Sunday, November 30, 2008

Show Opportunity

I don't typically post calls on my blog, but I really want to see the Columbia Art League get a wide variety of submissions for their Politically Speaking show. (I'd mentioned it once before here.) I was excited about this theme when it was first proposed and, although it's unfortunate that it was moved (it was originally meant to coincide with the election), I am glad it is still happening. Feel free to check it out on their website and submit your art. You can even do everything online, which is great.

Call for Submissions

Politically Speaking
January 13 - February 22, 2009

Open to CAL members and non-CAL members. A juried exhibit of artists' interpretation of the show title. All artworks should be for sale and have been produced within the past five years.

Submission Rules

  • 3D & 2D media are eligible and must have been produced within the past five years.
  • There is an entry fee of $15 for CAL members and students in full-time education, or $25 for non-CAL members. This is a non-refundable fee.
  • Artists may enter up to three works for submission.
  • Images for the jury must be submitted digitally, by email or on CD. The images submitted must be of work available for the show.
  • Each image should be labeled with yourname.titleofwork.jpg
  • Each submission should be accompanied by size and medium details.
  • Images should be a minimum of 300dpi and be sized at least 800x800 pixels.
  • CD submissions should be clearly labeled with the artist's name.
  • Entries should not exceed 72" in any direction.
  • Accepted 2D artwork must be framed and ready to hang ie wired.
  • CDs will not be returned.
  • Late entries will not be accepted.


1st Prize $500, 2nd $250, 3rd $100


  • Dec 15: Deadline for entries. All images must be received by CAL by 5.30pm latest.
  • Jan 5: Notification of accepted work
  • Jan 9-11: Receipt of accepted work at CAL
  • Jan 13: Show opens
  • Jan 22: Opening Reception, 6-8pm

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Whoa - I Oughtta Slow Down

It's official. I'm insane. I just came to realize that I've done over 60 art related events this year alone! That includes four solo shows (of all different series of works), all-inclusive and juried group shows in St. Louis and beyond, five plein air events, multiple donation-based art auctions for charities and organizations I am proud to support, mail art exhibits, jurying for two different art events (one solo, one panel), serving as exhibitions chair for the St. Louis Chapter of the Women's Caucus for Art (which held two shows) and serving on the programs committee for Art Saint Louis. And that's not counting the more subverted street art, like the penny project. Whew! No wonder I'm tired.

I am honored to have been in such demand this year and am starting to realize that I need to be much more selective. I hate turning away opportunities, but it is getting to the point where I really must learn to do so, simply because I am doing so much. I do like being a part of the art scene at all levels, though, from the grassroots cooperatives to the nationally-esteemed galleries and museums. And so I hope to continue my involvement in all sorts of organizations, for all that some don't hold one another in high esteem - I think that they're all important because each serves a different purpose for artists of varying levels. Mainly, I am very grateful that I have been able to get so much of my work out there where it can be seen. Thank you all so much for your support and for your involvement in the arts in general.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Claude Goes to CAL

Today, we took Claude to the Columbia Art League (CAL) in Columbia, Missouri, which recently moved into the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts. While we were there, we checked out the Beaux Arts Bizarre.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I just wanted to blog about the true spirit of the holidays. It isn't really all about the turkey. We all have so much to be thankful for: family, friends, health, home, work...

I am thankful for my husband, Chuck, who is supportive & caring and who keeps me sane. I am blessed to have the time to devote myself solely to my art. I am glad that I have so many family and friends nearby, though I am also thankful for those who don't live so close as well. I am grateful that Chuck's business is starting to plant its feet firmly in the ground. I am blessed to have my health & my home and the company of the two cats, Sam & Ginger, who share that home with us. And I am thankful to live in St. Louis where the art scene is growing and expanding at a good pace and where I can be at the forefront of that movement, and to be in the United States where I do not have to stifle my creativity for fear of censorship or worse and where I can express my ideas and grievances both within and outside of my art.

