Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cracking reality, one accident at a time

Recently I had two accidents that offered new perceptions on previous work. Both involve painting, even though I've set that aside for now, and am focusing on the bike art displays and some 3-d experiments with polyform clay.

Some glass pieces from my clay project spilled over my old stash of not-quite-finished paintings. I'm not particularly interested in playing with the "edge" between the painting surface and 3-d reality, but when I saw these pieces on this particular painting....I re-arranged a bit, and something works, I think. Whatever it is seems related to what the painting was already doing. 

The extrapolated concept for this may acknowledge that these glass bits are usually used for decoration at weddings and other major life events... It's a thought of some sort. 

The other accident occurred as I took a selfie with an iPad, using the mirror filter. One of my large shaped abstract paintings was on the wall behind me, and I was and am still amazed by what happens when that painting is made symmetrical. It generates figures, all sorts of figures, quite readily. The slightest movement creates new figures. These remind me of religious imagery. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Prop 13-143

The movers and shakers of Indianapolis have put a lot of effort and money into the city's image. This makes the language in a new panhandling ordinance peculiar, for it limits street performance in a way that will effectively ban it in the downtown area. As currently written, Prop 143 refers to performance with no verbal request for money, as passive solicitation.  While this version does not ban such activity entirely, it places restrictions that would make it impossible to busk in most populated areas, and after 8pm. 

Many performers are miffed at being called panhandlers, and are focused on changing the proposition to exclude musicians and performers from the ban. This petition by the Indianapolis Acoustic Music group wants a re-write to allow street performance.

I understand the outrage at having one's work labeled panhandling, when it so clearly is not. But I also find it highly offensive that one's access to public areas would be determined by desirability. This seems to be the argument for re-writing the proposition, rather than stopping it. 

Real cities have a range of activity and of people. While safety can be a justifiable reason for limiting activity, this does not include banning people from public simply because they make some people uncomfortable. There are already laws regulating panhandling behavior. One cannot verbally request money or be aggressive in any way. Still, many city leaders have openly sought the removal of panhandlers from the downtown area, because it doesn't look good for the city. 

It's a no-brainer that the artists should not, and ultimately will not, be banned. So why are they specifically named in this proposition? I can't help but wonder if they are being used to do the dirty work...of drawing the line of exclusion between themselves and the panhandlers. Their demand for an exception sets up a dangerous precedent.

If the government allows performers and not panhandlers, then the government also determines what acceptably qualifies as performance (or sets up an organization to do so). By asking for an exception which distinguishes them from panhandlers, artists are inviting the government to regulate their art.

If Prop 13-143 passes with an exception for street performers, it may mark the end for authentic activity in downtown Indianapolis. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Two Nights, Two Dreams

Has this blog been dormant long enough for me to use as a private dream journal? Doesn't matter, these two dreams are share-worthy. Really, you gotta hear about this dream I had...

One dream was blatantly about death, and one was exuberantly joyful about life. Death came first, and the life dream happened the very next night. Death dream began with sharp pains in my leg (cat-claw-like). I was in bed and half-aware that it was a dream. I kept being attacked and I desperately tried to wake up. As dreamland me looked around, I saw shadows at the edges of the bed. These read as a supernatural presence and scared me. It was something I had no power to control.  I could only be afraid. I decided I would attempt to grab it, thinking nothing would be there. I reached down and was shocked and horrified when I did indeed grab and hold a limb, a leg. I quickly grabbed with my other hand, and was now engaged in battle, with something completely unknown. It was terrifying that it now existed as both a supernatural and a physical force. I held on and screamed for help, but made barely a whimper. I tried over and over, knowing I was dreaming and so I needed to try harder to scream. I tried to pull it apart, and at the same time worried I may be hurting one of my cats in non-dreamland. My eyelids raised and I saw glimpses of light. I told myself to wake up, but could not. More attempts at screaming. At some point I had two pieces of this thing, and by now it was skeletal bones. I had a leg and a skull. The thing seemed somewhat neutered, but I was still worried for my safety. The dream went on, with my trying to escape through winding passages, still carrying the bones. My fear took me deeper into an interior maze, and I knew I may not find my way back out, or if that were even possible.

The next night brought the turtle dream. I was living in a house on a small river, and was standing on the bank, telling a friend about the giant turtles that had been known to come there. This was a very rare occurrence, and possibly even just of a legend.  As I spoke a huge turtle surfaced and made an amazing booming splash with its body.  Within minutes, more turtles rose up and it became a raucous show. These are Galapagos Island sized turtles, only they are splashing around in water. There were also some giant sunfish in the mix. The sunfish were about 3 feet tall. I was simultaneously viewing this scene below the surface  - which is totally do-able  in dreamland. As spectacular as this all was, we turned to the left and another group of splashing turtles arose. They dwarfed the first group. At this point it we were delirious with joy. A little later the place became overrun with other people. Many were friends. Some were frantically trying to decide which photography gear to use. It was a great scene. I got choked up a bit, from the communal excitement over this event. I decided I really wanted to video-tape it, and I went somewhere to get my camera. As I returned, I crossed over a bridge. All around was the most bold and beautiful scene. It looked like somewhere in Canada, as there was some snow, an amazing river scene, with huge birds and swiftly moving water cascades. I taped some of that and then went back to Turtlefest.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

More Studio Turf Wars - Gallery Version

 Blythe Hager self-portrait landscape meets topiary fairie mural from 10 years ago, freshly mounted on board.

There was also a little bit of spraying action, but art was removed from the studio/gallery for that.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


My neighbor cut my front yard and so I stocked the beer fence.

Monday, March 11, 2013

While Rome Burns

I spent a good portion of the 1990s justifying my work as an artist, especially as a painter, to myself. It was a moral dilemma; a question of validity and purpose. How can I indulge something with such intangible meaning and value? Once I finally acknowledged the value of making art, it became one of the few absolutes in my life. Afterward, I rarely questioned the value/virtue in making paintings, even as cultural dictates changed. Human existence matters and so making art matters.

The continuation of human existence is quickly becoming less of a given. The most recent climate measurements and projections are dire beyond belief. And the worst-case scenarios are looking less and less speculative.

Making art is once again a dilemma. A Dr. Zhivago-like engagement in painting seems ridiculous in the face of world-wide environmental calamity. I won't make environmental art, because that's rarely an effective vehicle for change. And while making non-purposed art is no longer a personal moral uncertainty, it's impossible to do so without making some acknowledgment of broader concerns. All I really know is to acknowledge the situation.

While Rome Burns - I think I've used this post title before. I know it's in a notebook somewhere. I may begin adding an “acknowledgment” of these broader concerns to my paintings - a narrative or emblematic aside that sidecars the primary subject. Artist Randy Wyatt had his “Yellow Man” that appeared in most of his paintings. I want to make a Lane Marker scene, with a sustainable garden silhouette in the distance. Or a Shelter House image with a distant indication of a burnt forest. How would these quietly suggested addenda read in the painting? And in the broader sense? Can I do it without pandering, and does that even matter? It's an acknowledgement that does not solve anything. Again, it's all I really know to do.