Monday, November 30, 2009

The dog's name is "Peso"

There are so many things to say that at times to be limited to a sentence or minute it seems impossible to say anything. This dilemma is a close cousin over the dilemma of what to title a finished piece or art or writing or how to express one's emotions ever. Which brings me to the state of my current written thesis: complete paralysis. I very well should have worked on it during Thanksgiving up in Portland-- I even brought the computer! But I didn't and now I'm up a creek without a paddle and the creek is one that leads into an impossibly large and catastrophic waterfall.

The title of this posting is all it says in looping bic-penned scrawl on the back of this photograph. I like this approach-- the one in which you answer a question no one is asking and neglect to answer the more obvious one, in this case, who was in charge of decorating this interior with a small-tinseled Christmas tree, scantily-clad boy in glasses and deep red carpeting?

alone and not

Photographs from The Apartment here in San Francisco. I'm always totally mystified by the shopowners discretion over pricing these photographs and discerning which have worth. In the art market things are generally sold by size ratio for beginning and mid-carer artists (if one drawing is half the size of another and done by the same artist than the price is generally also half that of the other). Certainly composition and subject matter should be considered, but it also makes for awkward comparisons like the one in the pricing of these two photographs:

Take one. Worth $2
Take two. Worth $5

I'm unconvinced-- in fact, I often am. I talked to the pricer over his frustrating refusal to haggle for prices. Once when I pointed out that most of the photographs I wanted were out-of-focus, creased, small or just totally banal pictures he said to me that they were all a dollar regardless because one dollar was the general cost of preciousness and that every picture is precious to someone. Obviously I agreed with him, but found his logic faulty when some photographs were astronomically priced like these two, especially since they were all crammed together in a set of unsifted drawers.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

bed rest

We drove back from Portland today and are exhausted but it felt good to be driving home towards a bed that's firm and all mine and to put dry shoes on my feet. Today and tomorrow I'll rest and work to make money, but come Tuesday the heat will turn on and I've got to get back to making.

to do:
draw stained pillow
finish unraveling towel
draw larry darwin justice
start gluing babies down
write more thesis
clean studio & take finished work down
buy nyc plane ticket
draw directions
buy more big paper

Saturday, November 28, 2009

from the waist down

Morgan and I had a visual day biking around Portland to the Farmers Market, Powells, Reading Frenzy, Liz Leach Gallery, Sweetpea Bakery, Really Good Stuff and Vita Cafe. Once it got dark it became harder to look at things so we switched into the car. To complete our Portland adventure we decided to go to a strip club, a place of looking that neither of us really know much about. The looking was interesting-- especially looking at the looking, looking at what was being looked at, and looking at the look of looking.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Since my camera is still precarious I'm relying on Morgan to photographically capture this road trip-- hopefully not a heavy load to bear. We occasionally become self-aware of how weird it is to take pictures sometimes, especially of ourselves. It's especially strange to watch someone else take a picture and what they're taking a picture of knowing that neither of these views are the ones being captured when the camera goes *click*.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

for here or to go

I found this in Portland at Really Good Stuff where I got a lot of new things for drawings-- photos of course, but mostly in the form of scrap books. I'm totally pumped about them-- one of them is from a family whose first cousins I have school pictures of already (weird). I also got a bunch of just loose pages. The photo here is one of two in a small squashed book I found-- the rest of the pages are totally blank. I like the scrapbooks I have where photographs are obviously missing, having slipped out or been extracted by prying hands before I bought them. These spaces are really provocative to me because they call for insertion. I'd like to draw the missing photographs, or insert photographs from other family narratives (maybe even my own) in their place. Nearly all of the scrapbooks I own now are from the 70's and 80's-- the era just before I was born. I'm particularly interested in this time period because it seems like all the events that happened in my family are directly causal to my existence. Which, now that I wrote it, really sounds quite self-invested and I'm not quite sure how I feel about that. Anyways, I like these small books because they are portable-- the bigger scrapbooks are really not-- they're pretty much the most unwieldy objects ever made, as if intentionally crafted to sit on a coffee table or human lap and never leave.

