Sunday, July 31, 2011

Burningman Artists vs. The Artists

From my vantage, I will try to explain the difference between the Burningman artists vs. the artist.
I was working Scope Art fair a few months ago when I encountered this line artists draw to differentiate themselves from each other.
There was a piece called "Walk-In Cooler". The creation process of the piece was, how should I put it, not particularly noteworthy. The cooler, looks like your regular old warehouse cooler, with no special or enhanced modifications.
The presence of this large glob in the artfair presented a problem to other serious "high brow" gallerist who wanted to give an impression of wealth to their wares. They made it obvious how much they disliked being surrounded by the general public who continually flocked to the cooler to get free iced cold beverages. The casual, free-for-all, installation had the unintended effect of turning serious collectors away from the neighboring exhibit and installations.
So I took a smoke break and had an opportunity to speak to the artist about his work inside the cooler. I avoided the topic that the serious gallerist were complaining non-stop about his installation. Amongst many questions, I asked him what the point of his piece was. He explained that he wanted wealthy collectors to experience the typical cooler outside of the drugstore environment. He also wanted viewers to consider whether they should be taking from an exhibit. Normally exhibits are hands-off. Well, obviously, most of the viewers, me included, when faced with free beer, didn't pause to consider that the cooler was an artpiece--so here was a classic case of an art experiment gone wrong.
I also asked him how he was making money from this particular piece. Well, he was a little evasive on this--something about the drinks were sponsored which really didn't answer my question.
Finally, I suggested that his installation would be perfect for Burningman, where in the desert, a "Walk-In Cooler" installation would be greeted with cheers and open arms.
In the manner of the other dealers and artists at Scope, he responds, "No way. Burningman artists are a different breed of artists". Then he continues to say he's a serious philosophically thinking artist whereas Burningman artists are not really so.
Being a non-Burningman artist myself, I found this statement quite curious. I am familiar with Burningman art and I have to say some pieces on the desert are fantastically thought out.
Last night, I had the opportunity to hang out with Burningman artists--from the Overkill camp. They were having a fundraiser, to take not one, not two, but three art cars into the desert. If you're curious what an art car is, well, to describe the process simply--these team of artists/artisans/mechanics demobilize a vehicle, such as a Hummer, and transform it into i.e., a moving owl. Slightly intoxicating if you ask me! And why an owl? And why a Hummer? For what reason?
Philosophically simple really. NO, I doubt it has anything to do with some reference to an obscure literary piece.
I suspect, that aside from the party madness, it's a simple display of skills and opulence. Burner artists, in general, hope that the effect of displaying their prowess with machinery, lighting, and design, will allow them to gain sponsorships, commission, and ability to fund their large appetite for travel. Money begets money. I have to admit, the strategy seems effective.
So in general the bottomline is, the main difference between the "non-philosophically thinking" Burningman artists and the artists, is, Burningman artists have a no-nonsense know-how on making Mulah, loot, dinero, dollar dollar bills ya'll--
leaving it at, "If it looks good and it's hip, then it's a good piece of artwork".

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Daniel Reich Gallery "Beach Spa"

(photo credit by Steven Speliotis)

Interesting artshow--the concept is "Beach Spa"

Tanning booth is set up in a corner and the room is heated with half-naked models walking all around and one fifty year old model who likes take off his clothes fully.

Feels like a party. Except no booze or I was a little too late for the booze.

I was wearing a bathing suit under my shirt for no reason at all.

Since I like to participate fully in what the artist has created, I went into the spa with my shorts and bathing suit top on. For some reason, the naked 50 year old man felt compelled to join me in there. Um. yeah, don't ask.

While wilting in tight cramped hot space with a naked man seated across me, some people dressed like a quasi-clown outside of the "spa" fluffs my nails and shoulders through slits with soft furry like brush, and then randomly sprayed flourescent goo on my fingers. I didn't know what gooey stuff were being sprayed so I yelled out in protest!

Did I feel relaxed like I was in a spa?


What was the point?

The gallery director told me, "Isn't it interesting to encapsulate an ordinary common salon experience into art?"

And he left it at that.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


(Writing contributions from artist friends.....Enjoy!)

By Neke Carson

Now it can be revealed that an Evangelical Christian militia has recently activated a sleeper cell within the compound housing the world famous, hand signing, conversation making, Koko, the gorilla. And, unknown to Koko’s keepers, started a strict regimen of late night bible classes with Koko in sign language. Confused at first, Koko was intrigued with the concept of “forbidden” fruit.

She wanted to try it. So in just two months Koko asked to be baptized and became the first “born again” gorilla in captivity. At first no one at the facility noticed any difference in Koko’s behavior. But when Koko started demanding snakes “to handle”, strychnine to drink and began signing in thumbs (the hand signer’s version of speaking in tongues) officials were very alarmed.

Now, instead of playing in her inner tube swing, Koko preferred to follow the Stations of the Cross, spent time kneeling and laying prostate for long periods. Eventually Koko let it be known that she wished to be set free in order to perform missionary work in Africa.
“The Young Lions with Lambs” a radical Christian sect claimed responsibility for Koko’s conversion in yet another tiresome ploy to hasten the Second Coming.

This group takes the quote from somewhere about the lion shall lay down with the lamb literally. And when that happens there will be a new beginning and the Second Coming. To make this happen they planned to send Koko back to Africa to convert the animals to Christianity and spread the true meaning Christian of non-violence to all of God's creatures. To that end, one evening, in dark of night, Koko was kidnapped, taken out of the compound and put on a private jet on her way to Africa at last. A few hours later, Koko and a couple of signifying monkeys with PR skills touch down on an unmarked runway deep within the African continent. That was five years ago.

The main reason you have not heard about Koko’s disappearance until now is simple. Koko is big business. No Koko, no business. That is why there are indeed five Kokos, just like there are three Lassies and four Mr. Eds. Actually, it was Koko number three who was baptized and sent to Africa to spread the word of God to the heathen animals thus hastening Bible Prophesy.

Today the animal population of Africa is 55% Christian with 3% of that Episcopalian. Within a matter of months, Africa was declared a “No Kill” zone by the animals. All was well. It took a while to get the tigers to eat berries but Koko made a game out of it. And before you know the Panthers joined in.
Koko also began classes in proper head positions for the Rapture. It seems that the angle of the head is very important while being taken up in the sky. A tilt of the head a little too much to the left and the mighty force exerted on the body could rip your head right off. Add the fact that some animals have longer necks than humans and you have an effect that could be devastating to the animal kingdom. You don’t want a host of God fearing headless Christian horses cluttering up the skies on that fateful day. Needless to say Koko had a lot of nervous giraffes on her hands.

Koko was a tireless teacher and often heard confessions whenever possible. One morning a gazelle asked, “Why did we all get kicked out of paradise just because some humans screwed up? Gazelles have no original sin yet, once we were one hoof out of Paradise, we were hunted down like wild animals and ripped apart by giant tan kitty cats left over from some forgotten ice age.” Koko was at a loss. Then she signed “All that’s going to change. Now go lay down by that leopard and try to get some rest”.

At this point everybody was lying with everybody. Lions were lying down with lambs, wild dogs with gophers and pythons and mongooses were snuggling together under the shade of a eucalyptus tree. That’s when the trouble started. By getting rid of the “survival of the fittest” way of life, and supplanting anti-killing philosophy espoused in both the New and Old Testament, animal population exploded. With migrating birds spreading the word of God to other animals around the world, animal overpopulation became the number one ecological disaster with no end in sight. The planet was now headed for complete and utter chaos. Somehow this tide of animal enlightenment had to be stopped. The Council of Churches was convened.

It was decided that if religious fanaticism got us into this mess then religious fanaticism was going to have to get us out. The council decided to send in an army of radical Islamic faith-based gorillas and a smattering of Rosicrucian orangutans (just for spice) into the fray to convert the animals to their various religious creeds. And then it began…The Great Religious Animal Wars of Latter Day Quadrupeds. With wars raging everywhere, the animal population finally began to dwindle. The upshot of this is that the animals got disillusioned by killing each other for religious reasons and went back to eating each other just for food.

“How do those humans do it?” the polar bear commander tartly signed underneath his frozen breath, “year after year, century after century, and eon after eon. And They have dominion over Us! What nitwit set this up?” Thus in one fell swoop, animals worldwide quietly deposited Christian and other religious paradigms into the dustbin of animal history. The balance of nature was restored. And Koko, well, Koko was last spotted in a Dumbo suit working the afternoon crowds at Disneyworld.

[Copyright © Neke Carson 2005]

Neke Carson is one of America's most important key figures in New York Underground Art and Culture. He has smoothly moved forward with his art, floating years ahead the current trends and hype, not letting anyone Rain on His Parade.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Blog visits from art personas!!!

Dear Readers,

Over the course of the next few months, I'm excited to say that my blog will be visited by guest writers, art aficionados, movers and shakers of the art world, whether they're in New York, North Carolina, Virginia, Miami, or across the globe.
Writers, who are veterans of the art and performance scene, writers who have a different perspective on the art market, amazing people who are kind enough to accept my invitation to share their articles, to give you a better view of what the artmaking world is like, local and global.
Thank you for reading.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Barely Private Show

As an artist, I try to connect the dots. Where the lines of thoughts seem disconnected, I analyze the root cause from a variety of angles--a historical/philosophical/political/even religious perspective.

I take my subject matter from popular American culture.

Because I can only express who I am, I explore the disconnect we experience between our ideals and our actions.

In my particular case, as an immigrant, I include news occurrences and developments overseas, the experiences of other immigrants from around the world who assimilate into the American culture, and the experience of living in this society with often black and white moral/ethical codes.

Through my work, I try to make sense of the disjunct and broken lines of thought.

My strict religious upbringing, combined with partaking in brain junk food, experiencing truly awkward situations, or coming across perspectives that are outrageous, I know that I am simply experiencing what many of us experience.

Often difficult to understand, we wrapped these thoughts and experiences as hidden secrets in our minds and lives or we do not examine our attitudes. Not accepting and appreciating the complete picture, we create a world that makes sense according to our ideals without examining the very foundation of our ideals. We impose our ideals as criticisms, religious dogma, and we become intolerant towards others. Imagining ourselves safe in lines of thinking that "make sense", when in fact, foundationally, they do not!

With this work, I hope to share my twisted sense of humor, my discoveries, and hope you can join me in the film opening at the Gershwin Hotel on July 12, and different venues in the South.

Come with your sense of humor on, come with an open mind and heart. Wait until the end to ask questions, which I'll endeavor to answer in a Q&A portion.

The Barely Private Show from jemima boncales on Vimeo.

Open for Requests from Art Patrons

Following the 7th week of the 9 weeks plastic/political/environmental project now opens for special requests from art sponsors and art patrons who may request a political scene, a political rant, or plastic sculpture to “pop” out of nowhere in a location of their choice. Certain conditions apply. Please contact the artist for more information.

Week 7: UNC-CH "tagged"

UNC "tagged" : purpose is to "give" a simple lab procedure, a "gift" from an alumni, which if used wisely could help degrade the plastic waste problem, and may or may not refute the claim that "Every plastic bag can take 1000 years to degrade" .

Though not necessarily a solution to our reliance on petroleum, the source of plastic material, it's a start, and attempts to focus on solution rather than the problem.

The tagging began last Friday afternoon when all the students have retreated to their dormitory or to the nearby bars to celebrate the weekend. I was scoping the place for a spot to put the work--

A board containing graffiti work plus the lab procedure below.

I found a likely spot, the Wilson Library (the Biology center) right across UNC's landmark the Bell tower.

I would have left the work up on Fri but the wind blew it down. So I decided, it's better to do it on Sunday night fresh for Monday's eager faces.

Good thing too, as a tornado swept the neighboring town and would have wiped my efforts clean.

So Sunday night, after an adventurous run, around 8 pm I crept my vehicle to a nearby parking lot. Looking completely nonchalant, I placed the "tag" to the site and headed home.

How to isolate polyethylene degrading microorganisms:

Equipment needed:

1. polyethylene film (supermarket plastic bags) or another type of plastic

2. pestle and mortar

3. NaCl (table salt)

4. fine sieve mesh

5. (NH4)2SO4 (Ammonium Sulphate)

6. NaNO3 (Sodium nitrate)

7. K2HPO4 (Dipotassium Phosphate)

8. KCl (Potassium chloride)

9. MgSO4 (Magnesium sulfate)

10. flasks (1 – 3)

11. an incubator with a shaker or rocker

12. filter paper

1) Preparation of polyethylene powder.