Life is good.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Charter for Compassion

I have been speaking about celebrating diversity and of tolerating and even embracing our differences in the art world for a good while. Here is a group devoted to doing so in religion, in order to promote the good that is being done and to try to put aside our differences by embracing the Golden Rule and encouraging people to do unto others as they would have others do unto themselves. I hope that this takes off and that people of all religious backgrounds can gain more respect for one another by better understanding and appreciating those compassionate acts and kindnesses we bestow on one another without focusing solely on violence and intolerance.

Monday, November 24, 2008

How to Make (and Break) a Box

A friend, teacher and mentor of mine is currently seeking others' ideas on how to make a box. He is collecting different approaches and creative solutions to this simple problem for a presentation he will be giving. I found the idea very interesting and raised the following questions:

What constitutes a box?
Does it need to contain something?
Must it be cube-shaped?
Must it be an actual box, or can it be a picture of a box?
What about the concept of "thinking outside of the box" (which can be construed to be a means of compartmentalizing thought all its own)?

I later submitted this box, for all that in some ways it is only a manifestation of a preexisting box that is then ideally destroyed. I am posting it here because the exercise itself can be very cathartic, and so I thought that perhaps someone else may benefit from it.

How to make (and break) a box:
Cup your hands together to enclose a pocket of air. Whisper something you need to get off your chest or an unspoken desire into the pocket you have created within your cupped hands. Pause. Contemplate the moment. Feel the weight of the secret grow within your hands as you transfer it from within the depths of your soul. Unfold your hands to release the built up tension and to free your mind and spirit. Feel the secret lifted from you as you let it go.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Claude Goes to Turtle Park

After spending more than two weeks recuperating from his surgery, Claude felt refreshed and visited the Turtle Playground Park of Forest Park to see Robert Cassilly's huge turtle sculptures today. (Cassilly is also known for his work on the City Museum.)

Claude admits, though, that it's getting a bit chilly for his tastes and that he may not get out so much, as he'd rather curl up by a warm fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book than brave the outdoors.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Attending Art Shows - After the Reception

I have spoken some about attending opening receptions before, but I did not really explore attending shows outside of the reception and focused primarily on the participating artists and whether or not they are obligated to be there. But there is much more to explore when examining the theme of the opening reception. Who attends and why? How many people will see the show outside of the reception? How many will return later?

In regards to these questions, much of this depends on the venue before all else. Is it strictly a gallery or is there another business involved (coffee house, restaurant, bookstore, office...) or a larger public presence (as in museums, libraries and universities)? Is it commercial or non-profit? What audience does it attract and who does it try to appeal to? All of this varies a lot from place to place. As a result, a lot of different people attend art receptions for a lot of different reasons. Some are there to support the artist(s): some of these are regular patrons and buyers while others are family members, friends, mentors, professors, students and colleagues who want to show their support by seeing what new things the artist(s) are showing. Other viewers attend receptions to find out what is new in the arts, to feel out different galleries & artists by getting a sense for what they do, and to watch developments and emerging styles overall. And still others attend to network, make connections and promote themselves within the art world.

Again a lot of this depends on the venue, but many galleries get the most traffic during receptions and events. Some simply do not get much traffic otherwise. However there are people who attend shows outside of the receptions, either because they wanted to experience the work undisturbed or because they missed the reception for some reason or another. And some return to the show later on to study the work more in depth without distractions. However, most galleries are never near so crowded as during the reception and often art viewers will find themselves alone with the work and the gallery staff. As a result, many galleries that would otherwise be vacant during long open hours prefer to be open by appointment only.

I often find myself attending shows after the receptions having missed the opening. Unfortunately, in doing so, I run the risk of losing track of time and missing the experience altogether, especially if I am unaware of the gallery's regular hours or of how long the show will be up. I have missed out on seeing things that I really wanted by my own fault, through losing track of time or overbooking myself so that I had no opportunity to see the show that I had wanted to see. I know a lot of people who do this. So, if you are putting off seeing a show that you really wanted to see, do yourself a favor and pencil it in on the calendar as if it were an important business lunch and allow it to take precedence. I will try to take my own advice to heart and do the same.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Jewelry

Since I have so much jewelry on display all over town for the holidays, I focused the better part of my time this week on making some more necklaces. I created primarily masculine pieces because I thought it would be nice to design some more pieces with men in mind for all that women can wear them too.

