Sunday Reading : (Not Only Reading)

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I used to do this series highlighting things I enjoyed reading throughout the week or things I wanted to save for myself to enjoy on Sunday. Then life got busier, we had a child. I have never enjoyed reading things on screens as much as on paper, so when I had time to read I prioritized books and zines. But I miss some of the surprising richness and connection from online media. So let’s give this a go. 

You’ll Never Find Another by Lydia Copeland

I love the atmosphere of this piece, the touches of specificity that really ground it in the body, the home, even as the dream pulls elsewhere.

These Symphonies & Operas Are Hosting Virtual Shows for You to Enjoy at Home by Megan Schaltegger

We’ve been enjoying some Met Opera productions at home. You don’t have to have some education or background on types of music to enjoy. Just listen to the music. Feelings are feelings are feelings.

Can Poetry Change Your Life? by Louis Menand

This is from 2017 but I haven’t read it and my friend Kathleen shared it with me recently. It’s a critic’s review of a book, but as with any good bit of criticism, it’s about more than just one piece of artistry. If you like poetry and/or pop music, I recommend giving it a read.

Freaking Homeschool by Sacha Mardou

This comic shares an experience that many parents can probably relate to in relation to attempting homeschooling, but in a broader sense, it describes what parents engage in all the time — a reckoning of old wounds stimulated by the presence of a child experiencing their own challenges and pains. I’m reluctant to call this pandemic a “gift”, but I do hope the forced shift in perspective encourages growth for people who survive it.

Carson Ellis is hosting Quarantine Art Club

It looks super fun whether you’re 5 years old or 60 years old. Lyra is a little too young to appreciate much in the way of direction — or maybe that’s just her personality — but I might try anyway.

People are decorating their windows with hearts and messages of hope right now by Alisha Ebrahimji

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to feel connected when we can’t be in each other’s presence. Sometimes the simplest solutions are powerful. Even better when it gives little kids ways to express their feelings.

Mom Talk: The Case for Small Magic by Erin Feher

So necessary right now.

 

xoxo

Art Domestic is moving

I’m moving the series Art Domestic to Tumblr. Partially because I’m not sure if I’m going to have a blog anymore — I’m not very good at maintaining it, obviously — and partially because Tumblr seems like a better format for it. I’m hoping the nature of Tumblr will encourage people to submit posts and to share the art in their homes.

Here’s the link: http://artdomestic.tumblr.com

p.s. If you want to make a submission, but don’t have a Tumblr account and have no desire to create one (understandable), you can still email submissions to me. Thanks!

xx

Dueling Lovers: Words + Art

The writer in me has a hard time leaving images alone, the artist in me keeps smacking words away. And there are so many words. Direct, poetic, truthful, manipulative — they occupy various roles and in within those functions carry degrees of weight and sharpness. I feel each one in an attempt to decipher its necessity. The artist in me shakes her head regardless, unimpressed, even though writing is so much part of the process of creating the image in the first place.

Words are also a big part of how people interact with art. Stand by and watch people in an art museum — they will look momentarily at the work, then look for a label, read the label and possibly the description if there is one, then look back at the art object. If they’re still having difficulty with the object, they might return to the writing or move on. In galleries, they tend to seek out an artist statement or bio. Art institutions spend a lot of time and money attempting to offer the right kind and the right amount of information to their visitors. People expect words because a room full of art objects is terrifying.

One of the powerful aspects of viewing art is how intimate it can be if you simply walk up to the object and look. Really look. Instead of worrying about that crabby lady wearing an American flag fanny pack behind you, trying to rush you along so she can rush along onto the gift shop, or wondering if anyone thinks you look stupid wearing red eyeglasses, or whether or not you should like the art because it’s very old or made by some famous white dude, you can give yourself over to that moment and look at an object that demands nothing from you.

Literally nothing.

If you get something from the object, it’s because you allowed yourself to see it, you allowed yourself a response. I would like to say art is for everyone, but frankly, it’s not for people too lazy or busy to peel an orange. It’s not for people who hate cats because they don’t rush at you with an abundance of love and acceptance the way dogs do. I’m sorry. Correct me if I’m wrong, please. But some people are just not wired for loving art. At most, they may appreciate a very selective and limited range of art.

