Here are the final three drawings from MCAD.
Here are this weeks drawings around campus. Today I thought I would try to cover more ground, get to some areas less traveled.
Here are a few more drawings spread around the campus.
I finally had a chance to post the first four drawings around campus. It was a strange morning over at the MCAD campus because there was a campus wide power outage. It was kind of funny to see students walking out of computer labs unable to do class work. The only people working seemed to be a few group critiques and a drawing class that was spread out around campus drawing the architecture. Here are the four drawings in their temporary homes.
On Friday I had my first drawing session with the MCAD community. It started with Jeff which was a perfect way to start. Jeff and I had graduated MCAD at the same time and had hung out in similar circles during that time. We had not talked in quite a long time and this was a great way to reconnect. After Jeff I met Sarah who coordinates some really interesting off campus projects that connects students to rural communities. Brent followed whom is in the accounting/bookkeeping department at MCAD. he has been an employee for over a year and loves the job and the MCAD community. We talked about his stint in the Navy, Florida, and raising kids. My last drawing and meet up was with Kylie, whom was a freshman student. She was very happy to be at MCAD, learning new things, and being challenged by her teachers and classmates.
One addition I have added to the One Another project is to do a weekly engagement activity with the MCAD community. This was born out of a strong feeling that I needed to somehow connect the work to the institution. In some ways, it feels very out of place there for a variety of reasons. Normally when confronting a conceptual or philosophical difference my impulse is to lock horns and become more deeply entrenched in one static position. But this time I was pushed to shift my perspective through a very good sit down discussion with artist Marcus Young. Marcus challenged me to consider the parameters of the gallery, or institution as a place for further exploration, iteration. I had initially poo pooed the idea but the more I absorbed our conversation the more it made sense.
Therefore I have decided to engage the MCAD community, in the broadest sense, by offering a weekly drawing session. I see an opportunity to use the trailer tool to reach out of the gallery parameter into MCAD, to connect the institutions community in the broadest of contexts to one another in a potentially new or different way.
I am engaging in a weekly drawing session in the gallery where I have invited people to sign up for a time to have their portrait drawn. One surprise was that once Kerry Morgan shared the online scheduling assistant to the students, staff, and faculty it filled in less than 40 minutes. Thankfully there is a great range of people signed up. The drawings will then be displayed throughout the MCAD campus in various public spaces.
The reception is finally here and I admit, I am excited. It marks a point of the projects developmental arc that seems to feel whole, at least to me. Although the fellowship is complete this project will continue on for several years to come, and this is just an early stage of its potentially full and long life of meeting people out in the community.
One Another, much like the Poho Posit project from 2012, is a evolving open-ended process. Both of these projects have immense potential to live on much longer, to have multiple iterations. I am both excited and nervous about this possibility. Mainly because it asks me to make a commitment to two very complex and involved projects, leaving very little room for new divergent projects or ideas. I’m interested to see how these things evolve over the next few years.
Its been a busy month and I have not had as many opportunities to get out with the trailer as of late. I’m hoping to carve out some time in the next few weeks to get some long full days in at some new parks. In the meantime I have been working up a design for Vol. 1 of a broadsheet poster which will be distributed at the parks I have visited to date.
I finally had a chance to take good photos of a lot of the drawings on a make-shift copy wall. I think they are much clearer and will be better digital files if people choose to download them from the website.
I had a chance to get out for a Friday afternoon session. I took a half day off from work and went straight to Powderhorn Park. I was able to connect with four individuals although one young man was a repeat, even though he tried to convince me he wasn’t. Shay tried to pull one over on me by saying it was his cousin that I drew last time out, but I knew better. I guess I was willing to draw him again because I was curious why he would want to sit with me a second time. I never got a chance to ask “what was it that brought him back?” The funny thing is the two drawings I made of him look nothing alike.
It was one of those hit-or-miss drawing days. Two of the drawings came out looking pretty good, and flowed freely as I was working. The other two were not great, and were a struggle to pull together. Its frustrating to have a inconsistent day like that.
