Saturday, December 25, 2010

I'm writing this post on a plane!

I'm very happy to find out that there's free wi-fi on this plane for the holidays! (although typing on my iPhone i'm sure will produce god-awful typos due to autocorrect) I am coming back home from visiting Austin and San Antonio. Honestly SanAnty was my favorite because we got to walk to every single art institution alongside the river! There is still construction going on, but regardless how commercial the downtown area may seem, I think a lot of cities are going to be jealous of the ease tourists and locals have making their way around. One can walk or water taxi from their school of arts and crafts to the museum and then a longer but worthwhile trek to the repurposed warehouse art areas (awesome folk art gallery in that Blue Star area) and Artpace San Antonio (They brought out two large volumes of articles on Maurizio Cattelan just because I asked!).

Leigh Anne Lester's show at San Antonio School of Art and Crafts

Also the 'Natural Bridge Cavern' was AMAZING.

Yelp told us that this trailer has the best Asian food in Austin, you can't read it, but it says Me So Hungry.

Austin was very comfortable as well, less cowboy hats, more beards and a lot of delicious food from trailers, we ended our trip with kickass barbecue that was more than we could finish. My highlight of the trip however was a tarot card reader in the 'Weird Museum' that was more of a historical storyteller than a hack and I enjoyed hearing about the stories behind the illustrations, the story of the swords cards involves a lot of manipulation, someone could easily make a movie about the story that runs from the two of swords up to the king.

See? A Scott Hocking piece just sitting there.

As usual I had my eye out for any michiganders and found quite a few traces! I saw a photo by Scott Hocking on the ground and leaning against the wall at Champion gallery and found a postcar for D Berman gallery that had some of Beili Liu 's work. They were kind enough to show me a wonderful layered burned paper piece and give me some postcards as well!

Beili Liu's work on vellum

Shawn Smith's work also at D Berman Gallery, all of his work is pixelated, this one is a great rendition of human lungs.
He knew how to get sh*t done, even how to bring the country back together as his approval rating rose after pulling out of Vietnam and not seeking another term. Stupid Vietnam war, can you imagine what he could've got done if that hadn't overshadowed everything else?
We didn't have enough time to see as many art museums in Austin but the Lyndon B Johnson museum was possibly one of the most inspiring places I've ever been that was political in nature, it really capped off a conversations me and my dad were having about cooperation in politics (my stance is to unite far left liberals with tea partiers by having both sides realize that the common enemy is crony capitalism, which should be taken care of as a priority. Kuchinich vs. Ron paul 2012!) while he believes Obama just needs to grow a pair of moderate balls and ditch Pelosi and Reid... But some things just baffle me about what we complain about politically. Although liberals are all about climate change and eating organic foods it's an ultraconservative that created Whole Foods. While inside the flagship it seemed like a total vegan liberal heaven... I wanted to eat everything! Also the city was celebrating that building the nice trails next to the river was built on time and under budget... Go figure, reminds me of republicans angry about 'socialist policies' like regulations on clean air and Medicare and giving to the poor (welfare) when they actually donate a ton to charities (currently more than democrats) and are sometimes in dire need of or making good use of those very policies. It just makes me feel like sometimes the things we love might very well be run by or are a product of those we think we're supposed to hate. So I for one am more open to looking for the good in republicans, Christians, liberals and others as long as we don't just rely on 'good intentions'. Be critical of everything, but be open to any possibilities of hope because I'm sure they can come from ANYWHERE.

Kind people in Texas, or is it just simply southern hospitality?

Monday, December 6, 2010

I have my moments... (warning do not open if you visualize everything you read.)

So I just came up with my 4th grossest idea for a work of art...

1. To learn mold-making, create intimate, detailed and realistic molds of animals from roadkill.

(I really was plotting how to do this out of porcelain... it still may happen someday.)

2. Find really disguisting imagery applied decoratively to a novelty plate and have food served only to reveal the imagery underneath when the food is finished or scraped away.

(I came up with this idea a long long time ago and then told someone else to do it instead.)

3. While in a sculpture class thinking about reality television and the internet, I was going to make a Plexiglas box with fake furniture in it and some walls with a couple of web cams setup in the corner so that it looks like cockroaches and spiders are in 'The Sims'.

(The big concept was that 'nature' was far more interesting to watch, but I think that cockroaches are possibly one of those things that makes me nauseous just thinking about them)

4. For some reason I became curious what the hell '4Chan' was, only to find that it's an easy way to find  porn and other ways to waste time, so I just imagined drawing myself or hiring someone to illustrate a hentai comic where their entire dialogue is either "The Investment Answer" by Daniel Goldie and Gordon Murray so that banal useful information could be disseminated to a wider audience! 

(Our band the He-Bops keeps my mind thinking about mash-ups all the time)

Also I realize that putting these art ideas out there make it so that someone may steal these ideas and make the piece... but I really want someone to make it, so I don't have to. Anyone else have any really revolting ideas for an art project they need to get off their chest? Set it free!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Getting into gear for teaching!

Well, I can trust that I'll be inconsistent with this blog since I've got 3 big things I'm juggling right now, working on website, preparing and thus far psyching myself out for teaching and keeping my head around where my art is... which is... all over the place. And I had to even cut out 2 shows I planned to do... I feel a little stupid. Stupid because I'm having so much trouble with doing Less with More, working on quality instead of quantity...

The one thing going well right now though, is my teaching! I had my first class (albeit co-substitute teaching) but it went AMAZING! I was trying to not to overthink everything so I kept repeating to myself, all good college classes involve only two elements: Structure and Inspiration.

I don't know how exactly I came up with that simplification, I'm sure it involves a whole lot of ability to understand 'flow', how long things take, knowing how to test their comprehension, being honest with the them, balancing their needs and expectations, balancing what is a challenge for each of them, when students are attentive, when they're waning, when to take a risk and do something completely different, when to just relax!

So I told myself to relax and take many many deep breaths and make sure the apple cider is hot.

This is a glimpse from Dylan Spaysky's workshop which was 1/3 of the whole class, but badass nevertheless:

Dylan Spaysky Workshop from Cedric Tai on Vimeo.
During Time and Digital Media Class

So that part wasn't what I planned, I just took everyone on a little adventure and tried to keep a structure and flow to everything and I'm just happy that it seemed all so natural to get along with Mike Smith's students.

It really makes me feel like I'm getting what I've always wanted: mutual research for bigger dreams and quality work.

Ok, coming up next is my performance art workshop where I channel the inspirational Guillermo Gomez-Pena workshop I had at Michigan State! I also prepared for this class and the upcoming one by having a riveting conversation with Aku Kadogo from Wayne State!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Experimenting with slow, fast slow.

Trying to read more and finish a lot of quick color exercises... so far so good.

Experimenting with the limited capabilities of iMovie from Cedric Tai on Vimeo.
Thinking about viruses, time, recording, gradients, interactivity, self-organization, rhythm, discordance, flow, splitting atoms, speed and gestalt theory.

But on the whole, just wasting time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Halloween

I made this new piece for Rachel. I got bored and began rehashing an old way of working since we went to a dollar store and found colored hot glue sticks! This is was basically routed first... then some other stuff... and then I was done because it was finished and it looked cool.

btw, there's a sweet interview with me here

(oops I think it's upside down or sideways or something... or maybe it's fine...)
this is my attempt at trying to make this color blue that Rachel really likes, I almost got it.

also, I'm still in the midst of coming up with some interesting Fine Arts class proposals at CCS, I have a really fun formula I'm going with right now.

Ok, so let's say you want to make a really interesting holistic art class. In such a class let's pretend that there are always 2 teachers, a facilitator and an expert technician.

