Thursday, June 21, 2012

Obey the Hop God

Though I enjoy a good fru-fru drink to mix things up and wine has its moments, BEER is my old stand by. I'm just that kind of gal. I think it runs in my family, I remember going to visit my grandma years ago and finding her refrigerator empty save for a few cans of beer! And my mom made beer, waaay before it became trendy (early 80s) and we used the spent grain from Anchor brewing as compost in our garden when I was growing up. Back in the early 90s, my boyfriend (now husband) made beer in his Yosemite dorm room with fresh Sierra snow melt! I even brewed a batch all by myself to celebrate his return from his ride across the country on the TransAmerica.  We've had hops growing in our yard for almost 10 years and I have always been attracted to the chartreuse flowering vine. I've been wanting to make Beer art for a long time but could never really peak anyone's interest with my grainy ideas, until . . . C. Haberman told me that he curates the space at Amnesia Brewing and had an open slot in July. "July is Craft Beer Month", I said, "Let's do a Beer Show!" and here we are.

Stay tuned for more details about the show coming soon!

Meanwhile, today was a GOOD day. Moved the studio into the backyard, the boy got a quality stretch of time with his best bud and I made some art. I am thanking the universe for working with me for a change.  Hallelujah!

Out of the Bone Cave - into the sweet open air!

“Beer is the reason I get up every afternoon.” — Anonymous

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Can - Do!

Lots on tap today! It's the weekend -which means soccer, a Garden Tour and a BBQ tonight and then tomorrow will be a Plant Sale, baseball, a bike ride and a Father's day celebration. The big challenge will be fitting in some studio time! I've been prepping boards, cutting up cans and smashing bottle caps. . . but I haven't finished any new art yet! It's times like these that I struggle the most with my priorities (and time management). How to meet my deadlines and still be fair to my family? Must find a way for everyone to win, get what they want and be happy.

I CAN do it!

“In Vino Veritas, In Cervesio Felicitas (In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is joy)”

Friday, June 15, 2012

Late Start


OK! It's almost noon now and I think I've almost recovered from the depths of last night's Deeeeeepression. It's only the 2nd day of Summer Vacation for crying out loud! Must turn this frown upside down and stop wallowing in the pit of self-examination. The SUN is shining and my son is prancing around the house in a beret, desperately vying for my attention. Going to brush my teeth and hit up a garage sale. Maybe some gardening later, hopefully some art making!! I will try not to expect too much. I will try not to question everything. I will try to lighten up, love more generously and live mo betta! It will be what it will be.

'Artist' is not a Job.

There is no image for this post.

Tonight, I painted with beer. I have been wanting to do this for a while now. I know it is common for people to use coffee and tea, but I thought I might be on to something by trying a nice chocolate stout . . . until el Hueso reminded me of that woman from Bend who paints with beer! She was in the Fort George Beer show last year, I completely forgot!  I wonder how many other ideas I get that are not my own? Is an original idea even possible anymore in this overactive, over-populated world where everything's already been done several times over -simultaneously! I think it's time for me to accept that the idea of originality is dead. Why even bother trying to come up with something new? What if the secret to success is more about the familiar? Why bust my brain trying to reinvent the wheel when I can just go with what I know? If I were smart, I would just build upon what has worked for me instead of constantly starting over, constantly searching for the Golden Ticket.  I find the familiar a bit boring, so instead of perfecting a skill, I keep exploring new ones, never amounting to a master of anything.

