exhibits & events
February 14, 2013
ottawa international animation festival 2012 - review
by sven at 11:05 am
Last year I had the pleasure of attending the 2012 Ottawa International Animation Festival (Sept 19-23). After a good deal of thought, I've decided that too much took place to tell the story chronologically. Instead, I'll organize my review geographically — giving a guided tour of the locations I visited. Being a festival director myself, I'll also be peppering in observations about event management.
But first: THANK YOU to the Regional Arts & Culture Council! This trip was funded in part by a Professional Development grant. I'm very grateful for the opportunity, and hope that what I've learned from this trip will help me to give back to the Portland community in the form of higher quality arts events.
I. GETTING TO OTTAWA
I flew to Ottawa by way of Toronto. The Toronto airport was mammoth in scale and labyrinthine. I really half-expected to meet a minotaur in there. On the way back, I went via Vancouver, which much more laid-back.
Immediately upon arriving in Ottawa I discovered an OIAF table. The festival's artistic director, Chris Robinson, was waiting there to meet incoming film jurors. What a stroke of luck! Before almost anyone else had arrived, I got to ask Chris some questions about his role with the fest. Then Barry Purves arrived. He was to be one of the Feature Film Jurors... He's a master stopmo animator who's written a few books, and is a bit of an idol to me. I felt a little star struck, catching a ride into town in a van with these two (and a few others).
I stayed at the Quality Hotel, which is on downtown Ottawa's main drag, Rideau (ree-doh) street. It was fairly bare-bones in terms of amenities — but within easy walking distance of all the theaters, which was the whole point.
Up on the 9th floor, I could go out to the hallway and get a good view of the ByTowne Cinema just below. In the photo, you can also see that there was major construction going on all up and down Rideau street. I was told by other attendees that this project wasn't going on during their last visit... And that the whole area is pretty torn up compared to past years.
II. THE ARTS COURT
The main hub of the festival is the Arts Court, which houses the OIAF offices, the festival lounge area, and a small black box theater.
The Arts Court, as I understand it, was Ottawa's first courthouse. At some point it was decommissioned — and then later, the city renovated it and made it a space for arts organizations. It houses quite a few groups besides OIAF.
As I approached the Arts Court, I was interested to see a big OIAF banner. The artwork that OIAF used this year is pretty telling... A man whose face is contorted in shock/disgust, with the slogan "You can't unsee this stuff." It's true — despite being the oldest and largest animation festival in North America, Ottawa is known for its decidedly in-your-face attitude... And I did indeed see films that I. Can't. Unsee.
III. THE ARTS COURT STUDIO
The Arts Court Studio is up on the second floor...
It's a big multi-purpose room that was set up with tables and chairs for lounging. A food bar dubbed "Chez Ani" was set up along one wall to serve chips, cookies, bottled water and small snacks.
The Arts Court Studio is where you go to get registered for the festival and pick up your festival pass. I learned that OIAF has decided not to use a service like Ticketmaster; they've decided deal with registrations in-house. Shu Zhang, box office coordinator, told me about how she'd spent days upon days going through those boxes of festival passes making sure everything was alphabetized and in perfect order before the start of the event.
There were four festival pass designs, each specified for a different package deal. Bright yellow lanyards made it easy to pick out festival participants while traversing Ottawa's streets.
Immediately outside the Arts Court Studio was a sign listing all of the festival's major sponsors. Similar tripods were present at many (if not all) associated events.
The festival's largest venue, the National Arts Centre, didn't open until Friday evening. Before then, the Studio also housed the "AniBoutique" — several tables piled with books (many of them written by Chris Robinson), DVDs, and posters and shirts from 2012 and several years prior.
The Studio was mostly an area for low-key conversation. Sunday evening, though, a DJ came in and played music for a closing night dance.
IV. THE ARTS COURT THEATRE
The Arts Court Theatre is immediately adjacent to the Studio.
This was OIAF's smallest auditorium. I'd estimate it has about 120 seats.
Each morning at 9am there'd be a "Meet the Filmmakers" breakfast. (A bit of a misnomer in my opinion — the snacks available in the Studio didn't seem particularly breakfasty.) A facilitator from the National Film Board of Canada would interview the animators whose films are in competition. Some were articulate — some were not. But with maybe a dozen people on stage, it wasn't too hard to keep the conversation moving.
The Arts Court Theatre was where smaller panel discussions took place. I only attended one, titled "Whoa! What!? Experimental Influence in the Commercial Realm." Each of the speakers was clearly a very talented artist. However, it seems to me that when people are on a panel, there's very little incentive for any one individual to prepare remarks too carefully. Ideas feel watered down because no one takes responsibility for making a concise point. After that first experience, I prioritized attending other sorts of events.
I was particularly excited to attend a Master Class taught by Barry Purves. During his presentation, he described his work on the film "Tchaikovsky: an elegy" (which I screened at the NW Animation Fest last May). He also poignantly described the great sadness that comes from looking back at a life of good work — knowing that if there had only been more time and funding, it could have been a life of truly great work. An empathetic audience felt Barry was being too hard on himself — but that frustration with knowing he could have done even better made complete sense to me.
After one of the screenings in the Studio, I was able to talk to a projectionist. This was hugely valuable to me. With the exception of a few 35mm prints, it turns out that OIAF is playing all of their films from computers. These are Macintosh desktop machines — nothing terribly exotic. The software is Playback Pro. Generally speaking, playback during the festival was excellent... But in the Arts Court Theatre, I did notice that a horizontal line was sometimes visible in the picture. The projectionist revealed that the projector in this auditorium was an older, analog model — so we extrapolated that it was probably having a hard time keeping up with the data stream.
This is a very important lesson: The success of digital film exhibition requires that every component of the system be as robust and up-to-date as possible. It's not just celluloid and a reel-to-reel projector that you're dealing with — it's a digital file, a computer, software, cables, and a projector. If any one of these things isn't up to snuff, picture quality will suffer.
V. OIAF HEADQUARTERS
I arrived in Ottawa on a Tuesday; the festival began Wednesday night. Arriving early was a good move on my part. It allowed me to spend my first day in Ottawa just exploring the city, making sure I could get from one venue to the next quickly and without getting lost. I also made use of that first day to visit the OIAF offices.
Th OIAF HQ is just a few small rooms, downstairs in the Arts Court building. While I was waiting to be helped, I overheard a interesting conversation there. A volunteer coordinator was instructing drivers on the importance of checking in before ending their shifts for the night. That's a safety precaution I wouldn't have thought of. Very smart!
The main HQ room had a couch or two where people could sit comfortably for a meeting. The smaller office next door was more crowded and messy — housing all of the 2377 DVD submissions that came in for this past year's show.
I am so glad I got to see this room... I've been dying to know what such a mass of DVDs looks like, and how it gets stored.
It was interesting to discover that OIAF prints out sticker labels to help with tracking all of the DVD submissions.
There's a small room adjoining the main office that's set aside for "viewing-on-demand" during the festival. There are three stations with DVD players attached to monitors. You can ask to see any submission you want.
Not knowing what to ask for, I just went with the flow and took a look at the first disc of films in competition. Even though films in the festival are being played as digital files, someone went through the trouble of creating about a dozen compilation DVDs, all with full menus. Why? How do they get used? And how long did it take to make them?
I noticed a few big plastic bins sitting in the hallway just outside the OIAF office. From the labels, it was clear that these are used for carrying papers, T-shirts, supplies and such from the office out to the theaters around town. Another good, practical idea.
VI. BYTOWNE CINEMA
The ByTowne Cinema was the site of OIAF's opening ceremonies — so it was the first venue where I actually got to see some films.
Signs at the ByTowne indicated that OIAF tickets were $7 for ByTowne members, $12 for regular entry, and $60 for a card that could get you in to see 6 films. There was also a sign indicating where passholders should line up for entry.
The concessions area formed a sort of airlock between the front doors and the doors to the auditorium. As attendees passed through, an OIAF volunteer kept count using a tally-clicker. It's difficult to track attendance when some people just have to wave their badge. This solves the problem elgantly.
The ByTowne has a single large auditorium. It's similar in size and flavor to Portland's Cinema 21, so I'm guessing it has roughly 500-600 seats.
Prior to the start of the show, there was a pre-show reel. Mostly it contained stills from various shows in the festival — in effect, advertising the festival itself. There were also a few advertisements from sponsors. One of these was animated; appearing amongst still images, it was a rather jarring effect.
Chris Robinson took a very low-key approach to kicking off the festival. No pomp and circumstance, no statements of grand ideals. Very much one peer speaking to others. His choice of costume — a casual short sleeved shirt and jaunty hat — added to this impression.
On the way out of the theatre, there was a merch table where you could purchase odds and ends. Tables like this were present at all of OIAF's venues.
The auditorium gets cleared between shows. Given the length of the line to get back in for the next show, there's a strong incentive not to lollygag. If you don't get yourself out of the room quickly, you're going to find yourself halfway down the block.
VII. NATIONAL GALLERY
The National Gallery is large, beautiful art museum. I didn't have time to go see any of the exhibits — but I did see several films in its big, modern auditorium.
The National Gallery is maybe a 10-minute walk from the Arts Court, or 15 minutes from the ByTowne. I'd be a little winded from speed-walking to get from one place to the other — but I never had any trouble getting into a show and finding a decent seat.
There's a remarkable sculpture of a giant spider just outside the National Gallery titled "Maman." A nearby plaque says this about it: "Maman, the giant egg-carrying spider, is a nurturing and protective symbol of fertility and motherhood, shelter and the home. With its monumental and terrifying scale, however, Maman also betrays this maternal trust to incite a mixture of fear and curiosity." It seems to me a very daring piece, which in itself says something about the cultural life of Ottawa as a city.
The OIAF's "Festival Reader" includes names and photos of event staff. Using it as a reference, I could tell that the blonde woman at the merch table was Technical Coordinator Keltie Duncan. I would like to have had a chance to query her about details of running the festival, but the opportunity never seemed right.
The National Gallery's auditorium is huge, and has a fairly steep rake. The upholstery of the seats and the carpeting all seem quite new. I'm guessing there may be 1000 seat in the room.
The same pre-show reel screens at every venue. When the show starts up, there's a clip that lasts maybe 60 seconds acknowledging the festival's sponsors. I was surprised by how quickly the names appear and disappear — no more than 2 seconds given to each. I suppose that when the clip is repeated so many times throughout the week, no one's going to complain too much about brevity. Plus, with so many sponsors to mention, you really do have to rush — or else people will quickly get antsy for the show to start.
The first show I saw at the National Gallery was "The Making of Le Tableau," in which the director of this feature film showed concept art and clips from its development. Director Jean-Francois Laguionie is French and needed some assistance from a translator. During the course of the week, it became very apparent that there is a wide range of skill levels amongst translators. One or two switched between languages with fluency — but I'd say the majority struggled from time to time, trying to find the right words. (One poor soul was truly flummoxed by the task, which raised audible audience ire.)
Again I poked my head into the projection booth. Christie is a very high profile brand of digital projector. The National Gallery's projectionist told me that the company provided several projectors this year. They gave essentially flawless performance, so far as I could tell.
VIII. EMPIRE RIDEAU
The Empire Rideau theatre is housed within the Rideau Centre, a large maze-like shopping mall in the heart of downtown Ottawa. Being a typical cineplex, it's easily the least interesting of the festival's venues.
The Rideau Center seems to take up several city blocks. Finding the movie theater inside there took a little doing the first time.
Did I mention that this mall is also four stories tall?
The Empire Rideau has several auditoriums — but OIAF was only using one of them. Some patrons were showing up to see Hollywood fare, completely unrelated to the fest.
(I have to say, it felt a little odd to be watching indie films in such a mainstream venue.)
Again, there was an OIAF table up front.
I'd estimate that this auditorium has about 250-300 seats.
I noticed that the edges of the image in the pre-show reel were cut off. I think I recall hearing that only 3 out of 5 venues were using Christie projectors... If that memory is accurate, perhaps this auditorium was using a pre-existing projector arrangement?
One excellent discovery I made at the mall: pre-made sandwiches. There was a sort of grab-and-go deli on the ground floor selling various flavors of sandwiches in plastic wrap. When you're running across town, trying to get to the next show on time, having a few of these in your shoulder bag can be a real life-saver!
IX. NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE
The National Arts Centre is the grandest of OIAF's venues. I hear that the building was closed for renovations for a few years, and that OIAF is just now getting back into the space. It has smaller auditorium and a larger auditorium. The big one is where the closing "Best of the Festival" show took place.
Situated on the edge of a canal, the National Arts Centre building is a gorgeous sight.
To get to NAC's entrance, you go down a story from where you were when crossing the nearby bridge. Despite being in the middle of downtown, the entrance feels tucked away.
The lobby is long and has low ceilings. When people would queue up for a big event in the main theatre, the line would snake far down this passage and loop back around.
At one end of this lobby space is a sculpture and water feature. The "AniMarket" clusters around this area. From what I'd read, I expected the AniMarket to have dozens of vendors — like one might see at a comics convention. Instead, there was a motley gathering of perhaps eight tables: a few animation schools, Wacom tablets, Disney reviewing artist portfolios, an animation software company...
With the AniMarket opening Friday night, OIAF's own Aniboutique switched spaces. It seemed like there were a lot more items over at the Arts Court Studio; here, OIAF staff somehow managed to fit all the DVDs into a single glass case, and the books onto one table. I think the DVDs for sale were primarily items carried by Animation World Network — I didn't notice individual animators bringing in DVDs, trying to sell their own films.
It's increasingly clear to me that there are just a handful of animation schools with an international reputation. Supinfocom (France), National Film and Television School (UK), and Tokyo University of the Arts (Japan) were all featured in a special "School Competition" block of films... But they didn't send recruiters. I spoke to a representative from Vancouver; she says that the students there are putting out top-notch work, but word hasn't reached festivals yet. I'm interested to find out more.
Ralph Bakshi (of "Fritz the Cat" fame) was a featured speaker at the fest. He had a table in the lobby/AniMarket area where his son was helping to sell cels and other original artwork. This table seemed most akin to comic con culture.
X. NAC STUDIO
The Studio was NAC's "small" auditorium — I'd still guess that it had 350+ seats.
Programming for this space focused on panels and presentations having to do with career development. Due to scheduling conflicts, I was only able to sit in on two partial workshops. Once again, I felt that panelists are prone to making off-the-cuff pronouncements... And then the one speaker who I saw doing a solo presentation seemed to rely perhaps too heavily on video clips.
Maybe I'm being unfair. Perhaps the intellectual in me is hoping to hear academic papers? Or perhaps the opposite: practical hands-on how-to workshops? I'm not sure what I really think yet, except that I walked away with a vague sense of dissatisfaction.
XI. NAC THEATRE
The National Arts Center Theatre is big — but not as huge as I thought it might be. It's a little bigger than the Newmark Theatre at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts — but a little smaller than the Arlene Schnitzer concert hall.
Some of the competition screenings were identified as "galas." I gather that these were the ones where filmmakers would be in attendance. I prioritized gala screenings, so I'm not entirely certain how much the non-gala competitions differed.
At my first gala, I was surprised by how the show comes to a stop between films, a live announcer reading off the title and director for each film over loudspeakers. If the director was available, the lights would come up briefly after the film ended, the artist standing up from where they were seated to receive applause.
Having a live announcer really helped distinguish the experience from simply going to a typical movie at the cineplex. It may have also played a practical role. OIAF continues to screen some 35mm prints; having a pause in the program probably helps smooth the transition between films. (I expect this was even more important in the past, when celluloid was the norm.)
I said that the Christie projectors' performance was flawless... But there was one tiny technical issue that occurred during a screening at the NAC Theatre. When the screen was dark, a few little white points would appear randomly. My own guess is that the problem had to do with interference in the cables somewhere — but there's no way to know.
Hisko Hulsing, both a juror and director of "The Junkyard", commented publicly that the colors of his film had been washed out — that we hadn't seen a true reproduction of the work. I seriously wonder, though, if there's an unfair comparison being made between what can be accomplished on an LCD computer screen vs. throwing light across a room onto a giant screen.
I asked Chris Robinson what he considered must-see at this year's fest. He recommended the "One-on-One with Ralph Bakshi" interview, saying that sparks might fly — so I gave this featured event a whirl.
I respect Ralph Bakshi's contributions to animation; I'm neither a serious fan nor a detractor. Several of Bakshi's feature films were screened during the week — but on principle, I skipped any screening that I could either see in a mainstream theatre (e.g. Hotel Transylvania) or rent at home (Fritz the Cat). So Bakshi's work was not especially fresh in my mind during the interview. I got the impression that this is someone who has spent a lifetime being scrappy and managing to make passable art without waiting for big budgets to fall in his lap... Someone who feels they're making important social commentary about class disparities in the USA. Perhaps this interview was an apt centerpiece for the festival; but because I didn't prioritize Bakshi's films, much of the meaning was probably lost on me.
One thing I'll say for the NAC Theatre: it really added a sense of grandeur to the final "Best of the Festival program." Environment matters!
Yet, this awards show was a curious animal. With many awards to hand out, there was a bit of a rush to keep the program moving. It was unrehearsed, so the jurors seemed a little uncertain at times about which one of them should be at the microphone to speak — or for that matter, what needed saying. As emcees, Joel Frenzer and Alan Foreman (who host an animation podcast) did some light comedy between segments. Having met them, I think they're both very nice people... Yet, there's something about these segments that didn't seem to quite fit. I'm having trouble putting my finger on exactly why. Clearly every film award ceremony follows in the shadow of the Oscars... Perhaps I'm just picking up on the dissonance between animators pantomiming glamor and the reality of just how socially awkward most of us are.
Films for kids were judged by kids. Neat idea. Unfortunately, a horrifying gender dynamic played out. Upon reaching the stage, the young boys immediately made a grab for the two cushy interview chairs, and put on appalling airs of superiority towards the girls. I have some interest in trying a youth jury in Portland — but the way the boys reacted to being in the spotlight now sounds a note of caution in my mind.
I don't recall any film clips being shown during the awards ceremony — but there were slides that displayed the names of the winners. When I was planning out my schedule for the week, I wondered why there weren't any re-screenings of the competition programs on Sunday. Now I realize that all the competitions had to be juried by the end of Saturday in order to leave time for preparing Sunday's show. I hate to imagine being the person who had to put all the slides together the night before!
It was a proud moment to see Portland's own Rob Shaw accept an award for his "Portlandia 'Zero Rats'" segment. Rob hired me for my first professional animation gig at Bent Image Lab some years ago. He does very clever work, and I'm glad to see him receive recognition.
Each of the OIAF awards is a unique sculpture created by a local artisan. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, the creativity inherent in making unique awards is laudable. On the other hand, when the awards all have a single design, I think it helps an animator feel like they are joining a long line of winners, joining a heritage. Formality enhances tradition, whereas the whimsy of one-of-a-kind awards undermines that sense of venerable membership.
XII. OIAF PICNIC
Now that I've covered all five screening auditoriums, I'd like to review some peripheral locations... Beginning with OIAF's famous Animator's Picnic.
Free busses cycled back and forth between the Arts Court and the picnic area.
The picnic tent, set up in a nearby park, was huge. It was a sort that I've seen used by colleges at outdoors graduation ceremonies.
Cartoon Network sponsored this event. As usual, there was a sponsorship sign on a tripod at the entrance.
The combination of rain outside and free lunch inside made for a very crowded tent.
The buffet tables were arranged in a long line down the middle of the tent. There were vegetarian options — but they weren't clearly labeled, so I was left to guess. Ample garbage and recycling bins were provided.
The highlight of the picnic is the pumpkin carving contest. It was mostly college students doing the carving — I'm not sure I saw anyone else make a submission. I can't be sure, but I think most of the participants were part of a group that bussed up from the Rhode Island School of Design.
The buffet was cleared and pumpkins were arranged for judging. I'm including photos of several below. With regret, I don't recall which one was the winner.
Brooke Keesling from Cartoon Network gave out DVDs as prizes to the contest winners.
XIII. HARD ROCK CAFE
The Opening Night Party was held at the Hard Rock Cafe.
Passholders received coupons for free drinks, which were slipped into our festival badges at registration. Limitations were set on which types of alcohol you could order — just the basics. Still, free drinks are a great way to get the party moving.
I bumped into Shu Zhang again, and she introduced me to a few people — taking an active role in helping folks mix. (Thanks Shu!)
The RISD students were really getting into karaoke upstairs. One woman sang an energetic a version of the "I like big butts" song that blew the crowd away.
And then there was this guy. Jumping around with your shirt over your head is a thing now? The segments of the portable stage began to come apart, and the karaoke TV monitor wobbled dangerously. Our moderator, a drag queen in a purple rubber wig, had to gently bring this behavior to a halt.
XIV. RITUAL NIGHTCLUB
Reviewing the schedule, I realize there was an alcoholic opportunity at the close of every night during the festival.
Hard Rock cafe had karaoke, a bar, and booths where you could get some food. In contrast, Ritual Nightclub was much more of a dance club.
The dance floor was quite crowded. I made the mistake of setting my coat down for a while. When I came back, someone had stolen my business card holder. Most likely they thought they were getting my wallet — so I got off lucky. I saw a young woman in tears, talking to the fest organizers, who may have had a more significant loss. (If I ever try to host something like this, I'm going to need to think seriously about what security should look like.)
XV. SALON DE REFUSES AT CLUB SAW
Club Saw is physically connected to the Arts Court — though I don't know of any indoors passageway between the two buildings.
This was the site for "Salon de refuses" — a screening of some of the better films that didn't get into the fest. How were they chosen and who compiled them? I wish I knew — it's a rich concept. All I do know is that Laika sponsored the event.
From what I gather, "Salon de refuses" has been going on for at least a few years. Chris Robinson introduced the event, and commented that it was his first time attending... Kind of a strange experience for him, being the the very person who does the refusing.
There was tiny moment of drama. Chris mentioned some topical political absurdity going on in the USA (remember, this was during the lead up to the elections)... On this cue, a group of students in the back of the room — the same ones who had sat behind me, talking through the films of the last screening — started bleating "You Ess Ae! You Ess Ae!"
I despise jingoism. Quite out of character, acting on an unsuspected instinct... I flipped them off from the front of the room. Which took Chris quite off guard and made him crack up, so he couldn't finish his introductions. He came down from the stage to chat with me, still laughing. Nice moment of conection. Unorthodox international diplomacy — but hey, if it works...
To wrap up, I wanted to document some ephemera associated with the fest.
Ottawa produces a "Festival Guide" and a "Festival Reader." Both contain the schedule and event descriptions. The Guide is newsprint — which is presumably inexpensive, being left out as a freebie at various venues. (I'm curious to know how many copies were printed, and where all they were distributed.) The Reader is glossy and has a spine like a paperback book. It comes along with a festival pass. Purchased on its own, it's $20. Unlike the Guide, the Reader feels like a keepsake. It also contains contact information for every filmmaker in the festival — which is a very valuable resource to a another fest director, such as myself.
In addition to the pre-show ads and the animated sponsors clip, there was also a "signal film" that acts as a sort of "station identification" for the festival. This year's signal film evolved from a group painting created by the groups En Masse and See Creature.
The original painting hung in a small gallery space in the Arts Court.
There were four different posters for the festival. I saw a few around town on lamp poles and in shop windows. Nice bright colors really make a difference.
I also saw some OIAF flags in one or two spots around town. I'm not sure whose property they were on, or what the arrangement is that allowed this display. It seems similar to how Portland sometimes hangs banners on its lightpoles for marathons and the like. (I have no idea how those permissions work, either.)
OIAF organizers weren't the only ones creating ephemera. Filmmakers, schools and vendors also brought flyers along to scatter across flat surfaces.
A form of ephemera that has almost nothing to do with OIAF... Poutine! I definitely wanted to try some of this Canadian favorite while in Ottawa. I'm glad I did so on my first day there, while there was some free time to explore. It couldn't have happened at any other time. I overheard some people talking about going to restaurants for meals. There were no meal breaks in the schedule — I can't imagine how you could go eat somewhere special without missing big chunks of the fest.
The trip to Ottawa served the function I'd hoped for. I feel like I've returned home with a much broader literacy about animation festivals in general. I'm charged up with ideas for how do better event organizing — with a particular interest in expanding and continuing to develop the Northwest Animation Festival.
Thanks again goes to the Regional Arts & Culture Council for its marvelous support!
August 9, 2012
best of the nw animation festival 2012
by sven at 7:00 am
Best of the NW Animation Festival
16 audience favorites, one night only
Date: Saturday Sept 8 @ 7pm
Venue: Hollywood Theatre
Address: 4122 NE Sandy Blvd
Tickets: $10 general admission
CLICK HERE to buy tickets
The Northwest Animation Festival proudly presents this year’s audience favorites. See 16 films from around the world at this special one-night-only event. Highlights include Oscar contenders and the 2012 Academy Award winner for Best Animated Short.
A debonair caterpillar woos his lady moth with flamenco guitar. Demon pilots fight a desperate aerial duel to the death…and beyond. A strange creature races against time to make the most important and beautiful creation of his life. A chicken cheerfully strolls the streets of New York—despite mad men, hipsters, and hungry mutant zombies.
Hilarious, dramatic and inspiring, this memorable variety show offers delights for every taste.
July 8, 2012
going to ottawa on a racc grant
by sven at 1:25 pm
This is a Professional Development Grant. It's intended to assist "artists or arts administrators with opportunities that specifically improve their business management development skills and/or brings the artist or the arts organization to another level artistically." It doesn't go to the Northwest Animation Festival as an organization, but rather to me as an individual who has a career producing arts events. The funding won't pay for the trip to Ottawa in its entirety, but will certainly make a big difference.
Ottawa is the oldest, largest, most important animation happening in North America. I made the case that I'm at a pivotal moment, when experiencing the gold standard of festivals first hand is likely to have the most significant impact on my curatorial vision.
The fest will run from Sept 19-23. It's a 36-year-old event that pulls in 2000+ film entries each cycle. I'll be joining 27,000 attendees for 90+ screenings and related events... I'm really looking forward seeing this monster in person!
July 6, 2012
part time playhouse interview
by sven at 12:53 pm
I got to be on television this past Sunday (7/1).
I initially resisted the invitation. I've successfully passed the reins to Miriam Feder for producing Fertile Ground 2013, and have been gently extricating myself from power for the past few months. Better to spotlight the new leadership, I felt.
I did manage to get David Holloway on board — the one PDXP member who's been around since the group's beginning, five years ago — but Miriam was unavailable. Archie still wanted me... So I decided to do the interview to support a fellow producer. I know what it's like trying to wrangle enough people to put on a show.
It wound up being rather fun. Archie is very warm and easy-going, so it was a low-anxiety affair. And being in the big open room where filming takes place, surrounded by cameras and lights and equipment, you can't help but feel a sense of creative possibility.
The call for "talent" was at 4:50, the live broadcast took place at 7:00 — so there was a lot of sitting around, waiting. Most of that time was spent in the "green room" (actually a conference room) chatting with David, Claire Willett and Jessica Dart. Claire is the new creative director at Milepost 5; I've known her a few years via PDXP. Jessica's a dramaturge collaborating with both Claire and Archie to create The Scriptorium, a new series of workshopped plays.
This episode consisted of clips from the previous season's performances, an interview with Claire and Jessica, more clips, the interview with David and me, then more clips. I felt like I managed to hit all the important points about PDXP with at least tolerable eloquence. From what I can tell, the episode will eventually be available on YouTube — but I have no idea when.
So, all in all, a neat little opportunity. Thanks Archie!
February 3, 2012
review: portland animation now! 2012
by sven at 3:08 am
This past weekend I produced Portland Animation Now! — my third major film event. This was my favorite yet. Not because it ran smoothly… But because there was a crisis and we emerged triumphant.
Our first night we were running a little behind schedule.
The doors to the theatre were unlocked at 6:00pm. We arrived not more than 5 minutes after six, but discovered one ticket-buyer already waiting — and another taking a nap on the bench where we needed to set up the ticket table. Advance tickets were sold via BoxOfficeTickets.com, which included a notice that our box office wouldn't open until 6:30. Even so, everyone's instinct was to purchase tickets as soon as they walked in the front door — even though we obviously weren't ready for sales yet.
While Gretchin held back the increasingly impatient throng, the rest of us worked furiously to get our auditorium ready.
Auditorium 2 at 5th Avenue Cinema doubles as a classroom during the week. We need to go through and put seat tables down, move furniture around, sweep the floor, and set up our own microphone, speaker, and CD player for pre-show music. We need to check sound levels and make sure there are no surprise problems with the DVD. As emcee, I need to get each volunteer to their station, reviewing how the projection system works, the lighting setup and light cues. I have to make sure each one knows what to do at the end of the show: who's handing out surveys and who's going to go save us a table for the after-show party.
When told, "we're still getting set up," one irritable patron exclaimed, "what's there to set up?!" …Well, now you know.
I always plan to have at least one spare volunteer on hand — in case we need to send someone out to deal with an emergency, or if someone gets sick, or simply flakes. On Friday night, I found myself three volunteers short. Each for very good reasons: sickness, a job interview, friends from out of town. I had some advance warning and we managed… Still, lesson learned: always plan to have at least THREE backup volunteers on hand!
In a 100-seat theater, you might think having 8-10 people for event staff cuts into ticket sales. Don't be miserly. Having the show run smoothly is far more important than giving up a few seats.
We filled the exact same number of seats each night: 82. While we didn't sell out, the room felt full. It seems to me that a room feels full at 50% capacity. Most people don't like to sit next to strangers unless they have to, so there's a tendency to spread out — and the eye simply skips over the empty seats.
Looking back at my records, I see that the average number of seats filled during last year's June 3-5 event was also 82. I wonder how to interpret this consistency?
