Thursday, September 30, 2010

A week of ideas and events

My life is generally way too busy these days and this week took that to a whole new level of crazy. On Tuesday I went up to Grand Rapids to see ArtPrize with three friends. We missed more than we got to unsurprisingly - the event included more than 1700 artists this year and I didn't manage to see multiple friends' work so will have to try to make another trip if humanly possible.

We were particularly blown away by the works shown at GRAM - Grand Rapids Art Museum and UICA. At GRAM I was very impressed by the work of Young Kim's moving and evocative installation, Steven Sorman's beautiful and immense print,drawing and mixed media on paper, Al Wildey's digital on aluminum piece , Janice Arnold's amazing felt installation. Heechan Kim's sculpture was fascinating - wood and copper hanging in space. Perhaps the most interesting piece there was David Sprigg's. Installed in a large vitrine and comprised of multiple paintings on mylar suspended, making a dimensional image that changed with the viewer's angle, evoking the cosmos, it was thought provoking and fascinating. I'm skipping over plenty of other strong work in the interests of brevity.

UICA has work that is edgier, more political in content and more varied in how well it worked for me. Two particular standouts were Chris Jordan, whose work addresses the horrifying amount of consumer waste we generate. UICA has a number of his large digital prints which graphically demonstrate very large numbers of things like the number of plastic water bottles dumped every day. I was familiar with his work but had never seen it in person and the large scale adds plenty of impact to strong work.

Wayne Belger's Untouchable Camera series are a set of beautiful photographic prints of people who are HIV positive - shot through a filter and with a camera elaborately machined by the artist and using HIV positive blood as the red filter. The method is important and involved and my conversation with the artist made it clear how important his process is to the content of his work.

I didn't get to see the work of several friends so will need to make a follow-up trip to see installed work I've seen in progress by Brenda Oelbaum, Margaret Parker and Oliver Aguilar

So that was Tuesday. phew!

Wednesday: Tedx Detroit Bigger, better organized and more inspiring that last year's conference, this year's event was held at the DIA. It was terrific. I was really moved bySteve Kahn's presentation on Math Corps which is doing incredibly important work with inner city Detroit kids. If Detroit is going to be a sustainably functional city in the long term its schools have got to be fixed. Math Corps is not a solution but it's certainly an important part and I know I'm going to contribute to what they do.

It's hard to pick out specific presentations that really resonated because they were all really good. Poets David Blair and Jessica Care Moore, artist and educator Jocelyn Rainey really grabbed me. Rainey takes her inner city Detroit students all over the world, expanding their horizons remarkably. It's worth watching the online videos of the event, especially of the performances. In the interests of keeping this post to a remotely sane length I'll stop here other than to say that the energy in the room was palpable and the connections made are likely to endure and grow into more good things for the region.

If you've read this far don't forget - tonight is the fundraiser for the Milan Art Center at Original Gravity Brewing Company in Milan.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

technology, recycling and repair and gratuitious images

clouds & sky

I found, via
Metafilter, an interview with Kyle Wiens of iFixit talking about repairability, the impact on the environment of our consumer culture and the importance of extending device lifespans to reduce the amount of waste we're dumping. He has been working in Africa exploring the horrific conditions in which people are extracting valuable materials from our consumer waste - video here. I've been a huge fan of iFixit for years, using their manuals and parts to repair computers with my kids. I had no idea of the scope of their ambitions until I saw this and I'm very impressed. I've said for years that I'd happily pay more for computers designed with repair and upgradability designed in rather than planned obsolescence. We can't afford the environmental cost of continuing to build stuff to just toss it and replace it. It's immoral to dump stuff, full of heavy metals and toxic substances in third world nations where people will get horribly exposed to bad stuff while re-cycling what they can - just so we can keep buying the newest, latest gadget. Wiens isn't a Luddite and neither am I - I don't think we should go back to a non-technological society but we need to be smarter and more environmentally focused about how we use technology.

golden field, grey sky

And a couple images of current work in progess just as a chaser for the serious stuff.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fall workshops

I'm teaching a series of 4 workshops at the Milan Art Center this fall. You can take as many as you'd like - one or more. Each workshop is 4 hours long and self contained, taught at the brand new Milan Art Center in downtown Milan on a Sunday afternoon from noon to 4pm. You can register at the link above.

The classes are:

Encaustic monotype - working with encaustic on paper. Sunday September 19 Working on paper and a heated surface we'll create beautiful one of a kind prints.

Encaustic and collage - Sunday October 10. Encaustic is the ideal collage medium and we'll explore it with multiple permutations and other media.

Encaustic - incorporating digital elements - Sunday November 14. Want to combine your photos or digital paintings with encaustic? This class will be focused on how to - participants will get information in advance allowing them to bring prints to incorporate into their encaustic works.

Encaustic and 3D - Sunday December 12. Bring your encaustic work into the third dimension in this workshop.