To be an artist you have to give up everything, including the desire to be a good artist…
– Clayton Cubitt
I have to agree with this. It’s not to say that you shouldn’t want to be good. But it shouldn’t be the ‘why’ of you doing something. I see plenty of people buy nice camera equipment or take classes out of a desire to become artistic. But the people that stand out… the people that get noticed, they do it because they have to do it. They might occasionally stop and plan — that’s good craft — but they just as likely will be overcome by a glimpse of something and react instinctively.
It isn’t to say you cannot be good without that passion. Just that when you find your passions, those are places where you will really stand out.
Art is why you do something. Craft is how you do something.
– Clayton Cubitt
Since they’ve started using this shot, it should be safe to share. Was very happy to do a photo shoot a couple weeks ago with Since Antarctica. They were as hawt as they are awesome.
Crush old American-made cars. Display them in a vast empty factory that formerly employed those Americans, on a property footprint that could house thousands of them. Charge them twice their minimum wage to view. Forbid them to take photographs of any of it. Position guards every 50 feet to monitor them. Wonder why people think art is elitist and disconnected from their lives.
– Photo and Words by Clayton Cubitt
Resolutions, goals, whatnot. What do I want to do or get from the coming year.
I’ll publish a photo book. I don’t know what theme there will be yet. Lots of possibilities. But I want to do something new with my photographs. So I will put together a book, and offer it up on a print-on-demand service. Actually selling anything is a pretty low priority. Putting together an Artomatic exhibit this past year was an experience. So now onto another new one.
I’ll buy a house. I’ve actually been at this for probably close to half a year. But sadly, even though I have a contract, we haven’t yet made it to closing. Knock on wood, we will close shortly after New Years. And then the real fun begins. There’s all the excitement and fun I look forward to … painting, decorating, hosting, renovating… . And there’s all the unexpected problems… furnace, leaks, thefts, breakage. There’s the fear, of being responsible. There’s the accomplishment of another new way to take control of my life. It’s going to be something.
More to come…?
While overall, I can be drawn to a photo for many reasons, there are some obvious trends in my favorite photos (taken by other photographers); as seen by looking at my favorites on Flickr.
Many of the Japanese photographers in my Flickr list have similarities in style. It’s a soft-focus, high-contrast style; often in black and white. It conveys an intense and intimate atmosphere. Bokeh is big; or at the very least, a short depth of field. Some of my favorite Chinese photographers are similar, but often with a deep, sharp focus, instead of the shallow soft of the Japanese.
Just Lost by Jon Siegel
Untitled by Junku Nishimura
Shooter by Tetsuya “Blues” Kusuyama
You pick up a camera. You walk out into public by yourself; or with a friend or two. And you take pictures of other people, other places, and their stuff. It’s very hard for most people, because not only are you outside of your own comfort zone, but you’re invading other people’s. You might be capturing beautiful pictures. You might be documenting the every day around you. You might be telling stories and sharing moments. But it’s all coming from the public around you with minimal staging and equipment.
naomi klien by Ronnie Yip
Untitled by Sara Flemming
West Thirty-seventh Street by Joe Holmes, (in my opinion, the King of street photographers)
Pro ERA demo, Washington DC, 1981 by Marcelo Montecino
(Ironically, I had a hard time finding sample of “street photography” on Flickr that I could use. These people whose livelihood as photographers relies on an open, public space, had all locked down their photos and disallowed uses like this entry. Don’t share with me? I won’t share my audience with you.)
I did another one of the Latex Body Paint photo shoots, last weekend. Wonderful model… good time. I was told the privacy standard this time was basically “the model doesn’t want to be recognizable”. So I’m posting one of the few photos without a face in it. Click below to see it. (Warning: It contains nudity that may disturb small animals, children, and my mother.) If you’re my friend and interested in seeing the rest, let me know…
Just a quick update on the Faces Project. It is still alive and well. It was originally scheduled to be done by now. I gave people a month to write their stories. We had about 9 participants.
But at the deadline, only 3 people had gotten me their stories. Life was hectic, so it took me a while to follow up with everyone else. But I have, and so far, almost everyone has written back that they still want to participate, and pretty much everyone is promising something within a week. So we’re moving… we’re moving…
In the meantime, the delay means you can still jump in and contribute a story, if you wish. You can still find the photos and a project description here.
Finally processed most of the photos from the shoot a couple weeks ago. You can click on the photo below to see them. WARNING: There is nudity, and it’s probably not safe for small children, nor my family.
I love this photo. Came across it a while back on Tumblr. It was taken by Gerard Malanga, of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. I hadn’t known until I heard an NPR Fresh Air interview with Patti Smith, that the two of them were a couple at one point in their lives, and lifelong friends. The dress and the location are just perfect. The look passing between the two of them. Such an incredible confluence of art in one photo.
“Faces” project off and running. Write a story describing the origins of what’s happening in a chosen photo. Open to anyone now – 3 weeks remain to contribute. Join us: http://www.strangeday.net/faces/?page_id=2
Looking for people who’d like to participate in a (hopefully) fun project; writing a short piece — in any style — about a provided photo. To learn more, visit http://strangeday.net/projects/faces/faces.html
To an artist, first an audience is a life jacket, then it is a dinner jacket, then it is a straightjacket.
Things like this are why I love Katie West’s work. Normally she’s known as a self-portrait photographer; but she expresses herself so well in any format she chooses. This appeals to me both directly if not exactly, and in wanting a woman who thinks like this.
