Drool on the Frog

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Kudzu Art Exhibit

Come On In
Today was the deadline for the juried art exhibit I mentioned in a previous post. I dropped it off at the Bank of the Carolinas in Advance during lunch. Getting it done was a whirlwind process but I couldn't have done any of it without My Geek, Sue and Erin.

Somerset Studio shadowboxI don't take on anything unless I get a clear idea in mind. At first, I was completely blank. Disappointed, I was about to conclude that I just needed to bow out of this one. Then I received my Sept/Oct issue of Somerset Studio. Sachi Komai's shadowboxes of tags gave me the idea I had been grasping for.

One requirement for KudzuArt was that the piece "interpret or reflect life in the Carolinas". There is so much to living in NC! What one thing would I pick to reflect living here? You have the mountains and the beach. There are all kinds of sports, arts, outdoor activities and history. With the tag idea, I could draw little images representing each of these on little leaf shaped tags and put them into a collage. I had my idea.

An odd thing about these ideas I get: typically, I get everything - size, medium, colors, etc. - all at once. The kudzu idea came as a collage and watercolor.

"That's strange. What little experience I've had with watercolors was very frustrating!"

But there it was. I couldn't think of another way to execute the idea in my head.

Bank of Carlinas logoAfter describing my idea to My Geek, he mentioned that it would be cool if each of the leaf tags had a key dangling from it. It was brilliant! I loved it. Elliott Brothers Locksmith on 8th was very kind to give me a bag of fifty keys from their trash bin. It was the weekend. I had all my supplies. It was time to get started. I had Friday evening, all day Saturday and Sunday, and Mon.Tue.&Wed evening. (Yea, I know.)

original design layoutI was pretty pleased with how the background turned out. The watercoloring required only basic techniques. I practiced on scrap paper before I started on my expensive 23"x30" 300lb. Arches. I made all my leaf tags but, before sketching all the Carolina images on them, I arranged them on the watercolor background to see how I would arrange them with the keys.

It looked so wrong. It was horrible. The keys were weighty and too bright. I didn't know what to do.

It was Sunday night and the project had come to a screeching halt. My Geek suggested I take pictures and e-mail them to my friends, Sue and Erin, for suggestions. The consensus from them was the it needed more color and the composition was off balance.

I have a weekly phone date with Erin and we brainstormed over the phone for about a hour. In the end, the entire composition had changed and I was starting over. But it all made sense and I really didn't see anyway of saving what I had done so far. I would much prefer to live closer to Erin so that she could just drop by but the time she spent on the phone with me was awesome.

I had already planned on taking 1/2 a day off from work the next day so I could try to finish. (Good thing, since I was now starting over.) I picked up more supplies and dove right in. It was Tuesday and I knew exactly what I had to have done by nightfall: the background image needed to be painted and the shadowbox needed to be sanded and stained. I've been in situations like this before where I didn't time things well and paint and glue were still not dry. This time everything would be set before turning it in.

It was required that the piece be framed and ready to hang. I needed a custom built shadowbox so I had to enlist the assistance of My Geek. If I decide to take on a task with an insane deadline, that's one thing, but I felt so guilty pulling My Geek in on this. He was very encouraging, though, even when sleep deprived. At my 100th apology he said, "You can't make art without a little insanity."

Wednesday morning, before going to work, I stained the frame again and tore the background into a circle. I thought the torn edges turned out great except for the state of NC. I liked the idea of it breaking the circle but, since it didn't break it dramatically it just looked awkward. I also had to tear it from the back to get the effect I wanted (no white edge).

At lunch I came home and glued the background to the backboard of the shadowbox (this had to be in place before I could start the collage that night). I hate spray glue but I needed good, even secure coverage. I used 3M Super 77 Multipurpose. It had to be glued in the right place on the background so when I nailed the frame on, it would be centered.

All that was left was to glue the tags on. This took much longer than I expected but the whole piece depended on these showing movement and dimension. The keys looked great. I ended up going to an antique store and buying two rings full of tarnished keys about the same shape and size. I used a combination of E6000 adhesive (will glue almost anything forever) and Scotch foam mounting tape.

Whether from stress or exhaustion, I had a wide range of emotions about the finished product: amateur, crap, craft-fair-ish, bizarre. In these moments of evaulation, my critics have set up camp in my head.

There is a moment, though, after dropping off a work that you've greived over, when you feel loss. It's very strange. It overwhelms you unexpectedly. I didn't think I had an attachment to it but I suddenly felt like something had been taken from me by someone unworthy.

This is an obnoxiously long post. I don't think blog posts should be this long. It defies the nature of blogs. For the most people, this is too much detail, I know. But part of my goal was to document the artistic process. To answer the questions, "How did you come up with this?" or "What made you decide to do that?"


