Friday, December 14, 2007


Our grand opening was a smashing success! I got interviewed and photographed for the guardian, and although none of that material made it in there yet we did get a kind mention in one of their blogs - before the cut!

I know, I know, pictures. I was hoping the newspaperman with his fancy camera would save me the trouble. Working on it.

Tomorrow morning I am leaving for a trip to Baja with some friends. The store is open and running but there's still some messes under her skirts; the conference I am planing for this spring in woefully behind. I could really use the break, though, and am looking forward to a trip that I've been planning for some time. They've been, I should say. Pretty much all I will do will be show up. I'm looking forward to abdicating decision-making for a while.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Doors Wide Open

Holy whew. The list of things still to be done never does shrink. The store has been standing on its own for a little over a week now. Stress levels are lowering even as problems don't stop (leak in the newly patched roof, anyone?) because by gum it's working. I sold some paintings, i think the first capital-A Art to sell out of the new space. I feel like some sort of mad scientist with a stitched-together frankenstein twitching to life on the table even as a toe or two falls off from rot. I hope she can be tamed!

This weekend brings a special opportunity to celebrate
the opening of a sustainable local art & design space,
Pandora's Trunk. This shop turns retail on its head
with a visual and interactive experience you won't
want to miss!

grand opening party
Saturday, December 8th
6 -10pm
544 haight btw steiner/fillmore

Meet the Artists:
Alfonso Kellenberger * Architect G * Dida Jewelry *
Fati Beloved * Medium Reality * Miranda Caroligne *
Missing Piece * Nome Edonna * Onerary * Rachel Jordana
Jewelry * Swirlspace

Live Music:
BYOInstruments for an interactive jam at 7pm!
Circus Clownery featuring members of the Hobo
accordion, ukulele and juggling feats!
Jesse Wilson on guitar
She is also our visiting artist this month, showing
paintings in the front window!
"TT of Heavyweight Dub Champion & Cochrane Mcmillan"

Free drinks and edibles:
BYOCup to reduce waste!
Catered by Sterling
Interactive activities & antics galore!

Had fun at one of our events in the past but can't make it out for this one? Please forward this listing on to anyone who you think might be interested - we'd love to meet your friends!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Here Goes Nothing

this morning i woke up slowly to a silent house. Today was different than what has become usual - the last week is a fog of hauling myself weary out of early bed, slinging my overalls heavy with tools across my shoulders, and heading off towards the hardware store with two notebooks under my arm, plans buzzing in my head and the cell phone already ringing. Today I let myself sleep in. When I woke up, i fed the dog and we walked out into the sunny and strangely quiet day so i could buy a packet of tobacco and an ice cream sandwich. What a great holiday. What a great life.

This simple joy led me back, even in my momentary vacation state, to thinking about the American disease of plenty and the way we are all trained to seek out excess as a way of life. Seeking to sell my work and entering a world of commerce so fully has only served to sever me from the idea of monetary value. This is of value, this peace, this time. Everything else is just a dance, being clever.

The last month+ has been a frenzied whirlwind and I haven't been keeping up this record. Miranda Caroligne and I have entered into a business partnership and re-launched Pandora's Trunk as a collective storefront/studio space on Haight St in San Francisco. It's amazing how fast the project has come together, and how many hands are now pitching in to heave forwards towards the opening.

We are opening our doors to the public on Friday but not beginning sales until Saturday. Come again? We are throwing a party on Buy Nothing Day, also known in the retail industry as Black Friday - it's the single biggest shopping day of the year. We'll be installing artwork and stocking indie fashion into our newly constructed store (made out of almost all salvaged materials and elbow grease) and would love to show you our work and talk about the store - but if you want to buy something you'll have to come back Saturday. It's Buy Nothing Day!

It's a strange way to enter the retail community but we are excited about the effort.

In progress pictures of pandora's trunk construction

what else have i been up to? I went to new york and saw dear friends get married, punched a boor in the face, made new acquaintances and renewed old. In the process of starting the store i have finally learned how to Act Like A Businessperson and am doing ok at it. I am an official grownup. I made an impossibly beautiful pair of wings out of metal using computers. you can see some pictures of them in this photoset.

you know, the usual.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Medium Reality in the Chronicle

I met this guy at Balazo Gallery at a show I was doing a month or three ago. Yesterday his photo was on the front page of the Chronicle Datebook wearing one of my ties!
Thanks, Todd!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Got them Under the Overpass Blues

It's a truism of the blogging world that whenever someone's posting activity falls off, they are up to the most fevered activity. Lots has been going on since the discussion salon I produced earlier this month, and not much has come to enough fruition for me to talk about it yet. Just sent off a draft for this hat (remember it? that TV segment is set to air in February or March of 2008, giving us a total 1.5 year turnaround from filming to air. Is that normal? Makes me love the instant gratification of theatre even more.) to be a project in an upcoming Random House felt craft book. The salon on the 13th went off incredibly well. Not one but two musicians came through at the last minute, and there was a lively discussion that highlighted some of my concerns and illuminated some issues that drive me nuts. A success!

