Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Found Pennies

I found these pennies yesterday. I don't really remember which is which. One of them I found next to a lamp post, outside of a bookshop. The other one... I think I just found it on the sidewalk, I don't really remember. They will go into a collection of found pennies that has been growing since 2005. 

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thought Pouring

Thought pouring is writing without editing; a documentary of thoughts as they run through the mind. Thought pouring can be done with a specific focus, in order to draw out and externalize relevant thoughts on a certain matter; or it can be done boundlessly in order to allow more personal revelations to occur. -- I use this technique when I have so many thoughts, ideas, concerns running through my mind that I don't know where to begin working on/with them. Also I find that this technique is very useful for revealing unacknowledged thoughts and feelings. The idea is not to judge. To write whatever comes into one's mind. To observe. Also, to let go and not be attached to focusing on one idea that might come up. Sometimes when I engage in thought pouring my writing fluctuates between all kinds of approaches: personal, intellectual, poetic, narrative, etc. I find this exercise very satisfying because I get to give attention to all the things that I am thinking about, instead of having to pick just one or two. 

So: Thought Pouring:

I watched Persepolis the other night. It was really great. Mostly black and white animation with a storybook quality rather than a fast-action type of animation. The story is of a Iranian girl coming of age in  a climate of war and political oppression. It had humor and heartache and beautiful visual elements. It was also educational, for me at least. I know very little about the political history of Iran. It would be helpful to know a bit more about that, these days, as those rumors of conflict, weapons, war are floating around in the breeze. Actually, I don't think rumors like that would float around in the breeze. I don't think the breeze would carry them. I think they must travel some other way...maybe in tiny invisible nuclear powered zeppelins. That sounds more like it. -- I've been doing some prep work for my "can" project. I haven't mentioned that yet. It is one of the things I am working on. A major theme in my work right now is communication. I think communicating is one of the most awesome things ever. It's about sharing ideas, exchange, bringing information and personal knowledge out into the commons. It is the process or action of making something common(shared). <--- That's a revolution right there.-- On a biological level communication is "activity by one organism that changes or has the potential to change the behavior of other organisms." Pretty fuckin' Rad! --
So, the project that I'm working on explores what communication is and how we engage in that experience on a personal and societal level. And yes, this is my "can" project. Why? Because one of the major visual metaphors I am utilizing is the tin can telephone. 

Monday, April 21, 2008

I've Committed Myself

1. I sent in my deposit for school a few days ago. I've committed myself!


Purple Oasis

It's a gorgeous day. Global Warming has brought Spring to this corner of the world a bit early this year. I keep waiting for the temperature to drop back down to 40 (degrees, Fahrenheit), but so far the warmth seems to be sticking. Walking to the coffee shop this morning: Birds: twitter-twitter, chirp chirp, squeak; Flowers: little purple clusters atop 6" electric green stems, teeny-tiny daffodils (which are probably not technically called "daffodils" but look just like 'em), a carpet of purple spreading across a lawn, barely thawed for just a couple weeks (This carpet blooms every year, a little magical oasis in an otherwise average neighborhood), clusters of broad tulip leaves hinting at their blooms yet to come, and buds on trees. Buds on trees! What an amazing moment this is... the first time one sees, all of a sudden, buds on the trees. Little tiny green things. Different for each tree. Different shapes, colors, densities. They POP out, as if from nowhere, all of a sudden this brown/grey armature, which has stood silent for the length of winter, stretches out and yawns. A great big loud yawn followed by a sigh. A sigh of release. The release of the little buds that tell us life is happening again. That the Sap is flowing. That the Story continues. 

Speaking of Stories...

3. I've been watching "Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth with Bill Moyers". It's a PBS series that was produced in the late 80's. It's kind of like storytime for adults. It's fabulous. Bill Moyers sits in for the everyday person as he probes  (the late) Joseph Campbell to talk about the truths that he's come upon during his lifelong search for deep human meaning, and connectivity between cultures. Campbell has met the mysteries of life, he's heard the human stories, he's seen beyond the bounds of the everyday and he speaks about what he's learned very openly and enthusiastically. - This collection requires listening, as it is primarily a documented conversation, although some topics are illustrated with images and documentary footage. The major themes it explores are: "the need for modern myths that fit our changing world, people's search for a hero in their everyday lives, the role of love, romance and sacrifice in myth and in practice, and the concept of eternity in the context of various religions" (from the description on Netflix). This series, or excerpts of it, would be a great supplement to any liberal arts class, and to any person's life in general. Joseph Campbell shows us that all human beings have the same core challenges and questions, and respond to the mysteries of life in remarkably similar ways.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

6 Days in San Francisco

The main purpose of the trip was to visit CCA, meet professors and other students, and check out the Social Practice program more in depth. The secondary purpose was to soak up some sunshine, visit friends, and relax a little bit.

Thursday 4/3: The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University: Rodin, etc.

Arriving at SFO at 11:30 am, we head straight out of town. We grab a quick lunch at a local mall (the prettiest mall I've ever seen, flowers everywhere! Ah, California...), and find our way to the Stanford campus. My friend is a sculptor, he's into the Rodins:

"The Cantor Art Center's collection of Rodin bronzes is the largest in the world outside Paris, second only to the Musee Rodin. More than 50 works by Rodin are on view inside the Center, mostly cast bronze, but also works in wax, plaster, and terra cotta. Twenty bronzes, including The Gates of Hell, on which Rodin worked for two decades to complete, are outside in the Sculpture Garden. The Burghers of Calais are nearby on campus."

