Monday, August 31, 2009

Lists and More Lists

It's often instructive to look back over a day and see exactly how you 'moved the meter' toward a goal. Often the day is filled with many little shoves in the right direction. Another day there will be a terrific leap forward on one front and then, of course, I think I can sit back and relax. Yet another kind of day can be all about laying plans and setting a course, taking stock, regrouping.
Every single day I make a list and print it out. The list is then overlaid with penciled in items. Or I renumber the list and simply follow the numbered tasks. Lately, I've topped the list with goals for the week. Here are this week's goals:
1. Finish with the electrical contractor. He was in the space today and will be there again tomorrow. I've been lucky enough to borrow lights from HCCS and they'll be put in place by following my rained soaked mat board on which I drew the space to scale, but have covered it over with so many sets of numbers and circles etc. that any electrician looking at it should throw up his/her hands and ask for a real plan. This electrician had the sense to move right ahead after a few questions about my chalk marks on the concrete floor. I gave him my cell phone number and didn't hear from him all afternoon so I assume all is well?
2. A second goal is to get all the materials to Mark for the kiosk at the City Hall Visitors Center. I pick up the poster tomorrow sometime after 10:00.
3. I've got to spend time finding a good contact on the quilt festival staff. Who wouldn't want to eat lunch at Irma's and see Second Seating if they're teaching at festival for a week? Lunch hour is a good time for an arts destination.
4. I need to send out press packets to a couple of radio stations, the Houston Chronicle folks (what left of them) and local on-line arts websites.
5. I need to buy sheets of plexi for my collages. I can drill holes in them this weekend for little brass tacks that will hold the plexi to the frames. I want those pieces finished. I am still getting parts of collages mounted on mat board so I won't run into another gluing mess.
6. Finally, I need to finish all the text for this show and there's plenty of it.
So those are the week's goals. And here's what happened today after I took an early morning walk and saw pecans everywhere. The squirrels seem to take one bite and then toss the nut. You could hear them up in the trees and then a pecan would fall to the street. But I digress. Here's the day:
1. The painters returned to repaint the chartreuse wall and it's much better now.
1. I spoke with the electrical contractor early this morning and then was there to meet the electrician and his helper just before noon. While in the space I measured for Jesse's batiks, Aggie's metal pieces, my collages, montages and searched for space for Jose's wall pieces. We are literally running out of space. I'm going to have to be a stern editor for all eight of us. Amazing that suddenly there is so much work pouring in.
2. I called Bobby Schlitzberger to see when he can pick up that ton of compressed beer and soda cans and it looks like we'll do that on Thursday at 1:00.
3. I called Spectrum Metal Recycling to confirm that Thursday is a good day to borrow a bale of cans and it is. Except they'd like me to choose the bale tomorrow so they can power wash it and make it beautiful. How nice is that?
4. I met with Mark Lacey this afternoon and gave him a pile of CDs and we talked about making a sound track to play in the space. Snippets of songs will be interspersed with city sounds, trains, feral parrots, traffic, wind, rain, church bells, street music, whatever.
5. I went to Fiesta and met the assistant manager and asked if I could have lots of boxes. Yes, I can, but I have to pick them up on alternate mornings at 6:00 a.m. because they stock all night and then every other morning, they compress the boxes and they're gone.
6. We scheduled construction of the plate shelves for late Wednesday afternoon. I'll be glad to see them and wonder how I'll paint them. I called Jose and asked if he'd mind if we used his totem wall piece as a part of the plate wall. I think it will be wonderful as a fulcrum of sorts.
7. Before I left the house for the day, I sat at the kitchen table and paid bills and dropped them off at the post office. Done for a few more weeks.
8. At 5:00 today I proofed the posters for the kiosk and for the space. They'll be ready tomorrow. Then I went to Michael's to buy some sort of varnish to put on the plates to which I am affixing photo decals. Also bought a frame for the very nice Houston Woman Magazine Second Seating story which I will take to Irma's tomorrow. By the way, the stories and listings are beginning and that is good news.
9. Called a person who is willing to play docent in the space during October and will meet him on Monday for coffee. Still have a second person to call about this.
10. Tonight, I reprinted the Clorox table stories and glued them on the white labels I made last night. They'll be tied to the table linens stacked under the Clorox chandelier. Still need to get some facts and figures from the Clorox plant itself. Must send an email.
11. Tied on more than a dozen little painted labels to the wall hanging made from Hurricane Ike damaged fabrics. I think I am about done with that piece. Spoke with Mary B. and a friend. By the way, these two chairs are nearly finished. It was a heck of a job to applique that velvet on. I think I'll cover the rest of the backside of the chairs with gold spray paint and be done with it.
12. Now of course, I am really tired, been writing this post for over an hour, but am contemplating tomorrow's list that includes the following:
1. 6:00 a.m. Trip to Fiesta for corrugated boxes.
2 Take boxes to the space. Meet the electrician. See what he's done and where he's headed.
3. Receive extension ladder at 8:45 from Allison so the theater lighting guy can use when clamping the can lights to whatever he will be clamping them to.
4. Morning is self-improvement time. Pilates at 10:00. Must call the theater guy and tell him I won't be there until nearly 1:00.
5. Haircut at 11:30. This will be the haircut that sees me through the opening reception. One must plan these things and the timing is right.
6. Get to the space and talk about the lighting.
7. At 2:00, choose that compressed bale of beer and soda cans at Spectrum Recycling.
8. Pick up posters at A&E and pick up photos that have been mounted on board at Art Supply.
9. Check emails and wait for a tree man to come and deal with a fallen limp from the big tree in the ravine. He came this evening to look at the giant limb and give me a bid. That tree was really hurt during Hurricane Ike. I fear for it.
That's tomorrow. Just so you know what is taking up my days. A lot. Hey, I am still really happy about the City of Houston's special opportunity grant given through the Houston Arts Alliance. It's keeping me sane, meaning I am not worrying about raising ever more money. I am simply working to get this show assembled and lit.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