Friday, September 07, 2007


Whew. My older brother dragged me to Burning Man last week for the umpteenth time (his first) but, like every time, it was new all over again. I usually focus on seeing the art and my friends but I made a concerted effort this year to meet new people and talk to strangers. It's not my strong suit. It turned out well, though, and I feel re-energized to enter the fall season and network, network, network.
I have spent all of 2007 trying to find some additional direction with Medium Reality - things keep moving forward but in a way that sometimes seems random and erratic. I began the year with barely a mission statement but now have lots of documentation to help me guide my philosophy and what things I say yes and no to. Working now on fine-tuning spreadsheets for all of my scattered data, and entering everything into The New System. I am simultaneously juggling some larger scale unpaid efforts (a couple radically different book projects and an event at CELLspace next week, details following), freelance theatre work (Expedition 6, theatre with trapezes and OUTER SPACE!), and a menswear line that is really taking off. I am facing a real and serious likelihood of a solo show in a gallery here in SF. I am also slowly finding ways to balance personal time with a business that I love and desperately would like to watch flourish. I continue to chase after my own sanity.
Things, overall, are going very well. I feel like there is a way in which I am on a plateau, considering the next leap upwards. This fall is about finding more fancy people to work with and cementing relationships to build bigger projects on. 2008, look the fuck out.

So that's the long view. What's the short view? A lovely smoky voiced radio DJ just played me some Ruth Brown and Little Milton songs, and i am working my butt off to put together a discussion salon at CELLspace next week. It will focus on the production of arts and media in a non-profit and a for-profit business model, and the different things that can be accomplished in each framework. I'm trying to rustle up a few more panelists, a musician, and oh yeah some attendees. I'm really interested in the subject matter, and am really looking forward to hearing so many smart people talk about it. My friend Melissa, the new Executive Director of Black Rock Arts Foundation, will be there, along with two of my favorite genius local businesswomen (Marie from The Sampler and Miranda Caroligne) and lots of other old and new faces. See you there?


Whew. My older brother dragged me to Burning Man last week for the umpteenth time (his first) but, like every time, it was new all over again. I usually focus on seeing the art and my friends but I made a concerted effort this year to meet new people and talk to strangers. It's not my strong suit. It turned out well, though, and I feel re-energized to enter the fall season and network, network, network.
I have spent all of 2007 trying to find some additional direction with Medium Reality - things keep moving forward but in a way that sometimes seems random and erratic. I began the year with barely a mission statement but now have lots of documentation to help me guide my philosophy and what things I say yes and no to. Working now on fine-tuning spreadsheets for all of my scattered data, and entering everything into The New System. I am simultaneously juggling some larger scale unpaid efforts (a couple radically different book projects and an event at CELLspace next week, details following), freelance theatre work (Expedition 6, theatre with trapezes and OUTER SPACE!), and a menswear line that is really taking off. I am facing a real and serious likelihood of a solo show in a gallery here in SF. I am also slowly finding ways to balance personal time with a business that I love and desperately would like to watch flourish. I continue to chase after my own sanity.
Things, overall, are going very well. I feel like there is a way in which I am on a plateau, considering the next leap upwards. This fall is about finding more fancy people to work with and cementing relationships to build bigger projects on. 2008, look the fuck out.

So that's the long view. What's the short view? A lovely smoky voiced radio DJ just played me some Ruth Brown and Little Milton songs, and i am working my butt off to put together a discussion salon at CELLspace next week. It will focus on the production of arts and media in a non-profit and a for-profit business model, and the different things that can be accomplished in each framework. I'm trying to rustle up a few more panelists, a musician, and oh yeah some attendees. I'm really interested in the subject matter, and am really looking forward to hearing so many smart people talk about it. My friend Melissa, the new Executive Director of Black Rock Arts Foundation (, will be there, along with two of my favorite genius local businesswomen ( and lots of other old and new faces. See you there?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Why I don't bother trying to make it perfect

I always find myself trying to explain my philosophy on this to people at shows while hubbub murmurs and drinks slosh around us. I spoke with Jamie once about the yarn-spinning world; she explained to me that handspinners used to look to uniformity as a measure of quality but with the cheap ubiquity of machine-spun yarns the handspun world has turned to character and variations as things you can't get elsewhere. On some level this is true of all goods I think as manufactured perfection is easier and easier to access (for us on this end, at least). I don't see much point in trying imperfectly to emulate processes that I can't hope to actually match. If perfection is no longer the goal, then, what is? How can you aim for "authenticity"? Is that even a real thing? The pictures above are from a stellar series that takes you inside an apparel factory. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 I also found myself this weekend again stuttering through an explanation of why apparel manufacturing is just like engineering. I fell short there too, maybe this series can help make that connection clearer.

The sale this Sunday was packed and I made lots of good connections. More clothes made from recycled materials and lasers wandering their way off through the world. Sarah Lowe came in her truck and saved me and what was left of my merchandise from the show as the light failed.

She brought me some little nuggets of delightful trash. I have given myself part of today off and am sorting through them and searching the internet for the original owner of the dog tag. Considering doing more sketches for the Chinese Health Center Window Design That Wouldnt Die in the hopes that in return its german ringleader will translate my vial for me. It came sealed in a metal cannister with a large explanatory text on green tissue crammed inside. More pictures and the backside on my flickr.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Old Boot Dress

This is my new favorite (and so far only) use for old shoes - this is the third piece like this i've done. They are always lent so much character by the material. I can't wait to get this dress on someone with boobs this weekend - It's lovely but too big for me.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Rincon Hill Tower

I have been digging through some strange flickr photos since last I posted. It's undeniable that the tower has fantastic views. I think this view of the financial district from the tower is a little strange and disturbing. Maybe if they would leave it low around the tower I'd be happy - lots of tall thin towers surrounded by tree-filled plazas.

yeah, right.

