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Ok Facebook, I get it – according to your ads I REALLY want to bulk up and only the approval of celebrities can lure me.

Celebrities with weirdly underlit large heads, like Matt Damon and Bruce Willis (here looking like Benjamin Button).

Bruce Willis baby headMatt Damon's weirdly large head

This just looks painful, like somehow he buffed too much and now has a Ken Doll crotch.

that looks painful

And how are either of these pictures supposed to entice me? The first looks like Ghandi went aggro, and the other looks like that poor young man’s suffering from Bubble Bobble disease.


Perhaps there are keywords I can start using to counteract this? Witches, ponies, sparkle fairy French foodie gentle softness? Poodle paw pat knitting Cosmopolitan fashion pretty. Silky princess babydoll kitten lash?

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I have no idea what I might have typed in to get these ads, but for some reason Facebook now thinks I am all about Hulking out. Apologies in advance for some of the the tininess, but I know not where the larger versions of these ridiculous images come from.

It started with this, a fairly standard Photoshopped Ryan Reynolds, still within the parameters of human possibility, accompanied by a query asking how serious I am about muscle mass.


I did find the original image of this, for comparison:


Then these two monstrosities popped up one after the other:


What is more hilarious, the ponderous expression of the first guy, or the sheer physical impossibility/arm immobility of both their anatomy? Wait, no, it’s how tiny both their heads look in comparison to their giant racks!

The only mass I currently care about is how many Solar units it takes to kick off a black hole via the Schwarzchild equation, Facebook. Are people really into this? I mean, I know people are interested in achieving large muscles, but just like there are several ridiculously idealized female forms, is this actually an ideal held up for guys?

The Annual Harrogate Autumn Flower Show

Yes, these are the questions to ponder sitting around the table with your family, tearing into a turkey leg. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wait, one more from the above-linked article – look at this guy’s worshipful expression:
The Annual Harrogate Autumn Flower Show

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Stars Inn Motel:
Stars Inn Motel

The Royal Viking:
Royal Viking

Royal Viking 2The important takeaway from this is if you are John Waters or just enjoy serial killer history, you will love this place.


Bronco Motor Inn:
bronco motor inn


My primary decision-making process concerning hotels is a) how cheap they are, b) how likely I am to get stabbed, c) whether I have heard them in a 90s West Coast rap where people get shot and d) how close they are to the La Brea Tar Pits, which I somehow missed on the first trip out.

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Over the weekend I finished a test project. I’ve been exploring the limits cheap, cruddy, readily available materials can be be pushed – this weekend, it was pony beads. For those who did not attend day camp or raves, pony beads are large, garish plastic beads used to make horrible keychain fobs or PLUR bracelets. They’re clunky, in the way of materials geared for preschoolers still developing motor skills. They are useless decorative units churned out by the millions to encourage the creation of larger, useless objects (as assumed from the ‘lizard keychain’ pattern on the back of most bags). And yet, I hold out hope something good can come from this medium.

I wanted to start quickly and focus on potential color combinations while learning the very useful ‘square stitch’ technique – basically loom beading without the loom, and more flexible in terms of little bits hanging off here and there. Working with a material I’d not handled as much since day camp days, my thoughts turned to something else I hadn’t seen much since then – no, not Jurassic Park, though now that I think about it….but no. DOOM, the video game. Voila! Sprites are already cordoned into small squares, so I grabbed one for a Lost Soul and got to work.




lost soul screencap



flaming lost soul


I got about 4 beads to the inch, making this about 8 x 10 inches. It’s quite flexible, floppy but with some structure and body. I have absolutely no idea what to do with it (aside from making more and turning my living room into the Deimos Anomaly).

Here’s an animation of me putting it together. I think the table grain gives a better sense of scale:



After spending a good chunk of the weekend completing this, I asked the question haunting me since hearing it at a Silent Series event years ago  - what’s the difference between this and my grandma crocheting from a kit?

