medium /// film




“never say never”

I literally have no idea where to start this week. When your guest is a photographer, filmmaker, installation artist, curator, maker, and general renaissance woman it’s hard to find a place to jump in… so we started at the beginning and covered a fraction of the projects that this woman has been involved with. Yep, I’m talking to American artist, curator etc., Faythe Levine. Listen right up there under that very wise photograph, or you can subscribe on iTunes.

First, a few of her photographs, as Faythe always documents where life takes her:

Ahhhh, dreamy. Up next, a project that if you haven’t seen, you should … her film, followed by a book of the same title, “Handmade Nation”:

It’s so good, and it really is a like a time capsule from those early maker days when everything DIY exploded! Ok, next amazing project. “Sign Painters”, once again a documentary and book:

Faythe and Sam Macon did such a beautiful job on this film. If you haven’t seen it, see it!

Next, the most recent book Faythe put together… an unpublished play written by her friend Merril Mushroom. The play, and now the book, is titled “Bar Dykes”:

There are so many of Faythe’s projects to cover (and we haven’t even discussed the tip of the iceberg?!), but I didn’t want to miss this… Art vs. Craft, a juried show that she organized and ran for ten years (2003-2013) in Milwaukee:

Don’t you want to jump into that photo and do some art shopping!? Me too. And finally, a few very cool photos to go with Faythe’s very cool story… tattoos and new gold tooth included:

Babe. Thank you so much to Faythe for taking a break from her new 9 to 5 life as Assistant Curator at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center to talk to me; thanks to Saatchi Art for supporting the episode; and thank YOU for listening! There will be more art for your ear next weekend.

Other links:

  1. Etsy
  2. Renegade Craft Fair
  3. Faythe on Instagram

 





“what’s the why”

So, that’s a painting. Yeah. I’ve been dying to talk to Canadian artist Lindsay Arnold about this ongoing series for ages. It’s titled “Tedium”, and in case you haven’t listened to the episode yet, I read her artist statement about this work. I’m going to post it here too because it’s just too perfect to be missed:

“In my grandmother’s time the doily was required for protecting surfaces, concealing imperfections, ornamenting surroundings, and measuring status. Today doilies are found in abundance at thrift stories, auctions and forgotten linen closets. Hours of female labour are represented in these worn, stained and unfashionable objects. The imperfections which have rendered the doilies unusable for their original purpose inspire narratives which are further explored through interactions with objects such as scissors, pins, and utensils. The doilies are stretched, torn, and misshapen, such as we are by marriage, illness, motherhood and more. “Tedium” is way to honour the difficult experiences which leave us worn, acknowledge thankless repetitive labour, and reveal a part of the anonymous doily maker’s story.” ~ Lindsay Arnold

See? Beautiful, and it sets up everything you’re about to see. That said, here are a few of my favorite paintings from this gorgeous series:

Oh my word. They’re just too good. Paintings. How are they paintings?

Now, before I show you all of the other pieces I’m in love with from that series, I want to show you a few of the drawings from one of Lindsay’s earlier series, titled very appropriately, “Rooted”:

Ah yes, I remember all of that from those first few years as a new mother. Sigh. So lovely, so smart … and fantastic that her mentor at the time, Canadian artist Holly Fay, encouraged her to turn these from something she did while her baby napped, into a full project bound into a gorgeous “artist book”.

And now, back to “Tedium”! This is where it began… perfect doilies drawn with a dip pen and white ink. And those shadows… oh, the shadows {they’re what made me assume these were photos during a quick scroll-by}:

… and then things started to get not so perfect, because imperfection is so much more interesting {and real!}:

Seriously. Paintings. Now, how about watching some real doilies in action! Here’s a trailer for the video Lindsay created using her delicate muses:

So fun! If you’d like to see the full video, you can find it right here.

