Monday, April 21, 2008

112th Boston Marathon

This year I watched the marathon from the finish line area around Copley Square. For readers who don't have marathons in their towns, you have to plan where in town you go, when, and how you're going to get back on marathon day. The route bisects the city and you can easily get trapped on one side or the other. If you don't mind waiting it's fun to watch the marathoners go by and give 'em an encouraging yell. If you have somewhere you're supposed to be though it can be frustrating.

I took the D-line T down to the Arlington stop which is well enough past the finish line that you can easily cross to one side of the route or the other. It's sad when you see marathoners on the T and it's early enough that you know something went wrong. One guy I saw looked perfectly fine and I couldn't imagine why he was there. One woman started to pass out on the train though. That was alarming. Up on the street, still in the race, less than a block from the finish line I saw an older man stumble but not fall and take a few steps back. He had to be in his sixties. He bent over, took several breaths, pulled himself together and hauled himself the rest of the way. The crowed went nuts for him. So scary to see though. I imagine he headed straight for the medical tent.

Then there are the runners who walk around town right afterwards like they didn't just run 26.2 miles. Just wandering around chatting with their friends, not even sweaty or red like I would be.

It's exciting to watch the marathon. It's amazing to see the different types of people, different ages, different shapes who can all run that distance. Okay, not all of them run the whole way but still they take it on. And afterwards the streets are thronged with people in mylar blankets or running shoes or else they just look really healthy (or sometimes kind of grim) and you think "gosh, it's really crowded. I hope I don't jostle anyone. They've had enough trouble as it is today." Well, at least I think that.

I didn't bother to take the T back home. It was way too crowded so I walked. There's a huge difference between working out with your XBox personal trainer in a barn a few times a week and real mileage. The walk from the Public Garden area is about three miles - not so bad - but I was kind of sweaty and tired when I got home. True, I had also been walking around all over the place down there and dealing with the crowds but still. I don't see me running a marathon any time soon.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pudgy Naked Cupid Statues

I'm listening to Weekend Edition on NPR. Through my thick morning fog I heard Liane Hansen say "...meditating in front of pudgy, naked Cupid statues." The segment was on modern-day matchmakers and how they are trained and she was saying that such meditation is not part of the curriculum.

However, I want to meditate in front of pudgy naked Cupid statues.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Last month's Martha Stewart Living magazine featured photos of Martha's vegetable garden in New Jersey. The first thing I thought when I saw the pictures was "it looks like a prison." First there's the enormous fence to keep out the deer and other critters. I imagined it being electrified to really show those rabbit thieves. Then there's the strict order, as if the beds were laid out with laser guides instead of string and stakes or a garden hose like normal people use.

I didn't want to associate her garden with prison, seeing as she's been there recently. It seemed like a cheap shot. But if the shoe fits...

It got me thinking though. Martha's such a control freak. I could see her having very strong opinions on how a prison should be run if she were forced to think about it (which she was, unfortunately) I could see her really admiring a well-run prison and being really annoyed by a poorly run one. I could see her demanding an interview with the warden and proposing efficiency improvements. I bet she has tons of ideas on how to improve the effectiveness of jail-time and how it could potentially instruct and improve the lives of the inmates. Enforce discipline, inculcate good habits, teach useful skills, instill self-respect in the inmates, foster actual reform. Everybody would win.

If the Domestic Doyenne thing ever gets old for her and she needs a new challenge I think she could do a lot of good in the Corrections field. Serious.

Monday, April 14, 2008


There is a great big pileated woodpecker pecking away at the pole that carries our electrical lines over by the studio (I forget what you call that pole at the moment) It's a big damned red-headed thing! (kinda like me I guess) I'd love to go get the binoculars so I can see it better but I know that if I get up and get them the bird will fly away while I'm gone. It's the law of binoculars. Sometimes I think that we should have a pair of binoculars for every window in the house.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hey Everybody! I'm Really Smart And I Think A Lot!

Oh, and look out - I'm subversive too.

The word for today is: "biotechnonanogenomicology," brought to you by Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post.

And now, why plates?

