Here are two articles on fish intelligence I've read recently, though the first is problematic in terms of writing (overblown results language in the title and first couple paragraphs) and in terms of non-ideal (cruel) experimental processes. Watching fish suffocate alive on ice in a seafood store in Florida instigated my vegetarianism, actually.
Juror Patsy Lindamood accepted two of my pieces, Balancing Act and Perspective, into this year's exhibition! 101 artists had entered 238 pieces of artwork, out of which 65 pieces were selected.
The Irving Art Association's 16th Annual National Animal Art Juried Competition opened on August 27th and will be open through September 29th, 2017, with an awards ceremony and reception on Sunday, September 10th, from 2 – 4pm at the Jaycee Park Center for the Arts in Irving, Texas. I was planning on making the long drive down when I mistakenly thought that it was the same weekend as Labor Day and thus would have given me a little more driving time, but unfortunately I won't be able to make it. If you can go, though, please take photos as I'd enjoy seeing them!
The total solar eclipse was really cool - it was storming in the region but I managed to get really lucky and the spot I chose to watch it in had the rain stop and cloud cover part right as the eclipse started and our luck lasted through the corona. Then it rapidly moved back in again, and torrential rains shortly followed! Many of my friends only tens of miles away didn't have our luck and experienced a much more obscured eclipse. I was fortunate enough not only to get to see the event, but to watch it with some great friends - Dr. Patrick Bunton and Dr. John Pojman (and John's brother, Jim). Here are some photos I took during the event; of course there are far better photos out there - my camera is not meant for long-distance shooting nor has a proper eclipse lens - but it was fun to be able to capture some of my own experience, no matter how amazing (or not) the photography.
I started this piece in Madrid at the Intercambiador ACART residency, but I unfortunately didn't have time to finish it there. So I've been working at it here at home, and recently finished it!
Greylag, acrylic on paper, 11.5 x 15.5".
My final days in Madrid were spent in the studio, figuring out how to pack up and ship my artwork back home, and completing visits to the Prado and Reina Sofia museums as well as the Palacio Real and the Catedral de la Almudena.
When I studied abroad at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas-ICADE ten years ago, I took an art history class that was held most of the time in the Prado, so I feel strong nostalgia not only for the artwork inside but also for the rooms and building itself. The Prado has a shocking amount of masterpieces for the size of the collection. It's always interesting to me how even when I've seen the pieces in person as well as via reproduction, I'm still hit every time I go with how some artists really suffer in reproduction while others are assisted by it. A guard stopped me fairly early on and pointed out that on my guide it says in a tiny icon on the back that no photos are allowed, so unfortunately you won't get to see any of my own photos of Bosch's salon, or Velazquez's Bufones series, but I actually wasn't warned at the very beginning so I can share a couple images with you!
The Reina Sofia allows photos in all its exhibitions except the "Pity and Terror - The Path to Guernica" Picasso retrospective. Though I respect its historical and artistic significance, I don't really emotionally connect with Picasso as much as other artists and pieces in the Reina Sofia anyway - I am, for instance, somehow always surprised by the engrossing, varied details and the meticulous brushwork of Dalí. There were also a large number of temporary exhibitions featuring a range of artists including several contemporary ones.
No photos were allowed in the interior of the palace, but the Palacio Real is a really interesting space - on the one hand, the wallpapers, stucco decorations, and much of the decor is over-the-top and stands up to modernity just fine; on the other, some parts have suffered more than others. The ballroom/dining hall floor has seen better days, and some of the furniture seemed worn and small - in fact, so did a few of the rooms. Overall, though, the effect is pretty regal particularly when focusing on the Salon Gasparini or the Throne Room.
The Catedral de la Almudena is right next door to the Palacio Real, and though the interior of the cathedral is nice, my favorite part (where no photos are allowed to preserve the holy atmosphere) is the Capilla del Santísimo which is inlaid in mosaic tile by artist and Father Marko Ivan Rupnik.
My flights back home were great - though American Airlines had in their infinite wisdom chosen to use a plane with no personalized in-flight entertainment on the cross-Atlantic trip over, they did use a super teched-out plane on the return voyage. The windows tinted and untinted electronically, and the personal monitors in the seat backs had the most complex navigational information system I've seen as well as a surfeit of television and movie selections. I unfortunately didn't manage to get an aisle seat, though, which my knees really felt, but I did get asked to move from my middle seat to a window seat across the plane and happily complied so I could at least not be penned in on both sides by people. Plus my new seat neighbor was a nice guy. I was fairly worried the whole day as my connection in Dallas Fort Worth was only two hours, which is cutting it really close, but fortunately everything - passport control, baggage claim, customs, security - went smoothly and decently quickly and I made my next flight on time. That plane also had personalized in-flight entertainment, weirdly enough, as it's quite atypical on such short domestic trips. American Airlines, I do not understand you. Please to have personalized in-flight entertainment on all the longest trips first and then if you can on the rest it would be a nice perk.
