August 30, 2008

The Banana Guard

Ok, in keeping with still lives (freudian slip, I mean, lifes, still lifes, and such, I'm going to document my
lunch break during my Saturday drawing class this semester.

August 29, 2008

Bear with me while I hijack my art blog into a teaching resource blog.

I've been trolling for images for my drawing class and came across this site, called Tracey:
  • Is the teaching of drawing distinct from the teaching of art and design?
  • How much can a finished drawing tell us about its evolution?
  • Should notions of composition, inter-relatedness and 'pictorial balance' be taught to students?
  • Does the worth of the drawing reside in the viewer? Does it reside in the context of the production or use of the drawing?
  • Do famous artists ever make lousy drawings? Who's going to tell them if they do?
I like questions. They're good.

Oh wait, I just found this one:
  • Does representation have a magical function?
hehehe. That cracked me up.

August 27, 2008

Bear with me while I hi-jack my art blog into a food blog.

Heath-shaped pan from Becker's Bakery, remains of my vegan heart-shaped coffee cake, and M.A.H. melamine test plate

Another secret confession: I almost went to cooking school instead of grad school.

I can't believe I just outed myself like that, but it's true. One of the day jobs I landed after moving to Chicago was working in the kitchen for the catering company that provided the food for the cafe at the Museum of Contemporary Art. I made pastries. I also pulled the tendons out of 60 or so chicken breasts one day, and apparently have not been able to erase that task from my memory, but the pastries were fun. In one of those flash moments of what the hell am I going to do with a BFA, I applied to cooking school and was going to learn to be a pastry chef for my day job. In another one of those flash moments of what the hell am I going to do with a BFA and a degree from cooking school, I applied to grad school and sold all my fancy cookbooks to Powell's Bookstore.

My mom bought me the heart-shaped pan from Becker's Bakery on 12th ave South, Nashville. ALL of my birthday cakes, everyone else's birthday cakes, 2 wedding cakes (bride and groom's cake) came from Becker's. My sole reason for living was to have another birthday cake from that bakery. After like 79 years, Becker's closed its doors at that location and sold all their pots and pans, tables and racks. If I had been living in Nashville, I would have furnished my entire studio complements of Becker's Bakery.

Okay, enough of the butter and white sugar nostalgia. I've been doing my vegan cooking thing this week and am now experimenting with dairy-free baking. I modified the coffeecake recipe above, substituting a banana for eggs, reduced the cooking time by 5 or so minutes and voilá. I suppose next time I should take the picture BEFORE we eat. Obviously, a food photographer, I am not.

August 25, 2008

Just painting and cooking. Not at the same time, though I did accidentally dip my watercolor brush in my coffee cup the other day. Twice.

<..sad violin music > Reporting about painting, i.e, life in the studio, is not really interesting to me right now as I'm in a bit of a slump. I DID work in the studio today and I DID work on a painting even though I didn't FEEL like it. I am emphasising certain words in bold so that you will see that even though I had sour puss feelings, I soldiered on, in spite of myself. whoopdido. < /end sad violin music >

Been vegan now for a solid week. It's like I've just discovered food. I have a tendency to eat and drink the same thing over and over and over again until I burn out, (case in point, chai lattes. I haven't been able to drink a chai latte in like 7 years) so I'm exercising a bit of caution and have experimented with 4 recipes thus far. Four. Not one, not two, but four. Crazy.

Quinoa Patties from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook. These are fantastic. I tried looking for the recipe online and came across a scab version that seriously sucked. And since it's like the ONLY recipe not published on their corporate website, nor do they give out the recipe when asked, I dropped my quest. So when I saw the WFM cookbook in the bookstore, I tried to memorize the recipe, but since I'm just not THAT good, I bought the damn thing simply so I could have this recipe. I'm an extremist sometime.

BBQ Black-Eyed Pea-Collard Green Rolls from Vegonomicon. OMG, yum. I love collard greens. I love black-eyed peas. I love collard greens. I love black-eyed peas. I love collard greens. I love black-eyed peas. The BBQ sauce is pretty fantastic too.

Corn and Edamame Sesame Salad from Vegonomicon. no brainer.

Silken Tofu Chocolate Mousse from TWFMC. Yum. Also, it's so dangerously easy and quick, that I intend on having the ingredients on hand in case of an emergency.

