Thursday, October 27, 2005

I refuse to ossify!

I’m sitting in the airport reading an article by Ben Marcus titled “Why Experimental Fiction Threatens to Destroy Publishing, Jonathan Franzen and Life as We Know it” in Harper’s Magazine. (In the background I’m listening to a middle-aged man bitch on a cell phone to a United Airline service representative. He is angerly saying that he has never received such poor service and that he demands to be put on 5:00 Alaskan Flight and that he will only sit in seat 9A or 9B. This reminds me of the lady at our local Bagel’s and Blenders bitching about her toasted bread after the girl behind the counter says she will give her untoasted bread. The lady says no, that is not necessary, but still continues to bitch about the toasted bread for another 10 minutes...looking at the menu and saying, "It doesn't say on the menu that all bread is toasted. You NEED to tell the owners to change it!." My heart begins to pound and I am unable to concentrate on my order, just like I am unable to concentrate on typing this blog entry…now I can feel this man’s anger while an anorexic woman plugs her cell phone into a wall outlet dialing frantically on her cell phone while putting one person on hold to answer another phone call, slapping the phone shut and frantically dialing another number. Panic, panic, panic…I thought America was on Prozac?)

I take a deep breath, remain sitting in my lotus style position…ahhhhh, serene smile…

So, back to the article. I won’t waste your precious reading time re-capping the article, however, he did talk about the type of books that end up on the best seller’s book list which happen to be made for the average reader. People don’t read like they should he states. The best sellers happen to mimic the easy styles of the past while those who try and push language and our thinking are marginalized. My favorite line Mr. Marcus wrote says,

“The elitists are not supposedly demanding writers such as myself but rather those who caution the culture away from literary development, who insist that the narrative achievements of the past be ossified, lacquered, and rehearsed by younger generations. In this climate artistic achievement is a legacy, and writers are encouraged to behave like cover bands, embellishing the oldies, maybe, while ensuring that buried in the song is an old familiar melody to make us smile with recognition, so that we might read more from memory than by active attention.” – Ben Marcus, Harper’s Magazine/October 2005

This made me think about visual art and how visual art is taught. (James Elkins will argue art can’t be taught in a great book titled “Why Art Cannot Not Be Taught.”) We look at history for greatness. The average person will say their favorite artist in history is Monet, Degas or get a little daring and say Picasso, but not that really abstract stuff…but the Blue Period is nice. Recently, I have heard a lot of rumblings in our The Empty Space Gallery about A.S. Ashley’s “Jesus Christ Satellite of Love” art piece in the Dia de los Muertos art show. One woman grimaced and said, “It’s so dark.” Another woman complained that it was just too disturbing and we should think about taking it down or he should at least have written an artist statement.

Artists don’t purposely make artwork that you are going to hate. At least not usually. They may, however, make art that makes you think. Not just about it, but about yourself. Because truly you are talking about yourself when you make a generalized comment like, “That is so dark.” What part of the piece is so dark? What about that part makes you think it’s dark? What does that part make you think of when you see it? When have you seen something like that before? What other things do you think are dark?

My line of questioning is about us and our reaction. That is also part of the piece. Truly great art was once thought to be disturbing, ugly, just too different then what was common during that time period.

So, I ask myself as well as other artists to not be just a cover band. I ask viewers to not succumb to group think. I ask you to dig a little deeper into your first response emotions and wonder what that tells you about you. And I ask you to hold your damn tongue and just have the poor girl behind the counter get you your untoasted bread.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hot Gallery News!!!

Due to the popularity of the show, the Dia de los Muertos exhibition has been extended!

You can now see the artwork up through Saturday, November 19! You can visit the gallery every Friday and Saturday 30 minutes prior to the theatre performances at 7:30 pm or 10:30 pm before the late night show. Of course, you can always see the show by appointment by calling 327-PLAY!

More exciting news…

You have 52 days before you can open the best Christmas Gift EVER!!!! (start making your construction paper ring garland to count the days!!!)
You can’t shake it, lift off the tape just an itsy bit, heck I’m not even going to give you a hint to what it is. Nope, not giving you one little, teeny weeney hint. This thing will make you so deliriously happy that you might pee in your pants a little bit.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Two Weeks, Two Hearts

The Empty Space Gallery has coordinated another great art show! I was asked today, “how do you do it Julia…working 50 - 60 hours a week at a Corporate job and take on such a huge responsibility as volunteer gallery director.” I will be honest; it is 20+ hour a week gig. We have a lot of ups and downs when organizing a show. Group art shows are the most labor intensive. Take for instance, the Dia de los Muertos show that just opening this past Saturday. The show was filled with artists brand new to the art world and veterans that have been showing for years. As a gallery director, I spend a lot of time coaching new artists, answering their questions and helping them with their presentation along with sending out reminder emails to all about shipping information, consignment agreements, drop-off times and gallery opening details.

This particular show had started out as a brain-child of Maria Mercado, local theatre Director (Anna and the Tropics). Her enthusiasm for the event was evident, but her calendar just got too full for her to take it on. Since I had already sent out information to artists about the event, I decided to move on.

