Monday, April 28, 2008

Blanket Statements

The quilt is DONE!!  But as I left my camera in Baltimore, you're just going to have to take my word for it until I can post photos next week.  However, BELIEVE me... it's super (thanks for asking.)

But even without photos, those of you who are in Baltimore, or will be within the next two weeks, can see it for yourself!  Rachel Faller's "Blanket Statements" show officially opens to the public on Wednesday!  Here's all the information you need:

In case that's too small for you to read, the show will be viewable starting April 30th and will be culminating with a CLOSING EVENT on Saturday, May 10th.  (That's right, kids, so don't show up this week and expect wine and cheese.)  I WILL be coming down to Baltimore for the party, so all of you who I haven't seen for a year, now's the time to come and see what I've been up to!  (And I think I'll be there during the afternoon part, too, for at least a bit, in case you don't want to fork over the $10- $12.)  Let me know if you're coming so I can look out for you!

But on a more complicated note... As Nelly and I were putting the finished touches (for example the rainbow bias tape border...) we realized that displaying all the information necessary for the decryption of the quilt was going to be a bit difficult.  Each of the squares represents a complicated and sexually explicit individual.  However, Rachel had asked us to PG the description because there are going to be kids at the event.  After thinking and scheming for quite a while, we decided that the best way to include alllll of the information that I always inevitably want to provide should be HERE!  On my blog!  (Sorry I don't have a real website yet... it's coming, I swear.)  The address of the blog will be hung next to the work along with our artist statement.  So:  as soon as I can, I'm going to post everything you need to both "read" our quilt and, if the fancy should strike you, create one that fits your own sexual identity.

Go see the show!  And then come back here and figure it all out...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Gardening = Magic, Quilting = Alchemy

I think I may be obsessed with gardening.  Ever since I started this gardening class it's all I think about.  And since my bike has been stranded half way to make yr break for a week now, all the time I've spent walking around the city has been filled with thoughts of containers and seedlings and plans and dreams.  (Mostly dreams of stealing cuttings from window boxes in queens village.)  Last sunday Joe and I started our garden for real!

I got this fantastic 72-pod seed starting dome from gardening class, and we filled every pod with flower, herb, and vegetable seeds!

So many wonderful plants!  That there's catgrass in the front.  Joe is planting broccoli!

And in less than a week:
I'm a mom!!!  OMG it was so exciting.

Cat-grass and Broccoli!


So, now I'm waiting until their big enough to plant in real pots.  It'll be like sending them to kindergarten...  Except that once they graduate, I'll get to eat them in a salad.  (I also have some romaine lettuce plants, and some onions already in pots on the roof!)

In Other News!! 

Quilting is like alchemy.  I spent 10 1/2 hours in the studio sewing yesterday and I managed to make every finished square measure a different incorrect size!  Gah!  Geometry makes no sense to me.  None.  Ironically, the most difficult pattern was the only one that came out the correct size.  (?!?)  At any rate, I managed to finish almost all of the blocks.  Maybe I'll get to bed before midnight this week after all!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What do you mean the last minute?

Ah... so it turns out that the end of this month is approaching with inconsiderate speed.  Meaning that the quilt Nellie and I are creating for Rachel Faller's May quilt show actually needs to be, uhm, done.  Woops?  I always forget about the hard parts of quilts, like... anything other than the piece-work.  Thank goodness for Nell (and her mom!) for reminding me that there is more to this quilt than design, piece-work and being gay!  

Here are some of the samples I made for the patterns (recognize any of the fabric, pickles?  It's all stuff I've dug out of the trash from work...  Someday I'll make a whole quilt with this shit...)  From left to right the patterns are:  Monkey Wrench, Flying Geese, Northern Star, Monkey Wrench, Bow Ties, and... Monkey Wrench.  (Oh- and there's Ripley, too.)

However... I was reminded why you're actually supposed to make samples before starting with your final fabric:  it turns out I kind of suck at quilting.  My measurements were crazy-wrong!  None of my triangles matched up and when I tried to make the Flying Geese block... somehow I only ended up with enough triangles to make half the pattern!  Woooops.  So I decided it was time to get help from a professional and I hopped a train to Baltimore.