Make three bubbles and connect them to each other (trifecta!). Now fill them in accordingly: one contains an everyday activity that if practiced would enhance ones quality of life, another bubble is a particular art discipline and can be as specific as you'd want to get, and another bubble connects both that concerns a specific research topic to get content for art. This third bubble is about ideas not derived from experienced reality necessary, whether it's history, or anthropology or a specific topic of interest. Picking which ones goes with which becomes the art of finding what activities would balance each other out so that it makes a totalizing set of skills. I even tried to start with the balanced skill set instead of a bubbles and it got me into some interesting ideas. (Please keep in mind, this is actually an activity I've been going through to get a place to start, these are not actual classes that I may be teaching... however you'd bet I'd love to be in that theoretical class)

What if in a single class you were learning and tying in together ideas mashed up of...

Printmaking, Chess and Grant Writing

Methods in teaching special education, Urawaza and Painting

Singing, Cultural Anthropology and Architecture

Yoga, Strategies for taking notes and making Frescoes

Textile Design, How to make handmade soap and other common cleaners, and Science Fiction novels

Industrial Design, Music improvisation and Biology

Death rituals, Learning how to give an elevator pitch,  and Performance Art

Silk screening, History of Sexuality and Learning how to write clearly

History of Chaos & Randomness, Sculpture and Baking Bread

Woodworking, Occupational Therapy and Social Theory

Entrepreneurship, Photography and Physical Anthropology

Nano-Technology, Glass Blowing and Fixing Your Car

Art Education, Wine Tasting and Tufte's efficient diagrams

How to teach kids games, drawing from life and tending a farm

Ethnomusicology, Metalwork / Jewelry and Ethics & Citizenship

Curator, Raising animals, and the history of industrial agriculture

It's hard to describe how I'd envision the class running... perhaps one person was knowledgeable enough to do two of the concepts and the other person being able to handle the third, or it maybe it would take three teachers. I'm not even sure exactly how they would all work together in a single class, but just imagine what your life would be like if you could've taken a course like that!

I need to take a better picture, sorry.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thinking about Teaching...

I am awaiting it to become final, but I was offered to teach a course at the College for Creative Studies!
Concepts and Images.

I was first invited by Chido Johnson to give a lecture to his Seniors, which I was very happy to do, since I could talk about anything I wanted. I thought about how I wanted to recruit for and also help them think about how they're going to make the transition from art school to real life. Since I've never gone to an art school, I decided to just talk about what interested me in the moment, so I talked about my 'To-Do List' and my 'Stuck' list and about placebos and went on to explain how CCS is like one big placebo. One in which they payout lots of money and the more money the more it helps them believe that they are getting the best education in the world and if they truly believe it, they'll be something like 60% more likely to be successful in whatever they decide to do!

Well, I am REALLY glad no one told me that the new fine arts chair, Leon, was the one having some fun back and forth conversations with me the whole time. I politely asked that if I came back to talk about my work that perhaps I could get a free lunch out of it because I'm a sucker for free food and they said they'd be definitely interested in seeing if they might possibly be able to wrangle some money to possibly pay me an honorarium to talk next time as soon as I got back from Glasgow!

... insert Glasgow trip here ...

When I returned I got a mysterious e-mail from Gilda Snowden that there was rumor of having me teach a class and to talk to Leon as soon as I get back, couple minutes later an e-mail showed up from Leon about if I had 30 minutes to talk about something...

So now I'm thinking about what I've always wanted to teach, which is surreal, because I've always wanted to teach on a College level and here it is, possibly even competing with my idea that I just needed to go to graduate school! So my mind is running with possibilities! On a core level I will present what I think I could offer and what CCS students need more of with these ideas:
  • In order to teach inter-disciplinary practices one must engage with people outside of CCS, outside of Art. Or at the very least mix the rigid disciplines so that there is the possibility of hybrid works! Then again, this just may be the aesthetic that I'm personally drawn to...
  • Everything is simple, nothing is easy. Committing to a lifelong art practice requires finding those things that you can easily do everyday, that's the definition of sustainability. However it does require practice, and students will need to be able to identify how they can push themselves into making what is difficult but important to them, into something that's easy.
  • Students need to OWN their curriculum. An example: I foresee students being allowed to scour Detroit for events, happenings and locations, and then they get to make the rest of the class (professor included) an assignment, Miranda July style. This is inspired by a teacher I liked a lot, Robert Watson, now the principal at Northville High School, who had us write our own tests, and although they could be really challenging, it was such a great spin on the idea of what it means to learn in depth when you are the one making the test.
I have all these other ideas to prepare myself, like giving myself fake assignments to make captivating and interactive PowerPoints that deal with
  • Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and finding meaning (where am I coming from, where am I going, why?)
  • Bell Hooks "teaching community" and racism vs. privilege
  • Flow - happiness - inspiration - creativity - ideas
Everyday I want to be able to:
  • Create a comfortable studio environment where they feel like they bring something to the table.
  • Engage at least 5 students 1 on 1 for about 20 - 30 minutes
  • Shake up all of their thinking and preconceived ideas so that they find themselves in a heightened state of awareness. Facilitating what it means to think critically, to look at things in a critical way...
  • Exchange images, ideas, artists to check out and events
  • End on a positive proactive note!
"Teaching is all about managing expectations" - Andy T

Cartoon slipped in from the web comic: xkcd

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wait! Did I ever tell you about the time I got stuck in customs for 5 hours?

So, me being lost in Balloch for 5 hours has a partner story back in the states!

Two days after coming back to the U.S... I got stuck for 5 hours trying to transport artwork to a three person show in Sarnia.

Day 1: Unpack, edit my Fulbright's Project statement and personal statement then send my finished Fulbright packet to Michigan State. Also finish my application to the Glasgow School of Art (technically I hadn't finished either of them, but I pretended the whole time that I had finished it!)
Day 2: Bring artwork up to Sarnia for the show at Susan Kristjansson Gallery, easy show, mostly older work. Refinish some of the frames and re-frame some of the works... And when I get a chance finish getting letters of rec.
Day 3: Finish a new work of art for District VII, and meet up with my 'intern' to go over what to do next.
Day 4: Work for Vitamin Water, possibly put up my first pages in a while,

So perhaps I was trying to do to much? That's when this happened:

(Doo doo doo, got my passport on me still... hopefully traffic into Canada's not too bad)
What brings you to Canada today?
I'm going to a gallery!
Is that your artwork?
Yup! I'm an artist.
Will you be selling it?
Well, not me, but the gallery most likely will, I mean hopefully.
Ok, do you know how much all the artwork is worth?
Um... I don't know, I'm bringing a friend's artwork too, I think like $10,000?

At this point the border guard's eyebrow raised, which begins the sinking feeling in my gut that didn't hit me before even though one of my paintings was so big that it was resting on my headrest, partially careening over my head as I drove, probably it's own kind of safety hazard.

Wait, do I have to claim this or something?
You're doing it right now. (hands me a yellow piece of paper with notes scribbled on it that I have artwork worth 10,000 dollars.) Go over and park over there, they'll tell you whatever you need to complete the claim.

Um... well, ok.

First I parked then was told to talk with customs, they told me some crazy forms involved getting a 'bond' or something that even they doubted I would be able to get since I was an individual shipping artwork, blah blah blah, you're not supposed to be here, talk to S. M. Hewitt, they could help you.

This would allow me to leave my artwork unattended and for sale. At this point it was too late to say otherwise... Like, oh never mind it's not for sale... and oh... no I don't plan to leave the artwork in Canada.

 I don't even really know what happened, but this one lady who perhaps oversaw S.M. Hewitt, figured that I didn't know how to help myself so began getting out some gigantic binders to look some things up. During this time she sighed a lot and gave me these long looks that seemed to say, you have no idea what your getting yourself into kid. She summoned me into her office after I had to call and get Ian's inventory for all of his artwork to come through the mail, more awkward waiting...
It came through and she begins clicking and typing blazing fast. She was clicking the calculator, downloading forms, typing things in, re-checking numbers, getting things photocopied together, then stapling packets together and said to me very simply:

This form is what you will give to the U.S. side.
I'll show you where commercial goods come in, you give this to them on the Canadian side they'll know what to do with it. Also I'm kicking you back to the States to get this form filled out because otherwise they'll hassle you on the way back to the States for having a bunch of artwork in your car that you didn't have before. You're going to need to get this stamped before you get back into Canada. Goodluck.