Speaking of fun …

Yes, both Lindsay and I in all our catty / Halloweenie goodness! Meow. Thanks so much to Lindsay for answering all of my prying questions; thanks to Saatchi Art for supporting yet another episode; and HUGE thanks to you for listening. I’m on my way to the University of Wisconsin for the entire week, because they’ve invited me to be a visiting professor – obviously I’ve tried desperately to buy a corduroy jacket with elbow patches, but alas, nothing. Anyway, all of this to say there won’t be a podcast this coming weekend, so have a great Halloween {I’m sure we’ve inspired you with our costumes}, and I will be back with a new episode on Saturday, November 4th!

ps. If you want to listen to an older episode while I’m away, you can find all one hundred and ten of them right here.

Other links:

  1. SAIT, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
  2. Holly Fay, Artist
  3. Martha Cole, Artist
  4. Lindsay’s Instagram feed
  5. Video Pool
  6. Lindsay’s video, “Table Dance”

 





“soul of a rose, skin of a rhino”

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Holy sh*t, it’s Taylor Townsend! Perhaps I should qualify that… did any of you obsessively watch The OC? I did. Clearly. My favorite character on that show was, you guessed it, Taylor Townsend who was played by Autumn Reeser {she’s also been on Entourage, Hawaii 5-0, a ton of other shows and movies, and just finished working on Tom Hanks’ newest film, Sully}.  I’m shaking things up a tiny bit today, and instead of talking to a visual artist we’re heading to LA to talk to an actor about this whole creativity thing… it really is just one giant club. Whether you’re a painter {which Autumn also happens to be}, an actor, a writer, a musician, a dancer, etc we all go through the same things… blocks, self-doubt, and creative victories, too! Anyway, let’s get on with this. You can listen right up there underneath Autumn, or you can subscribe on iTunes. First things first, California here we come… where the fan-girl obsession began, The OC:

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Ah, now I want to watch it all over again! She was also on another binge-worthy show, one of my faves, Entourage. She played a young TV agent and, more than once, got to go toe-to-toe with Jeremy Piven, aka Ari Gold:

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Ok. Now I have to watch that again. These next images are from a movie called, Smoking Aces 2. Let’s just say this character was a little out of character for Autumn… and apparently a whole lotta fun! I love the story she tells about this crazy movie. She figured she wouldn’t get the part, so she just totally put it all out there at the audition, and whaddaya know, it worked:

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Now, when she’s not working {which isn’t often}, Autumn dabbles in other types of creativity. Lately it’s been painting – and look – she’s not alone! Two little messy helpers – her sweet little boys Finn, age 4 and Dash, age 2. We had a long talk about The Artist’s Way {a really great book that I’m sure all of you already know about} and how it’s helped both of us so much. It’s pushed her in acting, in painting, and in 2015 she decided it was time to learn how to play the guitar too. Creative lady? Um, yeah.

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And finally, the speed round. I obviously had to ask which of her co-stars was the best kisser. And the winner… John Stamos. Yep, Uncle Jesse gets it done! ps. she was mortified that I asked this question, but, well, too bad. Also, it turns out that Autumn was one of those ‘horse girls’ when she was little… you know the ones. Here is photographic proof from childhood, and then a few recent shots of her actually getting to live the dream! Yes, her last few movies have required Autumn to bring out her inner-cowgirl:

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Wow, she makes it look so easy up there {and having Jesse Metcalfe beside you doesn’t hurt either}. Ok, so as they say in Hollywood, that’s a wrap … do they actually say that? I’m not really sure. Anywho, thank you so much to Autumn for answering all of my questions, thanks to Saatchi Art for supporting the episode, and as always huge thanks to you for listening! There will be more art for your ear next weekend.

Links to other tidbits we talked about:

Girl Crush Portland  /  Sully (Upcoming movie with Tom Hanks, directed by Clint Eastwood)  /  Cutie and the Boxer  /  The Artist’s Way





“hoozy thinky iz”

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Hoozy Thinky Iz? Wayne White, that’s who. Ok, let me start by saying that Wayne is one of my favorite artists ever. I tried to be cool, but alas, I spent the first quarter of this episode having a fan-girl panic attack, and I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to tell. So, to make it more entertaining for yourself, please feel free to take a shot of tequila every time I say, “WOW!” or “relaxed”… (sigh)… yep, embarrassing – but not the beautiful kind. You can listen to our conversation right up there, under that embarrassingly beautiful painting, or you can subscribe on iTunes.