Pictured are some selections from Thoughts of Cornucopia. I also created some very feminine pieces for that show and am displaying them in suites of three as His/Hers Necklaces: For Him and For Her. The middle piece incorporates a real insect encased in resin and is quite an attention-grabber. I have other pieces with real insects including a bee and a scorpion.

I intend to take some more new necklaces to Framations, Columbia Art League, Art Saint Louis and Soulard Art Market before the holidays as well, so keep an eye out for them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I think I may have neglected to mention it before, but Catholocity is up and running! Marya Roland and Kelly Popoff did an amazing job on this website, which features artwork about Catholocism but with a universal edge that people of all walks of life can relate to. Please feel free to check it out and navigate through all of the amazing art and writing. I even have a couple of my Visions: Mary Gets Around series posted.

Thoughts of Cornucopia

Compared to last week, this week is much less crazy. I'm not hanging a show and bouncing between three openings on three consecutive days. Thank goodness - I can't maintain that level of energy.

I am participating in the upcoming Academy of Contemporary Arts show, Thoughts of Cornucopia. I will be showing some new jewelry as I have taken the time this week to create several new pieces. I have even been creating necklaces for the gentlemen as well as the ladies. (Why should the girls have all the fun?) So please feel free to stop by and check it out.

Thoughts of Cornucopia
Academy of Contemporary Arts
Edward Jones Family YMCA
12521 Marine Ave.
Maryland Heights, MO
Nov. 20 - Dec. 18
Reception: Friday, Nov. 21, 6 - 8 PM

Monday, November 17, 2008

56 Houses Left

I recently saw Jami Schoenewies' painting Expansion in Art Saint Louis XXIV. Chuck was particularly intrigued by this painting, having flown over the remains of the Carrollton subdivision somewhat recently when he flew into Lambert for business. We had been discussing visiting the site and creating some video.

Since then, I came across Schoenewies' blog, 56 Houses Left, which is an amazing documentary of eminent domain abuse and of the Carrollton subdivision, purchased by Lambert Airport for expansion and then essentially abandoned for years. Please read this blog, if for no other reason than to bear witness to what has happened and to become more aware.

Beyond Membership - Getting Involved

There are a lot of art organizations out there, and I am a member of many within St. Louis and even outside of it. Many artists join various groups for different reasons, but I really like to try to immerse myself in what is happening within the groups to whom I belong by becoming more involved. I have learned so much from so many volunteer activities, and I am able to apply this knowledge to many other aspects of artmaking and showing.

I think it is a huge benefit to members to actively participate in those organizations to which they belong. It offers a better sense of what goes on behind the scenes and of what those organizations are doing to benefit their members. And the more involved one is, the more opportunities there are to shape the organization and to express what one wants to get out of membership.

How much members are allowed to do varies from organization to organization, but some ways of getting involved are serving on a committee, serving on the board (if one is truly committed to the group), helping to hang exhibitions, receiving works for jurying, organizing events, applying for grants and networking. All of these activities can be amazing learning experiences and can provide networking opportunities that one may otherwise not have. Many organizations rely heavily on volunteers to be able to maintain their programs, and many artists can stand to learn a lot from volunteering.

So, consider getting more involved in those organizations to which you belong. With so much funding being cut right now and so many people in hard economic times, perhaps you could help out those organizations you support by donating time and energy into making them flourish in spite of the adversity. Besides, it will offer up a chance to learn more and to help shape the focus of the groups to which you belong.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Creativity Kills

Mark Masuoka, director of the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and recent juror for Art Saint Louis XXIV, gave an interesting lecture at the St. Louis Art Museum today. In his lecture, he explored the idea that art has become a strong means of making a difference in society. In his talk yesterday he stated how, in jurying the show, he was drawn to works that had a sense of time and place and seemed a little off kilter from what was otherwise expected (so as to make the viewer question what had happened or what was happening, but not in a manner that made the viewer doubt the validity of the experience). These ideas intersect in the ability of artists to redefine and to question boundaries through their work, to "think outside of the box" so to speak (or to ignore it completely).

An excerpt from Masuoka's juror's statement reads:

Art making is often the result of a search for a universal truth and a deeper understanding about how creativity can make a difference in society. Examining the creative process through the filter of civic engagement leads me to one inescapable conclusion. Creativity kills.