The commercial customs officer all decked out in a bullet-proof vest, replaced my yellow tag with one that said I was being told to go back to the States due to incomplete paperwork and thus began an hour of waiting in line to get back to the States and back in. He let me know that he'll probably be gone by the time I get back and that I should drive in the truck lane (which is much slower) so that I'm right by their office to get everything cleared. Here's the kicker, when I come back, I'll be expected to pay 10% of the total value of the artwork as a deposit. The artwork at this point has been figured to be valued at 14,200.

Just so you know, it makes no sense, you have to TELL the lady that you give your 3 dollars to or whatever that you're trying to get to Customs. She'll then tell you to park your car right off to the side (there's only like 4 spots so that seems a little strange.) then you actually have to cross the lanes that the trucks use to get to the building. She radioed the people over in that building that I was on my way over and then told me to make eye contact with the truck drivers first to make sure it's safe to cross. It's 5 lanes wide, no kidding. I nervously mumble to the officers standing around that I have to get something stamped and they let me get in line. The line takes about an hour to get through with just 4 people in line, but I'm reading little bits of information, like how on an average, the homeland security intercepts 40,000 or so pounds of drugs. I'm watching a couple argue with an accent about how they didn't realize that the girlfriend had overstayed and wasn't allowed to come into Canada let alone be in the US. I just sat patiently in the room once it was my turn to sit and wait. It is something I feel like I've been training myself for years, accepting fate rather than getting upset. Another officer has my keys at this point probably counting the paintings and possibly trying to assess my ability to price my artwork? He gives it a little stamp and I'm back on my way on the bridge only 3 1/2 hours later! I get into Canada, I've paid to go over the bridge 3 times now, I get a new yellow note (they guy even recognizes me and my car and says, weren't you just here?) and I get stopped by a guard because I got out of my car too quickly and after she scanned the many documents over that I had been given over these few hours, I was allowed to go in and... wait with the other truckers. Handed off my paperwork when someone realized that I was standing in their lobby, I waited until my name was called and the same guy who said he was going to have left already, was still there.

I thought you were going to get to leave?
Well, I went to go do something else and so now I'm back.
Let's talk a walk, where's your car?
This one over here on this side.
Is this going to that new art center?
No, this is actually a new gallery in Sarnia, the one you're talking about is still being built.
Oh ok, well, I like art and you probably don't have thousands of dollars on you, so let's just say that it's great that you're bringing artwork into Canada and I don't want to cramp your style, and there's all these new tax laws that are changing so, you did all the right paperwork, but we'd have to do even more, so let's just say that it's not in either of our interests to go this route, ok?

And at that, he wished me good luck on selling a lot of art, took my little yellow piece of paper from me, and waved me goodbye.

Here's where my life lessons are shared with you! Read carefully and let's compile tips for easily moving art across borders without hassle!
  • Don't bring artwork that looks like artwork or like weapons or like... anything valuable.
  • If your artwork DOES look valuable or if there's too much to hide like in my case, print out a Certificate of Registration from the Department of Homeland Security, CBP Form 4455. Attach a sheet of paper that has all of the information about the artwork (this is important to prove that you did not 'purchase' the artwork while in Canada but you're just bringing it back so that you don't get hassled on the way back to the United States.)

  • Do not say that your artwork is for sale, if anything, call it what it is, priceless artwork, in other words: Cultural Exchange. 
  • Do not say your artwork is leaving your supervision. It's going to stay in your car, right?
  • Call ahead to find out what appropriate forms you'll need, I can't find them right now because I wanted to put all of this behind me, and so I don't have all the specific forms I was given to give to the Canadian side of the border.
  • Have your gallery arrange the acceptance of the artwork, if they have to pay a deposit, it should be their money, not yours. Large galleries probably have a broker of some kind.
  • So perhaps... Ship the artwork if you can. Or appraise your work at a very low price, hell, get it notarized or approved by some kind of appraisal professional to help legitimize how cheap it is.
Even when all is said and done, I did all the appropriate steps and it really comes down to the fact that you either get someone who doesn't care that you have artwork in your car, and someone that is easily suspicious and has this idea ringing in their head that your artwork is cause for alarm. It's possible that had I not been so calm, I would have had to put up that 1,420 dollars or the show would not have happened at all.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Gut Roulette!
Gut Roulette!
Gut Roulette!
Gut Roulette!

"To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target."


trying to figure out what constitutes my 'best work' for a very important upcoming show... I played a little bit of 20 questions at work today.
is it an animal, vegetable or mineral?
does it involve layering?
is it transparent?
does it come in units?
does it involve a projector?
would it be able to fit in your car?
would you need a cherry picker?
can you install it in four days? (oh wait, I have to...)
is it new or is it part of a new series of works?
does it continue onto the floor from the wall?
will it connect to another work of art you have?
will you need the vinyl cutter?
can people take something back from the experience with them?
will some part of it be outdoors or in other public spaces?
will it be in the background of performances?
would it help if you collaborated with others?
does it involve a fire extinguisher?
do you need paint?
will it go in a corner?
does it need to be contained in it's own room?

I know what you're thinking... you can't beat me...

It's a ________________ that ____________________ and represents your way of _____________________ !

Is this correct? Yes/No?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Who would you want to film a movie about Detroit?

This blog post from David Byrne really helped me decompress my thoughts about what I want to tell people about my trip to Glasgow...

Why am I so interested in Detroit and Glasgow connection?

Both are gritty post-industrial cities that once brought immigrants together in one place to build great machines and became symbols for their output. Today one city is doing quite well and the other we are hoping will follow in its success but along its own path.

Toby Barlow's New York Times Ops --> "Glasgows Miles Better" campaign?
Cranbrook and architect Saarinen --> Glasgow and architect Mackintosh
Kresge Fellowships -->  I can't find a specific name for it but there is a general high amount of support for arts organizations (although there was word that they are trying to fight to keep it that way because there's a good chance that 30% of the governmental budget to support cultural programs are in the works of being cut!)

Humble artists from both cities cite that being on a form of unemployment gave them the means and time to create work everyday may have been the REAL catalyst to rethinking the city as a cultural center. Although I do not believe that artists solely need 'just enough to live off of' in order for a sustainable arts infrastructure to go into place, that idea just assumes feeding off of what artists naturally do (community development etc.) in order for everyone else but the artists to become sustainable and paid for doing what they love.

For artists in both cities, try as hard as you might, most of everybody is working a minimum wage job.

I'm sure there's much more, but that's my homework!
I picked up 3 books I'm really interested in:
ARCADE - Artists and Place Making about "the role of artists in the context of urban environments... central to both art practice and urban planning... using the recent regeneration of the notoriously deprived neighborhood of... Gorbals as a starting point"
Who Belongs to Glasgow?
Glasgow Museum's towards an engaged gallery - Contemporary art and human rights: GoMA's social justice programs

Where we are lacking what Glasgow has:
  • Ann Arbor is no Edinburgh...
That city provides even more outlets for artworks and another art scene that has just as much to explore, still a decent amount of artist-run spaces and feels very connected.
We don't have a cheap train that people expect to take to enjoy Ann Arbor for the day or vice versa.
  • Consistent Critical Writing about Art and Life
I have about 14 publications / written articles from different galleries that I visited (in two days and two cities!) and six of them have catalogs or available critical writing about the shows. I don't want to get into how many paid writers we have in this city that write on a consistent basis about
  • We don't really attract international artists when we have art festivals. At least not massive art installations unless it's at MOCAD or well, let's be honest, Grand Rapid's Art Prize is closest.
  • Radiohead will play to a crowd of like 120 people there.
  • Tourism there is very easy, and they're mastering something I'd like to see develop in Detroit, "Artist tourism" As a city it provides many avenues for the kinds of tours artists would really want, do some couch surfing, go check out a band play here or there, be able to walk anyone you may want to go... Also you can actually run into Belle and Sebastian or Jim Lambie or whoever you fancy is the top artists of our day.
  • Other things that people in the UK are much more accustomed to that aren't just in this particular city: it's affordable to get multiple degrees or a PhD, there's healthcare

How we have more than what Glasgow has:

  • All that Glasgow has left of its previous industry is one small steamship building plant... we still have GM, Ford, Chrysler/Fiat trying to rebuild their empire probably through people producing or buying fuel-efficient cars, but can't we just not try to 'buy' our way out of problems?

