March 29, 2011 at 6:18 pm (Uncategorized)

I’ve been really sick with a fever for the last few days, and just roaming around in our apartment in misery, trying to pass the time til eventually (I assume) the fever will be gone and I can be a normal human being again.

I’ve been watching a lot of movies. One of them was Dogtooth:

Watching Dogtooth with a fever is a little like being in high school and hitting play on Pink Floyd’s The Wall just when the acid kicks in, but I didn’t realize this until I had started and by then, it was too late. I was hooked and couldn’t turn it off.

Anyway. It’s an immensely creepy and disturbing film with weird little tragic-comic touches and the whole thing comes off to me as a metaphor for the kind of internal logic that exists in families. You know, where the older brother is The Guy Who Can Do No Harm and the younger sister somehow is cast as The One That Always Screws Up. Even if to everyone on the outside these blanket pronouncements formed early in life based on (usually) trivial amounts of information seem ridiculous, within a family, they work. They don’t make sense, they’re not actually true, but they work. Other stories are built around these assumptions and then other ideas put into place that rely on those assumptions, and soon so have this tower of ideas that is based, basically, on nothing at all.

And it’s like that in the movie – the family, blocked off from the outside world, interprets key concepts totally differently than we do (for instance, a small kitten is seen as a terrifying, blood-thirsty creature who will stop at nothing to kill you). They do this down to basic vocabulary words (what other film could contain the line, “What would my father say if he knew that you made me lick your keyboard?”… and yes, it refers to what you think it does), but it’s all done in this slow, methodical, sort of way where first you dismiss it, then you grudgingly accept it, and then you realize how awful it is that you’ve accepted it at all.

Good film. Possibly made better with the fever, not sure.


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March 16, 2011 at 10:07 am (Uncategorized)

This is the only thing I can think to do…

Hajime, this is for you. I hope the video will play in Japan (sometimes youtube is funny like that). I was tempted to put something up by Shonen Knife because I remember how much you yelled at me for listening to them, but then I thought it was better to put something you’d actually like. 🙂 So, this is for the biggest Sex Pistols fan there is. Hang in there and please be ok.

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Hey, Spoonflower!

March 15, 2011 at 4:24 pm (Uncategorized)

Ok, in the Good News Department, my greatest discovery in some time is this amazing company called Spoonflower, which allows you to design your own fabric, print on demand.

Come up with a fabric design, upload your image, tile it, they print it, and you get as much as you want – from as little as a swatch to many yards at once. It’s amazing. And their prices are really good, too. They run from $18 – $32 a yard, which is totally in line with what you’d pay for really nice fabric at a store like City Quilter. (Yeah, I generally go for the buck-a-yard stuff too, but if you want fancy Amy Butler-style stuff, you’re gonna pay those prices anyway. So why give the Evil Amy your money?! Make your own!!)

Naturally, I have placed my order already. This is what one of them is going to look like. Just row after row of girls. I have no idea what I’m going to make with it, but I can’t wait til it gets here:


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Little Collector

March 15, 2011 at 4:17 pm (Uncategorized)

Probably the weirdest, and most out-of-the-box-thinking of recent art sites to capitalize on the 20×200 model is Little Collector.

LC conjures up a variety of emotions for me. On one hand, it’s utterly brilliant — I mean, there isn’t really any art marketing (in terms of sales of art) being done directly to kids. I mean, yeesh, talk about your untapped market. And it’s really great to see someone do something with this aforementioned model that is different than, say, completely ripping off what 20×200 already does, even if it’s just shifting the audience it’s geared to. And of course I love the idea of exposing kids to art.

On the other hand, I should be honest with one of my deeply-held beliefs: I find all marketing to kids to be creepy. Doesn’t matter if it’s cereal or action figures or limited edition prints, I just think that the less conspicuous consumption is taught, the better.

And then there’s also this: in a culture that is seemingly watering-down everything to appeal to a lowest common denominator, I’m a little nervous about the idea of contemporary artists making work that is geared to a (say) 7 year old audience. Children are not stupid; they are often more sophisticated and culturally literate than the grown ups around them. But in order for the transaction to actually work, the child must first see the print online, and then convince Mom and/or Dad to buy it for them. Which means it first has to pass the scrutiny of the child’s taste, and then past the what-Mom-thinks-is-ok-to-have-on-the-wall-in-my-room taste. That starts getting infinitely more complicated, more about decor and what grownups want to project onto their children, and also a lot less about the actual artwork and developing an appreciation for contemporary art.

I don’t know. I’m a little baffled by it.


Update, 4/26/11:

I got an email from Chrissy Crawford of Little Collector, who wrote to me the following:

Hi Amy, 

I came across your blog post this weekend and wanted to get in touch with you about LittleCollector. While I truly appreciate the thoughtful post, I think you might have the wrong idea about our mission. I started LittleCollector as a way to make (interesting) art for kids accessible for families – as an alternative to Disney posters and commercial wall art. We decided to produce prints to make the work as affordable as possible and chose to be a virtual gallery to reach parents outside of New York. I wanted families across a broad range of economic means and geographical locations to be able to engage their children with art and make it part of their homes. Lastly, a portion of all proceeds goes to RxArt and their work in hospitals. 
Anyway, I just did not want you to have the wrong idea. LittleCollector is a project near and dear to our hearts and I would love for you to stop by and see our prints and meet our team. We like full transparency and are completely open to questions and discussion. Our office is on Chrystie and Stanton (LES) and please stop by anytime. 


