Hobbled But Here! - Cerdeira Village Residency Journal 1

Amidst all the bustling about I had to do prior to setting off on my summer of back-to-back Iberian Peninsula residencies, I managed to get my left foot slammed in a heavy metal shop door four days before I needed to leave.  I had it X-rayed to make sure I hadn't fractured or broken anything - the results thankfully came back that it was just swollen and bruised - and then tried to ice and rest it as much as was possible during those intervening days.  I flew out on Friday, May 19th from MCI connecting in Philadelphia to then go on to Lisbon.  I had decided when scheduling my flights to spend two days in Lisbon before heading on to Cerdeira Village since it's my first time in Portugal.  

My foot was still not really ready to attempt all the various stressors of airports, so I requested wheelchair assistance in the airports.  Everyone who helped me was very kind, and though at the beginning I felt guilty for requesting it, by the time I saw how many lines I got to bypass, I was grateful; one of the hazards of lines beyond the obvious of having to stand a lot is other people blindly backing luggage/themselves into your feet and I really didn't fancy taking another hit to my wounded foot.  Plus the request came with the ability to request aisle seating on the right (putting my injured left foot into the aisle), which meant I could avoid seatmates from bumping me and stretch it out to rest it in the aisle during non-service periods.

My first flight from MCI to PHL went off without a hitch; the plane was bare bones but functional (no inset TV monitors, sadly, but I don't expect them on domestic flights - they're more of a rare perk).  My second flight from PHL to LIS, as is often the wont at PHL, was delayed by slightly over two hours.  It did mean I was able to eat something at an airport restaurant, though, which was good because though my second flight was international and came with dinner and breakfast, I discovered that American Airlines does somewhat weird vegetarian meals (I signed up for the special meals ahead of time to accommodate my vegetarian diet).  They collapse all the veg*n meals together, which makes sense to maximize utility, but then don't actually make the whole meal vegan - they randomly pick and choose what will be vegan and what will be vegetarian in ways that seem to maximize taste issues.  For dinner, there was vegan pasta in marinara sauce with a not-great fake cheese but an accompanying dinner roll had milk as an ingredient and we were just not given the separate cheese slice that accompanied the dinner rolls for other diners.  There was also a salad and fruit, which I appreciated, but I think everyone got those.  For breakfast, the whole standard meal was vegetarian (blueberry muffin, granola, yogurt, and some form of healthy-ish dessert/granola bar).  The veg*n meal instead came with yogurt (still with milk), a vegan cookie, and a small dish of fruit.  I did appreciate the fruit, but wasn't sure why we didn't also get one of the other options for a similar quantity of food items.

The time really stretched on during the second flight, too, because unlike every other international flight I've taken in recent years, this airplane also had no individual tv monitors in the seat backs.  I was really, really thankful I had decided to buy a Kindle Paperwhite in anticipation of being mostly disconnected while in Cerdeira Village because that was my only entertainment.  To be fair, the plane did have a few overhead monitors scattered through the plane and you could try to watch those, but you obviously had to watch whatever was on (from afar) and had no ability to pause it while service was happening or you went to the restroom.  I just ignored that option and read (or briefly, tried to sleep - it's very hard for me to sleep upright, though, so I think I caught about 15-30 minutes).  My seat was also in the very back (no recline) and directly below the flight attendant's overhead storage, and they kept rummaging through it.

Toward the last few hours of the flight, I also noticed both my feet were swollen to the point that my sandals and my compression wrap on my left foot were really uncomfortable.  I assume it was due to the pressure change, though I have to say I've never noticed this side effect before.  I knew I wasn't really in a position to redo the wrap properly if I took it off, though, and I needed it to walk even a little, so I ignored that problem and just loosened my sandal straps.

When I got off that plane, my left foot was basically numb and I thought that it was really very good that I asked for wheelchair assistance.  It was especially nice because it also let me skip the long customs line for a much shorter staff-and-disabled line, and then the very nice attendant also got my luggage off the baggage claim for me, stuck it on a trolley, hailed a cab, and got it put in the taxi for me as well.  (She asked if someone was picking me up and I answered that I was going to take a taxi; the Lisbon airport is surprisingly central and most people can either walk or take the subway to their destination but my foot was alternately numb and throbbing and my luggage is, even when both my feet work, not a joy to navigate the subway with.)  Even though I knew how close the airport was to my AirBnB, I was still pleasantly surprised that the ride only cost 8.5 euro (I gave the taxi driver a 10 and she helped me get my luggage into the building proper).  