Monday, August 06, 2007

I do indeed love you, San Francisco

Here is an industry-meets-sky image from a recent sailing trip around the bay. I have been trying to capture the edges and transitions from civilization to sky to use in my laser etching work. All this joyful-grim civilization notwithstanding, what I love most about sailing on the bay is the swift and total transition from bustling city to peaceful smooth and empty beauty. It is amazing what calm exists so close to this shrieking city machine.There is a new tower going into South Beach; if you are in San Francisco you've seen it. It's easy to spot from anywhere that you can see the bay bridge, and loads of places where you can't. It's big, and sticks out so much partly because it's much taller than all the buildings around it.

Today I read this article about new Transbay bus terminal plans. They put a skyrise on top like whipped cream. Funny how none of the people lounging on the lawn in the only outdoor street-level rendering they gave us look like homeless people.

This is the gaping pit on my streetcorner. I've started a photoset documenting its fall and high-rise - two towers coming, 2-300 units. Double parking garage, hold the trees. The wind on this wind tunnel is already bad enough to knock you off your bike when you pass out of the lee of Fox Tower.

I keep saying to anyone who will listen, as a form of watery complaint, "If I had wanted to live in Manhattan I would have moved there." We laugh about condos like they are the new in-joke and sip our drinks at parties. Occasionally I'll meet someone at one of those parties, usually older, who is a little rabid in the eyes and is actually Doing Things about it. They usually tell me to keep doing what I'm doing although I don't know that it's anything. Sure as hell going to vote against Newsom again; maybe you will too? My new roommate Graham told me that he thinks these new paintings - made with the laser etchings! - are reminiscent of earthquake photography. Tons of photos exist of the wreckage of the 1906 quake, all sepia and mottled, full of smoking heaps of rubble and bewildered people wearing voluminous clothes. City deconstructed and crumbling all about. I often feel when I am making these sparse and wandering works on wood like I am sort of dealing out a hand of scraps, scattering like a handful of acorns across the table. Little scraps of our city, being burned away from within.

Let's end on a happy note. See how the fog rolls in over the mission? Living here (especially sailing here!) makes the patterns of weather apparent and very fascinating. Blue sky persists beneath. The night before this picture was taken I walked past the same cross street all dark and echoey late night and heard a theremin echoing down from across the boulevard to curl around my ankles like a cat.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

They like us, they really like us!

A friend told me recently that Pandora's Trunk was mentioned in Readymade Magazine; I called them up and they sent me a lovely copy super fast. They made a spread about shows around the country and Pandora's Trunk is the only event mentioned for the whole Bay Area! I feel so fancy!You may have been wondering to yourself, what's going on with the next Pandora's Trunk? Details ahoy! It's going to be an awesome co-production with cool dance party kids NK7 productions. I met Nicole doing volunteer work for Room to Read, I am looking forward to working with her again. I am excited to be a part of a big professional event like they put on, lots different than the normal Pandora fare. Variety is the spice of life! The most exciting part is that there will be a fashion show where members of the audience will model clothes that they've bought.

NK7 Productions Presents:
Inspriration for the Playa
Sunday, August 19th
2pm - 10pm

Over 20 fashion designers and DJs that inspire us on the playa!
Featuring Music By:

Deep End
Kramer Vs John Early
Deep End/Opulent Temple
Jeffrey Allen vs Hoj
Green Gorilla Lounge
M3 vs Antonio
Space Cowboys
Kapt'n Kirk vs Mancub
House of Lotus
Shissla vs Neeziack
Seismic/Opulent Temple
Murphstar vs Melyss
Sol vs Smoove
Gravity Point
Eric Sharp vs DJ B
Pink Mammoth
Trevor vs Greg Smoke

Pandora's Trunk and Funk n Trunk present
Playa Designs by:
Eion 2013
Get a Headcase
Jan Hilmer
JR Reforming Fashion
Medium Reality
Miranda Caroligne
miss velvet cream
Mythica Masks & Adornments
Shawna Hoffman
Silver Lucy Design
Steam Trunk
Super Sugar Ray Ray
Wendy Darling Design
Wild Card
and many more....
Checks and cash preferred for designs
Performances by:
Auberon Shull
Sound by:
Scrumptious BBQ on the patio!
Bring your hoops, toys and fun furry things and play!

Cafe Cocomo
650 Indiana Street
Free Before 3pm
$10 w/RSVP to
$15 at the door.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sense of Place

Sense of Place is the new working title of my book. The .pdfs below are the first two chunks; they aren't polished perfect but the meat is all there and cooked. The rest is written but has two major hangups still. It is formatted right now in spreads of 6"x6" pages; you may need to rotate the view in your .pdf viewer (I use foxit, wayyyy sleeker program than acrobat). It is formatted to print easily if you are so inclined. Please make sure your printer is set to high quality so you can see the images - they are an important atmospheric part of the story. It's an exciting time for artists like me as high quality image reproduction becomes incredibly accessible and affordable even for simple low-budget projects. I also draw with a nib pen; it sometimes boggles me the aeons of time worth of tools that I have all stockpiled in my house and there at my fingertips for me to use.

Chapter One of my illustrated travel memoir - in final edits now.

Chapter Two of my illustrated travel memoir - in final edits now.