Friday, August 25, 2006

Willa's Flic Pic: Suicide Kings * * * ½

Suicide Kings
Suicide Kings

1997, Peter O’Fallen
* * * ½

Charlie Barret: A number of times, the only thing that kept me out of a satin box was that I could size up the other guy maybe half a second quicker than he could me.
Brett Campbell: [laughing] What the f--- are you talking about? You're taped to a chair!

I'm not a fan of mobster movies. I've never seen The Godfather, Scarface or Goodfellas. But I am a big Christopher Walken fan. Suicide Kings is a great Walken film and a different kind of mobster movie.

Mob movies are all about the mobsters, their enemies, one guy in a white hat, and a love triangle. It's a fish bowl and just not very interesting. The conflict in Suicide Kings throws into juxtaposition those in the mob world and those outside of it.

Suicide KingsCharlie Barret (Walken) is a former mob boss - very respected and congenial but still not someone you would mess with. Enter five stupid young rich college guys. With illusions of grandeur and more money than sense, they kidnap Barret because they have a problem and he has connections. The sister of one of the kidnappers… has been kidnapped. From Barret they hope to get the $2 million dollar ransom to save her life.

Suicide KingsMost of the action with Barret and the kidnappers occurs at the estate of one the kidnappers. Although Barret is tied up, drugged and outnumbered five to one, it doesn't take long to realize who is really in control of the situation as the five begin to break down. They are guppies and they've jumped into a fish bowl full of sharks.

Charlie Barret: You guys didn't think this through too good, did you?

Suicide KingsDenis Leary plays Barret's muscle, Lono Veccio, who offers up comic relief and a lot of violence and profanity. He operates purely in the criminal world of the film and gives you just enough insight into mob business to make you feel like you know a little too much. He's trying to rescue Barret and figure out who's behind the kidnapping of the sister.

Suicide KingsThe film has a couple of decent twists and there's an alternate ending. Be sure and watch this and decide for yourself, which you like best and which one seems more logical. Walken and Leary deliver expected performances. They alone make this worth renting. Walken exhibits power, cunning and intimidation while mostly being tied to a chair. Leary delivers a very satisfying level of action.

Trivia: Christopher Walken is a great cook and trained dancer. In fact, he tries to insert a dance step in every one of his films. If you ever just want to smile, check out Walken in Fat Boy Slim's music video, Weapon of Choice, for which he won the 2001 MTV Video Music Award for choreography.


Monday, August 21, 2006

Adoption Auction Party

Adopt me!It's been a long time since I've talked about SAM. This weekend is the final event in the Art Unleashed program - the Adoption Auction Party.

All of the forms will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Forsyth Humane Society. You can even bid on-line. Details about the party can be found on the Art Unleashed site under Events. You can still attend; admission is $20.

Adopt me!I've been very excited and nervous about the auction, as any artist might be.

I look forward to seeing SAM and the other cats and dogs again. When they're all together at once, it's like a story book come to life - where ruby slippers have magical powers and talking cats and dogs are all the colors of the rainbow.

It's nerve racking because it's where the rubber meets the road. You can't help but think that the results of this auction reflects how others feel about your work. I just pray someone bids on SAM and he goes for more than $5!

"Do I hear five dollars for SAM? Five dollars? Anyone?"


chirp. chirp. chirp.

The noise in the room is a low hum. The sound is of dozens of distracted conversations while they flip through the program wondering when the next form is on the auction block.

"Two dollars? Do I hear two dollars?"

Yes, I know it's unnecessarily cruel but this is the way artists think. I need to invite my muse to the party instead of my critics.

Jacob Glidewell's blog entry, Your True Muse, got me to thinking about the company I keep (in my head) while I'm making art. I can easily picture my critics because I always invite them along but I had not stopped to think about who my muse is (I'll post about her sometime). This was a very fun exercise and I learned that I like this chick a lot!

So if you come to the auction and no one bids on SAM, you may hear some woman say, "You f------- idiots wouldn't know art if it bit you in the ass!" and then bite someone on the ass. I apologize ahead of time but she's a lot more fun than that pretentious bunch of critics I always bring.

I love you, SAM.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Willa's Flic Pic: Panic * * * *

2000, Henry Bromell
* * * *

Michael: Do you know what destiny is Sammy?
Sammy: No.
Michael: It’s who you really are. It’s who you’re meant to be.

AlexAlex (William H. Macy) is a hit man. It’s the family business. But he doesn’t want to do it anymore. You can tell that it doesn’t fit him. Even in his beautifully tailored assassin-esqe suits, he’s neither cool nor confident. When the movie begins, he’s at the breaking point. The desperation is rising up in his throat and he’s frantic about what to do. He doesn’t know whom he really is or what to do about it.