So, I could have talked to Wayne for five more hours, I had so many questions. I wish I’d asked about his amazingly talented/creative wife, Mimi Pond (pictured below hugging Wayne in a giant LBJ puppet head). I didn’t even get to the part about his work on the Smashing Pumpkins Tonight, Tonight video or Peter Gabriel’s Big Time video… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Oh well, just go watch his film, Beauty is Embarrassing (directed by Neil Berkeley) and you’ll get the gist. Oh, and try not to cry. This is one of my most favorite movies of all time, so that’s where I jumped in:

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It really is such a great documentary. Yes, it covers his work and his life, but it also hits all sorts of nerves about getting burnt out, self-doubt (hoozy thinky iz), and finding your way to a place where you’re just creating work that makes you happy. Yep, I cried at least three or four times as I thought, “Yes! Me too!” … and don’t even get me started on Mrs. Stoddard, or when Wayne’s dad starts crying. Yeah, you’re going to need a tissue.

Ok, now for all of you kids from the 1980s, you’ll remember this from Saturday morning TV … Pee-wee’s Playhouse! Wayne was part of the team from the beginning – designing sets, puppets, and he even did a bunch of the voices (Dirty Dog, Randy, one of the flowers, etc etc). Hello, childhood flashback:

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Oh, Pee-wee. Good times. “Beauty is Embarrassing” covers all of this so well (including the pre-cursor to Pee-wee’s Playhouse, a Nashville Kids’ Show called Mrs.Cabobbles Caboose)… so again… go watch this movie!

And of course, Wayne’s thrift shop landscape word paintings that I love more than I can say. He does all sorts of amazing things (sculptures, puppets, drawings etc) but these paintings have definitely become something he’s known for:

waynewhite4

So hilarious! I have a thing for funny art, probably because it’s pretty hard to find. I just love that he’s taken these forgotten landscapes and turned them into beautifully painted text pieces… text pieces that allow him to say whatever the hell he wants to say! You know, things like “all that fake laughin for nothin”, “just a picture / shunned by scholars / now it costs ten thousand dollars”, and one of my favorites… “just leave the awards on the kitchen table / i’m back here paintin a fuckin masterpiece” … Ha! That makes me LOL, as the kids say.

And finally, this is the book we mentioned a couple of times. Designer Todd Oldham loves Wayne’s work too, and one of the results of that is this beautiful book, “Maybe Now I’ll Get The Respect I So Richly Deserve”:

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And that’s that. I am so thrilled that I got to do this with him… and I hope you enjoyed all of your many, many tequila shots. Next time I’ll be super cool. Maybe. Thanks so much to Wayne for taking the time to do this, and thanks to you for listening. There’ll be a special holiday podcast next weekend, but until then, please sit back and relax to this little gem that came out of the good old speed round… the first song that Wayne ever slow danced to: “Poor Side of Town”. Enjoy.





richard butler



Oh. So, so gorgeous. These haunting portraits are the work of UK born, New York based artist Richard Butler. Not all of his work features those beautifully shaped keyholes {see, I popped two of them into the middle so that you’d believe me}, but those are the pieces that I can’t seem to get enough of. Rounded crosses and florals make what could have been seen as traditional, albeit still insanely gorgeous, portraits into something very modern, and weird, and amazing! LOVE.

{ps. You might recognize Richard’s name, not only because he is an exceptional painter, but he also happens to be a rock star… for real. Remember this one? I dare you to listen to this and NOT immediately want to watch this 1980’s classic. You’re welcome.}





maria zaikina

Berlin based artist Maria Zaikina saw my post from last Friday {installation of two little colorful houses in the middle of nowhere}, and thought I might like one of her projects… she was right!

