Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Personal Roadblocks




I did something very exciting yesterday -- I dropped off my paintings at the Leep Gallery to be installed for the Healer's Art show. But something else happened that was interesting but not so exciting: my anxiety went through the roof. Basically, my id, ego and superego got in a three-way Joan-Collins-meets-Linda-Evans-in-the-fountain catfight.

Here's my 10-cent anaylsis of it. Id says to the other two, "yo, I wanna CREATE! Let's slap some paint on the canvas! Let's move to Paris and raise Will in a bohemia conclave! Ooo, look - a rainbow!"

Anal-retentive ego, our mediator agrees but lays down the rules, "It would be fabulous for us to paint, but let's organize our thoughts so we have a cohesive idea since we have to do this with a theme in mind."

Id: "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! I like BLUE!"

Superego decides to pipe in, and throw a blanket on the proceedings: "paint? She's not a painter! What do you think she's going to be able to do?"

Ego: "I believe she has a great sense of color and composition that will marry well with the theme and an artistic interpretation of what she wants to communicate. This will turn out very well."

Id: "Pretty! Potato!"

Superego: "This is going to suck, THEY'RE ALL GONNA LAUGH AT YOU!"

[end scene]

The above illustrates, in a humorous way, the personal roadblocks I set up for myself. I wonder how many masterpieces have died an early death at the hands of my worst critic, myself.

In a way, the superego provides a great service, preventing me from potential disaster, wastes of time, and general bad ideas. The "edit" button has, in the past, made my work better and keeps the wheels turning towards better, and bolder, ideas.

But it can also be self-defeating if it takes over. A thought such as "perhaps it would be better to do this instead of that" can quickly become "why bother, you suck!"

I wish I were like my friend Leslie who either has no internal negative dialogue or she simply tunes it out. It seems like she always has the best ideas, the most fun, the greatest innovations. If she fails, she always sees it as a stepping stone towards improving on the previous idea. Is it optimism, her belief in her great ideas, or her creative marrying her engineering praticality?

I think my superego is also ruled by fear. I can flash back to some long-forgotten Children of Mary Christmas party when my sister convinced me that it would be a good idea for me to go up on stage and do a lip synch to Anne Murray's "Out On the Road." This did not go well, and I remember the pain of not only bombing, but being ill-prepared besides. Wow, I couldn't have been older than 8 at the time... No one wants to be laughed at, unless of course laughs were what you wanted.

But I'm still putting myself out there, sticking my toe in the pools of creativity and shyly offering my prizes to the general public. Some have been celebrated, like my Beaded Curtain at ArtPrize and the Mrs. Hannigan skating routine. Some haven't turned out so well, like pumpkin pie and the Willie Nelson program. For each moment I stick my neck out, I learn a little more, get a little bit braver, and hope to God that people like it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Random Happy Buzz




Baseball season previews are everywhere: newspaper, ESPN the magazine, Baseball Digest. Baseball Tonight is back on the air. Random small talk about the Tigers chances. Got my Whitecaps fridge magnet.

Happy sigh.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why Art Matters: Keith Haring



When I was an art student, our life drawing/fine arts class was given the task of doing a research project on someone current pushing the world forward. I chose to do my project on graffiti artist Keith Haring.

There are many reasons to love the work of Haring. His tagger art, many times dismissed as vandalism, was a radical concept in 80s New York, a which often led to the debate "is it art?" Trained at the prestigious School of Visual Arts, Haring often said his illustrations were inspired by African tribal art that was bold, skeletal and active. His color palette was vibrant, joyous and pure, a splash of primaries, or stark black and white.

His work was inspired by the vibrancy of counter-culture of the 70s and 80s NYC. Haring was witness to the birth of rap and hip-hop, punk, disco and street parties. A friend of Madonna's, she recalled when they were a couple of street kids running from one house party to another.

He also deemed it his mission to make his art for the public. He got his start tagged NYC streets and subways with his simple yet striking images on his way to class at the School of Visual Arts. With a few strokes of a piece of chalk or a marker, he transformed the gritty transportation with his whimsical drawings. When he became famous and in-demand, he opened the Pop Shop, which made his work available on pins, posters, miniature sculpture, shirts and watches.

Haring was also generous with his talent. He provided artwork for many non-profit organizations, such as his iconic baby and mother for the cover of the Very Special Christmas albums. I remember getting stickers in college featuring his work for GLAAD, Amnesity International and Resist!

Haring passed away right around the time that Rolling Stone ran a feature on him and I gave my presentation. My professor, a collage artist from SVA who surely knew him, asked me the question "is it art?" to which I retorted with a bit of bold swagger "whose to say its not?"

