Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Roll with it...

Hey K,

I'm already feeling a little lighter now that my summer students final exams are graded. Whoo! 3 weeks to "relax" before the fall semester madness begins. I had a lovely and relaxing afternoon with our other favorite K yesterday and she remarked how my bookmarks reminded her of those old piano punched out roll cards. Upon searching for images, I discovered how beautiful and simple these little shapes are.. Who knew? I've posted some images I found along the way. After thinking of punch cards, my brain immediately went back to the Florida voting scandel as well as scantron cards we use for grading in schools. Funny how a series of rectangles can evoke so much history over various genres. I thought you would like a music reference, for once.

I just bought several little 8 x 8 canvases to start my collages on for our show. Let the games begin. (p.s. I can hardly wait for the Olympics ;)

Hope you are keeping cool and drinking lemonade. Wish I could send you some sweet tea.

It's hot, hot, hot,

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Unknown financial territories

Dear K,

Fantastic last post, my dear friend. I was a little intimidated for a week or so, plus caught up in things down here. Much has been going on and I have been thinking alot about money, (Who doesn't think about money?) and becoming financially savvy. In my quest to really stick to a budget, I was going back to a former life when I saw a Danica Phleps lecture in San Francisco a couple years ago. I have always loved Danica's witty works, but hearing her speak was so inspiring. Her work is often about public vs. private relationships and money - how we spend it, what we spend it on and how to get more of it. I remember her saying "Money is only money for a short amount of time.." I've always remembered this for some reason. Above are some of her drawings of her spending habits. I believe each green bar = $1. I love this because I always think that if we could literally visualize an amount of money in little rows, lines, piles, then maybe we would be less hasty to spend. I personally cannot conceptualize $200,000 for instance... How much space would it take up? Plus, I like her idea of "generational drawings." She makes tracings of her original works and sells them for less, indicating "2nd generation," "3rd generation," etc. Find out more about Danica Phelps here:

This website is hysterical and ironic:

Another fun one: id/Dollar-Bill-Shirt/

My students are always asking "How much is this worth?" "Can I make a lot of money as an artist?" I always feel annoyed at the entire topic, thinking that obviously you shouldn't go into the art world wanting to be rich, but on the other hand, plenty of people make a living on their work, and an extremely small percentage make an insane amount of money.

How much money is enough?? - For an artist, for a person of the world, for a life? With the economy the way it is right now many people are changing the way that they think about money, and I think that it is about time. How do people walk around with so much debt, aren't they heavy?

All this money talk stems from S and I lusting after an adorable spanish style house. Cross your fingers. . . our money is flying out the door in rent every month. Another quote that rings in my head from the Danica lecture, "Buying a house is the best thing that an artist can do." Hope so...

With love,

p.s. I came across a young artist recently who makes drawings of her receipts. I know she works in a university in the south, and yet I can't remember her name to bring her into this conversation. If you know her, let me know, I'd love to rediscover her website. (I'd know it if I saw it)

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Dearest K,
I write from an imaginary world that has taken form in a small bungalow in Logan Square. Since the "nesting period" of wintertime, Gunnatowski have built a woods-y wonderland in their 2 bedroom apartment. This habitable installation--made of soft sculpture, wood-work, paper, plastic, and technology--is the result of a collaboration between Karolina Gnatowski and Dan Gunn. The idea started as a proposal for an inflatable campfire installation for Gallery 400. Overly ambitious, the two decided to work on a smaller scale to prove their worth and test their boundaries. Beginning with one room, the living room became a camp site surrounded by felted woods, furry creatures in the night, a flaming fire, and the sound of crickets and other night crawlers. It just grew from there, room by room, ceiling to floor, until the entire space (save for one storage room marked "employees only") mimicked a larger than life diorama.
Crafted with the come-back D.I.Y. aesthetic, the installation is mocking, playful, and entertaining to explore. It might almost be surreal, except for the fact that the adult perceptions are at a minimum---only a few strategically placed genitalia (as in the 9-foot Brother monster). Surrounded by curious innocence, I began to relive the idyllic moments of growing up: camping with my dad, fort-making with my brothers, shadowbox book reports, and the glow-in-the-dark star ceiling fascination of being 13.
Lately, my own artistic interests lean towards the play between "real" and virtual, so similar themes in Territory caught my attention. Before finding out that Dan spent some time building scenery for an area theater, I noticed the dichotomy of the "set" within a "scene." These props or stage sets (a log cabin that holds a bed, the shipwreck kitchen table) are set within an already created/designed structure (the apartment containing the usual: couch, bookshelves, stove, sink, ceiling fan, light switch, etc.). In a typical theater setting, the minimal props give just enough to hint at an entire scene, leaving room for the viewer to imagine the rest, like supports of believability. Yet in this case, the staged sets/props interact with the sets/props of reality, although both somewhat curated. The log cabin bedroom with clouds of pillow stuffing oppose shelves of clothes, someone's sweatshirt hangs on a rack next to glowing-eyed bear cubs, and an appropriated Olaf Eliasson sun rises over the fridge---pangs of domesticity interrupt the play. Reminds me of the conversations we've had about balancing our creative life and meandering head space with operating in reality. The dual thinking and negotiations of an artist in a social world.
(Plus, I loved the idea of live-space directly mixed with art-space, working on a project and living with it---or in it!---blending creative practice and everyday ritual.)