The other thing about the day that kind of bothered me was that I ended up unintentionally donating a basketball to the park. Actually the accurate story is a kid borrowed my basketball, played with his friends, and never returned. I got lost in the drawing process and never paid any more attention to the kids. I guess that is a simple lesson for me to learn. I do have to tell my friend Rich that I lost my “guys night gift exchange” present from the 2012 holiday season.
I see this fellowship as an opportunity to freely invest in equipment, materials, time, and the tools that I believe will help my various creative endeavors. So, for the first time in over 10 years, I purchased new eye wear. Its not that I have extreme or even moderately poor vision, I can pass a vision test at the DMV… Its just my slight nearsightedness is more of a nuisance when I am trying to really “look” and meditate on something, particularly when I am drawing or painting from observation.
After my new glasses came in and I could see with 20/20 clarity, it dawned on me that its sort of ridiculous that I would go without proper eye wear for over a decade. My sight is and has always been a vital component of my creative practice, what the hell was I thinking all of these years?
Peavey Park – respite.
My last day of a week long vacation from work was also my last day of drawing in the parks for the week. I had a chance to draw on five consecutive days, but from this point forward I’ll most likely only have weekends to visit the parks and draw folks.
I was pressed against some pending bad weather, so I thought I would keep it close to home. I chose to go over to Peavey Park in Phillips Neighborhood on the corner of Park Avenue and Franklin. It is another park that has had a history of ups and downs over the past few decades and although my old route to work took me by there daily for 8 years, I had never actually played ball there or had spent any time in the park.
I arrived around 11:00 am to an empty park, surprised to find a Y shaped area that included three beautiful and remodeled half-courts. They were probably some of the nicest courts I’d seen in a while. There was even a maintenance crew that rolled through and changed outt the nets and did some weeding.
After I got set up a large group of kids came tom play a game with an adult. They played a really good team game and all of the boys were really skilled. There was a young kid, maybe 5 years old, whom could not play basketball so he was my first of the day. The group played for about an hour and then cleared out.
Soon after that a older guy on a bike wandered up and I drew him. He was a gentle, quiet Laotian man named Soy. He spoke softly of Laos and Thailand and his relatives in Brooklyn Park. Whenever I looked up from my page and looked at him he quickly averted eye contact. He ended up hanging around the rest of the day and watched me draw other people.
After Soy, I began to get a slow wave of middle aged men. It turned out that many of them knew each other and were part of a sobriety program across the park. They were referring each other to me to get a portrait drawn. Then, two teen girls came and wanted a portrait and they were also in a different treatment program and getting healthy. They spoke extensively about finding god and that god spoke to them and that was the divine inspiration to get clean and kick heroin.
I ended with a session with “Clyde” and he spoke openly about the history of his facial tattoos. He had more work on his face than I could capture. he spoke about being on “restriction” and that his casemanager was really a hard-ass, tough-love kind of guy. But in the end he admitted that that was exactly what he needed to stay on track and out of trouble.
It was really quite an extraordinary day given that almost all of the people gathered there were in some type of recovery program. It was also one of the more mellow and calm groups of people I’d drawn to date, particularly in contrast to how wild and boisterous the scene at Loring park was the day before. After looking over the drawings from this day I am starting to feel like my drawings are getting better and more consistent. I am finally shaking off the rust.
Today the weather was simply ideal. 75 degrees, low humidity, and very little wind. It was a perfect day to take the project a little further out, so I headed down to Loring Park. But not before having to change a flat on the trailer. Thankfully I was at the Pillsbury House meeting with Jay Gabler and Matt from Full Cycle gave me some tools for switching out a tube.
I chose to check out Loring for a few different reasons. First off, every time i’d been through that park there is always a pretty good and intense (usually full court) game of basketball going on. Its one of the more intimidating courts in town. I figured there would be some people there to draw. I also wanted to check it out because I thought there might be more adults to draw. I’d been drawing a lot of kids lately, which is fine, but I wanted to change things up. And it was a great change of pace from some of the other parks.
