Monday, April 30, 2007

If Art speaks to you, talk back.

“Yay, let’s hear it for ART COLLECTORS!”

We heard this as we were leaving “Artwalk” the annual art festival held in the Little Italy section of downtown San Diego this weekend. No doubt, the tip-off to the commentator was the arms full of paintings and prints.

The art collector cheerleader was a fellow artist keeping watch over her booth, and the cheer went up from other artists and spectators. Though the shout out was nice, it certainly wasn’t necessary.

We just like art. It looks good on the wall and most of them make me smile, feel or think. Art that somehow speaks to you should do one or more of those things.

Our “art collection” is not extensive but expanding in styles, subject matter and sheer numbers. We’re striving to rid the house of all litho’ed posters and similar pieces by replacing them with original works or limited editioned, signed prints.

None of the work is overtly controversial. Some of the wood block prints are of Dia de los Muertos skeletons and I’ve got some allegorical works but nothing too political or overly shocking. It’s not that I don’t like shocking, but I’m not so sure I want to wake up every morning and look at it. The mug staring me back at me from the mirror is shocking enough.

“Piss Christ” didn’t necessarily offend me or cause me to blanch, and I can actually appreciate it on one or more levels, but I think I’d rather have a plein aire hanging above the fireplace.

But that's just me.

It was maybe 4 years ago that I first saw Kirsten Francis' work while a part-time printmaking student at the Art Academy of San Diego. The mythological and allegorical elements of her wood block prints grabbed a hold of me and actually inspired me to start a series of crow imagery. I was pleased to see her work at the festival and really pleased to pick up one of the prints I had admired a few years ago. Kirsten’s been doing this for a while which is doubly surprising when you find out how young she is. Her considerable talent truly belies her age and foretells a long, creative career.

Plein aire paintings make me feel good. They seem to calm my spirit and dammit…I just like looking at them. Michael Gulewich’s paintings immediately created that sense of peace when we walked into his booth. His settlings are familiar to me as I have traveled to many of the places he paints. Although he paints larger pieces, these three small paintings are little moments of serenity.

My favorite piece purchased was a simple but striking painting of a dove. Artist Ed Arambula is proof that life is unfair. Most of us would be happy if we were relatively good in just one art form or could render an image in one style or another. Ed however can do it all. Ed not only paints in various styles (from contemporary to figurative to expressive to impressionistic) but the talent-greedy bastard also sculpts. He’s probably a good cook, plays three instruments and sing too.

Maybe his feet smell.


In all, five modest but appreciated works made it home. They will join the others that either hang on walls, sit on shelves or are otherwise displayed with love. Do yourself a favor, buy some art this week. Your soul will thank you and an artist (an endangered species for sure) will survive until the next art festival.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tampon Crafts

I truly believe that this is the perfect example using what's close to you when creating your "art".

If you ever get tired of making things out of popsicle sticks or pipe cleaners, try tampons.

Yeah, tampons.

This spooky ghost is a perfect example of Tampon Crafts - For any time of the month.

A little glue, two google eyes and faster than you can say "Boo!" you've got a Halloween decoration anyone would be proud to display. I think these would be perfect for Cub Scouts, don't you?

Other, more complex projects can be found on the website including a Menorah, a New Year's Eve ball and one of my favorites, the Blow Gun. There's even "You Tube" footage of the thing in action.

I would also be remiss if I didn't mention the Heart Earrings. They are very special.

No part of the tampon goes unused. The applicator tube lends itself to myriad ideas and I don't want to rag on these folks but I think the creative souls behind the website have opened the door barely a crack to the possibilities of this media.

Not only for each holiday season, I think they should have a project for each month. God forbid if they would ever miss one.

Perhaps they could do things like "tampon toys" too. I envision little trees, villages and frontier forts with cannons. Think "Lincoln Logs" but with an emphasis on Mary Todd.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Art Festering


Art camp. Yeah, that’s what it’s like. Only there’s no little nose pickin, socially awkward, geeky little kids to deal with. We were all geeky grown ups.

Tracy and Teesha Moore produce a very unique art workshop event each year they call Artfest. Each year is a little different and it is now in it’s 7th year to be held at Fort Worden State Park located in Port Townsend, WA. Port Townsend is a Victorian seaport located on the Olympic peninsula, not real close to anywhere. An hour and a half from Seattle via highways and ferries, it almost seems secluded in a “no Starbucks in these here parts” kind of way. Well, there is one located at the local Safeway supermarket and there’s a McDonald’s but the locals prefer proper espresso in a chipped demitasse, thank you very much.

The workshops that are offered are generally one to two day affairs, just enough to whet an appetite but long enough to provide basic foundation skills for future study. The teachers are respected experts in their respective fields from artist jewelry to artist books to painting to printmaking to assemblage to deconstructions.

This year I chose to take classes rather than teach. It was a brief respite from the real world as Susan and I took a break from laundry, lawn work and long commutes. I really enjoyed the change from teacher to student.

Susan focused on creativity exercises and book arts while I brought my attention to dimensional work. Certainly, three short days is not enough to assume any proficiency but if nothing else, it recharges the artistic juices as you share the air with like-minded spirits and creativity is the order of the day. Fortunately that energy seems to be lasting until I reach the threshold of my own studio in a few days.

After getting home, I had to immediately repack the bags and hit the friendly skies again for the work that pays the mortgage. As I dragged my sorry ass onto the plane Monday morning, I longed for the smell of cedars, the greenness of ferns blanketing the wet hillsides and the feeling of doing something important for no one but myself. Jobs may fill the belly, but art feeds the soul. It really does.