(These recipes have been popular with the meat-eating crowd as well.)

August 22, 2008

My real world report

When I was in grad school, I made a conscious decision NOT to paint. I spent the entire semester documenting my everyday activities of NOT painting. I lived with a camcorder on me for 24/7 back in the day when only true geeks had email addresses and web pages. I documented washing dishes, a struggle to give up caffeine, the clutch on my truck going out, and telephone conversations. Tasks of the banal, constructed, unconstructed and deconstructed. Allan Kaprow's, Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life became kind of a manual for me. After going back to painting, I still view the everyday with potential for being art. It's just a matter of shifting focus, concentration and the willingness to explore that moment for it's full potential that makes it art.

So this week I can report that I have been a vegan for 4 days. I could care less if you're a vegan or a meat-eater, but I'm pretty excited because it's opening up a world of eating and cooking that involves much more thoughtfulness than I've cared to invest in eating before. If Krispy Kreme had been within walking distance, I'd be big as a barn right now

Yesterday I washed the car only because on the way home from the grocery store, the dish washing liquid had spilled into the plastic bag and I didn't want to waste the soap.

What does this have to do with painting? Nothing yet, but it will.

{addendum} Or maybe not.

This week I have too see Marlene Dumas at MOCA.

Oh and one other thing...I got an email from an editor at a magazine wanting to know if I had any shows in 2009. Honestly, it was a one-line inquiry:

Hi Mary:

Are you having any shows in 2009?


On the glass half-empty side of things, I could only reply that I'm short-listed for a couple of shows and muse for a moment how I made a conscious decision not to beat down every door I could find and risk laying low for awhile. On the glass half-full side of things, a magazine editor was interested in my work. On the glass-half-empty, not having a show definitely scheduled for 2009, eliminated me from being interviewed. Back to being way uncool.

August 20, 2008

I'm so easily diverted

So in the middle of painting red velvet curtains, I decide to make a one-act puppet show. Then I continued on with my original plan as outlined in the previous post.


I'm turning the studio into a mini factory for the next 4 days. My only rule is that I have to make 10-20 semi-functional things and I'm not allowed to embrace my usual chaos aesthetics and I have to think of it as craft, not fine art. I guess that would be 3 rules. Bottom line is that it's a side project, a division, if you will.

August 19, 2008


Today is the second day of consciously choosing a vegan diet. It was a sudden conversion. I've been a vegetarian before. I'm a natural. I refuse to handle raw poultry and I don't particularly like handling uncooked meat. But if you served it to me on platter all cooked up, I could usually forget about the origins. I say, usually, because if the slightest imperfection was found, I would get all freaked out.

After a couple of sporadic but committed years as a vegetarian, I would end up caving in out of laziness and fear of carbs. I rationalized I needed my protein, rather than take time to prep a meal out of quinoa. I would buy mystical organic grains and flours and then watch them get dusty and expire. In other words, I, Mary Addison Hackett, rarely have taken the time to prep and cook interesting meals on a daily basis. It's embarrassing, but when your spouse is a foodie and likes to do all the cooking, it's easy to be a slacker.

I was confessing the above to a pescatarian friend, who recommended the vegetarian cookbook, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. This prompted me to stop at my local bookstore where I came across the book, Skinny Bitch. Another friend had raved about some recipes in the companion book, but thinking it was the most asinine title I'd ever heard, I dismissed it immediately. Two days ago, I bought it and read it cover to cover in maybe an hour.

The next day I was a vegan. It's not like I've been under a rock and hadn't known or heard about all the wonderful things going on out of my eyesight, but for some reason reading about it in a blatantly sensational style got my attention. The authors claim that the title was just a way to catch attention and sell books. I still think the title sucks, but if you need a kick in the pants to give up cokes, diet cokes, caffeine, sugar, meat, dairy etc, it's a good read.

Yesterday I had soymilk in my coffee instead of cream. I ate fruit for breakfast and a soycheese bean burrito for lunch. An out of town guest came over for dinner and I prepared quinoa patties and an edamame and corn salad. Tracking down some ingredients, stocking up on new staples and cooking took a little more time, but it was tasty and I felt better.

I still use hydrofluorocarbons and turps in the studio, wear leather and contribute to the downfall of our planet in other ways, but it's a step.

August 18, 2008

While deleting 1,950 emails....

