Thursday, August 31, 2006

Non-Stop Action.

On Wednesday, stopped at the Columbia Museum of Art before heading out of town. Serendipitous, it turns out, as there was an exhibition there entitled Perfect Likeness: European and American Portrait Miniatures from the Cincinnati Art Museum. Most of the portable portraits were watercolor on ivory or watercolor on vellum, but the versos of these locket-enclosed paintings held hair plaitings under glass. As I made my way through the exhibition, these momentos became more elaborate, until the exhibition evolved into a presentation of Victorian hair jewelry, which mostly left me cold. I was held in awe by the technique, but the jewelry had a kind of sterility, looking like the hair was just a convenient medium like any other (indeed, by this time, they were importing tons of hair just to make these things). In contrast, the grand finale, a large wreath made of hair, wire, and beads, was gorgeous and creepy.

I went through the permanent collection as I often do, in a swift, scavenger-like manner, looking only for things that might feed my current projects or my lifelong obsessions. I did pause for quite a while in a small back gallery to spend time with "Curator's Choice: Baby Series by Addison Will". The exhibition was composed of a series of photographic self-portraits of the male artist surrounded by typical pre- and post-baby activity, looking bewildered, lost, overwhelmed and sometime terrified. Humorous and touching, the images were accessible enough that they would make a great coffee table book for an expectant father.

So, Radley has taken to getting an upset stomach when his Mom goes out of town lately, but this time it was really serious. While I as driving back to Burlington, Kevin was taking him to the vet's where they determined he had a pretty serious bacteria problem. I picked him up on my way back into town, and he was all doped up and sad. I have been throwing pills down his throat every few hours since then. This afternoon, he's starting to act a little more normal. I meanwhile, am tearing the house apart looking for the shoebox containing my 2004 receipts, as I am under "examination" by the IRS. I have found the shoeboxes for every year but the one that they are interested in. Knowing that the IRS loves to audit artists, I have always been scrupulous in my recordkeeping, but knowing where everything is in our only-three-quarters-unpacked house is another story.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

This morning I am in a hotel in Columbia, SC. The show at the McMaster Gallery looks great. The panel discussion was fun, there were only three of us on the panel, mostly answering questions about beauty and social responsibility (the world is so f*cked up, don't you feel an obligation to make work about it?) in contemporary painting. At one point, they asked us to define the concept of beauty in relationship to our own work. I responded that, for me, beauty is vulnerability, that thing we all share that connects us as humans. Sara Frankel agreed, and then told this beautiful story about one night when her daughter was in the tub, while she was in another room. Sara kept calling out to her daughter, checking to see that she was ok, because her daughter was afraid of the water, and did not like getting her head wet. At one point, her daughter didn’t answer. She ran into the bathroom to find her young daughter asleep in the tub, floating on her back. She was overcome with the beauty of the image, and the simultaneous terror that she could have rolled over and drowned... that moment I have heard so many artist parents talk about, when they are frozen, and do not know whether to respond first as an artist or a parent. It inspired her new gorgeous body of work.

It was great to meet Jim Barsness, we had lots to talk about since he has been at UGA (my alma mater) for the past 7 years. The work he showed here was overtly Anti-Bush, and I could have looked at them for hours, there was so much in there.

I am off to breakfast, then going to hit the museum on my way out of town. Radley has been sick and hasn’t kept any food down since I left. Poor Kevin has been doing nothing but mopping floors in my absence.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Exhibition at USC tomorrow...

Well, I am back home... for about 12 hours. Then it is off to USC Columbia to open the painting invitational exhibition, Emblematic. There will be a discussion panel at 4, followed by a reception for the exhibition from 5-7. I am excited... the panel questions sounded provocative and will be fun to discuss, and I will be on the panel with Jim Barsness, whose work I have admired for a long time. One of the other painters featured in the exhibition is Scott Belville, who was my major professor in grad school at UGA. The full details of the exhibition along with some images can be found here.

Friday afternoon, Kevin was free, and we went to the Smithsonian where we saw the William Wegman show (worth seeing... I love his early videos even though there are a few clunkers mixed in with the good stuff). It made me miss Radley, of course. We saw the National Portrait Competition, which was pretty much straight realism, portraiture in the most narrow sense of the word, but some good painting... I really liked the winning piece (see link above).

