Friday, June 26, 2009

End of the Third week at VSC

It's not quite the end of the third week, but things are going so fast around here that by the time I post this it will be dinner time. Eating being the most common way of telling time at VSC.

Above is a figure drawing that I did at one of the daily figure drawing sessions. I am not trying to render the figure in terms of proportions or scale, but in terms of mass pushing against mass. The pencil is used as a sculpting tool to dig out areas and push material together. You can see more of the drawings at my Flickr page.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Houston Public Art Proposal #1001

This is one of four video for an imaginary Houston Public Art Proposal. the other three plus other videos can be seen on my Youtube page

Rodin @ Vermont

This is a fresh on the wall photo of the Rodin project that I am working on while at VSC. It started with an old art book on Rodin. I removed the photos and then mapped out the sight lines found in each image. Using these sight lines as a guide I created new forms. To see more photos of this project please go to my Flickr page.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

New posting on Art & Seek

The great people at KERA Art and Seek posted my article on the first 14 days at the Vermont Studio Center. Below is a draft, or you can click here to read it and see all the photos on Art and Seek.

Johnson, VT. -
You would think that without the distractions of job, family, and phone, making art all day would be a piece of cake. Well, it is sweet, but it is also a strangely surreal experience. Large blocks of time are consumed in focused bursts of creativity that leave you staggering back to your bed hoping to grab a few hours of sleep, but then you come across a some comrades sitting on the front porch, and you find yourself engaged in conversations about art, books, and movies, swapping silly stories, and laughing that kind of painful gut wrenching “Stop! Stop! I’m going to pee in your pants” kind of laugh that is so very rare and so very, very good… Then you find it is once again 3AM.
This is my second week at the Vermont Studio Center, and I am just now getting around to writing about my experiences so far. The days here are full, quick and exhausting. Trying to schedule them in the same fashion that I would while at home is not possible. That would be forcing a structured regime onto a world where the only real passing of time is measured by when to eat.
So, here is a little info on the Vermont Studio Center. It is an Artists Residency program located in the small town of Johnson Vermont. Each month 50 artist are set up with a private studio and a house that they share with a few other artists. All meals are provided in the Old Red Mill. There is always desert served after dinner. The artists here are either writers or visual artists. I am of the latter, but hanging out with a bunch of writers has been a novel and wonderful experience. The VSC web site explains the program in detail; so check it out because I’m going to focus on the more ethereal aspects of this experience.

On the first day of residency, one of the staff members shows you to one of the old wood-framed houses that will be your new home. Then it’s over to your studio, which contains a chair, two sawhorse tables and your boxes of art supplies that you shipped up from home. The studios are large, clean, and very white. Most of them have windows with wonderful views of either the river or the wooded hills. Then, with a “see you at dinner” you are left to your own devises.
In fact, being left to your own devices seems to be the unwritten motto of VSC. They provide you with food and shelter, plus a calendar of optional social events and lectures. From there you are free to go in whatever direction you wish. You can dig deep into your creative physi, or spend your days in the coffee shop down the street reading trashy tabloids. There are no expectations for what you do with your time or for the creation of some end product. You are free to let whim and whimsy run amuck. Of course, this freedom creates a scenario where things can get a bit surreal.
A quick survey of my artistic comrades reveals that the first thing we loose track of is the days of the week. Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, they all feel the same. At this time of year in Johnson, the sunrises at 4:30 AM, so by 5 it is so bright that your internal clock skips a beat and then stops. Soon, sleep only happens a few hours a night, or more likely while attending one of the numerous slide lectures or readings. Note to visiting lecturers: The snoozing audience seated before you is not bored, they are exhausted.
The first week of residency is all about adrenalin and remembering. You are in hyper drive to get started on a self-centered creative adventure, while at the same time desperately trying to remember the names of all 50 artists you have just meet. A few of my personal stumbling blocks have been finding I did not pack the right computer cords, but I did pack a two year supply of pink highlight markers. I also keep misplacing my dental floss, and the nearest store to get moisturizer is 20 miles away. (I need the moisturizer because I am working with plaster, which tends to dry my out hands… and I like having baby soft skin) As for remembering names, I suck at it, but I am really good at remembering art and creative ideas, so the names have been slowly falling into place.
Referring again to my quick survey, the second week begins with complete exhaustion. The adrenaline is gone. Only twelve people show up for breakfast on Monday morning. By 11:30 you might find a few people shuffling around listlessly in their studios. Dark circles under the eyes seems to be the trend of the day. Over the next few days, the amount of dirty coffee cups at breakfast is three times the amount of dirty plates and bowls. If asked how things are going in the studio, the enthusiasm of the reply is usually tempered by the amount of coffee just consumed.
The second week is also an emotional rollercoaster ride, where the creative struggles in the studio start to clash with personal expectations and perhaps a wee bit of delayed stress syndrome. Personally, I am flip flopping from what I feel is either a creative brake through or just arty dabbling and then back to visions of grandeur. I also have a stack of very sophisticated novels that I am completely ignoring, opting instead to downloading audio books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, which are filling my head with images of Pellucidar, the World at the Earth’s Core.

