6/4/10: Kiosk

June 4, 2010 at 9:46 am (art, culture, interesting, life, other sites to see)

En route to the opening last night, I happened across a really intriguing store in Soho. It’s been a very long time since anything in Soho seemed interesting or worthy of really slowing down and taking a look, so I guess I could be forgiven for hesitating outside and wondering if the trip in (which involved a flight of stairs and then following arrows pointing you around a graffitied hallway) would be worth it.

It is. Not really an art gallery and not really a standard retail shop and with a little etsy and Printed Matter thrown in, Kiosk is something really different. It’s apparently made up with objects culled during travels by the owners. Let me just quote their website – it’s just easier that way:

We opened the shop to provide an alternative to over-design. We consider the items we show to be humble, straightforward and beautiful in their simplicity and directness. Often they are traditional goods that have developed over generations or anonymous design found in general or hardware stores. We feature the things that generally go unnoticed, products created by not one personality but objects that are the result of local aesthetics and needs. Their value is sometimes hard to see in today’s market; our motivation to start Kiosk was to shed some light on these anonymous objects and support independent producers.

I tended to like the things in the store that were closer to “art” than to “anonymous design,” but it was fascinating to see the different kinds of objects laid out next to each other. One of my faves:

Mr. Hop by Roger Geier

Big plaster bunnies that they had laying on the ground, underneath a small “exhibit” of different kinds of gum from Iceland, which were laid out on a big fabric volcano.

Ok, if the above sentence doesn’t leave you wanting to go to Kiosk right now, I don’t know what will.


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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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5/28/10: 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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5/25/10: 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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5/17/10: Construction

May 17, 2010 at 10:37 am (art, interesting, jersey city, life)

This is what’s going on down the street from us, as they tear down the old Duncan Ave (aka A. Harry Moore) projects:

It’s crazy – the building looks like what happens when you rip apart a piece of fabric at a seam, and the little fibers of it dangle out as if they’re desperately trying to hold the fabric together.

I’m drawing buildings now – big fields, dotted with houses, very different than this building, but someone’s home all the same. So the above scene was something bizarre to stumble across this morning as I took the dog for a walk.

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5/15/05 – special bonus post! Escape From NY!

May 15, 2010 at 3:08 pm (art, life, other sites to see, thoughts, Uncategorized)

I just learned about this from the blog Heart As Arena, because the blogger was nice enough (unrelated to what this post is about) to twitter something kind about my work, which sent me over to his blog, which lead me to…

Escape From NY, a really ambitious-sounding exhibition in Paterson, curated by Olympia Lampert. Opens today, but if you’re late to find out about it (as I am), it runs til mid June.

This is a tiny section of the factory they have for the show. It's going to be huge.

I’m a Jersey girl through and through, so I’m generally supportive of anything that happens over here. But this show definitely sounds next level: gigantic, professional, and all-around wonderful. My only fear is that tons of NYers will go and suddenly realize that parts of NJ are a lot closer than parts of Brooklyn, plus that’s seriously nice and also very cheap out here, and this will blow the lid off my ability to walk the dog in the morning with mismatched socks and some serious bedhead without the fear of running into people I know. But I’m willing to take that risk.

A secret between you and me: I’m a little bitter that I’m not in the show. However, that doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm for it and for all the ridiculous amount of labor that had to go into pulling something like this off.

Go Olympia Lampert!!

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5/14/10: Mississippi update

May 14, 2010 at 10:11 am (art, culture, interesting, life)

The kind folks over at Ole Miss sent me some pics of a project they have going on in relation to the show I have up at their museum. I’m not quite sure the ages, but through some sort of after-school program, kids were brought in and shown my work, and then they went on to create a huge map of the US.

I don’t totally follow how it all came together, but the work is too great not to share. I do know that as part of the project, the kids had to pick something to represent the states they were drawing. And in the examples below, the kids chose Tupperware, the ACLU, and Shirley Chisholm. That completely made my day.

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5/13/10: Lincoln Park, a hot dog, and a mysterious woodland creature

May 13, 2010 at 12:29 pm (dog, jersey city, life, Uncategorized)

Taking a break from shilling totes. Here are some pics from my walk with Oscar this morning.

Anyone know what the last critter is?

Mystery creature? I seriously don't know what this is.

Confused possum?
Inbred raccoon?
Oversized hedgehog?
Tiny bear?
Seriously, I’m a city girl. I have no idea what this guy is.

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5/11/10 (part two!): Last tote bag teaser images before you can actually buy one!

May 11, 2010 at 11:03 am (art, interesting, life, other sites to see, personal, Uncategorized)

Wednesday, May 12th at 7pm, you’ll be able to buy them here.
(The page is nothing to look at until 5/12 at 7pm. But then? Woo boy!)
I will release ten of them a week. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

In the meanwhile, here’s some pictures from our photo shoot yesterday:

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