The best details, though, reside in the media-ized faux tech-nature. The artists not only used grade school materials to imitate the natural world, but they also utilized technology. In the videos below, you will see some adorable gimmicks in action: 1. A dramatically lit silky scarf dancing in electric fan wind. 2. The sound of nature via ghetto blaster.

also features a spy-cam video of domestic animals (Karolina's cats) inhabiting the faux-wilderness on a tiny t.v. set in the living room, and many battery powered LED push lights that add an eerie glow to the overall scene.

To further the irony, the closing party* includes indoor campfire songs and microwaved marshmallow smores. Should be an amusing experience!


...and that's my report from Chicago. Hope you're feeling as inspired!

Monday, July 14, 2008

"the ritual of production" and beauty

Great last post! I checked out Tobias Putrih---cool parallel to the matchstick works by Trevor Oakes AND your stacked "munched" bookmarks! (Those look really neat, BTW!) And you make a good point about multiplicity: "...there is something about the mystery of them [editions of tiny things], and the ritual of production." There IS something especially inspiring about the mere process--the act of their making, the difficult task to focus and repeat an action, the patience required to pile pieces of sand or include minuscule detail. Is this what makes them so beautiful?

less hastily,

Images above: 1. a typical Indian miniature painting based in tedious traditional process, all the way down to the treating of the paper with tea before the painting begins. 2. a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks creating a sand painting. They typically work on these for 24 hours straight. It is a meditative practice stacking piece by colored piece. Once completed, they take it down ritualistically, dispersing the sand to the witnesses of the ceremony and the nearby bodies of water, thereby healing the suffering of the world. The building and destroying represents the ephemeral nature of life. Ironically, in this case, the ritual of production produces only ritual, although it is quite beautiful!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bookmark this page!

K - licious...

I got so excited when I read your double take and double trouble posts... I really love this twin-duo's work, and what a connection between contemporary arts and the history of perspective. Funny that you mention stereoscopes, I just showed my little "collection" of 3 stereoscopes from the late 1800's to my class this week. - Without the viewing device, but that's ok. I always compare it to a historical version of those Disney ViewFinders. I went to their website and their other work really reminded me of Tobias Putrih, whom I love. See his above image for the correlation and the connection to my most recent check off the list, and edition of 100 bookmarks.

Funny thing.. I think I am getting a little less neurotic - a few years ago I would have made these 100 little guys in about 2 nights. Cutting and hand-punching these bookmarks took forever! The good thing was that it felt good to make a lot of something small. I am still drawn to editions of tiny things.. there is something about the mystery of them, and the ritual of production. (Tell that to your contemporary class!) When I signed up for making these bookmarks, I wasn't really sure what I would end up doing.. I finally decided on the idea of "devouring a book." It's summertime and I have been devouring books on the couch and on the beach, and I like this simple metaphor. Plus, I have been dealing with Florida monster bugs, and like this idea of " slightly munching." Ideas of stiching back up these holes were on the table, then I thought better of it considering the size of the edition. Maybe this munching will turn into another project.

See other Bookmarks projects here

Check out the Centre for Fine Print Research at Bristol here

I'm off to our old stomping grounds for the weekend.. where our K and K adventures began!


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Seeing Double (again)

Speaking of twins and optical illusions...What a wonderful and coincidental day! I'd like to long-windedly share. I took my lunch break in Millennium Park---beautiful weather, lots of tourists to watch, even an orchestra playing in the background.

A curious project was underway near the "Bean." Trevor and Ryan Oakes, from New York, began an architectural study of the skyline, including the ever-so-challenging sphere-ized reflection in the Bean. It was funny, because I had just taken my class out (last week) to do our own architectural studies after a brief lesson in linear perspective. But this was no ordinary architectural drawing. It involved a quirky contraption, one that held the artist's head in place while drawing on a concave paper surface attached to a metal grid, all grounded by tripod legs. After watching a moment, non-verballing communicating interest and confusion, Ryan explained what was going on. It's an optical trick!