And the really pissy thing is I was am forced to delete them one by one, thanks to Outlook Web Access. But enough whining about bureaucratic policies.

I laughed out loud when I saw this email warning of how students can cheat using a coke bottle. Cheating sucks of course, but the inventiveness of diabolical minds is still fascinating to me.

August 14, 2008

Man bites Dog

Painter in his Studio
David Teniers II 1641

After cleaning up my Studio, today

Yep, it's slow, and even more relatively unnewsworthy than usual. No thoughts to ponder, no axes to grind. Big Brown delivered my hotpress watercolor paper and paint butter. I mixed some muddy colors and drank one more cup of coffee than I probably should have. My works on paper table is getting out of hand. I'm messy. So much for letting my natural tendencies run wild. I finally had to cap some paint tubes, put like with like and and scrape off my oil painting table. My sentences are choppy.

August 11, 2008

Heading out of LA


The thing about beauty.

Yes, it’s a tired debate for those who have no vested interest in this subject, but for those who do, read on.

In my last post I was feeling a little sad sack over the apparent lack of outstanding commercial success of a recent show. (To be fair, I’ll give myself a few points for critical success in terms of a damn fine review. Sorry, but it lessens the sting ever so slightly.) So, while I’m not interested in a discussion of commercial appeal, The Market or any statistical information at this moment, I was reminded about my roots- why I make the art that I make, my Modus Operandi. This occcured to me as I was thumbing through the ads in the back of Dwell. As I was noticing for the umpteenth millionth time in my life that most things commercially appealing also happen to be clean and simple, I was reminded of a heinous little incident early in my life.

Somehow, as an undergraduate, I neglected to take my required Foundations Sculpture class until my last semester. At this point I was spending all my time in the Painting Studio, so it was a bit of an interruption to take a Foundations Sculpture class from an egotistical professor who shall remain unnamed. It didn’t help that while in that class, I also managed to overlook that it met 3 days a week, not 2.

Nonetheless, two times a week, I was dedicated to carving a large misshapen thing out of fiberglass, liberally applying Rhoplex, gauze and spray paint, and in the end I made something that was a cross between an atrophied Louise Nevelson sculpture and something from the set of Little Shop of Horrors. In effect, I was taking my personal vocabulary from painting and making a 3D representation of it. But Professor Beauty Pants came up to me and actually asked if I had ever taken a “Design” class. I told him yes, and that it was my last semester and that in less than a month or two, I would be graduating with my BFA in Painting. He then pulled the frigging chalkboard over to me and drew a perfect, swooping semi-circle on the chalkboard and told me THAT was good design. It was an unbelievable display of shock and awe. I remember being dumbfounded.

So who knows, maybe having some guy draw a semi-circle on the chalkboard circa 1984 was my line in the sand.

Tonight we're heading 90 miles up to Mount Pinos to see the Perseid meteor shower. It's a family affair, car camping in the back of the SUV with Fang, hot coco and cookies! I'm excited.

August 10, 2008

Technically it was supposed to be a no-tech day

I keep thinking I'll set aside Sunday as a day to eschew technology, but after renting a 10-foot truck to bring home unsold paintings from a show, I will admit I wasn't exactly feeling super special and was in fact, leaning toward feeling a tad bit sorry for my sorry-ass self. I'm not going to blame the economy, myself, or any of the myriad of reasons I could manufacture, because to do so would ultimately invite self-scrutiny and I know where this goes, so I will share: self-scrutiny leads me to thinking two evil-ass thoughts- what's wrong with me, and what can I do to make my paintings sell like hotcakes? It's a silly and pointless question considering my current mission is to make the best ugliest paintings I can, so, perhaps self-sabotage is my problem. Anyway, it's an evil thought that occasionally plagues me because I tend to feel like I'm stuffing a square peg in a round hole day in and day out. Of course, I do find enjoyment in this, so I really can't complain.

But back to Lo-tech Sundays. I also try to avoid working in the studio on Sundays, simply because of that Sunday Painter cliché, so that leaves me with recreational activities such knitting, leather tooling, woodburning, sewing, reading, baking, socializing or I guess for lack of a better word, research and education. Or nap.

Which led me to fall asleep during an exceptionally boring lecture called, CrackBerrys: Exploring the Social Implications of Wireless Email Devices, after which I became mildly interested in listening to a Robert Storr interview. Which, in turn, prompted me to check out some You Tube videos about Thomas Nozkowski. And thus I was reminded how easily I'm inspired and how lucky I am to love what I do.