Creativity kills predetermined outcomes, social complacency, apathy and the lack of imagination within our society. Art is the 21st century weapon of choice for catalyzing cultural and economic development and initiating social change. Art is the bridge that connects people together and grants everyone permission to imagine the unimaginable.

I personally think that art has an amazing ability to transcend cultures, stereotypes, boundaries, taboos and other assumptions or rifts in communication and that it also allows us to voice our innermost thoughts, desires, grievances, fears, and to focus our energy, imagination and creativity. As a call to action, Masuoka's statement is quite lofty, though, and I only hope that the art world can measure up to the ideal. Are we ready? I would like to think so.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Minimizing Chaos

For all that the stereotype exists, it should not be an assumption that artists are disorganized or scatterbrained or out of touch. A lot of us seem to be more in touch in a lot of ways, and there is a huge range of people in the arts of all types. But too many of us (including those of us who are otherwise very organized and logical) can seem flaky because we take on too much all at once, running from one last-minute endeavor to another. And this doesn't affect just those in the arts; people of all walks of life take on more than they necessarily ought to. So here is some advice on how to minimize the chaos that can ensue from taking on too much at once.

- Don't procrastinate. I try to balance everything I am doing as much as possible by avoiding doing things at the last minute to every extent possible. This becomes more challenging the more people are involved, but it still really does help. The more you get done in advance in whatever time you have to work on something, the less you are trying to do all at once at the end.

- Keep a planner and maintain a schedule. If you keep a record of everything you are doing, you can do your best not to overextend yourself. I am involved in a lot of things with a lot of different groups, and so I encounter a lot of schedule conflicts. The only way I can really avoid this being a problem is by maintaining a thorough record of what I am doing. It relates back to not double-booking my artwork - I try to avoid double-booking myself as well.

- Don't let others pressure you. If you don't want to do something, don't let others pressure you into it, even if it might look good on your resume or if no one else is willing to do it. (A lot of women fall victim to this because they try to take care of everybody else before themselves.) You need to take care of yourself, first and foremost. If you are stressed out, overextended or otherwise overwhelmed, you cannot devote yourself fully to all of your endeavors and they will fall short, so it is a huge benefit to yourself and everything you are involved in to know how and when to say "No."

- Accept help. This is a real toughie for me because I tend to be a control freak. So I hate asking for help and don't make as strong of connections as I should in this regard. But if you can delegate work, by all means do so. We can all accomplish more and engage in loftier projects when we collaborate and work together. Also, don't be afraid to use available resources and to work with others and larger organizations to accomplish great things - some of them are there solely for the purpose of helping and working with others.

- Prioritize and let things go if you have to. I have a problem with this one too. I am very committed to what I start and hate to back out of things. We all hate to drop the ball on things, but sometimes it proves necessary. When it does, be selective about it. How important is it to blog something each and every day if you're running from one endeavor to another without pause? Probably not very. How important is it to fulfill your end of the grant that you received and to follow through with the project that you proposed? Very, but many organizations will gladly offer help if you need it so don't be afraid to ask.

I will admit that I don't always follow this advice myself, but I am learning. It is the only way I can manage so many things at once. I like to be as busy as possible, but I also like to maintain control over my own life and do not want to fall victim to over-scheduling, double booking and otherwise becoming overinvolved. It is the only way I can extend my reach and scope as much as I can.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mutants & Masterminds

Our gaming group is looking forward to trying out the newly rereleased Mutants and Masterminds gaming system wherein you create comic style superheroes and try to take over the world. Oh wait, my bad - that's try to save the world. Sorry. ;)

Character generation is extremely convoluted, but there are so many opportunities to create unique and highly specialized characters. The only system that I have previously gamed in with this much diversity and room for creativity is GURPS, and this has a very similar feel to GURPS Supers.

