I’m not a very good blogger. There. I said it.
My intentions are always good in the beginning with occasional moments of rejuvenation, but then I fall flat the moment I am distracted by something shiny or tired of my own endless spewing of words, words, words. For someone that has such a shaky relationship with words, I am terribly verbose.
Explanations aside, I’d like to move onto something (hopefully) more interesting: my work in progress.
Aside from writing articles, I’ve also been putting together a proposal for a group exhibition and working on an upcoming exhibition with Liz Layton. And by “upcoming”, I mean in a little less than three weeks.
Here are this details from the Facebook event page:
Moderna Blondin is an exhibition of work by Liz Layton and Jaime Santos-Prowse containing paintings, installation, and performance. This new work is inspired by “The Magician’s Cape”, a Swedish fairy tale written by Anna Wahlenberg with John Bauer’s illustrations. It’s also inspired by Manichaeism, Ingmar Bergman’s “The Virgin Spring“, Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides“, the obsession and idolatry of adolescence, and glittery sparkling things.
The opening reception will take place on Friday, March 1st (First Friday), 7 – 9 PM at Nelson Fine Art Center in downtown Johnson City. The performance art piece begins promptly at 7:30 PM.
Live music before & after art performance (bands TBA).
The reception will be catered with sweets and treats. Prints of the artists’ original art work will also be available for sale at this time. The paintings and installation will remain in the gallery until the end of March (specific date TBA). The reception is free and open to the public, though the artists and musicians would greatly appreciate donations.
There’s still a lot of work to do. Cue sudden stress baking. Chocolate chip coconut or blueberry anise scones, anyone? How about tomato rosemary? Cranberry orange?
By the end of the month, I may very well bake every variation of scone imaginable. My pants agree with my husband, that this is perhaps an unhealthy development. I’ve recently acquired three new literary / art magazines so maybe I can make myself read in the tub the next I feel an overwhelming desire to bake.
I made two more paintings in the circus series to replace the two that have sold (the monkey and the giraffe), but then one of the new ones plus an older one (the elephant) sold so now I need to make more. Not that I’m complaining.
I focused on the tricks that the animals are made to perform because they are just as disgusting to me as the physical abuse so prevalent in circuses that include wild animals. It’s degrading. I’ve never understood the desire to kill, cage, or otherwise possess something you find beautiful. Don’t you love it or find it interesting because of what it is, and can you not see how possession changes it?
Sorry about the poorly shot photos. I kept forgetting to do it, and then ended up rushing. Since I’m interested in eventually producing prints, I’ll have to be more deliberate. For these two, as before, I used second hand frames from local thrift stores.
The amusing thing about all of this is that I tried a bunch of other things in an effort to earn some money, thinking that selling “public friendly” paintings or drawings could not possibly work for me. None of those other endeavors really amounted to much, or gave me the same level of satisfaction as making these paintings. If I can keep it up (EF wants me to have work there every 3-4 months), then this is certainly a viable option.
I’ve been thinking a lot about obedience lately. Last week I was reading about Eva Hesse and there was this phrase that really stuck out in my mind — “… haunted by obedience.” So many contemporary acts of rebellion feel forced, phony, or inauthentic. Symbols of it – like tattoos, strange hair styles, and so on – are now meaningless. Where is the real rebellion? Is that possible? Are we all haunted by obedience?
Now that they’re framed, mostly in second hand frames, I like them much more. Probably because I don’t have to worry as much about the 96 year old paper tearing or getting renegade glitter in my tea.
The paintings will go up on Friday and will remain in the Earth Fare cafe area through August. Hopefully at least a few of them will sell since that was kind of the whole point. That said, I don’t think these pieces are entirely separate from my “real” work and actually reflect on some interesting things that I had forgotten about.
One example: When I was a kid, I used to make a lot of collages. I didn’t intend for them to have socially critical meanings or set out thinking, “This will be funny”. I just made them. Later I’d look at them and think, “Oh, this is about _____” and I could see how they were a bit silly and angry all at once.
Coincidentally, I’ve been watching X-Men cartoons lately.
Today I finished the small group of paintings made specifically for display locally and, hopefully, for sale. There are people who say you shouldn’t ever make work just to make some money (or “sell-out”, as they prefer), but those are generally people who don’t have to worry about money. They change their tune when they get older or when the money runs out. Then they’re ready to stop painting pussies and throw a few lighthouses or dog portraits into the mix.
My hope is that when I’m doing this I can still manage to retain part of myself in the painfully safe and redundant imagery that one generally uses under these circumstances. It should be noted that I don’t necessarily think badly of people who like this kind of work. I’m painting some tropical flowers for my mom, as per her request, and I don’t do so begrudgingly or harboring some resentment because she doesn’t like me “real” work. It’s okay. Really. It’s just not what I want, it’s not what excites me.
In this particular instance, I focused on circus animals.
Tori Amos is pretty well known for her song Me and a Gun, inspired by her own rape, to the extent that some people only know her as “the chick who was raped”. (Side note: This is one of the reasons many women choose not to expose themselves as having been raped.) It’s easier to see things that way, I suppose.
This version is very quiet and expresses a delicate sadness and strength, barely indicative of the courage required to sing such a song and share it with so many people. But, as she says, “I must get out of this”.
A few years ago Tori started performing Me and a Gun in a much angrier, aggressive manner. At one point she has a knife and at another point she has a gun. I don’t like the gun portion because it seems less potent and unnecessary. Yes, the song is about a gun and not a knife, but the knife functions better in her hands. Perhaps because she was actually raped by a man with a knife? I don’t know.
The point is that anger is less acceptable in female victims than sadness. I have experienced this personally when attempting to express my feelings regarding sexual assault. It’s not that I believe perpetual anger is good for people, but I believe that we have a right to our anger just as much as to our sadness.
I think that the female character in my project is holding onto anger because it’s more appealing to her than
being feeling like a victim, but she cannot help straddling both responses. And in the midst of this, there are still other questions. And doubts.
I had a dream not too long ago that I was performing on a stage for a handful of men and one woman. Over the course of my performance, I became more and more changed – seaweed, barnacles, shells, crabs, octopus. They were all over me. Most of the men didn’t seem to see it. Or I assumed they didn’t because they were still interested, giving me That Look. (But maybe they did. And maybe that’s why?) One of the men tried to intervene. I stood on stage after the performance, dripping sea water onto the hardwood stage, spot lite still on me. I watched him argue with the others.
I’m not off the hook either.