Monday, July 28, 2014

Finders Keepers Vol. 2 | Beauty Marks

Lately, I've been seeing graffiti pop up around me. It is everywhere, but what really captures my attention are tiny stenciled pictures in one color. I think of them as beauty marks. Technically, I suppose they are a sign of lawlessness. But they display seems to augment and elevate the object they are put on rather than deface it.
And there is a sense of whimsy about them.
Are they done by the same person? I'd love to know.

I've challenged myself over the last 2 weeks to spot as many as I could.

I accepted the challenge; these are what I've noticed.

1.) Thing One and Thing Two

2.) The Trinity

3.) Rose is a Rose is a Rose

4.) Quoth the Raven

Interestingly, this was the only stencil used on every side of the trash bin. 

5.) Other-worldly

6.) He loves me...?

7.) Man of Thoughts 

By far, this is my favorite find, sandwiched between two unsightly buildings offering quick money for strings attached. 

Did you notice patterns?
  • Concrete.
  • Monochrome.
  • Stenciled.
  • Often "framed" by the object  where it has been added. 

  • Red stencil art East of Grand and Black is West. (I am not sure if there is a pattern yet. I'll keep you posted.)  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bright Spot(light) on Joyce Hankins of MoonShadow Press

Last month, I had the honor of sitting down and talking with St. Louis artist Joyce Hankins from MoonShadow Press. Every time we talk, Joyce draws me in with her creativity, intuition, thoughtfulness, and ability to describe her point of view.
Hear what she had to share about her craft and feast your eyes on her thoughtful (and gorgeous!) pieces below.
Photo credit: MoonShadow Press

1.) There are a lot of new things in your life right now, lots of endings and beginnings, what's going on? 
 The main ending is that I just graduated from college! I made it! I learned a lot at Wash.
U. and I have been antsy to get out in the world and put it all to use. So, as far as beginnings,
being a “non-student” artist is a big one. Out of that has come my shop, MoonShadow Press.
Another super exciting thing going on is that I am getting married in August!

2.) Your Etsy shop, Moonshadow Press is an exciting development. How are you liking Etsy? 
 Etsy has been great! I really wanted to start a business where I could make and sell
artwork and Etsy provides a fantastic platform to do so. It is affordable as a seller and has such a
large community around it that there is a lot of potential and opportunity to sell work. It is also
inspiring to see so many other wonderful shops and creatives flourishing.
Photo credit: MoonShadow Press

3.) What is your dream for your shop? 
 Adding little bits of light and hope to people’s lives is the driving force behind my work.
Currently I spend three days a week in studio making artwork, building an online presence, and
doing market research. The other two days I work a part time job as a fine art consultant at my
church. Right now my hope is that MoonShadow Press will become a full time gig. I’m not sure
where it will go or end up, but this is a good place to start!

4.) What art form do you lose yourself in? 
Recently I have spent a lot of time making art about accumulation. I really enjoy repetitive, tedious processes that let my mind wander. I think that is why I love printmaking so much. Things like carving woodblocks or using tiny rollers for monoprints is relaxing and re-energizing to me.
Photo credit: MoonShadow Press

5.) What advice would you give to artists who are just starting out? 
 Considering I am an artists just starting out, I’m not sure how qualified I am to answer. I
will say that for me, I constantly have to fight feelings of discouragement and fear that I won’t
succeed. I am determined to fight the negative thoughts I have though because I know I will
never get anywhere if I at least don’t try. Trying to stay focused on one day at a time is also
something I try to do.

6.) How would you describe your aesthetic? 
I would call my aesthetic Poetic Minimalism. Minimalism is a theory of art which pares
down and reduces imagery to find its most simple form, or essence. I often use geometric and
linear forms, as well as muted color schemes. I also enjoy integrating language and text as well.
Some of my new work for MoonShadow Press is more colorful, but I like keeping the imagery
simple, which relates to a type of visual poetry.

Photo credit: MoonShadow Press

7.) Showing your creations/ creative process to the world can be a vulnerable thing-how does that look for you?
 I have definitely had to grow into being vulnerable, because you are right, art making is
extremely personal. To be honest, I am still learning how to confidently and graciously put my
work out in the world. In school we were told to separate ourselves from our work so that we
didn't take criticism personally. However, I don’t think that works. In fact, I think it does a
disservice to the work. If I spend hours of energy and pour myself into a piece, there is no way I
can then look at it subjectively. All of the emotion that was used to make it alive would turn cold
and distant. Instead, it seems like the lesson to learn is how to control where you find your
identity. If I only find personal value in my art, then criticism of any kind is heart-wrenching.
However, if I remember that I am more than just an artist, then criticism and rejection are not as
threatening. It is really hard though and I constantly have to look to God to remind me of those
Photo credit: MoonShadow Press

