5/31/10: Cirrosis of the heart

May 31, 2010 at 1:27 pm (art, interesting, life)

I remember the moment exactly: It’s 1988, and I’m 15 and I’m in a local record shop in my hometown of Montclair, NJ. After chatting with the owner a bit, I tell him I’m in the market for the weirdest, most out-there and bizarre music he has. Without missing a beat, the guy quickly says, “Oh, well – that would be Foetus,” and quickly leads me over to his modest section of records in his F pile. And then – and this is the truly genius moment – the guy adds, “Oh, except – just so you know, most girls don’t like Foetus.”

Wow, buddy, way to 1000% insure that I would plunk down alllll of my babysitting money that very moment on anything with the Foetus name on it. Looking back on the incident with adult eyes, I’m pretty sure I fell hard for a marketing ploy. But I’m so glad I did.

The experience of being a human being is tethered to the experience of feeling utterly alone and empty, pretty much any time you stop and actually think about it; it’s what one does with that loneliness and emptiness that defines what kind of person we are, but we all feel it. I think you’re incredibly lucky over the course of a lifetime to meet a handful of people who deal with that sense in the same way you do, because it can serve to remind you – in a profound sort of way – of the universality of this feeling.

I don’t know J.G. Thirlwell, but I know his music extremely well. We actually have had a few people in common over the years, but I haven’t ever tried to meet him (hey, he passed me on the street once, and I let the guy go about his business without being a creepy stalker fan); I don’t even really read any interviews with him or anything like that. It’s the music that’s important, and through his music he’s made me realize that maybe there is another human being out there with my particular combination of anxiety disorders, sick humor, allergies, and bad teeth, who also likes to watch the Simpsons. Is it true? Do we really have so much in common? I have no idea and I’m not actually sure I care about what the reality is, but that I can listen to his music and feel like I’m not the only weirdo wandering around this world has meant an incredible amount to me.*

Anyway. Thirlwell will be performing with Steroid Maximus for FREE at the Prospect Park Bandshell on June 18th. You should go and, if you do, you should look for the tall girl spazzing out and having a great time.

*Oh, if you can’t figure out for the life of you why an artist who spends her life drawing sweet little girls would feel such an affinity with someone who often write such bleak lyrics… well then, you’ve never really read any of my drawings then, have you?


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5/30/10: Trading

May 30, 2010 at 12:08 pm (dog, interesting, life)

The dog and I have a system worked out.

A small collection of Oscar's many, many sticks.

During the last five minutes of our walks, he picks up a stick and carries it home. Once home, he trades it to me for a treat. I then take the stick away from him and put it on top of our fridge (eventually it goes back outside or gets thrown away). I have seen this dog assume that we were on the last five minutes and wind up carrying a stick for a good 20 minutes or so, totally determined to get it home; I’ve also seen him scramble as we got closer to home and quickly grab a ridiculously oversized stick because that was the only one he could get to.

Anyway, this is all pretty awesome. It started out as a once in a while thing, then slowly it became only at the end of our evening walks. Now he’s doing it at least twice a day; I wouldn’t be surprised if we were up to three or four times a day by next week. Perfectly ok by me. I like having a dog with a working understanding of capitalism.

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5/29/10: Tote update

May 29, 2010 at 10:26 am (Uncategorized)


We may be coming to the end of the Great Tote Bag project sooner rather than later. I have a TON of vinyl left, but only a certain percentage of it is really tote-bag-worthy. I predict we have another 30 or 40 totes coming down the line, tops. Maybe. I’ll know better after an inventory of the remaining vinyl today.

What I’ll do with all the scraps left over remains to be seen. I tried playing around with ipod cases and business card holders yesterday, but they’re not really as interesting as totes. My latest idea is to make some homemade artist books and use the scraps as part of the covers. That is, however, a hell of a lot of homemade artist books, but on the other hand, the vinyl’s getting down to a manageable pile and maybe there’s not so much of a rush to use it all up.

Suggestions welcome!

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5/28/10: Ed Ruscha’s books

May 28, 2010 at 9:53 am (art, culture, interesting, life, other sites to see)

Ed Ruscha is one of those people that still, after all these years, a disappointing number of East coast art students know about. It’s shocking to me how many 3rd and 4th year BFA students and plenty of MFA candidates draw a blank stare when I mention his name. What’s especially weird about it is that if you have graduated from art school and spent a few years in the art world, it seems unimaginable that anyone alive wouldn’t know who Ruscha is.

I’ve heard various theories as to why this is the case (the Biggie vs Tupac/East vs West coast one is by far the most frequently cited). Personally, I think it’s because the artist has worked across mediums a lot, the photographers consider him a painter, the painters a photographer, and the print/book people (who are REALLY the ones who should be teaching him) just assume he’s been taught in either photo or painting class.

Well, don’t get me started. But the point is, I’ve been thinking about Ruscha’s books a LOT over the last couple of weeks:

His books, which contain mostly straightforward “documentary” photographs of what is mentioned on the cover (apartments, pools, gas stations, etc; in my favorite case, “Baby Cakes,” his book features pictures of both babies and cakes), are totally phenomenal. And maybe because they look so straightforward that they don’t get considered by book art teachers enough (I’ve seen people lecture endlessly on some obscure artist who made a really insane tunnel book but then completely skip over Ruscha’s contribution to the field), but to me, this is their strength. They float around and find their way into regular bookstores (or they did, before they became highly collectible). They’re inviting, accessible, and understandable. And yet they point to a bigger project and act as a gateway to the rest of the artist’s work.

