Tags: art

On the other hand, minor artistic despair closer to home

Went to the BWAC art show today. Some nice pieces, some eh. Not doing an art review, but something that caught my attention was three specific pieces. Three paintings, each of which incorporated a few words. And while the pieces were fairly well done, I was very surprised that they all had misspelled words in them. Typos are annoying in books and newspapers; in manuscripts, the author hopes there will be an editor along before their words are published. But in a painting, there is no editor, no intervening step between creation of the work and sharing it with the public, so checking your work really ought to be a must in the creative process, mustn't it? And remember, I'm not talking about the label describing the piece, which can be corrected during the show. I mean the actual paint on the canvas (or whichever media they were using).

And it's not like they're difficult words no one would notice: Welcome spelled without the final e, Bela Lugosi spelled with an extra e on the end (hey, maybe the were painted side by side? Nah), and Hires Root Beer spelled Hiers.

Come on, people, take a little pride in your work. If you were unsure of whether to use baking soda or baking powder in the dish you were cooking, you'd check the recipe, right? Well, if you're using words in your painting, how hard is it, really, to type them into a search engine, or open a dictionary?

Some notes on my life

I really wasn't fishing for them, but thanks for the sympathy posts. What I actually meant was the typical freelancer's lament: there's been a lot of things keeping me very busy, but almost none of them bringing in money. The rest of you freelancers know what I'm talking about. And those of you who aren't, well, this is one of the times when I envy those of you with regular 9-to-5s.

But life hasn't been all bad, and there've been some nice things happening lately:

The BWAC Art Show (which runs through the 25th of October) opened on schedule, and included my work. Kit took this photo of me with my PhototalesTM during the opening:

Ian and his Phototales

A friend came into town (without giving me any advance warning), and we had dinner and spent a pleasant evening catching up.

We went to the opening of the New York Public Library's show, Mapping New York's Shoreline, 1609-2009, which has some wonderful pieces on display (maps and documents going all the way back to 1609), and is laid out very well. It's impressive, and open to the public for free, until next June.

Finally (or at least, most recently), I felt the urge for meringue cookies, but unlike when I usually have such urges, I googled a couple of recipes, found this one, and whipped up (literally) a batch of them. Really easy, and just what I wanted, at the moment. For those of you trying the recipe: the "flavoring extract" is vanilla (and I went heavy on the vanilla, as I usually do). I didn't have parchment paper, but just put right on the ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for three hours at 200 degrees, and the blobs of meringue cookies-to-be don't do anything: they don't spread, move, slump, change shape, nothing. They just sit there, getting harder (as they should). After the three hours, I let the tray sit in the open, turned-off oven for about 10 minutes to get down to room temperature, and then a spatula just popped them off the sheet. Yum!

Well, I'm still busy, still looking for paying work (if you know anyone in need of a freelance editor, point them at me; anyone with a niche book to publish, I may be interested; anyone interested in hiring a smart intellectual synthesist, I'm available), but really, no need to worry about big unnamed scaries. Thanks.


Had a nice day writing and editing. Most of it on the deck, enjoying the nice day (though I still have to figure out some kind of glare filter for this laptop, or a way to make the screen brighter).

Now, of course, I'm back indoors, taking a quick break, but thinking of what's to be next weekend. On Saturday, there's the opening of the BWAC Art Show (1-6PM). Kit and I will be there, though Mom, who's also exhibiting, will be out of town. And for you sf fans, I know Alan Beck also has work in the show. Then, on Sunday, there's the Brooklyn Book Festival, at which I'm not on the program this year, but we'll be walking around to see what there is to see.

Hope you all had a pleasant weekend.

I'm an artist once again

...or, why we didn't go to the concert Thursday night.

There's an organization here in Brooklyn called the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition (and abbreviated BWAC) that, among other things, hosts art shows in Brooklyn (specifically, in the up-and-coming, or reviving, Red Hook section of Brooklyn). The next show is entitled "The Words of Color", and I'll be one of the artists exhibiting in the show.

