Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Call for Monumental Anecdotes

Some of you have spent many years in Indianapolis; others just a few significant weeks.
Regardless, I come to you in search of your experiences.

I have been asked to make artwork for the Harrison Center for the Arts Bicentennial celebration of the state of Indiana.
This group show will hinge on Monumentality and literally and figuratively be inspired by the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, the heavily adorned obelisk at the center of my non-mean city.

For this show, I plan to collect anecdotes from you about *monumental* experiences you have had in the vast and varied neighborhoods of Indianapolis.
I will represent your experiences in the form of fabric flags that simplify and symbolize events and blur lines between public and private history.
Ultimately, these anecdotal flag designs will be fabricated on a smaller scale and sold in the gift shop of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument itself.

What experiences count as MONUMENTAL?
I want to hear about your arguments, illnesses, and unexpected discoveries. I want tales of lust, tragedy, tragicomedy, dissociation and drunkenness.
I want to hear about the events that came to signify your experiences with specific districts of Indianpolis— from Broadripple to Fountain Sqaure, from Castelton to Englewood, to whatever happens on the westside.
If you do not know what to write, I am always interested in the conditions that produce public crying.

The artwork resulting from this project will be exhibited October 7-28 at the Harrison Center alongside a short statement culled from your testimonial.

Please limit your anecdotes to 500 words and specify the neighborhood in which your story occurred.
Submissions are needed by Thursday, September 1, 2016 and should be directed to extremeappearances@gmail.com

Your favorite flag waving Hoosier,
Erin K Drew

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Financial Report

Whilst on weird art sabbatical at the Indiana Dunes, have been exploring my fraught relationship to work.
Perversely, this ongoing dialogue has played out in my teaching endeavors, where I've forced my impressionable young students to design alternate currencies and explain the perceived alchemical process that creates value.

And their money's tight as fuck!
Please enjoy these recently declassified documents from the archives of my hard drive.

More declassified documents from abandoned endeavors to come this week!!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mall Talk/Food Court Drift

E: These were Kiosks that I was setting up. A pyramid of gold bars, cheap/fake jewelry on felt displays and a laptop with a jewelry scale

R: It was like an old beach house..I worked in the stock room which was really bright with floor to ceiling rolling shelves

E: The buildings are cavernous and unfurnished, save for the 20ft tall wire racks that define the aisles, full of back stock.

R: I had to be there at midnight and was there til noon sorting through a jungle of shoes.

I'm waiting by the phone for the mall to call. If i don't get the job I'll be shattered. I don't even want it, i need it, it's almost beneath me. But I imagine the discounts on face balms, the cucumber mask from the artsy apothecary I could try getting into. I imagine a ritual i will invent- Enzo pizza and a seltzer with lemon, beer somewhere bourgie after work on Wednesdays, my new life as a shadow Gap girl armed with a folding board, a cashmere with a cowl neck sliding soundlessly down. Last minute madness on Xmas eve. I'm not religious so it will be refreshing to spend the day in the service of something bigger than myself, my emerging relationship with the girl at the food court who gives smoothie samples, her neat white smile for me. Bland house music on Pandora, twisting in a three way mirror.

E: I remember the way it smelled in there- like warm plastic and cheap incense- and the feeling of having a job and tasks that i knew I could perform well. It's where I learned that I was excellent at customer service.

R: This 4 year old girl saw me fixing a mannequin and started pointing to me and trying to get her mothers attention. She was yelling, "Mom there's a real person in there!" Her mother said,"No those are just mannequins!" For some reason, I decided to say to the girl, "She's right I'm not real. "

Maybe my mom will respect me, grotesquely overqualified, maybe I'll thwart a terrorist attack- a bomb in an H&M bag. Maybe I'll trip a Colts fan, misanthropy winning my body back, babies drooling in their strollers, men peddling hair extensions in unbranded kiosks.
What's the weirdest store? Flag World? I remember being a teen, marching around, flapping the tiny flags. There's nothing you can do in a mall to truly feel rebellious. I find this vaguely comforting, a hug from my homeland. I practically grew up in traffic around a Galyan's, my mom and I wobbling in our winter coats out of the car across the ice to stroll through Sears, power walk by Pass Pets, the smell of a shar pei's cage- piss on newspaper wafting into Kaybee Toys. In B Dalton sitting with the Spin Guide to Alternative Rock across my lap, taking notes: Hole, Bratmobile, B-52s. I fell immediately in love with a boy at Sam Goody admiring the same Smashing Pumpkins poster as me, but I'll never see him again. Now I'm 31.

R: One of my co-workers was this older woman who seemed like Mother Time to me then but she was probably only 34 but had been smoking every day of her life.

