Saturday, January 31, 2009

the kids are all right

Just a little blip on the radar here, but I work Saturdays managing the chaos at a non-profit art program (a museum's art school) and so Saturday nights are nights I try to make something from all the swirling ideas I dodge and duck all week, all day, all the time. Tonight I'll be drawing drawing drawing because not just one but three amazing teen artists inspired me with their passion, committment, skills and perspective. If I can draw like that again...

Well talk doesn't do it. Work does. With my day-job done for a few days I now find I have more magic work to do...

hopefully the teens left as inspired as I did.

good luck on your drawings, too!

artist statement for the day.

well, honestly. I haven't made much at all today besides lunch and peace. I'm aware that many people may indeed be working for the weekend, but I have to say, monday morning when the kids are back in school suits me just fine.

also, would anyone be interested in any sort of collaborative mail project? let me know.

my eight year old is singing a repetitive but catchy tune of her own invention about black cats, and my seven year old is banging the wooden table with a big parasauropholus, and I'm sure I spelled that wrong.

just so there's balance in the world today, I hope someone out there made some time to make something amazing.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Almost 11

News as promised but short and sweet...

 Great day up in Tom's studio/clubhouse.  Those guys operate on a level I can't begin to aspire to.  Phil is furiously working on stuff for a show he's building that goes up on Feb 20 in NYC.  I have bits of video, but haven't gotten around to downloading it yet.

Going back tomorrow for more, with the addition of yet another great artist thinker and teacher, Bob Trotman.   Will do my best to give you all something of the days to look at soon.  It's like I get to hang out with a holy trinity of really cool artist guys that are incredibly inventive, talented and proficient across at least 7 different media. 

Sometimes, my days are pretty good.

In the news today:

I'm going to hang out with these guys:

Phil and Tom

(or, another way to put it, NYC visits Hillbilly Hollow and art ensues...)

News at 11.

3 quotes providing direction for today...

"enjoyment is not a goal, it is a feeling that accompanies important ongoing activity."
-paul goodman

" i need to go make stuff..."
- MB

"...not really worried about regularity..."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The things we can learn from other people

(image by Hazel Dooney, used with permission)

I think mentors and teachers can appear from almost anywhere, at any time, and come in all sizes, shapes, backgrounds and ages. It's always educational to see how other people do things, and to be open to lessons/ideas hidden or obvious that they exhibit by example.

Hazel Dooney is an artist in Australia that I've been reading and watching for the past year or so. She's young, aggressive, prolific, and outspoken. All indications are that she has an incredible work ethic, and a sharp focus on who she is and what she wants to do. More importantly (to me) she is making her own way and forging her own path in, around and thru the higher end fine arts biz. She's a good example of a self-determining thinker and doer; truly a working artist. We've exchanged a couple of emails, and I think it's safe to say she has a pretty solid DIY ethic in regards to presenting, marketing and distributing her work. There is a willingness to pursue alternative venues, take some risks, and experiment with methods that communicate her work and ideas far outside the accepted mainstream of the art/craft world.

In addition, Ms. Dooney is conversant in several different media, and integrates them well, even though her primary focus lately has been large scale enamel paintings. She is also an excellent writer and storyteller. Her blog is updated regularly and is like a daybook of an artist in evolution. Her writing is clear, honest and articulate, and doesn't hold much back. She challenges assumptions, poses questions, and shares with us the answers and possibilities she comes up with.

I highly recommend that you take time to read this recent blog entry of hers. I found it to be challenging, inspiring, and motivating, and it made me optimistic. I'd love to see discussion spring up around some of the ideas and points she makes in this piece, there is a lot to work with and think about in those few paragraphs.

Thanks to Hazel for letting me include an image and her posts here at Shoestring.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I heart Laurie Anderson

This is the video for the Laurie Anderson song "Sharkey's Day," a song I discovered by finding a tape in a "Free" pile at my work..And further proof that Penland needs to start adding early computer art classes to their curriculum. Amazing.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rachael is posting almost daily...

over at art, smart, etc. She's a smart woman that makes wonderful stuff and works hard at a day job trying to encourage people and make the world a little brighter. She's also a great example of someone juggling a bunch of balls and keeping a great outlook even though one or two occasionally fall or drop. If you want a little inspiration about the maker's life, give her a read. (she also loves snail mail, and sends the BEST mixed media letters, always unexpected and out of the blue...)


I found this image on bibliodyssey, illustrations of the Duchess of Bavaria's jewels, and what I find so inspiring about them is that there is so much time put into these but also so much of the artist's hand. The illustrations are almost all asymmetrical, oddly composed, like a drawing started in one corner without a clear plan. They are also full of decorative scrolls, animals, and other elements which I find irresistible. 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Most excellent links

I don't know how he does it or where he finds them, but ShoeStringer Karl has the best links, day in and day out.  If you're not keeping up with his daily posts, you should, they will make you happy.   Best of today is this, it's the type of site I envision doing myself on the best of days.  Thanks Karl for sending such good stuff our way.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Near Asheville?