The numbers of seats filled last summer were 97, 87, and 62. (I make no distinction in those numbers between paying audience members and filmmakers who attend free — but don't include event staff, since we sit in a special area at the back of the room.) NWAF11 was a completely different show each day, whereas PAN! was the same program on both nights. Maybe I can infer that the house would have sold out if there were only one screening this time?
Whatever the case, I think the experiment in showing one program on multiple nights was quite successful. If I can get enough good material to do a PAN! show again next January, I may have it run for three nights, just to see what happens.
I go to a great deal of trouble to make the event's ephemera look pleasing. This was the last time I'll be showing audience favorite Ruby Rocket, Private Detective for a while, so I worked the character's image into all of the graphic design. Her image appeared on the ticket stubs, the pre-show slideshow, the programs, and button pins.
I made improvements to the program this time around. One of the surveys from September's "Best of the Fest" mentioned that the text was too small to read in dim light. So I came up with a new multi-page layout that uses bigger type and includes a small color photo from each film. Stapling all the pages together adds further labor — but this new format will be absolutely essential when I get around to selling ad space.
The PAN! show came about because I saw the chance to do something that hadn't been done before. This year was my second year producing live stage plays for the group PDX Playwrights at the Fertile Ground festival of new works. While reading through fine print, I noticed that the fest is intended to include live theatre, dance, visual arts, and film.
"Odd," I though to myself. "I've never seen film at Fertile Ground." Then: "Wait a sec! I show films now! I've got lots of films that I could show!"
So I wrote to festival director Nicole Lane to discuss the idea. She loved it. She's been wanting to include film for some time, but hadn't known how to reach the right people.
There was some initial concern about the films needing to be world premieres. I pointed out differences between live theatre and animation: how long it takes to produce animation, the economic pressure to premiere in places where there are film markets, and the need to present shorts in anthologies. For film to work at FG, a modest compromise would need to be made.
I proposed the following criteria: (a) films in the program should be "recent" (new if possible), (b) they should all come from Portland, and (c) the program taken as a whole should be substantially different from previous compilations. That sounded fine to folks, and I got the OK.
I'm very proud, in Fertile Ground's fourth year, to have now produced the festival's first-ever film program.
Working with Nicole Lane over the past six months, I have a pretty good sense of how much effort she's put into Fertile Ground — a 10-day city-wide festival encompassing more than 100 performances. Making lunch one day, just before the fest was about to begin, it occurred to me: "Nicole totally deserves a medal for this." Then my next thought: "Oh, that's totally doable!"
So I emailed all 70+ Fertile Ground producers, and asked them all to chip in for an award. It didn't take too long to get enough pledges. I went ahead and ordered a hefty yet elegant crystal thing from Bardy Trophy. A lot of the donors were my PDXP playwrights, who were able to just hand me cash. For the rest, I set up a private online payment system via the NW Animation Fest site.
Gretchin has another way of telling this story: "So, Sven was organizing 19 plays and a film festival. And he thought, I don't have enough to do…"
I could see from my BoxOfficeTickets.com Will Call reports that Nicole had reservations to see Portland Animation Now! on Friday. Perfect!
After making my opening speech, I announced that we had someone very special in the audience tonight — and sprung the surprise. Nicole was taken totally unaware, and was deeply moved by the gesture. Later, after she got home, she wrote this to me:
"Well, I'm pretty much still blown away. What a huge surprise! I was completely taken aback. I'm not much one for lime-light, more a behind the scenes/keyboard kind of gal and being recognized and thanked by you so publicly leaves me a little discombobulated...and pretty much at loss for words. I teared up in front of a room of strangers -- geez!
I'm, honestly, so very touched by your thoughtfulness. That you thought, acted and contacted the other producers....well, that is just so very kind of you. I actually went to three events tonight, and at the one I ran to after yours, I mentioned the award and they all just laughed and said they knew about it and were all in on it. That you went to those lengths, I truly appreciate. Deeply.
You must know I work on Fertile Ground because I love what it is...what it is to artists, first and foremost, and what it can be for audiences in their growth process as well. I feel blessed that I GET to do this and I have skills I can share to help everyone.
I'm still thinking on how I'm going to thank, talk about this, publicly. My first impulse was to FB immediately, of course. And yet, I need to sit with it. I really does mean a lot to me."
THANK YOU NICOLE! You deserve this and so much more!
Then, we watched a 90-minute program of 22 films:
- Ursula 1000 - Rocket
by Eric Kilkenny
by Adam Fisher
- The Box Game
by The Box Game Collective
- Ruby Rocket, Private Detective
by Sam Niemann & Stacey Hallal
by Mike A. Smith
by Adam Fisher
by Michael Graham
- Old-Time Film
by Marilyn Zornado & Barbara Tetenbaum
- The Old Man and the Butterfly
by Andrew Brown
- Coffee Critics
by Jesse Brennan
by Christopher Purdin
- Chef Antonio
by Matthew Dan
- Phlush PSA
- Ruby Rocket, Private Detective Web Series
by Sam Niemann & Stacey Hallal
- Button Song
by Cassandra Worthington
by Troy Hileman
- Pop Goes The Weasel
by Joel Brinkerhoff
- Marauder's Mistake
by Christina Beard
by Joanna Priestley
- Landscape with Duck
by Patrick Neary
- Operation: Fish
by Jeff Riley
- Old-Time Film: behind the scenes
by Marilyn Zornado & Barbara Tetenbaum
As with all the events I've run, after the films ended I asked all the animators in the show to come to the front for another round of applause and to take questions from the audience.
There are important things to remember for this part of the show. People are shy at first about asking questions, so it helps for the emcee to start things off with a question that allows each filmmaker to introduce themselves. (My opening has been: "Tell us either about what inspired your film, or an amusing anecdote about the process of making it.) People never talk loud enough for the whole room to hear — so be sure to put a microphone in the animators' hands — and also to repeat each audience member's question back after its been asked.
I was particularly pleased that Joanna Priestley was able to make it to the Friday night show. Saturday night she was premiering 3 new animated shorts at the NW Film Center — so it wasn't until Friday afternoon that she discovered there was time in her schedule. Joanna has made more than 20 films, and is widely known as "the queen of indie animation" (a title given to her by the king, Bill Plympton). It was quite an honor to have her with us.
I'm still searching for what questions I want to pose to filmmakers. This weekend I finally got the inkling of an insight. I think I'm looking for questions that help educate the audience about animation in general. On Friday night, I came up with a pretty good one: "Many people assume that you've got to be a bit crazy to spend so much time creating up to 24 separate images for every second of film. Help us understand what it is that you love about animation that keeps you going."
Saturday night, an audience member asked filmmakers to explain what the main methods of animation are, and which variety each film in the program exemplified. Great question… As a facilitator, I need to think about how I might use a variation on that in the future to help the audience better understand what they're watching.
Saturday night things seemed to be running smoothly. We got smarter about crowd control, and technical issues with the DVD were all sorted out.
Gretchin took the initiative to make sure that we were the first ones let into the building, so no would-be patrons could lay claim to our ticketing area. We put up a ribbon at the end of the hall so people would be physically prevented from trying to purchase tickets while we were setting up.
Previously, we'd had a series of signs on the wall asking people to separate into a Will Call line and a Buying Tickets line. That totally failed. Everyone just jumbled together. I think part of the problem is that most people pay no attention to the walls. Intuitively, they make a bee line for the ticket table. So for night two, we put a sign on a microphone stand with arrows pointing toward either side of the hall. I'm not sure it kept folks from being a jumble — but when it was time for the Will Call people to pick up their advance tickets, it was indeed easier to get them separated out and queued up.
There was also another music stand at the entrance to the long hallway with two signs on it. One said "Filmmakers please come directly to the ticket table." The other said "We are running a little behind schedule. Thank you for your patience."
I am extremely pleased with this second sign — and intend to have it up at every show I do from now on. See, it's almost always going to be true. And even if we are running on time, it prompts people to be understanding rather than increasingly impatient. Whether or not the sign is strictly true is less important than the atmosphere it creates.
The preceding weekend, I came in at 11pm and did a late night tech rehearsal at the theatre. I'm very glad that I did. I discovered that the DVD player's settings were wrong, and the films were being "postage stamped" — black bars on all four sides, making the image unnecessarily small. Fortunately, it was an easy fix. Some people still mentioned in surveys that the image should better fill the screen. What they don't realize is that we're screening in 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio — whereas the screen was originally made for celluloid films shot at 2.39:1.
During the tech rehearsal, I also discovered an appalling stutter in the pre-show slideshow. After much research at home, I think I figured out what the problem was: the still images had been compressed more than once, leading to artifacts that looked like interlacing lines — and a "de-interlacing" option may have misinterpreted that, creating the stutter. I had really wanted to have the slideshow cycle through 10 images… But in the interests of certainty (since there was no time for a second tech run), I wound up killing the slideshow in favor of the one static image of Ruby Rocket.
In general, the second night of an event goes easier than the first. The auditorium had already been put in order, and the event staff had a clear sense of their roles. We'd sorted out crowd control, and the DVD was running smoothly…
So it was a terrible surprise when Dielle and Kate came out and grabbed me from the lobby. Up on the screen, we had the following message in big red letters:
No matter what, it wouldn't go away. And already we had a line of attendees extending down the hall and into the lobby.
We ran and got that night's theatre manager, Jason Ross. When he saw the message, he was straight to the point: "This could be bad."
We raced through options.
Option #1: "Do you have any friends who have a projector we could put in the aisle?" Uh, no. And for the price we're charging, that's not an acceptable cinema experience.
Option #2: "Call the Portland State University A/V staff." Unfortunately, it's a Saturday and the folks in charge of these $500-$600 bulbs all go home by 5pm.
Option #3: "What if we cannibalize the projector in Auditorium 1?" That was my contribution. But even I saw pretty quickly that it was a terrible idea. The projectors are a good 15+ feet up, and all components are sealed inside a metal enclosure. Too dangerous and foolhardy.
Option #4: "We're going to cancel the show in Auditorium 1 and give you that space."
Bless you Jason. That was a solution we could all live with. Only a few people had bought tickets to that night's other show, The Red Shoes. Still, it's a terrible thing to get all the way to the theater to see a show, just to get kicked out. So I told Jason and Gretchin that anyone who'd bought tickets for The Red Shoes should get comped in to Portland Animation Now!. Jason made a gutsy move to deal with the crisis we found ourselves in — helping smooth things over with his displaced patrons was a no-brainer.
As soon as the idea of switching auditoriums was raised, I told my event staff to quickly and quietly begin setting up the other space. How pleased was I that I've made a policy of always having a backup DVD on hand? …So pleased!
Then, with the decision official, it was time to time to address the waiting crowd. I climbed up on a folding chair, and a in my loudest, most charming voice proclaimed:
Ladies and gentlemen! Thank you for your patience. I'd like to explain to you the predicament that we are in. Right now, we are seeing a message on the screen that says 'replace lamp,' and we cannot make it go away. This is not acceptable. However, 5th Avenue Cinema has very generously offered to cancel their other show and let us use Auditorium 1. We are now in the process of moving everything to the other room. If you will wait just a few more minutes, we will begin taking tickets here at this table. I'd like to ask everyone to please move to this side of the hall, so there's an easy path for volunteers. Thank you!
Or, you know, something very close to that.
As I said at the start, of all the film shows I've run so far, this was my favorite. Here's why.
At most shows, people arrive singly or in pairs. Everybody's separate from one another, maybe with even a hint of competition, just wanting to get in and get into the seats. But faced with the threat of the show possibly being canceled, suddenly the people in line all had a sense of shared purpose. They would experience success or failure together. All of them were focused on the hope that our crew would surmount the challenge, and everything would turn out right.
Succeeding in saving the evening — fairly gracefully, no less — provides a vicarious sense of victory for all involved. What would have been a routine outing to the movies instead became something out of the ordinary, a story that could be recounted to friends and family later on.
There was drama. There was heroism. We were all in it together. And we won.
5th Avenue Cinema doesn't usually rent out Auditorium 1. It's where they show 35mm prints each weekend. But now having done a show there, I can say: it's niiiiice. There are lights along the aisle leading to the front of the room. There's a little stage area. There's more space at the back of the room, and everything feels just a bit better maintained.
I'm definitely having fantasies about how to negotiate use of this room for future events.
As the audience waits for the show to begin, they have an opportunity to read my "director's statement." I felt my message this time was a little less inspirational than previous ones, but I'm sure it sufficed. Here's what it said:
As director of the Northwest Animation Festival, I curate films from around the globe — from cities as far-flung as London, Kraków, and Beijing. Yet, it seems that few people understand what a treasure trove of talent we have right here at home. Tonight I’d like to show you.
Portland birthed the California Raisins. It schooled the voice of Bugs Bunny and the mind behind The Simpsons. It’s home to “the queen of indie animation.” It’s a rising force producing hit feature films such as Coraline. All these cultural icons emerged from our electric, eclectic, eccentric community of creatives.
Portland Animation Now! showcases 22 short films from local independent animators. Encompassing both masters and remarkable amateurs, it’s still only a small sample of our creative wealth.
Tonight’s event is being presented as part of Fertile Ground: an annual ten-day arts festival with over a hundred new Portland-generated performances. Traditionally focused on live theatre and dance, I am very proud to say that this will be the festival’s first-ever program of films.
It is my hope that you will encounter something here that helps broaden your vision of animation and our community’s special talents. After the show ends, please stay for discussion. Attending animators will answer questions, helping to further illuminate their process and this remarkable, magic art form.
Now, let’s watch some films!
NW Animation Festival
During the introduction to the films, I mentioned that there would be surveys available following the show. As an incentive to fill them out, each night the first ten people to turn in surveys would get Ruby Rocket buttons.
We got a great response. Over the two nights, we received a total of 74 responses — nearly 50% of the audience. Still, I may have made a tactical error. As soon as the filmmakers got up to the stage for Q&A, almost half of the audience filed out. Maybe they just wanted to get home… Or maybe I accidentally encouraged them to bolt with the promise of freebies.
A lot of comments in the surveys seem to cancel each other out. Some people wanted fewer student films — others were grateful to see a wide range of skill levels. Some wanted a longer program — some shorter. Some felt there was too much talking — others loved the Q&A. Some expressed a strong preference for traditional narrative stories — others were enthusiastic about abstract and/or darker offerings.
When asked how we could improve, a number pointed to things that we have no control over. Such as turning up the heat in the auditorium. And free beer.
One clear positive did rise to the top, though. "Variety" was repeatedly mentioned as one of the program's strengths. And lots of people cried for "more!"
As for negatives, it seems we need to work on improving sound quality during the Q&A. (Often a difficulty.)
Here's the thing that fascinates me most about the surveys.
Despite the crisis on Saturday night — or perhaps because of it — people had almost nothing negative to say about the second show. On the night when things went more-or-less according to plan, people were more critical… Whereas when things went wrong, enthusiasm and supportiveness was higher.
I certainly have no intent of ever manufacturing a crisis. But this does get me to thinking. The time when people are waiting in line is also an experience unto itself. How can I make what happens before entering the auditorium more interesting and interactive?
What if I could arrange things so people in line could be part of making an animated film — one that would then go on screen during the program proper? The technical challenges are considerable… But how cool would that be?
Originally, I had been thinking that Portland Animation Now! would be a more low-key affair than my previous events. I figured I could dispense with having an after-party and doing photography, and just show a simple block of films.
But I changed my mind. My photographer from previous shows was eager to be involved. And one of the filmmakers wrote to ask if an after-party was planned. I realized that while this batch of films may be old news to me, for many people this would be their first-ever exposure to the NW Animation Festival. Perhaps some had already been to the June 3-5 event — but even if so, few could have attended all three days. Why would I treat this event with any less importance and gravity than the original fest?
Every show I do will be somebody's first show. I owe it to them to always give my best.
Both nights after the show I invited the audience to congregate at the McMenamins Market St. Pub. I even provided a walking map in the program — a detail I'm particularly proud of.
McMenamins was very accommodating. We reserved a table for twenty. Maybe 7 people attended the first night, 10 the next. It was good to let loose and decompress. Me, I got to chat with Jesse Holden (who stood in for Jesse Brennan during Q&A) who has apparently managed to make it to every event I've run so far... Wow!
It was also a good moment to download all the photos that our pro photographer Carly J. Cais had taken. After September's "Best of the Fest" event, I learned that reviewing what happened can do a lot to help me avoid post-show depression. Seeing photos, it's less like 2-6 months of my life have suddenly evaporated into nothingness.
Two lessons about event photography that I need to remember for next time: Always get a good group photo of your volunteers! And if you're shooting in low-light conditions, dial down the camera's resolution to get better results. Since most of my photo use is online, I seldom need anything bigger than 640x480. No matter how good the camera, 2592x3888 is going to slow down image capture and produce blurrier results.
Huge thanks to 5th Avenue Cinema — and particularly Jason Ross — for dealing with our technical crisis gracefully. Being a student-run theater that (due to bureaucracy) lacks direct control of certain resources, it's not surprising that there will occassionally be snafus. Yet, the rental price cannot be beat — and there's a lot to be said for an enthusiastic, accessible staff.
(Gotta get them to take down that "free movies" part on the marquee the next time I run a show, though.)
Next up: The Northwest Animation Festival's second season begins with our international showcase on May 18-19 at the newly remodeled Hollywood Theatre.
I'm really excited about this one… I've been receiving great entries from countries all around the world — including China, Norway, Poland, Ireland, and Brazil. And while I'm not quite ready to make the big announcement yet, it's fairly certain now that we'll have a very special keynote speaker this time to kick things off.
Hmmm.... Any guesses? :)
January 1, 2012
portland animation now! - jan 27 & 28
by sven at 4:30 pm
I'm proud to present a new show later this month:
PORTLAND ANIMATION NOW!
short films from 20+ Portland animators
Dates: Jan 27 and 28 @ 7pm
Venue: 5th Avenue Cinema
Address: 510 SW Hall St, Portland, OR 97201
Tickets: $8 cash or check only
Amazing short films from Portland's powerhouse animation scene! Highlights include…
Eyeliner by Joanna Priestley (dubbed "the queen of independent animation" by Bill Plympton): A playful exploration of the organic geometry and archetypes of the human face. Ursula 1000 - Rocket by Eric Kilkenny: A love story told as a fever dream involving stolen works of art, dualistic robot terminators, and a giant floating head who seriously needs his moustache trimmed. Ruby Rocket, Private Detective by Sam Niemann & Stacey Hallal: It had been a long night and Ruby Rocket, Private Detective needed a stiff one—then HE walked in. Missionary by Mike A. Smith: Geopolitical allegory as cartoon slapstick, featuring eggs and fearsome hand-on-stick technology. Old-Time Film by Barbara Tetenbaum & Marilyn Zornado: Handset type, printer's ornaments and antique engraving come to life in the first film created entirely through letterpress printing. Operation: Fish by Jeff Riley: After a series of goldfish abductions, a secret agent is dispatched to bring the fishnappers to justice, and possibly save the world!
Portland Animation Now! is being presented as part of Fertile Ground, a city-wide festival of over 100 new Portland-generated arts events.
Buying a festival pass will get you into ALL Fertile Ground shows for a single, low price of $50. When you check out, you’ll be asked to select the company that should be credited with your pass sale. Please select “NW Animation Festival” from the pull-down menu. That’s the only way NWAF makes any money back from festival passholders.
…See you at the show!
October 8, 2011
sambuka black @ wordstock
by sven at 1:35 pm
Dielle and Jeff are master animators dating back to the hey day of Will Vinton studios, and also worked Coraline. Dragons, a cyclops, a faun, giant wasps—it's a really fun fantasy novel... Packed full of references that will make stopmoes giggle with delight.
And all of the books are painstakingly made by hand!
I've been doing some experiments with a down shooter in my (cough) copious spare time. I thought you might like to see the source animation, before I messed with it in AfterEffects.
The drawings were done on gridded paper that I created using incompetech.com. Small equals fast. And it's really nice to be able to work from left to right, just as one would for normal handwriting.
...Congrats and good luck with the book, Dielle and Jeff!
September 29, 2011
in portland tomorrow: the whisperer in darkness
by sven at 9:45 pm
This is a feature horror film produced by the revered H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. I did armature work relating to the monsters.
Whisperer will be playing as part of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. The fest begins at 7:00pm, Whisperer screens at 9:00pm. From what I see on Facebook, this show may sell out. Buy advance tickets here.
This year the HPLFF is under new leadership. Tomorrow is the first night of a two-night mini-festival. The next full-scale HPLFF will take place next May.
July 14, 2011
montreal stop motion film fest - call for submissions
by sven at 7:00 am
I got a note from the Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival asking for help promoting their event. I don't usually do this, but feel a kinship with other stopmoes, and a bit of a debt after other bloggers helped promote my fest.
It is free to enter. Just download a submission form, fill it out, and send it in along with your film. Deadline for submissions is Sept 26, 2011.
The festival will be held in Montreal, during Oct 21-23. Awards will be given in four categories: professional, academic, independent films, and commercials/advertisements.
(Jeffrey Roché, Emily Baxter, Grant Goans, Don Carlson — you all should be doing this!)
July 13, 2011
"mutate" in da vinci days film fest - july 16, 17
by sven at 1:46 pm
It's playing twice, so Gretchin and I will be taking a little vacation to check out the whole affair. It's part of the Animation Block, which will show on Saturday (July 16) at 3:45pm at the Darkside Cinema and Sunday (July 17) at 2:30pm at the Majestic Theatre.
I'm often amused by how festivals re-write my film description. Here's the da Vinci version:
Like an Animal Planet documentary from another dimension, MUTATE reveals the bizarre life-cycles of various alien creatures as they meld, merge, dissolve and evolve in surprising and frequently hilarious fashion.
Not bad. :)
July 7, 2011
northwest animation festival 2011
by sven at 8:00 pm
The inaugural Northwest Animation Festival took place just over a month ago. This was by far the most ambitious event I've ever organized: 78 films from nine countries, shown over the course of three days.
The 5th Ave Cinema was an excellent first venue. We had 100 seats, low rental fees, and full control of projection from a kiosk at the front of the room.
A majority of tickets were purchased in advance. Our Will Call table was set up just in front of the doors to Auditorium 2. The line for tickets stretched down the hall, but moved quickly once we opened the doors.
An important part of running an event smoothly is having enough volunteers. Depending on the night, we had up to eight positions:
- managing the line (jokingly dubbed "the bouncer")
- tickets - both Will Call and General Admission
- giving filmmakers their name badges
- auditorium door - handing out programs, making sure door closes quietly
- usher - with flashlight for late seating
A huge THANK YOU to everyone who helped out: Jeff & Dielle Alexandre, Carly Hirano, Gretchin Lair, Jessica Lockwood, Nick Nall, Temris & Matt Ridge, and Rebekah Villon.
A lot of effort went into making the event's ephemera beautiful. The festival's logo went on our programs, tickets, filmmaker name badges, buttons, and some of the signage. Wherever we needed signs, I was sure to use the festival's font: century gothic.
Gretchin generously took on a last-minute project at my request, producing a batch of 50 buttons as a special freebie for filmmakers and volunteers. Thanks to Bridget Benton of Eyes Aflame for lending us the button-making machine.
What makes a film festival different from just going out to see a movie at the cineplex? People. It begins with your interaction with the event staff, from ticket table to usher to emcee… And then during the show, it's getting to do Q&A with the filmmakers. It's a very different, more social experience when you know that the people who made the films are seated all around you in the audience. At the end of every film, the audience applauded. I didn't know to expect that — but it was awesome!
Coming into the auditorium, I wanted people to feel like they were entering a special, magical space. Lights were dimmed, the festival logo was on screen, and pre-show music set the mood (Cirque du Soleil.)
As people found their seats, I was delighted to say hello to many friends and acquaintances who'd made it out for the show. One of my few regrets is that I was unable to personally give all the filmmakers a proper greeting. Having spent so much time with their artistic works, I'd developed a fondness for these people I'd never met.
The job of an emcee is to shape expectations. Why are we here today? How should we judge the films we're watching? When do we start, take breaks, and end? Where can we congregate after the show? And when's the next festival going to be?
People just need to know what's going to happen. Focus on that, and you've got a good chance of avoiding Interminable Opening Speech Syndrome.
There IS a place for talking at length about the big vision, though: the director's statement in the program. Here's what I said in mine:
FROM THE FESTIVAL DIRECTORI’m an animator myself. I love this magical art. So what do I want from an animation festival?
I want an abundant FEAST. Not just a dozen films — a hundred films!
I want to inspire fellow artists to make new work. The festival should stimulate imaginations — and give a concrete answer to that awful question, “What do I do with my film once it’s done?”
I want to help artists grow. I envision every animator being on a path to creating the best work of their life. Something profound or beautiful or funny or moving. Not everyone who submitted this year could be in the fest, but my hope is that everyone who stays on the path eventually WILL be shown.
Portland is an animation town. There is a family of artists here. The festival should be our annual family reunion, where we watch new talents gradually develop into masters.
It’s important to showcase the breadth of what’s being done with animation. There needs to be a place for people who still draw toons with pencil and paper; people who make vectors, layers, and Bézier curves in a computer; people who pose puppets one frame at a time; people who are making up entirely new ways to bring the still image to life.
Some films should be works of genius that just blow you away. But I also want to give screen time to the ones that make you say, “What a neat idea — maybe even I could do that!”
It’s OK if not every film in the program is your cup of tea. I’m confident that there will be something here for everyone. Hopefully you’ll get to experience a little bit of the delight that I’ve had while sifting through submissions… Discovering a collection of gems that dazzle.
— Sven Bonnichsen
I was surprised at how different the feel of the crowd was each night. Friday night people had a hard time getting settled down; some were arriving up to a half-hour late. Saturday, everything when remarkably smoothly, and people seemed to arrive ready to be absorbed in the films. Sunday I thought the room felt just a bit lethargic.
After each block of films, I'd invite all the filmmakers whose films had just screened to come up and answer questions from the audience. Gretchin coached me to say something like "So, what did you think?" immediately after the end of the films, to get a reaction from the crowd and warm them up. Justin Rasch helped me better understand the need to start the Q&A with some questions of my own, giving the audience a little time to start formulating what they might be curious about.
It's a special experience to be the filmmaker taking questions. None of your answers feel entirely adequate. You're hoping that the next question is directed to you — and simultaneously that the next question is NOT for you. You're standing beside these other filmmakers whose works just blew your mind… But for all the clumsiness, there's a rush of adrenalin from being in the spotlight. And even though all that you've done is stand up at the front of the room, somehow that actually does make you an authority — and everyone in the audience contributes their suspension of disbelief toward making that role a shared reality.
The festival was broken into 8 blocks of films. On Friday and Sunday I scheduled two 1-hour blocks, followed by a half-hour featurette. On Saturday I showed two 75min blocks. From the feedback I heard, both ways provided adequate time for stretching and using the restroom. The 75min blocks were significantly more difficult for me to assemble, though.
There's an art to creating a good line-up of films. I used three tools:
- photos of the films, which I could slide around on a big folding table
- a spreadsheet, which could automatically calculate the length of each block
- video clips in iTunes, which allowed me to hear soundtracks in sequence
I tried to put the very strongest films at the beginning and end of blocks. I tried to make sure there were short "palette cleansers" between longer films. I did a lot of color-coding in the spreadsheet, noting which films were light and funny, dark and gothic, or impenetrably abstract. I had further color tags to indicate whether a film was 2D, CG, stopmo, or hybrid/exotic.
Basically, assembling a program of films is like creating a giant mix tape. Variety is crucial, and you have to pay a lot of attention to the highs and lows of mood/energy. The temptation to put all the dark, bleak films on one day must be resisted! Or, by the same token, the urge to group all environmental films on one day. Avoid theme!
Despite juggling all those factors — strength, length, animation method, happy/sad, energy level — problematic similarities would still emerge. For instance, four films made conspicuous use of butterflies. Three featured skeletons. Two films had almost identical guitar riffs. The first shorts block had an overabundance of films where the predominant color was either white or muted/desaturated hues...
You do your best. I was very pleased to hear folks saying that the program seemed well-balanced. When it works, you don't even mind watching the films that "aren't your thing," because you trust that something else that you will like is only a film or two away.
Depending on how many filmmakers were present for a particular block, I'd facilitate 5-7 questions, then go to intermission. People milled in the lobby and hallway.
We brought along a chime that was Gretchin's signature "time's up" sound back when she was running Artist's Way classes. Ringing it was en elegant way to let folks know when it was time to return to their seats.
Another nifty thing about 5th Ave Cinema is that for an additional fee, you can provide free popcorn for your entire audience. Gretchin was marvelous, and donated popcorn to the festival. Because I was wearing my Festival Director hat, it was only slightly strange to be thanking Scarlet Star Studios for the generosity.
During the films, all the volunteers got to come into the auditorium and watch the program. Really, though, we could almost have had someone staffing the ticket table during the whole show. One night we had someone purchase a ticket for just the last half hour. Apparently they weren't very impressed with the John Wayne film in Auditorium 1, and wandered over to see what we had to offer.
Both ASIFA-Portland and Cascade ACM SIGGRAPH were very helpful in getting word out about the festival. I'm embarrassed that I forgot to give either one time for promoting their group from the stage until the last day. It also took until Sunday to figure out where we could put an info table that wouldn't block traffic... And to start encouraging people to sign up for the email list to be notified about the next NWAF event.
I hope to foster community among animators, and for NWAF to become a valued community gathering. There's room for improvement.
Several people traveled from out of state for the festival:
- Michael P. Glover - Milton the Demon Boy ..... New York
- Dayan Paul - Courageous Crustaceans ..... Nevada
- Curtis Randloph - Moon Diary ..... Washington
- Carly White - Pink Spray Paint ..... California
- Maureen Zent - Bostle Sleench ..... Georgia
And the winner for our imaginary "traveled furthest to be here" award?