E: I started to notice random men of different ages starting to congregate around that bench. They would all just watch me dress and undress the mannequins and it was really uncomfortable. Every time I would change that window it would happen. Complete strangers sitting on a bench together watching me.

One time Vanessa and I went to Castleton with a carton of raw eggs, left them nestled in Macy's miniature Christmas trees, on the stools at the piercing pagoda, in the pockets of dangling minks. We dubbed our game "You're the Rotten Egg," evading mall security, pre-Segway era; shoot the mall cop in your head.

Editor's note: the phone never rang.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Best of 2015: Drugs/Reality

I am pretty much always confused about my body-- its contents, its boundaries.
Where should it go? Why is it clumsier in a winter coat and how do I compensate for that?

Language roots my reality, imposes order. Language allows me to organize and navigate more reliably, creating meaning, albeit slippery in the world around me.
This is why I largely avoid marijuana.
The significance of this decision was reinforced at the end of 2015, when I spent a terrifying night altered by a slim teaspoon of THC cheesecake.

The change happened gradually.
I was drawing with friends in a brightly lit kitchen, listening to music. There were snacks, probably good ones. Jokes were made.
But slowly everything took on a more sinister hue.
The record was scary and sounded very big. My friends looked outlandish.
I no longer had the ability to engage with them in the ways I relied on. My words were shutting down, overwhelmed by other senses--unreliable senses.
Terrifying senses.

With the remaining scraps of my verbal faculties, I asked to be led somewhere to lie down.
A friend took me to his bed then retreated from the room, where I was left to remember what Friend and Room meant.
I felt distress at a departing benevolent presence, but by that time I had largely dissolved into a series of unbounded chemical reactions. I recognized that my matter was bleeding into the molecules around me. My vision was darkening. Death would come soon.

I approached death without fear or sentiment, understanding at once that there was no god, just the gristle and chemistry inside me and a senseless, disordered series of words moving through it. Familiar terms cycled through my mind, rootless and unrelenting. Then everything feel silent.

The next morning I awoke. I asked myself if I still liked coffee, Now That I Was Different.
I decided I would try to.
I met with a Friend. We had a plan to draw, and it seemed important to keep this Plan, that we'd written together on our Calendars with Pens.
I don't indulge in psychedelic art. It is off brand, best left to the Alex Grays and Fred Tomasellis, but I allowed myself to make one drawing before putting this experience decisively behind me.
It is pictured below.
The drawing is stupid, pot is drugs, reality is fleeting and very frightening.
Trust nothing.
Happy New Year everyone.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Best Books of 2015

Reading Lynne Tillman at Jellystone

Justin and I eat dinner in the car in a downpour and he curses and bashes dishes around because we've aligned each other in two different camps:
Indoor Kid//Outdoor Kid
This Is A False Dichotomy, I think, as I plug in the pot of coffee (outside) the next morning and in a nylon chair I read a non-linear novel while tents unzip around me.
It's early.
An attendant rolls past in a golf cart festooned with a giant tinsel spider. It's Halloween weekend in July at Jellystone, and as I walk to the bathrooms I step over plastic fangs and packs of Sweet Tarts.
I watch a bee build something in the bathroom then I return to my book.
It's called "Haunted Houses!"
The air grows humid as the rain dries on the fiberglass sculpture of Yogi Bear.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Response to review of "Doing it Themselves: Artists Explore the Handmade"

I wrote this in response to the review of "Doing it Themselves: Artists Exploring the Handmade" by Dan Grossman, on view at the Indianapolis Art Center until January 30, 2016.

I want to respond to the point that my artwork “may not offer social commentary…if there is such a thing, beyond irreverence.”
As an instructor, I insist to my students that the primary job of an artist is to communicate—either by visualizing the ineffable, or by contributing to an onging cultural dialogue in a way that adds something to our understanding of the world.
It is her responsbility to know what she is trying to communicate before the viewer, loaded with his own experiences and influences, complicates the dialogue.

I am interested in investigating the distinctions between art, decoration, and kitsch and the function of adornment. I am fascinated by the utility of pictures, particularly the kind that are so commonplace as to be overlooked.
The piece referred to by Mr. Grossman, “Welcome” references a traditional household sign—a plaque or flag bearing a pineapple saying “Welcome,” or “Welcome Friends.”
While I’m aware of the history of pineapples as symbols for goodwill, I am more confused about the ubiquity of this kind of signage in homes or on the shelves of stores, where many people seem to purchase framed images.
What would be the affect if the artist adjusts the language?