I haven't shown my PhototalesTM in a long time, because I've been focused on other aspects of my life, and I've never shown them other than at a science fiction convention, so this will be an exciting new step for me as an artist. The show runs from 12 September to 25 October in a reclaimed warehouse, at 499 Van Brunt Street in Brooklyn. It's open only on weekends, Saturdays and Sundays, from 1 to 6PM.

Well, we missed the concert Thursday night because that's when we went to hang my pieces (we were hanging my mother's art the night before). If you're looking for some interesting art (I haven't seen it all yet, but of the pieces I have seen, there's some great stuff), this should be a nice way to spend a day. And if you do manage to see the whole show (they're expecting more than 1,000 pieces by 250 artists), the neighboring warehouse sticking out into the harbor on a pier has some interesting views, and it's a great place to see a part of New York City you probably never do see (it was new to me).

My work is hanging on panel 150, which is upstairs (the bulk of the show is on the second floor, rather than the ground level), in the hall to the left, in the center aisle (a choice piece of real estate). I'm going to try to be at the opening reception, which is Saturday 12 September, but I'm not sure when else I'll be there.

Oh, and my PhototalesTM? They're combinations of black-and-white photographs and short-short stories; the kind of things my skewed view of the world sees that others don't. I think you'll enjoy them (at least, I hope you will).

My day, and a reading, and a movie review (of Swing Vote)

Had a really New York today (well, I guess technically it was yesterday, since it's after midnight, but I consider "today" as the time between "I wake up" and "I go to sleep". And why do we start the day at midnight, anyway? Wouldn't it be interesting if the day started at, like, 7:42 AM? ANYWAY...)...

Saw a couple of the waterfalls (which I've mentioned before) from the subway this morning, along with the Statue of Liberty and a bunch of water traffic on the East River. About noon, looking south from the 49th floor, I saw not one but two blimps floating northward above the East River. It almost looked like they were flying in formation. About an hour later, I saw them from the north side of the building: one out toward LaGuardia, the other flying south above the Hudson River. Later in the afternoon, I walked from the Plaza (at the southeast corner of Central Park) up to Tavern on the Green (on the west side of Central Park at 67th Street). I walked through the park, never more than a block or two from the surrounding streets, yet it was a walk in the country, through trees and grass and rock outcroppings (there's a massive outcrop by the Herkscher ballfields and playground called Umpire Rock, which is a massive bit of glacial leftover, really neat place to climb). I exited the Park past Tavern on the Green, where we ate once last Autumn, and where I attended a book launch party for the 40th anniversary of Isaac Asimov's Pebble in the Sky. Leaving the greenery of the park and the floral outbursts of the restaurant, I walked along 66th Street, past the apartment building where Isaac Asimov lived (I remembered dropping him off there after his last visit to the magazine's offices), and then joined Kit at the Lincoln Center Barnes and Noble for a talk/performance/signing by Charles Strouse (accompanied by Christine Ebersole). After Kit got her book signed, we walked uptown two blocks to the theatre for a screening of Swing Vote, which is scheduled to be released the first or second of August (review below). Then it was a quick stop at a pizza place for dinner, and back on the subway home. Riding along, I took out the galley of my book, just for a quick smile (I've been doing that a lot the last two days), and Kit struck up a conversation with the woman sitting next to her, telling her about my book. The woman was friendly (or polite) enough to be impressed that I'd written the book, and actually perused it. We chatted a bit, saw the half Moon hanging low in the sky from the Manhattan Bridge, as well as the Statue of Liberty again (they turn off the waterfalls for the night), and then home. A nice, full day of New York City.

Review of Swing Vote:

I don't think I'm giving anything away when I say this movie is a paean to the importance of voting. The story is what happens when the presidential election is so close that it all comes down to one man's unrecorded vote. Thus, he'll have to cast a new ballot, and the candidates, their staffs, and pretty much everyone else in the country has an opinion to share with him.

I liked the movie, though it felt like an updating of Isaac Asimov's "Franchise" (1955) [wow! three Isaac mentions in one post; guess it was an Isaac type of day], in which the vote of only one man is necessary for the election (ironically enough, the story is set in the year 2008). That isn't necessarily bad: I liked the ideas in the story, and the ideas in the movie. The movie version, however, is simply that everyone else has already voted.

