Thursday, October 28, 2021

Fever Dream part 17


My parents were out most of day, so I ate lunch early, took care of a local errand, and left for the Studio a little earlier than usual.  Saw Nichole's car in the lot, so after going inside, I stopped at her office first.  Gave her an update on my adventures with her friend at the agency, who she had texted earlier in the week, since 2 weeks had passed since they were supposed to contact me with information.  This time I got a bit more action, including a contact, and a lawyer.  We will see what happens, but if all goes well, I'll get some help for my appeal.

With that taken care of, it was time to get to work.  I had done a little more internet research last night, making sure about part of the Jefferies Tube that took up much of the right edge of my block, the last part that needed major work.  My hope was to complete the cutting today, so I can print it next week and see what I got.

First thing I noticed was that the Studio was a lot cleaner than it had been- most of Molly's tote bags and t-shirts were gone.  (Nichole had said something about stopping by to pick up the rest of the t-shirts, which didn't happen while I was there)  So I didn't have to waste time clearing my space to work. Took out my block and tools and got to it.

First thing I did was cut the ring of keys held by the large hand on that side, representing me and that particular key ring.  (I have one for that building, one for everything else)  At the same time I took care of a few details in the hand itself, pieces between the keys in my drawing.  Next was the interior of the Tube, which was just the cylindrical interior and a few colored long pieces (what was known on the show as GNDN for "goes nowhere, does nothing") that were around it, all converted to gray, black, and white in my image.  And that was pretty much it. I took a rough rubbing of the whole image in pieces (the paper I had) and decided to just remove the two hanging hoses.  The parts I had carved were not that great, and this saved me from having to try to do it also where they were in front of the black part of the escalator.  Gives a needed large piece of white as well.

I don't plan to print it until next week (avoiding the Halloween activities up at the building for one thing), so I will spend the next few days gathering what I need for printing, as well as looking over the block and seeing if there is anything I missed, as well as noting any nicks and splinters that I will need to deal with in printing it.

For music today I had brought the blues case, so I got to enjoy some things that have been mentioned here before.  I started with a nice copy of the T-Bone Walker's fine collection, T-Bone Blues.  I wrote about him and the original record back in October, 2019.  When that ended, I went to another blues disc, one that I have paired with the Walker disc before, a John Lee Hooker collection just called Volume I which was put out by Modern Records and included songs from 1948 to 1954, so about the same time as the Walker sides.  In this era, the standard record was the 78 rpm single, so all musicians pretty much recorded songs that would be put out as singles.  The invention of the 33 and 1/3 rpm LP allowed record companies to put out albums and all these recordings had a new life, either as albums put out by the record company that owned the masters, or by companies that licensed the recordings to put out albums.  In the case of T-Bone Walker, he had cut these sides for Atlantic Records in the 50's, and that record company put out this album much later, as well as included at least one song on another album collection that came out even later.  As for John Lee Hooker, I have no idea who he recorded these sides for originally (he made records in many places), and I don't have access to the original record right now. I just have my copy of a copy of the album paired with another JLH album I had on record, This is Hip, which was put out by VJ Records, who put out some of the early Beatles singles in America when no one else wanted them.  (times would change on that)  And I have the photo of this album at the top of this posting, from way back in 2007.  So these are not new records to this blog, but all I have right now is what I had stored in the Studio.  

Monday, October 25, 2021

Fever Dream part 16

 A decent day today- 70 degrees, partly sunny, and probably better than tomorrow, which is expected to be a nor'easter with lots of rain and wind.  Therefore, another good Studio day.  I left as soon as my parents got home from their morning activity, got up there by a little before 2 pm.  Saw Nichole's car in the lot and went directly to her basement office from the parking lot.  Had to wait while she spoke to someone else, but then got to talk to her about the two questions I've had for a few weeks- had she spoken to Mary, my former student who was looking to start a print program there in the building, and what happened with Judiyth, a friend of hers who might be able to provide some professional help to me in my condition, but hadn't been in touch for a two weeks, nor anyone from her agency either.  Short answer, she hadn't spoken to anyone recently, but agreed she probably should, and planned to do so.  With that bit of business settled, I could go back up the stairs to the parking lot, then back in the main door to the first floor (which allowed be to put a tag on my hook), and ultimately back down to the basement to my Studio.  Lot of cars in the lot, and a lot of tags on hooks, but didn't see many people there on the 1st floor.

In my Studio I had a bit of work to do first.  Molly had been there, and it seemed she had gotten the job of making product for the Halloween event scheduled for the building this weekend.  They have a Trunk or Treat thing scheduled there- which is an event where various volunteers have candy available for kids, who visit each person (by their car, supply in the trunk I guess) and get candy that way, instead of the traditional door to door thing that I grew up doing.  My mother's theory was that this started with Hurricane Sandy, which took out power (and thus street lights) and left a lot of wires down throughout the region for much of October that year, making the trick-or-treat thing harder to do.  Now, it's a way for houses and kids to avoid Covid.   I knew from e-mails that one thing participants would get is a tote bag they could color, an activity as well as a useful tool.  It turns out that Molly was making the tote bags, or I should say decorating them.  It was a nice decoration, though, a black and white silkscreen print of a haunted scene, complete with a haunted house, full moon, skull, headstones, a contorted tree (dead or at least without leaves, as happens this time of year). and a giant rat, plus the words "trunk or treat 2021" and "jersey shore arts center". She printed this on off white canvas tote bags, and white t-shirts, part of the event I assume.  Pretty much every horizontal surface in our space was covered with them, including my inking table and my chair, so I had to excavate those to give myself a place to work and put my stuff.  The only space in the room not so covered was part of one of her tables, so that's where it went. 

For music I chose my single disc version of Live at Raji's  from The Dream Syndicate, which I wrote about on this blog back in April 2020 if anyone is interested to hear about it.  It does have a song called, "Halloween", so I guess it was appropriate. It's also a favorite disc, which is why I had a copy of it in my Studio stash.

I'm getting close to the end of my latest block, which is a reason I wanted to work on it.  The fact that we are expecting some bad weather in the coming days was a good reason to do it today, as well as I probably needed to pick up some milk on the way home.  (as is said, there's something about a coming storm that makes everyone get in the mood for French Toast, because everyone goes to the store and buys milk, eggs, and bread)  Knowing I was going today, I had done some block drawing in the morning, working on those hanging hoses, resolving the circular clothing rack, and making some decisions about other small areas.  Up at the Studio, I made those changes by cutting to the clothing rack and the small areas, then moved to something new- the brick wall and the hand holding the keys.  I didn't cut the keys today, or the Jefferies Tube behind it or the hanging hoses, so those items will wait for my next visit, but that may be last time for new cutting.  This thing is just about finished.

As I was locking off and turning out lights in the basement, suddenly Molly arrived, who I haven't seen in the Studio in maybe a year.  So we had a brief chat.  I told her I really liked the design she had created for the bags and shirts, and I did, too. It's a very complicated composition, but an excellent use of black and white.  (she appreciated my comment, as I am known as a big user of black and white in prints) I also pointed out the bank of florescent lights that was out, and told her that if Nichole was still in, I'd let her know about it.  She said she was there today to finish the job for Nichole, so I left her the room, stopped by the office for what I planned, then headed home.  

Friday, October 22, 2021

Art as Commerce


Earlier tonight my mother put on one of her favorite shows, Shark Tank.  For those not familiar, it's a television show in which entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a group of successful business people, hoping to get some financing for their ideas and businesses.  The sharks often have questions relating to the businesses (after all, they don't want to lose money on potential investments) such as various costs, profits so far, etc.  Most of the ideas relate to clothes or food (I believe at least 3 of tonight's products were consumable), and I tend to ignore these.  Once in a while they relate to art, and I pay more attention to these.  For example, last season there was someone who wanted to expand their jigsaw puzzle business, so I listened to her pitch and the subsequent questions more, and eventually passed this information on to my business partner in the jigsaw puzzle game.  (the person in question couldn't give a good reason why she needed more money or assumed sales would continue to rise and was not funded)  

