By susangainen

Whimsical Wildlife Documentarian. Abstract Painter. Writer. Teacher. Explorer.

From Vandalism Art is the Best Revenge

Art is the best revenge

Murdered Honda CRV
Murdered Honda CRV

Two bits of random (non-lethal) auto injury made me realize that Art is the Best Revenge.

Two weeks ago, my beloved 1999 Honda CRV was murdered in a hit-and-run. She was legally parked on Lake Street in Minneapolis, and was collateral damage to the work of an Evildoer, who smashed a car into mine.

The estimable staff at Bobby & Steve’s carefully explained the damage. GEICO, my insurance company of 37 years, said “Totaled.”

Cars near me for $1000

Mazda at the Dealership: Art is the Best Revenge
Mazda at the Dealership: Art is the Best Revenge

Acting like any 21st century gal, I took the $1100 insurance check, Googled “CARFAX, cars near me for $1000,” and went to Luxury Imports Auto Sales, North Branch, MN. Waiting for me was a 2003 Mazda Protege Rustbucket. “I have purple duct tape,” I said, and declared that it would become an Art Car.

Mazda Art Car with duct tape
Mazda Art Car with duct tape

 

 

 

 

Based on a favorite stained glass design that I often paint, I made a plan. I started researching rust management, auto painting, and industrial glues that could attach a plastic bib covered with recycled plastic bits. Why not make the stained glass designed out of recycled colored plastic? How will I do that? Why not learn something new every day?

Add injury to injury: a broken window

Glass bits of inspiration Art is the best revenge
Glass bits of inspiration: Art is the best revenge

Two days after first parking in my underground locked garage, either a random vandal or a heretofore unidentified Force of Nature attacked the Art Car and broke her passenger-side window. This is not something that you want to encounter before your second cup of coffee.

Again, Art is the best revenge

Tiny glass bits were everywhere. Beautiful tiny glass bits were everywhere.I had never noticed how beautiful tiny bits of safety glass could be.  After calling GEICO, the police, and the glass company, I scooped up as much as I could and made yet another plan: Embed glass bits into paint. I can’t wait to work them into tiny random shapes, whimsical wildlife, and as-yet-unimagined art pieces.

NOTE: As many of you know, when I turned 65, I abandoned activities requiring safety equipment and liability waivers, which means no tile cutting, no glass cutting, and no bungee jumping. I am making an exception for working with glass bits: the glass is pre-cut and tweezers don’t count as safety equipment.

Glass Bits Red: Art is the best revenge
Glass Bits Red: Art is the best revenge
Green and Black Glass Bits: Art is the best revenge
Green and Black Glass Bits: Art is the best revenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artists find inspiration everywhere.

 

 

Blue-eyed Cat for the Art Crawl

Blue-eyed cat

The Blue-eyed Cat is part of an inter-species series of creatures who were delighted (in the nicest possible way) that I spent some of 2018 somewhat uninspired. Pushing on, following the “make art every day” principle, I made sheets and sheets of tiny abstract designs. I had an Artist Epiphany in October (an odd thing for a Jewish person, but an epiphany nonetheless), and realized that even if my Dear Departed Mother were to come back to life, that no one would buy any of these patterned sheets. Luckily enough, as a Whimsical Wildlife Documentarian, I am surrounded by creatures who were delighted to say “thank you for making our new body parts.”

See these and other creatures, as well as some mind-expanding abstracts at Show Gallery Lowertown at the Saint Paul Art Crawl, April 26-27-28.

 

Blue Eyed Cat With Abstract Body Parts
Blue Eyed Cat With Abstract Body Parts

Inter-species siblings

The line-up for new body parts was quite long, dominating my tiny living room studio space. Fortunately all of the creatures who visit me abide by the No Poop in the

Yellow Rooster Waits Impatiently for Spring at the Art Crawl
Yellow Rooster Waits Impatiently for Spring at the Art Crawl

Studio Rule — it’s my living room, after all.