8.) What do you do to revive your creative spirit?
 I love it when people ask me this because thinking about my inspiration makes me feel all
bubbly and excited inside! I learned a lot about how to revive my creativity while studying
abroad in Florence, Italy. My professors there told us all the time to “follow your muse” and “go
take a walk” when we didn't know what we wanted to do or were feeling stuck. Those walks and
allowing myself to do what I wanted without feeling stupid or guilty were important. I learned
that there is always something interesting to see when you look for it and that it is ok if your
ideas don’t always work out. Now, when I need inspiration I like to get out of studio and change
scenery. My favorite places to go are the Missouri Botanical Gardens and the St. Louis Art
Museum. I also keep my studio full of things I love. My favorite books are close by, my favorite
pictures and art are pinned up on a bulletin board, and the supplies I like to use the most are
within reach. This creates an encouraging working environment that allows me to easily recharge
or brainstorm.

Looking for more of Joyce? Let me help you.

Her shop is here on Etsy.

Also, Joyce is the featured artist at the upcoming RAW artists' show in August 21st. Tickets are on sale now.

**All images have been posted with written permission by Joyce Hankins of MoonShadow Press.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Compare and Contrast: July 15, 2013 vs. July 15, 2014 in St. Louis

Do you remember where you were a year ago today?

A few days ago, I was struck by the contrast of July 15th, 2013 with July 15th of 2014.

Last year, everything seemed to hit the fan at the same time.
I was sitting on the back patio at MediaCross and received a call from my landlord.
Earlier that day, I'd called to tell him there was mold in my apartment and could he relocate me into another unit while the problem was addressed.

This was a proactive step for me and very unlike my first dire thought: that the situation was unsolvable.
The call was not the rosy one my friends and family had encouraged me to hope for.

Explaining there was mold and that was why I was calling, he challenged with, "Where's the mold.  Where? Where is it?"  He cut me off, crescendo-ed, and then declared, "All the apartments have mold!"


Years before, I had asked, and he told me it was coal dust coming through the plaster. This year it spread more than it ever had. After it appeared in every room from floor to ceiling following the air ducts, I thought he was either wrong or lying.

This declaration told all: lying.

This was upsetting, indeed, but instead of losing composure, I proceeded to sit and listen to my landlord break up with me.  By that I mean, he used all the language of a typical breakup.

"I think we just want different things."

"I don't think I can provide the standard of living you want."

"We've had a lot of problems, none of them were your fault, but I am ready to have us part ways."

I did want different things.
I desired my car to not be towed by my inebriated neighbors...again.
I wanted my oven to work during all months of the year, including November and December.
I did not want my dishwasher and sink to require bailing with a bucket after a rain.
Lastly, I wanted mold to not be growing up every wall in the house impacting the air quality.

"This is the best for each of us."

But this impacted everything. First of all, it meant the death of a dream.
My whole childhood I dreamed to live in Tower Grove.  It's the only dream I remember articulating, beside saying that I wanted to marry with Elvis. (This was an ill-fated desire.)
I had to let go of living near the Botanical Gardens, the park and my daily walk to the library.

Also, I had to put my cat into a emergency care because of his panting and labored breathing.  (This behavior was what caused me to challenge the coal dust explanation in the first place.)

Then, I held a garage sale to purge belongings and was helped by very loving and attentive friends.
Finally and frantically, I moved furniture into friends' homes and moved myself into my parents'.

I continued interning at MediaCross and started preparing for a new school year.

I found a new apartment, moved everything in and then found...more mold.

By August, I had moved 3 times, and then needed to move all of my school materials, files, filing cabinet, etc to a new classroom before the first day of school. By August 15th, I had picked up and moved every object I own in the world at least once.

It was too much. I was buckling under the stress and strain. My life felt fragmented, working in the city and sleeping and commuting from Illinois.  I had a wonderful network of family and friends around me, but they were bewildered as to how to help. One friend confessed it felt like watching a multi-car pileup as it was happening.  You want to help, but how?
It felt just like that.

I won't go through the whole domino effect. Use your imagination and fast-forward one year. (Don't forget to add in being rear ended.) I recommend picturing a montage; it goes faster that way.

On the other side of that series of unfortunate events, I can breathe.

Also I can take pictures of my feet, which is a growing symbol for free time.

To my knowledge, I haven't taken for granted having a safe, warm, dry, apartment that would pass health inspections.
I cherish that I am healthy and that Captain is too.

I'm glad to know I have solid relationships and networks of people who want to pitch in even when they don't know where to begin, and there is the likelihood of an explosion or two.

I'm so glad to know that after bouts of stress, unknowns, and lack of direction, the mind can re-awaken:

to beauty,
Credit: Julie Johnson

to humor,
to laughter and playfulness, 
IMG_0014 2014untitled-2.JPG
Credit: Photomaton

and to serving others.

Credit: Gretchen Borzillo
I'm glad I have a second chance at MediaCross, one where I haven't shed tears over housing or anything else. I've just been cheerfully productive!

