Friday, August 28, 2009

My Friends are Insane, Vol. 1

Insane, but awesome.

The background information.

So you think you like music, huh? Well, I happen to have a couple of friends who like music more than you do. More specifically, these hooligans like a semi-local band called the Avett Brothers. Innocently enough, my wife and I invited our friend Ginger to go to a concert with us several years ago to hear this band. They were from our area and one of the band members was in school at Winthrop during the same time I was there. Ginger came along to that concert and soon after, she was hooked.

Enter The Casey. I think I've been formally introduced to The Casey about 19 times. 10 of those introductions came from the same guy who kept forgetting that we'd met. The Casey left our little town for a while to live on the salty side of the state but when invited to join our odd little band of unlikely concert-goers, she accepted and her membership was quickly and unanimously approved.

Over the years we've expanded our group of miscreants (Molly, Sandy, Josh), but the dedication of Ginger and The Casey has really shamed all the rest of us. And last month they stepped up that dedication with an incredible music related journey.

After graduation The Casey moved out west chasing after the mountains and streams of Colorado. Ginger loves to travel and it's nothing for her to hop on a plane and leave the hungry citizens of our town to deal with their hunger in her absence (she co-owns a restaurant and catering business. leave a comment if you'd like contact information). So in a perfect storm type of scenario, the two of them found out the Avett Brothers were playing 4 concerts in 4 nights in The Casey's new state and they quickly made plans to tag along. This plan left the rest of us dumbfounded. And envious.

However, through the miracles of technology and with some TLC from Steve Jobs (iphone) and Al Gore (internet) I was able to experience the trip virtually and live vicariously through them for a week. Here's what happened:

Ginger began her 17 1/2 hour journey by driving to the airport and quickly making her way to a large building in Denver only to find The Casey being interrogated by some guys in uniforms. After shooing away the Moonies, they loaded up all their Avett related items and took to the highway for a long drive across the state. From the airport in Denver they drove almost non-stop to Telluride. Because of the shady work of the aforementioned Mr. Jobs and Mr. Gore, their electronic devices led them down a dirt road that gave them this view out their windshield:

This was the first time The Casey began to wonder what she had gotten herself into. But after only a few minor wild animal encounters and only one technical mauling, the dynamic duo arrived at their first musical destination.

At this point everything felt like a regular vacation. Our friends woke up refreshed in a new town feeling some excitement over their expectations. They woke up and prepared themselves for an eventful day.

Then they walked a bit and found some food to fortify them for their adventure.

After some exploring they boarded a gondola and made their way up a little hill.

By the way, that's Ginger with the movie star shades and The Casey with the cool hat. I probably should have introduced you earlier, sorry. Anyway, the view from my house (provided by Ginger's iphone) was amazing...

Like any truly dedicated fan would, they arrived early enough to scout out the best spots for enjoying the concert. These first two shows were free outdoor festival shows so they had no idea what type or size of crowd to expect. They secured a spot on the lawn at a reasonable distance with a blanket and then explored a little more. When they came back the spectators were filling in the space better and they realized that they could easily strong-arm their way right up to the front of the stage. And when I say "the front of the stage", I mean, right here:

That little fella never stood a chance. Moments later his view became the back of our friends' heads.

Of course the concert was amazing, especially from just a couple of feet away and the photos were streaming in...

Scott on banjo, Seth on guitar

Bob hiding behind the bass

They danced, they sang, they screamed, and at times you could hear the band too. But morning came too soon and with another day, there was another concert to attend and another city to find. Our ladies got an early start. The Casey hoped her coffee would help her navigate the dirt roads with a clear head.
And when the coffee didn't work, she began to question the sanity of all this. "Are we really doing this?" she asked. "CAN we really do this?" Overwhelmed by the lack of answers and the full schedule still looming, she briefly contemplated throwing herself in the river.

Ginger caught her in time and they were soon headed back out in search of....