As I was painting tonight in the dimly lit bar, I realized that I could barely see what I was I was doing. My old eyes are failing me and I'm not ready to start wearing my reading glasses in public yet. I started to wonder what difference anything makes. And then I was reminded of a 'friendly argument' between a husband and wife I know who disagree about the definition of an artist. . . he argues that if you make art that is never seen then you cannot call yourself an artist. Just as an actor requires an audience, an artist requires a viewer. She argues that the mere act of creating makes you an artist, that it's more about HOW you express yourself as a painter, dancer, actor, writer, musician, etc. than WHO you express it to. All this makes me wonder: WHO are we doing it for anyway? Motives may vary for the reasons we do it, but the underlying factor that is hitting me over the head lately is how selfish it all is! You have to be pretty self-centered to choose to be an artist. Instead of working to become a nurse, teacher or scientist, the artist decides to hone the skill of expressing THEMSELVES and how THEY see things.  Thankfully, there is a hungry 'audience' out there who see great value in this and appreciate it. But while the artist is being praised for their bravery, and receiving accolades for putting themselves 'out there', who is considering the means of support that makes it all possible in the first place? The behind-the-scenes benefactor receives no credit, though deserves it the most.

For some it might be uber-wealthy parents who bestow the support . . .
why can't we all be Trustafarians?!
For me, it is my humble, unhappy husband who busses off to work everyday
(so I can have the car) and slaves away at his gut-wrenching, soul-sucking job to keep food in our bellies and a roof over our heads while I ponder the meaning of life and how to best express it. This arrangement leaves me riddled with guilt and it's not working for either of us. It's not fair. He doesn't really understand what I'm doing or how I say the art world works, but he's been patient. It's been 3 years now without me bringing anything to the table (financially) and his migraines have increased to worrisome proportions. How can I make art at such a cost?
Yes, I'm showing my art here and there and even selling a few paintings every now and then, but it's not nearly enough to alleviate the stress. It's just not worth it to watch my love suffer for my art. I wonder how many other artists are in the same boat and how they reconcile their predicaments? I get the feeling that most folks at 'Craft Night' are single, either don't have children or their kids have grown up? Maybe it's just not the right time for me to be an artist. Should I wait until my kid is grown, that's only 9 years or so, (I'll be eligible for AARP in 5) Perhaps I'll be tragically hip by then!

Not sure where to go from here. Just when I think I'm on to something, on my way . . .

I find out I'm doing it for all the wrong reasons.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fighting the Flow

A teacher, an office manager, 2 physical therapists and a wanna-be walk into a bar, can you guess which one just doesn't belong?  These are a few of my friends: The professional career women, the well dressed contingent who work to make money to provide a better quality of life for their families. I'm no less driven or passionate about my need to succeed as they are, so where did I go wrong? Why do I find myself increasingly unskilled to compete on their level? Why does the divide seem so deep? Am I really destined to live merely a half-assed Life? Who's fault is it? Why can't I stop measuring my worth by the success of others?

I was actually the first to walk into the bar (in spite of my effort to be fashionably late). The staff sneered and profiled me from the get-go. I wasn't 'their type'. Fuck them! How do they know who I am? I usually avoid the place like the plague, been screwed too many times and it just ain't worth it to shell out good money to be abused by holier-than-thou hipsters, but I thought I'd give them yet another chance. As my friends arrived, the air of judgement from the staff began to reek as we table hopped a few times trying to get comfortable. The bartender didn't appreciate that and the vibe was more than unfriendly. It's a bar, get over it.

We were ridiculed for not reading the signs on tables (which looked like garbage) that explained there was no outside patio service. It was all downhill from there. Not enough ink or piercings I suspect. Oops, I forgot my ironic trucker hat -maybe then they would have been nice to me! It's a shallow shame to be sized up based on your appearance. Just because I don't wear cool shoes doesn't mean I'm square, just means I'm practical and perhaps less in debt.  Little did they know that I am actually a double agent. I don't fit in with my friends either, just infiltrating the successful class for the night . . . spying on 'the greener side'.

It sux to feel like I don't have a peer group or at least a BFF. It sux to feel like no one ever gets me and that I'm constantly vying for acceptance no matter what circle I'm in. It sux not to have come up with an external image that better reflects my internal personality by now.