Please, oh please, leave comments or email me if you know how.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Inverse Proportionate

It's a funny feature of this style of publication that the deepest silences often indicate the most frenzied activity. I have been trying desperately to soak up the summer sun, take a little time to have some fun before the clouds roll in, and trying to move some beloved projects forward. Lots has been in the works. First, Pandora's Trunk on June 30th was a big success. People left a bright and perfectly sunny day to hang out with us in our (admittedly airy and sunlit as well) gallery of delights. New musician friend Sandra B was a big hit (see her for free Monday night at Blondie's! I'll be there, 8pm) and my new cowboy shirts practically flew off the rack. My extra-special favorite was the man who turned the girliest pink-and-purple shirt ever into the manliest pink-and-purple shirt ever.

The book is almost complete - I've scanned lots of old negatives (in the process, learning just how unstable that information storage medium really is...) Now just have some auxiliary edits and agreement issues to work out. Look here for .pdf chapter previews soon. Tell all your publisher friends!

I'm throwing an exhibitor reception & artist salon for the Expo for the Artist and Musician and have been putting some ducks in a row for that. I don't want to spill too much till it's solidified but I am getting some really exciting (female! +5 points!) speakers and putting together some really exciting panels. I'm basically getting all my smart friends and business acquaintances to sit together in a room and talk about stuff that's intriguing and confusing to me. How could it go wrong? Especially when that room is CELLspace.

That's it for now. Lots has been going on, too much to write about. More updates soon.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Maybe They're Not So Bad is a sprawling crafts-selling site, web 2.0's handmade answer to ebay. Their rapid growth, actual funding, and general slickness are a little off-putting, though, and I have not entirely embraced them. I'm not the only one. Their very personable representative Matt was one of the few people who didn't look at me like I was an alien at Craft Congress this spring when I talked endlessly about marketing. Theirs is so effective and standalone that to some (myself not necessarily included) it feels like they are trying to brand words like handcrafted. Shields are still up but this listing I came across recently made my little heart go pitter-pat. I'll be tuning in, wish i could be there.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Pandora's Trunk - June 30th

Pandora’s Trunk

Bi-monthly arts & fashion showcase

Saturday June 30 2-7pm

Free admission – live music – free drinks

Mina Dresden Gallery

312 Valencia @ 14th

Pandora’s Trunk Presents Versus

Take part in the eternal dualist battle between good and evil!

The audience will be the players in an all-encompassing game exploding the binary notion of the dark and light sides of life. We will all join together in playful and earnest celebration of life beyond a black-and-white worldview, playing with and against each other in a tipsy and joyful rendition of humanity’s battle with itself. Artists from all parts of the spectrum will present to you their work in paint, fabric, metal, wood, string, spit, and bubblegum. Pick sides and put ‘em up – talk the artists into selling you their work and go home with a pocket-sized unique souvenir of one little drunken corner of a revolution. Each transaction will grant you a pass to win or lose in the name of whichever side you are on. Don’t worry – drinks and merriment are for winners and losers alike.

The art and fashion offerings will come in good and evil and all sizes, shapes and colors. Look out for ties, scarves, cowboy shirts, and jackets for boys and girls from Medium Reality. Miranda Caroligne will of course be there telling you snips and secrets from her upcoming Reconstruction Clothing for Dummies manual. Bad Unkl Sista, Fatima, Rose Pistola, Cotton Candie Stockings and more more more rounding out the fashion plate with clothing and accessories for your most delirious opium dream.

Metallurge casting is coming to showcase astounding and functional art-metal castings that you may have seen at Maker Faire. We are welcoming back sitar player John Arns, and of course handmade gourmet chocolates for your eating pleasure!Visit our website for a frequently updated roster of artists and pictures!

Had fun last time? If you want a quick and easy way to support us in our efforts, take a few seconds to forward this to a few friends who you think would be interested. Word-of-mouth is the most powerful force there is, and we would love to have your help.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Anna Bella Eema

"Cry theater in a crowded fire" -Artaud

Crowded Fire is a standout among SF's scores of young, hungry theatre companies; producing young, fresh, relevant works with a surprising level of polish. Last weekend I had the pleasure of catching Sunday afternoon's performance of Anna Bella Eema at TJT; I decided I had to go see it after a friend said at Zeitgeist "Three women sitting in chairs that they never leave the entire show and it's not boring." This I had to see.

Anna Bella Eema's story coalesces slowly as if out of the scraps of sound with which the show starts; The story is told in fragments that (worry not) slowly cohere to comprehensible language and story. Imagination and reality are interwoven in a meditation on the worlds that we create, choose, and fight against. The show is playing through July 1 at TJT in Potrero, San Francisco. After a brief lull it will be extended July 5-15 in Berkeley. I'm glad I didn't have to cross the bay to see this play but it's one that's worth it. Its exploration of the problematic relationship between wild things and the restrictive but expansive modern world affected me very profoundly.

