Art Critic

Birdie: “What the fuck is this happy bag of bullshit?”

Not impressed.

She wants nothing to do with it. I made several attempts at getting her to pose with her likeness. Nope. Not in her contract, thank you very much.

I apologized. I really don’t know what I’m doing in terms of drawing or painting techniques. My high school experience did not include the myriad of options that my students have. They get to sign up for art classes for the hell of it. I don’t remember that even being a thing unless you were “the artsy kid.” I was “a band kid,” the end.

So aside from different workshops like the lino cut and some acrylic pour, I’m limited. This just means that OG Adventure Buddy who does have legit art skills, gets text messages that scream, “NOW WHAT DO I DO?”

Birdie’s portrait was just one of those trapped at home project ideas that I got in my head. I also have a vision for Miles. Of course, I had to extensively procrastinate before starting. I knew from observing those who know what they are doing, that they seem to start with filing in the background. Sometime in mid February I pulled the trigger on getting started.

I think it’s done. I had the Bird add her paw prints; she was not thrilled. I’m lucky the bathroom is not painted in white paw prints. Certainly her disdain for my work will be reflected in her extensive critical essays soon to be published in some swanky art forum. ****I forgot to mention that the wreath is catnip. She’s an addict.

Corona Confession

Confession: My Christmas tree is still up.

It’s not that I’m super lazy…well, maybe a little, or that I love Christmas. I don’t. Christmas is super stressful as a season and as a holiday, plus that time of the school year is a mess. Some years I don’t even decorate because SOMEBODY is going to have to put stuff away. Clearly that somebody struggles with this. This year I packed up all the ornaments some time at the end of January.

It’s up because I like the quality of the white lights. They’re soft and twinkly. It’s a very soothing, pleasant light. Honestly, it really doesn’t do any more or less lighting-wise than the lamp that I have to unplug to put up the tree.

My dream is finding some type of sculptural structure that I can string with white lights and call a lamp to negate the , “Why is your Christmas tree still up?” feeling.

If this Christmas tree being up in March really bugs you, by all means come over and put it away for me. I can also point you towards the vacuum and some loose laundry.

Art & Procrastination: New Orleans

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Our introductory selfie for the takeover as is right and proper. Earrings by LinesNShapesJewelry over at Etsy.com

This past week I was guest host on an Instagram account called @columbus_collects. It asks locals to share their art collections and what drew them to the various pieces. The goal is to “demystify collecting”; collecting art does not have to be an expensive or high brow endeavor. I love adding new pieces to my home. I’m not particularly looking for any deeper meaning other than I was attracted to it—oooohh pretty, must have now—-, and it makes me happy to look at this piece in my house. Kind of like the characters in Portlandia, if you “put a bird on it,” a moon or some other natural element, I’m typically in favor of it.

I volunteered to take over back at the end of June which means I should have started writing and photographing things then because I was full of ideas and had complete sentences rattling around in my head. As established though, I am an expert at procrastination and basically waited until August 30, to start writing. Thank goodness, I had made some organizational notes in June. This lead to some late nights this week, digging up artist information and trying to find and remember dates. There was this feeling that I was going to disappoint, on so many levels, the woman who runs the account; many of the guest hosts seem to have way cooler photographs of their art and know more about it beyond “hey, pretty!”

Despite procrastination and performance anxiety, I got positive feedback and made some artists happy to have their work talked about and shared. I also realized that I spent a lot of time writing so, dagnabbit, I’m going to double dip here! (Forgive me.)

I chose to organize the beginning of my feed with stories about collecting while traveling since we were just coming off a long weekend and people are still in that “what did you do this summer?” mode. Being on an adventure and finding a piece  of art along the way only makes that piece more special.

New Orleans: In 2012, three Adventure Buddies and I headed to New Orleans for a long weekend. We did not have the drunken stereotypical “girls trip” that every movie suggests. Puking is not fun. Instead we ate well, toured everything we could, listened to music, and looked at the local art. (I could spend ALL my time in New Orleans eating and looking at/buying art.)

