Sunday, January 30, 2005

Rub, rub. Pat, pat.

I worked in the studio on the early stages of a new piece. I'm putting in the background, which means putting about a thousand little jigsaw pieces on a board I spent about a week warping.
I'm looking at my hands. At every large exhibit, at least one person comes up to me and says something to the effect of, "Oh, if I only had your hands." (Second only to my favorite, which is "Wow---it would take me ten years to do that!")
First of all, you wouldn't want my hands. They are scarred and scratched and wide as a farmer's. After a dozen years of sculpting nearly every day, they are strong hands. People bring pickle jars to me----from across town.

Secondly. Do you really think that artists make art with their hands?
Don't you think that if I lost the use of my hands I'd make art with my feet? Or mouth? Or with whatever technology was available?
Are you aware that there are artists out there who create art without their hands?
It's in my head. It's in their heads. Whatever you do is in your head.
But. I do think this:
In order for a person to do the art I do (including the piece I'm working on right now), that person would have to have my brain.
My brain is where the vision is. Where their (artists) visions are. Where your vision is.

It also occurs to me, just now, that a person performing the task I'm performing right now,( which is selecting and gluing puzzle pieces on with both hands) would have to have the following criteria:

Such individual must be capable of rubbing the stomach and patting the head, simultaneously, and switching to patting the stomach and rubbing the head---without amorphous rub-pats or pat-rubs.

NOW I'm using both hands here, right? But the ability to do this, is in my brain.*

This could actually be a lemma. Yes? We could think about it some more, and agree that it is a theorem. I wonder. Is this a right-brain or left-brain function? Hmmm.

*Note to Dr. Abba: I had coffee earlier, and a good dose of tired. Other brain variables will be mentioned should they apply.

A quick word about the SlaughterHouse page on the site. It will be up and running very soon. For now, I'm going to stash all the technical, nuts-and-bolts stuff in there. I don't have any interest in doing a tutorial on mold making or paper mache or what-not. But I'll put the weird stuff in here like accidental discoveries, unorthodox uses for tools and materials, and some of the spectacular screw-ups that gave us our SlaughterHouse motto:

"Nothin' can go wrong now!"

So, if you have technical questions please ask and I'll try to answer them here, so as not to bore the pants off everyone else.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Here is a first look at the new H. P. Lovecraft rat. I'll be working on the artist's proofs for a week or so. I'll get 'official' photos on the site soon. He's holding a candle (in case this snapshot doesn't show it well) and of course, there is the adorable Cthulu. Posted by Hello

Cold epiphany

I was going to write you this cool thing that involves Michel Gondry images and string theory and why we are drawing pictures of multiple universes. I will try very hard not to forget to post that. I'm too tired now, after a couple of late hours in the studio.
I made a mold. Making a mold sometimes requires using a triple beam balance. Surprise! All that stuff you have to learn in science you think is a waste? wroooooonnngo. I use stuff all the time I never, ever would have expected would be useful in art.
I've used balances before. I've used them to weigh speens, hearts, livers and once, a foot
Yes, I am a closet geek. My first career was spent mostly in green-tiled rooms.
The studio is set up like a morgue, or any number of labs I've worked in. It's a bunch of stations for different work in a big, cold room and chairs with wheels so you can push off from one station to another. The studio is a lab, then, sort of. A right-brained, non-sterile, laboratory where sometimes people spontaneously break into dance, but yeah, I guess it is sort of a laboratory.
So, here I am tonight, weighing an empty cup on a triple beam, wearing,a white, red (paint) stained apron, latex gloves and safety goggles. I'm working under a very bright light. The room is very quiet, it's very late and I'm alone in a room full of creepy stuff.


It's the morgue all over again.What kinda fucking karmic joke is this?
And that's not even the worst of it.

Ok, lots of people work in red stained aprons. Pathologists, artists and butchers, for some.

I named my studios SlaughterHouse because I (to the chagrin and embarrassment of my friends who love me anyway) tend to preach about sheep. I'm pretty sure that's it.
But--- now I know the morgue is in there somewhere. The morgue and the slaughterhouse and the bloody aprons, the working to exhaustion, the sheep, the preaching, the preaching the sheep, sheep, sheep. It's going to roll around my head and keep me awake. The pernicious idea that alive isn't everything.
Counting sheep. Killing sleep.
The best thing I think, would be a walk outside. Our neighborhood doesn't allow street lights, which makes for very dark streets, but is a good thing if you want to walk at 2am and see the little stars, way in back.,
I agree.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Speak of the Devil...

Just as I was writing the bit about Melinda, Neil emailed this photo of himself and Dave McKean (the cool one, on the right). So here they are. Maybe this will make up for the photo of the shoes....

Too, I'm a little curious about how a photo sent from a phone and posted onto a site will look.

Neil and Dave Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 27, 2005

canning machine print Posted by Hello

killer shoes Posted by Hello

Canning, shoes, ouch and good news from Poland.

Sculpting is very physical work. Obviously, hacking away at a huge piece of wood is physical. Or having to work for hours on something from a ladder. But it's the tiny pieces that really get me. The detail sculpting and the painting. (Painting and drawing are physical work too) So I've finally reached the point where I can't ignore it any longer and must do something besides take Motrin. Probably the something will be to call little Mike L., dreadlocked and cheerful and much more powerful than he looks. So much so that he will bend me back into place.

