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NCECA was in my city this year! I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, and I am still processing everything I saw/learned/did.

The best part of the whole conference (for me at least) (and excluding seeing Carleton people) was HIDENSEEKAH, an independently organized event on Instagram. You follow @hidenseekah AND the 63 artists that account is following. During the conference 25 different artists posted cryptic picture clues to different locations around downtown Milwaukee. The first person to reach that spot found a piece of work by the artist who posted the picture and they got to keep it! Forever!

This was a really fun event for me. Even though I was born and raised here, and even though I work downtown every day, there were still clues that totally flummoxed me. Not all though! I was extremely lucky to find two pieces!

The first! I saw a clue posted by Joe Pintz (@joepintz). It went up at noon, and I realized immediately that it was the silly red phone booth outside John Hawkes Pub. I ran at a dead run from the convention center, literally gaving myself an asthma attack. But it was totally worth it because when I finally got there and saw something waiting in the booth, I basically lost my mind. From there I ran to Red Arrow Park where a piece by Crystal Morey had yet to be found. I didn’t find that one, but I was there when a girl did. It was so exciting!
Hidenseekah - Joe Pintz
The second! I saw the clue posted by Carole Epp (@musingaboutmud), and from there it was a mad dash to the lake front. I could tell by the stickers that it was at the Art Museum, and from the concrete wall that it’s on the old part of the building. [Side Note: The new section of the museum is the most recognizable. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava and is really beautiful and popular. Blah blah blah. The other half of the museum is still great though. It is beneath the War Memorial designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen. It is a hulking modernist building overlooking the lake, all angles everywhere. It’s the art museum of my youth and I love it.] I came around a corner and saw the power box with a couple parcels stuffed around it. In the picture below I am sitting on the ground for two reasons: 1. I lost my mind and was so excited I couldn’t stand; and 2. my body said, “Hey pal, you are tired. Sit down. You live here now.”
Hidenseekah - Carole Epp

 

In both instances, I arrived at the spot the pieces were hidden literally seconds before other people. I think over the course of three days I probably walked/ran 20+ miles around Downtown Milwaukee. At least!

I am so incredibly grateful for this event. I am a public librarian, and I don’t have access to a clay studio. I don’t have a lot of money and I also don’t have work to trade anymore. This was an unparalleled opportunity for me to own extremely wonderful ceramic things that are usually out of my price range. It was also a great opportunity for the 63 participating artists to increase their presence. I’ve been out of clay for a few years now, but now I feel like I can jump back in because I know at least a little bit about what’s going on in the wider community.

If you go to the conference in Rhode Island next year, you MUST hidenseekah!

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I know it’s been a while since I have posted about clay, but you forgive me, right?seletti_desktructure_warehouse_1_web_dr

I am obsessed with this: the Deskructure Desktop Organizer by designer Hector Serrano. It’s an industrial porcelain landscape for your desk junk! I love these kinds of buildings (’cause I’m a good Milwaukee girl) so I am totally smitten with this piece. There are more (a boat, a London-esque city), but the one that most appeals to me is the factory. Milwaukee was once part of the Manufacturing Belt, which has since deteriorated into the periperhy of the Rust Belt. Most of the factories have closed, but the city is still littered with incredible industrial buildings. They’ve been converted to apartments, shops, offices, etc. but they still have the look of severity and purpose that a factory or warehouse has.

I live quite close to the Milwaukee Forge (see below!), which celebrated its 100th birthday this past summer. It is such a delight to walk past and look in to see all that complex industrial machinery. It’s one of the few places that isn’t post-industrial but industrial-industrial. This ceramic organizer reminds me so much of all the component parts of the forge. If only the organizer lit up at night with big open windows in the summertime because then it would be perfect.

Milwaukee Forge

Via: Swiss Miss (whom I lovelovelove).

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Allie has
completed her goal of reading 200 books in 2013!
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This post was originally on my library’s blog Read @ MPL.

Have you ever lost a pet? Did that pet ever waltz right back into your house like nothing ever happened? That has happened to me, and it is also the premise of Caroline Paul’s book Lost Cat: a True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology.

Tibby & his view of the world

The book begins when Caroline Paul gets in a terrible accident where she breaks the tibia and fibula bones in her leg. That part is awful but also funny because her two cats at the heart of this book are also named Tibia and Fibula (or Tibby and Fibby for short). She’s home on the couch, feeling depressed, and attempting to heal when Tibby, the fraidy cat of the two, runs away. She feels this is literally adding insult to injury. She searches her neighborhood wailing for Tibby, hanging up posters, and feeling utterly worried about her beloved cat’s safety. She even enlists the help of a psychic, to no avail. Then after five weeks gone, Tibby walks back into the house. Not only that, but Tibby looks great! He isn’t underfed or dirty, he is just Tibby.

This is where Caroline Paul goes off the deep end. She becomes engrossed in a quest to find out where Tibby went. She wants to know who took care of him. Who heard her yelling for her lost cat and neglected to bring Tibby home? Clearly this person is some king of cat-napping monster. She uses cat-tracking GPS, a tiny cat’s-eye-view camera, and a cat communication class to deal with all her feelings of jealousy and betrayal. In addition to Paul’s sincere prose, the entire book is illustrated by her partner, Wendy McNaughton, whose work is truly excellent. She’s maybe best known (at least on the internet) for her series Meanwhile on the Rumpus.  Her drawings beautifully compliment Caroline’s ongoing neuroses (and prose). They are on this weird, purposeful journey together; and over the course of the book Tibby becomes their cat, not just Caroline’s cat.

Tibby, equipped with GPS.

