Treefort Music Fest

In Like a Lamb

I’m taking real liberties with that title because I’m not referring to either March or the weather. See today as I write it is January 4th — a day I have been very careful to spend quietly, just like a little lamb, so as to avoid any possible conflicts with those near and dear to me brought on by the “thorny full moon” which is currently under siege from Pluto and Uranus. Seriously.

You would too if your silverware did this whenever you ate out…

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Or the street lights all did this when you drove by…

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I think that full moon might exert a little pull where I’m concerned. Anyway, so far so good.

Even more good news is that this is supposed to be a gangbusters (“gangbusters”…don’t you ever wonder if these words really mean what you think they do?) month for my work life, and since my work life is really making art, this should be a gangbusters month for… making art. And to that I say it’s about time!

I’ve spent most of my time lately setting things up so that I can make art, and have a place to show it. I’ve even helped a tiny bit to influence the city I live in to appreciate the fact there are a bunch of us here worth getting to know.

But now it’s time for me to just Make Art. To materialize the inventory I’m carrying around in my head. To move from the “To-Due List” to “Just Doing It”, and I am really, really ready.

What makes this year different from last year is that I am entirely on my own as far as incentive goes. Last year I had both the Treefort Public Art project, and See Spot Walk, plus four shows to curate for TVAA.

This year we are going to New Orleans for two months and that will briefly restrict the size of the work I can do, but besides that I am unencumbered by responsibility to anyone or any organization. I am my own boss. Soy Chingona!

As part of his New Year’s Resolutions Mike is reading a blog called Art Biz Blog written by an Artist Marketing Coach named Alyson Stanfield. I read a few of her posts as well and one sentence in one excellent post in particular (Your Job is In the Studio) caught my eye. She said: “If you don’t make art, you have nothing to market.”

She couldn’t be more correct. How do you like the gif Mike made for me when I pointed out how cunningly “make” and “art” are nestled into “market”…

The word "market" transforms into "make art." This animated GIF is designed by Melissa "Sasi" Chambers and Michael Chambers

Cool right?! What a guy, and he’s handsome too!

Anyway this got me thinking that this year will be a different sort of approach for me because I will be making art first and then marketing it. Last year the market came to me and I made the work it asked me to make. I am liking the freedom to do what I want. We will see if the market wants what I do.

Which I guess means I’ll find out if “gangbusters” actually means “blowed up good.”

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Nah.

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.

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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…

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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”…

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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,

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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….

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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.

…and they are UP!

It is DONE!

All seven Tarps Picadas are hung — and I — and all who helped me, have lived to tell the tale!

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We got it done today, and it went like this…

Mike and I met Sue Latta at 9:00 at the Record Exchange, and after taking in the fact that the parking lot was full of parked cars (Duh!) — including down the length of the wall on which we planned to hang the tarps — we got to work.

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Sue would drill a hole about 13ft from the ground, sink the anchor, then screw in the screw and washer while Mike steadied the ladder and handed up the hammer and drills as she needed them.

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I would get the next tarp ready for hanging then flit around reminding them to be careful, and mixing up whose coffee was whose.

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Finally after about 3 hours people started to move their cars — and say nice things about the tarps, which of course made me feel bad about being mad that their cars had been parked 6 inches from the wall for most of the installation — and so I steadied the ladder while Mike worked on securing our final tarp.

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I think they look great!

I could not have survived this project without all my helpers putting the tarps together: mom, Barb Bowling, Marilyn Frazier and Terry Burkes. Getting them photographed: Jake Soper and Moriah Christiansen. And today getting them hung: Mike, and Sue Latta.

We do look pleased with ourselves don’t we? Well, we earned it!

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The blue tarp to the left of Mike and Sue in those photos will be on the cover of the Weekly next Wednesday the 19th. It will be auctioned at the Weekly’s annual charity art auction in November. The fates of the other six tarps is a little foggier at this point.

Go see them while they are looking good, and let me know what you think!

Sunday’s Tarp

And Sunday’s Tarp is bonny and blithe and good and gay and DONE! Which means I have finally finished fabricating these wonders. The Seven Wonders of the polyvinyl and duck tape world.

Here ’tis, “Treehouses of the Rising Sun”…

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Halle-freaking-lujah!

Winter Trees’ Dreams of Spring

I’m either getting more poetic, or just plain punchy, as I close in on the finish line with the tarps picadas!

“Winter Trees’ Dreams of Spring” is the sixth:

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Did you know they made white tarps? Pretty cool.

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How about zebra striped duck tape?

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Ok, back to work. Six down, one to go!

Numero Cinco

Five down, two to go. This one is called “Night and Day” for fairly obvious reasons.

Night:

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and Day:

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I’m hopeful that this tarp’s pink sky is one which brings delight rather than warning. There’s really only so much weather that these wonders can resist.

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Here’s a picture of this tarp in my livingroom. I’m looking forward to having that room back for living in. Soon!

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