Hippo walks in the moonlight at the Art Crawl
Hippo walks in the moonlight at the Art Crawl      
Big Roo Art Crawl District Spotlight Winner
Big Roo Art Crawl District Spotlight Winner
Camouflage Hippo Seeks a Monacle at the Art Crawl
Camouflage Hippo Seeks a Monacle at the Art Crawl

 

Fish-in-progress

Always hanging around, The Fish waits patiently for his tiny body parts. He is a great kibitzer, chatting up new and visiting creatures, showing them where the snacks are kept.

Fish Work in Progress
Fish-in-Progress

Red Cat Gets Art Crawl Whisker Trim

Whisker Trim for The Art Crawl

Cats care exceedingly about their whiskers, and Red Cat is not exception. There was an enormous amount of caterwauling while the Red Cat was at Hair and Makeup. How short should his whiskers be? Were they shiny enough? The tricky one — do they match? — came in at a resounding “no,” be he was OK with that.

Red Cat Art Crawl Whisker Trim
Red Cat Art Crawl Whisker Trim

Saint Paul Art Crawl at The Show Gallery

Red Cat, Red Roo, (District Spotlight Winner) and a menagerie of whimsical creatures will be at The Show Gallery, 346 N. Sibley Street, Saint Paul from Friday April 26 to Sunday April 28. The Gallery is half a block from the Green Line and a block from Union Station. It is super accessible because it is on the ground floor. Come to Saint Paul. See local artists. Support local artists. Thank you.

Click Here for Free Transit Passes for Saturday and Sunday!

New Cats for the Saint Paul Art Crawl

New Cats for the Art Crawl*

As the 2019 Saint Paul Art Crawl approaches, my studio has been very very busy. Cats came and went. Cats came back. Cats lined up. Cats caterwauled. Cats waited patiently and impatiently for hair and makeup. They are looking forward to being at The Show Gallery in Lowertown.

Art Crawl Cats Waiting for Hair and Makeup
Art Crawl Cats Waiting for Hair and Makeup

Gray and White Cats for the Art Crawl*

The Gray and White Cats have waited very very patiently for some months as they haggled between themselves and with me (occasionally) about how their hair and makeup would work. We finally agreed on a mixture of acrylic paints, and acrylic mediums (Golden Clear Tar Gel).

Gray and White Art Crawl Cats
Gray and White Art Crawl Cats

Two Cats on Two Canvases for the Art Crawl*

These cats are Fraternal Twins who loved their many trips to hair, makeup, and wardrobe. In their minds, their costumes are covered with jewels and precious metals. Don’t confuse them with facts.

2 Cats Two Canvases for the Art Crawl
2 Cats Two Canvases for the Art Crawl

Not just The Art Crawl*

These cats and other creatures are equally thrilled to be part of Art in the Hollow, Art-a-Whirl, Mystery of Cats Art Festival, and  Dakota County Arts in the Park.

2019 Festivals Short List

ADDITIONAL EVENTS:

ART-A-WHIRL— IN THE WARM (WOMEN’S ART RESOURCES) DEN, SOLAR ARTS BUILDING
MAY 17,18,19

DAKOTA COUNTY ARTS IN THE PARK
AUGUST 3 – 1-4 PM
THOMPSON COUNTY PARK, WEST SAINT PAUL

 

Purple Squirrels and Multi-colored Squirrels

Purple Squirrels & Multi-colored Squirrels: Fact? Fiction?

Purple Squirrels and Multi-colored Squirrels blend fact, fantasy, whimsy and weirdness.

As a Whimsical Wildlife Documentarian,I am always glad to see whimsy validated by actual, genuine fact-based reporting. Thank you, Smithsonian. Wandering your halls a child was one magical trip after another. Now that I live in Minnesota, I rely on the magazine and the web.

Purple Squirrel Confounds Recruiters
Purple Squirrel Confounds Recruiters

Purple Squirrels History

Purple Squirrels, as you may know (from reading my old blog post) are candidates whose qualifications make them impossible to find, let alone recruit. Consider searching for the patent attorney licensed in four states and three countries who speaks four languages and holds 14 patents. Good luck finding her.

Actual Giant Multi-colored Squirrels Roaming Indian Forests

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Giant Multi-colored Squirrels (Malabar Giant Squirrel) roam the forests of Southern India. Is this a case of fact catching up with whimsy or the collision of fact and whimsy, or something else? Where is Charles Darwin when we need him?

