Saturday, August 20, 2011

AiR Jam

Thursday, I went to Hub-Bub's AiR art talk/open studio. Got there a little late so I missed the beginning of writer-in-residence Eric's talk, but the last bit of it was good, as were the other talks. I really wanted to spend some time in the gallery getting acquainted with their work first, but the open studio was a rare opportunity to see their workspaces so I followed the crowd up the stairs. Eric, the writer, was my first stop. He apologized for not having much to show because he wasn't a visual artist but he did have his MFA thesis lying out for perusal so I read a few poems while community members and ex-AiRs stopped in to chat. Someone brought him some basil seeds for his mini herb garden - apparently he'd made a few remarks about it in his talk before I got there. He also had a guitar, base, and ukelele out that he welcomed his visitors to play.
The Writer in his Natural Habitat

Mark was the AiR that I met Sunday at the drum circle. He toured as a musician before he got into art in a big way. He mentioned he was making a series of non-athletic games during his talk, so I was kind of excited to play. I saw the Pang-Pung table hanging on the wall when I first walked in, studied it briefly as an artwork, then moved on. Then when I asked Mark about the games, he said if I would help him get the Pang-Pung table, we could play. As we took the big heavy hourglass-shaped piece of wood off the wall, I noticed it was a fully functional playing table with a divider marked by nails and yarn. We set it up and the next thing I knew there were a bunch of kids playing Pang-Pung.

Girls' Team.

At play.
Camille's apartment was comparatively calm. She has a really awesome hammock. She designs rescue devices for a variety of situations. She also likes to draw her prayers, spending hours, as she put it, in her hammock making tiny neurotic drawings. I like her prayer drawings. Also chatted with a new-to-the-area artist, Lee, about theology and some ancient dude that was almost Gnostic but not quite.

Steve was busy with guests, so I decided to go back downstairs for some food and to finally take a closer look at their art. The AiRs made some of the snacks. They were quite delicious. Stuffed mushrooms with garlic and a brie-wasabi-pea-Siracha cracker. I got to spend some time particularly with Mark's work. His MFA thesis, I guess, culminated in a series of artworks and a book entitled FLF. I had been trying to piece together some of the narrative of his work from my brief glimpses and what I had seen in his studio, and he told me the whole story was in the book.  It centered around a protagonist named Kevinator and a rather frightful cloud of dogs in a post-apocalyptic scenario. The story was told with pictures and a phonetic dialect called Rungish. He also had an honor system store which I had been meaning to get something from. I spent some time shopping around and picked out a few things.

Two items from the Goatmother Industrial Voyage Corps Gifts Honor System Store.
This is an example of Rungish. See if you can decipher it.
I titled this poster the Sheep Cloud. 
I can't decide whether I want to put it  up in my room or relish the fact that it fits inside such a tiny box.

My favorite purchase by far was the face plant, a collaboration between Mark and Eric. It included a block print, an original poem, and the block the print came from. No two are alike.

Face plant box.
Face plant print. Sorry he's upside down.
Face plant poem.

Face plant block, poem, and socks.

I love my face plant so much, I gave him my favorite pair of socks. I'm sure if he had feet he would really appreciate them.

Steve's thing has been Adventure Art. It was really interesting in his talk, he described this thing called a pseudo-event, which is basically an event completely staged and only put on for the sake of its documentation. Like a ribbon-cutting ceremony. More and more of life is becoming staged so that it can be presented in some mediated form, like photos and facebook. So anyway in his art he has these adventures, where he does something mildly interesting, like float in a couch down a river, and presents them in such a way (writing press releases, etc) to turn them into as big a deal as can possibly be made out of them. So he ends up being King of the River and having scores of people and a news crew turn up to watch him. Then he presents it through various media including video, installation, photography and writing. I was really fascinated and kind of thought of this blog, the way I turn events that may be just ordinary life to some people, into adventures by calling them that, photographing them, and writing them down. He inspired me to do even more with it. When I came back upstairs and talked to him we had a nice little conversation about it.

I flitted back and forth between the apartments, chatting more with the artists. Camille offered me a beer. That gesture of hospitality suggested that my presence was not entirely off-putting, so I was encouraged to stick around. An ex-AiR conducted a group personality assessment with some sheets of paper and chalk. Another ex-AiR, Patrick Whitfill, whom I've seen around a fair bit since he left the program and joined the local writing community, pulled out Eric's guitar and started playing it. I was offered more drinks and enjoyed the presence and conversation of interesting people.

I had wanted nothing more than to jam with Patrick and Eric and Mark since I had seen the collections of instruments in the two AiRs' rooms. Mark has a variety of guitars, a banjo, a harmonica, a funny little keyboard, and a drumset. My wish was granted. Steve pulled out his $1 flute he got at some gift shop and we all migrated to Mark's apartment where we rocked out for a good two hours.

Patrick on acoustic and Steve on flute.
Lee improvises at the mic.
Eric on bass.
I think this was Camille's sister.
Mark on drums.
Patrick bled all over Mark's guitar. It was epic.

Eventually everybody but Steve and me went out for a smoke break. We jammed on flute and harmonica and then talked about life, insomnia, music and art for a while and finally noticed they had been gone a really long time.  We set out to find them and discovered Eric and Mark packing up for the night, so we parted company. It was a great evening. I want to do it again soon.

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