- John Davide - Hope ..... England!
I was careful to let everyone know what we could and couldn't offer at our first festival — and still they came! It was a shock (albeit a pleasant one) when the first person let me know that they'd bought plane tickets. Suddenly the event became so much more real... Other people believed in it enough to make a journey!
Most of the filmmakers currently living in Portland were able to come at least for their own film. Attendees included:
- Art Institute of Portland students - The Box Game
- Christina Beard - Maurauder's Mistake
- Jesse Brennan - Coffee Critics
- Andrew Brown - The Old Man and the Butterfly
- Matthew Dan - Chef Antonio
- Fashionbuddha - Phlush PSA
- Adam Fisher - Mashed, Timber
- Michael Graham - Colorless
- Troy Hileman - Inritus
- Dean Holmes - The Nose
- Eric Kilkenny - Ursula 1000 - Rocket
- Patrick Neary - Landscape with Duck
- Sam Niemann - Ruby Rocket, Private Detective
- Christopher Purdin - Chixulub
- Justin Rasch - Gerald's Last Day
- Jeff Riley - Operation: Fish
- Mike A. Smith - Missionary
- Barbara Tetenbaum - Old-Time Film
- Cassandra Worthington - Button Song
- Marilyn Zornado - Old-Time Film
events: shu-ju in the rare books room, gems of small press show, red bat & loaded hips show at iprc, white bird dance series, open studios (cirocco moody's raven), shawn demarest's shows, trillium holiday show, handmade nw, little things show, coraline premiere, a puppetlove show, apollo, how to disappear completely, hidden portland book launch, crazy enough, inviting desire w/ bridget, an afternoon on dayna's boat "rapture." plus, dayna went to italy & brought back treats: a fish placemat from volterra in in the cinque terre, yellow italian paper (used to wrap purchaes, in art, as placemats, etc.), a menu with cool image, favorite yogurt jar, a sugar packet, a piece of broken window from abandoned house in tuscany(!) wrapped in italian newspaper, red & white rocks from cinque terre, beach glass from the amalfi coast, a bookmark from assisi, and a metal botanical tag from flea market. then ann gave me a subscription to “where women create” magazine, which is like a “lifestyles of the rich & creative."
teaching: i had a great time teaching gocco at the iprc until the iprc could no longer offer them due to the shortage of supplies. (however, i still provide private gocco lessons, like the one i did with dot.) so i've been teaching creative business classes at the iprc, the library & trillium/scrap. that may come to an end soon, too. i've been re-offering workshops at the studio without being responsible for promotion & registration.
classes: when i first decided i wanted to dip my toe back into the theatre waters, i took a theatre/coaching class: it was a really rocky way to start because she did not believe in encouraging students. so i was both relieved & sad to leave. i had better luck at the 100th monkey's "ninja sewing" series (where i learned about threading, knotting, warp/weft, running stitch, gathering stitch, back stitch, buttons, hem stitch, blanket stitch, cross stitch, whipstitch, chain stitch, split stitch, french knots) and have been happy to be able to make and repair very simple things.
art: "where the sidewalk ends" photo series, "5 reasons" book, comparing down to earth "smoke rings" a year later, "writing our bellies full" reading, fidelio, last big gocco supply order, cast as an extra in TNT's "leverage" (so was trixie!), opsfest, dayna's art buddy invitational (my buddy, sven's buddy).
- Free eco-friendly gift wrapping
- Make & take your own holiday ornaments using recycled materials
- Locally handmade, quality, earth friendly, fair trade gifts
i started out the month by attending the poemcrazy workshop. we collected words from books & "word tickets" and pooled them together, words like orphans, orchestra, pandora, vigil, eve, mistletoe, rose, admit, doctor, moon, roof, roll, orpheus, fallen, angel, moment, ghost, venus, dark, wine, rumour, grace, plum, devotion, glow, tedium, terror, window, daylight, grim, heretic, dwell, love, clouds, atoms, hollow, swallow, honor, translate, clutter, promise, binge, and trouble.
we spun in place and sat down to try to write to such prompts as i am/i am not/i used to be/i want to be/i love/i remember/i forget, combined with chanting things like my heart says/my mind says/my soul says/my mother says/the door says/the moon says/the river says, and inserting lines like can't give you up/come back to me, later when it's over. we could answer questions like what's an object in the first place you remember living? what container would you be? what source of light would you be? what scares you?
that was a lot to deal with in a short amount of time, and then it was time for lunch! one of the great things about a workshop at innerstandings is that a hot lunch is provided for you (spanikopita, cucumber salad, and tiny cups of ben & jerry's ice cream).
after lunch we gathering objects outside in a little box to use as inspiration for our next writing prompt. we ended the workshop writing about contrast: sleep/awake or inside/outside, like this:
"inside i am raining. outside i am another moon. inside i am columns that support a hall of justice. outside i am a mouse. i am an orphan inside, safe while invisible, a wordless winter. outside i am true, even in the summer sun. stars appear like fairy tales. inside i am a frozen ocean. when i breathe it's like thunder. outside, a yellow bird vanishes. i shiver. safety is written in tiny letters. inside i am a maze of rooms connected by a path of broken china. outside, a golden field rustling against the mountains."
in our spare time we could look at a huge collection of poetry books, read her manuscripts, and look through her photos of boxes & journals.
she thought i had beautiful, if illegible, handwriting. this became important because instead of us reading what we wrote aloud, she read it so we could hear it from someone else's voice. my handwriting is definitely influenced by calligraphy, but the artist's way morning pages style has also affected it: you can't write fast and pretty at the same time.
dayna wrote about her experience at this workshop, too.
later in the month i went to see lucille clifton. "breaklight" was the first poem i remember saving in high school. i didn't expect her to hear my telepathic request for her to read it, and she didn't. but of course, what she did read was great. dot hearn wrote about the experience on her blog.
then i took michaelmas to the "secrets & lies" show at 23 sandy. all the books there are poetry, even if they're narrative in nature. i really love book shows at 23 sandy because she has a "hands on" policy, and a book show that doesn't let you handle the books is essentially a sculpture show.
last night i attended vox: a spoken-word chorus. they took a handful of actors and had them speak a dozen or so poems in chorus. sometimes the arrangements were straightforward, and sometimes they were heavily rearranged. "howl" is quite good like this. and e.e. cummings is also very conducive to this sort of arrangement, and so it was no surprise that they featured three poems by him, one of two repeated poets. awesome space: an odd little corner of a shambling industrial building by the railroad tracks by the fremont bridge.
finally, "wolf moon" has been published at counterpunch. it's part of a series of poems i'm writing about the old names for the full moon.
artist's way ended, and there's always a flurry of activity, primarily online, around ending that.
working on a secret project with sven. more, much more, about that later, but it did absorb a lot of time i didn't know i had to spare.
shu-ju is a superwoman, but even she couldn't be at three (!) places at the same time, so she asked if i would manage her table at the "portland prints" show at city hall. but of course! i was pretty comfortable (talking about someone else's work is easier than talking about your own), though i was surprised i didn't sell anything.
one of my artist's way clients had thirty pieces in the thirty! show and it was a madhouse! i was flabbergasted at how many people they could pack in such a tiny space. i would have liked some more time & space to appreciate the art: with 900 pieces stacked from floor to ceiling, the format was overwhelming & way too competitive for me. but i was thrilled to get to support shawn and i was happy to leave with one of her pieces -- lucky for me, the one with a hidden poem on the back!
- 23 sandy: "night moves"
i love nighttime art & photography, so i had to go see this show at 23 sandy! some really beautiful work in the main gallery & the "side show" which feature's laura's book arts. one of the highlights was an image of the "aurora australis": the southern lights.
- art of your life
stopped by for the holiday sale at the art of your life to see serena barton, diane havnen smith and serena's daughter jane. i bought a pair of earrings that remind me of serena's paintings: romantic pearl hoops in an unusual configuration.
there will be more on this later, too, but the strong silent type required some prep time for me & bridget before we taught the class, and then the class took longer than we expected! fun to share those techniques with others, though.
masarie curry party
from the creators of the fabulous create the world event, the curry party is a holiday party that focuses around a base of chicken or veggie curry with shared bowls of every possible condiment & different curries. It's delicious, but really, it's just an excuse to have a party. the hosts have always been really supportive of me and i enjoy myself immensely whenever i attend one of their events. it's the kind of place you meet really interesting people each year: this year I spent much of the meal talking to a firefighter from bend.
rebel rabbit craft fair
anna's back with the second incarnation of the [rebel rabbit craft fair]. i was on my way to a birthday party so i didn't get to spend as much time there as i would have liked, but i did pick up a tiny (red!) felted starfish as a present from addie pearl. and fortunately for me, the rebel rabbit is TWO weekends this time, so i'll go again this weekend.
dinnergrrls dessert potluck
i rarely get to many of the dinnergrrls events, but i try to make a point to stop by for the holiday party in december and the anniversary party in summer (...and when they buy tix for the roller derby ;). i thought i'd only stay an hour but i stayed two, and though i didn't actually eat much, the sugar high was contagious. fortunately i managed to leave before the sugar crash, though i did zonk on the couch for a bit coming home. i had a lot of good conversations and very little awkwardness. such a relief! maybe i'm getting better at this? :)
can i tell you something?
last week i attended the showing of can i tell you something, a short "audio collage" about keeping & telling secrets (my voice opened & closed the film). other secrets were hung on clotheslines like dirty laundry around the room. i really appreciated the people who came to support me, like anna, sven, michaelmas, todd & kristen. todd noticed it was trying to spit snow that night, which made yesterday's snow slightly less shocking, but no less delightful.
bridget's holiday craft party
last night i attended bridget's annual holiday craft party, where i made half a dozen tiny snowmen and sven made an awesome, um... chair/robot creature... with arms that were attached to the puppet with magnets! it was our first time working in bridget's studio & it was quite nice -- though it was so fascinating that it was difficult to get down to work! we expected to stay two hours and instead we stayed four. :)
shawn demarest: thirty!
shawn is one of my artist's way clients and she just finished 30 small paintings for the thirty! show on friday at om: 30 artists, 30 pieces each, $30 each. but "before they scatter to the winds," she wanted to invite the other artist's way participants to her studio to see all of them. what a treat! we get over 200 people in the studio each year and i do so like getting a chance to see where some of them live & work. and i lovelovelove supporting artist's way clients!
dinnergrrls holiday bazaar
today i also went to the dinnergrrls holiday bazaar where i got to see kristen, bridget (hello, again!) & vicki lind. i bought a collage from bridget (and eventually a pillow), two containers of chutney from mona's mom, and lisa tried to convince me to buy some sex toys. eeep! chrissy has some gorgeous photos, including a great story about opposing sunsets on her trip to las vegas. this event was also a good reason to introduce sven to cubespace, which i think is a fantastic idea and i'd probably use if i was doing more freelance work. :) he went to college with the woman who started it.
jill kelly's holiday open house
then we stopped briefly to explore the local cash & carry, where we barely escaped the giant room-sized walk-in freezers -- but walked out with a huge bag of fried onions. armed with such savoury fare, we ended the day at jill's holiday open house, where we were greeted with a warm smile & a large cup of mulled cider. that place was jumping! we were talking the whole time, though we did slip in a bit of time in the office to go through jill's big book of collages.
the trillium holiday sale & membership drive supports microenterprising low-income artisans who use upcycled materials. it will be saturday, november 10, from 1 - 6 pm at trillium artisans. as an extra bonus, all items will be 10% off! i'm on the board of trillium because i strongly believe in the educational component of their program: they have a product review board, offer business counseling, and teach artisans to price their work at a livable wage (which in turn educates us to pay a livable wage for artisan goods).
last year, the first dinnergrrls holiday bazaar was my first introduction to tabling at a craft fair and was primarily responsible for the success of wordwear, which i made for this event almost on a lark. i got a lot of support from friends & patrons (and it helped to be set up next to the chocolate fountain, i think ;). i've chosen not to be a vendor at any craft fairs this season, but i'm definitely going to support the other grrls this year! this time it will be at cubespace from noon-4 p.m. on december 2.
the rebel rabbit is back! the rebel rabbit holiday sale has been extended to two dates this time: december 9 and 16 from noon-5 p.m. at hipbone studio. one of my former artist's way clients, anna, created this juried craft fair earlier this year and it was so successful she did it again! check out what i brought back last time! i'm a little excited that the person who makes jewelry from typewriter keys will be there again, though the thought of all those old typewriters being "disassembled" gives me hives.
shu-ju wang: first stop! shu-ju promised me a copy of the print she made for trixie as part of her "portland suite." we even got to see the eponymous "the last bedroom," where shuju has created drying racks out of track shelving: when not in use, the track stay on the walls, but the brackets & foam core "boards" get put away. clever! i also met jeremy from rake gallery, who was a total sweetheart and grand assistant. he & shu-ju play well together.
if you want to buy your own portland suite print, this is what the copy will say: "Ever notice the little toy horses hitched up to the metal rings embedded in the sidewalks? Or Trixie the Poetry Car, a light blue car covered in poetry magnets, zooming around town? These are the things that make Portland wonderful and make me happy to live here. There is at least one more print coming, inspired by the world's smallest public park here in Portland."
theresa andreas o'leary: theresa was immedately warm & welcoming to all who walked in the door, and wanted to show everyone what she did in each painting to communicate what she sees in the world around her.
one of the other things i find inspiring on the tour is seeing what artists surround themselves with to inspire and motivate them. in theresa's studio we found large, striking landscapes with striated color, as well as this artist checklist posted to a magnetic board:
- paint with your eyes
- think what things might become
- let the brush talk
- be in love with change
- find the elegance
- see the big picture
- make it a pattern
- identify the extraordinary
- don't get gauche
- keep it fresh at all costs
- take your time
blake van roekel: i saw the website for magma and was entranced. i had no idea what the studio space was like and i was really looking forward to seeing a demonstration. it's in a tiny activspace storefront (i love activespace!), but the woman at the counter was busy with another couple and so we didn't get to see a demo.
nicky falkenhayn: several metal sculpures on display in an intriguing half-finished house addition. but again, not very interactive. where does it all happen? what goes into making a large tangled metal sculpture? she was busy talking to friends, so we never found out.
jane levy campbell: jane extended us an invitation to come visit this year, after discovering our last review of her studio in 2005: "last stop! a watercolorist with a simply phenomenal house who did a hoyt arboredum series i found quite pleasing." this is all still true -- and this time her husband printed maps of their space so you knew where you were and what series of pictures you were looking at. in addition, they've since acquired a sweet blue heeler (?) puppy, who would repeatedly run around in a loop through the back yard stalking & herding you. alas, we didn't get to talk to jane nearly as long as we would have liked, which was a shame because she has such a vibrant personality and though she is blessed with plenty of it, she believes that talent isn't the most important thing in art.
- A Short Film About John Bolton - Neil Gaiman's directorial debut, retelling "Pickman's Model"
- Frolick - Peter Pan as a cosmic serial killer (really well-acted!)
- Calls for Cthulhu - a call-in show with a plush Cthulhu
- Of Darkness - pre-teen boys read the Necronomicon, and all the lights in the house go out (decent film -- excellent ending)
- The Pit and the Pendulum - high quality stopmo using a silicone puppet -- part of the "Ray Harryhausen Presents" series
- The Statement - "The Statement of Randolph Carter" done with period clothes and pretty decent acting
- Experiment 18 - sequel to "Experiment 17", which fellow HPLFF lifer Christian Matzke showed last year... Nazis re-animating the dead
goldfish bowl in 9 segments: performed as interstitials between the other dances, i didn't understand what was happening until the fifth or sixth segment, but when i finally got it i wished i could go back & watch the other segments again, because it was a really sweet story.
everything all the time: this is the kind of dance sven thought he would be seeing more of: inspired by butoh, performers crusted with sand, kicking up sand, while a woman spilled a sand-colored silk trail from her voluminous dress as she receded into the crowd.
milk & honey: an impressive pyramid of vegetation which didn't leave the dancers much room to move, this read like a series of dramatic vignettes rather than a dance. (please, hold your applause until it's over, people!) still, it's hard to beat a performance where popsicles fall from the sky at the end.
dolls: a woman wrestled with 5-7 blow-up dolls wrapped around her waist. it was interesting for the first half, but there was no development or arc.
tiny dancer: energetic, kitschy, maudlin & strangely touching, this melodramatic rendition of elton john's "hold me closer" had a great diversionary tactic to slip a 6-year-old onto stage at the end.
fair weather: using a swing is a pretty good way to transcend the 4x4 platform limit. well, that and a giant wig. this was another performance that felt like a one-act play rather than a dance. there was even rhymed dialogue.
typecritters: american typewriter
ornamental icons made from font alphabets, prettily bound.
3 max ernst postcards
zinester's guide to portland (4th edition)
if you like bikes, zines, and portland, you'll like this guide.
a sorry book: apologies, admissions, confessions, secrets, wrong-doings & regrets (vols 1&2)
this is like a zine mix of "found" & "post secret" but for apologies. it definitely tickles me.
long tail kitty
an unexpected gem. i LOVE long-tail kitty & everything he loves!
excerpt from city of roses
i wish i had understood what "city of roses" was about before i walked away from the table. when i got home with the free excerpt, i discovered it was an urban fantasy set in portland, and if i had known that i would have bought the whole series right then.
eat a sandwich
i was delighted to discover this fat acceptance table with signs from new seasons describing the zines. i bought "eat a sandwich" in part because she was very honest & vulnerable in describing how embarassing & difficult it was for her to write it.
the life & times of baby otto zeplin (the fake story of a real boy as told by bt livermore)
i've been following this series online and it delighted me to see a beautifully bound version of volume 1 for sale. with a sweetly odd premise and a retro style, baby otto zeplin has definitely wedged his way into my heart.
jane, free to choose, reclaiming our ancient wisdom, beginner's guide to responsible sexuality
several political books. i was really disappointed when i found jane at the original publisher right after having purchased a photocopied version at microcosm publishing. i dropped the photocopy off at the denver library zine collection box.
two cloth patches
one with an anatomical heart on it and one with a heart symbol that says "revolution begins here."
anna magruder: a hand-painted locket (fortune cookie on one side, a hand on the other), a rebel rabbit pin, a delicious krispy treat & a bracelet her husband made out of a bicycle spoke (which i have already bent into a less graceful shape).
cute girl creations: a bracelet i can't say any more about in case someone is reading the blog.
flapper girl: a cupcake pincushion! i don't even sew, but it was too cute not to get... for someone...
sarah landwehr: i loved almost everything sarah made, and managed considerable restraint by walking away with just a few cards and earrings made from vintage buttons. she teaches art to middleschoolers.
wacky women r fun: a bracelet made of typewriter keys. i picked one which had a fun mix of colors & shapes, and she popped another key on for me at the last minute so it would fit better.
sweet bonny: a couple of cards.
icarus creations: several cards featuring portland bridges. i love portland bridges!
- gadzooks! amazing books by northwest artists
shu-ju was exhibiting several pieces at gadzooks; the reception was yesterday and it was a good excuse to visit the maryhill museum w/ michaelmas, todd & kristen. it's a long journey there & back again, but we were rewarded by beautiful books (though they were, alas, behind glass).
today i picked up my pieces from fat straw, which means the show is officially over. can't beat a piña colada fat straw smoothie, though. :)
contemporary craft museum block party
big day in the north park blocks today: the contemporary craft museum hosted a block party for its grand opening, as well as for the four other galleries who are also sharing that block (two of which have moved from other locations: when i saw grace's work, i suddenly realized i was at the augen!).
linda womack: "above and beyond"
linda has a solo show at city hall: i've seen much of her work before, but it's always great to see it in a new context and see some finished works i had previously seen in a transitional stage. it was also lovely to see the titles: i think titles are really invaluable to focus & interpret art: it helps make the art meaningful to the viewer. linda has a great post about the difference in her studio walls between one day & the next!
alesia zorn: "when calligraphy meets mixed media"
alesia has a show at berbati's pan. she does such beautiful work (often with shiny!) and i was completely smitten w/ "solstice," a piece she created during denis brown's gilding workshop. berbati's pan is disarmingly close to voodoo doughnut, so i had to stop & get an apple fritter afterwards.
sven bonnichsen: "men's show"
sven showed "pajama dreamer" at 100th monkey. we were surprised to see alex, amelia & miles there! i was disappointed sven's awesome artist statement wasn't posted, though several others were. in addition to sven's work, i also enjoyed troy john mccray's iceland photos, but we must have missed the "artisan beer."
christine tandy: "starscapes"
with a name likes "starscapes," of course i had to go see this show! christine loves space, clouds & stargazer lillies, and so do i. :) serena barton hosted this show, which was small but sweet. this was the first time serena had been introduced to trixie!
shu-ju wang: "sense & sensuality"
i went to see shu-ju's book "calypso" because she had managed to make gocco ink out of powdered eye shadow! but the whole show was simply stunning. and 23 sandy was considerate enough to provide gloves so we could handle the books, because "art books beg to be fondled."
- nicole dextras: myths (which included aphrodite, atlas, narcissus, icarus, persephone, poseidon, zeus, & the muses)
- malina gupta: the story of o (i love letters, but i also loved how the translucence actually helps tell the 'story')
- rutherford witthus: 3 kisses (which is striking in its contrast between almost-empty pages and packed visual pages)
- sue collard: camera obscura (it looks twenty times better in person than the photo)
- pamela paulsurd: touchstones (it's almost ridiculous how appealing these are!)
- darlene schaper: "inside out"
darlene curated a show for the opening of Hands on Medicine. a combination of paint, digital compositions & at least one sculpture, elayna alexandera flodin's art is uniquely suited for a doctor's office, since it explores her own health and medical issues. darlene also has some of her own playful pieces as a permanent part of the children's room.
- all seven of the primary Competition Programs (which included the "TV for Children" and "Adults Only" blocks)
- two Student Showcase programs
- the Internet Competition - short films that were made for the internet
- the two "Best of Pictoplasma" programs
- "World Animation for Kids"
- "Films By Kids For Kids"
- Tekkon Kinkreet - a gorgeous feature-length anime
- "Creature Comforts" - an unaired episode from the cancelled U.S. version
- "Sita Sings the Blues" - a work-in-progress by Nina Paley
- "Hey, Check Out My Pes Collection" - a Pes retrospective
- "Portland Animation Showcase" - films by Portlanders
- the last 20 minutes of "Princess Iron Fan"
- one of the two Open Screenings (the one that my films were in!)
- "Attack Of The Blog: Meet The Bloggers" - a panel discussion
- "Aardman Animation: Genesis to Revelations" - by David Sproxton
- "Aardman: Soft Clay, Hard Work, & Lucky Breaks" - by Peter Lord
- "An Afternoon With Henry Selick"
"reveal," which i created at serena's "layers of memory & imagination" workshop:
...and "sage," which i created w/ serena when she came to the studio after that workshop (and which has already been sold!):
...and one or more items from the "berthe series," which i made last week at serena's "not just a pretty face" workshop.
bill will's "reconstitution": a tree on its side made from scrap lumber like windowsills & molding. really, it was quite evocative.
holly andres' "consumables: two lit "advertisements" for pink edibles and pink beautifiers. unfortunately, it was often quite difficult to locate the numbers referencing the items, and there were several typos.
mariana tres' "homespun universe: the wondrous works of anabella gaposchk": i found this to be absolutely delightful; i've written about it before. every piece was a mixture of love and obvious talent, including the audio tour & opera "upon the orange moon: the lunar music of viviana spoikoininich."
houston's "rendition/illuminati multivariat": office file cabinet pierced with arrows, false office ceiling hung at an angle with a thicket of dreamcatchers
brittany powell's "donut shop": a wall covered w/ contact paper, then carved out with primitive shapes & detail.
david rosenack's untitled series: tiny b&w oils, exquisite detail, shadow/light, back yards
ty ennis' "your friendship to me is like a kool-aid stain on my favorite keds. you are always there to remind me that i am a fuck up": certainly the best title for a piece, but his whole collection was understatedly interesting. when i checked the biennial catalog, he certainly had the best artist statement. unlike, say, brad adkins, about whom the catalog only says, "the artist declined to provide an artist statement." thanks a lot, brad. very helpful.
chandra bocci's "gummi big bang": i almost missed this; tucked into a large nook, i only found it accidentally as i left the gift shop. the gummi big bang is almost exactly what it sounds like, an explosion of hummi bears (and the occasional gummi shark) strung onto monofilament and fiber optic, radiating from an inner core of light.
pedestal: 5-7 minutes of an empty pedestal on the screen with two stoned guys talking about it: "an empty pedestal is a promise." the point is that nobody notices the pedestal when something else is on it.
holly andres again: a film about her mother's death which includes paper dolls.
vanessa renwick's portrait #2: trojan: i was sad when i realized i missed the demolition of the trojan nuclear plant in washington. the film shows its stature in the nw skies with footage taken from i5 and the lewis & clark railway line. it builds though surreal sunsets, time lapse of the moon & stars rising from the opening, until its eventual implosion & collapse, the dust cloud seeping its way through through the trees, birds flashing in front of camera. obviously political, but still enjoyable.
the original study for "notification," the piece I sold at the 4x4 show:
"born," an excerpt from an original poem i exhibited at gresham city hall last year:
"miracle," a simple but elegant einstein quote (and the only thing that's for sale):
a couple of cards I made for sven:
and a weathergram with an original poem on it:
grace weston's show at city hall opened thursday. having seen some of her amazing work as promotional pieces at the job club for creatives, seeing them large & glossy was a treat: the pix shone with color, depth & clarity. very impressive.
ceramics showcase: one of my artist's way independent study students was at the oregon potters association show, and though i didn't find her until the very end, it was still an amazing thing to wander through. a piece i found especially fascinating was a set of cups with poetry set in raised braille. sven's eyes were wide the whole time and he was almost scampering in delight. we capped the evening by racing to the hawthorne bridge to watch the cinco de mayo fireworks above the river, reflecting in the skyscraper windows like digital confetti.
stonehenge & the maryhill art museum: a hidden gem about an hour and a half from here in the wild windy moors of eastern washington lies an unexpected stonehenge imitation, perfect for picnics and tremendous views. nearby is the maryhill art museum, which is actually quite charming on a quiet sunday afternoon, with historical artifacts from the queen of roumania, a native american raincoat made from seal intestines, lord leighton's lush raphaelite "solitude," rodin sketches & casts, and "visible storage" on each floor. they even had a contemporary art/farm synthesis exhibit, including an intriguing series of cryptic panels from megan murphy and work from bonnie meltzer! another visitor who was "pushing 80" was impressed by the exhibit and wanted to tell me about her life on a local dairy farm. add an outdoor sculpture garden and at least 20 peacocks roaming around, and the maryhill art museum is a very memorable place. plus there was a neat set of roads only accessible to pedestrians & bikes; after a tiny meandering cow creek you are treated to a tunnel of silver-barked trees that leads to a large deserted cow pen to explore and a meadow that may be a good place to watch for meteor showers. but oh, it's so windy! and there just aren't any good restaurants nearby. sven was also sad to discover the maryhill's "theatre de la mode" mannequins were on tour in seattle, but still, a good time was had by all.
pcc artbeat: another opportunity to see grace weston, who presented a lecture entitled "the lie that tells the truth" all about staged photography. grace creates staged vignettes that combine humour & wit w/ psychological tension. pcc bought 5 of her works earlier this year and so she talked about other photographers who use similar techniques and then talked about her own evolution from b&w 35mm film to controlled environments saturated with color. she even brought some of her props!
and last but not least, i leave you with an interesting article about different ways to title art.
- a painting with a timelapse animation (sven's favorite: over 12,000 photos were used!);
- a series of 7 paintings, a loose narrative of a car crash, with a music cd (this will apparently become a rock opera at the closing show);
- the penicillin corset w/ an accordian storybook;
- the muscles and tendons of man & the muscles and tendons of arm, with "samples" of the ingredients (sawdust, paint samples, diet pepsi, receipts) collected in jars w/ indexed, neatly-typed label tags. and while that was impressive, the documentation was vastly more extensive, including a montage of the studios, pix of the process, polaroid snapshots in baggies, and a map of portland which marked places & frequency of visitation. whee! (can you tell this was my favorite? it tugged at my ephemeral heart.)
i was going to go see shu-ju's work in the most recent print arts northwest show, but when i went to check on the address i realized they were having a fundraiser & demonstration at barnes & noble, so went to pick up one! hundred! demons! and visual journaling: going deeper than words. which worked out well, because we got to talk to shu-ju who helped sven figure out how to build a larger registration plate for the gocco, and i found out laurie is still selling gocco supplies.
on our way to collage to take pix of the show, we dashed into foster & dobbs, a food store i've been wanting to check out w/ sven. we walked away with caramels, cheese crackers & a japanese-inspired chocolate bar w/ ginger, wasabi & black sesame seeds.
we finally got pix of the 4x4 show! the owner remembered me and asked me about the inquiry from the OCADSV, but alas, i haven't heard from them yet. i'll follow up w/ a phone call this week.
