Thursday, January 31, 2013

midwest existential: part 4

the theater is nearly ready.  there is mostly the details left in finishing out the plex light boxes, closing off light leaks and getting the projection set up properly and functional.  now it's on to the advertising/merchandising/mechanizing work making prints and memorabilia.

zach medler

my theater is called the ritz: after the theater in portland, in.  i just thought it is a perfect name for what i'm working on.  i hope my ritz has all the mustiness of the portland ritz.

i can't say i remember exactly what the walls in any movie theater look like.  i guess i pretty well ignore them.  but i wanted my theater to have a slightly off-putting but an over-all warm, incandescent feeling.  like maybe it was a place to see a silent film in the 20s, the latest release in the 50s, porn in the 70s and a haunted house in the 90s.  the walls inside and out are covered in layers of different panels and then painted in multiple layers of wash and spray paint and covered with repeating stencil patterns.  i cut at least 5 (maybe 6 or 7) new stencils that feature winding repeating patterns.  after the number of repetitions i sprayed of each stencil for this project, they are all pretty well destroyed, but the walls look great.

zach medler graffiti
here's a sample of one of the walls feature 3 different patterns playing off of each other.

one of the walls is built out of the metal skin of the former front door to foam city.  to make the place public accessible there was a lot of stuff that had to be changed, and the shitty rusting, rotting front door was one of them.  i came to the studio one day to find it soaking in beer and rain by the dumpster and salvaged the front metal skin.  now it's part of the theater.

zach medler
former front door of foam city.  now a crusty, rusty magnet board for me.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

safe travels

Late last night found Zach and I sitting in our office. He was cutting stencils on the desk and I was sitting behind him on the futon petting the cat. He had his iTunes on shuffle, and the otherwise quiet room begin to be filled with a sweet melody. I've not heard the song before but I recognized Lisa Hannigan's angelic voice. Suddenly I asked Zach, "did she just sing safe travels, don't die, don't die?" Zach nodded. I hesitated for a bit before telling him she was singing my life with her words; that every time he leaves the house without me, my thoughts are always "safe travels, please don't let anything bad happen." If this sounds a little morbid, it's because such thoughts always are. Then Zach turned around and told me he understood. He said it so sincerely he made me smile. Glad to know I'm not the only worrywart around here.

a new look!

It's almost groundhog day and Zach tells me he's ready for spring. It was 65°F, windy and rainy yesterday. Today, it was 50°F when we woke up, and the temperatures have been falling steadily. It will be a miserable 2°F tomorrow. So in anticipation of spring, Zach and I worked together on a new header for the blog today. We hope you like it!

Recipe of the Week: Creole Corn & Black Beans and Jamaican Jerk Wings

We ate a delicious version of creole caramelized corn and black beans when we were in Columbus last December. And you know what happens when we eat something great? We make a mental note to recreate the dish at home! This dish is a little buttery and creamy, sweet and spicy, and so easy to prepare. Here's how we made it ...

2-4 tbsp butter (2 is sufficient, but obviously, the more you use, the better this will taste!)
2 cups of corn
1 (15oz) can of organic black beans
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup half and half
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
a sprinkling of paprika
hot sauce (adjust according to your taste)
salt, to taste

Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add corn and brown sugar, stirring until slightly caramelized.
Add black beans and red pepper, cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Mix in half and half, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, paprika, and salt.
Simmer until sauce thickens, about 3-5 minutes.
Serve over rice or with a side of bread.

Since it is unlikely Zach will eat a meatless meal, we included a side of Jamaican Jerk chicken wings. And to keep things on the lighter side, we prepared the wings in the broiler. Here's the recipe ...

6 chicken wings
1/2 tbsp minced ginger
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp jamaican jerk seasoning
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp orange zest, or zest from one orange
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

In a large ziplock bag, marinade chicken wings in all the ingredients for at least 2 hours.
Bake at 350F for 45 minutes, turning once.
Or, broil in oven for 25-30 minutes. Keep your eyes on the wings so yours don't burn like ours did!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

midwest existential: part 3 (we've got a projection screen)

yesterday and today were spent tearing apart and reconstructing the walls from the photo in the previous post.  i haven't gotten to those spray cans just yet though, but as of this afternoon we have a projection screen.  i made a 9' long x 4' tall assemblage screen to project the film onto.  it is built right into the inside of the walls.  i painted the wall under the screen black for max contrast and there will be curtains covering the currently empty spaces on the edges on the assemblage.

here's the screen...yes that's a tv...what else would be in there? (ps. check the robot peeking over the top)
the outside of the building is still in flux.  i slapped some yellow, brown, and blue washes on the walls and they look quite hideous right now.  but its just the first coat and they'll come alive later on.  i'm also still deciding how i'm going to have the audience enter the space.  do i want to create a hallway?  how do i strategically place that hallway so i can lead the viewer through the entire work?  and how do i do that with only 2 remaining walls and not much to work with otherwise?  hmmmmm...we'll see.  progress today though.  can't wait to get back tomorrow to some dry paint and some ready surfaces.

