The Great Mystery Show at AVAM

The Great Mystery Show

This has been an amazing year – after a fantastic jubilee of a birthday, I was invited to participate in the Great Mystery Show at the American Visionary Art Museum. AVAM is my favorite place in Baltimore, and one of my favorite places, period. I always feel lighter after a visit to the museum, as though I’m operating at a higher frequency.

Preview Party

The Great Mystery Show is my favorite yet. As with previous AVAM exhibits, it touches upon deep, timely and profound subjects. This show, however, is right up my alley. I would be surprised if you, dear reader, did not encounter profound synchronicities, intuitions and revelations that affect your life.

Jim Doran @ AVAM

I loved getting to know some of my fellow artists and participants. Some of them are discussed briefly below.

 

The preview party was one of the finest nights of my life.

Me & the Girls

Bondage and Maiden

Rebecca and I

Edward Gorey

I am so delighted to  be just around the corner from my man, Edward Gorey and his Gashlycrumb Tinies. It so great to see these pages, full sized and up close.

The Gashleycrumb Tinies

Rebecca Hoffberger talking Edward Gorey

J is for James who had lye by mistake

Ingo Swann

I am deeply honored to have my work hang in the same room as Ingo Swann. He was a brilliant researcher, writer and remote viewer. Visit his site – fascinating!

The Mysterious Mother Mary

This painting The Mysterious Mother Mary was missing for a time. Through a miraculous and arduous path, it was found in time for this exhibit and is the cornerstone of the show. Swann didn’t like to make “predictions.” His niece told me he was cornered at a conference, and was relentlessly hounded to predict the future. With great reluctance, he said “The Berlin wall will come down 18 months from now.” At the time he said it, there wasn’t a shred of evidence that the cold war was in danger of ending. It seemed far fetched at the time, and yet it came to pass.

Swann was not a Catholic. What’s unnerving about this painting is the atomic mushroom cloud over the ocean that takes up 1/3 of the composition. At the time of this writing, that is a potential political outcome. I hope Swann didn’t see this happening.

Peter Eglington

I got to know Peter Eglington a bit. He’s a 65 year old surfer from Australia who looks 40. He’s a mystic lighthouse of a man, and has three adult children. He stepped on a stingray on two different occasions and lived to tell about it – he says it informed his work as a “rite of passage,” like a trial by fire.  He works with technical pens, color pencils and some paint. His works are HUGE, and a must see.

Peter Eglington discusses his work

Peter Eglington & Dorans

The Beadists

It was a pleasure the meet the “beadist” three graces; Nancy Josephson, Jan Huling and Betsy Youngquist. It’s worth spending hours just in their wing of the museum alone.

The body of Betsy’s rabbit was made by her partner, based on her own body.

Betsy

Jan’s dress is a 3D print of her own wedding dress, which was also her mother’s dress.

Jan

Nancy is a priestess, ordained in Haiti.  She draws much inspiration from this background.
Nancy

Nancy

Len Jenkin

Len Jenkin is a writer and playwright from NYC/NY state. He’s been painting for many years, and is highly knowledgeable about “outsider” art and artists.

Len Jenkin

Decennium

Trash Panda

I started this blog 10 years ago today.  What’s more, this my month of Jubilation.   I just celebrated my 50th birthday.

I like to tell the story of how my friend Roni Noone advised me investigate using WordPress to enhance this site, which began in 2001. I set up a blog and began sharing art, and some other things that bring Joy. I called the site Joie de Vivre.

It was like adding water to a big box of instant powdered AWESOME LIFE mix. It amplified the great parts of life, and helped me cope with some very challenging, darker things.  I am brimming with gratitude.

Best Birthday Cake EVER

It seems appropriate to mark the occasion by sharing this photo of the best birthday cake that was ever made, or ever will be made, ever. It was perfect and delicious. Thank you my dear, lovely Maiden China. You are the best.

 

The Weatherman

The Weatherman Heading Image

I moved into my new home last spring, a place that I affectionately refer to as MI6.

The city removed a dead tree that was next to the house shortly after I moved in. We noticed that someone was leaving cryptic notes in the bark of the stump.

Message in the stump

They look like this:

Notes More Notes

The city came and ground the stump into mulch. The notes continued to appear in the mulch.

Stick in the Mulch

Then, my daughter and I observed the mysterious note maker.

