Saturday, 29 September 2007

Solar eh? Oh oh!

Well, my happy heart is not singing (There's a Dean Martin song called Volare that was being played a few years ago that had the line "No wonder my happy heart sings" in it).

Anyway - The solar man cometh and delivereth less than sunny news. I'd been playing phone tag with him literally for months and was beginning to think it was a waste of my time to try and continue with this person when we finally connected. What he told me was not unexpected, but was disappointing. We live in the woods and in order to have effective solar panels, we would have to cut down a bank of oak trees behind our house. This I was actually (reluctantly) prepared for. What I did not want to hear was that if I started with a smaller system I would have to pay 2000$ extra per watt. Generally they charge $8000 per watt - but if you purchase a system of smaller than3 watts $24,000 then you pay $10000 per watt (I'd wanted to start with 1 watt and build up as I had the money. Not only that but we have to find a place in our house to store batteries the size of our dining room table. (Batteries that could potentially explode and do need extra ventilation. Hmmm!) Losing my trees and all my savings doesn't seem like a very sunny proposition. More decisions to make and things to think about. I'm very disappointed.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Obsessing on Details

Okay, so I redid my boot one more time. This time I adjusted the boot height and the number of buttons so that it would look more like it really will for my own short little squat foot. I also added the side seam and adjusted the raven's back and tail to be (what I hope is) more graceful. So once again here they are:

Without the moon:

With the full moon:

and with a crescent moon:

Monday, 24 September 2007

New Dreams

Well, I talked to my bootmaker today and there is a new wrinkle. He doesn't do leather tooling, so my raven wing design is too complicated and had to be reconfigured. He said he could do the other design no problem and a simplified form of my deisgn would cost roughly the same amount as the other design. This is a hard choice, as I really like that other "borrowed" design. In the mean time I decided to redesign my boot in a way that it would not have to be tooled and the boot maker could manage it. Here is what I came up with.

Then I decided to see what it would look like with a moon. I tried a crescent moon first.

Then I moved it around.

Finally I tried a full moon.

And then there are those other ones!

Decisions! Decisions!! I'm so bad at decisions!

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Renaissance Dreaming

A few weeks ago I engaged in an impulse buy that I could not resist. I'm not sure why this called to me so strongly, but it did and I yielded to temptation.

Sorry the image is so blurry. I had not quite learned how to do timer images when I took that shot. The main thing is that i want you to be able to see the raven.

It turns out the raven is an important animal in the tlingit creation myth (and although I believe this custom
made cloak is aiming at a Celtic image, it is surprising how similar the Northeastern Indian image is to the Celtic one.)

The raven is responsible for bringing light in the form of the sun and the moon to the world (after these bodies had been hidden away by a mean old man). I love the connection to light and creativity and although it is not an animal I had associated with a totem for myself (skunk, wolf and spider had been the animals I thought myself closest to) there is something about this image that truly speaks to me.)

...So.... when my husband and I discussed getting ourselves anniversary gifts of a less expensive version of Renaissance festival boots by ordering through a boot maker we had heard of on line. I started thinking about what style of boots I might want. I discovered these at a website and I absolutely love them - but thought perhaps I should design some of my own.

So this is what I came up with.

What do you think?

Friday, 21 September 2007

The Pleasures of being a Winner

At last, I am finally feeling better and the postal service played in perfect pathetic fallacy (that's when nature or the weather emulates your mood) by providing me with an uplifting gift from Tiger Lamb Girl. Many weeks ago I participated in a guessing contest on TLG's blog concerning some relatively unusual objects. After harassing her to death to find out what the objects were, she decided to award me a prize (mostly I imagine to get me off her back!) Wait until you see what she sent! These are definitely one of a kind objects - perfect for pepping up an ailing artist and vanquishing illness and self-pity from the premises!

First I got this:

And then when I turned it over - this lovely gentleman came into view.

I am thrilled and joyous to be thus honored! If that doesn't drive away the evil rhino invaders, nothing will. I am sure I will be healthy from now on!

Sunday, 16 September 2007

More Renaissance Fair

A few more photos while I'm still under the weather.

Friday, 14 September 2007


Still sick, but hope to be better tomorrow - in the mean time I have not been reading or writing blogs, just trying to stay caught up at work! (and failing!) Here's a picture I took a few weeks back to prevent total boredom!

Monday, 10 September 2007

I drew a Pig

A while back my sister challenged me to draw a pig at this website .

It is a personality test and probably gate keeping tool to keep some of us from ever considering art school, but since my Mac was incompatible with the drawing software back when my sister first told me about it, I was doomed to failure. Well, now I have finally figured out how to draw a pig and although my current pig is a lot different from my former unsuccessful pig, at least it is a pig.

Here is my pig:

Here is what my pig means (supposedly). (I've taken out why.)

You are a realist.
You believe in tradition, are friendly, and remember dates (birthdays, etc.)
You are emotional and naive, they care little for details and are a risk-taker.
You are a great listener!
no sex life.

Check out , too. this other pig , too.