The girl playing Kevin Costner (the voter)'s daughter, Madeline Carroll, is wonderful, and the film is chock-a-block with name actors, along with a raft of television and news personalities playing themselves

There were, however, some features of it I thought could have been better…

Below here be spoilers.Collapse )

New York City Waterfalls hopes

New York City Waterfalls is an art-installation project by Olafur Eliasson, which will run from 26 June to 13 October. His concept is to build four artificial waterfalls around the area of the Brooklyn Bridge (one on Manhattan's Pier 35, one under the Brooklyn Bridge, one between Piers 4 and 5 in Brooklyn, and one on Governors Island). I've had high hopes for the project.

Last night, on the way home (on the subway going over the Manhattan Bridge), I saw the Manhattan waterfall flowing. Testing it, I guess. I was kind of disappointed that the flow of water was so thin. Indeed, it was very easy to see through the water to the scaffolding from which it fell. I hoped it was merely a low-pressure test.

This morning, crossing the Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn, the waterfall under the Brooklyn Bridge was flowing. Again, the stream was kind of puny. But my view was from the side, rather than face-on, so the sight was much more impressive.

Now I'm guessing the flow-rate I saw is it, so the views of the waterfalls will probably be better from an angle than from head-on. I guess I'm spoiled by Niagara Falls, and compare every waterfall I see to the biggie. Nevertheless, I'm going to make an effort to see these waterfalls. And this time, crowds will probably be much less of a distraction. As I commented on Bill Shunn's trip to Egypt, when one thinks of tourist sights, one rarely imagines the crowds of tourists sharing the view. When we see Christo's "Gates" in Central Park, I thought it would have been a much more moving experience without people (and thus, the only sound being the wind in the Gates). When we saw the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden this Spring, the place was packed with people, and again, I wondered how serene and moving the experience would be without the people, but just the plants. I'm no misanthrope, mind you, but some experiences are probably better without the incessant chatter that hundreds or thousands of people create inadvertently.

The waterfalls, however, should be something different. One of the joys of Niagara Falls is the roar of the Falls themselves; the fact that, no matter how many people are around, if you're close enough to the falling water, you can't hear the people. They're a natural experience that can be shared without lessening the impact. I hope the New York City Waterfalls will be able to provide a taste of that.

How to support an artist

Several blogs I read have links to this article today about "True Fans" as a way for an artist to make a living. Having read the excerpts, it struck me as something similar to an old-time artist finding a patron, except that in the modern world, it would be a thousand or so patrons each contributing just a little bit to the artist's upkeep. Turns out the author had already thought of that.

Synopsizing the piece (though if you're an artist of some sort, you could do worse than spend five minutes reading it), author Kevin Kelly says that the way to make a living, for an artist today, is to accumulate about himself a group (Kelly assumes 1,000, but the number might be higher) of what he calls "true fans." That is, fans of your work willing to spend one day's income (about $100) a year on what you create. If you have 1,000 of them (plus, of course, the less ardent fans who will spend less money on your work), you can make a decent living. One of the keys to accumulating these "micro-patrons" is interaction: Kelly feels that fans want to feel a part of the process; they want to interact with the artist.

I was a late adopter of the "we can make money on the internet" concept (see SFScope for my attempt at it), but I'm a strong proponent of the "interacting with your fans will only help your career" idea. I don't think the things I produce are (yet) worth $100 a year to anyone, but I can definitely see a simple progression from today to a point where I could be doing that.

Anyway, accumulating that circle of fans isn't my priority—creating the stuff that they may be interested in is—but it's something I'll keep in the back of my mind while I work.

Hiding in plain sight

A couple of weeks ago, I posted this wondering about some sort of makeup to interfere with a camera recording one's face.

Today, courtesy of Making Light, I came across this article about an artist, Desiree Palmen, who paints camouflage outfits and then photographs them in use. It's not really camouflage, because the model has to hold still in front of the background she's painted the clothes to match, but there are some neat pictures in the article.