A day with Art

Contributing to the kids section

Art came into town and we spent the day going to museums and enjoying the fine 60 degree weather avoiding the stadiums and Bengals’ loss to Cleveland.

The Contemporary Arts Center is all different now with new exhibits. None of the cool things from the opening are there any longer (no more manequins in orange jumpsuits). Such is the transient nature of these spaces. Sadly, the current works just don’t suit the venue well (or, vice versa).

Anyways, there was some (not much) fun stuff scattered about. I laughed when I saw the “Go Fags” pennant hidden in the ‘Art in Politics’ exhibition.

Since I couldn’t take photos in the gallery, I decided to create a knockoff in the kids exploration area upstairs. They have all these paints, markers, construction paper, glue and whatnot lying about ready to be used. They encourage visitors to make something and add it to the wall.

I wonder how long my masterpiece will stick around.

The Habana Series

Art

So I haven’t written this up proper, and since I am in Columbus and the camera is out in some freezing parking lot blocks away, I’ll back up a moment to my weekend in Kansas City a little over a month ago.

It was the Saturday after I accompanied Art to the Charlotte Steet Fund exhibit opening. He was speaking with the other artist’s for a Q&A session. Aside from this, the day gave me the opportunity to go through the gallery without the crowd and din of conversation and see his work without distraction.

His series of black and white photographs was separate from the rest of the show, in a side room. Arranged on three walls in a U configuration, the prints echoed the layout of the Habana “resort” in Oklahoma City – the location we were introduced some months earlier at the Great Plains Rodeo. Standing in the middle of the room, looking around, you can get a sense of the place, and of what goes on there.

The Habana has several nightclubs and bars that attract regular blue collar gay men from around the Midwest. After last call, the deck above the pool becomes the place to continue the evening. Where men walk around and peer into rooms. They lurk in the shadows. Doors cracked, an invitation.

At first glance, these are simply photos of men looking into the windows of motel rooms. The figures are in motion. The lighting is natural. Dark.

What he has captured here, with camera placed in stealth, is the glance.

The cruise.

Something I have averted after countless failure and varying degrees of discomfort.

The photos are fascinating. The suggestion. The expressions. The hunt.

As Art spoke of his work that afternoon, a hush fell over the audience as they realized the context.

My own feelings are much harder to resolve, other than I like the photos very much, on many levels. It’s hard to separate my reaction though, after being privy to the process.

Feeling privy though, seems to sum up what the photos represent, and it’s evocative.

With the proliferation of camera phones, new legislation is being introduced to ban taking and disseminating pictures of people in “sensitive or compromising states.” In fact, a congressman from Ohio is the author of a bill passed by the Senate on this very issue. There’s relevance beyond the walls of the gallery it seems.

The Kansas City Star wrote up a favorable review of the show, and Art’s work. Again, a warm feeling of recognition swept over me as I heard Art’s grin through the receiver of the phone as told me about the article.

Privy, again.

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Europe: Day 2 – Kröller-Müller Museum

Self-poortait

We got on a tram before i was awake, although strangely lucid and alert for a sleeping person. Then we got on a train. We took the train to a bus. And there we were, at the Kröller-Müller Museum.

I had been here before, but my memory, without aide of digital devices is sorely lacking. It was all new to me. (I don’t know what I was doing 3 years ago, let alone 10)

Touring the museum, leisurely (there was no crowd right when it opened), was quite nice. In between galleries, I sat and had a Fanta with Dan. I have always loved the non-sweet tickle of orange Fanta in Europe. Why on earth they sell the sugary crap-variant with the same name in the US, baffles me.

We regroup and wander the sculpture gardens. Quite idyllic, this place.

After some tasty sausage, potatoes, vegetables, applesauce, pickles and mustard (and more Fanta), it was off to the bikes to hit a tour of the Hunting Lodge.

The hunting lodge had one interesting combination of design details I thought was amusingly anal. The sideboard in the entryway had four legs that lined up with the tile pattern on the floor. How peculiar, these wealthy folk.

Leaving the lodge, we found two bikes missing, and the other group on the tour (a dozen perhaps) also found their bikes gone. We tried a few combinations of getting two fellers on one bike, with no success.

No mind, I walked with the Marmot and he pointed out trees and other details of the landscape I may have missed on wheels.

That evening, we hit bars and I frankly don’t remember much of them. Dark, smoky, crowded, and little beers.

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Back in one piece

Pondering the Serra

Between the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis stands this spiral steel sculpture by Richard Serra. I was hesitant to like it, but once I wound through the metal walls and lost my sense of balance and felt the heat brush against me like a ghost, I decided it was nice.

I’m picky about big rusting pieces of metal guised as art. A junkyard is infinitely interesting. However, simplicity can be arresting and in this case, it works.

Like a donut, my weekend in St. Louis was tasty – bookended by a trip to Kansas City to see Art’s photography at an opening. Sadly, I’ve little time to recount as I hop on a plane for Amsterdam in t-minus 49 hours.

Work. Work. Clean. Pack. Woosh.