Somewhere (below?) are photos of my latest thrift-store finds: a pair of killer Italian shoes---positively evil, and a very cool print of an old canning machine, very nicely framed and ready to inspire me to do something canny with puppets. Something very canny. Something evilly canny.

Neil sent me a copy of Melinda. Neil Gaiman & Dagmara Matuszak Melinda Reviewed by Rick Kleffel It is gorgeous in many ways. It sort of reminded me of what I love about Nick Bantock,Nick Bantock with its pasted-on illustrations and drawings. The words and images have a very distinct dynamic. Very cool.
Dagmara Matuszak will be featured here on the journal sometime in early March. I'll post dates/time on the News page of the site when it's set. We may do a live chat thing, but at least will do an interview. I'm really, really looking forward to exploring some things with her. She is an amazing artist and this will be a chance to get a glimpse into her creative process. It will be very cool and you must come and you must bring a friend...

So, I shall stop typing and stretch.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

detail Posted by Hello

heat Posted by Hello

In other news...flaming angels

I'm not going to talk about today's news. I'm going to say I saw today's news. I'm going to assume you did. Lots of us read or watched simultaneously, I'm sure. Sometimes news makes me want to never, ever make art again. Today it did. So I go into the studio. I turn on the lights, twist my hair up, put on my apron and take a deep breath---adjusting my brain to in here instead of out there. I choose music, turn up the volume and make more art.
I used to think I was running away from there. Now I understand that I'm running to there, with these things I make back here.

So now do you crave chocolate?

Last night I stayed up and finished Relic III. The is the third venture into this particular theme. I'm not done yet. I know this because
1) Relic is part of a book project I'm working on that is a strange mix of dimensions. David Niall WilsonChateaux Shadeaux and Neil Gaiman Neil Gaiman are going along with me on this particular trip, with some insights into things Lost and Found.

and 2) because I just know. Y'know?? Relic has been with me for a very long time. Much longer than I knew, really, until recently.

Prokofiev's Fiery Angel Symphony is in there, though it's not the original source I thought it to be.

Last night I listened to Bartok. The sculpting and sanding was finished, all the layers of paints were dry and it was time to light her up. So I did, knowing I could lose weeks of work if I screw up, knowing the effect is worth the risk.
You see, there was this angel. It was found many years after having been rescued from a fire. Her name is lost, and any record of the artist who made her is long gone.

But she carries a memory, from back there, of being a kid carried out of a burning house. Of seeing her through the smoke, watching us leave her behind. I guess I could mention that on the lawn of the burning house, there was a burning cross. But I'm not going to write about that either, not tonight, because I want to go and make art.

Tonight I'm thinking about friends of my webmaster (and friend)
Ravyn, who were in a car accident today and have some interesting days ahead. I wish them well.

So, instead of popcorn for movie snacks, we are eating Cheerios. And, tonight I taught Orion how to eat them from his palm by snagging them , frog-like, with his wet tongue.
I consider both these things to be examples of good parenting.

Be careful youse guys, out there.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Gleanings, and a little evil, from PBS

Orion, who is nearly three, is home for another month before he starts a pre-school program. So, needless to say, we are tuning in to children's programming fairly regularly. On the downside, Aubrey and I embarrass ourselves by breaking into Backyardigan songs in the car.
---they tend to become imprinted upon the brain.. . We got to see how crayons are made on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Yeah, I know, the puppets are scary as hell, still.
I was impressed to see Arthur Ganson Arthur can make a machine that waves goodbye featured in an episode of Arthur, very cool. Last night Reading Rainbow featured artist Jeff Davis, who makes really cool stuff from recycled vinyl records. Jeff Davis clocks & notebooks from vinyl records and jackets
But, just between us, I shamefully confess the other day I found myself held in an unblinking, vampiric thrall as Magnus Scheving did pushups History <>. Sheeeeeeeeeeesh! Not since Anthony Wiggles' er, support-free dancing has children's programming offered such a "little something for the mommies".
Definitely, definitely twisted.
(I meant me.)

Now, off to the studio to close the doors, put on some music and finish Relic III. She will not leave me alone...

Monday, January 24, 2005

Taste Test Posted by Hello

Fake butter and Big, Big Shoes

So it's January 24. I wake up planning to have a typical day of work, both studio and household. I turn on CNN only to have my plans derailed by the news that I'm supposed to be depressed today. Diasporian News of Monday, 24 January 2005
Being a good sheep, I opt to make a cup of coffee and mope. Staring into the refrigerator can be depressing on many levels. So, I stare.
I notice there are three different tubs of margarine on the shelf.
Being me, I decide to perform a taste test.
I have here:
Original Parkay "The flavor says BUTTER!" 60 calories per serving, 60 from fat
Land O Lakes Fresh Buttery Taste spread "Where simple goodness begins" 80 calories/serving 80 calories from fat
Country Crock Plus Calcium "Slow down, think good thoughts...inside this crock." 50 calories/serving 45 from fat
Land O Lakes comes way out in front, taste wise, reminiscent of butter, actually, in a pinch. Country Crock would be pretty good had I not tasted the Land O Lakes already. Parkay falls way, way behind, tasting not even remotely like butter and somewhat like Crisco.
I'm still not depressed.
You might have noticed the Coffee Monster lurking in the photo. He is one of my favorite possessions, and was created by Jeff Coleman, Creatures and Gargoyles whom I haven't seen in several years but I understand is still sculpting wonderfully imaginative creatures. I must remember to send him a hello.
It is indeed gloomy, but Aubrey is restless so I take her to a couple of thrift stores, which are picked -over and gloomy. They must have known about Jan 24.
I find a pair of size 16 Converse Allstars, nearly new. Only someone who wears a size 16 shoe (I don't, Pete does) can appreciate this find. Pete muses that the owner must've died early into ownership. I find a print of a sheep to add to my collection. Total $9.25.
It reminds me of myself, the sheep print, as I wait in the drive-thru line for Aubrey's Frappachino. Which comic describes a training program for Starbucks employees as: one hour to learn to make the coffees, eight hours to learn not to laugh at people who pay $4.50 for one???
Hope your Jan 24 wasn't terribly gloomy. But, at any rate, it'll be over soon.

