Monday, November 24, 2008

JSC Boggs

JSC Boggs is my kind of performance artist. He creates elaborate, creative illustrations of money and then 'spends' them. He challenged himself to survive for an entire year exclusively by trading his art for what he needed.

Here are his rules:
*don't sell the drawings, exchange them at face value for goods and services (a $10 drawing~face value~ for $10 worth of goods)
*during the transaction, don't reveal that there are collectors all over the world trying to track down the 'Boggs Notes' who are willing to pay many, many times the face value on the piece
*wait at least 24 hours before selling the receipt and change from the transaction to a collector
*don't give the collector any extra information; they have to track down the piece on their own and negotiate a purchase

He was once arrested for counterfeiting in England and later, in Australia. As he sat at the table during his trial in England, he spent his time drawing English Banknotes. (Hahahaha, perfect!)
I first heard about Boggs in the New Yorker (3/1992) in an article (*this link might not work, the New Yorker archives are accessible to subscribers only) by Elizabeth Wurtzer. Read it, it's remarkable.

The US Secret Service once raided an exhibit and his home and confiscated most of his artwork. He was never charged with counterfeiting in the US, yet his work has not been returned.* Yeah, that's Boggs in the middle
He draws francs when in France, dollars in the US, yen in Japan. I suppose he has mastered the Euro by now too.

Isn't it just *amazing how people use their talents?
*this applies to both artists and government officials; right....amazing

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tales; Ruby, Jam, Gwendolyn Fig, Woodrow, and Robberbear

The characters in Tales are becoming rather aggressive. They want to take over my blog. I told them they could have every third post, but they want in all the time. And they are multiplying! There are fourteen of them now; and more are struggling to get out. It might get out of control soon, but I am resisting their importuning. They are so insistent; it is not easy. Anyway here are a few more graffiti additions from scraps of sketches unearthed from the bottom of my bag...

Ruby (dachshund)

Ruby is a daydreamer, rather quiet and shy. Although she nurses a silent wound that you will never find out about, she is in no way a tragic figure. Tango is her passion, she goes out dancing five nights a week. She is currently unemployed, but aspires to be a vegan chef. She knows how to yodel and loves Woody Allen films. She keeps a pet parakeet that she spends hours each day training to talk and perform tricks. Her roommate surreptitiously teaches it swear words, which thoroughly confuses Ruby. A willowy beauty, she has the sweetest, most generous and selfless nature of anyone you will ever meet.

Robberbear (tiny bear)

Abandoned by her dysfunctional family at a very young age, Robberbear's growth was severely stunted by a chronic lack of food. Consequently, she is quite petite for a bear (and disarmingly cute) but I would suggest that you avoid eye contact. She never sleeps because an inky bitterness seeps into her brain when she lets her guard down. Sometimes she does drift off and while sleepwalking, commits heinous acts of violence. During her waking hours she has a most pleasant demeanor and poses no threat whatsoever. The trick is to know the difference because she sleeps with her eyes open. It is best to beat a hasty retreat if you encounter her.

Jam (toast)

Jam drinks red wine (lots) and smokes Lucky Strikes (and lots) and is chronically late. A master of ikebana, he teaches at the Chinese garden. He is addicted to Moon Cakes and after classes he swipes them from the Tea House. He is generous to a fault (he won't ever let you pay him back) and has the most endearing grin on the planet. Suspicious of modern technology, he listens to music by playing records on a turntable, writes all correspondence longhand, and uses a medium format film camera for his photography. He needs glasses but refuses to wear them and thus is constantly bumping into things. Which explains all the bruises. Well, that and the drinking...

Gwendolyn Fig (white cat)

Gwendolyn Fig aspires to a career in writing and is a stickler for good grammar. She cannot abide the improper use of quotation marks or the way most people use the word 'hopefully'. Her favorite snack is a soy nut butter sandwich smeared with a mash of condiments that she mixes on a plate with a fork. She has a ferocious cowlick and, unlike most cats, rarely bathes. Academically competitive and extremely bright, she has always been at the top of her class. She spends her free time making clothes for her paper doll collection while listening to terrible rap music (the Ying Yang Twins!). You will find her in the forefront of humanitarian causes, where she serves selflessly and energetically. Her patience is legendary and beauty unsurpassed.

Woodrow (owl)

Woodrow is very observant, noticing the most subtle interactions between people. He will act with a gentle kindness to assuage hurts he perceives, even if he had nothing to do with it.
An avid hiker, he is passionate about fungi of all kinds, especially Oregon white truffles. He collects plants and has an uncanny knack for finding new species. Bright, but unschooled, he exchanges cuttings with botanists all over the world. He is a huge fan of Star Trek and, anticipating fulfilling a life long dream of attending a Trekkie convention, he practices Klingon and the Vulcan salute day and night. He regularly loses his voice for up to a week from singing screamo music with his band, the Blackfoot Attack. Somewhat lax about nutrition, he has a tendency to tremble constantly.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cold flower heads are raining over my heart

