sidewalk-street-fair-in-a-box.  each time i've shown this work, i've added elements, taken them away, and altered the functions of others.  all in the name of audience experience.

@ DeRicci Gallery, october 2010
the first version of county fair that was installed at edgewood college in madison, wi in 2010 was a stark, spread-out collection of events and games.  some elements were displayed hanging in rows against white walls. some were collected onto a conglomerate of white pedestals.  all were spread throughout the space.

the second version was installed at curly tale fine art in chicago in the summer of 2011.  this time everything was collected into a 'box' that housed the entirety of the elements inside and outside.  the white was turned into a bright and colorful explosion of spray paint.  it was easy to miss elements as there was a lot going on in a 5' x 5' space.  not only did i re-approach the way the work was displayed, but also the way it was experienced.  i added cranks that allowed the audience to interact more directly with the elements.  and i boxed each piece to be 'crated', unpacked, and ready to display.  the more i develop this work the more i feel the importance of its travel-ability.  fairs used to arrive to small towns on trains and then unload and set up in a field.  now they use semis and the grocery store parking lot.  but still everything arrives, opens, and is ready to go.  then after a week, it is gone on to some other destination.  the gypsy attitude was missing from the first version.
@ curly tale fine art, summer 2011

now that i'm re-working county fair for its 3rd space, i really want to emphasize travel-ability as a function of the installation.  i hope that people will come and interact with the piece, but then realize that it will be gone in a few short weeks and be off to somewhere else, leaving behind wet popcorn melting in the mud and cotton candy cones and coke cups blowing in the fence row.  this version has a re-worked queen contest element, a new roller coaster, a new strength test game, an altered case and hopefully a few other surprises.  oh yeah, and video.

last year mindy and i began experimenting with video for this piece.  i love alexander calder's 'circus' videos.  the old drunk guy playing with all the strange moving elements of his creation.  so one snowed-in week last winter we designed simple sets, wrote simple story boards, and filmed little clips of all the individual elements of the show.  then i wrote, recorded and mixed all the soundtracks and we made a fun little 15 minute video of the show.  our video experience is very amateur, and we didn't try to make it look professional, filming it all on our iphones and with our snap-shot camera.  my hope is that it feels like the home videos i made with my brothers when i was a kid.  i'm not interested in professional quality video.  it's too clean, easy and produced.  like pop music.  so clean it's dull.



so if you're in the louisville area in mid-january and need a reminder of summer fun, come see the show.  details later as i continue to update and alter this installation...

Monday, December 5, 2011

down for the count

It's raining and grey outside ...

After pushing himself for days on end to try and finish all the custom orders and fill our Etsy shop for the Christmas season, Zach is sick. Actually, he's been sick for 2 days now. He had plans to write a new blog post but that will have to wait.

In the meantime, here's a picture post of what I carry in my coat pocket ...

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it's my pet rock "zachy" ... haha. i love it.

And in other random iPhone pics, here's Zach working on his roller coaster piece for "County Fair" ... the third and updated installation of the show goes up in Elizabethtown, KY next January ...


hobo cat sleeping in a heap of newspapers:


and a new superhero linocut stamp:


Wherever you are this Monday afternoon, we hope you're keeping warm, toasty, healthy, and cheery.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

our big gray and white cat

Our big gray and white cat. We love him. As far as pets go, this little fellow has proven to be a pretty hardy creature and he's got us all spoilt by being such a good and easy cat. 


During our visit to the vet yesterday, we learnt our big gray and white kitty is in excellent shape and form (yay!) and that he is lucky to still have all his teeth. Big gray and white kitty doesn't like to brushed so he also got a quick grooming session with the vet technician. We were reminded that big gray and white kitty is eleven years old. We agree we want him around for another eleven (at least).

video
(gratuitous cat video)


Thursday, December 1, 2011

happy frosty december

one of a kind porcelain snowflake ornaments, available here, KMAC, and at Artists' Own

happy december, everyone! this month we are looking forward to snow (but not driving in it! see previous post), visiting with family who live an ocean away, feasting, traveling, celebrating an anniversary, and making merry ...


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