Our Penland friends Andrew Hayes and Devon Burgess along with others are having an opening tomorrow (thursday) at the Blue Spiral Gallery in Asheville, NC, from 5-8. The show is called New Artists, New Year, New Work. Go see it!
Can't make the opening?... well the show is up until Feb. 28th so worry not.

(but get thyself over there and see it when you can cause it will be wonderful!- edit by MB)

Mr. Croma made a lovely movie

Everyone should watch it. The best internet video I've ever seen (and I look at a LOT of them!) Beautiful videography, lovely soundtrack, finely crafted. And Mr. Croma would never toot his own horn, but I will honk it loudly for him:

(click on the image to play in a new window, about 54 mins long)

This jewel is theater-worthy.

Monday, January 5, 2009


This is my favorite building in a little alley in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

sorting through the stories of the artists who came before

Somehow about a year and a half ago I found myself mildly obsessed with the prints of a somewhat successful printmaker who died in 1964. Hugh P. Botts was prominent enough to have an obituary in the New York Times, work in some major museum collections, and a few write-ups in the books. But nowadays he isn't that seen. He worked on the New Deal's Work Progress Administration's Graphic Project in the late 1930s and he had some successes in group shows and a solo show at the library of congress in 1950 but I think of him as a shoe-stringer type. Joiner of artists organizations, perpetual student and sometimes teacher, but always a maker and artist...

If one of the themes of cultural production in the 1930s was the American search for a usable past, I won't deny that my hunt for the stories in the work and the story of the man who made them was motivated by curiousity and comraderie. It makes a lot of sense to me that this man made a little bit of everything, from patents to metal engraving. The bits of story I find as I search archival records and old newspapers is nothing if not inconclusive but it is inspiring. Empathy, and humor, and the city of New York and its people weave through his life and his prints, in 1936 and in the conversations I have of them now...

My day job is at a museum and this museum quietly keeps over 80 of his prints in our permanent collection where they mostly live in sealed boxes in a temperature controlled room. Compared to the way the work I make lives, it is a nice life if a little safe. Anyway, the prints caught my eye because many of them were made in the middle of the Great Depression and they were full of wit, wonder, empathy and oddity.

I paid most attention to three of these prints and the meanings they might have. And now, or soon, his prints will start to hang on walls again. There's irony in knowing that his etchings will hang near the work of Reginald Marsh (he didn't have any trouble selling work in the Depression). Or that this work will go up now as we wonder just exactly how awful the global economy is and what it means to make art when there are more pressing needs.

My museum will hang 21 of his prints in groupings of 3 over a 5 week cycle 7 times. I am writing the labels and my friend the museum preparator is rematting and framing the etchings. At some point there will be more of his story on my museum's website but for now, I'm pleased with the idea that museum walls can share the stories of the working artists not just the uber-successful ones...

See here for more of his prints (just enter Hugh Botts in the search) and let me know if you know anymore about Botts, or any other of the artists who came before who keep you making and thinking...



Friday, January 2, 2009

Rust and Dust...

Finally time today to dust off some old tools, polish up using them, and familiarize myself with some new ones. This is as much a test as anything, but I thought why not try to kill two birds with one stone.

Let me know what you think. Also published this over to the wiki, but the player seems really small...

justmakingstuff's Utter

MB has no shame and that's one part of what makes him a leader. Google Docs. Get a Gmail address, for sure. Gmail = < 1 spam / day.

Mobile post sent by TheFauxPress using Utterlireply-count Replies.

Field notes

Mobile post sent by justmakingstuff using Utterlireply-count Replies.  mp3

Croma's in Da House!


Robert Croma once made this for me.

He inspires.

He teaches.

He passionates.

Welcome, Robert.

Say sumthin' yo.

Casting is Everything :: Updating Community-Building Process

If there's one thing I learned about making stuff happen, it that casting is everything.

If you've been invited here, you have the capacity to cast others.

I'm going to grant everyone who's joined this multi-media blog admin status as soon as I post this.

Do I hear objections?

If you've never had a blog, go have a look under the hood: upper right-hand corner of the blog page. Click 'Dashboard'.

Just re-sent all the invitations that haven't joined.

A New Year reminder that we could make amazing things here.

What are the skill sets / resources you have that could be digitally shared among us?

What do you NEED to make that distributed production, operatic, epic digital footprint in the sand?



Ask and tell.

A wiki is a good place to store such information. Open to other ideas. I'm liking Google Docs, too.

Forums seem more popular than email lists by lots of people. Will take a Twitter poll...

What do you folks prefer: forum / Google Groups / Yahoogroups / something else?

Will report back in due course.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

New Year's Day in Philadelphia. My favorite thing in the world. Why? The Mummer's Parade. There is something about this that makes me absolutely giddy. Day Glo colors, glitter, and intoxication are a heady mix. 

In the spirit of Shoestring, I thought I'd share this video. A local group of artists in philly who share studios and galleries at Space 1026 decided last year to start their own brigade. It's pretty great. Also, check out their website for awesome practice videos of this years routine. Nice Thriller moves there robots...

Mummers in the Global Warming Induced Perpetual Summer