June 28, 2008

OMG I’m Back.

That’s the last time I rely on coffee houses for Internet access while traveling, though I did drink some good coffee while I was away.

I kept an old-fashioned journal via Word while away. I will not bore you with the details. I will post a smattering of pictures on my Flickr site that somewhat accurately account for my whereabouts since June 12. Obviously I forgot some stuff. I say obviously because, for instance, I forgot to shoot pictures of the show in Nashville. I took the camera to the gallery but got caught off guard by a professional photographer who was snapping away. You’ll have to believe me when I say the show looked good.

I wish I could group hug the people, places and things who and that made me feel really great while I was in Nashville. My friend, Martha is one of them. Babs, and Susan, and without a doubt, the beautiful, nutty, talented, and lovely girls- of my friend, Rhea, who's amazingly gifted as an artist.

Aside from riding my faux chopper,and doing a watercolor or two along the Natchez Trace, and cleaning out the garage, I spent quite a bit of time dealing with an aging parent. That’s a euphemism. I’m not in denial. It’s just hard to say it or write it aloud. I grew up thinking my family was slightly eccentric. That’s also a euphemism. Nonetheless I am from the South and this is a fact. In grad school I spent a year working on a video dealing with some version of identity politics. I followed my mom around the house and yard for two weeks documenting her activities and asking questions. Mindy Faber, Ilene Segalove, Vanalyn Green, were some of my influences. But I digress. Currently my identity as an artist is that of an abstract painter dealing with narrative and transformation. But again, I digress. I’m boycotting words for a moment. I'm spent.

June 14, 2008

Greetings from Nashville: a report thus far.

Plane landed. Always a good thing.
I was flanked by some CAA folk (Creative Artists Agency, not the College Art Association.) The only reason I know this is because the guy next to me was making obsessive notes on CAA notepaper, and then tearing the old notes up. The woman in front of me was reading some dreadful script or book synopsis. I only know this because the font was about 22 pica, so I could see it between the seats. The reason I know it was dreadful was because the narrator of the story had some obsession with Dolly Parton which somehow was a diversion from his tormented childhood. I'm alway curious what people do for a living, especially when they toggle around in first class. I'm in first class because I misread the fine print and thought I had to use up all my American miles by December 15.

Walked my mom's dog last night. Otto. He's about the size of a small pony. Fortunately he's a good walker. He ambles. No hurries.
Picked up motorcycle.
It started raining about 10 minutes later. Not a downpour, but still rain. Went to Pancake Pantry for breakfast with mom. Nashville still pretty and very green. Riding in light rain wasn't a problem. Not that I would choose to wake up and go for a ride in the rain, but being caught in the rain seemed okay. I like the weather. For me, the temperature's perfect right now.
More rain. Did yoga with a friend at my old high school. The modern dance instructor from when I was in HS is also a yoga instructor and is temporarily teaching out of the dance room at Harpeth Hall. That was a nice way to start the morning. Afterwards we went to visit another friend who has a lovely collection of plein air paintings from several artists, local and otherwise.

I'm still hoping to meet a couple of more people for lunch and stuff, but right now I'm having coffee and cursing myself for not being on my motorbike because it's now sunny.

My goal for this weekend:
Take the bike out and do some plein air watercolors.
Clean garage.
Pretend to clean garage.
Clear enough space for motorcycle to fit.

June 11, 2008


Leaving the day after tomorrow for a spell. Ugh. It's hard to stop working, but I've been rather lackadaisical lately knowing I would have to stop for a couple of weeks. I think it will be good to take an official break from my slow death putzing around in the studio. My palette as of late is garish, but in an elementary, I-just-learned-to-paint kind of way. I know I tend to be slightly self-effacing here and I'm trying to catch myself, because honestly, some people believe everything you say, but sometimes I believe it myself. I looked at the painting I worked on today and was numbed by my choice or lack of choice of colors along with almost everything about it. Maybe not numb, more like speechless, which considering I work in the studio by myself, might not be such a bad thing.

I'll be taking my watercolors on holiday and plan on doing some plein air painting in my sketchbook while gone.

The above picture is of Fang stalking around my studio. He looks so much like a wolf in this photo. I heart my dog.

June 08, 2008

A conclusion.

I have decided NOT to ride my Suzuki across country this summer. Although there should have been the thrill of a cross-country motorcycle trip, there was not. I'm going to be in Nashville for pleasure and business, meaning that I will have my laptop with me. My 6-month old laptop, to be exact. A braver soul might back it up obsessively, pack it in a swarm of Styrofoam peanuts, insure the hell out of it, and then (a) trust it to a carrier service, or (b) call it a two-thousand dollar back-protector, but not I. Perhaps I just made up an excuse, but the reality is I can focus well on just one thing at a time. A leisurely motorcycle trip is one thing. A 2000-mile trip by myself on a motorcycle as a form of transportation is another. I just didn't want to do it this summer.

Plus, I've decided that keeping a bike at my mom's house is a good thing. The scenery is beautiful there, the roads are pleasant and it will help me stay sane.

The show at TAG art gallery opened last night and the show at Kristi Engle came down. I stayed at home and read Esquire. Matt arrives back from NYC tonight. He visited some galleries in Chelsea and asked me if I knew Christopher Wool's work. Of course. And not only that, I'm gaga over just about every painter that shows there. Luhring Augustine. One of my fantasy BFF. Well, actually Albert Oehlen, in particular, but I discovered Josh Smith's work while swooning over Oehlen, so I've added him to my list. Smith received his BFA from University of Tennessee too. For some reason, that makes me happy. He's also in the Saatchi collection, so I'm thinking that trumps the BFA from UTK.

