16 November 2007

Alyssa's and My Art Show

Now for some shameless (tactless) promotion of Alyssa’s and my latest exhibition café showing at the New Moon Café in Oshkosh (Wisconsin) running through the month of November. I contacted Alyssa a few months back to work on a collaborative project. The two of us have worked together quite a bit for the last three years with various artistic endeavors, primarily through art education courses and art workshop-happenings at the university, presenting at the NAEA conference in New York, going on crazy, on-a-whim weekend adventures, and even to Rome for a couple of art history courses together (see the pictures). So needless to say, we work well together, and by working well I mean making things happen (seemingly) without a hitch by throwing them together at the last minute. I think the only reason we are able to roll like this is because we have similar styles, ideas, and visions about the way art, and the world generally operates.

The title of the exhibition is Desktop Landscape and Transculture, which attempts to talk about the function of art as it exists, intervenes, and operates in our lives. (More about Transculture to come...) The rhizomatically collaged assembled works are representative of these artistic interfaces, indeed performances, be they in our art studios preparing serigraphs and lithographs for a print exhibition, taking photographs in the field on our vacations, thinking about design when writing down our thoughts in sketchbooks or otherwise random pieces of paper, designing and posting on our blogs, deciding to use alternative photography techniques despite the influence of digital formats, cyanotypes done on a whim on a arid summer day, drawings and doodles you work on during phone conversations and during boring lectures, batik wall hangings from workshops, to kinder-art examples art teachers make as examples for their elementary students. 

How do these experiences performances (and then made manifest into images) coalesce? What kind of correlations, between these varied artistic realms, can be made? How are these images arranged in our mind’s eye; how do we make sense of the visual cacophony? And subsequently, tow do they influence our way of thinking, our worldview?  These are just the beginning of the questions that influence and inform our work and process the that the show attempts to provide an amount of insight into. The café showing featuring photos, prints, drawings, paintings, batiks, thoughts, musings, and other paper works will be  on display at the New Moon Cage in Oshkosh through the month of November. I would encourage everyone to check it out and forward me your relevant thoughts about the show, or about art (and life).

I don’t want this post (indeed, this blog) to seem as crass self-promotion, so I think some reason must be provided to justify the post (or rather, myself). The show has been up for a couple of weeks now, and I hadn’t originally intended to blog about it; the show can speak for itself, just as this blog does. And for that matter, I think my Sketchblog does a fair job at communicating many of the same ideas, save for the way the images are presented to the viewer, but alas, we are working with different platforms, and each platform (the large space of a wall, where all of the images are seen at once and simultaneously versus sequentially dated web pages to note the date and order of the thought process), despite having their own attributes, and thereby merits, are still aptly able to speak (roughly) about the same ideas. The wall has the merit of seeing the whole, their unity, how the mind juggles all of these images; the blog, the merit of sharing the experience of the thought process, how ideas come to us, come back to us, linger, and eventually stick.

I have already been carried away from my reasoning for the post. I unrepentantly, (though very pleasantly) received a couple of emails from friends who went to the show’s reception, and took the time to offer some feedback. I, unfortunately, couldn’t be at the opening reception, during the November Art Walk, so I couldn’t speak with viewers in person. Posted below is the email (review?) from Vicki, a painter and friend living in Oshkosh. I have also linked to her blog, so you can check out her lastest artistic endeavors.

I wanted to apologize for not saying hi Thursday night at the art reception for the Rosenblatts. I saw you as I was leaving, and like a very lame person I thought I shouldn’t bother you. As I said, LAME... I was thinking of you, as I saw your work up at the New Moon yesterday for Gallery Walk. LOVED it. Actually I love it. No past tense. Indeed one of the most interesting shows of the night, and definitely at the New Moon in a long while. I really love the concept behind this collaboration, and found it profound and quite refreshing.      

Have you found a teaching position yet? How is Platteville treating you? I just finished visiting your blog, and had to give you a high five for watching the L Word. One of my favorite shows, for various reasons. I can't wait for it to return in January, and I hear rumors that Dana will frequent the show in the future, which made me giddy. She was my favorite character!  

Namaste~ Vicki

P.S. See the picture version of this post.

