21 January 2015

in the studio with nike schroeder

nike shroeder is a bad ass. you can see from the photo above that we have similar sensibilities. she also shows with walter maciel gallery and through him we have become friends. 

when i was in LA putting up my show i was lucky enough to visit her studio in downtown LA. there was a lot of swooning and shop talking about threads [how cotton threads lie differently than silk. ah. i might be able to count on 1 hand the people with which i could have this conversation]. 

in the spirit of past in the studio posts i asked nike a few questions. 

thread? love. arranged by color? love even more. 

quick – without thinking what is your favorite color RIGHT NOW?

My favorite color is always a variation of white (I know that it is not really a color but the fact that it is actually all colors is what I love the most)

the detritus is so amazing. 
what is your favorite comfort food?


you were recently included in a book called stitch draw - can you give us any insight to the piece you contributed ?

I did not really know what that book was going to be but I was familiar with Rosie James’ work and really liked it. I trusted her and gave her a bunch of images from which she chose from. She decided on a couple of figurative works out of my fundamental reports series which I showed at Walter Maciel Gallery. She really did all the work….

what book/tv show/song/blog/insert whatever it is here/ is just making you SO happy RIGHT NOW?

www.ignant.de is a Berlin based blog, that I have been reading since they first started. They have grown so much over the years and I find their selection inspiring and well- filtered.

a self portrait ;)

do you have an art/studio routine that makes everything go smoother? Would you share it with us?

don’t have a routine at all! I just go, see what I find and then go with it. 
I guess that makes things easier, just going with it and not trying to force anything planned. I learned that a lot over the years - the best thing that can happen to you are mistakes and embracing them. Otherwise shit’s gonna stay bumpy.

thanks nike. can't wait until you next show and until i see you again.... xo
you can find nike on instagram too. 

12 January 2015


the little turns SIX today.
how is that possible? one step closer to BIG kid.

yes. i am THAT parent. the one who can transport back to that moment when i first saw her. tiny. premature. with a pink and blue hat on. bundled in a bunny blanket [you still have an affinity for them. the ones we brought home from the hospital]. the nurse shielded her eyes and she opened them. for one second. not really to look at me, but i took her in. and then they whisked her away.

the first time i held her her head fit in my palm and her feet didn't reach the crook of my elbow. and now...

they [who are "they"] say that having a child both speeds up and slows down time. the days are long the years are quick [that's it right?]. how is it that "they" are so often so right? the rebel in me wants to declare otherwise, but i'd be lying. that's exactly how it feels.

i'd be lying if getting goodies and treats ready for a CLASSROOM [26 students!] is a breeze.

but i'd also be lying if i didn't admit that part of me really likes it.
it's an excuse to wrap, to plan, to bake. she helped put the bags together - it's a chance to talk about sharing, community, the spirit of celebration.

but in the end. it's all for that big huge smile that comes when one is 6 and a cake covered with sprinkles and a hello kitty candle is placed in front of one. yes it is.

01 January 2015

2015 here we go

this time of year generally is like an insane sandstorm. sometimes i feel like i have a homing beacon, something that sounds in the distance, alerting me is i'm off course or right on track. but much of the time i feel as though i'm just caught in storm. i can't see very far in front or behind me. i know big things are coming to a close, grades are due [someone will be disappointed]. i also know the sheer amount of tasking -  the grading, the buying, the wrapping, the mailing, the cooking, the talking [both small and big], the hugging, the unwrapping, the eating, the emotional instability and extra time spent with a semi-dramatic six year old will blindside me.

oh holidays. they stop for no one. there are candles and treats [first gingerbread houses] and trees. 

and dinners, generations gathered - even those no longer technically with us if we count who provided the china and the silverware.  

and somehow there still are moments of pure magic. when your child runs upstairs to emphatically tell you that REINDEER LEFT FOOTPRINTS IN FLOUR [because we have no snow] ON OUR FIREPLACE MAMA !