Even at my friendly neighborhood Craft Night, I get the sideways looks for appearing a bit too Normal to be an artist with any real talent. But then I proceed to overcompensate by acting like a blubbering airhead just to prove that I really don't have my shit together. I just dress/act generically to transition better between the dark side to the light. It's been tough trying to live a bohemian art-filled life and still hold my own as a semi-respectable mom in the school halls and on the soccer field. In the end, I don't really succeed at either.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Blinded by the Light

After a brief flurry of activity the other day, I am derailed again. But the light at the end of tunnel is bright as my LAST big volunteer commitment at school will be over by 4pm today! I have spent the last few weeks putting together a small festival to celebrate our Walk and Bike to School efforts scheduled for this afternoon. After this party's over, I can happily hop back on the Art Train, hopefully without too much distraction. Oh what a relief to be off the hook (and out of school). No more fundraising planning, organizing, coordinating, marketing, poster designing/printing/hanging, endless email back and forth, blah, blah, blah! I'm not even on the PTA board and yet I sure do seem to spend a massive chunk of my day working on school stuff. I always have to laugh (in a sad-black-comical sort of way) when people ask me if I work at the school . . . Ha! I WISH I was getting Paid! This morning, I was treated to a lovely Volunteer Appreciation breakfast along with a roomful of other dedicated parent volunteers who all work hard to contribute to the community we have created. Lewis is fortunate to have a strong body of parent involvement, we could use a lot more help, but on the flip side, it could be much worse.

It may sound selfish, but I am more than ready to fade back into my own life again and refocus my energy full bore on my own personal priorities.

Click this link to see pictures from the event:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Gettin' Jiggy in the BoneYard

The SUN came out today. . . and so did my power tools!

Felt good to get a little sawdust in my hair. Finally getting busy on some new work. 
Not sure what I'm doing yet or how it's gonna turn out, but I'm starting!

Here's a hint. . .

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

black cat moan

Kerouac with Cat Whiskers
Saw this in a stall at the Stars Antique Mall today

Falling further into June and I'm already off the wagon. Five days into it and I haven't made any art yet. This is how it goes, this is why I'm blogging, searching for the secrets to a well-balanced Life. Hoping I'll find a way to fit it all in, or learn how to accept it when it doesn't. Not sure how to let go of how I think things are SUPPOSED to work. I keep making plans and not following them. Living in a loop of frustration. What will it take to be satisfied? Wish I didn't expect so much. Time to drink more, make art and hope I don't feel like shit in the morning.

Jack Kerouac
“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
Jack Kerouac, Dharma Bums

Sunday, June 3, 2012


In front of the PNCA Design Arts Dept. (sw10th and Salmon)
on the day I packed up my studio just before the school moved. 1998?

In 1995 we moved to Portland so I could go to Art School in Beervana. I had done a semester at the Academy of Art in SF, but el Hueso wasn't hip to living in the Bay Area, so we loaded up the truck and moved to the great green NW -where the beer practically falls out of the sky!

My time at the Pacific Northwest College of Art seems so surreal to me now, especially since the school I went to isn't there anymore. I learned how to paint in the Portland Art Museum, took printmaking, photography and anatomy in the wing that now houses a collection of Native American art. It sure felt like a big deal then, but feels quaint in comparison to the internationally renowned entity that PNCA has become. When the school moved to the Pearl district, it underwent a transformation that I feel little connection to.  The only part that remains of the school I knew is the sculpture studio -that I had to cross town to get to. It was out in the middle of NOwhere, in the scuzzy warehouse district that now poses as 'The Pearl'. I didn't mind the walk; a 15 minute adventure thru the gritty underbelly of Vaseline Alley, beneath the bustling bottling bridge between the Weinhards Brewery bldgs into the dusty unpaved streets of the industrial North side. It was there that I got to play with plaster and wood and metal and got turned on to the concept of assemblage. There between Bridgeport Brewing and Henry Weinhards where something was always fermenting and the air was thick with malted barley.

I went back there last night . . . but as an alien from another planet!