Tonight the opening pitch was two longtime friends who are offering art lessons online and wanted some funding to expand their business.  I know something about this, as almost anyone who is in a creative field offers art lessons on the side, including me.  That's why I know how difficult it is to make money in this field.  My last few attempts to hold art classes in Ocean Grove haven't worked, as no one has signed up for  them.  I don't know if it's the subject, the times/days, or just the problem that people are still afraid to do anything in person.  (any or all of these could be true)  The problem with online classes is that online is a terrible way to try to learn art.  For millennia, the processes of art have been taught person to person, and it seems to work best that way.  Last year, as Covid raged, the college where I had been teaching for 15 years decided to switch from classrooms to online only, which I survived, but it wasn't easy.  I was lucky that the hardest stuff happened early in the semester before the changes came, and the students did well with the later projects (some slightly modified) that were all done completely online.  It probably didn't hurt that the classes were things I had taught many times before, and I had always put information online, including my vast number of good successful images of student projects.  Unfortunately, after that the school decided to switch from having its experienced instructors teach art classes to buying art classes directly from an online company (one that most colleges refused to work with) and I was no longer employed.  

Anyway, tonight's entrepreneurs said they were trying to break into the home schooling market, but that's a hard market to break into.  They also admitted that most of their customers lasted about 7 months in their system, and no one was continuing art lessons with them for a year or more, which is what the sharks wanted.  To my surprise, they were actually offered a deal, but with a contingency- they had to show a profit after 6 months (not a big concern of theirs to this point), and if so they would get funding.  This seemed like a pretty good deal to me.  Essentially it was what they were already doing, hustling to make ends meet with art skills, and if they showed a profit, they would get a big influx of cash.  If not, they would be where they had been anyway, and maybe get the message this wasn't working out for them.

It all made me think of something from my past. As I said, I have spent a lot of time giving art lessons, but there was one time I had an opportunity to apply for a full time teaching job at a school (community college) I had been working at for several years, teaching 2 or 3 studio classes per semester, the requested specialty in areas I was covering.  All well and good, but then I had occasion to talk to one of the people on the hiring committee (digital art) and was told I was the last person they would want to hire.  Why? Because I was an artist, and artists are always concerned with making art and exhibiting it.  What the school needed was someone who would sit at their desk for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and only care about the college.  Despite that, I went ahead and applied, came up with a lesson plan for what they asked for, and did the interview (they decided to interview all adjuncts who applied for the job) but needless to say, I didn't get the job.  The person who was hired took down his website shortly after being announced, but it was up long enough for me to see that he had no more experience than I did, just part time adjunct stuff.  And from the years I worked there (3 or 4 years after that), I can tell you that no full time faculty ever worked 5 days a week, and some didn't even cover their classes, which were at most 20 hours per week.  I concluded that the school had decided what they wanted long before anyone was interviewed, and they got what they wanted.  

Tomorrow, I have lessons with my niece.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Fever Dream part 15

 Had some time today, so I decided to go up to the Studio and do a little more work on my block.  Plus, I like how the cutting went yesterday and want to do more while everything is still working.   Still no Nichole, so I just went to work.

Took out an assortment of tools that made sense, and I had brought my case of rock/pop discs with me today.  From there I selected the Wipers disc, written about back in July of 2019.  Once a co-worker heard me playing a Wipers tape and thought I was listening to heavy metal.  No (wrong rhythm for one thing), but it is very heavy guitar, yet very atmospheric, and thus very suitable for cutting to.  

I continued with the desk, including the hand holding the pizza slice.  Went on to the comic book guy and the display of comic books (probably long boxes on a shelving unit), doing everything except the parts that are defined by the circular clothing rack.  From there I went on to the most complicated thing remaining, the burning castle in the distance.  I had redrawn this from my internet source last week, and studied the video of it with fireworks (some recent Disney specials and commercials on television) to see how it looked partly lit up at night.  It made today easier.  I also took care of the guy watching the Cinderella castle go up in flames, from the escalator.  A little more time on the wild grass and circular clothing rack, but on the latter I want to update the drawing before I cut any more, and that I can do at home.  The last thing I did was the door frame on the right side of the block. I need to decide soon what I want to do about the two hanging hoses near the top of the escalator.  