I find them on subways reading books I have on my list of Books To Read. I find them at bars dancing more enthusiastically than anyone else; even if they can’t really dance. I find them in line at the grocery store on a Friday night buying cookie dough, milk and that’s it. I find them in the Canadian poetry section of bookstores. I find them at work, having great ideas and wearing seasonal socks. I find them on the internet, creating things that make me wish I had thought of it first.
When I sit beside them, they smile. They’re easy to talk to. Their intelligence surpasses my own. Their vocabulary makes me swoon. Their brilliance with words makes me start to imagine them naked. They make me smile at a frequency I feel is too much for any respectable person, so I bite my lip in an effort to stop. After half an hour in their presence, my lips are sore, and yet I still wouldn’t refuse their kiss.
The way they see the world is very different from the way I see it, and we can share our views and always our eyes get wider. They listen to me. (So very few people actually listen to me.) They make me laugh; I make them laugh. We are at a party and they say something so beyond everyone else’s scope with an ease that makes me lean into them hard. But they do it softly, and gently, so no one feels inferior, instead we all feel better for having heard it. They argue with a grace that moves me. Between their legs. They are collaborative. They are receptive to constructive criticism. They think honesty is the best policy.
They touch me gently in all the right places at all the right times in ways that only make me imagine them touching me roughly in all the right places at all the right times. I mean, they place their hand on the small of my back as I walk through doors in front of them, which makes me think of their hand on the small of my back as I’m on all fours in front of them. They lean in and whisper things in my ear that are completely inappropriate at the absolute worst moments because they know it makes me crazy. They hold my hand like they mean it.
These are the sorts of people I choose as my lovers. You see how so much of what you fret about is non-existent in my process? Believe it’s true for others. And love you how I love you, okay?
Katie has also recently self-published another collection of self-portraits. Definitely not safe for my family or work, but her work is always incredible. I have a print of hers hanging on my wall, (the only other photographer’s work on my walls is Dorthea Lange). It’s cheap, it’s filled with amazing images, it’s only a click away… buy it!
Sat in on an art class at the Torpedo Factory, last week. Mostly tried to keep quiet in the back of the room, so as to not remind the teacher I hadn’t paid to be there. Did some sketches while I was there, though. Better than I expected, after so many years absent from the practice.
I’ve posted a collection from my most recent photoshoot: http://strangeday.net/shoots/rachel/
So I was recently in a photo show, at the Washington School of Photography. (I’m not a student, but it was an open call for entries). The theme of the show was “faces”… specifically human faces. I only had 1 day’s notice to select photos and mail them in, but 2 out of my 4 submissions were chosen for the show.
I’d been waiting until after the show opened to display the chosen images. One is old, and one is new to most people.
So what did I think of the show? Eh. I was kind of hoping… or expecting, that since it was hosted by a photo school, and in a city with so many photographers, that I was going to be lucky to get into a show and have my work surrounded by pieces much better than mine. That people would have wonderful concepts, or capture special moments, or show amazing skill. But I didn’t really see much of that. At least half the shots were travel photos, captured in the moment, and not with any great eye. Then there were some generic portraits. The only one I would have called ‘conceptual’ didn’t even have a face in it, implied or otherwise. And listening to the judge speak, it sounded like she made her selections on the way out the door to lunch.
I liked being in the show. I have heard good things about their other shows. So maybe it was just an unfortunate series of events.
I don’t think the photos have sold. If you’re interested in either, they’re both professionally framed.
Stephanie and Isabel
by Lung S. Liu
In no particular order… There’s a wide range of tones here, from deep black to not-quite-blown-out-whites. And the overall tones are evenly distributed. The depth of field is very nicely handled. The subjects are sharp, and really pop out against a silky background. The stairs not only provide a nice place to watch the progression of the DOF, but the diminishing perspective on them leads my eye up to the faces. While they both bend at most of their joints (see past reviews), you have one more solid and upright, while the other folds in on herself and relies on her partner for balance. It’s a casual photo, in everything from the body postures, to the tree-diffused lighting, to the open door in the background. The poses do compliment each-other. The light on the main subjects is so perfect, I wonder if a reflector or flash was used. It’s a posed photo, but you get the feeling that it’s a very authentic moment. And as always, I like that the situation feels lived in. Leaves and dirt on the stairs. It’s not all pristine and new. And the people are reasonably framed — with the heads near the top of the image. And the stairs are given space to finish up. They’re such a strong directional line, that it would have been awkward if they had been cut off any sooner.
Two weekends ago, I got a lucky opportunity. A friend had to bow out of a scheduled photo shoot, and recommended me to fill her spot. (So I wasn’t the first choice, but I can forgive her for not realizing how wonderful I am…. this once.)
We had a beautiful woman modeling, who was amazingly brave and outgoing. And her costume consisted primarily of a liquid latex applied while we were photographing. How often does this kind of opportunity come up? (Not enough, IMO.) I had a lot of fun. Everyone was amazingly nice. And I got a few good pictures out of it. They’re not all public, because I don’t know that Jennie would want them to be. But if you know me well enough, I’ll probably be willing to share them in a more controlled nature. In the mean time… a sample:
There are images that should be captured. Moments that feel like they exist to show you something. Beyond just “I wish I had my camera”, they have everything coming together, and you can see it all slipping into place, and you know something’s going to happen.