Alex’s job isn’t the real catalyst in the film. He could have worked for his father in any profession and he would still be a troubled man who’s not in control of his own identity. In scenes with his mother, father and wife, he’s treated like a child. No one talks to him like he’s an adult except his son, Sammy. He has become so emasculated that he responds to almost everything with, “I don’t know” or “I’m sorry”. Their roles are all facades of what they should truly be.

Alexs therapistDonald Sutherland plays Alex’s father, Michael. In their scenes together, Alex seems to literally shrink. In the restaurant scenes Alex becomes a little boy in shorts and a t-shirt with his feet dangling from the stool unable to touch the ground or reach the counter. In a flashback scene where Michael forces a 6-year old Alex to kill a squirrel for the first time, you suddenly realize Alex is a victim of child abuse.

Alex and his father, MichaelThe one person who can control Alex’s father is his mother. She refers to Alex’s mail order front business with disgust and the family business with great pride. There is a chilling scene with Sammy and Alex’s parents that reveals who the real cold-blooded killer is in the family.

This movie is built on character development and their relationships and it’s done extremely well. The dialogue is natural and not literal. It’s all the things that are not said out loud that seem to scream the loudest from an outsider’s perspective.

poor SaraThere is very little action in the movie and, in most scenes, the characters are calm and move very little. But the tension and violence are palpable. The ending is very rewarding although you will feel like you want more than what they give you. But think about it. Why is Alex smiling at the end?


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Juried Art Exhibit

I just found out about this but I thought I would pass it along anyway.

Bank of the Carolinas is having a juried art exhibit. The deadline is August 31! It's not much time but, for those of you who like to work under pressure, this might be for you.

Check out the details at kudzuart.com.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Sorry I missed my movie review last Friday. I'm lucky I don't get paid for this or I'd be out of a job. Please look for a review of Panic this Friday.

Things have gotten really hectic. In the past two weeks school has started, I'm juggling several fires at work and our social calendar has exploded. I may be down to posting only once a week for a while. In the mean time, I know you're at a loss for something to rent so here are some recommendations to tide you over.

Romantic comedy: Grosse Pointe Blank. I know I've mentioned this before so if you still haven't rented it, you should feel guilty.

Foreign: Hero. This is not a kung-fu movie. It is one of the most beautifully artistic films you will probably every see. Guys, you'll like this too. There is beauty in heroism.

Action: The Replacement Killers. And old story: a hitman gets a conscience and then become the target. But Chow Yun-fat is such a wonderful actor it doesn't feel like a rerun.

TV: Firefly. This is a brilliant sci-fi/western adventure series. It's the first series in a long time to develop such wonderful characters. Don't let the genre turn you off. You will love these characters.

I'm going to leave you with these and go put out some fires. Until Friday...


Friday, August 04, 2006

Willa's Flic Pic: Love Liza * * * *

Love Liza
Love Liza
2002, Todd Louiso
* * * *

Mary Ann Bankhead: What did she say?
Wilson Joel: You wanna read it? Go ahead.
Mary Ann Bankhead: It doesn't have my name on it.
Wilson Joel: Yea you're right. It doesn't.
Mary Ann Bankhead: But if it did I would open it, because that's what she wants.
Wilson Joel: Wanted. What she wanted.
Mary Ann Bankhead: And you refuse to honor that.

There are certain moments in life that can only be experienced alone. No matter how excruciatingly painful, no one can go with you and no one can relieve your suffering. This is true in the death of a loved one. In the beginning visitors, calls and duties barrage you. Friends bring food and offer, "If there's anything I can do." Family hangs about trying to help with details. Phone calls are made and taken. Papers are signed and gathered. But the moment the service is over, the calls die down, and family goes home, you are left utterly alone. There is nothing and no one that can help you through this time. This is where Love Liza picks up.

Wilson Joel (Philip Seymour Hoffman) has just lost his wife, Liza, to suicide. We learn it was by sitting in their closed garage with the car running. She left him a sealed note that he carries around but can’t bring himself to read.

This is a very moving film. Hoffman gives a fantastic performance of a vulnerable man who has helplessly lost the woman he loves. You care so much for the character and want things to get better for him but you are equally helpless to intervene for him.

This is also an uncomfortable film. You are invited into someone's most intimate and personal struggle. Joel keeps his grieving so private from those around him that, as a secret witness, you feel invasive. Love Liza places you where no one goes except the grieving person, which makes this a very real experience.

This is not a date movie or a casual Friday night rental. But it is a movie you will highly appreciate. If it encourages you, it does have a positive ending, though it's open for interpretation based on your experience of the film.

The screenplay, written by Hoffman's brother, Gordy, won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. This was Todd Louiso's first directorial project and it was brilliant. I look forward to more of his work. You may recognize him from his acting roles in Jerry McGuire and High Fidelity.