Here’s a little number I call “Edward Gorey’s Oven.” Enjoy!
Sound Experiment no. 16.
Here’s a little number I call “Edward Gorey’s Oven.” Enjoy!
Sound Experiment no. 16.
Please be advised, dear reader – I’m going to share my thoughts on the show made by Netflix called The Watcher below, and there is a potential spoiler. Don’t worry – that is several paragraphs away from here, and I’ve marked it with a subheading.
If we’ve ever talked for any length about social media, I’ve probably mentioned that all the big platforms will eventually go away. Ice melts, even the biggest bergs in the ocean (sadly, truer today then when I thought of the analogy). Remember when AOL was monolithic?
I joined Twitter in 2007. A lot of good came from my participation. I made a lot of good friends, I learned a lot that helped my career path, and it was a positive experience. Sitting in front of monitors all day in a closet of an office at Johns Hopkins Hospital, I felt a connection to peers in my field. One time, there was an active shooter in the building, and I knew about it 20 minutes before the administration alerted the building occupants because of Twitter. Once, there was an earthquake the shook my home. I had never experienced one before, and local folks on Twitter confirmed that’s what had happened. Etc.
For me, things changed when:
My feed on Twitter shifted to more news/politics, and every day seemed to bring some new disquiet. I quit Facebook a few years ago, and aside from some FB only events/posts, I haven’t missed it. As a visual artist, I feel the need to be on Instagram, and to smaller extent, TikTok. I use Snap Chat with my partner, my buddy Dusten, and kiddos. I have limited my Instagram use, and regularly remove it from my device.
So, Twitter is now under new management, and a lot of folks I like are leaving. Other’s have described the potential perils of the new management, and I particularly appreciate Dave Troy’s thoughts and ideas on this. It makes me a sad, even though I’ve been an extremely passive user these past few years. Change is inevitable, as I’ve been telling people for years.
About a decade ago, I had a very healthy LinkedIn account, with 500+ contacts. Someone on Twitter pointed out that LinkIn was allowing various people to appear in targeted ads without their consent. Everyone was opted in by default. I thought about it, and decided I hadn’t gotten any real opportunities from LinkedIn, and so decided to delete my account. I had mild regret over that decision a few times, because I wasn’t able to backup the contacts, and, years later, decided that maybe I did need to hang a shingle out on linkedIn and wouldn’t it be nice to have those old contacts? So, now I’m back on LinkedIn.
I said all that to say I am weighing the value of staying on Twitter. My pal Jenn says she’s staying. She’s my favorite technologist, and I respect her and her opinions more than most. I had been keeping my Twitter handle warm, thinking it might become useful in the future, when I want sell more of my work online.
And I have a nostalgia for when I was able to use Twitter effectively – to develop relationships and opportunities. I miss those days.
On the other hand, social media is tiresome, and I’ve come to resent platform algorithms, the influencers, and a lot of performative advice given copiously by strangers. Not to mention political hostility. There’s just so much bad noise.
I suppose these ruminations have reactivated my feels for… blogging! I’m grateful to still have this shingle, which I’ve maintained for longer than I’ve been on Twitter. I use it to document my art, and rarely, the occasional opinion. I think it’s time to share more of those, hence this long article. It also reminds me of another loss, of which I don’t think we ever fully recovered. Google retired Reader, which was the best RSS tool I’ve ever used. I’ve tried Digg reader and Feedly, but neither really measure up. Hey, Automattic! This seems like a no-brainer for folks the power ~60% of the CMS market! Why not make an RSS tool to go along with WordPress and your other fantastic tools?
A big part of blogging for me used to be connecting with people on this blog, and on their own blogs. I disabled comments back in 2013, when the gale of divorce kicked up. I wanted to close my shutters over the windows, and just be quiet for a while. If you’ve read this far, and want to comment, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org. Maybe it’s time to enable them again? But, I think the choice to disable comments and the loss of Reader changed blogging, at least for me.
I recently started reading The Haunted Looking Glass. It’s a collection of Edward Gorey’s favorite tales of ghosts, ghouls, and grisly goings-on (selected my him). It includes stories by Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, M. R. James, W. W. Jacobs, and L. P. Hartley, among other masters of the fine art of making the flesh creep, all accompanied by Gorey’s inimitable illustrations.
I picked this up to take to Yarmouth. Beverly and I read it to each other before sleep in bed. I can see why Gorey liked these stories. Oddly, some of them just stop abruptly. Imagine you are walking through a rambling Victorian house as a grandfather clock starts to chime at midnight in the distance, when your candle blows out, and you step off what you thought was a landing to find you are falling, falling, falling thought the darkness. That would be abrupt, yes?
