Sunday, September 30, 2007

How to Birth a Chicken

The next question I get after the "how" is the "why" when my entry into Art of Can comes up in conversation. "Why a chicken?" I know whoever is asking is also curious as to 'why a bound and gagged chicken', but perhaps they are frightened to hear that reply so most start with "Why a chicken?" I was contacted about Art of Can quite late in the game. When I found out about the contest I only had four weeks from start to finish to meet the June 25th deadline. So I went with my first idea and didn't over analyze it mainly since I didn't have time.

I had just been to a farm with my kids. And if you don't have any of these borrow some. Seriously. Kids make you stop and look at things that we--as adults--have become desensitized to over the years. Like the chickens freely roaming the farm grounds. Chickens are hilarious. They were so busy pecking here and there in this fast forward constant motion. My two year old Nora especially got a kick out of those chickens. She giggled as she unsuccessfully tried to catch one. And since Red Bull was already on my mind I was wondering how much those chickens had had. Click.

After returning from the farm I knew that I wanted to do something with a chicken. How the rest of it materialized I can't fully explain--some of it is genetic. However, a month ago I had been rejected (it happens) from an art guild I was interested in joining. They called my work "special" (which I detest almost as much as "cute"), but not fitting "the fine art aspects that we require." This had been on my mind and then more generally how society wants to make us conform to fit into one group or another. The chicken became my vehicle to express that. He's been bound and gagged with a ransom note. Whoever kidnapped the bird wants that energy drink...they want the bird to settle down and be more like them or perhaps they want to try whatever he has that makes him so different. So here's my original, very hurried sketch. I named the chicken Reese (welsh name means enthusiastic) and I admit that after spending 80 hours of construction time together I started talking to him. Originally I had Reese on this platform, but that got nixed pretty early in the project.

After the idea, came the problem of getting enough cans. I didn't realize at the time how many I would need, but I did know that Red Bull cans were small to start with so I would probably need "a lot". My Red Bull contact provided me with major help, but I also posted fliers for empties at the local bars. If I would have known in the beginning that it would take 274 cans to complete Reece I'm not sure that I would have gone ahead with the project. My hands ached from cutting all of those cans apart. I had battle wounds and I started to dream about can cutting. Shards of metal were showing up all over our house. It was quite a month to say the least.

I had wired friends helping drink too. One morning I woke up to this (photo below). This is a photo I took from the second story of my house (through the window screen) of the Red Bull fairy. I had mentioned to friends that they didn't need to pull in the driveway with cans "just toss them in my front yard." Apparently they couldn't wait to do this. This was so funny I had to share.
So there you have the highlights of the "why" and more insight as to the "how". I'll post the finished project in the next day (or two).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The story behind...

This is old news, but since it is the story behind the Red Bull story I have to share it. I think if you click on it it will become bigger and hopefully readable. Apparently many people missed this article that ran in the Cincinnati Enquirer back in March. Not that it was small...we're talking half a page here...see I can't fit it on my scanner! I will say that it ran on a bad day. The first beautiful Saturday of spring. Birds were chirping, leaves were budding, garden stores were bustling and no one (besides me) was reading the Saturday paper.

I share this because this is where my first mention of Red Bull hit the press. Because I named my drugs that day (Sudafed and Red Bull) another opportunity came knocking on my door. Those Red Bull people are everywhere I tell you and one came calling because of this. I became involved with Red Bull's Art of Can and "Rooster for Ransom" was born. I'm still waiting for Sudafed to contact me. Perhaps they were out enjoying that first spring day too.

p.s. More on this tomorrow if I can get blogger to cooperate. We've been fighting all week which I really don't have time for.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Happy Fall

Today marks the official first day of fall--my favorite season of the year. I am hopeful that mother nature clues in soon and drops the temperature down about 20 degrees. The past few days have been in the high 80's which is so unfalllike. I want that crisp, invigorating air that fall brings. I'm ready for sweaters, sweatshirts and jeans. I can't bring myself to buy my favorite purplish-colored mums until the weather allows for more infrequent waterings. And pumpkins! Pumpkins shouldn't be hanging out in 80 degree sunshine should they? It has been such a dry, dry summer. Hopefully the leaves will still put on their color show, but I'm thinking that dry summer means less color? Did I read that somewhere? It's a hazy thought...I'm coming off my sick bug so pardon me if I sound a little incomprehensible not to mention a bit whiney.