I sought out another volunteer to run with the festivities, but alas, two weeks before the event their calendar got just too full and they had to drop out. Wow, I hadn’t hung the show, I started a new job, I wanted to do a piece for the show…too much to do and not enough help! In walked Guinevere Park-Hall, working machine and volunteer Marketing Director at The Empty Space Theatre. I originally asked her to assist our Dia de los Muertos event coordinator with the theatre details, but without a word, she stepped up. She said, “Well…this probably couldn’t have happened at a worse time for us personally, but we will march on!” She tells me she can help me up to the event, but has another commitment to attend to on opening day.

I contacted the new Mas magazine about a month ago regarding the event and they hopped on it. Guin and I were both interviewed extensively about the show and I forwarded artist’s names, numbers and jpegs for possible inclusion in the article. I promised to snag a couple copies of the article for the out-of-town artists. (Who might I add sent me their work, nicely framed and packaged weeks ago. I love you!) I was told that it would hit the streets the Friday before! Oh, the excitement was building!

A.S. Ashley, a veteran of the art world jumped in and offered to help hang the show and get some publicity. He got an hour ½ interview on KRAB radio and a plug the day before the event.Guin lined up a musician a month ago…this event was going to be an amazing pull-off for two tired and overworked volunteers. We called each other frequently to give each other pep talks and to check in. Unfortunately, my support to Guin was minimal because I had to focus on the art and artists.

Guin checked in with the musicians, got decorations for the altar donated, food and soup ordered and dancers were slated to be contacted by a friend. Yeeehaw!

The art hang day came and all went fairly smoothly. Michael Biagiotti came up from Los Angeles to pick-up his work. I patched and painted the walls. We only had a few stragglers turning in their art and a couple issues hanging unframed work, but A.S. Ashley and I were a hardworking team and the art was great!

After a 6 hour hang day, I had a few things yet do and a week to do them in:
- Pick-up vinyl lettering from Kinko’s ($27.00 yikes, but they do look good!)
- Apply vinyl lettering
- Type up the placards for each art piece (My printer’s out of ink. I hate Dell computers…you can only get ink from them)
- Pick-up an artist’s work from their house (the things I do!)
- Get beverages and pastries donated (Thank you The Filling Station!!)
- Post the event on Bakotopia
- Send out a reminder email/press release to my contacts
- Figure out when I can actually get into the Theatre to finish my details (it is Tech week you know!)
- Read my Flawless Consulting Book, 5 Dysfunctions of a Team and Crucial Conversations books for my new job. (zzzzz, just kidding boss!)

Tuesday, we get a call. Our musician cancelled. Yikes! Guin does some magic and gets the talented Ben Gomez to donate his time. He can do it, but has to work until 5:15pm at the Spotlight Theatre…he says he will get there as soon as possible.Wednesday, we hear that the dancers were not called by a friend of the theatre. Chalk this one up to a misunderstanding.

Friday, Mas magazine article was not printed. They decided to push it to the next issue.

A few more bumps in the road, but it is Saturday. I’m driving to Kinko’s to get those placards printed and zip over to The Empty Space. At the stop light, I have a lovely experience with some teenagers on bikes spitting on my driver’s window. Great, but it is OK, I’m focused.

I’m hanging an artist’s last minute pieces that were not completely dry…takes a little longer than expected. Eeek. Guin pops over to spruce up the altar with fresh flowers and then some. Bob, the Artistic Director, gets in the spirit by helping with the arrangement. Guin, says that she will drop off the soup and food she ordered (that she donated to the cause) as she is leaving town. I’m trying to wrap up, field last minute calls from artists and friends and get home to spruce up.

I get a call from Guin. The restaurant didn’t put in her order. She pre-paid a week ago. No tortilla soup today! She makes a dash to Los Hermanos and gets it in just under the wire for the opening. She is running late for her other event, but gives me a hug and kiss and wishes me the best. I am thankful that I can truly count on her. She says she will do something and her word is gold. She is a rare artist, friend and volunteer!

The show opens, artists are adding to their altars, people are adding to the community altar, talking art, smiling and drinking. It was about celebrating and remembering those who have passed. This opening event was an inclusive day that crossed cultural boundries where we all could celebrate our loved ones and each other.

Proudly, two hearts in two weeks brought the community the Dia de los Muertos art show and opening!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I am not Greg Brown's Stalker.

I’ve decided I’m not a stalker. OK, I realize that most stalkers wouldn’t probably admit they are stalkers because that would mean you are admitting that you are creepy. I am definitely not creepy.

As some of you know, I am a Greg Brown fan. Yes, I am a FAN. It is OK to admit that. Greg Brown is probably the most delicious, handsome, sexy, intelligent, deep, sexy, down home, Zen-like, sexy-hippiesque folk singer on the circuit. A stalker wouldn’t put that on a blog with their name in the title. I first saw him perform about 10 years ago in Central Illinois with about 50 people in attendance. I was surprised to see him climb on stage with a tattered cowboy hat, dirty jeans and a worn thin white tank-top. Then he started to strum and out of him rumbled the deepest, gravelly, touch you “down there” voice. Hello!

