Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I’m Under a Dark Star

Last week I had to suspend a student for continued disruption of my class. Today, at a different school, I caught a student cheating on a test. Not only do these issues cause me tremendous stress, they also involve meetings and paperwork and officials.
And of course, one worries about getting shot…
What are these students thinking, that they can just run me over and I won’t mind?!?
Do they know they are ruining the course for their fellow students?
Are they just high on drugs?
Simply incredible.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Normal Art

I know many people not in the Art World are surprised at what passes for normal. Take this painting at a recent opening in a rather conservative gallery. No one even batted an eye. Other work verged on pornography, but that’s the point—it’s playing with porn, it’s not porn.
Of course, some of this stuff can’t be shown in schools or public places. But shouldn’t artists be permitted to make this kind of work, if that’s what they feel they must do?
Ongoing discussion.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Strike Me Down

Lately, I am a walking lightning rod for contention. How can one little Bratz cause so much trouble???

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Performance Wheels

Finally gave in and ordered new skates, only available online. I needed to replace my fitness wheels anyway, and figured I’ve been skating for two years on these Rollerblades, so why not try racing skates. My Goddess, it was like going from an old VW bug to a Porche. And I got the lowest grade racing skates. You stand in them and you roll.
I have skated with racers a few times. They left me in the dust in a blink of an eye. I thought they were just in much better shape. Now I know the skates are partly responsible.
Which makes me consider, if I have better brushes, pigments, canvas, do I paint better? No, the sports/art correlation doesn’t fly. But why then do we have art competitions? Purely politics.
Anyway, I am flying down the highway now, getting addicted to speed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Candied Hot Wheels

Amazing art piece. All my students went bonkers over it (not a cool way to express enthusiasm, but apt). Some looked at each car, wondering about the inspiration. Others noticed the color gradient. Collecting obsession, gender issues, and merchandising also came up.
We even liked the price: $12,000 for the entire sculpture, $100-500 per car. C O O L.
Artwork by Shane Swindler

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Right in the Kisser

Kids today have a healthy sense of what’s important and what’s not. Most seem not to sweat stuff much. When younger, I gave equal importance to just about everything, aka perfectionism. Which gives one ulcers.
I just watched a kid type an essay, and he’s got the bad-speller gene. So what does he do? In 15 seconds flat completes spellcheck for the entire essay. It took me ages to proofread my childish writings, first trying to weasel the correct spelling out of an elder, then forced to look in the dictionary or thesaurus.
I was in class recently walking around helping students with two-point. A talented student had done a mediocre job with mistakes, which I pointed out. His response? “I don’t like perspective.” And he just sat there. On a certain level, I think, wow, he’s really strong. But then I get outraged at the lack of respect when I go out of my way to help her.
This is not to mention my really big discipline problem, a student who is so disrespectful other students have finally spoken to me about it. Now I have to do something. It’s my way or the highway, I guess…

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Black Womanhood

This show really surprised me. I’d been warned it was mostly “anthropology.” But for me, the African craft, and the nineteenth century photos of African women "on display," were only background to the main event: a beautifully edited group of works by international, contemporary, black women. About themselves.
I just loved seeing these bodies. Photography, video, costumes, totems, installation… as a figurative artist, there are so few shows to inspire me. I understood that as banal as the white woman’s body has become, the black woman’s body is still taboo and dangerous. Black women can be Nude, and with that power these artists deliver strong punches. The work was lovely and shocking at the same time.
This is partially what I’m afraid of: making work this strong.
All images from the catalog, Black Womanhood.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Overheard while reading the art label…
“Oh Marge, look at that skill!”
“Such talent (ach, the dreaded T word), it almost looks like a photograph.” (duh).
They get closer.
“Yes, and what’s she holding?”
“Why, isn’t that a… whip?” (I feel them back up in horror.)
("Baby Back", photo by Renee Cox. Free day at the Museum, took my class to see “Black Womanhood,” excellent show, will write a short review soon!)
(And sorry for the bad catalog image--no photos in the exhibition.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


My Irish grandmother, Frieda McM, circa 1915. I also have and wear the locket in the photo—it contains a tiny photo etching of her mother, whose name I don’t know. That’s the extent of memory.
Happy St. Patrick’s.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Borrowed Time

Should we live like we’re on it all the time? Why am I so afraid?