Neil Rat, Voss, mess on my desk Posted by Hello

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Voss, the Backroom and other stuff...

So, I'm having a VOSS . Right now, see? There it is on my desk. I put my Neil Rat there so you'd recognize my desk. You do recognize my desk, right? So, I'm thirsty, it's water, that works out. Voss comes in a heavy glass jar with a screw -on plastic top. It looks like cheap perfume but, no, it's water.
It's water. Yum.
You can order 24 bottles of Voss delivered to your home for about $47.00.
..Voss: Bottled Water Delivery Service
It's from Norway.
That's nice.
It's just water, people. W A T E R

It tastes like, well, water. I might mention that, if you look through the Voss website, they even have a little fear campaign about tap water. Might I suggest that there are other choices? It's not either : that funny-tasting water from grandma's well (whatever happened to that rabbit, anyway?) o r VOSS. Probably we should shop around.
The bottles are heavy heavy and the tops are heavy. They can be recycled but you can't recover the cost of making the bottles and tops or the added freight/fuel costs of such heavy packaging.

Now, here's what's bugging me.

I just now decided to have a Sapporo. This is my favorite beer. Why? I like the way it tastes and the can is just the right size to last through an enjoyable conversation or the Daily Show and a slice of pizza.
Now---it is a Japanese beer, brewed and canned in Canada. I pay about $3.00 for a can, which is about $.75 more than I'd pay for a domestic beer.

What I'm asking you is, is there a difference between my paying $.75 more for a particular brand of beer and someone paying $40.00 more for a case of Voss?
Other than the obvious $39.25, thank you...
Tell me what you think about this.

Other than that, it's late Sunday night and I got nothin'. Except that I finished a rather large sculpture today and several rats and danced in the studio to Flogging Molly *
The Official Flogging Molly Website with Orion. We polka, until he gets bored, then we polka like T-Rexes.
*if you like Flogging Molly you most likely will also adore Folk UndergroundFolk UnderGround (yes, I know you already know you Neil-y bastards---but NEWS! other people exist)

Then, it IS late Sunday night and I've had most of my Sapporo and that reminds me of the Back Room, which I mentioned about a week ago.
The Back Room is a work in progress and we, my webmaster and I, refer to it as the Speakeasy. I'm looking forward to opening the Speakeasy. I like the idea of a place where we can talk freely about less popular subjects. When I speak at conventions and exhibits, once in a while someone asks me what happened to the edgy sculpture I showed years ago. Some people have accused me of 'losing my nerve'. It's true, back when,
I was showing some pieces at certain east coast exhibits that would have set the San Diego Convention Center ablaze. I still go there, sometimes. I don't take these works to conventions because they're not appropriate for conventions. Just as saying 'fuck' is fine, but not in public. ---Think of me as "Dear Abby" with a touch of Bill - 'People Who Hate People' Party HQ (I am so not worthy even to speak his name) Ok then, Timothy Leary?
So---once we get the logistics worked out for an appropriate , secure 'space' for the Speakeasy, we'll light up the neon. Leave the little ones at home.

One day soon, in February, probably, we shall talk more about Bill Hicks.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Orange Trees, Ranulfo and Weather Envy

So today we stood outside talking and eating oranges we'd picked from branches over our heads.* If you've never stood under an orange tree, it's worth checking out, especially in spring when they bloom.. It would be ridiculous to try to describe this experience.. One can describe an orgasm as effectively as one could describe standing under an orange tree in bloom, or under a giant fir in snow or snuggling with a baby or jumping out of an airplane or any of those things that can be described but should be experienced..
Heh---are you experienced?
Ranulfo does this weird thing when he shows up. He rings the doorbell, then, when I open the door, he's standing way back, like 18 feet away, He's like a Ninja---no matter how fast I open the door he's far away. . I have one of those peephole things--the old swivel ones that look like tiny telescopes. I keep meaning to put some eyelashes on it or something.
I swear, I look at him through the thingy and by the time I open the front door, he's way-the-hell up the walk.
It really cracks me up, so I asked him about it. I said, "What, Ranulfo? Are you practicing for something?" He just laughed it off. So we talked about gravel and apple trees and I enjoyed, truly, a conversation with someone who has never been on the internet and sees little of television or movies. It is a mango sorbet. It is a cool shower for the brain...
Still, next time I'm going to ask him about that front-door thing.. Every time I think I have a good grip on reality somebody does some quirky stuff like that.