(sorry that was secretly negative)

  • Public Art is powerful, i.e. Heidelberg Projects, and when the lights that said "Everything Is Going To Be Alright" drastically alter the psyche of the people that live here, so in a sense, artists are more powerful in this city than in others to create a commotion, set an idea in motion... less red tape...
  • But we do have a kind of cooperative feeling that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. This would be a good time to drop that I just got offered to teach a class at CCS! I was offered it by the new chair of the fine arts department after I gave the lecture I've always wanted to give and once again by putting myself out there doing, there's a new line that I found: Chance favors the connected mind. If there's anything more exciting than being in an incubation of creativity, it's being a part of the creation of such things! I love my talented friends, I look forward to all of us doing well together in a wonderfully non-competitive way.
  • It's not just about the arts too, the DIY scene is mainly made up of social activists, urban farmers, educators, musicians and young entrepreneurs. The more disciplines that get in on the fun, the better I say!
  • I like our food better. I like being able to get authentic Mexican food on one day and then authentic Japanese food on another.
  • I personally enjoy how small Detroit really is, there's something I've always enjoyed about the how much we can pack into such a small scene, and still there's tooooo many cool things to go do in a given night. Hopefully I will make it to some tonight.

Lastly, anyone notice how hard it's getting to keep up with all the movies about Detroit? There's Palladium Boots Johnny Knoxville one, then there's Requiem for Detroit, and technically if we want to include it we can say that Matthew Barney is making a film about the city. I want to hear who you'd love to see direct a movie that is filmed and about Detroit.

My vote goes to Bernadette Corporation or the Coen Brothers.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lucky Unlucky

I officially had the worst 'adventure' I've ever had trying to get to Loch Lomond...

But to start off on a nice note, I tried couch surfing for the very first time and it was AMAZING! Although I did make quite a few friends at the Hostel so it's a toss up between having 1 person show you around that is a very thoughtful person, and having 3 or 4 people that check in with how you're doing periodically and share their wide amount of experiences about where they're coming from and tips for things you can do to make your life easier. I stayed with someone named Willem who came in at the last hour when the original person I had been in contact with stopped contacting me! I probably e-mailed Willem as a backup (my only smart pre-planning of the entire trip honestly) and he even gave my photo to the bouncers at the club that he was hanging around that night so they would know to expect me! He treated me to beers, showed me around, talked about this and that and then I had a great time going back to his place where we ate cocoa puffs, played his synth drums that some band used when recording at his house and watched stuff on youtube about British comedians I didn't know.

Before that however, the same night, I saw one of the funniest things I have ever seen. But first I have to introduce you to Guillaume and Audrey. So I met up with Rachel Timlin's (Aaron Timlin's sister) friends earlier in the week. Guillaume's from France and Audrey's Irish and those three first meet some odd 12 years ago and we inseparable from what I hear for that year. Guillaume is a manager at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut and he's seen some of the most-well known bands ever to have played that small venue. Audrey that week was  busy putting together an exhibition with Sense Scotland which was basically an art opening celebrating the work from the result of workshops created by sight, hearing and mentally impaired residents. The second night I was in I got deep friend Haggis, talked at length with both of them and then went on to talk with Guillaume for even longer at Variety about the politics of Detroit and Glasgow and in general what it's like for people to get around in these kinds of cities.

But the funniest moment happened a couple nights later when I was invited to Audrey's house and was introduced to a doll that Rachel made of Audrey. I thought it was store bought because it had a really nice box, it was handmade but with an insane amount of detail. Captions all over the box like, 'I like potatoes!' (she's Irish) and the best part was another caption that says, Squeeze my Butt and I'll Talk to You! but that's not all, there's an embedded recording where Rachel tricked Audrey into leaving a funny voicemail message which was unknowingly put into the doll. It had so much love put into the accessories including a wee camera (Audrey's a photographer) a wee cell phone, and a wee book, all about Audrey's love of potatoes. To top it all off they fed me and my phone was dying all day and they had something to charge my iPhone so that I could get in contact with Willem... thank god. I was actually thinking I might have to sleep in the streets for Plan C.

Let's see... before that  in the morning I accidentally saw a sneak preview of a show at Transmission (they forgot to put a do-not-enter tape across the door, I inadvertently met the artist but have nothing to show for it.)

Before that I was in Edinburgh the day before seeing ALL of their galleries too. I got lost... a lot and probably saw all of Edinburgh, which is exactly why I like the city. You can get lost as all hell, but it's so small that it doesn't really matter! You can always use the same landmarks to figure it out. I went to a tiny ceramics gallery/studio because I got lost, but I also found Embassy gallery which wasn't on any of the art maps I had been given. Just through word of mouth I was able to find a lot of artist run galleries! I saw these poor artists who had to sit at their own show in order to have it open, but on the upside the visitors can meet the artists for sure that way!

Before all that it was even MORE amazing, I basically got to sit in and listen to all of the presentations by all the 2nd year and 1st year (except maybe the first 4 the first day I got in) students that are going to Glasgow School of Art and I must say, I can totally imagine being a part of that group. Some of them already have prestigious gallery shows and for all I know museum shows, tons of awards... they throw the word biennial around like how we through around house party.

Ok, so the bad day that happened today...

"Full Blown Crisis" - Photographs, acrylic paint, spray paint, and cloth on acrylic plastic mounted on oak.
I'm not going to go into it. Anti-climatic huh? I pretty much didn't get anywhere for 5 hours straight of walking. That's the short story, if you ever really want to hear it, buy me a pint and I'll go through it all again.

Being in such a sh*tty situation (and calling my girlfriend Rachel freaking out, missing her, bless her heart) made me really focus on what I needed to do, which includes some slightly impossible acts of determination.

1. Rewrite Fulbright application in 1 day and drive it up to Lansing to be edited more.
1b. Read portions of the 3 books I bought to help support my Fulbright statement.
2. Refinish old work and bring 14 pieces to Sarnia
3. Finish my application to Glasgow School of Art and send it on with letters of rec!
4. Talk with people about secret collaborations and finish a proposal.
5. Figure out new works for District VII
6. Put up 2 new pages for artist pages
7. Paint sum bowls with DIA staff at 555 Gallery
8. Find artwork if I have any to put into Art Detroit now with Hatch
9. Respond to e-mails about commissions / where to get gallery space
10. Figure out what my intern can help me with!

All within the next week or possibly before Oct 1st...

So what I've learned from all of this... travelling helps me write, but otherwise I don't find any reason to do it alone again. Sh*tty moments help me clear what it is that I want, as opposed to just thinking about what I want. More concretely what I learned: Do more research, leave earlier, ask better questions, get offline maps for the iphone (that way you can still use the location services via wi-fi when you can find it)

Also in case you were wondering, I didn't eat any non-deep friend haggis, it rained three days, chinese food in the UK is different but still good, I was suprised by the number of people I met from Estonia, I like when people say cheers or Brilliant! and gar-ige instead of gah-raj and... lots of other things that I had to ask what people were talking about... What other crap would people want to know... Oh you can get a flight to Glasgow for just under 500 dollars including taxes if you plan ahead. I must admit though I am a bit afraid... I'm flying back through Heathrow (London's and possibly the world's worst airport) and I have been told that even though I have a 2 hour layover, if they can't check my bag all the way... and I have to pick it up at baggage claim, get through security a 2nd time, find the right gate and which concourse, and if the board on the screen says it takes 20 minutes to get there, (which means approximately 1 mile of distance)... RUN.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I take that back, Glasgow is still great, but I SUCK at travelling, at least I'm learning a lot of new things.

