Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Community Art

"Ain't Misbehavin'"
Patrick Doughtery
image by Gallery Up
The temporary sculptural installation “Ain’t Misbehavin’” was created by Patrick Doughtery over the course of three weeks in March 2010 in Rock Hill, SC. Doughtery’s natural wood sculptures have been shown all across the United States as well as in Europe and Asia. Doughtery has also served as Artist in Residence at many Universities and Museums all over the country.

Doughtery’s work is funny and off beat in nature while giving a nod to more serious and primitive means of building shelter for survival. His sculptures are created out of tree limbs and saplings and this use of such a common material lends itself quite well to public accessibility. Not only do the materials invite viewers to experience the works of art, but Doughtery himself invites viewers to be a part of the creative process.

Tom Stanley and Shaun Cassidy lending a hand
image by Gallery Up

Winthrop students help Doughtery
image by Gallery Up

The tedious task of weaving tree branches together for weeks on end is a task that Doughtery is more than willing to share. It is not simply that he wants to delegate the hard work, but rather he understands that when community members work together in the creative process, they feel that they are a part of the work of art. After people from the area work together for a few minutes or a few weeks it is no longer a sculpture some artist made and dropped off in their town….it is their sculpture.

image by Gallery Up

image by Gallery Up

This project was funded by the ACE (Artists in Civic Engagement) Projects at Winthrop University and The Arts Council of York County, The Rock Hill Old Town Association, Gallery Up and Winthrop University all partnered together to make this project come to life. This rallying of groups around one cause along with the welcome participation of artists, students, and community members embodies the idea of “community”.

All images courtesy of Gallery Up. www.galleryup.com

View all of Gallery Up's photos documenting the entire process here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/galleryup/

View more of Patrick Doughtery's work at www.stickwork.net

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

feet in sand, brain in neutral


Is that uncle Herschel and "Mamma"? Does anyone know?
It upsets me that neither of my kids like grits.


Blue has an alligator on his shoulder.


I was serious.




Cowboy Blue



Weeeeeee again

I'm squishing your head.

Gangster lean

Ice cream



Tuesday, March 16, 2010

good news/bad news

The good news:

"Lucille" won 3rd place in the Down East Sculpture Exhibition in Greenville, NC

The bad news:
I just watched Winthrop bow out of the tournament too soon.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

three musicians

My friend Ginger forced me to watch “It Might Get Loud” recently. This documentary brings together three forces of electric guitar fury into one room for a conversation and jam session while providing relevant background information along the way. The guitarists featured are Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, The Edge of U2 and Jack White of The White Stripes. These representatives of three generations of electric guitar expertise bring together a panoramic view of the electric guitar.

I do not watch tons of documentaries because generally I prefer movies that make me laugh a lot and think a little. This leaves me in no position to provide any sort of technical critique of this film as it compares to other documentaries. I can tell you that the film was visually appealing and there were even a few graphically drawn sequences that were perfect representations of verbal descriptions.

The backbone of the film, however, was simply the three musicians. The silver haired Page played the part of rock and roll royalty. He and his perfectly smooth accent and his calm demeanor gave me the first impression of a stately man who was above it all. That is until the music started. Whether it was a live guitar or an old vinyl record, when he heard the music play his face instantly became the excited and expressive face of a 17 year old boy. A simple yet completely inspiring detail of the film.

At the other end of the spectrum was the raw and untamed personality of Jack White. He is, by his own description, a man who was pushed around as a teenager and who now uses his picks and Humbuckers to do some pushing around of his own. It seems the design of the film was to present White as the picture of youthful exuberance. The excitable boy (or girl) we all used to be and maybe we’d be a tiny bit embarrassed about that youthful zeal now. But White is no punk kid. From the opening shots of the film showing him create an electric guitar in moments out of a Coke bottle and wood scraps to the final shots of him leading the threesome in an acoustic version of “The Weight” by The Band, this guy is doing what he loves and he knows his craft.

My favorite guitarist of the three was The Edge. First of all, you have to like a guy who goes by “The Edge”. I mean, anyone can have a name, but you have to earn a knick name like “The Edge”. But he was also presented as a man of substance. His love of music was also demonstrated by his face but even in the midst of the most rollicking riffs his face held the quiet awe of a man in prayer. Often his eyes were closed and more often the slightest smile would surface just to show how much fun he was having.

