Frida Kahlo...a quote.

I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it's true I'm here, and I'm just as strange as you.

pull tabs...yes, pull tabs

Cat food...Don'tcha wonder what they really put in that stuff? I do. and I don't even bother to repress a shudder when I try to imagine what part of the CowChickenPigTurkeyFish actually looks like that. So today when I opened that super yummy can of "whitefish" i perused the label a little, not imagining that my best LOL of the day might come from the side of a cat food can.

Yes, for those isolated souls, who've been raised in self-sustained oceanic ecodomes, or for those terran pioneers who set up the first martian colony 45 years ago, purina has taken it upon itself to assist us in the comprehension of the ever-enigmatic pull top:

Yes, indeed - that's right up there with the "do not eat" label printed onto pillows of desiccant. ARE WE REALLY SO STUPID??? Hm...judging from the last election, perhaps yes.

And while on the topic of pull-tabs, today my sister sent me a forwarded-forwarded-forwarded-forward of images with accompanying comical commentary, that had been cut from a 1977 jc penney catalog.

the person's commentary on the image to the left: What. The. Hell. I'm guessing the snap front gives you quick access to the chest hair. The little tie must be the pull tab.

see?? pull tabs are good for more than opening cat food cans. and yes, there was commentary on the second image as well, but who needs it? it's no challenge to notice the visual confusion of arm/hand/pocket, and of course the matching coffee cup

And now this: 

Yes, it's a peanut...I bet you thought it was going to be a pull tab.

Good night world.
 

I am getting a chance to finish and exhibit my "Ghost Ships" project at Wolff Gallery!  I am so delighted!   It's not for another year, as my dates are for February and March of 2018, but I am already beginning to weave ideas around the possibilities.  

Hill House

Hill House

I have so many images.  During the studio visit Shannon said, "Wow, that's beautiful!  (indicating a framed photo) I didn't see it on your website."  Well, it's not on my website, and I got to wondering:  What percentage of my photos is not on display on my main page?  The number is big...maybe 75% of my work is not posted here.  And I do keep meaning to add more images, but then I don't really love crafting web pages.  and i DO really love crafting items in my home!  and so it goes...

The image above won't be one of the Ghost Ships simply because the format won't fit into my antique frames.  I'm using oval and "octagon" style convex glass frames.  And will also be crafting sculptural items for a shelf.  Feathers falling from hands.  Antique photo albums with ships and passing forms...old pottery shards.  I was thinking it might be fun to recreate a wall out of scavenged house parts, but we will see about that. 

*** *** ***

On another note, the universe is putting interesting people in my life right now.  I really like my penpal.  He's older than me -in his 70's and I believe has a different kind of background.  When was the last time somebody wanted to chat with me about Henry Miller and Rainer Rilke?  It's been a long time.  Anyhow, I find him interesting and sensitive and human.  I hope he likes my letter enough to write back.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I have met a really wonderful person in his 30's who, among other things, teaches the flying trapese!! I mean really?  yep.  I've seen photos. 

Date tonight with Amanda.  We got some srs bzns to talk about!

 

difficult...

I'm trying to deal with the fact that one of my pieces was broken during a recent show in Boston.  Here is what my box actually looks like....

From the inside, one of the scrolls has been knocked loose and some of the little bee-bodies are coming out.  The inside is easy...I can just glue the scroll back in.  The bee-bodies?  I'm the only one who will know that they're missing...still, it does matter to me that they're gone. 

All told, my box is not in a million tiny splinters...I mean, there it is -it still exists.  But it is DEFINITELY, and without a doubt, broken.  When I sent it, it was perfect.  I don't send them out unless they are perfect.  You can clearly see in the first picture where my box hit the floor.  The paint is broken, some of it is missing, and the pigment in the acrylic skin is also broken off.  I haven't peeled anything off yet to see how the joint is.  I don't really wanna know.  The other corner is rounded (so it must also have taken some impact) and a small scuff took the pigment off the photo.  In the third photo --it was hard to get a picture of, but the surface/varnish scratched and pocked.  And the hinges are looser than they formerly were, and the box is dented. 

