Archive for December, 2009

Week 14 wrap up

December 14, 2009

Semester Wrap up:

Lovin' winter in the arctic north!

I enjoy the snow. My partner thinks I am crazy but still shared my excitement as I prepared for our last small group meeting during the winter storm. I awoke two hours before our breakfast date to get the Land cruiser dug out. Part of me just wanted to put it in gear and plow my way down to the street but I knew that would make it tougher to shovel as my neighbor and I share a drive; and shoveling responsibilities. It was later noted that a sense of community rises up when everyone is out clearing snow and digging out cars. There was little traffic. The snow made everything soft quiet and pure. The neighbors shared friendly stories and coffee in the streets. By 8:00am, I had shoveled enough of a path to resemble a conscious effort while still offering myself some difficulty in navigating the driveway and street. I knew I had to leave soon as I agreed to pick up Katie on the way, who was snowed in. I made it to the end of my street expecting the main road to be clear. It was not,

yellow truck in winter camoflage

but I was having fun. I always enjoy the challenges of nature. I made it to East Wash where I found out that it had not been cleared either! It was fun then. I had two and a half miles to navigate through 12 inches of unplowed snow. There were hardly any other vehicles beside some 4x4s. I finally make it to Katie’s house. Her long, circle, uphill drive lined with cars was drifted and not close to being approachable. It is difficult to back out of on a good day. Kate accepted my phone challenge of wading out to the cul-de-sac circle. We took off for the Lazy Jane’s Café. We ended up getting behind stuck semi-trucks on ramps and had to drive in a zigzag formation all the way to Willy St. As we pulled in (half an hour late) we noticed that the café was really hopping. Despite the town, and even the campus shutting down, we had three small groups taking residence at a long string of shoved together tables on the second floor. I told my group that it was funny that we had such problems meeting all at once due to our back assword schedules, but we have a huge snow storm and everyone made it. Our groups intermixed a bit and we bounced around discussions concerning death, abject, nationalism, cable news culture, and more. The main focus was Gunter’s Body Worlds exhibit. That is such a fascinating place of art and science put on by a man that is on the fringe. I would expect that public dissections evoked much the same awe in their time. So, after everyone warmed up, we took off our separate ways. Though I am disappointed that I did not swing by campus and take part in the snowball fight. 😦  There was also a dorm snowball fight that involved police. See story here.

I registered for classes last week! I thought I was going to take too long. I have, Foundry (casting) at the Lofts and Laurie Beth’s Tourism class. Scroll down to last week’s class if you want to hear me rant about trauma tourism and wasted memorials. The rest of my studio hours are split with Gail and Aris for this semester. I need to knock out some work this spring so that I can tie up a couple of ideas before I work with an outside professor.

Evaluation: As a group, we were not very effective. All of us engaged in conversations in halls, at social events, during and surrounding class meetings, but we had many problems meeting at given times. Our meeting times started on Sunday evenings which I could not attend the first few weeks of class as I was commuting until I found an apartment. Later, we switched to Colloquium night, which worked out better, but we could only meet for about fifteen minutes at a time. I wish that we could have had more productive meetings to meet the requirements of the class but we were still highly effective outside of the large group. I mean this about the class as a whole. This is one of my favorite aspects of Graduate School. Everyone is so involved with his or her interests that professional conversations spring up around every corner, coffee break, or beer. The personal strengths of my small group were in the speed of conversation. Having Eddie in your group can make things move very quickly. We stayed ready and could cover a lot of ground when we spoke. No one was embarrassed or held back. It was always spirited.

Evaluation: On self:

I began the semester with five goals:

1. Experience the Graduate community

2. Experiment in the Studio

3. Set up a space to work at home

4. 4D installation, performance, and video work

5. Public and Web presence

I could have done more. I always look back and think that I should have done this or that in class. However, I also think that I was a companion and a leader when the needs arose. Dale, Trina, and I learned the gallery process early on, as I had two shows not required by any class. I used what I learned early and helped others with gallery tips on the logistics of it. I put my Land cruiser and trailer to good use many times helping move furniture, art, and raw materials around for peoples’ shows. I always carried tools to help people with installations. I set out some simple goals for my first year. One: to experience everything that I had time for in the Graduate community. I went to 25