brag book

Thanksgiving is today and I'm thankful for having things to brag about.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

moving shapes

Morgan and I left around 3:00 pm yesterday and drove up the Pacific Coastal Highway. Unfortunately it got dark two hours later and the vast majority of this journey was done in the dark-- but surprisingly the dark made the redwoods seems even more colossal as they bounced off the light from my high beams. The moon was bright and lit up the ocean to be a dull flat gray all the way to the horizon. The giant rocks off the coast were lit with mist and seemed like enormous beached whales. We hit a raccoon and mourned it by turning off the car radio and driving quietly under the stars. Around midnight we crossed the state border and arrived at Harris Beach where we had reserved a yurt for the night.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


What I determined from the past few postcard themed posts is that people, for the most part, generally describe their travel as benignly as they possibly can. Which is interesting because although people travel with the impetus of leaving home but the descriptions of their travel reveal that they have actually taken a lot of home with them-- their vocabulary, their values and their ways of doing things. In a class I took at Wesleyan regarding the sociology of tourism we discussed how travel becomes meaningful only when daily rituals are disrupted and the predictability of routine is changed to create new ones. In fact, the longer you are away from home the more these disruptions have the potential to become normal eventually making the return to home disruptive of these more newly adopted routines.

I've never spent a significant amount of time in another country and every time that I've moved I've moved with the idea that it was going to be 'for good.' But I certainly had this experience of disruption from summer camp as a child-- my parents recall the weeks after camp as being totally miserable as I mourned my lost summer and refused to leave my room or speak to anyone in my family. When I worked for a camp in Vermont two summers ago the general pattern of four-week sessions was that some girls displayed extreme homesickness in the first week, but if they made it through that first week they climbed over the disruption and arrived in camp routine with two feet on the ground. Likewise, after going home tear-streaked and unlaundered, their parents would call camp pleading for contact information of other parents so that they could set up visits between their campsick daughters, deep in the throws of total withdrawal.

I've never moved back to a place that I've been to before and I wonder what this would feel like. Morgan and I leave for Portland today for Thanksgiving and I'm excited to see what all has changed since I moved away 1 1/2 years ago.

Monday, November 23, 2009

hole becomes whole

I worked on finishing the ragged edges of the screen in this drawing I started last summer. I'm thinking about having some stuff caught in the wire, but am hanging it on the wall for awhile to think about it. It might be a boring drawing.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

whole between holes

After such a long time coming I completed filling in the texture of this piece I started last year. I decided I'm going to focus on finishing things for the next few weeks before winter break so that I don't have too much unfinished business laying around my studio-- it's been getting kind of cluttered and overwhelming.

Friday, November 20, 2009

letter from mount hood

did you give me up for a long lost pal? I am here with Rusty on a Housing conference. Our next stop is San Francisco then perhaps St. Louis then home. We expect to be up your way in a few weeks. I'll call you.
Very Very Fondly,

Sent to: Mrs. Marion G. Mc Ausland, Rt #2 Crescent Lake, East Longmeadow, Mass., 01028
From: Portland, Oregon, October 11, 1967

Thursday, November 19, 2009

gulf of mexico

Left Riviera Beach this (Thursday) morning. Drove through Miami and came on the trail to Naples on the gulf on the west coast. Sorry you have so much snow in N.J.. We were at the beach all day Monday and the water was very warm. Love to you all,
Hazel and Clarence B.

Sent to: Mrs R McAuslin, Horseneck Road and Hollywood Ave., Caldwell, New Jersey
From: Naples, Fla., March 23, 1956

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

letter from oregon

This is a Big village gone busy. Wish you were here.

Sent to: Marion McAusland, Griswald Galleries, Havershaw Co., Waverly, Rhode Island
Sent From: Portland, OR, September 12, 1929

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

the hugging game

Morgan and I have known eachother for 6 months-- when I remembered this tonight I didn't stop there with my thinking in numbers... that's 1/2 a year... that's 1/50th of my life... that's 1/20th of the decade that is almost over.  

I think in fractions a lot-- they pretty much were the sole contributor to the will that drove my athleticism in college (imagine me during a race thinking, "I'm 1/5 done-- I only have to do that 4 more times, and 4 is a pretty small number, go team!").  Fractions get complicated though when you have to string them together because each one is relational-- it kind of messes up narrative linearity when your "whole" is at some times the unknown length of your life, at other times the time between you and the next weekend and then still at others the number of rainy blocks between you and a bus station.  