I stayed after the show for the talkback, not something I normally do. The intimate setting and young company emboldened me; often this can devolve into something very dry. It was disheartening to hear some of the older audience members' confusion about elements of the production which i thought were very well executed. The show interwove reality and fantasy in a very deliberate way, reminiscent of that Latin style of romantic surrealist fiction whose proper genre name escapes me at the moment. A woman asked afterwards about various fluid events meant to blur this boundary, wanting clarity on which had "happened" and which had not. How do you explain the leap she is failing to make here? The (co-)AD who led the talkback was very adroit at handling these kinds of questions. All of the actors came out and were very clearly engaged and invested in the creative whole of the production, which was refreshing. It's frustrating, though, to see a so fully effective (for me) play, and then see it sail right past other members of the audience. Part of me thinks that a play about the modern world caging wild things is naturally going to have more resonance and appeal for a young artist than someone of a certain age in a stable and adult job/life situation. So must artists make work relevant to their audience instead of themselves? Are the concerns and lives of artists necessarily separate from those of their audience? How does an artist compile an audience that they would like to speak to? Ooh, that's a good one. Who do you want your audience to be? What are you trying to accomplish? I make small and populist work because I would like to interact with that audience, I know how to access them, and I understand their needs and motivations the best. It would be nice to reach a broader audience, to spread my thoughts wider than a circle that already believes me. Must an artist create separate works of art for their peers and those who they would like to draw into the fold? How can you present separate works of art, to appeal to a broader array of people, without alienating them into those that 'get it' and those that 'need help'? There is such a real and regrettable social division already between young artists and those who are not artists but educated and mature enough to appreciate their work in a thoughtful way, it's important not to emphasize this.

During the talkback the (co)AD also made a regrettable comparison between theatre and fine art that hangs on the wall. There is a viscerality to a theatrical experience that cannot be paralleled, but there is a pretty clear and delightful way to integrate various levels and styles of work in the visual art world. There is also, I think, something of great value in being able to reference a work over years, through different periods of time in your life. The painting may only sit there over the years, but you can come to it every day and compare your ongoing life experiences with that same (hopefully) soaring, complex vision of reality to see how they change in relation to each other.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Art for Profit

Profit vs non?

I have existed in the nonprofit world my entire professional life, until a year ago when I chucked it all and started a business. My theatrical design/production training included a sketchy overview (from mr. i-like-to-dress-like-a-pirate) of the way nonprofits and theatre administration work but it's very much an art that requires specialization and groups, and the work that I do is not on the track to leadership. (we'll get back to that, don't worry)

The fundamental difference between the two is that the nonprofit cannot make money above and beyond the salaries of its employees, while the whole point of a for-profit business is to do the same. Does this make them diametrically opposed? In a non-profit, the ultimate decision-making body is the board of directors. This board only necessarily has to be one person but is often many, often rich, often opinionated, often ego-driven "supporters" of the arts. Theatres are always then run by the artistic director, followed by the managing director. This points to another major difference, a noble ideal of putting creative in a position to trump business. The result, though, is that most theatres are managed by an actor, and have their strings pulled by a collection of bored retirees. Maybe this is why they are so fucked up.

For-profit entities can be run however they please. Mine is a benevolent dictatorship at present. As long as it is completely opt-in, a benevolent dictatorship is an appealing social model to me (it's a bonus that I get to be the dictator, sure). I'm not looking to become a national t-shirt chain, though, although that's a successful 'indie business' model. the internet is flooded with (especially) women looking to turn their at-home crafting into some sort of dream job. The companies that exist in any kind of major way all sometimes seem to produce the same pap as ever, only labeled 'indie'. Artists are often asked by collectors to paint work to match the couch - if they are lucky enough to know any collectors. Paintings as cheap as $20 become a hard sell when they are placed next to a t-shirt, also $20. It has utility! I must purchase it! Don't kid yourself - successful corporations have brainwashed you with their superscientific marketing research and ultra million dollar advertising budgets. The designer becomes a production position in a clothing manufacturing firm; the structure of the manufacturing process and your business practices seem to matter so much more than your actual product to the scale of your success.

Do the arts simply not make money? Must a business run effectively necessarily be watering down its creative product? Is compromise necessary for commercial success? Is compromise even bad? In theatre, all the artists learn to work with the limitations of the script - these limitations are like the rocky crevasses in tidepools where the interesting things happen. Sea anemones are best at clinging to the turns and corners of when things must fit around something else. Compromise is food for the creative engine.

Going Independent

I left theatre because I ceased to see jobs in the future that I wanted to have - the culture of regional theatre doesn't place my skill set equal to others' in the command structure. This rift between administration and production seems to be a little universal - a friend at Amazon described basically identical frustrations of not being allowed to manage projects on a macro level, but being expected to carry out the work as capriciously decided by management. It boggles my mind the way organizations of all kinds will hire people to act as project managers, but not actually want them to carry out these vital, cost-saving tasks. Value is placed on getting what you want regardless of what the guys who actually have to carry it out have to say about the ramifications. What makes these practices abusive in the profit and non-profit fields alike is the way undercompensated employees can trace what could have been a raise of their salary through waste they could have prevented if they were empowered to do so. Kathleen Fasanella has great examples of this in her book, and lots of practical management advice that heads of organizations would be well served to heed.

Next Step

A few days ago I went to a house fete for Indy Arts and Media, a local nonprofit that produces a nonpartisan news feed and an arts/media expo here in San Francisco. I will probably be doing some work with these guys in the coming months. There was a little speechifying at the event. Emphasis was placed on integrity, and i wrote word for word "we will not influence the content of what you do". It seems like a young, lean, excited organization, and I like the one guy I've talked to. The speeches made sense. I'm curious to peek behind the curtain to see where this odd-shaped org fits into my Spectrum of Questions and Issues - maybe there will even be a few answers from the Nonprofit side.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

SFist Writeup!

