Monday, April 30, 2012

Chair-ity Chair

my chair for the art museum's "chair-ity" auction entitled,  'WHAM'

   today i painted a chair
   for the lafayette art 
   museum's "chair-ity"
   auction.  i've of course
   waited until the last
   minute to do this.
   fellow artists' own 
   artist, lorie amick,
   gave me a chair that
   she couldn't use.  i
   hadn't started on
   anything yet so i was
   very grateful.  plus i
   think it will be fun to
   put my take on the
  same chairs she is

top side: super hero and marching robots in downtown lafayette. super hero attacks. WHAM.
the front of the seat back features downtown lafayette being marched on by robots and a red super hero.
the seat features a flying super hero in motion crashing into the robots.  WHAM.
   it took all day to paint
   it, which is a lot longer 
   than i had planned on,
   but it was fun to play
   with the spray paint.  i
   decided i wanted to do
   something with the
   super hero, the robots
   and the television,
   while thinking about
   the local community.
   so after cutting a
   couple of new
   stencils for the project,
   this is what came out.
back side:  news flash on the television.  the talking head is expressionless.
left side leg panel:  spraying dead corn with round up.  windmills in the background.

street lamps shine on the insides of all 4 legs.

the right side legs have 4 red super heros. 

weekend projects

I did a couple of printing projects while I was at Zach's studio this weekend. I started with tiny onesies as a gift for a special little one ...

and then a medium-sized project ...

and when I felt confident with all the printing experiences under my belt, I attempted the large project ... It took 2 days to complete, but I think the end results look pretty cool!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Progress at Foam City

We've been a little behind on our posts because I've been sick and Zach's been busy finishing up the mural that gets installed next week.

zach medler

I finally ventured out this weekend. I haven't been to the studio at Foam City much, but decided to tag along with Zach so I can gawk at the mural in person. It is really awesome. The transformation from week to week is always astounding and fun to observe. The kids in the class have done a great job in cutting stencils and applying it on the multi-textured panels. All that's left to do is for Zach to attach the musical instruments and the mural is ready to be mounted!

The rest of Foam City has also changed pretty significantly. All the studio spaces are now filled and people are always coming and going. There are also frequent musical performances that take place in the open front space. The website is a good place to keep up with the performance schedule.

zach medler

zach medler

oi the boat records

Studio spaces and a funny sign by the light switch ... 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

into the wild

What was the last song or last movie you watched that deeply touched your soul?

We watched Into the Wild last weekend and are still haunted by the story of Christopher McCandless (aka Alexander Supertramp). The simple but beautiful cinematography set to the unforgettable and introspective soundtrack written and performed by Eddie Vedder captures the poignant irony of escaping life by truly living it. 

The movie left me thoroughly restless ... I remember looking over at Zach and telling him not to get any great ideas about running off to live in the wild. He's always had this streak of fearless abandonment, this wanting to seek freedom however, wherever ...

This is perhaps the "problem" of having an actively creative mind. It is uncompromising in its quest blaze a trail, question the accepted, ditch the norm, and challenge standards and ideals ...

birds sing, black coffee steams is a poem Zach wrote me in 2007.

birds sing, black coffee steams
i can't yet rub the sleep from my eyes
and leaving the warmth of my bed
was like dropping an anvil on my toes
mornings are both beautiful and horrible
places i wish i was and places i'd rather not be
the furnace kicks on.......
ahhhh modern conveniences,
preparing to drag my ass out the door
to go and waste my day, my hours, my life
working for someone else's profit
what is it to sleep in the sand
and wake up tangled to the sound of the crashing waves
no work, no morning, just awakened
like that first step into the fresh snow
where your heel touches and the cold rushes
from your foot to your knee, to your hip
around your back through your stomach
and to your heart warming your face
with rosy red cheeks and a cold nose
the spring and the snow
the cold and the sun....
ahhh black coffee steams
rushes down my insides and
rubs the sleep from my eyes

Recipe of the Week: Simple Side Dishes

Side dishes are a rare occurrence in our home. We usually have enough time to make just an entree, but last week we went all out and made little accompaniment side dishes to go with our main courses. Here are recipes for two simple side dishes ...

Spinach Salad with Mandarin Oranges, Almonds, and Avocados 
Topped with Citrus Vinaigrette

1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
1 bag of spinach
3/4 cup of sliced almonds, toasted
(for dressing)
1/2 cup olive oil
2/3 cup orange juice
1 tbsp raw honey
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp dried oregano
dash of pepper

In a large bowl, toss oranges, onions, avocado and spinach.
Add all the ingredients for the dressing to a large jar with a lid. Seal, shake to mix.
Drizzle with dressing and serve!