I arrived at around 11:00 am and it was dead silent, and I would not get my first drawing started until 1:00 pm. There were groups of preschoolers playing in the playground but other than that, there was not a single person on the courts. I setup the station under a nice shady tree near a row of benches. The courts were kind of masked off from the main path because a large branch hand fallen down and was creating a canopied wall. After an hour, I worried nobody was going to show but then some guys came around. They were not there to ball but were killing time in the park. One guy used my pump and tools and messed around with his bike wheel for a good hour while another guy causally shot some hoops with me. Neither were interested in having a portrait drawn, so we just shot hoops and talked NBA finals predictions.
Eventually a pack of guys rolled in. They were going to camp out and share a bottle by the court. It just so happened that one of the guys named “Black” recognized me from my old days at KKC/Youth Link. We exchanged pleasantries and shot around. The next thing I knew, more an more guys started to show up and soon there were 10-12 people at the courts. Some came to meet up with friends, some were looking to get high, others were just chillin in the park. Now, finally I had some people interested in having a portrait drawn.
First up was Taj Da Don, followed by Black. They were friends and once the crowd saw them sit for a drawing people started taking numbers. I think it always takes someone to break the ice for the rest of the crowd, and in particular at that park. A handful of the guys and gals there recognized me from my days in youth work. Without that recognition, I probably would not have been very welcome, or I would have been marked as five-o. But since I was cleared as being “cool” the normal park activities commenced, There was a CRAZY good game of full court, with dudes running and gunning. There was some drinking, smoking, and a lot of smack talking. The police rolled through, several times, and then eventually camped out near the bathrooms.
I finished the day drawing an old acquaintance Ebonii (with two i’s) Most of they guys were asking me when I’d be back so they could get drawn, and they reminded me not to start early but to come later in the day because that is when the game and the park heats up. By 4pm there was easily 40 people at the court. I will definitely be making a trip back to Loring.
As I was rolling out things on the court were getting pretty heated, and some dude was loosing his mind over the way the game was going. He was pissed about something and as a grand F—-You, threw the ball off the court as far as he could. Some guy ran and retrieved it and as I rode by him he shrugged his shoulders and gave me a look like “oh well.” Other than that it was mostly pretty chill and a great day in the park.
lots of rain. No one to draw.
Today I rolled over to Currie Park nestled in the shadow of the mighty Cedar Riverside towers. I thought that I would give the trailer a good test because I had not been on a longish ride with it. It proved to be a good workout and i had some minor trouble with the trailers tow bar. I need to tighten it up because it starts to slip as I ride and encounter the many bumps and potholes that are the norm in Minneapolis. The bike path was also closed for a long stretch so I had to detour on Minnehaha, which is in really rough shape these days.
When I arrived at Currie it was fairly quiet. I ate my packed lunch and played a little pickup game of 21 with some kids and then set up to draw. I mostly had kids to draw today. I tried to get some of the parents and elders to sit for me but they really wanted the kids to get drawn. All in all everyone was really gracious and talkative.
My friend Rich Lee rolled through after work at the UMN where he is a professor in the Psychology department. He brought me a chicago style dog from the wienery, and he shared is fries as well. We jumped in a game of 21 to end the day and it became a crazy mess of kids. Lots of dribbling through legs, double dribbles, and airballs. It was sweet.
Yesterday I set up the One Another project alongside Wish Well, another project that I am building for the Pillsbury House and Theatre’s Arts on Chicago initiative. I was able to do another 6 portraits of people from the neighborhood, mostly families that have youth enrolled in the PH+T youth program. Artist Peter Haakon Thompson was also on location leading a free sign making workshop with his Mobile Sign Shop. Its great to have a small dedicated outdoor area where we can engage neighbors in arts based activities.
I made a test run today down to Powderhorn Park. I chose to keep it fairly close to home because I did not want to have a major mishap and be too far from home. It was a beautiful day to be out as it reached 70 degrees for the first time this year, and people were out. I set up on the north end of the court at Powderhorn in a large empty area which looks like it could fit another full court. I’ve never understood why this is kept open and not set up with another set of hoops, or at least a half court area.