If you look at any of my boxes it looks like the paint on the edges is separate from the photo-skin, but in fact everything on either side is all one, smooth thing.  So in order to make this as it originally was, I would have to sand off the entire back side of the box and re-do it.  and I won't do that.  Because the integrity of the box isn't there...it's looser, and not being sure of the future of the joint on the bottom left, it just makes more sense for me to try to recreate a new one with a new box that is solid and un-banged-up.

I'm still upset about it as this is my favorite thing I've ever made.

So I get home from work on Friday night.  and find an email in my box from the gallery owner saying that her insurance company wants to talk to me on the PHONE.  Because it's "oddly quicker" (gallery person's words) than via email.

here is my reply:

Hi ________,
It doesn't make sense that they want to speak with me over the phone when 
all of my information would be electronically generated. Additionally, email 
leaves a communication trail that phone calls don't. And insurance companies 
are well-oiled machines...skilled at managing the lowest possible payouts to 
people who file claims, whereas I have filed precisely one claim in my entire
life, 36 years ago when I was 24 years old. So, no. This needs to happen via
email, where I can see what is happening and give thoughtful replies that are
not steered by an insurance company.

Another thing is this...I don't actually think I should have to go through 
this. I applied for the show and listed the price of the box on my 
application. You accepted it, and other galleries and museum curators have 
juried that particular box into shows at the same price. I have also shown 
other boxes and for all of them, I have set my prices carefully, after doing 
research, AND with the assistance of an experienced gallery owner. Here are
a couple that are up on PhotoEye.

http://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?Catalog=zg429
http://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=ZG474&i=&i2=

If you would like, I will ask the gallerist who helped me set the prices if 
she will vouch for me/my work/our pricing decisions. But...I think this isn't
right. I sent the box in good faith, and it was broken while on display there.

I believe the person whose child broke the box should have paid for it.
So that is where I am at right now.
Thanks for understanding.
smith

Why do I have to justify my prices to the insurance people AT ALL?  I have this idea that what they want to do is get me on the phone and ask me questions such as this:

How much does the paint that is actually on there cost?  $5.00?  oh, ok...so + $5 now how much did you spend on that bee hive?  nothing?  ok, so that is + $0.  And they will somehow wind up justifying sending me a check for $100 because that is the "value" of the individual materials that went into crafting the thing.

But what about all the other stuff that goes into all artists' creations?  What about the LIFETIME I've spent becoming the best at what I do?  What about the $ I've spent over the years just to get here?  on schooling, on supplies, on experimenting so that I could actually get something that looks like this?  What about just the time it took to make this?  How do I quantify that?  What about the value that exists because the sum of the parts is greater than the individual bits that went into making it?  What about the artistry?  What about the fact that this box, and all my boxes are containers of meaning.  That they are important things, that I cannot just let this roll off like so much water off a duck's back?

I'm tired.  Like sick and tired of taking all the financial hits.  WE ARTISTS pay for EVERYTHING.  We pay and pay and pay.  I've accepted that, to a certain extent.  That the power is lop-sided for most of us...that's just how it is.  But the very least galleries can do is not damage the work.  They charge us for applying, they have us pay for shipping to AND FROM the gallery and we provide them with free cool-as-shit inventory for a month.  But I am NOT paying for it when they break my things.  Nope.  Not.  Happening.

If this isn't resolved in a fair way I am taking it public, will post it on Facebook, will say who the gallery is, everything.  Because no.  I can't take it anymore. 

Learning new things

I think I wrote awhile ago that I wanted to learn how to sew.  The first thing I wanted to do was to make awesome clothing for myself.  Then, maybe if I get good enough and actually enjoy it, I'll make a few things for others...set up an Etsy store and peddle my dresses there.

One thing I've learned is this:  sewing is something I can do while I'm working during the school year, whereas creating my boxes is too intensive to do when I'm teaching full time.  Partly it's a time thing, but it's also a brain-thing.  Not sure how to explain it, but it's hard to shift mental gears when I'm in the middle of a box, and then go in and explain how cameras work.  Those mental processes are incompatible somehow. 

Not true with sewing.  I can do "this little thing" or "that little thing" in small time chunks and never feel like I'm losing track or like I can't remember where I am in my class schedule.