Baked Wild Mushrooms

1lb of assorted wild mushrooms 
1/2 onion, diced 
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 tbsp white wine
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375F degrees
In a large oven-safe bowl, stir together onion, 
garlic, thyme, wine and salt and pepper. 
Add mushrooms, toss to coat.
Cover and bake for 35 minutes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

{PLAY} simulacrum and the sub-real space

in talking about aesthetics i am always drawn back to how space is effected, because all art effects space.  in talking about play as an aesthetic we begin to talk about a sub-space.  a space that exists partly in the real world and partly in the space between your ears.  in the past, basic 3D sculpture asked it audience to consider the real space and physical, tangible beauty of the work.  installation art flipped that idea by addressing the space around the tangible work.  film eschews the real all together and in effect creates a virtual space that invites its viewer to leave one world and enter another.  play however, addresses a space that is somewhere between all of these.  in trying to understand the idea of the sub-space, i wrote a poem, trying to nail down and understand where sub-space exists, and how to effect it.

play is the most basic metaphor.
probably the first human experience of symbolism,
beginning in infancy.

play creates a space that is neither real
nor surreal
nor virtual.

play creates a sub-real space,
combining elements of
real, living, three dimensional space,
warped surreal installation space,
and virtual space that transports you,
the way film can transport you.

play involves its audience.
it asks you to participate.
it asks you to ignore many of the surroundings of the real space you live in.
it asks you to make choices about your involvement with the tangible work.
the physical structure, whatever that may be.

play is a state of mind.
a phony reality that exists in reality.
play is a simulacrum.
residing in things you recognize.
representing something you don't remember knowing.

play is a metaphor.
like art.
a symbol.
like language.
and real.
like the thoughts in your head.

art is a sub-real space.
art is play.
a phony reality that exists in reality.
art is a simulacrum.
and a state of mind.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


It's been so long since I've read a book just for the sake of reading.

I want this.

p.s. It would go great with this song.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

mural: page 3

today was day 3 of filling in the mural.  we started by fixing some of the color that didn't quite balance out from the week before.  mostly that bright green and bright yellow patch that was just puking all over our painting.  it got lightened up and changed out.  we tried to keep the color, but eliminate the yuck of the color combo.  the main task for this session was getting the stenciled imagery started.  this was a challenge.  spray cans came out to play, which led some of the students to begin painting on each other.  which i neither encourage nor discourage.  i hope that my class is not confined so much that kids can't feel free to do something stupid sometimes.  you learn from mistakes you make and often it takes a stupid idea to come up with a good one.

after the first hour of working on the color base, we decided that it was looking pretty good, and after cleaning up some of the drips, splatters and splashes, we started in on the stencils.  this is the first time any of these kids have used a stencil.  and that was evident by a few of the messier initial splotches of color that were intended to be images.  we brushed on the ones that we needed to, and we sprayed on the ones that we could.  i showed them how to brush, or stipple or not slop the paint on to the stencil.  then i showed them how to hold the spray can so they don't end up with a black blob where they intended to have an image.  after a few trial runs and some mistakes that were or will be fixed, we were off and running.  instead of dictating where the images went on the panel (as i did w/ the color) the kids had free reign to cover the panels however they wanted to, with some input from me.  but it can be intimidating to paint this and then try to figure out where you want to start putting imagery.  we have simple landscape narratives and abstract compositions of repeated imagery.  both work well together, because both are focused on repetition.

i'm excited about the piece.  i think maybe i'll try to work to get it installed on the wall next week and allow the kids to finish it out hanging on the wall.  it is looking great and we've gotten some buzz about it.  the fact that the kids have such a huge role in the creation of the work from start to finish is really putting a bit of excitement in the air.  keep watching.  we're still working, but we will have it ready for the unveil on may 11th during the first gallery walk of the year!

panel #1
panel #2
panel #3

{Food for Thought} 5 Reasons to Grow Your Own Food

In celebration of Earth Week, we present you five good reasons to grow your own food.

Here are some links from around the web with tips on growing a garden 
... in pots
... in the ground
... in the air

What to grow in April.

Recipes for homemade pesticides.

How to make your own fertilizer for your plants.

A genius idea for vertical gardening.

Al Bundy's ideal vegetable garden.

The city of Seattle plants a food forest.

The benefits of harvesting rain to water your garden.

A beautiful song.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Grilled Chicken on Lebanese Rice Pilaf

A delicious example of a collaborative dinner -- Zach outside grilling the chicken and me inside with the Lebanese rice pilaf ...

Lebanese Rice Pilaf with Spinach and Roasted Grapes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
3.5 cups organic vegetable broth
3/4 cup dried green lentils
3/4 cup long grain brown rice

Heat oil and cook onion until translucent. Add spice and garlic, cook until fragrant.
Add broth and lentils, bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer covered for 20 minutes.
Stir in rice, return to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer covered, until rice and lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.

Top rice pilaf with wilted spinach and roasted grapes.

Wilted Spinach with Mushrooms
Saute a head of spinach and one cup of sliced mushrooms with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Roasted Grapes
2 cups grapes
1/2 red onion, sliced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Coat onions and grapes in olive oil.
Spread the mixture evenly on a cookie sheet and roast until slightly browned, about 50 minutes.