No matter how many Kindles are sold, books aren’t going away. Definitely not books that rely upon imagery – I would love to have a Kindle so that I can bring it with me rather than lugging around some art history book, but I’m never going to get one to look at art/design/fashion/etc books. For those, I need the book before me, to have the ability to leaf through it and turn it by hand. And with printmaking processes becoming cheaper and easier to do in short runs, I’m surprised more artists aren’t taking advantage of the medium.

Books are (or can be) an intervention into everyday life. They’re stealth operators.

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5/27/10: There’s always money in the banana stand.

May 27, 2010 at 1:04 pm (culture)

I was a fan of Arrested Development from the first time I saw it. However…

It wasn’t until Charlize Theron’s character (your standard issue RomCom pretty, wacky, childlike, sweet, slightly dim, cute, not very difficult or demanding, “special”, magical, happy all the time naif) wound up to be mentally retarded that I truly lost my heart to that show. Dear god, that was brilliant writing. For one brief moment, all my anger and hostility at being patronized and patted on the head my whole life by the media trying to sell me some gross lie about how I could be happy if I just gave up and became stupid, was acknowledged.

And then, in an instant – poof! – it was over.

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5/26/10: Revisiting

May 26, 2010 at 9:34 am (Uncategorized)

This is going to seem like a blast from the past, but:

Katie has encouraged me to finish this project I started almost a year ago and got too distracted by other things to ever finish. And it’s a good time for me to get cracking on it: This piece was originally conceived of as a kind of birthday present to myself. Each square of the piece (this image = one square) contains 36 elements (in this case, teeth, but in others leaves, people, etc) and when the project is done, there’s supposed to be 36 squares. The text, which has already been written and planned out, refers to some issues that I’ve been struggling with in my life as an artist.

All that is good, I think. But there’s just one problem: In three months, I’m turning 37, and I only have two squares done. Am I really going to want to be working on a project about being 36 when I’m 37? Probably not. So I’d better get this done ASAP.

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5/25/10: Secret tree world

May 25, 2010 at 10:16 am (art, gardening, interesting, life)

Argh. I had an amazing photo of the inside of a tree that I took in Lincoln Park the other day, but I can’t find it. This will have to suffice:

You get it. I'm talking about a hole in a tree.

There are all these trees in the park that have holes in them, and when you peer inside you can see that there’s mushrooms and other plants growing in there, and that it’s probably a home for a squirrel or raccoon (and also, one assumes, faeries, elves, hobgoblins, pixies, smurfs, aliens, spirits, ghosts, and possibly the devil).

It reminded me of the idea of building “fairy houses” – apparently a trend right now, where parents and kids will go out into the garden and create little homes to lure fairies to their property. Apparently, this is a huge thing; not having kids, I was totally unaware of it until I went to Mississippi and everyone there seemed into making them.

Hmm. I’m intrigued.

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5/24/10: Bonus! Best Tavi ever!

May 24, 2010 at 9:48 pm (Uncategorized)

I’m not a devoted Tavi junkie, mostly because I don’t really care that much about fashion. But now that my work is going to be in this Italian fashion magazine (apparently? I’m always so nervous about saying that stuff before it hits the stands, because you never really know if you’re in until you’re in or not), I figure I’d better know something about fashion, right?

But more than all that, as I was walking down the street this morning, this quote from Tavi’s blog popped into my head and I nearly peed myself laughing. I dunno. It reminded me of why I love teaching in college (even though the author is much younger) and all the great exuberance and chutzpah that young women have. Love, love, love.


I have a mild obsession with Prada lookbooks. I tried to go to Kinko’s once to have one of the images printed on big fancy paper to hang up on my wall, but the girl working there was chomping on a Twizzler and staring at me like I was nuts for wanting to PRINT AN IMAGE AT KINKO’S MY GOD HOW STRANGE. Then she said something about copyright and I said it was for personal use only, and then she was all “why do you want a photo of a girl and an octopus anyway?” and I was all WHAT DO YOU CARE THIS IS KINKO’S PRINT MY IMAGE ALSO DO YOU HAVE ANY MORE TWIZZLERS I’M KIND OF HUNGRY.


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5/24/10: More blog love

May 24, 2010 at 10:20 am (art, drawing, other sites to see, personal, Uncategorized)

Few people have been quite as supportive of my work as John Haber and his site Haber’s Art Reviews. Just yesterday, John updated a long article he has about me and my work, which spans the last five years.

It’s a little crazy for me to read an article that considers all the NYC shows I’ve had. The last five years have been nuts. I’ve barely had a chance to slow down and really think about them. I found it a little overwhelming to see this article, but also of course really wonderful and I’m so pleased that John would consider my work so seriously.

His lead story on his site is about the show I have up right now at BravinLee programs (is now a good time to point out that the show is up til June 5th?). Thank you so much, John.

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5/23/10: So beautiful

May 23, 2010 at 10:42 am (art, culture, other sites to see)

I have a brochure for this show that was up a couple of years ago and I can’t throw it away. This is the image on the cover. Who could ever throw this away?

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