Giant Multi-colored squirrel
Giant Multi-colored squirrel from the Forests of Southern India (photo credit: Kauskik Vijayan/SWNS.com)

Big Red Rooster Spotlight Winner Saint Paul Art Crawl 2019

Kudos to Big Red Rooster

Congratulations to Big Red Rooster, whose image made him (and me, too) a District Winner in the 2019 Saint Paul Art Crawl. We will be at The Show Gallery Lowertown on April 26-28. Find Red’s portrait on page 11 of the Art Crawl Catalog.

Big Red
Big Red

 

Big Red Rooster leads the pack?

Big Red can’t really “lead the pack,” because there is no collective noun for rooster. What he does lead is a group of roosters and other creatures made from abstract paintings whose tiny designs were comforting to make at a time when a little bit of obsession seemed like a good idea.

Why is there no collective noun for roosters? Think about it. They don’t hang out together.

Artist Epiphany

After painting sheet after sheet, I had an Artist Epiphany. I realized that no one — not even my Late Mother should she have come back to life — would have the slightest interest in buying these abstract paintings. Luckily for the Whimsical Wildlife Documentarian (me) I am surrounded by creatures, including roosters, who stepped up and said “Thank you for creating new body parts for us.”

More Roosters

The cackling that you hear is from the roosters in The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul, which I wrote and illustrated before learning that you can’t have roosters in Saint Paul. Who knew? I will have copies at the Crawl, they are available at The Art Shoppe at Midtown Global Market, or you can get it at Amazon.

The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul
The Backyard Roosters of Saint Paul

 

Exploring Plaid Creates Joyful Jumble

Exploring Plaid and making a Joyful Jumble

Calling this exercise “exploring plaid,” demonstrates the folly of research-free design. I looked for a path that would be different from my design comfort zone (random). Marching forward with no data, I imagined that I could insert horizontal and vertical lines of color and make “plaid.”

Anyone who knows anything about plaid, knows that there are different types of plaids, and each has historic and cultural significance. This may be a Joyful Jumble, but it is NOT plaid.

It is, however, an example of #everypiecelooksbetterbecauseofthepiecesthatsurroundit one of my favorite Instagram hashtags.

 

Plaid or not? A Joyful Jumble
Plaid or not? A Joyful Jumble

DRTBox Revisited, Reimagined, Recycled

DRTBox collects cell data from 1000s of phones

In 2017 NPR reported on DirtBox, a gizmo that collects data from thousands of cell phones at a time. It costs $100K, and is used by law enforcement and military.

Hackernews confirmed: DRTBox is a military surveillance technology that has capabilities of both Stingray as well as Dirtbox, allowing the police to track, intercept thousands of cellphone calls and quietly eavesdrop on conversations, emails, and text messages.  

DRTBox inspires anger & an art project

I was at once angered and inspired, and I blogged about it. I was mad. Really mad. And then inspired. I envisioned a 10-foot-by-10-foot installation made up of various sizes of canvas covered with a design of tiny boxes and dots. The boxes were to be the cell phones, and the dots were to be the data being collected. I imagined that I could pour all of my anger, frustration, and fear into these canvases, that people might get excited about the effect this gizmo would have on society, and — and …. I wasn’t sure what would come after that.

 

DRTbox blank
DrtBox blank: Sample of the pencil drawing that was done on 10 square feet of canvas.
DRTbox in progress
DrtBox in progress. Painting inside the lines with tiny paintbrushes.
DrtBox Juxto
DrtBox Juxto: A canvas board glued to a canvas.

 

DRTBox anger recedes, recycling begins

Breathing deeply, I recognized that I have limited capacity for high-decibel anger. (There is too much to be upset about for single-subject high-velocity fretting.)

With my anger receding, I could focus on recycling. I covered some of the penciled and painted canvases with white gesso as a base for new projects.