Anyhow, here is my latest dress.  I really like it.  I always like the thing I did last the best. 

morning, noon and night all rolled up into one thing.
and my heart is free!
someone told me I could skate, and it was true. i didn't even need wheels on my feet; i could skate in my shoes.

and me, now skating on leather soles down the middle of grand avenue, with a bunch of others also skating wheel-free. how beautiful they are!! so many colors! hair flying, all interwoven. i watch them, i can see they also watch me. i wonder why it took me so long to figure this out.

and suddenly it's night time and i have to go.
i don't know where i'm going, but it was never far away. i'm driving. and making a left hand turn onto a ramp.

and there, as i'm making that turn, i see another car coming towards me in the dark -its headlights off. it's impervious, moving mindlessly through the night...like on autopilot. i mean, i see no driver. i am already moving through the turn; it's too late to make a different choice, so i mash down hard on the gas, but it doesn't work.

now i see my driver's wheel is somehow on the right hand side of the car, like i'm sitting in the passenger seat. and the oncoming, unlit sedan crashes into me...into ME. not into the metal of my car, but into my own body.

there is no pain, only confusion. everything is gray, and i don't know where i am. i don't know if i'm dead but then decide that if i were, i would be able to see myself lying there. i know i'm injured, but i don't know how much or if there is a place to draw a line, put a boundary, a period. to know anything.

and i think about skating on my shoes, and wonder if i will ever skate again or be with the others. or if i am stuck, blind, in the gray Nothingness forever.

doing something different.

So a couple of weeks ago I wrote an entry here on my weblog.  It was a bit of a kvetch about juried competitions, and high-priced entry fees to places like Photolucida and (to a lesser extent) LensCulture. 

The entry was prompted by an email I got from LensCulture, telling me that one of my images scored in the top 10% of all images submitted to LensCulture last year.  The point of telling me this was to also inform me that artists with images in the top 10% generally did very well in LensCulture's Exposure Awards.  Well, every application costs $50...so yeah, thanks a bunch, but NO THANKS.

I don't want to lay out details, because I get all riled up, but the point I was making is that I want to spend my money on supplies and my time on creating.  Instead of spending my money on entry fees and shipping and my time seeking, seeking, then framing and packing and running out to the post office, etc...  One challenge is that I have thought of my work in terms of showing for so long that showing is sometimes the motivation to create.  and I don't like it.  I want to go back to creating for the sake of it. 

Here are some ideas for reverting back to creation for the simple joy of it:

  • I am not applying to any more juried exhibitions.  Not for at least a year, maybe longer (we'll see how it feels after a year) 
  • I am never (never for the rest of my fucking life) making work for a gallery again.  They either like what I have, or they don't. 
  • I am letting go of every single practice that I do for the purpose of "building a body of work."  that is a market-driven practice and it needs to go.
  • The normal "artist's statement" can kiss my sweet ass goodbye.  (really, like I don't write enough?  LOL)

Anyhow, the next day I was checking my FB account and found an entry by another photographer.  Here is his entry (highlights are things I've said here on my own weblog):

He's kinder about the FB process of "mutual shoulder patting."   and maybe you noticed that at the end of his entry he mentions pen pals.  So I decided "why not?"  I don't know that it will ultimately work for me, or that he will find my mail very interesting...Here is my first penpal note to him:

Here's what it says:  So when I was a little girl (7 years old) my family moved to München.  And for one excruciating year, my sister and I suffered the indignity of attending school on an army base.  One of my teachers there had connected with a school in the states and we were to form pen pal relationships with kids across the pond.  I tried this.  I mean, I gave it a valiant shot.  We'd been instructed to tell our stories.  But at 7 there weren't a whole bunch of stories to tell, and snap-shots of houses and parents and pets...I just didn't care.  Many years later I met Eliot who became my AA sponsor.  We met every Monday for 4 years at the Village Inn in Buffalo, NY, and I'm trying to remember when we started telling stories.  (i.e., back-stories - our herstories)  We sorta didn't.  We focused on shared observations and we talked about the Now and about what we believed in, and about being sober drunks.  And I got to know who she was by how she was.  Eventually, stories about her unfolded.  It was natural. I flew from Portland to Buffalo when Eliot was in hospice, and I stayed in her apartment, surrounded by all her things.  And I decided to take some.  Not to take anything of financial value, but items that would keep her close to me.  I took photos, I took a well-worn leather coin purse full of pennies, I took a couple of her AA books - ones she'd scribbled all over.  There were stories connected to each thing I took, and how much I cared about her stories. Everybody is "other" until they're not.  I don't know where that point is, where a person goes from something alien to being a part of me...maybe it's a slow thing. I wonder about this pen pal thing.  I'm 60.  I wonder if you will reply.  I wonder if I will care or if it'll be kinda like when I was 7.  I dunno.  But I'm game to find out.  K, that's it. Bye.