The distance and framework is calculated, the brain and the eye in an elusive relationship. You know how when you put your hand in front of you but focus on the background, you can seemingly look through it? It's a similar concept to the illusion of 3D pictures in early Stereoscopes (like my grandpa used to have), utilizing two images measured just slightly off. So...Trevor, the pen hand, has the page and "object of view" set up so that he sees both at the same time, thereby simply tracing the image on the paper. Awesome, huh?!? Unlike our practice of applying formulas and relative proportion to make sense of what we see in order to translate the illusion of 3-d to a 2-d surface, the Oakes brothers have contrived a way to bypass that brain-eye activity and see 2 things at once! The concavity of the page is an integral component, as is the distance of page and subject. Although, the "tracing" takes only a little drawing skill (for you need no understanding of appropriate perspective, etc.), the patience and focus of the drawer is incredible!

I snooped around and googled the Oakes brothers. Their website is: Looking at Ryan and Trevor's work separately, and in relation to this project, a parallel tedium is involved. It's all about process!...and many tiny parts forming a more impressive whole. I can only imagine the meditative rhythm to such tight handiwork---it leaves room in the brain for meandering and productive thought. From which, I assume they gave birth to this "seeing innovation."

If I were lecturing to my Contemp. class right now, I would probably close with some kind of statement like..."See, this is a great example of how Art is more than just the production of an object. It is a way of thinking! It crosses boundaries, and sees beyond lines of expertise. Optical Science, Physiology, and representation of illusion in Art all intersect in this project. Multiplicity is the new beauty. Interdisciplinarity the new perspective." And the mini-final product (as pictured above) is beautiful perspective, the kind Anish Kapoor reflected in his "Cloud Gate" (the Bean). Fitting.

Get out of your framework and see/think something with your rewired eye-brain!


p.s. Did I mention the artists are TWINS? and adorable!!

Trevor and Ryan Oakes are formally exhibiting this work for the first time in November 2008 @ the Spertus Museum. The brothers will be working on the Bean drawing through Friday, so if you get a chance, visit them in-process. Also, keep an eye out for their completed drawing on display in Millennium Park sometime soon.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

it's prankster time!

More for me than you, K, but...OMG! This project is sooo awesome! The Human Mirror, the latest project from Improv Everything. It's the sort of curiously absurd action I had imagined for the heads on the "L" in Chicago. See the full story and their other projects: Almost an extension of the old flashmob happenings in New York.

(I'm totally J about the cell phone symphony---this was always something I wanted to orchestrate.)
chuckles and hugs!

Monday, July 7, 2008

missing water + puffers

Cool! Those remind me of my previous obsession with puffer fish. Remember I had one for a couple of weeks. His name was Rootbeer and he was soooo adorable!!!---I still think puffers are the cutest fish. Also, remember the blown up puffer lanterns that Don Q had at Waterworks. I liked them, but when I think about it now, it is rather weird and creepy. Poor little puffers.

Great snorkling pics! Wish I could go with you.


Speaking of Succulents...

Hey K,

Quick note while my printer is rebooting... As you know, I check Etsy regularly and found this ceramist whom I love. If I wasn't a complete dunce when it came to clay, I would want to make these myself. They combine my love of textures and the color white . . . I have even been thinking of doing some topological drawings like this for our upcoming 2009 exhibit. These are inspiring me to get to it!

See more of her work at

Happy Monday. Thanks for the chats yesterday... you sound so good!


Saturday, July 5, 2008

4 views from the 4th

Hey K!

Happy holiday weekend. First, I haven't stopped looking at that BibiOdyssey page since you posted. I am always drawn to those old engravings, bookplates and illuminated manuscripts. Thanks for the find! Also love your life drawings - made my Art Appreciation students do some blind contour drawings the other day, always hysterical.

This long weekend has already been great. After a long and emotionally stressful week, S and I slept in yesterday, organized and cooked for our BBQ last night. I love that we can walk across the street for fireworks! I made potato salad and ate a ridiculous amount of deviled eggs.. my fav! Was great to have my family and new and old friends over.

These are some random summer pictures from this weeks adventures of making terariums (I know you love succulents! - In fact, I think I got my love of cacti from you.) and snorkeling. While under water, we saw millions of amazing fish. Made me want to get scuba certification - maybe someday. Today I'm in the studio, working on my bookmark project. I'll post them tomorrow, I'm on 50 out of 100. Halfway there..

Happy Saturday. Hope you are out and about in Chi-town.

Love from the water,

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Have you heard of this: BibliOdyssey? Check it out--amazing archive of book illustrations.