Prepare a mixture by grinding 3g of cut polyethylene film and 3g of NaCl (salt) for 10 minutes using pestle and mortar. Transfer the mixture of ground polyethylene film and NaCl into a cylinder containing distilled water. Collected the floating layer of polyethylene particles on filter paper, wash three times with distilled water, and dry it in an oven at ~60°C overnight. Passed the dried polyethylene powder through a sieve mesh (N0100).

2) Preparation of growth and enrichment medium.

The rationale behind the enrichment procedure is to create strong selective conditions using powdered polyethylene as the only source of carbon. Prepare a growth medium consisting of 0.1% (NH4)2SO4, 0.1% NaNO3, 0.1% K2HPO4, 0.1% KCl, 0.02% MgSO4, and 0.01 % yeast extract in 1L of tap water. Then add 0.2g of polyethylene powder to 100mL of growth medium.

3) Isolation of polyethylene degrading microorganisms by enrichment procedure.

Collect soil samples from local landfills, mix together, and use as a source of potential polyethylene degrading microorganisms. Add 1g of the soil mix to the first enrichment flask and incubate at ~30oC for 4 weeks on shaker (200rpm). Take 10mL of broth from the first enrichment flask and re-inoculate into 100mL of fresh enrichment medium, then cultivate under the same conditions for 4 weeks. Repeat the same procedure a third time. Filter the final enrichment culture (FEC) through filter paper to remove any remaining polyethylene powder.

Once you've isolated a polyethylene degrading microorganism measure its effectiveness and then allow to replicate and repeat the process.

Week 6: Down w/ Nukes and Tribute to Japanese Heroes

Date April 2, 2011

Location: Greeley Square Park, NYC

Inspired by:

Beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon, I was on the site, making the skeleton for the bird wings from plastic bottles. When Melanie entered, we put on the Japanese performer's traditional makeup mask.

Having never rehearsed, we waited to commence the performance, and our cue was Marceau entry into the scene.

The story is simple:

I began by asking, have you heard about the 50 Japanese heroes? Then I unscrolled the newspaper prop.

With the sky darkening (as if in synchronicity with what we were doing), I read the news report about the last attempt to cool down nuclear reactors, by a few brave Japanese heroes who through a maze, crawled in the darkness, approaching damaged reactors, exposing themselves to unusually high doses of radiation, in an uncertain attempt of preventing the world’s second-worst nuclear calamity from becoming even more dire.

I read the news drenched with emotion while Marceau echoed what I was saying.

A group gathered around. Mostly Japanese people, Japanese women with their children.

And as I continued on with the story, a Japanese businessman who had been listening looked me in the eye and his face crumbled. Without saying a word, he expressed all his emotions with intense grief, and pain. Very moved, I bowed my head, to take this emotion in--I paused fully knowing that I can only empathize with a nation facing a massive continuing catastrophe.

Then Melanie read the story of the Buddha born as a parrot who faced with a raging forrest fire returned time and again to the river to dip his feathers in the water and return to the fire to sprinkle drops of water on the blaze. The Eagle God seeing what the parrot was doing at first laughed and asked, "what are you doing little parrot? Go home, your task is foolish and hopeless. Stop now and save yourself."

Behind the scenes, Marceau interrupts and comes to me and says, "What are you doing?" Marceau unsatisfied by our reading and lack of experience as street performers, gives us advice on how to do this and that. And maybe we should do something else, some improve funny piece related to love. I said, "You are thinking too much! this is about love! It's not about sexual love! But simply love for our Japanese brothers." Marceau looked disarmed. And as we were about to commence our performance with him, Marceau was escorted out of the park by the park police. He dramatically exits talking about Shakespeare and Love! *Laughter*

So, Melanie and I continued on our brave performance.

The parrot (Melanie) says to the Eagle, "I don't need your advice great, shining eagle (cough, cough). I just need your help!!" Sprinkling water to the crowd.

The Eagle was moved by the parrot's bravery and he cried. The Eagle God's tears sent rain down to the forrest, quenching the fire.

Nature was with us on this performance. And as I said the Eagle God was moved to tears and "it rained" putting the fire out--I couldn't ask for any better display by nature as the heavens showered me with a brief 10 second sprinkling of rain?

