Friday, October 17, 2014

"Landfall" - Laurie Anderson and the Kronos Quartet

Last weekend, Hannah and I drove to the Wexner Center to experience Landfall. My previous encounter with the Kronos Quartet was watching them behind a screen with Phillip Glass as they performed Dracula in Houston, Texas. I once saw Laurie Anderson perform Live in New York in Vancouver, Washington where not a face in the crowd had dry eyes as she described NYC post 9/11. I could not imagine an event more worth traveling to despite it being a hectic time of the semester.

Surprisingly, Hannah and I were two of the youngest people in the audience (though I envied the ten year old boy who was there with his father). The performance was beyond description and I am still trying to find the words to process what we saw. The core of the story featured Hurricane Sandy and one of the most memorable parts was the finale when Anderson described walking into her studio basement to see keyboards, archival papers, and photographs of her dog floating in brown, murky water. These three sentences were projected on the screen above the Kronos Quartet moments before the show ended: "How beautiful. How magic. And how catastrophic." Those words describe many of Anderson's stories whether or not they are related to a horrific event.

Anderson spoke of a list of millions of animals that are now extinct. As their names and locations last found (remains discovered) scrolled by, one cannot help but think how many more in our lifetime will be added. I am mesmerized with each story Anderson tells of animals, as they often feature disaster. Once, I created an artwork based on her description of birds and I keep wondering if anything will come from this event.

Jacinda Russell, From The Lost Photographs, 2003-2005

Laurie reminded us that human beings were not the only ones that lost their lives the day the airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center. Birds, burning, their bodies seared, also fell to the ground amidst the flesh and debris.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ofili and Sidibé

Chris Ofili in Malick Sidibé's studio

To say I am behind on my New Yorker subscription is an understatement but I happened to finish a recent issue and was enamored by Calvin Tomkins' profile "Into the Unknown." It is highly worth the read and can be found here. Of course I am a sucker for any photograph taken in Malick Sidibé's studio in Mali which lead me to research the above image, wondering if Studio Malick was still in use. 

Malick Sidibé's studio photographed in March 2013

Malick Sidibé's negatives (both images from this fascinating slide show).

Monday, October 6, 2014

Cape Horn Road, Bayview, Idaho: 1955 & 2014

Something must be done with this (an 8mm film my uncle recently emailed featuring my mother pointing at the sonar barge in Bayview, Idaho). I have a brick of 13 year old past expiration slide film, a newly repaired Pentax K1000, and a local camera shop that is willing to cross process. If my first trial (expecting lots of errors) works, this may be the key to approaching all the photographs of Lake Pend Oreille taken in May.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Skeleton in the Drawing Closet

Once a few weeks before obtaining my undergraduate degree, I borrowed my father's keys to the art department. After midnight, a friend and I removed the skeleton on the right from the drawing classroom and installed it into the art gallery exhibition. It was placed prominently in the center of the space and was well illuminated the moment the gallery director turned the lights on the next morning.

When returning to Boise last month, I requested to photograph the skeleton in the drawing closet. It lives in another building now and is missing an arm. I was surprised to see that the once white anatomical man on the left was still in use. Its presence was often featured in drawings displayed in the hallways. It, too, was missing its right arm but I found it on the shelf above and reattached it for this photograph.

I was a child when I first encountered that skeleton. Back then I wondered who that person was before they died and how their bones came to live at Boise State. Last month these thoughts persisted: what does one do with an aging and decrepit skeleton in an Art Department? Can it be discarded or repaired? How long before its life after death has run its course? Many years later, I no longer recognized it as human and it felt as false as the model on the left.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Doug Aitkin's "Sun Pool"

Doug Aitken, Sun Pool from the exhibition Still Life at Regan Projects, 2014
Aluminum lightbox, LED lights, chromogenic transparency, acrylic
38 x 88 1/2 x 7 3/8 inches

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Pile of Library Books That Keeps on Giving

Next time a couple hundred dollars falls into my lap, remind me to purchase this:

Todd Hido's Excerpts from Silver Meadows.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Spheres of Cat Hair and an Orange Chair

I took this photograph two summers ago around the time I was emulating obsessive activities professors did in art departments. I finally showed it to my inspiration - the person who rolls cat hair into spheres - last year. Fortunately, he wasn't horrified and that gave me permission to carry on (and post it now). After this photograph was taken, I started another activity (talking to a plant and recording my conversations) last January after my former professor who acquired dementia and was found conversing with cacti on campus. Once a month after each faculty meeting, I sat next to a bush and talked to it as if it was she. She died prematurely last summer and I was never able to say good-bye. That was such a depressing endeavor that I stopped after four months, not particularly interested in ever hearing the sound recordings again.

More stories were collected from friends and colleagues and I kept wondering what the point was in my recreation. I was interested in the subject matter but grew despondent thinking I would become these "characters" when they were, in reality, not like me at all.

In May, I saw this chair in the old watercolor classroom at Boise State University and my heart flew into my chest and everything changed.

I remembered this chair from our last acquaintance in 1995. It resided in my Dad's office for years, providing a seat for students during open office hours. I even recognized the blue paint.

