Thursday, April 25, 2013

April, Come She Will...

Traveling once more, from the great city in the east,
westward into the Madison mist.

I'm staying with Aaron who has more board games
than anyone in the world.

This one is for all you art lovers out there - can you recognize yourself in
these art world heavies?  I know which one I am!

I make myself scarce for one evening while "Beer and Board Games" is filmed. The "mother" vibe would interfere with the creative alchemy of 
drinking, swearing and acting like total maniacs.
The game tonight is Pictionary.
You can see it HERE!

(internet photo)

It stars Matt and Shiela,
Sean and Aaron

(internet photo)

Courtney, Aaron and I travel to Milwaukee to visit the Campbell family foursome.
On the way we segue into a bleak no-person's land of motels, gas stations and fast food 
from which an eerie hill rises out of a pancake-flat landscape.
We're like, WTF?
It looks like a huge pile of gravel put there by...hmmm, Paul Bunyan?
Yet it also seems to feature ski runs!

In their cozy Milwaukee home 
(that has exactly the same floor plan as my childhood home in Duluth) 
Arya, Alicia, Derek and Kellen 
entertain us with fabulous food and fun.

Arya in an Easter bonnet,
Kellen on the move.

Derek's house always makes me think about my old home,
which is still standing in Duluth on Wyoming Street.

(internet photo)

Only in my time it was painted a lovely peach color with a bright blue door
instead of boring white - my mother has always had an eye for color.

There, that's better, with the addition of the mountain ash tree in the front yard.

Here's my world as a kid, from left to right:
the woods where the boys had a shack (lots of fun had there!);
my house with the double red ring; my trek to school; my grandparent's
 three story house where my Grandma hid Christmas presents in the attic
(which I always found), and where the boy I had a mad crush on in
 fourth grade lived just three houses down, making visits to Grandma's house
fraught with intrigue, via hopscotch games on the sidewalk and other wily plots.

(google map photo)

Note that my journey to school ends in the current parking lot.
That's because the door to the school used to be there,
back when the world still had meaning,
when the area where the school stands now was a skating rink/playground,
one of my favorite places ever,
where girls and boys developed complex, baroque
 relationships on the summer swings and teeter-totters and winter ice-rinks.

Here's the nuclear family behind Grandma's house:

Here's what Lester Park Elementary looked like when my parents went there.

(internet photo)

They'd built a modern addition on to it by the time I got there,
but now I see that the entire old school has been torn down!

(internet photo)

My sixth grade classroom was on the upper right where my teacher
 was a bit of what my father in his old-style sexist way 
would have called a "battle-ax."
I think now she was a pretty good teacher.
Ah, my childhood, destroyed!

And here's what they have now.  Sigh.

(internet photo)

Ah, well, back to Madison, where I help Andrew and Jennifer
sort their stuff and move into a new business space for Amelia John Photography, 
from 1968 Atwood to 1960 Atwood.

Andrew and Jennifer are also looking for a house, so it's a hectic time.
 Yet we persevere, and conquer!  
Sort of.

I help them by making a sign that would be the envy of any savvy graphic designer.

Strange creatures, some with purple boots, haunt the Wisconsin world as I 
begin to gather together ideas about my next video project
which will feature cave painting for the new millennia, and summer solstice symbolism.

On a vision quest for same, Aaron, Courtney and I travel to Fountain Prairie Farms 
where we find a fabulous trove of animal skulls and horns...

...and also a pelt from their herd of Highland cattle.
Dorothy and John Priske run a beautiful, sustainable farm and inn,

...Fountain Prairie Inn and Farms...

...raising grass-fed cattle and restoring vast acres of
Wisconsin prairie and wetlands.  It's where Andrew and Jennifer were married.