So simple, so pretty, and so… sad? I’m not sure what it is about this project, but it makes me feel a bit blue… and not just because of the gorgeous colors palettes that effortlessly tell the story of passing time. These are just a few of the stills from Maria’s animated film titled “LANDSCHAFT MIT HAUS”, and this is part of her artist statement:

…Melancholic contemplation during a journey is evoked by landscapes drifting past the window, where details merge into stripes and colours. The scenery floats past in front of our eyes, changing our mood or remaining as a background for thought, leaving perhaps just an implicit impression in the memory. Our eyes glimpse a house standing lonely amongst the fields. Is it one house, or different houses in different places that appear to be so similar? Is the house the destination of our journey? The place we long to reach? The future we dream of – or the past we wish to regain? However the composition always remains the same. How then to make the right choice? Is choice important and is it necessary at all?

A-ha! “Melancholic” is the first word in the description… she was trying to make me sad! The sweet, quiet music might be contributing too. Have a look:






marcelina jarnuszkiewicz

I don’t often write about animated films, but when Warsaw based artist/illustrator Marcelina Jarnuszkiewicz sent me a link to Półczłowiek Półkoń / Halfman Halfhorse, I had no choice! It’s so lovely… and really weird. The illustrations are gorgeous, the story is wonderfully bizarre, and the music is perfect {I’d even venture to say that it’s a bit Wes Anderson-ish}. Essentially it’s a day-in-the-life of a horse/man… unfortunately he faces a very traumatic moment and turns to cigarettes and alcohol to steady his nerves. Hilarious, totally weird, and really really beautiful:

Oh dear… poor horse/man. Those were a few of my favorite stills, but here is the full animation in all it’s bizarre glory. Please watch… it’s so good!





finally! a little…

Ok, there is soooo much I want to tell you … but I’m only allowed to give you a few little tidbits today. So, let me catch you up on what’s going on at the moment. The book is set to be released in the Spring of 2014. All of the writing/editing is completely finished, and the final manuscript is now in the hands of the lovely folks at Chronicle Books in San Francisco. Pretty much everything is ready to go to print… except the cover. The amazing design team is working with one of my favorite artists {who happens to be featured in the book}, Toronto based painter/designer Amanda Happé:

Gratitude? Yes. My world is filled with gratitude right now! Note: Just to be clear, this painting is NOT the cover… but it’s similar in it’s Amanda Happé-ness. I just saw her preliminary sketches a few days ago, and they ROCK! I can’t believe how lucky I am to have such a talented artist doing a custom piece for this project. When this is over, I’m totally going to buy that painting and hang it in my living room. I will then sit underneath it while I hold my book. Yes. That is exactly what I will do.

Ok. This info about the front cover was the first little tidbit. Now, flip it over… you will never believe the amazing group of people who reviewed the book, and then wrote endorsement blurbs that will appear on the back. Ready?

Holy SHIT. I’m sorry for the cursing, but I feel it’s necessary. I still cannot believe these people took time out of their busy lives to read the book, let alone sit down to write the nicest reviews EVER. I was really nervous to reach out to all of them, but I fueled up on caffeine, gave myself a pep talk, and sent out the emails. And they all said yes, immediately. CRAZY.

Jerry frickin’ Saltz? {Yes, that is now how I refer to him at all times, because am still in disbelief that he said ‘yes’!}. I have to tell you, writing to the Senior Art Critic at New York Magazine is terrifying. What if he wrote me back and criticized me!? Um, hello, art school nightmare! Well he didn’t, thank goodness. He was hilarious, open, and generous {ok, he dished it out a tiny bit, but I totally handled it. Must have been the caffeine.}

Brené Brown. For real. Have you seen her TED Talk on shame and vulnerability? So, so good. And maybe you’d like to see what she and Oprah chatted about. Yes. Oprah. Without giving away too much, this book talks a lot about the insecurities that artists face every day – so who better to review the book than someone with a PhD in vulnerability, right?

And then there’s Faythe Levine. She is sort of a creative hero of mine. She owns an art gallery, is an artist herself, and she directs amazing documentaries that take a beautiful look at art in America {If you haven’t seen Handmade Nation, or Sign Painters… well, you should!}. I am thrilled to have an amazing working artist review a book about amazing working artists. It just makes sense.

