Tag Archives: Exhibits

Getting Schooled

Kids teach me all the time.little kids pointing at art on the wall

A few weeks ago, I was in Ann Arbor for a long and challenging outdoor show. Business wasn’t going particularly well, and I started thinking about the indignities of “selling my work on the street”; a phrase I use when I’m feeling run down, sometimes with colorful variations on the vocabulary.

Why wasn’t I exhibiting in a more refined space? A gallery, where (in my fantasy) I stay home and make work, and someone else sells it and sends me a check? No fussing with the weather! No crowds! Wouldn’t that be great?!

Then I noticed a little boy, asking his mom to help him look at my book, Overlooked Undertakings. She started paging through it with him, first on the display table, then holding it lower so he could look closer, and finally sitting in the middle of my booth, like it was a living room. The middle of my booth, meaning “on the street”.

Why I'm on the street.

The boy and his sister (whose name was Audrey!) were blissfully absorbed. The rest of the world had disappeared, and they were deep into the fantasy worlds that the images evoked. They bubbled with chatter as they made up stories and explanations and what-ifs. They giggled and squirmed and crawled all over mom.

Ann Arbor fans!

“Ah!”, I thought, “This is why I’m here.”

 

If you want the fun of sharing my book with someone special, this is a great time to do it!  I’m offering a big discount on multiple copies, from now until sometime after school starts.

 

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Filed under On the move, Overlooked Undertakings, You Are Here

Exhibitionism

My first photo exhibit was in 1996, at a dessert shop on Fillmore.  I recently came across my preparation notes for it, which included the exact mat dimensions for each, almost identically sized, print: an extra 8th inch here, a 16th less there…. I took no shortcuts!  I had two very handy people help me hang that show, and it took FOREVER.  I bought them lunch and dinner while we set up.  It was complicated because we couldn’t put any nails in the wall, so we tied fishline to eyescrews in the frames, and hooked it over the molding.  (If you’ve ever tried to level something attached to two pieces of fishline, you might understand where the 19+ man-hours of installation time came from.)  Sadly, the pieces flopped around, because they were now hanging away from the wall, so we drilled tiny holes in the bottom corners, and stuck carefully trimmed toothpicks in as braces.  The result was quite magical, with the pieces floating about 2 inches off the wall (except for that one that crashed to the ground the first night).  It remains one of my favorite shows.

Sweet Inspirations, 1996

Sweet Inspirations, 1996

It was the first time that my work had been in front of strangers, and I sometimes sat at a table watching people enter the shop.  I would track their eyes to see if they were looking at the pictures.  Would they smile?  Would they look closer?  Or would they head straight for the cake selections?  At the time, of course, every interaction was hugely significant.  My feelings were hanging on the wall, and whether someone laughed or gave a bland look could make my day or break my heart.

Art or Cake?

Art or Cake?

This week I hung a show at Dolores Park Cafe, which includes a few images that were in that very first show.  I first exhibited here in 2000, when the cafe was a newish, risky addition to the quiet, old school neighborhood, and I was just transitioning to making my artwork my full-time business.  Now almost 15 years later, I have exhibited all over the country, and Dolores Park Cafe is a long-established center of a bustling corridor.

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Dolores Park, 2000

When Rachel, the owner, asked if I was still interested in showing in a cafe, now that I was more “established”, I was surprised.  Of course! Exhibiting in a great cafe is an honor and a big responsibility!  I get to be part of people’s lives in a special way.  In a gallery or a museum people enter the space with the specific intention of spending time looking at what’s on the wall.  In a place where the art is not the primary draw, there is a different challenge.  People are going about their day – getting their coffee, meeting their friends – and if I want my work to get their attention, I have to earn it.  If they look up from their latte or their laptop or their OKCupid date, I don’t want them to be radically distracted, but I want to invite them to let their mind and conversation wander a bit in a new direction.  If they’ve had a crappy day, I want to offer a mood shift, or engage their imagination and break up nasty ruminations.  Dolores Park Cafe has regulars, and I love that.  It means there are people who will see my work dozens of times during the show.  Will there be one day when they stop and look closely?  Will it be the first time they see it? The fifth? The fifteenth?  Will they like it more as the weeks go by, or will they get numb to it?  Will they miss it when it’s gone?

