3 days, 14 hours, 22 minutes

To continue the holiday project sharing...Here's an image of the first felt candy cane mouse I made a couple of weeks ago. I made two more after this one that came out considerably better (and I remembered to give them little red pom poms for noses instead of all black facial features, as you see here), but I haven't had a chance to make more. So you get to see the first one. The first of anything for me is kind of like that first pancake, you know?

I put it on our wacom tablet that also doubles as a mousepad for scale (and irony). They were super easy and fun to make but in hindsight, I'm not sure kids are all that excited to receive them. My niece and nephew were sufficiently interested (they were incorporated into packaging for Christmas books we let them open early) but not all that impressed that I made them myself. Maybe that was assumed. Anyway, I had this idea of making one for all the kids in my social/family circle (20 or so), but I'm not so sure. I might still make a ton of them just to use up the felt and pom poms and candy canes. Put them in the mousetraps at school...Anyway, I think they would have been fun to make with kids but ultimately, I think this kind of stuff is way more fun for adults like myself to make than for kids to receive. There were a few other projects I never got around to, mostly because buying the supplies would have been fairly expensive, not to mention the time I'd need to devote to it and the likelihood that they wouldn't turn out all that well. Maybe next year...

As for my board wrap-up...I showed four projects, including the work leading up to and spinning off of my main endeavor this semester, plus one project that is ongoing that we never really got around to. I'd say about 75% of my projects are still highly unresolved but I think it was agreed that I made some progress on this last project. And even where it was less successful, I feel like I at least did something substantial that I can work from. I was encouraged to check out the work of artists Buzz Spector, David Robbins (particularly his Ice Cream Social series), Janet Cardiff (one of her sound installations is up - for a short while longer - at M.I.T.'s List Visual Arts Center), and Sam Durant (another show I have to see before the end of the week). I was also encouraged to check out the t.v. show "Battlestar Gallactica," and just generally mine the "musty academic" vibe in much of my recent work and continue to explore my use of technology (and the relationship between new technology and nostalgia for old technology) as a metaphor for memory.

Just as soon as I get back from California! If I don't write again before I leave on Sunday, have a delightful holiday, whatever you celebrate. I'll be seeing you in the blogisphere in '07.


holiday treats

I'm too tired tonight to comment on my review board or final paper other than to write that both went well and I'll share more on board follow-up a bit later. It takes me a few days to decompress...

In the meantime, I've been keeping myself busy with holiday projects, which, this year, included a fair amount of time spent in the kitchen. Usually not such a good idea, but my festive treats turned out pretty well this year, if I do say so myself (Neal valiantly tried to salvage my miserably failed triple-chocolate fudge of last year, which resulted in a heaping pile of never-quite-solidified chocolate that hung out on the bottom shelf of our fridge for months). This year, after spending a whopping $6 and change on the holiday edition of Martha Stewart Living (I blame a long line at the store), I was determined to get my money's worth, selecting four recipes to try and another two or three craft projects.

For the food, I decided on two sweet and savory nut recipes that I made the evening before my board: Sesame Soy Cashews with Wasabi Peas and Nori

and Cinnamon Spice Maple-Sugar Walnuts.

The wasabi peas are pretty spicy and the walnuts are super sweet so I guess they kinda balance each other out.

Both recipes worked pretty well. Magazine recipes are never as thorough as they could be (especially for someone as inexperienced and unnatural in the kitchen as me), so, for example, I wasn't sure exactly what the recipe meant by cutting the sheet of nori (probably about a square foot with strips sort of suggested by what appeared to be perforated lines going across) into 3/4 inch strips. I cut little bit-size squares, but honestly, I didn't care much for the nori anyway. It adds a nice color contrast, though. And the sugar, syrupy liquid that you cook the walnuts in probably needed another couple of minutes to reduce before I added the nuts, but it all worked out in the end.

I didn't have time - before my board - for the third recipe I selected (making a quick loaf of banana bread instead), so I made these last night: classic truffles dipped in cocoa powder, chopped hazelnuts, shredded coconut, and candy cane bits.

I've had such inconsistent luck with fudge over the years (I guess I could break down and buy a candy thermometer...it's just that it worked so well one year without it!) that I thought for sure truffles would be equally tricky. But once you get the hang of it (mostly the scooping of the truffle mixture and then the dipping in melted chocolate and rolling in topping parts), they're actually pretty easy. They're not as perfectly round as Martha's, but they taste pretty good. As the recipe suggests, I attempted to use a cookie dough scoop that I bought at Michael's (where I got the candy boxes)...It worked for about one truffle and then the metal bit popped out. Note to self: Michael's is not a specialty food or kitchenwares store.

And I had little success with the coconut. I'm not sure if there's some special kind of coconut (I used shredded) that would have worked better...Perhaps if I'd pulsed it a few times in the food processor? So Neal and I will have to put them out of their misery along with the other rejects. The hazelnut worked best, followed by the crushed candy cane, and of course, the cocoa powder covered them pretty well.

More sharing to follow...


just like you and me...but not really

Today is my mother's birthday (and, coincidently, my brother-in-law's). When I was a kid we'd always put up our holiday decorations on her birthday, since it's usually right about halfway between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Keeping that tradition alive, we put out our small collection of Christmas decorations...a kitchen tile, a tubby little snowman door stopper, a couple of miniature nutcrackers, and a pine-scented candle. For the first eight or so years of adulthood I would decorate a table-top tree that my Dad gave me, but that tree was sacrificed in the move east. So the pine-scented candle will have to get us through another holiday. Fortunately for us, my brother and his family included us in their weekend of gingerbread-house building and Christmas tree decorating so I feel sufficiently ready for the holidays. I've got a mysterious thing for wreaths this year, so I might have to go out and get one, but otherwise, I'm all set.