Even more interesting was the background information The Edge provided about the early days of U2 and the things that inspired them to form a band. He and his school aged friends gathered together because they felt hemmed in by negativity. The IRA bombs were going off every week in their neighborhood and everyone was threatening war. He said that in order to move forward they simply had to believe that there was something else for them. They thought there must be something positive they could do. He kept referring to the violence around them and saying that no one seemed to believe in respecting the importance of human life. The fact that he and his friends did have reverence for life somehow gave them the impression that if they created music that they could help change people. Perhaps it was an attempt to counteract some of the negative actions with positive actions. Art versus violence.

The Edge had a couple of other things to say that are worthy of some thought. After achieving some success and moving on to larger stages and audiences he indicated that there were moments when he questioned if he was really good enough to be the guitarist in a rock band. He had moments of self doubt when he said, “Can I do this?” Like the rest of us, with the start of each new project even The Edge wonders if he’ll be able to pull it off again.

It was his talk of the creative process that provided the most vivid illustration. I’ll paraphrase his illustration and likely ruin it, but you can rent the DVD for the full effect. He compared the creative process to driving past a managed forest. He said that as you look at the forest it appears a just a mass of tree trunks and limbs each indistinguishable from another. It appears as a confusing jumble until…just at the perfect moment….you suddenly see straight down a row and you realize that the trees are planted in rows and spaced perfect distances from one another and now the entire forest makes sense and you get it. He said that as you struggle with new ideas you feel that nothing works and nothing make sense until you keep looking and keep waiting and then finally that perfect moment happens and everything becomes clear. OK it was much better when he said it and there was a visual element to help, but I did what I could.

You can’t help but envy the talent of these three musicians. And if you watch the film be warned: you’ll want to dig out your guitar and drive your family crazy trying to remember how to play. There’s no shame in wanting to dip your toe in the stream these guys are swimming in.

Oh, and Donovan drove in from Tennessee. Here’s a great photo of him mugging while Ginger says “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo!”

Friday, March 12, 2010

enter the ninjas

The March of Dimes is a great organization. Each year they raise money and awareness in support of helping babies. In our area the March of Dimes has provided very expensive medical equipment to local hospitals to care for premature and sick babies and they work with the public to provide information and help to mothers.

Seriously…they’re great. And to you this probably means pledging some dollars or maybe even getting out and walking on a Saturday to raise money. But let me tell you what it often means for me…

Generally speaking it means that sometime between February and March someone is going to ask me to design a t-shirt for their company’s fundraising walk. They’re going to ask me to design it for free and they’re going to ask me to do it at the last possible minute.

The March of Dimes provides a theme each year and companies and groups create cute t-shirt designs based on this theme. Most often the theme is a simple image-oriented phrase and 99% of the t-shirts on the planet somehow contain the exact same image. For example, one year the theme was something along the lines of “taking ACTION for babies”. That year almost every shirt design featured a director’s clapper board with the word “ACTION” on it. (Spoiler alert: this year’s theme is “FIGHTING for babies” so prepare for the onslaught of boxing gloves images)

For the creative mind there’s no joy in taking the expected route. So each year I’ve been asked to design something – and we’re talking about high school years up to now – I’ve always tried to come up with something that went with the theme, but did not take the road more travelled. Keep in mind that the people asking for the free design are not looking for something clever or witty or especially creative. They have to wear these shirts usually and they want something cute. They want something that fits in.

I have a goofy sense of humor so you can just imagine how many awkward situations I’ve created for the requesters of these free designs. They know they are imposing on you, but it’s for a good cause and all….but this is just not the design they had in mind. So they ask you to do it again. Something cute this time. There was even this one time when the lady who imposed on me almost refused to submit the design I came up with and after I stood my ground with her she submitted it only to return to me with apologies and thanksgiving after the design won an award. But it would be petty to bring that up again, right? No really, it was a stupid design and she was right to be embarrassed about it…but it was funny, and sometimes funny wins.

So I can’t say I was surprised at all last week when an email popped up from someone wanting to know if I could design a t-shirt for their March of Dimes fundraiser really fast. Like within the hour fast. I couldn’t say no because I really like this person so the wheels began turning and within the hour I sent them a great idea. OK, not great, but a very funny idea. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, “Ninja Babies”:

And guess what? Though this person and her cohorts loved it, it was voted down in the larger organization in favor of a design with……that's right……boxing gloves.

Poetry. Sheer poetry.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

yellow and orange

"Halo 5"


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

a film and a show

"Home" is a short film featuring BenJack as the director of photography. It is a simple and beautiful film. So beautiful, in fact, that it's tough for me to believe BenJack did it. I kid, I kid.