And the secret to cooking chicken on the grill ... start with chicken breasts pounded to equal thickness and marinate with olive oil and yogurt for at least 3 hours. Feel free to add herbs such as parsley, thyme, and/or tarragon. Grill chicken for 3-4 minutes per side.


p.s. all "Recipe of the Week" posts are now conveniently archived and can be accessed through the icon on the sidebar.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

{PLAY} play as an aesthetic

mindy and i are going to begin a series of essays talking about 'play' as an aesthetic.  when i was in graduate school, beginning as a maker of functional pottery, and moving into installation, i discovered that giving up the idea of 'function' was difficult for me.  so i created a body of work that was 'functional' sculpture.  it asked the audience to participate by turning cranks or playing with dolls, or by moving something around the space that i'd created.

i didn't think of what i was doing (in 2004) as a 'play' based aesthetic, i was thinking of it as interactive installation.  since then i've created several different bodies of work that have utilized interaction in the gallery space, but in a way that is more a kin to going to an amusement park than going to a white box gallery.  and it is exceptionally different than how the audience involved themselves with the art of the past.

experience and interaction as an aesthetic is not a new idea (dewey wrote art as experience in 1934) but to think of experience as 'play' considers a different type of space as an art medium.   'play' creates mental subconscious space where reality and surreality exist in the same state, a sub-real space.  games, for example, challenge the player by controlling the space, rules, and context of the experience.  if the goal of the game is to knock over bottles with a baseball, then the basic intention of the game itself has created a controlled environment where the player's attention is focused in such a way that he/she mentally creates a space by ignoring a majority of the actual surroundings.  play intends to create a space that controls its audience's inner-self-identity.  by this i mean the quiet thoughts and personal space that we all exist in.  our own worlds, or the voice in our heads.  what i understand to be the core mental human.  play seeks to effect the 'own world' of its audience.

Warhol's Marilyn
the static painting and sculpture of the past (and the present) ask the audience to consider it as a physical thing.  you stand before the work and consider the materials and the vision and the meaning that the artist created, but you consider it in a kantian art for art sake way.  anymore, this way of attempting to affect an audience has become boring.  make a loop around the gallery glancing at the stuff on the walls.  forgettable.  not that these are not great masterpieces of art.  that has not changed.  however the audience has.  the human condition of living today has developed shorter attention spans and the idea of 'viewing' is lost on many.  but this began happening in the 1950s with minimalism.  then warhol changed the art world by relating to his audience through images of people and places they recognize and admire and admonish, but still in a static 'viewing' way.  the development of installation art began to ask audiences to consider themselves in the space that surrounds them.  and the space that surrounds them is a manipulated surreality created by the artist.  this places the audience in the world of the artist, but this world exists in the 'real' world.  video asks its audience to enter into the 'own world' of the maker.  the video world is a completely visual/audial surreality that we step into.  an 'un-reality.'  play and interaction ask the audience to ignore the real space and enter into a virtual space or a sub-real space of their own making, controlled by the creator of the experience.  this is a new way of thinking about medium.  the audience becomes the medium.  all the things that the artist makes are made with the intention of affecting the participator and leaving them with a real experience, however controlled that experience may be by the maker.

this is an initial idea base for this series of essays.  with mindy's breadth of knowledge of 20th century aesthetic philosophy, and my unadulterated bullshit, we are hoping to create a new way of thinking about art.  many artists are working in this medium, including me, the clayton brothers, carsten holler, and i'm sure many other who i've not yet even seen or heard of.  but this is what's coming to the world of contemporary art near you.  thankfully.

Clayton Brothers, a piece from the show Inside Out

Carsten Holler, Upside Down Mushroom Room (photo via

Monday, April 16, 2012

Gardening Novices

We are gardening novices, but since the herb garden we planted last month is growing so well, we decided to go ahead with even more plants.

We bought 3 more varieties of tomatoes, 4 varieties of peppers, 2 more basil plants, lavender, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, dill, and watercress to add to our existing garden of 6 herbs, a pepper, 4 varieties of cat grass, a pot of everbearing strawberries, and a bunch of beautiful violets.

sweet Thai basil

We're having so much fun working and hanging out in our garden. I can't wait for all these plants to take off and bear fruit in the coming months!

p.s. Bennett's Greenhouse in Lafayette, Indiana is our favorite place to shop for plants.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

{Etsy Treasury} April Showers

We started selling online on in March 2010 and have had a reasonable amount of success. It's a nice venue to showcase your work and a great way to be amongst a community of other craftspeople. And of course it's been a great avenue for sales as well. 

Etsy has experienced great growth since it started in 2005 -- there are around eight hundred thousand sellers and twelve million buyer accounts today. And in February, Etsy sold $58.3 million of goods, up 62.5% from a year ago. With such staggering numbers, I decided to do a little browsing and create a treasury worthy of this beautiful April day.

So here it is ... my little assembly of things that remind me of rainy April days ...

white cloud teaspoon re...

6 rubber stamps - CLOUD...

Rain Cloud. Pillow in N...

Rainclouds decals - reu...

Cloud 9 - Paper Garland...

04 RUE - Magnet Set

Umbrella / cloud turqui...

Screen-printed Rainclou...

Raindrop Tea Towel - Ap...

Rain chain - hand punch...

Vintage Soviet Fairy Ta...

I met you in the rain, ...

Dream Cloud - OOAK Hand...

LARGE PACK of vintage d...

cute faux suede and rai...

Dessert plate grey with...

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