Monday, June 30, 2008

Pomegranate Cream Cheese Squares - Yum!

I am kind of tired today and don't feel like thinking.
So here is a simple and delicious food combination that I have found.

You will need:
cinnamon graham crackers or cinnamon Hearts water crackers
cream cheese (I usually use fat-free cream cheese because it's healthier.)
pomegranate kernels, removed from husk

Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on a cinnamon cracker. Stick pomegranate kernels to cream cheese. (I tend to arrange all of my pomegranate kernels in a layer on a small plate and gently press the cracker into them, cream cheese side down, so that I can stick a number of them to the cracker at once.) Enjoy!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Memory and Forgetting

My memory seems to be worse and worse all of the time. A lot of people attribute it to age in themselves, but I'm really not that old. I think that it may be in part from my inability to process all of the information that is imparted nowadays, like I'm always on Overdrive. But sometimes I am concerned that there is more to it than that.

I find myself having a harder and harder time remembering what I learned in school. Granted, that is now further past than before and I don't necessarily use that knowledge in my everyday activities, but it is disconcerting nonetheless.

Does anyone know of any foods or mental exercises that are good for enhancing memory? I'm not looking to take a bunch of pills or holistic remedies, but would prefer to construct my diet around including foods that are known to help. If so, please post a comment and let me know!

Rising Middle Classes and Environmental Impact

My husband and I just got into an interesting discussion regarding the environmental impact that we are having on the world as a whole and the topic of the rising middle class in China came up because he had seen it on the interview with Ted Koppel on the Daily Show. It really got him thinking about the environmental impact that will be made by that emerging middle class (both in China and in India), many of whom are seeking the comfortable and autonomous lifestyle that is all too often taken for granted here in the United States.

I think everyone needs to really assess how they live and the impact that they are having. We have lived at the expense of the world and of other people for long enough. I have lately been trying to reassess how I can change things, but it is difficult to do so because some impacts are hard to determine. For example, the globalization of food has led to growing food that could be grown locally elsewhere because it can cost less money to do so (even if it actually uses more resources transporting the food around). Many ingredients used in a lot of pre-packaged foods come from all over and cannot be easily traced (as was evident with the wheat scare that caused the tainted pet foods and questioning of other foods that were made for human consumption). And many people rely on these pre-packaged foods due to their hectic schedules and their never having been taught to cook from scratch. So, it can be hard to figure out exactly where your food is coming from - even the so-called local markets may offer items that have been imported from afar. (This becomes more and more evident when things are offered that are not native to the area surrounding the local market.) And food is just one little part of this. (The globalization of food will be discussed at the upcoming July On Tap discussion at Llywelyn's.)

At any rate, the topic of overpopulation came up because the population is continuing to grow steadily. Privileged people are able to live longer than ever before due to medical advances, and so there are more children born who will have the opportunity to know their grandparents and even great-grandparents well. (This is wonderful, but it means that all of those people - children, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents alike, are using resources.) On a previous episode of 30 Days, a pair of people left New York City to live at a more sustainable environmental development using as many renewable resources as possible, and it was calculated that it would still take more than two planets equivalent to this earth to sustain the world population in those conditions (as opposed to the much larger number based upon their everyday city lifestyles)!

How do we address these issues? How can we raise the level of comfort and help people escape the cycles of poverty while not further draining resources? And what about the escalating world population? I don't know. These are very complicated problems that I do not fully understand the impact of and must admit that I do not keep up enough with current events to have an educated opinion on the subject.

I do think that one of the strongest things we can do is better educate people, especially women, who in many cultures (including our own history) have been denied education while simultaneously being denied any sort of power over themselves and their own bodies (having been viewed as the property of the men in their lives - transferred from father to husband). I find it especially sad that women have so long been denied education while being charged with most of the child-rearing tasks because it creates a cycle of ignorance, since parents (especially those most involved in their children's lives) are often the most influential teachers.

But beyond that, I don't know. And educating people can be a slow and long process. What do you think?

Conceptual Art

Marlene DiFiori Locke pointed out a Sol LeWitt quote from awhile back that she thought summed up conceptual art quite nicely:

"In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art."
– Sol LeWitt, "Paragraphs on Conceptual Art", Artforum, June 1967.