"atlas céleste," named after discovering some amazing rare books at the us naval observatory library collection site
we stopped by the ace pearl hardware store (16th/glisan) because sven has been wanting to check it out and he was on the hunt for a tiny tap, anyway (4-40, for those for whom such details matter. making your own threaded holes is still magic to me). it looks to me like they have many of the same things as uptown hardware, which i adore, but it's closer to the creative job club so i may stop there more often.
then we had dinner at pizzicato w/ michaelmas, and then we all headed to...
nochnoi dozor (link in flash, sorry). i had very low expectations of this movie but found myself enjoying it immensely: excellent cinematography, intriguing mythos (i love the Gloom), artistic subtitles and room for replay. there was even a buffy reference (and you haven't lived until you hear buffy say "get out!" in russian).
we drove to salem to see the shrine exhibit at mary lou zeek gallery, but she took a big chunk of it down early, so we only saw about half the pieces -- but one of them was immediately recognizable from claudine hellmuth, whose collage discovery workshop we have beneath the coffee table, waiting for its turn to be read and then packed off to the studio library for others to borrow.
we ate lunch w/ dayna, a previous artist's way creative cluster member who just got back from a workshop with julia cameron herself, and she gifted me w/ a julia-autographed copy of the writer's life ("to gretchin, for your heart" -- heart is underlined three times) and a copy of the art magazine artella, which has poetry & hidden things in addition to collaged art pieces. thanks, thanks, thanks, dayna!
we dropped by mary anne radmacher's word garden and she gave us some "tuckers" for free, little packages of word art squares presumably to be tucked into lunches and pillows and notebooks...
we drove home and then took arwen to the vet & had pizza w/ michaelmas, and though that's not really an art activity, it led to...
doug's reading from his recently published book, last week's apocalypse, though we really had to push to get him to read more. i've already got a copy & sent one to my dad, so doug signed copies for michaelmas & sven.
since this is first thursday, sven & i then went to an exhibit i wanted to go to simply because of its title: "moon babies"! it turned out to be a decent exhibit: 12-15 black & white paintings on cabinet doors w/ a narrative that we accidentally began at the end and worked our way to the beginning. it was like a comic book but w/o any words & there were about 2-3 panels per piece.
when we got out of the unfortunately smokey bar that held the exhibit, i smelled donuts & realized we were near to voodoo doughnut, so we stopped by and i got a bleeding voodoo doll donut and sven got some sort of monstrous peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-sugar-crust fritter.
dave & toby graham: glass beads & jewelry. he talked while he melted & swirled the beads to keep them round. foos ball for display table. i picked up a couple of small beads because they were beautiful and so cheap. tiny art for $6!
sharon geraci: collage
shu-ju wang: a smart, welcoming, talented gocco printer! as if i wasn't already lusting over the gocco, i've now had the chance to see more types of pieces made with it, including 4-color process! and we were encouraged to handle the books! (nothing makes me sadder than book artists who have a hands-off policy.) i also met jennifer there, another young book artist. shu-ju teaches a gocco class in november i am almost certain to take. ee!
tupper malone: watercolor and former clay artist. giclee prints.
kitty wallis: sven called her brilliant, but she also had an acerbic edge and someone was quite angry at sven for taking pictures.
susan foley: a pastel artist who has been to an artist's way open studio & who we introduced to the church of art! but we didn't know she was in the tour because she never told us her real name. :)
phil seder: fish & metal, grinding a shower of sparks
katy mcfadden: clay sculpture garden and the best treehouse! sven was especially inspired and made discoveries about his own work as relates to scale, texture & figures.
willam rutherford: african american sculpture, painting, ink. sven found the plexiglass/acrylic interesting.
lucas klesch: a vaguely creepy guy who did pretty decent urban photography, but his collage, painting and nude portrait photography were uninspiring.
katherine kramer waters: along with shu-ju's gocco stop, this was one of the best places on the tour! an exciting, well-organized space w/ friendly people doing interesting collage, acrylic & photo collaborations.
molly torgeson: interesting sculptures made from rusted metal strips, friendly. the building also houses a "G. Laird," who turns out to be a lawyer named gregory.
ryan birkland: sven wanted to see his reverse glass painting on discarded windows. it was an interesting process, but didn't really grab us. howEVER, his studio is right next to the montgomery park east parking garage, which was a fascinating place to explore! it was creepy but solid at the same time. and we had a couple of horror-movie moments, including picking up the phone to a voice on the other end. it would be a great place to film.
ruth waddy: the picture in the calendar doesn't indicate enough how dimensional these paintings are, several of them with multiples frames painted over frames. inside a charming 23rd ave converted studio apartment lived a bandsaw and a dust tent, a HUGE cat and a friendly artist who created these multi-level acrylic pieces. alas, when we returned to trixie, we had a $50 ticket waiting for us. i hate parking in nw.
barbara gilbert: a book artist we saw two years ago, which was sven's introduction to tunnel books. i saw some pieces i recognized from then and she had some new stuff, too, but i was too bonky from sleep dep by then to be able to get much out of it. she had two collage books i think i want to pick up: collage discovery workshop and its sequel, beyond the unexpected.
jane levy campbell: last stop! a watercolorist with a simply phenomenal house who did a hoyt arboredum series i found quite pleasing.
- info economy vs info ecology
- the gift economy, hands out 3 types of mix cds
- djs as memory sculptors
- remixing memory (gl.: but we don't know how memory works to begin with...)
- encryption is a weapon
- gangster nerd
the show's mistaken official title is "onwards & artwards."
the real title is "on word & art word." 'cuz it's a calligraphy show, get it? apparently all the publicity people didn't.
the exhibit runs july 5-august 18 at the gresham city hall visual arts gallery (fair warning: the page looks, um, awkward in safari).
open monday-friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and the first and third tuesdays of the month from 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
the reception is july 19 (i'll be there! come visit!): 5-6:30 p.m.
It was a very special pleasure to show The Box Game, which was created by more than 30 students at the Art Institute of Portland. It's an extremely well-crafted and delightful short. It deserves to be seen on a big screen — and I'm glad I could give its makers the opportunity to see it this way.
I'm very pleased about the relationship growing between NWAF and the Art Institute. Several films came from the school: The Box Game, Button Song, Colorless, Inritus, The Old Man and the Butterfly... And both Marilyn Zornado and Teresa Drilling (teachers at the school) made it a homework assignment for their classes to attend the fest!
Each day of the fest, everyone in the audience was invited to walk a few blocks over to the McMenamins Market Street Pub. I had reservations — but our group was late to arrive on Friday, which made things awkward. Saturday and Sunday I wised up and sent an NWAF volunteer (Jeff) over to McMenamins to hold onto our table. By introducing him earlier in the evening, everyone knew who to look for when they arrived at the pub. This worked very well, and we wound up easily filling 20 seats.
Probably my happiest story from the festival is about John Davide from England. As the pub was closing, he came up and thanked me profusely. In his words, the festival was a "life-changing experience." Regardless of whether his film was best in show — just to have someone believe in his work enough to put it up on the screen meant the world.
He stayed at a hostel on Hawthorne Street. After telling other guests about his film, the hostel manager took people's names down on a napkin and organized buying festival tickets for everyone!
John felt such warmth — talking with Jeff Alexandre, Matt Dan, myself, and others — he's seriously looking into moving to Portland... Perhaps to take some classes at the Art Institute. "London has lost its soul," he says — but in Portland, there's tremendous cultural support for creatives. I wish you the best, John!
Lastly, THANK YOU to Gretchin for supporting this mad endeavor. Behind the scenes, she was making buttons, folding programs, making the special treat of popcorn happen. She lent me her computer for a few days while I was encoding the festival's eight DVDs. Anything I could ask for, she fulfilled.
Beyond the tangibles, though, she was nothing but supportive during the months when I had to quit doing anything but festival work... When she'd go to bed, and wake up to find me still sitting, typing in the same chair. Without her belief in me, this wouldn't be possible.
Would I do all again? ...YES.
The "Best of the NW Animation Fest" show is scheduled for September 10 at the Hollywood Theatre. It's a gorgeous 450-seat auditorium — and if all goes well this fall, it's where we'll do the 2012 festival next spring.
May 3, 2011
by sven at 8:15 am
I registered the NW Animation Festival with the State of Oregon on my birthday, Nov 1.
The postmark deadline for entries was this past Sunday... May 1: exactly six months later.
The same day the 100th submission arrived!
Last minute submissions are still trickling in. We are now officially in "beyond my wildest hopes" territory.
February 9, 2011
"mutate" wins at openlens film fest
by sven at 3:37 pm
There were three prizes: Best of Show worth $500, Honorable Mention worth $200, and Audience Choice worth $100. I was very pleased to walk home with the second place Honorable Mention.
On January 29 I made the 2-hour drive down to Eugene... Which was a bit of a mind-bender, given that I was still in the middle of managing 9 shows for PDX Playwrights at the Fertile Ground Fest just then.
The auditorium, owned by the University of Oregon, was quite nice. Just over a hundred seats -- and good cushy ones, for a change!
Now in its seventh year, the organizers are trying to grow this fest from a local happening to a state-wide event. This was their first time expanding the call for submissions. There were a few technical difficulties during the show, involving a DVD that didn't want to play and a film shown at the wrong aspect ratio... But that's just part of festival life, I think. I enjoyed it and hope to attend again.
February 6, 2011
lipton brisk eminem superbowl commercial
by sven at 10:30 pm
I helped out on a SuperBowl commercial: an ad for Lipton Brisk Tea, featuring Eminem. Big time!
I built the 8" tall armature for one of two Eminem puppets.
This ad was produced by the San Francisco-based company, Mekanism. Misha Klein directed animation, and Tirsh Hunter was in charge of puppet fab. One puppet was already in progress; my job was to duplicate the original armature, designed by Merrick Cheney.
Understand, Merrick is the living GOD of armature makers. Films like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline... If you need impossibly small, strong, and precise armatures, he's the gold standard. I was thrilled and terrified to try working in his footsteps.
Merrick was able to supply the hinges, which was an enormous help. Due to time constraints, Lionel Ivan Orozco made hands (lots of hands).
I understand that Ron Cole did the inner workings of the head. Stepblock joints, swivels, body blocks, assembly... That's all me.
The project took me 16 very sleepless days/nights. My speed, accuracy, and design work all just took enormous strides forward.
But during that time, everything else ceased to exist. I got the armature sent off on December 24... Huge thanks to Gretchin, without whom Christmas would hardly have happened at all!
January 26, 2011
"mutate" in openlens festival - jan 29
by sven at 11:39 am
The date of my film's screening falls between two days when I'm emceeing for PDX Playwrights shows at the Fertile Ground fest. Playwright and animator... It's kinda mind-bending to switch between these identities in such quick succession!
Screening: OpenLens Short Film and Video Competition
Time: 8:00 PM
Location: UO Baker Downtown Center at 325 E. 10th
Admission: $8. Includes screening, awards ceremony, and reception with filmmakers and audience. Refreshments provided by DAVIS Restaurant.
A screening of jury selected films for DIVA's OpenLens Festival Short Film and Video Competition will be followed by an awards ceremony and reception at which you can join filmmakers and others in celebrating the evening's showcase of exciting short films. Awards: $500 - Best Of Festival Jury Award. $200 - Honorable Mention Jury Award, and a $100 - Audience Choice Award. A membership in the Mid-Oregon Production Arts Network (MOPAN) organization will be awarded the Best Of The Festival film director.
OpenLens 2011 is a statewide event that provides an opportunity for Oregon short film artists to showcase their work in a competitive event. It is a small festival dedicated to the showcasing of new work while providing the opportunity for artists and audiences to meet and network.
This year’s festival features work from around the state as well as that of local artists. Of the 36 entries submitted, the festival Jury has picked a number of excellent films for the evening program. This year's juried films, trailers, and descriptions are available online.
Update: "Mutate" won Honorable Mention!
January 21, 2011
fertile ground 2011: ten shows I helped organize
by sven at 3:00 pm
My new play, Death of the Party, hits the stage tomorrow. Please come out to see it!
I want you to also consider attending shows by my PDX Playwrights peers. I spearheaded getting our plays into the 2011 Fertile Ground festival. I coordinated registrations, rented venues, suggested actors, made programs, sent out publicity. And, with few exceptions, I'll be emceeing all these shows.
I'm very proud of what we've pulled together. There are nearly 70 shows in the Fertile Ground festival -- 10 of them come from my group.
JAN 21 FRIDAY
12:30pm Little Brown F***ing Machines
10:00pm It Takes All Shorts (five short plays)
• Up, Up & Away
• The Nucleus of Pander
• Street Corner Profit
JAN 22 SATURDAY
12:30pm Death of the Party
JAN 23 SUNDAY
12:30pm All Together
7:00pm Little Brown F***ing Machines
9:00pm Sinking Spring
JAN 24 MONDAY
6:00pm That Was The River, This Is The Sea
JAN 25 TUESDAY
6:00pm That Was The River, This Is The Sea
JAN 26 WEDNESDAY
6:00pm That Was The River, This Is The Sea
7:00pm Little Brown F***ing Machines
JAN 27 THURSDAY
6:00pm That Was The River, This Is The Sea
JAN 28 FRIDAY
7:00pm That Was The River, This Is The Sea
10:00pm Letters To Bruce
JAN 30 SUNDAY
7:00pm Hello My Name Is
9:00pm The Dark Things
(Alphabetical by Play Title)
ALL TOGETHER - by John Servilio
VENUE: Mezzanine, Gerding Theater at the Armory,128 NW 11th Ave, Portland OR 97209
DATE: Jan 23 at 12:30pm
TICKETS: $5 – at the door, cash only
A one-woman show inspired by the life of America’s first lady of nude artists’ models. Decades after a scandal has ruined her career and banished her to the anonymity of an institution, the once-famous Audrey Munson receives unexpected and unwanted visitors. But instead of sending them away, she tells her own truth of the infamous scandals surrounding her life in what may be her last chance to reclaim her good name.
THE DARK THINGS – by Rachel Tusler
VENUE: Hipbone Studio, 1847 E Burnside St. Ste 104, Portland OR 97214
DATE: Jan 30 @ 9pm
TICKETS: $7 – at the door, cash only
It’s twelve years since the war against the vicious Dark Things was won, but the air is still filled with smoke and the stench of death. A group of young people face their initiation into adulthood: Sam wants to prove he’s a real man, Thea wants to trick the others into thinking she’s one of them, and Ross just wants to cause trouble. But will they survive their initiation into society? And what abominable acts will be required of them to do so?
DEATH OF THE PARTY - by Sven Bonnichsen
VENUE: Mezzanine, Gerding Theater at the Armory,128 NW 11th Ave, Portland OR 97209
DATE: Jan 22 at 12:30pm
TICKETS: $5 – at the door, cash only
A frolicky pansexual disco boy goes to despicable lengths trying to unlock his best friend’s untouchable heart. Claude, who thinks other people’s suffering is the height of comedy, has the power to bed anyone he wants… Anyone, that is, except Dean: Man of Mystery, and rising musical sensation. When Claude pursues clues to Dean’s past through a series of one-night-stands, unscrupulous infatuation will be punished with the romance that both monsters deserve.
HELLO MY NAME IS – by Jenni Miller
VENUE: Hipbone Studio, 1847 E Burnside St. Ste 104, Portland OR 97214
DATE: Jan 30 @ 7pm
TICKETS: pay what you will, cash only
This is a story about a Man and a Woman and the heartbreaking circumstances that change her life. It’s about how this Woman cannot amend her circumstances and her struggle to regain her innocence. It’s about time, the reality of time, time without hope and without revolt. It’s about forgetfulness and passing into nothingness. It’s about rape, but it’s not about rape. It’s about a Woman who is searching to find reason in a sea of confusion. … “All rape is an exercise in power, but some rapists have an edge that is more than physical. They operate within an institutionalized setting that works to their advantage and in which a victim has little chance to redress her grievance.” —Against Our Will: Men, Women & Rape (Susan Brownmiller)
IT TAKES ALL SHORTS – by Cassidy Barnes, Brad Bolchunos, Jenni Miller, John Servilio
VENUE: Mezzanine, Gerding Theater at the Armory,128 NW 11th Ave, Portland OR 97209
DATE: Jan 21 @ 10pm
TICKETS: $10 – at the door, cash only
Five short plays from PDX Playwrights members. Up, Up and Away by Brad Bolchunos: Desperation drives a balloon pilot and her husband to question their relationship, the nature of power, and existence itself in this darkly comical flight of fancy. Sundowners by Cassidy Barnes: An Alzheimer’s home caregiver negotiates bedtime with two people entrusted in his care. One is back in Viet Nam War and the other can’t seem to find her mother. The Nucleus of Pander by Jenni Miller: A Duke and Martha Stewart have a tryst, the Byron runs for office and two down-home would-be Hispanics find happiness in the trap door of life. Street Corner Profit by John Servilio: What can an End of Days preacher and drag queen sex worker possibly want from each other? It may not be sex or religion, but in the wee hours of the morning, a Chicago street corner brings these two together in an unexpected collision of human desire. Backtalk by Brad Bolchunos: When a passenger on the back of a bus dares to object to another passenger’s behavior, the ride takes a turn into the surreal.
LETTERS TO BRUCE - by Jay Frank
VENUE: Mezzanine, Gerding Theater at the Armory,128 NW 11th Ave, Portland OR 97209
DATE: Jan 28 @ 10pm
TICKETS: $10 – at the door, cash only
Playwright and performer Jay Frank returns to his hometown with “Letters to Bruce,” 17 years after drawing national acclaim for his one-man show “Bedroom,” written at the age of 17. “Letters to Bruce” explores the themes of fame, sickness, the elusiveness of history, and the intimacy of mentorship. At its heart is a “play within a play,” conjuring the mysteries and lies surrounding a murder and kidnapping of a century ago. Jay’s awards include the Presidential Scholar in the Arts Medal and the highest honor in Writing given by the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts. “Bedroom” received a reading and exhibition in the Smithsonian Museum, while Jay remains best known for his time on MTV’s “The Real World – London.”
LITTLE BROWN F***ING MACHINES - by Sharon Sassone
VENUE: Mezzanine, Gerding Theater at the Armory,128 NW 11th Ave, Portland OR 97209
DATE: Jan 21 @ 12:30pm
VENUE: Hipbone Studio, 1847 E Burnside St. Ste 104, Portland OR 97214
DATE: Jan 23 @ 7pm
VENUE: The Multnomah Meeting House, 4312 SE Stark Street, Portland OR 97215
DATE: Jan 26 @ 7pm
TICKETS: pay what you will, www.fertilegroundpdx.org or 1-800-494-8497 (TIXS)
1970’s Olongapo City, the Philippines—the largest US Naval Base outside of mainland USA—and where America sends its servicemen for their “rest and recreation” during the Vietnam War. Taking care of the sexual needs of the soldiers is serious business, and big business for the U.S. and the Philippines alike. Everyone in Olongapo is making a living somehow from the soldiers’ needs. The women and children of Olongapo are born and raised into the life—Asia’s “Little Brown F***ing Machines” as Playboy Magazine dubbed them—and they all need to cooperate, follow orders and smile. And if they don’t? Well—disobedience is dangerous. When one woman attempts to change the status quo and one very young girl is too innocent to realize what the status quo is, the other women are endangered too. Torn in a million different directions in their allegiance, they have to make some quick decisions to save themselves—and each other!
SINKING SPRING - by Dave Chapman
VENUE: Hipbone Studio, 1847 E Burnside St. Ste 104, Portland OR 97214
DATE: Jan 23 @ 9pm
TICKETS: pay what you will, cash only
The residents of Sinking Spring, Iowa have learned to live with neglect. Kids grow up and leave forever. There are few jobs left. No one pays much attention to this little town except for the brief few days during campaign season when caucus candidates make their obligatory stops at the local pizza parlor. No one notices the desperation and resentment that threatens to tear the community apart. And certainly no one expects the senseless tragedy that gains national attention and shakes one family to its core … but that just might be the clarion call for which Sinking Spring has been waiting.
THAT WAS THE RIVER, THIS IS THE SEA - by Claire Willett & Gilberto Martin del Campo
VENUE: The Art Department, 1315 SE 9th Ave, Portland OR 97214
DATES: Jan 24, 25, 26, 27 @ 6pm; 28 @ 7pm
TICKETS: $12; $10 students/seniors | www.fertilegroundpdx.org or 1-800-494-8497 (TIXS)
Flash your “DIG IT!” Button and Save: $2
When Leo takes his American girlfriend Rose to Mexico for his sister’s wedding, she is ecstatic to meet his family for the first time. But she finds herself in the middle of a family conflict when Leo’s cousin, Javier, skips the wedding. Leo and Javier have not spoken in years, though nobody can tell her why. Determined to mend the rift and get answers, Rose digs relentlessly into Leo’s family history. But what she finds may change their relationship and their lives forever. As Leo’s past and his future are drawn inexorably towards each other, a Greek chorus of Mexican aunts and uncles guide the audience on a journey through two countries and into the furthest reaches of the human heart. This world premiere staged reading is a bilingual, multimedia collaboration by Claire Willett and Gilberto Martin del Campo.
YARP?! - by Jeremy Benjamin
VENUE: Mezzanine, Gerding Theater at the Armory,128 NW 11th Ave, Portland OR 97209
DATE: Jan 30 at 12:30pm
TICKETS: $5 – at the door, cash only
The true story of two friends: Chad—a modern-day ninja with a foul mouth—and Jeremy—a writer, philosopher and father in the throes of a divorce and a life threatening illness—who cooperatively ran a food cart on Hawthorne that catered to a late-night crowd, dedicated to serving restaurant quality food for dirt cheap, and thereby building community. If you drive by Hawthorne and 12th today, you will see a metal merry-go-round standing next to a sign advertising “Fried Pies!” Where that merry-go-round is now, “Yarp?!” tells the story of what took place on that square of concrete in the not-too-distant past.
January 12, 2011
see sven's new play - jan 22 saturday
by sven at 7:00 am
I've written and am producing a new one-act play... I hope you'll attend!
DEATH OF THE PARTY - by Sven Bonnichsen
DATE: Saturday January 22 @ 12:30pm
VENUE: Mezzanine, Gerding Theater at the Armory
128 NW 11th Ave, Portland OR 97209
TICKETS: $5 at the door
A frolicky pansexual disco boy goes to despicable lengths trying to unlock his best friend's untouchable heart. Claude, who thinks other people's suffering is the height of comedy, has the power to bed anyone he wants... Anyone, that is, except Dean: Man of Mystery, and rising musical sensation. When Claude pursues clues to Dean's past through a series of one-night-stands, unscrupulous infatuation will be punished with the romance that both monsters deserve.
The show runs approx 50 minutes. This will be a one-time staged reading, as part of the 2011 Fertile Ground Festival.
January 1, 2011
happy new year from scarlet star studios!
by sven at 5:07 pm
To one and all: May 2011 be our best year yet!
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
November 13, 2010
birthday party: still 30 something
by sven at 7:00 am
click on image to play film (39sec - 1.9 MB) or view on YouTube
Last year I set up a downshooter animation table at my birthday party -- to introduce my friends to this artform that I love. It went so well, I decided to do the same thing again this year!
I provided colored paper so people could cut out whatever shapes they wanted. A downshooter is very user friendly: just move the shapes around on the table, and hit the computer's "enter" button to shoot a frame.
(My one mistake was that I should have used the DV cam rather than a digital still camera. Though picture quality is lower, it can capture frames faster, which makes the process more fun for everyone.)
Ben gets animated
Most of the animation was done by our friend Ben H. From the very start, he saw the exciting possibilities about what you can put beneath the camera...
Ben tells a story
It was remarkable to watch Ben's approach evolve over the course of the evening. If you pay attention, after the cake portion of the film, the images become less random. ...We're watching a story about a wizard who casts a spell!
October 12, 2010
"mutate" in film festivals
by sven at 5:16 pm
In the next few days, my film Mutate will be playing at three different film festivals...
Astoria International Film Festival
Saturday, Oct 16
1203 Commercial Street
Astoria, OR 97103
"In this brief but highly creative abstract clay animation, we witness the whimsical and even sometimes intriguingly edgy musings of a sculptor/animator with a sense of humor. The zany sound track mirrors the outré visuals. Like most art, Mutate defies concrete analysis; just relax and enjoy the quirky fun!"
-- Michael Fendel, Astoria International Film Festival
Salem Film Festival
Saturday, Oct 16
3:00pm - Northwest Emerging Artists Shorts Package
The Grand Theater
191 High Street NE
Salem, OR 97301
"Strange clay creatures revolve, dissolve and evolve in this delightfully quirky stop-motion animation."
-- SFF website
Video Gong Show - Final Round
Thursday, Oct 21
4122 N.E. Sandy Blvd
Portland, OR 97212
"3 competitive rounds of screenings have been scheduled & each is to take place in a different Portland quadrant throughout the summer. Top 5 films from each round will advance to the Finals at the Hollywood Theatre in October. Contestants compete for a $100 cash prize and a grand prize package from Picture This worth $1000. Just as with the classic show, the film's run time could be cut short by the sound of a GONG! The competition is meant to be fun (not cruel). Come support Portland's Indie filmmakers, while sipping a beer and having a laugh."
-- Film Action Oregon website
Why, yes -- AIFF and SFF do happen on the exact same day. Sigh. I'll be at the Salem screening if you want to see me in person.
Slim hopes of winning the Video Gong Show... In round 1, I was a runner up. I only moved on to the finals after someone else's film got disqualified.
Even so: Very exciting to be taking my filmmaking to the next level -- getting out there, getting seen!
March 27, 2010
morocco 2009 pix
by gl. at 8:01 pm
last year my long-time friend and poet-photographer leeann took me on a 3-week photography trip to morocco. it was a great experience, filled with ups and downs, like any epic trip. i am really grateful and amazed i got the opportunity to go. i love trips that are magic and awkward and illuminating and difficult, trips that fill you to the brim with things your eyes have never seen before and trips that make you glad to be home with plenty of hot water.
(p.s.: my recommendation, if you ever go to morocco yourself, is to skip Casablanca and go straight to Chefchouen or Fes. and make time to go to Essaouira, which is a strangely Portland-like city.)
after my mind and body returned to the pacific time zone i arranged for a photo review & presentation at 23 Sandy Gallery. there were photos & poetry as well as candy and ephemera from morocco for attendees to take home. that went really well -- but then the holidays came and i forgot to post anything about it to the blog!
so here are a handful of the >1300 pix i took. i rented a camera and learned a bit about balancing iso, aperture and shutter speed -- which is vastly more than i knew going in. of course there were lots of things i couldn't take pictures of (like my wedding dance in Midelt, or the cutest baby in Imlil) but i hope you enjoy them!
[one of our travel mates in my favorite city, Chefchouen]
[the beautiful blue walls of Chefchouen]
[the Sahara desert]
[the camel i camped with in the Sahara]
[nomads taking pictures of our caravan on their cell phones]
[our guide at Dar Chefchouen]
[a bridal mannequin in the Fes souk]
[dyes in the streets of Chefchouen]
[hand of fatima door knocker in the salty city of Essaouira]
[boats in Essaouira]
[leather dying pits in Fes]
[the Roman ruins of Volubilis]
[a patient donkey in Chefchouen]
[Barbary Apes in the Middle Atlas Mountains]
January 26, 2010
see my plays this Friday
by sven at 9:30 am
A reminder… This Friday there will be a staged reading of two of my plays: The Buried Piano and The Astronaut & The Nude. Please attend!
New news… This Saturday I'll be a reader for two short plays by David Holloway. I get to be Mr. Rockwell and the Voice of God!
the Hothouse Stage at The Armory
Here are the details for my plays.
Friday, January 29 @ 12:30 noon
PG2 Presents: The Work of Sven Bonnichsen, Amy Doherty and Marguerite Scott
Gerding Theater at the Armory
128 NW 11th Ave
Hothouse Stage (on the mezzanine)
$5 - tickets available at the door
Portland Gallery Playwright’s Group presents a variety of short plays from Amy Doherty, Sven Bonnichsen and Marguerite Scott. Sven gives us two offerings: The Buried Piano and The Astronaut and the Nude. In the first, a girl is reunited with a family friend while a massive party for her father’s election bid booms in the distance and a recently unearthed, antique piano rests near their feet. The second play is a metaphysical exploration of marriage, nakedness and the cosmos. In Amy Doherty’s A Touch of Cleveland, we (along with the cardboard cutouts that look on) are party to a Laundromat encounter between two people, each awkward in their own way. Marguerite Scott’s The Ugly Duckling demonstrates the opportunities that come (and go) with plastic surgery.
The Armory's lobby
Here are the details for David Holloway's plays.
Saturday, January 30 @ 12:30 noon
PG2 Presents: Counterparts II: Three Short Plays
Gerding Theater at the Armory
128 NW 11th Ave
Hothouse Stage (on the mezzanine)
$5 - tickets available at the door
Portland Gallery Playwright’s Group presents 3 short works from PSU professor David Holloway.
Counterparts: A mother and father wonder if their son had once been abducted. Even the son isn't sure. "What happened?" they ask -- and can anyone really know that question's answer?
Death Panel: Three executives and an office boy discuss pre-existing conditions and whether little Virginia with cancer lives or dies -- all under the watchful eye Mr. Rockwell, the talking head on a monitor who can destroy them all.
The Egg: In a cave that dreams of Infinity, Gods demands that George look through a Portal, within the presence of his family and dead people form his past. He does so, and returns home… But everything hinges on the strange message in his hands. What does it mean: "remember the egg"?
me reading stage directions for Personal
Incidentally: I didn't have time to promote it, but last Friday I got to read stage directions for Brian Kettler's short play, Personal. Brian is the director for my plays — a real pleasure to work with.
January 18, 2010
animation: what I did in 2009
by sven at 7:00 am
show reel of my animation from 2009 click on image to play clip (10:41min - 21 MB)
On Dec 12 ASIFA Portland hosted a "Show & Tell" social for the local animators.
I love that kind of thing! I put together an 11-minute DVD showcasing my animation work from 2009… Which you too can now see, simply by clicking the link above.
January 12, 2010
save the date: sven's plays on jan. 29
by sven at 12:00 pm
Two of my 10-minute plays -- The Buried Piano and The Astronaut & The Nude -- will be read at the Fertile Ground festival this month!
If you're in Portland, I hope you'll come out for the show!
