Thursday, March 29, 2007

Erotica 2007, and other exhibitions

I received official word that one of my photos placed 3rd in the first juried show held at the MOCA gallery in Georgetown. Small cash prize, that is always nice.

The show is hosting a closing party tomorrow night.

The two pieces I had in the show are at the far right of this photo. The top one is the one that received 3rd place.

And while that show is coming down a new one is going up:

UNcover Erotic Art Exhibition Opens tomorrow night: March 30 & 31, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I have seven prints hanging in this show.

And mark your calendar for the great event known as Artomatic - the big Opening Night for this event (500 artists, live performances, food, drink, film, you name it they'll have it) is Friday April 13th. The show will be up for a month, and is located in Crystal City with ample parking AND close to a Metro.

FRIDAY APRIL 13th, Gallery opens to the public at 3 p.m., more information about opening night special festivities will be posted as they are announced.

April 13–May 20, 2007
2121 Crystal Drive, Arlington, Va.
Metro stop: Crystal City
Free admission. Donations accepted

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The sorry state of art education

I suffer from this affliction - slight brain damage if you will - where I go through life thinking that everyone else thinks and feels pretty much the same way I do. And then when confronted with Reality it's usually shocking. I forget that people are coming at things with different attitudes and ideas.

There are big things like the whole George Bush debacle (which I still can't wrap my head around) to little things (you actually watch American Idol? and like it??) on which I made my opinion and moved on. (In this case they are both crap. Not the point. Anyways...)

I'm a very surface person. Shallow if you will - it's one of my faults and I recognize it. I run through life at 100 miles an hour and I don't take the time to go any deeper into things. If it doesn't catch my eye I'll just dismiss it and move on.

I can do it, I can find something more to say about a subject other than "it's crap" or "I don't like it" - I just have to stop and make myself. It takes time and energy but I'm almost always rewarded with a much more robust experience when I do.

I like people having different opinions because this makes me stop and think. Not only to go back and study something I had passed by but also to try new things that never would have occurred to me on my own. It makes me question things, it makes me think. Different is a good thing, I like it. (George Bush notwithstanding.)

And I LOVE it with art. Love love LOVE it. I love all the different opinions. I love that every person brings their own perspective into the mix when dealing with art - either making it or just viewing it. My own personal view at first seems so limited but if I take time to study and question a piece it becomes so much more. Then hearing someone else's take on the same piece and it can become even greater. You have to invest the time and energy into looking deeper, and looking from different perspectives but - wow, when you do it can be great.

Which makes me love museums like the Hirshhorn and the East Wing of the National Gallery. I could spend days in each going from room to room just feeling the art (theoretically of course, the guards get a little testy if you start manhandling the artwork). It's like I can feel my brain expanding and my daily view isn't just this "blinders on/head down/get through the day" because it reminds me to stop and look deeper and see the Big Picture, and look outside of my own little world.

The reason behind all of this is that I was downtown today with my daughter's 6th grade class chaperoning their field trip to the Hirshhorn and the American Indian Museum. Now, my daughter goes to a GT school in Fairfax County = Gifted and Talented in one of the highest income areas in the United States. So smart kids from families that probably are well off - upper middle class.

Only one child had ever been to the Hirshhorn before. My daughter.

(My god, my kids have been with me to so many exhibits and so many museums... sometimes because I wanted them to see the art, other times because I wanted to see it, and sometimes because it was for a class and I had to go see it. They don't always like it but at least they are exposed to it. Sometimes they even teach me about Art - the Dan Flavin exhibit I expected to hate but my kids showed me so many different ways of looking at and experiencing his work that I came out with newfound respect for the man.)

That my daughter was the only kid that had been inside the Hirshhorn started the head assploding. Hearing her teacher comment that he didn't like this kind of art, it's "Weird", and making faces with "I don't get it" made it so much worse.

(Look - I know it's weird to you. If you are used to "Art" being the Monet shower curtain in your bathroom or the Van Gogh mouse pad on your desk then yeah, some of the works you see at the Hirshhorn are going to be pretty strange and different. But if you just listen to the guide and think about what she is saying you might find that you see something other than "weird" and maybe understand the piece a little. Maybe even think of it as "Art." You probably still won't like it but that's okay. But don't reject it.)

I have to take a deep breath (and do a little counting) everytime I'm with someone that dismisses the entire art movement after say - oh, World War I. I don't get into it with them, I don't let them see that I'm screaming inside, I just try to briefly explain why this art is "Art", and why it is important, and maybe a little background about it. In they "Hey, it is more than that, it *is* important, and if you took some time you might see something" way.