Despite the fact that it took us all of ten minutes to decorate for the holidays, I'm finding it hard to concentrate on this final week of review board preparation and paper writing. I've got cards to fill out, projects to finish, a little more shopping to do, food to make... And while I feel mostly ready for my review board on Wednesday, as it gets closer I can't help but get a little nervous and feel like I should be doing something to prepare. Something in addition to the hours and hours I have left on my latch-hook pillow that I'm not sure what to say about, anyway.

And perhaps if I get a little pop culture recap off my chest, my mind will be a bit clearer. As you probably know by now, Melrose did not take the ANTM title last week. Going into the final episode, I told myself, as I always do, that I didn't really care which of the top three (Melrose, Caridee, or Eugena) won. Especially considering I've been a bit disappointed with this cycle since it began. But I wasn't surprised or terribly disappointed that Eugena got the boot about halfway through the finale, leaving Melrose and Caridee in the top two. And I have to say, when Caridee was revealed as the winner, I was disappointed that Melrose didn't win. I understand why Melrose didn't exactly take viewer's choice award, especially in the last couple of weeks. While her attitude didn't bother me as much as it seemed to bother other viewers, I did feel like her personality was a little lacking, a little flat maybe. But the girl did everything right! She took consistently good (although, I'll admit, not as amazing or transformative as past participants) photos, won most of the challenges, has a knowledge of the industry (and seems moderately intelligent, in general), and can work the runway. Other than that first week and her Covergirl commercial and photo shoot at the end, she was pretty stellar as far as the competition goes.

And to be fair, Caridee was one of my favorites from the beginning. Her personality was likeable from the start and she took gorgeous photos. But about halfway through the competition I think she lost it a little bit. She's a little more than "unpredictable," as Mr. Jay pointed out in the final panel. And in the review of their photographs throughout the competition, I'm pretty certain the panel of judges completely changed their position on Caridee's photo from the bull fighting shoot. I remember them dissecting that photo, saying Caridee looked awkward and that her face was too sexy, too pinup. Perhaps compared to Melrose, what they meant is that it was still less than perfect but better in comparison, but I feel like they changed their story a bit to justify the less qualified candidate winning the title.

Ultimately, my theory is that what makes or breaks an otherwise top model is the CoverGirl contract. All cycle long the girls are encouraged to be fierce, high-fashion, runway-strutting top models. But in the end, it's the awkward girl next door who's a wreck on the runway (and in general) who wins because she's likeable and America can relate to her. But you know, models are a little like politicians. I don't want my President to be like the guy next door, 'cause the guy next door is probably not qualified to lead the country. Likewise, I don't understand why it's so important for a top model to be just like your girlfriend next door, other than because she has to sell you lip gloss. And who do you trust to sell your product, Melrose or Caridee?

So, needless to say, I was disappointed, in who they chose to win, in the fact that Melrose wasn't a little more diplomatic throughout the season, and with this cycle in general. Too much Tyra, too many floofy dresses and big hair, and one too many weird photo shoots. Will I watch cycle 8 in the spring, though? You better believe it!


winter freakin' wonderland - part two

As an addendum to the still shots below. Okay, so who hasn't seen 30 seconds of snow falling? And this is nothin' for the seasoned east coaster. But it's got a kind of meditative quality. Not exactly like watching the ocean from the California coast or anything, but, hey, I'll take what I can get.

winter freakin' wonderland

Well, it was this morning. The dusting we got from a "nor'easter wannabe" has mostly melted since. But this is what I woke up to this morning.

And from another window.

I had to write about the first snow...it's tradition.


sizzlin' cecily

I'm going to be obnoxious again and direct you to my other blog. You can see images and read explanations of what I made (to sell, but didn't, sadly) for the reception we held last night.

Okay, now that that's out of the way...I would post those kinds of images here, but since I do have a whole 'nother website and blog devoted to this particular project, I figured I'd be consistent. Now that the show has been officially received (postcards printed and multiples made) I can shift gears and finish a couple of other projects before my review board on December 13th. I'm actually feeling fairly ready in terms of production. I have a few things I'd like to work on a bit more, but mostly, I'll spend much of the next two weeks just thinking about what I've done and how I'd like my board to go, next semester being my last before thesis pressure kicks in. I've got some ideas for what my thesis show will look like (and a super idea for a title, oddly) and I'm feeling like I had a pretty successful semester, but I've still got a lot of work to do to get there.

I haven't blogged much this semester - only eight or nine posts, about a third of which seem to have been largely devoted to television. But I did have a very blogworthy afternoon on Tuesday. As part of a painting seminar I'm in, we were invited to attend an intimate gallery walkthrough over at the MFA with Cecily Brown. She has a mid-career retrospective up right now, originally organized by the Des Moines Art Center. As we walked through, I definitely got the sense that these kinds of retrospective shows are as much for the artists as they are for the public, students, critics, etc., that make up the art-consuming part of the world. She seemed excited to see her work in the space, older paintings next to more recent work, themes recurring and evolving over time, creating all sorts of possibilities for years and years of future work. It was incredibly inspiring and energizing.