Steamboat Springs was the next concert stop and as they made it to town, they saw a familiar site...the Brothers' tour bus. Knowing they were in the right spot, they did their best to gear up for another night of dancing, flailing, and singing at the top of their lungs. They were never embarrassed to sing. But first, The Casey again, ever so briefly contemplated the fragility of life.
Ginger was there again to lift her spirits and they were all smiles for the show that was about to begin.
But first, they needed to muscle their way back up to the front of the crowd. Thanks to Ginger's newly acquired taser, this was no problem whatsoever.
All along the way our ladies were having close encounters of the Avett kind. Maybe it was coincidence or maybe Carolinians just gravitate toward one another naturally, but day by day Ginger and The Casey seemed to be brushing shoulders with the band. During one of these early encounters some goofball guy standing beside them spoke to Seth Avett and offered him $20 for his vest. I'm not sure what that was about, but I'm pretty sure alcohol was involved. Seth declined and seemed offended that some random dude thought he was wearing a cheap vest. See, these are the kinds of first person stories we had streaming into our living room for 4 consecutive nights last week. And while I did not miss the crowd interactions nor the smells, I did miss out on the music.
And from what I heard, the music was really good. This second night was even better than the first and the energy seemed to be building. And it spread.

My favorite band member is above with his cello. I'm talking about Joe Kwon, not the giant goatee guy in the foreground. Ginger sent this photo for two reasons. First, she knows I love Joe and his energetic playing and second, because the giant goatee guy in the foreground looks very much like one of our other mutual friends. As it turns out, the giant goatee guy was one of an entire group of fans who had the same idea to attend all four shows in Colorado that week.
After another great show our heroes were up early the next morning to drive over to The Casey's new home in Boulder.
This was to be their first paid admission show and the reality of all this seemed to be settling in on the two of them. Ginger was thinking that there was no way they would be able to repeat their front row status for a third night. Their years of living on earth seemed to be catching up with them, along with two nights of savage dancing, and both of them were thinking that it wouldn't be so bad to sit down for this concert. After all, the last two nights were amazing and they'd remember them forever. There was no sense in getting all crazy and obsessive about it. Right?

Right. That is, until they arrived at the Boulder Theater and saw the familiar tour bus again.

And here's where we need to talk about stalking. I suppose if Ginger and The Casey decided to travel all around a particular state for four consecutive days following a regular citizen, the authorities would have to be involved in some unpleasant manner. But if they want to follow a band this way, the rules are different. It is somewhat normal to become interested in the members of a band or public group and if you just happen to be sitting across the street from a tour bus with a camera and one of the members of that band or group just happen to exit the bus and walk by, there's nothing wrong with that. With that in mind, I present one such photo for your enjoyment here in a view that I like to call Stalkervision:

That's Bob again

After having decided to take it easy and enjoy the night's concert from afar, Ginger and The Casey soon found themselves scratching, clawing, shoving and punching their way to the front. This was night 3 and they had made quite a name for themselves among the Avett-heads so most knew to step aside when they came bursting through. Hammering their way through the pit, they finally ended up right here:
That's Ginger resting up stage front for the show. And this was her view:
That's close. And while you'd think that on the 3rd night in a row the band might be getting tired, not to mention our traveling friends getting tired, the experience proved just the opposite was true. The Brothers were pumped up and Ginger and The Casey fed off the energy of the bodies in their path and the romping and stomping went on in full force.