Otherwise what is left is the far right of the block- the brick wall, the hand holding the keys, and the Jeffries tube opening on the wall.  That means a few more decisions, but that sounds like work for the weekend.  

As I left, a lot more tags on the hooks, but still no Nichole.  No need to stop on the way home, so I just drove back to where I live.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Fever Dream part 14


Back to the warm weather for a few days, though I think it's too late for the figs.  Leaves haven't dropped yet, but they are looking rough.  On the other hand, the flat tire alert on my dashboard disappeared somewhere around Belmar.   Every year as soon as the weather cools a little, the car tells me I have a flat tire.  After a few years I realized it was a lie and that the tire warning system was on the panicky side.  Now I just look at the car, and if all the tires look normal, I assume they are.  Like I did for all the decades I didn't have a tire pressure alert system.

I left a little earlier than usual today, so I was up at the Studio by quarter past one.  No sign of Nichole's car, so I went directly to the basement.  Once there, I saw her door was open, and heard voices, so I stopped to listen.  However, all I heard was a male voice, talking for long periods of time without break about vitamins and such- I assumed he was a salesman and didn't want to get too close.  

Even before I left from home, I decided it was a blues day, and brought the appropriate disc book with me.  I started with my disc of the Robert Cray broadcast recorded from WNEW-FM back in 1990, burned to a disc in time for my trip to Texas in  2005.  (I had brought several copies of good music, but there was nothing there to play them on, so they stayed in my luggage that week, ended up as Studio copies a few years later) I believe I wrote about that in July 2019 if you want to know more.  When that disc ended, I continued the hard blues with the Buddy Guy album Stone Crazy, which I think I wrote about in February, 2020, if you want to know more. The music brought back a lot of memories, and was good to cut to.

And it was a productive day.  I had shown the block in progress to my nurse model the other day and she was impressed with the detail in the block drawing.  Well, there is a lot of detail there, but that's what I like.  Some will be lost in cutting, so it's good to have a detailed drawing to start.  The time I spent working on the Entenmann's aisle cap drawing was not wasted, and the cutting was very detailed. A lot of time spent spinning the block, turning it to make cutting easier, definitely easier with a piece of wood this size rather than the 2'x3' blocks I had used for similar pieces in the past.  Of course, the amount of art that appears on the actual baked good boxes is far more than I could draw in the tiny spaces this drawing gave me, but I'm used to simplifying things as I shrink them  Having finished cutting all that, I went on to the bit of tile floor around it, then a bit of the wild grass and weeds, then the other two nurses (I had redrawn the helicopters as part of my time at home last week), part of the circular clothing rack, part of the comic book display, the silkscreen frames, and much of the desk behind it, especially the papers on top. So now, about half the block is done being carved.  I said it was a productive day.  I wish I had my camera so I could share the results with you, but for now, you'll have to settle for my description.  

As I was leaving the door to the office was closed, and I don't know what happened to the vitamin salesman, so I just left.  

Friday, October 15, 2021

Dream, No Fever

 Did a little drawing on the block today, working from home.  Mostly filling in values, based on source material already acquired.  But what I am writing about today is a dream I had, for which there is no art, yet.  It's a dream I've had variations on many times before, so maybe someday it will be art, and worth putting down here.