More Wonderful Work

Wow! Aggie Eyster just emailed me photos of things she's bringing for Second Seating. No words are necessary. Just feast your eyes.

The Work Is Rolling In

Did I ever doubt that the eight artists participating in Second Seating would produce wonderful work? No, never. Did I ever wonder when I'd see work finished and ready for installation? Sometimes. But this weekend, I've been overwhelmed seeing their stuff and suddenly I am wondering how all of it will fit into the space. Will we have to edit, pare down so what finally makes the cut really works with everything else and creates the atmosphere that is Second Seating? An interesting question and a lovely dilemma.
Here's what I've been looking at in the last few days in addition to my own foray today into affixing photo decals to my stack of plates that need embellishment. I've put this decal stuff off for months because I had a bad start, but today I am into it and it seems to be working.
And here are some of the good things I've been seeing from other Second Seating artists.
Just look at Jesse Sifuentes' new batiks. This one is 8 1/2 ft x 9 ft. I think it will go along the back wall of the space with good lighting on it. He's got a lot more pressing to do to get the wax off. I don't envy him the hours in the steamy outdoors attending to this. The pattern is the same one he'll use on a METRO transit stop along Harrisburg. Jesse is one of the artists selected for the public art component of METRO's mass transit corridors.
Jesse has more batiks to press wax from - all with coffee production motifs. Look at this next one sideways because it's a vertical piece on a horizontal clothes line at the moment. He's even got a Model T Ford in the right foreground because the coffee plant on Harrisburg was a Ford car plant long ago. It's been a coffee plant for over 50 years. Used to belong to Kraft Foods Maxwell House but Maximus Coffee Group, LP bought the place several years ago and is still roasting coffee beans and produces most of the decaf imbibed by the entire country.
Here's Victor Rodriguez' biggest parrot pinata with almost 15 ft of wing span. Gorgeous bird and it will lead a flock into the space from the back entrance.
And Jose sent some photos - so happy to see them. He's used a bunch of those blue Riesling wine bottles Irma and I took him last January. Love those bottles and I think I'm going to love this piece and I see a light bulb in the middle of it.
Here's a wall piece. A sort of wonderfully strange totem. I love it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My New Favorite Words

What exactly are my new favorite words?
'Made possible in part by a grant from the City of Houston
through the Houston Arts Alliance.'

