Thursday, November 30, 2006

Lotusland and Fishbon

It was tea for the staff yesterday at CAF, which was good, because I am returning to New York on Monday, but am leaving behind a schedule of events with guest hosts, and am planning traveling tea party, so there are details to discuss with the brilliant folks that work here. Before tea, Grant and I were privy to a private tour of Lotusland, which is the most amazing garden of pools, birds, cacti, and an old Japanese gardener that put in the original Japanese garden 50 years ago!! Grant and I saw him working away, it was amazing, everyone must see Lotusland!

Ganna Walska who died in 1984 at the age of 91, created Lotusland. In her autobiography, "Always Room at the Top," Walska spoke frankly, "Everything I have achieved, I owe entirely to myself." She was a self described feminist, and even organized suffragist meetings in Chicago before moving to California.

After Lotusland and then tea, Grant and I ran over to FishBoN, the collaborative, event-based, art group that meets every Wednesday night in Santa Barbara. They are working on their next major event planned for February. The theme is "Women's Mysteries," and they will be experimenting with womb-like structures. For some reason this theme made me a little suspect of the contemporary relevance of FishBoN's creative endeavors. Their last theme based project was the "Hero/Male Myth," and although Grant liked FishBoN's place and danced all over their amazing 3 floors of work, lounge and show space, I couldn't help but feel that women and mysteries is an outdated concept. Just not sure how I feel about womb structures? Not sure what Ganna Walska of Lotusland fame and truly a larger-than-life women, would think either? I should discuss this with some of my new FishBon friends.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Back to Tea

Today I had a nice tea with Karen Sinsheimer, the curator of photography, at Santa Barbara Museum of Art. I don't know why I never photograph the teas? I think maybe I'm concentrating on the immedaite experience so I forget to document it until later when I'm typing in the dark (again) next to my snoring 2 year old. Oh well...Charles Donelan, Arts Editor for the Santa Barbara Independent also joined us for tea. It was a solid tea day.

This is my last week here and it promises to be a good week with more teas, and a real salon night on Thursday with local artists showing their work, and at the end the week, Grant (the snoring 2 year old) will give a lecture (to young art lovers) on his Santa Barbara experience. Grant will share his drawings and we are going to serve cake! It should be interesting for Grant likes to knock over my little perches and try to break the teapot!

It's cold here tonight, maybe that's why Grant is snoring...It's probably cold in New York too, but my thoughts are warming on a plan to open a small gallery upon my return (I'm working on a business plan) and call it ATfreespace. I'm thinking of showing some work of artists from Santa Barbara and even serving up some tea!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Do it yourself

Today I taught a class at Art from Scrap . In the upstairs classroom, I noticed that there are mothers that let their children make their own art and there are mothers that make their kid's art for them. It's difficult to let all methods work themselves out in the same room, but if you allow someone to work it out themselves they seem to be the most satisfied. The self sufficient creators are the happiest artists.

It was a quiet day in Santa Barbara and I am preparing for my last week here and my last week of tea. I am planning on passing the teapot to the artists I have met here. I am trying to come up with a list of 25 people I have met to have tea with each other and I'm going to start by passing it on to Jenn Figg, and maybe she can have tea with Saul Gray-Hildenbrand, who could have tea with Danielle Rubi, who might enjoy meeting Heather Silva, and they should all have tea with the assistant curator of CAF, Elizabeth Lovero, and they should have tea with Karen Sinsheimer, the curator of photography, at Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and she might like meeting, if she hasn't already Tellef Tellefson. Tellef or Karen could pass the teapot onto pal/housemate Jeff Clark (who's staying in my apartment in New York).

When Jeff gets back to Santa Barbara he could have tea with the director of CAF, Miki Garcia, and she could have tea with local printmaker and CAF supporter Elaine Levasseur. Elaine could pass the teapot onto Wayne McCall who could have tea with Graham Bury. Those folks from Art from Scrap could have tea with Laura Devendorf and her coworkers from Stewart Brown, where they could discuss fashion from scrap!