My artwork is domestic in that it is meant to be seen in a living-space. It is also craft based. As it says at the top of the page, I make things. A lot of art that is popular now doesn't necessarily result in an object that one can hold in one's hands. I think that can be incredibly interesting and effective but that isn't what I do. I'm interested in the processes that go into creating objects that live in three dimensional spaces and that one can encounter in the course of ordinary life.

I'm also interested in how an art object changes perceptions in the viewer (I'm going to use the term "viewer" because it's shorter but what I mean is the "interactor" since there's a great deal of art that is more than just "viewed") Ideally when one interacts with art one's view of the world is shifted. The experience one has is noticeably different after one has been with art than it was before. I LOVE when this happens to me. I guess I'm greedy for mental transportation. It makes me feel like my brain has more space to run around in - one of my favorite sensations.

Since I love this feeling so much I think everyone ought to be able to feel it every day. The easiest way to accomplish this: domestic art, art for the home. Just little things here and there that can transport you to another reality for a small space of time.

One way to give a viewer a jolt in perception is to tweak their expectiations. Plates are commonly used as a decorative element to make a room feel more cozy. One might walk into a room where these plates were hung on the wall over the sideboard or sofa and think, "how quaint - decorative plates," if one bothered to think about it at all. But these plates aren't quaint. They spell out words that most people have troubling associations with and the designs on them are a little strange.

I hope the viewer then goes on to examine their thoughts about a number of things like: Why does my friend have those words up on her dining room wall? What do Mayhem, Lust and Greed mean? What is appropriate decor for a domestic space? Is art decor or something else? (Believe me, LOTS of people haven't thought about that at all) What is cozy? What is the function of coziness and how is it important? How would I feel if I lived with these plates on my wall? Would I enjoy looking at them?

Or maybe they don't think about any of that. Maybe they just add another question mark to the pile of puzzles in the back of their heads, think "that was weird," and go on with their day.

I guess I may also be trying to cajole the viewer into seeing things my way: "Plates are nice, ordinary, comforting. Maybe mayhem's not so bad?" Or maybe it's my version of an inspirational sampler but mine's for pirates. I'm trying to make mayhem, lust and greed into family values. And that I am because I secretly believe that if everybody thought adventurously then the world would be a better place. I've also got an idea for an afghan that says mayhem, lust, greed. Talk about cozy!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

My Next To Next Post: Materials

"Mayhem" is flower lace drawn and painted on glass plates backed with painted, commercially printed paper and glitter.
"Lust" is also flower lace drawn on glass plates backed with glitter, inkjet printed paper and commercially printed paper over-printed with acrylic paint.
"Greed" is paint, drawing and glitter on glass plates.

The Big Three

If I were a real techie I might be able to tell you why it was such a pain in the butt to post all those plate images. Maybe it's that I'm a Mac user? It was a little problematic at times and it took a while. However I did multi-task and in the mean time I'm well on my way with Pete's second sock and I've made another tarte tatin.

I've got my front door wide open to let the sun in and the ladybugs out. The phoebes started yelling the day before yesterday and today I can hear frogs down at the pond. Fay's snoring. She was out quite a bit in her wheelchair today since enough snow has melted for her to be able to go places. I have to admit that it's pleasant to be warm enough for a change. Pete's working with a band this weekend and at the moment they're taking a break and enjoying the weather on his studio's back deck. Thanks again Jinhee, John and Andy!

Now I'm going to try to put into words what I attempted to express in the objects below.

A good artist will find helpful an appreciation for mayhem, lust and greed. Some artists appreciate them more conventionally than others but in general these impulses are beneficial to the artistic process.

I myself am peace-loving and cowardly so I look at mayhem, lust and greed in a somewhat figurative sense. I don't advocate going after one's neighbors with a machete. My brand of mayhem is more along the lines of putting on a green wig and making tequila-laced cupcakes just for fun. Also working in a studio that looks as though I'd left all the windows open during a tornado, being open to mistakes, sudden new directions, connections between disparate thoughts and objects, being eager to try new things and to look at things with new eyes, being comfortable with being off-kilter. Conceptual mayhem.

I mean lust both specifically and generally. Physical lust is a great inspiration and source of energy. Lust inspires ideas that one might never have in a different mental state. It feels exhilarating, engaging and fertile- qualities I love to encounter when experienceing art myself. It's wonderful to be able to put those energies into something one is working on.

Then there's the more general lust for the good things: a fascinating new idea, a new way of perceiving something, mastery of a new technique, joy in the pleasures of experimentation. Desire that spurs one on to hunt down and claim the object of one's lust.

Now for greed. Naturally I am not talking about money-grubbing (although I am sure that there is an artist somewhere who will find a way to make literal amassing of funds into art) Similar to the general sense of lust, I mean greed for the good things. A healthy desire for MORE MORE MORE. More of whatever it is that moves the artist. More color, more restraint, more freedom, more specificity, more black, more space, hell - more publicity. Whatever - just more. Not more than anybody else or all for me and none for you. I'm working from a perception of abundance.

Am I soft-pedaling the evils of mayhem, lust and greed? I certainly don't claim that they are always good things. I'm saying they aren't always sinful and sometimes they are very useful. A person can't help being lustful or greedy but they can try to control how they act. It is possible to exercise all these feelings, to enjoy them and to use them to enhance one's creative process without doing damage to anybody else. It's a matter of judicious use (Sin in moderation and you'll be okay - ha!)

Artists need to think creatively, to discern which path to take in the pursuit of their ideas and to keep at their work until they get where they're going. Mayhem forces one to confront upset expectations, eases unusual juxtapositions of objects and thoughts and produces a state of flux that necessitates new ideas. Lust is the creative impulse, a good indicator of what is really interesting to the artist and a good source of energy to feed the work. Greed helps the artist to grab what they need to keep them going on their journey and offers incentive to keep reaching.

So those are the ideas behind the words. For my next post I will go into "why plates and why do they look like that?"







Sunday, April 6, 2008


Here's a fast and cheap idea: I'll post the plates one by one here. If you click on them you can see them up close, larger than life. I'm posting them last to first so that when they're all up there you can page down and they'll spell out their words top to bottom.

Last night I went to see Margaret Cho with my friend Barb. Afterwards we went to Finale, a dessert restaurant in my neighborhood. Margaret Cho was really funny but the killer for me was the dessert.

The tastes and textures of the food were so exquisite and satisfying and so easy for me to come by. What a privilege it is to be me! Some people's lives are nothing but drudgery and pain. Some people live in fear for their lives and those of their families. Some people are lucky if they can find a raw potato to eat. Me, I can walk up the street to the local restaurant, pay ten bucks and go to temporary heaven.

I might not have written about that if today's Vietnamese lunch hadn't also been so delicious and easy to come by.

Tonight I'm going out with my friend Tammy.

I guess greed is an appropriate theme for this weekend considering all the going out to eat that I'm doing. I wonder what will happen when I get to lust? I can't wait to find out!

I Too Am A Clam

I'm beginning to realize that I'm not using this blog to my best advantage. There's a lot of coming out I could do here but it doesn't occur to me. I'm not really in the habit of letting what's going on in my head out into the world.

No wonder I was so upset about that 400 year old clam - it was a relative!

Instead of sending poor Liz an e-mail book about my wild dreams for a video game I could let them out here.

Not now though. It's lunch time. I'm going to get some Vietnamese food! Mmmm!

P.S.: So far so good with the making fear my new best friend thing.

Notice I'm still being a clam.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Cookies - Not The Kind You Bake

Here's something puzzling: I just went and googled gaming magazines because I'm interested in games but I don't know much about them. I went to the "" link that came up and was met with two strange ads: one for the Pediegg, an electrical callus removing device, and one for Max Factor cosmetics.

That has to be something to do with my cookies. A site that I've never been to before that is probably visited mostly by men knows that I'm interested in womens' beauty products. I expected targeted marketing from sites that I use often but this is the first time I've been to a completely new site (new to me) that pegged me right away. Wiley!

I'm not buying any of that stuff though.

An Unveiling

Here's what I've been working on for the last four months or so. You can't see much in this photo. I'm working on an update to my website where you can see each plate in detail. I'll post a link on this blog when the update's done.