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.