Saturday morning I went to the Textile Museum. The exhibition was not that interesting, but then I went to the library!!! I could have spent a week there, and I will be going back soon to do just that. Kevin's Immunology Conference wrapped up by Saturday afternoon. Our hotel was right near Freedom Plaza, so we went to a French restaurant called Les Halles nearby, and it was fantastic!!! I got mussels with a saffron cream sauce which was very good, but Kevin's was to die for... leg of duck with pommes frites, and the potatoes were peppered with truffle bits, it was amazing, and my generous husband split his meal with me in exchange for some mussels because I was drooling over his plate. We then went to the National Gallery. We had been there a few months ago, but Saturday, I had a mission... I was researching Assumption of Mary paintings (they have at least 5 in the ballpark of the period I am looking for) for my next painting.
I photographed a number of details from the paintings, looked for postcard reproductions (no luck) and decided that I would NOT buy the $60 "Mary in the History of Western Art" book for one reproduction that I may or may not use. I have not yet gone to the Vatican website, and my friend Nora, who is an Art Historian, told me that Art Resource is the ticket, so I will be all over that upon my return from SC.

Saturday night we went to Adams Morgan, and had dinner at a great New Orleans Restaurant, and then went to Madam's Organ to see some blues. The music was fantastic, and it was strange to see so many 20 somethings listening to blues... we are so used to seeing old farts like ourselves. I have never seen so many dusty taxidermied critters in one place (not referring to us here, but to REAL stuffed animals). Sunday morning we met up with my friends Hoa and Tendai... I have not seen them in 5 or 6 years... we met them at the Eastern Market area where we had brunch (how I miss sophisticated, laid-back Sunday brunch!!), then walked through the market, where I scored 3 great vintage pieces (2 velvet dresses and a skirt) for $3 each! The woman who was selling them had not yet priced them and was deeply engrossed in conversation, so her husband got disgusted and put up a "$3 each" sign on the lot of them, and I just grabbed and bought before he was found out.

We went to the Air & Space Museum, where I made Kevin see the Fighter Jet IMAX movie. It was a bit of a disappointment, too much practice in blowing things up and not enough fast flying. During the few passages where we were going 300 mph through the clouds and away from the earth at a 90° angle, my eyes welled up, I love flying SO much! Sunday evening, we had dinner at my friend Nora's house, where I got to see a painting I gave to her that I haven't seen in 10 years. It was a great trip, now I must sleep, I am ready to pass out. xo K

Friday, August 25, 2006

I am in Washington, DC. Today went to the Renwick Gallery and The National Museum of Women in the Arts, The Smithsonian and the National Portrait Gallery. Saw a great piece by Larry Fuente (little things glued onto big things, I can never get enough...)
and a piece made entirely of burrs (too mesmerized to remember the name)
at the Renwick, and spent quite a while with the work of Chakaia Booker at the Women's Museum (detail below).
The textures were just amazing. I think that being surrounded by all the flat images we see every day creates hunger for the tactile and handmade. I am so psyched to start a new large painting upon my return, but I have to say that when I go looking at other people's work these days, folk art, fiber work, and obsessive sculpture is what commands my attention and feeds me. I need something to grab on to.

I really think that careerism does artists a disservice. Life is too short to keep making the same thing over and over again so that so you can become a "recognizable brand". Demand that your audience keep up, give them help if they need it, to find the thread in your work, and make what your hands want to make.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A Thankless Job...
filling in the blacks, that is. One of the down sides of not teaching is that I cannot hire a poor but meticulous student to help me fill in the blacks. I am off to Washington soon to do some research for my next painting (the National Gallery has quite a few Assumption of Mary paintings on permanent display), look at some galleries, etc. During my 5 hour Amtrak ride, I will be honing the master mailing list for the big mailing. I think I'm quite organized, especially compared to most of the artists I know, but one of my biggest challenges is having back-to-back trips. If I go to an art fair, and come back with a shopping bag full of business cards, magazines, and postcards that contain contact names and addresses, but I have another trip coming up within a few days, the shopping bag may sit for 6 months before I get around to adding the names to my mailing list. Usually there are a few that I want to send packets to right away, and I pull them out and do them after the second trip, but the rest sit around and wait. So tonight, I have sorted through the business cards with little notes on them ("fiber" or "painting", some with stars because the work is really cool, some say "NOW" in caps) that I had in my Art Basel bag.... that's beginning of December 2005. Today got about 3-4 hours of embroidery done before I had to start running errands and packing. Full-time artist my @#!.
I have found this to share with you... Fine Art Adoption Network is a website connecting artists with collectors... someone "adopts" your work. From the first page:

"Welcome to the Fine Art Adoption Network (FAAN). FAAN functions as an online posting board for artwork and as a network for artists and potential collectors. Feel free to browse these pages to view contemporary art. All of the artwork on view is available for adoption.

The goals of FAAN are to place artworks by committed artists into homes and institutions and to engage people who may never have thought of themselves as art collectors. By putting more art into more homes, we hope to increase and diversify the population of art owners, re-imagining the ways in which art can be experienced and shared.

As a website catalyzing the exchange of art for trust, FAAN is based on a gift economy between an artist, who generously gives their artwork, and an individual who commits to own and care for the artwork."

Better than having things take up space in your studio where no one will see them. Love the idea of art as gift and artist as gift giver. Could the artist put a stipulation that the work must be prominantly displayed and the "caretakers" must have at least 10 dinner parties a year? If the right collector asked, I am sure there are many artists who would give them a gift to be in their collection. But does this undercut the value of our work?

Must sleep... must be up in 3.5 hours to catch my train. Will blog from the road.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

ça continue........

head in the hair clouds these days... trying to wrap this up!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Children as Art Slaves....

Well, the past week, blogging has been thin, as we have had a 9 year old niece and a 12 year old nephew in residence from Sunday to Sunday. All you parents out there have my complete respect, as this past week's existance has been unlike anything I have ever experienced. Those of you with boys get extra points, in my opinion, for dealing with the vocabulary of various explosion noises and singing questionable lyrics out loud along with the MP3 player during every road trip (I think that it's fair to say that I spent the entire week maintaining a constant level of 400 mg of ibuprofen in my bloodstream).

Children are not foreign to me: I helped to raise some of my youngest siblings. At 18, I was a nanny to a 5 month old baby whose mother asked me to go to the market each day for fresh produce and 3 oz of protein to make into homemade baby food, as well as taking care of Francois' siblings, a 5 year old boy and 8 year old girl who went to a "school for delicate children" in Paris. But that was only an 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. gig (AND I have spent most days of the past 20 years since on my own schedule).

This past week, I found myself waking up at 7, thinking that I had a few minutes to myself while feeding the animals, and then I would hear the first stirrings of children: the day began there, and did not end until 11 each evening. It is incredible to me that many parents spend every day of their lives this way. I loved having them here, but it was a wake up to the realities of parenting. I snuck away and left them with Kevin to get a few deadline mailings out, and I think I put in about 4 hours of hair embroidery all week long.

Not only are these kids incredibly sweet and lovable, but they are going through a really rough time in their lives, so we decided ahead of time we were going to spoil them. We did a day at the water park, where I had lots of questions for my immunologist husband on the trip back about what it might mean to have 800 people at a time in a giant wave pool. (Chlorine is our friend...). We spent 3 days at the beach on the outer banks, were they had to be slathered with sunscreen from head to toe, and my nephew developed rashes from his swimsuit and had to go back 10 minutes after we had lugged all the stuff to the beach and set up all the chairs, towels, and umbrellas. I took them to the zoo, we played countless games of Uno, went mini-golfing, saw several movies, rented many more (The Mean Girls was played 4x on our DVD player this week).

As these children have limited culinary experience, Kevin and I had decided to make an effort to expand their horizons. We made peach ice cream and strawberry ice cream. I made their Mema's special spaghetti sauce (their Mema passed away last October). We made our own pizzas one night, and they both ate the carmelized onions with Gorgonzola version! My nephew even had 2 pieces, but, the next day, when served an omlette with onions and cheese, he declared that he could not eat it because he did not like onions. There was no reasoning in this and similar equations: sometimes his braces hurt and he could not eat eggs, but had no problem with crisp french fries and crunchy chicken strips. He liked hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese, but not macaroni and cheese WITH hot dogs.