A little bit late but I just discovered that, a popular local events and culture blog, wrote about my work after seeing me at APE a month ago. Thanks, guys! I wish I knew how to do the clever # thing where the link clicks directly to the part of the article about me but you will have to scroll down. Stop complaining and just use the space bar, kids!

While we are on the topic of my fantastic self, here is an image of me from the photographers who were here last week (two weeks ago? er...). can't wait to see more!

Why am I doing all these vanity searches, you may ask? A few old acquaintances have found me, one through some press I got, and I am always wondering what people are saying about me out there. A big part of my job, after all, is trying to get people to pay. attention. to. ME!

Monday, May 21, 2007


I am writing everywhere to let people know about this awesome place I found out about this weekend. It's a really cool project and I hope it succeeds. (fixed the link! oops!) is the URL for this open-access shop; you can sign up for a day, a month, or a year, and use equipment ranging from saws and stuff, CNC routing technology, laser cutters that can be used on metals, plastics, wood, and FABRIC!!, as well as sewing machines, sergers.... well, you get the idea. The only catch is that it's in Menlo Park but at $100 a month even I have a hard time arguing with that.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Make this!

Today was Maker Day, a day of casual programming for the people who are part of Maker Faire this weekend. People presented and talked about various projects, starting with a guy who built a cart that travels on CA's decaying abandoned rails. I am sure lots of people (i sat next to scott beale from laughing squid for a little while) are blogging all the gory details of the day's presentations, so if you are interested please do search them out. it was a fascinating day. I was a little bummed about the male-dominated science makers and the female-dominated craft makers. I started thinking about ways to change that, and still miss my construction and engineering flavored times. i like doing the work in textiles, but was reminded today of the pragmatic reasons i chose that career path when i started working for myself. Textiles and apparel, as raw materials, are easier to get, sustainably, for a lower cost. The tooling and machinery is far simpler (I'm sure Kathleen Fasanella would argue with me there, but hopefully you can see the ways in which this is true). The business I launched was designed to give me a model that could get off the ground basically right away, inexpensive and thus low-risk to start and run. Textiles were a fun hobby and I don't mind the work, but I need to get dirty more often again.
A book I have on handicrafts cultures from around the world notes that in traditional cultures globally, crafts are typically done by the women until the technology to produce them reaches a certain level of complexity. Then the men take over.

Now why the hell would that be?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Put your soldiers in a row

Right now is all about clearing out old projects, moving things forward, tightening up operations. I have reached a promotional plateau in my company and the reward is leisure time. not much, but any is a huge improvement. I can now focus on producing enough work to get paid what i would like and carrying forth my active promotional efforts. The first phase, that of looking under every rock like a tiny monkey looking for termites to eat, is over.

This year i will do everything i started doing last year, well. Oh, and I started compiling a book, a sort of travelogue. it is about halfway done.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Pandora photo & paintings

My friend Chuck recently brought me a CD of miscellaneous images he's had in his back pocket. Included are this lovely shot of the event itself, at its newest home:

a shot of my tiny paintings at the show:

and this shot of a painting that sold before it was even done. it's pretty good, huh? i need to do more medium and large-sized ones with bus transfers.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Don Marinelli

I just came across this photo of the man who taught me theatre management. (well, this guy taught me theatre management also. Don's class was on a more administrative & fundamental level, David's classes far more practical.) I'm finally using tons of the stuff that I learned from Don. I went to a seminar at The Foundation Center the other day that thoroughly renewed my resolve to excavate my notebooks from his classes.

Don Marinelli runs Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center. He's a smart, smart man.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Rough Hands

Here is a recent painting I am only now getting around to documenting. It's about 18x24".

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Craft Congress, Pandora Success

Pandora's Trunk yesterday went amazingly well! The new venue, which I still need to co back and restore to its original state, was fantastic. My helpers were super-helpful! I will post more details later but there is much still to do (we gave away fabulous prizes. To who? well, er, I've got to do the drawing yet.) In the meanwhile you can read this report of the recent conference I attended. Autumn and I sat next to each other at dinner (as you can see from my weird-face picture. I hope that's a weird face. is that really what I look like?) on the first night and became good friends. I have a giant binder of files waiting to be processed still from that trip too, but now you can read a bit about the conference. It gave me tons of ideas, too, but now I get to implement them for my next show!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pandora's Trunk frantic preparations

The show is in just a few days and I feel pretty prepared - all I have to do is stock up on my own work - oops! I am all prepared for the show, though - even having made signs and everything. I could always do a little more promoting, naturally, and have to buy booze later today (vewy impowtant!) but other than that just need to sew sew sew and paint paint paint. A new friend agreed to help set up food and then proceeded to plan to drop it off entire and ready moments before the show starts. Yes ma'am! I have added a great new designer, Darina Drapkin, to the lineup. I have no doubt that her prices will be rather high but her work.... oh, her work. You'll just have to come see.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Derek Kirk Kim is totally cute

I spent all weekend at the Alternative Press Expo and had a blast. People were very appreciative of my work (i sold a bunch of little paintings!) and I must have distributed about a thousand cards for Pandora's Trunk. I also got to meet a comic whose work I really like, Derek Kirk Kim. I spent the first day squeezed in next to one of R. Crumb's contemporaries, who was hawking vintage comics of that era. It was an era of filth humor, though, so the comics are all things like "Twat" and "Jizz". He just kept calling out obscenities, the names of the comics, over and over again. The second day of the event those guys didn't come back so I got to spread out over the whole table - and had way better love from the audience as a result!