Woke up really early, though I didn't want to because... well, i'm in a hostel and everyone had to get up early, I thought that I'd at least be able to sleep in until 12:30 but I got up at 8 am instead, you know a decent 4 hours of sleep. Right after that I thought I better make sure I have everything so I went downstairs and got myself some soap and a towel thinking that I'll go and eat (since I bought vouchers) just before it closes at 10 am. Well... I got down there, OH I FORGOT, i'm really really high up, climbing up and down 4 sets of stairs really takes it out of me... but it turns out that it closes at 9 am... So I said to myself that's fine...

man, I just need to go to sleep.

to make a long story short, looked up a cheap place to get food, turns out it's 45 minutes away (which was hell carrying back 45 lbs of food for that long...) and it's not so much cheap as it is... cheaper versions of expensive things, like a Trader Joes, except imagine you have no idea what anything really is... fruit squash? lamb mince?

Here's the kicker, I bought about 1/2 frozen foods and got back to the hostel only to realize they only have a refrigerator.

Yeah, I cooked 3 meals pretty quickly this morning just so I didn't have to waste it all.

And then I found out why everyone wakes up at 7 am and takes showers early... no more hot water after 10 am...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wow longest best day ever!

Imagine waking up from a only being able to sleep about 4 hours on a plane ride with very little wiggle room to realizing that your plane lands at 3 am and you have a interview/tour at 5 am. That's how my day started.

I'm in Glasgow reading Simply Separate People by Lynn Crawford, listening to music given to me the day before by a guy named Aaron. My favorite artists on his crazy playlist that only spans from bands beginning with the letter A to bands beginning with the letter B include Aavikko, Afro Celt Sound System, Arvo Part...

I was greeted with a couple of the best travel suprises you could imagine, first Scotland, my destination, for some reason or another allows free baggage claim. As I was getting off the plane I was told to go in a separate line because I had a foreign passport, it just so happened that it was a shorter line and I got to get in front of about of 100 people and got my little Scotland Stamp. Even though I was the first one out of the plane our bags were rotating on the little turnstyle thingy, and my bag was sitting there just waiting for me.

I met with Dr. Glyn Davis and I thought he was surprisingly young, I spent a little bit of a ridiculous time trying to get dollars exchanged for British Pounds so I could get a coffee, I must say I got some crappy weak coffee, but I made the mistake of travelling to far to try to exchange my money and so had to run up some steep hills to make it back in time. I made it just in time to the Mckintosh building and stood around a bit thinking about what possible questions he might ask me, I kept coming up with what I considered really weak responses: I'm here in Glasgow because someone told me that it was similar to Cranbrook, (which it is in that it is a tight knit group of artists that have a wide range of abilities. The work is distilled to its basic elements while giving their old work an experimental twist.

I got to sit in on some of the 2nd year students' work and I thought to myself that there sure were a lot of images surrounded by a lot of white blank negative space around the subjects, as I got outside during breaks I noticed how the overcast clouds seemed to become like a large lightbox... I felt like the environment instilled a kind of calm upon some of their work, letting them know, less is more, less is everything.

I feel a little embarrased but I tried a range of very abruptly interuptions to patiently waiting in plain view of current students in order to talk to them about their experiences. One student had an awful time getting his Visa, but he did let me know that Rachel could apply for the common-law partner VISA as long as we could prove that we've lived together for the past two years. I made sure to mention that it was my first time travelling alone and that I was here from Detroit and that it's nicer than the stereotypes. For the most part people would say that their news had recently and often talked about the very urban farming and other art projects that were underway in the city. It made me feel like I had a bit of cache behind me, some real credentials of DIY.

Other parts of the talks included someone quoting Samuel Beckett ''try to fail better'', another artist Katie talked about how she tried to get all the copies of 'Wealth of Nations' by Adam Smith and only was able to secure 30 some, another artist worked with implanting blank books into the library so that one had a space to open a blank book and settle the mind. All of this reminded me of the other great part of the school's partnerships which included that I had full rein of the art libray, University of Scotland's Library and even the gigantic library in Edinburgh where I could find any book. Any Book! Suzie's work really appealled to me, it had to do with being a printmaker but it was really beyond printmaking since it was so about the process of printmaking... one of her projects was giving people unique coins with a kindof woodgrain looking thumbs up on it that she gave to people for their favors, work for art. I learned that Paradelia means common things such as stains or decay being thought of as extremely important, especially when you think you see the face of Jesus or the Virgin Mary on a wee crisp. That means small potatoe chip, but you knew that.

Regardless of the fascinating artist talks I really had to focus on staying awake as we were reaching the 4th break in the day...

I'm looking at my notes in a datebook that is a Mike Spradlin wedding presents and it's already filled with nuggets of great advice: Think about your relationship to the other students, what are you able to actually accomplish in 2 years, what would you be interested in exploring? what are some technical, conceptual and material concerns for your work?

Later in the day I went to the hostel (because they don't open until 2) and grabbed my backpack and headed straight to a computer so that I could contact Rachel and find out what I could do about my really really really bad timing for my Fulbright application. (it's due the 23rd and involves sending images via a cd, I'm in Glasgow right now so that should tell you how organized I am to get that hard copy to them... I just found out I got an extension though *phew* now all I have to worry about when I get back is driving to Lansing to drop off the application, dropping off a three person show in Canada that's an hour away, getting ready for my artist talk on the first, as well as put together a proposal for another big art show possibly in six months... What have I done to myself? I apologize to myself right now, by taking this trip TO GLASGOW!!! HOLY SH*T I'M STILL IN GLASGOW! I'M TRAVELLING BY MYSELF IM FUCHKIN DOING IT!

So at the Hostel I was able to ask about walking Lochlomond which the cabbie on the way in helped me pronounce it (lock-lemon) and as I asked him about what non-artists think about all the art, he simply replied, the other residents don't seem to mind. I waited for a bit for Rachel Timlin's friends, one who invited me to something called Sense Scotland, which I later found out were art workshops made for people who are deaf or blind or impaired mentally and was about experiencing materials in new ways. Her other friend Guillaume happened to be a manager of the CBGBs of Glasgow and was having a hard time getting around without having to say hi every other second, but he really gave me all the attention for a real good hearted conversation where we basically described the history and future of two entire nations, US and UK over a pint of beer. Tomorrow I might ask someone what's with the protestant and catholic soccer team rivalries. They also treated me to the greasiest dinner and I was able to get away without trying a deep fried Mars bar. I really seemed to crack up the 2nd years when I asked if it was 'legal'. Hanging out with the Glasgow CBGB manager and making a ton of 2nd year MFA students crack up has seemed to help me get my foot into the door of this art scene quite quickly and easily. Who knew travelling would come this naturally for me? Who knew that everyone would reschedule so that they could meet me on my very first day in Scotland, on my own, on my journey towards discomfort and getting lost within the smallest amount of space possible... I look forward to sneaking in into more MFA talks...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Quick teaching advice

Andy T: "Teaching is all about managing expectations."
Me: "Maybe, but I think we should trick students into learning. Or maybe there needs to be a class called 'Fake it until you make it' where we teach them different methods people have used and talk about their goals and how to achieve them in as many creative ways as possible.'
Andy T: "I know what you mean, but I don't like that term 'faking it', I like the term described as a 'state of becoming' which, described by B******** (was it Bachelard?)...

He went on to explain it, but sometimes I'm a bad listener, at least when it comes to names.

I obviously haven't taught in a classroom setting in a while now, (unless you count those kindergartners at Cranbrook) but I may be giving a lecture to some CCS seniors about.. well, what I think they should know. I'll probably spend the beginning portion talking about my exploits in how I've faked it until I made it, and how I continue to keep going. Also I probably will talk about my current interest in public art, the need for better writing about art going on in the city and exporting the products of our talented Detroiters while investing locally.

In general though, I think it would be a really fun activity to actually have them list 5 things they wish they could change about this city, pick their top 3, and then make a new list of 5 things they are interested in doing, and then choosing their top 3 and seeing if we can mash together something from those two lists and talk about it as a group. This was an activity I was learning about in an professional development meeting about teaching social justice through writing activities when I was a student teacher. It's not that activity specifically, but it does simplify the overwhelming process of: what do I do now?

