I’m Just the Decoration

I was going through some old films and videos recently, trying hard to transfer all my beautiful Super8 footage — alas the seizure inducing flicker it emits is too much without a projector anymore. I came across a lot of old films that other students at CalArts had made of me. I was the go-to female protagonist that was really meant for decoration and eye candy; the focal point that did just about everything except talk. Some of these films made rounds at the festivals, and some were just meant for assignments or reels.

I found some of these images from a film shot at my parents house in Dana Point. I must be about 19 or 20? I forget what or who this was for, but I think it was footage meant to later be distorted and used as a film within a film. These were shot by Jerome Dunn aka Jerry the Priest, I think. What I do remember was having to do all my own hair, make-up, and the clothes belong to my mom…

except the leopard dress, I made that….

leoprad

couch9

dressfeet

rest

dress

tabel too

Well, revisiting all these films must have invoked something in the air, because I’m about to be a SAG paid actress — for one major film at least. I don’t want to give too many details because the production is happening as we speak, but it has been a surreal time. Not only are several of my paintings featured in the film, and not only did the talent buy a few pieces, but I was cast on the spot for some minor bits and pieces. It all happened because the lead actress feel in love with a portrait of mine (the one on my blog banner, actually) that appears on the menus at The Velvet Tango Room. So, I showed up on set to collect my artwork after they filmed it, I was wearing a Motorhead t-shirt and leopard skirt, and before I knew it, I was doing a scene and having a close-up over and over and over and over again. I guess my hair color and the cane sealed the deal.

Now I am being fitted for costume, and I get to have a little speaking part. I had done extra work a lot from college up through my early 20’s — I can’t count how many shoots I’ve done, but a fair number. This is more exciting because I actually have to talk and scream and, well, do stuff! That said, I am being reminded what hard work it can actually be, and a scene you spent 7 hours on can get cut in post-production just like that. I have been pushed to be an actress by family and friends for a long time, it was never something I was super ambitious about, but maybe I should just embrace it? We’ll see how it goes!

L.A. & OC Winter Vacation

I traveled back to SoCal for a bit while Knitgrrl had to teach some classes all around the area. Saw friends, went out, saw the folks, and caught a nasty flu along the way. I blame the smog! Next time we go off together, we’re hitting Joshua Tree and Vegas, so watch out!

We discovered that having a cane is a golden ticket to easy street in airports. Priority lines, no getting felt up, I got to ride the beep-beep cars everywhere, and extra legroom at no extra charge. Oh, and the first-class bathroom! These were small luxuries when sharing a plane with 5 small children; I swear none of their parents thought to change their diapers before or during the flight, I wished I had a cold because I thought the smell was going to kill me! This is why I drive everywhere I can manage.

We first stayed with my pal Susan in Westwood. Susan owns more Gerald Laing prints than I do!

She also still has these creepy big eyed pieces. I remember these were up around our dorm room at CalArts!

The theme of the trip was “driver, driver! What’s this on my hand?” and other Rachel Zoe references. Well hot damn, look who Susan lives down the street from!!!

After lunching, munching, a few trips for drinks and tacos, (and I kid you not we saw a woman INJURE HERSELF SHOPPING in Beverly Hills!) and eating French macaroons driving around to Depeche Mode, we decided it was time to go find David Lynch! I used to drive up in the hills ages ago looking for his house, and again, we had no success. But, I got some nice views up from Mulholland. David, where are you?

“you there!” to stinky downtown LA. Which I should say, my old street where I used to work has cleaned up a lot! There’s actually stores, and people aren’t peeing in front of you anymore! Anyways. We had to jam it to Burbank, so we went shopping at It’s A Wrap (the Ugly Betty cast offs were way ugly indeed!) and visited the vintage store where the Mad Men costumer gets all her clothes for the show. The lady talked Shannon into buying a few brooches. I however, was a good girl and bought nothing.

It was time for the book signing Shannon was doing at Unwind in Burbank. It was packed! There was actually a guest list just so they wouldn’t get over capacity! They also brought out a cake for Shannon’s birthday, nice huh?

While Shannon was busy doing knitty things, I met up with my friend Donna from Clockwork Couture, and we went to a faux dive hipster bar for vegan bratwurst. Yes, faux dive in Burbank! I always laugh at these kind of places, because they look like every bar in the rust belt! Except our Blatz light fixtures are real and weren’t bought on Ebay, baby! The brats were good though!

oh you guys.

So figuring Shannon would dig on the animatronic woodland creatures, we headed to the place where I spent every Tuesday and Wednesday night of my life for 2+ years: The Bigfoot Lodge. It has since gotten fancier bathrooms and a better floor, but beyond that? The same old place.