Friday was the first Open Studio Night, which means everybody got the chance to visit everybody else’s studio. This created a frenzy of activity that kept the creative juices flowing for the last three days.
It is now Sunday night. I know that because the Red Mill only serves brunch and dinner on Sundays. There is an unspoken realization in the air that the residency is now officially half over. How that will affect the dynamics of the third week I can only muse upon.

Please note, this posting should to be taken with a grain of salt, as it is based solely on my personal and by now somewhat surreal observations. Each person’s experience at VSC is different. Some are actually getting up early to jog miles and miles through the lush green hills of Vermont, or spending hours in yoga posses that would cause me to spit blood. Some people are even eating right and going to bed on time.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

On our way to VSC- Day 11

Day 11 found me waving goodbye to my sweetheart while she drove back to Boston to catch a plane back to Dallas. 

I had a suit case full of very dirty cloths, and two boxes of art supplies waiting for me at VSC. My month long artist residency starts at 1:00.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

On our way to VSC- Day 10

Saturday was our last full day of our trip to VSC. We spent it driving the back roads up to the city of Burlington with a stop at a fruit wine tasting room, and one at the Ben & Jerry's ice cream factory. The ice cream was much better than the fruit wine.

Burlington was having a jazz festival, so as we walked along the board walk we could hear the music of drums and trumpets. Burlington is another nice Vermont town that I would like to see more of, but we had to get up the Johnson, to the Vermont Studio Center

After checking in to a BnB, We ate that night at the Winding Brook Bistro. It was very good, but I must admit that I was so nervous about starting my artist residency at the VSC that I can't recall what I ate. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

On our way to VSC- Day 9

Our goal for the day was to hike, hike hike. We knew that we wanted to do some of the Appalachian trial, but I also wanted to see some water falls, so we stopped off at Hamilton Falls, The deadliest falls in Vermont. After a three mile hike we came upon this wonderful, multi layered falls. The photo really does not show the scale and beauty of this place and how tempting it is to climb it's deceptively deadly banks.

We linked up with the Appalachian trail just out side of Woodstock. It was a lust walk through bolder strewn woods. We stayed in Woodstock which is a sky resort town, so it was a bit expencive and not have as charming as Brattleboro.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

On our way to VSC- Day 8

Day 8 found us in the town of Brattleboro Vermont. We drove across New Hampshire on the interstate making only one stop at the Pisgah State Park where we were eaten to a slightly dizzy state by swarms of monster sized mosquitoes.

But in the town of Brattleboro we found The Latchis, an art neuve movie theater/hotel, and across the street was a local pizzeria that hand made pizza using organic produce and local cheese. Plus they had beer. The town had lots of galleries and an art supply store! A way groovy town. I am going to have to do more research on Brattleboro. 

On our way out of town we saw our first cover bridge. It had big timbers that were held together with big wood pegs.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

On our way to VSC- Day 6 & 7

On Wednesday we headed out to the airport to pick up our rental car, then we drove back to the city to the Institute of Contemporary Art to see the Shepard Fairey show. It was a way better show than I thought it would be. In fact I found it inspiring that he could go from a street bomber to having a studio that employs several interns and still produce work that is fun and edgy. One sad note, the food at the ICA was expensive and not good.

Anyway, we spent so much time at the museum that we were late getting started on our first driving tour of the New England coast line. We were hoping to take highway 1A all the way up to Portsmouth New Hampshire but we only made it up to Ipswich. We stayed at a BnB that was listed in the New Hampshire state tour book, Kaedebb.  It was a historic building with a Japanese infusion. 

The small towns along 1A were all very quant, and the rocky beaches were wonderful. I would have been happy to spend the next few days exploring tide pools and eating steamers. I was also amazed to see so many really old cemeteries. It seems that the life an old sailer is very short.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

On our way to VSC- Day 4 & 5

The 6 hour train ride to Boston was wonderful. Trains allow you to see the country and mentally realize that you are dramatically moving from one part of the world to another. Unlike airplanes that reduce travel down to it's most unbearable elements.

after saying that, once we stepped out of the Boston train station, I instantly lost my sense of direction, so we ended up walking a few more blocks to our hotel than we needed to. 

Later that night we met up with a friend from Dallas who is finishing up his fellowship at Harvard. Wine, Tapas, and good conversations.

The next morning we hit China town, a few galleries such as Barbara Krakow -wonderful Terry Winters prints. and  Judi Rotenberg Gallery  -a wonderful show of works on paper. Then we  walked around China Town. Dinner was just off the Paul Revere historic trail in the Italian part of town. Good wine, good bread, and calamari in a spicy tomato sauce.

Monday, June 1, 2009

On our way to VSC- Day 3

After two days of good food, family bonding, evening wine on the patio, and a few more trips down to Pooh Corner, Monday morning found us heading downtown to catch the Amtrak to Boston. 

The photo is of a large wall sculpture at the train station that poetically illustrates the history of the human spirit. 1893. I didn't get the artists name but I love this end bit with children carrying models of a train, a paddle wheel steam boat, and lastly, a small infant with no dipper carrying a zeppelin.