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We spent a good part of an afternoon in Jackson Square looking at what the local artists had to offer. One friend was looking for “swamp art” but at this point I don’t remember what that meant.

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Jackson Square, New Orleans

Jackson Square is where I found Laura Welter’s fabric nudes on display. The majority were all from behind or slightly profiled with the same twist at the waist and cocked hip. Twenty years and 50 pounds ago, I was a much more naked person, so I have a certain appreciation for a naked, confident, sassy ass. I could also appreciate Welter’s use of fabric remnants to paint on. Both of my grandmas were quilters, so playing with leftover bits and pieces of material was something that I grew up around and still feel driven to do. The large flower print seemed like something straight out of one of their sewing boxes. Plus she’s got a flower growing out of her bum! I love it! To do the takeover, I tracked down Laura’s current version of her nudes; they have evolved since 2012. I would happily return for more of them.

  • Artist: Laura Welter @welterarts
  • Title/year: untitled 2012
  • Materials/size: fabric and paint, 9×20

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Our second morning in New Orleans found us at Surrey’s Cafe and Juice bar on the edge of the Garden District, getting breakfast before heading to Jazzfest. We were seated at a table where, according to the photo on the wall, Matthew McConaughey had once sat. We were the luckiest little girls in the world.

Also on the wall was a magnificent display of brightly colored, crooked, quirky little houses. They were modeled after the shotgun style houses in New Orleans. Based on what I could dig up, Fortenberry used mirror shards scavenged after Hurricane Katrina to create the windows. There seem to be a few NOLA artists who make these, but I found that my tiny house and others attributed to Fortenberry have a raised, but hard to read maker’s mark on the front stoop. This is an example of me being attracted to a piece because of its surroundings. I too wanted a wall full of tiny houses! I often run into this problem with small pieces clustered together. Do I love it because of the context of all the pieces around it? Will I feel the same if I take it as a solo piece? No worries, my tiny lavender house found a space with other “small art” and has a happy home.

  • Artist: Casey King Fortenberry (?)
  • Title/year: untitled 2012
  • Materials/size: plaster, acrylic, broken mirrors 3 -1/2 x 5

September2019

I almost included the water meter covers designed by Edwin Ford in the 1920’s  in my takeover. We mostly saw these in the Garden District and were told by our guide that there were so few because people stole them due to the design. However local artists have used the design in jewelry, and prints. I purchased a t-shirt with the design. It really is the prettiest meter cover I’ve ever seen.

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New Year’s Resolutions: Projects

*Don’t give up on creating projects! Or being creative!

I accumulate projects at a stunning rate. Walking into any type of craft store starts an onslaught of desirous thoughts, lofty goals, and DIY hysteria. I really shouldn’t watch Flea Market Flip where “normal” people troll giant flea markets and revitalize random junk.

The problem is that I gather the necessary materials and/or start the project only to get stuck, have to re-focus, or run out of time. The project gets shelved with intentions of revisiting it later. But sometimes it gets done.

Case in point: I bought the Radiant Orchid background fabric for this quilt in either really late 2013 or early 2014 (It was the 2014 Color of the Year which would have been announced in December 2013.) with the intentions of having the quilt created for the February 2014 baby shower for the child that was born in March 2014.

Guess what she got for Christmas THIS year. Just a little late.

However in a spurt of elfish energy, her little brother who is only 2 months old scored his own quilt.

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Miles didn’t care how long I took with this project because he loved this fabric! (Click that link for panther tail chasing).  Every time I pulled it out to work on the quilt, he went wild. Maybe it’s the silky soft texture or maybe he just knows how good he looks against it.

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December 2016

It’s Just Paper

Just paper and glue.

Just paper and glue.

These are the boots. I learned to set snaps and rivets...sorta.

These are the boots. I learned to set snaps and rivets…sorta.

So I made this.

It’s been on the back burner of projects for a while along with three quilts, jewelry, and some cowboy boots, but something about possible impending snow days and winter got me motivated finally.

I don’t know why it takes me so long to get going. I’m actually pretty content when I’m making stuff. Staying up late isn’t a problem when I’m working on something, but hand me a stack of tests and just one essay, and I’m narcoleptic.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that this will pay the mortgage or buy the Feast that is Fancy. I’m reminded daily by my school and public education in general, that art, music, theater, and literature don’t matter nearly as much as iPads, sports, and standardized testing.

It is after all just paper and glue.

Happy Holidays

To Christmas card or not to Christmas card? That is the question.

Whether tis nobler to purchase a mass produced holiday card, conveniently packaged and ready to mindlessly sign,

or to take arms against a clowder of felines and by trickery and cajoling, dress them?

To scratch, to spit, to hide, to walk backwards

perchance to get treats in the end.

That is the question.

"Oh, no."

“Oh, no.”

Organizing my Christmas card went on the back burner with all the other holiday projects in the hopes of surviving the end of the semester and then being able to get real stuff done. Unfortunately, my procrastination leads me to even procrastinate about fun projects like dressing cats in small dog costumes. I even debated whether it was worth freaking the cat population out for the ten minutes that it would take to photograph them acting badly while dressed as trees.

It was.

Olivia Wigglebothuma and Miles decided that this was the ideal morning to be extra adorable which pushed my decision making over the edge. Photo shoot on.

Trapped under 20 pounds of cat.

Trapped under 20 pounds of cat.

W. Charles Marmota and Ross the Holiday Armadillo were totally in to it. No bad behavior from these two.

"we're ready for our close up."

“We’re ready for our close up.”

Sookie sensed trouble when I put on the Santa hat. She declined to be photographed from on top the furnace, under the table, and crouched behind the bed. I cut her some slack and moved on to, if not willing, at least more compliant subjects.

"I don't do holiday  costumes."

“I don’t do holiday costumes.”

We started with a herd of merry reindeer in the hallway. At first, Miles was resistant, but I think he grew to like his ensemble. Olivia was just kind of like, “Hey, sweet cape.”

"I am a majestic reindeer panther."

“I am a majestic reindeer panther.”

They took five while Birdie recreated her Santa look from previous cards.

"Ho ho ho (help me)."

“Ho ho ho (help me).”

I swear she started purring when I put the beard on her, and it wasn’t even the “OMG I fear for my life” fear-purr. Too bad we had some costume malfunctions with her beard.

Probably high on the nip.

Probably high on the nip.

I can only speculate that Olivia and Miles are incredibly grateful that I not only have two reindeer costumes, but also two Christmas tree costumes. We discovered there was less falling over and walking backwards, if they just wore the trees like capes. Stylish, stylish capes.

"Oh Cat-mas tree, oh Cat-mas tree. Thy capes are unfurling."

“Oh Cat-mas tree, oh Cat-mas tree.
Thy capes are unfurling.”

"I am a beautiful tree!"

“I am a beautiful tree!”

Given enough time, Sookie assessed the situation and determined that I was less dangerous than I first appeared.

Stupid hat!

Stupid hat!

She emerged from behind the bed and allowed herself to be held briefly. I suggested that maybe she try to look like she loves me, but she did not try very hard.

The strangle hold that is my love.

The strangle hold that is my love. The cat that will not accept me.

Eventually it all looked like this.

Olivia's first Christmas!

Olivia’s first Christmas!

Kitty DIY in the World?

I accumulate projects like it’s my job.  They all seem like really good ideas at the time, but tend to layer on top of each other and get pushed aside by things that “have to get done.” My counter is covered with a shelf that needs stained, and a photo that needs framed. My work table in the garage is covered in glass for yard art. There are quilt bits peeking out of the closet as well as a variety of items that need moved from point A to point B in the name of organization. Until two days ago there was a cat ramp in the middle of my living room.

What’s a cat ramp for?

Rampin’ cats! Duh!

Birdie demonstrates. She was a big advocate for leaving the ramp in the living room.

Birdie demonstrates the finished product. She was a big advocate for leaving the ramp in the living room.

