Monday, January 22, 2018

You've Come A Long Way Baby


I've talked before about how I have an abiding interest in the co-opting of feminism, in the 70s and 80s, for purposes of advertising commercial goods. Of course, this one is the granddaddy of them all (and I do use the male grandparent term advisedly, here, since nearly all this stuff was dreamed up by men in the advertising industry): the "you've come a long way baby" Virginia Slims cigarette print ads. Not that people at the time, or shortly after, weren't aware of the irony of a women's-empowerment posed being used to hawk nicotine. I remember seeing a tee-shirt as a child that says "If she's come such a long way, why is she still called baby?" But, nevertheless, looking at these ads nowadays still has a bit of that can't-look-away feeling of rubbernecking at a car wreck.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Hanging the Art Show


I've spent the past two days hanging my art show, Everyday Objects, at Rare Device and now it is up and complete (see above)!

Here's the little story of the install --


What should greet me when I first arrived Wednesday afternoon but this lovely sign in the window? Just one of the many moments when I had that "wow, this is really happening!" feeling.


Wednesday was painting day. True story: I was once, many many years ago, a professional house painter for about two months, so I pulled out my old skills, opened my can of paint in a bright green called "Mermaid Tail," and started cutting the edges of the wall with a brush.


Next, poured it into the tray...


...and started rollering the wall...


...and here's the first coat about a third completed.


While I waited for the first coat to dry I went and got coffee at the Mill and was pleased with how the little hand on the cup seemed to be high-fiving my paint-splattered hand.


By the end of that day, with two coats on, it looked like this and I thought the painting was done.


The next morning it was raining, so I wrapped the pictures - each already individually wrapped in kitchen rags held on with galaxy-printed duct-tape - in three big plastic bundles, and put each bundle into the tote-bag of one of my spiritual guides (Susan O'Malley, Marimekko, and Professional Enthusiast, respectively), then put them all in a cab and zipped back over the Rare Device.


When I got there, much to my dismay, the paint had dried somewhat streaky, so I quickly put on a third coat - using every. last. drop. of paint in the paint can. The result looked good, but with the picture hanging needing to happen and the weather wet, we deployed a space heater (just visible in photo above) to help the paint dry asap.


That crisis averted, I unpacked the pictures from their various wrappings, and started moving them around on the floor.


It probably took me about 50 image moves and swaps - walking back and forth between the two groups of ten, picking up a picture here and moving it over there - to arrive at the final arrangement, laid out on the floor like this.


The trick was to get both colors and subject matter balanced, both between the two sides, and within the group (I didn't want two pink pictures next to each other, for example, nor two pictures of food). So it was tricky.


At this point my pal, the very lovely Tiffanie Turner arrived to help. In addition to being an amazing artist, Tiffanie also had a long former career as an architect and, I suspect, may be a mathematical genius.


Tiffanie was able to measure and calculate where to put the nails to hang the pictures on to achieve the grid I wanted in perhaps five percent of the time it would have taken me to do that same task.


Then, almost before I knew it, all the pictures were hung and it was done!


The end result looks like this.


Here's a close-up of the left side.


And a close-up of the right side.


So, the show is there right now if you're around and want to go see it! And the "Artist Reception" party is next Friday evening, January 26th, from 6-9 pm. I do hope you can join us!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Color Poem #35



I read an essay exhorting white people to
come out and say I am white
which it turns out is hard to do because

we’re taught to see our own race as no race
as the default state of being
as normal which is a big part of the problem

part of the system we must set out to break
I am a white person
I have a race and color that exist in the world

I’m on the pale end
of the spectrum of
white people colors

not that very palest
almost see-through
porcelain teacup hue

but maybe two shades
darker about the tint of
aging cheap paper in an
old paperback book with
a lot of light pink added in
plus that undertone of blue
running beneath the surface

because half of humans blood is racing around inside our bodies
unoxygenated and bright blue all the time though we never see it



image source is here

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Talking the Talk


I've got three exciting speaking gigs coming up --

I'll be teaching a Publishing for Creatives workshop at Little Paper Planes on February 10th (will let you know when registration goes live);

Speaking on a nonfiction panel at the San Francisco Writers Conference on February 16th;

And speaking on an illustrated books panel at a Young to Publishing event tentatively scheduled for April 4th.

Excited to hit the SF chat circuit this spring!



Very flattering drawing of me speaking at the 2014 ICON Conference by Jamie Hogan.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Everyday Objects at Rare Device


My art show at Rare Device is practically upon us!

Above is the official flier!

Below is a photo from yesterday when I spent the afternoon framing the pictures.

Tomorrow and Thursday is the installation.

The show officially opens this Friday.

And the party is Friday the 26th -- if you're in the Bay Area I hope you can join us!

My excitement and nervousness about this endeavor can hardly be contained.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Books by Black Authors


In honor of Martin Luther King Day, here are a few of my favorite books by Black authors that I read last year.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Revelations: Art From the African American South


The show Revelations: Art from the African American South, up at the de Young Museum through April, is completely wonderful and, if you're in the Bay Area, absolutely not to be missed.

It starts off with a huge room full of Gee's Bend Quilts, which I'd never seen in person before, and which in the flesh were so emphatically, powerfully beautiful I could not wipe the grin off my face. Then it move on to several wonderful galleries of sculpture and painting. Here are some of my favorites.

Quilt above is by Jessie T. Pettway


Annie Mae Young


Annie Mae Young


Gearldine Westbrook


Plummer T. Pettway


Rosie Lee Tompkins, Willia Ette Graham, and Johnnie Wade


Willie Abrams


Mary Lee Bendolph


Deborah Pettway Young (this one is two-sided, here is one side)


Deborah Pettway Young (and here is the other side)


Annie Mae Young


Florine Smith


Leonardo Drew


Thornton Dial


Thornton Dial


Cornelia Parker


El Anatsui


El Anatsui (detail)


Lonnie Holley


Mose Tolliver


Purvis Young


Ronald Lockett


John Bankston


Joe Light