Things happen in the second half of the book that I didn’t expect, and, be warned, not all happy things. But this story was so heartfelt and earnest, and so unlike what I expected from a book about cats. I definitely recommend this if you have cats or have had cats in the past, but I think it’s mostly a heartfelt story about a woman becoming obsessed with why something got lost.

+++++
N.B. The pictures came from an interview with Wendy MacNaughton & Caroline Paul on the Rumpus.

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Allie has
read 187 books toward her goal of 200 books.
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When heading up to Minnesota a while ago, my mom and I made a stop we had been planning since I started at Carleton (but for many reasons had put off until almost a year after I graduated): visiting the Forevertron.  It’s located in North Freedom, WI, about five or six miles south of Baraboo, near the old Badger munitions plant and sharing land with Delaney’s Surplus.

Some facts about the Forevertron:

  • It’s the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world, certified by the Guinness book of world records. [Update: I think it was usurped in 2001 by a stupid sculpture of stupid geese ]
  • It was built by Tom Every as the character Dr. Evermor — a Victorian scientist who sought to launch himself “into the heavens on a magnetic lightning force beam.”
  • It is the coolest place I have ever been in my life.

I cannot stress enough how this place is the coolest place I have ever been in my life.  Every single piece of the sculpture is precious and exceptional.  Much of the scrap metal used to create the sculpture is very old and very decorative, and it is all combined beautifully to create something far greater than my imagination could fathom.  I am and have always been a huge fan of roadside attractions, folk art, and odd museums, especially in Wisconsin.  There is something really special about roadside attractions that I can’t quite put my finger on.  The whole place blends history and art, machinery and fantasy , and you find yourself immersed in that world.  This place is special.  I find it funny to me is that at first glance it looks almost steampunk.  What’s funny is that it’s not so much steampunk as it is just steam.

It comes down to this: I want to live there.  My experience there reminded me of that scene in Harriet the Spy where they visit Golly’s friend Mrs. W. who has a garden full of junk creations.  There’s a mobile of glass soda bottles (with soda in them), instruments made out of old kitchen stuff, sculptures made out of old instruments, all kinds of fun things for Harriet, Sport, and Janie to explore.  The Forevertron is a real life, genuine version of that.  You could explore for ages and still only know a small part of the place.  I want to live somewhere like that!  It might be my own creation or someone else’s, but I ache to live someplace where there is wonder and excitement and creativity and lots of stuff.  So if anyone wants to build me a giant machine, give me a holler

If you want to know more about this amazing place, I highly suggest reading the article from the Folk Art Messenger but mostly I suggest visiting it yourself.

Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron [Folk Art Messenger]
An Interview with Tom Every (Doc Evermor) [The Bottlecap]
The Forevertron
[Roadside America]
The Forevertron [PBS’ Off the Road]
The Forevertron [Wikipedia]
The aforementioned clip from Harriet the Spy [On youtube]

On our way home from the farmhouse, my mom and I drove through Phillips, WI.  For a while now I have been itching to see Fred Smith’s Concrete Park and it was right on our route home.  My mom loves roadside attractions too, so it didn’t even take that much convincing to get her to stop.

Fred Smith was a lumberjack and with two other men started the Rock Garden Taven in 1936 (which is coincidentally where my great-uncle Bill Fenzl used to drink).  Once Fred retired he managed the bar full time and started making sculptures of miners, horses, Indians, cowboys, and soldiers.  He used beer bottles from the tavern to adorn the statues, adding color and sparkle.  Throughout the park there were also placards with text.  The original paper that Smith had written on had deteriorated, but the caretakers of the park reproduced an imaged of the text exactly as it originally appeared but printed on a durable plastic.  On one side was a little paragraph about some of the sculptures and often some area history, and on the other side were images of Mr. Smith and co. taken around the park.  And usually when there was a sculptural placard there was often a nearby statue pointing to it!

I had been eager to visit this park for a really long time and it did not disappoint.  Unfortunately it was really muggy on the day we went, and it was raining a little so there were mosquitoes everywhere.  Other than the bugs, the experience was a total delight.  There’s something about folk/outsider art that is a lot more interesting to me than most stuff in museums.  Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about why I love it, and I think it has to do with the truly unique vision artists like Fred Smith have.  They aren’t making art for critics or galleries, they are making art for themselves, their friends, and their community.  Sometimes folk artists are described as simple and uneducated, which might be true for some but I think that totally undervalues the contributions of unconventional artists.  I relate more to the aesthetic sensibilities of outsider art, and I find the pretensions of high art irritating.  Going to places like the Concrete Park is always super fun but I also get so many ideas for my own work (even though I know I’ll never create anything as amazing as a Concrete Park).

At the end of the summer when I was finally moving back to Milwaukee from Northfield, it took forever to get everything packed and moved including tons of ceramics.  It was an incredibly stressful ordeal.  Fortunately some of the jars and baking dishes I made found their way into my parents’ farmhouse in northern Wisconsin.  They fit beautifully in the kitchen.

The house is heavenly, especially the kitchen.  It’s huge and open with lots of windows and really beautiful woodwork.  I am just really glad my stuff fit into such a beautiful space.

This post is about neither paper nor clay.  Ha!

It’s about drawing and film.  For my Film Noir class (which was not as great as it might purport to be) we had to take noir photos around Northfield.  Other students in my class posed their friends and traipsed around town/campus looking for good places to shoot.  That sounds miserable to me.  I hate working with people, so I took the assignment to mean take photos around the town but of noir drawings.  So I drew on pavement, a hazardous waste barrel, an brick wall, a sewer grate, and an electrical box.  It was pretty fun.  I used a box of chalk that I found in the drawing studio and had a bunch of fun drawing on stuff around town.  Miraculously, I only got yelled at once.

And, yes, I know the captions are awful, but keep in mind this was a school project, and my very last Carleton project at that, so I was sort of phoning it in.

Insty

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