Atleast my plates know that it is officially fall. I designed and painted these plates years ago with the exception of "winter". My husband and I made it a pottery painting (wine included) date night. As for that winter plate, I wrote the word "winter" to keep the writing consistent, but my husband did the cute snowman and snowflake border with just the smallest amount of art direction (I couldn't help myself and besides he asked). When it came time to figure out a way to display the plates I searched for a wrought iron 4-plate displayer and could only find a 3-plate displayer. I was too impatient to continue the search for long so I decided it would be fun to feature "the plate of the season" separately. Now we rotate with the season getting a special spot on the sidebar in our dining room. My woodworking Dad made the sidebar along with the majority of furniture in our home (look for future posts!) I found the Mexican horse marionette in a New Jersey antique shop last year. I thought this was a fun place for the horse to literally hang out.

Here's to crisp nights, campfires, scarecrows, the color orange, Halloween, pumpkins, gourds, leaf piles, hayrides, mums, apple picking and football games. Happy first day.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Still dragging

Happy birthday today to my dear husband. Unfortunately, your cake is going to be coming from a bakery this year. I just have to see if I can find one that delivers.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

cough, cough

ugh. I'm sick and cranky and feeling sorry for myself. And I'm mad at Airborne. Does this stuff work? Apparently not. Or maybe I didn't take it in time when I felt the bug coming on. Or maybe I didn't take enough or maybe I would be even sicker if I hadn't taken it. Which leads me to the question, how do you know if Airborne really works? I've taken it before and it seemed to help make me less sick, but perhaps that particular sick bug wouldn't have been too bad even without the pricey--cough--Airborne. I want to believe, I really do. I'm sure the school teacher that created it had my very best interests at heart and with the kids back in germ central a.k.a. school I need immunity (and just how cute is that packaging?!) Regardless, now I'm officially sick with a very nasty cold and cough.

As I look inside my medicine cabinet, I'm wondering what is going to help without putting me into a nonfunctional sleep coma. Not that that doesn't sound appealing at the moment, but I have a two-year-old I'm responsible for so sleep coma is not an option.

Alright I've medicated. Now I'm going to try to talk Nora into a morning of uninterrupted cartoons in bed. Thank goodness for television. Now there's an invention you can count on.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I see spots

Did you know immediately what this abstract was of when you pulled up this post? Nature's art is happening right here in my kitchen--brush marks that start off slow and then suddenly spread before your eyes. The process always makes me a bit nervous. It means "they" are now beyond eating. Something has to be done or this new modern art is going to be wasted. So I pulled myself out of bed a few minutes early, stumbled down to the kitchen and started work on the transformation.

If you haven't guessed by now I'm talking about bananas. Apparently no one in the family has been in the mood to eat them this past week. This means it's time to make banana bread. I use Betty Crocker's recipe, but I hold the nuts to please the kids. I also stray slightly from Betty Crocker's version by adding cinnamon to the batter and sprinkling some extra on top.

Here it is. Piping hot and fresh out of the oven. And now I hear little feet waking up. Obviously they're excited about breakfast because they know that cereal doesn't smell this good. Happy Monday. May all your spotted bananas end up in a better place.

(EXTRA) CREDIT: My Dad made that wooden two-tone cutting board. He is so talented.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Magazine Madness