Feel free to take a stab at it. I'll be curious to hear what you come up with. G'night

* I've talked to several friends on the phone or internet, all of whom live in rather cold places that are rather colder tonight. Almost universally----when I told them it was sunny and 74 degrees F and I was standing outside looking at the snowy mountains and eating oranges off my tree while talking with my gardener---- they each had various colorful ideas about what I could do with my oranges (and my gardener) or threatened that when I visited they might help me learn to enjoy snow ---also in colorful ways.
To all of you butts (I say this with deepest love) Get over it. Call me this summer when it's 127 degrees F and my shoes are melted to the sidewalk.
"But, it's a dry heat." whaaa
Yes, it is so dry that it could suck the moisture right out of you. It could except for the bazillion fucking golf courses in Palm Springs. No it's a blinding, searing, unbreathable, shave your dog, hide in your house misery.. But then, it gets dark at 5:30 and we swim until midnight. hmmmm
Okay, you can hate me a little, just this week.

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Itsy Bit Inside If you like the piece for it's shiny colors and because it goes with your lamp. you want to dig into it, read Puppet Physics and apply.or notThere are foods that eat up a fucking lot of (insert any commodity here, e.g. energy, sweat, small children) in order to be produced. Usually they cost a lot of money. They are usually only ever eaten by a few.They are delicacies. They are worth it.For whom?Yum. Yum. ---don't be a puppet---read on---
The Itsy Bit Inside Posted by Hello

The Itsy Bit Inside

The Itsy Bit Inside

If you like the piece for it's shiny colors and because it goes with your lamp.
If you want to dig into it, read Puppet Physics and apply.
or not
There are foods that eat up a fucking lot of (insert any commodity here, e.g. energy, sweat, small children) in order to be produced. Usually they cost a lot of money. They are usually only ever eaten by a few.

They are delicacies. They are worth it.

For whom?

Yum. Yum.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Interference Pattern Posted by Hello

Relic II Posted by Hello

Two new sculptures and Note to Self...oh---and DragonCon

Lesson learned; Never say what you're going to do on a journal. It's Wednesday and the third 24-hour period with not nearly enough sleep. I am going to start a fire in the fireplace, curl up on the floor with Orion, who is nearly three, and we will eat cookies and watch a movie until we are fast asleep...

I finished the sculpture I'd mentioned in "Puppet Science". I settled on the title "Interference Pattern". I won't talk about it unless someone asks. I'm posting photos of that, and of another piece called "Relic II" that you wouldn't have seen unless you were at the World Fantasy Convention this past October. I built this one, and actually did set it on fire for the final effect. It is based on the original Relic, from a story about an angel rescued from a burning house .

Oh yes---Dragon Con Well, the short version is that I wanted to do an experimental/installation/ performance piece where I worked in a closed environment with no outside contact. No clocks, no windows, nothing except music, and whatever I needed to work. I would've lived in this fishbowl and viewers could 'check in' via 24-hour closed circuit TV. Dragon Con was the best venue for the project because it's a long convention and large enough to accomodate a running exhibit like this one. The exhibit would be expensive to set up and extremely taxing on me physically and mentally. I'd already had enough experience with working under similar conditions to know that the results, at least, would be really interesting. Yes, it would be a little crazy in a Timothy Leary sort-of way, and I was a little nervous about putting myself through it, but still wanted to. The cool thing is that it would have been strange and real, and when we were talking about doing this , it was back in 1996 or so, before (if you can even imagine this) reality TV.

So now, g'night....

John Kennedy and Loose Ends

Loose Ends
Tomorrow is Wednesday and I've decided that on Wednesdays I will catch up on any loose ends--missing links or photos, unanswered questions, unfinished stories and truly atrocious typos. Kick me if I miss something. There---a schedule is shaping up. Wednesdays for catching up and Thursdays for kicking.

John Kennedy (not JFK) Day in Palm Springs
Today was John Kennedy day. I spent it exactly the way I thought appropriate---in my apron, in my studio, working. John would have agreed. He's gone---but not. I work still with tools we used together. Pour waxes of my sculptures with the same wax I'd used for his. For nearly seven years I sculpted enlargements for John's bronzes. Lots of days we worked together quietly, contentedly. Some days we sat outside under his pepper trees, drinking wine and laughing the laughter of only those who share years of inside jokes. .A few days we screamed at each other. Once we glared at each other all day. Sometimes, I'm fairly certain, we hated each other equally. Sometimes we told each other secrets. Mostly, we worked, very hard.
John is gone but not for me. John was human. He was a mean bastard and a good friend, competitive, jealous, generous and tenderhearted, funny and impatient and fickle and savvy. He joked that I sculpted his work better than he did. Sometimes I felt I knew him better than he did. Only a very serious collector would discern my influence on John's work. Not so subtle for me. In retrospect, I can look back and see that there actually was a "John" period in my career.
Happy John's day

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

John Grant and "Q"

"I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours!!"
C'mon---you know you played that, at least once, out behind the barn, or under the bleachers or behind the door of the playroom. We all did, somewhere, somehow.

Now, look at us, how far we've sunk:
"I'll look at yours if you'll look at mine."
I just played with John Grant At least this version doesn't get us into trouble, well, usually...

I'm pretty sure I won, having just finished his new Q. Q by John Grant
I have to be choosey about what I read, as things I read tend to wriggle themselves unconsciously into my work. To paraphrase John, "someone tells you not to think about a horse and horses are all you can think about."
I was tired when I started it last night, but I decided to read a bit, get a feel for it. Then I poured a cup of coffee and stayed up to read the rest. It's smart and fresh and sexy and surprising and thought-provoking. Of course it is. John wrote it.
Read it.