Here's what it says:  So when I was a little girl (7 years old) my family moved to München.  And for one excruciating year, my sister and I suffered the indignity of attending school on an army base.  One of my teachers there had connected with a school in the states and we were to form pen pal relationships with kids across the pond.  I tried this.  I mean, I gave it a valiant shot.  We'd been instructed to tell our stories.  But at 7 there weren't a whole bunch of stories to tell, and snap-shots of houses and parents and pets...I just didn't care. 

Many years later I met Eliot who became my AA sponsor.  We met every Monday for 4 years at the Village Inn in Buffalo, NY, and I'm trying to remember when we started telling stories.  (i.e., back-stories - our herstories)  We sorta didn't.  We focused on shared observations and we talked about the Now and about what we believed in, and about being sober drunks.  And I got to know who she was by how she was.  Eventually, stories about her unfolded.  It was natural.

I flew from Portland to Buffalo when Eliot was in hospice, and I stayed in her apartment, surrounded by all her things.  And I decided to take some.  Not to take anything of financial value, but items that would keep her close to me.  I took photos, I took a well-worn leather coin purse full of pennies, I took a couple of her AA books - ones she'd scribbled all over.  There were stories connected to each thing I took, and how much I cared about her stories.

Everybody is "other" until they're not.  I don't know where that point is, where a person goes from something alien to being a part of me...maybe it's a slow thing.

I wonder about this pen pal thing.  I'm 60.  I wonder if you will reply.  I wonder if I will care or if it'll be kinda like when I was 7.  I dunno.  But I'm game to find out.  K, that's it.

Bye.

Not sure this will be up his alley if he wants to talk about travel...only place I travel to are places in my mind, after all.  Maybe I should have started with a conversation about art, but this is what was on my mind.  So I wrote it.  and just look at the sassy stationery. 

Here's the envelope:

B*A*N*K

new orleans long before katrina.

and me and my parents hangin' out in a less well established corner of the city; it's like a mismatched quilt--elegant restaurants and people in evening gowns and tuxes here. . .kidz in ripped up clothes slammin this-n-that across the street.

and we seem to be in both places at once.

maybe we're nowhere...fuck knows.

but we're movin'...meandering...gliding from joint to joint. or perhaps i should say, from joint to establishment, yeah. that's more like it.

"what a GREAT day!!" my mom says, "shall we visit our good friends at the bank?"

she's, like, airy or something. airy and light and full of fresh-cut flowers and little white bunny rabbits. and my dad says, "why sure, dear...let's do that." and even tho i am an adult, he takes my hand like i can't figure out where to go or how to properly tag along like a good kid, and we're off, gliding on our invisible monorails towards a brick building on the opposite side of the street. there's a big sign nailed to the front of the structure. it says,

B*A*N*K

and my mother -always the one for appearances says, "we need to don our sunday best. i want a bonnet. i want ribbons. i want some pretty patent leather shoes."

and my father says, "don't be silly dear...you know the bank is closed on sunday."

and

thru a big wooden door that had been propped open -like it was expecting us, waiting for us to get there, we glide.

the bank is a huge, stadium-sized deal and it is full of furniture. chairs are sitting on chairs are sitting on chairs.  they are piled so high that they are un-sit-able (except by other chairs, apparently)

and the velvet rope around the edge, propped up by chrome supports leads us along the outer rim of the room.  We pass by tellers and wandering customers who seem oblivious to the impractical excess surrounding them...