Friday, January 29 @ 12:30 noon
PG2 Presents: The Work of Sven Bonnichsen, Amy Doherty and Marguerite Scott
Gerding Theater at the Armory
128 NW 11th Ave
Hothouse stage (on the mezzanine)
$5 (lunch sold separately)
tickets available at the door, or
call 800-494-TIXS or online at www.fertilegroundpdx.org
flash your Fertile Ground button and save $2 per ticket
Portland Gallery Playwright’s Group presents a variety of short plays from Amy Doherty, Sven Bonnichsen and Marguerite Scott. Sven gives us two offerings: The Buried Piano and The Astronaut and the Nude. In the first, a girl is reunited with a family friend while a massive party for her father’s election bid booms in the distance and a recently unearthed, antique piano rests near their feet. The second play is a metaphysical exploration of marriage, nakedness and the cosmos. In Amy Doherty’s A Touch of Cleveland, we (along with the cardboard cutouts that look on) are party to a Laundromat encounter between two people, each awkward in their own way. Marguerite Scott’s The Ugly Duckling demonstrates the opportunities that come (and go) with plastic surgery.
ABOUT THE “DOWN & DIRTY AT 12:30” LUNCHTIME READING SERIES
This breezy, casual box lunch reading series will have you spending your lunch hour at the Armory listening to short segments of plays-in-progress and sharing your reactions with the playwrights. Pre-made box lunches will be available through the Armory Café- no brown bag required!
click here for more "Down & Dirty @ 12:30" events
ABOUT FERTILE GROUND
Fertile Ground 2010 is a 10-day arts festival that will be held January 22 through February 2 in Portland, Oregon. This city-wide festival is focused on new work in the Arts. It will feature up to 30 world premiere projects, staged readings and a myriad of other arts events from the Portland creative community. From fully staged world premieres in theatre, to ensemble and collaborative driven work, dance, comedy, visual art and film…this festival spans the spectrum of creative endeavor and seeds the next generation of creation through artist conversations, workshops, lunchtime readings and more.
November 11, 2009
birthday party: 3anim8
by sven at 7:00 am
click on image to play clip (1min 54sec - 4.6 MB)
This year for my birthday party I wanted to have all my friends make an animated film for me.
We set up an animation table in the middle of the living room, and over the course of the evening folks jammed using paper cut-outs and found objects. Oh, man… It was AWESOME!
We used a consumer-grade DV cam for image capture. For software, we used FrameThief. For non-animators: There are a variety of softwares you can use -- a few free ones, but typically $40 for the basics.
The frame for the downshooter is made from a couple of simple wooden lighting stands I built a while back, an 8' long cross-strut, and C-clamps. The light fixtures and umbrellas are from a local pro camera supplier -- but I'm just using 200 watt (3980 lumens) incandescent bulbs in them, which came from a department store.
Todd & Kristen animating
It was really wonderful getting to share my love for stop-motion animation with a bunch of friends. After years of hearing me talk about this crazy art form, they finally got try out the mysterious thing for themselves.
Folks were a little surprised at just how much fun it is to bring little inanimate bits and bobs to life. I think I may have made a few converts that night… ;)
So: THANK YOU everyone for coming! I had a wonderful time… Best birthday party ever!!
July 20, 2009
art buddy invitational
by sven at 7:00 am
click on image to play clip (18sec - 3.5 MB)
A while back, our friend Dayna Collins (Alley Art Studio) initiated an "Art Buddy Invitational." She sent out these little artist's manikins to friends, and asked that we do something creative with them.
It only seemed natural that I ought to do some animation with my Art Buddy.
My animation table's been gathering dust far too long. Scripting, machining, sculpting, doing X-sheets… It's too easy to get bogged down. So: What a treat be doing a little improv again!
Thanks for the jump start, Dayna!
June 26, 2009
wiping the slate clean
by gl. at 6:15 pm
it's been a very long time since i've posted, and it looks to me like if i wait for the perfect time to give each item the post it deserves, i will never post again.
during the holidays, at the masarie curry party, marta said i changed her life: she attended a collage night once and makes one every day now. it's not often you get to hear something so dramatic or sincere!
but it's been hard because a bunch of awkward things happened at once. my focus has shifted to include arts organizations. i've been spending a surprising amount of time & energy supporting medical causes. my own art has re-embraced theatre. a lot of people have died (including lane, my mom & sven's grandfather). my primary art support group collapsed. my photo routine is broken. the economy shook us. in short, things are in flux.
since sven & i are about to go on a long summer trip, i'd like to tie up some loose ends so when i return, i can start with a clean slate: i'm still searching for the next surge of momentum but i can't move forward if i'm still looking back. so here are some things that have happened over the last year i'm not going to write much about but that are worth mentioning & recording:
at the little things show, i picked up a prayer flag by jennifer mercedes because of its title: "a prayer for an inspiring future." yes, please. see you soon.
[gl. as The Lyon in A Midsommer Nights Dreame]
May 11, 2009
behind the scenes: Misha Klein and Stage 13
by sven at 7:00 am
Don't forget the big stopmo event this Wednesday!An ASIFA Night of Clowns & Owls
With Misha Klein and Dan Ackerman
Wed. May 13th,
7pm-9pm @ Studio 13
13 NW 13th Ave.
Admission is FREE for card-carrying members
$3 for non-members
To whet your appetite, here's a look behind the scenes…
Stage 13's green screen
In February -- on Friday the 13th -- I had the pleasure of attending the launch party for Ackerman Films' "Stage 13" space. Wow! In addition to an editing bay, and several work areas, this magnificent 26'x22'x13' high Corner Green Screen Cyclorama is available for rental. If you're looking for a space in which to work on your film, check out the Ackerman Films website for details.
Of course, for me the highlight of the party was getting to see Misha's workspace. He was very gracious answering questions for party attendees and showing clips from his film.
Misha's project has taken 8 years to complete, putting in about a month per year between paying gigs. Work started in L.A.; when he moved up to Portland, everything had to get packed into boxes for shipping. He says Stage 13 has been a great environment to work in.
For the set, he got friends to pitch-in building props. Music is going to be recorded by a trio in San Francisco. [Never underestimate the value of a good soundtrack!]
the set is bolted to the floor
As is typical in stopmo productions, the set is built atop wooden tables that make it comfortable to animate from a standing position. For Misha's project, however, the wooden tables are also firmly attached to a tubular metal cage (which supports the lights) -- and this cage is bolted to the floor.
The camera is attached to the set itself. Consequently, even if you managed to move the cage, the stage and lights and camera are all going to move together -- the shot doesn't get ruined.
Canon EOS Rebel
For his camera, Misha's using a Canon EOS Rebel. He shoots using RAW image format. For some shots (e.g. "drunk cam"), having the extra pixels means it's been possible to do virtual camera moves.
In general though, most of the camera moves are done in the real world. At the party, Misha boasted that the last shot he'd filmed used seven axes of motion. Dolly, truck, rack, rotary…
Just below the floor of the set is an XY table. There's another threaded rod to move the camera up and down… And the camera is attached to a 410 Manfrotto geared mount. [I don't understand the set-up well enough to count up all seven axes myself.]
On some shots, the Manfrotto was attached to a heavy base and moved around the set by hand -- creating a looser "hand-held" look.
In my own work, I've tended to lock down the camera. It's been a real revelation to see how much camera movement Misha goes for. In part it means you can keep a tight framing on a character while they act… But Misha also points out that when the camera's locked down, you lose a lot of the 3D nature of the world you've created. Good thought!
Mac PowerBook G4 laptop
Attached to the set, there is a Mac PowerBook G4 laptop, and above it a small flat screen monitor. A little black-and-white spy cam is attached to the camera's viewfinder -- this sends a live feed to the monitor. Misha's been using FrameThief for his framegrabbing software.
custom-made control box for toggling frames
Beneath the laptop computer, there's a custom-made USB control box for toggling between frames. Credit goes to Kelly Mazurowski for the invention. [Also note the dimmer for adjusting the lights each frame -- to simulate a flashing neon sign.]
Mostly the film has been shot on 1s. But, to my great surprise, Misha said that he'd been getting into shooting at 18FPS recently. Partly this was to make some progress in time for the party… But beyond that, he says it has a really nice feel. He described 12FPS as being too little -- 24FPS as being "unforgiving" of any errors in your arcs -- and 15FPS being pretty nice… 18 is forgiving and more "gestural."
My understanding is that after the footage is shot, he'll let the computer stretch 18FPS out to 24FPS for him.
The Fred puppet was constructed using the build-up method on top of a recycled B&S armature. He's meant to look rough-hewn and handmade. The eyes are coated with enamel paint; the pupils are bits of clay attached with sticky wax.
Fred has replacement mouths that click into place with magnets. However, the wide mouths also have wire in them, so they are somewhat posable. Seam lines are hidden by the beard.
…This is the first time I've seen hybrid replacement mouths like this.
upper jaw's inset magnets
To maintain the continuity of Fred's teeth between shots, the upper and lower jaws were made using fast-cast plastic. The top jaw has two tiny inset magnets, and a hemispherical bump to key the part into place. There's a square hole so a tongue can plug into the puppet's skull for certain shots.
Misha confirmed something I'd been wondering about… That when you use magnets for registration, it's important to get the magnets lined up so that their polarities don't compete.
Gotta say: I'm hugely impressed by this mouth system!
Big thanks to Misha for sharing details about this project!
The clips I've seen -- both for Misha's film and for Owl Pals -- are simply stunning… If you're anywhere near Portland, I highly recommend turning out for Wednesday's "Clowns & Owls" event!
May 6, 2009
may 13: clowns & owls - with misha klein & dan ackerman
by sven at 7:00 am
There's going to be an exciting event next week:An ASIFA Night of Clowns & Owls
With Misha Klein and Dan Ackerman
Wed. May 13th,
7pm-9pm @ Studio 13
13 NW 13th Ave.
Admission is FREE for card-carrying members
$3 for non-members
Owl Pals, directed by Dan Ackerman
"Our evening host, Dan Ackerman, Director of Photography, will present his latest stop-motion project, Owl Pals, a promotional trailer based on the children's book illustrations of Luba Goninda. Dan will be on hand to talk about the rewards and challenges of directing this visually rich combination of original 3D characters, flat puppets and multi-plane camerawork, as well as show off some of the actual puppets and designs.
Fred the Clown, created by Misha Klein (clip)
Coraline animator Misha Klein will also be showing a sneak preview of his brand new animated film, recently competed at Studio 13. A labor of love years in the making, this 7-minute vignette focuses on Fred the Clown's internal struggles and performance anxieties, above all with a palpable dread of his boss. Featuring spontaneous camera work, gorgeous sets and atmospheric lighting, Misha will be on hand to talk about his travels on the road to finishing this amazing film."
Monday I'll further whet your appetite for this event by sharing some behind-the-scenes photos & info… Stay tuned!
March 4, 2009
see "gerald's last day"
by sven at 11:59 pm
Gerald's Last Day
Our stopmo friends Justin Rasch and Shel Wagner-Rasch have produced a wonderful film titled Gerald's Last Day.
It was a family effort -- their daughter Aedon does the voice of the little girl, Shel did puppet fab, Justin animated… The film's been winning lots of awards on the festival circuit. As they say, "it couldn't happen to nicer people."
Justin's talent really brings Gerald to life. He makes you feel the poor pup's plight…
For a limited time you can see the film online at the Delta Airlines Fly-In Movie Competition. Please go and give it a gander… And if you like it as much as I do, then give it a vote of five stars to help it win. You don't have to sign up for anything.
November 25, 2008
iprc text ball
by gl. at 2:26 pm
i've got a lot of blogging to catch up on, but let's start with the iprc text ball on nov08:
after seeing what people came up with last year, i decided to make sure i had at least a rudimentary outift to fit the theme "figures of speech." so sven glued cats & dog onto black paper and tied them to a tiny red umbrella i've had hanging around since burning man, while i put on my rainjacket & boots.
surprisingly, "raining cats & dogs" was not a costume anyone else had created! (in contrast, there were 3 "the cat's meow," 4 "butterflies in my stomach," and 3 "blind leading the blind" costumes). i got enough positive feedback to convince me to compete in the costume contest, where i won "best oregon costume," a prize the judges made up just for me. ;)
[raindogs keep falling on my head: photo by cj beaman]
[it's raining cats & dogs: photo by cj beaman]
[i'm a winner!]
but even beyond the costume, i had a lot of fun at the text ball. i was surprised to run into judy & tom from fidelio, the opera we all performed in (oh, i suppose that's another blog post). she "stepped into someone else's shoes" and he was exercising his right to "bare arms," for which he won a prize, too. but for those of us who are a little introverted, there were plenty of activities for social respite: giant crossword puzzles lined the walls and a game table with scrabble, boggle, upwords, etc. to play with.
instead of the unnecessary quotation marks i printed in chocolate last year for the food table, i drew the alphabet on wheat thins with squeeze cheese. they didn't last long. :)
i was excited when i noticed shu-ju's trixie the poetry car print was available at the silent auction! i, however, went home with soap. i bid on a couple of other things, too, but at the last minutes the bids exploded and people obviously wanted them more than i did!
November 10, 2008
trillium artisans holiday sale saturday
by gl. at 3:30 pm
this is an event i'm helping to organize for an organization that values art & artists. even if it's still too early for you to think about xmas shopping, look below for a coupon you can use until dec23. you can also use the trillium coupon in your chinook book for additional savings!
holiday sales represent the majority of almost any crafter's income. if you want to have the most direct impact on a person, buying a handmade object benefits you, the creator, and the recipient!
Make this a handmade holiday! Give meaningful gifts this year by supporting low-income artists, your local economy & the planet all at the same time. Meet the artisans, enjoy wine and goodies, and take 10% off your entire purchase!
Giving recycled is twice as nice!
9119 SE Foster Road
Portland, OR 97266
May 24, 2008
new collage on woodstock
by gl. at 5:32 pm
last week i helped collage their counter (all the scarlet stars are my influence ;). there were several of us there, including ms. bridget. if you want to come see for yourself, their grand opening is next saturday, may 31. see you there!
May 5, 2008
by gl. at 4:54 pm
in addition to last month being a big poetry month, it was also a big theatre/movie month for us.
but nothing compared to seeing cirque de soleil! i've never seen it before and i was enraptured the whole time. it was like burning man without the dust! though the subject was potentially macabre (a clown imagining his own funeral procession & death), it was transformed into something magical and beautiful. i've often said my favorite genre is "cute & horrible," ala edward gorey. but generally i'm delighted by making ordinary things magical, so dancing on chandeleirs and tumbling on beds is right up my alley, and i liked those scenes better than the more traditional circus acts after intermission. the only thing i regret is not taking toby with us. ;) afterwards while waiting for the traffic to die down we took a pedicab for a short trip down the waterfront, which was also lovely. i even got a chance to wear a dress w/ mismatched stripey socks!
[if you can't wear this to the circus, where can you wear it?]
also, i'm taking an acting "class," for lack of a better word. it's ongoing, so it's not a workshop, and it's not a place where we learn techniques, so it's hard to describe. but it's taken up a significant amount of brain & emotional space the last couple of months.
April 27, 2008
by gl. at 5:23 pm
it must be national poetry month! i've attended a plethora of wordly events this month:
March 11, 2008
by gl. at 2:42 pm
march is also a busy art month!
we went on the se artwalk, though i was sick so i went back to take a nap in trixie while sven talked to the pacific northwest sculptor's guild. but i did get to see shawn, trillium, mandy & alisa. i picked up a bowl from georgine longfellow and ought to have picked up shawn's "night ride" monoprint.
later that night we went to linda womack's "leap party". linda quit her day job to become a full-time artist, and held a party on her first day of freedom, mar01. i gave her a "leap and the net will appear" wordwear necklace, but could only stay long enough to eat a little cake before i had to go home and collapse.
[linda's cake: prepare to be surprised]
i was feeling better by the next friday, so we went out to see some art shows. first we had a bite to eat at screen door (great mac & cheese!). then we stopped by 100th monkey to see their art therapy show, since creative arts therapy week is this week. then we stopped by art of your life because i suspected emma would be showing at the student show there, and she was! then we stopped by bite studio to see shawn's "stories" show and emma showed up to that, too!
whew! but now i'm sick again. i didn't go to the craft party at twisted or the art therapy afternoon tea on sunday, and an artist's way client just dropped off a deposit this afternoon and found me bundled on the couch in blankets wearing two sweaters, a hat & a scarf. i hope i feel better soon!
February 13, 2008
love, love, love
by gl. at 1:26 am
sven's brain has been gushing essays and i'm still trying to catch up with stuff that happened two weeks ago!
i've never been to art shows where i've known so many people! several of my artist's way clients jumped at the chance to show together, and then those of us who didn't show came to support them. so we saw justine, emma, emily, anna, dayna, elizabeth & her niece and lynn, in addition to adrienne, bridget, romaine & alisa! i was also delighted to see art on the walls by people i knew, even if i didn't see them at the opening: shawn, consu, kristen maus, beth ann, jennifer mercede. there was lots of good art but i think my favorite piece was an anatomically-correct heart-shaped book with a niche carved out to fit a tinier heart-shaped book inside.
then sven & i stopped by to see bite's first-ever show, orchestrated by shawn (another artist's way client). she was glowing in pleasure and exhaustion, but took the time to explain to us how "biting" works: it's the process used to create an etching in a copper plate. i was also impressed with a "hard candy print" by another artist which was created by pouring hot hard candy into a mold and then pressing the etched plate into the candy and popping it off when it's solid again, leaving the impression behind.
February 7, 2008
monster month book release party - part 2
by sven at 7:00 am
reading Professor Ichbonnsen's letter click on image to play clip (7min 22sec - 25 MB)
Professor Ichbonnsen couldn't make it to the Monster Month book release party -- but he was kind enough to send a letter to be read in his absence.
Watch the video to see me giving a dramatic reading -- (almost worth it for the audience participation alone!) -- or just go ahead and read the text below.
* * * * *
Thank you one and all for coming out tonight.
Your show of support -- not merely for this book which we have published, but for the cause of Cryptozoological Awareness -- means the world to me... And it may, ultimately, be that which saves our endangered world.
For decades, academics and politicians have scoffed at the mere suggestion that Monsters might exist on this planet with us. Narrow-mindedness, pure and simple... A comforting illusion, to believe that all things that can be known already are known.
Those of us who dare to imagine, dare to seek, and by raw courage dare to discover -- we face this tremendous prejudice every day of our lives. And so I want thank you again... For I understand quite well what the personal cost of attending this event may be for those of you here tonight. Ostracism by friends and family.... An FBI file with your name on it... Or perhaps even worse...
Yes, I say "even worse" -- because I have recently discovered that denial of the existence of Monsters is in fact being spearheaded by a well-funded yet shadowy conspiracy of unknown parties!
As those of you who have already read my book know, a serious attempt on my life -- and on that of my trustworthy assistant Scarlet -- was made while we were recently traveling though India. We still do not know who hired the one-eyed pilot, or how the hideous mutants, which we were delivered unto, figure into the conspiracy's far-ranging plot...
But, since then we have suffered, yes, another assassination attempt. And though we escaped with our lives -- I have every reason to believe that this was an act of the same shadowy forces, trying to silence our Cause.
The details of the plot are almost too tedious to relate... A rare and poisonous snake, secretly deposited in our hotel room -- a species which, I freely admit, I have always been quite eager to see in the flesh -- but not within the confines of my own bed.
You will be glad to know that with quick thinking, lightning reflexes, and the sacrifice of very tasty ham and banana sandwich, both Scarlet and I escaped unharmed.
Unfortunately, we know now that our assailants are very close behind... And so once again, we go into hiding... Traveling by night, using forged identities, staying in the homes of individuals who belong to a vast underground network of Cryptozoological Freedom Fighters.
You, too, my friends may be called to the Cause! Whatever you can do -- whatever small thing, to help spread the word -- please, take that step.
For our own safety, and for the safety of all involved in producing this event, Scarlet and I cannot risk being in Portland tonight, where we will certainly be expected. So I ask you now: Take our place -- be where we cannot be -- be that voice of reason in a world that denies the truth.
For the sake of the defenseless Monsters whose habitats are being lost --
For the sake of the defenseless Humans, who have unwittingly encroached upon the territories of carnivorous Monsters --
For the sake of Monsters and Humans alike, defending our shared world against invasive species from Mars and beyond --
Join me in making a Revolution of Cryptozoological Awareness!
Thank you. Please enjoy the rest of your evening at the Monster Month book party.
January 31, 2008
but wait... who's that?!
February 6, 2008
monster month book release party - part 1
by sven at 5:24 pm
"giant lightning sloth" cake
January 31, 2008, we hosted the Monster Month Book Release Party.
The aspect of the party that I'm most proud of: I made a huge cake and frosted it to look just like the monster on the book's cover!
Two hours to bake, two hours to decorate. Chocolate "black magic" sponge cake, 4 hand-mixed colors of homemade cream cheese frosting, 12"-wide pan. Oh yeaaaahh...
welcome to the party!
The sign on the front door: "Welcome! Please come in: monsters & humans are both celebrating inside!"
(Thanks to Gretchin for putting together the signage!)
would you like to buy a book?
As you enter, there's a stack of books for sale, and the original painting for the book cover.
Lots of yummy snacks. Rice crackers and five kinds of cheese... (Kinda overdid it on the cheese.) Hummus... Apples, pears, almonds, and a sweet pecan-cranberry-pepper mix.
And... Grimberry Juice! Compliments of Prof. Ichbonnsen's colleage Professor Amberson.
In write-ups about events, people often declare "it was a success!" ...What does that actually mean?
In this case, what I can tell you is that people were talking with each other the whole night long... You actually almost had to shout, the room was so loud... None of those pesky awkward silences ever descended on us. And although the event technically ended at 9, it wasn't til 11:30 that the last of our guest finally cleared out.
Heh. I think I've just begun to outline a Beaufort scale of party "success."
People started arriving at 7. At 8, we gathered in the living room for the reading portion of the evening. Pretty much every chair we own was set out... Which just managed to comfortably accommodate the 15 of us.
reading from Monster Month
Despite best-laid-plans, the Professor himself was unable to make it to the event...
But he was kind enough to send a letter of welcome/explanation/apology, to be read in his absence.
I did the honors... Then went on to discuss how the book project came into being, and what it was like working with the World's Foremost Cryptozoologist. I concluded this bit of the evening by reading the chapter from the book titled "An Underwater Adventure - Darker Things Beckon."
The audience participation was hilarious -- gasping at all the right moments, heckling and playing along in the kindest way...
And then came cake and the signing of books. Need I say, this was the first time I've signed a book since... My high school yearbook?
Go ahead -- try to imagine what you'd write in a book, if you published one. If you come up with a clever way to deal with this pleasant-yet-awkward situation, please tell me the secret!
As it was, our friend and fellow Artist's Way teacher Dayna Collins got something to the effect of: "To Dayna -- You are the first person I've ever signed a book for! Thank you for your support and encouragement. -- Sven Bonnichsen."
It got even harder after that.
Monster Month's illustrator
My friend and Weekly-Get-Together-To-Watch-Classic-Star-Trek buddy, Michael Hall, was kind enough to take a bunch of the photos you see here. Thank you!
Gretchin, in addition to helping with signage, managed getting the food set up, answering the phone, keeping track of time, taking money for book purchases, and and and... Oh, and she also found this website, blockposters.com, which allowed us to assemble the ultra-cool poster version of the book cover. For that and a whole bunch more... Thank you!!
And...(oh my)...How could I forget the groupies of my fledgling fan club, Bridget Benton and Linda Womack? ...Thank you!!!!
And lastly, to everyone else, who either came or who sent good wishes: THANK YOU!
(did I mention... cake?)
January 27, 2008
by gl. at 7:49 pm
last night we attended portland's monthly "performance playground," scratchpdx. sven has attended these events previously because he knows people in them who are a part of his theatre improvisation group. i was really surprised to see how many people attended this event at the hipbone studio (that's where the rebel rabbit craft fair is held, too: what a flexible space!).
scratchpdx is the kind of event that can host a variety of artists & arts, including experimental filmmakers, santur dulcimer musicians, stand-up comedians, modern dancers with live DJs, acting collectives and an indescribable character named "mr. happy pants." there was even a little singing & swing dancing by the hosts.
i really enjoyed the structure of the performances and the variety. i especially liked how you could ask questions of the performers and they could ask questions of you.
January 22, 2008
craft night w/ michael5000
by gl. at 11:59 pm
last week michael5000 invited some people over for craft night. sven did more mending and i brought along a shirt with a little stain i wanted to cover up and one of the patches from the zine symposium in august.
[maybe i should wear this heart on my sleeve]
[revolution begins here]
i've never attached a patch before, but for some reason i wanted to stuff this. i was doing really well until the very end, when i decided it had too much stuffing and i had to resew it. i've fray-checked the edges; i hope it makes it through the washer okay!
January 10, 2008
rsvp: monster month book release party
by sven at 4:45 pm
WHAT: MONSTER MONTH Book Release Party!
WHEN: Thursday * January 31, 2008 * 7:00pm - 9:00pm
WHERE: Scarlet Star Studios
Please RSVP so we know how many people to expect -- directions will be emailed
ABOUT THE PARTY:
Scarlet Star Studios has just published a book: "Monster Month: Thirty-one New Discoveries from the World's Foremost Cryptozoologist." We're throwing a party to celebrate!
Meet the author, Professor Ichbonnsen, in person! Our famous guest will be joining us to read from the text -- and will be available afterwards for autographs.
[Disclaimer: If, in the unlikely event that the Professor is unavoidably detained by his Monster Hunting duties, a studio representative will read a special letter from the author in his absence.]
Monster Month's illustrator, Sven Bonnichsen, will also be on hand to meet the public. The 33 original paintings that he produced will be available for viewing -- and we will watch the brand new animated commercial that Sven's created to promote the book.
Monster-themed snacks will be served.
HOW TO PURCHASE THE BOOK:
A limited number of books will be available for sale at the party for $31. To reserve a copy for yourself, please mention this in your RSVP.
If we run out of copies at the event, we will gladly ship a copy to you for $34, cash or check. Books should arrive approximately 2 weeks after your order is placed.
You can also order a copy for yourself at any time by visiting the book's website, here: stores.lulu.com/scarletstarstudios
Books ordered online cost $31 plus shipping.
MORE ABOUT THE BOOK:
Thirty-one days, thirty-one monsters: Monster Month!
After a lifetime of trekking jungles, climbing mountains, and spelunking caves, the world's foremost cryptozoologist at last reveals a selection of his greatest discoveries. Herein you will find the Adameve, the Dark Strider, the Opium Gore Golem, the Trick Squilligoss, the Zompire Bat... And many more fantastic beasts!
With the keen mind of a scientist and the bold heart of an explorer, Professor Ichbonnsen provides illuminating descriptions of how the creatures live -- and astonishing tales of how he found them.
Both adults and children will marvel at the Professor's adventures... And be left wondering what else remains yet undiscovered in the unexplored corners of our rich planet. Like the map-makers of old, you will understand: "Here be dragons!"
Monster Month is lavishly illustrated with 32 full-color paintings by Sven Bonnichsen, and 7 full-color maps tracing Professor Ichbonnsen's travels.
MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR:
Professor Ichbonnsen: "I have made it my business to track down legends, to investigate strange rumors, to delve into the darkest, unplumbed depths of nature -- searching out species heretofore unknown to humankind. Now, for the first time, I am ready to share a selection of my most prized discoveries with the outside world."
To read about Professor Ichbonnsen's adventures, please visit his personal website: monstermonth.blogspot.com
Sven Bonnichsen: "I co-founded Scarlet Star Studios with my partner Gretchin Lair in 2004. I'm a multi-media artist; over the past five years my focus has been on creating short animated films, using both computer-generated and stop-motion puppet characters. Monster Month represents my first work as an illustrator."
To read about Scarlet Star Studios' ongoing projects, please visit: scarletstarstudios.com/blog
December 11, 2007
keeping myself out of trouble
by gl. at 11:46 pm
another busy week last week:
December 2, 2007
'tis the season
by gl. at 11:12 pm
[tiny snowmen w/ tinier crowns]
November 23, 2007
elements of food styling
by gl. at 11:59 pm
on saturday i also attended the iprc text ball. it was my first time, and so i decided rather than spending my energy creating a costume (which, alas, isn't one of my strengths, anyway), i'd bring a text-themed food product for the snack table.
i still had half a bag of tiny pancakes leftover from shu-ju's "printing with food" class, and i did so want to print something on them. i thought i would print punctuation because they would be small & cute on the little pancakes and i thought other people would be bringing words. but then i read what shu-ju was making: punctuation! curses! but thank goodness she posted about it so i had time to think of something else. :)
inspired by the the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks, i decided a bowl of unnecessary quote marks would be adorable, and on a pancake i would only have to print one quote mark to get both beginning & end quote marks, because you can just rotate it around to the appropriate type! though i ordinarily love palatino as a base font, i really wanted the quote marks to have those big bubbles on the end, so i used times new roman instead.
i took the opportunity to practice "teaching" myself gocco for the gocco workshop i'm teaching next month at the iprc (thanks, gillian!), so i was in the kitchen talking to myself up until i started to mix the "ink." :)
the good news is that they came out pretty well in the end. the bad news is that it's still a hugely messy process and i had to totally clean the screen every eighth print or so, or i'd start to have gaps even when i had plenty of ink. i used the chocolate/peanut butter base i was so impressed with for sven's 62 breakfast, but shuju says she used chocolate & sour cream which may not dry as quickly on the screen. i gotta say that chocolate sauce/peanut butter mix makes a fabulous dipping sauce, though.