The question was asked by a perplexed young man who, faced with a panel of young artists  at the New Museum’s ‘Craft Hackers’ panel talking about how they utilized craft technique in their work, wanted clarification on the difference between what they did, and what his grandma, who apparently enjoyed buying kits to make things, did. The first and only response, echoed by the other panelists was this gem of a dodge: “(looooooooooooong silence) You know, that question is so important, I don’t think I can answer it.”  Hah!

The short answer might be, they intentionally utilized the medium to get their ideas across, while his grandma didn’t bring a concept or agenda and simply wanted to enjoy the process. Still, what about something like my project, where I plucked a sprite created by someone else and reworked the color scheme in a completely different physical medium? Does it look boss? Of course it does, it’s a giant flaming horned skull. Does it mean anything? Nothing other than I thought this was an appropriate way to spend a weekend.

Two other thoughts come to mind – ‘Ghostworld’s ‘tampon in a teacup’ scene where, when asked what her painting of Don Knotts ‘means’, Enid says she doesn’t know, followed by an overeager classmate spinning absolute BS about her found-object sculpture consisting of a tampon in a teacup. I loathe the latter, spouting nonsense and creating meaning where none was intended. A classic example is the interview where a reporter asks Gus Van Sant if his Handsome Boy Gun School movie ‘Elephant’ was named because “no one wants to talk about the elephant in the room”. You can SEE his eyes light up as he says “Yeaaaaaaaaaah!” That’s it, that’s the ticket! But in an art world where Idea trumps Craft (does Jeff Koons even touch his own canvases any more?) what happens when an object is created just for the sake of creating? Just because it looks ‘neat’? Several months ago on a craft board, I came across an enormous cross stitch someone had done of a picture of their favorite band. It was absolutely photorealistic, in that they’d taken a photo and translated it into pixels and as close a floss color as could be matched. It sickened me, to think of the time and effort expended on recreating something that already existed with nothing added. So now you have a cross-stitch of a picture of your favorite band. What does this offer that the photo didn’t? The same thing I might say about my project, perhap, that it became a tangible, physical object.

I’ve nearly always defended Craft when it comes to the Arts vs. Craft – the personally involved, hands-on, tactile element that can be utilized to create art, but can also create serviceable, functional objects. It’s been said there isn’t any purpose to art, that’s why it’s Art. But if there is no idea behind it, does that qualify? Clearly repurposing work done by others ‘counts’ as art, as can be seen in any gallery today. But if something is just Craft, pure doing for doing’s sake, even if done well….

Well, that’s part of the reason I wanted to explore ‘crappy’ materials (so called by me). The Michael’s and Jo-Anne Fabrics are supposedly a world apart from the New Museums. Why is that? Is it just the materials? The environment they exist in? Spending any time in a ‘craft store’ the creeping sense of creativity gone horribly wrong surrounds you. So many kits and plastic gewgaws and seasonal merchandise made of the cheapest possible materials, all prepackaged and sold to you to earn your ‘creative genius’ badge by the same repetitive actions an assembly line robot does. Does that devalue the final product? Is it terrible that young man’s grandma gave him latch-hook rugs from kits? It’s just that the human involvement is at such a low level, robots took over this work except in situations where people voluntarily pay for the privilege of doing it themselves. While it’s true a kit has yet to come out to make your very own flaming demon skull (hmmmm….), is my taking an existing image and translating it via basic technique any different?

The next step of the project is to use the technique to create my own pattern, possibly as a wearable object, possibly just as a large wall hanging. I went to see the Gravity and Grace exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum this past weekend, and it was comforting to see the beauty that came out of simple repetition, basic materials, and sheer persistence (anything involving small units takes forever to put together, or at least feels like it). I’m not sure how I feel about art and craft at the moment, but I’m hoping just the act of willing something good (or at least visually/texturally interesting) to come from base materials helps clarify.





