Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Kindergarten Sing Collaborative Sculpture Installation

 With the help of Tony the custodian and Lincoln, we installed the project that the Kindergarteners have been working so hard on.  They each decorated a bottle or cardboard tube transforming it into a lantern.  Then, I strung them onto rope lights which Tony and I swagged above the stage.  Tomorrow they will perform songs representing their year of Kindergarten.  I think it is a cool project to teach about collaboration and representative of the individual and the whole.  It was tricky to photo though.  I don't think my pictures do it justice.

Pop Design Art and Interiors Set-Up Complete!

 Well, I worried and measured and lost sleep and drew plans and pillaged my house for furniture and containers and finally the Pop up studio display is installed!  I owe major thanks to my Mom for supplying a van for transporting awkwardly sized shelves and for having clutch parking abilities.  Thanks to Bryan (cool glass artist and organizer of event) for carrying said awkward shelves into the storefront, and thanks, as always, to Mary and Pete for watching Penelope while this Herculean Endeavor was accomplished.   Yes, I'm not overstating how I can fester small hiccups into large stress belches.(?)  I am really good a fretting even though I know it will work out as it always does.  Somehow logistics, especially regarding making connections, become really overwhelming to me.  It's not flying that bothers me, it's getting luggage checked, passing through security (I always think they'll catch me), finding the gate, avoiding being in the bathroom when they are boarding etc.  So for now, I can buckle my seat belt and browse the Sky Mall catalogue and hope that everything sells.  Now if I can just stop worrying about dismantling the show and claiming my baggage.  What's that about not sweating the small stuff?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rain Boots

Sunday we went to the seasonal garden center to purchase plants for our garden.  In the parking lot I spotted an older woman.  She was loading the trunk of her car although I didn’t notice with what, and she kept looking in our direction. 

I hoisted Penelope into a large shopping cart.  She dangled on her sockless feet rain boots, which were a couple sizes too big.  They were a recent birthday present and decorated with pink and red strawberries.  It was almost ninety degrees and I thought her feet must have been dripping with sweat inside the thick rubber.

So the woman approached us commenting on how darling Penelope was, and “Where did we get those boots?” she inquired.  I told her that I had ordered them on-line and spelled out the brand for her.  I was thinking of my slight splurge and guessing that a pair would likely be out of this woman’s budget in case she had interest in buying rain boots for a little granddaughter. 

She smiled vaguely with big, wide eyes and curly dyed hair most likely recently set at the beauty shop.  I could see she wasn’t really interested in any details or the possibility of buying rain boots.  She moved on.  “I found a raincoat at Wal-Mart, but the zipper didn’t work well.  It only zipped halfway!  I took it back.  Why would you keep something faulty after all?”

I smiled and nodded in complete agreement trying to find an exit in order to rejoin with Pat and Abe already ahead browsing the herbs. 

She changed the subject asking how old Penelope was.  I restated the question asking Penelope how old she was in an absurd, sticky sweet voice that suited an episode of Barney but certainly must not belong to me.  She dutifully displayed her fingers configured in an Okee Dokee formation as she had done many times the past week of her birthday.  “Oh, three!  You’ve made it through the terrible two’s, didn’t you?”  Yes, I confirmed, nodding some more and made some regrettable comment regarding her difficult behavior in front of my three-year-old daughter that somehow felt like I had branded her as a naughty girl.  I immediately felt ashamed.

“When I was little and misbehaved, my Dad gave me the belt!” she announced and thereby violently interrupted my internal self-criticism.  Her eyes were wider now and I suspect mine were too.  Unsure of how I should react and wanting more than ever to be mulling over which shade of pink impatiens I should plant, I simply stared back.  She choked out a laugh which I couldn’t determine whether it was a reaction to my visible discomfort or some nostalgic feelings. 

“I did something really stupid one time.  I hid under my bed thinking he wouldn’t be able to get me there.  Well, he got me, for sure, and he beat me much worse for it!  I sure learned my lesson!”  She laughed loudly this time.  “Well, I’ll let you go.” she said abruptly perhaps realizing I wasn’t eager to discuss corporal punishment or perhaps because I was backing away in desperation at not knowing how to respond or even wanting to.  How do you reconcile the happy grin and jovial interest in rain gear with memories of such physical and emotional pain?  This question mixed uneasily with the residual frustration caused by Penelope’s daily resistance to shoes on her feet resulting in compromises such as rain boots without socks on a sunny, ninety-degree day.

“I hope you find what you’re looking for” she wished our way as we rolled ahead in pursuit of new thoughts and plants to nurture in our garden. 

Dumpster Diving

This is in honor of the ten years since graduating with that ever useful self-designed major:  Anthropology of Women plus minor in Studio Art and dedicated to my sister, of course.

Walking across the smooth carpet covering the expansive second floor annex of Le Mans Hall, I carefully stepped over the wide burgundy borders. The boarders divided the length into stately geometric segments attempting to invoke the grandiosity of a palatial hall.  Playing my invented game of hopping over the burgundy I simultaneously prevented an imagined atrocity and listened to my sister.  She detailed to our parents with exuberance her latest class projects, her job cleaning the ceramic studio, and her off campus adventures. All of her talking halted at the presence of a dumpster which was planted at the end of the hall.  It was a grateful receptacle into which the students tossed unwanted items after emerging from their large flesh toned dorm rooms passing through tall thresholds, pushing open their heaving dark doors clad with a white board scribbled with the names of the room’s occupants and crowned with a tipsy transom. 