{Food for Thought} B(eat) the Flu

The seasonal flu bug strikes again! And this winter, we are apparently facing the most deadly flu outbreak in years. Are you, readers, staying healthy, keeping warm, and winning the battle against the flu bug?

Zach and I have never had the flu shot. It's our personal decision; we are not discouraging anyone from taking it. Flu shots are for young children, the elderly, people who have certain medical conditions, and pregnant women. None of those categories apply to us. Besides, all flu vaccines do, is sensitize the body against 3 strains of flu virus (the H3N2, influenza B, and H1N1 virus). There are many other strains the vaccine is not effective against. For us, it simply makes more sense to seek out alternative ways of protecting ourselves from all flu viruses.

So in the spirit of the popular saying "prevention is better than cure," here's a list of natural and holistic foods you can easily incorporate into your diet that will help boost your immunity. Chances are, you're already eating a lot of these, so the key is just to amp up your intake!

Garlic and onions. In both cases, raw is best. But I can hardly imagine anyone chowing down on a clove of garlic or slices of onions every couple of hours! If you cook regularly, just plan on adding more garlic and onions to your recipes! In my opinion, they make almost everything taste better.

Tea. There is so much to love about tea. And you will be pleased to know that every kind you choose to consume (green, black, red, herbal) helps boost your immunity. My favorite decaf concoction is a few chrysanthemum buds, a handful of goji berries, and a small amount of ginseng root. If you like your tea slightly sweet, use honey. Honey has great anti-bacterial properties. Lately we've also been trying out some black goji berry tea (that turns a fascinating shade of purple).

Spices. Yum. Look for recipes that call for tumeric, cinnamon, cayenne peppers, and cloves. These spices are loaded with antioxidants and are so good for your immune system.

Fermented food. I'm talking about kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchee; basically anything that serves up a healthy dose of probiotics.

Fruits and vegetables. Eat these in large amounts and in a large variety of colors. Whatever you pick will be a good source of vitamins A and C, and zinc -- all important in the maintenance of a healthy immunity.

The other easy thing you can do to stave off the flu bug is sleep. Sleep well, sleep deep, and sleep soundly. And when you're awake, stay active and find time to be out in the sun (vitamin D)!

Monday, January 28, 2013

midwest existential: part 2

after a relaxing day marinating in my own yuck on the couch, it's back to studio grind today.  i install my new show 2 weeks from yesterday and currently i have just the film done.  i've still got to build, print, spray, wire, and light the entire rest of the installation.  no need for sleep the next couple of weeks.

i've also completely changed the idea of the installation.  i was planning on tearing down at Bear's Mill and then re-installing at Artists' Own, but i have too many shows coming up in the spring (running at the same time) and not enough work to show in all the locations at once.  so instead of being a mishmash of midwestern landscapes and the film, i'm going to build a movie theater.  this should be more fun for everyone and fit nicely with some of my other nostalgia-inspired installations (like county fair for example).  it's not really a complete re-do, just a re-direction of what i was already basically building.  but this way, i get to include a bunch of other fun elements like movie posters, pictures, food, and whatever else i can think to include.

so i should probably stop stalling in front of my computer screen and get to work building all this shit.  right now, it's just a plan.  but i think this is a fun (and more than appropriate) idea.  i'll keep posting on the process of the installation over the next couple of weeks, and look for another studio interview like the one from 'midwestern landscapes' soon.

Friday, January 25, 2013

midwest existential: part 1

my work at bear's mill comes down next week, and i've spent the last month or so re-imagining its installation for the next show. bear's mill is a cool place. it's an old mill and the inside is very rustic, woody, earthy and warm. very unlike galleries, which tend to be cold and vacant feeling. its next stop will be in a couple of weeks at Artists' Own, my co-op gallery in lafayette, which has a more traditional, rather dim, pretty cold feeling space. my work is almost always a work-in-progress. rarely do i not re-approach something that i've already shown and alter it before i show it again. so i'll be recombining all of the elements from midwestern landscapes into something new. and i'll be including a new element as well. for the past 6 weeks or so i've been creating a short film to go along with the installation, and i think i've finally come to a stopping point with it. the film is an animation using a collection of photographs, live action, stop-action and cartoons to depict the atmosphere of the midwest in the cycle of a day through the cycle of the seasons.

screen shot of the bee cartoon drawn on top of the flower photo
screen shot of the cartoon of a girl skating on the flooded river at sunset
screen shot of cartoon of l-train in chicago
it is called midwest existential and it runs about 19 minutes. i use the term "existential" in the sense of beckett's play waiting for godot, in that hopefully-hopeless-everydayness that is the midwest. this is not the first time i've included a film element in an installation. county fair and post-industrial also include film elements. but this time, instead of the installation containing small video screens, i'll be projecting this film onto an assemblage surface to alter the depth and surface of the imagery. this film is also more of a feature part of the piece. i worked very hard to record and piece together an eclectic soundtrack of music and sounds that give the film a good portion of its life. and i want that element to be effective. so the film will be more like a chapter in the book as opposed to a page in the chapter. the next two weeks will be spent re-constructing everything before installation.

check out this short cafe clip:

sunny blankets

I made a sunny and cheery Etsy treasury featuring some happy looking blankets/ throws/ afghans/ quilts. Imagine snuggling with one of these and sipping on a piping hot cup of tea ... so perfect for a cold and snowy winter day!

