Red Boiling Springs, another cool little town to explore in the area. Used to be a booming place due to the natural springs running through it. There are still several hotels in town, plus a motorcycle museum. Spring in Tennessee, who could ask for more?
April 12, 2014
Featured Deck of the Week: "Franken Snake"
currently up for Auction: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=371040729949&ssPageName=STRK:MESE:IT
It was a beautiful day here in Tennessee today, nice Spring day. There was a tiny bit of misfortune on this Sunday drive however as our youngest has a stomach virus and couldn't go out on a drive. Mamma and her stayed home while Daddy and the oldest took on Cookeville for the Sunday drive. Now, it is sort of cheating as we all used to live right in Cookeville and we are normally travelling to Cookeville at least once per day, but it is still a beautiful Tennessee town with plenty to see. As you can see from the pictures, Cookeville has a train depot and as well as several other picturesque landmarks. While we were taking in some of the Cookeville sights we decided to make a run up toward Monterey to the Stamps Cemetery, otherwise known as the "Witches Cemetery". Legend has it that you can see pentagrams on the tombstones and that's because witches are buried there or some such thing. You can see in the pictures that there are stars carved into the tombstones, but I doubt these folks had much to do with the occult. The tombstones are very interesting though as you can see from the photos.
It was a rainy Saturday here in Tennessee today. That means a good day to make art! The Tingler girls make art constantly, they are an inspiration, children's art is so free and expressive. Unfortunately, the school system here has no art class, very sad. We are working to have more structured art "classes" at home. Art is very important for creative development and we are finding it is also helping them excel in math and the language arts at school. If you are in a similar situation, I encourage you to make time for art making at home. Plus, it is fun....here are some recent works they have made...
"Dethe Doethe Call"
Text Reads, "Remembre frendes grete and small for to be Ready whan dethe doethe call"
The imagery in this painting was inspired by this old Medieval quote. Of course the piece can be interpreted different ways, but one basic theme is the portrayal of the continuing battle between good and evil.
Currently available on Ebay: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=371018582987&ssPageName=STRK:MESE:IT
So here's how I make stuff. I find a picture of something that interests me, I look at that picture.........and then I try to copy it exactly how I see it. Below you'll see my reference picture, which in this case is a bat, and then the finished piece, or my translation of the reference bat. Somewhere along the way something goes haywire in the translation....haha.
Here's a skate deck about my hot rodding affliction. Sometimes I feel the urge for some horsepower and speed.
A few days ago I wrote a blog entry about my newfound interest in folk art. In that entry I mentioned one of my most prized possessions which is a quilt that my Grandmother made for me when I was little. As you can see, Grandma had a wonderful talent for creating things. I truly miss her.
What strikes me about this piece of art (and that IS what it is). Is how Grandmother hijacked a piece of pop culture and made it her own. Andy Warhol couldn't have created a more powerful statement. This quilt also represents a couple recurring themes in my own life. As I was sleeping tucked in under my Dukes of Hazzard quilt in that single wide trailer in the wilds of West Virginia with my little brother puking beef stew from the top bunk (yes that happened once), this stuff just seeped into my mind....and into my bones. In my painting about this quilt, I called it imprinting like a baby duck. In many ways can distill most of my life's path right back to this quilt.
First of all, most of my art LOOKS like the imagery in this quilt. It's something I hadn't realized until Grandmother passed. Her artwork and her style of creating that artwork has had a profound influence on my own art creation. I have always used black outlines even though many times I have been warned not to lest my art look childish, unrefined, or illustrative. It has taken me many years to fully get past those negative remarks by the way. My artwork has always had a naïve quality to it even when I try to refine it as much as my talent allows. I have always been drawn to bright colors and high contrast. All of these attributes are present in my Grandmother's quilt.
My entire life has revolved around car culture in some form or another. When I played as a child, I played with my hotwheels cars more often than anything else. I always dreamed of living in a junk yard so I could build my own cars. I had a Dukes of Hazzard barn playset that I used for my pretend house. I'd fill the barn with cars and I'd set up a junk yard outside of it with hotwheels cars. After I grew to adulthood, I built a hot rod and started making Kustom Kulture hot rod art. I essentially lived above a garage and built cars from my small junkyard (hey, I did have 9 cars at one time). I never really aspired to much more than living like the Dukeboys....and why not? They had a great life. Too bad it's just so damn difficult to live like that in the real world.