I think I could easily also bring my 'stuck' list and my new 'to-do' list, because I think it's generally really helpful, but every time I've really enjoyed hearing someone is was either because it was very interactive, or because it was just a very well polished and entertaining presentation, and I don't think I have time to do the latter, but I don't think I'm getting paid anyways, and I really just want to practice my public speaking skills to some promising students! To make it worth my while though, it might be really fun to actually have them write out a list of 5 of the wisest things they've ever learned or wrote me a story along those lines while they were at school and I'll take those as payment... The odds are I'll receive one comment that is mind-blowingly awesome.

Also as a side note, I gave up looking for an intern... and then one day during the People's Arts Festival he showed up! And after that he e-mailed me and I told him he could help me setup for my solo show and he was a huge help, I even bought him dinner. After that he mentioned his school might be able to figure out how he could be my intern...

The list in really rolling thinking of all the fun things I have for an intern to do...

I'll list them in another blog soon...  maybe not before I go to GLASGOW!!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

good news scaryness good news

Here's all the good news lately:

* My fellowship is officially over, but I am still a Kresge Fellow for life! The rest of the funds are being saved up for graduate school in the fall. Who knows, I could be going to Yale, RISD, CalArts or even Scotland. There are a couple more I'm thinking of too we'll see...

* I won 1st place at a juried show in Canada, I'm officially an international artist! I will be showing some older work (new to Canadians) on Sept 30th. They are seeking artists to represent by the way... for more infos:

* I was recently interviewed by, Metrotimes and Detroit Make it Here (which is part of Crains, which I'm sure is short for Crazy Brains) And Simone DeSousa who operates the gallery also has been featured in quite a few things, including Fortune 500's most influential business people I believe. Oh by the way, Re:View Contemporary is representing me! I don't know if I've ever written in down in public before, but she is GREAT to work with, once, I dropped off 6 new pieces and she sold 4 of them before they went up on the wall that week, this besides the fact that she is a good friend and good person.

* Rachel Corrie and I hosted Not Blood Paint after they hosted us for four nights when we went to New York, they sounded awesome! They were recently dubbed the band 'most likely to start a cult'. We all look forward to collaborating with one another.

* We made about 600 bucks at the People's Arts Festival (which comes to the same I made last year, but this time I sold less pieces and was able to pay Rachel for her help!) It was probably also our last year for a while since I may be in grad school this time next year... bum bum bummmm

* Speaking of us, the awesome couple we are, we are going to be performing for the first time as Chorus of Aahs with Sir Andy Thompson from the He Bops from 7 to 8 to draw people to come to my solo show at the very beginning of when it opens, especially because we need to lure people in from Dally in the Alley.

* I never posted a finished photo of my floor! So here it is!!! See older blog post about how it was going to function

* Lastly, the scariness, as I put it in the middle of the headline. I have bought my ticket to Glasgow, Scotland. I will be traveling for the first time by myself... With the hopes that I will find out if the Glasgow School of Arts is not only the place for me, but if I'll find someone who can help me write a recommendation for a Fulbright to study there. I  .   am    .   so    .    freaked    .     out.
Let the feeling of real life begin... NOW.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Me and my friends are going to take over the world...

...because of strategic planning and being genuinely cooperative people. Take that world!

I'm seriously interested in creating an online skills bank that is SUCCESSFUL, I will be working on how exactly that would work, but that's my project for the next couple years... I can feel it!

Theses are notes that I was making up when I was talking to Mike Han about what kind of community we would be excited to be a part of. It's a strange bubble map for sure, if you have any questions, feel free to ask, and I'll make it up the best I can as we go along.

Monday, August 30, 2010

More thoughts about Graduate School

Top 5 reasons I will be going to grad school:

1. Get out of my happy bubble that is Detroit, if only for a little while.

2. Forced to stuff I don't naturally do, like reading a lot, in depth, for research. Make critical artwork that requires risk and forethought.

3. Be able to teach at a University, I tend to like most of the professors that I've met, even if it's a 'bad time to teach'

4. Improve my chances of having access to great opportunities from overseas residencies to funding.

5. Surround myself with a different kind of supportive environment, I've never been to an art school, I've never had to define my 'context' within art, and I've never had a critique so critical that it really made me think about changing everything.

So I've decided to help me make my decision about the Glasgow School of Art I will be flying into Scotland on Sept 20th and returning on the 28th!

I found these nice quotes tonite that I think are pertinent.

Before I travelled my road I was my road.  ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise.  Seek what they sought.  ~Matsuo Basho

Sometimes it's necessary to go a long distance out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly.  ~Edward Albee

It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.  ~James Thurber

Alice came to a fork in the road.
"Which road do I take?" she asked.

"Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat.

"I don't know," Alice answered.

"Then," said the cat,
 "it doesn't matter."
~Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.  ~Henri Louis Bergson

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.  ~Henry David Thoreau

When the student is ready, the master appears.  ~Buddhist Proverb

Friday, August 20, 2010

Money for Artists!

Ok, so I do not run Soup, nor have I attended one yet, and I didn't hear about it from the New York Times but through a coworker at the DIA, but this idea is GREAT for Detroit. I am posting this picture because I've been waiting for the moment to talk in a positive and excited way about artists and money.

I hope that this will be the first in a series of blog posts about commonly misunderstood concepts about art that I would like to rectify through my personal experiences. One of the first myths being that artists don't need money... (believe it or not there are those within the art community, I will not name them here or in the future that artists in fact do better work when given no money.)

This entry is about how there needs to be more grants and funding for artists. Grants make an artistic career a viable lifestyle. It supports something that is undervalued.

First, I want to get out idea of how I believe money works for artists, as a tool, not an end in itself:

Money makes more money, which is to say, imagine a tool that can be used to build an even larger tool. There are some projects that can only be made using these tools, sometimes we envy how large someone else's tool is, but it should be known that it in the end, it as a tool, can only be used to make certain kinds of projects. Can you think of other projects that require no money that would actually be made worse if one tried to use it?

I wanted to say that money is better defined as grease, but I think grease can be broadly described as a tool anyhow.

Next, I feel like there is a tendency to avoid 'profiting' from one's art or 'Selling Out'. But then again we have plenty of tendencies to avoid business strategies that don't relate to money directly either that we hold as a stigma. Take the idea that some people don't like how 'networky' I am, they are very turned off when I get excited that I know someone who they should talk to. 
But money does not come from networking, opportunities come from networking and opportunities beget the opportunity to get attention and business people and companies and corporations all love translating attention into sales, so they will use your abilities to get attention to help them sell something, and thus give you money as part of their 'marketing strategy'. This is basically how people make money off of their websites who don't sell anything, they could even tout something completely different from the advertising that is placed on their sites. 
Sure, we'll take your money, but we'll remind our readers who are smart enough to know the difference not to buy into your sh*t. 

Also I will say that there is a limit. Creative Capital or Creative Time did a study and found that giving artists too much money can freak them out and they'll stop doing... well, anything. 20,000 dollars at a time they found was the optimal amount of money to siphon to an artist.

Chapter 2: Artists used to be really really important in society, so important they were privileged, which includes money. Arts funding reveals our priorities as a nation, and if we disagree with them (see total military budget and bank bailout compared to arts funding) we need to work towards vocalizing and changing that ratio. It also helps that we have much more freedom as an artist than there has ever been.   

I don't care how much someone tells me that Damien Hurst's art sells for too much money, people are complaining about the art market, not about the sustainability of a diverse number of artists. The art market takes care of itself, which is to say, when the economy collapses over and over again, you'll be happy to say you never got involved in buying a work of art for millions of dollars. It's not that artists are privileged people, it's just that certain artists came from privilege, and some have figured out 'the game', good for them, so what? it's not for you.  There was a reason that they were held in such high esteem, artists have historically held the crucial role having the 'critical outsider perspective' or as the romanticized wise poet that will inspire. Nowadays art is simply part of the bigger picture for many people to be an ends to a means of 'being happy'. I think all three are still valid means (and there are much more) for making art, but giving artists money seems to be a HUGE point of contention for many.