One of Morgan's slogans is that 'nothing lasts forever' which pretty much derails fractional thinking completely.  I'm totally not sure but I think it's supposed to make you want to fully invest in the present-- but for someone who thinks/lives/breathes fractionally it kind of deflates the comfort of "wholeness" by aligning it with "nothingness".  If zero and one are the same thing and nothing at all, what happens to the fractions in between?

Fractions were fun in school- I'm pretty sure that once Buddhism dismisses their relevance they must die and go to the most amazing fraction heaven ever-- a total part-y (get it?).  They limbo under one another's fraction bars, they cross-multiply, they add up and fall into pieces.  

The hugging game seems like an appropriate time to invite fractions back into the romantic picture, when two people are each half of something, a hug.  I was told that if people hug for a long time that their hearts will start beating together.  This might be totally untrue. I was also told that this will happen with companion pets like cats or dogs, so it's not like you need another person in your arms to experience synchronization-- just pick up something furry and breathing and squeeze.   

I got this post card from a discounted bin at an antique shop in Ithaca this summer.  It was sent from Blanche to Mabel on July 21, 1915:

Dear Blanche,
Hope you are having a fine time.  I am having a bum time.  Write that letter soon.  The pictures haven't come yet.  Does this card.  Went to the lake had some time.

Monday, November 16, 2009

letter from home

Thems any sentiments too.

Sent to: Mr. John Ernst, Honeoye Falls, N.Y.
From: Chicago, Ill., August 18, 1911

Sunday, November 15, 2009

letter from the emerald pool

Dear Mrs. Fulmer,
This doesn't give a very good idea of the lovely color of the pool. There are other pools where the water is always boiling. I expect to reach H.P. next Friday, the 23rd.

Sent to: Mrs. Carrie Fulmer, Holland Patent, New York
From: Dillon, Montana, August 17, 1929

Saturday, November 14, 2009

letter from the Ice Chamber, lower cave

Looks as if your F. would be sent to a convention of Soil Conservation Service at Clovis, N.M. next Sunday. He would be there 2 or 3 days. If you should be on your way here and coming by way of Clovis you might see him there.

Sent to: Mrs. Ed Hollister, 523 N. Aurora St., Ithaca, NY
From: Las Cruces, New Mexico, Sept. 7, 1944

Friday, November 13, 2009

the things we saw at the places we went

I'm making plans to take a trip up to Portland for Thanksgiving at Vanessa's house and Morgan has decided to come too.  We have loose plans to drive up the coast and stay at a beach yurt in Oregon, but the biggest plan we've conceded upon is to try to not make too many plans.  But the thought of trips and travel has got me looking at pictures and postcards from the trips of other people to see what they elucidate.  This picture reminded me of the pictures in my grandparents' travel albums full of photographs of one or the other of them standing in front of something old, beautiful, or historically significant.  

It's clear to those writing about these images from outside of their experience that the tourist narrative of a place hardly aligns with the local narrative of significance.  For example, when people visit Ithaca they usually make reference to 1) the view from the top of Fall Creek or Cascadilla gorge 2) the grandiose buildings of Cornell University and 3) the quaint Farmer's Market.  The local narrative includes these things but is fleshed out with more-- the view from the bottom of the gorges, the winter-weathered houses near downtown, the kitchens and farms where the market food came from.  It also includes lesser-known secrets-- for example, the best swimming hole is actually out at Flat Rock behind Plantations where the water is lazy or at Treman Park where you can climb up the waterfall so the high-pressure water hits you in the face or out at Taughannock where there's a million secret watery places to hide and feel like you're totally alone.  There's the secret path along the train tracks from the high school and the short-cut across the golf course to the lighthouse pilings.  

Certainly my grandparents saw a lot of things on their travels, but how much did they really see and what did they miss out on entirely?  Morgan and I will start driving in the afternoon when she gets off work so that by the time we get to the redwoods they'll be lost in the night time.  But it's also important to point out that we'll be driving up the coastal micro-climate-- if you were to travel 50 miles inland the states of California and Oregon turn into completely different places, stretching vastly towards the east into plains and forests and desert and mountains.  There's much that we will not see but certainly much to remember.  I imagine the woman in this picture remembers much more about the person taking her picture than the arch she's standing under.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Women with geese and chicken