I'm a fan of her work, but I have to admit I was apprehensive about meeting her in person. I guess I've never met a famous artist before (although I heard a couple of my faves speak last year, including Ed Ruscha and Kara Walker...but that's different) but I thought it might be like the often disappointing encounters I've heard folks describe after meeting a famous actor. If anything, meeting the extremely engaging artist in person only increased my respect and admiration for her work (and work ethic). I remember being introduced to her paintings as an undergrad, after her first solo show in New York, when these hot young things from London (Jenny Seville's another one) were painting up a storm, a decade or so after painting had been declared dead for the umpteenth time, when everyone else was still gaga for installation and video art, and at a time when I was just getting serious about this stuff, dabbling in a little figure painting myself. So to be able to meet her and hear her talk about her work was definitely a high moment in my academic/art career thus far.

Of course, I think some paintings are better than others. I'm not completely convinced by the more recent, much smaller paintings. I tend to favor the larger works, but I appreciate her reasons for working on a bunch of smaller images. And the question I was too embarassed to ask had a little to do with what she grazed over a number of times in her talk, using animals instead of people in earlier paintings to avoid gender issues, for example. Pretty much everything I read about her brings up her insistent denial that she's taking up a feminist brush, with so many of her resources and inspirations coming from old master paintings and the male-dominated post WWII abstract expressionist tradition. What's most important to her is painting, not that she's a woman painting these kinds of images in this way. And I respect her priorities, but I also think the art world has changed over the last six or seven years (along with the overall political climate) since she first started showing, and that we've become a little lazy when it comes to feminist issues. Undergrads are getting curious about the f-word when older grad students bring it up in critiques. In other words, the younger students don't seem to have a clue about the various waves of the feminist movement (not that I have any idea which wave we're currently in) and its relationship to and effect on visual culture in general. And I think that's kinda scary. So part of me wishes artists like Cecily Brown would take up a feminist brush (or camera, or squeegee, or whatever). It's tricky, that's for sure.



I'm not usually a fan of blog posts that simply point you to another blog, but I'm afraid it's unavoidable. My latest project includes a website and a blog (separate from this here WAZO), so if you wanna read about it, other than the little teaser(s) I'll provide here, you'll have to follow this link to the website (which links to the blog) or hop right on over to the blog. If you're local, you can check out the gallery portion of the project, up now at the Museum School's Mission Hill building (160 St. Alphonsus St: green line 'E' to Brigham Circle, left on Tremont, right on St. Alphonsus). We'll be having a reception for the show on Wednesday, November 29th, from 4 to 6 p.m., during which multiples (t-shirts and other printed ephemera...no "art for art's sake") will be for sale, if you're into that kinda thing.

Consider yourself officially invited.

This project has pretty much consumed my life the last few weeks, but I have managed to watch a little t.v. during my downtime and I'm following the Britney/K-Fed split very carefully. More about all that a little later. If a little later happens to be after Thursday, well then, Happy Thanksgiving!


63 posts in 371 days

October 29th was my one-year anniversary on blogger. And I averaged a little more than one post per week. Not bad, eh? Add blogging to the list of ways I keep myself busy doing things most people feel they have no time for.

Anyway, I thought I'd spend a little time this morning on random stuff. Lured in by a "buy one, get one free" coupon, Neal and I tried the McGriddle sandwich this morning, filling my once per year McD's quota. The bready portion, consisting of pancakes with little globs of syrup baked in, was tasty, but they forgot to add the egg and cheese. On both of them. That's like leaving the pastrami off of a pastrami sandwich. Twice. Needless to say, it was a sad little sandwich that I doubt I'll ever have again.

Also, in my haste to blog about art projects and confusing critiques, I failed to comment on the fall activities of last month. Over Columbus Day weekend, Neal and I traveled to Connecticut to visit my brother and his family, spending an afternoon at an orchard complete with apple picking, a pumpkin patch, a corn maze, and a hay ride. The leaves were just starting to change color and the crisp fall weather was perfect.

By now, most of the leaves have fallen and the weather has taken a definite turn for the nippy. It's still pretty mild compared to last year, though. In fact, it had already snowed by Halloween. I'm sure it won't last so I'm preparing myself, physically and psychologically, for six months of cold temps, closed windows, and constant layering.

And finally, a brief t.v. recap. I'm no longer watching "Lost." I have a theory that when J.J. Abrams leaves a show to work on another show (in this case, "Six Degrees"), the show seriously suffers. It happened with "Alias" and it's happening again - for me, at least - with "Lost." I'm just too confused to care. Conversely, I've been pleasantly surprised by "Veronica Mars." I resisted the show for the first couple of years, feeling like it was a total "Buffy" wannabe (complete with some of the original "Buffy" cast). But what teen show with a female heroine isn't'? So I watched the premier this year while latch-hooking and I really enjoyed it. So I'm converted, but I don't feel the need to catch up on the first two seasons. I get the idea, you know, and Neal's there to fill in the gaps when I get confused.

That leaves regulars "Gilmore Girls," "House," and "America's Next Top Model." "Gilmore Girls" has improved (if you'll remember, I was a little disappointed with the GG premier), but I don't have much to write other than that. Same for "House." It's as formulaic as ever but I still enjoy it. More about ANTM below. New addictions - in addition to "Veronica Mars" - include "30 Rock," "Heroes," and "Six Degrees." I was hesitant to add new shows to an already long list of television viewing, but I'm enjoying all three and I have no problems abandoning a show once I've tired of it (as in the case of "Lost").

As for ANTM, I still feel like this is one of the weaker cycles, not only in terms of the model-hopefuls but in the overall production of the show. Tyra is still totally full of herself and the photo shoots have been pretty hideous. On a lighter note, one photo shoot requiring the application of facial hair to a female model is one thing, but you do it the next week and you cross a line. On a more serious note, I thought their early photo shoot about model stereotypes was handled pretty poorly. Having an eating disorder or drug addiction is not the same thing as being a dumb blonde or a diva. I understand that the show is not and has never been a public service announcement, but if you're going to address such model-related issues in your "most controversial shoot ever," you should be prepared to handle the difficult subject matter a little more thoughtfully...or don't bother.