These are just of the few descriptions that are used to attack arts funding, usually by Republicans for some strange reason, although overall interestingly enough, Republicans donate more money to charities than Liberal people do.  But here are others that we rarely think about how misdirected they are:

The best most authentic art happens without funding!
Good art will eventually be funded just because it's good!
Stereotypes! Complacency!

Even some people in our field don't think much about how often they relay the stereotype of a romantic starving artist or as part of something where one would not necessarily expect to get paid for what they do.

Here comes my big point about how I think about how money (grants) affects art:

I assume that artists know they do not work in a bubble and for the most part create work with an audience in mind. When given just a little more money than they need, artists act like they have a hole in their pocket that goes straight back to the community. The more money given to artists, the more the immediate public benefits. Funding today is about trusting artists with their ideas, ideas that may be beyond present day common sense. With a little extra cash in their pocket artist 'A' can finally take that risk and do that outdoor art project they've been wanting to try, and this time with the support of their neighbors. They may feel needed especially if the money is given to them from the community itself, they feel obligated and generally put in more work than other workers are paid hourly. It's not blown on lotto tickets, even when it's used for travelling, people who have ever gone on vacation with an artist know that artists are constantly 'researching'. It's extremely annoying to those who just work hard and play hard and keep it separated.
 Artists are holistic, in that it's not about a 9 to 5 job, it can be about integrating everything that you do in your art practice and work into a lifestyle.

Part 4: This is actually all besides the fact that art actually does something. It has a detectable role!!!

Here is the definition of art that I liked a whole lot that I found in Rachel's anthropological textbook:
 Although difficult to define, art may be understood as the creative use of the human imagination to aesthetically interpret, express, and engage life, modifying experienced reality in the process. 

Now someone tell me how money could affect this process in a negative way... 
Isn't it possible that if more money were given to artists for projects they would be able to have more diverse ways to aesthetically interpret, express or engage  life. 

It is necessary to fight against a cultural view of the artist as a maker of things that are exclusively aesthetic. Artists lead the way. Artists question flaws of what is considered 'normal' and create an abundance of alternatives, innovative ideas and everything that cannot simply be reduced to monetary value.
Idea #5, Case Studies: So then why do we find artists in poor neighborhoods making great art? Don't the arts thrive within having 'nothing' to work with it? Isn't creative ingenuity more likely to happen to have when all you have is your creative energy?

If we replace the word artists with 'optimists' there is far more that can be said about a good fit. An optimistic person sees plenty to work with in the most challenging situations and many opportunities for creating something that has never been tried. When an area begins to develop and good things begin to happen, new optimistic people move in, making it so that... well... the original optimistic person may not be the MOST optimistic resident. They in a way, they may not be needed, and they would know it first. So they move on, in search of a new challenge. 

This may explain why a building designed to house artists end up housing people who enjoy the lifestyle of artists and may even paradoxically be the type that normally supports the arts but find themselves part of the gentrification of a particular area. Now if the art is good or not that comes out of this area post-gentrification compared to the 'original' artists, this may be a matter of cycles. Who's to say that the kids of the gentrification generation end up going to art school and being inspired since living in such an art-laden city. Should we tell these kids, sorry, someone famous has already put this place on the map, everything you make will always be second rate. I believe this may have more to do with another romanticized notion that the artists overcame so much to create REAL art. 

If you want to start an interesting case study, we should look at the amount of artists that come from dentists that work in the Midwest. Why do so many of their kids become artists? They need to be studied! And when we crack what the secret is we can produce more artists, instead of the conditions that make great art.

Here are some links that have inspired this post:

Monday, August 16, 2010

I hope to get quoted for the Poeple's Arts Festival this year! Big Plans.

From the first year at the People's Arts Festival

"This will be my 3rd year at the people's arts festival, this is the only festival I do because it's in the parking lot of my studio and the cost to setup a booth is really good.

I am primarily a painter and plan to sell smaller more affordable paintings as I do every year.

I expect at least $300, but I'm sure I do a lot of bartering with many other artists which isn't included in that number.

This festival for me really is about networking and practicing talking to people about my work. I think the crowd is unique because there are so many people that work in and around cultural organizations of Detroit that come to this. I have a particular social worker in mind that I am fond of that became a collector of my work because of this festival. People have come by and told me that they have been watching my progress and admire my work, which feels great because I don't know if I would have heard from them otherwise. This year, the timing works out so that I can use the festival as a kind of advertising and sneak preview for my solo show on September 11th at Re:View Contemporary. see:

The only part I dislike about the festival is that I don't really like the selling aspect of it since I have had people try to haggle with me and it makes me feel like some people would rather haggle then own my artwork which is already priced really low. This year I plan on sharing the booth with my friend Kimberly Lavon from Grand Rapids so that I don't have to sit for so long alone and we plan to do some interesting things such as a raffle to get people on our mailing list for the chance to win free works of art from both of us.

Let me know if you would like anything clarified or have more questions! Thanks for the opportunity!"

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Stopping at a rest stop in the Appalachia...

On a very fun roadtrip with Rach to test the idea of 'going to grad school, and after watching the lives of others as she drove, a peculiar thought struck me...

I'm no friend of discomfort but it's not my enemy either, nausea is what's the worst, and even then, without it we wouldn't be human if we weren't disgusted at some point by some thing.

Grad school doesn't scare me as much as not knowing who I'll be and if I'll live up to my own expectations of making work that is not necessarily revolutionary, but rather work that is not something I would have even recognized a year before, something personally new, (it's alright if it's nieve), but the feeling of risk should secretly pulse beneath the surface, which in the reality of the process ebbs and flows with each decision.

Also the film made me think about how directing works, how defiant I should feel when making my work and it also made me think that the lady in the movie had a
pretty staged suicide... But it didn't take away my enjoyment of thinking of the metaphor of movies as voyeurism, which is always fun to realize the moment you realize that every film that goes beyond just mere entertainment leaves small entrances
For those payig attention to the fabric/substrate of reality. I hope that idea gives me some momentum to figuring out how to talk about my upcoming solo show...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Don't be mad at me... or whatever, this is MY list.

This was going to be my reply to this gallery in Sarnia, Ontario that was asking who I would recommend for some shows... These are all Metro Detroiters btw. (48 of them!!!)

For some reason it was easy to come up with names when I paired them into categories in threes.

Favorite romantic artists (for the love of making, not knowing what we're doing):

Ben Teague
Dylan Spaysky
Nate Morgan

Favorite younger sculptors:

Ed Brown
Daniel Sperry
Vanessa Merrill

Favorite Abstract female painters:
Kathy Leisen
Lauren Rice
Amy Sacksteder

Favorite Artists that describe their personal connection to culture through their work:
Chido Johnson
Shiva Ahmadi
Olayami Dabls

Favorite Figurative Realists:
Richard Lewis
Kristin Beaver
Taurus Burns

Favorite Characters:
Vaughn Taormina
Jef Bourgeau
Leon Johnson

Favorite small works makers:
Gream Whyte
Laith Karmo
Sarah Berger

Favorite installation artists:

Andrew Thompson
Megan Heeres
Matt Shlian

Favorite large sculpture fiber artists:

Abigail Newbold
Rod Klingelhofer
Kate Silvio

Favorite tinkerers:
Ian Swanson
Bethany Shorb
Andy Malone

Favorite LGBTQ artists:
Isaac Richard
Ed Fraga
Gary Eleinko

Favorite artists due to their tight execution of their materials:

Corrie Baldauf
Ben Kiehl
Sharon Que

Favorite Curators (and they make great art):
Jack Summers
Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert of Design 99
Bryant Tillman

They're in a league of their own because of how awesome they are:
Nicola Kuperus
Tyree Guyton
Mike Smith

Women in East Lansing that kick ass too
Jae Won Lee
Michelle Word
Janel Schultz

I don't really know them very well, but I like how I can always tell what work is theirs:
Scott Hocking
Emily Duke
George Rahme

Over time, I'll try to populate this post with pictures and links, so if you have any favorite works by these artists, reply with the image so the rest of everyone else can see what I mean by, I love these  people's art. And everyone else just sucks, just kidding, but seriously if you think that if someone's not on this list it's because i'm a jerk, it may be, but in my defense, a lot of the people on this list I know personally which taints my view of their work being my favorite. actually I take that back, I don't know many of these people very well, but in my imaginary world, they're my best friends. ALL OF YOU LOVE ME BACK!!! YOU'RE MY BEST FRIENDS!!!!!!! see? I'm crazy, so why would you take this list seriously?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

On the brink of something really exciting (finally)

I really believe that being upset is an extremely important part of life. Yesterday was very frustrating, and last night Rach and I seemed to resolve almost all of it to think about what we can do together to make things happen. So... she's decided now that she's quit small plates, she's going to help me in my studio as well and even do promotions like I do to make monees! This about to be one insane awesome team.