Nellie and I worked all day yesterday!  (Well... technically we slept till 12:30... but after that we were... almost diligent.  Almost.)

We were lucky enough to be able to spread out in the costume studio of Baltimore's Center Stage Theater, which was equipped with all the necessary sewing supplies!

Then, by consulting both the Underground Railroad quilt code and the Gay Hanky code, we made color/block combinations that embodied imaginary individuals and their sexual proclivities.

And then we started sewing!  Nellie was a merciful tutor and took over sewing the super-complicated and curvy blocks.  (Thank goodness...)

By the end of the day we had finished a good number of squares (3.  I'm being optimistic, ok?) and we divvied up the rest of the tasks to work on in our different cities.  Hopefully we'll get everything done in time!  I'm going to be seeing a lot of hankies in the next couple of days...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

TheBigDraw: "the two hours before dawn are the worst"

Which is kind of how I feel the day before the day before the opening reception for the previously mentioned project "The Big Draw."  How was it, you ask?  Oi.  It started with Adam coming down with Strepp and Bronchitis and it only went down from there.  

As all 10 artists sat around the South Philly living room talking about our art it felt like the beginning of a reality tv show with politics and colored pencils.  I was actually pretty excited.  After the introductions Alex read us the question/scenario that he had crafted by taking all of our art-words and combining them:  "The changes in society and culture can sometimes be overwhelming.  If you could create your own culture/society, what would you keep from our current society?  Who would be there?  What would your ideal metaverse look like?"  

It's a fair question.  I mean, shouldn't that actually be a starting place for policy workers, politicians and especially artists?  My head instantly filled with lists of words, concepts, ideas... but not images.  And I had a sinking suspicion that images were going to count for more here.  And I was right:  we were asked to start drawing out our ideas after only 20 minutes of half-hearted discussion on urban life.  No one mentioned Sexism, no one mentioned Homophobia, and Racism was only ever alluded to through conversations about gentrification.  

Then we drew.  From the moment pencil touched paper it was apparent that we were going to be doodling for the next 24 hours.  Hardly anyone was dealing with the topic, and we still had 22 hours left to draw.  While trying to integrate myself into a group of people who clearly all already knew eachother, I discerned that some of the other women in the group (we made up about half) were as vaguely concerned as I was, but I think at that point we still had hope.

We filled the first 15-18 feet of brown butcher paper after about 4 hours and moved onto the next.  And then the next, and then the next.  Alex tried, sort-of, to facilitate the interaction of our  various images and to create some narratives about the question...  but most of the work had nothing to do with anything.  Or eachother. 
(I don't know if you can see it, but that's definitely a crab battling a giant rat to the death. Hour 6ish.)

(Everyone ferociously working.  Hour 7? ish?)

(Bryan Rice giving his hand a rest and "drawing" with His Right Foot.  Hour 12ish.)

It continued on like this throughout the night.  Eventually we were so tired that it was hard to focus on the paper for very long at all, so we started doing timed drawings:  we would each claim a piece of the paper and work on it for 5-10 min.  Alex would then tell us to switch spaces, and we would scoot down the spot next to ours and spend 5-10 min responding to what was there.  It was like playing free-association, but with drawing.  And at first it was fun... something to make the time go a little faster.  But by morning, it was more like playing free association with a bunch of 15 year old boy-vandalists who could only think about penises and sodomy jokes, but who could draw better than you and had no censor whatsoever.  And feeling responsible for it, since all of your names are going to be associated with it.  It was terrible.  I would get to a new section of paper to find surprisingly well rendered smoking crackpipes and large breasted marmots, milk spurting from it's nipples in varying directions.  Or a squirrel with 40 balls.  Or, yes, a blue grinch-like character sodomizing an alarmed looking viking.  Clearly, the concept for the drawing, a perfect cultural metaverse, had long-since been abandoned (and thrown to floor, and trampled, and sodomized and smoked through a crackpipe.)  Come the last round, I was basically going around with an ebony pencil and blocking out what I thought was most offensive, and by the time Alex called for an end of the event all I wanted to do was get the hell out of there.  But no.  I had to sit through an embarrassing interaction between the group and a reporter from the Philadelphia City Paper Online.  And still, no censor.  It all seemed so funny to them.  When they jokingly asked the reporter not to include an image of the viking/grinch coupling I actually thought about having them take my name off the project.  (Here's the article.  This guy's either a lunatic or just a sensationalist.  Either way, the article manages to be entertaining, insulting and incorrect all at the same time.  http://www/ )