Now, the final bit for the back cover. My bio photo. Ugh. I tried to use my Polaroid over the face shot that I use for most things, but my editor {the amazing Kate Woodrow}, wouldn’t let me do that. So, I called this guy:

Jeff Topham is an amazing photographer, writer, and film maker. I actually wrote about one of his film projects, Liberia ’77, in 2010. If you ever have a chance to watch it, please do. It’s ah-mazing. Anywho, not only is Jeff all of these things, he’s also one of my childhood friends, so when I had to do the dreaded “head shot” I knew he was my man. I call the photo above “You better not make me look like an idiot, or I’ll tell your mom what you did at that party in 10th grade.” Well, we had a few stops and starts, but he got the shot:

Yes! Done. I will now use this shot forever. Thanks Jeff! xo {ps. I won’t tell your mom anything!}

Ok, so that’s all I can tell you so far… basically now you know what’s happening on the front and back, and as Spring 2014 approaches I’ll let you know what’s going on the inside of this fantastic cover! Thank you again to Amanda, Jerry, Brené, Faythe, Jeff, Kate and all of the other crazy amazing people at Chronicle… not to mention the 50 contemporary artists featured in the book! You’ve all made my dream a reality.

{If you’re still reading, thanks for paying attention all the way through this very long post. This book has been a huge part of my life for the past year and a half and I just have to tell you about it, whether you want to know or not! Ok. I’m done now. Happy weekend!}





i’m jealous of vivian maier & john maloof

Do you know this story? It’s a good one!

I wrote about Vivian and John way back in 2009. Their story is about an undiscovered, photographic gold mine. They never knew each other, but now they’ll forever be connected… A few years ago, John Maloof went to an auction house across the street from his home. For $380, he bought thousands and thousands of undeveloped negatives that had been abandoned in a storage locker by an American woman named Vivian Maier. John started developing the negatives, and EUREKA!!!… he truly did find a gold mine. This is just a minute fraction of what he found:

Vivian’s photographs are stunning, beautifully composed, intimate glimpses into American life in the 1950s and 60s. What’s not intimate though is the knowledge about who Vivian actually was. She died only days before John tried reaching out to her. He had so many questions – who was she? Why did this unbelievably talented woman never show her work to anyone? But now, thanks to a beautiful documentary that is currently in production, a few of those questions have been answered… and they’re a bit strange. A sneak peek at  Finding Vivian Maier

We wish we knew you, Vivian {her self-portraits could be a post all on their own}:

Love.





i’m jealous of faythe levine & sam macon

First, the multi-talented Faythe Levine {of Handmade Nation fame… among countless other things!} got together with photographer/film maker Sam Macon, and wrote this book. Can you guess what it’s about?

You guessed it! Sign Painters, and the lost art that is sign painting {um, with a foreword by Ed Ruscha!}. The book profiles, and celebrates, classic sign painters – the artists who actually use a brush, and paint, and old-school techniques to create some of the most beautiful typographic art in the world. But Faythe and Sam didn’t stop with a book … nope … they just made a documentary too!

So good! Here’s the overview:

There was a time, as recently as the 1980s, when storefronts, murals, banners, barn signs, billboards, and even street signs were all hand-lettered with brush and paint. But, like many skilled trades, the sign industry has been overrun by the techno-fueled promise of quicker and cheaper. The resulting proliferation of computer-designed, die-cut vinyl lettering and inkjet printers has ushered a creeping sameness into our landscape. Fortunately, there is a growing trend to seek out traditional sign painters and a renaissance in the trade.

In 2010 filmmakers Faythe Levine and Sam Macon began documenting these dedicated practitioners, their time-honored methods, and their appreciation for quality and craftsmanship. Sign Painters, the first anecdotal history of the craft, features the stories of more than two dozen sign painters working in cities throughout the United States. The documentary and book profiles sign painters young and old, from the new vanguard working solo to collaborative shops such as San Francisco’s New Bohemia Signs and New York’s Colossal Media’s Sky High Murals.

Ooooh, it looks amazing! The first screening was just a couple of weeks ago in Washington DC. It’s starting it’s tour of indie theatres right now, so if you want to see if your city is on the list, click here. And for a preview of the film, you can watch the trailer right here.