It's that time of year again when the reality of having kids enrolled at a private Catholic school comes home in a big envelope. It's the annual magazine drive. A slick sales representative patiently explains the ins and outs of peddling magazines at an all school assembly. Then the magazine guy talks about the best part...those tantalizing prize incentives including such can't-live-withouts like a gas pump that dispenses beverages and a monkey alarm clock that you apparently have to throw against a wall to shut off (I kid you not). While I'm rolling my eyes at the majority of these kid gimmicks, I do appreciate that we're selling magazines rather than overpriced gift wrap. I can vividly recall my grade school sale days some 25 plus years ago. Let's face it, the magazine drive is exciting for a kid. We didn't have quite as many fancy prizes back then, but I do recall the little stuffed animals. You would be awarded one animal for every Catholic Digest subscription sold. The challenge was finding a faithful Catholic Digest subscriber. I remember the neighbor kids and I literally running to get to a little old lady named Marie first. She would always buy Catholic Digest and therefore was a big score. The poor lady must have chuckled to see four out-of-breath kids scrambling from the bus stop to her house on the first day of the sale. Reader's Digest was good for a candy bar per subscription and was a far easier magazine to sell, but the stuffed pets were more coveted. I guess we know which magazines ruled the sale way back then.
Several years ago my eldest child brought her magazine kit home. I'll have to say I was shocked to see the order forms. The 3 part forms--white copy publisher, yellow copy school and pink copy customer--were almost identical to what I used 25 years ago. A design that has remained consistent for 25 years?! How did magazine drive forms manage to avoid the improvement of time when since then we've seen computers, compact discs, cellular telephones, the internet and remote control? Was the magazine form designed so well from the very start that there was simply nothing that could be done better? My congrats to whoever first designed this genius form. Admittedly you can order mags online now, but my kids don't trust that they'll receive proper sales credit so we're still using paper. The real test will be if my grandchildren come calling with the old three-parted forms.

Speaking of magazines, here's my monthly stash. Unfortunately, I can't buy Cloth Paper Scissors or ReadyMade through the school sale. I really have to hold myself back to keep my subscriptions down to a readable number. To be quite honest, poor Cooking Light is not getting much of a look these days.
Sooooo.....anybody want to buy a magazine? : )

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


souvenir (soo"ve-nir') n. 1, a memento or keepsake. 2, a memory.

One of the pleasures of my St. Louis excursion had to be discovering a Blick Studio less than a block away from the art fair. To top it off, Blick was having a major sale on canvases and paint. This means that the majority of my "souvenirs" are incomplete. I am certain that every one of the ten canvases I brought home will be influenced by the weekend in ways that may not even be clear to me. This is not about copying anything I've seen. Souvenirs are also by definition memories that we take away from vacations and exposure to new places. Souvenirs are impressions that mark areas of your brain that you can't touch, but influence how you see in the future--a texture here, a taste from there and a color from somewhere else. Then it all has to process in the nooks and crannies of the individual. Days, weeks, maybe even years later something will come out from that experience that is unique and fresh. Right now I have so many ideas that my problem is settling on one to start on.

And I did manage to come away with the first definition of "souvenir". It's concrete and I own it, but it isn't mine. Debrorah Banyas captivated me with her 3-D mixed media pieces. This fun mermaid gal is at home in our kitchen hanging over our back door. Thanks Debrorah.

And now for all of those blank canvases. I certainly can't have my souvenirs collecting dust.

Monday, September 10, 2007

St. Louis Art Fair

This past weekend I traveled to St. Louis, Missouri with an old (well not that old!) college chum and colleague. Our main destination was the St. Louis Art Fair, a trip to step away from the everyday (mainly that computer screen) and recharge our senses. The St. Louis Art Fair is ranked as one of the best art fairs in the country. I can see why. Despite some rain and overcast skys we had the pleasure of taking in a plethora of color, pattern and texture. Kudos to all of the hardworking, amazingly creative artists that participated. Here's a few of my favorites...
(above) fiber art by Chris Robert-Antieau Manchester, MI

(above) painting by Stephen Baldauf Winter Springs, FL

(above) 2D Mixed Media by Dolan Geiman Chicago, IL

Speaking of color, pattern and texture we had to take a break for gelato from a little shop along the way...
More art...who can get enough!(above) 2D Mixed Media by Mary Beth Shaw Wildwood, MO

(above) 3D Mixed Media by T.P. Speer and Deborah Banyas Oberlin, OH

On the way back to Ohio, a roadside sign lead us to a quaint antique store (above) nestled in a small Indiana town. While we browsed, records--that's way before CDs kids!--played on a restored phonograph bringing us back in time. My purchases included a reader from the 1800s, a 1926 crossword puzzle book, sheet music and an art catalog from the 1960s.

My mind is refreshed with inspiration from the weekend adventure. I can hardly wait to start creating new art of my own, but first I need to attend to laundry, clients and most importantly my family (I think I was missed!)