Thursday, April 30, 2009

Clorox Bottles=Chandelier

Clorox is going to love this chandelier. I'm going to love this chandelier too once it's properly assembled and all the kinks are gone, adjusted, dealt with.
What's not to love once it is truly finished and star dust is practically bouncing off of each filigreed Clorox bottle? Then we're all going to love it. I assembled the chandelier for the very first time this afternoon in a warehouse off Fountainview. Tony Meija, the man with the chandelier business, hung the structure on a chain from the ceiling - after Laurie Perez had photographed it at eye level and from low on the floor. Looks much better when it's 'high' and the viewer is 'low.'
Realized when I was tying the ropes of table cloths on to the frame that I was going to need at least four more. That means about a dozen additional filigreed Clorox bottles. So, students, I hope you are willing to filigree twelve more. It's not over yet. I went through the immediate pangs of 'Oh, God this isn't going to work. Looks terrible."

Then I adjusted the bottles, weighting them to one side for the photographs, Tony lifted the whole chandelier up toward the ceiling and all of a sudden with the mirror ball sparkling through the bottles on to the walls and floor, it began to look like something.
We'll have an image or two for press prints and that's what we need right now. Can hardly wait to see what Laurie came up with.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cakes, Underwriters and Chandeliers Make Such a Good Day

Monday seemed a charmed day. It's now almost 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning and I have no business being awake, but here I am with my lap top ready to recount just how good a day Monday was.
Headed out of the house at 10:00 a.m. to pick up a bag of 1/2 pint Oak Farm Dairy milk cartons for a chandelier. I very recently learned from Gordon Harris that their East End plant over on Leeland supplies all the milk for both the Houston Independent School District and Cy-Fair School District. HISD, being the largest district in the State of Texas, must use millions of 1/2 pint cartons of milk. Who knew that the East End is a school milk supplier? I've seen the plant for years and talked to Gordon Harris for years, but have so recently learned exactly what they do. That's the beauty of working on Second Seating - it's art and it's also a kind of narrative about this industrial community of ours.

From Oak Farms, I drove on over to Houston Community College Southeast to drop off envelopes for some of June Woest's students who filigreed a dozen more Clorox bottles so I'd have enough to assemble the chandelier. There are some wonderful patterns on this final batch. Carmella Rojas made four of the dozen and they are beautiful.

From HCCS, I decided to get breakfast at La Victoria Bakery and while the migas a la Mexicana were cooking, I went back to the office to talk to Sandra and Marcella. For months, I intended to ask if they'd create a multi-tiered fantasy cake for the Second Seating banquet table. Rosi creates beautiful, baroque and bizarre cakes and one of her cakes should tower over the banquet table. They loved the idea and see July as the 'slow' month when they can construct this cake built of Styrofoam layers encrusted with whatever Rosie and Sandra dream up.

Then I mentioned the intricate beaded flowers that their mother Maria makes. I've pictured those beaded flowers on a Second Seating chandelier for a long time. 'Why couldn't be encrust a chandelier with your mother's beaded flowers?' I asked. That idea was well received too. So someday soon, they'll go through all the flowers and bouquets Maria's assembled and we'll see what sort of chandelier we can dream up. And yes, while we talked, I ate my plate of migas with refried beans and corn tortillas with half cup of coffee.

Home to check emails and found one from a Chronicle writer who'll do a story for the ALF dinner honorees. I am so happy. One of my extracurricular responsibilities is at last falling into place. It's that extra layer of work that often tips me over the edge so I am more than pleased that we'll have something in the neighborhood papers.

I headed back over to HCCS for a 2:30 appointment with their president, Irene Porcarella, which turned into a wonderful hour of free flowing ideas about how HCCS can integrate Second Seating into their 'green initiative.' I now have another underwriter for the installation and Irene and I will work on a series of activities that will both help Second Seating and involve the college. I am thrilled to have HCCS on board. More to talk about here as our ideas take form. What a good meeting. I've known Irene for years as she's held one job after another in the HCCS system. Good for her that she's now president of this HCCS campus with 10,000 students. It's grown so from the early days in the mid-1990s when the campus was new. There were 3000 students and the Felix Morales Building stood alone. What a difference a decade makes.

Dashed home again to check emails and make phone calls (OK, I know that when I have an iPhone I won't have to dash home, ever. I'll be picking up messages and sending messages from the front seat of my car or in the hallway of the place where I've just had a meeting.).
Made an appointment to meet with Jesse Sifunetes on Tuesday at 1:00. So need to catch up with him so we can talk through the final design of the coffee table with its mosaic of mugs. And his plans for firing dinner plates with East End motifs - magnolias, trains, fountains, ships, coffee cups. Lots to talk about, plans to make.
At 4:00 p.m., I drove cross town to the chandelier shop to see Tony Meija and two fine chandeliers finished and ready to be encrusted with 'stuff.' The Clorox chandelier with the mirrored ball looks great and on Thursday, I'll hang the Clorox bottles rolled on white tablecloths and we'll see it all for the first time. He's also completed the 3-hoop chandelier structure. Looks so good I hate to cover it with all the paraphernalia I'd planned. We loaded it in the back seat of my car and I know that I'll have a really fun project in my studio loading it with bias strips of fabric, crystals and random objects that could include tea cups, flowers, feathered birds, paper mache cupcakes, heaven knows what.