One canvas retained its dots and serves as the background for Belinda the Beaded Elephant. Standing on a field of little boxes, she absorbed all of my anger and most of the active-keeps-me-up-at-night the concern about privacy, spying, and personal space. She is the CEO and Principal Advocate for “Free the Fones,” an international non-profit working on a long list of privacy, internet, and e-commerce issues. Please reply to her appeals for money, time, and fresh vegetables. She eats 15 pounds of every day.

DRTBox Recycled into a White Elephant
DrtBox Recycled: Belinda the Beaded Elephant, CEO and Principal Advocate for “Free the Phones”

Still glad to be a 21st century artist

21st century artist loves color

Since beginning with watercolor in 2009, I remain in awe and in deep debt to the travelers, collectors, chemists, painters, manufacturers, and artists who painstakingly discovered and developed the colors that enable my work. The slideshow below has just a few of my favorite celebrations of color.

Friendship #4: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you're lucky.
Friendship #4: Complicated. Sometimes Messy. Beautiful if you’re lucky.
Paper Mosaic Parrot 3
Paper Mosaic Parrot 3
Blue Cave Cat from the Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul
Blue Cave Cat from the Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul
Tiny Dots Enhanced
Tiny Dots Enhanced
Big Neighborhood 2 Inverted 2017
Big Neighborhood 2 Inverted 2017
Top of the Tall Silo of Iowa
Klimt Bird #1: A Super Fan
Klimt Bird #1: A super fan
Climate Crusader Mardi Gras Frog from the Hidden Bamboo Forest of Saint Paul
Climate Crusader Mardi Gras Frog from the Hidden Bamboo Forest of Saint Paul
Pinky the First From the Clowder of Cats
Pinky the First From the Clowder of Cats
Camouflage Hippo Seeks a Monacle
Camouflage Hippo Seeks a Monacle
The Sail or The Unmade Bed
The Sail or The Unmade Bed

In my very first post, I celebrated being a 21st century artist because I didn’t have to go to the ends of the earth to source materials.

My favorite out-of-the-way material is lapis lazuli, dug from the wild mountains of Afghanistan, not a healthy place for travelers. Genuine Ultramarine is created from lapis in a complex process helpfully described by Winsor & Newton (which inspired this post) is yet another reminder of the delight and ease of being able to walk into an art supply store (thank you,Wet Paint and Dick Blick), to talk to knowledgeable staff, make a purchase, and get to work.

If I had to embark on dangerous and life-threatening travel, (carry) smuggle rocks back to the US, grind them, mix the powder with chemicals to turn them into paint, and hope that I had made a paint of quality, that I would go straight back to needlepoint.

Spring 2019 Art Crawl — Show Gallery

2019 Spring Art Crawl Registration – Check 

It may get to 1 degree today (February 8), and I am optimistically registered for the Spring 2019 Saint Paul Art Crawl. Just planning for April 26, 27, and 28 is a harbinger of Spring.

 

The Show Gallery – Lowertown

I am honored to be at The Show Gallery Lowertown Saint Paul. Its mission is to create accessibility in the arts and unite artists of all abilities. Since opening in 2015, The Show Gallery has exhibited work by over 250 artists from the Twin Cities area. Exhibitions feature work by artists of all backgrounds, training, and ability levels. With 10+ exhibitions a year, special events like the St. Paul Art Crawl, and a selection of fine art and gifts in Rebecca’s Gifts, there are many ways to engage with The Show.

Big Red – a new avatar

Big Red

Big Red, part of a large family of roosters who thanked me for creating their body parts. He is thrilled to be part of the 2019 Saint Paul Art Crawl, and is looking forward to meeting the pigeons hanging out in front of the Union Depot, which is a block from The Show Gallery.

 

New Art for the Art Crawl

The art crawl plan is to bring a mix of new creatures (the roosters and the hippos have been lobbying for selection), and new tiny neighborhoods, which have allowed me to focus on small-but-unequal spaces. Requests encouraged. Commissions accepted. Looking forward to seeing you in April.

 

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No sooner had I made the abstract neighborhood slide show, than the clamor from the creatures who want to go to the Crawl became — distracting. It’s not enough that Two White Cats are Plotting to Take Over the World  (an homage to their heros: Pinky and the Brain), but at least three roosters have been roped into an Avant Garde Runway Competition. It’s very busy in my house.

 

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