and all i can think of is...

where's the bathroom?

i gotta pee.

we get to the counter. it's free junior mints for kids. i open the box and all the little erythrocite-dealies in there are normal...except for one.

it's...blonde.

i fish it out. where's the chocolatey-brownness of the chocolate?

it was eeeewwwwwwww. like, who would eat that?  its presence contaminated the pristine yumminess of entire box - and suddenly i see all the normal brown guys as suspect -as blonde guys in hiding...and after 40 years of wondering what that closure tab on the junior mints box is actually FOR (because who eats half a box and then saves the rest for later? LOL) i realize it is for THIS eventuality -for that moment when you discover a mutated candy in the box.

i pick up another box and peer inside. there are more blonde ones in this new box; i close it and give up.

 we are standing at the window in the bank.

i still have to pee.

suddenly i realize that i am peeing on the floor of the bank. only it is dark and no one can see me or the puddle forming between my feet.  as we walk off i shuffle through the pee, thinking that if i spread it out some it will dry faster and no one will notice what i did.

and now we are walking along the exterior of the other side of the room, guided still by velvet ropes...heading for the door, i hope.

night time,

bank is closed

parents are gone

and i'm alone in the

drip

drip

drippy wetness of the basement

and there's ductwork and the rice-crispy goodness of crackling electrical boxes, and weird shit all around me.

twisted wire.

and the scuttling of shadowy forms.

and now the darkness of a man approaching.

and

i got nowhere to go...am my mother's white bunny.

i am not me, and there is no DOWN to my safe place (breathing underwaterland)

only cinderblocks and concrete

and me in an unlocked closet, with my foot wedged between floor and door.

and footsteps approaching, i reach to turn off the light. if he cannot see me in here...if there is nothing but blackness he will just leave. i flip the switch and it doesn't work. the light is blasting onto my face and i see him looking through the crack between the door and the frame. he is not just perusing my features, there is eye-contact.

oh god.

it is time for me

to be

shredded.

and left half dead.

and then

he

leaves...

and before i find out if get to live or die, simon starts yowling at the door.

and i wake up.

bleary and weird. and simon leaps onto the bed. he just wants to go out and play, he doesn't realize he just saved my life.

:)

or?

maybe he does.

Wolff Gallery

Today?  Studio visit.  Zemie Barr and Shannon O'Connor braved the ice outside my house to journey here and look at my work to see if it fits into the aesthetic sensibility at Wolff Gallery.   They think "yes."  And since it's the only gallery I wanted to contact in Portland, I am really glad they also think it's a fit. 

Rather interesting, I asked them how they arrived at the name for the gallery.  There were so many reasons!  For one, they mentioned that they are interested in representing traditionally under-represented artists -artists who remain under the wire, anonymous, if you will.  And they told me about a quotation by Virginia Woolf that I'd never heard before, but that really struck me:

I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.

They also mentioned that the double-f on the end of the gallery's name represented them in a way, 2 Females, women. 

I loved watching them look at my boxes.  They made little exclamations.  They un-scrolled the scrolls, touched and noticed everything.  It was good.  We talked about the Ghost Ships project and I think that looks like a "GO!"  Very VERY glad about that since I am sitting here with all these frames, images and trinkets and no home for them.  I also told them about my murmurations idea, and they seemed interested in that, so maybe some time down the line...

They drove off after about an hour and a half, with 4 of my tiny pieces to put in their shop.  I feel really fortunate to have connected with them and am very much looking forward to seeing how things unfold! 

Actual snow in portland...

So today at 4 PM, the school announced while I was in the middle of a lecture that they were closing an hour early because of "impending inclement weather."  and that we should "pack up our belongings" and gtfo.  I as I peered through the window into the flake-free parking lot, I thought,

"OK, so now PCC is closing because it might snow in the future...."

Really, Portland is the laughing stock of the nation when it comes to snow and how we react to it.  Here is an article written in the Oregonian in December about how the entire city closed down for an INCH of snow.  We seriously go nuts here when a single flake drops from the heavens.

But tonight?  Yeah!  we actually got some real snow!  here is a photo taken from my front porch about 15 minutes ago:

January 10, 2017

January 10, 2017