Fun Monday - Beautiful Creatures with nasty effects

I guess like several people whose blogs I've read to day - that I'm a loser! Nikki challenged us to do something nice for someone else and I have failed miserably - In fact I have failed in inverse. I caught a really, really bad cold this weekend with lots of nasty symptoms I won't go into and so the only person I have been compassionate to is myself. My spousal unit on the other hand did a kind deed and the klnd of kind deed of which Nikki wrote. This morning he came in and gave me a foot massage (unrequested) to help me get back to sleep after a particularly bad coughing fit! That is certainly the spirit of the assignment - wish I had been the giver and not the recipient (- well, except the way I feel right now - I don't really! I'll just have to do a double good deed when I get back on my feet.)

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Update on Bridge Collapse

Yesteday we went to see "Jane Eyre" at the Guthrie Theater. The play was okay - but wildly popular and thus completely sold out for this preview performance. The actors did a great job, but I wasn't as satisfied with the writing. It is not a terribly dramatic piece in terms of what one can show on stage. They didn't burn down the Thornfield house on stage so most of the interesting action occurs as narrative - not a terribly effective dramatic technique for the stage in my opinion.

We also had the opportunity to look at what remains of the collapsed bridge. I dug through my old photo files and found this rather unclear shot of the bridge pre-collapse.

This is what we saw from the Guthrie theater last night. The city has removed all the cars and has been hauling the concrete out of the river, but it is still a striking and sadly impressive sight.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

The Kitsch Glitsch

For a long time, I've been promising my good friend Neroli to take on that ogre of a discussion on the topic of kitsch. This is really a tough beastie for me and I have very mixed feelings about the whole issue. Having studied German art and philosophy this becomes an even bigger conundrum, as the Germans are excellent at analyzing things to death. Of course it is their term, so they have a right to do so, but when you add metaphysical philosphy to art theory you are bound to end up with a mess - especially when you do it in a hopelessly snarly and Barock language.

English linguists categorize the word kitsch as one of the ten untranslatable words of the German language, which doesn't make this undertaking any easier (and of course every blogger with aspirations to the arty or artistic (including me now alas) has written on the subject) and enlightenment is still centuries away. Despite the linguists' warnings, Artlex , the online art dictionary, gives a nice concise definition that goes something like this:

Art characterized by vapidly sentimental, often pretentious poor taste. It is typically clumsy, repetitive, cheesy, and slickly commercial.

Of course the Germans would never let us off that easy. German Wikipedia says (generously categorizing the topic as an ATTEMPT at a definition):

. Im Gegensatz zum Kunstwerk, das Spielraum für Interpretation zulässt (Interpretation sogar fordert) ist Kitsch nicht auslegbar.
. Stereotypen und Klischees: Kitsch wiederholt, was dem Betrachter bereits geläufig ist. Vom Kunstwerk wird Originalität erwartet (Innovationszwang der Kunst).
. Leichte Reproduzierbarkeit (Massenware)

...and then goes on to elucidate numerous additional requirements. The ones above speak to the fact that:

In contrast to the (my words) genuine artwork, kitsch leaves no room for, (in fact, requires the absence of) interpretation.

It presents no innovation or originality (is cliched and stereotypical).

And is easily reproducible.

This term quite possibly comes from a German verb kitschen - to sweep the dirt of the streets, or to sweep dirt together.

When you combine this idea with the way the term was used in its formative years, (Hermann Broch, a very famous German author categorized Adolf Hitler as the prototype of the Kitsch-Mensch) there is sufficient reason to find it distateful.

Theodor Adorno categorises it (again from German Wikipedia) as "Konfliktlosigkeit, Kleinbürgerlichkeit, Massenkultur, Verlogenheit, Stereotypisierung, Zurückgebliebenheit, Wirklichkeitsflucht, falsche Geborgenheit oder etwa dümmlich Tröstende(s)

conflictlessness, petit bourgeois, mass cultural, dishonest, stereotyping, stodgily backward, flight from reality, false and rather stupidly reassuring.

(And that aint reassuring!) Small wonder that I have a rather negative sense of the whole idea.

Here is where I start to have a problem with the term - how do you categorize poor taste? I know that we can't even agree on what art is (... I don't know what it is, but I sure know what isn't art...)

Naturally I know bad taste when I see it! Well, maybe! You see taste has always been a term used by the "in" group to remind the "out" group that they are just that. I worry that definig something as kitsch is just another way of disinheriting the already disinherited.

Is kitsch art? So that gets me back to one of my all time favorite paradoxes - trying to define Art. (Capital A art.) When push comes to shove, I guess I resolve the issue by narrowly defining what I believe to be art. FOR ME (please note that narrowing there), Art must

1. Communicate some kind of message or meaning (The meaning may simply be that art in the past has been ovely wrought and fraught with meaning and I am protesting against this past idea or that art has ignored the craft of working carefully with its materials.)

2. It must have access to and address society and issues important ot more than one person (thus be seen or heard - if it stays in the bottom drawer - for me it is not art - it is creative expression.)

