Live blogging the Northam Park Natural Art and History Museum

Live blogging the Northam Park Natural Art and History Museum













The Northam Park Natural Art and History Museum’s extended hours were a huge success! Over the course of seven hours, our new wing was filled with amazing new artifacts. Our associate, Will Foster, presented a series of engaging and informative workshops, we diversified our audience (with both human and non-human visitors) and continued to further our mission of engaging visitors directly with the environment.

A huge thank-you to all who supported the museum- though we’ve once again closed our doors, the memory will continue to live on.

A full photographic account will be available soon, however in the mean time, please enjoy this selection of images that were taken and published (via instagram) during the museum’s brief life.

Artist Statements: A Rareified How-To

Artist Statements: A Rareified How-To

First of all, Rooms to Let; Summer Edition was awesome. All the houses looked great, there was a huge turnout, my parents were able to make it to the opening, we all ate dinner at a taco truck. and after enjoyed Jeni’s + Doctor Who. Thank you to everyone who came out or just sent good thoughts – it was a damn near perfect evening and that was due entirely to you guys.
(pictures coming soon!)

Initially, I had planned to take a week to chill/regroup (does anyone else feel the need for creative detox post-project?) but then, riding high on a wave of self confidence and I-can-do-it-ness decided to put together a show application for a local gallery’s call for entries. Due yesterday. I made it, but just barely. It wasn’t editing photos or even updating my CV that took the entire week- it was the bloody artist’s statement.

Ask me to write a treatise about cats or cupcakes or the internet, or a youtube comment filled with biting wit and I’ll be all:

Ask me to explain the art I make, in writing, concisely and without sounding like an asshole and my response will be:

If you are in a position where you have to write a general artist’s statement and  you, like me, are at a loss, fear not! I have journeyed down that dark road and made it back with a passable statement and knowledge which I pass unto you padawan.

How I Wrote an Artist’s Statement Without Causing Bodily Harm to Myself or Others.
(with hilarious in-progress examples!)

  • Accept that in your first draft you will sound like an asshole.
  • Look online for tips/examples but limit yourself to 20 min, otherwise you could get sucked into the black hole of procrastivity (procrastination through perceived productivity).
    This place is a good start:Writing the Artist Statement – Claremont Graduate University
  • It helps me to start with free-writing, especially in the form of answering questions. This site may seem a bit cheesy, but honestly I found it’s questions super helpful for just getting words to come out of my body. Also, who doesn’t like cheese.
    Note: For this stage try not to think about the people for whom you’re writing this statement as odds are they are GrownUps in charge of YOUR ART CAREER and that is paralyzing. Instead, try to picture someone you like, around whom you’re comfortable and who may be an art-fan but not necessarily an artist yourself (this helps stop you from unnecessarily artspeaking.)

Click here to see my un-edited artist statement brainstorm.
(Notice how I didn’t answer all of the questions/follow all of the directions, I just did enough to get myself thinking/writing)

  • Once you start, remembering that you’ve given yourself permission to sound like an asshole, keep writing stuff until you have at least 2 – 3 pages of jibber jabber. Why 2-3 pages? Because once you have that much, odds are good that you probably have at least a half a page of stuff worth keeping, and that’s all you really need anyway.
  • Walk away. Watch a few funny videos, take a walk, drink a beer, practice Mindfulness with your cat- just get away from your computer (or notebook if you’re old school) and think about things other than how much you hate writing artist statements. Once you’ve sufficiently distanced yourself, it’s time to go back and be merciless.
  • EDIT. Read it outloud, print it out, editeditedit. Do whatever works for you here. For me, I like to paste from my initial brainstorming into a fresh document (keeps all the stuff from the bainstorming as it was in case I want to go back to it)
    Are there phrases or words that keep popping up? Odds are good that those words/phrases are important. Keep one instance of said word/phrase and find a way to delete the rest. The two best things an artist statement can be are clear and concise. Think about it like a movie jacket:  when you go to choose a movie from the library do you chose one that says “in this contextualization of the (pseudo)Reality of Man, one director seeks to explore dualities and the juxtaposition of the HyperReal- See how his use of color defies the current paradigm and challenges what we bla bla blaaaa”? Or do you choose the one that’s like “Bruce Willis! Cross-dressing and kicking Ass! And also there are GLITTER CANNONS”
    ((…I seemed to have lost where I was going with this metaphor, but I think what I was trying to say is this: At this stage in the writing process you should be doing more deleting than writing….also what the hell is happening in this picture?))
  • Sleep on it. Literally. Once you have your page of edited stuff, give yourself at least 12 hrs, one good meal and a decent sleep before you go back to it.
  • Give it one more look over and, at a certain point, call it. You could probably obsess over it for another week, but you’ve got shit to do.

No weekly practice piece this week.

Instead, I was busy using the other half of my brain, working on THIS

Screen shot 2013-01-12 at 2.17.35 PM


Creating a serious-looking portfolio with a url that didn’t involve sheep has been a secret goal of mine for the past year or so- one that was delayed for so long, in part, because this time last year I felt way insecure about What Kind of Artist Am I and What Is This Thing I’m Doing. 2012 felt like a year full of thinking and doing and while I’m still definitely working on the answers to both of those questions, I’m feeling less like ‘recent artschool graduate’ and more like an artist proper. 2012 was also a year filled with lots of work, the documenting and digitally displaying of which became a task to large and unwieldy for a simple wordpress site.