I agree with Sol LeWitt that the idea is the driving force behind conceptual art, but I think that the idea of conceptual art has influenced so much since the term was first coined and that the definition may be more broad today. True "conceptual art" may be limited to a specific time frame and movement, but so much has developed out of it and it has had such a profound influence that I personally feel it is overly limiting to define it in so narrow a manner. Art has become very much an ongoing discourse in which we build on and respond to past movements, so some of those distinctions can be easily blurred or become overly limiting over the course of time.

For example, I don't know that I see the idea so much as a machine that makes the art - there can still be a human aspect involved that allows for some fluctuation in the creation of the work. (The Fluxus movement provides evidence of this sense of instability with its "do-it-yourself" approach.) It depends first and foremost on the idea being explored. When the statement was made, there were a lot of conceptual artists exploring ideas which lend themselves towards being machines due to the commentary being made. Sol LeWitt himself is generally categorized as a minimalist, and that movement centered on minimizing your awareness of the artist's hand in the creation of the work in the process of stripping things down to only the essential. So it's definitely applicable but is nonetheless a product of that time period, and things have since changed and new developments emerged.

Some ideas just don't make very good machines - they are already too human. I think that a lot of performance art seems to fall into this category. For example my Penny Project idea would not make a as good a machine because there is a human aspect that must be conveyed in the wishes that voice human concerns. A lot of humanitarian ideas also require some human element. Joseph Beuys was known in part for seeking to use art as a means of inciting social activism and created many works with a very strong human element. Linda Montano explored the blurring of the distinctions between art and life, regarding art as a means of healing and often using her art to work through her own grievances and concerns. And Candy Jernigan used her art to journal and chronicle life itself, finding objects on the street and cataloging them. (Check out Jernigan's work in the recently published book, Evidence.)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Claude Goes to SAM Gallery 2

Claude even got to jam a little. :)

Claude Goes to SAM Gallery

Claude went to the Soulard Art Market today to wish Steve Campbell a happy birthday. Happy birthday, Steve!

Art School and Art Attitudes

I was talking to Janice Schoultz Mudd last night at the Members' Show reception at Chesterfield Arts about why it is that I do what I do, and we touched upon the topic of art education. I have not yet begun to work towards a Master's or Doctorate degree and the question was posed as to why, since many artists working in a predominantly conceptual and less commercial manner survive by teaching, which requires a higher level of education than I currently have.

I have felt for awhile that many of the institutions tend to feed into the alienation of the general public. Art education is unfortunately lacking in much of the educational system, especially in the public schools where funding for art programs is cut over and over again. Thus many people coming through our educational system lack the exposure necessary to appreciate much of modern art because art itself wasn't emphasized as important or was treated as a "blow off" course. As a result, those same people can later have a hard time justifying the expenditure of their tax dollars to support art and programs that they do not understand, and so more funding is cut and the vicious cycle continues.

Unfortunately, I find that the institutions are doing little to remedy this. To a nonartist who lacks exposure, museums and galleries can seem austere and alienating. The environment thusly created is often not welcoming, and most people do not go out of their way to place themselves in situations where they don't feel comfortable. A lot of artists studying in the formal university setting develop their styles and approaches in such a manner that if you hadn't been following that artist from the onset and seen how the work developed, you may not be able to fully appreciate the result of this intensive study of self in relation to the art world and past movements.

I am not saying that we, as artists, should cater to the general masses and make art that is easy to understand and matches people's sofas, but rather that we need to strike a balance and celebrate diversity so we can offer as wide a range of experiences as possible to connect with people. By encouraging people to expose themselves to more art, we can expand our audience while simultaneously offering the new viewers and patrons an opportunity to enter into the discourse of modern art. By taking a stronger interest in art, viewers are more likely to come to a better understanding of where a lot of modern art is coming from and how it developed, and to better appreciate and patronize the arts as a whole. Some artists have connected with both nonartists and artists very well, closing the gap and encouraging people to take a stronger interest in what is happening in the art world, such as Dale Chihuly.