What I'd really like to say is something along the lines of "This is my shrine. These walls and these works are sacred to me and while I don't pretend to understand all the meanings behind them don't disrespect me or this museum with narrow minded comments. The fact that I am an artist, have studied it for years and went to art school should give me a little credibility when I say that there is more to this than meets the eye. And no, you couldn't have created that piece that is up on the wall or else you would have. And just because you think it's simple or easy and anyone could have done it... well, anyone didn't. That artist did. "

(though that's probably too nice. There would be a "you have Got to be FUCKING kidding me" in there somewhere. But I try not to say that sorta thing outloud, it doesn't really further the conversation.)

Now all of this is coming from someone that has the exact same fault with other things - I give it a quick look and move on. Maybe that is why it bothers me so much. Maybe because the arts is one place where I do devote the time and energy, that this is something that is important to me it makes me a little crazy to hear someone else dismiss it. I'm hit with a double whammy: People not having the same beliefs as myself (Art is important) and people going with their surface reaction and not digging any deeper to find meaning.

Kids should have Art and see Art and make Art, and it just disgusts me that we live in the Washington DC area with access to so many museums and people don't take advantage of it. I can explain my in-laws and their generation's negative reaction to Modern and Contemporary Art because they never had any education in it. But it is just unthinkable to me that kids today aren't getting an art education, they aren't going to art museums, and they don't even know how to behave in a museum.* There is no excuse. Art is in everything we do, it is part of our daily lives, it is such a huge part of history... it tells so much, why isn't this IMPORTANT TO EVERYBODY?

And I come home with a headache and a vow to take the kids to another exhibit very soon.

* I'm sure the kids in my daughters class are saying things to her like "You're mom's a bitch!" because I was doing some serious smackdown at the museum. Respect the art. Respect the museum. I don't care if *you* don't like it but there are other people around here that are interested in it and want to see it. Kids were yelling, running, wandering off, whining - and the most inexcusable crime of touching the art work. *sigh* I know, it's a field trip and kids act up when they are outside the confines of their classroom but come on, simple manners, please. Do people not take their kids to museums? Do people not know that you don't walk up and put your hands on paintings or lean up against sculptures? Oy Vey. Why do I have to explain this to a group of 12-year olds?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

SXSW recap

The Dansettes with the Pancake Mountain crew  
Austin and SXSW was fun and exhausting - but I figured as much. I'm glad we went - we met a lot of bands and got a lot of good tape (interviews were great, covering bands in the clubs probably not as good due to less than stellar lighting) and probably enough material for a new DVD just on SXSW. But if we did it again I'd suggest spacing out the tapings. Some days we had our first one scheduled for 10 a.m. and our last one at 1 a.m. Needless to say we never made the 1 a.m. shoots. We either need to schedule a couple hours in the middle of the day for naps or hook each of us up to an intravenous caffeine drip in order to still be going in the wee hours of the morn. We're old. We get tired. And even with Red Bull it's hard to make it to midnight when working all day.
SXSW 2007

SXSW is just a crazy scene with so many people and so many bands playing everywhere at once. It was serious sensory overload. Every club on 6th street had bands playing all day long - as well as the parking lots and the rooftops and pretty much any open space large enough for a drumset and a couple of amps. Toss in the added mêlée of St Patrick's Day and by Saturday night it was crazy chaos on 6th street.

SXSW 2007 SXSW 2007

I only briefly glanced over the schedule of the bands and panels - I had our own schedule and band bios to concentrate on. Plus the couple of people I was interested in seeing (Robyn Hitchcock, Jello Biafra) were performing at the same time we were scheduled to be across town taping other bands. I have seen both of them before so it would have been nice but it wasn't a big deal that I didn't get to see them at SXSW.

SXSW 2007
Didn't even try to attend the big headliners - even with press credentials and our orange wristbands ("I'm with the band") if you didn't stake out your spot at the club early enough you just weren't getting in. We've interviewed the Buzzcocks this summer, and we covered The Who at the Virgin Music Fest - seeing the Stooges would have been cool but there was absolutely no way we were getting into that show. Us and the rest of the thousands of attendees had that on their wish list.

The Emeralds

We were working the event so it had a different feel from if we were just attending as a regular music lover. This was all business. Which meant no drinking (not like that's an issue for me) and hauling a few thousand dollars of gear around town on our backs as we went club to club. (Word to the wise: when walking with 40lbs on your back 6th street is a very long street. Gym visits were not missed.) And somehow I ended up being the designated driver - by Friday I had the streets of Austin down pat.

SXSW 2007

If I was younger - and I drank beer - and had the week to stay up all night and mornings to recover - then SXSW would be a goldmine of music and bands. But I think for people working the event - from press to the bands - it's really exhausting. I was very surprised to find out that most of the bands we met had these crazy schedules of multiple performances every day on top of all the scheduled interviews and meet&greets. Hardly time to sneak in some good BBQ and boot shopping between gigs.