We finished our performance, with a nearby band playing "and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea."


Week 5: T-Tea-Time w/ the Madhatter @ Alice in Wonderland Statue in Central Park

This week I wanted to stop focusing on the negative things we create, instead, I wanted to place emphasis upon our ability to create. I believe our role as creators, our ability to imagine and make a better world, where caring for the young, the old, the sick, the animals, the trees, the birds, the people who are not like us, our ideas of truth, beauty and love must be nurtured at a young age. A fertile imagination, lovingly nurtured, allows for empathy to develop and creates the ability to step into a world that is not our own, to feel what others feel.

This is my favorite week so far.

I came into the site, the statue of Alice in Wonderland, by Jose de Creeft, commissioned by George Delacorte, as a loving tribute to his late wife, not knowing what I was going to create, but I knew only the core of what I wanted to give.

I collaborated with Marceau M. a political ranter, who dresses like the Madhatter, and behaves eccentrically, creating smiling faces and a quizzical looks wherever he goes. By nature, he is the madhatter.

We begin by pretending not to know each other.

I sat on a bench in the corner and attempted to create something, while he steps atop the sculpture along with the children while his dog is running around. Marceau M. feels very strongly about political developments in the Middle East, and desires that we do not stand idly by while warmongers seek to destroy the planet--he takes Alice the wondering Alice who falls into the rabbit hold and uses her heart to find her way out. The children were oblivious to the rant, while the parents were not very pleased to hear this tirade. He asks me, "What are you making, young lady?"

To which, I replied, "Something. I'm making something."

Marceau M. goes on to a tangent about how important it is to think outside the lines, and allow something to happen, instead of getting stuck in a day job doing the same old shit over and over again.

At this point, the parents were very, very displeased.

And Marceau, for fear of having rotten tomatoes thrown at him, steps off the mushroom, runs away, and disappears. He calls me on the phone and says, I don't think this is the right spot! Let's move somewhere else! But his performance gave me an idea of what type of energy must be created.

So my turn.

I walked around the statue. And I reverted to the inner child within. I asked, the children, "does anybody remember the story? There's something missing here! What is this scene missing? But why is there's no Tea, anywhere?"

To which the children replied, "Oh yeah! Tea! They must have Tea! They are supposed to have Tea."

So I began making tea cups.

And we started looking for the little creatures big and small. And I made cups for all of them. And we placed tea cups in appropriate places. Of course, the madhatter must have tea in his hat, and the Chesire cat must have tea in its tail, and Alice fingers are waiting for tea, and the rabbit's pocket watch looks like he needs tea there. And the snail must have a little teacup too.

And the children, were scrambling for the "teacups" arguing about where to place them. And as we walked around the statue, other children would place the "teacups" elsewhere, making the story come to life as "teacups" would randomly appear in unexpected places, and disappear. And we look at each other quizzically asking, "But didn't Alice have a teacup already?" Oh perhaps the Madhatter took it! And sure enough the Madhatter would have two "teacups". And this game kept going for sometime with different children coming and going and playing along. And when some children would leave the statue with "teacups" I would remind them that they must not litter, that they have to promise to recycle the "teacup" when they're tired with it.

I'm not sure if I emphasized recycling aspect enough. But I am certain, that I accomplished what I intended, nurturing the imagination, living out the details of a story that parents read at night. And hopefully, as these children grow older, what they read somewhere, continues to come to life in their hearts.

Afterwards, I strolled Central Park with the Madhatter, Marceau M.--and continued into the rabit hole--had a two hour adventure of insane proportion, somewhere in there even with a mad "Queen" screaming "off with his head".

Week 4: "Planting" a "Tree"

Week 4--started with a stranger who randomly lectured the surrounding crowd on politics, plastics and petroleum after an inspired conversation. The incident was followed by an interview with NPR partly on what I was doing and my media knowledge...

I said, "making and planting a plastic tree in Washington Square Park is my silent political art propaganda against non-biodegradable plastic packaging."

Week 3: Web of Plastics

One of the things that has become clear to me after the past two times that I did the plastic project, is the necessity of writing a message as to why I'm making a sculpture out of plastic, and why that particular form.

This Sunday, I'm making a web.

When I reveal the location for this next piece you'll understand why I chose this particular location.