11 November 2007

Re: Liam (Defending the Midwest)


I couldn’t agree with you more. I have been ruminating over your emailed response to the blog (I love receiving responses; that way I know I am communicating, albeit indirectly, with someone.) I hope my follow-up helps to elaborate on what I meant by my original sketchblog post.

Let me just say before I begin, I hope the sketchblog becomes more of a springboard for the ideas I write about in the regular blog, like they have (will) with this post. I get these ideas, suddenly, seemingly from nowhere, and feel the urgency to get them down on paper, make them manifest, as a record of their existence. I suppose because the world is subtle, riddled with details, and we’re lumbering creatures whose senses fix on what they need and ignore the rest, we need time to let ideas soak, simmer, and incubate. With so many of our ideas and plans for life, there is never enough time to implement them all. We’re selective, not comprehensive. And for that matter, a good deal of our ideas turn out to be bad ones, and thankfully never come to fruition. Thus, the job of the unconscious (sketchbook) is to act as a workshop for rough shaping ideas, storing observations until something relevant appears in the landscape.

But alas, this one has stuck to the wall like spaghetti noodles ready to come out of the boiling water. (Really, I just like that image. I am reminded of my eccentric aunt from Vegas who told me on a visit out to see her, when I was five, that you know the noodles are ready to eat if they stick to the wall. Much to my surprise, upon saying so, she threw some noodles to the wall.) I am here, interested in these common roots in terms of the relation between Midwestern criticism and Coastal critical theory.

The idea of a “Midwest culture” never really occurs to most. However, this ‘Culture’ comes intuitively to those of us living in the Midwest and so I (we) don’t consciously think about it. Certainly, given the high degree of ignorance (or is it simply lack of exposure?) of the West Coast/East Coast-ers concerning Midwesterners – who are often stereotyped as unsophisticated and stubborn – I feel obligated to detail the Culture of upper Midwest. Though, by taking a closer look at Midwestern culture should help to clarify the record and realize certain things in the upper Midwest, particularly Wisconsin, are actually culturally progressive.

I would assert that the declining Rust Belt cities of the Great Lakes, with their histories of 19th- and early-20th century immigration, manufacturing base, and strong Northern European, Protestant influence, are more representative of the Midwestern experience than the small towns and agricultural communities in Kansas, Iowa, the Dakotas and Nebraska of the Great Plains.

CNN recently conducted a survey to discover readers' favorite American cities, based on certain aspects like culture, people, dining and shopping. The list is supposed to serve as a basis for travelers who are looking to visit different parts of the country and experience the richness and benefits that each city has to offer.

Unsurprisingly, the list, both frustrating and annoying, focuses on the "culture-rich" coastal cities like New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, while almost entirely ignoring the whole Midwestern United States. In fact, the only two Midwestern cities that were even considered for this survey were Chicago and Minneapolis. There's so much going on in the Midwest, it's a shame that, as a region, we are constantly maligned and designated as "fly-over states" just because we don't have the hustle and bustle of the big coastal cities.

*This dialogue continues for some length, and so only those who are interested may continue reading here, and those of you who can't be bothered at the moment may continue without scrolling for a day and a half.

04 November 2007

Gestating, Part 3 of 3 (OK, Hillary)

I sit entertained, in front of the computer screen, Youtube-television. This summer and into the fall, the days were more long and empty, animated only by occasional visits to Madison, Leisha’s house, or elsewhere in Oshkosh.

Typically an active season, summer has been for me a time of gestation, whose knowledge arrived whole and at once, though its meaning would take months. I guess technically, the Dog Days of Summer are kind of hard to pin down.  I had thought they were the last couple of weeks in August, but apparently they can extend from August through October. Though I employ the term to mean more of the stagnant feeling you get (read endure), and not the actual stagnant heat.

I know now my mind has changed modes. There has been a connection to fecundity – as my existential opposite. (Perhaps this has a correlation with supporting Hillary as the presidential candidate for the Dems.) Which bespeaks the question with Hillary: why is America skeptical of her? It seems obvious: she is – gasp – a woman!

Since August I’ve been wondering when the nation is going to bring up The Woman Question. That is, when is someone going to start asking if Hillary can lead because she’s female, or pointing to sexism, or looking at her female support, or asking if she’s too manly/not manly enough. Clinton has needed to cultivate toughness because she has been constantly attacked by the media for years - remember all the broughaha over her coral suit?