The teapot could then go to the folks at FishBon and they could drive the teapot up to Ojai and have tea with Nathan Larramendy
and he could drive down to Lotusland in Santa Barbara and discuss his succulent project over tea with Lotusland's director Mike Bush!! And Mike Bush could bring the teapot back to CAF for his talk on December 14th!

I left some folks out but I think my favorite Santa Barbara gallery might have their own teapot!!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanks, giving tea

Yesterday my mom and I visited the studio of Tatiana Ginsberg at UCSB and had tea with 2 local artists and gallery owners. They run Perch Gallery and it was great to finally get there!

I think that my installation and attempt to nurture the creative community here is starting to happen. I leave on December 4th and am leaving behind the tea pot and some guest lecturers to continue nurturing a cultural context in Santa Barbara.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The power of demonstration and participation

My mom's demostration last night in my installation, A-Framed Social Space, was a huge success. I think Kay and I were both surprised by the turn out and the enthusiasm of the participants. The work that was produced was excellent. I left the finished orizomegami sheets spread out all over the floor because it was so beautiful and made for a very active salon/craft space.

After last night's orizomegami activity, I now feel like the piece can have a life of it's own and I can leave it to be used by the creative community. I am starting to think about my next project and getting back to working in the basement and my other free spaces. I am even thinking about maybe doing demonstrations or serving tea in the free spaces.

I've been waiting for that moment when a new and fresh project/installation adds to the already existing language of one's practice and I think that definitely happen last night. Thanks mom!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Orizomegami, the fold and the die

After a few days of rest in Van Nuys, Ca., I am on my way back to Santa Barbara to serve more tea and host an orizomegami demonstration by my mom, Kay. I can really appreciate an art practice and a working philosophy that involves folding because it presents another side to things, which is helpful when one side doesn't seem to be working.

I've been taking stock the past few days of my resources since they seem to be dwindling, so I've folded and am turning to look at the other side, a re-shuffling is in order. I was nominated for 2 grants this year, big ones, $25,000 each, and didn't receive either of them. It was great to be nominated, an honor, but now I am planning for the coming year, and I hope to do a few more projects and am going to need resources. I think I have some good ideas. Rejection always puts things in perspective, like death and destruction. It's time for me to rebuild.

I have some thoughts on opening a very small gallery in the building my husband jointly owns with a friend out in Bushwick. Maybe I can set up a studio and/or temporary residency in the basement there too. I'd love a place to show work of other artists and have a place for them to make work.

I've also been looking for a job, so we'll see if I can squeeze that in and what unfolds.

Jerry sent me this picture this morning and called it the "critic from Hope." The photo was taken at an opening for Benjamin Edwards, an interesting artist, worth a look.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

More tea, ideas, and prep for the week ahead

This has definitely been a bare bone residency. But the potential is also here for expansion, for I have met some really interesting people, very creative people. To begin with, there's Molly Freedenberg, a writer, and instigator of the living part of my residency, she hooked me up with the house on San Pascual.

Then there's the "creative group" that everyone's talking about but I haven't had a chance to attend one of their meetings, they call themselves FishBoN. All my housemates, Nathan, Jeff and Erin are all members. FishBoN holds weekly meetings in a building owned by one of the original members, they are event-based and fire-oriented, and seem to garner a lot of the creativity energy in Santa Barbara. More can be gleamed from their website or you can join their tribe here.

There's also an interesting little gallery called, ironically Perch Gallery. Bill the artist/director of Perch is coming for tea this week and then I'm going to visit his space. This town is fertile ground for future exchanges. Anyone want to come for a visit? I could probably hook you up.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Daddy rescue!

It's been 15 days of art installing, Grant handling, public tea times, a book signing, and various other adventures in this quasi-residency in Santa Barbara without my husband and Grant's "Dada." But that has ended!!!!! Daddy emerged like a knight in shining armour if there ever was one out of a car last night in Van Nuys, California, and has put the sugar back in my coffee, so to speak!!! I can take the eyes in the back of my head off Grant for a few moments and get ready for the week ahead.