In my twisted, round-about attempts to find myself and/or a JOB, this past year I started volunteering for stuff. In addition to my efforts at my son's school, I signed up to be a parent advocate for the Right Brain Initiative. When it became clear that that wasn't going to get me anywhere, I signed up to volunteer at the Museum of Contemporary Craft -hoping that it might lead to some form of gainful employment, but so far, all it's gotten me is a tote bag and a free (unused) drink ticket. Interestingly enough, in 2009, PNCA and the MoCC joined forces, so now by volunteering for the Museum, I am inadvertently donating my free labor to the school I graduated from (and paid big bucks to!) shouldn't I be doing better by now?! Don't they owe Me something? I'm trying to make sense of it all but it feels like a big joke somehow. Here I am struggling to make something of myself, and yet I'm still not getting anywhere, in fact, I'm going backwards.

So Last night was the Big PNCA Donors Gala: a party for some of the richest people in P-Town (the swankiest affair I've ever been to!). I signed up to work the Silent Auction. The volunteers reported to the sculpture studio -the only part of the school that is virtually unchanged since I attended. I didn't recognize anyone I knew from the school, I felt completely disconnected. It's all so different now! They closed off the block to set up tented pavilions for the formal dinner and after party. There was even an elaborate stage with sexy(?) half-dressed go-go-boyz pole dancing to funky disco remixes. What was I doing here?!! Where did I fit in to all this? It was all messing with my head in a bad dream sort of way, like getting sucked into a time-based installation which leaves you hanging in suspension between the familiarity of the past and the bizarre foreign reality of the present. I'm still sorting it out.

Bear with me, but here's how I see it: The Rich donate to the school to make it better for the scrappy (starving) artist to go to learn how to make better art to sell to the rich who make the rich (gallery owners) even richer while the artist (still starving!) ends up donating their time because they can't get a real job. Or even sadder. . . the artist is so busy working to pay off their student loans and support their families that they lack the energy or inspiration to make art at all anymore. The system is designed to keep the artist poor, unhappy, and starving! -Makes for better art, eh? I don't mean to be so sensitive, but that whole experience last night left me feeling very small and very poor and a bit disenfranchised. Fuck the system!

I think it's very meaningful to volunteer, it's just that I could really use a paycheck Dammit! I'm just not sure how I should be directing my volunteer efforts or who I am doing it for anyway. . . or why.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Won't give up!

created for June Skateboard Show at Space Monkey

June is gonna be a doozy!

There's only 8 more days of school for my boy, that's 8 days left of private studio time for mama! After that, it's anyone's guess HOW I'll get anything done. I have a big show to prepare for at the end of the month and I'm starting to stress that I won't be able to put all that I want to into it. This month is going to be about Time Management, testing my limits and hopefully discovering what I'm made of. Am I capable of meeting all my goals? Can I be a full time artist and a full time mama at the same time?  I sound like a broken record, but it's the same old conundrum any self-'employed' parent faces on the verge of every Summer;  How the Hell am I gonna pull it all off?!

When I started this blog 3 years ago, it was in response to my layoff; to track my transition through a major life change. But I haven't really blogged much, and when I do it's usually just an announcement about my latest piece and where it's showing. I rarely delve into how I got there or what happened along the way. I hope to reach deeper now and expose a bit more of the engine that makes it all go. It may be tedious, self-absorbed and boring, but it's time to use this blog less as a forum for self-marketing and more as a tool for self-discovery. I have such a convoluted idea of who I am and where I'm going, but I am on a mission to make that clearer to myself. It's a personal struggle that may or may not be of interest to anyone else, but it's work I've got to do and for some crazy-narcissistic reason, I've decided to make it public.

So for the 28 days left in June, I'm undertaking a Blogathon (on top of everything else!). The idea is to track my process, focus and account for my time and what I spend it on. Can I remain on track and be present and directed. . . we'll see!

I have to admit that my renewed dedication to this Blog is hugely inspired by the incredibly motivational commencement speech Neil Gaiman gave at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia:

"The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.

The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you're walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That's the moment you may be starting to get it right."

Watch the whole thing! 

See all the decks of the Skateboard Show on view thru June at Space Monkey