I'm loving those words. Now I can use them when I talk about Second Seating. Late this afternoon my cell phone rang when I was right in the middle of a nice long shower. For whatever reason, I emerged from the shower with wet hair and much dripping on the floor. And with wet hair and much dripping, I received a call with the news that the grant application submitted on my behalf by Neighborhood Centers, Inc. had just been approved for funding. On this very day.
I am really happy about this funding. And I am breathing deeply, one breath after another. I'm enjoying every one of these deep breaths. The estimates of expenses for production that I poured over weeks ago? Now, I can pay for them all. Not that Second Seating was ever in danger of not opening on September 24, exactly one month from this evening, by the way. But funds would have been tight and I'd have thought twice about postage for any extra invites that needed to be mailed. I might have fretted if the paint color I chose needed to be covered over with a better shade of green. The exhibition's signage will be classy now. The electrician's fee to make the place ready for a dozen incredible chandeliers doesn't seem as scary as it did earlier this morning.
This particular funding didn't come out of thin air. I had lots of folks championing Second Seating. Folks went out on a limb to support this endeavor. Not one person really knows what to expect. And yet, they do know some things. They know the tenacity and salesmanship I bring to bear on a project. They know I am both responsible and creative. They know I'll pull it off and surprise them. And the folks who supported this particular funding understand that Second Seating is about inclusion and collaboration, the most important things to know.
One never, ever, does anything alone. At least, not in my experience. People see that common goal, jump on it and play a part. Second Seating has eight participating artists and quite a mix they are, each one talented and contributing something unique to the whole. We're all telling our stories about community and the visual narratives are what makes Second Seating.
So, my thanks to each of you who supported this special opportunity funding and who believe that Second Seating is truly 'a one-time offbeat arts destination in downtown Houston' as the most recent press release states.Second Seating is just blocks from the George R. Brown Convention Center where, in October, 55,000 quilters will wend their way through miles of quilts. These visitors to Houston not only get to see Second Seating, should they choose to take a break from those miles of quilts, but they also get to eat a Second Seating Lunch Special at Irma's, winner of a 2008 James Beard American Classics Award.
This is a lot about marketing. Special opportunity? You bet. What a combination. And today, Houston Arts Alliance joined the list of underwriters of Second Seating. At last.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Here's the Space

The space the Second Seating will call home is taking shape. The temporary walls are painted, though I know I'll change one color. The chartreuse isn't dark or dramatic enough, but the other two colors will be just fine.
Mark and I mapped out the tables and there is masking tape all over the floor where they'll be placed. Need to begin moving the big stuff in. Like the bale of crushed, compacted soda and beer cans that weighs almost a ton. Need to make arrangements for that. Jesse's table, Ted's table, my banquet buffet table. Probably before the electrician come next Tuesday as we can see where the lights need to shine.
On Thursday, I meet with the contractor/carpenter to make a decorative shelving for the Wall of 100 Plates. It'll be on that terra cotta wall and that swag of white ruffles will be gone. I got that huge bit of rufflework from the trash at the Guild Shop on Dunlavy months ago. We'll see where it ends up.
When we have finished free form designing the shelving for the plates, I'll bring my cans of house paint and see what happens next. The wall itself will be the piece of work.

Gonzo247 At Work

Gonzo247 began work late this afternoon on his table and chairs for Second Seating. I asked if I could photograph him and I stayed over an hour watching him give form to his design, working intuitively, quickly, using color after color. A wonderful palette.
He teaches aerosol art classes and I am going to sign up n 2010. I want to know how to do this. It's gorgeous work.

Here's where he stood back and looked at the table leg with the two chairs and said, "I like this. I like where it's going. I can work with this." Or some such thing.

I am loving this piece with these particular colors. It'll be smashing in the space itself.
I left Gonzo247 and will return another day when he puts on another coat of colors.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Making a Space

Temporary walls are in for Second Seating and the painters came today. Two of the three colors I chose are OK, the third needs work. Probably a repaint. Forgot to photograph the newly painted walls, but here is the space as it was this morning. It is looking a whole lot different than it did a week ago.
Gonzo274 and Carolyn stopped by at Irma's this a.m. to show Modelle and me how throwies are made with little LED lights, batteries and magnets. I think I'll have Carolyn make a couple hundred for guests to throw around the front door as they enter and then when they leave in the darkness the whole place will be shot with little lights. Want to use some on the banquet table too in vases and compotes and perhaps on the chandelier with the feathered birds.
Got the estimate today for electrical work and I am dying over it. That will all happen in about ten days. Then we'll begin to bring in the work itself. On Monday, Mark and I will lay out the table spaces using masking tape. And shortly, I'll decide on another color for that mustard yellow wall.
Postcard invitation went to the printer today. ever onward.