But that's the power of television and pop culture. It infects a person's life and changes one's head. I can remember what I was doing when the first episode of the Dukes of Hazzard aired. That's how ingrained that show was into my life and the lives of my family. My great grandfather had a photo of Daisy Duke hanging in his kitchen. So is that a good thing or a bad thing? When I look at this quilt, I don't see a bad thing. I just see what is, and more than that I see my grandmother's hands creating a powerful piece of artwork. I see a corporate merchandising empire (the impersonal mass media) subverted and made personal. The Dukes of Hazzard, the car culture and the beautifully naïve style of this quilt has all become part of the fabric of my life............YES PUN INTENDED!
Hope you dig looking at these pics.
For the past several years I have found myself being absolutely fascinated by folk art and outsider art. For the longest time I was not in tune with the aesthetic attributes of folk art, particularly the often times naïve technical abilities demonstrated in many such pieces. From a very young age I had the misconception that "neater" is better when it pertained to the creation of art. It probably stems from grade school and the teacher drilling that we should color within the lines. It has not been until recent years that I have found a beauty in a shaky line, or an unsure hand.
Allow me to give you a little back story at this point to help you understand my newfound awakening. I was born in West Virginia. Many members of my family have always created what they'd call "crafts". I don't know if most of my family members have ever given much thought to the importance of art or not, and I would guess that they have not given the overall lack of appreciation and understanding of the arts in that region of the country. Now that seems like a harsh statement to make, but I feel I've probably earned the right to make it based on my experiences with most people from West Virginia. Don't get all up in arms if you happen to be from there and you are a patron of the arts, I am speaking in general and not in specifics here. However it doesn't take away my experiences and how they affected my artistic interests.
I suppose the artistic tastes of rural West Virginians don't really matter here other than to explain why I have never had much of an interest in folk art until recently. I've always looked to the world outside of West Virginia for something better. I've always felt that other regions had their act together. Regions like southern California and the art associated with hot rods and car culture. The hot rod world always appealed to me as a mythical Shangrila that could take me away from some of the harsher realities of my W.V. environment. There's a part of me that justifiably still feels that way too. I see the raw talent present in the people I grew up with, but there also is a lack of the drive (or flamboyance maybe) that is certainly present in Kustom Kulture art. Perhaps the lack of flamboyance is a byproduct of survival. Like maybe scraping by doesn't lend itself to grand designs and large thoughts. Maybe that's the explanation, I don't know. The point is I had never given much of a crap about what people would call "folk art". I'd never seen the power in it like I saw in Kustom Kulture stuff....until recently.
Two of my family members who have shown an appreciation for art, at least the art of their region, are my Grandmother and her brother who I always called Uncle Jim. Uncle Jim has always made awesome wood crafts and really cool stuff. I've always thought he was way talented. My grandmother also was always involved in making crafts up until she was taken from us by alzheimers. That was something that has had a profound effect on me and it's left me contemplating the things she made. There aren't a lot of items. She never made paintings or pieces that went into art shows or galleries. She made quilts and dolls and lots of things like that. The one item that I have in my possession that is most powerful to me is a small quilted blanket she made for me on which she hand painted the characters from the Dukes of Hazzard. I had never given her "art" much thought until she passed. I have come to realize that her artwork had a profound influence on my artwork. I wish she'd made more and shown the world how great she was.
I used to struggle to make things what I'd call "perfect". What I've come to realize is that perfect is what comes naturally. A person's style is what comes out when they're not thinking about too much but just making something. Just being honest. The shaky-ness and even the unsure lines the hand sometimes makes are direct links to what's shakin in a person's brain. Those lines are tracks laid down by the rabbits running through your mind. The quivers and hiccups and missed strokes and patterns and color choices are all the artists personality. The more the artist doesn't question it, the better. The more freedom involved in creating the piece, the more it represents the person creating it.
My latest art is about that. While creating it I am keeping in mind my history and I'm allowing myself to be free(er). It looks how it looks. I'm not cleaning stuff up much. The lines can be shaky. I can get it right the first time, maybe the next, maybe who cares I'll not even try to get it right. I still love the power in the Kustom Kulture art. I'm a lowbrow artist at heart, but I've also found that I'm a FOLK ARTIST by birth. There's plenty of room for both.
This painting is one that I made specifically about my Grandmother: