Tarps Picadas

Hare Today

I was just explaining to my friend Peggy Jo how I’m a sprinter. Whether I’m running or swimming, setting up a new home or making art, I do it really, really fast — and then I take a break. I am not a marathoner. I can’t sustain energetic output endlessly. If I were one of the two characters in the tale of “The Tortoise & The Hare” I would definitely be the hare.

image
(Sleeping Hare by Celia Hart)

Something about being a sprinter makes it difficult for me to run multiple races. I need to pick one race — move into my new home — and not add on another race — get ready for my exhibition in December — until the first race is won.

The last room/sprint to finish in our new house was the big studio where Mike paints and I work on my tarpestries…

image

image

image

image

Race won.

Now I’ve begun to sprint towards my solo show in December at the Boise State University Student Union Gallery. The show will be of my tarpestries and I will have a variety of sizes including itty-bitty tarpestries.

Tarpitos?

image

Unlike my big pieces these have no particular narrative, they’re just pure pattern. So far I’ve done 14…

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

Whew! Time for a break. I’m out of breath!

Maybe another interpretation of the tale of “The Tortoise & The Hare” is that they both won the race — it’s just that the tortoise was a marathoner, and the hare was running a sprint.

image

Instagram Woo Hoooo!

You’ll have to forgive me if I seem over-the-top excited about this — though I’m guessing you’ll understand when I tell you today I woke up to THIS on my Instagram feed:

image

Ok, sorry if I’m yelling, but OMG!! That’s MY tarp picada “Tree Houses of the Rising Sun” in front of Rebecca Rebouche’s Beauty Shop atelier!!!

Did you catch the number of likes!? And just look at what she had to say about it:

image

Yep. I’m excited.

image

Big Easily Distracted

And the distractions just keep coming!

image

We went to see John Boutte sing in a free concert at the Louisina Music Factory in the Marigny — I even got to shake his hand. John sings the opening song for the HBO series “Treme” — a series I highly recommend, about New Orleans in the months and years right after Katrina. Many of the “actors” like John Boutte are actually New Orleans musicians who play themselves, while other characters are played by actors from New Orleans, like Wendell Pierce who plays Antoine Batiste. Turns out Pierce, like Mike and myself, graduated from NOCCA.

image

For us, New Orleans is a lot like Boise with its “one degree of separation.” In fact my friend Marilyn Z-B (my best friend at NOCCA) was sitting just inches away from me in our tiny Pied a Terre telling me how she and two others had done beading for many of the Indian costumes on Treme. Knock me over with a feather.

image

I have been putting time into updating my website — all my portfolio pages for Public Art, Surface Pattern Design, and Exhibitions now have my most recent work, and I’ve been showing my tarps to everybody I know who might have ideas for how and where in New Orleans I might exhibit them.

image

image

I’ve gotten nothing but positive responses — accompanied by consternation over where I might show them. Their size is a problem, unless you’re talking about museums, and if you’re talking museums then you are also talking about a depth of oeuvre which I have yet to achieve with the tarps alone. I need more time, more inventory. Four tarps do not a museum exhibiton make — at least not a solo exhibition.

There is consensus however that the tarps are knock-outs and — this is important — that they must be seen in person to be fully appreciated. I’m caught in a Catch-22 though, because in order to get the tarps seen by the people who are in a position to actually exhibit them I need the cred that comes with having shown them. It was ever so.

To illustrate my problem: the museum which has been mentioned every time as a good fit for the tarps is The Ogden Museum of Southern Art. We went to their Thursday night museum after hours event and toured the current exhibits while listening to a live musical perfomance. I was especially taken with the Outsider, Self-taught, Visionary exhibition, and these pieces by David Butler:

image

image

image

My tarps definitely share the Outsider aesthetic, even if I don’t personally share the Outsider Artist diagnosis. I guess that makes me an Outsider outsider!

C’est la vie I guess. Well I’m not going to let a little Catch-22 stand in the way of my bon temps. Not in this town with so many wonderful distractions!

image

(Check out more of Eric Water’s photography of New Orleans Second Line here.)

Just Doing That, Not This

When I started this blog I had the idea that I would be able to do frequent, if not daily, posts. Some wordy, some mostly pictures, but all dependably shared. Often.

Shhiiiiiit. There’s just no way.

This year I’m thinking if I can average one post a week I’ll be doing magnificently.

image

Worrying about this has peaked my interest in the process of procrastination. So, while I’ve been putting off writing my next post I’ve spent many delightful hours reading about the art of putting things off. On-line.

No irony there.

I’m not talking about putting off paying the Electric bill or going to the dentist. I’m talking about putting off that thing that you have defined as “What I Do.” For me that’s making art. And, doing a blog that’s sort of about making art.