and in this mix was the slow decline of our beloved tonka. cancer - most likely brain [but who knows for sure. not worth finding out. that sureness would leave nothing changed, nothing fixed]. i've said it before... having pets is one of the most wonderful things in the world. even this part, the end. the part that makes my heart and soul ache and wish for magical powers... even this - standing toe to toe with grief - doesn't ruin it. what it does do, though, is offer up mortality [again] for a closer look. there is no one way, right way, possible way to guess... how one day is just all of a sudden different and worse. and that then you have to do what is right. what is hard. what no one wants to do. and you will stand, as a family, in a cold room and pet your little love until he goes into that place that i can't describe or know, but i'm hoping is a good and happy and warm place. one where we reconnect with other lost loves and no longer have a care in the world.

for reasons i can't even begin to get into 2014 was a year of extremes. some incredible, wonderful, never thought possible things happened [like a new kitchen, a residency in kansas, a museum purchase of my work], and some hard, challenging, and even a few down right miserable things - things i don't want to have to go through - or watch my family go through - EVER EVER again. yeah this happens every year, but for some reason this year they all seemed smushed together; more intense, more urgent, more indescribable, harder to process and harder to maneuver than ever before. it's not that any ONE event was worse, but somehow this is not a year i want to repeat in it's entirety. 

maybe in some ways as we get older we have much more patience and wisdom in some areas and much less tolerance and ability to put up with certain things. at least that's how i'm feeling. 

but oh. but oh it's 2015. it's a new year. a perfectly metaphorically wonderful way to turn that page. to start fresh, to try again, to dream again, to plan and scheme of the next things, to stretch, perhaps to rest a bit, but not too much because god damn i miss the studio. 

happy new year friends. 

18 December 2014

oh hello. let's talk sen [again]

hi. i guess i needed a break. putting up the show, plus teaching, plus life and something had to be neglected. this blog became the unwatered plant.

anyone still here?

my show at walter maciel gallery is up for a few more days. i'm actually going to go visit it this weekend with my family [the little wanted to see the show. yes. heart got all melty]. but i thought i'd finally post some images here for those of you that won't be able to make it there physically.

let's start with the drawings? i have still been working with/interested in SEN - or 1000 in japanese [other explorations of this idea/installation are here, here, here [with a contributor list], and here]

when i went to sanjusangendo in kyoto i was forever changed.  the sea of buddhas is like nothing i've ever experienced. in the last show i abstracted the "crown" that they wear into this shape. i wanted to do another piece with that shape. walter's space has a hallway. i wanted to recreate a small version of walking down the hall past all the buddhas. this buddha crown piece is in 3 parts - each one 45" or so wide.


it's how you enter [or exit depending on how you walk into the building] my show. 

i felt compelled to do another version of senbazaru or 1000 cranes. this one more like some of the garlands that people make and hang [sort of like this]

did you know there's a 1000 samurai march that happens once a year?  well there is, and samurai wear kabuto [warrior helmets]. so i abstracted those. and drew them really really tiny. this piece is about 14" x 14" 

then i decided to try and recreate the feel of a march in a drawing. this was one of the hardest pieces to make as i had a layout in my mind, but also had to get to 1000 heads. i wanted to create depth so the heads/helmets in front are larger, but as i kept going i realized i had to also give up negative space. in the end i think i was able to keep enough negative space for it to feel as though it's a sea of people moving down a street... but this one definitely made me sweat. 

i alternated between about 6 colors for the samurai - only the red guys got knots/thread. 

senju kannon is the buddha w/ 1000 arms - they usually hold weapons, but i thought i'd just draw buddha hands in mudras - this one is has teaching and reassurance. 

this one [the last piece i finished] has both 1000 hands -with the addition of the expelling demons mudra [aka the headbangers mudra] - and 1000 knots. double the luck. 

when i first conceived of the 1000 doily piece i originally wanted it to be in a circle. there was no way i could pull that off when i first exhibited it. i didn't even have them all in my possession when i was laying it out. so i went with a simple grid. while gridding it, i realized i wanted to try to do it in singular vertical rows of color - and i got to do that at the ulrich .