I told Chrissy that I’d publish her email, so that readers of this blog could see another side to the story. I hope to check out what they’re up to in person sometime soon, and to report back!

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Fight the real enemy.

March 13, 2011 at 1:03 pm (Uncategorized)

I could go the rest of my life without ever reading another article like this one:

Yuck yuck yuck yuck yuck. I’m not sure what more needs to be said.

(The reference for the title, in case you’re too young to know it, is the video below.)

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Open Art Collection

March 13, 2011 at 11:44 am (Uncategorized)

You might have noticed that there’s suddenly a slew of new art internet-startups popping up all over the place. I’ve definitely noticed, because ever since I posted my article on the VIP Art Fair, I’ve gotten tons of invites to check out the different sites (no complaints! it’s exciting to see all this happen!).

By far the most intriguing of the sites I’ve checked out is The Open Art Collection:

That image is a screen shot of part of my profile on OAC. In an ideal world, there would be a million dots circulating my name and the various categories available (kinda like a Mark Lombardi drawing); sadly, I’m not that popular, so there aren’t that many dots. Yet.

OAC is a tad confusing to meander around. For me, that’s actually part of its appeal. So many websites designed for the art crowd are so terribly basic and geared at an elementary school level that it’s sort of fun to encounter a site that takes some picking apart to understand. Basically, it’s set up to be social networking specifically for art people, and operates in a way that is closer to Linkedin than say, Facebook. Which is to say, the networking that it’s set up for seems to be of more of a “professional” quality rather than a “here are my vacation photos, won’t you be my friend?” quality.

That’s both good and bad. One of the things that’s really cool about how art people have embraced Facebook is that a lot of the pretension gets dropped in that forum. You might “friend” someone who is an art dealer or collector who is totally intimidating in your day-to-day life, but on Facebook you get this other side of them. You can see them be wacky, or more human, and that’s a relief. One collector that I’m friends with on Facebook also runs a family charity — I had no idea that she did such a thing, and I was so touched by her charitable work that I’ve donated money to her cause. When I “friended” her, that’s not really the connection I had expected. But it’s a real connection; I might not sell any drawings from it, but I’m frankly happier to have learned  about this amazing person out there than I am to have a few extra bucks in my pocket.

So OAC isn’t “Facebook for the art crowd,” mostly because Facebook already is. What it seems to want to do well (and it’s just starting up, so it’s unfair to expect it to be totally rocking at this point) is connect galleries to collectors, collectors to artists, and artists to galleries. Meaning, its strength seems to lay in connecting people between categories, and to do so in a business-like manner. (There is a link to something called the Safe Trade Escrow Center that doesn’t work yet, but that certainly sounds very professional and implies to me that the creators expect there to be money exchanging hands and deals made on OAC.)

Right now, most of the people signed up for OAC seem to be European, and of that, mostly Dutch. There’s a smattering of Americans here and there — mostly artists, not too many US-based galleries or collectors from what I can see. The Dutch members seem to be a relatively diverse group of people from all parts of the art community there. It’s hard for me to tell how serious those members are, as I know next to nothing about the Dutch art world. When you sign up, you get to self-define what you are in terms of your relation to art, and it will be interesting to see who chooses “collector” over “art enthusiast.” Is someone who calls himself an “art collector” someone who owns one or two paintings? Or someone who attends all the art fairs and regularly collects? I have no idea.

In fact, the self-defining factor of online social networking is a tricky one for art-related sites to deal with. I am writing this now… so am I a member of the press? I have a collection of artworks that I’ve gotten over the years — am I a collector? An artist? An art educator? So many people in the art world wear so many hats, it’s hard to pigeonhole yourself into one category, and hard also to prove your legitimate stake. But just like you have to apply to be a member of the press to get a press pass to the Armory show, I wonder if the same sort of tactic would be helpful for an art social-networking site. Are you a collector? Ok, prove it.

This is just a thought. But for now, OAC has a lot of potential, and I’m interested to see how it grows.

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Emma Bee Bernstein show in Brooklyn

March 10, 2011 at 8:03 pm (Uncategorized)

Emma Bee Bernstein: An Imagined Space
Janet Kurnatowski Gallery
March 25-April 23, 2011
Brooklyn, NY
reception: Friday, March 25, 7-9pm

This should be an amazing show. More info, press release, etc., click here.

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New drawings – fashion for co-joined twins

March 9, 2011 at 10:32 pm (Uncategorized)

This is a series I’m working on about the idea of “impossible beauty,” and the connection between fashion and fascism.

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New drawing (I think it’s finally happening)

March 7, 2011 at 11:23 am (Uncategorized)

I’m starting to incorporate stuff from the news into my work again, after a little bit of a hiatus.

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Website makeover

March 1, 2011 at 11:40 am (Uncategorized)

Yet another thing I’m adding to my sprawling and out-of-control Spring Break To-Do List. I want to add a ton of content to my website.

First there’s all the stuff that I’ve been meaning to add, but haven’t, for lack of time. This would include things like info on classes I teach, examples of student work, and way the hell more press clippings.

But then I want to also add other stuff. I want to give something away for free – a pattern, or some sort of downloadable thing. I want to hype the store some more, and maybe put some videos of me talking about my work, if it’s not too painful to watch. And I’m planning on a new Kickstarter soon, so a link to that would be great.

Hmm. Any other thoughts of things I can add?


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