3. (And here is the one that upsets lots of my colleagues in the Art department) It must have ideals, and have more than a superficial level - it must communicate about something metaphysically important (yes the nature of art itself fits in this category) In short for me art must sepak to truth, justice, beauty or some such form.

For me this solves the problem of kitsch. If the object is superficial with no depth, then it is kitsch. Now we have the question of audience - for me - if there is a group that finds depth in the object (it has a social/societal component) it is art. Of course that doesn't make it good art, but it is Art.

I get tremendous joy in kitsch and alas I have to report it is in a different way than my tender and compassionate friend Neroli finds kitschy joy. I am at heart a nasty and critical individual. While my generous friend Neroli joys in the abundance of feelings and its excessive expression in kitsch, I have to admit to enjoying it as Schadenfreude 9another one of those untranslatable German terms). May the universe forgive me, but I get a certain vindictive glee out of laughing at the grotesquely exaggerated nature of kitsch and looking down my nose at. I just can't quite escape that one-up-man-ship inherent in being an insider looking at the ostracized outsider. In short I am the worst kind of snob. While Neroli laughs with, I alas laugh at. Now I will go to my zabuton and try to meditate on the nature and necessity of compassion and yes after all that I still love kitsch and find it stupidly reassuring.

Monday, 3 September 2007

The Frog Days of Summer

Well, Summer is officially at an end. Today marks the blooming of the last day lily.

There is a feeling of Fall in the air. I'm not sure what it is - today is hot and the mercury will climb to over 90 degrees - but there is a certain color and feel to the air that says that winter is just beyond the horizon. The light is more golden and we lose the sun quite a bit earlier. The trees are acquiring a slight tinge of yellow. The October days are coming.

There is not much to photograph in the garden any more. I did see this little guy in among the window box plants on the deck.

He obliged me with several poses. Perhaps he knows that I will cherish the memory of small animals in just a few short months - when there is snow on the ground and the only movements will be the brown leaves as the wind scuttles them across the path.

(Yes, there are squirrels - there are always squirrels - maybe that's a good thing?)

I mourn for the loss of green. There will not be frogs, nor turtles, nor leaves on the trees. I will have to learn to love brown and grey again. We will have six months of stark white, mottled brown leaves and the grey of branches and twigs. It is a subtle not completely colorless environment, but it is a narrow palette of stark white vistas and cold blue skies and bare branches. This is a hard thing for someone from the jungles of the Southeast, so I store up my memories and concentrate on what I see in the Fall. For these precious days, I determinedly and heartily joy in the green.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

In Praise of Geekiness

Technical difficulties solved!

I know you think I am in danger of engaging in self-adulatory behavior here - but I have always really been more of a nerd than a geek. Geekiness is something to which I can only anxiously aspire.

What am I talking about? We both wish we knew the answer to that question. I realized that I had this feeling of awe for geekiness, but couldn't really put it into words, so off to the online dictionary for a flashlight into the darkness:

geek Slang. –noun
1. a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, esp. one who is perceived to be overly intellectual.
2. a computer expert or enthusiast (a term of pride as self-reference, but often considered offensive when used by outsiders.)
3. a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts, as biting off the head of a live chicken.
[Origin: 1915- 20; prob. var. of geck (mainly Scots) fool < D or LG gek]


Okay, yeah - that's part of it - not the intellectual reference, but if one combines definitions number 3 and number 1, then the heart of the matter gets a little more palpable.

Reading on, I noticed this extremely illuminating paragraph. (Are you paying attention Corky?)

Our Living Language : Our word geek is now chiefly associated with contemporary student and computer slang, as in computer geek. In fact, geek is first attested in 1876 with the meaning "fool," and it later also came to mean "a performer engaging in bizarre acts like biting the head off a live chicken." Perhaps the use of geek to describe a circus sideshow has contributed to its current popularity. The circus was a much more significant source of entertainment in the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries than it is now, and large numbers of traveling circuses left a cultural legacy in various unexpected ways. Superman and other comic book superheroes owe much of their look to circus acrobats, who were similarly costumed in capes and tights. ... (From the American Heritage Dictionary)

What I've decided I admire about geeks is their bravery. Yes, I know this goes against the traditional (non)wisdom, that portrays geeks as spineless, unattractive and emasculated beings who are hopelessly asocial and can't fit into normal society,

but as I look at the beautiful people of the renaissance festival (whom society most likely terms geeks) I see untold beauty and bravery. In a society that criticizes women for being just ounces heavier than a barbie doll, it takes real courage to wear lycra or a belly dance costume. In a culture that sees men as needing to be brawny, but only in the right

places, it takes nerve to wear tights and brocade. I think frequently about all the years I secretly envied the Trekkies and the people in Dungeons and Dragons or the Society for Creative Anachronisms because they were bold enough to ignore public castigation and do what made them happy. They had strong communities, solid friendships and always seemed to be having such a good time and yet somehow I just couldn't take those tiny little steps to go over and join in the merriment.

So the next time you (or I) think of that Babylon Five gal dressed up like a Minbari Ambassador or the guy wearing green spandex with question marks and a bowler as losers - think about whose loss it really is.

My goodness, the world is full of grace and magnificence!