Two women standing, faced towards the camera, space between them, one closer, one further, both with right arms loose by their sides and left arms bent at the elbow, hands resting above their hips.  Dark high-waisted skirts, all the way to the ground, eclipsing their feet as if they're floating.  belts with shiny metal buckles, tucked in high-collared shirts, long sleeved, poofed upper sleeves.  Hair pulled back and up. In the corner of a yard, housing on both sides, badly weathered siding in need of fresh paint.  Most windows are missing their shutters.  A simple elevated porch with no railing to the left.  A large barrel against the wall with potted flowers on top.  The grass is strewn with organic debris, mulch, dead leaves, hay, grass and weeds.  Perhaps it is fall.  In the front are fast moving geese, perhaps four or five or six-- their forms are bright and warbling with their beaks down searching for food.  A single rooster stands amongst them, still and not eating, so still you can count the dark feathers on his tail plume.  The women are watching the camera.  The one towards the front, perhaps holding a basket, is playing with the clasp in her belt.

~on the back, "Nellie Okeefe and Carrie", in pencil

Monday, November 9, 2009


I've had the picture with the man and dog and fox for over a year and only realized today that it is actually the flip side of this photograph here (the intended front side judging by the colored border and the printing quality), presumably of the same dog. I was totally pleased by this newfound reversability, what it means and how it elaborates on a lot of my previous postings, drawings and ideas.

Man with dog and fox

A man in a hunting cap, earflaps up because he's been running, jacket unzipped, high collar, formal hunting vest and tie. Pants tucked into high-pulled wool socks. Sturdy laced boots. Seated on a lichen-studded rock with beagle, thin rope around the neck, and dead fox. Rifle in lap, pointed towards the unseen sun. Moustache, eclipsed eyes. Dog implores, fox laughs. Scant vegetation.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


The roof of this house is bleached out in the picture, but there is one-- with two points and a chimney in between. The trees are akimbo with scrambling branches, hardened by sun and drought. The grass looks stiff and sharp. Three chairs in the picture, two occupied, one by a small barefoot boy and another by his grandmother. Their hands are in their laps. They are seated on the porch in front of the door to the house. The third chair is upright in the grass. It is an old picture. It seems a new house. There is no paved walkway in front of the house which probably means there is no paved road anywhere nearby. The boy is looking at the camera, his grandmother is looking at him. It seems quiet.

Friday, November 6, 2009

baby mountain

I drew a mountain of babies in my sketchbook during class on Wednesday and today I worked on making it for real. I've been thinking about ways to start using the images of the people from my photograph collection and it seemed to me that making landscapes with their forms would be an interesting way to talk about the phenomenology of photographs and how the bodies portrayed in them sit in that gray/grey space between being an object and being a body. I spoke to new advisor Abner Nolan about it a little bit yesterday who suggested that if I made such a thing it would have to be colossal in size in order to be impressive. I'm shooting for a mountain about 5 feet off the floor-- I'm about 1/3 of the way there.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Martha, 4 1/2 yrs, 1929

When my grandmother died I was given the responsibility of putting together a poster of photographs taken over the course of her life. Some of the photographs, like this one, were so attractive in their composure and curation. At the memorial ceremony people kept coming up to me to tell me how I looked just like my grandmother-- it was a strangely morose and flattering at the same time. My grandfather tried to convince me take some of the photographs with me but my father took over the role of family historian and insisted that all the photos stay exactly as they were (read: as my grandmother composed them-- it is her handwriting labeling the bottom of this photograph here). So instead we made photocopies of the pictures I felt most precious. My father was emphatic about the importance of these photographs and expressed horror at the idea of me mixing them into all the other photographs in my collection. I'm still thinking about what that fear was all about.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

what you see

I made this at Morgan's house on Sunday night as we waited in vain for an episode of Dexter to download. I bought a couple of rag rugs last week and have been thinking of new ways to incorporate them into my practice. Yesterday Jeff Gibson told me that I should stop thinking so hard and just make whatever seems appropriate... confusing because one of the first things he said to our class was that he felt it was important for artists to be responsible and conscious in their making (which I understood to mean non-intuitive).

Monday, November 2, 2009

people to look at

Jeff Gibson made me a list of artists to check out.
Vik MunizTim GardnerTara DonavanSue deBeerPhoebe WashburnMonica BonviciniMichael KrebberLara SchnitgerKate GilmoreEllen Harvey