Monday, August 30, 2010

Anderson on the onset of school... (and the story of my week)

"I kind of feel like one of those geese, pleasantly making his way south, who gets sucked into a jet engine"

Anderson Wrangle, Betrayal, 2001

Friday, August 27, 2010


Jeremy Kohm's Star Princess.

Gregory Krum's Chateau Pool
I am interested in photographs as documents and in this case I was very interested in the notion of a subjective document. I wanted to get to the bottom of what I wanted from the landscape and I wanted a record of it. I thought to explore the relationship between landscapes and emotion, specifically desire. I knew, however, I did not want the specificity of a portrait. I wanted to get to the viscera of the landscape, to approach it from an inappropriate distance; I wanted it to be unreliable.

Thomas Prior's Steps. "Dangerous recreation in beautiful places."

To My Great Astonishment

When google searching images for the last post ("Ed Ruscha Nine Swimming Pools"), a few dozen images also appeared on the same page. Oh my... I don't know what to think of this.

Half of the blog, "In Search of the Center" has infiltrated Ed Ruscha on Google. Yikes.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Ed Ruscha's Los Angeles" by Alexandra Schwartz

Ed Ruscha, The End, 1991

I have been engrossed in this book for the last few weeks. Normally it would take far less time to read it but it's on the back burner with all the school work that needs to be completed. Last night around 2:45 AM, I read this passage:

Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass presents a series of photographs of swimming pools and their decks, rounded out by a surreal image of a shattered drinking glass on the final page of the book. The only one of Ruscha’s architectural books to be shot in color, its photographs show the pools as a deep azure. Cool, placid, and inviting, they symbolize the California dream of which this artist has so often spoken.

“The truth, however, is that these pools were located at various cheap Las Vegas motels, not glamorous Beverly Hills estates, and on closer examination, one notices the muddy footprints on one deck, the cracks in the concrete, the ragged plants around the edges. Ruscha’s visual sleight-of-hand suggests an ambivalence about the Southern California lifestyle: that its allure, may ultimately, be a deception. Yet at the same time, these low-rent resorts speak to the notion that fantasies of sun and surf are available to everyone, from motel patrons paddling around in those run-down but beautifully blue swimming pools, to multimillionaire movie stars who have the real thing in their backyards.”

Schwartz has written a fascinating account of the influence of Southern California on Ruscha's artwork and new details are cropping up that I was unaware of (i.e. the fact that these were cheap Las Vegas motels and so on). His symbiotic relationship with Dennis Hopper, the origin of his last name (originally Rusiska) and the pseudonym he used as an art director for Artforum (Eddie Russia) have all been noteworthy details. I am now plowing through the section on the
"Ferus Stud" - how could you not love a title like that?

Monday, August 23, 2010

"Nine Fake Cakes and Nine Bodies of Water" Final Cut

Nine Fake Cakes & Nine Bodies of Water,
Jacinda Russell
Summer 2010

Location: 3rd Floor Rooftop Swimming Pool, Galt House Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky

Date: Sunday 9 May 2010

Muchas Gracias for assisting: Hannah Barnes

Cake Nickname: "Big Pink"

Bribe $ to make it happen: $5 tip to the concierge

"Lessons Learned from this Event" (ode to Nancy after getting caught returning to the scene of the crime with her UH trespassing pool jump): Ask permission then trespass if necessary (fortunately the first worked). Don't expect the pool to be open even when the hotel says it will be while making reservations a month earlier. Count your lucky stars the wind was blowing in the direction of where the sun was shining on the side of the pool where I could stand without my shadow getting in the way. Styrofoam and caulk do hold up in water deeper than the wood shop sink.

Hidden fact disguised in the cropping of this photograph: the pool looked like it hadn't been cleaned since last season.

Quote: "...the first in a playful, whipsmart series of artwork where their ode to Ed Ruscha and Wayne Thiebaud is the icing on the cake and the sheer glamour of the cakes themselves, the cherry on top (or in this case, the roses)." - from Design Ingenuity.