near the end

or 30 shows, Every colloquium but one, tours at NFS, Chazen, Entire art program, Main Library & art Library, and as many social events as I could attend while still being a parent. My second goal was to experiment in my studio. Later in the semester, I did not have as much time for that but it did spawn an early show. And laid research for the battlesapien piece. My partner and I chose a house with a full basement so that we could spend family time while working on art and craft. This worked out well. By the end of the first month, I had set up a shop in my basement. We spent hours testing blood packs for battlesapien and assembling and staging parts for other pieces. I also wanted to dive right in building some work. That happened. Goal number 4 was to learn about 4D art and do some video work. I enjoyed Doug’s class learning about various aspects of video, performance, and installation.

My last goal was to increase my professional visibility or to raise my Google search. I have been working with various classmates for interlinking websites and blogs. I have also built a website, and taken an advantage of the free local promotion to get my work out there. My name only had one hit on the Internet when I started the semester. Now it comes up on my web search, interstice, you tube, my name with UW-Madison, and others.

There are, of course, a larger amount of things that one says they want to do when they move to a new area. I visited many parks and community places. In my third week, I blogged about the Willy Street fair and huge list remains of things I still want to accomplish in Madison. One is to get a show in Chicago. The other is to find employment. It has been a rough semester as I was funded neither by the university, or the military. I would really like to find a way to get my tuition paid so that I can have less stress for my family and me. I will begin searching for a job this week if only to get through winter break. It is tough when 90 percent of my financial aid went to tuition. That felt like taking a loan out to pay interest on another. I do not mind going in debt for graduate school but it sucks when I have taken out so much in loans and still can’t pay rent.

A couple of other comments concerning my first year: I enjoyed the company of the artists that I work with. After our first meet and greet, I went back to my hometown to stay with family for a few days. I was so hyped talking about the all of the people I would be studying with. Now, it is the end of the semester and I still feel fortunate that I am a part of this school. Art is becoming more real to me. One moment that stands out was a series of discussions concerning the Marioni piece that students performed in the lofts. I was involved in an art piece that originated in the known art world and had real-world implications. It peaked when Andrew established contact with Marioni about the piece. I feel like right or wrong, we are becoming involved in the art circle. I like to daydream that writers, talkers, and thinkers in the future will refer to “Madison in the teens” as people now refer to “Rutgers in the 70’s” or “Chicago in the 80’s.”

I do not believe that this is all crazy talk. We have some motivated and talented students here. I also enjoy the idea of collaboration. It may be a bit overused by the faculty here but it works and many of us have great stories regarding our collaborative experiences. Someday, some of us will go on to our professional life and be able to recall collaborating with various people back in our “Madison days”

One last thought nodding to the future. I have currently started forming a formal Wisculpture organization. Next semester I plan to have a team of five officers to begin seeking funding through the university to propel our group. We plan on maintaining 3D student images, organizing shows, advertising for program and other such group activities as the members see fit. We currently have a logo and website but wish to seek funding to do much more for our group.

Thanks for listening, I’ll leave the light on for ya!


Scroll down for bonus picture of Reyah practicing for her family role as St Lucia on Sunday.





Christian/Pagan tradition in Scandinavia

Week 13

December 7, 2009

Week 13

Wow! What a weekend! It was pure craziness. I always love the times before a multiple shows when everyone is cranking away at their studios. Personally, I like to save work until the last minute for better motivation. Or, story number two: no matter how finished a piece is, I am still adding to it and working up until the opening. Pieces with fresh paint and live acid keep the reception going smoother!

I missed Katie Hudnall’s opening at the Lofts as I was rounding people up to help me install in the seventh floor. I will check it out Monday. Our Wisculpture 5D show was successful and I really enjoyed Trina and Marina’s installation at the Laundromat! They totally transformed the space from a dated boring Laundromat into a community experience. The walls gave voices and warmth to the usual quietness of such a facility. It transformed the cleaning ritual in to an experience on a human level that seemed to create a community. Thanks, girls!