Beverly and I just finished the Watcher. I hoped it might shape up to be a “Haunting of Hill House” type twister. Not so much. I recently finished The Devil in Ohio and Dahmer, both good October fare. But The Watcher left me feeling much like the incomplete stories in The Haunted Looking Glass. It claims to be based on true events, but imagine if you brought an Agatha Christie novel on vacation and you enjoyed tripping over red herrings and false leads, only to read that Hercule Poirot can’t solve the mystery. Or, can you picture yourself watching seven episodes of a season (when maybe two could have done the job) only to find you are falling, falling, falling through what should have been a satisfying conclusion? I feel conned by this show. On the other hand, I thought about the show for days, and it made enough of an impression to inspire me to record these thoughts. So, yay?
I’m looking into making my own RSS reader and I’ll share my work on this soon. I found some encouraging tools that I think I can use to cobble something together. I miss following folks. If Twitter really is borked, maybe this is at least a partial solution. More soon.
I love Edward Gorey. I’ve talked about him before today. I’m happy to report that we made the pilgrimage to his house, The Edward Gorey Museum. It was a thrill to stand in his former home, to marvel at his many drawings and works on view. We spent several hours there, and we even ate breakfast one day at Jack’s Outback, where Gorey frequently had both breakfast AND lunch.
New England is lovely this time of year. We explored Yarmouth, and Provincetown. Here is a partial account of the trip, in photos.
Being a part of the great mystery show at AVAM has been one of the great honors and pleasures of my life. It is a thrill to see my art in the same room with Ingo Swann’s paintings, and around the corner from Edward Gorey’s The Gashleycrumb Tinies and Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon.
After I was well underway with my dioramas, I started hearing that my work is reminiscent of Gorey. I wasn’t familiar with him until an acquaintance told me about his toy Dracula Theatre, which was inspired by the Broadway production that earned Gorey a Tony award for costume and set design. It made me swoony, and then I came into several of his books. Gorey had a fantastic sense of humor, elegantly placed around dark subject matter, and super human crosshatching abilities, which are two of my favorite qualities in another human being.
I read several books as I was preparing for this evening’s talk and my favorite is from CJ Verburg: Edward Gorey On Stage: a Multimedia Memoir: Playwright, Director, Designer, Performer. Verburg helped Gorey produce around twenty “Entertainments” in a community theater near where they both lived in Cape Cod. These “Entertainments” were plays that had twenty or so acts running from two to five minutes each. Gorey wrote and typed the scripts (something he began doing during WWII, when he was drafted to a desk job in Utah), designed the costumes, made puppets, arranged for the music, and designed the programs and posters. Verburg seemed to know Gorey better than the other authors I sampled. I think the later part of his life, when he was so involved in these projects, is fascinating. Many of these were incomprehensible to the audience and abstract/absurd.
Gorey loved ballet, and dance informs many of his characters’ gestures. He would attend some 160+ performances on the New York City Ballet a year. He wore a fur coat, jeans and white converse sneakers. Verburg tells great stories of Gorey’s time at Harvard and the Poet’s Theater Project, of which he and his roommate, Frank O’Hara, were members.
I talked about many other things, but one of the Great Mysteries I solved for myself is this: Gorey was influenced by French artist Charles Meryon. He collected some of his prints, which were heavily crosshatched, and quite nightmarish. Another interesting fact: Gorey was known to paint his toenails. Gorey claimed to be a Taoist, and maybe a surrealist. Gorey was also a voracious consumer of books, movies and television. According to his bio in the Gorey House website, he accumulated around 25,000 books by the time of his death at age 75. He liked soap operas, Third Rock from the Sun, and anything he found entertaining.
So many of Gorey’s protagonist kids meet grisly endings. When asked “Why do you hate children?” Gorey responded with “I don’t know any children.”
The latter part of the evening involved a crosshatching exercise, inspired by the toy Dracula theatre. I made my own characters, and a zine with some basics on hatching techniques.
I have more of these. If you’d like one, please write to me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Jan’s dress is a 3D print of her own wedding dress, which was also her mother’s dress.
Nancy is a priestess, ordained in Haiti. She draws much inspiration from this background.
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.
Complete list of artists: Anonymous Artist • Kelley Bell • David Bowman • Mary Bowron • Paul Darmafall • Jim Doran • Dr. B • Peter Eglington • George Figgs • Edward Gorey • Paul Graubard • Michael Green • Richard “Duke” Hagerty • Julian Harr • Gerald Hawkes • John Root Hopkins • Jan Huling • Lorann Jacobs • Len Jenkin • Nancy Josephson • Paul Laffoley • James Leonard • Scott Long • Rafael Matias • Antar Mikosz • Greg Mort • Margaret Munz-Losch • Chris Roberts-Antieau • Dr. Ned Rosinsky • Richard Smith • Bernard Stiegler • Ingo Swann • Christian Twamley • Louis Wain • Aric Wanveer • Frank Warren • Edward Woltemate • Betsy Youngquist