FYI, I am now hooked on The Wire. Trying to keep it down to 2 or 3 episodes a night.

August 07, 2008

Fwd: words of wisdom

Bob's is a coffee shop and it's very clean. It's very normal, good food. And they've got a chocolate shake that's, like, the most. This is what I like, where I'd like to go -I'd like to go to Bob's, but in my mind I'd rather go into a factory world. It's too frightening to go there really, so we can only go there in the movies. I like clean well-lit places in my life, but when I sit down and start thinking, I can go to Philadelphia. It's like looking in, but if things get heavy, then you can leave. It makes you feel comfortable and happy, so you can think of other things and concentrate on ideas. If you're miserable you can't create.

David Lynch. 1982

Today is a studio day

I also promised to send someone a cd ages ago. I am lame. Will do that
on my coffee break.

August 06, 2008

Finally saw art today

Britton Tolliver at Kinkead Contemporary. Ali Smith at Mark Moore.
Gegam Kacherian at Rosamund Felsen. Finally remembered phone took pics
at SMMoA. Mike Kelly (above). Also Paul McCarthy, "Painter" video.

The puppet show at SMMoA

Dennis Oppenheim

August 05, 2008

I'm tired, so just go here -->

I think I mentioned that TAG Gallery in Nashville was closing it's doors. Some of the artists in Nashville threw a big surprise party for Jerry Dale. I was honored to have been invited and if I had been able to seamlessly transport myself the 2000 miles there and back, I would have.

It's been exciting to see the growth of the arts in Nashville over the course of the last 2 decades and I'm really happy to have been involved with TAG for the last 3 years. After having lived in Chicago for a spell, and now, L.A., showing in Nashville was as much about wanting to establish a connection with the arts community in my hometown as it was about exhibiting the work. I would say re-establish, but I moved away and went to grad school before I made any serious attempts to get to know other artists in Nashville. I did have one meeting with Zimmerman Saturn Gallery gallery right before grad school, but practically moments later, the gallery closed down due to personal circumstances and that was that. Life is really strange sometimes. So over the course of the last few years, I've managed to meet and show with some wonderful artists in Nashville and I hope that continues.

ok. I managed to write a couple of cohesive paragraphs, but for party coverage and more farewell responses, go to Sara La's blog.

August 04, 2008

If John Zorn can do commissioned work, so can I.

I don't actually do "commissioned" work, so it hasn't been much of an issue, but lately I've been asked to put together a couple of bids. I probably should be more internally conflicted about this, but I am not. I've finally realized why I'm not a snob about this anymore. One, I have no plans to paint differently than I usually do, so it's not like I'm going to bang out something less than stellar or try and split myself into fine art me vs. commercial me. Screw that, it's too difficult. Two, I'm incredibly lazy when it comes to finding a "job." And three, I work quickly, which reminds me of the saying, Fast, Good, Cheap, Pick 2. So, in the end, I'm okay with it because it's not a compromise, and because I've learned what 2 parts of the triangle I'm comfortable with. Plus, if Zorn can cut kick-ass tracks for Nike, then I can take on a commissioned work, too.

And another little thing I heard, which I really liked a lot, "You get up early in the morning and you work all day." - Philip Glass revealing the only secret he has.

Tonight's post was kind of about work ethics, wasn't it?

August 02, 2008

A couple of fun shows this summer...

$2 Show
100 artists were given a $2 Bill on which to make their masterpiece - each artwork is priced at $200 as a fundraiser for i-5 gallery.
July 11-August 23.

The economy is sad. A forlorn bather considers jumping into a pool of molten silver. What a nice sunset.


Portrait Exhibition – "A Mirror On Which To Dwell"
The Government Gallery at VCAC
Exhibition dates: Thursday, July 31 – Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Reception: Thursday, August 7, 2008 5:30 – 7:00 pm
Curated By: Paul Benavidez

This is a drawing of a photograph taken of my mom and I for the church directory ions ago. My dad didn't go to church that Sunday. I have a godawful shag haircut and braces. I am wearing what I affectionately refer to as my Christmas Morning smile. It's the really big fake smile I put on for the camera after some dysfunctional family holiday argument.

Mother-daughter relationships are kind of intense, aren't they?