The court was pretty quiet. There were two guys playing a pretty intense game of one on one. They were jawing at each other and getting pretty heated. It was the usual stuff about whom has the best game, cheap fouls, and having been around this part for X numbers of years and being a self proclaimed legend. Then another guy showed up with his son and they seemed to relax a bit on the trash talking. Then a man came with two elementary aged kids. They were shooting around on the other end of the court with a soccer ball, and a fairly flat one at that. I went over and offered them my basketball to play with, and returned to finish setting up the drawing station. One I was set up I went back and asked the kids if they wanted to sit down and draw with me and made sure to check it with dad. He was apprehensive at first because being approached by me he thought I was looking to sell them something, which it turned out a few other people asked me “how much does it cost” while they were looking on. As with everyone at the park I told them it was free and only cost them some time and conversation. I showed them some drawings I had made previously so they had an idea of what I was hoping to do, and that seemed to interest the two boys immediately.
My inaugural drawing was of “B”, whom must have been 8 or 9 years old. We sat for a good 30 minutes while hid dad played ball with his friend on the court adjacent to us. We talked about the neighborhood, drawing, comic books, his history class and special projects, what the Chinese ink was and how it worked, and how he loves to stay home from school with his mom and play Wii. “B” was the perfect first person for the project as he was excited and provided great conversation. After I finished “B” I drew another 4 people over the course of 2 1/2 hours. I could have drawn another 5 people if I had time because people were kind of taking numbers. But unfortunately I had to cut it off at around 3:30 and leave a few people hanging. I assured them that I’d be back at Powderhorn many more times this year and over the summer.
Not surprisingly, I was RUSTY. I had not drawn with ink since my last major project (pohoposit) over a year ago. I think that because that project was so drawing intensive, I just could not get myself to go back to that medium for a while. So, the drawings did not come easy today, and they were all very different. The first few were rigid, tight, and more layered. The last three were more simplified, graphic, and quicker (that could have been a result of the heat and feeling a bit worn out). I ended with a short 15 minute sketch of “Nayia” because even though I really needed to pack up and leave, she was kind enough to play some basketball with me and shoot around for a little while so I figured we had a good even exchange.
I’m curious to see if and how the drawings change over time. Even though today was like a trial run, I’d be pretty happy if every day on this project, and every person I meet along the way, are as interesting and nice as today.
I was able to get over to the shop/studio and finish some of the small, random details on the trailer. I had to figure out a kickstand system for the front end, attach the hitch adapter to the LHT, and mess around with some of the electrical components. I decided to give it a test ride since the sun was out and I could get it home on a clear and dry day. All in all it rode smoothly on my short, three block ride. I do have concerns about how it will ride once its loaded down with a deep cycle battery and all of the other gear that will need to go in it.
I worked on side panel signage over the week. I came up with this simple design to carry through the project
I’ve been doing some of my work back to the home studio. Recently I shifted to work on reclaiming some old three legged stools that will tuck into the main cavity of the trailer. I had to laminate some new wooden seats and I figured I should make some cushions for the stools if I was going to be out drawing people for hours at a time. Here are the new cushions in progress:
My portable PA system arrived today and it got me pretty excited for the “rolling revelry V2.0″. It also reminded me of this random found morsel of internet inspiration…
Okay, now that you have that awesome video embedded in your memory, I have more important updates. I had my first “studio” visit with Jay Gabler today. He will be compiling the essays for our exhibition catalog. I was impressed with his patience and willingness to meet during peek program hours at the Pillsbury House + Theatre. Our immediate surroundings were Mr. Masa assembling 30 pairs of stilts for his Chicago Avenue Stilting Club, an after school program art class led by Pramila Vasudevan in the next room, and a steady stream of 6-12 year old kids moving through their space. That’s just to be expected when you are working in a multi-use neighborhood center. But it was also an interesting context for our meeting having two highly acclaimed artists just going about their daily business at PH+T. Hopefully he was able to glean something useful from our talk.
His line of questioning did remind me that I need to move through this build phase soon, and that I need to begin to articulate some of the other aspects of the project. For example, the ritual side of the community engagement process and what I want people to experience during our interaction. Is it a scripted process or free flowing? What will be the take away(s), for someone whom chooses to sit with me and exchange creative expression, for for me as a participant? I’m hoping to have some time to talk through these issues with Pramila and Marcus Young. I feel like both of these artists pay such amazing attention to ritual in their public work. Maybe it stems from the fact that they are both incredible performing artists (which I am NOT by any means). So yeah, lots of work to do in the next several months.