Sleepless: Making Use of the Extra Awake Hours

I've been 'up' since 1:30 a.m. Where is the sleep? However, I've been working away on Second Seating, getting more letters and emails out and text written for the Bayou, Bay, Beach table. Thanks to the Galveston Bay Estuary Program for lots of facts and figures that I am taking and writing commentary for.
This morning at 8:30 I'll be down at the space to talk to the painter who'll make the walls that were installed yesterday more than colorful. They'll be painted mustard, terracotta and chartreuse. Can hardly wait to see the transformation. The place was power washed two days ago and then came the day of assembling temporary walls. Here's the 'after' power washing and 'before' painted walls.

I've decided on a new way to display 'Wall of 100 Plates.' I am going to have the contractor build shallow shelves that look like those in African homes that are made of clay and painted with pattern. Will be using lumber instead of clay and I am thinking that this 20 foot wall will itself become an integral part of the piece.

Modelle comes at 10:00 a.m. and we'll meet with Carolyn who will tell us about 'throwies.' I've read about those wonderful little LED lights that graffiti artists throw on buildings at night. Thought for awhile that they'd be wonderful on the Second Seating ceiling blinking away the night of the opening. We'll talk about the cost and feasibility today.
Then I meet with Melissa for a green chicken enchilada lunch special from Brothers Tacos (the best green chicken enchiladas I've ever tasted) and we'll go over the 'books' Then perhaps a nap? That would be so fine by about 2:00 this afternoon.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Work To Be Done and Plenty of Time

It's Monday and it's mid August. That means there is still 1/2 of this month in which to work on Second Seating. And there are several weeks in September before the opening party. I look at time the way you look at a cup half full instead of half empty because it allows me to stay 'in the zone' and get the work done.
Here's the day in photos. The early morning sun, by the way, was gorgeous and I couldn't resist photographing the coralita vine that has taken over the door leading out to my studio. I've not cut it back even though it's choking a climbing rose. It just too glorious and honey bees are buzzing all over it. Kitchen counters and table are overwhelmed with Second Seating 'stuff' even after Catarina and I lugged a car load of 'stuff' to the Harrisburg studio late last week. Obviously, we didn't make a dent.
Made another montage of wallet size images of the East End. I'm liking these new pieces.
There is more 'air' in and around them than the square collages I made with fabrics from Hurricane Ike. Maybe there is a metaphor there somewhere?
Am embellishing the Ike fabric wall hangings and am trying to figure out how to affix lots of little painted labels with images and text. Needs to be unselfconscious in the doing. Haven't made that happen yet.
At the moment, listening to CDs for music that I'd like to hear in Second Seating. That is my excuse for taking the time to write this post. I am also listening to music and making decisions about what I am hearing. Also working on a series of taped 'sounds' with Houston Institute For Culture that will 'be' in the Second Seating space: street traffic, trains, water sounds, snippets of music from cars, those sorts of East End sounds.
I've heard from Aggie Eyster and the etched metal table tops for those four pedestal tables are almost finished. Can hardly wait for photos. Here's a sample of her work and she says the new designs imprinted on these table tops are quite different. We have a surprise awaiting us. Also have images of Mercedes Fernandez paintings and embroidery.

And I got a confirmation this a.m. from Admiral Glass who'll supply the polished glass table top for that shiny metal arch table base that the Offenhauser Company is making. The table will reference those shiny metal arches that they fabricated years ago for Uptown and Post Oak Blvd. Message being, 'We make stuff here in Houston's East End and our reach is far and wide. Think roasted coffee, Clorox, Bud Light and oil pipes, for starters.'
And today, friends are working on Second Seating's behalf in many, many good ways. Thanks to all. In the end, everything is about collaboration. It's the way things get done and in my mind, that is the beauty of it.
Well, the music's over so I'll head back into the studio.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Good Friday