The next morning was odd. In the comfort of The Casey's home the two of them could barely comprehend what they had experienced. There were moments where each was unsure of what town they were in. Had they really just seen 3 concerts in a row? Had Ginger really flown most of the way across the country for this experience?
Just as The Casey was about to contemplate the river one last time, she remembered that she had to work because she's a hard, hard worker everyday. Yes, The Casey has a job, contrary to the beliefs of some of her family members, and this was a day she had planned to work since she had shifted her schedule hastily around this music event. She decided that since Denver was only a few minutes away, she would work her shift and then after grabbing a bite to eat the two of them would again find their way to the tour bus and see one last great show.
This time they didn't bother with thinking about sitting down in the back of the concert hall. After Ginger spent her afternoon wandering about Boulder and practicing ninja moves she would use on the unfortunate pit dwellers, she picked The Casey up and they dashed to Denver.
They were running a little late this time and they were starting to worry that being tardy might endanger their chances at a front row spot. Squealing into town on two wheels they frantically searched for the venue when they ran right guessed it....the tour bus. With only seconds to react, The Casey points to a vacant parking spot and Ginger's reflexes slide the car into the spot - the spot right beside the tour bus. In one of those moments of realization where words fail, they simply got out and began to gather their belongings so they could rush over to get in line.
Back at my house the phone dings. The wife picks it up and begins reading out loud. She pauses until it dings again. She reads. Pause. She reads again. Soon we realize we are getting the up to the minute report on the latest Avett experience. When our heroes got out of the car suddenly Scott Avett appears around the corner of the bus and strikes up a conversation with them both. The Casey, perhaps strengthened by beverage, talks a little smack to Mr. Avett, pats him on the back and informs him that she's expecting him to "bring it" on this last night in Colorado.
After making the scene four nights in a row, Ginger and The Casey had earned a certain status with the local Avett-heads. But after witnessing the two having a casual conversation with one of the stars of the show, the Avett-heads began to bow to their new masters. Our friends were more or less ushered to the front of the already winding line and used no force as they walked right up to their usual place right up against the stage.
Still the day, the week even, seemed surreal. The music and dancing and singing left them euphoric. Hey look, there's Bob again.
He keeps the time. He also sang a few of his songs during this trip which is a rare and tasty treat. In a related note that will make no sense to anyone but Ginger and The Casey, they admitted that Bob is the most handsome and well dressed band member. The wife still adores Seth.
Maybe I should mention stalking one more time. I dont want to incriminate anyone so I'll try to be vague. Below is a photo of a port-o-john. There may or may not be an Avett in there. I'm just saying.
I'm kidding.
As far as you know.
Some final things:
The Casey apparently works in an old fashioned elephant saloon. I'm not sure if the patrons ride elephants or if the bar is actually for the elephants. It's more fun to not know for sure.
And these two photos I simply can not explain. But here's The Casey in a phone booth for some reason:
And just in case any of you out there are looking for new employees, The Casey is a recent graduate of a very respectable southern University. She has an Art History degree, she's very cool and I hear she likes music.

And that's Ginger trapped in the same phone booth. She's the best caterer around but she's not afraid to go soup nazi on you if you get a little too demanding. Seriously, wedding cakes, lunch specials, receptions, parties, whatever you got, she's got something tasty to go with it.
And finally, with my most sincere apologies to The Casey, Ginger slipped me a large sum of cash to post this photo of The Casey in mid-sushi-chomp:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

cats are the devil

Sunday morning I woke up a bit puzzled from a dream. My first thought was that it was unsettling, but the more I thought about it, the more it just became funny.

My wife and I were being chased in the dream. Ok, not chased so much as just irritated. Like when a fly or a late summer gnat just keeps diving at you. Except the chaser in the dream was a hummingbird. Let me just say that those of you laughing now would also have been scared by the hummingbird if it were your dream. The little guy was tenacious.

Anyway, he chased us around while carrying a big banner with words on it tightly grasped in his beak. His razor sharp beak. In the dream we finally realized that it was silly to be running from a hummingbird so we stopped and as he got close enough to us we were able to make out the words on the banner.

It read, "You will all burn like kittens!"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

All My Mistakes

As you learn new things sometimes a weird thing has to happen. You have to come to grips with the fact that what you thought before was, well, wrong. Some of my mistakes can be fixed with an 8 pound hammer. Others require words.

Sometime back in preparation for a new semester I rambled on about how much I hate cell phones. I'm here tonight to say that while I may still hate most cell phones, I may not quite hate the iphone.

In fact, I may love it a little bit.

To be clear, I still hate YOUR cell phone and the fact that you insist on texting and looking up things on the internet while you are driving with your kids in the car. Yes, dark blue minivan on I-26 last Sunday, I'm talking to you.