Mostly, I'm glad that I can wake up to my life everyday.  As unknown as some of the pieces are, as different as it is from what I anticipated it would be, I'm glad call it mine.

Credit: Natalie Waymack

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Finders Keepers Part 1

To help inject a little levity into my days I've been capturing photos around town.
It's as if I've created my own scavenger hunt for myself.

If you keep your eyes peeled there's humor everywhere.
Here's my top 3 of the week.

Best Yard Sale Sign.  Perhaps, ever:

For further Cage humor check out season 5 episode 2 of Community.  Short video, here

Best Sticker Placement:

Well done St. Louis professionals ironically playing kickball.  Well done. 

Most Confusing (or disturbing) Call to Action:

Are we saving landfills now?  Or are we officially calling the earth a landfill?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Fourth Flirt: last six month update

This interaction is actually semi-successful and the most recent of my co-ed experiences.
Let me start at the ending, because that was the high point.

The ending was, a man who I met at the library, carried my books for me all the way to my car. And he carried them all the way to my car, which was parked at the grocery store.
This counts as going above and beyond my girlhood dreams.

Both meeting a man at the library and getting my books carried by a man are each on my bucket list.  Or were each on my girlhood dream list when I was ages 11-19.  I gave up on these sometime after college when I realized men, if they are going to get a book, do so  online or in a bookstore.
If a man is at the library during the day it is possible that he doesn't have a job or possibly a home*, so around 2008 these dreams ended.

Those were the high points; now for the setup.

I was at the St. Louis Public library minding my own business, busily ordering book after book for my summer reading list and my personal betterment when an a normal looking guy walked in the front door and started typing on the computer that was adjacent to mine.

Twenty-five seconds revealed:
no wedding ring, 
graphic t-shirt, 
ability to have Saturday face stubble, 
25-28 years of age (too young),
reads books, with 
search engine and typing skills.

I took all this in at a glance and continued searching for David Foster Wallace books that I could possibly complete in a month or two and came up empty. Meanwhile, the guy was locating and printing out book titles from his computer instead of writing one long list with the freakishly mini golf pencils.

(Dear library, can you not afford a whole pencil?  Or do you get real pencils and saw them into thirds somewhere in the back? Let me buy you real pencils. I love you that much.)

After the time it took to jot down a huge number of book call numbers with my teeny tiny pencil, I decided to lean over into the 3 foot bubble between computers.

Yeah.  I leaned, and spoke.  Ordinarily, you know, I would be proud of this, but this is where the pride stops, because in 5 more seconds I did something I regret.

I did something that is more effective than the Bend and Snap .

I leaned over and said,

"Oh! How do you do that? Can you show me?" 

Readers, he was printing tiny pieces of paper.  I could figure out how to do this, certainly, but instead of trying I treated it as if it were special knowledge.  Note the italics; they imply flattery.

Now, I know asking a man for help works, and I know it's flirting, but really I expect better of me.
Granted, it's not appealing to be a know-it-all or aloof.  Nor is it sexy to know how to learn how to do most things without ever requesting assistance.  But to make myself appear less capable than I am?
That's slippery slope.

He showed me how to click on the button that looks just like a printer and...
It printed paper.

To help myself feel better, I asked what books he was looking up.

Cookbooks about Paleo.

I then choke/ laugh/ snorted and tried to tell a Paleo joke that I just remembered.

Explaining cartoon drawings you heard someone tell you about, which was based on something they saw on Pinterest, doesn't translate well.  I tried a few times but every time, I did a poor job.
I clarified I was not laughing at him, just laughing about how Paleo is the new way to upset your friends who invite you to dinner and I got out of there.

To sum up, I had:
1.) lowered myself to ask for "help," as well as (unfortunately),
2.) been insulting to him by snorting at his book inquiries, and
3.) botched a pretty good Pinterest cartoon
all in 4 minutes.

I felt it was all for nothing.

But I guess the man just liked being snorted at because there he was again all dimples, in the cookbook section, which was near my book section, concerned about my upper body strength versus the number of books book I had raked from the shelves.

The conversation that followed is how I came to be my real-self, the girl who is quasi-knowledgeable and does not ask for help without fighting stubbornness.

It is also how, after getting to my car, I let him pile all of the books in the front seat, thanked him, and then forgot to offer him a ride back to the library. (He had walked about 2.5 blocks.)
The moment I realized all of this, was while passing him on the street.  I slowed down to be parallel with him as he walked and apologized, then abashedly drove off.

I waved a wave that I hope expressed more than it ever could: gratitude, sheepishness, and whimsy.
It certainly didn't manage a flair of flirtatiousness.

That's right everyone. These have been the true accounts of my flirtatious attempts of the past 6 months.

(*Let it also be of said that around 2008 a lot of other people's dreams ended as well, due to the recession. I am not at all making a joke about the men I saw frequently at the library during that time.  They were being resourceful and frugal and that is commendable.)