Location: Mid Valley Athletic Club, Tucson, Arizona

Date: 15 May 2010

Muchas Gracias for assisting: Cass Fey and Daniel Huntley

Cake Nickname: "Desert Sun"

Number of floats: 2nd out of a total of 6 (which also included 2 fountains, an apartment complex, and 2 hotels)

Trespassing Status: Got away with every single attempt and no bribe money was needed

Lessons Learned: Do NOT leave a styrofoam and caulk cake in the car even if it is in the shade with temperatures in the low 90s. Desert Sun's new nickname could be "Bubbles."

Hidden fact disguised in the cropping of this photograph: the Silver Sneaker aerobics class is working out 20 feet away.

Quote: "We are just making a birthday card for a friend who loves this pool but couldn't be here today." Cass Fey - when asked what we were doing at the Arizona Inn by another swimmer.

Location: Barton Springs, Austin, Texas

Date: 13th June 2010

Muchas Gracias for Assisting: Nicole DiMucci

Cake Nickname: "Lime Green"

Number of floats: 3 of 3

Trespassing Status: only happened once, didn't get caught and no bribe $ needed

Lessons Learned: This cake was so hard to photograph due to how light the top looked under direct sun which resulted in many overexposures. The cake decorations deteriorated more quickly than any other because of the sheer length of time it was submerged in the water. Also, fishing line around the wrist and screwed eyed to the bottom of the cake works quite well!

Hidden fact disguised in the cropping of this photograph: There was a lot more algae than what little you see here which pushed the prerequisite of "enticing."

Quote: "Is that a container?" at Hamilton Pool or "You can't bring food in here!" at Barton Springs.

Location: Scott and Kim Anderson's Backyard, Hartford City, Indiana

Date: 18th June 2010

Muchas Gracias for Assisting: Hannah Barnes, Donna Goedhart, Shannon Mehaffey, Scott & Kim Anderson

Cake Nickname: "Big Spiral"

Number of Floats: 3 of 3 (tried 4 locations but one pool was empty). This was known as the "Failure Tour" after the inability of finding a decent location or weather at Prairie Creek Reservoir (Muncie), Tuhey Pool (Muncie), and Mounds State Park (Anderson).

Bribe $ to Make it Happen: Chocolate cupcakes and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon

Lessons Learned: The cake can, with a lot of muscle, be pushed underwater but it is impossible to stand on beneath the surface. Trying to have a positive outlook on finding a place in Muncie is impossible (no surprise there but you can't fault one for trying).

Hidden fact disguised in the cropping of this photograph: Chickens, chickens everywhere! On a side note, I asked Scott and Kim what their location should be called. "Chicken Ranch" was suggested but I vetoed that because the famous Nevada brothel is the first thing that came to mind the moment it was mentioned.

Quote: "My husband and I were wondering how much your camera costs?" (i.e. lets avoid the cake but try to strike up a conversation that eventually leads to the BIG styrofoam and caulk thing that's far larger and more apparent than the camera) - Mounds State Park, Anderson, Indiana

Location: Niagara Falls, NY

Date: 30th June 2010

Muchas Gracias for Assisting: Marni Shindelman AKA "Cake Wrangler," Zazie and Franzie Weldgen

Cake Nickname: "3-Tier"

Number of Floats: 2 (Franzie Weldgen's backyard in Webster, NY was the second)

Bribe $ to Make it Happen: One journey on the Maid of the Mist boat tour and a fake cake eraser.

Lessons Learned: Many... I needed a rudder! The Niagara River moves quickly! The hot glue gun worked for three complete submersions before the topper fell off. The screw-eye, fishing line system worked well in terms of reining the cake in against the current. Red acrylic tinted caulk bleeds A LOT.

Hidden fact disguised in the cropping of this photograph: That really is the Niagara River. It moves fast and is SCARY.

Quote: "I'm just taking my fake cake for a walk." JR to Steven Pedersen when he looked at me curiously in the hallway en route to taking the cake home to be packed.

