Saturday, August 29, 2009

on making

I looked it up in a red Merriam-Webster and here are some of the things I found...

make a face — make a mountain out of a molehill — make away with — make believe — make bold — make book — make common cause — make do — make ends meet — make eyes — make friends with — make fun of — make good — make good on — make hay — make head — make it — make light of — make love — make much of — make nice — make no bones — make one's mark — make progress- make public — make sail — make shift — make sport of — make the grade — make the most of — make the scene — make time — make tracks — to make up for — make use of — make valid — make water — make waves — make way — make with

...which I'll start making sense of in the next few postings. Here are some pictures of me making.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Home is something I carry with me.

Opening: Friday, September 4, 4-8 p.m. @ 3352 24th Street & 951 Shotwell Street
Film screening: Friday, September 4, 9 p.m. @ 348 Shotwell Street

Open Houses: Saturday, September 5, 12-5 p.m. @ 3352 24th Street & 951 Shotwell Street

Home is something I carry with me is an alternative art exhibition and film screening featuring over 40 Bay Area artists whose work interrogates the concept of home. For one weekend, two homes in San Francisco’s Mission District will transform into exhibition spaces and the backyard of a third home will be used for an outdoor film screening. By reinventing three homes as art venues and opening them to the public, Home is something I carry with me exercises the rights of renters to use private residences for what we deem public good; an action that can be considered a resistance to the current housing crisis and the lack of economic sustainability for artists. Individual rooms within the homes will act as galleries organizing the work around themes of shelter, migrations, domestic space and memory, mapping, borders, and neighborhoods.

Participating artists: Mara Baldwin, Taha Belal, Jesse Brown, Michael Campbell, Julie Cloutier, Pablo Cristi, Torreya Cummings, Cindy DeLosa, Amy Wilson Faville, Jonathan Fischer, Molly Goldberg, Pablo Guardiola, Alvaro Guillen, Jason Hanasik, Amber Hasselbring, Malak Helmy, Amanda Herman, Nanci Ikejimba, Josef Jacques, Amy Keefer, Claire Kessler-Bradner, Lynn Marie Kirby and Lisa Robertson, Milena Korolczuk, Laurel Lee, Lauren Mardsen, Lynne McCabe, Klea McKenna, Ranu Mukherjee, Jeff Norman, Alexis Petty, Simon Pyle, Hilary Schwartz, Renetta Sitoy, Bayete Ross Smith, Lewis Watts, Mira M. White, Anna Whitehead, Megan Wilson and Carmen Winant.

Participating filmmakers: Terry Berlier, Michael Goodier, Amanda Herman & The Morris Family, Lynn Marie Kirby, Katherin McInnis, Gloria Moran, and Kari Orvik with Veronica Majano & the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center.

Curated by Adrienne Skye Roberts

Catalog essay by Zachary Royer Scholz

For updates:

Unfortunately, 3352 24th Street and 951 Shotwell Street have large staircases and therefore are not wheelchair accessible. There is a hallway leading to the backyard of 348 Shotwell where the film screening will be held is that can accomodate 29" inches across. No stairs, but a few steps down from the hallway

To avoid overcrowded the houses on Friday, come on by early--we open at 4PM. Or wait until Saturday the 5th, both houses are open from 12-5PM.

Feel free to bring blankets or lawn chairs to the film screening. Popcorn will be provided!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

floored by florals

Now that I'm about 3/4 done with my current drawing I've started to distract myself from finishing so I can start strategizing for the next one. The mug and plates in these pictures are from the same free pile found this past June during a post-pizza-party walk down Potrero Hill with George Pfau, Brigid Mason and Brandon Olsen. I'm pretty excited about those small red roses on the mug, unless I sink my micron pens into this bad boy pattern below, the trim from my parent's wedding china:

Monday, August 24, 2009


Still working long and hard on this drawing for the Home Show, coming up in just two-ish weeks. It has seemed ironic to be working on pieces about home and not having one to call my own these days-- but it also has been an interesting reference point to think about all the homes I've lived in as something sweetly abstract and nostalgic. Speaking of which, orientation for the first-year grad students begins tomorrow-- which brings me back to this time last year when I was sleeping in a treehouse with Holly in Oakland and freaking out about my life. A year later, I'm thankful for where it's taken me.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

certain of something

These pictures from the mid-60's are always so fabulous. The colors are saccharine, the patterns grotesque, the poses classic, and the facial expressions always seem so certain of something. These pictures, taken at the advent of affordable and accessible domestic color photography, show the insides of homes in a new way. It's hard for me to relate to the background interiors in older black and white photographs because color is a major reference point for me when I think about my own home. I once looked at an amazing coffee table book which had published restored photographs taken with really early color film before color photographic printing paper had been manufactured. It was so strange to see photographs of people from the 20's and 30's in vibrant color because most of the photographs I know from that era are black and white. It seems appropriate to me that the photographs I find relatable are those from the era after my grandparent couplings met and started their respective families-- it was the advent of each couples marriage that also begins the main photographic paper trail of our family's existence. Again and again I find that my grandparents somehow become the referent of most things that I am making. They are the oldest kin I've known, the parents of my parents, they walked me into my twenties, I witnessed them wisen and gray.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

things that go whoops

It's been a few days of flare-ups and mistakes. Like the paper buckling off the panels I glued them to, and the gorgeous puddle featured in the picture above.

I've also been thinking about words like the following, since my days have also been occupied with drawing eensy teensy, eeny weenie, itty bitty, teeny tiny, tiny winy, itsy bitsy flowers:
harum-scarum, topsy-turvy, wishy-washy, knick-knacks, zigzag, seesaw, ticktock, pitter-patter, tip-top, rickrack, pit-a-pat, shipshape, flip-flop, dingding, ticky-tacky, dilly-dally, flimflam, hoity-toity, hocus-pocus, hurly-burly, fuddy-duddy, pell-mell, ragtag, willy-nilly, boohoo, helter-skelter, hotshot, namby-pamby, super-duper, slam-bam, whang-bang, lovey-dovey, boo boo bee boo, heebie jeebies, crumb-bum, fender bender, brain drain, razzle-dazzle

What is the common denominator between these concepts that makes it okay to refer to them all with ridiculously cutesy-wootsy terminology? I'm almost sure it has something to do with making light of potentially dark situations. Sometimes I'm astonished by the acclivity of people to joke around when things go horribly horribly wrong, but having used this as a strategy myself, I have got to say-- it works.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

three little words

holy : worthy of complete devotion
holey: having holes
wholly: to the full or entire extent

I was thinking about these three words today and wondering whether the wonderment of completeness/abundance might not be the same feeling as that adressing complete deterioration and destruction. Both are sort of horrifying concepts and are rarely encountered in their true form (complete presence or complete emptiness) in this gray/grey world of ours. But if someone were to ask me what the opposite of presence is I would probably immediately say absence before backtracking-- if I think about presence as the completeness of something then defining it's absence or incompleteness becomes complicated.

For me, it begins a conversation about loss-- I'm not sure if you can lose only a little bit of something and really still say you've got it. It seems to me that it's incompleteness must be recognized first, then there is some sort of reevaluation during which you decide whther it will always be "almost the whole thing but not" or just a new thing entirely.

Working with abstract ideas can be dizzying, but it's nice to have days like today when this sort of dizziness seems incredibly rich and important. A few of my peers are obsessed with various lace, crochet and knit patterns. Weaves like these are based upon a series of knots and tangles which craft an object that is made from one string but constructed by making spaces that are defined by their nothingness (holes, duh!). This is, after all, how I draw holes too-- I draw the space that the air takes up, the holeyness, and then I draw the wholeness later.

The drawing I'm working on most right now is one that is not about holes, but about masses. It's interesting to be coming back to objects-- even flat abstract ones like stains and patterns and textures. But I wonder how I can push the envelope a little more to make sure that I'm not walking away from my commitment to grayness-- is the language of holes vs. wholes too didactic? Written language is the architecture of lines around the white of paper to form words. Interesting.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I spent the last two days building a new panel to mount paper on for a new drawing. An enthusiastic clerk at Arch convinced me that spray adhesive was the way to go. He was wrong. Morgan helped me glue that paper down and the next day when we went in it was buckling off the board like it had somewhere to go in a hurry. I couldn't deal with it so we went to the beach and played wiffleball and ate barbeque.