This was actually during a late afternoon nap, a short time in bed, but long enough for this, and probably a lot more, but this is what I remember.  It was a big building, people in it, large rooms, small rooms, etc.  But at some point I realized that it was just about time for me to be hosting a radio show, as a DJ.  Got myself quickly to the air studio.  I had theme music all set, and in the dream it was stored on my watch.  I rapidly set up the mixing board for what I would need, pressed a button to open a small drawer, much like the place where one would insert a compact disc.  I put my watch in the center of it, tucking the watchband into holes in the drawer, and pressed a button to close the drawer, then started it, as it was top of the hour and time to start.  Pieces of magnetic recording tape (like a cassette) popped out of cracks, but somehow the intended theme music also started.  I let it run, set up a song to be played next.  I left the small DJ booth, and found myself in a very large bar. The first room had a large bar with stools,  which seemed kind of empty, though a lot of small European flags were festively draped everywhere.  In another room, mostly booths, more flags, but some people at least.  All were dressed in black leather, with a punk vibe, or maybe a little bit biker.  (my radio show is playing over the bar sound system, and these two groups have some known appreciation of blues music, so this could work out) Go to another room, more people at a booth, but dressed in more conventional bar clothes. I recognize one as a friend (in the dream), the one who gave me a ride to this place.  I should get back to my radio show. 

And that's all there was.  I woke up,  realized that it was past the time I had planned to get up, and decided I should go ahead and get up and get ready for dinner.

So, is there any art here?  I don't know.  The part that is common, is the sudden need to be ready to do a radio show.  There is a common nightmare called "test anxiety" where the dreamer suddenly finds themselves in a classroom (high school or college), about to take an exam in a class they never attended or something they forgot to study for.  As a student who had mostly studio art classes, the exam dream had little meaning for me.  I did have to occasionally proctor an exam, and once saw one of my students, who had missed so many studio sessions, he had already failed the class, and I told him nicely that there was no point in sitting for the exam.  But he decided to anyway.  May have been a bit high.  On another occasion, a student asked me to read the projected section numbers, as he didn't bring his glasses and couldn't see anything.  I realized he was one of my studio students, unrecognized as I hadn't seen him in about 13 weeks, and gave him the same advice, especially since without glasses he would do very poorly on the largely slide ID test he was about to take.  Like the first student, he decided to go for it.  May have been in the same condition.  Since I had no inborn fear of exams, my variation on this nightmare either involved being back in the grill area of McDonald's (where the never ending beeps of timers going off echoed though my head as I tried to sleep at night) or doing my radio show and needing to cue up another record before the current one ended, and in dreams the current record was always so short. 

The sound board set up was more like a component stereo system than any sound board I have worked with.  (and it was the same hardware at all three colleges, but different components hooked to the sliders in each case)  And very dark, just the lit up displays to see by.  I could probably draw my watch (inexpensive Timex with two hands that never held a song in any kind of memory) in the compact disc drawer, but I'm not sure what the point would be of that artwork.  I could probably also draw the bar scenes well, lots of wood, bottles, flags, though finding models for all the customers would be a challenge.  Again, though, I don't have an artistic use for the idea right now.  So for now, I write it down. Some of the items depicted in my current Fever Dream work go back to my youth, so you never know when ideas will come in handy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Fever Dream part 13

 Not a particularly nice day today, but those can be good Studio days, too.  Have a roof over my head, in a building that has been standing in a beach town for more than a century, and a good strong table that I made myself.  That and sharp tools is all I need.  

Saw Nichole's car in the lot, and many other cars as well.  Probably the most cars I have seen parked there in well over a year.  A few classrooms were in use on the 1st floor. but I went for the elevator and took a ride to the basement to take care of business.  Probably good that I did.  She had sent an email over the weekend regarding a class, and I got it on Monday (once my computer was reset to access it) and replied the same day, but she never got it.  So I gave her the information again in person, and promised to forward the original message back to her when I got home.

With that settled, time to get to work.  I had left all my discs at home again, going with one from those left in the Studio.  I chose Babylon By Bus from Bob Marley and the Wailers.  I don't claim to know much about reggae, and probably only know about this album because my cousin Todd decided to lend it to me years ago.  I liked the two record live set well enough to (long after I returned it) get a copy on disc for myself.  Some internet research tells me it is from 1978 (Marley died in 1981 I think) but I don't know much beyond that.    I don't know if he was promoting a particular record with this tour;  it includes some of his best known songs, but not nearly all of them, so it's not a greatest hits show.  But it was a good show, and good music to work to.  It was probably more fitting the way the Studio used to look (see above), but even with our biggest wall painted gray now (Herb's dream probably), it's still good music to cut to.