He carries a well-worn book, which looks something like a bible, and continually looks up into the sky as he writes. I affectionately refer to him as The Weatherman. I am utterly fascinated. He disappeared into the neighborhood before I could interview him, and I haven’t seen him since.

Happy New Year, Weatherman. I hope to see you in the spring!

Life Soundtrack – Exhibit

smith_sound_final_v3-1

When Spencer Dormitzer at the Smith Healing Center reached out and asked if I’d be interested in participating in this show (OF COURSE I AM), my mind immediately went to Prince. He had a profound influence on me while I was an undergraduate music student in college. While researching Steve Vai for my senior thesis, I read an interview where Vai said that he’d love to work with Prince. I began to investigate Prince’s music more deeply. I knew the hits, of course, and I’ve watched Under the Cherry Moon more times than I’d like to admit. I was soon influenced by his song writing and his presence in his own music. I loved his ability to flawlessly produce recordings where he played most (all) of the instruments. Sign o’ the Times was my particular favorite. And I love that Prince rejected the music industry as it used to be, and did things his own way.

But.

I do not want to bring Prince into my Art.

I know the work of Bowie from MTV, radio and years as a music buyer. I cannot admit to ever being a big fan, though. Don’t get me wrong, I do not dislike his music. Not at all. But, I’ve also never been particularly drawn to him. I loved the TV Christmas duet he performed with Bing Crosby. And, I remember my college roommate played the catchy Never Let Me Down endlessly.

But as I cast my thoughts back the MTV, I remembered “Ashes to Ashes.” According to Wikipedia, It was the lead single from the 1980 album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) and became Bowie’s second UK No. 1 single. It is also known for its innovative video, directed by Bowie and David Mallet, which at the time was the most expensive music video ever made.

His portrayal of Pierrot in the video strongly reminds me of a stuffed toy I carried around as a toddler. I think my grandfather gave it to me. It’s one that I’ve drawn several times and that I clearly remember. It made sense to bring that figure in my current work at this time.

I can also say, now, that Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) has made it’s way into rotation in my studio.

So, that’s the story about this show – and here is my piece,  Ashes to Ashes.

UPDATE:

Make It and Take It

make-and-take-at-AVAM

I’ll be at AVAM this Friday with a TON of cigar boxes, ready to help bring new Dioramas into the world!

Details above!

UPDATE!

Results, below.

take-care-of-it

octo

art

blue-beauty

hostile-planet

horseman

final-frontier

lamby

more

cigar-box

bowling

Sushi

I’ll be doing another workshop (or several) in 2017! Stay tuned, and come make some art!

Book Arts

I attended a lecture at Loyola University by Paul Johnson last Thursday. I heard about Paul from my book artist colleagues, Jenny O’Grady and Jodi Hoover.

paul-johnson

From the Loyola site: “Paul Johnson is a successful pop-up book artist with work in such collections as the Tate Gallery, London; the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York; and the National Gallery, Washington DC. Dr. Johnson has an international reputation for his pioneering work in developing literacy through the book arts. He has written books on making art books, and he loves to teach children how to make books.”

Noah's-Ark

Paul insists that art has been on the decline since the middle ages, and he draws inspiration from medieval architecture, especially cathedrals.  Paul likes to take nursery rhymes and fairy tales and mash them together – stories like “Jack and the Beanstalk meets Goldilocks” or “Mother Hubbard and the Three Pigs.” Or, even, stories from the bible.  Then, he makes pop-up books.

paul-johnson-book-artist

All of his books can be disassembled and placed flat to be carried in a suitcase. He does not use glue, nor does he fold the paper. He uses joints to connect the elements:

paul-johnson-paper-joints

He started making these books after he turned 40, and is now 72-ish. He leaves Britain to travel the world, teaching his methods and staying with other book artists.

carousel

editions

hubbard-on-wheels

more-work

wow

Paul’s books are astonishing – not only for their detail and engineering, but also the cleverness of how he reworks classic stories into new ones.

On Saturday, Leezle and I were lucky enough to attend a 3 hour workshop with Paul. We learned some folding techniques, and we made some pop-ups.

leezle-working

 

My-pop-up

theater

theaters

third-one

Paul had a dry sense of humor and was a delightful presenter. He sells his work – both, the original books and editions. They are lovely and worth owning.