Hand Knit Blanket in 25...

Vintage Bedspread or Ta...

Beautiful Antique Quilt...

Earthy Geometric Indian...

Crochet blanket ,Mini B...

Baby Cuddle Blanket in ...

Quilt - Lap Throw Quilt...

Pink and orange tie dye...

Baby Blanket Fleece Sca...

Vintage Crochet afghan ...

Knitted merino wool bla...

vintage indian kantha q...

Orange Modern Abstract ...

Organic Baby Blanket an...

Super warm and cozy hea...

Organic Baby Blanket Fo...

p.s. you can click on each individual item to view it directly on Etsy!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cat & Bird

In this installation of cat & bird, our cat spots a robin on the pear tree right outside our house. 
Zach told me robins used to be a sign that spring was close. But it's a freezing 21°F (-6°C) late January day in Indiana; 54 more days to spring. This tubby robin must be confused.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Avocado Egg Salad

There are so many recipes online for an avocado egg salad. Everyone loves them for the creamy texture and the good nutrient-dense, healthy and fatty avocado. So what's special about the one I'm sharing? Actually, nothing. I just happen to know a few people (who read our blog) who love egg salad and thought this might be a fun recipe to share with them.

All recipes have in common the four eggs: one medium avocado ratio. Stick to this, and whatever else you choose to add is up to you. Some recipes call for mayonnaise and red wine vinegar, others add curry and chives, or sour cream. I personally like mine dressed up with plain Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and a hint of dijon mustard. And instead of chives, I use either dill or tarragon.

Here's the thing about preparing the eggs ... there are a lot of people who claim to know the perfect way cook a hard boiled egg. I personally don't give two hoots about the awful sulphuric smell or the green-grey ring around my yolks. I only care that they are easy to peel, so I add about a teaspoon of baking soda to the pot when I'm cooking my eggs. If you want to learn the secrets to boiling the perfect egg, follow the instructions herehere, or here!

One other alteration I did was to toss out one egg yolk. It's my personal preference. So really my avocado egg salad has the 4 egg whites: 3 egg yolks: 1 avocado ratio. Otherwise, here's the way I made my version of the healthy and deliciously simple avocado egg salad:

4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 medium Haas avocado
2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
a pinch of tarragon (dill, or chives will work too)

In a large bowl, mash together avocado, yogurt, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard.
Add eggs, salt and pepper; mix well.
Top with tarragon.
Serve on a bed of salad greens, or in a sandwich or wrap.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

tuesday night music

I like my fair share of 80s goth rock and I like this song, but watching this video totally cracked me up! It brought my enjoyment and experience of the song to a whole different level (that I don't yet know is good or bad!) ... :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Artists' Own High School Art Show

Zach was working at Artists' Own on Saturday so I thought I'd stop in to bring him lunch and take the opportunity to look at the current exhibit. Every year, the high school students in the area submit their best pieces to be in the show. In my opinion, this year's participants are the strongest ever. Here are a few of my favorites:

Best of Show Award. Alleyway to Rawalpindi by Mahnoor Ayesha
Painting Award Recipient. South Africa by Mackenzie Stahl-Border

two pieces by Baron Mattern
Sage by Kayla Stoyke

Go see the show if you can! It comes down on February 9th, and then Zach, Pete Brown, and Craig Martin's show will go up from February 11th through March 23rd.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Pablo Picasso once said that painting is just another way of keeping a diary.

Inquiring minds want to know -- is making art a lifestyle, a journey (of self-discovery), an escape, a job, an impulse, a distraction, for leisure, for catharsis, for entertainment, for recreation, an obsession, a profession, an adventure, or a hobby for you?
What are your thoughts on making art?
What compels you to make art?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

saturday afternoon snack

A not too fancy, nondescript-looking box was left on our doorstep this morning ...

But I recognized it right away -- it's the penultimate box of heavenly delights from our 6-month chocolate subscription! I know it's crazily indulgent to have a chocolate subscription, and this has definitely been a splurge. But I also can't deny how sweet it's been to receive these little morsels of deliciousness ...

If you haven't heard me rave about French Broad Chocolates (in Asheville, NC) before, you're hearing it now: this place makes the most delicious treats ever!

And this was their Buddha collection. All dairy-free and vegan. BIG yums.

Friday, January 18, 2013



Not working in clay for a year means our inventory of ceramic works is quickly dwindling in numbers. We are down to our last pitcher on Etsy! I know it's silly, but I do get attached to every piece we put in the shop. In fact, every listing you see is my favorite piece out of the kiln. So it's always a little bittersweet each time we send a piece to a new home. Please allow me to reminisce for just a bit by sharing some of the beautiful pitchers we've listed in the past ...


And here's the New York city-themed one that Zach made for me after our trip in 2011. It was our first time renting an apartment in the West Village, and everywhere we went, we saw beautiful brownstones framed by tall skyscrapers and the occasional gothic church in the distance.


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