Next, we played with the design of the Dynamo soccer ball chandelier, using a cardboard box as its center, positioning the metal spokes that will hold the balls in the sides of the box. The thing is going to work. Wish I'd had my camera to take one of those 'process' pictures, so we'll remember how this thing came together. Tony Meija can visualize and his ideas are good. Each of these chandeliers has really been very carefully thought out. Can hardly wait to see them finished and in Irma's space.

My car is now totally engulfed with Second Seating stuff. The new 3-hoop chandelier fills the entire back seat and in the very back there is a lot more. I have two bags of metal shavings and curlicues from the dumpster at French's Grinding Service over on Polk St. Those curlicues will transform themselves into a 'bewitched birds nest' chandelier once I find the right base. Also in the back are two bags of fishing nets that Trudy found for me in Rockport for the 'Bayou, Bay...' table. I really do need to stop at Jim Goode's Seafood and ask for bags of oyster shells so I can set them out in my back garden for the bugs to pick clean. Get them ready to use with the nets as a table base.
From the chandelier shop, I went to Whole Foods to stock my pantry and refrigerator and then still felt so good about the day that I called my brother and said I'd bring some things over for supper at his house.Well, we sat at the table with smoke trout and crackers, sweet pickled peppers and chicken salad and suddenly, my eyes were very heavy lidded. Couldn't hold them open, left the table and was sound asleep on their living room couch in seconds. Must have slept an hour before I roused myself.
I suppose I could have slept there the better part of the night, but I rallied and drove home to a darkened house. Read a little of the Sunday NYT and fell into bed. And now awake again so soon - with another busy day ahead. Not the best.
You just never know about illusive sleep or just when you'll have an absolutely great day like Monday.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


My thanks to Sherri and Kelley at S.O. Creative for designing Second Seating's logo. It's on the masthead of this blog now, on letterhead, business cards and labels. We worked on an image for Second Seating for a long time and with Diana Hickerson's tag line, I think it represents what's happening. I'm liking it. Sherri's branded the Greater East End District. Diana written many a district newsletter. We go back a long time. When Sherri offered to create an icon for Second Seating, I said 'Thank you. Thank you.'
I'm also working with SquidzInk, making updates on my MM Hansen Communicates website, so you'll see the logo there as well. Along with press releases, listings and images for download.

Cross Reference

Two of my blogs are intersecting more and more. So here's what I wrote in Rockbridge Times this early Sunday morning. It seems to have a lot to do with Second Seating:

A friend hosted a women's dinner last evening. She called it a surprise party and asked us to bring a stack of magazines that we wouldn't mind cutting up. There were nine of us around Kem's big square dinning room table and the talk was fast and furious and funny. I am forever reminded of how many articulate, savvy, smart, creative and outrageous women I count as friends. They enrich my life and I could do without them. All of them.

The magazines were piled among wine glasses, hummus and crackers, cheese, fruit and then salad fixings followed by bite size cookies, sorbet and ice cream. It was almost an hour before we took scissors to glossy magazines to begin our assignment: gather images that speak to us and arrange them in a collage. And don't think too much about it.

First, there were eruptions of anxiety. No one's right brain would kick in. Kellye was intimidated, she said, sitting next to me because she says she's a totally left brain sort of person. All not true. Collage brings out the hidden and unknown. It can be a bit like dreaming if you don't 'think' while you're tearing and pasting.

I remember taking a week of classes at Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY and our first assignment was to make ten collages in an hour. It was a wonderful way to begin the class. We ripped apart magazines and created very loose collages - a few of which I've kept all these years just to remind me that faster is often better - few windows of time in which to 'think' about what you are doing.
The nine of us continued with wild digressions and asides until Kem set An hour later, we'd produced remarkable collages, all of which I wish I'd photographed for you to see. Perhaps I'll email a request to all and ask that they send an image that I can post.