Let this serve as notice that as I place ideas, thoughts, and opinions here on this blog, I reserve the right to change my mind about them at any time without telling you.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dear Reader

If I were reading another person's blog and they insisted on posting articles and reviews written about themselves or their work, I'd probably think that person had an overinflated opinion of himself. With that in mind, I cringe each time I need to copy an article or review and post it here. The thing is, this non-blog here is for me, not for you. Don't get me wrong, you're welcome here and I hope you enjoy yourself, but I'm not here to amuse you like a clown (as Pesci would say). This weird internet sketchbook has always been a place for me to easily access images and thoughts as I have them and a place where I can copy and paste interesting things that I'd like to think about and perhaps incorporate into my drawings and sculptures later on. But since I'm a one man operation there are times when I have to act as a manager too and preserve internet snippets because, let's face it, you're not going to do it for me, are you?

Right. So please feel free to skip the rest of this entry if you like. I would. Just know that my opinion of myself and of my work is unflatteringly realistic.

Worth the trip to Salisbury: Waterworks always does a fine job, and two collections especially stand out this time - one by ceramist Sharif Bey

By Tom Patterson Local Columnist
Published: July 26, 2009 in The Winston-Salem Journal and

SALISBURY -- Thanks to its consistently varied, generally high-quality exhibitions program, the Waterworks Visual Arts Center continues to distinguish itself among nonprofit visual-art venues in North Carolina's smaller cities and towns.

The center's current round of exhibitions, assigned the broadly ambiguous collective title "Color," spans a typically broad thematic and stylistic spectrum. These shows are on view through Aug. 22, and they're worth a visit to Salisbury, thanks especially to two of them -- a duo exhibition by Charlotte artist Barbara Schreiber and Doug McAbee, a sculptor from Spartanburg, S.C.; and a solo show by Winston-Salem ceramist Sharif Bey.

Schreiber's and McAbee's exhibit is tagged with the seemingly self-deprecatory title "Shared Delusions." In the case of Schreiber's work, that title alludes primarily to societal delusions about childhood innocence and the influence of mass media. She is represented here by nine different series of narrative-based acrylic drawings (occasionally with silkscreen-printed components) in a cleanly linear style highlighted by bold colors.

In both style and content these works are reminiscent of children's-book illustrations, and the figures in most of them are solitary children or cutely stylized cartoon animals -- kittens, bunny rabbits, teddy bears or birds. Despite visual cues that emphasize protected innocence and insulation from painful realities, a close look at these images reveals their concern with the toughest problems of the adult world -- war, poverty, unemployment, extremist violence and everyday stress. This clash of realities -- childhood naivete vs. grown-up horrors -- provides the thematic foundation for most of Schreiber's work.

In her "Babydreams" series, a sleeping infant dreams about a terrorist bomb, a mob of torch-wielding teddy bears, a violent car accident and a kitten drowning in quicksand. Each of the girls in her "In a Dark Room" and "What We Learned Today" series are stretched out on the floor of a domestic living room containing a television, generic furniture and a few other objects. The key details in these drawings are the tiny images on the TV sets (a mushroom cloud, the chalk outline of a sidewalk shooting victim's body) and the objects the children are playing with or holding (a bomb, a martini glass, pills).

A highlight of Schreiber's show that occupies its own distinctive thematic niche is a sequential series of eight drawings about commercial airline disasters and flight phobias, titled "Final Boarding/The View from 1-A." For each drawing she has adopted the position of a commercial airline passenger peering out the window alongside a plane's foremost window seat. In the first five drawings the airplane window frames images of passengers in an entrance-ramp corridor as they prepare to board. But the last three views indicate that something has gone badly wrong, as they show the corridor respectively swarming with headless insects, filled with several feet of water containing a shark and other carnivorous fish, and traversed by a scythe-toting grim reaper.