Here's a quote from their website:
"Fountain Prairie Farm isn't just a cattle operation. A large portion of our farm is actually restored tallgrass prairie and wetlands, which provides a haven for all sorts of birds and other wildlife that had been driven away by industrial agriculture. We have brought back dozens of species of native grasses and other plants, and recreated the original wetlands that once supported the flocks of migrant waterfowl that are now returning. It's a beautiful landscape, one that had been all around here not all that long ago."
In 2011 they received the Leopold Restoration award, 
specifically the John Nolen Award for Excellence in Ecological Restoration Practices.

Courtney helps us film, and takes this picture of Aaron as thoughtful beast.

Courtney is amazed at the transformation of her fiancé into some kind of wild thing!
He makes her heart sing.
He makes everything groovy.

They begin to morph into otherworldly creatures when they get inside my computer...

Here are a few more strange sights seen in Madison:

Barbies looking for a better life, and
 a country rat on his way to rodent heaven.  (Which is creepier, I ask you?)

An abandoned truck license plate, and
an example of the marvelous Madison earth-awareness:  collecting maple syrup
on Willy Street, a busy thoroughfare.

Yet all good things must come to an end, and here I am again over the great city in the east...

...and subsequently checking out the sunrise at
Kingsborough Community College at 7AM on a Monday morning,
where I go to prepare for my 8AM art history lecture.

I'm able to catch the sunrise a couple of mornings per semester, right around the 
change to daylight savings time when morning comes later.

Back in NYC and environs, art is happening, as ever.
I see the amazing work of my friend Michael Zansky
at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City,
in a room populated by mysterious creatures and forms that
charge the air and create a place of power...

Coming home, I see the "Freedom Tower" still rising in Lower Manhattan...

More tall buildings as I come home from another art event...

This one at CREON Gallery on East 24th Street,
showing the work of Mary Hrbacek,
where beautifully voluptuous trees rule the day...

Mary makes sure we will never look at trees the same way again...

Next I travel to Queen's College Art Center
where the Painted People are in excellent company.
The theme of the exhibition is "Namaste" in honor of their "Year of India"
which means:
Respectful of others, respectful of each other, Friendly Gestures [NAMASTE] offers new perspectives on global respect through art, language, music, and performance.

(Mushroom House 9, digital collage)

Here is Suzanne Benton doing a performance
with one of her magical metal masks, telling the story of Sita
who married Rama but was stolen away by Ravana who imprisoned her until he was killed by Rama
in a great battle, after which she had to walk through fire to prove her purity to her husband, 
who believed her for a while until he became suspicious again and 
abandoned her while pregnant with twin sons
who eventually grew up and united with their father 
whereupon she returned to the eternal embrace of her mother, the earth.
Typical woman's life.

I keep hearing the strains of Led Zeppelin singing "Ramble On"
 where the evil one creeps away with his girl so fair,
lyrics referring cryptically to The Lord of the Rings tales,
which is interesting because the spectator below 
looks a great deal like Saruman...

...hmmm, strange magic afoot here...

(internet photo)

I also run into an old friend, a work on paper by Margery Edwards, the Australian
artist whom I never met, yet I got to know her through the artwork she left
behind after her unfortunate fatal heart attack in 1989.
I curated a show for her work in this space in April, 2007
which you can read about HERE...

More cool news for me on the art front is
that the People and I will have several pieces and a video in Gallery 128's exhibition "Open Spaces"
curated by Kaitlin Martin,
opening May 15th, 128 Rivington Street!

"Sky People:  Flame"

And  last but not at all least, one of my videos,
"Night in the City 2" will be featured in the upcoming movie, "X/Y"
directed by Ryan Piers Williams, starring America Ferrara, about how
a circle of friends in New York City is affected by one couple's relationship problems. 
Williams also won several awards for his 2010 movie, The Dry Land, including best international film at the 2010 Edinburgh Film Festival.

Oh, and not to forget that a chapter from the memoir I'm writing, called
"The San Francisco Lipstick Blues"
about a day in my life back in the day,
was a finalist in the Columbia Journal of Literature and Art's
non-fiction contest!

So as April moves into May, the weather may be dreary but the sun shines nevertheless!
Knock on wood.

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