Dolores Park, 2014

Dolores Park, 2014

Showing in cafes and other semi-public spaces is rarely a big money making proposition, but it’s part of building community and connections in a way that is important to me.  I have shown in shop windows and furniture stores, in spas, salons, hospitals and office lobbies.  Almost every one of those shows has resulted in unique connections, either with business owners, fellow artists, or patrons.  Sometimes those connections don’t appear for years, and when I discover them, it is a delight.  It is fitting that “What You Sow” sits in the middle of my current show.  I love planting seeds, even when I don’t know when they will sprout , or what they will grow into.

Dolores Park, 2014

Dolores Park, 2014

Have you ever had a special experience with art in a semi-public place?  Do tell!

My Retro-Perspecitve is at Dolores Park Cafe through April 2.  Join me at a mixer there on Thursday, Feb 13, 6-8 pm

I will be hanging new work from my Linger Series at InVision Optometry in March. (Back on Fillmore St.!)

Do you remember any of these spots?

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Filed under Roots

Angle of Incidence

I’ve been asked about the genesis of the images that I exhibited at Burning Man.  It is a series that I first exhibited in 2003, on the big, big wall at Dolores Park Cafe.  They don’t usually travel with me to art fairs, but I am always happy to have a chance to show them.

I use a slide projector as the sole light source for these photos. Slides are projected onto bald heads, and then re-photographed. What starts as a three dimensional scene is captured on two dimensional film, projected onto a three dimensional head, and captured on two dimensional film.  Here is a sampling from the collection.

The images come from my travels. I am drawn to unique textures and patterns, both man made and natural. I am moved by evidence of human ambition and innovation, and by evidence of time and evolution. I especially love when all of that converges!

One influence for this series is the book “Eye and Brain”, by R.L. Gregory, a small but meaty text that I picked up in college while filling out my “breadth requirements”. I designed lighting for theatre and dance since high-school, so I had experimented a lot with how to use light to define space and sculpt forms. Learning about how we receive and decipher light added a new dimension to my work. Our eyes and brain collaborate and collude to compile the evidence drawn from nerve impulses, past experiences, and intuition, to arrive at a plausible explanation for what we “see”.  The desire to make sense and find a comfortable logic makes us vulnerable to deception.

Images from this series are available by special order, and at my studio events.

I’d love to hear your impressions.

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Filed under Making

Not my normal art show…

For twelve years I have traveled to art shows around the country, setting up and exhibiting my work. I’m well adapted to the unpredictable routine, but I still have occasional  anxiety dreams.  In my dreams, I forget something, or my car won’t start, or no one comes to my opening.  Showing my art at Burning Man made those dreams look astoundingly pedestrian.

I hope most of you have enjoyed amazing photos of the event.  If not, start here or here and then Google away.  It is so huge and so varied, that I find myself looking at whole albums full of things I never saw.  Big things.  With flames.  It’s the kind of place where you CAN miss a giant boulder suspended in air, or a Billion Bunny March.

This is a look at exhibiting my little art piece on the big desert.  (This story started with my previous post.)

You can click on an image to see it bigger, with comments, and scroll through the albums.  Hit “escape” to get back to the main post.

Placement (AKA Booth Assignment)

I brought what’s called “walk-in art”, which means I had not registered ahead of time, or been assigned a location.  So I had to work that out at The Artery, on site.  They were great.  Welcoming, fun, and pro.  Always a winning hand.

Load In

I had my placement, and was ready to set up!  But you can’t just drive a car out into the middle of the Playa, because that would break the visual mood.  Luckily, my camp had a resident art-car, approved by the DMV (Department of Mutant Vehicles).  She had to be coaxed into waking up, but it was worth it to be able to say “I was going to leave at 11, but my dragon wouldn’t start…”

Set Up

Time to see if this actually works!

Showtime!

It worked!  I set up on Wednesday morning, and the piece held up until I took it down on Sunday.  It was a fantastic experience.  Every time I went out to check on it, or clean it, I had wonderful conversations with gracious, creative, appreciative, generous and quirky people.  I had a couple of teary moments and a lot of great laughs.  It was illuminating and fulfilling to step away from any connection to commerce, and just focus on what I really love, which is making a connection to people.

Tear Down

And then it was done, and time to dismantle and leave no trace.  Some of my wonderful campmates came out to help me break down.  In a final strange twist, the one thing I was unable to do was to burn the work!  I dismantled all of the plastics and metals, but the Community Burn Garden wouldn’t take the cardboard in the mats!  So the prints are back home after all.  Trying to find a date to burn them at Baker Beach, where this all began!

Thanks to everyone who pitched in!  It was so much fun to work with so many people and create something together.  It helped my hands and filled my heart!  Big dusty hugs all around!

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Filed under On the move