To build and host my new site, I decided to go with Other People’s Pixels. Their interface is beautifully designed and easy enough even a Luddite like yours truly can navigate it fairly easily. The real difficulty in building the site was sorting through my hellish jumble of image files. Making a website turned out to be like moving. I kept finding myself yelling variations of “Where did all this shit come from?!”

This week was also full of fun extracurriculars like the current show at the OSU Urban Arts Space:

Mark Beyer: With/Without Text

Holy hell. If you have even ten minutes to check this show out, please do. The sheer amount of stuff is overwhelming, and all of it is awesome. Mad props to Mark Beyer for making it and awesome Columbus art collector and Outsider Art Champion, Tom Wagner for making it happen.

If you have more than ten minutes, pleasePLZ wander over to the other side of the gallery and check out Constructing James Castle.

found paper with unknown color, soot and JAMES CASTLE’S OWN SPIT.

James Castle was a self taught, deaf artist who spent his life in rural Idaho making drawings and miniature sculptures that have been haunting my dreams. The show itself is wonderfully curated as well. Each drawing is framed in such a way that they end up feeling like tiny, sacred objects. The Wexner Center is presenting a documentary about Castle next Tuesday and friends, the exhibition at the OSU Urban Arts Space is so good I’m forgoing $6 Tuesdays at Gateway to go see it.

For Theirs is an Empire of Sleepiness.

For Theirs is an Empire of Sleepiness.

For Theirs is an Empire of Memory opened this weekend, amid the noise and wonderful chaos that accompanies any large scale art project. The first event (the opening) was a success but is only a taste of the fabulous fabulist happenings to come…

This show  marked the ‘finish line’ of what turned out to be a gauntlet of deadlines and projects. Two shows have opened at Open Door. I’m still a member of the Postcard Collective. Both the workshop and the minimarathon happened without me messing myself. Other than a few small-works shows, the pieces of which are already done (or, ahem, drying as we speak), I’m essentially done for now. Saturday and Sunday I slept, napped, lounged, listened to books on tape, lazed, played in the dirt, ignored my inbox, roasted some vegetables and didn’t feel guilty in the slightest.

The opening also involved a performance piece in which, masked and essentially blind, I ignored the world and peeled paper off a wall. It was quite possibly the best way to spend an art show. The piece, the performance, the show- all of it brought to the surface many questions and answers and further avenues of exploration, but to be honest I am still processing a lot of it. And still tired. Let’s just all take a bit more time off to enjoy the holiday weekend and let things settle. I’ll be back next week with photos, plans and coherent thoughts. In the meantime, stay warm friends.

(photo credit: Ken Aschliman


Tuesday Top or Bottom: Mark Dion vs. Mark Dion

Tuesday Top or Bottom: Mark Dion vs. Mark Dion

Today’s Tuesday might as well be called Reason vs. Cat’s Obsessive Fangrildom. Of all the artists I’ve admired but never met, Dion has had the greatest impact on my own work. I can still remember the first time his work was shown in my watercolor class- I was a junior at the time, feeling the icy breath of graduation on my neck and a rising panic that I, a Painter Who Paints, found myself hating what I was painting. Mark Dion’s work was, and continues to be, a smack to the forehead ‘duh.’-Based on premises that are usually simple, complicated, absurd and serious all at once, I nearly always walk away thinking ‘Damn. Why didn’t I think of that??’ He’s also my go-to example for how conceptual art can be thoughtfully executed with an attention to detail and craft, as well as aesthetically pleasing (shoddily-made conceptual art as well as the idea it perpetuates ((that conceptual artists are just lazy)) are high on my list of pet peeves. Along with loud bass in cars)

Before I get too caught up in soap-boxing or the Dion Personality Cult, let me present to you today’s top or bottom (both by Mark Dion)

The Department of Marine Animal Identification of the City of New York (Chinatown Division)

For The Department of Marine Animal Identification of the city of New York (Chinatown Division), Dion bought one of every fish he could in the Chinatown Fish market, then sorted, recorded and displayed them in the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery using his own methods of classification, rather than that accepted by SCIENCE. The real cherry on top, for me, is that he did all this sorting and preserving in the gallery itself in a sort of performance.


Neukom Vivarium (exterior)

Neukom Vivarium (interior)

Neukom Vivarium is a custom-designed, 80 foot long greenhouse structure housing a 60-ft long rotting hemlock log. The building features tools to help visitors explore the log including magnifying glasses and white tiles painted with specimens found in and on the log (functioning as a sort of text-less ‘field guide’)

In MD’s one words “One of the things that’s difficult about this piece is that it’s hard to locate where the work is. It’s not the tree, and it’s not the building, and it’s not the details like the tiles or the field guide. But it’s really the entire thing.” (from art21’s interview)


(then go and watch art21’s Ecology episode, featuring Dion along with Robert Adams, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, and Ursula von Rydingsvar.)

((then go watch every other art21 episode))

(((then come over and have tea and we can talk about them all)))