Eureka! Excelsior!

I cannot describe what the past few days have been like; I’ve been stuck in total CyberHell with the new site. First, I hit another major snag attributable to last summer’s hard drive crash.  Every single photo gallery now needs to be rebuilt from scratch, which means searching through horrid restored photo files yet again. Then, I spent two entire days trying to get my site host to recognize and register my software (or vice-versa), with no success and multiple crashes of said software after each of the host’s refusals. Then followed tons of e-mail exchanges with tech support from both host and software with lots of suggestions, all of which failed, then crashed. This morning, while trying yet another host-site suggestion that popped in overnight, once again I got the dreaded 404 refusal and the software did not crash but froze, so I force-quit it…and, inexplicably but miraculously, when I reopened it to try again, the host was registered! I published! Eureka!

So here is my new site: www.melissajaycraig.com! Granted, it is not much of a site yet – no artwork! – but I will be adding to it fast and furiously now. If you’ve got my old site bookmarked (or especially: linked on your site or blog), please change the URL,  with many thanks. (The old site now redirects, but it will go down soon). Whew!

Also under Eureka!: that long-awaited decision finally came in. It didn’t go in my favor; which is ok; I did have some ambivalence about it. So now: Excelsior!* I move ahead with a very satisfactory Plan B. Even if I had felt badly,  that would have been immediately alleviated by a rather stellar grad research paper that came in (I’ll share excerpts soon) and an anonymous nomination to apply for a lovely grant (a long shot, but it is an honor to be nominated). Maybe – just maybe – I’ll even be able to get back to my poor neglected studio soon, before I hit the summer class road. But today: I climb out of this computer.

*In the spirit of one of my favourite Kurt Vonnegut quotes: “Excelsior! We’re going to the moon! Excelsior!” Yes, I need to step away from the computer.

Levels of Limbo

This is my current world. (As is still waiting, and keeping a number of others waiting, for a single decision, but that’s another ever-present story). I have a new and profound appreciation for web developers; I cannot imagine how people do this every. single. day. Eyestrain and muscle atrophy prevention are essential, as is just climbing out of the all-consuming screen periodically.  But here is the why  – which I really needed to be reminded of today – from an interview by Barbara Landes:

Q: “You have a large presence on the web. Do you feel this is an important way for artists to ‘keep up’ in the art world today? How is it important to you?”

A: “(Is it large?  I’ve never quite thought of it in that way).  My web presence is most vital to me as a deafened person.  I have enormous difficulty with most of the conventional ways that artists present themselves and network: I simply can’t hear enough in noise to do a great deal of effective schmoozing at openings or conferences. In fact, I shun most conferences because they rarely provide accommodations (such as CART captioning). They are essentially speech-based, and definitely exclusive to hearing people. I don’t use a voice phone; you can only text or e-mail me, so the e-mail link on my site is essential. I use cyberspace to basically level the playing field and to stay in contact. I maintain a web site, a (rather dull) blog, and a public Facebook page.  One thing I’ve been unable to embrace is Twitter…it seems a bit too immediate or intrusive for my preferences, but it could happen someday.

I’m not sure every artist needs it; I don’t believe in one-size-fits all solutions. My work is fairly well represented in photographs, so the medium is appropriate. When I am curating, I need to be able to see other artists’ images and read descriptions, so I really appreciate informative sites, and in turn, I also appreciate when curators or gallerists approach me with a prior knowledge of my work.

However it’s done, it is important for artists to be easily contacted, but if your work isn’t represented well online, I’m not sure this type of presence is useful. (After all that is said, one of the most common things I’m told at exhibitions is what an enormous difference experiencing the work in person makes, and I completely agree.)”

The process of building that contact point is nothing like making the work, either.

Greening

In the past few days I have, among other things:

  •             Been rejected.
  •             Received a wonderful, singular honor (on the same day).
  •             Estimated taxes and mailed forms.
  •             Gotten info, images, etc. out for two shows.
  •             Acquired three years’ space on the web.
  •             Registered a new domain.
  •             Built the tiresome text-based half of my new site.
  •             Begun reading a rather excellent manuscript.
  •             Made sketches and plans for three new pieces.

Today I walked away from everything and got my hair chopped, learned a few new, excellent tricks to tame it, and then spent time in the forest preserve, visiting spring.  The shy early wildflowers were out, pleasing me to no end. It made me recall a comment by one of those people who describe themselves as friends, but make me wonder: “Spring happens every year!  Get over it!” No. No matter how many years I spend on this planet, I hope I will never get over it. It’s an annual miracle, and there aren’t enough miracles, until you slow down enough to notice them. Noticing is celebrating.