Suddenly, I knew that the work I must make had less to do with other people's experiences in the art department and more of my own. I have thought about these photographs all summer - the white one above was the most important image I made on the residency. My return to Boise State earlier this month allowed more access to the photography, drawing and painting classrooms. I am working with the original locations but still telling stories through the objects I find there and the actions that took place in those spaces many years ago.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Art Department: Further thoughts after the post a couple weeks ago

I was born into an Art Department and have spent all but two years of my life there. One evening while participating in the Surel's Place residency in May, I walked to Boise State and visited some of the classrooms where I spent many of my earlier days watching my father grade, helping him rearrange drawing chairs, and staring out the windows while he completed administrative tasks. Later on I would attend the same school, switch my major to art from creative writing, and enroll in the classes of the professors who had known me since birth. I moved to Arizona for graduate school, attended another department, then eventually became an art professor. After seven years as an adjunct (at University of Houston, Lee College, Washington State University Vancouver, Oregon State University, Lewis and Clark College, Oregon College of Arts and Crafts, and Mt. Hood College), I obtained a full time teaching job at Ball State University.

It wasn't until last May while wandering through the hallways of the past, did I realize how important it is to make art about this topic. I have tried to reconcile this, deciding if it is worthy to pursue (or too insular), but I can't stop thinking about it. The concept refuses to fade away and I keep taking photographs. I may post a few of them over the next week or two while I formulate the words to describe what this means.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Return to Kirkham Hot Springs

Since returning from the residency in May, I have had a little time to assess the water images. It has become painfully clear that I had nothing to work with from Kirkham Hot Springs that was out of the ordinary. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to return to the Middle Fork of the Payette River last weekend. I am hoping to make something from the two photographs below. This may involve printing, rephotographing with outdated slide film, and cross processing. Not sure yet but film is on my mind lately (visiting the old color lab at BSU may have instigated this). Needless to say, they are more successful working images to contemplate compared to my previous outing.

Kirkham Hot Springs, Idaho

Kirkham Hot Springs, Idaho

Piling rocks into pools (photo by Marie Baldner)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Boise State - Visiting Artist Gig with Alexis Pike

The posters and the contracts.

Alexis discussing we sagebrush folks in Jonathan's class (photo by Laurie Blakeslee).

Where I fell in love with photography and changed my major from English to Art. It hasn't changed too much since 1995.

The only Jobo left in the old color lab.

The first time I exhibited the cakes with an "archive" in a vitrine. More exhibition documentation coming soon.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Boise in September

Fire Alarm Dispatch cards at the Sesqui Shop. They are hand drawn maps showing the location of the box alarms in Boise.

Best paint by number artwork in Laurie and Stephanie's guest room.

Spotone on the bookshelf.

Laurie in the garden she has photographed for a couple years.

White cats left in a cul-de-sac.

View from the Boise Airport that I will never forget since I first saw it as a child.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

O.P.P. Interview with Stacia Yeapanis

Check it out. I was very happy to participate when Stacia contacted me. She asked such thoughtful questions that helped me formulate new ideas on how to describe my practice. This is a key example: "In what ways are you a documentarian? In what ways are you not?" This is not a description I would have prescribed for myself but the more I explained my answer, the more it seemed feasible.

Monday, September 1, 2014

"Faux" at Boise State University with Alexis Pike

I started packing today and am currently formulating a 30-minute presentation where I talk about nothing except cakes (and Ed Ruscha) and more cakes. 

I don't have an official announcement yet but here is the information for the exhibition, Faux, at the Hemingway Center on the Boise State University campus.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Art Department

Sarah Jones, Colony (Studio) (I), 2008

Sarah Jones, The Drawing Studio (I), 2008

I have spent all but one year of my life in an art department. I was born into one, attended two, and have taught in eight. In May during my residency, I realized that a series devoted to this topic has potential. I am slowly coming to accept this and have begun working on it regularly. Here's to being so excited about a project that I spent seven hours working on one photograph without eating dinner tonight.

It is a reprieve from needing to travel to points far away to finish the "water as autobiography" and artist stalking series. They are still in the works but I have reached the point where serious travel must happen to complete them (which is difficult during the school year). I am researching funding opportunities but in the meantime, looking over my shoulder at my surroundings to see what will materialize.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Erick Swenson's "Muncie Head"

Erick Swenson, Muncie Head, plastic and acrylic paint, 2001

Last month I finally made it to CCAD (Columbia College of Art and Design) to see their exhibition space. I keep hearing that it is the place to see art in Columbus and I was grateful to see Erick Swenson's Ne Plus Ultra. Since leaving Texas (and no recent trip to NYC), I haven't seen much of Swenson's work in the last couple years. You can imagine my surprise at seeing the title of the above sculpture. After further research, I have failed to find a connection with Swenson and Muncie. My consolation is that it is the best work of art featuring this town's name that I have ever seen though I have no idea as to the context.

The next CCAD exhibition is Tom Burkhardt's Full Stop, another installation I first saw in Texas, once many lifetimes ago. Here's to keeping this space under my radar and to wishing that they update their upcoming exhibitions soon.