Do you want to know what I really think?
It was interesting... but only relatively interesting. Yes, I know he's a "great sculptor" but...  The mangled, mushy, giant bronzes I saw in Stanford?... they were okay, but they seemed more like self-important experimentation than anything else. Of course, I was just off a plane, and tired. Maybe bronze just isn't my thing. It's so heavy. It seems macho and often wasteful. It's certainly an indulgent material; Not just anyone can use bronze... -- I have seen a lot of art and been to a lot of museums. There are some artworks and artists who transcend time and speak to us in the present... and there are some who we respect out of tradition and an intellectual appreciation of context and history. Well, I can appreciate the Rodin sculptures intellectually but it doesn't go much further than that. Decide for yourself: This website is the creative offspring of Rodin-enthusiast, and artist, Hans de Ross, in Munich, Germany. It provides plenty of biographical info, has lots of pictures (including the "first 3-D picture of a Rodin sculpture on the web"!), and interactive stuff too. 

Friday 4/4: The Asian Art Museum

Drama and Desire: Japanese Paintings from the Floating World 1690-1850

"Living only for the moment, turning our full attention to the pleasures of the moon, the snow, the cherry blossoms and the maple leaves; singing songs, drinking wine, diverting ourselves in just floating, floating: caring not a whit for the pauperism staring us in the face, refusing to be disheartened, like a gourd floating along with the river current: this is what we call the floating world..."  

—Tales of the Floating World (Ukiyo Monogatari)
approx. 1661 by Asai Ryoi
I love this museum! I have to admit that I was a little reluctant to go in. I'm so used to seeing Western art traditions that sometimes it seems like visiting art institutions that focus on other geographical areas will be too much work somehow. Too educational or something. Stupid, right? It was so refreshing! The screen and scroll paintings in the special exhibit were beautifully drawn. Very delicate with fine brush lines and patterns. And they were a history lesson, but a really interesting one. They focused on the pleasure district in Japan, the home of Geisha and Courtesans. - I had a great tour guide who explained how in Japanese culture, sexuality was seen as something natural, and not to be suppressed. They did not look down on the pleasure district as something immoral or degenerate, in fact, prostitution was legal and taxed by the state. Imagine if that were true today in the U.S., maybe prostitutes would even get health insurance! - The general collection was also interesting; a lot of statues of Hindu deities and Buddhist Gods and Goddesses. - The building itself was a very nice space, formerly the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library. -- In addition to "Drama and Desire" they are sponsoring another special exhibit by the artist Zhan Wang (pronounced John Wayne, just kidding). Wang is best known for his stainless steel sculptures of "scholars' rocks", "... graceful, craggy boulders found in several provinces around China that seem to have been sculpted by natural forces into complex forms worthy of thoughtful contemplation - almost like mental or spiritual landscapes." For the Asian Art Museum, Wang created a topographical map of San Francisco using pots, pans, flatware, cooking utensils, and a few steal rocks. The use of kitchen-ware references Chinese restaurants, and the Chinese immigrant experience. The rocks used in the exhibit were taken from the foothills of the Sierras where many Chinese immigrants were employed to mine for gold in the 19th century. 

Saturday 4/5: Visual Studies Theses Presentations

I went to this mostly because my friend, Analisa Goodin, was presenting her thesis: "An Imagined Absence: Images of Loss and the Performance of Representation." She did a great job. - The other presenters were interesting, there are definitely a lot of smart cookies coming out of CCA. 

Sunday 4/6: Graduate Open Studios at CCA

I was impressed, there was a lot of interesting work to see in the graduate studios. 
My Faves (in no particular order):

Christina Empedocles - Girl can paint(!), and she shares my penchant for animals, unconventional juxtapositions, and color. Yay!
Anneliese Vobis - Interesting biological looking, tactile sculptures. She had crystals growing in her studio. Very cool. (p.s. I don't know why her name is spelled differently on her website)
Marci Washington - Edward Gorey meets Vogue Magazine. She's got talent and a taste for the macabre. Check out the details in the wallpaper, carpets, etc.
Sara Thacher - Interactive works focusing on the theme of Exchange. She takes you outside of the gallery and into the social sphere. 

Monday 4/7: Social Practice Workshop

I sat in on a class today. I was mostly overwhelmed and exhausted by the time the class started, so I was sort of just a fly on the wall. They are putting together a book which will be published. Each person contributes artwork, explanation, or commentary. The understanding of what Social Practice artwork is, is still being clarified, so it's useful to put the actions and discoveries of a practicing community into a collected format. They also have a wiki and blog.
The Space devoted to Social Practice students is unconventional by normal MFA standards. Instead of separate studios they share a large workspace. This seems to encourage more collaboration and activity, as opposed to the incubating quality of a private cube. At first I felt a little nervous about not having my own space (the artist's studio is such a coveted luxury) but I'm coming around to the more functional workspace/meeting place. I think it will create more dialogue and keep us working out in the community. 

Tuesday 4/8: Day of Rest

I slept late, broke the fast with fancy coffee and a croissant, and wandered to Japantown to meander between Japanese gift shops, supermarkets, and hardware stores. When I move to San Francisco I will be furnishing my apartment with wares from Japantown (Sweet deals on tea cups!). I found a few additions to my chopstick collection, and I had a fabulous lunch of maki and miso soup. Dinner was with my Hero, a social practice student from CCA, who was sheltering me for the night. We ate at a wine bar and indulged in roasted brussel sprouts, cheese fondue, oysters, and fancy potato cakes. It was a good finale to the trip, which was exhausting, but a success overall.