So far, I have created four characters. My so-called heroes are not quite heroic enough (or are at least overly creepy) for Chuck's tastes, but I am personally drawn to that and really like having the flexibility to do something different. Check out the two I have developed fully and intend to play on Chuck's blog:

Enigma - revised

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Raising Our Voices Preview

Janice Nesser & I hung the Raising Our Voices show yesterday. Feel free to check it out on the WCA-STL blog. The show features 46 works by 25 WCA member artists, mostly from St, Louis. It is currently on display at Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts, 3151 Cherokee Street, St. Louis. The reception will be this Friday, Nov. 14, from 6 - 9 PM. Open hours are Saturdays, Nov. 15, 22, and 29 from 1 - 4 PM or by appointment.

I have been wanting to do a traveling exhibition between St. Louis and Chicago since getting involved with exhibitions in the St. Louis Chapter of the Women's Caucus for Art. What's even better is the fact that this show is an advocacy/outreach opportunity that will raise awareness of and money for the Urban Art Retreat (UAR) in Chicago, Illinois and its Differently Minded Art Studio. The Chicago destination for the show is the Liz Long Gallery at UAR.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jewelry at Framations

As some of you may know, I am exhibiting some of my jewelry on an ongoing basis at Framations in St. Charles. I am very excited about this. Please go in and check it out sometime. They have also created a lovely page for me on the website here:

218 North Main Street
St. Charles, Missouri 63301
Tuesday-Saturday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Monday: CLOSED

Monday, November 10, 2008

This Week

I am very busy this week, so I may not have much time for blogging. I am honored to be participating in the following events:

The $50 Show
Soulard Art Market
2028 S. 12th St.
Nov. 13 - Dec. 27
reception Nov. 13 & 14, 7 - 10 PM (I am unable to come to the reception Nov. 14 due to the WCA-STL show.)
I will be selling some of my jewelry during this exhibition, just in time for the holidays.

Raising Our Voices
St. Louis Chapter of the Women's Caucus for Art
Fort Gondo
3151 Cherokee
Nov. 14 - Nov. 29
reception Friday, Nov. 14, 6 - 9 PM
I have two pieces in this traveling mail art show between the St. Louis and Chicago chapters of the Women's Caucus for Art. It will travel to the Urban Art Retreat, for which it is a benefit, at 1957 S. Spaulding in Chicago, IL from Dec. 13, 2008 - Jan. 31, 2009.

Art Saint Louis XXIV
Art Saint Louis
555 Washington Avenue, #150
Nov. 3 - Dec. 30
pre-reception gallery talk by Mark Masuoka, Saturday, Nov. 15, 6 - 7 PM
reception Saturday, Nov. 15, 7 - 9 PM
juror's presentation by Mark Masuoka, Sunday, Nov. 16, 1 PM at SLAM
Two of my Point of View collages were accepted for this exhibition.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Can art change society?

Continuing my exploration into So, why is this art? I will examine the eighth and final of the key points:
Can art change society?
The Contemporary explores this question thusly:

In times of cultural upheaval or change, art can reflect the society in which it was made. Artists around the world have used their work to raise issues about racism, sexism, consumerism, injustice, and war... Artists who break with artistic traditions often do so to criticize the art world and sometimes extend that criticism to other institutions in society as well. In these cases, the purpose of art may become political or be used as a form of protest.

Again, art can be cathartic and can be an excellent way of letting go of those things that bother us. Depending on what the artist needs to get off his/her chest, this can take on a different tone and can reflect upon societal values and events. Also, art can provide a means of communicating with others and of expressing grievances and ideas to others. As a means of communication, art can expose injustices and, like eloquent speeches, can even move its audiences to action. Most importantly, art can provide a means to those who may not otherwise express themselves to voice themselves, offering empowerment while exposing those things which are too often left unsaid.

This wraps up my exploration into So, why is this art? In conclusion, I am a strong supporter of diversity in the arts and feel that everyone should be able to express themselves, whether they work traditionally or non-traditionally and regardless of what they have to say. I think it good that institutions like the Contemporary can offer worksheets like this as a means of increasing public exposure to art movements and ideas, for all that there is so much to explore and to convey that this worksheet is overly simplified. I do wish that each point had brought up a list of artists who are known for their work along that vein, so that those reading the worksheet can look into their work if interested. I will post some that come to mind as comments on my own posts here - please feel free to do the same.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What is the difference between art and popular culture?