On to the focus of this blog: a summary of my Graduate plan. I wish that I had a better one but it seems to be getting easier with the seminar class. In undergrad’ my plans changed with each semester until I applied for a BFA in Sculpture. It seemed to take me so long in life to understand that I could really do things that made me happy. I now plan much better. My usual process is to find an end goal, choose things that I need to do for it to happen and sometimes throw myself into a situation regardless of the notion of timeliness. This forces me to buckle down and get things done. I plan to register tomorrow on the UW site. I did not like any of the art history classes offered this year so I plan to take my second seminar class. I have not decided for sure. I wanted to take the critique class but it only applies to the institution itself, and I have decent critique skills. I think that the tourism class sounds interesting for a couple of reasons. I enjoy to travel and talk about travel. This could be advantageous later in life. Also, I enjoy seeing military and national monuments. I believe that the world, specifically America, pays to much attention to tributes, heroes, and accomplishments. Many of my fellow veterans would disagree with me but I believe that a lot of statuary and memorials are more about the vindication and public awareness of events than the actual documentation of events. Now, to piss off everyone else: I think that the U.S.S. Arizona memorial is unneeded. I believe that the bombastic World War II memorial is a salute to nationalism. Statues of men on horses make me want to urinate publicly. Roadside memorials are a way for people to deal with the grief publicly of losing a loved one in a traffic accident. If we mark everyplace a person ever died, we would run out of room. Also, I enjoy old graveyards for their charm but believe that funerals, caskets, vaults, lots, and headstones are all a scam. At this population growth rate, how long can we possibly keep putting vaults in the ground? The entire countryside will be cemeteries a couple of thousand years from now and they will have to start burying people in the boulevard easements. Many times, we see monuments that only feed into myth/legend or revisionists history. So, I love to travel and see these things, but I usually find them a replacement for something else. Maya Lin’s memorial piece? Yes, one of the most beautiful and subtle memorials ever made. Even it was put in to show past due respect for a shitty loss of life and general disrespect of certain classes of people that had to go die in a conflict that we should not have been in. I remember being young and asking a friends dad about losing a war. He answered to the effect that America has never lost a war. Vietnam was just a conflict. !!? So, I love to travel and see these historical places and monuments as a way to learn about a group of people as a nation. In reality, I enjoy traveling and getting behind the scenes learning about cultures and daily life. People breaking bread offer more cultural insight than a bronze statue of a general that ordered kitchen cutlery to be loaded in the last remaining cannons on board a ship while screaming fire and pointing with his remaining arm, ultimately winning the battle as he remained aboard his craft to meet his maker. Tourism/ tourist sights focus on what the government and nationalists or other affirming patrons want you to focus on, not the actual culture. So, I probably should take the tourism class as I just spoke on it for five minutes.

As far as other classes, I am debating between Foundry and Fabrication. I enjoy “fab” more and need to learn Tig-welding and some new metals, but foundry would be very handy for me as I am at the point where I know how to do all of the waxes, prep and molds, but would like to learn the technical side of it regarding temps, and running pours and such. I don’t use many castings in my work at this time but is always enjoyable.

Choosing my committee: This part seems tough. Here are a few of the names that I threw on my dream sheet: Aris Georgiades, Jack Damer, Gail Simpson, John Hitchcock, Fred Stonehouse, and Doug Rosenberg. Of these people, I think that Gail would be a good committee chair as she is tough, organized, and thorough. She understands, my work and we communicate really well. She does not sugarcoat things. Gail says what I need to consider/do/investigate and is very direct and accurate. I am still unsure of this process as far as politics. I plan to discuss that subject with second and third year students so I can avoid any uncomfortable situations. I would also like to consider Fred Stonehouse and Steve Farren, as they would be valuable for some post-institution guidance and practical ability. I would love to discuss my willingness to stay in the arts outside of the institution and my “shoot the hostage” theory but there is not enough blog time left.

On my qualifiers and MFA show: I wish I could find the perfect space but that is a full time job as well as having perfect timing. In my dream world, it would be an old-construction building, maybe an old military or government building. Possibly a Victorian “row-front” building near a toy store. Ideally, a darkened underground meeting room that had military or historical meaning. So, tell me if you hear of any cool places like Al Capone’s vaults or something. Last week in Doug Rosenberg’s class, I watched a performance by a German artist performing in London in an underground arched brick bomb shelter. Super cool!

Chat again next week!


Sorry, my  camera is dead. I will add in some images tomorrow.