(This, after finding out on Sunday morning that Charlton Heston had died.  Clearly we were still on topic.  Hour 18ish.)

I really wanted this to be a good experience, I really did.  And I wasn't prepared for the ludicrous amount of sexism, patriarchal bullshit and flat-out immaturity that comes, apparently inevitably, with working in a group with straight white middle-class art-boys.  (To make matters worse, the ring-leader of this offensive corral had left early in the evening to get drunk with his girlfriend, after which he came home and took a 5 hour nap.  So he couldn't even use sincere tired as an excuse for his behavior.)  I had hoped that I would feel better about the experience after getting some sleep.  But as I think on it more and more, I wonder about what the other women who participated are feeling.  At the time, many of them were laughing at the sodomy jokes and plentiful penises and much as the boys... and I want to attribute it, I guess, to fatigue and the fact that they knew eachother.  (It's always easier to forgive someone you know, right?) But not having spoken to any of them, I don't actually know how they felt.  At least Adam was as aghast as I was when he finally arrived at 8:30 sunday morning... so I have someone to back me up.

Anyway.  The opening is Friday night and like the title of this entry says, the two hours before dawn are the worst.  It's the bottom of the bell curve.  It's like waiting for a bomb to hit or for the sky to lighten...  Whether reception for the piece is positive or negative, at least after Friday the whole ordeal will be over with.  Come, and share in the pain and hilarity.

"The Big Draw" Opening Reception!
@ My House Gallery (2534 S. 8th St, Philadelphia)
Friday, April 11th, 5:30-8:30pm

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Th Big Draw: this weekend!

After participating in Alex Gartleman's in-house gallery show "Art Glut" a few months ago, Adam and I were asked to collaborate on yet another piece for Alex. And it's this weekend! Here's the info:

My House Gallery would like to invite you to The Big Draw project. The Big Draw is a collaborative drawing project, featuring 12 Philadelphia artists, which takes place over a 24 consecutive hour period on April 5th and 6th.

Participating artists:

Andrew Brehm, Aimee Christopher, Katie Elia, Hannah Heffner, Jim Grilli, Jenny Kanzler, Adam Oestreicher, Fernando Ramos, Nora Renick-Rinehart, Hope Rovelto, Bryan Rice, and David Staniunas

From 1:30 PM on Saturday April 5th to 1:30 PM on Sunday April 6th the artists will work collectively to approach a problem posed to them by My House Gallery Director Alex Gartelmann on one large unbroken piece of paper. The problem is a question composed from lists of words submitted by each artist. Through this each artist has some personal investment into the drawing. This approach allows for the artists to share their conceptual as well as formal approaches to making work. In this lies the purpose of the project, to examine how a group of relatively unfamiliar artists from the same community can work collectively on one project over an extended period of time. The project becomes a microcosm of our greater culture where the individuals ability to find similar or opposite interests in other people and interact/collaborate is constantly tested.

My House Gallery will be open for the entire 24 hour period on the 5th and 6th, allowing for visitors to come and see the work in progress. The following friday, April 11th, will be the opening for the finished drawing, from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM.

Alex Gartelmann

Director, My House Gallery

...right... so... If you're around the Philadelphia area saturday afternoon/night/early sunday morning/sunday morning feel free to come by and watch me pretend I can draw! (Which I can't, so this should be pretty entertaining for you and embarrassing for me.) I don't know any of the other artists but the scenario does sound interesting. Hopefully it will turn out to be a fun and enlightening experience! I'll post some pictures after the event.