I landed, my luggage came out in order, and my amazing colleague Susan came and picked me up! I am home!
Remember the Polymers in Art Through The Centuries exhibition I'm participating in (thanks to my friend Dr. John Pojman) at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum (LASM)? It opened March 4, 2017, and was slated to run until June 4 but was extended through September 3 due to the success of the exhibition. The Advocate, Louisiana's largest daily newspaper, recently published an article on the show, "LASM's exhibit explores the mix of art and science," including a photo of my pieces in the slideshow imagery at the top as well as text about my work.
If you're in the Baton Rouge region and haven't stopped by the exhibition yet, you've still got almost a month!
I've been so busy that I haven't posted any articles that came out featuring me or my work, but I'm belatedly getting around to it now! The Pursuit, the LSU College of Science blog, published its post "Science That Glows at LSU: Happy 4th of July!" written by a friend of mine, Dr. Paige Jarreau, which features my artwork and Dr. John Pojman's 3P QuickCure Clay!
Seriously, I've been really hard at work here creating lots of new artwork!
I went to see the Zoo Aquarium de Madrid a couple weeks ago, mostly because I remember it being huge from when I visited it ten years ago and with unusual access to some of the animals like the giraffes, bears, and wallabies. They've tightened up some of their security since, though I still saw patrons feeding peanuts to lemurs and bears despite the signage (I saw that ten years ago too, but also saw a wallaby with an entire bagel and giraffes also being fed peanuts by the crowd!), and it still seemed big but not quite as huge as it did when I was younger.
I typically don't paint zoo animals; I prefer to paint animals that are local and/or native to the places I'm inhabiting, and I also don't think I get very unique perspectives on many zoo inhabitants unless the zoo is one of the few that has surprisingly close access to the animals. However, this time around despite less access than I remember (though still on the more access side of zoos), a giant anteater had escaped from his enclosure and was having the time of his life in the green space between his enclosure and the public walkways. There was still a small fence between him and the walkways, but honestly, the fence he escaped from was much more difficult to surmount so while he could've escaped full-stop, I believe he just preferred the green space to that of his desert-themed enclosure. If I'd wanted to, I could've touched him, but I didn't - both because I'm a good zoo visitor, and also because he was a fighter! Peahens, unaware of his escape, were pecking around happily when he ran over and began repeatedly charging them. He did that until they hid behind some bushes and then he happily commenced wandering around the green space, digging and eating in the grass. I watched him for a while and then went off to other parts of the zoo; I returned a few hours later and he somehow got his girlfriend out as well! I think the Zoo must know they can escape, but I'm honestly surprised it's allowed since unwise guests could really cause a problem quite easily with the anteaters...
Watching him enjoy himself so much (and having an exceptional amount of access to him), it felt like I actually did get a real glimpse into his character. I left wanting a souvenir of the experience, and in my mind there's no better souvenir than painting him.
Dominion, acrylic on canvas, 25x39 3/4".
I really like how this piece turned out. A number of people have asked me about the background/paper, and yes, I did paint the background as well including the darker spots - the paper started off white. But no, I didn't handmake the paper, though it is artesanal! I bought it at Jeco here in Madrid.
The Ninth Hour, acrylic on paper, 11 3/8 x 15".
Here's my second interactive sculpture! It's had less time for the algae to grow on it, but so far I'm liking it. With the snails piece, having them entirely underwater wasn't necessarily a "death sentence" for the snails as a number of species of snails are aquatic. There are no aquatic pigeons, though, so I made this one to have its head jussssst above the top of the container.
I didn't take many in-process photos of this one primarily because a lot of pieces to this one were really delicate while uncured (the feet, the beak, the tail and wing tips) so I was mostly gently cradling it while sculpting and then went straight into curing it. But to the right is a photo of it post-curing but pre-powdering.
This painting of two sparrows I'm not completely happy with; I started the piece out with a composition I liked, but then some parts of it got away from me and I had to tear the paper down in size to correct it. Tearing it down fixed those issues, but now the scale of the sparrows in relation to the overall paper size is out of whack to me. So it goes sometimes - I think if I float mat it with a very large mat of maybe 2-3" it might turn out alright in the end. In Their Own Minds, acrylic on textured paper, 18 1/8 x 13 3/4".
My exhibition, titled "In the Dark" (in Spanish), associated with my Intercambiador ACART residency is opening tomorrow evening! I haven't been able to take a photo of the second sculpture I made yet for various reasons, but the show will have two interactive sculptures of mine as well as five paintings (two of which I just finished and also have yet to post online!). The exhibition will be held in Quinta del Sordo here in Madrid, Spain, and will be up from July 20-28th. Here's the exhibition card:
Here's the final (for now, at least) fox kit painting! It's titled All Out, is acrylic on canvas, and measures 18 7/8 x 21".