Technology has come a long way since the PC was first invented in 1981. We can now make eco-friendly computers, such as Mac Air.

Here's something that you should consider the next time you upgrade your computer.

What happens to your old computer that old piece of junk that you purchased 10 years ago?

Unless your uncle happily took it from your hands and is still using the junk in that space in the attic he likes to call his "office"--your computer has just officially become electronic waste.

Pause for a minute and consider the fact that electronic waste contains toxic materials such as lead, beryllium, cadium, mercury and lovely toxic substances.

Hm. So what exactly are we doing with these lovely poisonous materials?

Big surprise--

we are shipping them to China, India, parts of Africa and developing countries--our "recycling centers" where our partners are cheap brokers calling themselves recyclers--

The lovely result is (ironic tone here):

"Uncontrolled burning, disassembly, and disposal which causes a variety of environmental problems such as groundwater contamination, atmospheric pollution, water pollution as well as health problems.

Thousands of men, women, and children are employed in highly polluting, primitive recycling technologies, extracting the metals, toners, and plastics from computers and other electronic waste."

If you don't believe me, here's a photographer's site to visit (and also pictures of environmental activism by Greenpeace)

Week 2: Evian Flu

[Jan 28-Feb 4]

Week 2 of the plastic street art project came together quite well, right after a victorious, most lucky day making staff as Frontliner with Greenpeace.

I was on a rush b/c work finished late.

I invited friends to join--to make the piece bigger--

but knowing my friends were coming from work at the office, then heading off to some dinner on a Friday night, the likelihood of them bringing plastic products was slim to none.

Luckily at the Greenpeace office, there was a bag of accumulated plastic waiting to be recycled.

I grabbed those, placed them in a Trader Joe's bag and walked around like I had groceries.

(Can never be too cool in NYC. :))

I had connected over FB with Jose Antonio Alcayaga III about collaborating with this piece and his concern was also mine--

"Will we have enough plastic?"

Of course there are plastic bags and plastic garbage everywhere, but I'm not prepared to dig them up from the trash.

So as a backup plan, I mentioned that we will make a bird skeleton, if we don't have enough plastic.

I looked up images of a bird skeleton as a preparation.

When I arrived at the planned site, I walked around just to survey the scene. There were two police officers leaning on a column on one end. And to avoid trouble I placed the plastic material behind the columns.

At 7:15, I was still alone. No phone calls from friends who planned to be there and I thought everyone was a no show. bummer. So I started setting up, arranging the plastic in various sizes.

Then Jose, says "hello."

This was the first time we met. Smiles all around.

We chatted about the groups that we lead and exchanged pointers.

At 7:30 right before we started the work, Saulius shows up, dressed to go to some important meeting. He had been there since 7:00 but couldn't find us, and he had somewhere to go by 8pm.

So I introduced the two collaborators and we immediately began.

The work process went rather quickly. Big props to Jose who's energy and artistic background really moved the project forward.

We took photos. Jose took a 30 second video, capturing an angry woman in the first few seconds.

Then we titled the piece, Jose's brilliant suggestion of Evian, a play on Avian. The full title became Evian Flu--born and raised in Plastic Island.

Many people stopped to take photos. One guy mentioned, the piece looked like Teradactyl, which is related evolutionarily to birds. He also said that most likely petroleum is made out of dinosaurs skeletons which is what the plastic is made out of. What an interesting thing to think about!

We left for dinner, came back 2 hours later to dismantle the piece--but it was gone.

So wondering what happened???!!!???

Brilliant! Just Brilliant!

The launching of the first week of the environmental project showdown of 9 1/2 weeks began in 1/17 - 1/24 in Union Square Park right by the statue of the peacemaker Ghandi.

So on 1/17, I hit a brilliant idea. I was living in a friend's pad in Union Square while he's away adventuring in some crazy festival in the Bat Caves of Malaysia. To drive the apathy away, I wanted to create something. I wanted to paint but a. don't really have my easel b. cannot randomly just set up large canvasses on my friend's living room and wait for oil paint to dry c. know how obsessive I am if I start oil painting--

So, I brained stormed a way to figure out how to be creative without any loot, without any baggages.

