For this post I am trying something new. I decided to just write about some of the odd happenings that I experienced over the past weekend so you can get a little glimpse into my world and the sort of things that can inspire me and influence my thought process. I had a very busy and chaotic week followed by a really nice and productive weekend. Well, I suppose that Friday night was still pretty stressful and didn’t go so well. First I worked the early shift at Trader Joe’s, but had to stay late in one last attempt to finish a big foam core mobile for the February/Valentine’s Fearless Flyer, something that I had been trying to do all week long but was never granted any decent measure of uninterrupted time in which to do so. It was suggested to me to just keep with the Victorian clip art that is always present in the Flyer, so I made a smug Victorian couple eating Trader Joe’s Sriracha potato chips while sitting on a lecherous crescent moon. For some reason aristocrats with stuck-up, punchable faces are among my most favorite subjects to draw. I based my design off of this Victorian era Valentine card:
Although I definitely do get tired of the same standard Victorian public domain art that I am so used to working with now, I still love Victorian Valentine’s cards (as well as the odd postcard art from other holidays) because they always somehow manage to keep an element of the surreal and unexpected. A lot of them are really quite trippy if you look through them in an image search, lots of defying gravity, a weird sense of scale and proportion, a lot of anthropomorphic animals, objects, and I guess in this case celestial bodies. I think there must have been good money in the postcard business once upon a time, because it seems like the artists were always trying to outdo one another. Here’s my attempt at either referencing or outdoing the original…and sorry for the lower quality Instagram photo:
I don’t know if you can even tell from that photo, but my Victorian woman even has potato chip crumbs mingling with the rose petals and a grease stain on her lap. The part that I still could not get 100% finished even after staying half an hour late was the little extra dangle heart hanging from the man’s foot that says, “T.J.’s Fearless Flyer is here!” The first heart I had made was such a rush job that the letters were not quite up to my quality standards and the paint couldn’t even dry in time, getting all smudged and ruined. I was so frustrated that I had to just throw it away and just make a new one after I returned from my weekend, but sometimes that’s just how it goes.
After finishing my work at Trader Joe’s I had to battle the second bout of rush hour traffic in order to get to the Vine Gogh Sellwood studio and teach an evening class, pretty much having to go straight there without any break or a bite to eat since breakfast. Although it was a painting that I was familiar with, it was a full house and the noisiest class that I have ever taught. The Sellwood studio is very small and the little stage where the painting instructor stands with their easel is just a few steps away from the rest of the class. Still, with my mic turned up as loud as it could reasonably go and me shouting until my voice started to get hoarse, I could barely get a word in over one particularly raucous group of people that made it nearly impossible for the other half of the room to follow along with what I was saying. Due to the painting itself, the nature of the crowd that I taught that night, and the amount of accidental spills, dirty brushes, dirty palettes, and dirty dishes, the bartender and I both ended up having to stay very late.
Normally I wouldn’t have minded whatsoever, but I knew that because of all of this I was also going to be running extremely late for a Bowie tribute dance party that I had been looking forward to all month at The Lovecraft Bar. Lovecraft is a great venue in general, and this particular event was a costume party with a suspiciously high number of positive RSVP’s on the Facebook page. I had been really worried about getting there on time in case they had to the limit admission later. I was going as Marc Bolan and Martyn would be dressed as David Bowie’s Halloween Jack persona, which added one more later of complication to the matter. The costumes I had already made in the past were just fine, it’s just the finding the time to get dressed up that is often the most difficult part. Luckily I had anticipated this and even planned everything out to work with with my tight schedule–Martyn was already dressed and ready to go by the time my class was over, and I was already wearing most of my Marc Bolan costume all day and just needed to quickly throw on my corkscrew hair, top hat, and some extra glitter before we set off. We still got there a little over an hour after the show had started, waited in a long line outside in the wet cold, and then finally had the doors closed right in our faces upon the discovery that the party had just been shut down by the fire marshall for exceeding capacity. Let me remind you that this was after I worked for over twelve hours that day and had still not had anything to eat since breakfast. I guess it was just one of those days. Here’s my favorite picture of us from the night, taken before we got there obviously:
After the big disappointment we ended up roaming down to a little dive bar down the block called My Father’s Place to join up with the rest of the miffed but beautifully outfitted Bowie fans. At least the place had two of our favorite meals on the menu–Eggs Benedict and Liver and Onions, with Espresso Stout and Gin & Tonic to drink…and man, did we ever need it at that point. Also The Thin White Duke was there too, which I thought was pretty cool. He even admitted to hijacking the jukebox so that it would only play Bowie songs for the next several hours…what a guy!
Thankfully Saturday was a much better day. Martyn and I went with our friend Chelsea to an art show opening at a gallery in North Portland called Disjecta. Chelsea knew some people involved in the show and had heard that there would be some Norwegian troll costumes involved. I have a thing for Nordic trolls (like, actually) and had been wanting to see some more art shows around town, so I happily obliged. It turned out to be both an amazing and inspiring experience. Here’s some info about it I got from Travel Portland’s website:
” A Mortal Song is an exhibition with performance elements by Norwegian artist Tori Wrånes and Portland-based artist Caley Feeney. Both artists use intimate symbol systems and idiosyncratic languages to traverse contemporary landscapes. Weaving together influence from pop-culture, special effects, dreams, noise, and the subconscious. A Mortal Song will include installation, large sculpture, works on paper, and sound to create an imagined world that collapses in and out of our own.