We made a major breakthrough when they grimaced watching Kevin and I gleefully eat pounds of steamed crab at the beach. My niece was intrigued enough that very evening to try one bite, and she decided that she really liked it, so when we returned, we did a big crab night at home, with shrimp cocktail for the nephew, because he did NOT like crab. Well, once he tried it, he decided he could not get enough of it, and the shrimp did not get touched. One morning, I made him toast, and announced, "ok, we have cherry preserves, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, fig like fig newtons, apricot, peach, and rose... (come to the artist's B&B... we do breakfast right!)... which one do you want for your toast?"
"Um, do you have REGULAR?"
"What's regular?", I asked, truly not knowing the answer.
"uh, no...sorry.", I answered, feeling woefully inadequate for having children in my house without having REGULAR jelly.

When they got here, my nephew had pinkeye and needed eye drops 4x a day. He had caught it from his sister, and, as he recovered, he gave it back to her before week's end. Every time we left the house to go somewhere, we yelled out, "who has the drops...?" One of the highlights for me was "the project": my niece and I spent several hours one rainy morning gluing small mirrors to pieces of string, only to hang them in the yard on one of our smaller trees,
When she got all weepy saying goodbye this morning, I told her that she had to hurry back, as we have many more trees to do....

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

All the Jobs I Have Ever Had ("Shit" or otherwise.....)

BABYSITTER - from age 12 on

"PAPERPERSON" - also from age 12 0n....back when you had to do "the fold and toss"... no plastic bag wussy stuff

SECRETARIAL ASSISTANT at St. Patrick's Rectory - answer the phones and count the offering $$

MCDONALD'S (in my high school jr. & senior years-hardest job I ever had-the Hell's Angels were the most polite customers)

PORTRAITS FOR COMMISSION (also did this during high school while working at Mickey D's-had a booth at those outdoor Art Fairs-even back then I did a lot of detail, and grossly underquoted.... I believe that I sometimes made as little as $1 per hour)

AU PAIR/NANNY - (when I was 18...for the grandchildren of a former prime minister of finance under Giscard D'Estaing- they treated me like family- a great gig)

SUPERMARKET CASHIER (lasted 2 weeks-could not hack it-all the pungent drooling homeless people counting out their pennies to buy malt liquor, parents buying crap food for their kids with WIC checks, women loaded down with diamonds and gold complaining about 2 cent price differences)

BOARDMAN'S CATALOG SHOWROOM (take the order, scale 4-5 stories in the storeroom like a monkey [SO fun!!!], grab the appliance and throw the box down to someone waiting below). All the other girls (the ones who measured their worth by the number of gold chains they had received from their boyfriends) worked at the jewelry counter out front. Working in the back with the guys was a blast.

SALESPERSON/GREETER at The Limited - again, only a 2-3 week job. I did not possess the talent for fake smiling while I said, "Hi! How are you?! Our sweaters are 20% off today!"

PROFESSIONAL FRAMER in Deck the Walls at the Mall (30 hours a week while carrying a full course load at SUNY B... bus to class in the morning, ride my bike or a bus to the Mall a few miles away at 5, back to school at 10:30 pm to paint until I couldn't stay awake, bike or bus back home to sleep, sometimes paint all night or crash in the studio. repeat)

TEACHING ASSISTANT- (painting department - SUNY B... got in trouble because someone told the administration that I was teaching the class while the professor read the paper in his office or never bothered to show up at all)

TAUGHT STAINED GLASS - not for credit at SUNY B

REAL ESTATE - got my license and tried to help my Dad start up his business. Lasted about 2 months. This marks the moment I realized that I never wanted to sell anything to anyone again for as long as I lived.

CAMERA/PHOTO PROCESSING store (employees really DO make extra copies of those interesting photos)

ART DIRECTOR at an ad agency- (small agency... layout, paste-up, drew lots of sneakers and athletic clothes for Dick's Clothing and Sporting Goods back when they only had a few stores, wrote radio spots, handled some clients... worked up to 70 hours a week for a pittance salary, my ads won some awards after I left, they never told me. Job made me physically ill from stress. Left this job to go back to grad school.)

COMPUTER LAYOUT - catalogs for Gaylord Bros., one of the largest library suppliers in the world.

HABERSHAM PLANTATION - got paid a few hundred dollars per piece to paint Monet scenes on the fronts of pine armoires, which they then sold for 4-5 thousand dollars.