Twenty years later, with Haring's work on view from San Francisco's MOMA to the conservative Fredrick Meijer Gardens, I am proud of my declaration to my skeptical professor that what Haring created is indeed art.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Update: It worked!

So I developed my matrix, and it worked! Here's how:

First, by inventorying my figure skating dresses, I realized I have the dresses to clothe myself for future programs I have in my head. Also, I have a nice inventory of stuff to sell on my skating mall. So I save future money by not having to buy a dress and hope to make money by selling some.

And by taking pictures, I sorted by article, then by color and length. Example, I sorted all skirts by color and whether it was a long or short skirt. By grading the piece, a little cut/paste action, I was able to then re-sort pieces by their grade. That is how I came to realize I have 3 white skirts, and at least one of them has to go since two of them are, based on structure and length, practically identical.

This experiment was very liberating. By cutting the grade C's in my closet, all of my looks are suddenly leaner and meaner. This gives me more confident that I look great any time I walk out the door. My closet is neater, as I am making more room in my closet.

Now, a lot of things have been pulled, but not a whole lot of it has made it into garage sale piles yet. Well, some of the stuff is in the pile to One Girls Treasure. Resale means new clothes baby!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wardrobe Madness - Or an idea so off the wall, it just might work




It's well known that I read a great many fashion magazines and am also the great bargain hunter. The results of this are a great many articles of clothing that are bought for a dime on a whim with the hopes and dreams that it will look fabulous.

Other things that inspire shopping for way out or wonderful looks is reruns of Sex and the City and overnight adult figure skating competitions.

There are natural cycles during this mass consumption when the gears start grinding in reverse. These cycles happen during my period, those awful moments when I look at my jam-packed closet and whine that I don't have anything to wear. Also, when winter turns to spring and my lily-white legs are set free from their pants-ed chrysalis and crave the swirl of a skirt.

It is these times when my OCD tendencies come to the forefront and are released on my unsuspecting wardrobe. I reread the "packing light" articles from Vogue and the Be More with Less blog by Courtney Carver. I play tough love and start tossing stuff I haven't worn or used in the last 6 months. I also read Marissa's New Dress a Day blog to see if there's a quick fix to salvage something destined for my Goodwill pile.

Often, I'm left with a closet full of pieces that I still love, but because I purged my closet of an old pair of capris or ditched a stained tee, I no longer have an outfit.

The idea I have is such a time-waster that it may be too stupid to implement. But it may be so crazy, it just might work. It's my wardrobe matrix.

I plan on putting together an excel document that line-lists everything in my closet. Next to the listing, I plan on categorizing, listing my season and cross-referencing items that will go with that item to make an outfit.

What do I plan to accomplish with the list? In a way, use an accounting method to justify an item's continued existence in my closet. If an article of clothing is neither versatile nor a favorite, why would I keep it? It's kind of like reading pop song lyrics, you think you know what you're singing until you see it spelled out in front of you.

I expect this experiment to be highly entertaining, and perhaps sobering. I already know I own a lot less pairs of jeans than the typical person, but probably more skirts. And I already know one skirt is teetering on my list with a C grade. Tune in later to see if it passes muster!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

April March - Cooler than Me



The other night I fell asleep on the couch after having picked up the house post-birthday soiree. We had been watching the P!nk concert on Logo, a very trendy, GLBT cable channel. I woke up to the movie But I'm a Cheerleader! and the song "Chick Habit" was playing over the opening credits. It had a very 60s girl group vibe, by way of rockabilly. I loved it so much, I Shazamed the song to discover the song was not from the 60s, but from 1995, sung by artist April March.

I googled her and found the results of her bio to be quite fascinating.

First, she studied at Disney's Character Animation program. She worked on some of the coolest projects in the 80s and 90s, including Ren and Stimpy, Archie's Comics and PeeWee's Playhouse. Ren and Stimpy was cool enough, but she animated Madonna in the title sequence and music video of Who's That Girl. Love, love, LOVE that work!



Then comes her music. According to the bio, she's heavily influenced by 60s French pop, and her music has been used by Quentin Tarantino, and the duo of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. She's collaborated with the Dust Brothers. And Chick Habit is just such a cool song.

She even married cool: she hooked up with another indie musician who was the former VP of music history at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

I bet even her kitchen trash can is cool, some retro enamel in teal blue with chrome.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

March Playlist - What is So Fab About the Fab Four




I've had quite a bit of Brit on the mind these days. There is the tabloid love for the royals getting married (yes, I love Kate's style, rock that plunging neckline), the big Oscar night for The King's Speech, and the news that Phil Collins has to retire simply because he has rocked too long. I was listening to his celebrity playlist on the way in to work, and since he made a cameo in A Hard Days' Night as a teenager, my ultimate Beatles list was born.