That’s about what I felt for the above photo. I was just watching a protest coalescing on the far side of the street. I was in a small group of reporters from various media sources. They were all trying to figure out what to shoot next, while I was just thinking that the protest had pretty much run it’s course. It would still go on for a couple hours, but the passion and excitement was gone, and people were only protesting because they were there to protest.
And while I’m watching, this black-robed group detached itself from the main body of protesters, and started sweeping across the street. And that was it. I could see this was the image. I took a quick glance around to see how many people I’d have to fight to get space to make the shot. But no one was paying attention. None of the professional media people cared. None of the vastly more numerous public photographers was watching. You can even see photographers in the background of the image, ignoring them completely. And there was an empty spot just 5 feet away, right in front of the smoothly approaching image.
I swung around and pulled up my camera, and cars started driving in front of me. Bastards. And seconds are slipping by, and it’s only 4 lanes, and they’re getting closer. And then… click. One image. I normally shoot a 3 or 4 shots of anything, just to avoid a blink or a sneeze or… but no. I got off 1 image. And they were gone. But I love it. Contrast, repetition, art, humanity, the unexpected.
This wasn’t my most popular shot of the morning. But I like it the most.
I just came back from Artomatic. I was a bit worried with it taking place in Crystal City. Normally it takes place in abandoned buildings in run-down neighborhoods, letting them essentially do whatever they want to the building. But Crystal City is about as uptight, over-developed suburbia as you can get. But they did a good job. A ton of art, some good, some notsogood. My only regret is that there seemed to be less insane artists this year. Nobody really doing completely off-the-wall, freaky shit. Though I didn’t see much of the 8th floor… so maybe they’re all kept up there.
God damn, do I miss my camera. It’s been just shy of two weeks now, since I took it in to get it cleaned. Given that they estimated 1.5 to 2 weeks, if it isn’t back by Tuesday, I’m going to start bugging them
The freaks were out tonight, and there I was, camera-less.
Thought I would whip this out now that the subject has seen the finished piece. The look on the face is a bit psychotic, but then, it was in the original as well. Made some last minute touchups on some stuff I had totally missed, but I like the finished piece. I like the brushwork overall, and it’s the closest I’ve yet gotten to a properly proportioned free-hand painted face. (Painting over a stencil is sooooooo much easier).
A BFA from a four year program, and I still can’t paint. Drawing is easy enough. I miss figure drawing. (Not easy to get people to get nekkid and stand still.) The technical aspects of what relates to what is easy enough. But no one has ever taught me technique for painting. I only work in acrylic because I have no idea how to even use oil.
But it’s fun. And it’s a release. And it feels really good to get messy doing something. And when you’re done, you have something there to show for it.
I am … sooooo lazy.
Okay, not really. Last week I was bogged down with more work than I could handle. So when I wasn’t at the computer, I was doing something to actively relax. But you get the idea.
I just say I’m lazy because ever since I found out someone was organizing a group trip to various museums this weekend, I was going to write up all the exhibits I’d been to recently. I wasn’t invited to the trip, but I could at least subject people to my opinion. (What else is the internet for?)
I have since completely forgotten what show’s I’ve been to. I know there was a trip to the National Gallery of Art. It was opening weekend of the Cézanne in Provence exhibit. Not opening day, though, thank gawd. They had velvet ropes lined up halfway across the museum, waiting to enter the show. By the time I got there, it was just a five minute wait. I couldn’t have identified Cézanne’s works before the show. Sure I knew the name, but he somehow never came up in any of my art history courses. But I was actually really impressed with the work. From the earliest point in his career, Cézanne was apparently capable of producing beautiful, realistic works. But he spent his whole life experimenting. His style shifts through three or four major genres of painting, none of which had even been ‘invented’ yet. Some of the in-between times, they have the looks of someone still refining their stuff. But then I’d turn the corner, and there’d be this incredible piece hanging there, and you could suddenly see he “got it”.
I think I passed through the Audubon show while I was there, too. Lots of pencil drawing of birds, like something out of a naturalists book. But it really just bored the snot out of me. No variation. No style. Just academic representations of birds.
I’ve found the new best way to get into East Building, as well. Going through the front door only leaves you at the mercy of security guards with serious control issues. I’ve never gotten past them without wanting to shove their batons somewhere uncomfortable. But the main building guards, apparently more secure in their manhood, won’t ruin the visit for you. And from there, there’s an unguarded tunnel running between the buildings. It’s almost worth going down there to see the underside of the fountain.
I went to the Dada exhibit as well. But it didn’t impress me as much. Dada is less art than movement. More about what you say than how you say it. It’s everything Andy Warhol did, without the refinement. (Of course, Warhol had the Dadaists to build on). I can appreciate the radical change in culture they were responding to. And it’s a perfectly logical response. But there’s not so much things to go there and see, as a time period to immerse yourself in.
Went to the Museum of American History the following week. Most interesting were the exhibits on America at war, (even if it was a bit overly patriotic), and the American Presidency exhibit. Some of their regular exhibits are great, as well. But the museum, of all the Smithsonian complexes, seems the least coherent. With a mandate to cover over 200 years of one of the most diverse geographies and peoples, they don’t have a strong enough central vision. Old exhibits tend to age poorly, with their presentation quickly dating and their materials never updated, until their finally pushed into a corner and shut down for renovation. And with the lack of any distinct navigation, the whole place tends to leave me feeling disconcerted and depressed. So I only go for exhibits that really interest me.