While they may not be in the same boat as the rest of us, they are definitely coasting along in the same river. Movies, television, YouTube videos, video games, advertisements, magazines — an excess of media fills our everyday lives. Yet Americans are not particularly familiar with art. Two people are more likely to bond over a funny commercial on television than they are to enthusiastically talk about their experience viewing a Vermeer or Titian. That’s not a judgment call I’m making. That wouldn’t be fair. It’s easy to find yourself near a television or magazine, even if you generally avoid them. You might not like the Kardashians, but you’ve heard of them, right? Maybe even talked about them?

In the cacophony of daily life, where art may or may not be recognized, it makes words and writers, including and excluding critics, potential lightbringers to the dim. Throughout history, many writers of varying backgrounds and agendas have offered their words to art: Charles Baudelaire, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Jeanette Winterson, Donald Judd, Roberta Smith, James Elkins, and Jerry Saltz. Some artists write about their own work or include text within their work itself, such as Jenny Holzer, Tracey Emin, Christopher Wool, and Carolee Schneeman. And let’s not forget a grand, romantic, and sometimes embarrassing history of manifestos. (I’m looking at you, Futurists.)

When I first read Marlene Dumas’ writing in Suspect, an earthquake of feeling and purpose shook my body. I didn’t know I was allowed to write. (I also didn’t know that I was secretly seeking that permission.) Have you ever read Kara Walker’s writing? It’s like laughing while being stabbed. On the opposite end of the word appreciation spectrum, if you’ve read a fair amount of artist statements and writing, you’ve undoubtedly had some moments when you inwardly rolled your eyes, laughed, felt baffled, or some combination thereof. Maybe it caused you skipped the writing (and the art) altogether.

Last year Jerry Saltz visited East Tennessee State University and he talked a bit about art writing during his lecture, which I asked him to elaborate on during the following reception. He said artists can’t really be critics because we want to write in support of our friends, “not unless you can be an asshole about it”. What I forgot to ask was, “How the hell do I write at all?”

If you offer any words, they will be attached to the interpretation of your work. Even if you are writing about a boxing match and your art is safely tucked away on another website minding its own business. The writer in me has already made peace with this while the artist in me resents explanation. The writer is not concerned with how neatly the fragmented pieces line up. The artist is considering how to make entire sections disappear beneath a single, veiled image. She is already spinning a story. The writer is not interested in one story.

Somewhere in the next year

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”
― Neil Gaiman

I don’t know where this quote came from, other than Neil Gaiman’s Good Reads page, which seems legitimate enough. Of course, I wouldn’t put it past me to intentionally share an illegitimate quote that said something I felt legitimately worth sharing.

About five or six years ago I decided I was too cool to be someone who cared about New Year’s Eve beyond wearing sparkly dresses, drinking champagne, and kissing. After all, it is just some arbitrary beginning that many of us happen to agree on, unlike the arbitrary beginnings you might set for yourself to start spending more time with your kids, eating less fast food, or saving money to travel. It’s everyone’s favorite joke, an easy punchline, to mock your own non-committal to this new year beginning.

For whatever reason this year, I am feeling a bit warm and fuzzy about the one following. I considered that maybe I just want an excuse to dress up, drink champagne, and kiss (a lot of kissing, actually), but I’m not someone who really needs an excuse for all  that. It could be a Wednesday. I don’t mind. Being honest with myself, it may just be that I am caught up in the momentum of potential (the scary and exciting kind) that myself and my loved ones appear to be experiencing for various reasons.

What I want for myself and for them is what Gaiman has expressed (or maybe didn’t express) in this quote (which is maybe not a quote). So, I won’t go so far as to make a resolution in the formal sense.

How about a wish?

Do the Art Hustle

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It’s better than disco. I promise.

I added many of my available original paintings and drawings as well as prints to Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/unicorntaxidermy

I also uploaded some images for print at Society6: http://society6.com/JaimeSantosProwse

More is coming, believe it or not. It turns out I have made a lot of things.