Go to thedoorpost.com and vote for this film.

I wrestled with BenJack back in the day about putting his love of procrastination behind him. The years after he left my classes I would check on him periodically to see if he was still slacking. After seeing this film several times now and seeing some of his other video and photo work I think he may have finally kicked the habit. This is really well done. I'm proud to know him.

Other BenJack work can be found on www.benjack.net


I hate that I'm just now getting around to this, but you still have another week to go to Columbia to see this:

Josh is a hooligan, a teacher, and an artist. Go here to read a good article about Josh and the show: http://artpluscayce.blogspot.com/2010/03/artcayce-proudly-presents-josh-drews.html

And go to his website at www.joshdrews.com

Friday, March 5, 2010

the power of words

Clem Snide
The band Clem Snide released their 7th album last week. Those are the guys up there in the photo and that's Eef Barzelay on the right. I love this band and this album and you should probably go to itunes and get it right away, but that's not really the point. As I was emptying my head this week I kept coming back to thinking about some things Barzelay has said in interviews lately.
The band has switched out some members over the last 10 years and they've stopped being a band a couple of times. In the last few years Barzelay was forced to release solo albums in an attempt to keep writing songs and getting his music out to listeners. In these recent interviews he's boldly and kindly addressed those frustrations and setbacks and my Lent commitment found me respecting the way he managed to find positive things to say about people and events that most certainly held negative feelings.
But Barzelay proved even more interesting when he opened up about his honest feelings towards following his dreams of being a full time musician. In addition to being a touring musician, he has a wife, two young children and a mortgage. In other words, he has a real life to balance along with following his dream and as we all should know by now, dreams do not pay very well.
To say there's been financial and professional struggle for the band over these 10 years would be to understate things greatly. But when the microphones were turned on the the hard questions were asked, Barzelay did not give the false bravado answers of a wannabe rock star. Instead he flashed his artistry at balancing words and raw emotions in a conversational format.
When asked about the sales of their last album and how he had to think about how he was going to make his house payments he had this to say:
"So I was like "All right, I guess I'm done. I guess it's over for me.
I had to really confront that. I'd always sort of played around with that notion, but never seriously. I'd never done anything about it, or prepared for it. It was like a mid-life crisis. I'm just about to hit 40 and you get to this point in your life when it's just time to take stock and see that something has to change. And I welcome that. I embrace change. I never wanted to be too comfortable. I don't think it's good to be too comfortable in this life. Even though we all sort of strive for that, it's not the way to go. And I think life usually conspires to keep us uncomfortable sometimes, so we don't have to go out of our way to be uncomfortable. But don't be afraid of it. What's the worst thing that could happen? If we had nowhere to live, we'd have to go move into my dad's basement. I think about (stuff) like that. Or what if we had to rent a trailer on a river? It's awful, but it's also kind of thrilling if you think about it."
-from an interview with avclub.com
Barzelay didn't give up. OK, maybe he enrolled in a Nashville area community college and entertained thoughts of Early Childhood Education careers, but he quickly righted his ship and began to find ways to use his musical talents to support his family. He's written the musical scores for a few films and put together a few tours and right now he's doing alright. And how much of that moderate success comes from the fact that he looked the possibility of failure in the eye and refused to blink?
Of course this resonates with me because I'm also approaching 40 and have the wife, the 2 young children, and the mortgage. At least once a week I ask myself why I'm going to the trouble to make art and yet I can't seem to give it up.
His statement just makes me question how often I've let comfort stand in the way of progress.
Didn't Thoreau say something like, "I have learned this, at least by my experiment; that if a man moves confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."?
A beautiful line, for sure, but it took someone like Barzelay to write, "Punched in the brain, in the gut, in the tear duct too" while exploring the beauty of of the sunrise in a Walmart parking lot.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Emptying pockets

You ever come home from a trip or really busy day and empty your pockets to find several unrelated and strangely unfamiliar objects? Some of the items you've completely forgotten about in the depths of your denim carrier and others you simply can't remember why you put them there. This post might be a bit like that.

Everything has been so chaotic around here lately. It's March, for goodness sake. So what was in that blur that was the last couple of weeks?

There was a brief moment of Girl Scout Cookies. If you love sugar and chocolate as much as I do, then you know what I'm talking about. They say those cookies keep really well if you store them in the freezer. They're also really good if you eat them immediately after you receive your order. ThomasK and Mollo gave me some health and fitness advice when I received my cookies. They told me it would be best to eat all 5 boxes of cookies at once instead of trying to ration out the calories over an extended period of time. 4 boxes later and I'm thinking this was great advice.