That said, Melrose is still my favorite. Caridee's been getting a little more attention lately, on the show and among the fans, but Melrose is still the best of the bunch, as mediocre as it is.



I spent this past weekend with family and during our visit I asked my five-year old niece what I should be for Halloween. Twice, actually. The first time she said very seriously that I should just be myself, that adults usually just go as themselves. The second time it came up she offered this suggestion: white dress, white wig, carrying a piece of vanilla cake. What would I be? A lady. But what would I be called? My name, of course.

The reality, sadly, is that I'm not going as anything and I'm not really going anywhere. I had class today and mountains of reading and other stuff to do for my twelve hours of class tomorrow. I'm not a total party-pooper, though. I asked willing volunteers to share their Halloween traditions, plans, costume details, etc., last night before my grad group critique. I don't usually coerce people into participating, but I liked the idea of commemorating an event in this way before it's happened. Here's what they shared:

I'm not even eating candy. I had a can of split pea soup and some wheat thins. Now that's depressing!

Anyway, the weekend was a nice break from the hectic past couple of weeks. I took a break from my problematic works in progress to recycle a series of postcard-sized pieces I screenprinted last semester to include in the grad show at the Mission Hill building, in connection with the Roxbury Open Studios this past weekend.

It's called "everything round invites a caress." The title is from Gaston Bachelard's "Poetics of Space." I was going to call it "the phenomenology of roundness," after his final chapter of the same name, but Neal thought that might come off as a little pretentious. He said a good title should be subjunctive. So I asked him if my alternate title, the one I went with in the end and the one he preferred, was subjunctive and he said no. I'm still trying to figure out what a subjunctive title is. Anyway, each card, printed with graphic representations of objects from my past, some of which repeat, has a vellum overlay with quotes taken from all the chick flicks I watched over the summer months.

The text in this detail reads: "I tried taking pictures, but they were so mediocre. I guess every girl goes through a photography phase. You know, horses... taking pictures of your feet." It's from Sophia Coppola's "Lost in Translation." I like the relationship to photography, which wasn't totally intentional. I like the way the vellum blurs the image underneath, making it appear to be out of focus. Sophia Coppola's movies are really at the heart of what inspires me to make work like this, all pink and girlie and ephemeral. It makes sense, actually, that I would spend some time with dreamy work like this in order to take a break from the reality of all the questions I still need to answer about my other projects. Or, in the words of one of the boys in "Virgin Suicides," "What we have here is a dreamer. Someone completely out of touch with reality." Well, maybe just for a little while...


here it goes again

Mid-term paralysis. I should have suspected. Things were going way too smoothly. My strategy so far this semester has been to pursue just about every random idea I have, having departed quite a bit from my prior "body of work," editing a half-dozen or so project ideas down to three or four and committing to those until December review boards. One thing leads to another, ideas change, and before I know it I'm creating an installation that's moved away from the wall completely, a sort of juggling act of perhaps too many elements. And I don't have a very good reason for my sudden fascination with, for example, the adirondack chair. So I'm torn between caring about meaning and content and realizing it might be time to slow down and think about that stuff, and feeling like I need to work, work, work my way through these ideas to understand what they mean to me and what kind of response I might want them to evoke in the viewer. I don't want to end up with an empty "one-liner" but I don't want to kill the imagination by over-thinking it all either. Oy.

Anyway, that's about how my week has gone so far. Tuesday was the real highlight, though, and I think the emotional turmoil may have been initiated by watching "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" in the morning block of my painting seminar (I'm not sure why). I'd seen the movie several times before, but not recently, and never that early or that sleep-deprived or in a classroom setting. Even in the best of viewing situations, the movie is highly upsetting to me, for many reasons, and the entire time I was wondering why Jason Middlebrook, one of the Museum School's visiting artists and one of the "four painters" participating in that night's panel discussion, when invited to forward relevant reading materials to us to prepare for his portion of the presentation, recommended instead that we watch this movie. I've compared art school critiques to diagnostic medicine before, specifically as it's portrayed in the t.v. show "House," and I guess I could see some depressing similarities between grad group critique and institutionalized group therapy. Who knows? Maybe the film is just an influence for him.

At any rate, I think some of that experience carried over into the rest of my day. So much for taking critical feedback with a grain of salt. I love ideas, really I do, and I love talking about them, but sometimes I wish I could be like Jasper Johns, just make something and put it out into the world and let the viewer or audience do the explaining. I, as the "artist," or "cultural worker," or whatever, am not really that important. And it doesn't mean I don't think art or artists are important in general...I just don't think we know everything ahead of time. And it wouldn't hurt to get over ourselves occasionally.

And if I make a latch-hook pillow from a photo of Georgia O'Keefe, it's not necessarily "trivializing" the artist, a comment I've heard now from two different people. Is it "trivializing" because it's latch-hook? Because a pillow is a rather mundane object with some functionality (although both the latch-hook and pillow elements were, in my mind at least, elements of decoration, not of use or of function...who sits on a latch-hook pillow? have you ever seen a latch-hook "rug" on the floor?)? Because I'm including artists who've dealt with their own image in completely different ways, like Frida Kahlo and Cindy Sherman? Obviously, these artists and, more importantly, their work, are important to me and I mean them no disrespect, but the trivial comment really makes me wonder, whatever happened to the death of the artist? Are Georgia, Frida, and Cindy untouchable? What if I made latch-hook pillows from portraits of Chuck Close, Gerhard Richter, or Matthew Barney? And it's not like I'm making a latch-hook version of their work. And so what if I did? And damn you for turning a latch-hook pillow, something I've been making "for fun" as I spend too much time watching t.v. and movies, into something potentially negative. So maybe I should stop sharing this kind of work...Or maybe I like this kind of conversation and how it potentially "troubles" the image of the artist.