Monday, January 17, 2005

bendyman Posted by Hello

Go Home, Bendyman

Bendyman has been around, in spirit. His likeness has been featured in short stories, graced the covers of of magazines, posters, websites, tee shirts and even mouse pads. Throughout all, he appears in my dreams. But Bendyman, the sculpture, has been sitting quietly at Worlds of WonderWOW, where I visit him occasionally. I still remember details of making him. The paper, the music I listened to, how he talked in my head as I sculpted his features. I was eight years old when my dad took me to the carnival and I saw the contortionist in whose likeness Bendyman was created. He scared me, back then, and intrigued me. And stayed with me. I wrote about it as best I could, in a story called "Something October". Strange Attraction
Bendyman is large---if he stood he'd be over nine feet tall. Travel with him to exhibits was difficult and expensive, (though I did so several times). I knew this when I made him, but of course that didn't matter. When something decides to be made, inconvenience to its creator is not a consideration. Now he has been adopted by a very nice couple from Maryland, both of whom are librarians. Very cool, for Bendyman likes books, and likes people who read books. I do hope they read to him, occasionally at least. It's the least they can do. He is misunderstood, regarded as a captor, jealously enclosing the delicate angel he hovers over. I hope his new stewards look carefully. I hope they come to understand that they are the ones he is guarding, keeping her at bay, keeping them safe. But always there is that chance that some night after midnight, I will receive a phone call...
Goodbye, my Bendyman, I shall miss you.

A Post about Posting

If you want to post Post a comment and don't want to post on Blogger, click here:
Post a comment on the journal page

Sorry Maureen! forget those guys....

Happy Birthday Dr. King

sigh.........wish you were here.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Dime Day, Resonant Kiss, Rona's Turd Sculptures and the Dirty Art I Keep in the Back Room

Dime Day:

Rebecca forwarded me an email regarding Dime Day:

No one knows who originated the "Not One Damn Dime Day" protest.
By Greg L'Heureux, USA TODAYIt's called "Not One Damn Dime Day," and it means just that. Proponents urge Americans not to spend any money on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, to protest President Bush's policies in Iraq and the estimated $30 million to $40 million cost of the inauguration.You might already have received the plea in your morning e-mails. If so, it probably was sent to you by friends or family, because the e-mail encourages everyone to share the contents with as many people as possible. And people have.The message is simple: "Those who oppose what is happening in our name in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending.

You may have figured out that I don't have anything against a good protest. That's exactly what this would/will be, even at its most successful. Let's say 3 million people refrain from spending a single penny on Jan 20. Jan 20 - Feb 20, maybe we see a little something. If I hold off buying diapers or Dinty Moore or socks on Jan 20, it just means I'll buy those things on the 19th (being me) or I'll buy them on the 21st (being someone else). Even millions of people not buying for one day will be a statement, nothing more. It's success will be determined by the media reporting it. And....who controls the media that would report our Dime Day boycott? I'll tell you----NOT THE PEOPLE WHO PARTICIPATE. Still, I'm going to 'observe' Dime Day, because I believe in statements and would love to be amazed by this one. But I'm not counting on it:
If you've ever tried to get ten people together for dinner at a restaurant at a particular time, imagine the difficulty in getting millions of people to participate in any kind of boycott. The masses are a fickle bunch. Remember all the flags and ribbons and stickers EVERYWHERE after 9/11? Remember watching them fade and tatter and disappear over the following three months?
Yet GUILTY and Calvin peeing endure..... If we really want to boycott something, we pick one thing and boycott it...for good.
If you got to pick the one thing, what would it be?

I must go and help a restless toddler fall asleep and then shall return

As I return much later. Heh---I fell asleep too, which actually is a very good thing.

From Kensgirl:
Whilst knocking about your site, I stumbled across a picture of the piece you did called "Resonant Kiss." What inspired you to make this piece? Because I wrote a poem almost six years ago that was an ambiguous and sensual- if clumsily so- description of playing the cello... So the piece resonated with me. ^_^ Ha!Your work is beautiful, and fascinating!

The foundation for this piece was there already, in my love of classical music. My instrumental affair is with the piano, but the emotion is the same. Anyone who plays and loves it knows that at some point after warming up (or during) the instrument becomes a living thing. Back in Georgia, several years ago, my son was just learning to play the violin. He was terrible at first, but in those early days, once in a while he and the violin would produce a tone that would fill the air with distant, ancient longing. We lived in a house that had been a school in the early 1900's. The acoustics were incredible. He had one of those moments when the bow and strings and the physics of sound were lined up like planets. He kissed his violin and said "I love you." And went off to make something with Legos.
Neil Gaiman wrote a story for Resonant Kiss called "Every Good Boy Deserves Favors". EGBDF will be all too familiar to many of you. It's a very good story. Once in a while I put one of the castings of the piece on ebay. Once somebody bought one, once someone not familiar with Neil thanked me for pointing him out. I have done well with a drawing I did from the sculpture. I'll put one up in a bit.

Laura didn't post---bad, bad girl---but emailed to say the artist who sculpted the bronze turd was probably Rona Pondick.

Rona Pondick After a little checking, I would tend to agree that Laura is correct. Rona has been making art since then and apparently, still is. Interesting stuff too.

The Naughty Stuff in the Back Room: Just so you know it wasn't an empty tease---I'll get to that tonight, when it's not so bright outside----and in here...