Pandora's Trunk is coming fast and furious - this weekend! Our live screenprinter bailed at the last minute so I have been trying to put together some kind of art production performance and fill the extra space that was created. I am putting some polishing touches on the website; I spent all day making signs and paperwork and screwing around with a recalcitrant printer, and answering as many goddamn emails as I could possibly manage - way not enough. Sometimes being a professional artist is not very goddamn exciting at all.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Mad Science

While cleaning my office today I came across this picture from False Profit's Alchemy party last month. Much mad science was performed.

I am making more spiky hair worms in last-minute preparation for the Alternative Press Expo this weekend - two jampacked days of indie press freakfest. Mmmmm. I have a ton of paintings done up and packed, I am shoveling out the leftovers of the postchristmas madness in my life and Laurie Anderson is playing on my headphones. One week till Pandora's Trunk!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Pandora's Trunk goes nuclear

... in the good way, I mean. I managed to land a small cash sponsorship so there will be food, a decent spread of food. I think that I have professional help for this spread, so those of you who have been saying that I need it for years finally get your satisfaction. This goes along with the booze that we always have, naturally. I'm looking forward to a show that doesn't start with me moving every couch and bicycle in the house. The new art gallery venue combined with some theatrical assistance from the Magic Theatre (a small stage and some theatrical curtains) is really taking the show to another level of polish. The artists are mostly coordinated and complementary and the painter who did the show that will be up at the gallery will be present selling his comic book. What a strange assortment you will meet! I feel pretty great about the organizational state of the show - I am shining up the website a little right now, tracking down broken links before its usual pre-event onslaught of viewers. As always it's a little bit of a mystery what the result of all this work will be on April 28th, but as I sit here burnishing my armor and sharpening my sword, I feel pretty good about my level of preparedness.

Bring it on.

Pandora’s Trunk - 1 Year Anniversary!

A bi-monthly eclectic arts showcase & fashion sample sale

Saturday April 28th 1-7pm

free admission - live music - free drinks

Mina Dresden Gallery 312 Valencia @ 14th, San Francisco

Visual Vaudeville & Built Burlesque

"Vaudeville" is thought to come from the french ‘voix de ville’, voice of the city. Come let us speak to you. We will tell you a tale of independent artists and designers, making satirical and sexy statements like the vaudevillians of old, out of anything they can lay their dirty little hands on. Our first anniversary is shaping up to be a blowout party! We have busted our old studio at the seams and are coming to you from an all new location where the Mission and SoMa meet.

The event will feature a fashion sample sale, including local firecrackers Miranda Caroligne, Bad Unkl Sista, Medium Reality & the inimitable Shannon Riley.

Artist and screenprinter Marshall Adams, who you may know from his work at Porcelynne, will be there screen printing his designs live onto a shirt of your own choosing. It doesn’t get any more custom than that!

Local musical bombshell Kitten on the Keys will be there playing the sexiest instrument known to womankind, and the smoky-hot Jahmayo will be joining us from LA, guaranteed to be wearing the tightest pants ever donned by a black man who wasn’t Prince.

Indie designers, producers, and artists will be joining us with jewelry, photography, paintings, gourmet chocolate, housewares and more, using leather and feathers, metals precious and base, acrylic plastic, and resin-coated paper along with the traditional ribbons and bows to make you beautiful… with teeth.

Visit our website for a frequently updated roster of artists with pictures and links! Contact us to get involved!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Going Corpro

Here is dance video. I guess I would call it minimalist breakdancing; it's also an advertisement. This dance troupe does something pretty creative and cool - are they like the monkees, formed by a company for a purpose, or are they like blue man group, formed for the work and then later popular enough to have a viable commercial career? Here is another Youtube video, of a giant piece of artwork (in bed with physics) that can walk under motive power from a gust of wind. This thing certainly cost a pretty penny to build.

At Craft Congress this weekend, Becky and I argued a bit over the idea of corporate sponsorship of indie efforts. It's an interesting issue.

Scion spent a bunch of money sponsoring music events and throwing its swag everywhere in the hip hop community, and there's been a recent backlash against it. They have been sponsoring arts events for a while now as well, including the CC itself. It's interesting that their involvement there was much more low-key; they in fact did not want their logo on materials or branding present in any way. They had an art gallery briefly in hayes valley san francisco. I went to an opening at that gallery; there were cars in the middle of the room, car seats with video games in the corner, and branding everywhere. We ended up getting into a protracted disagreement with security after the opening had ended because they kept trying to empty the public sidewalk outside of the gallery. It was overall a pretty opressively 'corporate' experience. So what has changed from their gallery last year to the Congress today - is it the very different nature of the event? Has the company learned from the backlash, or is it a calculated move to affect the hearts and minds in such and so a way? Does it much matter if the only difference made in your life by their presence is the fat wads of money they give you? Maybe.

