Wednesday, June 20, 2007

While waiting for corrections on an InDesign chapter, I ran across an an article on artist, Florin Ion Firimita.
A couple ideas in here that I don't wish to forget yet:
"I think that beauty is still a dirty word. I guess we owe that to the postmodernists. But I think that beauty is still out there, despite of what we make of it.

"I think we are lost in language stunts. The internal disease in some of contemporary art is the absence of compassion (in a broader sense) and a terrible separation between art and the public. These days, there are no mediators between the public and artist. Critics have failed to do that by encrypting art and building barriers between the two worlds.

quotes are by Firimita, article by Richard Whittaker in Works & Conversations
I linger on the "absence of compassion" bit.
Why did I haul my art around the Bay in recent weekends? To gauge response, see people laugh at office supplies, and ask the questions "why powerlines?" "how long does it take?" "is there a secret meaning?" The interesting part of this equation is those other people and what the art inspires (or doesn't) in them...

Monday, June 18, 2007

marin arts fair 07

marin arts fair 07
marin arts fair 07,
originally uploaded by robin kibby.

The weekend Brian and I crossed the bridge west to participate in the Marin Arts Fair. My booth was near the stilt-walker section of the grounds so we got to see a band of modern gypsies transform into corset wearing long-legged clowns, dragons,and sunflowers. The children were face-painted and costumed as well, and danced and played at the end of ribbon-leashes held by an adult. Their camp was articulated by the modern caravan of Dodge Sprinter vans and Prius cars. After the make up came off, the kids wrestled in the grass and sang.

We were literally facing the music, so both days started with Tico drumming and mellowed into afternoon guitar or banjo.

On the art-end, it was a change to hear from the Marin crowd. They are not used to seeing the Bay from the East, so had difficulty identifying where my big Berkeley (grizzly peak-ish view) was from. At Live Oak Park, most visitors were filled with local pride and recognition of a good spot. Marin elicited more puzzled looks and questions. My decision to leave out the Golden Gate bridge was more controversial here than in Berkeley. Some were excited or amused by my attention to simple objects, and some excited to see brush-stroke activity on the canvas. After a speedy tour of the grounds, I see how this could be a novelty amid booths of flowers, fruits, and seasides floating on smooth canvas.

When I consider my hopes and expectations for this summer's fairs, they were all met - I gave out cards, met new folks, and nothing fell down or took flight in a stiff breeze. I ate well, had great company, and met some folks that I hope will turn into good future friends.

The Marin event was 3 times larger and more commercial than last weekend - both by the type of product and in the way it was put together. The shiny white-peaked tent tops were quite nice (Bri got a lot of cool pix of them). And the location was stellar, next to a big lagoon. Lunch was a mean portabella sandwich and hand scooped ice cream for dessert. Highlights included seeing some family and friends I haven't caught up with for a while.

Along with all the good vibes, I returned home super-tired and with a feeling of uncertainty. I guess I am a gypsy as well, seeking the right white walls and crowd to show to. For now, all I can do is make more work and keep moving around, looking for the perfectly placed wedge of pegboard or empty walls under track lighting.

Project of the day is to reclaim the living room from the piles of plastic boxes full of art goods and return the van. I spent a good hour at Andronico's and treated myself to delicious snacks, a jug of superfood juice, and the ingredients for good baking.

Not sure if I will cross the Bay again next year -- I will wait for a few more nights good sleep to decide.

Friday, June 15, 2007

tent tops

tent tops
tent tops,
originally uploaded by robin kibby.

Gotta blogga this one. Tent tops at Live Oak Park Fair. Favorite image of the day (photo by Brian Donaldson).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

binder clip cards

binder clip cards
binder clip cards,
originally uploaded by robin kibby.

The day after the Live Oak Fair, someone sent my this poem in the email. Melancholic and perfect. Brought the bone memory of my first days' filing sifting and sorting back in full.

by Theodore Roethke

I have known the inexorable sadness of pencils,
Neat in their boxes, dolor of pad and paper-weight,
All the misery of manila folders and mucilage,
Desolation in immaculate public places,
Lonely reception room, lavatory, switchboard,
The unalterable pathos of basin and pitcher,
Ritual of multigraph, paper-clip, comma,
Endless duplication of lives and objects.
And I have seen dust from the walls of institutuions,
Finer than flour, alive, more dangerous than silica,
Sift, almost invisible, through long afternoons of tedium,
Dropping a fine film on nails and delicate eyebrows,
Glazing the pale hair, the duplicate grey standard faces.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Art in the Park

Kibby Art in the Park
Kibby Art in the Park,
originally uploaded by robin kibby.

Ok, so i usually show work in my little space that's hard to find on the edge of Oakland. A dozen or so folks come by to visit and chat each day of Open Studios. Last weekend I actually congratulated my visitors for finding me.
Its all good, but has never answered my "how do I make this my living as a painter?" question.
So, for a change of pace, I filled the Prius with art, and ventured off of 5th Avenue to participate in the Live Oak Park fair in Berkeley.