Couple shows coming up that I want to see. Was going to go to the Corcoran today, but I got started way to late, and didn’t want to be rushed. (And I didn’t find out until this evening that they don’t open on Monday or Tuesdays.) all three of their current exhibitions look good. There’s also the Grant Wood exhibit at the Renwick through July 16.
As usual, I have more to say. Something Sarah said in a recent email. But I’m starting to yawn more and more. Maybe tomorrow.
I meant to do some drawing tonight. Not gonna happen. I owe someone a picture, but I am barely conscious enough to write, much less draw. I’ve had a finished sketch on canvas done for a few days now, waiting for me to start painting. Want to finish that painting before Christmas, too.
The main cause of my delay, and the reason I don’t feel too bad, is that I finished my Christmas shopping. Amazon.com is my bitch. And… you know… they have all my money, now.
Mostly just want to respond to Indri’s comments in my last email. I could have just left my own additional comments, but if I’m going to take the time and thought to write this, I might as well get credit for a whole journal entry. Plus… it extends the number of journal entries she’s caused to 4.
“If you are commissioned to decorate the National/State X-mas tree what will you embellish it with?”
The idea’s of the smaller, state trees is fine. Having organizations local to those places create some ornaments, and then hang them on a tree surrounding the national tree. But I think many of the places didn’t put much thought into it. I mean… these decorations are representing your entire state to the fucking nation. DC’s sad decorations were just the most obvious example I noticed. DC is nationally and internationally famous for it’s food, it’s arts, it’s music. But do we feature anything done by these local residents? No. We cut out pictures of national monuments to a bunch of dead white guys who never lived here longer than 4 years. Didn’t color them in. Didn’t add sparkles or decorations. Didn’t even worry whether the buildings were actually in DC.
The national tree, though, is just heinous. Trash the gaudy snow flakey things, and the star topper. If I was actually going to do it, I’d obvious put more research into it. But off the top of my head, I just want something more tasteful and traditional, instead of something that looks like it came from the after-the-holidays sale bin at K-Mart. White (water-resistant) cloth sashes going around the tree. Ornaments of unpainted wood and brushed metal. Stripped away about 90 percent of the lights. They should look like a sparse field of stars… not Times Square.
You’re the one who went to fashion school, Indri. What would you do?
I know blind, one-legged Buddhists who decorate a christmas tree better than our national tree. The tree itself is kind of frumpy, to begin with. Shouldn’t the national tree be the perfect specimen of Christmashood? They proceed to cover it with a blanket of lights. You can’t go more than an inch an a half in any direction on this 50 foots tall tree without running into a light bulb. Scattered over those are the largest, gaudiest, cheapest baby-blue, foot-wide, opaque, plastic snowflakes. And that’s it. (Besides the clear plastic, 2-foot tall star on the top. It looks like something that ghetto liquor store on the corner would have in it’s window, with cases of beer wrapped beneath it. The state trees aren’t much better. Washington DC’s particularly bothered me. Inside the clear balls which house the ornaments on every tree, were pictures of all the major local federal landmarks. Monuments, Memorials, The Capital, The Pentagon. (Okay… the pentagon isn’t even located in Washington DC!) There’s a half million people living in the District, with a rich local history going back 2 centuries, and all they can find to put in christmas tree ornaments are pictures out of a fucking tour guide book?
Christmas trees aside, it was a pretty nice day. I ended up going to the Corcoran Gallery to check out their current exhibits. I first ended up at the Sam Gillian retrospective, even though i knew nothing about him. But oh my god, is his work… impressive. He basically ignores the traditional differences between 2D and 3D; working in non-traditional materials, or traditional materials in unusual ways, almost always on a grand scale. Bold use of color and texture on such an overwhelming scale can leave you briefly shocked looking at some of the pieces. (i.e. The Perfect White Paintings) I’ve never seen a collection from a single artist that showed such a clear progression in his work. You can see exactly how he got to every stage in his development. I felt a clear sense of purpose and planning, that I wish I had more of myself.
I eventually found the Andy Warhol exhibit, which was originally my main intention for going into the Corcoran. I was skeptical at first, and almost didn’t go, because I saw a Warhol show at the Corcoran just a couple years ago. But this was a much more comprehensive show, examining the artist over his entire fine arts career. Some of his portraits are so dead-on to the person represented, (such as the Dolly Parton or the Clint Eastwood), that I almost laughed. The skill and dedication with which he examined the media as a source of culture, and eventually his appropriation of it in the creation of something completely new… it’s impressive by today’s standards, much less 3 or 4 decades ago. I can’t believe he came out of the incredibly conservative advertising industry of the 1940s.
But yes… go see the shows. I could write about them for hours, and not convey how much I got out of them. (Although, as usual, the best part was a desire to create more on my own.)
What would a journal entry be, recently, without reference to Indri? Pretty sad indeed. She asked, after the last entry, why she wasn’t yet “freakishly beautiful”. But I think being “disgustingly cute” is much better. Cuteness requires an integrated package of looks, personality, and action. It’s your whole being. And it’s applicable to every part of your life. Beauty is so much more limited. It seldom refers to more than one aspect of an individual. (“She has a beautiful face.” “She has a beautiful soul.”) And it doesn’t often come up in a positive manner outside an intimate relationship.
So Indri… do I think you’re beautiful? Of course. There were times during my recent visit when I looked at you and couldn’t help but smile like an idiot. And I don’t often do that. So I guess that makes you abnormal as well.
But I still think being disgustingly cute is better.