When I was in high school I was accepted into a prestigious state-funded summer arts program, Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts. We all arrived for our five week program brimming with artistic idealism and a sort of awe at the idea of being part of a community consisting only of artists. A piece of work was collected from each of the visual artists to put on an initial 'portfolio showing', but we were shocked to learn a restriction: no nudes. The state was unwilling to compel its students to view representations of nudity. A nasty feeling crept into my guts to learn that similarly, the literature students were restricted from reading explicit poetry. The dance & acting students could only go so far. Obscene songs would not be allowed. I spoke with the administration over the issue to learn their concerns and generated a solution - an additional show where attendance was not mandatory. The administration encouraged me to do it, giving me an empty studio to occupy. My two 'uncensored' shows were a success - students were able to produce and perform work that would have been forbidden. Alix Olson baked me a cake. The lesson that I took away from this experience, which stays with me to this day, is the idea of how much can be accomplished by working with established authority, on your own terms.

A strange undercurrent of the new indie crafts movement is the sponsorship of events that many promoters are seeking and accepting. Is this a compromise of the integrity of what we do, or voluntary sponsorship of the arts, good citizenship on the part of corporations? I think each case is different, and each relationship must be examined with care. I also think that the arts have never been lucrative, and the idea of corporate citizenship acts must be considered because those big entities are not going away, and they are not going to stop having all the money. The fact of the matter is that money is the way that our society places value on time and at some point if a profession does not include any money the practitioners of it will not be able to sustainably establish a career. Career span allows an artist or artisan to hone finer points of craft and understanding, allowing these fundamental aspects of our culture to move forward, making progress the same way technology or medicine must progress. The anarchistic bent inside of me looks forward to a time when we can all support ourselves diffusely, through person-to-person interactions. If in the meantime I can get a hand up towards this goal without being asked to compromise my goals, I am going to examine the hand stretched towards me for filth and then, detecting none, grasp it firmly and reach upwards.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Getting in on the Ground Floor

I am in my hometown (Pittsburgh PA) attending Craft Congress, a conference of indie arts and crafts events organizers, distro activists, and group organizers. There is this great article about it in the Pittsburgh paper. A lot of really great conversations and information are coming out of the conference: ideas about sponsorship, marketing, current and future practices. The attendees are from all over and we are spending a lot of time comparing things that we do differently and things that we do the same. These comparisons are really valuable although we are finding that there's lots and lots and lots of things that simply don't overlap between events from various regions and subcultures. This is the second industry conference I've ever been to and it's drastically different - only fifty attendees, lots and lots of group discussion. I attended a technical theatre conference when i was in college, very much as a student. Now I feel like a bit of a leader; I've been sitting in the front of the room and have been very vocal. I am putting faces behind a lot of organizations that I've heard of and dealt with, and strengthening some pre-existing ties. I'm also seeing a side of Pittsburgh I never saw much of before: little independent arts organizations that I didn't have the resources or time to seek out when I was living here. There's some really interesting flavor in this city; we've spent some time, too, talking this weekend about why it never seems to quite percolate to the top. I'm still convinced it can.

Friday, March 23, 2007

More Opel Pics, and Alchemy

It's been pretty quiet around here; I've been reconstructing the shambles of my life and business left by an extended trip out of town, and simultaneously gearing up to go to Pittsburgh for the first annual Craft Congress. It's a small conference, about 50 people, by the leaders and organizers of the growing new wave handcrafts movement. Event organizers, distro projects, magazines, and websites will be representing from all over the US and beyond. Here a new friend of mine has hosted the event's press release properly... I'm barely able to keep up with my own promotional efforts. I have been busy, though - check out the updated artist list for April 28th's Pandora's Trunk!

I have gotten to see some better pictures from the Opel show last weekend. here's one from my good friend Chuck who came to shoot the show (but is sitting on the rest of his pictures! oh, the suspense!):

that's me taking my bow, feeling sheepish and strange on the catwalk. Here are a few shots I pulled from the mvgals gallery:

Finally, this is what I'll be up to this weekend: Running with Scissors (a part of Alchemy).

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Opel V a success!

The show tonight came off without a hitch - amazingly smooth! Well, more than one last-minute change got made but nothing too overwhelming. All the models were very accommodating of our ministrations, nobody freaked out about anything, and lots of people enjoyed the work. Strangers grabbed me to tell me so. I saw my dear friends Chuck and Lizanne front and center photographing the runway, so hopefully I will have some better evidence later. In the meanwhile, some backstage snaps:

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Where the Hell Have You Been?

OK, well at least this time there is a very legitimate excuse. I have been in The Middle East. I landed a free trip to Israel, funded by various parts of the world zionist conspiracy (if you believe in such a thing) and am finishing up a scant few days in New York on my way back to San Francisco that I have used to variously see friends, family, and recover from jet lag, sleep deprivation, brain overflowing syndrome, and snotty illness. I am still blowing a little blood out with the snots but none of it has drained into my lungs so I am pronouncing that a victory.

I am in the process of processing my photos and uploading them to the interwebs (I only have a free account on flickr so some of it may have to wait until next month rolls over my upload limits) and while I don't have as many as I'd like of various points & people on the trip I do have puh-lenty of shots. I will post a few here as a teaser and promise to put up more. Somehow in the next week and a half in addition to preparing for my runway show this weekend (Opel V) (San Franciscans who want to get in half-price drop me an email) and a live construction event next weekend (Alchemy/Running With Scissors) I will post trip reports. Cross my heart. I further pledge that the next time I take a trip I will have already taken the time to learn what all of the stupid buttons on this new-to-me digital camera do, so I can go back to my original ways of silly little things like being able to manually adjust my aperture settings. Advance apologies for over-exposed and poorly adjusted photographs. Still Learning the Technology.