I need to make cheap work of art, that at most takes only one day to create, and that makes a lasting difference. That's when I connected over the web with Einstein, no not the scientist, the artist-- @Ula Einstein. Great last name, great energy, great artwork. Just one look at her work and I thought plastics. Why not make artwork out of stuff we throw away? Brilliant! Just Brilliant!

So this is who I am when I hit a brilliant idea. I don't think about the logistics, I don't sit around and plan every single last detail, I just do whatever is compelling.

I was compelled to volunteer with Solar Cookers International at the UN--where as usual during such events plastic cups were being thrown away. Plastic cups that looked perfect for my plastic sculpture. So, I stuck around until the very end of the event where a fellow volunteer, Nurunnahar, helped me collect precious plastic pieces.

When I'm creating something, I also visualize the most spectacular things. Like crazy spectacular things!!! But I'm open and thankful for the various manifestations of what those spectacular things end up being.

Like for instance, I visualized the first week to be a collaboration with friends. Everyone makes their own plastic sculptures and we all have a jolly good time having a snowball fights drinking warm coffee/tea with 20 plastic sculptures sitting on the nearby benches and people going "wow. That piece is cool" and another person goes, "that's brilliant!" and then someone asks, "why are you all doing this?" Then of course we'd all reply that we want more consumer activism, that we want legislation for biodegradable packaging replacing the petroleum based packaging that ends up as toxic waste in the ocean. Then friends who are photographers would take photos of this 20 plastic sculptures in Union Square and we'd all have started a movement. Yes! That was the vision!

But I don't recall telling anyone the plan, in those terms. I just daily wrote on facebook, and various social medias to keep everyone posted--I need red plastic bags (for my sculpture's intestines), I need plastic white wires (for the skeleton). I guaged from people's reaction and felt people don't really do things that are different, that people don't really do things for free, that some people are not really passionate about the environment, and ahem, I'm doing this on a Monday-- I had a feeling in the back of my brain that maybe today was not really going to turn out the way I visualized--that maybe I'm going to have to do this on my own. But that's okay! Fine by me!!

So 1/23 arrived. I made my sculpture in the living room, planned the sculpture to be easy to assemble, while dancing to some electronic music, talking to people, texting people. I checked the weather. Okay. Geeze that's just perfect. 1/24 is freezing with a high of 17 degrees. I invited some photographer friends to come and take photos. One said way, way too short notice, another said, will be at work, the other one said, will be there, but didn't show up, and another goes, I don't do anything without pay. Right on. Just as expected.

So the big day arrived. 1/24

I quadrupled my layer of clothes, I felt kind of like Raphie's brother in a Christmas Story. At 2:50p I set out with 2 plastic bags packed full of assembled plastic cups to the astonishment of the doorman who opened the door with a "yeah, that's weird" look on his face.

My brother in spirit, Saulius was there at exactly 3:00p--smiling. I didn't even text him the location. For some reason, he just knew it's going to be by Ghandhi's statue. So we set the sculpture in place and I stood there thinking "the cops will make me put this away!" I remembered the paranoia of my short lived days as graffiti artist a.k.a. rubbishriot, always looking over my shoulder waiting for a ticket or something. Then a policeofficer walks past and doesn't say a word. Perfect! This is brilliant!

We stood around for a little while longer and talked to some people who were really excited about the piece. I think we may have found further collaborators!

Saulius and I left the piece at its location for 3 hours while we browsed around Barnes and Noble. I had my phone on me the entire time, just in case friends showed up. We had some warm apple cider from the Union Square farmer's market and talked about writing.

At 6:00 pm. I disassembled the piece, put it back in the plastic bag and recycled.

I'm on two day rest before Week 2 preparations starts for a sculpture in Staten Island beach, and yes, I'll attempt better communication of visualizations.

And thinking about craigslisting or submitting this idea to a certain group of organized improv group... What do you think?

Brainstorming for the Staten Island Week! Join me for one of the weeks or all of the weeks for this mission, help me plan and organize, or refer friends who are into this type of thing. Thanks!

WEEK 1: Plastic Man/Woman

LOCATION: Union Square

WHAT: I'm making artwork from accumulated plastic.

TIMEFRAME: one week 01.17.2011-01.24.2011. Interactive contributions welcome :) Repetitive.