I guess this could be referred to as a kind of irreverence, if you choose to hear me “taking a tone,” but I consider it part of an investigation into the function of marginal forms.
As I wrote in my statement for “Doing it Themselves,” I am equally fascinated with looking at the reflexively made art of neighborhood backyards and basement thrift stores as the art of galleries and museums. I relate to the imperfections of these forms and their immediacy.
Surprisingly, this gets into terrain about class and power.
The people who made the puffpainted sweatsuit or poured concrete lawn goose might have access to 3D printers and and wireless scanning but as a downwardly mobile artist in search of a sustainable practice, I do not. Or, more significantly, I choose to work with the materials to which I have more immediate access (paper, plywood, paint). In this case the medium is part of the message.
In this same way, choosing to learn from a small business’s hand painted signage or investigate the function of folk mediums could be an attempt at amplifying the marginal and destabilizing power, which is the thrust of my artmaking commentary. Sorry mom and Mr. Grossman, it’s not just a phase.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Powerpoint Possibilities:ART as Novelty Object

Been expressing myself in ALL of the mediums available to a chillass art genius lately--macrame, cool hair--but notably the underrated format of Poetic Powerpoint.
I recently performed the following evolving essay on Art as Novelty Object at Blowhard Cabaret in Bloomington and at the Soft River Reading Series book release for James Payne's "Things Just Aren't They" at General Public Collective.
I hope to allow the reader an opportunity to meditate on the HA-larious comedy jokes throughout the text that I may have clumsily sped through IRL.

When I introduce the subject of money to my highschool art students I say this:
Artists have a complicated relationship to money.

I ask if anyone in their life has expressed skepticism at their emerging creative proclivities, and if so, why they think that might be.

Perhaps their families’ concerns are borne of a desire to shield their child from toil without equitable reward.
Art seems to occupy the margins of everyday life—a destination in a museum or in a fountain downtown—winning it low regard for its integrality.

But maybe the loved one’s esteem for art is low for a reason.
Maybe it has been battered by the displays of irreverence, the disregard for beauty, the indiscretions they’ve seen passed off in the service of contemporary art.

The Piss Christs, the Poop Marys, the yam and chocolate sauce abuse trickling onto the headlines of the (tucked away) sections of the Sunday paper.

These loved ones may already have absorbed the belief that artists are tricksters, scammers seeing what they can get away with.
This case isn’t really helped by Andy Warhol.

It also ins’t helped by the fact that artists ARE tricksters, devoted to trouble making and its handmaiden play.

Warhol famously churned out prints of canned soups at his “Factory,” enamored by the normalness of the labels. He constructed hollow versions of Brillo pad boxes and arranged them in tiered pyramids to echo grocery store displays, a stylized parody of work that got more complex as it began to sell.
Was his banality sincere? Was he a swindler or simply inhabiting the artist’s role of dissolute child at play?

An eymology lesson:
The Latin word for play is “ludus,” meaning game, or sport but also “poetic play,” The Dance, the differance.
Ludus is also the root for the word “Elude,” to escape or evade, especially in a cunning way.

Kids play in the dirt, outside with balls or on blacktop.
Other kids play indoors with objetcts too fussy to expose to the elements, dolls they force to french kiss on the carpet or plastic implements employed in precocious games of DOCTOR.

They use crayons and paints to make waxy portraits of their dogs or their dads’ heads covered with cuts.

Above are images by Christa Dichgans, pop still lifes featuring inflatables that will wilt, sunglasses that will break and toy trucks that will end up in a Goodwill bin or garage sale.

Adults play the same way, indulging in art as momentary evasion of functionality, an open ended transaction not necessarily resulting in the exchange of bucks, unless it does.

Objects adults collect to admire inside their packaging or break out for rare indulgences are termed “Novelties,” or even grosser, adult toys. But why not? Masturbation or non-reproductive sex are our favorite evasions of capital, outside the script but for the billion dollar industry around them.

Novelty may not be the most sensible way to brand vibrators, which seem to have some quanitifable outcome.
Novelties have more in common with Art than toys, including a percieved lack of utility, a distinction from durable goods.

Mark Newgarden, author of Cheap Laffs: The art of the novelty product and co-creator of Garbage Pail Kids trading cards says novelties are “Entertainment you can participate in, not just by clicking on it.”

Novelties invent situations and provoke reactions, whether the joker takes the novelty out of the house or not.

This is paralleled in contemporary art whether it be food you can’t eat, stores you can’t enter, or products that will evaporate upon purchase.

This investigation ends with questions:
What do you believe to be the important distinctions between art, novelty, and toy?
Have you ever used an art object or novelty incorrectly?
Can you invent advantageous ways to misuse art objets?