Continuing my exploration into So, why is this art? I will examine the seventh of the key points:
What is the difference between art and popular culture?
The Contemporary explores this question thusly:

...For some artists, the overwhelming presence of consumer products and popular culture caused them to question the lack of connection between art and real life. The term "high" art was used to refer to painting, sculpture, and other works that followed the accepted theories of art at the time and that we would expect to see exhibited in galleries and museums. "Low" art or popular culture referred to imagery made for the general public...

Traditionally, the art world did not consider popular culture as a worthy source of art. Some artists rebelled... to break down the barriers between high art and the objects we live with and to make people think about the values of the culture around them.

I have spoken about "high" and "low" culture before in A Matter of Taste, but I will reiterate once again that I think diversity of expression should be celebrated and that we need art that builds on history and tradition, just as we need art that confronts it, just as we need art that caters to the masses... It takes all kinds, and I would like for everyone to be able to make their voices heard and expressions known should they desire to do so.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Is art an object or is it a process?

Continuing my exploration into So, why is this art? I will examine the sixth of the key points:
Is art an object or is it a process?
The Contemporary explores this question thusly:

Every work of art at some point is conceptualized and/or created. Artists, philosophers, critics, and curators have explored different ideas about the creative process and the actions of artists in creating artworks. This has led some artists to focus more on the activity of creating art, rather than on a resulting finished object... The artists may not know in advance the exact outcomes of their activity and chance occurrences or unpredictable events become an important part of their works.

For all that much of my background is in alternative media with an emphasis on performance art, which tends to be more process-based, I simply do not work best in this manner. I am too focused on the resulting artwork itself and on its ability to convey my ideas, much more than on how I created it. Some ideas are naturally more process-oriented than others, though, so I do work this way from time to time.

In past posts, I have spoken predominantly on the idea of the processes by which artworks are created as objects unto themselves and on the materials used and their significance. So until now, I have not focused on the idea of the process itself as art, which can be seen in interactive or reactionary performance and installation art or artworks that blur the boundaries between the visual arts and theater, music, dance, multimedia, etc. I am creating some such pieces as a part of my institutional critique works in that I cannot predict how audience members will react and respond. But, even in these pieces, there is a lot of preparation and presentation that goes into shaping and defining the experience. I just have too hard a time relinquishing control to be truly process-oriented.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Does art express emotions?

Back to my exploration into So, why is this art? I will examine the fifth of the key points:
Does art express emotions?
The Contemporary explores this question thusly:

An artwork can tell stories or depict ideas; it can be realistic or abstract. However, for some people, the most important issue in art is that it expresses or stirs emotions. Art can be a record of what the artist is feeling and, at the same time, it can bring about emotional reactions in the viewer... Artists make choices about color, line, texture, and composition to evoke or express feelings. Sometimes this leads to abstracting a subject to make it more expressive...

Art can be an amazing tool for both communication and for catharsis. It can be an excellent healing mechanism as a means of letting go of or expressing our grievances. As a result, many artworks have a strong emotional impact whether or not that was their primary objective. Some artists even focus strictly on their abilities to convey moods and emotions and to connect with viewers on that level.

There are several artists working on both ends of this spectrum, including those who seek to create emotional works that convey pure moods and feelings and those who seek to create works that are wholly devoid of emotion and are driven purely to convey other ideas. It can be extremely difficult to detach, and many art movements have striven to do just that.

From my own experience, I think that the difficulty lies not in creating emotionally-charged artworks but in detaching to the extent of creating art that does not have an impact on or is not influenced by our emotional states. I find that if I am not fully aware of my own state of mind while creating art, my work is highly likely to be influenced by whatever mood I am in at the time.

It is possible to use art as a means of focusing one's energy to actively change one's emotional state. I find that if I can focus long enough on creating art while in a bad mood, especially without judging too harshly that which I am creating, the act of creating art can lead me into a different state of mind and can have a calming effect. It is generally easier to create an artwork that syncs up with my vision when I am already wholly in the emotional mindset that I want to convey, though.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Claude post-surgery

Here we are with post-surgery Claude who is on the road to recuperation. See how much fuller he looks! Claude is so happy to not have his back all stressed and threatening to go out on him anymore.