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The Renegade Craft Fair has come and gone. Just like Boy Scouts, we took only pictures and left only footprints, except for the part where I neglected to take any pictures due to running around fixing tents and crooked totems. Fortunately the installation was a photo magnet and folks used the #camprenegade tag for easy finding, so below are some others’ lovely images instead (and if you’d prefer I not share your photo, please let me know and I’ll remove it).

photo by Matt Caron

photo by Matt Caron


Thanks to all my friends who created the awesome totem poles – Carleigh Queenth, Yung En Chen, Joshua Inman, and Koren Shadmi. They were definitely the stars of the show. Extra-special megathanks to Jim Campbell for making ‘Camp Renegade’ shirts and spending the weekend manning the installation. Also for being a generally awesome dude who helped with transport, stump-painting and young’un management.


photo by Jennifer Lynn Best

photo by Jennifer Lynn Best


Yes, child management. Just after finishing setup on the first day, a woman came up tittering nervously asking ‘Hahahaha…is this daaaaaaycare?’ HELL NO IT IS NOT DAYCARE. Fuming I looked around and realized why she might have thought that. Despite my dislike of child swarms and however unintentionally, I’d absolutely created a kid magnet. Tiny tipi, fun-sized tents, and wee lil’ stools ensured a steady stream of children running around and around shrieking and giving me heart palpatations all weekend. Their youthful exuberance was mostly harmless and sort of cute, especially compared to the Adult Naptime that set in around 1:30pm.


photo by Mariana Simobosch

photo by Mariana Simobosch


Fully grown adults just parked it under the tents, feet poking out , and went to sleep. I can’t begrudge them – it was boiling out and every culture that isn’t a bunch of puritan workaholics has some form of naptime encouragement. It just got a bit creepy when kids would run up to play in a tent and a fully clothed man would be in there snoring.


photo by Leah Pellegrini

photo by Leah Pellegrini


Most visitors seemed to really enjoy themselves, taking lots of photos, asking questions about construction, chatting with other people sitting and hanging around. If I created a space people could rest, take silly photos and relax in, mission accomplished. People were pleasant, respectful of the installation, happy to chat. After hours in the baking sun I’m not sure the same could be said of me. Sun, heat, blinding sun, a constant flow of people; I think I understand why Meursault shot that guy on the beach (on top of the universe’s meaninglessness and indifference).

photo by krisrex

photo by krisrex


While I’m complaining, it’s a two-way tie for worst visitor between the French family whose kids (aged 11 or so) just ran up and started SHAKING the totems; when I shouted several times for them to stop, their mom/guardian/aunt/whatever, who along with three other adults had been standing nearby and texting, looked over and said ‘They do not speak English, that is why they do not listen.’ THEN TELL THEM IN WHATEVER LANGUAGE THEY SPEAK TO STOP DOING THAT. Also as they responded to a snack request in English two minutes later, I highly doubt they didn’t understand an angry lady yelling while they shook something tied down to the ground. Their texting aunt then dropped her luggage against the totem (I had to go over and move it off the tie-down lines), parked it in a tent and spent the next hour texting. They had stiff competition in the two nasally-accented young ladies who stripped down to bikinis and used the tent closest to the tipi as their own private shade spot. ‘Ohmigawwwwd this is sooooo niiice they set this up for ussss.’ It was not set up for you to natter on with your friend and lounge for the entirety of the afternoon, you sun-soaked scandal, it was for EVERYONE to enjoy. I find tanning and wearing bathing suits for purposes other than swimming both personally distasteful, so having their greasy bodies well in my field of view was pure irritation. At least they fell asleep at some point and stopped talking about celebrity gossip.


photo by lovelier seas

photo by lovelier seas


Overall I think this was a wonderful experience, if an intensely physical one. I’m not sure whether I’ll do something on this scale again, but who am I kidding I probably will next time someone asks. I adore giant spectacle! But if there’s to be interactivity I’ll hire an extrovert for sure. Or at least someone better at appreciating the natural curiosity of children.


Angry Jim created this short video of the installation; it doesn’t convey the smell of fried food, glaring heat or the distant sounds of remixed R&B, but it gets the job done.

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