Location: Silver Bay, Lake George, New York

Date: 4th July 2010

Muchas Gracias for assisting: Li Rader

Cake Nickname: Angel Food

Number of Floats: 2 (the second occurred at Lake Champlain near Shoreham, Vermont)

Bribe $ to make it happpen: Nada! I love my friends!

Lessons Learned: The whitest of all white tops and on the scale of things sucking to photograph, this ranks high. It was exposed in partial shade for that reason. I also had no idea that this cake is traditional 4th of July fare.

Hidden Fact Disguised in the Cropping of this photograph: The water is also blue, green, purple, and clear.

Quote: Nothing much... same old "Is that a cake?" that is uttered from people everywhere.

Location: Sooke Potholes Provincial Park, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Date: 16th July 2010

Muchas Gracias for Assisting: Donna Goedhart and random stranger on the Pacific Ocean

Cake Nickname: The Slice

Number of Floats: Two (the second was at Long Beach at the Pacific Rim National Park, Vancouver Island).

Bribe $ to Make it Happen: None though I did feel really goofy asking a stranger for help.

Lessons Learned: Paint the bottom of the slice or grow some guts and bore a hole through the top. When I held the slice, the text would only face me.

Hidden Fact Disguised in the Cropping of this Photograph: A very deep pool and waterfall are ten feet to the left.

Quote: Nothing beats the Park Ranger saying, "That's illegal in Canada!" when she thought I was going to let the cake go down the Sooke River.

Location: Lake Erie, Evangola State Park, New York

Date: 29th June 2010

Muchas Gracias for Assisting: Aaron Wickenden, Marni Shindelman, and Hannah Barnes

Cake Nickname: "Little Great Lakes"

Number of Floats: 2nd of 6 (this cake visited Lake Michigan twice, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, and Lake Superior throughout the course of the summer)

Bribe $ to Make It Happen: Nada

Lessons Learned: Little Great Lakes vs. Waves (the waves win every time). It topples! The red caulk decor finally stopped bleeding by the third float.

Hidden fact disguised in the cropping of the photograph: There were dozens of seagulls off to the left.

Quote: This cake was inconspicuous compared to many of the others and the floats were mainly done outside of the public eye so no one had much to say about it. Dogs even ignored it at the Dog Park in Chicago!

Location: Miners Beach, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Lake Superior, Michigan

Date: 12 August 2010

Muchas gracias for assisting: the ever so patient Hannah Barnes

Cake Nickname: "5-tier"

Number of Floats: this was the only one because some of the decorations were real sugar

Bribe $ to make it happen: None but we endured persistently annoying questions.

Lessons Learned: There is nothing inconspicuous about a 5-tier cake in a national park. Giant flies are attracted to sugar. The real candy melted instantly the moment it met water.

Hidden fact disguised in the cropping of this photograph: There is one annoying guy standing five feet behind me asking to see the images on the back of the camera. I could see his reflection clearly off the camera body.

Quotes: "OK... I have to ask you about this cake" and upon hearing the answer... "Oh I was going to come over and congratulate you" (on your marriage).
"Where's the ice cream?"
"Oh you shouldn't have..."
"I like your cake!!!!" shouted by a little girl bicycling by the campsite whose voice trailed behind her.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Photographs of Postcards by the Postcard Recipients

I'm collecting photographs of what people have done with the postcards they received over the summer and they are starting to come in! This one by Richard Peevers made my day. More coming soon featuring swimming pools in Denton, Texas and pink vanity tables. I'm really happy to see Richard try the thing I have wanted to do but just haven't yet.

Another Fake Cake by Richard Peevers, 2010

$ $ $

Dan Graham, Figurative, 1965

Last year I was too scared to add up all the money I spent on the earthworks trip. My loss for not deducting it but I just didn't want to know. This year (because there is more documentation with these cakes than any other project I've ever done), I kept track. This is prior to printing & presentation.



but.... every once in awhile you have to take the chance.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

We circled Lake Michigan, spending the night in Green Bay upon our return from the UP. I have nothing to say about Green Bay other than I would hate to be there any other time of year except summer. Aside from that, I had Hannah take this photograph of a fast food joint as we drove by because I still marvel at the idea of a "butterburger." I did a little research to discover what exactly this culinary nondelight comprises (it belongs under the category of things I now wish I didn't know).