I drew two things today. One was of Morgan and the other was this disfigured bird tattoo on Morgan. Luckily it rubbed off within a few hours.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

impossibly long and improbably short

I got this picture (a polaroid) from The Magazine and love it for her teetering stature, clasped hands behind her back, immaculate whiteness, and unorthodox orange-striped kicks. The summer has been incredibly long but is pulling to a close in just three weeks. I got a TA position working with James Gobel for next semester and was promised some hours working at the library. I'm moving out of my house this week and into my friend Adrienne's house while she attends an artist residency through October in North Carolina. This means a lot of moving and scrambling, especially with the approach of the Home Show in September and the Murphy Cadogan Fellowship show in October, both for which I'm trying to make some new work. It's been interesting getting used to spending my days at the studio again-- I was so into practice last year that by May it seemed no impossible feat to start at 8:00am and go home at 11:00pm. This week it's a good day if I get 4-6 hours in, and then afterward I go to Adrienne's or Morgan's where I stretch and whimper about my daily turmoils. I'll stop here-- it would be cliche to discuss the days being too short and the list being too long, and I wouldn't dare do such a thing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

question marks

Yesterday Morgan and I met at 5:30pm on the steps of the Asian Art Museum before walking up Larkin to go to a store called The Magazine which specializes in vintage magazines and catalogues of all varieties. But they were closed. So today we met at 5:30pm on the steps of the Asian Art Museum before biking up Larkin to The Magazine and they were open and we went inside.

I got a bunch of new pictures including this one of a dinner party with handwritten annotations of "?" and "X" on the front. My guess is that the person making the marks was trying to recognize someone specific in the picture by narrowing the options with their ball point pen. Maybe a question like "Which one is my father?" or "Which one should I ask on a date?" For someone like me for whom all the faces are strangers the possibilities for each person seem limitless.

I'm coming up on my one-year anniversary of living in San Francisco and it's interesting to think back to all the people I've met since then and try to figure out if I could have guessed what our relationships were to become upon introduction. When I was a freshman in college a picture was taken on the first day of orientation of the entire class of students standing on an artificial embankment which no longer exists. I have no idea who I was standing next to in that picture because on that day I knew no one. But I'm sure if I looked at that picture today I would realize strange proximity between myself and the students with whom I would be knocking elbows for the next four years. Here in San Francisco the community is small and the elbow knocking is rampant. I wish it was easy enough to commission such a picture of the San Francisco population to see how the proximity changes between me and the people I know, will come to know, or maybe just knock elbows with.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

still to see

These images are ones of California from vintage postcards I found when I was not in California. California really is an epic place, where giant trees and alpine peaks and blue bays and dry desert are all within 4 hours from where I am right now, sitting here at my laptop in San Francisco. Which is funny because sometimes I forget that I even am where I am-- always a few miles from an ocean that goes all the way to the places you can't see anymore.

Friday, August 7, 2009

a girl blows up a boy and he floats away

I got this strange and wonderful thing from a barn in Vermont during my epic cross-country adventure. The images are printed on glass and it's meant to be projected on a wall with a beam of light to tell a story, in this case a story described by the title of this posting.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

why metaphors?

A lot of metaphors have been coming up in conversations with friends-- they seem to elusively creep in without us noticing until all of a sudden we are minutes deep into conversations about floating boats and ocean currents, staircases and tunnels, doors and windows in various states of being opened or closed. Metaphors are about talking about something without actually talking about it. They create the distance between us and what we're talking about essential to understanding it, but they also pull us back in to a place where we realize our loneliness and disconnectedness is very much connected to everything else.

Some definitions:
*A metaphor is the expression of an understanding of one concept in terms of another concept, where there is some similarity or correlation between the two.
*A metaphor is the understanding itself of one concept in terms of another.