The DJ booth my husband and I spent many a night.

I wanted to take Shannon to see the Thai Elvis for her birthday, but alas he was no more…or the restaurant wasn’t, or he just didn’t feel like showing up. Whatever the case, the next best thing? My old favorite Thai place across the street, with a picture of Elvis on the wall. Good enough I say!

I was actually really upset to see a lot of old landmarks and places that were no more. Mo’ Better Meaty Meat Burgers down where I lived on Pico is now a Walgreens. The French Cottage Motel (where many crack whores hung out) that was in front of my old pad in Hollywood is now leveled. The neon sign should have been kept at a historical monument! But in LA, nothing gets kept and all is torn down. Well, except anything having to do with…

The Church of Churchology! Erm, Scientology. They weren’t too happy about us taking photos. This was a hospital at one time, but now, it’s just creepy.

So it was at this point that finding Crispin Glover’s house became important. We can’t have David Lynch? Well, as Donna informed me, Crispin was not at home (touring with his films, rather) so why not settle for him? OK! And no, I’m not a creepy stalker, I’M NOT. I’m sure his security system got some interesting footage of me rubbing myself all over the flowers outside his home. What?

At least I didn’t go poking to see what kind of cars he had under the tarps in the front yard. Because I could have!

Well, now we had an appointment in downtown to go find fabric. I think this chair would look great in Crispin’s house…or my house with Crispin…when he becomes my second husband — you know — if anything were to happen to my current husband. Just saying. What?

It’s fabulous, I’ll take it all!

Turn your truck around and gimmeh a taco! I love these hand painted signs.

My favorite cake shop in my old neighborhood. I see Cher is still there…

As well as the cake I wanted for my 23rd birthday, but we settled for booze at the Kibitz Room instead. I still wouldn’t mind a boobie cake. Just sayin’

That evening we went to La Luz de Jesus for a quick stop into to see the 4-person show that was up. Wish I could have stayed longer, but my leg was acting up and the pain was a bit much at that point. A man kept daring me to use my cane to lift the hat off the taxidermy.

We had a mini CalArts reunion at Good Luck Bar on the schedule, wish I had gotten more photos of people, but here’s one.

Crazy that we graduated 10 years ago. The best were current and former students of my friend Helder being super drunk and their minds being blown at seeing him outside of school…at a bar. “I’ve know Helder since I was 18, and I’m 21 now, THAT’S CRAZY!” to which his girlfriend replied, “yes, we’ve known him since we were 17 and are in our 30s now”. Dude, her brain got broke at that point — it was amazing. Also, things you find out after years of not seeing people? That your college boyfriend became a porno actor and escort! I wish I was making it up, I really do. But supposedly he’s not doing that anymore. I can only hope.

The next day I sat in on the Social Media class Shannon was conducting for TNNA at the Long Beach Convention Center. We actually got lost in the shipyards on the way there, it looked like Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and I was hoping Tina Turner with those awesome earrings was going to pop out from being a shipping container. Alas she did not.

TNNA is a huge thing, I had no idea. It’s like a “thing” and a whole industry.

Speaking of social media, I went to a Social Media Club meet-up in San Juan Capistrano. Yeah Cleveland, we need to have ours at locations like this more often, just sayin’

Here’s Maria Brophy talking about arty farty things and how to utilize social media for all things arty farty.

Darin here proves that you can’t throw a stone in the air without hitting one anywhere in SoCal…

Casa Dana in Dana Point, aka the homestead. Despite it being 58 degrees versus 22 in Cleveland, I got my California blood back and was actually cold!

Speaking of Rachel Zoe. This was my best “raisen face” I could muster.

One of the things I forget about being in a surf town is that everything is EXTREME. Even the tacos.

Here’s a new David Miretsky my mom got. I discovered when I got home I had one waiting for me as well.

This is the big one bought the year I was born. It always scared my friends in school when they came over. “Why is the man eating himself?!” they’d ask.

This Soudekin I grew up with too (I used to stare at it constantly), but it was falling apart badly. After a year or more, it finally is back at home and repaired by a pro. Although I have to say, I hate the frame!

One of the creatures in the house. I think my mom was a tad upset Shannon claimed him for the weekend.

The poodle who flops.

File this under “goths in hot weather” because we both have canes! Albiet mine is the TSA approved one for when I travel. Andrea and I used to hit the goth clubs back in high school!

So aside for all of that, I tortured my mom and step dad with this video and this video. They wanted to understand the Crispin Glover thing. It’s a thing okay, I like his nose. This is the good part about visiting a place and no longer being a resident: doing stupid and wasteful things because you have the luxury of time to do them! Because I tell ‘ya, LA traffic has gotten worse and I look forward to never having to drive it when I have to be somewhere on time! Cruising along to First Wave and eating French macaroons is a better way of doing things.