Out there in another fantastic part of the world, the waiting list for my Women’s Studio Workshop class has grown into an already nearly full second session, to be held the week before the original: July 2-6. I can’t think of a better place to celebrate summer…and paper!

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

I am still waiting for a decision which has the potential to cause me to make some large decisions; while I wait, I must delay making other decisions in deference to that decision.  This is causing some concerns for those waiting for my decisions. The only remedy would be to make a decision not to wait for that decision and then, perhaps, need to cancel earlier decisions.  It’s becoming decidedly vexing.

Meanwhile, I have made decisions on the refurbishing front: I have software and hosting for the new web site. I test-drove several allegedly idiot-proof software samples before deciding on one; it gave me less of some things I wanted, but more of other features I needed. I’ll miss the look of the iWeb site, as this is more template-y and less flexible in page formatting, but the end result will be cleaner and much easier to navigate, to maintain and to be viewed on mobile gizmos.  I’m building away, making decision after decision, and hoping when it’s finally launched, you’ll think my decisions were good ones. (Today’s photos will be part of the site; they were design-problem-solving decisions).

It’s lovely that there’s one sure thing I don’t have to think twice about: sending HUGE congratulations to Aimee Lee! Hooray!

Excellent Advice

I’ve never been a huge fan of abstract expressionism. During my first foray into art school in the 70s, a final project required that we make a painting in that style.  Annoyed, I propped a four-foot square canvas against my wall, loaded my brush with color, placed it between my toes, and painted the entire thing with my feet. The professor was fervently ecstatic about the piece, and placed it in contests; it won two awards and sold for $400. I thought (and still think) that was hilarious. (I don’t remember if I ever told him about the feet).

Joan Mitchell was one of the exceptions to my general indifference; something in her mid and late career works spoke to me, in an exciting language of of color, texture and vigor. Then, when I received my BFA degree, Joan was selected to receive an honorary doctorate and I fell head over heels. She sat onstage amidst all the pomp and flowers and immaculately suited officials, clad in her grubby work clothes and a pair of paint-splattered sneakers. A prim, pristinely-coiffed historian began speaking about her life.  Each time the historian got something wrong (quite frequently), Joan muttered, “No, no, no”  and interrupted with the facts that, quite honestly, only she could know.  Finally, exasperated, she leapt up, pulled the mike to herself and bellowed, “OK, forget all that!  Go paint. Paint. JUST…PAINT!”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a stellar example of the gap between the (often career-building) brouhaha that surrounds art, and the simple truth of being an artist, a maker.

Pretty much how my brain feels at the moment…

I started writing this last week, in honor of the very pleasing fact that I have been awarded a full fellowship for another residency at the Vermont Studio Center, specifically through the Joan Mitchell Foundation. I am truly impressed.  But I’m publishing today after being involved in an exhausting contretempts, forcing more tough decisions on my part, and making me mightily tired of that ridiculous chasm between artist and art world. I just want to make some work, and that’s what I will do for the next few days: “Forget all that.”

…what my brain needs, and what some Making will do.

Sated

A page from the beautiful ‘Bacon Eats Books’ by Sarah Lee & Jessica Wright

NOW it is spring, for I have Eaten Books.

‘Materia Medic-yum’ by Heather L.G. Bella

Whatever I had in my system last week caused me to sleep for four entire days; I finally arose, cautiously optimistic, on Friday, and on Saturday all was well, enough for me to shop for ingredients and then cook a book (not without amusing oven-explosion type mishaps) until late in the evening.

Eat Your Words, Evanston Print and Paper’s first ever Edible Books celebration yesterday was superb, well-attended, and appropriately accompanied by co-proprietor Eileen Madden’s lovely graphic sense and wicked good humor on all the letterpress printed acoutrements (not to mention her entry, “A Pail of Two Zities” which was just that, and delicious). Excellent!

‘War & Peeps’ by Lily Madden

Today’s photos are just a wee taste of my favourites, shot when I wasn’t busy talking or eating; there were lots more, with puns (and peeps) abounding.

‘Cookie in Death, by JD Robb’ by Martha Chiplis

Marnie Galloway’s hilarious (and superbly tasty) ‘Les Miserapples’ – featuring ‘Jean Valjean (with a bit of bread), Cosette (a far too sweet white chocolate), Inspector Javert (a bitter dark chocolate) and M. & Mme Thenardier (nutty!)

And, below is mine. Now, it’s back to the Lost Week’s even more ridiculously backed-up projects on top of this week’s regularly scheduled projects. I needed to eat a few good books to fortify myself for that!