Brian generously helped me cobble together a "tent" from some ingredients I found at Orchard Supply Hardware, Jo-Ann Fabrics, and (gasp) Target. We arrived parkside as the sun was descending Friday. The park was already filled with white domes, peaks, and sturdy fabric covered walls. Art fair veterans were clamping the final tarp wall over their space and heading off for dinner and rest. The security guard eyed us skeptically as we hammered 6-foot lengths of L-shaped metal into the ground with a rubber mallet. By post #4, he offered us a large irregular-shaped rock he found on the park edge an alternate tool to hasten the process. A nice thought, but potentially more tricky than swinging the rubber mallet at head-height. The metal pieces were intended to create wall-supports, the canopy for shade. Our tent had wobbly legs and was about a foot too short. Four paint buckets, several yards of twine, and the knot-tying efforts of a veteran Eagle Scout were employed to lift and retrofit my cheap canopy into a sturdy art shelter. 4 yards of fabric later, we had "walls" and a reasonable disguise for our goofy tent legs. Between the spool of metal hanging wire and a fistful of zip ties, we hung all the work.
A small pseudo shelf (another Target special) propped on a stack of bricks displayed the 4" x 4" highways.
Baskets were filled with cards, and a proper print-display stand filled with giclee prints.

When we brought in work on Saturday morning someone said "look! gorgeous paintings."
We hauled our goods past quilts, painted metal antiques, glass cases full of jewelry & herbal remedies. Our 10x10 plot was in the 'industrial art' section on a corner. One neighbor created copper panels "painted" with patinas, and the other welded metal collages using parts of old cars.

And maybe I'll skip to the super-good part of the story. People seemed genuinely excited about my work. They would round the corner of my area and break into a big smile while talking about color, the location, and the pretty things that can be seen in stuff that is often not-attractive. They'd chuckle at the binder clips or the highways.

One person bought a power pole print so she could come to terms with the one right outside her window.

In past weeks I've been advised "no one buys paintings at fairs" or "just bring small work".. but once there, it seemed like the big stuff was important. The big size contrasts well against the eclectic mix of tiny things. It got to do what big 2-d pieces do best - speak to strangers about color, place, and composition from far away or close up.
I met lots of civil engineers, urban planners, architects, and construction workers. I saw neighbors and friends. I actually met someone who recognized this building and said "I planned that development!". My art booth-neighbors tolerated my barrage of questions, were excellent company, and were ready to offer advice or help when needed.

I finally got to sell a lot of my card packs (been refining these combos for years), my new prints as well as original work. I got to talk about how much care was taken to capture detail and color of the originals. And icing on the cake... my highways and one of the large diptychs of the hillside sold. This is a huge deal for me, since I am really proud of this work and *just* decided to offer the big ones for sale. Gave out a fistful of business cards an mets lots of good folks. I may have re-told my stories over the day, but everyone who walked up, brought something fresh with them. I left convinced that art reinforces this intangible good thing in the world. It's a starting point for discoveries and connections.

Today, I am exhausted. The living room is full of paintings, papers, and prints. I am puttering around drinking lots of tea. I washed the car and Brian's motorcycle (as a thank you for his help!). It feels like the day after a big holiday soiree. Spent and content.
Behind it all, is a quiet sense that there is hope for this profession.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Micro Art Ramble

Oakland Maze - side detail
Oakland Maze - side detail,
originally uploaded by robin kibby.

My wall is filled with post-it notes to work out the "to-dos" of the month. This week includes "build frames, make card sets, web project 1, and web project 2, create photo inventory of work, test credit card setup, etc." I don't expect to finish all these things, just whichever ones will keep me from losing sleep. Tomorrow's to-do : find large tent stakes, to keep my weekend earth-bound.
The painting time I'd scheduled months ago was co-opted by other jobs, so now I am hustling for hours at the brush. In the past, art is something I create inbetween digi-projects. With a month or two clear-sailing, I spend 6 hours a day building paintings in the studio. The world turns into canvas frames, I walk and dream in brushstrokes.
So, how to create work when I don't have the same luxury of time? I've been squeezing it in. I scheduled in a couple hours a day as a part of my job. Added the home studio (plein air kit on the back coffee table) to cut out the commute. Go into Oakland when possible to get the larger scale "wet work" and finishing done. The problem with oil? There is no last minute preparation - its gotta dry.
My one point of flexibility are these little highways - small enough that they can be transported *with care* while still drying out and setting up.
I guess this a true blog entry - more journal than insight.
My one happiness is that once the brush is in hand, no matter how few minutes are available, my mind clears. The stress of the to-do's becomes an exposed illusion, since this work is all about making art I am happy with, and sharing it with new folks.