OBJECTIVE: To make a habit emphasizing our roles as creators; to observe how we deal w/ movemnt and change with regards to what we create, to see that lack of awareness results in a toxic environment.

DESCRIPTION: This is what most of us do anyway, we recycle, but most people never get a chance to create something beautiful in the process! So any plastic objects that we come across in one week is welcome. We are not going to be digging out the trashed plastic on the garbage dumps, but simply collecting the plastic objects from our normal day-to-day interactions, even plastics we normally don't even recycle--in one week's time!! Bottles from drinking sodas, the plastic bags, the plastic container from carry-out food, plastic wrap. How big the creation becomes in that one week depends on how many friends commit to consciously contributing. Thank You!!

BACKGROUND: As human beings, we are always moving. There is a unifying element of sameness within our movements, no matter how bizarre our situations and movements may be. Lasting changes is a conscious process. Most of us, even if we are constantly moving, changing our surroundings, fail to effectively bring about lasting changes because we get lost in the movement, in the complexity of our society, and lose touch with our connection to the Inner Creator. Or if our surroundings seem at stasis, we lose awareness, boredom sets in and we fail to create something beautiful and create a toxic environment instead.

MILESTONES: "Habits are created by an average of 9.5 weeks of repetition, potentially as long as several months, but missing one or two days of repetition will not impeded the process." --from European Journal of Social Psychology


We're creating a sculpture of man/woman, connecting us to our inner creators, and at the same time bring awareness to how much plastic we use in one week, and repeating this process somewhere else-- How big the creation becomes in that one week depends on how many friends commit to consciously contributing.

BUDGET: 0 dollars

NEEDS: A camera and friends, collaborators and contributors, suggestions for venues, etc and places to stay while doing the project

Trip to the Art Store

One of the essential part of being an artist is the trip to the art store and there is nothing more exciting than finding a good art store.

When I lived in a little rural town in Virginia, I drove 1-1.5 hours to get to a small art store in downtown Charlottesville. It was really tiny. But to the extent that the audience is regional, and prefers certain color range, it was more than sufficient.

So I usually go to stores with a composed list and really, really know for sure what colors I want.

If you love colors as much as I do, or if you have painted before, you know that the color tones are one of the most important choices an artist makes. So upon entering the store, I have this certain color in mind, and I get to the store and voila, poof, the color I intended on buying costs $60 for a little tube or worse yet, I can't remember what color I wanted because I fell in love with a different color. And I go over the internal dialogue that so many artists go through--the dialogue of what process brings the best work, the process of going with the flow and emotional-driven art? i.e. I Looovvve this color! or the process of disciplined intention, sticking to a narrow range of tones, sticking to the list or rules so to speak.

So I drive home happily with the new color and think about how it's going to change the content of the work and before I get home I think about another connotation that the particular color could invoke in whoever looks at art and I think about my audience and I'm muttering under my breath and the internal dialogue resumes about sticking to original intentions vs. going with the flow....blah blah blah.

I bet some men go through this with their choices in women! And vice versa! which is better, going with intention of getting a particular girl or falling in love with someone else....

Okay, I digress.....

But one thing cannot be debated. Going inside a good art store for me feels like Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. One such particular art store, that I took forgranted while living in New York, is a four-storied art store in Chinatown.

I returned there today.

One room is lined by little shelves of various colors and tones within that particular color range. And there are 20 or so color brand, which differs slightly from other brands. These colors are so much better than the colors you can find in all the palette of Adobe photoshop. These are only base colors! I guess it's true that within photoshop you can adjust opacity, but that's it! you cannot create your own color, tone, shade or hue from mixing several colors at once. Give me an organic palette any day!

Finally, one wall that gives me shivers of pleasure is a long wall lined by brushes of all different sizes, shapes and textures. And when I have time, and hiding under a baseballcap and dark glasses, sometimes I just play with the brush and feel how soft the bristles are and imagine the type of strokes it can deliver based on the pressure of my wrist. Oh so hard and strong and will deliver calculated lines and this one is so sweet and soft and caresses a rosy pink creating a blush on the cheeks ;)

So. Yes. Weird. But before you judge an artist, just you think about how you respond to something you love--like maybe your tie collection, your golf club collection, or your shoe collection or your make-up kit or your food or your wine or your clothes or your house or your car or your, ahem, baby

ok. maybe I go too far.