FAIL! Trying to bend and make some low tech laminations did not go over as well as I thought it might. I was able to employ some creative use of the “rubber tie” which would have made my friend Andy Kim proud! Oh well, back to the drawing board.
Here is Angie, a Full Cycle intern. She did a lot of the build up of my new bike. She did a very thorough job and was coached by Crystal and the other mechanics at the shop. It feels good to buy a quality local product, from a local shop that is in my neighborhood, and that most importantly supports young people whom are working through difficult circumstances.
ABOUT: Full Cycle is a nonprofit bicycle shop in south Minneapolis. We employ and train homeless youth, teaching them bike repair and business skills. We sell used bikes and parts and provide affordable, reliable professional repair services. Every bike we sell supports a better future and a life off the street for kids who have nowhere else to turn.
Visit their website and give them some business. http://fullcyclebikeshop.org/
My prototype is taking shape and I’m getting close to moving to a real wood shop. I’m hoping my old friend Paul at Elpis Enterprises can let me access his shop for a reasonable fee. They are one of my favorite youth employment and youth development programs in town. They run a full color screen printing program and offer some of the best prices in the Twin Cities.
I have kept and maintained a 1988 Specialized Rock Hopper that was a gift from my parents when I graduated high school. It been stripped down to a 2 speed kick-back hub but is still a regular commuter bike/grocery getter, and after 25 years its held up pretty well.
But alas it is not going to serve this project well so I am going for an upgrade. I am also excited to have ordered a new bike to actually pull this rig. I was looking for a rugged and comfortable bike that could haul and handle a lot of weight. I decided to go with a Surly Disc Trucker for the job. I figured if I can squeeze 25 years out of the Rock Hopper, then the Surly will surely last the remainder of my time on earth.
Prototyping some works in progress with old scrap. I need to get the general shapes and functionality figured out. These rough shapes are helping me work through the design issues. I spent some time doing some drawing with ink and brushes with my daughter yesterday and wow am I rusty. I need to get back to doing some observational work to get back some of my facility.
Why this project?
I want to provide a welcoming and safe place to exchange pleasantries and meet new people in my community. The One Another project was designed to hold space for establishing connections through the intimate experience of sitting for a portrait. The process creates a unique moment or opportunity for connection between two individuals (myself and another).
It seems like a fairly simple process, yet it invites people into a situation that is out of the ordinary, unexpected. How often do we sit down for 30 minutes and talk, share with another individual whom you have never met before? Through One Another, people volunteer themselves to be drawn. They sit directly across from me at a small mobile drawing desk and I draw them using Chinese ink and brushes. This process usually takes about 20-30 minutes. By choosing to be drawn they enter into an informal, yet fairly intimate, contract. In this day and age, the activity (or rather intentional inactivity) is out of the ordinary. The nature of sitting for a portrait requires people to embrace stillness and pause because of the material nature of ink. It’s a slow media. And during that time, we have a conversation if the individual is willing and interested.
Currently the mobile unit is fitted with a printer so each person leaves with a digital printout of the portrait. I also distribute a small card with a link to revisit and download the image from the internet. The most rewarding take away for me is having an interaction with someone whom moments earlier was a stranger. And my hope is they leave wanting to display their portrait and feeling they now know someone new in their community because they took the risk of entering into this unexpected exchange.
I am deeply honored to have been selected as one of the 2012/13 Jerome Foundation Fellowships for Emerging Artists. These generous opportunities are a true gift for a working artist as it will afford me dedicated time and resources to pursue the development of new work. I am also very excited to engage in thoughtful discourse with my peer fellows Susannah Bielak, Amanda Hankerson, Melissa Loop, and Lauren Roche as well as visiting critics and artists throughout the fellowship period. One of my goals over the next year will be to update blog posts on a semi-regular frequency as my work progresses.
The ideation phase is rolling along. I love the process of unpacking what initially seems like a simple concept. Peeling back the layers reveals all of the complexity and potential creative possibilities. This is often the point when I have the weighty realization that I’m missing something(s)… and its possibly something quite significant that I just can’t see at this moment.