Into the dumpster bin, they’d toss crumpled papers, knotted condoms wrapped in tissues, soggy ramen noodles scraped from moldy bowls, and tags yanked from department store clothes.  On top of this garbage mountain resting like the foam of fat that hovers on the top of a brothy soup lay a large Papa John’s pizza box.  Inside a cheesy Pac-man missing only two triangles opened its mouth as if ready to gobble its cherries: a whole container of dripping, garlic butter sauce which seeped into the cardboard wetting it.  In the corner a discarded crust cradled a hot pepper like a sickle to its hammer.  The remainder of this pie was intact after some roommates undoubtedly regretted their midnight indulgence and declared it garbage in order to prevent another act of beer slicked weakness. 

Into this room temperature box of morning after, my sister who will one day fearlessly sleep on a bench overnight in Rome, spend a summer dusting ancient artifacts while baby-sitting a professor’s pad, and meet her future husband while skiing the Alps, lifted the cover, selected a slice, and ate it.  At once I was both horrified and completely impressed.  This, more than anything, demonstrated the possibilities college had to offer.  My Mom who fed us institutional, leftover tater tots rescued from the nursing home kitchen that my Grandma worked at, gave me underwear and bras resurrected from the garbage pails of her cleaning client, and also had us elbow deep in black trash bags full of deceased people’s clothes trying to find funky jeans  and sweaters or anything that would freshen our wardrobes, taught us well that nothing should be wasted. 

Looking back I realize my sister invented dumpster diving well before hipsters launched the trend, and for this she will be eternally cool.  

*Disclaimer:  This story is true-ish--meaning based on memory and some real events, but mixed with some fiction too.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Bits and Pieces

 I'm working on some tag designs in preparation for the Popup Studio which opens next weekend!
I like the dark houses above.  Then the first "beads" strung onto rope lights (the collaborative project for the kindergarten sing.)  I can't wait to see them all.  And finally, the three most recent rugs.  More to come . . .

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Push and Pull or ( The Warp and Weft of the Creative Process)

fresh rug ends to tie
 So, I've been missing blogging.  I think my posts seem fewer and farther apart yet I'm feeling busier than ever.  I'm finding myself going in lots of directions but not making much head way in any one of those.  In attempt to save you from enduring a laundry list of projects and a much longer one of worries, concerns, and anxieties surrounding those projects, I'll cut to the chase.  Above is a stack of rugs that I finally finished weaving today and are waiting their ends tied up.  They'll be a colorful addition to the Pop-Up Studio happening at the end of the month.

I received rejection earlier this month to a show at South Bend Museum of Art.  Again there were about 8 artists out of 200 something that were accepted.  Still, it doesn't feel so great.  I want to keep working at my craft and continue to look for more projects and exhibition opportunities particularly those that are free and close to home. 

I have been accepted to paint a mini mural on the wall that supports the train tracks that bisect Oak Park.  I submitted my painting "The Red Chair with Cushion"!  It will be fun to paint a really big chair.  I'll be taking lots of pictures to document the process, and it looks like I'll be getting started soon (this weekend hopefully) because they would like it completed by June 1st.  Also coming up: completion of the Kindergarten Sing Collaborative Art Project and Pop-up Studio set-up and opening reception.

I've been devouring lots of radio discourse surrounding the creative process.  One of the questions asked is whether creating art is a selfish act.  I know that I constantly struggle to balance my work and everything else.  Sometimes I am very good at focusing on creating and very good at shutting the world out of my studio.  Other times, I'm feeling pulled out of my tunnel and into the wide open.  This is one of those times.  I don't know if it is the beautiful weather or the business of ending a school year or Pen's insatiable desire to be pushed in a swing higher and higher, but at a time when I should be finding my nose very close to the grindstone, I am catching myself smelling the lilacs instead.  In addition I have a mile long list of movies to see, books to read, and museums to peruse.  There is so much to digest, mull over, to question, and a garden to plant!

And now a complete non-sequitur:  You know that those mysterious cicadas who emerge only every 17 years with fluttering wings to sing and mate only to go subterranean again?  Some of them fail to count the years correctly and emerge too soon or too late and sing their lonely songs absent of their roaring friends.  I may need medication to recover from this utter sadness. 
Oak Park Arts Commission Mini Mural Project (I stole this photo from the web and am ignorant of artist)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Art in the Classroom: Caterpillars and Butteflies

I spent the morning in Mrs. Carrera's second grade class making caterpillars and butterflies. This was another project conceived and executed by the dynamic Art in the Classroom duo (Faith and myself).  We had help from a student's mom, too.  The project was designed to explore the idea of symmetry and pattern in butterflies/caterpillars and quilts.  It was a mash-up of sorts.  The kids really enjoyed it.  Most of the caterpillars had to be finished at home, though as we ran out of  time!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Block Printed House Pillows

This could have been a quilt.  I will make a quilt from this fabric some day.
I tried a different approach to this batch of  house pillows.  I wanted to use my printed fabric and infuse color with pieced scraps.  I made some sketches and ended up figuring out a design simply by beginning the process.  I often find this is the case.  I can't arrive at a satisfactory solution until I just start.  Then, circumstances will reveal a certain path to take.  Usually this plan will be better than anything I could have thought of through pure meditation.  My sewing projects are often like this and I wish I could incorporate that kind of spontaneity and receptivity in my paintings. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Chicago Homicides Related to Gun Violence in April

Henry Atkins, Tytrell Jackson, Andre Velazquez, Dionta West, Dane Whitfield, Cornelius German, Ricardo Carlin, Lucas Zimmerman, Donald Holman, Larry Ranole, Miguel Cance, Jonathan Santiago, Kevin Sanders, Cortney Young, Robert Gholson, Michael Orozco, D'Angelo Simmons, Dantario White, Charles Bush, Johnathan Hoskins,