I cannot immediately begin working on commissions because I already have three to fulfill, but if you have something in mind that doesn’t need to be finished within the next 3-4 months, I’d be happy to discuss it with you. Later this summer I will post more information regarding time-sensitive, holiday season orders, especially for custom or bulk order block print cards or tags.

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Sensation

I remember telling a man once, “I would never paint something on a whim.” I wanted to sound efficient, austere, and serious. I didn’t want him to think I was one of those self-indulgent, frivolous painters, mostly because I wanted to have sex with him and I knew he wouldn’t find the hippie-dippy art fag thing appealing. (I was completely spot-on, by the way.) Not that I was lying to him. A part of me completely meant what I said, believing that if one painted, it should always be with purpose.

Lately I’m finding that I am painting with purpose, but rather than a highly orchestrated or pre-defined sense of purpose, it’s more along the lines of purposefully unplanned. I have certain images or sensations in my head – yes, especially sensations, mostly imagined – and then I paint on whatever canvas (usually something abandoned by someone else) feels appropriate at the time. It’s kind of liberating, really. I still want to experiment with other methods of working, but for now this is doing a lot for me.

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The one above and below are finished.

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The paintings below are in the Unfinished category.

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My friend Mira Gerard has a studio near Kingsport that she graciously shared with me last week. In the new space with “new” stretched linen previously painted on by Mira, other tangents started to occur. I imagined these shapes pushing into each other. It felt more collaborative or conversational since I responded so heavily to what she had already painted. (The two larger paintings on top are her newer paintings in progress, not mine.)

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I really enjoy palettes. Just as objects. Mira was working on a new painting (currently unfinished), and I really wanted to take a picture of her set up because it’s wonderfully simple and focused.

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Moderna Blondin

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Photo by Liz Layton

Two weeks later, I am ready to sit down and share a bit about me and Liz Layton‘s exhibition Moderna Blondin, especially the reception, during which time the performance took place.

I did not expect that peculiar, miraculous thing that happens sometimes with painting, drawing or sculpture, where you surprise yourself and “what this is about” expands exponentially right before your eyes. This may be because I have no experience with theatre, and on account of there being lines and such, assume that there is little room for surprise. We had a loose script, we rehearsed, and everyone involved was capable and committed.

Perhaps I am giving too much away here, but I believe that what made the performance was actually what I didn’t plan and couldn’t expect. I did not, for example, plan for a drum circle to be in the gallery prior to the performance, right next to the installation. I did not expect people to not realize I was a real person underneath the dark purple fabric. And I definitely didn’t plan to mimic my episodes, periods of time when I am disoriented, dizzy, etc.

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That’s what makes it exciting for me, all the things I did not expect. I am grateful for the interaction that I had with the audience, even in moments of discomfort. When people debated what my gender was under the fabric, when someone dared another to “punch it in the face”, when a child asked someone, “Do you want to see the person?”, or when people became alarmed at realizing I was sitting there, able to hear their conversations — all of it was really fascinating.  Even the drum circle, which I was admittedly not thrilled about, played an important role.

And thankfully, I’m not the only one who felt that fascination and impact. Really. Thank you.

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Photo by Mira Gerard

Speaking of, I’d like to thank our performers — Katharine Hache, Jennifer Culp, and Myranda Kreyenbuhl-Porterfield. Each one performed perfectly, despite not being paid (though a “thank you” brunch is in order), and they really brought themselves to their roles whole-heartedly. I appreciate that a great deal.

I’d also like to thank Liz for working with me because without her work and her presence, I’m not sure I would have thought of doing this on my own. She an illuminator, both literally and figuratively.

More pictures are available at my Flickr account, as usual. Also, Liz has prints from the show’s work in her Etsy shop. (Kate Bush!) I’m planning to put together a zine with images of the work in the show, artist statements, short essay(s), and hopefully an interview. So, that’s on the way.

The exhibition — including our paintings and the installation — will be up in Nelson Fine Art Center until the end of March.