Claude's surgery 4

Finally Laurene stitched him up again, good as new.

Claude's surgery 3

We added new, plush stuffing along with his fluffed up older stuffing to fill out his middle.

Claude's surgery 2

After making an incision, we pulled out some of his old stuffing and fluffed it up to work out the knots.

Claude's surgery

Today, I met with Claude's mommy, Laurene Franco of Super Chick Studio, to work on Claude. Here he is at the start of his surgery.

Please be forewarned - these pictures are very graphic. If you are at all squeamish, you may want to forego these posts.

Which comes first, the art or the idea?

Continuing my exploration into So, why is this art? I will examine the fourth of the key points:
Which comes first, the art or the idea?
The Contemporary explores this question thusly:

...Once free of the perceived requirement to make representational art, they began to focus more on their ideas for what art could be. For some, the idea or concept became the most important part of the artwork... this type of art has been called conceptual art. Conceptual artists documented or diagrammed their ideas for various artworks. If they were interested in creating a physical object based on their plan, they either made it themselves or provided the instructions to other people to fabricate the piece as a drawing, painting, sculpture, or other work. Some conceptual artists simply display the plans, texts, or notations as an artwork, which emphasizes the idea as the key part of their creative process.

Key Ideas of Conceptual Art:
- The artist's ideas are more important than the actual painting, sculpture, or object created.
- The use of language takes priority over visual experience.
- Artists criticized art-world institutions and society and wanted to create something outside of the system.

I suppose part of why the previous question may have seemed somewhat abrupt to me is because the response is sort of continued here in regards to conceptual art. And in many ways, these two topics are very intertwined because both developed from a questioning of conventionally accepted means of expression.

I have a tendency to approach my own artmaking from a conceptual standpoint more than anything else. I even do so to the degree that materials are explored first and foremost for their abilities to convey whatever idea that I am presenting. Much of my work thus runs the gamut, from drawing to painting to sculpture, installation, performance, video and so on.

I do however differ from this description in that, for all that my ideas take precedence, I am much more interested in the finished piece's ability to convey my idea than in the process of its creation. There are exceptions because sometimes the process itself is completely integral to the integrity of my idea, but as a general rule much of my work deals with the outcome of what was made. Perhaps I am just less interested in theory than some and tend to prefer the physical presence of the finished work to the process by which I got there. And in an attempt to get people of all sorts (artists and non-artists) thinking about things in new and different ways, I try to convey my ideas in a manner that people who lack exposure to modern and contemporary art can still "get it" on some level or another. Simply put, perhaps the idea of the narrative, at least insofar as viewers being able to understand the message conveyed, is not entirely dead to me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Should art be realistic?

Continuing my exploration into So, why is this art? I will examine the third of the key points:
Should art be realistic?
The Contemporary explores this question thusly:

Realistic art depicts or represents the visual world as closely as possible. Since the Renaissance in Europe until the beginning of the modern era, art has been valued for qualities that create an illusion of reality, such as light and shadow, proportion, and perspective... Even today, many judge art by its true-to-life quality, which can make appreciating artwork that is non-representational more challenging.

The idea of abstraction, in which artists alter the visual qualities of a subject, was a major development in modern art. There are many degrees of abstraction in art. Some artists made small changes in the look of their subject matter by simplifying or exaggerating colors or shapes... Others created images that do not realistically represent any object. This type of abstract art may be called nonrepresentational or nonobjective art. It may be composed of basic geometric shapes and forms or a complex arrangement of colors, shapes, textures, and lines.

This simplified history of abstract art doesn't seem to answer the question at hand to me. Most of these rather subjective topics have been explored by looking at what has happened in art over time and how people have come to see it anew, but this particular explanation seems somewhat abrupt. There is no real conclusion drawn linking back to the topic of whether art should be realistic.

Nonetheless, I don't really have much to add except that art doesn't have to be realistic to move people emotionally, and many people are drawn to certain colors, shapes, patterns and gestures or movements. Some things can be better explored or represented abstractly than in concrete realistic terms. Others benefit from having easily identifiable subject matter in order to get their point across or to connect with people. And sometimes it is the materials themselves and how they are applied that is of interest.