this time i was going to get it into that circle. so this was my template drawing to see approximately how many across it would be. could i even get it into a perfect circle. most likely not. so then what? how to "finish" the shape? what would the color order be? 

i decided to use a painting chart color order for my order. starting in white, ending in yellow. 

may i just say that this was the hardest instal i've done of these piece. and the other two were definitely not a picnic. 5 days. up and down a ladder. no way to make the circle except for tape and my eyeballs [and the eyeballs of my incredible helpers]. oh that row is off. move it. get it right. start pinning. up and down. up and down. and not a regular ladder [although there was one of those] - a ceiling hook ladder - not an A frame. you can see it in the video below.  

this view is from atop that crazy ladder. the last night, late, when i was pushing through to just finish.

hi. me at the opening. which was so fun. i love my extended LA family. it still feels familiar. a home away from home. i won't ever love the traffic, but a part of me will always be happy to be there. 

and here - here's the video of me and my incredible assistants putting up the piece. it's a crazy labor of love, and again i'm amazed that people are willing to help me. to risk sore fingers and crazy shoulder pain for this. for this.

happy december you guys. 

04 November 2014

two shows !

hello there. i am smack in the middle of another crazy install. today was day 3. sore fingers, hamstrings, brain... re-configuring the 1000 doilies [in a circle - oh yes... and oh no (no template)]... i once again have the help of some saints : beth bauler, wendy crabb,  finn aka lost boy, tony hoang,... with a guest appearance by marshall astor and friend.

i made some new drawings too. still chewing on that number 1000. the opening for this show is Saturday. this Saturday. the 8th. from 6-8pm. if you are in the los angeles area and willing to come to culver city. i'd love to see you.

Walter Maciel Gallery 
2642 s. la cienega blvd.
los angeles 90034

also opening this week is a show i co-curated called good mail day for artstream studios. there are 60+ artists - frankly some of my most favorite people on the planet - all working 4x6 in size. all the work will be available for viewing and purchase online starting November 7th. RIGHT HERE 

ok. and now i'm going to go stretch my legs before crawling into bed. more doilies await tomorrow. 

17 October 2014

some inspiration :: katherine sherwood // tara donovan

i am always harping on my students to go see artwork. monkey see monkey do, right?

last night i was at gallery paule anglim  to see katherine sherwood's show. she was a professor of mine when i was an undergrad and totally influential. after school i worked for her for - in her studio and office for quite some time. that was a life changing experience. we discovered we have the same vocabulary/vision for color. i would print litho prints for her and she could say 10 in tangerine and 15 in bright lime green and i knew exactly what she wanted. that's actually a rare thing. your tangerine might be quite different from my tangerine, you know?

anyway - she was a mentor in many many ways. she helped me procure my first teaching job. i'm honored to call her a friend now. and her new paintings are STUNNING. really. she painted on the backs of these art historical prints that were mounted to linen [think vermeer, durer, renoir]. you can see the names of these legendary icons on some of the canvases. she's painted these amazing renditions of iconographic women - manet's olympia, ingres... but she's given them brain scans for heads [referencing the stroke she had 20 years ago], and they all have a disability [notice the brace on the woman above]. they sit on these STRIKINGLY gorgeous patterns. they are powerful, cheeky, art historically prudent [if you are an art history geek like me, these get you very excited on multiple levels]... and they are living in the same space with works by joan brown. brown was in many ways a mentor to HER. it's a very strong and interesting pairing. if you are local - please go see the show.

over the summer pace gallery put a pop up space together in menlo park and featured an entire giant warehouse of her work. i dragged the little right before the show closed. 

good god. 

i had seen pieces individually before, but never some of them. and never all of them together. 15 years of work. a mini retrospective. she still is one of my heroes. i've listed the everyday material in the captions below... 


cut pencils

paper plates

straight pins and glass

acrylic rods

mylar tape