All in all I no longer think of procrastination as being “bad.” Like boredom, it has its up-side. Where boredom can create the space for creativity to emerge, procrastination can allow for the time it takes for an idea to mature or evolve into something better.

The trick is to manage your procrastination. First, you have to maintain your awareness of the big picture — the dates of deadlines, the amount of real time you think it will take to complete your project (always multiply by 4, that way you can be pleasantly surprised if it only takes twice as long), your personal skill-set vs. your need for others’ assistance. Then, you have to learn to stop wasting time worrying about putting the project off until later. Let that mother go!

image

If you can do those things, then one of two things will happen. Either, by your own action or inaction, you will get it done. Or, you will move on to something new and never look back. QED.

image

I guess I’m starting to think of procrastination as a very useful filter for determining what I will be spending my time “just doing” vs. what will end up on my “Fuck-it List.”

This might help: pay attention to what distracts you. What are you doing instead of that project you are putting off? The things which consistently distract me are generally the things I really want to be doing. And the things I really want to be doing often lead to projects better suited for me, and often to better outcomes for those projects I do finish.

image

Whew!! Now that I’ve finished doing this, I can go back to doing that!

New Habit

I’m still getting used to being my own boss. I’ve mostly managed to stay out of my own way, which is important since I’m not fond of being told what to do. I do have certain expectations about how much attention I pay to the whole “making art” thang but I purposely don’t have specific “numbers” associated with my production — no number of pieces by a particular date, or amount of money I need to earn. It’s still numbers that come to mind though when I evaluate how I’m doing. That’s something I want to change. Sometimes old habits can really kick your ass, and new habits take longer than you think to instill.

Since the New Year I’ve been very productive. I’ve not felt pressured so my process has been relaxed, and even though I have put in lots of hours it hasn’t felt like work. It’s been FUN. More than fun, it’s been that satisfying “all is right with my world” feeling at the end of the day. THAT feeling is how I want to “evaluate how I’m doing.” If I can continue to feel that way then I must be a damn fine boss, right? I’ll keep you posted.

So far I’ve finished a big new Pom Pow blanket, “Clown Daddy”…

image

Also my second Treefort tarp, formerly known as “Winter Trees’ Dreams of Spring”…

image

now has a Second Life as “The Unconscious Arsonist” (details)….

image

image

image

TVAA has a juried exhibtion, “Menagerie,” coming up and I did a brand new tarp for it titled “Sss(mmm)sss…”….

image

It’s big, 10 feet by 3 1/2 feet, so here it is in sections:

image

image

image

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about looking at life from new angles — choosing different perspectives from our usual choices in a way that gets us out of our ruts. I don’t think we should waste our time feeling pressured to do things just so we can say we did. I do think we should DO the things we can’t stop thinking about (the life enhancing, won’t hurt anybody including you, things) in spite of the naysayers. And I think sometimes it helps to actively choose your new perspective.

Well, I’ve put making art that only stresses me out on my Fuck-it List, I’m Just Doing the kind of art that I can’t wait to get out of my head and into the world, and I make sure I get at least a couple of hours of play done every day in my studio.

I’m making a choice: instead of letting my old habits kick me in the ass, I’m going to make it my new habit to kick ass.

image

Care to join me?

Going, Going, Gone

Fair warning: Rant Ahead…

Last night was the Cover Auction for the Boise Weekly and my tarp “Treefort Blues” was item #25.

image

Not a giclee of the piece as I’d suggested — nicely matted and framed, archival quality and easy to hang anywhere. No, the actual 8 foot by 10 foot tarp.

I’d been assured the cache of having been part of Treefort, of having literally weathered the festival…

image

and come through a beautiful survivor, would make it that much more desirable and sure to cause a stir and fetch a nice bid for both the Weekly, and my 30% cut.

In the past the Weekly has paid the artists $150, and because my work generally runs in the $750 to $1000 range it never felt like a good fit for me. When they changed the artist’s renumeration to 30% of the final auction bid I thought that made more sense, and for the majority of artists it works really well.

The auction was at Gallery 518 and when I delivered my tarp at the appointed time I discovered that the show had already been hung and there was no room for my piece. Granted, my tarp would have taken up an entire wall which held probably 20 of the pieces available for sale — I get it, I’ve curated many shows and the difficult pieces often end up in less than desirable locations. My tarp ended up OUTSIDE the gallery on the back wall. Unlit.

During the auction Mike and I stood at the back of the gallery and I talked with darling Shelley Jund whose piece “Drawn to Cervidae Light” was number #31. Even before our pieces were up, we talked about how painful it is to have your work held up for view and then bid on — especially when the bids don’t come, or are very low. I would add how painful it is to have your work not even get properly shown and then to expect anyone to have any interest at all.