Cold flower heads are raining over my heart. ~Neruda
Well, not really on my heart, at least not this minute. But I have started a series of platters with phrases, poems, and snippets of evocative prose that I am pretty excited about.
The opposite of a profound truth is also a profound truth. ~Niels Bohr
Let the beauty you love be what you do. ~Rumi

My inital plan was that these plates would be chargers, looking very cool and interesting on the table before the dinner plates were set. I started out simply writing freehand, in the border, nice and loose. It doesn't always come out symmetrically balanced, so I ad-lib the rest with leaves or scrolls. I like the rustic vernaculalr feel of this.
But now I am thinking they might be used more often singly, as platters, that might hang on the wall when not in use. And that makes me think I should be more intentional with my lettering and spacing. So, stay tuned for the next interation.
Don't let your mind go outside your heart. ~Papaji
A life without passion is no life at all. ~Madgesdig

I keep a notebook going to record things I come across in my reading that might work on a platter. I also put single words that I like on the back of my dinner plates as a little gift to the dishwasher(that's the only person that would normally see them). But I think most people use a mechanical dishwasher. Which is fine, it does use less water than the way most people wash dishes by hand. But I think you lose part of the experience of having handmade pieces if you don't take every opportunity to actually handle them
Thich Nhat Hanh is eloquent in describing washing dishes:
"There are two ways to wash the dishes. One is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash dishes in order to wash the dishes. If while washing the dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not 'washing the dishes to wash the dishes'. What's more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact, we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can't wash the dishes, the chances are we won't be able to drink our tea either...we are sucked away into the future and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life." ~The Miracle of Mindfulness

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tales, half of them don't feel well

Ranger is 3rd out of 940,769 tetris players worldwide. He should probably get out a bit more.
Lucy has the sniffles. She allows herself to watch tv during the day.
It actually makes her feel worse.

Arturo finally gets a haircut. It makes him quite happy.Yeti has the sniffles. He takes it very hard.
Bear moves into a big house. He wishes they could afford to heat it.

Boise has the sniffles. Little comes over to watch movies with him while he stays home from school.

The advice nurse wants Little to go to the hospital for pain medication, but Little avoids another ER visit by toughing it out.
Malone waits on a bench. He is on another one of his secret missions.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I got a book about Alexander Calder when I was in middle school. Delving into the book gave me my first glimmer of what it might be like to actually be an artist. The book pictured his Connecticut farmhouse and studio. Art was everywhere and, from then on, that was the image I held of how I wanted to live when I grew up.
One of the things that charmed me the most about him was how, in addition to great art, he made things for daily use around the house. He made jewelry for his wife from copper pieces and wire (how romantic!); knives, forks and spoons for the table from bits of metal scraps. It was as though his life and work were all of a piece, art and life weren't separated into compartments, creativity flowed through everything he did.Louisa Calder's dressing table
I was entranced with his childhood; his parents were both artists and he always had a studio space for himself in the various homes where they lived. I was envious of of his adult life too; he lived in Paris and was friends with Miro, Arp, and Marcel Duchamp. He worked with Martha Graham. The woman he later married was related to Henry James and philosopher William James. I vaguely remember that Calder had a dust-up with the actor, Burgess Meredith, about a film project and money shenanigans. It was all so exotic and fascinating.Furthermore, I loved (and love) his work.
The wire sculptures.The circus.

The mobiles. The stabiles.
All of it!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


We are intent on foraging, gathering, and growing most of our food this year. So far, we have clams, mussels, huckleberries, blackberries, apples, pears, and grapes.
Hazelnuts, more mushrooms and truffles to come. Maybe crawdads and crab.Jewel-like grapes
Steaming to extract the grape juice
It tastes good mixed with sparkling water, homemade Italian sodas, mmmmm...
Plus, we have all the regular garden vegetables (broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, etc.). Cherry tomatoes
We bought the freshest salmon ever on Saturday ($8.00/lb!) at the Portland Farmer's Market, from a Native American man who had caught it in the Columbia River the night before. Luckily, the Pacific Northwest is a pretty good area to live in if you want to eat locally all year long. In the past, I have kept the garden going all winter with cold hardy vegetables and a plastic cloche.

I just bought a shiitake mushroom block. It is supposed to yield three pounds of mushrooms, and can keep going for a long time. It is not an aesthetically pleasing addition to the kitchen, but I need to tend it (keeping it moist*, mainly). Shiitakes are very flavorful and are good immune-system boosters.
looks like meatloaf, sprouting chopsticks
not attractive
*I was listening to Roy Blount Jr. on the radio yesterday, talking about his book, Alphabet Juice. Apparently, the word "moist" is one that many people cannot stand to hear. The kids and I used to keep a running list of what we called "forbidden words". We agreed to avoid them in conversation, not because they were obscene, but because they create an unpleasant visceral response. Mr. Cranky can't stand to hear people say "absolutely" and "kinda", but that is because they are misused and over-used, not because they make him feel creepy inside. I wish I could find that list, I do remember someone hating the word "vile".Here's a quote from the book:
"I do hope you realize that every time you use disinterested to mean uninterested, an angel dies, and every time you write very unique, or 'We will hire whomever is more qualified,' thousands of literate people lose yet another little smidgen of hope."
I love words.