It’s also for catching your toe on at 5 a.m. on the way to the kitchen, and for putting your feet on while you try to watch t.v. around it. If you’re one of the cats, it’s for going crazy. Like running to the tippy top, making owl ears, then leaping off or climbing under the ramp like monkey bars and frantically scratching it.

This was one project that had to get done because I could not safely live around it. It was great fun to watch the cats go wild on their “new” toy (location is everything with them), but it really ruined the feng shui of the room. The cat ramp moved from its home in my bedroom to the garage where I thought I would work on it, but had to move it to get to my car; and then to the living room for its refurbishing. In 2009, Bella Luna was having trouble jumping on to my bed. The antique bed frame is fairly high and the pillow top mattress set was not helping her any. Bella would go for it and end up desperately clutching at the edge of the mattress, the blankets, or my leg, whatever was handy. There was more than one embarrassing fall back to the floor.

At the time all the pet stairs and ramps I could find seemed insanely expensive. (I now see them at TJ Maxx for like $30 every time I’m there. Tragic sigh) My mom and her engineer boyfriend were kind enough to take on the project of building a ramp/scratching post. Several cell phone pictures and debates later, there was a workable wooden ramp. The next step was covering it with carpet remnants.

Covering things with carpet remnants is the point where I usually start reevaluating my finances and questioning whether life would be easier if I just put down the cash instead of DIYing it. Carpet is hard to cut, unwieldy to bend, and attaching it involves hammers and hardcore staples. Plus my mom and I can ONLY start these “easy” projects late at night when we’re tired and hungry leading very quickly to “hangry” at least for me, she has more patience.

With the help of Miles who narrowly avoided hammers and staples, we covered the legs and ramp with carpet. It was cat approved and they have spent the last 5 years scratching the Hell out of it. I have spent that time vacuuming up carpet bits.

Miles helps Grammie. 2009

Miles helps Grammie. 2009

Bella Luna approved. 2009

Bella Luna approved. 2009

I knew that the legs needed recovered, when I realized that they had scratched through the carpet and were now directly clawing at the wood. Part of my process actually involved filling in the deep gouges with wood putty. I read different articles on the stupid internet about how to build cat trees. Again, this was a point when I could have made a choice between finances and time/effort. Wrapping jute rope around the legs and securing it with wood glue sounded easy enough. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

First, the jute that was thick enough for scratching was too thick to wrap tightly around the legs. Second, wood glue takes forever to set up and proceeded to run down both sides of the legs and ooze out of the bottom layer of jute, pooling all over the base of the ramp. The first night, I ended up ripping plastic bags into strips and tying them around what little I had wrapped in an effort to hold the rope in place while the glue dried. It worked, but it was several days before I went back to the project. My mom suggested clamping a board and wax paper to hold a larger section of rope in place. I can also use this technique if anyone needs their leg splinted.

The larger clamping system worked and I powered through the rest of the gluing and wrapping in one evening. The ramp is now back in the bedroom where all cats are currently ignoring it. Ungrateful, pussies!

My other project was a brilliant idea to add doggy chew toy fabric strips to the legs of a stuffed cat that has been in my school office for years. I’m trying to convince Olivia that Mini Me should be her drag and chew toy instead of my bras, underwear, tank tops, and spatulas. So far she’s not buying it. It’s all good fun if I’m shaking Mini Me’s strings in her face, but she has not actively taken up her end and DIYed it.

Mini Me

Mini Me

I keep pushing it.

I keep pushing it.

The most productive 48 hours…EVER!

I never get anything done. I accumulate projects like  a weird hoarder who just wants to tie-dye, paint, frame, re-organize, build, install, sew, bake, and bead everything around her. However there’s usually school work, cats, commitments, Candy Crush, episodes of The Big Bang Theory, and personal motivation to exacerbate my tendencies to procrastinate.

My mom, who is a tie-dying, painting, framing, re-organizing, building, installing, sewing, baking, and beading force, arrived at about 2:30 on Friday and left at about 2:30 on Sunday.