SOME TEMP WORK- handing out samples at Costco (getting me through the summers in grad school)

TEACHING ASSISTANT, University of Georgia

RESTORATION ASSISTANT to James Swope Fine Art Conservation (restored a huge mural in a theater on UGA campus)



Tuesday, August 15, 2006

3 Days off....

Picked up a niece & nephew at the Raleigh airport Sunday, making our way to the Outer Banks for a few days. 8 and 12, sweetest kids in the world, but rental kids are good birth control. The hotel did not have internet service because something was hit by lightening (?), so I apologize for the blog lag. Here is the most recent embroidery shot:

Friday, August 11, 2006

What ever possessed me....?

I have no idea whether this is a common occurrence with my fellow artists, but, at least with the hair embroideries, I often reach a point in the piece where I have no idea whatsoever why I have chosen to undertake this tedious, frustrating activity which will require 200-300 woman hours to complete. Sewing as penance? At this moment, taking a break from being hunched over my sewing table, I am seriously questioning my own sanity.

I normally intersperse this activity with painting, doing no more than 3 or 4 hairs before I stop to do something else, but I am trying to finish this piece in the next few days. I do not know how many more of these hair embroideries I have in me. I am SO excited to begin my new painting!!

Hair Embroidery Statistics:
-Average length of hair: 20 inches
-Number of hairs per hour: 3-4
-Average number of times ONE hair slips out of the needle and needs rethreading: 4
-Average breakage of hair while working: 1 in 4 blond hairs, 1 in 9 for darker shades

Things that you might not know about embroidering with hair:
-It expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity: therefore, it will buckle and pucker the fabric, even when used with stabilizer.
-I am using mostly straight hair, which wants to stay straight, making it much more difficult to tie knots with
-Hair is often thicker at one end than the other, which affects value in the embroidery.
-One strand of hair can have as many as 3 distinct values along the length, requiring careful planning as to where these value changes take place in your embroidery. For example, the vertical lines right above the horizon, below, are all one hair from laft to right. The ones on the left were deemed too dark, and were eventually cut out, both short ends tied off (ARRGGHH), and a new hair was used to replace it.

Work in Progress, Oubliette I, (click to enlarge)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Art World Phone Book...

I remember how excited I was when I found an apartment, moved out on my own, and saw my name in the phone pook for the very first time. "I'm a person!", I thought, "I exist!". I felt that way again when I saw my name in the Annual Art in America Guide for the first time. That was several years ago, and every August since then, my heart skips a little beat when the newest guide makes its appearance in my mailbox. I have only been in it twice. This year, even having a gallery in Miami showing my stuff, I am invisible.
Like your work, which does not really exist until it has been recorded in slide or digital form, you do not exist as an artist unless you have a presence in whatever source is being used to look you up. This fact is leading me to craft a long essay on ambition, and what that means in the art world, as opposed to other professions. But it has to be crafted while I work, because I have a deadline.

I lined my worksurface with tracing paper to keep the embroidery clean, but it has started doubling as a place to jot things down as I work. So, back to it...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

August 9, 2006

Monday, August 07, 2006

Just Another Burlington Evening...

It is about 7pm in a suburban North Carolina town. The sun is setting. There is a faint sound of baby birds chirping from the nest in the chimney. It is Kate's night to make dinner, so she is in the kitchen chopping. Her husband, Kevin, is lying on the couch in the den, surfing the web trying to help find an essential item for Kate's next artwork. Radley, the boxer, is asleep on the rug next to the couch.

Kevin: What's for dinner?

Kate: It's a surprise....

Kevin: Ok. How big does it have to be?

Kate: You know, large... fat.

Kevin: Does it have to have orifices?

Kate: I'd prefer that she didn't. It's probably cheaper to get one without, anyway. Do you want wine?

Kate: ...besides, late at night, some lonely museum preparator might be tempted, if she had openings.

Kevin: Does she need to have feet?

Kate: No.

Kevin: Good, cause most of them don't... so they don't run away, I guess. Fatty Patty Love Doll, Big Bertha Love Doll, Fat Ass Doll...

Kate: The cheapest one. They are probably pretty expensive, aren't they?.....