My goals still:

1. Work towards finding the right grad school fit: surprising myself that I'm fearlessly heading towards 'pie in the sky' dream schools and knowing that I'll be just fine with whatever happens.

2. Work on artist talk: I finally have the basic outline done, but I'm still missing one critical component, I want to have it end with a really interesting discussion, taking the pedestal away from me and back to the audience so that something much more substantial can be gained...

3. Find a really good studio assistant so that I can do even more of what I wish I was doing, more research and development for work, more higher quality products, helping me forward in general. BAM, just destroyed this goal, besides all the people who are gearing up to revitalize the database of, Rachel my best friend, is going to test the waters of being a studio assistant. (Makes me wonder how Tyree Guyton and his wife make things happen, they seem pretty 'on' independently to get sh*t done.)

This is such a memorable moment right now. For the first time in a long time I'm really excited about the fact that I'm really working towards the goals I set for myself, the big goals that I normally avoid.

And more excitement to come today!!!

- baked crispy zucchini patties for breakfast
- studio visit
- treat Andy T to dinner
- imagining Rachel and I biking to the studio early in the morning.

Wow, I just realized Monday is going to be busy... cooool.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I'm only waiting for like 1,700 dollars...

Everytime I worry about money, I'm surprised when there's a check waiting for me.
It's hard to remember what payments are late and which ones are just on the way when you're running around hustling this hard. My heart goes out to all the people in Detroit that also have to work 3 jobs to make ends meet. I don't know if I'd want it any other way though. Today was pretty great. I ate for free, so it must've been a good time.

But really I think my life breaks down into 4 fairly equal chunks:

1/4 pure art making time
1/4 Rachel time
1/4 working as an educator whether it's DIA, MOCAD or 'other' and otherwise working for Vitamin Water
1/4 of the rest of my time, freaking out and finding new revenue streams / volunteer for whatever I can find to do that week / total loser time.

which looks pretty similar to this other list I have...

would do - time with gf
should do - art
could do - make money
reward - more freedom

Look a new piece!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cedric Tai starts his own self-made artist residency, again!

So back at Michigan State I asked the program I was in (ROIAL)  if I could start my own artist in residency program because well, I lived in the same place that my classes took place, and I earned myself control and access to the darkroom that was in the basement of where I lived. Therefore I thought, I can teach others to use the darkroom and I can do it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To my surprise at the end of ROIAL, I was handed a certificate that solidified what I had done, it read, Cedric Tai, the inaugural artist-in-residence. It was official, I faked it, and it worked.

I'm stealing this from my friend Quetarshe's blog (her daughter is so professional look at how well designed that website is!):

"Amazingly restored, 71 Garfield apartments and lofts in midtown Detroit has gone through a wonderful transformation – it’s has gone green. This 1920’s historic building in the Sugar Hills Historic art district is comprised of recycled, re-purposed with old and new fixtures, geothermal heating, solar power, and all the things that other buildings green with envy!

Not only has it gone green - local artist were asked to design on the first level an apartment/ loft, their own style, look and feel."

See the PDF invitation here

My 'dream studio'

Ok, so my deal is that I really wanted to make something permanent (like a public work of art) so I designed and installed my own floor! It's a fairly simple design that is kindof like decoding abstract art. Once you see where certain shapes come from (hint hint, where they reflect from) then it makes sense why they are placed the way they are placed and you can imagine a 3 dimensional shape once your brain cracks the code! I was partly inspired by some of the murals in detroit* that are more geometric in nature and conversations with my housemate Corrie about floor installations that Sol Lewitt did. I wanted to have a design that also appeared to unfold... Like if Sol Lewitt were into Transformers?

(blue and green are much more grey than my mockup, also the yellow triangle is supposed represent a projection...)

So my space is meant to be a:

 1. research / brainstorming space (a.k.a. charrette space, to help me with my upcoming show in Sept and my goals!)
 2. collaboration space (hopefully I will be able to bring in other artists who will want to collaborate with me, are YOU interested?)
 3. mini-ted talks space (I'm working on having Dabls from the African Bead Museum give a talk about whatever he wants, because he's awesome)
 4. gallery space (I just want to actually give a couple friends a good local space to do a show and make new work that may or may not have similar goals to those that are being outlined right here.)
 5. clean space (for photographing some of my work)
 6. community space (for bringing in people to use for whatever, doing a film night, staging meetings, brainstorming what we want or what we need)
 7. comfortable space (it has a couch!)

What did I gain, what did I lose?

I had a lot of fun putting this very minimal room together. Surprising enough I had a lot of fun installing the floor and have quite the story to tell. Corrie says I should write a short story about it. Also, my dream shelving has been built, I have no idea why, but all the furniture for kids that Ikea sells are some of my absolute favorite items. Perhaps, I just long for kindergarten. The main table in the room folds up to the wall, but I may remove it in case the wall space is needed for an art show, but I asked for a very high end sink and faucet, and I got it! I am a very happy artist. So far the only things that I've spent 'too much' on since they ran out of money in the very end are extension cables for the projector, a $125 dollar ikea couch and wireless speakers. What I got out of the deal is a sweet dry erase board table, 3 sweet cabinets, and use of a nice white space for 2 months.

As of right now, the last things I did were wax the floor myself, I've also been sanding the grooves of my cabinets so that the drawers slide easier, and I've also been weeding a vinyl sign that will ask people for their spare plexiglas!

The only thing that I think would be cooler would be if I designed my room to look like this:

Oh wait, that's just Mary Heilmann's, All Tomorrow's Parties, Exhibition View, Secession 2003

The last things that still need to be accomplished are: 

1. dropping off the ikea couch that I bought that actually fits in my scion!
2. reformat my computer so that it can be used with the projector, attach the projector shelf to the ceiling and run a power cable from the light bulb in the closet to the projector on the ceiling and also test out my projection and wireless speakers!
3. have the sink installed and test washing a silkscreen in it
4. prepare for visitors which includes putting on a dvd on a loop of me installing the floor, having my book with my work in it out (and a sign that says do not take!), business cards to Re:View gallery, and possibly putting up one of my paintings in the hallway or in the room.
5. replace the wheels on the bottom of my cabinets with ones that don't swivel and cut a corner off so that they can be tilted back and moved around easier.
6. write the goals on the dry-erase board with things that offer interaction with people that will be coming in.

I've been telling people that I haven't been very busy, I don't know if I've been lying to myself or if it's just now starting to get busy and I just can't believe it, or perhaps, I really could be busier but I didn't plan very well ahead so it's past the point of 'getting busy' and now I'm just getting by. Either way, I do hope you stop by to see how well I was able to accomplish my little goals.

My little goals:

1. apply to a juried show sometime this year
2. apply to show work in another country
3. try a new way of framing work
4. create a space for collaborating
5. find people that may enjoy collaborating/using the space
6. make a blog about it, or update
7. get someone to help me with my big sculpture for September
8. work as an educator for MOCAD
9. ?