I guess I'm embarrassed that I will be stating some obvious choices, but will do my best to incorporate favorites that are deeper album cuts.

A Day in the Life - I love this song because I consider it their mini-symphony. It is the perfect embodiment of what made the Beatles so successful, the collaboration of Lennon/McCartney and their mix of sour and sweet. Two of my favorite skating performances of the last 10+ years has been to an instrumental of this song. One of my favorite ad campaigns quotes this song to sell coffee, of all things. Then you have that insane 45-second note. "Then I woke up and I fell into a dream. Ahhhhhhhhhhh"

Across the Universe - Lennon at his most spacey.

Boys - a cover version of a girl group number that Ringo Starr simply wails on. It is the maximum amount of joy crammed into 2 minutes. Bop shu-ah, a bop bop shu-ah.

Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight string - I was first introduced to this medley upon seeing Sergent Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band, an awful movie I didn't know was awful in my love of All Things Beatles in my single digit girlhood. Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees as pallbearers to a girl in a clear box was sad and romantic, not nearly as creepy as I found it later on. Anyway, I found the original version, with all the other song snippets strung together, a vast improvement over the movie version. Figure skating angle: Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre skated to it.

Don't Bother Me - Let's just say it, George Harrison was underrated and this gem is from With the Beatles and featured in the A Hard Days' Night dance scene. The Quiet Beatle grouses about privacy over a deep bass groove. I don't think anyone has skated to it.

Here There and Everywhere - when I was little, my exposure to Beatles music was the limited collection on the Red and Blue greatest hits albums and whatever songs were featured in the Beatles cartoons. Imagine hearing this soft romantic ode for the first time as a lovelorn 17-year-old. It was like getting knocked over by the world's largest heart-shaped box of candy. Standing under an avalanche of rose petals. Slo-mo rom-com climax montage. This song redefined love songs and romance in general. So soft, it's easy to get swept away with the simple melody. When I'm ready for a new artistic/dramatic, I may propose this song as a way to get in touch with my girly side.

Hey Bulldog - This song is so much fun, a beer parlor romp with banging piano, a cool song buried on the Yellow Submarine album, a song that was cut from the cartoon movie in the United States. I used to play this song as a lead-in for my newscasts and sports report when I was a DJ at Ferris. Glad the DVD version of the movie is not only cleaned up, but now includes the 4-headed bulldog going nuts.

I Feel Fine - another entry from my favorite Beatles era, the Help!/Rubber Soul/Revolver years. Groovy little reverb opens it up, and then we have those amazing harmonies and a little high hat/drum groove in the middle bars.

In My Life - tender, reflective, heartfelt and sad. It's my funeral song.

It's Only Love - Important to note that it's the Anthology 2 version I like, and not the one on the Help! soundtrack. One of producer Sir George Martin's missteps of over-production. Lennon's stripped down version is simple, with just him and a guitar. His vocals are raw, emotional, and much more powerful.

Matchbox - bluesy cover sung by Ringo. Makes me wonder what he could have done with some of the Beatles later work from the White album.

Norwegian Wood - guitar plus sitar and Lennon's voice like honey. I had absolutely no idea this song was about an illicit affair, and at 7, wouldn't have known what an illicit affair was.

Nowhere Man - again with the honeyed Lennon vocals and rich harmonies. I say that my favorite album is Revolver, but thus far, Rubber Soul is coming up the winner. Hmm....

Oh! Darling - McCartney's vocal gymnastics turns this into one torchy song. Dead ass sexy.

Paperback Writer - Great energy in this song, think this was produced between Rubber Soul and Revolver. The clackity-clack typewriter backdrop is a great frame for the tale of a pulp fiction writer.

She's a Woman - featured in the movie Help! another bluesy McCartney tune. I don't think Oh Darling could exist without this one first.

Something - Shall I revisit 1987 again and tell you what this song does to a 17 year old's libido? What kind of cultural revolution in rock ballads happened in 1969 once this hit the airwaves? Bravo George, bravo.

Taxman - George Harrison opens Revolver with a sneer and a delivers the rebellion that rock and roll promises. The Verve Pipe, a local band that made good on the national scene a few years back, did a cover of this song back when they were a college band.

Things We Said Today - a passive, art house/coffee shop/beatnik entry by McCartney from A Hard Days Night. I love the musical progression in the song, from subtle to urgent.

Til There Was You - a cover of the song from The Music Man, one that I sang along to at a theater production. Appears it is a favorite of my husband's as well.

