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New Header Image. Something a bit simpler.

Yes, you noticed. I changed the picture at the top of the page. I liked the old one, but it’s more a collection of image fragments than anything, and I thought I’d like to put a picture at the top, however goofy, so it looks like a real person lives here. If the old one was a hodgepodge, you’re now treated to a different kind of excess. I was playing with Photoshop all day yesterday, making surfaces rise, fall, and rumple. On the whole, it’s not what I’d intended, and it will change in days to come, but how about let’s just put it up for now. Stuck up on the refrigerator until the next version emerges. The frantic reality of life as a daddy has me working digitally much more than I’m making prints & drawings lately, so perhaps it’s more honest to have a summary image that reflects the tools I’m actually using right now. Inky printmaking hands again someday soon, but for now, this. If you’re a big fan of the old header, here you go: (see below). Click on it to see it full-sized, and you can pretend it never left. The Joe Hill of  blog headers.

A collage of fragments from Eric Waldemar's prints and ink drawings.

The Bird Steps Up

There comes a point when the bird just has to step up to the front and begin. There’s a certain awkward charm and anxious magnetism to starting out, but it doesn’t last all that long. The question is, what to do while you’ve got the benefit of the doubt – How do you hold the crowd’s attention and point it in the direction you have in mind?

This is from a series of tiny drawings, done one after another after another on the backs of business cards from the job I had at the time (at Denver’s Capitol Hill Books). The printed text on the other side affected the way the ink was absorbed, and ghost traces of letters provide an eye for our avian friend.

Jack: Re:Beanstalk

a few lines with ink and brush, perhaps a latter or a stalkHere’s the step
and the step gone
as the foot fumbles
at the stringer,
finds a notch for the toes,
which claw for purchase
and a little friction.

Rising always
borders on falling,
as steam inevitably condenses.

How to Solve Problems

gestural brown ink drawing by Eric Waldemar, suggestive of Dinosaur and pointing fingerReflect on the dinosaur as we enter the merry New Year. As the various dinosaur species approached extinction, there was absolutely nothing they could do about it, for reasons that had little to do with their tiny brains.

Our situation is different, and as far as planetary environmental disaster goes, there’s nothing we can do that will settle things this year, or this decade. We can, however, make shifts in our habitual patterns of consumption and waste, and if we don’t, disaster is practically assured. A relatively small shift will do wonders, if that change in behavior spreads through the cultures that surround each of us. Because your friends respect and admire your thoughtful, intelligent approach to life, a visible change in your own habits makes an impression, and the virus spreads.

Many of us already do the basics: Flip the lights off on your way into the next room. Put a sweater on instead of spending the winter in a t-shirt. I’m sure that you, dear reader, don’t leave the water running while you brush your teeth. Because you’re not an idiot. You may be self-centered and narcissistic, but you don’t do harm to living things and the world around you for no reason at all. Right? Trivial things, but offhand waste is the crux of the problem, at least for this society of frantic consumers. The only trouble, in these tiny things and practically everything else, is that it’s hard to pay attention all the time, and it’s hard to break habits that developed as children, before we really learned to think critically. Before we understood that the situation was so fragile. Unless we deliberately make an effort to examine our experience, we, all of us, are almost automatically shaped by the daily barrage of advertising. So, we crave, we buy, we toss.

It takes a lot of effort to stay aware of our own small actions, but the effort makes life richer, every day. The “payback” is your own enlarged consciousness, and deliberate daily alertness will do more for you than a doctorate in philosophy or strong dope. As I was saying at the beginning, the crux of the matter is dogged persistence. Results don’t come quickly, but by putting one’s own everyday actions in a broader context, one becomes gradually wiser. By striving to see more, one notices yet more, and then more still.

How? Deliberately pause and think about what this moment is like for the other people in the room. In the world. Think about where your food came from, and from how far away. Think about how to solve the problem you’re dealing with, or the craving, with what you already have, rather than buying another specialized device. Generally, your metal comes from strip mines, down to your paper clips. Plastic is petroleum, usually. Water is not “just there,” forever, and it’s running out in the Western US, where I live, as sprinklers chatter all night long. Mass culture keeps us in the perpetual now, in the shallowest sense, and only with effort can we cultivate the habit of looking at ordinary life with a little distance. Paradoxically, this deliberate distance brings us closer to it.

Wish-granting Lamp Now Available!

The magic lamp grants three wishes, and the only catch is that you need to clarify your intentions. So, for the new year, think carefully, rub the screen and make your wishes. Then make your resolutions in order to help the wishes bear fruit. If the traditional stories are accurate, you’ll want to avoid wishes that are overly greedy, short-sighted, or otherwise selfish and unworthy of genie assistance. If you toy with the imp, it strikes back, though it’s bound by the rules to provide your wish “to the letter.”

Consider it a New Year’s gift, and if you’re seeing it for the first time at a later date, it should still work alright. For best results, try to suppress any skepticism you might taste rising up in your gullet. You’re welcome. Happy New Year, I wish for you and myself. Let me know how it works out.

Mage’s Boat

When someone is sent to find the old man, all else has already failed. If he’s not out in the boat, he’s out walking, some way off the paths, in-turned, but aware of each sound and scent, and each combination. He’s always just wrapping up as you arrive, tucking bundles in his bag. What do you need then? Cordial, willing he is, and not surprised to see you.

ArtWorks Letterkenny Exhibition Scandal

No scandal just yet, despite the lurid title, but come by the reception this Saturday (July 17th) if you’re in the area, or if you can be. If shocking behavior occurs, this is where it will likely take place. Get yourself to ArtWorks, Port Road, Letterkenny , County Donegal, Ireland (opposite the An Grianan Theatre), from 7 to 9 or so. The exhibition exists on the unheralded fringe of Donegal’s Earagail Arts Festival, which has been helpfully arranging major arts events across the street practically every day for weeks. It’s a great time to be in Letterkenny. Read more

Nibble on the Yellow Wallpaper at RedLine

Detail, Rian Kerrane's Yellow Wallpaper at Redline

I spent yesterday helping to install “Kitchen Wallpaper,” a piece by Rian Kerrane, which Jessica Gross had already been working on for days. This food-encrusted room is part of “Artists’ Footprints” at RedLine in Denver, a show curated by Viviane LeCourtois. The reference to Charlotte Perkins Gilman‘s story is no accident.The walls are composed of apples, turmeric, stenciled honey, poppyseeds, pasta, and cumin, and it smells delicious. Rian’s off in Ireland setting up our installation at ArtWorks in Letterkenney, so this piece, and the cast iron handbags in Objectophilia, were installed by her loyal local proxies.  Yesterday, Mike Brohman, who’s also in the show, came to the rescue, helping out for hours, after watching Jessica and I struggle with layers upon layers of layers that were obviously going to take a lot longer than planned. With his help, we were home by 10 pm. Spectacular July 3rd fireworks awaited me in my neighborhood when I got home. The piece is pretty amazing, yes? Try to resist nibbling on the walls.

Rian Kerrane at Redline Read more