Here are the photos from Segovia, with a couple at the end of Plaza Mayor in Madrid, a photo of one of the invasive parrots I've talked about before briefly here, and the Alejandro Sanz concert fireworks!
I've been not posting as many text-based journals from this residency mostly because I've lived in Madrid before and this is a longer residency than I'm used to (the first one that's two months long), so I have fewer touristy desires than normal and I can spread them out more. Also it's been so insanely hot so much of the time that the studio often seems more appealing anyway! Other day-to-day things that occupy my time include occasionally going to the Chueca district to buy art supplies (it's also the gayborhood, interestingly) and similarly studio-related errands. This all makes me very productive but doesn't provide as much material to journal about.
However, I haven't yet covered that while Fari was still here, we took a day trip to Segovia on the recommendation of a local Spanish acquaintance who told me that it was her favorite nearby town, even besting Toledo.
Segovia lived up to her claims so much that I'm surprised I didn't go there ten years ago - it has a Roman aqueduct dating to around 112 AD and what is I think the most beautiful cathedral exterior I've ever seen. It also has a castle that inspired Walt Disney, called the Alcázar of Segovia, which had three trees of nesting storks out front (!!).
Interestingly to me, Segovia doesn't have any specific touristic goods apart from a meat entrée; Toledo for instance is well known for its metals including steel, gold, and silver. Segovia really doesn't need any as the city itself is sufficient to draw tourists, but I can't help but feel they could make more money if they perhaps sold special tapestries and other cloths in a nod to the past industry of cloth-making there.
Other than that, one night the stadium next to my apartment building had a famous Spanish singer, Alejandro Sanz, doing a twenty-year-retrospective concert; while we could hear it, we couldn't hear it; the audio was too distorted from that distance. I did photograph the fireworks, though!
Here's my second fox kit painting. I'm titling it Nativity in part due to the suggested mountainscape in the background which mirrors the homeland of this particular fox kit. This piece is also acrylic on canvas and is approximately 22.5 x 32".
Here's my first painting featuring a fox kit I met while in Portugal. City Solstice, acrylic on canvas, 14 5/8 x 22 5/8". I'm not 100% certain, but given the very thin margin I left, I think I'll be framing it (ugh, the cost though!).
Some random observations:
1) I am quite tall for the Iberian Peninsula (both Portugal and Spain). Headrests on buses and cars hit me in the back and I tower over pretty much all of the women and many of the men. I'm only very slightly taller than average (5'6" with average being 5'5" for women) in the USA, so it's weird feeling so very tall.
2) Madrid is a dog city. I noted that when I was here in 2007, too, and I love seeing all the dogs. I get to pet and play with a few particularly friendly ones, too, and that's grand. I do wish it was less of a dog poop city, though. Many people do pick up their dog's poop with little baggies and toss it away appropriately, but many also do not.
3) Travelers' diarrhea is really unpleasant. I kept getting it here the first few weeks and can't figure out what the precise culprit is. I feel that since I lived here once before (admittedly ten years ago) it is wholly unfair that it keeps happening (three separate occasions thus far).
4) Madrid is getting ever so slightly better with vegetarianism, but it's still very hard to be vegetarian here if you want to eat out.
5) Despite having lived here before and this being the case in other cities I've done residencies in as well, I'm still not entirely used to shops closing from 2-5pm. I like the European mindset toward work-life balance, but I'd prefer shift workers such that the stores could stay open.
6) If you live without A/C in constant 100-103*F weather, having one day that's overcast and merely 96*F feels markedly better.
7) Many Spaniards really don't speak English. I do speak enough Spanish to get along, but Fari doesn't speak any Spanish and I think she's surprised at how much it hinders her here - for a big European city like Madrid, the proportion who don't speak English is probably higher here than almost anywhere else of a similar size.
8) The flat I'm in has no microwave, no oven, and no pot with a lid. This severely hampers what I am able to cook. I'm also nervous that eating fresh fruit and vegetables is part of what's contributing to the traveler's diarrhea. As a result, I'm eating out a lot.
9) People drink non-alcoholic beer here surprisingly often. I typically only see it on offer in Muslim-run restaurants in the US. I only drink decaf coffee, so I get liking the taste of something but not the drug within it - but the cheap beer served everywhere here, Mahou, is to me not something I would prefer to other drinks without the alcohol...
10) There are more Asian immigrants here than ten years ago - a lot more. I used to walk around with an Asian friend in 2007 and people would scream "china" and run over to stare at her like she was in a zoo; nowadays there are "Chinese bazaars" on almost every street run by Asian immigrants.
11) There's a couple species of invasive small green parrot here. The more common one, the Argentinian parrot, has a very loud, annoying call. They're surprisingly hard to pin down in photos, but I've encountered them a few times.