I picked up where I left off last time, the escalator.  It's a big chunk of white that moves through the composition, thus a big part of the value balance that has to be worked out.  Since Tinkerbell is surrounded by that side of the escalator, she was finished inside and out.   Other parts of the escalator gave some outline to my circular clothing rack, the head of one of my nurses, and the head of my comic book fan.  With a little time left, I did some of the larger blades of tall grass that surround the chair in the Studio.  I decided that was enough for today.  Packed up my stuff and on to my next stop.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Fever Dream part 12

 Another really nice day today, and nowhere I had to be, so a day to be in the Studio.  One issue I found is that the light outside my usual Studio door (yellow path hallway) was not functioning, so I used the other door, which was better lit.  Have keys for both.  Left my books of discs at home and went with discs I kept there, and today that was Toshi Reagon The Righteous Ones.  I wrote about it back in August of this year if you want to know more about it.  I had seen Nichole's car outside, but she was out of the office, so I decided to come back.

One thing that stopped me last time was that I didn't have a really small gouge with me, though luckily I have a whole block to work on, so I could use other tools as appropriate.  But I knew I had some smaller gouges at home, and packed them this time.  Had my block with me, as well as my new bottle of glue.  

As the music played, I continued on the left hand side of the block.  I did the padded studio chair first, which looked good.  Did a little bit around the Entemann's shelves, including some redrawing of parts.  Long way to go, but it's coming along.  I decided to add something, some hanging hoses, near the top of the escalator.  Not from a dream, but from a real scene- I had decided to go to the special clearance sale at a closed department store at the soon to be demolished Seaview Square Mall, just down the hill from where I worked at the time.  However there was not much for sale in the space, and the store was pretty much a wreck, with hoses and wires hanging down, and a sagging ceiling- the place looking a lot worse than it should have after being closed and empty for just a few years.  Since my dreams are sometimes set in stores that seem like they've been closed, it made sense.  If I don't like the results, I can always cut them out later.  Got some of this cut, but ended up having to glue some things, so set it aside for a while.

Tried the office again, but Nichole still wasn't there- maybe up on the 2nd I was told.  Took the elevator up there, but found no one.  Back to the basement, where I packed up my stuff.  Then I heard a familiar voice near the elevator and sure enough, she was there, pushing a shopping cart full of cleaning supplies.  I gave her an update on my legal situation, since she had some influence on it.  She went off to continue her cleaning, and I went back to packing up my stuff, and locking up.  By the tine I remembered the light bulb problem, she was gone.  So I finished and left, making the decision to go out through the front door, so I could remove my hanging tag.  Then I saw her up on the 1st floor,  so I got to hit her with that problem.  She said it wasn't really not functioning, but had been rewired to a new toggle switch. I didn't feel like going back downstairs, so I'll investigate that next time.  

Monday, October 04, 2021

Fever Dream part 11

 Haven't worked on the new block much lately, because in cutting it last week, I noticed a piece of my large foreground nurse was flaking off the block.  The piece was still attached to the rest of the veneer, but I thought it best to glue it down before doing any more cutting.  Or even transporting the block.  Problem is I had no glue.  For this I need white glue.  I used to keep a couple of bottles of it in my bag, for my students to use, as they often need it and never have it themselves.  But when I looked recently, all I could find is one small bottle and it was empty.  

Luckily this is the time of year that schools are starting up again, and many places carry back-to-school supplies, including small bottles of glue.  So after my speech therapy today, since I had to go that way anyway, I stopped by a supermarket and picked some up, along with a few other groceries I needed.   Back home, I took care of business and put a little bead of glue along an area that needed it. Removed the excess, and let it dry.  I'll get back to drawing and cutting later this week, but I will have my new bottle of glue with me just in case.