I meant long ago to write up something about my visit to the Henri de Toulouse Lautrec exhibit at the National Gallery of Art earlier this year. But you know… I’m a lazy fuck.
Lautrec did all those gaudy, risqué French posters you’ll see in coffee houses and young women’s apartments. In fact, I think he’s one of the few major fine artists primarily known for blatantly commercial work. The show even had work from his projects for the infamous Moulin Rouge.
His posters started the show. They’re certainly his most famous work. The progression you could see in his style was pretty cool. From his early works which were purely illustrated portraits, to his later work, which included visual depth, and a greater understanding of design principles.
What affected me most in the exhibit were his paintings of everyday life in the Montmartre district. His paintings of his peers and friends were incredible. I remember looking at a painting of a young man standing in the street, and realizing how totally in-place the same person would look if they could just step out of the painting. All the works were showing this… these people were living the exact same life I see around me know, but only a 120 years in the past. You knew exactly how these people would act, because you could so immediately identify with them. It was a pretty incredible feeling. Montmarte of 1895 could be any artists neighborhood in any major city today.
The show finished up with a collection of works from some time he spent living in a brothel, recording the lives of the women around him. These works seem so much more honest than most pre-Modern fine art. There are women in all their beauty and all their not-so-beauty. Women lined up on benches, waiting for customers. And lesbian brothel workers, comforting each-other in bed.
The other thing that struck me about this exhibit, more and more as I walked through, was how closely Laurenn McCubbin‘s work and career seems to be following Lautrec’s. Right from the start, there were some obvious stylistic similarities in his poster work. I can’t help but think of Laurenn’s paintings of Kelly Sue and company, when looking at the candid paintings Lautrec did in MontMarte. And Rent Girl, which I had recently read, came to mind when I saw his work from the brothel.
I only hope Laurenn doesn’t drink herself to death and end up in an Asylum.
I think I love Laurenn McCubbin, in a sort of awe-inspired, jealous kind of way. (Well, she’s hot, too, but that’s more lust than love.) I’ve always had the impression that her paintings and drawing tend to start off as near-tracings of photographs. But even so, they have a fierce reality and unapologetic nature. I just picked up her work in Quit City last week, with Warren Ellis, and have ordered Rent Girl, which she did with Michelle Tea. Hopefully by the time her next online sale comes ’round, I will have paid my taxes, received a few back invoices, and be able to get something. Would love an original work. But we’ll see if I’m feeling that rich and stupid. I’ve said before, (I think), that I tend to love work that is “of its time”. That describes her stuff as well as anything.
Went to Chiaroscuro again this past weekend. Still didn’t dance, though it had more to do with the type of music than my general wimpyness this time. (How do you find a dance beat in metal?) But it’s a fun place. Most of the people are there to have fun and be seen being freaky. The evening started with a woman in a net top and no nothing else dance up on stage. And near the end, the bartender started hustling up on the bar for tips. She was… amazing. All curves and tattoos. My camera phone flaked out for the first time right then, or I’d have some good shots.
Went to the club with Kier and his sister, Cheri. You know… she just feels like someone’s little sister. At what age do you stop feeling like that? Cheri is 25, and had no trouble finding companionship that night. But she’s still like this adorable kid, fooling around on the subway home.
You know.. Pixel has been totally traumatized about her cat carrier since I took her in for the operation on her ass this fall. She cringes at the sight of it, and will attach herself to the floor under the couch if need be to avoid getting crated. But after leaving the carrier on the floor after taking her for her shots yesterday, she’s been sleeping in it each night.
I swear, she must be Republican.
Anyway, I just felt the need to write. Blow off a little steam, since I didn’t have time to paint. I always tense up for days when I have to design a piece from scratch. Production work I can knock out in no time. Job management I love. But original designs almost always intimidate me. (Though since I’ve left OldCompany, I have done much more original work, and received much better reviews for it). So yeah… I got conditional approval on a few designs today and can get on with the project now. And if I move my ass, I may have time to paint this weekend.
We’re now on day two-and-a-half of the throbbing shoulder thing. I’ve narrowed down at least one inflammatory item: whenever I drink a can of Diet Coke. No idea why that makes sense. It can’t be the sugar, because … well… there is none. I’ve been lifting heavier objects all day long, so I don’t think it’s the weight of the can. It could be just the right weight at just the right posture. But then, this pain started suddenly while I was sleeping, so it’s probably not a repetitive stress injury.
When I burp, it eases up. But that doesn’t make me feel better. To me, that says something in my shoulder is being compressed. And… you know… that’s never a good thing.
Yeah… today, being Wednesday, is of course Comic Book Day. Not much that the poorer me could afford. (Though you realize if I got rid of my website, I would save like $15 a month?!?! Thats like… 5 more comic books! … yeah. No.) The last issue of Demo is out. Overall it’s been a good series. I think it wavered to a few ludicrous extremes occasionally. On the superpower end, they had an Carrie-style issue with an abused young boy raising dead pets and slaughtering the neighbors. You know… goofy shit that even Vertigo wouldn’t touch. Then they have issues such as Mix Tape and the one with the stock-boys, which are essentially superpower free. Frankly that seems flakey too for a collection of stories that was sold as ‘real people who just happen to have powers’. I don’t think any issue did as well at balancing this as the first issue. There was a major display of superpowers, but aside from the cool wide-screen shot of the effects, they were soooo beside the point. The superpowers were an aspect of the persons life, not the definition of it.
yadda, yadda, yadda.