I came home and immediately began removed two scraps of paper from my collage and judged it better for it. Then began to think of the images that I will put on the assortment of plates and platters I've been assembling for Second Seating's Wall of Plates. Ever onward. Also woke up this morning with a thought about the Oak Farms Dairy school milk cartons. I am going to call an HISD art teacher friend and see if she can gather some random art work from her elementary school students that can be incorporated into the milk carton chandelier. The whole piece can be a sort of mobile with cartons balanced by drawings of the children who drink the milk. Perhaps they can draw milk cartons?
Oh, the power of that moment as we awaken. It's the mother lode for ideas.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

All In A Day's Work

Everything in life takes longer than anticipated. At least, that is my experience. I've been back in Houston two days and I'd say I've accomplished many tasks for this exhibition of mine. Yet in the grand scheme of things, there is so, so much more to be done. Guess it might help if I made a 'done' list and then simply go to bed.
Here goes:
1. Got a request for a 100 word bio, a 100 word project summary and three images for The Idea Fund website. You'd think that would be an easy one, but I messed with that bio and summary for far longer than I'll admit. Couldn't get them down to 100 words. Slept on it and early this morning, made the revisions in minutes. Always helps to sleep on things.
2. Always worries me to send images when things aren't really 'done', but I photographed the filigreed Clorox bottles, a section of the patched together velvets and brocades salvaged from Hurricane Ike flood waters and pulled up a photo of the compressed bales of soda cans at Spectrum Metals. One of those bales will become a table base for Second Seating. Had to call Laurie P. over to get the images at 300 dpi and put them in an email ready to send.
3. Drafted a follow-up letter to a probable donor who expressed interest in February and told me to write/call him again in April. I still must drop the envelope in the mail box, but he'll have it on Monday and it'll still be April.
4. Called for an appointment with another possible donor and it's set for next Monday afternoon.
5. Called a good friend who is chairperson of a potential donor organization and found out how to get their attention. Resulted in having to fill in another application - why do these things take me so long, even when I've written the words before?

So you think that Second Seating is all about fundraising? Well, it does take up much of my days, but in between those letters and calls, I did the following in the service of making the art for this installation:

1. Gathered all the filigreed Clorox bottles affixed to rolled tablecloths and began to hang them from the structure that allows the garage/studio door to go up and down. Need to string the most recent bottles on to more rolled tablecloths and attach a few wooden clothes pins here and there.
2. Called the man who made the structure for the Clorox bottle chandelier. Must call again tomorrow when he available in order to make an appointment to assemble the chandelier and try out the lights and the mirrored ball AND have Laurie P. photograph it for press prints in the media packets.
3. Ducked in for 15 minutes at The Guild Shop on my way to an eye doctor's appointment. Yes, the right eye is still crying. Make that tearing because the tear drain is covered again with scar tissue. How many months can this go on? In a week, I have an appointment with a specialist who'll put in a 'something' to hold the tear drain open. For the rest of my life. Back to The Guild Shop. Found a few more dishes on which I can put photo images. I am imagining a wall of plates with very strange images - mostly of food.
4. Called Jesse who came over to pick up a couple more dozen coffee mugs for the mosaic on the sides of the coffee table/buffet. We will meet again tomorrow to examine the table and give ourselves a schedule for completing it.
5. Mailed Jose Solis a copy of the architect's floor plans for the space so he can estimate the size of the coffee can chandelier he's constructing. It needs to be really big.
6. Picked up the fishing net that Trudy found for me in Rockport for the Bayou, Bay + table.
7. Got a call from the graphic person who created a logo for Second Seating. My stationery and labels and cards have arrived and I can pick them up tomorrow. I have had so much help from friends for this exhibition. I am amazed.

Well, now that I review the list above, I see that what I initially considered working on 'art' is all about administrative details. Every bit of it, which leads me again to what a joy it would be to have a personal assistant, an intern, staff, help. Tomorrow, I add to those admin tasks as I need to think about drafting revisions for Second Seating calendar listings, thread rolled table cloths through Clorox bottles and pick up a CD which holds a really good database. Where's the art in those tasks? Ouch.

There were also hours today that were filled with friends and a few household tasks. Paid all my bills early this morning and mailed them off, went to the bank, called my sister to see if she'd heard anything from Mom and Dad (not much which means they are probably doing well at their new care facility), made two calls on behalf of an organization for which I am a board member. One of the two calls was successful, or will be with some follow-up. Ate Vietnamese noodles for lunch at Les Girval's, met Moises for a Thai supper and loaned him a book by Joseph Campbell and another by Carl Jung after he said he's beginning to feel like a Buddhist. Good for him.

My house is totally upside down again which means that every surface is covered with papers and 'stuff.' Tomorrow I need to check in with Irma and her architect, fill in yet another application for funds, catch up with the chandelier man, meet with Jesse, straighten the diningroom table that I use for a desk, and wouldn't it be nice to go to a Pilates session at 9:00 a.m.?

So, is this how art gets made? Perhaps. I could go on. Instead I am going to bed with Netflix, know that I - one person - really have accomplished a few things today on behalf of Second Seating, even if art didn't enter into it.