You know what I mean?


I am 29 today

But it's not my birthday. My birthday was Tuesday. And while that statement does suggest that I'm 29 today, but I wasn't yesterday, it is actually valid. That was my thinking behind the t-shirt I made to commemorate the day - I can wear it all year long. And next year, if I want to start lying about my age. Anyway, it didn't get too many comments on Tuesday - most people asked if I really was 29 that day. One guy yelled "happy birthday" from his truck as I crossed the street. I thought that was pretty nice of him. I've got a thing for velour iron-on letters lately. Sometimes, I feel like I could spend the rest of my life just making t-shirts for different occasions and to commemorate different events.

Anyway, I'm mostly okay about the whole approaching 30 thing. I mean, if you think about it, I'm actually already in my thirtieth year, since we more or less start at zero and at the end of the first year, we're 1. But was it pure coincidence that I got this catalogue a couple days before my birthday? What am I buying that's getting me onto the pre-menopausal mailing lists? I have to admit, though, they sell some nifty stuff. In addition to the predictable tummy tucking products and shoes that promote circulation, they have these cool plates that sort of hook onto your wine glass so you never have to do that balancing thing again at parties (or have people spill wine at parties you host). And this blender that looks like an upside-down mug so you can blend 'n' go. And shoulder pads! Maybe I'll hang onto it for awhile...

In other news, I was pretty pleased when Monique was elminated from ANTM a couple of weeks ago. Melrose almost disappointed me with that increase in attitude last week, but I can sympathize with just about everything that aggravates her. She's still my favorite, although I couldn't help but feel a little bad for Megg...talk about kicking her when she's down, you know?

P.S. Only two and a half weeks until the season premiere of the O.C.!


my contribution to the Logozoo

Last post I mentioned recenlty listenening to a presentation by poet Robert Kendall, who talked to the text and image arts area about his latest project, Logozoa. Sample sheets of stickers along with instructions were provided at the end of his presentation. I love projects like this, that are text-based, interactive and whose primary mode of display is on the internet. So I picked out my half-dozen stickers and headed straight to the Mission Hill building, putting one logozoa in my studio, where it's safety is pretty secure, and another, slightly more precariously positioned above a strip of lightswitches in the foyer gallery, where there is currently an impromptu photo exhibition. I think the texts are pretty appropriate to both locations. I might e-dopt a logozoa as well so keep on the lookout for that.


sunshine and summer blue

As promised, a full school/art update, complete with a few images (this is the "sketch wall" in my studio). School started right after Labor Day weekend. In all honesty, after four months of summer, it took a full couple of weeks before twelve hour sleep-deprived days felt normal again. My week goes something like this. On Monday morning, after getting roughly six hours of sleep, I TA for a class called "Publish!" The class used to be called Publication Design, but the emphasis, while it's still a technical class, seems to have shifted a little bit away from design and now leans more heavily toward the ability to self-publish, looking at a lot of activist artists and war graphics from WWI to the present. I'm not totally qualified to be the TA for that class, but I try to finesse the situation and answer technical questions about Quark and Photoshop (so far) as best I can. I'm learning a lot.

That three-hour block is followed by a six-hour break. In the past month, I've mostly stayed at school, working in the MacLab, reading in the library, or hiding away in my studio, doing art and stuff. From six to nine I'm in grad group critique, the single required course for all students in years one and two of the program. The school offers five or six sections of this course, so you're bound to get a pretty diverse group of students, from both years and all areas of the program. Occasionally, however, you, a painter/printmaker/image-maker, get stuck in a group dominated by "photo people." Either way, you won't get nearly as much out of this class as the administrators would lead you to believe. You're better off signing up for many individual critiques throughout the semester. And even then, after about a year of taking every bit of feedback to heart, you're free to select and discard which information is useful to you or not. They're good practice, though, for your review board.

That said, grad group critique always gets me fired up. Also by this time I've had about three doses of caffeine (I'm trying to cut back) so that it takes me hours to wind down. On top of all this, sometimes my priorities get all out of whack and I decide, instead of going to bed or staying up doing school work, to make mock wedding invitations for characters from t.v. shows like the Gilmore Girls and Lost. Needless to say, I go to bed late and toss and turn for hours before falling into a deep sleep around 4 a.m.

My alarm is usually set to wake me up at around 6:15 a.m. on Tuesday morning. It takes me about an hour and a half to do all the usual morning stuff in addition to feeding my two cats, making coffee and having breakfast, and packing lunch, and sometimes dinner, for the day. It takes me anywhere from 40 minutes to well over an hour to make the seven or eight mile T ride to school. That's why I get up at 6:15 a.m. to get to school by 9. And in the winter, I have to walk in the snow. I'm gonna have great stories to tell my grandkids.

