Saturday, September 30, 2006

"baby monitor", FIMP's Book of the Month

Subscribers to FIMP's Book of the Month Club should be watching for "baby monitor" to arrive on their doorsteps soon. This one gets a little grim; I was thinking a lot about Peter Singer's essay "Famine, Affluence, and Morality" while composing it.

It's an essay worth reading. Boiled down to a single sentence you get:

"If it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it."

If that rings a bell, you might want to pay this website a visit.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

draw a bird

how old are you when you realize the world doesn't actually work like this?

Monday, September 25, 2006


This is what happens when you go to a meeting, and a bunch of doctors start asking questions just to show off how smart they are.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Drawing a Day

I stumbled across this website called The Daily Drawing - the name being very self explanatory. The cartoonish drawings are fun to watch and strangely compelling as you watch the image evolve and come to completion in about five minutes. I like the monkey drawn with a mirror -

Seeing the website sadly made me realize that I can't remember the last time I was drawing every day. A reminder that making art ain't easy I guess.

If an apple a day keeps doctors away I wonder what a drawing a day will remedy?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

And here it is. . .

The final print! The block has been cut a bit more since the scan was taken in the previous post - the first proofs looked really chunky. I managed to trim up some lines without cutting the little guy's head off, or some similar catastrophe, which made me happy.

And since we're getting rid of stressful suspense in this post, the answer to the Art Quiz from August 25 is Carolee Schneeman's "Interior Scroll". Yep, that's the scroll itself.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Suspense Builds. . .

Here's a "making of" sequence for you - I haven't printed the block for this new linocut yet, but it's ready to go.

I started with a bunch of thumbnail sketches like this one. This is going to be a book cover, so I had to plan on some white space at the top and bottom for the text. Pretty pathetic drawing, no? These quick sketches are just to start placing elements, thinking about what goes where, not trying to solve any of the drawing problems, just working on the composition. The whole stack of thumbnails were as unresolved as this, but they helped me decide what I wanted where.

Here's the "finished" drawing on the block. Before I start cutting the block I need to solve all of the perspective problems, and have a good sense of where my lights and darks are going to go. I don't actually resolve the drawing itself, as cutting with the gouge is quite a different visual language than what you get with the pencil. The "drawing" actually happens while I'm cutting the block, making decisions about line direction and weight.

And here's the block, that I just finished cutting about five minutes ago. The finished print will be reversed, but you get a sense here of the translation from pencil to gouge. You never know what it'll look like until ink hits paper, though. Will it stay or will it go? Stay tuned. . .

Thursday, September 14, 2006



A conversation about wanting the window seat over the aisle in an airplane reminded me of this photograph I took when flying into Austin. About 40 miles southeast of Austin a large (I mean very large) plot of land has been cleared so that the remaining trees spell out "LUECKE" - the landowner's name. Allegedly the project resulted from a dispute between the county government and the landowner. There are no good explanations for "why?" and "how?" but somehow the owner could keep as much of the land that he put to use.

Besides being a landmark for pilots and a location hunt for google earth users, NASA uses the letters to calculate "spatial resolution for lower contrast vegetation boundaries" in images taken from space.

Check out the bottom of the page for their technical uses of the 3,000 foot letters.

A commenter on Google Sightseeing calculated the font to be a 1,468,800 point size.

The moral of the story is that window seats are more entertaining.

the anthem's birthday, and a Pittsburgh opening

Today's the birthday of the United States' National Anthem. To celebrate I would suggest visiting the U. S. State Department's website to test your Spanish skills with their translations of the Star-Spangled Banner.

If you're near FIMP's new home town of Pittsburgh tonight, you should swing by the Digging Pitt Gallery for the opening receptions of two exhibitions, a solo show by Kate Temple and a show of 20 artists that are scattered across the country that share the common bond of once calling Pittsburgh their home.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Shoe Tree

Some days I spend a great deal of time just driving around hoping to find something to photograph that I can put in the paper. In the business this is called "feature photos" or the more fun name "wild art."

In Martindale, TX I was checking out a newly marked cemetery from the late 1800's when I came across the shoe tree. It's right by the road that will take you through downtown. I did some google searches about "shoe trees" and found that most commonly a shoe tree is just a tree covered by shoes that have been tied together by their laces and swung into the branches. Martindale's self proclaimed shoe tree is more of a fence post with shoes attached via 12 penny nails. Where do these shoes come from? Why do they meet such a violent sacrificial end? It's like a footwear crucifixion.