I can't imagine why any burger needs 6-8 tablespoons of butter but I didn't say I was visiting the leanest state in the nation.

Milwaukee, on the other hand, was impressive. First stop: Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum. Unfortunately, we weren't interested in any of the exhibitions but we did manage to walk around the entire building and sneak several peeks in the main foyer. I am a sucker for new architecture as one of my favorite buildings is this. Don't let the fog fool you, it was HOT and HUMID and reminiscent of Houston, Texas in August.

We missed the "wings" opening and closing at noon. This video shows them in motion near the end and I can't help but think "Batman" each time I see it.

A little Alexander Calder in the entry.

The "wings" from inside:

What city doesn't need an enormous, orange di Suvero?

We grabbed lunch at the Fuel Cafe (highly worth visiting) and proceeded to spend the next several hours crawling through Friday evening rush hour traffic in Chicago. We brought home a cooler full of whitefish and trout (smoked and fresh), Wisconsin cheese, and brick oven baked bread. Just wondering how many more days that will last before I really have to go to the grocery store. Come on payday!

Fake Cake Float: Little Great Lakes

Left to Right:

Lake Erie, Evangola State Park, NY - 29th June 2010
Lake Ontario, Durand Eastman State Park, NY - 1st July 2010
Lake Michigan, Sleeping Bear Bay, MI - 10 August 2010
Lake Huron, St. Ignace, MI - 10 August 2010
Lake Superior, Whitefish Bay, MI - 11 August 2010

My outside opinions (I knew that Lake Erie was my choice but had to ask two people their thoughts). The first was my cousin David who didn't know much about the project until last week:

"Numbering these from left to right, number 3 if my favorite. The water appears to be smooth and rich which defines a good cake. It also feels like it is the view from a hidden tropical island, which some people say is heaven, but for me the cake is what I call heaven. ;-) My second favorite is number 2, followed by number 1. Number 5 has potential but only if it is printed large enough for the viewer to realize that the girl has a cake in her hand. Number 4 is my least favorite because it looks like someone cut out a picture of a cake and pasted into a river picture. Sort of like a bad photoshop job. I know this is not the case and the picture is real, but the cake stands out because there are no ripples in the water and the cake lighting is very different lighting from the rocks underneath. So, if you are trying to match the awesomeness that is cake with the awesomeness that is water, go with number 3. If you are trying to be ironic and say that cake does not belong near water, go with number 4. And being a single guy, any photo with a girl in it gets high marks so I like number 5. ;-) Now I am craving cake...."

Then I elicited Aaron's opinion who took me to the dog park in Chicago on the first Lake Michigan cake float:

"Let's see... tough to choose a favorite, I love em all! If pressed though, I'd say the one on the far left. Like the way it seems like its all cake vs. lake."

... and "all cake vs. lake" wins. #3 (Lake Michigan) was my second choice but the water looked very similar to the 5-tier float in Lake Superior. Although I love my Richard Misrach ripoff - #5 - (and Hannah pointed out that it resembles the cake topper holding the cake from Niagara Falls), it's not sunny and I couldn't use two cakes from Lake Superior because I would then have eight bodies of water which doesn't fit with the series.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday 18th August

Aaron Ruell, Untitled

From Heidi.

From Natalie & Richard

From Maura (duh).

From Aunt Mary.

Raspberry and Pistachio muffins from Amelia.

From Li.

Chocolate cupcakes glazed the silvery blue of the Great Lakes from Hannah.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fake Cake Float: Michigan and the UP Part 3

Destination Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Hannah and I first saw this location online in which she proceeded to place a post-it on my computer screen of the 5-tier on the falls. It looked like a great place from my office in Muncie so we reserved a camping spot and waited until August.