Since then I have seen him perform seven times. I have almost all his albums and just recently purchased on EBay his “One Night” record produced in 1982 by the Coffeehouse Extempore’. I don’t even own a record player. A fan would do that. A stalker wouldn’t want that kind of electronic trail.

He performed last night at the Stanos Theatre on the Cal Poly campus in San Luis Obispo. At the last minute, I asked a friend if he wanted to go and he said yes. Sometimes I regret asking friends to go because you are just not sure how they will act during the performance. When I am in a Greg Brown zone, I don’t want you to nudge me, whisper to me or breathe in my general direction. Luckily, I had my ticket so he would have to fend for himself in another section. My seat was perfect. I was nestled on stage left in the second row. The planets were aligned and I did not have anyone sitting in front of me. I was seated so close that if the stupid woman next to me wasn’t wearing such a god awful perfume, I might have been able to smell him. All was perfect minus the minor distractions of the loving couple next to me and the hairy backed man located off to my right. Even back hair can disrupt a perfect evening of Greg Brown.

Greg was in good spirits. He joked a bit with the crowd and even recognized a friend in the audience. I wondered what it would be like to be Greg’s friend. I looked over at Joe Price (Greg’s friend) and wondered what was so special about him. I decided I might secretly touch Joe at the end of the performance. A stalker might do that, but so would a fan, so I was ok with that.

The performance was intimate and pretty much perfect, but came to an end too soon as usual. I hooted and hollered, but there was no second encore.

As the crowd started to file out I made my way toward Greg’s friend. Just as I was about to make my move my friend joined up with me and intercepted my plan. Damn-it.

We made our way out the exit and I was walking slowly. We exited and I realized we were at the back of the Theatre. Greg probably would come out this way. I decided to stall our exit by saying I needed to go back in to the theatre to use the restroom. I did. I urged him to buy a CD. I lingered contemplating the crappy art on the wall. Then I thought this is the right time. He wants to go right, but I say we can get to the parking by going left. We walk and…there he is in his tank top standing at the back door of the theatre. I knew it. He was there with the friend I almost touched, but now I have my oblivious friend chatting away, distracting me of my focus. He sees my line of sight…and dumbly says, “Hey, that’s Greg Brown. Let’s go over and get my CD signed.” I halted, frightened. I’ve never talked to Greg Brown. I mean I’ve watched him talk to other fans while I stood back. I’ve had the opportunity. He once sat close to me at a Folk Festival and I just looked at him with his green, over the shoulder messenger bag with a giant ink stain on it, but I have never marched right up and said “I’m your biggest FAN!” I mean come on, I’m not a freakin’ dork. So, there I am standing so close to a possible meeting and I was frozen. A fan would walk up to him and say they were a fan. A fan wouldn’t really care if they sounded like an idiot. A fan would have brought their 1982 Greg Brown “One Night…” album with a perfect pen to have him sign it. No, I wasn’t his number one fan.

I realized that I am in the star struck purgatory. I am probably stuck for eternity between “Stalker” and “Number One Fan.”

I’ve decided that I am Greg Brown’s Number One…Lurker.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


My creative process surely indicates genius. I came home around 8:30 pm tonight with plenty of time to create the piece that has been haunting me all week. I have received two comments thus far on my much awaited balloon animal Dia de los Muertos art piece. OK, I know I put it out there, but come on people…an artist can’t work under this kind of pressure! (I’m talking to you Barbara R. and Matildakay!)

So, I came home and did the usual routine hoping for inspiration. I fed the cat, I pet the cat, I talked on the phone, I left messages for people, I logged onto email and then with a burst of energy I spent 45 minutes finding homes for my Sticker Nation stickers. Oh yes, my creative juices are really working overtime!

Gemini Power!

No title needed.

Did I tell you…

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Major Leakage!

As my thoughts come to a close on Webzine2005, I dream of Webzine2006. It looks like my skills as a “handler” and “candy/soda girl” leaked into the inner Webzine2005 circle! Eddie, chief organizer, seems to be vying for my “handler” skills. Eddie, I’m here for you darling! By the way, do you know Scott?

Today has been a frantic day for Senorita Gallery Director as I get ready for the Dia de los Muertos art exhibit at The Empty Space Gallery. I probably shouldn’t divulge this bit of artistic information, but I have been working last minute on my own submission. Since I’ve taken on the responsibility of Gallery Director, I have had little time to create. I use my group shows as opportunities to force myself to squeeze out some time in the art studio. Which, by the way, is a complete disaster...

It has leaked onto my dining room floor...

It’s coming slow, but I think I have an idea. It revolves around balloon animals. That is all I’m going to tell you. You will have to come to the art opening on Saturday, October 15 from 4 – 7:00 pm to see how I’m going to tie balloon animals to a Day of the Dead