An Answer for Cedar

Aubrey and I did talk about it afterward. Sure, basically what I did was assure the clerk that he wasn't alone. That someone else 'saw the monster'. That is okay, but it is passive.
Aren't we behaving like sheep when we don't address the problem at its source? I didn't need to insult this woman, as much I may have wanted to kick her in the shin, but this was an opportunity to SPEAK OUT against intolerance and well, meanness. I really don't think this woman even saw the clerk as another human being.
If I had spoken against her actions, there is the tiniest chance that she might have seen things differently. There's a much better chance she and hubby would have turned their irk on me. Bring it on! I was better equipped than the clerk, not being on Target's payroll. They wouldn't have lasted long in a verbal spar---even Aubrey could've handled them and she's only 13. Maybe that's it. Maybe I was pissed at myself for missing an opportunity to make a speech in Target.
BUT There is a fair chance that those watching might have been made slightly more aware. Did I say 'aware"? How about AWAKE? You asked what could be done to help those described in Barbara Ehrenreich's book Nickled and Dimed. LOTS of things GO ON, and on and on and on, because Baaaaaaaaah we let them. Whatever it is we hope to change, we have to begin by speaking out.
Best to you.

Medium Question

****From TDLEE:

Hi, I'm an art student at the University of Kentucky who finds your work very inspirational. The darkly beautiful fantasy tone I see in your sculptures is what I hope to achieve in my own work one day. (Though I don't know if sculpture is my medium of choice because I have very weak hands and have trouble executing my ideas in sculpture due to this weakness.)Anyway, I have a few questions. Isn't marble a more expensive medium to work in? As a poor student, I stick to cheaper things like pencils/paper for drawing, and plaster for sculptures. At what point did you start investing more money into materials and realize you were making enough back to afford it? And what is different about casting marble than using other media? Thank you for reading this.


The medium is never, ever as important as the concept. I've worked in most classical mediums; bronze, clays of all kinds, wood, metals, stone, papier mache, resins, plaster, pencil drawings, paintings, photography, collage. I've used a few quirky ones; toys, food, rubber, wire, bones, tools, motors, gears, crayons and marshmallows (which are not food). Neither is Cool Whip, though I have an affinity for it...
I had someone tell me once that no one would ever take my art seriously as long as I used polymer clays.
I've sold pieces made of polymer clays for 10K and more.
I tend to think that someone who will invest that in a piece of art is quite serious.
Now, this is important: Choose well. If you are creating an exhibit for its own sake, go hog wild. Use Crisco if you like. (I wouldn't recommend that here, in the desert sun). But if you are creating a piece of art that might find its way into a collection, make it to last. That doesn't mean it has to be stone or marble. It means that whatever medium you use should be treated appropriately--e.g. If you use papier mache, use strong armature, dry it completely, and seal it well to preserve it.
I can't say enough good things about paper as a medium. It is cheap---it can even be free. It is versatile beyond belief. And, if treated properly, it can last an amazingly long time. In ancient China, papier mache was used to build homes, and BOATS. I'll see if I can find some good links for you.
Many years ago I visited the High Museum in Atlanta Georgia. I was just starting to think of myself as an artist and dreamed of exhibiting there one day. In the middle of the main exhibit floor was a sculpture whose title and creator have escaped me. But I remember the art quite well. It was a long velvet pillow, bunched in the center. (I learned this was to represent the female figure when I read the artist's statement). Resting on the pillow was a beautifully polished bronze sculpture of a turd.
Now, my point is that a highly regarded medium can be used to represent the lowliest of subjects, and vice versa. And, my dear, go visit some galleries---there are some really stinky bronzes out there. Pun intended.

As for having weak hands. You didn't mention that there was any medical condition. Hands are like any other part of the body. Strength comes with use. Lots of it.
Thanks for your comments. I wish you great success. Go out there, get inspired and make something.

Charlie Fink Posted by Hello


There is a blurb on AOL today entitled "How to Hide your Television; Don't Let your TV and Electronics Ruin your Decor". Explain to me how this works when just weeks ago everywhere I looked I saw ads about form and function in the new electronics. Beautiful components and TV's to be hung like art from our walls.
They are fucking with us.
They have been fucking with us for a long time and they will fuck with us as long as we want it.

That said, I thought I'd tell you about inspiration at the grocery store. We pretty much covered the Puppet Physics overview and nobody raised a hand so I'm going to assume you GOT THAT.

I'm posting a photo of one of my rubber rats. This one lives in the garden. I have a new computer, having lost my previous computer to sudden onset of old age and cheapness. The new computer is devoid of image files as of yet so I walked out tonight in my pjs and bare feet to snap this photo. It's what it is.

So---Inspirations and Ideas. Mostly I run from them. I run from the never ending flood of random, overlapping ideas.
The noise, the noise, the noise.
I look for quiet, where I might focus on ONE idea.

I can do this at the grocery store, late. There is one not too far away from my house that stays open until midnight but dims its lights at 10 pm and is nearly empty from then on.

So I go late, when we need milk, or bananas, or a Slim Jim. They know me there, and they are nice. I tend to talk to myself when I am thinking (in the way I think in the grocery store at night). They may have noticed. It probably wouldn't be so bad if I didn't gesture.... Oh well, it's a good thing. I can walk around the store for a half hour or so, in a floor-length black coat (or army green if it's raining) and nobody bothers me. I'm crazy---I'm not stealing.