We've had several accumulating snows this season here in the upstate. We had a small one the other day and as expected my 3 year old was excited about it. I opened the door as I heard the car pull into the garage and I could hear him yelling, "It's snowing, it's snowing, it's snowing! Daddy, can we go build another snowcar?" At his age he doesn't understand why the snow can't come every week and he gets genuinely upset that we can't go out and play in the snow when it's sunny and 50 degrees outside.

Speaking of Blue and snow....

2 weeks after our "snowcar" was built we went out to check on it. Surprisingly some of it was still there just beneath the leaves. We did our best to fashion a small snowman with the remnants Then we picked up all the sticks to save them for the next snow storm that at least one of us are convinced will come soon.

Blue Thug


Violet smiles

In the category of "Strange things artists do to exhibit their work" we have this: I drove a 10 hour round trip to Greenville, NC to deliver 2 sculptures for a show. Turns out this was much cheaper (and safer) than shipping the steel artwork. Highlight of the trip? Dodging a beaver on Highway 264. I know, some people have all the fun, right?

Of course the photo is a few miles after the beaver and I was laughing hysterically.
I did listen to an audio book by Shane Claiborne for 7 hours of that trip. This was my first try at an audio book and I found myself wanting to flip back a couple of pages every ten minutes or so to make sure my brain was digesting the information, but if you've ever tried that on your ipod, you know how difficult that is. Maybe I'll get a chance to listen to it again at some point and maybe post some of my thoughts...but I can say that it was not what I expected.
Prepare for another subject change.
If you're old enough to remember the "Live Aid" fundraising from way back you might be interested in the article I read a day or so ago. "Live Aid" was a rock music fundraiser with great intentions of helping African villages and refugees. It has been discovered that "hundreds of millions of dollars" of those charitable donations went directly to the purchase of automatic rifles. In other words, the money that was given was siphoned off by corrupt officials to fund their own military actions and ended up bringing harm to the very individuals it was intended to help.

I'm not a fan of politics and I know next to nothing about foreign policies but I couldn't help to think of the recent outpourings of financial donations to countries suffering from disasters....natural and otherwise. We are good modern Americans and we love our internet and how it allows us to click a button or dial a number and donate money to organizations without really getting our hands dirty or even bothering to find out where that money actually goes or what this organization does.

And because the good Earth seems to keep on shaking and because real people still lack food and water even before the news crews and celebrities show up and long after they lose interest and leave for better ratings....let me offer you these ideas:
Hydromissions is a local (Upstate SC) group doing great work in bringing wells and fresh water to villages. From this side of a keyboard it seems unfathomable that there are still places in the world where fresh water doesn't just magically spring forth from the kitchen and bathroom and if that registers with you....then you need to give some cash to this group.

Samaritan's Purse is a great organization lead by Franklin Graham. He's kind of a big deal. Maybe you've helped this group with shoe boxes at Christmas but you may not know that they have permanent presences in many third world countries and when natural disasters occur they know the needs because they are already there. They make sure your money actually helps.

And Rice Bowls...I grew up with our local church sending these little plastic rice bowl piggy banks home for us to fill up with change. We'd fill them up and send them back but the whole time the little bank sat on the counter it was a daily visual reminder that this money was actually going to provide food for a hungry child. Rice Bowls runs an orphanage in Haiti and survived the earthquake and immediately began doing everything they could to help. And my good friend works for them, which means I can probably hook you up with a box of empty rice bowls. Hey Brooke!

Or give to other groups on a regular basis but just make sure you do enough checking to be certain that the result matches the intention.
Ok, back to the 3 year old....Last night I got home in time to speak to him before he fell asleep. My wife had put him to bed before I got in and when I opened his door he was getting close to falling asleep. He was lying there very still and his face broadened into a grin. He asked me to lay down with him for a minute and he continued to smile as he stared up at the ceiling. After a while I asked him what he was doing. "I'm not doing anything, I'm just thinking" was his remarkably intelligent reply. But what was he thinking about? Seriously, what goes through the mind of a 3 year old? I have no memories of being 3 and I would love to know what he was contemplating in his head. Was he remembering things? Maybe recapping his day at school? Imagining amazing creatures?
Oh....and I finished a new drawing. Halo 4 is complete and I even had time to work on an old drawing a bit.

Detail of the new one. The red ink did some great bleeding over the lines.


The old one under 1/4 of an inch of clear sealant.


More thoughts later.