And not to sound like an ingrate, but I've aways felt more vested by my BFA than my MFA, though I'm sure I'm not vested by either. Still, I'm going to call it fond feelings of earnest questioning as opposed to the post-modern, hitting-my-head-against-the-wall ennui of the early 90's.

But honestly, I just like to paint, so I kind of don't care anymore.

June 07, 2008

But meanwhile back in the small world of art...

I am occasionally amazed at how art affects us. I mean, really affects us. While I'm mucking around in my studio, I never think about what someone else might think of my endeavors. After a work is finished the thought might cross my mind, but only after I've questioned my own integrity and the act of making is done. And then it's usually at some base level of aesthetics or "skill" or conceptual prowess, that I try and imagine all the critical voices trying to get a word in edgewise.

So to think about what stirs people, what inspires us, what motivates us to walk in a studio and make something when no one is looking, just never enters my mind. I've always thought I just do it because it's there.

Why I feel that act needs to be justified and why for some reason I can feel selfish and self-indulgent for engaging in this pursuit is a secret struggle of mine. For one, I sabotaged myself at a very early age so I would force myself to have fewer options. My dad actually thought I might grow up and be– I'll never forget this– VICE-President of a bank.

I won't go into details about why banking and why VICE-president rather than president, but suffice to say, the first thing that occurred to me was VICE-president? The second thing that occurred to me was that it felt like wishing your daughter would go to prison. (My dad died shortly after I received my BFA, so just for the record, he appreciated art and encouraged me as a kid, though again for the record, I'm pretty sure he wanted me to paint nature and wildlife scenes because he would summons me into the room whenever Bob Ross was on television.)

So, in an early attempt to remove options, I decided around the age of 13, I would never learn to type. And apparently I decided never to paint wildlife scenes, perhaps because of Bob Ross's hair, but probably because I had been reading Artnews and Art in America since I was 10, thanks to a gift subscription from my aunt and uncle. Voila! It worked. I took a typing test once for a temp job and I typed something like 18 words a minute, using two fingers. They put me on phones. I don't do phone either. Thank God no one called, but I wrote haikus on post-it notes for 8 hours just to keep from going crazy. Me in a center cubicle of a property management company on one of the top floors of the Sears Tower. Nothing else in the room, but me, a phone, a desk, glossy pictures of sexy hi-rises, post-it notes and a pen. Maybe they felt sorry for me and installed a prop phone, because I swear NO ONE called. Oh and I'm pretty sure I wore my "funeral dress" and pantyhose with my Doc Martens.

Anyway, I was recently and pleasantly reminded about the larger dialogue we all engage in when we make and look at art. And how big that world is. And that I'm really not a selfish mofo for stubbornly clinging to my desire to walk in my studio and pick up a paintbrush for no apparent reason other than I can. And that it's okay to be homesick occasionally and that all of that, along with everything else I've written thus far, filters in the making somehow.

Whew. I love being an artist.

Meanwhile in the studio...

I think this is finished, but maybe not. If not, it's close. I also have 2 smaller works on....LINEN, yes, LINEN, that I'm pretty close to not working on anymore.

I go to Nashville next week. I should be really excited, but I'm experiencing a bit of inexplicable trepidation. That's a lie. It's neither inexplicable nor trepidatious. It has to do with the motorcycle trip I've been not planning and a couple of other things that are bumming me out, but I'll lump it all it on the motorcycle trip for the sake of convenience.

June 06, 2008

Just when you think it doesn't get any better, the Los Angeles Times sends me a plush bathrobe because I'm a loyal subscriber.

Honestly, it really is the little things that give me moments of joy. I've haven't had a plush bathrobe since I left Chicago, and I'm pretty sure that one had paint all over it.

June 04, 2008

June Gloom

You can even wiki it.
It started on June 1st. Creepy how accurate it was. Thank heavens we're a few miles off the coast, so it tends to lift around noon over here in scenic Culver City, but that may explain the seasonal malaise I'm experiencing now. Even as I type.

Matt just flew off to New York for his 3rd degree black belt test in Karate. I tried to practice Karate. Twice. I'd be okay if some troglodyte tried to attack me, because I learned enough to get some self-defense moves down, plus I also took a self-defense class after a break-in— but physical bodily grace in the form of sport posturing does not become me. I tried ballet as a kid and thanks to Fort Nightly when I was in 7th grade, I know how to fake a waltz. But I have some slight Left-Right dyslexia and I get dizzy and confused if I try to move too many limbs rapidly all at once. 

It's also the last week for my show at Kristi Engle. It comes down this Saturday. I think it was a good run. People genuinely seemed to enjoy it and I got a review that, as much as I'd like to pretend I've no interest in petty things like reviews, made me feel pretty effing fantastic. It was kind of like getting a promotion for doing my job really well. Though I'm not really sure what I got promoted to. Maybe the corner studio with the keys to the private slop sink. Oh wait, already got that. But windows, maybe a studio with windows one day....

OK. Back to work. June Gloom has almost lifted.

June 03, 2008

Honestly, I have nothing new to report except for the glittery headache.

Describing my headache doesn't seem very interesting, but I will say I sometimes picture my headaches to be small particles of glittering Styrofoam-esque particles stuck together in a really tiny tube at the base of my cranium. I've also convinced myself and Matt that a really firm neck massage releases the glittery headache molecules from their painful gridlock.

Unfortunately, nothing but time and rest make them go away completely.