Kevin: Did you know that you can buy inflatable sheep? and cows? 'Talking Sheep, on sale for $25.99. Blow up sheep with action-activated sound. Press the noise box and you get the sound of a lamb in love! White. One hole.'

Kate: Gross. Do you want water, too?

Kevin: Yeah... Here's one for thirty dollars. No orifices. She has a photo silkscreen of some real person's face on her... and a bikini! No nipples.

Kate: Let me see..... (comes into the den to look) That's perfect, sweetie... can you email me the link? Oh, and... dinner!

Kevin: Yippee! Here I come..... Another research dilemma solved! (he jumps up from the couch, puts down his laptop, and enters the kitchen)

I really do need an extra large blowup doll, not to exhibit (SO residual feminist 1980's art...), but to have as a lightweight, reusable collapsible dress form for my next Psychological Clothing piece. They make inflatable dress forms, but not large ones. I have a fun job.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Art News, Life, and Assorted Ice Creams...

So there is a guy serving 3 life sentences in solitary confinement who has been doing paintings using the dye from M&M's. He paints on postcards with a brush he created with plastic wrap, foil and his own hair. He makes paint by leaching the colors from M&M’s into little plastic grape jelly containers. Not very archival. But very "Art School Confidential", as this guy has been written up in the New York Times twice.

Donny Johnson, in a 1985 photograph taken at San Quentin.

Audio Slide Show: Painting in Solitary

Mr. Johnson’s work has been on display for several weeks at a gallery in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where twenty of his paintings have been sold, for $500 each. He donated the paintings to the Pelican Bay Prison Project, a charity which says it will honor Mr. Johnson’s wish that it use the proceeds from the show to help the children of prisoners. The jail has stopped him from mailing out his art, as he has committed a violation by engaging in a business or profession without the warden’s permission.

The following is old news, but fun, and relevant to our previous posts of competitions for "best artist"... P.S. 1 held an "Iron Artist" competition, based on the Food Network's "Iron Chef" competitions. According to the P.S. 1 website, "The competition consists of two duels, each 45 minutes in length. Using materials and tools provided at P.S.1, the opponents in each duel will create artwork in response to a theme revealed to them on the spot. Running commentary will be provided by a panel of judges, roving commentators, and prominent New York art critics." 45 minutes in length. Yours truly could probably not cut the mustard. Reminds me of the time I was sitting in a doctor's office and happened to catch "the World's Fastest Painter" on a talk show. *Sigh.* Cabinet Magazine posted some great play-by-play images of the event.

Finally, artist Jill Greenberg, a woman after my own heart, has a show up at Paul Kopeiking Gallery in Los Angeles: I wish I could own some of these gorgeously lit photos of children crying... to me, seeing these silent images without the accompanying shrieks makes me think about photography in a different way than I ever have before. The Guardian reports that people are outraged at her tactic of giving the child lollipops, only to take them away for a minute while she photographs them: her critics are saying that this amounts to child abuse. I'm sure these kids will never remember having a lollipop taken away for a minute when they were 2.

I remember agonizing over the ethical dilemma inherent in my Crying Men paintings. Actors? no, too artificial. Insane asylum, bar at 3 a.m.? too exploitive. So the camera was set up in front of my volunteer models, and I left the room, telling them, "I will be in the next room, reading. Call me when you have a good cry going. If you can't do it, that's fine too."
I remember wanting to make them root beer floats to cheer them up before they left.
I am still looking for some men to cry for me. Preferably over 25, as all my previous models were ex-art students, and there seems to be some reluctance to cry in men over a certain age.

On the home front, today was a beautiful day and we went for a ride in the country on the motorcycle this afternoon. We recently realized that the summer is almost over, and we have been working too much. We got some amazing mangoes, already peeled & sliced, from Costco, and they were screaming to be made into ice cream. The recipe called for 6 egg whites, so with the 6 yolks left over, I made my first batch of green tea ice cream. The mango was amazing, I added vanilla to it, to replicate the Mango shakes we used to make in Miami with rum and french vanilla ice cream. I haven't tasted the Green Tea, as it needs to sit overnight before I freeze it. I am really excited about making some more exotic ones to serve after an Indian dinner: ginger, orange cardamom, rose...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Dark Clouds of Hair

I have always loved that Leonard Cohen line: "I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm, your hair upon the pillow, like a sleepy golden storm......", though it is really more applicable to this piece. Still feeling under the weather, but put in a good 7 hours yesterday:
And here's one for my friends Pip and Peggy, who used to drive me crazy by oohing and aahhing over the BACK of my hair embroideries every time they would come to visit.
Got my big roll of canvas today to start the new painting.... chomping at the bit to begin, but need to finish the hair embroidery for the impending FiberArt International Competition deadline and "the big mailing". We have nieces and nephews visiting the following week, and I might be able to bribe them into helping me label CDs while they are here if I can have everything ready.

It's Kevin's turn for netflix this weekend, and I am going to be exposed to my first Frank Zappa movie. It is amazing to me how many people have been trying to turn me on to him for so long, pelting me with little Zappa velcro balls that never seem to stick.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

And on the hair embroidery front....

stupid business work Monday, migraine Tuesday, and back to the needle on Wednesday....
The Evil Web Hits Counter

They say that "knowledge is power". (I have realized just this very moment that the few people I have met that use this phrase on a REGULAR basis are (coincidentally?) people that I instinctively distrusted from the moment I met them, while those around me thought these people were fine. Time has always proven me right, at least in this area of my life.)

Every morning, I get up around 7:30. I go to the gym 2-3x a week; if not gym, straight upstairs to the studio with a cup of coffee. Check email, the news headlines, a few artnews blogs and my daily guilty pleasure, Sometimes I check out the Sartorialist, and then, my daily web hits counter. Of course, it is my obsessive nature that drives me to check my web hits (almost) every day, but it is the KNOWLEDGE of my obsessive nature that limits me to no more than 5 minutes of sifting through the information.

Through my trusty counter, I know what links people clicked on to get to the site and how many pages these people looked at on average, if there is a growing interest in hair embroidery, what pages are viewed most, what words people googled to tumble into the site (it SO rewarding to know, for example, that at least 3x in any given week, some guy image-googles "open vagina" and ends up on this page... better than a cold shower). I know that people teaching painting classes at various universities have sent students links to my process page to teach them about how to glaze a painting (I am available for talks or demonstrations!) I have a painting entitled "How to Tell if He is Lying To You"... that combination of words is googled so often that it is the standard by which I measure my own personal art stock: if more people googled "Kate Kretz" than the aforementioned phrase, I am in a good place... if not, pedal faster.....

Some days it seems like a very unhealthy popularity contest, measuring yourself against your previous self. When a show comes down, it sort of exaggerates the post-exhibition depression, because the hits always go down. Ironically, when things are going REALLY well, one never has time to check one's hits. And, let's face it, most of those people who look through 50 or 60 pages of your site are semi-comatose insomniacs like myself, mindlessly clicking until the moment that they look up and realize that it is, not museum curators who are so fascinated that they must see every thing that you have ever made. But when you accept the cyclical nature of things, and focus on going in and getting practical information, this knowledge is power. I can divine if an article has come out that I need to add to my resume, if someone is using an image from my site somewhere for good or evil, what link exchanges are bringing people in, what artist roster websites are worth your time or money to maintain, and, if you send out postcards, how many people will it bring to the site? I know, for example, that writing this blog is worth the time, not only because it keeps me from delivering Art World monologues to my dog (who is only slightly less likely than my readers to respond : ) ), but it gets people looking at my site.

What it does NOT do... Let's say, for example, that I send a packet to XXX Museum. A few days later, I might notice that SOMEONE from that organization, either the curator I addressed the packet to, or the guy who cleans out her garbage cans, looked at 30 pages on the site. That knowledge doesn't make the phone ring, only makes it more likely that I might answer it if it does.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hair Embroidery update...

end of day Friday.
after 4 hours Sat

and another 4 hours Sunday
Last week was such a short work week, w/traveling and getting settled, so I put in some hours this weekend. Was able to listen to lots of new music while working on filling in the sky... When I do high concentration parts, like the funnel, I can't listen to new music, have to listen to old music, or I can't concentrate. Despite mostly work this weekend, we still managed to go see Monster House and go to dinner. Feeling a bit under the weather today... I must pack up paintings to ship before I do hair embroidery or research/sketch out the next painting. : (
I do the Catholic hard-work-then-reward thing.