I then rode in the archaic lift (with manual door guards) up to my host's place, and thankfully was immediately let in; though that's how it ideally goes, I had to wait for around 20 minutes to get access to my AirBnB in Paris.  The first things I did were to take off the compression wrap and get the ice pack I put in my suitcase into the freezer.  Then I took a short nap - around an hour and a half.  I rewrapped my foot and went out to see if I could catch Tram 28.

Before my foot incident, I had plans for what I wanted to do during my two days in Lisbon, but due to my foot (and also due to the delayed flight which together with the short nap ate up much of the first day), I decided to significantly curtail my plans.  Luckily one of the tourist attractions is done primarily sitting down: Tram 28.  It's an old-school single car tram that takes passengers through the Alfama district and past a number of famous sights.  Waiting in line for the tram was a little rough (I regretted not tossing my sunscreen into my bookbag even though it was already 4:30pm - the sun was still fierce!) given all the tourists who had the same idea, and I had to wait for a tram with available seating due to my foot, but I eventually got onto an empty tram and snagged a coveted window seat.  While waiting in line, I also briefly befriended a nice Canadian couple who let me in on the best side to sit on and that my attempting to walk much of the Alfama would be a bad idea due to its numerous inclines, declines, and straight up stairs.

The tram ride was nice, though it was also surprisingly fast - we zipped by a lot of places that I would have liked to explore, had I had the time and a better foot.  When we came to the end of the line, since we were kicked off anyway I chose to take a small exploration before returning and also snagged a bite to eat at a vegan-friendly waffle place and literally the only place open that served food at that hour.  I was a little sad that my attempts to order both a savory and a sweet waffle were lost in translation and ended in only the sweet one being delivered; that being said, though I would have preferred the savory one once the sweet had been placed at my table I realized there was no way I would've been able to eat two of them and Europe is not a doggy-bag culture.  So what I ate was a strawberry-greek yogurt-granola topped oat waffle; it was really quite good and very affordable even though it wasn't quite what I had in mind as a meal.

I got back on the return tram, and got off in the Alfama district near the Arc de Triomphe.  I wandered around for honestly probably way too far before deciding I was pretty thoroughly lost, it was 8pm, and my foot had started to complain a while ago and was getting pretty insistent about it - so I just hailed a cab.  That ride ended up being only 5.5 euro (rounded to 6 euro with a tip), and I decided it's affordable enough to rely on taxis if my foot is hurting.

I do have to say I keep spending cash in Lisbon so far; I'm surprised but the taxis, metro, and restaurants so far did not want to accept credit cards.  I brought some cash along, though, so it should be fine.

Back in my AirBnB, I met one of the other people renting a room here - she's a Spanish professor at the University of Lisbon who is almost done with the semester and will then return back to her home near Galicia, Spain, when it's over.  We briefly chatted and then I got ready for bed and turned in around 9:30pm.

I woke up at 12:30am, and try though I might, I could not go back to sleep.  Jet lag is annoying!  After just lying in the dark for 45 minutes, I decided to journal instead.  And now here we are, and here I will leave you to hopefully return to sleep shortly in order to wake rested and at a semi-normal time on Sunday!

Newspaper Article in The Daily Reveille

Here's some more press on the Polymers in Art Through the Centuries exhibition at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum (LASM) and my collaboration with Dr. John Pojman from Louisiana State University (LSU)!  The Daily Reveille even uses a photo of my artwork in the exhibition as the article image!  The show is up through September 3rd, if you will be in the region and want to stop by.

Trump-Era Environmental Damage

In case you haven't been following along (I do understand the appeal of attempting to ignore that Trump is in charge of the USA), here's a list put together by The New York Times compiling twenty-three environmental laws, regulations, and policies that Trump has overturned in the first hundred days of his presidency.  At least Elon Musk is trying his best to get humanity to Mars, since it seems like it'd be best if we just left Earth to the rest of the species that inhabit it and move to a lifeless planet that won't suffer as much from our short-sighted and morally questionable leadership.