Speaking of comics, and being let down: Mad Yak Press. Just days after I posted my review of their stuff at the Small Press Expo, they email me with an offer of many free books in exchange for reviews. Mentioned all this before. So where the fuck are the books? I could understand a little delay… 3 of 4 weeks even. People are busy and business is business. And considering it’s free… who am I to complain? But it’s two months later now, and I’ve never heard from them again. Not an explanation, not an acknowledgment, not even a kiss-off when they discover this might not be the kind of website they wanted. And no issue 4 of Black Eyed Susan. Are you still in business? Are you still in this hemisphere?
No I am not happy with you right now. vox populi, vox dei.
Do you ever have that feeling of clarity and peace when you wake up from a short nap? You weren’t really in a deep sleep, so your mind isn’t fuzzy. But the million and one things you were simultaneously contemplating before have all been brushed aside. That’s kind of the moment I imagine Buddhist monks living in. I could so be happy there.
Suicide Girls – Interviews
Nasty, nasty, cold, wet, gray day. Thankfully I worked too hard, and only went out long enough to pick up my comics in Georgetown.
Comics, comics, comics. I’m full of ’em lately — among other things. After months — possibly years — of procrastinating, I finally made a fairly complete shakeup of my regular comic pull-list*. Finally dumped every crappy Marvel title that I was buying out of habit or guilt. Yeah.. I’d been reading some of those titles forever. But enough repeat issues of terrible writing and mediocre art will cause you to do just about anything. Marvel’s books are stories where nothing is ever definitive, because the inevitable next writer will contradict everything their predecessor established. And no matter who’s writing, they haven’t had an original idea in 30 years. Artists will never last more than 5 issues, and have no motivation to do their best work.
So anyway… all gone.
I still buy too many comics. As I said before… pretty much anything Warren Ellis writes. Some Vertigo books, like The Losers, Hellblazer, and Y, the Last Man. I don’t know yet if Black Eyed Susan is a regular series, but I’ve got a call out for it. I know there’s more… but I’m too lazy to check. And I still haven’t finished everything I picked up at SPX.
*(For those non-geeks out there, when you regularly buy comics from the same shop, they will create a ‘pull-list’ of books you purchase on a regular basis, so that you don’t have to worry about them selling out before you can pick them up.)
I will in fact be undoubtedly writing more about comics in the future. So I want to get the disclosure out of the way now. (As if I had an audience… but hey…). Mad Yak Press, who had such beautiful stuff at the Expo, contacted me, asking if I was interested in complimentary copies of their books in exchange for writing reviews of them here. It’s a very common practice among publishers, and a simple google search led me to find at least one other person doing the same thing for the same publisher. And I’ve got no qualms, since I’m ‘working for my supper’. But if you have moral issues… well, then… fuck off. I say it now simply to avoid having to bring it up each time I mention their books. If you really think I’m going to be biased towards anyone just because they’ve shown me a kindness… you really don’t know me anyways.
And oh… by the way: Yay! Paul DiFilippo is going to be writing a comic book. Yet another seriously deranged author working in comics.
I repeat… comics, comics, comics.
I heard a great quote somewhere last week, comparing Regis And Kelly to Nerf Crossfire. Of course, that almost lends too much credence to Crossfire.
And while I’m trashing politics…
I watched the president’s little illegal speech on CNN the other day. (Illegal, unless CNN offers Kerry the same time to speak). As the recent debates and public speeches have driven home like a jackhammer to the skull, the Shrub is an awful public speaker. The whole ‘dear-in-the-headlights’ look is accentuated by a speaking rhythm reminiscent of a 6th grader in the school play. His speech-writers couldn’t get hired writing jingles for Denny’s. Every public address is a seemingly endless string of watered-down, overly-contemplated, and intellectually-neutral catch phrases and campaign slogans. His CNN appearance had God-knows-how-many contradictions and misleading statements. “My administration has seen a record number of student loans,” is supposed to show his dedication to education; but to me it shows only that schooling is getting more expensive and less people can afford it. “My opponent would create big government healthcare … Clinton-care”. You know… something like he did with the expanded Medicare plan. This man is a terrible Republican, has the leadership skills of a housecat, and has spent more time manipulating reality during his administration that living in it. How can anyone vote for him?
Speaking of things that make me sick…
I’ve come to my own little realization and self-awareness thingy. “Sugar is addictive”. I’m not just talking… “I have a chocolate craving”. I’m talking… I try to stop eating sweets, and I find myself constantly thinking about candy, and having to restrain myself (sometimes unsuccessfully) from going to the store every other day for a new package of snacks. I know I’ve heard the claim before. But it’s just now becoming extremely obvious to me.
Thought for the day:
Anyone who refers to themselves as ‘a player’ needs to be bitchslapped.
The annual Small Press Expo started yesterday, out in Bethesda. This isn’t your 1980s comic convention, where the attendees were just happy that they could look down on Trekkies. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend bringing children at all in hopes of finding stuff just for them. While there undoubtedly juvenile material, the vast majority of the material is adult, often with a capital A. (Walking in to one door brought me face to face with a t-shirt proclaiming “I’d rather be masterbating”.) But this is also adult material as in mature (and sometimes not so mature), interesting stories with beautiful artwork.