Anyway, on Tuesdays I'm in Patte Loper's all day "Four Painters" seminar. I love seminars. Much less technical than studio classes but not as "academic" as an art history class. Patte brings in four "painters" over the course of the semester (they don't necessarily use paint, though). We read stuff that they recommend and talk about their work before meeting them in person (and eat free pizza from Sorento's). They give public lectures and you get to meet individually with about half of the artists she brings in. The first artist she invited this semester was Sheila Pepe. I had a brutal 30-minute critique with her. She essentially told me to stop explaining my work and then proceeded to pull out some really insightful stuff, even about older work where I thought I'd heard it all. Next week we'll host Amy Wilson. I've enjoyed perusing her website and many blogs in preparation.

On Tuesday evenings, while Neal has class, I usually try to head straight home and get some sort of aerobic exercise, but there's been a public lecture or presentation almost every week so far. There's a sculpture based sister class to Four Painters and their lectures are on Tuesday evenings. So even though my calendar called for a "Firm" step workout a few weeks ago, I heard MassArt's Taylor Davis talk about her work instead.

This week has been particularly speaker-heavy. On Tuesday, Mary Ann Friel, master printer and project coordinator at the Fabric Workshop Museum in Philadelphia, spoke about the workshop, museum, and several projects they've done with various artists since about 1977. I first learned about this place about four or five years ago, during my Laura Owens phase. She was one of many artists-in-residence there in 2000 or 2001 I believe. There are lots of pretty well-known pieces that I had no idea the FWM was a part of, like Felix Gonzalez-Torres' two clocks, Untitled (Perfect Lovers), and Paul Chan's floor projection that was installed in the Whitney Biennial earlier this year. Some of their current artists-in-residence include Mark Bradford, William Kentridge, Julie Mehretu, and Shahzia Sikhander. Friel also gave a fabric printing demonstration in my screenprinting class yesterday, during which I decided a repeat pattern printed on fabric would definitely be part of the installation I'm working on in that class.

Which leads nicely into Wednesday. Mornings are a repeat of Monday (during yesterday's Publish! class we hosted visiting artist/poet Robert Kendall and heard about his latest project, Logozoa), followed by an afternoon of intermediate/advanced screenprinting, led by Jenn Schmidt (who also happens to be my studio advisor). Jenn has organized a show for us in mid-November, giving us a tangible deadline to work toward. I've been tossing around two or three ideas this past month, taking baby steps toward making any decisions or real progress. But yesterday evening after class, while I was sitting in the annual Beckwith Lecture at school, my mind wandering as Lynne Cook talked about her curatorial practice for the Dia Foundation (something about site-specific installation and industrial spaces converted for gallery use), I had a really defined vision of my project, which, as mentioned earlier, has grown into an "installation." It all started with these little adirondack chairs I bought and painted colors like "summer blue" and "sunshine." Here's a chair that's been appropriated by one of the miniature cats from the miniature cat collection I have growing in my studio. More about that later.

Of course, normally after screenprinting I have to "haul ass" over to Tufts for my art history class, which, this semester, is Museum History and Theory. I skipped class last night to make it to this lecture, which was actually quite relevant to the course, but a bit of a snooze-fest. I got home around 8, though, a full two hours before I'd normally be home on a Wednesday evening. Either way, Neal and I usually catch up on t.v. while munching on popcorn and drinking fresca because I don't have to get up early on Thursdays. In fact, I don't have to get up at all, what with the lack of school or work today, but I usually have a long list of other stuff to do and occasionally make an appearance at Neal's weekly colloquium. On days like today, when I'm not all that interested in, for example, the fate of newspapers, I might at least make it to the free dinner that always follows.

On Fridays I try (in vain lately) to get my own work done while I "monitor" the screenprinting studio, unlocking the exposure unit for students, refilling spray bottles designated for Fantastik and emulsion remover, cleaning out scoop coaters left in the sink, and replacing brown kraft paper on the ink table. There's been a ceramics class in there the last couple of weeks and while I gripe to myself that I'm not getting any work done, I've actually really enjoyed helping them out. Ceramicists are nice.


art and stuff

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, school recently resumed for the year. I feel obligated, but not necessarily compelled, not yet at least, to write about it. I'm actually feeling remarkably good about the semester four weeks into it, but there's so much other stuff going on. Friends are having babies, voting materials need to be read, movies have been watched and need to be commented on, and a brand new season of television has begun. Plus, I haven't thought to take any images just yet. It's boring to write about art and stuff without any pictures to share. Next time.

As you may know, Gilmore Girls premiered on Tuesday. Knowing the creators have left the show (althogh Amy Sherman-Palladino did pop up as the executive producer), perhaps I'm searching for things to be off. But didn't it seem like the dialogue just wasn't up to par? Lots of it, fast-paced, and typically back and forth like a tennis match, but, I don't know, not as clever or something.

And a few observations about this cycle of ANTM thus far. Firstly, Tyra's lost it. Not only is it more and more blatantly the Tyra show (if you go to the CW's website, click on the show's page and then select "models," she's dead-center), but what's with the overly dramatic entrances several times every episode and the big hair and 50s dresses? And the neck/no-neck comparison in the premier so reminiscent of last cycle's demonstration of smiling with your eyes. I could barely tell the difference.