Camping at the Lower Falls proved to be interesting. Let's just say the number of people that thought we were recently married lesbians was surprising. Our neighbors (seen here behind Hannah) couldn't stop staring at us while we cooked some of the best meals of the summer - whitefish, corn, eggplant, tomato/polenta/mozzerella in tinfoil packets, seared apricots, etc.

Why does food taste so much better cooked outdoors?

Anyway... I was in need of quotes for the last cake so I thought about unpacking it and setting it on the table just to give our rude neighbors something else to talk about. Within two minutes one of them crossed the invisible boundary between our spaces and asked about the cake. She was already to "congratulate us on just getting married" and I was quick to tell her it's about ART NOT MARRIAGE trying hard not to relay how obnoxious it was to stare openly at strangers. Every time I walked out of the tent, I felt the need to wave at them, they were so obvious.

The one drastic mistake made with this cake is that some of the decorations are real sugar. The red ones were caulk and they liked to fall off but the sugar attracted large flies and washed right off the moment it hit water.

The falls proved to be unappetizing due to the tannin which ultimately resembled cow piss and so I opted out of this locale as a potential photo shoot. I was getting worried though. The hardest cake was last - I had no idea how it would float because it was the heaviest and I couldn't try it because the sugar candies would wash off.

I started to have nightmares about it and turned into a ball of anxiety that would snap at anyone who tried to talk to me about it when I was busy photographing. Hannah saved the day many a time with her excellent PR skills. Let's just say that carrying around this thing was anything but inconspicuous and people gaped openly, stood five feet behind me and asked to see what it looked like in the viewfinder, persistently asked questions when I was obviously struggling not to slip on the rocks and drop my camera in the water. At one point I curtly hoped that yelling "It's ART" would make people go away but no.... that didn't happen.

The best part of the entire photoshoot was the location - Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Check out the "water, color" here!!!

This was the incredibly slippery rock that we had to place the cake on to fully go with the name of the surroundings.

Despite the audience, it floated so well (the 3-tier was far harder to stay upright and sunk deeper), the weather was perfect, and the location extraordinary. Needless to say, the final photograph (the postcards went out today!) is my favorite of all nine. It epitomizes the entire series - I will be posting the images later this week as soon as I gather the remaining written documentation so stay tuned.

This photo was my second choice but wait until you see the final cut! It's like a tugboat in this image with a little lean toward the right.

Overall, I cannot believe I accomplished this project since its inception in mid April. It proved to be quite stressful but ultimately, one of the best things I ever conceived of as summer series. Yay! It's over - and now the printing will begin.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fake Cake Float: Michigan and the UP Part 2

Once crossing the Mackinac Bridge, I had a brief opportunity to float "Little Great Lakes" in Lake Huron with Mackinaw Island in the background. I realize we didn't see Huron in more than one location but it was far less interesting than all the others and harder to walk along due to the larger size of the rocks. It wasn't until we crossed the bridge did it fully sink in that these were lakes that we were visiting, not calm replicas of the ocean.

The "world's largest" this and the "world's largest" that were often on our minds. We read stats about the Great Lakes on the phone when we had reception and even encountered this giant fake dessert in Charlevoix, MI:

The convenience store near our campground in Paradise, MI had a display of a giant Hershey's bar with a normal size one for comparison. The package of marshmallows was the largest I have ever seen (at least double the normal size).

That was not to be outdone by the giant lighters at the cash register:

On 11th August, "Little Great Lakes" made its last appearance in Lake Superior at Whitefish Bay. We took naps on the beach next to the lighthouse and museum (well tried to amidst the blowing of a horn that sounded like bad tuba practice). I wanted to go here because of my continual desire to reach the "end of the road." From the lighthouse, it went no further but I had to drive as far as it would take me [Realization: does this have anything to do with seeing how close to an earthwork I could drive the SUV?]. Despite the cloudy weather, the water temperature was tolerable and I captured some great photographs of Hannah holding the cake (once again channeling my inner Richard Misrach or Catherine Opie).

The more time spent in this area, the more my center of interest shrank in the viewfinder. The largeness of the land became more important than the recognition of the cake. Scale will continue to be a theme with the cake I saved for last... the "5-tier."