There's a new listing for Second Seating on the on-line Houston events calendar. And a really nice half page article on Second Seating in the new issue of Houston Woman Magazine. Thanks, Beverly Denver. So word is starting to get 'out there' about the installation. I send thanks for every bit of publicity this exhibition gets.
Actually, all of today was a very good day. I confirmed one more underwriter for Second Seating and found a source for stage lights and track lights for the installation. All of this by noon. I think I can stop fretting about raising money and just get on with making the work and getting the space ready.
By the way, I'll share all of those underwriters names soon. I thought I'd better wait until the postcard invites are at the printer and the names are in print. They are a very good group of businesses and organizations. Can hardly wait until they see the whole show.
This afternoon, I took this montage and a half dozen partially finished collages to Art Supply on Main Street for a little help in gluing parts together and setting illustration board into my hand painted frames. Catarina went with me and then we returned to load the car with painted plates, light fixtures and the sunflower needlepoint chair to cart over to the Harrisburg studio. My house is so full of Second Seating that I have no table space on which to eat and very little floor space. Too much stuff, everywhere.
On Harrisburg, we spread out all the plates I've painted or written on and baked. They total 75 and so I think I will write on 25 more so we can call the collection a 'Wall of 100 Plates.' I like the sound of that.
Went out to a new wine bar earlier this evening with two friends, very industrial, very nice wines. Feeling the effects of two chilled glasses of a sweet German wine, I then made my way to El Rey for Cuban tacos with green chili sauce. Perfect.
Tomorrow I think I'll work on text for Second Seating. There is a lot of it to be written and printed out and affixed to labels. Should be a good day. Is this blog becoming boring reading because everything seems to be going well? I can't help it. Today was a heck of a good day. And on Tuesday, we begin to clean and prepare the space itself next. Right on schedule so far.
By the way, I need to buy a mattress and a sheet of plywood for that wonderful old bed I bought months ago in Round Top for the screen porch. Perhaps in time for the girls' trip here in September? You can see it's just there absolutely empty. I've used the porch little this summer. I thought at first it was because I'm always working on this show. But I think it's also sunnier and hotter on the porch this summer because all those green shrubbery and so many of the limbs on the trees were tossed and broken during Hurricane Ike. The screen porch faces west and I don't think the sun beat in so late in the day before the hurricane. Maybe in another year or two, I'll have thick green, tall shrubbery again between me and the street?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Occupancy Permit, Among Other Things

I think we're a go. I sat at Irma's this morning with my laptop, a cup of coffee and a terrific breakfast taco. Waiting for the city inspector to give final approval to the installation space. He arrived just after 9:30, looked at the number 20 on the front of the building, checked the new lock on the back exit door and pronounced the space, as my Dad would say, "worthy and well qualified."
So the next steps are to call the permitting department on Tuesday and see if the paperwork is complete. Then either Modelle or I will drive over to pick up our permit, buy a frame for it and affix it prominently in the Second Seating space.
Hey, this was a good day. I also called a friend who owns a moving company and asked him if he would cart those huge banquettes away and store them for the duration. That means the place will be empty at last and ready for a good power washing next week. This development pleases me beyond words.
Also found a $10 table at my favorite resale shop up on Harrisburg late this afternoon. I'll drape it with white table cloths and it will become the Clorox table under that divine Clorox bottle chandelier.
And 002Houston emailed today to ask if the date for the opening was still September 24. Hope that means a calendar listing in the magazine.
And I actually did some gluing on a montage made with dozens of wallet size images. It's taking shape and I'm liking it. It'll need a frame. Can't decide if I need one of my painted frames or if I should play it straight with a natural wood frame that looks as if it would be right at home in a downtown loft. I'd like to sell. A lot of work. All of those painted plates. Selling everything on view at Second Seating would be very nice for all eight artists. Wouldn't that be good fortune?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Oyster Valentines

Remember all those oysters shells I collected throughout July for Second Seating's 'Bayou, Bay, Beach' dinner table? Yes, those oyster shells, the hundreds that are being cleaned and bleached by natural means out behind my garage. I keep going out to the oyster pile with a colander to look for the prettiest, the best shells. I bring a dozen or two back into my kitchen, scrub them in the sink with warm soapy water and set them all over the counter to dry.
A couple of days ago, I wrote words on a dozen shells. Just to see. I really liked the shells with their golden words. In fact, I wondered what it would be like to be served a platter of fresh oysters, discovering words in gold as one oyster after another filled my mouth with their briney sea taste.
Have raw oysters ever been served that way? Could one do this for a dinner party?
Tonight, I wrote with gold paint on all the dozens of oyster shells on my kitchen counter. Simple words. Mostly 'yes' and 'love' and a few 'perhaps' and 'kisses.'
The repetition of writing the word 'yes' was a positive thing. It ended up being a yes to life itself.
Yes, yes, yes. And a little love while we're at it.