Because I feel that the institutions can cater to this sense of alienation by the general population I have had a hard time justifying going back to school to myself, simply due to the fact that I wish to connect with as broad of an audience as possible. I realize that there are a lot of really good programs out there, but I just don't feel that I am ready for it or am willing to commit myself financially or temporally. But, as Janice pointed out last night, it is difficult to incite change from the outside looking in.

Penny Project

I have recently begun working on Wishes, the Penny Project. So far, I have left some pennies in University City, the Central West End, around the Art Museum, Crestwood Mall, parts of Columbia, Chesterfield Mall and at Chesterfield Arts (pretty much everywhere I have been since I started this). My hope is to connect with people who may or may not otherwise be involved in the arts and the art world and to get them to better appreciate pennies while thinking more about how alike all of us really are.

I have gotten a good response to this project as of yet and several people have voiced an interest in participating. I hope that as many people as would like to participate will do so - this is a creative commons project that I would like to see extend beyond the scope of what I can do by myself. Voicing your wants and desires as wishes and then throwing them away can be very cathartic, and I would like for others to be able to share in that experience.

Lately, I have been really thinking about how to reach out to a larger audience beyond the scope of the art world. As I'd stated before, many nonartists feel alienated by the art world and the gallery scene, and I am trying to find ways to connect with those people as well as those who are involved in the arts. As of right now, I have two creative commons projects aimed toward this end - the Penny Project and Art Is Everywhere. I am hoping to develop more such projects over the course of time.

Claude Goes to Sparky's

Yesterday, Claude went with Marsha Heck and I to Columbia, Missouri. We all went to Sparky's Homemade Ice Cream! Thank you Marsha Heck for taking our photo.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

First Blog

So here I am blogging for the first time. I don't have much of anything to say at the moment, so I'll talk a little bit about how I came to this.

I am an artist working in predominantly conceptual means. Lately I have become more and more disillusioned with the gallery setting. It seems much of the general public feels alienated by the modern gallery setting because they don't understand the ongoing discourse that has evolved. Thus, many people feel as though they don't belong in the arts and so they don't enter into that discourse. (We are losing a good amount of support from would-be patrons due to this.)

As a result, I feel that I cannot connect with as many people as I would like in the gallery setting. Since my work is about getting people to think about things and see the world anew, I have begun considering other means of showing my art so that it will be seen. One way of approaching this is to better understand how everyday people see the arts. I recently attended the On Tap discussion at Llywelyn's in order to get a feel for how some interested non-artists perceive of the art world. After the discussion, I felt that we hadn't touched enough on the topic of shock art and wished to post a response on their blog, so I set up this account. And, having done so, I figured that I may as well use it...

The name ChaoticBlackSheep emerged in part from Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons, due to the fact that applying the "Dire Animal of Chaos" template to a sheep seemed rather amusing. But it also seemed to suit who I am. In regards to my blog, my husband sees it a lot like this:
Chaotic Rants
Black Humor
Sheep should be woolly animals, not people.
I don't know just how applicable that is, for all that I am a strong supporter of people thinking for themselves and not just following others (morally, philosophically, politically, spiritually, etc.). I have always felt like a bit of a black sheep in the sense that I've always felt as though I see things somewhat differently and don't quite fit in. Most of the artists I know are black sheep of one sort or another since they tend to see and relate to the world differently, especially if they are driven to create. And I've always been somewhat chaotic in the sense that I am more emotionally driven than I perhaps ought to be.

So that's a little bit about how I came to be blogging. We'll see where it goes...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Claude Hits the Road

After leaving Subterranean Books, Claude squeezed into his new family's subcompact car...

Claude's Journey Begins

My husband is the luckiest man on earth. He just won Claude, a giant plush Bigfoot, from the Crammed Organisms raffle. Claude was made by Laurene Franco of Super Chick Studio. We picked Claude up today from Subterranean Books in University City, Missouri.

Over the course of time, we will be posting Claude's journey as he travels the country. A Bigfoot-sized THANK-YOU to Charles Wilbur for all of your support, for taking our picture everywhere and for putting up with our shenanigans.