Tomorrow Never Knows - Good Lord, what was Lennon smoking when he dreamed this up? The answer is a big, fat doobie. To think he went from sweet pop songs to singing from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Oh thank God the original boy band was allowed to grow up and produce crazy shit like this.

Two of Us - from Let it Be, I've heard differing stories on the origins of this song. Some say it was written early in the Beatles career, and just now I'm reading Paul wrote it for Linda. The one story I've heard straight from McCartney is the song always reminds him of when he and John shared a microphone and were "eyeball to eyeball, like the Everly Brothers."

While My Guitar Gently Weeps - I know Eric Clapton was the guest lead guitarist on this song, but he is merely a foil to the genius Harrison displays in this song. It should be known this is the first song my son ever heard and his response to it is nothing less than joyous.

You've Got to Hide Your Love Away - A song so wrapped in Beatle angst, that when featured in the Help! movie, the only response was to have a troll trimming grass in George's indoor garden with novelty chattering teeth. Lennon's vocals are tinged with bitterness, and Ringo's tambourine keeps time. Fantastic guitar work.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Of Glue and Gaga and gahhh!




March blew in like a lion yesterday as three different art spectacles took over my day.

The first, the "glue," was a home project, cleaning and painting the laundry room. Piece a' cake? Oh no, of course not. Last week I got out the caulk to fill in the gauges Woodbridge left when he dug at the electrical socket. Then came the sanding, which I am pleased to say turned out pretty well.

Then it was prepping and painting. I had picked a color earlier in the week based on the muted greens in the wallpaper border I was planning to use. Thankfully, Will went down for a nap, and I lept at the chance to start taping and painting. Baby boy was exhausted, because I not only got one coat up, I moved the washer and dryer, cleaned under those (ew), then got a second coat up. The color is a muted leafy green, soothing and charming although I'm worried it veers a little too close to industrial/80s green.

Next, I put up some wallpaper boarder that was left over from the last owner. It went up pretty easy, but I'm horrified to realize that I have now run out of said border, when I was sure I had enough. Crap! So I can either chalk this border up to "practice" and buy a whole new roll or set out to match it.

Lastly, I'm looking at other little touches in there to make it not only an effiecient work space, but a welcoming one as well. I'm thinking about hanging the white sheers with the red stripes. How about abstract art made of clothespins? I have an old knick knack shelf that would be great hanging next to the ironing board.

I put home decor aside to prepare for Lady Gaga. I've been to a lot of shows, so how to explain...

The crowd was as wild as any at a Ministry show.

The dancing was BETTER than a Madonna show. And the music was as multi-layered as Madonna's work in her prime.

The band was as tight as any R&B show.

Here is the ongoing monologue of the show as a texted a friend: "lots of 80s prom dresses... lots of OMG and f-bombs by young in audience... place is packed... Ooo, group wearing light up wigs from "Let's Dance"... show starting!... leopard print bodysuit, yellow hair, stiletto boots, looks like she should be serving drinks at a biker bar on Division... monkey bars, purple crown... red cape, amazing trio of dancers... big diff between her and Madonna, she's highlighting her musicians... high school wrestling headgear... video of someone blowing chunks on her white dress... high school girls crying in aisles... subway car, men in spanx, Gaga in opaque white nun habit... Olympic torch!... she's screaming like Frau in the Austin Powers movies... sweet monologue... "are u having a good time?! I can't hear U!!!"... dedication to her gay bffs... boys, boys, boys and she's gone!.... she's in black leather on a riser with a keytar... Beyonce on the line!... diner dance!... pointy shoulderpads and asked someone to show her her teeth while jumping on subwoofers... in a lift with dancers and Dave thinks it is a level 2 lift; it was actually a level 3 platter lift... fur fring sunglasses... now she's bloody and talking about bullies... tribal... Alejandro and the place smells like b.o. ...
black veil, poker face... Paparazzi, and she's dressed like a tree, about to be eaten by a fish... fireworks bra!... she's calling Grand Rapids G-Rap... she's in a gyroscope for bad romance... pale yellow rubber dress - condom? Born This Way... WOW!"

And the gahhh? I've had a heather gray dress that I got for a steal at Old Navy last year. What I loved about the dress was the laser cut, scalloped edging in the skirt. What I didn't love was the fact the dress overall was simply too big everywhere but the boobs. Drop-waist, I didn't love that either. Oh and an overall heather gray is simply depressing. With a deep breath, I cut it above the tie waist and tried it on with a white shirt. Instant transformation, it went from matronly to very cute. The extra I cut above the tie waist did a cute gathered brown paper bag thing. The top I cut off, I tried that on and well... that went in the Goodwill bag.