The entire show was sold out this year, with probably about 150 different exhibitors. The largest were probably Fantagraphics or Top Shelf, while the smallest included quite a few people sitting at their booths, folding their photocopied books as they sold them. There was nary a “X” in sight. And if you don’t know what that means, you’re probably better off. It was a mixed group of exhibitors in all, but more than a few or them could learn a bit about salesmanship. At a convention for independents, unless you have a cult following, no one is likely to come over and gush. I pass several tables where the people seems lodged behind their table in a post-meal coma. I suppose it’s contradictory really. You have to be reclusive and obsessive to manage to publish your own comics, but you also need be outgoing and out-of-doors to promote them. As I said, though, it was a mixed group. I had great discussions with several creators, including Danielle Corsetto (who’s excellent new online strip Girls With Slingshots starts this weekend) and Jennie Breeden (starving artist whose business card reads “It’s not satanic porn… honest!”).
My friend Kier came along with me this year. We had to take two or three spins around the entire show before he started buying anything. He just kept muttering in a low moan, “I am going to have to spend soooooo much money”. (Kier recently recovered from a long job search and apartment hunt which have not left much in the way of financial resources). I take this to mean he loved almost everything he saw. I think in the end, the only thing that stopped him from buying more was the inability to lift his bag.
In a brief period of lucidity between tours of the show floor, Kier also mentioned that he suddenly felt incredibly inadequate. Visit this show, and you know it’s a very easy feeling to have. Many, if not most, of the exhibitors are people who could never get a contract with a major comic publisher. But they have such a need to express themselves, they went ahead anyway, and create, promote, and sell their own work. More than one successful company has been founded for just that reason.
Other companies that stood out include Mad Yak Press who had a table full of incredibly beautiful books, every one of which I wanted, (though I restrained myself to just Texarkana and 2 issues of Black Eyed Susan); and John Gallagher, creator of Buzz Boy, who told some very talented local high school students that if they put together something in time for the show, he would sell it from his booth.
(Side note to these student’s art teacher, who apparently tells them they are wasting their time with comics: Shut the fuck up. Who ever told you that the best way to encourage a child is to trash the artistic endeavor they enjoy most, regardless of what you think of the medium?)
Overall, I loved the show. Despite having a much smaller budget myself this year, I came away with some very good stuff:
- The Devil’s Panties (Summer 2004) by Jennie Breeden
- An original sketch by Jennie Breeden
- Texarkana by Neighly, Hadiwidjaja, and Horne
- A Girls with Slingshots promo book by Danielle Corsetto
- Issues 1 and 2 of Black Eyed Susan, by Patrick Neighly and Donny Hadiwidjaja
- BOMAD 2 by Rebecca Sugar
And from the free table:
When did we invent salespeople?
The professional salesperson is one of those people I love to hate. They’re the people who are all about the sales and nothing about the thing they’re selling. They read books by famous salespeople, who haven’t, you know, sold anything in years except those books. They listen to motivational tapes and go to seminars where they thrust their elbows back and grunt “hee-yah!”. You can see the gears shift in their mind, and hear it in their voice, when they change sales tactics, because you aren’t responding to what they were already trying.
A salesperson I work with keeps a book on her desk, with a title something like “Customer satisfaction is irrelevant. Customer loyalty is everything.” … That’s some nasty shit, there. Ya don’t care if I’m happy. You don’t care if I got what I wanted. You only want to make sure I give you more money in the future. (Microsoft, anybody?)
But that is the life of a salesperson. There is an entire tribe of people out there who only want to take your money, over and over again.
When did we first switch from people just selling what they made or did, to hiring a professional middleman? It must have arisen, due to extremes in distance, quantity, or personality. But like most good ideas, people in general will take it as religion.
Have you ever met the people who physically assembled anything you own? In the event of a fire, I’m grabbing my cat, my laptop, and my camera. The laptop was mail-order. The camera came from the mall. And the cat came from the shelter. No connections.
I buy art at Eastern Market. I buy some crap, too. But mostly, I buy art. I’m not rich by any definition. And I don’t exactly need any more decorations. But buying art, there on the street, from the person who made it… it’s an incredibly powerful connection. There’s a person to person discussion about part of that person’s life. And you get to walk away with a little bit of it.
My cat is a fruitcake. Have I mentioned that? Apparently bored with stalking birds through the window, she took a new tack just now. I was disturbed by a loud thump as she hit the wall and fell down. It took me a minute to figure out that she was chasing the shadows the birds were casting across my apartment.
I’ve two ‘art’ projects I would love to do.
One has been rattling around in my skull for a while. It probably only makes sense if you live in a big city. But everyday people put up tons of ‘stuff’ on everything stationary on the street. Even with professional street cleaners in this city, there are still massive amounts of stickers, flyers, posters, and godknowswhat stuck to every sign, post, mailbox, and utility box.
It’s a constant little knife-dance between the cleaners who see the city as a structure — and practically ‘being’ — unto itself, and the people, who see the city as an expression of it’s occupants.
(Sorta see City Come A Walkin’ by John Shirley. )
And the visual clutter that is evidence of this conflict… it would make great material to document. From a purely visual standpoint, (since to most good designers, life seems to just be one big porn movie of visual stimulation) it offers wonderful opportunities, wether presented in a digital or printed manner. I can just see a coffee table book, with real reproductions of the stickers all over it’s cover. And like any good propaganda, the visual detritus in this city can make you laugh, think, or leave you scratching your nose.
Project number two just sort of popped into my head today. I think it was while I was looking at some of Brian Wood‘s work for inspiration. He can get heavy into the visually graphic military/police imagery.