As usual, a couple of promising contenders didn't even make the top 13. I can only think of Becky at the moment and it's not just because we share the same name. She should be in the house, along with a few others. I never understand their thinking at first, although I'm usually pretty content with the winner. Of the girls remaining (and it's not, in my humble opinion, the strongest bunch), Melrose is probably my favorite. I like A.J., Caridee, and Brooke about equally. I didn't care for Anchal at first but she's grown on me. And I liked Megan but so much for that one. I didn't care about Christian leaving the first week, and didn't necessarily want Jaeda to go this week, but Megan shouldn't have left just yet. Monique should've been the one to go. Bad attitude, bad pictures, buh-bye. That would be my policy if I ran the show. Anyway, we'll see how Melrose does. I can sympathize with her cleanliness and resulting frustration with the other girls in the house. I thought it was hilarious, though, in the premier when she made a comment about being more mature and confident than the other girls because she's older. She's 23. There is a big difference between 18 and 23, I'll give her that, but 23 seems so young to me now.


duh, it's like a famous quote

I recently watched "Clueless" again and wanted to write about how excellent that movie is. It came out the year before I graduated from high school, but I remember watching it on video during my senior year, so I must have been just about Cher's age. I liked the movie so much, when, about a year later, I lived in an apartment without a VCR, I rented the video anyway and located a conference-style room in the complex where I lived and asked if I could use it and its VCR for a couple of hours.

So what do I like about the movie? Goodness, what don't I like about that movie?! I love how preppy and girly Cher is...Those were the days when long, unlayered hair was in and you could wear plaid head to toe. Matching was cool (I totally remember shopping at Contempo Casual!). I love her attitude about high school boys ("Searching for a boy in high school is as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie."). I like to think this is why I didn't have a boyfriend throughout much of high school. I like the bit about standing in line in P.E. class: "Miss Stoeger, I would just like to say that physical education in this school is a disgrace. I mean, standing in line for forty minutes is hardly aerobically effective. I doubt I've worked off the calories in a stick of Carefree gum." I think it says something about our educational system in general. Oh, oh, and the scene in the car, when Cher sets Josh's liberal arts collegey girlfriend straight on Shakespeare:

Heather: "It's just like Hamlet said, 'To thine own self be true.'"
Cher: "Hamlet didn't say that."
Heather: "I think I remember Hamlet accurately."
Cher: "Well, I remember Mel Gibson accurately, and he didn't say that. That Polonius guy did."

But mostly, I just like the way they talk. I wish everyone talked like that. I can't imagine ever being in a bad mood if I heard that all day long. But I wonder why I enjoy stories based in Southern California so much. Yeah, so I'm sorta "from" California, but I spent my eight years in Northern California. From what I hear, there's a big difference. So what is it about SoCal? From Beverly Hills 90210 to Melrose Place to Buffy to Six Feet Under and now the O.C....What's that about?

Speaking of which, here's what I'll be watching this season: House and Gilmore Girls on Tuesday, and America's Next Top Model, Lost, and, somehow, the O.C. on Wednesdays. Good thing Neal built us a Tivo-style HTPC. New shows I might check out inlcude Studio 60 and 30 Rock. I'd watch the Office, but I'm way behind on the American version, so I've added seasons one and two to my Netflix queue. Ambitious, I know.


the end...again

(Or...a dry, mostly sunny week: part five) School started a couple of weeks ago, so our trip to Oregon is a distant memory, but before I get into blogging about the semester so far I thought I should wrap up this multi-day post.

We took a red-eye flight back from Portland to Boston (via Atlanta, Georgia) Tuesday night, which gave us all day to make the roughly four-hour drive north. First stop (after breakfast at Bend's own tasty breakfast joint, the Original Pancake House) was Shaniko, a ghost town about halfway between Bend and the Columbia Gorge. In its heyday, right after the turn of the last century, Shaniko became known as the "wool capital of the world." Unlike other ghost towns I've been to (mostly in Nevada and not too recently), the newer buildings in Shaniko have been built between the old buidlings and the town has a general sleepy quality, although it was a weekday. I'd been to Shaniko before, toward the end of a road trip from Colorado Springs to Bend. I remember eating ice cream and taking a picture behind bars at the old jail. Maybe we were turned around, but I swear the old city hall and jail cell are no longer standing. You can still see pictures, though, on this website. I don't know how official it is or how regularly it's updated.

We spent fifteen minutes or so walking around town. This new and used gift shop was one of the few stores open that day.

Here's a view in the opposite direction, looking back at the hotel, which claimed to have no vacancy.

Here's an old piano on the porch of the miniature and old western style strip mall on a street parallel to the hotel. Isn't it creepy? Can't you just hear music playing, the keys moving up and down with no one around?

And this is the old school building, now a wedding chapel.

After Shaniko, we continued north to the Columbia Gorge, stopping at The Dalles to have lunch at Taco Time. I love Taco Time's motto: "Taco Time...It Really Is!" So true. I almost always have the veggie burrito, which has been served sans meat and on a wheat tortilla long before those things became food fads.

We continued along the Columbia Gorge toward Portland, making a couple more pit stops, first at Multnomah Falls.

It's a half-mile, round trip, up to the bridge, another mile or so, if I remember correctly to the top of the falls.

Neal took this picture, on the bridge, looking down.

Which reminds me, I should probably confess that Neal took a few of the pictures I've posted over the last few blogs. All the good ones...

We made one last pit stop before arriving in Portland, to check out another of McMenamins' establishments, Edgefield. Each McMenamins location has a story; Edgefield used to be a poor house, the Mulnomah County Poor Farm, to be exact. From their website:

"Residents operated a self-sufficient environment, raising hogs, poultry, growing a variety of fruits and vegetables, operating a dairy, cannery and meat packing plant as well as working in the laundry, kitchen and hospital."

What a great idea. Negotiating the parking lot that afternoon was a little confusing because they were getting ready for a Los Lonely Boys concert. We managed a fifteen minute or so tour, though, and I bought some of their coffee and a keychain in the gift shop. The keychain is a pig with a little silver button on his back. When you push the button, his nostrils light up and he oinks. I thought it would be handy for those nights when I'm leaving the studio late and I can't find the lock on my car door.