Austin didn't want to let me go. Flights out Sunday were completely booked as the population of SXSW headed back home so I had to stay an extra night. Then my Monday morning flight was delayed - 10 hours - so I spent the entire day in the Austin airport with the other 80+ people from my flight trying to get on any other flight out of town. Which meant I got a lot of people watching in, ran into someone I went to college with that was in town covering the event for AOL (how's that for irony) and read ALL my books before I even got on a plane. It took my bags an extra day to find me but by Wednesday both me and my gear were home.

We saw these bands perform:
  • The Dansettes
  • Persephone's Bees
  • Daniel Johnston
  • Midnight Movies
  • Old Time Relijun
  • Northern State
We interviewed:
  • The Thunderbirds Are Now
  • The Victorian English Gentlemens Club
  • The Dansettes
  • Menomena
  • Annuals
  • Northern State
  • Chin Up Chin Up
  • Sara Wasserman
  • Aesop Rock
  • The Emeralds
  • The Watson Twins
  • The Palm School Choir
  • The Detroit Cobras
Due to schedule conflicts and various issues we missed out on meeting:
  • Dengue Fever
  • Genghis Tron
  • Oxford Collapse
  • Asobi Seksui
but hopefully can catch up with them when they hit the DC area.

We saw quite a few other bands playing before and after the sets we were scheduled to tape - but, again, being in work mode means that if they weren't on my list I wasn't paying attention.

Met Seymour Stein (President of Sire Records and Rock Legend), and Hillary Clinton on top of all the bands - bonus! And hanging out at the Four Seasons all day while they hosted a BMI party wasn't too shabby.

Wish we could have made it to Japan Night at the Elysium Club - and to the Watson Twins performance at the church. I think it was good that we managed to get as much in as we did.

I wish my shots from the live performances were better, the clubs were so dark I just wasn't happy with what I was getting even with 1.8 and 1600. The standard "no flash" and "photos only for the first three songs" was completely thrown out the window as was the "no photography without a press pass" as everyone and his brother had their cameras and cell phones out taking photos throughout every show I attended. But flash didn't really help = glad we had the studio interviews so a more controlled lighting environment.
SXSW 2007
I got some fine food at Huts Hamburgers, and I did see some bats on the morning I was trying to leave (up before dawn). We joked about getting matching Ace of Spades tattoos in honor of Motorhead and the abundance of tattoo parlors in Austin but we never followed through on that. (Probably a wise move.) And despite making note of the numerous Bail Bondsmen around town we (thankfully) never had need for their services.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


Today I finished matting and framing my prints for the UNcover Exhibition and spent a long time getting them packaged for shipping. After investing all that time and money into making the prints I didn't want them to be damaged in transit.

Plus any that don't sell will be shipped back to me and I need to include enough supplies to insure that they also survive the return trip.

(I've had work damaged by galleries before. After I received my work back from one show I just threw away the frames - the prints were fine but the frames were so banged and scratched up that I couldn't use them again. That's not fun and I don't like wasting money like that.)

I've never sent so many prints out of state before - they are seven in this show - and while I'm really honored to have so many on display I'm still in shock over the shipping fees.

(Extra-large, heavy boxes - fragile - that require crazy insurance coverage. On top of all that you have to pre-pay return shipping in case the pieces aren't sold. At least UPS said they'd refund it if not used.)

This teaches me two things:

1) Stop submitting work to out of state shows unless I ...
2) Start working a lot smaller.

Those 18x24 pieces are BIG and REALLY HEAVY and while I really like the huge prints they just are eating me up budget-wise.

Ouch. I always forget to add shipping into the "how much to charge for your work" equation. Won't make that mistake again.

Anyway, hopefully it will be a good show, I'm looking forward to seeing photos from the event, it sounds like it will be fun.

UNcover entries Tracy Lee

Excuse the glare, you get the basic idea.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


Cleaned off all the studio equipment and started taking some photos today. More this afternoon. And tonight. And hopefully tomorrow.

Monday, March 5, 2007

All Access, Baby!

Press pass confirmation this morning, and airplane tickets purchased about two minutes ago.

YEAH! I'm going to SXSW!

Nothing like a little last-minute travel. This is going to be FUN!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Lunar Eclipse?

I bundled up the kids and we trekked over to the highest spot in our neighborhood - the roof of the parking garage at the college.

And we watched the sun set. And waited for the red moon while the wind picked up.

And watched the clock. And the clouds.

Suffice it to say I have no photos from the eclipse last night, even going out later that night I couldn't see the moon or a single star.

Try again in August.

Scissor Sisters

Tonight at the 9:30 Club. We "interviewed" them and they did a little karaoke with Rufus.

Sister Scissors being interviewed by Rufus Leaking

Pancake Mountain  - more photos