One thing I realized tonight is that I'm sick of GEL. Really, really. I can appreciate gel technology. It's a good thing, excellent in the right application. But I miss shampoo and soap and lotions and paints that didn't have the consistancy of snot. Enough, really.

So it's a little surreal in the grocery at night. But I see something new or unexpectedly weird every time. This only works if I don't shop. I mean, I have to buy something---buying something is why they let me walk around talking to myself. But I don't think about shopping. I look. There are layers in a grocery. Lots of different kinds of people shop for food. Everybody eats.
There is language in the aisles--- on the packaging, in the logistics, in the lighting . Walk down the aisle and look at the boxes and the bottles and the cans. Feel it. You're a mark.
They are fucking with us.

Try it. Then read some Vance Packard, say The Hidden Persuaders. The Hidden Persuaders When was this written? Yeah, before lots of us were born---heh, including me. Baaaaaaahh
Now try it again. Read the book and take another look around.
See it now?
No need to be afraid---I'm not saying that everything in the boxes and bottles and cans is bad for us---though lots of it is. I'm suggesting instead that you buy the product and not the pitch.

Ahhh--the grocery at night...
Still, all that aside, going somewhere ordinary at a weird time is similar to changing lenses, or switching the sountrack of a familiar movie or looking through water. It's good for the brain...

I'll be back in a bit. Take care.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Puppet Physics 101

I'm just finishing a sculpture called "Interference Particles". It began as a large-ish piece of pine with a very distinct grain. As pointed out by Ben (who is a sculptor and friend and does amazing things with gears and who shows up at work occasionally...) it looked a lot like a wave pattern. There was some debate over which of us is the bigger geek, then "Hmm... You should have your puppets follow the grain," Ben says. Then he went away not to be heard from since...

The idea jostled about in my head and bumped into other things in there. After a while it became apparent that puppets actually are more wave-like than particle-like.

It became apparent to me that:

  • Puppets tend to exhibit the properties of waves.
  • Under certain rare conditions most puppets will begin to exhibit properties of particles.
  • All puppets begin as non-puppets.

Hmmm---something just occurs to me---something we should give a moment to---what, exactly I mean by 'puppet'. I will post links later--but for now text on the gallery pages might help.
Don't worry, I won't geek out for every post.
Here we go, from M-W online:

Main Entry: pup·pet : a small-scale figure (as of a person or animal) usually with a cloth body and hollow head that fits over and is moved by the hand b: one whose acts are controlled by an outside force or influence

  • Non-puppets tend to exhibit the properties of particles.
  • Under certain conditions most non-puppets will begin to exhibit properties of waves
  • If these conditions persist, most non-puppets will become puppets.

So. Human sheep begin as sheep and behave as sheep and end as sheep, except under rare conditions.
And real sheep, (and cows and dogs and elephants and so on) begin as sheep (and cows and what-not) and behave as sheep (and cows...) and end as sheep (and whatever) under any condition.

Jacques Derrida derridabio I can't recommend a particular book, as I've only read two of the many, many there are. He spoke in his biography about why we should not attribute things caused by conditions of society---things that are created artificially, to nature. I want to think on this more. Who is to say that some conditions of society aren't natural? Puppets are created, not born, true enough. But we have to consider how much of society might be driven by nature vs nuture?

We are machines.
We are animals.
We are light.
We are a black holes.

What conditions guide us? What laws govern our behaviors? Were we born or created? Whose hand is under our shirts, or pulling our strings? Do we know as we dance, dance, dance??
I'll be working on this for the duration of, probably, a dozen sculptures. I'll keep you posted.

My chocolate is cold. I made it and forgot all about it. My daughter and son are sleeping on the sofa---they wanted to hang out for the occasion. I'm glad they did.


Friday, January 14, 2005

Puppet Science 101

I guess since this is my official Journal opening date, I should wish you an official welcome. So, welcome. Neil phoned earlier, to wish me well with the site and to make me laugh at least twice. Once again I remember that some people are just good. Neil is one of those people.
We were laughing at some of the jobs I had before becoming an artist. He knows all about my first job as a pathologist's assistant. I worked nights at an old county hospital in South Carolina. It was in a huge colonial brick building on a grassy, pine-covered hill at the fork of the highway and Cemetery Hill Road. The morgue was in the basement, green-tiled and echo-y, so you got the sensation you might be secretly underwater. It smelt of mint and death. I however, have never eaten anyone's heart... Neil Gaiman and John Bolton, Harlequin Valentine

This hospital was the place where, years earlier, I had my very first terrifying experience in the company of a puppet. One day I shall tell you about that. Another day. I won't forget.

And in a moment, we'll get to Puppet Science. As soon as I heat some milk for hot chocolate...

Puppet Science: Laws of Puppet Physics Posted by Hello

January 15, for some...

It's interesting. I found out that about 700 of you came to the journal today. Well... thanks. The interesting thing is that it really made me think about performing for an audience vs performing without one. Mostly people assume that visual artists don't perform. I can tell you that we do. I'll tell you about a project I'd planned to do at a DragonCon before my relationship with DragonCon died a firey death. Then we can talk about puppet science, unless someone speaks up and wants to talk about something else. It's not Jan 15 for me for nearly three hours so, on that, I shall go do other things. I'll be back after midnight.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

ll Sheep Thing

I behaved like one, in the checkout line.
It was raining, hard ---which is unusual enough around here, and has been for over a week, which is exceedingly unusual.
I mention this only because as I look outside right now, I can see the water has risen over the pool's edge, so now there is a blue pool inside a black pool, whose edge is some four feet from my window, which is about forty feet long and separated (by scant inches of molding) from yards of probably very absorbent carpet.
It hasn't rained this much in the desert in eight years, I'm told. Ironically, flood insurance is available here, though typically to claim flood damage results in cancellation of the insurance.
I don't really like carpet anyway. Wood is better.