Part of the Season 5 Curator-in-Residence program, Sound is Matter. ”
It’s difficult for me to really describe all of the layers of what I saw. There were some strange and intriguing splatter relief paintings on the walls–weird clashing colors and textures on plain whitewashed wooden panels. There were latex and multimedia sculptures of fragmented body parts like partial faces, bodyless clothing hanging from the ceiling, and a colorful cast hands all in a big pile. There was a very haunting musical performance with simple melody that you couldn’t get out of your head, performed by a vocalist, a keyboardist, one electrical guitarist, and a guy clicking drumsticks together. Then there was the best part of all, that made all of the previous works kind of come together and make a lot more sense–the big performance/installation art piece. The place was completely packed by the way, with the audience all crammed into the space and kneeling next to each other on the floor. The whole room got silent and a fog machine filled the air with a thick swirling white mist. A booming audio track of a pulsating, foghorn type sound played through the surround speakers as the performers slowly entered the room. When I mean slowly…I mean completely in slow motion, and mostly hidden in the fog. All dressed in long white fur costumes, you could see a mess of twisting limbs that rolled along the floor perfectly slowly and in synch with the movement of the fog. At first it was impossible to even tell how many performers there were, because they were all moving on top of one another as if they were one being. One by one five performers emerged in their strange yet beautiful troll costumes, with makeup prosthetics on their faces, hands, and feet that probably explained all of the colorful latex fragments used in the other art pieces from before. One which I could only presume to be Mama Troll made music with a long wind instrument and her voice, which was somehow very communicative even though I don’t think she ever spoke any in any particular language. Some of the trolls had little glowing blue lights hidden in their fur, and two of them had long swinging white braids with weighted humming noisemakers at the end which would buzz and sing as they helicoptered them through the air. Like I said, I can’t really describe any of this without sounding really dumb. Let’s just say that I highly recommend seeing it if you ever get the chance! An image from Disjecta’s Twitter page:
I think the only downside to the show was that there was a socially awkward dude with a man-bun roaming around the gallery afterwards, bothering women by taking their hands in his and claiming that he could read their dragon energy or whatever kind of lame New Agey excuse he was using to extract unsolicited female contact. He wasn’t with the show; he was just that one of those in every crowd type guy. We promptly left after that anyway, got half a dozen donuts from Heavenly Donuts, and ended up staying at Sandy Hut for the rest of the night because Martyn had a D.J. gig. I think I had some really weird dreams that night.
The last thing that happened over the weekend that was both inspiring and a little painful was Martyn and I went back to Oddball on Sunday to get a couple more tattoos from Sarah Crosley. He got his pinball machine Elvira, I got my five little plastic piggies, and we both got our matching Blackstar. It’s kind of a long story actually, so I’m going to just be lazy and paste this all from my Instagram. If you’ve read it already, good on you, because I am done writing new any content for the night!
When I was a kid my Dad used to do a lot of traveling. He was gone a lot and I didn’t always know where he was, but whenever he did come back home he would bring me and my siblings little trinket souvenirs from his travels. One time he gave me five tiny plastic pigs in a ziplock bag that came from a magic shop in Chinatown. When I asked him what they were for, he just sort of shrugged and said, “I dunno, I just thought you would like them.” Many years later, when my Dad was sick in the hospital for what would be the very last time, I decided to start carrying the little bag of five pigs in my wallet so it would be with me at all times, and that’s where it has remained ever since. My Dad was the fifth person in my family and it has now been five years since he passed away, giving the little piggies even more significance in a way. They were also the inspiration for one of my latest tattoos, which I will reveal next.
Five little piggies. Thanks @sarahcrosley!
I like how three of the five piggies are dancing around the black flame #witchbitch skull candle. Now I have a wolf, a wishbone, some pigs, a spider with something spelled out in its web and a chicken foot…my right arm is like some weird cross between Charlotte’s Web and The Brother’s Grimm.
While @powerpoppins and I were at @oddballtattooery, we also both got matching#blackstar tattoos. I was already preoccupied with the five year anniversary of losing my Dad to a terminal cancer when we also lost David Bowie to the same thing. I had actually just gotten home from making my tattoo appointment for the five piggies for my Dad when I heard the sad news. I don’t really even need to tell you how much that guy meant to us, because it’s the same with so many other people all over the world. I will however share with you the lyrics to the Elvis song that the final album Blackstar made reference to when it was released on David Bowie and Elvis Presley’s shared birthday, because they helped determine the placement of the tattoo and I happen to think that they are beautiful:
“Every man has a black star
A black star over his shoulder
And when a man sees his black star
He knows his time, his time has come
Black star don’t shine on me, black star
Black star keep behind me, black star
There’s a lot of livin’ I gotta do
Give me time to make a few dreams come true, black star.”
From Sarah Crosley’s Instagram:
Oh yeah, and Martyn’s other tattoo…he got the design from a cartoon we saw on the Elvira Pinball table!