The best explanation I can find has to do with Martindale's proximity to the San Marcos River - a waterway infested with people partaking in the summertime activity known as "tubing." For those not familiar this involves going somewhere upstream, renting a large inner tube, hanging one's bottom in the river and usually tying on a foam cooler full of beer to keep you "hydrated." Float for several hours and have someone pick you up downriver.

During the floating shoes are commonly lost, and since shoes usually float, they wash up on the banks of the river. Residents collect the stray sneaker or flip-flop and make a contribution to the shoe tree. I feel like this shoe tree is a symbol that summer is ending (it's still 95 here, so it's not fall yet, no matter what month it is.). The footwear collection has reached it's seasonal peak and will now weather the winter and wait for new sacrifices from the river revelers.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

art and the Piggly Wiggly

A discussion of who is and is not an artist over on Edward Winkleman's blog reminded me of an experience I had in Milledgeville, Georgia, about 15 years ago. While standing in the check-out line at the local Piggly Wiggly (yes, the Piggly Wiggly) I was a little startled to see a very large, very dead hog, draped with a cloth, with one hoof dangling and bobbing over the edge of its gurney, being rolled through the automatic doors at the front of the store. At the time I thought (hypocritically, FIMP's resident philosopher would say, considering the meat that I'm sure I was buying at the time) "isn't this one of the reasons they have delivery entrances in supermarkets?".

In 1994, Damien Hirst created this sculpture, titled "Flock", from steel, glass, formaldehyde, and lamb. He made quite a stir with this work, which was accompanied by sculptures featuring bisected cows and a preserved shark.

It just goes to show that Marcel Duchamp had it right when he showed us that art is whatever the artist says it is. If you agree to that, you're still left with the question of who is an artist. An artist is the person who says "hey, look at this" and convinces someone else to look.

Now, whoever arranged that slaughtered pig on that gurney just so, with the hoof dangling over the edge, and decided to roll it through the front of the store, created a visual experience that was quite striking. I remember it with greater clarity than a lot of artwork I've seen in the years since. But no effort was made to dislocate that event from its surroundings and hold it up as art, removing it from the everyday Piggly Wiggly world and placing it in the artworld. The two things that were needed to change that supermarket performance into art were an artist - someone to say "wait, this is my statement, look at this" - and someone willing to watch.

What about detecting a spinal dural leak?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Stories Philosophers Tell: Trolleys part 2

There is a runaway trolley racing toward five people and you can divert the trolley by colliding another trolley into it, causing both trolleys to derail before they reach the five people. The derailed trolleys will slide down a hill into a man's yard, killing him as he rests in his hammock. Should you derail the trolley?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Stories Philosophers Tell: Trolleys

A runaway trolley is racing toward five people tied to the track. You are on a bridge over the track, and there is a very large man standing next to you whose weight would be enough to stop the train before it reaches the five people. Should you push him off the bridge in front of the train?

Word for Word

Jonathan Minton just released the latest issue of his superb "Word for /Word: A Journal for New Writing". Longtime FIMPers might remember that Word for /Word published an animated version of my book Small Change back in issue #5.

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Short Short Fairy Tail Tale

Well, I noticed that the Artist's Books section on the Fiji Island Mermaid Press website has been getting a lot of visitors lately, specifically folks checking out one of the earliest books, A Short Short Fairy Tail Tale. Following FIMP's "we aim to please" policy, you will now find the entire book there. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Missing Cowboy

Here in Central Texas I drive between my home in Austin and Lockhart (just a bit south) to shoot photos for the local paper in Lockhart. When I started my drives for this job at the beginning of this year, I noticed a large cowboy sign on the side of the road near the halfway point of my journey. The cowboy is only visible when heading south, toward Lockhart. One cold late February evening I stopped to photograph the cowboy. I felt like it was a symbol for Texas. Is it just coincidence that the cowboy is racing westward and can only be seen when traveling south?
Recently, I noticed that the cowboy is gone - the intersection of the small road and highway (Briarpatch Ranch & HWY 183) goes unnoticed now. I miss the cowboy sign - if anyone knows the whereabouts of a 25 foot tall cowboy on horseback, let me know.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Guerilla Poets and a Singing President

The Guerilla Poetics Project is starting to heat up. The goal is to find a wider audience for the small press, one reader at a time. The method is to tuck beautifully letterpressed broadsides in books at bookstores and libraries, targeting certain titles as being most likely to be picked up by folks that need to know about the great stuff going on in the world of the small press. The project is just in its infancy, and I hope it really takes off!

In the other things you just have to see department, take a moment to admire this video of George W. Bush singing "Sunday, Bloody Sunday".