Sharing a small gallery with Schreiber's work are eight of McAbee's painted steel sculptures, whose bright palette recalls plastic children's toys visually echoes some of the bolder colors in Schreiber's drawings. Although they're predominantly abstract, these slick-surfaced sculptures incorporate clear allusions to the human figure in the form of components resembling spindly arms and legs, eyeless heads and, in one case, a giant-size pair of blue, horn-rimmed glasses. These figural components are fused in some pieces with references to architectural forms or industrially manufactured objects. Collectively and individually they convey an impression of cartoonish whimsy, making them likely to be a hit with children.

Occupying an adjacent gallery at the Waterworks are 23 "New Works" by Bey, a ceramic sculptor and assistant professor of art education at Winston-Salem State University. About half of the show consists of functional vessels characterized by striking geometric patterns and designs that reference African art and textile design. The other half is made up of works that extend Bey's continuing investigation of ceramic beads as a sculptural form and conceptual vehicle. As in other such pieces he has shown in the past two or three years, the hand-crafted clay beads are significantly oversized, and the wearable necklaces they form double as commentaries on social issues involving black identity.

Several of Bey's clay-beaded necklaces play on the contrast between black-power-era fashions and current hip-hop styles in order to critically engage the conflicting values underlying that contrast. These pieces reference both the traditional African beads often worn by Afro-coiffed black men and women 40 years ago and the gaudy, lavishly priced "bling" jewelry favored by many contemporary hip-hop artists and their fans. The big clocks that served as popular hip-hop fashion accessories a few years ago -- typically worn like amulets on pricey gold or silver neck chains -- serve as models for large ceramic discs on the beaded necklace pieces in Bey's "Flav Clock Series," as well as his smaller necklace titled Mostly White Hero Clock With Minority Modern Master Supplements. The face of its central clock is emblazoned with a photo-transfer close-up of Picasso's face, while its smaller beads bear photo-transfer portraits of lesser-acclaimed black or Hispanic artists.

Running concurrently at the Waterworks are a duo exhibition by painters Whitney Peckman and Marge Loudon Moody; a small selection of outdoor metal pieces by Winston-Salem sculptor Don Green; and a small selection of lively, promisingly imaginative paintings and drawings by Hannah Thompson, a Rowan County high-school student who recently received a $1,000 "Dare to Imagine" award from the Waterworks.

■ Works by Barbara Schreiber, Doug McAbee, Sharif Bey, Whitney Peckman, Marge Loudon Moody, Don Green and Hannah Thompson are on view through Aug. 22 at the Waterworks Visual Arts Center, 123 E. Liberty St., Salisbury. For more information, call 704-636-1882.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

have you any wool

We finally got away to the beach for a week. We endured several bathroom stops, roadside feedings, and 576 renditions of "Bah Bah Black Sheep". Still it was relaxing and enjoyable. I started and finished 2 art related books (I'll never tell how many pages each had) and did some major planning for the upcoming semester. In the spirit of the completely absurd stories our son tells us each day, I'll recap the Wild Coastal Adventures:
We dug for buried pirate treasure and were attacked from behind by an evil red umbrella.

Then a little man flew his kite up over the water while he floated on top of the ocean. He had no idea that the ocean was going to get him. Thousands of sharks and jellyfish waited underneath for him to fall down.

The sharks went into a feeding frenzy yet they were kind enough to sign some autographs and pose for photos.

Then the kite turned into a giant octopus and scared the sharks away. Then they took us to get some ice cream.
But this magical ice cream melted at astonishing rates and seemed to have a deep seated hatred for the Cubs. The ice cream fought with the hat and tried to devour it.

Marty McFly came to the rescue in his DeLorean from the future. After a quick pit stop for diapers, he was off to Colorado to see if he could catch up with Ginger and The Casey as they....well, lets just say they're passing through Salina with a pretty girl from Chile wondering if it's the beaches or the smoke in our lights that caused the weight of lies to buy it in the curve. You follow? Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full. Trust me, it's more interesting this way. Otherwise it's just a stupid slide show of a beach trip where I say, "we saw this and we did this."...and unless you were there, it wasn't that funny and you just don't care.