JIM DORAN

A Dark and Gorey Night

Jim Doran talking at AVAM

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.

Gorey's Dracula Toy TheatreAfter 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.

Jim Doran talking about Edward Gorey

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.”

Ready to crosshatch

Pop-up drawings Gorey-esque drawings

People drawing in the gallery

 

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.

A quick guide to crosshatching

I have more of these. If you’d like one, please write to me.

 

Diorama-rama Deux

duex

And I quote: “Wonder Commons presents Diorama-Rama Deux, a celebration of creative storytelling inside the box. Join us in our second year as we compete for awards and celebrate what can be seen through the miniature. Introductory Diorama demonstration by artist Jim Doran.”

rules

So, I set some of my work out and talked with folks about Diorama-ing.

talk

I quickly put together a zine about some of my work.

zines

This event is put on by Wonder Commons – Robert Marbury and his wife Alix Fenhagen.

Rob

The theme was “March Madness,” which has something to do with baseball or something. I made two dioramas that are NOT paper cut-outs.

I get a mild form of madness called SPRING FEVER. Perhaps you’ve heard of it – it doesn’t help that, after days of glorious weather, it snowed yesterday.

 

spring-fever-scale

And here’s part two, which has EVERYTHING to do with baseball:

mm-bottom-view

(More on both of these dioramas can be read in their own post).

I won “Best in Show!”

bis

Please notice that the trophy has two baseball bats AND two cups on top.

bis-2

This is a smart, fun (and amusing) event. I saw a lot of the same faces from last year’s event, and a few new ones. NEXT YEAR, we are going to have a “make your own diorama session” before the judging kicks off, and I have offered to help people realize their own diorama-rama-ness.

All of the entries were great – here are a few more:

FUN

This-is-not-a-peep

cesar

tulip

run

more

spring

Keep an eye out for next year’s Diorama-rama, and come!

Fitbloggin Ignite: Derby Little Secrets

I gave an Ignite talk Friday night at Fitbloggin called Derby Little Secrets [slides]. I was surprised at how emotional it was. I think some new derby boys and girls were born that night – I hope so, anyway.

I talked about my girls discovered roller derby. We reached out to several local leagues seeking junior league information. My big girl got sick and Chesapeake Roller Derby visited us. Leezle and I attended a few games and I wondered, secretly, if I could learn to play roller derby. I bought some gear, figured out who my alter ego is and jumped in. I learned the rules, some basic workouts and key derby skills. It’s the most fun I’ve had in years – even for a guy with a trick knee. I’ve learned that moms, dads, PhDs, teachers, retail clerks, dental hygienists, florists, gay people, straight people, transgender people, black people, white people, atheists,  believers – everyone can do this. It’s open to all who want to be involved.

 

FitBloggin’ 11

I haven’t posted anything in weeks because I’ve been reworking this site and writing a talk for the FitBloggin’ 2011 conference in Baltimore.

I still have a pretty good list of things to clean up here, especially on the WordPress side of the site.  I experimented with Custom Post Types and multisite functionality, and finally decided it was overkill. I decided to let ‘er rip, because I need to get back to posting stuff. So, please pardon the site hiccups as they happen. I’m still working on it.

FitBloggin’ 2011

FitBloggin’ was amazing, yet again. Seeing friends from last year, and finally meeting guys I’ve been talking with on Twitter was fantastic. As before, I’m honored to have been a part of this. Roni Noone has created something truly special that changes people’s lives. That’s amazing. This is my favorite conference, even more than the WordCamps.

Jennette Fulda gave a comprehensive talk on design. Monica Olivas answered questions about privacy and getting started to newer bloggers. Katy was everywhere I looked. The hookers from Shrinking Jeans are always fun! It was great to catch up with Scott Stawarz and wife, Paolo, Matt Dustin, Jen “in real life,” Jack Sh*t (even more charming in real life) and especially Ryan “No More Bacon” Sullivan and his wife, Mrs. Bacon. And everyone else I met, too. It’s all overwhelming. Check the #fitbloggin hash tag on twitter and you can see what I mean.

Regarding my presence there, someone asked me “are you a vendor of sorts?” I am not. Nor am I a fitness blogger, although I did just join a gym for the first time ever and I like it, obsessively so. To date, I haven’t tried to “monetize” my site(s). I haven’t run adwords campaigns, as easy as that would be to do. I am not a “social media guru” with “the answers for driving the conversation in the community to maximize value in the douche-bag space.” I have a lot of knowledge to share, though – WordPress, Blogger, analytics, SEO, code, design, writing, being part of something positive. It’s fun to help and I answered as many WordPress and blogging questions as I could.

This time, my talk focused on photography for blogs. I decided to address “the art of seeing” and how to get better shots. It was a fun talk to research. I recommended doing a 365 – a photoblog where you post a picture a day – as a way to change the way we see the world around us. It trains our eye and forces us to find interesting ways to tell stories in a new way. I thought I’d try it, too – I’ve created a new section on this site for daily snaps. Hence to mad rush to rework my dusty old theme.

My slides are here. Thanks to everyone who listened and asked questions!