["ideal" gocco quote setup: which lasted maybe 30 seconds]
[waiting to "dry"]
["bowl" of quotes]
i thought i wasn't going to know anyone at the text ball except shu-ju. but i also got to talk to jenny (who was a "relative claus" w/ "presents") & her husband (dressed all in white with two large letters hanging around his neck: E and B), gabe (who was "just tex" with books strung together as chaps!) & his daughter anais (who was a "red letter"). i was hoping to see alesia, but i don't think she was there this year.
unfortunately, it doesn't look like the food gets much love at these events. it was tucked way in the back in a dark spot, and other than shu-ju's puff pastry, there wasn't much presentation or punning. for instance, i saw a can of cheez-whiz and thought they totally missed an opportunity to provide something to write on with it -- or at least provide an encouraging sign or funny "directions for use." maybe it's different if you get there earlier, but i'm not sure how many people really saw the bowl of quote marks, even though they were all eaten by the time i left.
i stayed long enough for the costume catwalk, but didn't see who won. i had circled the event for over 20 minutes before i finally found a spot, so it was a long walk back to the car. but it looped me past ground kontrol, so i stopped in and played a few rounds of tempest & joust before coming home. :)
November 17, 2007
out and about
by gl. at 11:59 pm
wednesday was a big day-o'-art all across portland! first i met w/ the kind and lovely bren, an art therapist from owl's nest north. then i met with the talented and supportive serena barton over pie at the bipartisan cafe, where we discussed a february workshop. then i dropped off a thank-you note for a woman who was kind enough to drop off my moo cards after they had sent them to the wrong address (twice!). then i crashed the local book arts guild meeting at reed college's special collections room, where we got to share dozens of beautiful artist's books. finally, i stopped at the grand reopening of diy lounge, where i got to see the generous and connected diane -- and bridget's creative and vivacious surprise appearance in her bee costume! i didn't intend to stay long, but there was cake and bridgetbee got her disco on. :) plus, collage carries the tiny hammers i need for the wordwear workshop coming up next month...
November 13, 2007
sale of the century
by gl. at 11:59 pm
on saturday i dropped off a plate of apples, cheese, crackers & nuts for the trillium holiday sale, and then i got to shop! i'm not actually a big shopper, but it feels different when you're involved in the organization and supporting real people, you know? :)
i went home with 2 pairs of stubborn earrings, a pair of earrings from carolyn quinn designs, bookmarks from becky bilyeu, a slug family for some very lucky cats for christmas, and one pound of fabric i really don't need but couldn't resist such beautiful scraps for a measly $1.
oh, aaaaaannnnnddd.... a chicken hat from liv and lotus!
but best of all, i got to meet the family of one of my artist's way clients. her daughter met trixie and made several poetry fragments, one of which was this one:
[she has enormously sad hair]
November 2, 2007
by gl. at 11:42 am
update nov03: i've added the dinnergrrls holiday sale to this list.
'tis the season of holiday sales! this year i've decided not to participate in any (unlike last year, when i successfully launched wordwear), but i have definite plans to support at least three that i am emotionally invested in:
i really enjoy buying things from local artists, knowing the money i give them goes to support a real person. of course, if your time & money are unlimited, there are plenty of other holiday sales to discover (check out diyalert to stay on top of them!). may this be a profitable and enjoyable sales season for everyone!
November 1, 2007
portland open studios tour: westside
by gl. at 2:55 am
this year the portland open studios tour eastside conflicted with a letterpress class and the opening of the portland society for calligraphy show opening, so we made up for lost time on the westside the next weekend. i'm getting better at poking around those areas, which can be pretty confusing and lost-inducing.
we bought the calendar at linda's pre-party for the eastside open studios. i picked potentials from it and plotted their locations on a google map the night before. still, with just one day, we got to relatively few artists:
October 26, 2007
the portable art gallery
by sven at 3:19 pm
Gretchin is curating a "4x4" show at the All Oregon Calligraphers Conference this Saturday. I volunteered to construct a display for her for the art pieces.
I tend to like short-term intensive projects... Our main design meeting was on Friday night, I went shopping for materials Saturday, did carpentry on Sunday and Monday, painted on Tuesday, and put the finishing bits of hardware on Wednesday afternoon.
The main "wall" is 4'x4'; two hinged panels fold out, each 2' wide. We want to give the art -- all of which is 4"x4" -- lots of breathing room... So I assumed 8"x8" for each piece: 1" of "whitespace" above, 3" below, 2" on each side. That's room for 72 pieces of art, potentially.
The walls are made of .25" thick hardboard (AKA masonite). The hardboard has framing braces behind it made from .75"x1.5" pieces of poplar. Pine would have been cheaper -- but I wanted something of better quality, with fewer knots and less warping.
Looking at the calligraphy that's been submitted so far, some of it is on paper and some of it is on small canvases. Thus, it was important to have some shelves for the dimensional pieces. The shelves are .25"x2.5"x2' pieces of poplar, supported by .5"x.5"x2' rails, which attach to the frame using long screws and wing nuts (2 per shelf)
A word of advice: If you ever build a portable display that needs nuts and bolts, use wing nuts! They are sooo much easier to deal with when you're on site!
Everything that was .25" thick got assembled using 5/8" #16 wire nails. The frame was assembled with some massive wood screws for strength.
I used "black black" matte latex house paint, applied with a roller. Before this, I tried black gesso -- but felt that it smudged too much. The finish I got is very good... But I'm still wondering if enamel paint would have been more durable. The toxicity of that stuff is higher, though -- which made me loath to work with it.
The love, though, is really in the details.
People are going to walk up from the sides, so I made sure to paint the backsides of the fold-out panels as well as the frontsides that are going to display art. It looks like we're going to use clip-on lamps for lighting -- so I put hooks in back to help route the cords. Distracting light would come through the cracks where the hinges are -- so I added black canvas there as a shield (painted with acrylics for extra opaqueness).
Transporting the display is going to be a bit awkward no matter what -- but I've tried to make it as easy as possible. There's a shoulder strap in back -- not rope, but this crazy cotton ribbing (I don't know the proper word for it) that gets sewn into furniture. You put that strap over your shoulder -- and then there are side loops to grip onto for extra control. The front "doors" latch shut using the sort of latches you find on a trunk.
All told, I'm pretty darned happy with how this thing turned out. Can't wait to see it in action!
October 20, 2007
artist's way guided intent (october) & misc book arts
by gl. at 8:38 pm
update 10.21.07: updated the planisphere link. thanks for catching that, sven!
two (!) tuesdays ago michaelmas & i went to the "vamp & tramp" trunk show at 23 sandy, which is a stunning collection of artist's books travelling around the country. michaelmas was impressed with "true to life" by julie chen. i loved a book called "read" whose pages were initially red but would turn white with exposure to heat, so while holding it and reading the primary story, another story would be revealed beneath it.
the next day, wednesday, was the october guided intent here at the studio. the rainy season prompts us to turn inward, which is a good excuse to literally try to "find yourself" by creating a lifemap. lifemaps are a way to visually explore relationships between the people, places and events that have been important to you.
in what i think is a studio first, bridget wrote about her lifemap on her blog! i've never known anyone to write about these events on their own sites when they leave, so this delighted me. it's good to know this stuff is actually happening and i'm not just making it all up, right? it's good to share the consensual hallucination. ;) plus, it's really lovely to see more insight about a piece develop over time. in addition to lifemaps, this month birch won a metallic marker to gild the edges of autumn leaves, and everyone went home with a wish token in their pocket.
[planisphere: click to see more lifemaps!]
i was obviously hugely influenced by the most recent book i've been reading: dava sobel's the planets. i almost always love astronomy books, but this is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. i found myself marking almost every page. it's poetry. it's what i want to be when i grow up.
so i created a little planisphere here: since the format is naturally meant to mark change over time, the "constellations" represent variously "ascending" art-parts of my life: theatre, poetry, computers, calligraphy & facilitation. in the center is my "solar system" at the studio. i very much like this concept; there's a lot more to explore here!
i still want to write about the open studio/collage night we hosted a couple of nights ago, but the next studio event is another guided intent: "possibility," where we'll use a variety of fortune-telling tricks as writing prompts. we'll create poetry using coins, cards, cookies & tea leaves!
then we'll host our first 2-day workshop: not just a pretty face. we hosted this as a 1-day workshop last time and decided there was so much to cover it would be better as a 2-day workshop, so you'll have plenty of time to study the masters and create rough drafts the first day, then come back refreshed and ready to dive into your final painting the next day!
October 12, 2007
HPLFF drinking game
by sven at 9:00 am
On the last day of the 2007 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, I said to myself: carpe diem!
I've been fantasizing about creating an HPLFF drinking game for two years now... So in the last half hour before heading out to the fest, I assembled my notes into the following document. I made something like 40 copies, and distributed them to the theater-goers.
I'm looking forward to putting together an even better version for next year.
THE H.P. LOVECRAFT FILM FESTIVAL DRINKING GAME
by Sven Bonnichsen, 2007
Lovecraftian cliches. We keep hoping for better films... But even when the films are laughably bad, we love 'em despite ourselves. Here's a game to help get you through some of the more unnameable cinema.
Warning: may cause alcohol poisoning. (In the context of the HPLFF, I recommend replacing shots with pieces of candy or popcorn.)
THE BIG GREEN GUY
someone says: Cthulhu
someone says: ftagn!
someone says: R'lyeh
a single tentacle reaches from offscreen
crazy rant mentioning names of 3+ Elder Gods
READING IS BAD FOR YOU
someone says: Necronomicon
we see hand-drawn demons inside book
character finds the Necronomicon just lying around in someone's house
character goes insane after reading book
interior of a college library
someone says: Miskatonic
a circle is drawn on the ground
worshipping giant demon idol
bonus: 50+ candles
woman tied up, awaiting human sacrifice
boyfriend/husband murders his girlfriend/wife
bonus: girlfriend/wife murders her boyfriend/husband
the end of the world is represented by stock footage of marching Nazis
the end of the world is represented by stock footage of an atomic bomb
the gateway to the Elder Gods' dimension is an actual door in the wall
DOCTOR, CAN YOU HELP ME?
hypodermic needle used as weapon
a shot of blood hitting the wall
blood splatters onto someone's face
vomiting in horror
lights turn off menacingly
bonus: the lights in a hospital hallway turn off
a dark silhouette runs past the the camera in the foreground
someone laughs unnaturally long
I'D LIKE TO WAKE UP NOW
creepy little kid stands staring
recurring dream repeats
time loop circles back to beginning of loop
RUNS IN THE FAMILY
protagonist had a relative purported to practice witchcraft
tunnels under old house
BUT IS IT ART?
faux scratchy black and white
voice-over for entire film
an actor who is at least 10 years too young for the part
bonus: 20+ years too young
out-of-the-box digital lightning effect
the auteur's name appears 4+ times in the credits
bonus: if the auteur's name appears 4+ times -- and is the only name in the credits
hard rock soundtrack during credits
credits say "copyright" at the end, despite use of infringed music
JOYS OF THE FESTIVAL
you see someone from the Church of Satan
have to switch crossed legs because your ass has gone numb
you've forgotten how many years you've been coming
catch a whiff of body odor from someone in the next row
the guy in the row in front of / behind you thinks he's funny
fall asleep during a film
you bump into Cthulhu in the lobby
TIME TO QUIT
"What's wrong, Elwood?"
October 11, 2007
2007 HPLFF review
by sven at 9:00 am
So, the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival happened this past weekend. Had a really good time!
It was great getting to see my teaser in a real theater. But, I've also got notes to remember for next year: When it was shown on the main screen, the aspect ratio seemed off and the text seemed overly jaggy. When I saw it again on one of the smaller screens, those problems didn't seem so bad -- but I really do need to look into how gamma works, because it was definitely a bit too dark. There was no pause afterwards, so people didn't have an opportunity to clap. (Christian was very kind, though, and leapt in with applause the second time around.)
The shorts blocks are always my priority. My top picks:
Also worthy of note:
As for the feature films, John Carpenter's The Thing and In The Mouth Of Madness were satisfying romps. I didn't get to see either Cthulhu or 9 Lives of Mara -- but Wish Baby and Nobody were exceptionally good.
I'm particularly enthusiastic about Nobody. This and Primer are the two best time travel stories I've ever seen. It was gorgeously shot, had a brilliant script, and mesmerizing actors. I really want to see this film win some awards and get broad distribution! ...Even more amazingly, this is the director's very first film -- and it was shot using a regular DV camera. He simply knew how to work with the machine; e.g. avoiding the color red, shooting with high-contrast lighting -- and other tricks I don't really understand. Watch out for director Shawn Linden -- if all goes well, he's going places!
This was the second year there's been a Lovecraftian live comedy performance. "Chuck and Dexter," those lovable cultists, had me belly-laughing. You wouldn't think it -- but Lovecraftian stand-up is really one of the best parts of the weekend!
Thanks to MPH for coming out to the show. It was also good to see Michael B. and Philip F. there. Gretchin: you may have been in England, but even so, you were always with me.
October 3, 2007
a beautiful hoax: the lovecraft filmfest acceptance letter
by sven at 10:00 am
[click to enlarge]
I've been meaning to share this for a while: the acceptance letter that the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival sent me for the new Let Sleeping Gods Lie teaser.
I love this!
I think The Hoax is the highest form of fiction. Cinema comes close, creating an immersive fantasy world; but there's always this fourth wall between you and the imaginary place. With The Hoax, however, fantasy breaks out of its cage and invades reality. I suppose it's sort of like guerilla theater in that sense... The artist's dream life can errupt into being anywhere, at any moment.
An elaborate and beautifully crafted Artist's Hoax is different from "viral marketing." It's perpetrated tongue-in-cheek, with a sense of playfulness that invites the audience to play along -- to embellish, even. Viral marketing, on the other hand, is coercive. It's a con job, where shills are planted in the audience purely for the purpose of herding their marks into the slaughterhouse.
[I'm also a big fan of mixing metaphors: the much maligned linguistic mash-up. ...But that's another essay.]
Anyway: Don't forget that the H.P. Lovecraft Filmfest is happening this Friday. Hope to see you there!
October 2, 2007
LSGL teaser kicks off lovecraft festival!
by sven at 6:00 pm
Doors at the Hollywood Theater (4122 NE Sandy Blvd) open at 6pm. There is often a long line on opening night, so I recommend arriving early or purchasing your tickets online.
My teaser is the first thing in Shorts Block 1.
Shorts Block 1 shows at 7:05pm Friday night on the Main Screen. It will be shown again at the very tail end of the festival, Sunday night at 10:20pm on the Upper Right Screen. The complete schedule is available at the HPLFF website.
Hope to see you there!
September 19, 2007
tba:07: ten tiny dances
by gl. at 3:07 pm
sven & missed going to tba's "ten tiny dances" last year, so we were determined to go this year, even though it meant going at 10:30 p.m. even so, there was a huge line around the block! i don't see much dance, so it's a treat for me and i was glad to see such a devoted fan base.
it was so packed we stood the whole time. i don't know the names of all the dances because the program they gave us was sort of obtuse and they had rearranged the order, but here are some highlights:
almost every dance needed setup and a major cleanup, which meant we didn't get out until 1:30 a.m. so afterwards went to the original 24-hour hotcake and steak house. it was my first time, so i was happy to discover the flapjacks & hashbrowns are superb, even if the rest of what we had was mediocre greasy spoon food.
September 13, 2007
by gl. at 9:44 am
last week i went to a benefit for dawn mcconnell, an artist from the portland open studios tour. the open studios tour is one of my favorite events of the year, and i remember dawn's distinctive face-pots the first year i attended.
dawn is a teacher and an artist who worked for mcmenamin's. she's suffering from stage 4 lung and liver cancer (there are only 4 stages) and her friends arranged the benefit to help her pay for hospice care.
i bought a print of one of her works and won a bid on one of her pots, which looks something like this but teal with round pinkish spots like roses on it.
if i had the money, though, i might have bought this jaw-dropping, gorgeous vanity:
or this very adorable desk set:
or this bike, which dawn painted as a raffle prize for bicylists attending the portland open studios tour. i have admired it for years, so imagine my surprise to see it at the auction, and then imagine my chagrin since i got a new bike for my birthday this year (but dawn's bike is a single-speed, so it would be great for the flatter areas of portland but not around powell butte!).
those three delectable objects are still available, as far as i know, so if you wanted one of them, you could both receive a one-of-a-kind art piece and provide comfort and support for dawn's medical bills.
September 12, 2007
by gl. at 3:37 pm
sven & i went to the opening of tba:2007 last week to watch rinde eckert's "on the migration of excellent birds (flash, sorry) performed in pioneer courthouse square. sven remembered seeing rinde eckert in maine many years ago, and i was amused that mph had mentioned laurie anderson's "excellent birds" a couple of nights before.
using a chorus of ordinary voice & simple gestures, they portrayed flocks, rivers and song. it was unexpectedly delightful. bird serendipities abounded, most notably with a flock of normal pigeons flying dramatically out from the chorus as they lifted their voices to sing "amen."
i wanted to write about it because i've seen a lot of mixed reaction, in part because it was intended to be for a larger chorus. but the idea and the reality of it just tickles me. i can sympathize with people who thought this was a bit of an anticlimatic way to end the opening ceremony (as it was both beginning and end with no context about TBA at all), but for a group that usually advertises the annual event where the swifts fly into the big elementary school chimney, it certainly seemed appropriate.
[the umbrella is part of the performance]
this is a really terrible picture: i didn't even think to try for one until it was almost over. but hilary pfeifer has an excellent post with video on her site.
September 5, 2007
by gl. at 12:34 pm
last sunday the portland society for calligraphy was asked to write numbers on the participants of the first portland triathlon, which meant we had to be there at dark o'clock. many triathletes said they were really grateful to have beautiful numbers to wear for the next few days: the number they wear is like a badge of honor, but usually they get something scrawled with a sharpie. even the athletes who were wearing full-length body suits wanted numbers!
[smiling in the dark: click to see the other pix from this event]
and even more impressive is that lorinda moholt wrote a poem afterwards, while the rest of us had gone back to bed or were drowning in coffee!
(more fun than vellum)
5:30 am, dark, no coffee
(do they ever eat donuts),
tall, short, thin, almost-thin
hairy and smooth, they stop
for us to write numbers on
strong, tense bodies.
544, 837, 20l, 683, 219;
on thigh below the shorts line,
then upper arm, always the left
side, age on calf. Calm and
cheerful or focused and silent,
they leave our stations with
right sides anonymous.
20-something, 40-plus, 68,
calligraphers in the still
dark morning tell each
competitor "I only write
winning numbers." Some
say thanks, then walk to
the cold Willamette.
as alesia says, vellum "is old-school calligraphy material: goat-, sheep - or calf-skin to write on. AKA unoccupied skin, unlike what we did this morning!"
September 1, 2007
monster month challenge
by sven at 8:00 am
Woo-hoo! I've just gotten my first paid illustration contract!
My employer is noted cryptozoologist, Professor Ichbonnsen (no relation). He's hired me to do illustrations for his forthcoming book, "Lifeforms Heretofore Unknown by Science: New discoveries from the world's most renowned monster hunter."
Professor Ichbonnsen click image to enlarge
I'm actually kinda baffled as to how he found me, given that I've never really done illustration work before. It's possible that he found Scarlet Letters by googling his own name -- after all, I did mention (1, 2) his work during last year's monster month.
It's also possible, though, that he's mistaken shots from Let Sleeping Gods Lie for actual documentary footage... And thus thinks that I'm a fellow crypto-enthusiast??
Anyway, the Professor -- he's never mentioned a proper first name (hm...) -- has asked me to do illustrations of 31 creatures, to be delivered one-a-day over the course of October. Doing that many is a bit of a challenge, so I've already started work on some sketches and studies. I plan to use this as an opportunity to develop my skills in painting with acrylics; that's how I'm hoping to do all the final pieces.
Ichbonnsen, frankly, seems rather eccentric. I confess, based on the adventure stories he's told me so far, part of me's wondering if he's flat out delusional! But, money is money...
(The "Dark Strider," the "Noble Shellkaye," the "Trick Squilligoss," the "Colossal Ubertuber," the "King Shielyana"... What the heck are these things, anyway??)
an open invitation
I'd like to invite all my artist friends to join in the fun. I'd love it if you'd do up some monster sketches of your own for October and post them on your blogs. ...BUT -- and here's the trick! -- be sure to make them illustrations of purely imaginary creatures!
See, I want to play a little game and test the good Professor -- to see whether he's really the World-Class Monster-Hunter that he claims to be -- or if, rather, he's a Certifiable Loony!
When I point him to the pictures on your blogs, will he believe that the intentionally made-up creatures are also "new discoveries, heretofore unknown by science?" ...Or will he immediately see through the ruse?
Help me discover the truth!
P.S. I want to give everyone adequate time to start thinking about this. But please DON'T post any of your pictures until October 1st! That's when I'll start posting my own pictures, one-a-day -- and we don't want to tip our hand to the Prof, OK?
August 17, 2007
portland zine symposium
by gl. at 10:17 pm
last weekend i attended the portland zine symposium, primarily because the amazing anna magruder helped organize it this year (yes, she of the fabulous rebel rabbit craft fair). don't get me wrong: i love that portland has such a strong zine culture and i ordinarily like to support it and the stumptown comics fest (happening next month), but it was easier for me to make the time to go since someone i knew & wanted to support would be there.
also, she was facilitating a mask workshop! i've been responsible for a couple of those, so i was happy to get the chance to make a mask without facilitating it, and i wanted to make sure anna had warm bodies in the classroom. :) she brought some amazing stuff and was an excellent & gracious hostess.
[hard to tell, but the mask is actually a dark blue, not black]
of course, i also picked up several zines & other assorted bits:
in other news, i'm recovering from monday's fatal hard drive crash. it's terrible timing because i need to be preparing for september classes and especially artist's way promotion, but this means i just lost a week. i got celeste back last night with a new drive in her, but am now going through the tedious restore process. we keep weekly backups so i'm not missing too much, but i am really going to miss the answers i was in the middle of writing for diane's diy alert interview.
August 6, 2007
100th monkey/write around portland book swap
by gl. at 10:13 pm
i was immediately put in charge of running a table for making accordian books. bookmaking is one of the things I really love & appreciate but am quite bad at. i know that one of the things that makes for a successful bookbinding experience for people who don't have any experience or a short window of time is to precut covers (especially when you only have one cutter), and that's the thing I'm bad at. i tried not to panic, but if I had known this was going to be my task i would have brushed up on it a little first!
a few people visited throughout the event, but 10 minutes before my shift was up, 5 people wanted to make a book at once. :) fortunately, by that time i had done several of my own books and could explain the process pretty well.
[my little accordian books]
August 1, 2007
rebel rabbit yell: more, more, more!
by gl. at 11:59 pm
only computer problems have kept me from writing about the rebel rabbit craft fair sooner! big kudos to anna, a former artist's way client, who organized it. as far as i could tell, it was a smashing success! great atmosphere, a creative raffle for a good cause, and excellent vendors.
i had planned to also go to the handmade bazaar & the sunday art mart, which were at the same day & time, but i spent & saw plenty at the rebel rabbit. :) i got cards, jewelry & gifts. i am thrilled to finally own a locket anna hand-painted, and i've always wanted a bracelet made out of typewriter keys!
[rebel rabbit goods: click for a larger image]
there were lots of great vendors, so what i got reflects only a few of the potential crafts i could have indulged in:
also, it turned out the rebel rabbit craft fair was a great place to meet people. i'm usually supershy at craft events, but liz recognized me from one of linda's events, and mary ann anylor recognized my voice from the lov.li fair! but best of all was the woman who remembered sven's let sleeping gods lie trailer at the hp lovecraft film festival 2 years ago and remembered the shirts we wore to promote it! she said she was looking forward to the full film this year and i told her we were, too. :) *knock wood*
July 22, 2007
good things come in threes
by gl. at 11:59 pm
three art events this weekend:
in addition to shu-ju's work, i was impressed by douglas schafer's delicate & bold venerius didymus, mar gorman's intricate and compelling songs my mother taught me and diane jacobs' socially astute pair of woven portraits, ann and veda.
all the cool kids were there, including very busy craft tables heroically hosted by diy lounge (ATCs w/ melissa woolsey), church of craft (felt bracelets w/ diane gilleand) and pdx super crafty (matchbox shrines w/ susan stars). i donated some stuff to diane earlier in the week, but i wasn't sure i'd get to go to the event because a friend is visiting from colorado. (it turns out she was in ashland this weekend, which mean i could go do art stuff instead!).
random: i wonder if the CCM "lab" is available for anyone to use. and a funny story: i heard a woman ask her friend, "is antique better than retro now?" the friend said, "no....!"
i had an epiphany while checking out the ccm, though: there's a type of art snobbery that criticizes museum gift shops, implying that only "tourists" visit the gift shop because they can't possibly understand the actual art in the museum. but after 20 minutes of being repeatedly reminded that "Touching Harms The Art," i was thrilled to get to the gift shop so i could touch & hold the bowls, jewelry, clocks, chairs and art i was forbidden to get too close to in the actual museum. that's why gift shops are so popular, because they allows you to physically engage with art in a way that's not possible with most museums & art shows.
July 9, 2007
by gl. at 4:19 pm
last week was a busy art week: i saw 6 shows in 3 days! these are all up through the end of the month:
some of my favorites included (hooray! the entire catalog is online!):
also, i got a chance to meet laura russell, who is enthusiastic, smart, talented & kind. 23 sandy is still a newish gallery, but she has some plans for her studio space that delight me -- and you can even rent it yourself!
July 6, 2007
"pajama dreamer" at 100th monkey studio
by sven at 9:15 pm
The show opened tonight, and runs until July 31st. If you want to check it out, 100th Monkey is at 110 SE 16th Ave @ Ankeny.
The 100th Monkey Studio
Huge thanks to Gretchin, who suggested that I submit, and then managed communication with 100th Monkey for me. I am extremely grateful for this help! Consumed as I am with getting Let Sleeping Gods Lie done, I'd never have considered submitting to a show right now -- were it not for Gretchin's generous offer to take care of the details. Thank you!!
July 2, 2007
animated installations at PLATFORM
by sven at 3:30 pm
Pika Pika: the lightning doodle project
I confess, when I heard that the PLATFORM animation festival was going to include animated installations, I felt dubious. I imagined it would just be films being projected onto gallery walls, nothing special. Boy, was I in for a surprise! The installation show turned out to be the most mind-blowing aspect of the entire fest!
the March Fourth marching band
Thursday night, as Competition Program 5 was ending, the "voice of god" announced that we should follow the marching band outside to the Walking Tour of Animated Installations. ...And as we streamed out of the Portland Center for the Performing Arts, there it was: the March Fourth marching band, already playing their raucous tunes. A joyous crowd followed the stiltwalkers, drums, and brass for at least 10-15 blocks. What a brilliant way to help lead a crowd from point A to point B!
Ritz & Tochka from Pika Pika
As we arrived at the PNCA (the Pacific Northwest College of Art), Pika Pika started up their performance. What this group does is live animation...
A camera takes a photo of the performers using about a 30 second exposure. The performers draw shapes in the air using multi-colored flashlights. The lights' trails show up as glowing lines on the film. After taking a series of maybe 30 still frames like this, they use a computer to play back the images they've created, thus making an animation.
The animation is very rough, but personally I found it stunning. When a film of Pika Pika's animation showed earlier, during one of the competition programs, the phrase that went through my mind was "paralyzing beauty." It literally took my breath away.
"Copenhagen Cycles" cinetrope - by Eric Dyer
When I went into the PNCA building, the first installation that grabbed me was "Copenhagen Cycles." There were three large spinning disks with paper cut-outs attached to them being filmed by video cameras. The principle is similar to that of a zoetrope -- but the images were actually three-dimensional, and the animation was accomplished by matching the disk's rpm to the camera's fps.
"Copenhagen Cycles" screens
When I discovered the spinning disks, I could only see the animation by looking into the little 2" square viewscreens of the video cameras. I thought this was really cool... Then I walked around the partitioning wall and discovered that the images were actually being projected onto three ten-foot-tall screens! Wow!
"Balance" - by Ondrej Rudavsky
The animation titled "Balance" was being projected on a 2-story-tall wall nearby. It was a fairly static piece... It created the illusion of 38 acrobats standing in a human pyramid. The detail that really made this piece work for me was that the uppermost acrobats appeared to be holding onto the railing of the second story balcony in order to keep their balance. A pretty amusing illusion, I thought.
"Dream of Lucidly Living" - by Miwa Matreyek
"Dream of Lucidly Living" was a performance art piece by Miwa Matreyek, a student from Cal Arts. Animated images were projected onto a flat screen -- both from in front and from behind. Matreyek would sometimes walk behind the screen, and her silhouette would become incorporated in the images. For instance, her shadow seemed to pet an animated cat; and, at another point, a beating heart was projected onto her shadow's chest -- so it was as if we were seeing an X-ray. At other points, she was in front of the screen arranging white boxes, which were transformed into skyscrapers by front-projection.
The music for "Dream of Lucidly Living" was by a band which Matreyek is a part of; she herself was the singer in the recording.
"No Never Alone" - by Gregory Barsamian
The most stunning installation of all was "No Never Alone" by Gregory Barsamian. As you entered a darkened room, you saw before you a living sculpture.
It was a seven-foot-tall spherical cage. In the center of the cage was a life-sized human figure, motionless, covered by a shroud. Around the figure, there were two rings of hands. The upper ring was (I'd guess) 24 pairs of hands, each crumpling and uncrumpling eye charts. A lower ring of 48 hands was opening and closing books which showed pictures of hands clapping. At the top of the cage, carrots swung gently back and fourth.
Everyone who walked into the room was transfixed. It was hypnotic, and you just stood there wondering how this living sculpture could possibly exist...