Back to my shameful sheepfulness. So I'm standing in line with the paper cups I went in for and a cart full of things I didn't plan on. Sheepy enough, I know, but not the confession I'm going for---

---I've learned some interesting things about how and why you go into Target for one thing and leave with twelve. Thats another rant entirely.---

So there's a customer in front of me. The cashier's machine isn't reading his card. It could be the card. It could be the machine. It takes awhile. I have to pee. I grimmace at Aubrey (my daughter). We'd dashed into the restroom when we arrived, turned heel and dashed right back out. Ick. Gross. We giggled behind our hands. I can be immature in this way, especially in her company.
Now I'm getting a little miserable. It is pouring outside.
An employee greets customers at the door with plastic bags for their umbrellas.
Gimme a break. I'm so not from California.
Finally the card reads.
So it's my turn now and the machine can't read my card either.
"Oh-oh," says the clerk.
It must be the machine.
" S'ok---I think I have enough cash on me" as I dig in my wallet. I really have to pee now.
The clerk is an older gentleman, dark-skinned and freckled. He seems a little nervous. I guessed he might be working for the holidays. The store is packed. It is pouring outside.
To the couple in line behind me, he says "I think my machine is broken, you will want to get in another line."
"You've got to be kidding me!" says the woman. "We've been standing in line for fifteen minutes!"
Three. Tops.
"What' wrong with you? Can't you see people are waiting?"
I turn to stare. Baaaaaah
She shakes her finger at the clerk. She is wearing an L.L. Bean rain jacket, Burber scarf and riche-tacky shoes. Her matching purse hangs on her arm, her matching husband hangs on her every word.
"I'm sorry Ma'am. It's the machine. There's nothing I can do."
"Call a supervisor"
I'm watching, my daughter is watching. Sheep-sheepy-sheep

-----I stop here for coffee. Noticed the " new " pool is creeping in rivulets down the grout lines in the tile, ever nearer to the fine line between outside and inside. I grew up in South Carolina. We used to spend all our summers on Edisto Island before it was developed. It was deserted near the end of the summer. I loved it. Grey and windy. Sometimes there were storms. Sometimes at night I dreamed we held the waves back with bonfires on the beach. I imagine tiny bonfires around the black pool. Creeping, creeping.
While I was in the kitchen I saw a black widow spider. The black widow is a wondrous creature, elegant in form and function.
I squashed her with my shoe. I normally go to a fair amount of trouble to put insects outside. But not her. She was dangeous and I am higher on the food chain. So now she is dead and I am not.
If you don't appreciate the black widow you must educate yourself. Read The Red Hourglass, Lives of the Predators by Gordon Grice.
The Red Hourglass
It's fresh and strange and oddly gothic. Gordon Grice is a very good writer.
I found the section on Pigs especially interesting
Pigs are nothing like sheep.

People in the next line are watching too.
Baaaaaah Baaaaah Baaaaah
"My light is on, ma'am," the clerk indicates the blinking box that says #2.
"I don't even want this crap!" It is matching hubby, shoving the cart away.
Aubrey starts to laugh.
Aubrey tends to laugh at human behavior.
Aubrey tends to be unashamed of laughing at morons. Why shouldn't she be?
"Well, I DO," says Mrs. Customer. She is getting shrill, snatching the cart back.
The clerk is handing me my change. I take his hand.
"Don't let the groundlings get you down," I say, and wink.
He smiles. Really nice smile.
" Happy New Year," says Aubrey, waving to him.
"I want a supervisor," croaks Mrs. Mercedes- key-ring. She is getting very red-faced.
Aubrey and I leave.
She says outside, " I feel really bad for that guy."
"Me too. But we were nice. Sometimes that's all you can do."
Baaaaah, baaaah, moo, moo. There's a fucking stampede in my head.
Sometimes being nice is all you can do. But this wasn't one of them.
What the hell was I thinking? !
I wasn't. I didn't. Moo.
I couldn't sleep after.
I kept thinking of all the stuff I could have said. I came up with some really good ones too. Heh---guess I should've gotten up to write those down.
I behaved as a cloven, small-brained mammal.
I could've told her I hoped she had some manners in that cart of hers.
I could've said they both made me ashamed to be an adult.
I could've said, "You voted Republican, didn't you?"
I could've said: "Hey, it's easy to get impatient these days, I know you didn't mean to be unkind."
(No---I couldn't have said that. There isn't enough dope on the planet to make me say that.)

I could've said, "The very least any of us can do is be courteous you bad-mannered, over-priviledged, ungrateful, seflish, short-sighted, ignorant, mean-spirited waste of oxygen."
I could've said....anything.
But I didn't.
I say a lot of things, every day in my art.
But this time I blew it. I blew it, Aubrey. Next time I'll try harder.

If you got this far, thank you! I welcome your questions or comments about this, or other.
Tomorrow I will tell you about the Science of Puppets (which are different from sheep).
Sunday, I will get to the Dirty Sex Stuff. Really---I will.