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Man, can I take a picture of your hair?

He said, “Sure.”

I went to the Artspace in Kansas City to see Art’s opening with the Charlotte Street Fund on Friday. His collection of photographs were in their own room while the rest of the gallery was devoted to the other 6 painters, sculptors, and graffiti artists awarded grants.

I don’t often go to openings, so I wasn’t prepared for what to expect. What should I wear? I asked. Art told me I could wear my suspenders and jeans if I wanted to.

Cool.

So we got there and chatted briefly with his parents and made our way to the beer after a quick tour of his photos. It was nice to meet his rep who didn’t even try to hit me up for buying one of his prints.

The crowd was cool and mixed. One lady, in a cowboy hat and sunglasses was three sheets to the wind and I enjoyed watching her. There’s only two reasons to wear sunglasses to a museum or a bar:

1.) You’re blind. or
2.) You’re an asshole

I think she was the latter, albeit a fun-to-watch asshole. I think she got kicked out for doing too many drugs upstairs, Art says that this colors the evening inappropriately. He doesn’t think drugs were involved.

Got to meet some of the nice folks that work with Art and talked to a handful of people I didn’t know just for the heck of it.

This one kid with frizzed out afro-like hair was not shy about my request to document his head.

A good opening, and in suspenders no less.

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Arts and crafts day

I’m sticky.

A while back, I took everything off the wall around my desk in order to try my hand at decoupage.

de·cou·page
Variant(s): or dé·cou·page /”dA-(“)kü-‘päzh/
Function: noun
Etymology: French découpage, literally, act of cutting out, from Middle French, from decouper to cut out, from de– + couper to cut
Date: 1946
1 : the art of decorating surfaces by applying cutouts (as of paper) and then coating with usually several layers of finish (as lacquer or varnish)

So I gathered some scissors, a canvas, paintbrush and some Mod Podge (pretty much it’s an Elmers Glue variant).

I’ve learned some things. First of all, a hard surface would have been very prudent. Duh. Air bubbles are killing me. But with my wabi-sabi attitude, I’m letting those imperfections go and chalking up the experience. Tomorrow, I’ll add the antique varnish and see if that helps disguise the flaws.

View the project

Next week: Macramé!

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Wabi Sabi

Apple

Picked up some fruit and veggies at the market yesterday. Soup’s brewin on the stove again, filling up the house with nice aroma.

I got some apples. They were a little bruised and pocked, and as I was about to put some back, I remembered the tenets of wabi sabi.*

I placed three in the basket to cleanse my mind of being overly picky.

Later that evening, after a brief visit to the bar, I nursed a Budweiser and the notion that said Japanese aesthetic should be more apparent in social situations.

Then I went home and masturbated.** That wabi sabi stuff only gets one so far.

* Wabi Sabi is a way of life that appreciates natural beauty, values simplicity, and nurtures an authentic self. It acknowledges that nothing lasts, nothing’s finished, nothing’s perfect, including you, but affirms that contentment is possible when you accept genuine unvarnished existence, with clarity and grace.

Referenced from Richard’s Wabi Sabi World

** jerk off, jack off, wank, wank off, beat off, whack off, beat the meat, stroke the salami, choke the chicken, grease the axle, wax the dolphin, choke the bishop, wax the rod, peel the banana, butter the lobster, change gears, walk the dog, polish the knob, onanism, spank the monkey, chase the weasel, whistle dixie, dick off, rub one out, whip the birdie, self-service, squeeze one off, sling jelly, bop the baloney, jack the beanstalk, dunk your dolphin, grease the sprocket, flog the log, punch the clown, squirt around, polish the low-quarters (military), captain jack (personified), played the organ, squeeze the lotion dispenser, bleed the serpent, pull the peter, plug the mellon, polish the purple helmet, tickling the turkey, polish the wand, flog the dolphin

Referenced from Sexual Synonyms

Oh yeah, and tonight I felt artistic again and drew one of them apples.

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Teabaggin

Earl Gray Grey + Sharpie + The business section of the paper

I left my camera charging at work on Friday. As painful as it is to walk around the wonderful fall weekend, I just didn’t have the gumption to go back into the office.

I got up this morning and lamented the teapot I threw away because I couldn’t get it “clean.”

I boiled water on the stove in a pan and fixed some tea. I bought this great locally harvested honey at the market last week and put a dollop in the mug. Along with some tasty homemade boysenberry jam on toast, I sat on the back porch and read the paper.

I felt like doodling, and the only thing handy was a Sharpie (and a scanner).

I remember back in school, we each had these ArtBins filled with lots of goodies – essentially a tackle box with a rainbow ArtBin logo.

Kneaded erasers, Prismacolor pencils, protractors, metal rulers, Rapidograph pens + ink, a nice metal barrel pencil sharpener, markers and x-actos. And some tape I’m sure.

As much as I’d like to have all that handy, the biggest stumbling block is figuring out WHAT to draw. If I took it easy on myself, like I do with snapping photos, maybe I could muster up something beyond a doodle.

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