I am especially interested in works that encourage the viewer to see things in new and different ways, so I am personally drawn to varying levels of abstraction in which a subject may be identified but is explored in a non-traditional sense. I am also drawn to works in which subjects that would typically not be viewed as worthy of being immortalized in art are explored in a very traditional realistic manner. However, it is not as though I do not appreciate other things as well, and nonrepresentational works can encourage me to look at materials, colors, textures and other elements in new and different ways.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Does art have to tell a story?

Continuing my exploration into So, why is this art? I will examine the second of the key points:
Does art have to tell a story?
The Contemporary explores this question thusly:

For centuries, philosophers and artists believed that art must tell a story or have important meaning. In order to fully appreciate the artwork, viewers had to "read" this story from the image and understand its meaning.

...many people still believe that art should express some great idea of tell a story. Therefore, to fully appreciate and understand a work of art, viewers must understand the message behind the work.

This concern for meaning in art expanded in the mid-1800s... As the messages became less obvious, viewers were challenged to decipher a story or understand the meaning of the work.

A lot of people do still want to see some kind of narrative in art. They want to be able to say that they "get it" and to feel that they understand the meaning conveyed. They want to feel as though they are part of the discourse. Art is an amazing tool for communication and I typically approach it in this manner myself, but I do not think that the communication need be so obvious that the casual observer can fully appreciate it and move on. Many viewers like to be challenged but still to "get it", as if they are let in on a secret that not everyone is privy to. It is good to have a range, and not all meanings should be easy to access just as not all meanings should be hidden. There are many kinds of art and many kinds of artists, and it is in this diversity that we are able to better understand and appreciate one another and consequently ourselves.

And some artworks that may not have an apparent message or obviously tell a story do actually still follow a narrative all their own. Many artists develop into their styles over the course of their artistic careers and, with a little research, it becomes much easier to see the ongoing narrative from one piece to the next and to see how the artist was shaped and influenced through past works to what they are creating in the present. This type of narrative does require extra work on behalf of the observer but can lend to a far greater appreciation in the long run than just being able to look at something with which he/she had been previously unfamiliar and "get it". Being able to follow the artist's career over time, the choices made, moods conveyed, artistic explorations and maturity into and out of particular styles, can be a far more genuine and telling narrative and can offer an even better glimpse into the artist's soul, likes and dislikes, struggles and sense of self.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Should art be beautiful?

Continuing my exploration into So, why is this art? I will examine the first of the key points:
Should art be beautiful?
The Contemporary explores this question thusly:

...Aesthetic responses may vary from person to person, and individuals often have different ideas about what makes an artwork beautiful...

In the 1700s and 1800s, European philosophers and art schools (called academies) developed formulas to analyze and create beautiful works of art... By following these rules, they could learn to produce beautiful artworks that many so-called untrained artists could not.

Judged by these traditional standards, many contemporary artworks would not be described as beautiful or pleasurable. Then why are they considered art? Contemporary artists often want viewers to think about art in a different way, beyond the traditional roles of beauty. For many, it is more important that the works are interesting, thought-provoking, and challenging.

I don't have much to elaborate on this topic, as I have spoken much on it before and do not wish to be redundant. Please feel free to revisit and read some of my thoughts concerning Beauty in Art from previous blog posts.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

So, why is this art?

The other day, while I was at the Contemporary, I picked up a one-page gallery guide titled, "So, why is this art?" This intrigued me and is proving interesting material for thought, so I plan to respond to it here. Thus, I will be exploring some of the eight key issues over the next week or so. Here is a brief synopsis of the introduction.

Humans have created art through the ages, but various cultures have defined it differently. Throughout history, the nature of art has been debated. Today, most experts agree that there is not one single definition of art, but that it encompasses a variety of ideas, approaches, and qualities.

When someone asks "Why is this art?" they are asking a very complicated, but important question. They may be wondering about the value of an artwork or they might be responding to qualities in an artwork that they don't like or understand. The real question they may be asking is "What is art?"

...It is our hope that this discussion will prompt you to think about what you see in the gallery and enable you to discover the ways contemporary art reflects the issues and ideas of our times.