Monday, December 29, 2014

Requiem for a Wedding Dress

If you've been following this blog for a while, you probably know that this is the time of year when I do a retrospective post about all the shows I've seen and all the art I've made over the past 360-something days. But I'm not doing that this year. It's been too disappointing. And I don't just mean disappointing because I didn't sell nearly as many books as I had hoped, or because my solo shows weren't as well attended as I wanted them to be, or because I keep losing e-mail list subscribers, or even because nobody came to save two of my paintings from being chopped up by a big dude with an axe. All of those things taken together are quite disappointing.

But the greatest disappointment of all, perhaps the single greatest disappointment in my life so far, happened two weeks ago with the end of my very, very long engagement.

pissed off ex-bride

All I could see was negative space around everything, a space where our relationship used to be but is no longer. Over the past two weeks I have cycled through periods of devastation, anger, and hopefulness about the possibility of falling in love with someone new.

The first thing that made my anger and devastation subside was making the decision to destroy my first wedding dress.

wedding dress sketch 1
A sketch of my wedding dress, circa 2002

That's right, I had more than one. That's what happens when you're engaged for 13 years. I bought my first dress with my employee discount when I worked at Nordstrom in 2002. It was on the clearance rack in the juniors department. It went out of style a few years later and I decided to get another dress. Meanwhile, it had become a big sparkly albatross in my closet.

So I contacted my friend the Axe Man, Allen Vandever, about destroying my wedding dress at the December Rescue or Destroy event at Fulton Market Kitchen. Allen said he thought it would be a very powerful piece. He said he could put the dress on a mannequin. I liked the idea. As the week went on, I kept listening to music. It was the only thing that helped me. I had thought about having No Doubt's "Simple Kind of Life" playing while Allen Destroyed the dress. And then I rediscovered a song I had wanted to cover anyway, "Peter Gunn" by Sarah Vaughan. So I rehearsed it and sent  Allen a video of myself singing it. Allen came up with a brilliant idea: I would wear the dress and he would cut it off me while I sang. I loved the idea, but was worried there could be a wardrobe malfunction.

Then I thought about my third wedding dress. (See what happens when you have too much time to plan these things?) It's really a slinky white evening gown, and I bought it because I had planned to perform a special song during the reception. I realized that I could wear it underneath the big poofy dress. I decided that I would call my performance "Requiem for a Wedding Dress."  It was probably the craziest thing I have ever done. It was also the single most cathartic experience I have ever had.

You can see the performance here:

*Big thanks to my friend Kevin Mitchell Nelson for filling in at the last minute when the house band got sick and wasn't able to perform. Also, I would like to thank my friends who came to see the performance. I appreciate your support.

Frozen Bride
digital photograph
12" x 18"

The time has come for the Frozen Bride to thaw.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Incandescent Plasma

My last painting of the year is Incandescent Plasma. I don't know why I keep giving my paintings such scientific titles. I guess it has something to do with attending a math and science high school. Often I still find myself seeing the science in art. My yellow and orange paintings always make me think of the Sun.

incandescent plasma - 1000 px
Incandescent Plasma
acrylic, latex, and ink on paper
30" x 20"

I created the texture of this piece using crumpled paper. The yellows are very vivid. They range from bright to fluorescent, with some metallic ink added for extra luminosity. The title is taken from an educational song by They Might Be Giants, which begins with the lyrics, "The Sun is a miasma of incandescent plasma."
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