My Summer Plans!

I finally know what I'll be doing this summer!  Usually I nail down artist residency plans much earlier in the year, but it's been much more up in the air this time around.  Until now!

I am extremely pleased to announce that I was fortunate enough to be selected for one of the two spots allocated to international artists to attend a fully sponsored two-week-long residency at Cerdeira Village in Portugal in association with the 2017 "Bichos" themed Elementos à Solta (Art Meets Nature) festival.  I will be working in ceramics with 3P QuickCure Clay both in the preceding days and as well as actively at the festival.

I am also very happy to share that I have additionally been chosen to attend a two-month-long residency at Intercambiador ACART in Madrid, Spain.  I previously studied abroad in Madrid in 2007, so it's been a decade since I've last lived there.  It will be nice to return as a more well-traveled and seasoned adult.  I will probably be working with a mix of 2D and 3D aspects.

I will do the two back-to-back, starting with Cerdeira Village and then heading to Intercambiador ACART.  It will be a very busy, very productive summer!

USM Baptism Stole

Last week, University of Saint Mary President Diane Steele dropped by one of my classes to ask me or one of my students to decorate a baptism stole for one of our own esteemed colleagues who is getting baptized this Friday.

Given the seriousness of the event and the once-off support media, I chose to take the task on myself so as to make sure it was a well-executed piece.  I took pieces of some of our logos and printed them out at the proper scale, handcut them into stencils, and painted them onto each side of the stole.  I then freehand-painted somewhat stylized fire and water below the stencils.  I took my time in doing it, and it even surprised me how long it did take - around 7 hours!  But I think it turned out quite well.

More Cute Lex Photos

My crested gecko Lex has been posing up a storm lately!  Here are a couple of new snaps of her antics.  If you think she looks significantly yellower in the middle photo than the other two, you're correct - and it's not an illusion due to lighting or camera settings.  The white versions are her "fired down" state, while the yellow is a more active coloration; when she's really intensely "fired up," she can actually even reach a medium brown, but that's relatively rare for her.

Arcilia Gonzalez's Senior Art Exhibition

My student Arcilia Gonzalez is graduating this spring, and her senior exhibition is having its opening reception tomorrow!  Come to Goppert Gallery between 3-5pm on Friday, April 7th to take in Not Just Beautiful, but Alive and Breathing - or if you absolutely can't make it then, it will be up through April 21st.  Here's the press release!

Arcilia's graduation marks the fourth year that I've been teaching at USM, so hers is the first class I've seen all the way through from freshmen to graduation.  She's also been a work study student of mine, and is an interesting, good person, so I'll miss her in a number of ways.  Arcilia has another show in the region this winter, though, so I'll get to see her again after she graduates in the not too distant future.

A Photo Gallery from My LASM Exhibition Trip

I have a few more photos to share from my LASM exhibition and associated demos/events!  This was a fantastically fun trip, all thanks to the amazing Dr. John Pojman.

The Baton Rouge Ebb & Flow Festival

Dr. John Pojman and I had a demo station set up at the Ebb & Flow Festival today in Baton Rouge - a student of his joined us and we formed part of the Louisiana Art & Science Museum brigade and demonstrated the non-Newtonian fluid behavior of cornstarch plus water as well as QuickCure Clay.  We also got a chance to take in the rest of the festival, and I happened to see two friends of mine had an art booth selling their own paintings!  It was a beautiful day (I managed to get sunburnt!) and I topped it off by getting a snowcone from one of the vendors.  The festival will continue tomorrow, but our booth was a Saturday-only event.

Radio Interview with The Jim Engster Show

Dr. John Pojman and I will be guests on The Jim Engster Show today at 4:35pm CDT talking about polymers and art!  You can livestream it or listen to it later as a podcast.  This show is broadcast on six different radio stations across Louisiana.

Video Clip of LASM QCC Demo

I have a full schedule of demonstrations, lectures, and interviews for the next couple of days associated with the Polymers in Art Through the Centuries exhibition going on at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum (LASM) - the first took place earlier this evening!  An LASM public relations staff member posted livestream video to Facebook throughout the night - here's a snippet:

Lex Shedding

Usually animals who are in the process of shedding are quite shy, so I haven't seen Lex shed in quite a while (when she was a baby I saw bits of it as very juvenile crested geckos have a harder time getting their shed off).  But last night, she popped up with a superhero mask and cape of her own dead skin.