My mom, Kay Thomas is flying in tomorrow and will do a demonstration of orizomegami in my space at CAF.

I have to cut up paper for Kay's demo and sort some margarine tubs for dyes. And then maybe I'll sit and have my own perch for a moment, maybe even enjoy a cup of tea, now that my sugar is here.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Time for tea and serving tea are two different things

Serving tea everyday in my installation is a form of service art. I'm not having tea, I am giving tea, conversation, advice, ideas, and time. Today my guests were the ever so lovely Jenn Figg and Penny Mccall and her husband Wayne Mccall. Jenn is a graduate student at UCSB and Penny and Wayne are 30 year veterans of CAF. It was a perfect tea space.

I asked Wayne and Penny to bring some "show and tell," samples of their creative practice, and they came right on time at 3:00 pm with books and notebooks under their arms. These two, very dedicated supporters of the arts, and artists in their own right were an inspiration. Penny and Wayne were filled with sage advise about making and creating and not taking anything too seriously and the importance of giving back. Wayne is the photographer of an encyclopedic survey of Santa Barbaran architecture and Penny belongs to 3 different art clubs/groups. Penny hooks rugs with a local group called the "Happy Hookers," trades art cards with another group and meets with a women's artist group regularly to share ideas and plan events (this group calls themselves CALL Girls=Crafty Arty League of Ladies). One of the groups sells the arts and crafts that they make in order to raise money for a battered women's shelter. They create and give back and are excellent guests at tea!!

Jenn enjoyed her tea so much she's bringing her philosopher boyfriend back on Saturday to discuss the construction of ideas. Jenn also coordinates family oriented programing for CAF. To serving tea, we give and we get.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Planning for more free tea, Grant sleeps

Today it's more tea at 3:00 in my installation. I bought some cookies and am packing up extra cups, for I'm expecting about 4 folks to join me. Grant is sleeping, it's really been an adventure for him...So he's taking an unscheduled morning laydown, he's pretty much passed out. Our time out here is supposed to be like a residency. It's an unstructured, do-it-yourself residency, with the artist finding their own place to stay and then performing daily in the gallery. In my case, Grant and I are staying with 2 guys, and a girl we don't really know, but are learning to like a lot. And they are learning what life with a 2 year old is like.

Nathan, Erin Smith, and Jeff Clark are our housemates during this quasi-residency. Jeff was supposed to be traveling...And he does do that, for he's in and out all day, he's also supposed to be staying at our apartment in NY, but hasn't quite gotten to that part yet.

So I'm not really doing a residency and Jeff's not really doing an apartment swap. But everyone has been accomodating and sweet towards Grant and we are all residing here on San Pascual in a little bungalow with avocado and orange trees, and a passion fruit vein. Just wish it wouldn't get so cold at night and Grant didn't know how to unlock and open the doors and run down the street!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Open for Tea

I had my first tea at CAF within my installation with Nathan Larramendy and Danielle Rubi. Let's just say tea is off to an auspicious beginning.

Nathan runs an amazing gallery in Ojai...Who knew! He brought us inspiring stories of his four years of gallery running in Ojai after ten years of gallery operations in San Francisco. He's building a succulent garden at his family's home (built by his grandfather) in Ojai all gleamed from other people's succulents-for free!! He writes letters to succulent owner's, sometimes spotted via a drive-by siting. He has never been rejected. He digs up the plants and everyone's happy!!

Tea was followed up with a potluck of sorts at my place with housemate Jeff Clark, Liz, the assistant curator at CAF, and her boyfriend/photographer Graham Bury.

I'm typing in the dark while Grant sleeps, so I should probably stop because he is starting to stir and I'd like to end with everyone happy.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Opening it Up

When I add it all up, I have either shown or worked at 14 non-profit art spaces, not including museums and university galleries, and they are all a lot alike. The installers at CAF remind me of the installers at Exit Art, the director at CAF, reminds me of the director at Artists Space, the assistant curator reminds me of the assistant curator at the Drawing Center, the space reminds me of White Columns, and on and on ad naseum. There's got to be another way, maybe even a better way.