“Treefort Blues” sold for $125. I will recieve $37.50.

When we were leaving I told the woman receiving payments that if my buyer had any regrets I would buy my tarp back from him.
If you are reading this my buyer:

I WILL BUY TREEFORT BLUES BACK FROM YOU!!!!

As some of you know I’m doing a “second life” series with the tarps and I would love to have the complete original set. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, these are two detail shots of the tarp I called “Granny Squares”…

image

image

I didn’t sleep for s**t last night. I kept tossing and turning and thinking about how we artists are constantly asked to donate our work for little, or usually zero, renumeration as if it’s no big thing. Even those of us who are hugely prolific invest time and heart into what we do.

Personally, I’ve quit responding to requests for my work that don’t offer at least a 30% return — except for the Idaho Humane Society — without IHS I wouldn’t have the furry little loves of my life, so they get a pass. But after this experience I think I’m just done. If you want my work you’re welcome to buy it. My prices are reasonable, i.e. way less than I would be paid in New Orleans or New York.

By the way Shelley’s piece brought $550 which is f**king awesome!

Rant over.

Anticipating Memory

It’s taken a while but I am finally relaxing about my tarps picadas and getting back to my normal routine. Since getting them rehung just in time for their debut on the cover of the March 19th Weekly,

image

and having the weather thankfully cooperate for the entire run of Treefort, all we’ve had to contend with is cold and rain — neither of which seem to have much affect on the tarps — though they do make me long for warm weather and sunshine!

This Tuesday evening I’ll be spending a few minutes along with Mike Landa and Bobby Gaytan talking to this year’s Public Art Academy about our experiences with our temporary public art projects.

Bobby painted a mural on the side of the Alaska building. I’m guessing wind and rain have been added to Bobby’s list of 4-letter expletives just like they have mine.

image

Mike created a sculpture which is in front of The Flicks and though he didn’t install it until after the windstorm, I imagine he will have an interesting tale to share as well.

image

Last Tuesday I sat in on the Public Art Academy’s talk with Deborah Paine, the curator and collections manager for the public art program of the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs. She brought everyone copies of the catalog Seattle as Collector which features a selective sample from 40 years of commissioning and purchasing portable artworks. Deborah Paine both curated the exhibit, and edited the catalog.

In the introduction to the catalog there is an essay about public art and the nature of temporary works like Bobby’s, Mike’s and mine. It says in part “Temporary public art is often defined by the way people experience it. The inherent impermanence of these projects gives them urgency; they are ultimately reduced to memory or a remnant.”

image

Now all that remains to be done is for my tarps picadas to be reduced to remnants and pass into memory. I’m good with that.

I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again!

…and we are back in business!

image

I’ve spent the last 48 hours re-taping tarps and brushing off sympathy and kind, but unnecessary, words of comfort and consolation.

It’s true that windstorm did a number on these tarps, but it just pissed ME off. Really, Wind?

image

Sue met me just after sunrise this morning and though I wouldn’t exactly call it easy — she had to drill new holes in a few places and contort around parked cars — we had the 5 tarps back up in about 90 minutes.

image

Unfortunately, “Granny Squares” took it in the chops after we left it up thinking the worst of the windstorm had passed. I’ll go back this evening and cheer it up with some more hot pink duck tape.

image

Meanwhile check out “Treefort Blues” (the blue tarp, second from the left) on the cover of the Weekly which comes out today, and go see the tarps while they are up!

image

And don’t worry about me…I get knocked down, but I get up again!

I hope the Wind is listening!

…and they’re DOWN!

Yesterday was a stormy day and as I was sitting on my sofa, cosy in my jammies having a cup of joe and feeling pretty good about life in general, I heard the familiar ping of a new email and I opened my inbox to read this:

“…we need to let Melissa know several of the tarps were shredded by the wind. So sad!”

My entire world went silent except for one four letter word that screamed through me….WIND!

image

If I were a gambling girl I would have lost serious bank betting against 35 – 50 mph winds ripping through my tarps 24 hours after we installed them. But that’s exactly what happened.

image

Luckily Mike had an hour long window between meetings, and mom and dad had a power drill and extension cords to augment the Record Exchange’s, so our impromptu team was able to take down in 30 minutes what it had taken us 4 hours to put up.

image

image

One of the tarps, “Granny Squares,” is still on the wall, but the other six are now down and in various stages of restoration — except “Night and Day.”

Um, duh….

image

The plan is to finish restoring as I’m able today, and reinstall tomorrow so when the Weekly comes out they are back where I said they would be. Maybe a bit worse for wear, but there.