Art Rant

So here I go running my mouth in the cover story of Scene Magazine about the new direction a non-profit arts space here in Cleveland is going. I may be harsh, but I stand by it. The online edition has a fun photo of me, however the print edition is weird and I look like I have brown hair. I don’t have brown hair dangit! Never!

Anyways, the one mistake in the article is that I never actually showed at SPACES beyond the member’s show. The exhibition of women painters was something that was on display when I first moved here from Los Angeles, so I became a member because I figured that it was the kind of place suited for me.  I’ll be honest, SPACES didn’t impress me much even when Susan Channing was the director. I never got mailings, the website was hardly updated, and don’t make me recount the debacle of how they botched a sale of my work, only to return it to me with a damaged frame and no apologies (but that’s a whole story in itself). I know of other artists who moved here wondering what the deal was as well; let’s be honest, SPACES wasn’t showing too many things that interested me even then. The only time I went was a Ron English talk after the film festival.

I give the new director credit in making SPACES more active and visible, more together in their communications and better at marketing overall. To be honest, the sale of the building may not be a bad idea. The building is great, but the location is suspect at times. I missed a friend’s exhibit once because I couldn’t find parking to save my life; other times you dodge bums and crackheads that come at you like Pac Man ghosts. To make the place “homeless” however may be a bit extreme, it is bad enough the turnover of galleries in Cleveland, let alone now that Asterisk Gallery will be closing after 10 years. We need more, not less.

Look, I went to CalArts when it was all concept and theory. I had 3 classes where I actually drew or painted in a workshop setting in the 4 years I was there. I had people like Charles Gaines, Thomas Lawson, and Sam Durant as teachers. The whole process was that you think really, really, really, hard about your concept and then maybe finally do it after years of talking, and thinking and talking. The catch was, they didn’t teach you much on how to execute it — let alone ask if you knew how. How many people even knew how to draw? Who knows. Hell, we didn’t take a class on art hazards in the studio until our 4th year! That didn’t fly with me, but I endured it. So I have done animation, video art, installation pieces and even performance art. I’m not a moron, I get it. That’s my problem with Christopher Lynn’s attitude and the attitude of those who only want the conceptual shows at SPACES; they think that if you don’t like it, that must mean you don’t get it, are stupid, or are just another Ohio hick who doesn’t know what’s going on out there in the real art world. I get it, I’m not a moron and I’ve seen and done it. So maybe the reason I don’t like it is because the execution or the concept bores me! Or as one artist in my studio building put it after reading that “Art Works” paper done by SPACES, “it sucks!”

Here’s my thing, I don’t hate conceptual art. You do, however, have to make me give a damn. There has to be something stunning enough to me that I want to read all the damn text and sit through the whole video.  A gal at CalArts once made a wetsuit for a helicopter and it lay on the floor with 6 running hairdryers. Not only was the craftsmanship on the wetsuit amazing, but the whole thing made me WANT to know more and read her whole manifesto. Kurt Ralske does amazing video and books that are heavily conceptual, not to mention he actually invents programming and equipment just for his pieces. Yes, he invents them! Now that is experimental in my book — and I’m not just saying I like him because he used to be mister Ultra Vivid Scene. I don’t want to see  a bunch of twigs leaning up against the walls and 8 pages of text plastered next to them. I don’t want to see some guy living in the gallery watching TV and jerking off as a statement about something-something you don’t give a damn about (I’ve seen that already and it was lame).

I just hate the idea of concept and theory at SPACES being all they will show. And frankly, I don’t see why there can’t be a balance. My work comes with a concept that is ever growing, and my work has text, but I also make with the pretty and am visual. I don’t think hard about that part, it is an impulse and just what I do. I don’t like to over think it, it will just ruin the process for me if I do. I’ve seen concept married to the visual in great ways, but it doesn’t happen often if the artist is just content with the theory and not the execution. There is too much I see that looks like the projects students did in 1st and 2nd year foundation class at CalArts. For the most part, it just doesn’t interest me — it doesn’t interest many people depending how it is done — and to only exhibit those works is cutting out a huge segment of the audience. It is a hard sell especially when you are supposed to be an organization that is serving the community. This isn’t The Barnes Foundation where only the select few were chosen to see the art collection and it wasn’t open to the public.

Art doesn’t have to be entertainment or be pretty all the time, but you do have to make people care. If you can’t make people care, then perhaps you better re-think what it is you are going for. Or go back to the drawing board.