Probably the best non-profit space I ever exhibited with was Wave Hill in the Bronx. Exhibition planning begins at least 7 months before a show (for my show at the Drawing Center initial meetings took place maybe 3 weeks before the show), contracts are drawn up, money is allocated before the work is completed. Most non-profits, if they provide the artist with any money at all, make the artist incur all costs up front, which can be quite a financial burden. Once I had to take out a home equity loan to cover my project costs until a particular unnamed non-profit entered it's new fiscal year! CAFhas been very generous.

But Wave Hill, with all it's good planning and support, has a parent organization to lean on for support, the gallery is one part of a bigger Wave Hill public garden, which makes me wonder about organizations joining resources since the competition for funding among non-profit art spaces is so high. This joining of resources recently occurred with the non-profit organization Americans For the Arts. This organization helped secure arts funding through ballot initiatives in 11 states. All 11 initiatives passed, allowing voters to decide how their tax dollars should be spent.

Ohio passed a ballot initiative that will levy a 30 cent tax on cigarettes for the arts for the next 10 years, which will most likely provide an additional 20 million dollars to artists and arts organizations. Maybe I'll move there?! Maybe not, but it seems like the non-profit art space is here to stay and they are pretty dynamic even in their uniformity and unity.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Concentrating on what could be, as opposed to what is

It was all hands on deck today, I even had Grant's babysitter do a mailing for me while Grant napped. Grant sleeps, we all work!Saul, CAF's's fab installer, is pictured putting up a shelf for an orchid which I will ensconce in my installtion. I am told that given the right conditions, an orchid can grow anywhere. No pot necessary.

I am trying to replicate those conditions with my project at CAF so that art will happen. People will meet, something good will happen. I'm trying to focus my attention on what could be as opposed to "what is."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Putting everything in perspective

I realized after a few unsettling days of trying to settle in Santa Barbara, installing my show, and acclimating Grant to his new environment, what I needed most was to put everything into perspective. The show will get installed, Grant is already getting accustomed to his new surrounds, and I managed to take a half hour break at the taco stand that is practically in my backyard.

My project at CAF is all about putting things into a few different perspectives. For the first time, the drawings and the perches are acting as one and the events associated with perching (tea, chats and cake eating) are all scheduled and organized in a very programmatic way. A perch isn't just installed within a gallery setting, I have created that gallery setting.

I think I'll learn the true act of juggling while here, not only within the related and separate practices within my art, but also within my life of mothering and the making of art. This juggling is going to be a necessity, and to quote my favorite art critic, Jerry Saltz, it is part of the whole ball of wax.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Open Door

Mike left today. Grant and I will be without him for 13 days. My installation at CAF is more then halfway done, with little perches for sitting put together and a tea pot plugged in for visitors. I just need to spend the next fews days, "putting the love into the piece," or what I like to call "drawing the social space." I'm painting a chalk board for listing events and adding lighting details and putting finishing touches like adding a welcome mat that really says, "the door is open," come on in.

The door seems always open where we are staying, it's 75 degrees, and there's an avocado hanging from a tree ready to be picked.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Free Space

We're in Santa Barbara! And I'm unpacking and setting up house for the month. I put my boys to work cleaning the house where Grant and I are staying (Mike is here for the weekend). We somehow got this house and it's sort of free, I'm paying the utilities for the month and everyone seemed amiable with that arrangement. Plus I'll try to make improvements where they're deemed appropriate; by cleaning, cooking, fixing, and adding anything that might make the space a little better. I believe that everyone should always leave a space a little better then how it was found. If everyone did that think about how much better everything would be!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Smart Space

I'm leaving for Santa Barbara tomorrow and trying to figure out how to get everything done with no time, no money and no space. I think the solution is to work smart, and decide to do that and then feel smart! it's that simple.

I'm practicing mind control. I think it's working, and Grant is feeling it, for he won't take his nap, so that I can pack! He must be feeling my brain heating up, or is the red in my eyes that is scaring him from sleep! HELP! I sent Grant out in hallway, of our apartment building, so I could be alone in my smart space.