I assumed her surprisingly social behavior was a request for more humidity to aid in the detaching and easy consumption of her shed, so after taking her photo I spritzed her and watched as she ate it all within the next half hour.

Human and Animal Lives Colliding

Did you know that there's a Dead Animal Tales exhibition at the Rotterdam Natural History Museum featuring animals who came into interestingly fatal contact with humanity?  One of the latest additions is a stone marten who got electrocuted while breaching the Large Hadron Collider's substation fence.  The Guardian wrote an article on the exhibition which is worth reading in its entirety, but here's an excerpt:

The stone marten [...] joins a sparrow that was shot after it sabotaged a world record attempt by knocking over 23,000 dominoes; a hedgehog that got fatally stuck in a McDonalds McFlurry pot, and a catfish that fell victim to a group of men in the Netherlands who developed a tradition for drinking vast amounts of beer and swallowing fish from their aquarium. The catfish turned out to be armoured, and on being swallowed raised its spines. The defence did not save the fish, but it put the 28-year-old man who tried to swallow it in intensive care for a week.

It was another unfortunate incident that spurred Moeliker to establish the exhibition in the first place. In 1995, a male duck flew into the glass facade of the museum and died on impact, a fate that did not deter another male duck from raping the corpse for 75 minutes. The incident ruffled feathers in the community but earned Moeliker a much-coveted IgNobel prize when he published his observations . “I was the one and only witness,” Moeliker said. “I’m a trained biologist but what I saw was completely new to me.”

The gay necrophiliac duck sex act is elaborated on here, if you're compelled - as I was - to read more about it.  Apparently there may or may not have been a similar case witnessed between two American squirrels.

Animals in Art Exhibition at A Different Path Gallery

And here's another exhibition I'm showing work in - it's the Animals in Art national exhibition juried by Lori Skoog and Katherine Weston at A Different Path Gallery in Brockport, New York.  Three of my pieces will be on display: Perfect Form, Echo, and Littoral Layers

The show opens with a reception this Friday (tomorrow!), March 10th, from 7-9pm and will be on exhibit through April 1, 2017.  The gallery is located at 27 Market Street, Brockport, NY 14420.

Polymers in Art Through the Centuries Exhibition at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum

My collaboration with Dr. John Pojman and his company 3P (Pojman Polymer Products) has led to my exhibiting in this amazing show!  Polymers in Art Through the Centuries is a fantastically interesting exhibition held at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum (LASM) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Polymers in Art Through the Centuries opened today!  Its show dates are March 4 - June 4, 2017, and it is held in the Soupçon Gallery in the LASM.  For information about the LASM hours of operation and cost of admission (though please note that there are a number of free admission days), please check this link out.

I will be demonstrating 3P QuickCure Clay and discussing my work with the sculptural and relief medium along with Dr. John Pojman onsite at the LASM during their Art After Hours: The Substance of Art event on Thursday, March 30, 2017 from 5:30 - 7:30pm.  Other artists including Monica Zeringue, violist and composer Christian Frederickson, and local dance company Of Moving Colors will be contributing to the evening as well, and A Work in Process: Paintings by Gustave Blache III and It’s Academic: A Hands-On Art Experience will also be open for viewing.  Complimentary wine and appetizers are included with admission, which is $7.50 for adults, $5.50 for college students with ID, and free for members.

Amaryllis Minerva

By the time I reached the discounted post-Christmas sale in Concordia's Walmart, there was a lone Amaryllis bucket/bulb left.  I picked it up, potted it up, and lo and behold: Amaryllis Minerva in all her glory!  If I keep the bulb planted and happy through early fall and then depot and store it, I should be able to keep it for next year's winter flowers!

My New Mixed Media Relief of a Sloth

This is either finished or close to finished - I have a tendency to tweak works slightly for a number of days after the piece is "done."  

I'm naming it the closest English translation of the sloth's name: Pilgrim (Peregrina).

Pilgrim is 3P QuickCure Clay and acrylic on a 6x12" basswood panel.

Pilgrim.jpg