We had four major projects to accomplish. Through some nap-less, exhausting miracle, we got shit done.

1. Friday night we gathered supplies, and did all the dusting, taping prep work in order to wake up and  put the first coat of Summer Smile on the walls of my spare room that has been unpainted for the last five years. It’s a small room, but somehow all the furniture in it is movable only by great feats of strength. Mom and I did strap on our balls, but some stuff wasn’t going anywhere. So in cramped quarters, I ended up with paint on me at both ends.

"Summer Smile," new highlights for "medium auburn."

“Summer Smile,” new highlights for “medium auburn.”

2. According to the directions, it takes 2-4 hours before the second coat of paint can be applied. In those 2-4 hours, we ate lunch, wired the skull of a Scottish Highlander, and hung it. This involved the tippy top of the ladder, a stud finder that clearly needed new batteries, and some swearing. (It’s hard to keep Mom focused when she can see that there are things that need dusted.)

Shaggy is up!

Shaggy is up!

3. Also in those 2-4 hours, we installed four cat shelves.

“Cat shelves?”, you ask.

Yes, cat shelves. And dry wall anchors.  Blurggghhhhhh. Hate those things.

We tested each shelf after installation. The cats were just about done with me.

We tested each shelf after installation. The cats were just about done with me.

It's hard to keep them all on the shelves at once. Kind of like...herding cats?

It’s hard to keep them all on the shelves at once. Kind of like…herding cats?

4. After applying the second coat of paint and ordering Tommy’s Pizza, we were allowed to fall over and go to sleep. That only meant waking up to the final task of assembling IKEA shelves. IKEA shelves that did not come with directions. Our only assembly clues came from enlarging the picture of the shelves on the website and reading forums where other unfortunates discussed how they had conquered the riddle of the IVAR three-section shelves.

Really, would it be so hard to put a few directions on the website, IKEA? You wouldn’t even have to include them with purchase of the shelves. Even the Swedes are frustrated. See:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/12/ikea-furniture-police-sweden_n_4261376.html

Miraculously, we assembled the shelves in roughly two hours. The most troubling part was positioning them and determining how to anchor them to the wall so they would not fall over and impale any sleeping guests.

Paint on walls, shelves completed.

Paint on walls, shelves completed.

As you can imagine we felt very accomplished by the time Mom left on Sunday. The cats were exhausted from having another human in the house banging on things and vacuuming dry wall dust. Plus Saturday was Olivia Wigglebothums first official full day of freedom.

Olivia just wants to be like the big kids.

Olivia just wants to be like the big kids.

"Summer Smile" does not come out with the first wash.

“Summer Smile” does not come out with the first wash.

The Summer To-Do That Won’t Get To-Done….probably

The Farmer’s Almanac says that TODAY is the summer solstice which means that today is technically the first day of summer! That means that this list is totally timely and meaningful!

I’m as surprised as anyone. 

I’ve been thinking about writing this list since the last day of school which was three weeks ago. That delay is more typical of my procrastination skills. My report card comment would say: “Sets goals and fails to

Me versus rain barrel. A battle 5 years in the making.

Me versus rain barrel. A battle 5 years in the making.

meet them.” For example, I’ve wanted to install a rain barrel since I bought my house…five years ago. When did I finally install one? A week ago. It didn’t matter that over an extended period of time  I’ve researched it, priced it and thought extensively of how a rain barrel would benefit my garden, it just didn’t get done. Oh, well.

I feel like if I was more goal oriented, I would get more done like cleaning my house, grading papers, exercising etc… But aside from things involving my cats and their well being, there is nothing that mentally makes me think, “Go get ’em, Tiger! Let’s do this.” The mental monologue is generally more along the lines of: “Hmmmm…well…fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.”

So this is basically a “to-do” list that may or may not get done but will be considered extensively.

1. Conquer my grill.- I bought a grill. It cost too much. I’m afraid of it. The instruction manual was quite brief, but involved the words “fire, explodes and danger” at a frequency that confirmed all the paranoid visions I have of what would happen were it left up to me to grill stuff. I have made a few simple meals thus far but with great trepidation.

It's gray and it has friends.

It’s gray and it has friends.

2. Figure out what color my hair is.- This goal is perfect because it requires me to do NOTHING except wash my hair and since it is summer, I barely have to do that! By temperament and skin tone, I should have been a natural red head. I blame my parents for their shoddy genetics. I’ve been dyeing my hair since college when we all started playing with bowls of henna dye that looked like mud pies – dirty hippies. Since I fully acknowledge that the carpet does not match the drapes, I have the freedom to dye my hair whatever ridiculous unnatural shade of red I want. However I have noticed within the past year that there are some extra shiny, light strands that don’t quite take the dye like they ought to.

3. Avoid committing to unnecessary activities that I don’t want to do.-It’s summer, duh.

4. Get to a point where I can stop getting that anxious feeling that I had better hurry up and have fun before I have to go to school. – This one is tough given summer workshops, online work and conversations with teacher friends during which we talk about ….school.

5. Attend the World’s Longest Yard Sale. -So cool! I love other people’s junk! http://www.127sale.com/

6. Solve the hairball problem.– Dramatic long-suffering sigh- My oldest cat’s capacity for hairballs is stunning. When she gets enough built up, she can wake me up 3-4 nights running with her dry heaving followed by a wet slapping sound that my brain always visualizes as her intestines smacking together. She can only throw up a hairball between 3 a.m.- 5 a.m. During the school year, her preference is Sunday nights when I can barely get to sleep as is. Due to the frequency, a routine has developed.

The Routine: Last night I was peacefully having sex dreams about Jason Segel (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0781981/)  when the dry heaving began. The sound of a hairball will bring me directly out of bed and flailing for a light switch. Find cat- she’s usually sleeping next to me if not on me-; pull rug out of small bathroom; toss cat- gently- into bathroom; close bathroom door; lay back down on bed; listen to what seems like an eternity (actual time about 5 minutes) of what someone with the Ebola virus might sound like; wonder if she’s dying but am too sleepy to get concerned; listen for paw scratching door, signaling that she is done barfing; wait another minute just to be sure; release barfy cat from bathroom; assure other 3 cats who never get hairballs that all is well; return to bed. ***An alternative to the routine is her waiting about 15 minutes, just so I’m almost asleep again, before she barfs in the living room.

I am waiting until you are asleep so I may vomit repeatedly.

I am waiting until you are asleep so I may vomit repeatedly.

Jason Segel and I will never be able to consummate our love until this problem is solved.

7. Lose weight, be healthier.- This has been on the “to-do” list since birth. I’m so sick of it that it barely warrants mentioning yet here it is. You would think that this would inspire that goal oriented mindset but it is way easier and more pleasant to take naps than it is to exercise. I just have to stay away from shame triggering reflective surfaces and be resigned to never have sex again unless it’s with a dude who has built a shed for his tool (Get it? He’s a fatty too.) because realistically we rarely end up with people outside our own zones of attractiveness.

8. Take naps.- Fuck yea, I’m gonna take naps! Whoot!!! And then I’m going to stay up until midnight watching bad t.v. Cause it’ summer, motherfucker! Blonde doctor always gives me the stink eye when I respond that yes I do take the occasional nap. I have decided that she is jealous. She has children which are natural nap preventatives and she must maintain whatever lifestyle gets you your own Pelotonia poster that you can creepily smile out from in all your exam rooms.

9. Fantasize that someone pays me for writing this.– Even if it was just a little fun money, wouldn’t it be nice if I could somehow be paid to rant, make stupid lists, and use profanity? If you’ve ever read my blog and laughed or peed a little, you owe me  a dollar.

10. Date?– This could be  a whole entry by itself. While this would provide good writing material, see #7 on attractiveness zones and #2 on level of commitment to maintaining appearance and being clean.

I nominate the following as Best Sentence in This Post:

“Last night I was peacefully having sex dreams about Jason Segel when the dry heaving began.”

Remember, you owe me  a dollar.