In Portland, before returning our rental car and trying, in vain, to sleep on the plane, we had dinner at Gustav's, the bierstube-like side of Rheinlander, a fine German restaurant on the east side of town. This is where I first had Spaten Oktoberfest. Actually, I think that was the first beer I really enjoyed (what with beer being an aquired taste...good thing I hung in there!). Anyway, after a fondue appetizer, I had my usual, the jager schnitzel. German food there and back, making this epic blog post doubly full circle.


a different kind of sunset

(Or...a dry, mostly sunny week: part four) Relaxing and eating is what I do best in Bend (and on vacation, although this comes only very recently, after years of practice and feeling like I should be more productive). But we did do a couple of interesting things the weekend we were there (in addition to relaxing, eating, and spending time with family). On Saturday, for example, we took the ski lift to the summit of Mt. Bachelor. I remember doing this at least once during a childhood summer visit, but the lift hasn't been open during the summer months for a good ten years or so. While I enjoy cross-country skiing once or twice a year, I'm not a big fan of speed, so I don't downhill ski or snowboard, which means I don't spend a lot of time on ski lifts (the most treacherous memory of my first and only time snow-boarding was the getting-off-the-lift bit at the top, with one boot buckled in and one dangling free). So the summer things works well for me.

Without a substantial base of snow below your feet, though, you're suspended precariously high off the ground, nothing but a metal bar keeping you from falling forward, to your death. More nerve-wracking were the yards upon yards of cable we noticed lying on the ground directly below us. What was it doing there? At least there weren't empty lift chairs and rotting carcasses or anything. But it's still a little scary. The view on the way up (and down) and at the summit, though, is indeed breathtaking.

Here's the view from the other side of the mountain.

Normally, you can see Bend pretty clearly in the distance, but the view was hazy because of recent and ongoing wildfires to the west. Here's a shot on the way down.

On Sunday, we were guinea pigs for my Dad's newest toys: two inflatable two-person kayaks. I think it took us longer to inflate the boats than the amount of time we spent floating down the Deschutes River. I did little to help, spending most of the pre-float time swatting mosquitos off my legs and arms. It was also the first time in years that I had to, uh, find a tree off in the distance, if you know what I mean. I like indoor plumbing...

On Monday, our last full day in Bend, we spent the late afternoon and early evening "para-waiting", as paragliders refer to all the time they spend waiting for the perfect, flyable wind conditions. Earlier that day, in town, we stopped at various windsocks and flagposts to scope it out, eventually coming to the conclusion that it was a definite possibility and ultimately making the half-hour drive to Pine Mountain. Sadly, for my Dad at least, the wind was too gusty. We flew big kites instead (one so big - nine square meters or something like that - it actually "plucked" my Dad off the ground and then drug him a good thirty feet or so before he let go).

Here's Neal with the smaller, tamer kite.

As the sun was beginning to set (another thing I like about the west coast...mountain sunsets, when the peak silhouettes look like paper cut-outs), we made the drive back to Bend, catching dinner and a movie at the old St. Francis School, one of many locations in Oregon and Washington renovated and reimagined as pub, art gallery, movie theater, and hotel by the Portland-based McMenamin brothers. We saw "The Da Vinci Code." I was thoroughly confused during most of the movie (maybe it was the "ruby" beer I was drinking), but I think it might just qualify for my summer film festival, ignoring Tom Hanks' role, of course...


in defense of Bend (and, perhaps, the scrunchy)

(Or...a dry, mostly sunny week: part three) On Friday morning we made a return visit to Pig 'n' Pancake. After breakfast, I stopped by their gift shop and picked up a stuffed animal version of their mascot and logo for a friend who's got a thing for pigs (but I had to have a picture before I gave it to her).

From Lincoln City we headed east, through Salem and across the Cascade Mountains to Bend, the hub of Central Oregon. My grandparents have lived in Bend for as long as I can remember, when you could buy a house there for $30,000. Ten years ago, when I lived there for about a year, the town was home to around 30,000. The population has more than doubled since then...which makes me feel really old, but I like being able to return to a place a couple times a year and remark on the way things have changed and grown since "my day."

I like Bend. I don't think I could live there again, at least not for awhile, but I enjoy visiting. The people are really friendly, there's a ton of stuff to do and always new restaurants to eat at, and the dress code is super casual. Most people who've been to Bend like it, but I have a friend who recently stopped there on her backpacking journey from Seattle to L.A. and she complained that Bend is a town where the scrunchy is still in style. The scrunchy is, I think, not so much in style as it is functional. The way I like to look at it, being a pretty casual person myself (although I can't say I own a scrunchy), I never feel underdressed or self-conscious in a town like Bend.

The other key to enjoying Bend is an apprecation for the great outdoors. You can play outside all year-round, from skiing on Mt. Bachelor in the winter, to kayaking down the Deschutes River in the summer. Just outside of Bend you can go spelunking, geocaching, and in general explore all manner of geological wonders, such as Big Hole, Hole in the Ground, and Crack in the Ground (yes, that's really what they're called).

My grandparents and the great outdoors is precisely why my Dad moved there in 1997. In addition to spelunking and geocaching, Bend is, apparently, not a bad place to paraglide, and paragliding is the love of my Dad's life. It's a solo sport that requires years of training and experience (unless there's a tandem pilot handy) so we spent most of the time chillin' at home, walking along the nearby creek and hanging out with my Dad's cat, Ozzy, who was my fifteenth birthday present.

Next time...more about Bend, and our return home, via a ghost town at Shaniko, the Columbia Gorge, and a red-eye flight to the South.