Ides of March

Busy weekend. Am emptying out my house of art junk, and filling up my studio. Both things feel great! Also setting up a special area in the studio where my kids can make stuff, although today they just wanted to have target practice in there (with easels…)
A new friend dropped by with a painting she was working on and we talked about what was right and what felt off. I think I was able to help. And in turn she looked at my work, picking out what caught her eye—very helpful to me.
I’m thinking about starting a figurative drawing group for women only, where we can model for each other. My other drawing group couldn’t meet last month, and am anxious for them to see my new space.
If you want to join either, please contact me!
Here’s a funny photo of my Art Orientation class. We studied sculpture, and for a break, made bugs out of candy.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Recession Hits Kloe’s House

Yeah, so I knew it was coming. The parking lot at my private school is no longer full, not by a long shot.
Last term I taught three courses there.
This term two.
Next term I was only scheduled for one.
Which yesterday was canceled.
Conversely, the student enrollment at community colleges is bursting, up 10-20%. But there’s no money for extra sections. Our classes are just fuller. And of course there’s a hiring freeze.
In fact, I haven't applied for a tenure-track position in over three years, because there haven’t been any.
I’m going to get very skinny indeed…
(student drawing)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pray Street

I don’t believe in living with one's own art. I’ve spent the past few days debulking my house of paintings, drawings, frames, and supplies. Canvases rolled up under the bed, paintings stacked in the hallways, closets filled with stretched work (I hate stretched paintings, so easy to damage, so awkward to transport…)
All that stuff now has a home in my studio, where it can be properly inventoried, stored, and looked-through. I can begin to think straight again.
The artwork I want to live with is that of others, my friends and colleagues, inspiration and memories.
Here’s an exception, though. I did this painting of my grandparent’s backyard almost 20 years ago. I remember the afternoons I spent on the patio making it. Now their house is empty, unsaleable in this economy. My relatives still hope it’s valuable, when like all property, it’s not, and moreover, the house if falling to ruins.
But my memories of it are like this painting, dotted with sunshine, softened with a martini, sharpened with practical advice and intelligent conversation. I don’t even feel it's my painting, it has so many other meanings in it now.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Happy Birthday, Barbie

You look fantastic! So slim, so perfect, so unchanging. You were my childhood idol.
I hope I’m like you at 50.
Many kisses, always,
Your Bratty Sister

Sunday, March 08, 2009


You know when you’ve seen something and you just know it's right for you? When you’ve been searching and researching, hoping to find just that perfect thing, and finally you go in a door, and there it is, in all its ruined glory? And it sort of comes on you all at once, but only later you realize that yes, it's not an illusion?
That’s what happened to me today. A perfect thing.
Now let's see if I can get it.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Studio Inauguration

Spent the first day in my studio today with crew and friends shooting videos. Have no idea if they will turn out. The light in the studio is quite good for filming, but I underestimated the ambient street noise—my studio is on a busy urban corner.
Have been so worried about multiple things lately—slept badly—and therefore wasn’t at my best for the shoot. I don’t think I’ve talked about it on Kloe before, but I’m making drawing videos to teach online. A sort of fallback if the academic gig doesn’t work out (read: sarcastic understatement).
Now I need an agent. Got any ideas???

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Kloe Likes to Party

I know it may look like I’m at a bar, drinking scotch, but it’s really an art opening/event, that only took place at a bar…
And yes, I’m celebrating metaphorically, as I’m now officially moved into my studio! Going to do my first work, a video shoot, this weekend!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Don’t Hate Us

This is what our urban community garden looks like now.
In my own little garden I’m growing arugula, romaine, parsley, anise, beans, and radishes. Flowers are out because of the rains, but the snowpack still isn’t up to normal, so the California drought continues. Hard to appreciate when the weather is so utterly beautiful.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Marching into March

This is quite an amazing little discussion (dated Feb. 28, see comments, too). Good for my town, normally so complacent.