IT left me thinking about the incredible amount of thought that goes into the visual presentation of law enforcement. The donut-munchers in this city are big on “shows-of-force”. Riot gear is the ultimate in ostentatious. The patriotic symbolism coating their vehicles seems to be universal. And the mirrored sunglasses are downright cliche.
They’re like that manipulative girlfriend who hopes that by staring you down without saying a word, you will come up with something more than they could possibly hope to get if they opened their mouth.
I swear I want to go to grad school for design just so I can do a thesis project on this.
okay… i feel stupid
As the enlightened modern man I am…
I was reading the writings of a woman in the military…. All the women get training about how to fend off … essentially rape. This pissed off the woman, because nothing was done to teach the men not to go there in the first place. i mean… duh… i would never go there in the first place, but it hadn’t ocurred to me how much responsibility we put on the woman for the whole thing.
(yes Sara, I was to lazy to retype this)
I’ll leave you with a nice little thought in this election year:
“[O]f the $100 million so far dispensed to faith-based charities by the Bush administration, not one dollar has gone to a Jewish or Muslim organization.”
In some ways, I am very much the lazy fuck that I consider the rest of the world to be.
I do my laundry Sunday nights. I do my shopping Sundays, late afternoon. Which allows me many opportunities to see the residents of this fair city doing their best impressions of a deer in the headlights.
But for reasons that failed to occur, I got out early today. It’s amazing to walk through the Soviet Safeway unimpeded, actually find food on the shelves, and spend less than 20 minutes in line.
I realized yesterday that for the first time, I have a computer that really is capable of being the center of my life(style). I’m sitting here reviewing my to-do list and seeing whose birthday I missed. And downloading music. And pulling the photos off my camera. And grabbing my email. And, of course, posting this to my website.
Being able to do each of these things isnt new. And being able to do them all at once is hardly worth noticing anymore. But I’m sitting in my window, with my computer in my lap, not plugged into anything. None of this was difficult to set up. If any of it cost me anything, it was less than what I spent on my chai tea last month. And I can throw it in my backpack and take it with me to Texas.
It’s all there in an unobtrusive way, organizing my life and letting me communicate with others.
Now if it just had breasts.
I hid myself in the garden pathway that separates the Smithsonian Castle from the Hirshhorn Museum, in order to finish my book (Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson) yesterday. Further down the Mall, a large group of Chinese people on a major caffeine high were singing, chanting, and extolling the virtues of friendship and democracy in a very Disney-esque way. (I did suppress my gag reflex, thank you). I was sitting in this beautifully tended, but quite dead, garden, looking up at the Hirshorn, which is an incredibly massive horizontal circle, with no outer windows at all. With clockwork regularity, the overblown Chinese sound-system belted out a very adamant sounding young man, followed by someone that if I could see her, would surely have been a hostess on a Japanese game-show, wrapping up the cycle with this incredible, presumably Mandarin, atmospheric opera music.
Later, I was quite worried about getting to close to them. I’m pretty certain I would have woken up in an airport many months later, wearing pajamas and handing out brochures.
Incidentally, the current photo exhibit at the Hirshorn — Douglas Gordon I believe — utter crap. I have personally sat there and explained how an all-black painting is a great academic work, and why a signed toilet bowl is of interest to anyone. But the pictures, movies and such I saw yesterday were bad. Very, very bad. There was no obvious attempt to put the exhibit into context. And I’m really not so bored with life so as to spend my own time researching why an eight foot tall screen showing a black & white film of an elephant sleeping was art.
The only thing I found the least bit clever or interesting was the video of a finger luring you into the start of the exhibit. Too bad most of the people didn’t quite grasp it’s meaning, and instead wandered around unsure of where to go.
The last time I saw a show at this massive structure, it took me at least an hour to wander through the entire circumference of the building. So yesterday I was a little disconcerted when I found myself walking out the other side in less than 10 minutes.
I had a much better time looking at the funny naked people in the basement.
I wish I had my cat’s ability to use my own body as a pillow.
“The Reading Girl (La Leggitrice)” by Pietro Magni at the National Gallery of Art / December 10, 2003 / Comment on this
“Nydia, the Blind Girl of Pompeii” by Randolf Rogers at the National Gallery of Art / December 10, 2003 / Comment on this
HISTORY OF ART FOR AIRPORTS
what I wouldn’t give to see these in use at the National Gallery. do you think I could get arrested for taping them to the doorways in there?
ABC News reported that Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered the statues covered because he didn’t like being photographed in front of them.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Ashcroft has been photographed several times in front of the female statue that represents the Spirit of Justice. The statue has its arms raised and a toga draped over its body, but a single breast is completely exposed.
The other statue, of a man with a cloth covering his midsection, is called the Majesty of Law.
Keeping in mind that Attorney General Ashcroft is a narrow-minded, power-hungry little nazi who probably uses the Constitution to wipe up after jerking off…
am I the only one who sees an incredible amount of symbolism in him wanting the personifications of Justice and the Law hidden from sight and in no way associated with him?
That’s not even getting into the issue of trying to obliterate famous works of art for religious and political reasons; something the United States blasted Afghanistan for doing just a year or so ago when they blew up those statues in the desert.
Man, I haven’t seen anyone point and giggle at ‘boobies’ since junior high. When will the people in the Justice Department grow up? I think I’m going to go to the National Gallery for lunch tomorrow, before someone goes through there with a bunch of drop cloths.