The trick: The spherical cage was actually rotating at about 15 miles per hour. A strobe light was flashing at the precise rhythm required to make the sets of hands seem to exist in stationary positions. I overheard someone refer to this as a "strobascope." Fantastic!
In all, there were 18 installations in the show. By necessity, of course, I'm only sharing my favorites. I think one more is worth mentioning, though.
During the installation show, there was a car that was driving around the neighborhood. As it was in motion, it was projecting images of a running tiger onto the sides of the buildings it passed -- creating the illusion of a tiger actually running through the neighborhood. Sadly, I never actually got to see this one in person.
impressions from the PLATFORM festival
by sven at 8:00 am
Wallace and Gromit puppets on display
After going to my last screening on Saturday, I walked out into the Performing Arts Center lobby. I just stood there for a moment and looked around the room.
There was Henry Selick having a conversation with Peter Lord. Behind them was Joan Gratz talking with some friends. "Spike," from the Spike & Mike festival, walked by. And just outside I could see Will Vinton sitting at a table.
That moment was emblematic of the festival for me.
the "Attack of the Blog" panel
What films did I go see at the festival?
I prioritized going to screenings of films rather than going to presentations. Nonetheless, I also made it to the following presentations:
The first showing of the day was often at 9:30am, so I'd be getting up at 7:30 in order to eat, shower, drive across town, and find parking. The last showing would often run til 1:00am -- so by the time I'd driven home, caught my breath, and gotten to bed, it was usually heading toward 2:30 or 3:00am.
Everyone was similarly tired. I managed to stay awake... But I did have to give a friend a little nudge at one point, when he'd nodded off.
There reaches a point where the exhaustion just makes you stop caring. You know that what you're seeing is amazing animation -- but you're just too tired and numb to feel anything.
In addition to the sleep dep, sitting still for six days is also a bit of a marathon. It's physically demanding to have to stay still that long -- it's like taking a cross-country flight every day. There were screenings where every-other-film I'd have to switch which cheek I was sitting on.
myself and fellow stopmo blogger Karl Sigler
There were fewer films that had characters and a beginning, middle, and end than I would have expected. Often if a film had humans in it, they didn't speak, and were somewhat inscrutable. I'm not sure if this was numerically the case, but it felt like a majority of films weren't story-based at all... I was surprised by my own reaction: it felt like the films that did have story had an inherent advantage, that they were able to engage me and draw me into their world in a way that artsier stuff just couldn't.
For the competition programs, audience members were given ballots as they entered the theater. After each short, the lights would come up and an announcer (the "voice of god," I quipped) would say the name of the next film and what category it was in. Filmmakers were encouraged to stand up and be recognized during these pauses.
I had the impression that these pauses are something that happens at other festivals -- an etiquette that PLATFORM's organizers have chosen to emulate. It never felt like the audience (and filmmakers) really got comfortable with it. For the first program, I don't think any filmmakers stood up -- which just left the audience futilely craning their necks, searching the room.
One of the categories that the "voice of god" would announce was "Best Film Over $50,000." I think, to an extent, we were expected to feel impressed -- like we were in the presence of celebrity... But every time "Best Film Over $50,000" was mentioned, what I perceived was uncomfortable, mildly embarrassed chuckles and shuffling in the audience.
During the awards ceremony, legendary animator Marv Newland was one of the presenters. At one point he appeared to "break from script" and commented on the money-based categories... Saying that they were somewhat ridiculous, that the finances for independent films are always rather muddy, and that he had "literally" stolen the money to make one of his films. ...It was a surprising moment of on-stage criticism.
people painting designer vinyl toys at the UniPo table
The award ceremony was really a curious beast.
Bill Plympton was the emcee. He was great -- he really had the gravitas to do the role justice.
There was an on-stage band, Portland's own "3 Leg Torso" -- which was also an excellent choice. An accordion, cello, violin, xylophone, and percussion... A sophisticated mix of klezmer, tango, and chamber music.
Children all dressed in white (under age 12, I'd guess) were in charge of handing the awards to the competition winners. (Personally, I rather liked this choice. Much better than using supposedly sexxxy women, imho.)
The award itself was a designer vinyl toy called "the god of animation." It's a hot pink, six-armed, three-eyed cartoonish character. Me, I think I'd feel more honored with something made out of bronze or glass... But I gotta hand it to the festival organizers: it's a unique and daring design.
the PLATFORM awards ceremony
There were at least three big TV cameras, presumably for Cartoon Network. There was a sense that this event was maybe supposed to be a black-tie gala...
But animators don't glitter.
Most of the animators who got up on stage were in jeans; some in T-shirts. They were awkward and self-effacing. Animators aren't celebrities. They get up on stage and remain... Geeks.
The makers of "I Met The Walrus" won the award for Best Sound. A little baffled, as they accepted the award they pointed out that there actually wasn't any sound design in the film -- it used a tape of John Lennon being interviewed by a high school kid who snuck into his hotel.
Don Hertzfeldt won the "Best Film Under $5000" award for "Everything Will Be OK." When he got up on stage, he talked bout how strange this was... How he'd just been asleep, and literally only woke up minutes before! He said he was able to make his film so cheaply because a friend of his had won at several international festivals that award Kodak film stock. But the friend is a computer animator! ...So he simply gave the film stock to Don.
The anecdote about receiving a useless gift symbolized for me a disconnect between money/status-driven festivals and animators. Animators are so often scrounging to get by, and are used to being in a poorly understood/disrespected profession. After years of slaving away like this, a moment in the gilded spotlight seems kinda bittersweet. There's a tinge of... Not exactly resentment... But perhaps a sense of the facade?
It's hard to explain the vibe at the awards ceremony without it sounding like I'm putting down PLATFORM. Let me be clear: PLATFORM was wonderful! What I want to convey is the disconnect between animators and the trappings of celebrity.
Gregory Barsamian, who created the astonishing and transfixing installation piece "No Never Alone," as he was accepting his Grand Prix/Installation award made a lovely comment on who we are as animators... He referenced the film, "Freaks," and its famous line "one of us." The animators filling the auditorium: freaks. Wonderful freaks.
At the very end of this (at times oddly awkward) awards ceremony, PLATFORM festival director Irene Kotlarz was brought to center stage and given a huge bouquet of roses. (They never see it coming!) The audience gave her a standing ovation -- the first and only standing ovation of the festival, I believe. After three years of bringing the event to life, she wept at the recognition.
It sounds so predictable... But the moment was authentic. It made my eyes tear up. The man standing beside me teared up, too.
July 1, 2007
praise for the PLATFORM International Animation Festival
by sven at 11:59 pm
The first PLATFORM International Animation Festival was a triumph.
Understand, this was the premiere of the ONLY major animation festival in the U.S. -- an event of historic importance.
inside the Newmark theater, the largest screen
The organizers did a simply phenomenal job...
The scope of the festival was visionary. It included not only traditional short films, but also animation designed for emerging platforms (hence the festival's name) such as the internet and cell phones. It made a bridge to the broader world of art by including an exhibit of animated installation artworks. And, while looking to the future, there was also honor for animation's history -- embodied by the showing of Snow White (with guest speaker Marge Champion, who was Snow White's movement model) and the earliest feature-length animated film produced in Asia ("Princess Iron Fan", 1941).
people watching cell phone animations, 2nd floor rotunda
The orchestration of the event itself was excellent. The Portland Center for the Performing Arts -- the main venue for the festival -- was beautiful, and well laid-out to accommodate several films running at the same time. Each day's program of screenings (from an attendee's perspective) ran extremely smoothly.
the March Fourth marching band
One organizational choice that I think was particularly brilliant: It's maybe a ten block walk from where the film screenings are to the Pacific Northwest College of Art, where the installation pieces are set up. How do you get everyone from point A to point B? Get the March Fourth marching band to lead everyone there!
street party in front of PCPA
Cartoon Network was the financial force behind PLATFORM -- but the company was remarkably reserved about making its presence felt.
This was a "no logo" event. With the exception of the organizers verbally thanking Cartoon Network for its support, you could easily have missed that the company had anything to do with the festival at all. It was a very classy choice on CN's part. Supporting the animation community without shoving a lot of self-promotion down our throats engendered a lot of good will toward the company. (At least among those who attended.)
Let's hope that all involved see this festival as a triumph, and that it becomes an annual institution. ...I eagerly look forward to attending again next year.
June 30, 2007
muse talk art reception review
by gl. at 11:59 pm
the muse talk art reception last week went really well! there were about 50 people there, which i think is pretty respectable for a coffeehouse show. i was especially pleased (and surprised!) to see so many people i knew: special thanks to kristen & todd; jennifer, julie & evan; toni & matt; mary knight & her friend; and seamus & his family. in addition, sven & michaelmas were there, and leeann was visiting from california! i very much appreciated the support! (alas, kim was sick, serena was at the vet, and anna was at a bridal shower. but i appreciated your good thoughts, too.)
[part of the crowd]
one of the great things about this show is that we had an opportunity for perfomances in addition to visual art. so i read the "birthday poetry" series i began when i was 25 and still in colorado. i try to write a poem every year as the first thing i do when i wake up on the morning of my birthday. sometimes the date slips a little, but this ritual turned out to be very important when i was languishing in california, or i wouldn't have written anything at all.
i was afraid it might be too much: 9 poems over 8 years, 3 states and 2 countries: all in 15 minutes! i wrote the transitions out beforehand because i knew i didn't have time to ramble. but i was very pleased (and relieved!) with how well it went: i heard audience responses in all the right places and several people came to talk to me afterwards times to recall similar situations & emotions.
[reading 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 & 33]
and then, as if that wasn't enough, i volunteered to be "water" in the "salmon dance"! who can resist the swirly scarves? i certainly couldn't. a tribute to the lifecycle of the salmon, alisa created the dance a few years ago with a much larger group, so this was a much smaller reprise. still, her handmade salmon sculptures are amazing, and the large windows were great to illuminate them (though they also produced terribly backlit pix, as you may have noticed).
oh, and i also have a couple of pieces in the visual arts show. :) the art show will remain up until july 24, so stop by to see these two pieces, which are tucked in the back by the big comfy couch. and feel free to buy the work of one of the other artists! *nudge*
["advice" and "a grace it had, devouring"]
this was fat straw's first art show, and throughout the planning process we could tell the owner was pretty dubious and wasn't willing to help or answer many questions. his tune began to change when the newspapers we sent press releases to began to call, and on the day of the show fat straw was very busy serving drinks & snacks. he was very intently watching the performances and afterwards he said he was impressed with the all the arts & the work we did to set up the show. hooray!
[fat straw sign]
June 27, 2007
see my films at PLATFORM on Friday
by sven at 3:38 pm
See my film work on the big screen this Friday -- FREE!
This week I'm attending the first PLATFORM International Film Festival, here in sunny (!) Portland. My short "The Great Escape" and the teaser-trailer for "Let Sleeping Gods Lie" will be shown during Friday night's open screening.
The show is at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts (1111 SW Broadway) -- on the fourth floor, in Brunish Hall. The open screening begins at 7:30pm, and is free and open to the public. I was the very first person to sign up -- so be here at 7:30 sharp or you'll miss it!
Oh, almost forgot! ...Tonight (Wednesday) there'll be a screening called "Portland Animation Showcase" at 9:00pm in the Whitsell Auditorium in the NW Film Center (1219 SW Park). A music video that I worked on is going to be shown: "Moodbot," directed by Rob Shaw. I made the armature that went inside the little girl puppet. You can get tickets at the door for $10.
June 16, 2007
muse talk art reception june 24
by gl. at 12:05 am
You are invited to attend the group art show "Muse Talk," and specifically the opening reception Sunday, June 24! I'll be exhibiting two calligraphy pieces, but the really neat thing about this opening reception is that it will include performances, so if you come you'll get to see me "dance." :)
Plus, this will be the premiere reading of my "birthday poems": I write a poem on my birthday every year and this will be the first time I've read them all aloud as a series!
Muse Talk: Art is a Language
Featuring visual and performing arts
from members of RADIX, Circle of Women in the Arts
Visual Art Exhibit dates:
June 17-July 22
Opening Reception & Short Performance Works:
Sunday, June 24, 1-3 p.m. (performances begin at 1:30 p.m.!)
4258 SE Hawthorne
April 30, 2007
wordwear at spring art sale sunday!
by gl. at 12:07 am
you haven't heard much about wordwear lately, but i'm still happily making them for clients. i am still delighted by how much they inspire people! the spring art sale is the week before mother's day, which allows you to choose something personal, inspirational & affordable for her this year while supporting local artists! i'd love to see you there, and if the weather is good, that just gives you that much more of an excuse. :)
i plan on making more wordwear this week & setting up a mini-station to create custom wordwear for customers that day, so they can browse my selection or bring something personally meaningful & truthful for me to make a piece they can take home that day! i worry about not having enough to sell: i'm going to ask if anyone in the sacred circle wants to have stuff on the table, too, but otherwise may try the "creativity encouragement" supplies again. wish i had more toby-like critters (though he may come along as a jewelry display :).
(i forgot to mention, that 100th monkey had wordwear on commission at their art store in january, which led to a custom commission. i also donated a necklace to their scholarship auction.)
since i've begun making wordwear i've learned to make the letters clearer (especially As), discovered you can salvage misturned letters simply by stamping over them again, and that the best technique to color the letters is by quickly rubbing off the initial rub'n'buff excess, then go in later for detail work (i was leaving a thick coat of rub'n'buff on till it all dried).
April 29, 2007
emergence opens friday night!
by gl. at 11:09 pm
i'll be in a show that opens friday night: emergence. serena barton just joined the central eastside arts district and so will be hosting shows every month. emergence will feature work that has been created at her workshops, and it may include all these pieces:
i'm planning on going to the opening: i'll probably be there somewhere between 6 p.m.-7 p.m. (there's another art show featuring artist books at the new american art union that i want to check out, too). no worries if you can't make it, but think good thoughts on friday!
March 12, 2007
speaking @ the "world puppet animation" show
by sven at 3:30 pm
Yesterday I had my speaking engagement at the "World Puppet Animation" show. Thanks gl. for taking photos!
talking about puppet animation
I felt it went pretty well. When I spoke, I felt like I knew just what I wanted to say -- and I didn't "um" much. After the films were over, the audience wanted to hear about my reactions to what we'd seen... I wasn't as sure-footed for that part, but see now how I could be better prepared to respond in the future.
There were 9 or 10 of us at the show. I suspect it being a Sunday -- and the Daylight Savings change -- probably kept numbers low.
There was a version of Puss and Boots by the Diehl brothers from Nazi-era Germany that was astonishing; the puppets and sets all looked like they were made by master doll-makers.
We saw a George Pal short -- featuring his unique replacement animation technique -- which I'd seen previously in The Puppetoon Movie. [If you're into stopmo, you must see this film!]
There was a Rankin & Bass-style film from Czechoslovakia titled "The Problem" which I absolutely adored -- and which I will probably never have the opportunity to see again. I'm very glad I went to this show -- even if I hadn't been speaking!
my box of tricks, packed to go
I didn't have any written notes for the speaking... But I did have a mental outline. Here's what I said, as best as I can reconstruct it.
[I. INTRODUCE MYSELF]
My name is Sven Bonnichsen. I'm a mixed media animator. That means I do two-dimensional drawn animation, computer animation, and stop-motion puppet animation. My focus is on puppet animation, and I specialize in making metal armatures -- the skeletons that go inside of puppets so they can hold a pose.
[II. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TYPES OF ANIMATION]
I want to start by saying a little about the differences between puppet animation, drawn animation, and computer animation.
When you're doing drawn animation, you start by making your "keyframes" -- the most important poses in a sequence. Then, you draw the "in-betweens" that get you from point A to point B. This is all on paper -- so as you work, you can flip through the pages to check that your animation is going how you want it to.
Not so with puppet animation. With puppet animation, you start with frame one, and just have to keep going forward. Once you start work on a sequence, you have to keep direction of momentum and arcs of motion all in your head -- so it's very important that you do NOT stop in the middle!
Computer animation, like drawn animation, makes use of in-betweens. You define point A and point B, and then let the computer figure out how to move your model from one point to the other.
Computer animation is very popular with big movie studios because you can have a whole team of animators working on one sequence. One person can be working on the motion of the arm, while another is working on the eyes -- and you can go back and edit what you've programmed endlessly.
Not so with puppet animation. With puppet animation, it's much more like a performance -- and the animator is like an actor. It's just one person going "mano a mano" with the puppet, getting into the puppet's head, breathing life into it.
One thing that I really appreciate about puppet animation, personally, is this tactile experience of being able to manipulate the puppet with your own hands.
Right now I'm working on a film titled "Let Sleeping Gods Lie" -- which, if all goes well, will appear in the H.P. Lovecraft Filmfest this October. In it, I've got these creatures with five legs. I'm trying to figure out how on earth a thing with five legs is supposed to walk...
In the film I've got both a CG model of the critter and a puppet version. When I'm working with the CG version, with the computer screen between me and it, I can't figure out for the life of me how it's supposed to move. But when I work with the puppet model, holding it in my hands I can begin to get a sense of things. "OK, as it leans this way, the weight of the thing has to transfer from this tentacle to this one..."
using puppets to illustrate my points
[III. PUPPET ANATOMY]
OK, so that's a little about the differences between different types of animation. Now I'd like to tell you a bit about the anatomy of a puppet, so you can better appreciate what you're going to be seeing tonight.
The most important thing to know about a puppet is that it has to be able to remain absolutely still between frames. When you're animating, you create the illusion of life by very carefully moving the puppet a little bit at a time. If the puppet twitches uncontrollably each time you snap a frame, then the illusion is destroyed.
So, one of the first things I always check on a puppet is if it can do an extreme lean. [I demonstrate Percy leaning forward.] Think about it: If you're taking a step, there's that moment before your foot touches down when you're leaning far forward... Can the puppet hold that pose without tipping over?
In order to keep the feet planted where they belong, you use "tie-downs." You drill holes in the floor of your set, and then these screws [I demonstrate] come up from underneath, and screw into little nuts in the feet of the puppet.
In order to hold poses, the puppet needs to have a good armature inside of it.
There are three main types of armatures: ones that are made out of wood, or wire, or metal ball-and-socket joints.
Wood armatures were used a lot in early Eastern European puppetfilms -- but they're not used very much anymore, because the joints tend to wear down and lose their tension.
Wire armatures are the easiest type to make -- and are still used quite a bit in professional productions.
Metal ball-and-socket armatures are in many ways the best sort of armature, and get used extensively in feature-length projects.
Differences between wire armatures and ball-and-socket ones:
With wire armatures, you always have to be aware that the wire is ultimately going to break.
There are things that you can do make it less of a catastrophe when the armature does break. You can make your puppet with a detachable head and hands. That way when the wire breaks, the parts that you put the most work into -- which get the focus on screen -- can still be salvaged. [I demonstrate detaching Percy's hand.]
On a person, the elbow bends at one point. With a ball-and-socket armature, you can also have the elbow bend on a point -- which is nice. On a wire armature, though, if you bend the wire repeatedly on one point, it's going to break a lot quicker. So what you want to do is have slack at the elbow, so the wire bows gently, and the stress on the wire gets distributed.
Generally speaking, a ball-and-socket armature isn't going to break. But sometimes the joints do get loose -- and you're going to have to get inside the puppet to tighten them.
A ball-and-socket armature is sturdier and more precise than a wire armature. (With a wire armature, the wire springs back a little when you pose it.) But ball-and-socket armatures are also generally bigger -- and they're more expensive and labor-intensive to create.
So there are pros and cons to both.
[III-C. PUPPET COVERINGS]
Now, once you have your puppet armature, what are you going to cover it with?
There are three main options...
You could cover the armature with Plasticine and do claymation with it.
(A lot of people use the word "claymation" to mean anything that's stop-motion. "Claymation" is actually a trademarked term, coined by Will Vinton -- most famous for the California Raisins -- whose studio used to be right here in Portland. However, the word has gone into common usage... Sort of like how "Kleenex," which is a specific brand, has become synonymous with "facial tissue.")
For a very detailed puppet, you could cast the armature inside of a flexible material, such as foam latex -- which you might find in the soles of your shoes -- or silicone. The puppets in "The Corpse Bride" were made from silicone, which was a tremendous technical breakthrough.
Or, a third option, you could wrap the armature in strips of cushion foam [I demonstrate] -- like the foam you'd find in your couch -- and make the head and hands out of something hard, like Super Sculpey or Epoxy clay. Then, the body, you'd probably cover in fabric to make clothes -- or perhaps in fur, if it's an animal. This is more or less the process that was used to make the original King Kong puppet in 1933.
So: That's generally how to build a puppet for puppet animation.
puppets lined up on the stage
[IV. THE STOPMO COMMUNITY TODAY]
I want to wrap-up by saying that we are living in very exciting times, in terms of stop-motion animation.
When you're learning how to do puppet animation, there's an incredible learning curve. You need to figure out how to make armatures, and do puppet fabrication, and make clothes, and build sets and props, and rig lights, and work the camera...
Up until about ten years ago, you really had to hunt and search to find information about how to do this stuff. But now, an amazing online community of animators has been forming, sharing knowledge -- making it easier to learn the art than it ever has been before.
(And, with digital cameras and laptop computers now -- just about anybody who wants to could get into this art!)
The main hub for information -- globally -- is StopMotionAnimation.com. It has a sister website, StopMoShorts.com, which has a quarterly challenge, to encourage people to make puppetfilms.
[V. CLOSING - FREEBIES]
I just want to show you now my puppets "Dad" and "Jimmy," who starred in a film that I made this last year for StopMoShorts.com. Dad is a sort of gruff, authoritarian father; and Jimmy is his mischievous son, who doesn't want to do his chores.
I've brought along copies of the film, "The Great Escape," as freebies. Who here would like one? (Pass them back, please...)
OK, that's it. Thank you very much to Dennis Nyman. Are there any questions that anyone would like to ask at this point?
show's over - goodnight!
March 4, 2007
speaking about stopmo on march 11
by sven at 5:13 pm
On Sunday, March 11, I'll be present at the Dennis Nyback Cartoon Extravaganza to speak about puppet animation. I'll be bringing along puppets and armatures for show and tell.
The Extravaganza is a 21-day-long film series being presented at Disjecta, located at 230 E. Burnside. The series runs from Feb. 23 through March 15; all shows at start at 7:30pm and cost $6. The theme of the March 11 show is "World Puppet Animation."
Independent film archivist Dennis Nyback has organized this film series as a special fundraiser to support the Oregon Cartoon Institute, which is beginning work on a documentary about historic Oregon animators.
I met Nyback and documentarian Anne Richardson at the Feb 28th showing of Ladislav Starevitch films, at which point they invited me to speak. I am honored to be able to contribute in this small way to their efforts.
Here is what the Oregon Cartoon Institute Newsletter had to say:On Wednesday February 28th the best crowd so far, on the fifth day of the Dennis Nyback Cartoon Extravaganza, showed up to see Ladislaw Starevitch animation at Disjecta (230 E Burnside). Among the crowd was Sven Bonnichsen, animator http:///www.scarletstarstudios.com/ . Mr. Bonnichsen generously explained to the crowd basic puppet design for animation using the armature method. Mr. Bonnichsen has graciously agreed to bring armatures and puppets to World Puppet Animation Night on March 11.
I hope that my local readers will strongly consider coming out for the "World Puppet Animation" show on the 11th. ...But even if that doesn't strike your fancy, do take a look at the calendar of shows -- there's something for everyone in this amazing, one-time-only festival.
February 25, 2007
melanie sage's beautiful truth: creating art journals & altered books
by gl. at 9:56 pm
beautiful truth was another successful workshop! i've been hoping to have melanie teach at the studio and then in december one of the open studio participants wished aloud for an art journal workshop, and i knew i could make it happen. the funny thing is that there were two other art journal classes happening in portland on the same day that i didn't know about when i planned this workshop! still, the workshop filled within five days, had a waiting list, and everyone showed up! i was happy to get new people out to the studio, too, partly thanks to a posting at the art therapy listserv.
i cut the setup a little too close because i was hoping to say goodbye to sven before he left tuscon, but i missed him by just a few minutes. even so, i was carrying chairs into the space as people were arriving to fill them, which didn't give me enough brainspace or time to interact with people the way i would have liked.
[one of the journals from the workshop]
like the don't think! paint! workshop, one of the only dissatisfactions was space. this is especially true in such a supply-heavy workshop like art journaling. i think our space is more usable than some other workshop spaces in town, and i sort of think that no matter how much space you have, you always want more space. :) but i'm facing a dilemma for our events: it is more comfortable with six, but the dynamic is better with eight -- especially if one of the people at the table is the instructor. if anyone has any idea for magically finding more space around the table, let me know.
and i 've gotta figure out a new way to hang stuff. ever since we painted the studio, the clippies don't want to hold art. i've got to figure out another way to get art on the walls that doesn't require holes and that's easy to move around. it's dangerous to sit beneath them!
i'm looking forward to the march workshop, which i have always been curious about: encaustics! i am very likely to attend this workshop myself.
February 19, 2007
by gl. at 11:59 pm
this is what i was doing two weeks ago:
i volunteered to sort clothes and take pictures at the swap-o-rama-rama at 100th monkey for four hours. i did this before the last artist's way guided intent because i wanted more experience with a fiber arts event before i tried hosting my own.
this picture doesn't even do justice to all the chaos: there were six rooms containing different forms of alteration & embellishment. i just got this new camera for my unbirthday and wish i had thought to use the video mode! i walked away with 2 "new" pairs of shoes, an awesome pair of flowy sweatpants, a pretty red sweater, a fuzzy green shirt, and a desire to try needlefelting.
i also finally met sister diane from church of craft! i've been troubleshooting bugs at the newly awesome resource diyalert and she's been very patient about it. kind, even! in person, she was just as nice and i am now an order of magnitude more likely to attend a church of craft event. i really enjoyed meeting her.
February 18, 2007
by gl. at 1:38 pm
i am so very excited to announce the first-ever edward gorey figBASH!
last year i wrote gorey details to ask if they were doing anything special on gorey's birthday, and they weren't, so this year we collaborated to create a party with cupcakes, music & videos. there will be a group reading of the gashlycrumb tinies and we will share our favorite gorey books & memorabilia.
i have come to discover that one of my favorite styles is "cute and horrible." edward gorey is one of my favorite artists. his dry, dark humour was rarely ever mean, even when people are falling down stairs and being assaulted by bears.
January 10, 2007
star wars @ omsi: easter eggs!
by sven at 8:00 am
While at the exhibit, it occurred to me to check on a couple of things that I've always wondered about...
Darth's chest plate
What's on Darth Vader's chest plate? Looks like Hebrew to me!
1/10 Update: I've run this by a Jewish friend who confirms it's Hebrew, and who's passing the photo on to folks who may be able to translate it for us!!
inside the helmet
This was the helmet used in Revenge of the Sith...
I spit on the floor! We speak of it no more!
...Ahem. Even so, I was curious to see the insides up close.
the sand speeder
How did the sand speeder hover?
underneath the sand speeder
The speeder was built on the frame of an English 3-wheeled car. In the actual film there's a mirror set at a 45 degree angle toward the ground that covered all this up.
the Rebel Blockade Runner
Lore has it that when the model makers at ILM built the Rebel Blockade Runner, they put a miniature poster of a "pin-up girl" in the control room. You can't see it on film...
front window of the ship
And you couldn't see it in the exhibit, either, given how the model was lit.
inside the front window
...But I had a thought: when my camera focuses in a dark room, it projects a little beam of light in order to gauge distances. I tried it out -- and sure enough! So I shot this photo with a flash.
Notice, also, on the left-hand wall a tiny Star Wars poster.
"pin-up girl" close-up
And, just because -- if you're like me -- you've always wondered... Here it is in close-up: the Rebel Blockade Runner "pin-up girl".
This concludes our virtual tour of the OMSI Star Wars exhibit. Thank you -- and please come again!
January 9, 2007
star wars @ omsi: spaceships
by sven at 8:00 am
the Millenium Falcon
The amazing thing about the model spaceships I saw is that their detail looks good whether you're standing four feet away -- or four inches away. Many of the models weighed 70 pounds, 100 pounds, or more. Moving them could require several people helping.
The Millenium Falcon you see above was a special exception. It could fit in the palm of your hand. It was used for just one shot: the one where the Falcon is clinging to the back of a Star Destroyer in The Empire Strikes Back. It's a gorgeous piece of craftsmanship -- and I have absolutely no idea how it was constructed.
This X-wing is four feet long. The story goes that some of the crew were making it in their spare time... But the higher-ups heard about it, and then it got used in the film.
How do I know this stuff? The book Sculpting A Galaxy: Inside the Star Wars Model Shop was just released in November. It has a wealth of info and photos that haven't been available before. ...Uh, that and the fact that I'm a geek who's been soaking up details about Star Wars' special effects all my life.
X-wing surface texture
While at the exhibit, I became fascinated with trying to figure out how the surface textures of the spaceships were created. I'm pretty sure that what we're looking at here is just some spare bits of sheet styrene that have been glued on, and a good airbrush paint job.
See that striated strip on the engine? That's also sheet styrene. I feel sure that I've seen patterned styrene like that at model railroad supply stores.
I believe this is the sandcrawler model that was made specially for the 1997 re-release of A New Hope...
sandcrawler surface texture
For this scale, rectangles and trapezoids of sheet styrene were cut out, then glued onto MDF. There are actual spaces between the pieces of styrene, to accentuate that "sheet metal welded together" feel.
the back side of the sandcrawler
You're not supposed to be interested in the backside of the model... But I strained to get a good look. The frame for the sandcrawler is definitely MDF -- medium density fiberboard.
It's so exciting to see materials that I recognize!