Some shapes have been announcing themselves in my work-- a commitment to holes and clusters (wholes?). I continue to be invested in figuring out how to convey the space, shape and passage of memory. The poem I posted yesterday got me thinking again about the shape of time and all of the versions of what that could look like.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Understanding the Past, Present, and Future

Think of the space in front of the body. You can't walk in. You can't find the door. We call it the present. You don't know what to do with your hands. Whereas the past is an orchard. This is how you know the difference. Birds live in orchards but not deer. This happens behind the body.

While everything in front is overexposed or snow. You stop at the edge and wave your arms, but they get lost in the wash of diffused light, which makes it the future. You are waving goodbye.

by Cole Swensen

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


While I was gone the roof of my studio building was being repaired and rained down fiberglass particles all over everything-- a thin layer of black dust welcomed me back. But it was nice to spend the first day cleaning and reintroducing myself to projects I haven't seen for a month. Hello drawings of photographs, ruin and patterns. Hello epic quilting project. Hello rag interventions. Hello grandmother relics. Last night I went to Adrienne's house and saw the spaces she'd like my work to go for the show she's curating next month. I'm planning to finish three small text drawings about houses I grew up in like the one in these pictures, and then also one large watercolor of liberated linen patterns. The studio is clean and so are my deadlines so it's time to get going.

Monday, August 3, 2009

the fog of maybe

We were helping my grandmother pack up her things when she showed us an old drawing of a small house on a beach and told us that she and my grandfather had bought it as a young couple when it seemed to them that a small shack like that was all they could ever really want.

As we drove across the country Dennis and I were overwhelmed by the number of small abandoned roadside structures we saw and we fantasized about what our lives would be like inside of them. My arrival to San Francisco was a traumatic re-entry, one of romantic processing and housing eviction. I just spent a month moving, a month making decisions and a month of self-sufficiency. I remembered that living in a city means that although you're never really alone you can be bewildered with loneliness. Daily navigation through a city is full of compromise.

settle, v: 1) to place so as to stay 2)to establish in residence 3) to furnish with inhabitants 4) to cause to pack down 5) to make quiet or orderly 6) to fix or resolve conclusively 7) to arrange in a desired position 8) to come to rest 9) to sink gradually or to the bottom 10) to take up an ordered or stable life 11) to come to a decision 12) to become clear by the deposit of sediment or scum
settle for, to be content with
settle one's hash, to silence or subdue someone by decisive action
settle the stomach, to remove or relieve the stress of nausea or indigestion

Here I am, settling back into San Francisco. For people in their twenties and thirties, a community of transience, settling is at times desirable and others absolutely terrifying. We are aware that stability does not always ensure safety, decisions are not always the right ones, and easiness doesn't provide satisfaction or the reward of challenge. Contentedness seems like a safe but pale state of being.

At a house party on Saturday a group of friends inspected the hosts collection of snow globes. Most, once shook, whirred dizzily with activity before settling after a few minutes. But one, once shook, clouded with particles and eclipsed the skyline of a small San Francisco inside. A fog globe. This seemed funny to me-- to think of fog and the confusion of it's opacity, it's local significance to the Bay Area, and it's stubborn refusal to settle much like the community of friends that I have come to know here. I think that this refusal comes from a self-awareness that settling means sacrifice-- my grandmother never got her shack. She had children and settling into her life with them meant a settling of her own.

I've moved many times and each time it has disrupted a consistent desire to settle. Driving across the country I kept thinking about how nice it would be to be sedentary upon my arrival. But upon getting here I realized that the fog of being twenty still stubbornly suffuses the air-- which is confusing and dangerous and exciting. It's nice to be reminded that sometimes it's not right to settle and empowers the helplessness of feeling constantly in motion.

When we left the party the fog globe, over an hour after it had been shook, was still milky and churning. But the whiteness of that small encased storm made it seem like anything could be inside of it-- the skyline of San Francisco, sure maybe. But maybe also another city, or not even a city but a person, or maybe two or three, or maybe not anyone at all, or maybe a small shack on a beach somewhere, or maybe all I could ever really want, though I don't know what that is, but maybe.