Of all the spaceships that were on display, the Star Destroyer is the one that is supposed to be the largest (relatively speaking) in the Star Wars universe. In real life, it was maybe a little over three feet long. However, the original Millenium Falcon model from A New Hope was by far the largest model exhibited. It was more like four feet in diameter. And it would take at least four people to lift it.
metal tube supporting Star Destroyer
All of the large spaceship models were supported by big metal tubes (3" diameter?). These tubes are welded onto wheeled carts, so people setting up the Star Wars exhibit can move them around more easily.
Star Destroyer surface texture
In essence, the star destroyer has the same "sheets of metal welded together" look that the sandcrawler has. However, the scale is different. The Star Destroyer is supposed to be around a mile long. So rather than cut out pieces of sheet styrene, it looks to me like the surface is one single sheet -- which has simply been scribed with an X-Acto blade.
Star Destroyer details
How did the model makers create all that amazing detail? "Kitbashing." They'd take hundreds of pre-made model kits, and use little bits and pieces in unrecognizable configurations.
The spheres on top of the control tower? I have a hunch that they're faceted plastic "crystals" that you use to make rainbows, which have been spray painted over.
Talking about the exhibit with a friend, he asked me how good the kitbashing actually was. Could I recognize little bits and pieces as being from other things?
Nope! It was truly amazing. The only bit I ever recognized as being something, um, recognizable... was on the Y-wing. There's that little bit that was clearly a oil canister of some sort in its previous life.
This photo's also interesting because you can see a lot of rod -- most likely brass -- that's been carefully bent at right angles. You can probably do that with just a pair of pliers. I think there's also a tool available via Micro-Mark that helps you do that.
[to be continued]
January 8, 2007
star wars @ omsi: phil tippett - stopmo god
by sven at 8:42 pm
the OMSI Star Wars exhibit
OMSI -- the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry -- just ended an exhibit of props from Star Wars. I managed to squeeze in a visit at the last minute, on Dec. 29.
Thanks to Linda Womack, encaustic artist extraordinaire, for reminding me about this! I'd been meaning to go for months -- but the xmas crunch had completely wiped my memory banks...
A huge thrill for me was getting to see some of the puppets that Phil Tippett animated. Among stopmoes, Tippett is widely viewed as the heir apparent for Ray Harryhausen's crown as greatest living puppet animator. ...Well, at least that was the case until Jurassic Park decapitated the tradition of photo-realistic stopmo monsters interacting with live actors.
Tippett's style has sometimes been referred to as "hyper-Harryhausen." He helped pioneer innovations such as go-motion, where tiny stepper motors move the puppet a little while the camera takes a shot, adding a more realistic motion-blur to the photo. He has his own company now, and remains one of the kingpins of the special effects industry.
the taun-taun puppet
Phil was the animator who put life into the taun-taun in The Empire Strikes Back. My understanding is that he also did of much of the work constructing the puppet, too.
Luke Skywalker puppet
The taun-taun puppet can't be more than 18" tall -- but the detail is phenomenal. Everything about the Luke puppet looks properly in scale, including the texture of the fabric. ...I've no idea what they used to make that fake snow.
Look carefully at the edge of the saddle. You can see a little bit of 1/16" aluminum wire poking out. That gave me a thrill: to see a material that stopmoes use now, there in the taun-taun.
The taun-taun's face has amazing texture. The skin is pockmarked and pitted. I have to guess that we're looking at cast foam latex there.
under the taun-taun's head
Underneath the taun-taun's head, you can see some decay in the puppet. It looks to me like rotting latex... But I'm not familiar enough with foam latex to say whether it was originally foam, or if it was liquid latex there.
Here you can see that there was a little taxidermy going on. The animal pelt's seams are hidden on the insides of the legs.
The feet look eerily real. Like they were cut off a real animal, dried, and sutured on. I'm sure that's not actually the case...
Phil also animated the AT-AT ("All Terrain Armored Transport") walkers in The Empire Strikes Back.
AT-AT walker's head
For me, part of the excitement with the AT-AT walker was trying to figure out how its armature was constructed. Tom St. Armand -- another god of stopmo -- built the armatures here.
AT-AT walker legs
On the insides of the ankles, there were little... handles? I've never noticed these in photographs before. My best guess is that they helped give the animator a good place to grab the puppet. However, they might also be spring-loaded -- releasing tension on the feet joints so they can be re-positioned.
AT-AT walker knee
Ah-ha! As I looked closely at the AT-AT walker, I began to notice hexagonal holes here and there. That's where you insert a hex key to tighten a joint. Screws with hexagonal sockets are generally preferred to slotted or philips head screws -- no risk of stripping the screw.
AT-AT walker foot
I was absolutely fascinated by the AT-AT's feet. See that half-circle of metal that forms the walker's ankle? I'm certain that's a piece of milled aluminum. You can see a slot in its center that allows it to rotate, and then be fixed in place with the tightening of a screw. In some of the other pictures you can see that there's a slit in the side, too, also for tensioning purposes.
[to be continued]
January 1, 2007
the great escape
by sven at 11:59 pm
click on image to see my film at StopMoShorts.com
Happy New Year!
I'm happy... I managed to complete my film on time for the quarterly "stopmo haiku" challenge at StopMoShorts.com! Click on the image above to see it in the context it was intended for...
Or (in case that link stops working at some point in the future) you can watch the film by clicking here. (6.8MB)
My joke du jour: Can we call this an eleventh hour victory if it was only 10:30pm when I got the film done and submitted?
Here's what I wrote about the film for StopMoShorts:Armature building's been taking all my attention... So I wanted take a step back and do something more holistic. The idea was to embrace "quick and dirty": go all the way through the film-making process and not get hung up on things being perfect.
When brainstorming story ideas, I latched onto "cave" as a tunnel -- maybe a magical tunnel between places. In terms of animation style, I was inspired by Robot Chicken -- intentionally going for "pop" over "smooth."
The pups are standard aluminum wire armatures, wrapped in thin strips of cushion foam, with heads and hands made from Super Sculpey. The eyes are Van Aken plastilina... One of my weirding-outest moments was when an eye fell off and rolled right down into Dad's mouth.
I shot frames with a Canon ZR45 DV cam... Which (curse its metallic soul) insists on auto-adjusting exposure even when I tell it not to. I used FrameThief for my grabber, 15fps. Sound done in GarageBand, final assembly in AfterEffects.
I actually wrote a script, and then translated it into mumblephonics... Perhaps when I get around to releasing the "director's cut" DVD I'll put together a subtitled version.
November 20, 2006
holiday sale nov26
by gl. at 10:12 pm
so i decided to do another holiday sale to see if the first one, which i considered pretty successful, was a fluke. :)
the women's business showcase: holiday spirit! will be at mcmenamin's kennedy school, which is a lovely artful place to be. this sale is HUGE in comparison to the dinnergrrls event: it takes up the whole kennedy school "gym" and several smaller surrounding rooms (which is where i'll be with a half-sized table).
i'll be focusing on making more of the wordwear that was so popular at the last sale as well as calligraphic art and hand-made wrapping paper. in addition, i'll be offering creativity encouragement supplies and pocketfuls of wishes. as an extra special bonus, i am also happily featuring art boxes from the remarkable renata dolnick!
What: Women's Business Showcase: Holiday Spirit!
When: Sunday, November 26th, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: McMenamin's Kennedy School: 5736 NE 33rd
thanksgiving weekend is supposed to be the biggest holiday shopping date, but i encourage you to skip the crowds and support local women-owned businesses instead!
November 15, 2006
sven's work on television!
by sven at 1:48 am
Today and tomorrow you should be able to see some of my work on national TV!
I recently worked at an animation studio (Bent Image Lab) making armatures for puppets -- specifically puppets of Regis Philbin and his producer (?) Gelman. As I understand it, examples of the puppets will be on TV today (Wednesday), and then the actual music video will show on Thursday.
Here's the message I just received. Check it out!Subject: PREMIERE! Rudolph Music Video
Hey Team Rudolph!
The Regis music video “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is finished and it looks great! Rankin/Bass would be proud. Thank you for helping to make this video a success!
Here’s a list of upcoming air dates:
Wed, Nov. 15th 11:00 am PST (TOMORROW):
Regis and Kelly present their puppets on Live With Regis & Kelly
Music Video Premiere
Thurs, Nov. 16th 11:00 am PST:
Music video airs on Live With Regis & Kelly
You can see the show on channel 8 (KGW) – the local NBC affiliate.
November 6, 2006
dinnergrrls holiday bazaar
by gl. at 1:30 am
the dinnergrrls event was much better than i expected. as usual, sven was a blessing: he helped make that cool banner, cut (& in some cases, ironed) large amounts of paper, mounted some small calligraphy pieces, attached business cards to bags and helped with the arrangement of the table.
it was a month's worth of shopping & diligent taskmastering to create collage packs, daily doodle journals, daily writing journals, inspiration packs, jewelry, wrapping paper, calligraphy tiles, flyers, instructions & packaging. i also hand-selected a couple of artists to display their work at the table too: the amazing alesia zorn & the creative anna magruder! i thought i would get some of my own cards printed, but alas, that was not to be this year.
but one of the highlights of this very long preparation process was discovering how much i love the metal letter punches to make jewelry! i mean, really, lovelovelove.
[3 necklaces: "those who wish to sing always find a song," "be the change you wish to see," "the stars shine even when we can't see them"]
some of these are general inspirational quotes and some of them are from my own poetry, which i find even more appealing.
[bracelet: "i am here to be heard"]
even better, all of the jewelry sold! to be fair, i loved the "stars" piece so much i'm wearing it myself, but someone asked me to make one for her this week, and someone else asked me to make the "song" piece for her after that. yay!
i wasn't surprised so little of my other stuff sold, even though sales for alesia & anna were pretty strong. it's less adaptable for holiday sales or gift-giving, but i had to try. my primary purpose was to encourage people to make & buy art, and in that sense i think i succeeded. but one of my available impulse purchases was very popular: i bought a bunch of "wish tokens" because they're the kind of thing i would be charmed by if i was a customer, and i almost sold out of them! wish tokens are small metal disks w/ stars punched out of them. they were easy to add to purchases people were already making, and even people who didn't buy anything else couldn't resist one, but often they were bought in two or more clusters. because who doesn't want a special wish for the new year? :D
my only disappointment was that the announcement of the sale on the events list caused three people to unsubscribe, including two people i would have liked to have stayed connected to. if you can't promote yourself on your own events list, where can you do it?
but all in all, this was a good introduction to november & i hope i made the holidays a little brighter for someone. now i just have some followup to do and to catch up on everything i pushed back in order to make this deadline....
i want to end with many extra special cookies & thanks to people who came to visit: michaelmas, grace, anna, ppcw colleen, kori, emma, sven, mph & bridget. sorry i didn't get to talk to you longer, but i very much appreciate your support! *blows kisses*
November 3, 2006
banner for the bazaar
by sven at 2:26 pm
new Scarlet Star Studios banner
Tomorrow's the holiday bazaar! This week I've been helping Gretchin get prepared...
To help make the Scarlet Star Studios table prettier and easier to recognize, I've made a canvas banner with our logo on it. I sewed the canvas myself, on my sewing machine. I printed out the logo on an inkjet printer, then blew it up several times on the photocopier. I positioned the paper on the back of the canvas, then using our light table, traced the logo onto the front. The lettering is done in acrylics.
Look for our table at the event tomorrow! Here are details:What: DinnerGrrls Holiday Bazaar
When: Saturday, November 4th, 1-5 p.m.
Where: 1936 N. Alberta (corner of N. Alberta and N. Denver. Two long blocks west of N. Interstate.) It's right off I5 at the Killingsworth/ Alberta exit. Take a left at the top of the Exit ramp onto N. Alberta and go west...
Tomorrow is the Dinnergrrls Holiday Bazaar! I'm delighted to start your shopping season with a selection of gifts for letter lovers and creatives who want to make more art. I'm also featuring a special selection of offerings from other artists who adore words, including homemade journals from Alesia and "novel" purses from Anna (which must be seen to be believed!).
There are also many other vendors, so you could probably get a chunk of your holiday shopping done early in one very pleasurable afternoon. Help support local women entrepreneurs while sipping champagne, dunking yummy treats in the chocolate fountain, indulging in massage... and shopping! They'll also have a computer set up so that you can pay us with Paypal/credit cards if you prefer.
(By the way, this is my first holiday-sale-like event. Please come visit me!)
October 30, 2006
holiday sale nov04
by gl. at 10:58 am
I can't believe it's not even Halloween yet and I'm already announcing a holiday sale! :D Regardless, I am delighted to offer a variety of letter-inspired gifts to share with you this season during the Dinnergrrls Holiday Bazaar on Saturday.
Scarlet Star Studios will provide a joyous selection of unique cards, wrapping paper and bookmarks in addition to other lettersmithed novelties. And because I am a creative advocate who believes in art exploration & creative self-expression, I will also be offering a wide range of creativity products to encourage you (and the people on your gift list) to make more art next year!
What: DinnerGrrls Holiday Bazaar
When: Saturday, November 4th, 1-5 p.m.
Where: 1936 N. Alberta (corner of N. Alberta and N. Denver. Two long blocks west of N. Interstate.) It's right off I5 at the Killingsworth/Alberta exit. Take a left at the top of the Exit ramp onto N. Alberta and go west...
There are also many other vendors, so you could probably get most of your holiday shopping done in one very pleasurable afternoon. Help support local women entrepreneurs while sipping champagne, dunking yummy treats in the chocolate fountain, indulging in massage... and shopping! They'll also have a computer set up so that you can pay us with Paypal/credit cards if you prefer.
(By the way, this is my first holiday-sale-like event. I'm prepping like mad this week to get everything done. Sven is lending his amazing helping hands, too. Please come visit me!)
October 26, 2006
by gl. at 7:01 pm
i saw a photography exhibit at the press club this afternoon, a small creperie near clinton & 26 (across from the clinton street theatre). zorn matson's large flower prints are beautiful and interesting as macro landscapes, but they are especially surprising, intriguing & engaging when read in light of his artist statement, part of which is excerpted here:
some miracles become so commonplace that to see them requires a vigilant amnesia... it is as if the flowers themselves had commisioned [these portraits]. as if, in fact, i had been kidnapped by a murderous, flamboyant warlord... and could regain my freedom only after taking revealing portraits of his entirely insane family.
i loved re-examining the flower photos, imaging each as a member of a warlord's insane family. i only wish zorn had a website, but he didn't leave any cards and the waitress could only remember he was "on myspace."
October 2, 2006
by gl. at 12:20 pm
october is national arts & humanities month! alas, i missed the grand opening of portland center stage yesterday at the armoury.
but this is also the last week to view the oregon biennial at the portland art museum, so i guess i'd better write about it now before it becomes too irrelevant...
i've always been a user interface kind of person, and so the first thing i noticed was the the signage is pretty bad -- especially for the 3d objects, which never had a sign near them.
however, my favorites included....
unfortunately, the sound was better outside the room showing the three looped videos than inside it.
September 29, 2006
by gl. at 9:47 pm
unfortunately, the portland art museum is not one of the participants, which is a shame because this is the last week you can see the oregon biennial. nor is omsi. but if you want to go to the Oregon Historical Society or Pittock Mansion tomorrow, this might make a good incentive.
September 24, 2006
by gl. at 11:59 pm
what a lovely weekend!
there will probably need to be a whole 'nother post about the biennial, but i was especially charmed & delighted to discover mariana tres' "Homespun Universe: The Wondrous Works of Anabella Gaposchk," a whimsical collection of "old" gelatin prints made from common baking ingredients by a fictitious home astronomer in the early 1900s. the entire thing is an elaborate & fanciful story: in addition to the fuzzy photos of baking soda constellations housed in period victorian frames, a small display case includes created & found artifacts like letters, quotes, spice canisters, egg beaters, gloves, handkerchiefs, and a tiny book of bank statements. this engaging collection from the "society of nebulous knowledge," also includes a documentary audio tour featuring music from the imaginary musical "upon the orange moon." suitable for a quaint display at the maryhill museum, the photos alone are beautiful and convincing, but every component is its own layer of fascination, and taken as a whole the subtle details and histories are like the best kind of poetry, creating an imaginary world that could have been real, should have been real, but isn't.
(unfortunately the art museum has very limited info about the biennial on its website, but portland modern has a pdf page about an earlier version of "homespun universe" from 2003.)
after the biennial, creata paid for our lunch at the red star tavern, which ain't cheap. i was surprised to find the red star has the best mac & cheese i've tasted at a restaurant. i should take "clients" there more often: given the name of our studio, the association is too good to pass up. :) and i'm beginning to recognize people now: even though i make it clear "i'm NOT an art therapist," i think they respect my role as a "creative advocate."
after a stop at rob's 33 1/3 birthday party (which qualifies as the best birthday concept for an audiophile), i dropped off some cardboard trays from the Fabulous End-of-Summer August Art Swap over at linda womack's: she showed me her studio, which was extra cool since i won't get to do the portland open studio tour this year.
["to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."]
i'm learning that independent support sessions are more improvisational & conversational than creative clusters, which is great for individual attention, but because the sessions are shorter than clusters, it also makes it more likely we'll run out of time for the art component. so i don't know whether to make the sessions longer (because we could easily talk longer) or simply set the time more rigidly, at least to begin the art project.
the rest of the day i spent in the studio, puttering around & putting things away. i haven't done that in a very long time. i sorted through some of my poetry boxes and put things on shelves, i crossed some things off the todo.studio list. it always takes longer than i think it should, but it always feels good to do it.
September 16, 2006
because who doesn't like monkeys?
by gl. at 8:21 pm
i went to the opening for the 100th monkey studio tonight. it looks like they have similar values about encouraging creativity & art. i won a gift certificate for 2 hours of art studio time + $10 worth of art materials.
i also picked up a cd called passages from the cellist they hired: adam hurst is so sonorous and langorous he's almost hypnotic. i was compelled to pick up his cd because i knew he would make good studio music, for artist's way or calligraphy.
tba06: dark room
by gl. at 3:16 pm
how could we resist a dance in the dark, one that requires night vision goggles to view?
the crispin spaeth dance group performed dark room at the portland center for the performing arts last night: five dancers on a swath of carpet, flanked by an audience seated in a single row of low beach chairs on either side. the dancers passed out & explained the night vision goggles, then turned off the lights.
infrared lighting flooded the the night vision lenses, illuminating the dancers. the green hues and limited depth of field made the dancers seem like ghosts and made the whole thing feel otherworldly. my favorite thing to do was to watch with the lens for a while, put it down to watch the dark and listen to them breathe and thump, then return to the lens to see what had changed. it was magic.
of course, it's difficult to remember that even though you can see what's going on, the dancers are doing this blind, so when they fall, or fly, or fling, or find each other, they're doing it in a maze of trust and kinetic memory. when they're looking at each other, or looking at you, they can't see what they're looking at. they can't respond to each other's motions. the music was ambient and fairly non-descript, but i began to be able to pick out subtle cues the dancers relied on to change positions.
sven said it was one of the favorite things he's seen since he's lived in portland. to me, it was like living a fairy tale, the kind where the fairies kiss one of your eyes so you can see them dance with glittering lights in an elaborate banquet hall, even though your other eye just sees the grey empty room with the broken chair.
we haven't done much tba this year because i got walloped by a cold. so we missed the "extreme guitar orchestra" and i missed the lecture about "why be a professional artist," along with any others we might have attended but it was obvious i wasn't going anywhere. but i'm glad we made it to this one.
September 3, 2006
running as fast as i can
by gl. at 8:11 pm
several items of interest, including a new exhibit, the state fair, aocc and the state of october:
i'll be exhibiting two pieces at the portland society for calligraphy annual open show in the west linn library. there will be an artist's reception september 10 from 2-4 p.m. i had hoped to show at least one new piece, but i have been hobbled by traveling and artist's way promotion and a cold, so i'll be showing two previous pieces. if you haven't had a chance to see them in person, you should go to the reception, where there will be many other fine calligraphers to see.
["born": part of a poem i wrote for a birth]
["tongue far from heart": from shakespeare's measure for measure]
last week i went to the state fair, in part to view the calligraphy exhibit. i was foolish and didn't bring a camera or even anything to write with. but i was quite taken w/ angelina's "alphabet" piece, which included deeply embossed ancient alphabets with a simply-lettered but elegant quote. in the student category, i was charmed by a well-done representation of mr. tumnus' arrest warrant. and sven & i have often talked about writing black on black, so it was a pleasure to discover "lightning," a piece written on black with walnut ink. the warmth of the walnut ink allows the letters to be read with the right light and the right angle while still preserving the mystique. in addition, the piece had a large lightning bolt etched into the glass.
i registered for the all oregon calligraphers conference, and the only unfortunate part is that it means i won't be able to attend the open studio tour this year. which is sad because sven and i have gone every year i've lived here. i love the open studio tour. i get to meet interesting new artists and explore interesting new studios.
but aocc is the priority this year because one of my favorite calligraphers in the world will be coming! denis brown is also probably one of the youngest high-profile calligraphers, too, inducted into the international society for calligraphy at age 15. as a native of ireland, i'm very much looking forward to his lecture about the book of kells in addition to his keynote. plus, in conjunction with aocc, he'll be offering workshops through my calligraphy guild, so i signed up for three of those. i'm a little intimidated, but when am i ever going to get this chance again?
october will be a very full month. sacrificing the open studio tour was necessary because we're also going to the hp lovecraft film festival, the oregon shakespeare festival in ashland and the hood river heirloom apple days. and of course there's halloween and sven's birthday is the day afterwards. add to this a family visit and the general roster of studio events, and we'll see what happens when we make it to the other side.
May 22, 2006
by gl. at 3:33 pm
three more art events last week:
* a staged play reading: lost wavelengths
"DJ and self-styled musicologist Murray stalks the wilds of Middle America in search of the strange and wonderful songs of amateur musicians for his public radio program. From among a parade of odd, self-deluded and deranged outsiders, he hopes to lure “Enola Guy” - a mysterious, death-obsessed guitarist who never grants interviews or plays in public - into the open."
it sounded like an interesting concept, but it was sort of dull and really thick with innuendo & sexual jokes (and in my experience, when theatre people don't have anything to say, they leap to innuendo. it's very tiresome). during the conversation w/ the author, i realized he had wasted a prime opportunity to use the "parade of odd, self-deluded and deranged outsiders" as a greek chorus, reponding to the events as they unfold on stage.
* alberta art hop
also disappointing, as very little of the art insprired me. the theme this year was "the art of surprise/the surprise of art" and the non-juried show had lots of pieces from people who ignored the theme or barely played with it. there were four exceptions: a "virus" with a tiny chest of drawers inside, a 2-d piece that open two different ways, a large metal sculpture with a small crank that spun the contents of its head around, and a wall piece w/ wooden gears that spun a corndog through a cheery sky and then *dinged* a large bell unexpectedly. outside that exhibit, there were two others worth mentioning: the grace academy had an exhibit of poetry combined w/ woodcut prints from 8th graders, and there was a participatory drawing space nearby. i bought a cd from sassparilla, who made music sven & i danced to on the sidewalk, but everything else on alberta (we're talking 25 blocks, people!) was pretty blase.
* "create the world"
i still really love this event, which goes out of it way to have a variety of offerings for different learning & social styles. well managed yet casual, it has a high potential for whoo-whoo but doesn't go there unless you want it to.
i was there for about 12 hours and there were at least three times more presentations than i could attend, but i attended presentations like "You can learn to draw," "Are Men Oppressed?," "Core strengthening with the Big Blue Ball," "Building Rapport & Credibility: An Intro to Status Work," "Peaceful Parenting: Less Conflict, More Connection," "Juggling Fun," "Drum, Shake, Rattle and Roll Circle," "Allowing Serendipity" (and an impromptu paraffin dip, both from the woman who created deja shoes), "Mystery of Watercolor Revealed," "Creative Leadership in Community Well Being," "Improv Warmup and Story," "Evening readings--poetry and prose," tango lessons and finally we pushed aside the dining room table to swing dance at the end of the night.
i also shared a presentation this year presentation about "the benefits of a daily writing practice" and made a small, succinct handout i oughtta put online at some point. none of these presentations were more than 1/2 hour long: in between you snacked on delicious food and browsed the book/magazine/clothing exhange and explore the grounds and continued talking to people. i re-met some people i had only met last year and we were all genuinely glad to see each other. and dude, there's a treehouse!
May 20, 2006
mhcc visual arts student show reception
by gl. at 10:03 am
the reception for the mhcc visual arts student show was thursday. we hadn't gotten in the door very far before marti saw us and took us to what i call the "calligraphy ghetto" for unmounted pieces. most of my pieces were there because she ask me to participate at the very last minute, so i hadn't managed to frame any of the pieces. but very few of any of the calligraphy pieces were framed this year, and so most of the submissions were in this glass case. fortunately, born was already framed thanks to sven's amazing foamcore & copper wire creation, which marti loved and was showing off to everyone. (ooo, and worth mentioning: i sold "born" even before the show began! yeah!)
[the "calligraphy ghetto" for unmounted pieces]
last year the calligraphy pieces were more integrated into the rest of the show, which is a mix of all the different arts mhcc has to offer: sculpture, design, pottery (the pottery studio has a ton of wood stacked in front of it for the wood-fired kiln this weekend), drawing, painting, metalworking & jewelry. marti has almost convinced sven to take a metal-working class, in fact, as she led us away from the reception and down to the studio to show its array of delicious tools & enamels. will he resist the temptation? kim graham's sculpting class is most important right now, but maybe next year... ;)
May 9, 2006
mhcc visual arts student show
by gl. at 6:12 pm
i was asked with extremely short notice to participate in another art show! so if you're in the far reaches of gresham for some reason in the next couple of weeks, stop by the mhcc visual arts student show, which runs may10 (tomorrow!) though may26. the gallery is open monday-friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. the reception is may 18 noon-2 p.m., but since it's such an odd hour, i don't expect anyone to go.
but if you get a chance to see the show, you'll see the originals of several pieces i've shown on the blog:
i hope someone manages to see the show even though i probably won't see you at the oddly-timed reception. if you do, drop me a line, eh?
May 8, 2006
by gl. at 11:07 pm
last week was an eventful art week:
April 25, 2006
by gl. at 10:36 pm
who knew water aerobics was going to be a place for networking? i am pretty shy when i'm not actually facilitating and even more so when i'm in a swimsuit (or not in a swimsuit in the locker room). but i skipped a water aerobics class thursday to host the artist's way open studio and several people commented on me being gone.
when i hesitantly told them about the studio, they were very excited. an artist! that probably explained a lot about me, including my funny car. ;) so i was a little self-conscious because we were all trying to dry off and get dressed, but i did feel like i suddenly existed -- there were introductions and asking about classes and the handing out of cards.
several women were disparaging about their own talents, of course, and i wish i had a better set of responses for them. my approach to art & artist's way focuses on art exploration and creative self-expression: i don't care how good you are, i only care that you want to create something that means something to you. the skill will come as you allow yourself to work with the art, but most people get too discouraged too soon and don't give themselves a chance. you'd never learn to talk if you expected entirely elegant sentences to form the first time, you know?
unrelated but important to mention: i got my commission check from collage for the 4x4 show today! hooray!
March 28, 2006
process and product
by gl. at 11:13 pm
let me introduce you to fellow delighted documentarian miles hochstein, who runs the wonderful photographic sites portland ground and documented life. he says he considers himself more of a documenter than an artist, but i think documentation can be an art form, especially if you're compelled to do it. is it a form of creative self-expression? then that's the kind of art i adore.
does anyone remember the 2003 portland art center show "process"? i can find very little about it online anymore (damn the fickle web & bad organizations who don't archive things!), but this is what i wrote about it before i had an art blog:
"process" was an art show at the portland center for the advancement of culture [now called the portland art center]. an artist collaborated with a "documenter" responding with an equally artistic "documentation" of that artist's process:
btw, it was really cold in that space! if you go, bring a coat.
anyway, "process" is probably still one of my favorite shows ever & i was envious of the documenters. i would like to see another event like that or encourage it as a common method of artistic response. documentarians of the nw, unite!
March 11, 2006
won't go slow so's not to focus
by gl. at 11:09 pm
hey, look! a non-creata entry! instead, a day packed with art activities:
also, on friday i checked out the ceramics show "about place: the signature of a kiln" because it was in the mt. hood community college art gallery which is right next to my calligraphy class. one of my artist's way independent study students is a ceramicist and is almost giddy at all the nceca activity this weekend.
i have two and a half more creata sessions to write about & need to prepare for my tax appointment monday. but tonight, now, sleep!
March 4, 2006
se portland artwalk
by gl. at 10:50 pm
i was surprised to find many of the same exhibitors at the se portland artwalk from last year, so it didn't have quite the same impact and i didn't buy much (though yes, markalope, i stopped by juiceglass & bought some irresistable beads!). and apparently i missed melanie's last-minute addition, but the weather was good and it's fun to spend the afternoon exploring, so all in all it was a success. i can't believe we managed to fit it in after an artist's way independent study student and before seeing leopoldo off to thailand and marvelous marvin's bon voyage party to maui. happy trails, all!
March 3, 2006
no rest for the wicked
by gl. at 12:38 am
lots of art activities today:
February 23, 2006
4x4 art show a success!
by gl. at 11:21 pm
wow, what a crowd! collage was packed with people! and i am extremely pleased to announce my piece has already been sold! (thanks, colleen!)
i want to thank everyone who came: your support means a LOT to me. artists need other artists and friends who both encourage and support their endeavors (well, and who doesn't, really?). so when i say "thank you" here, i am full of gratitude & appreciation. many thanks to sven, michaelmas, susan, dian, jessica, leigh & her sister, kristen, colleen and amanda for coming by to say hi! thanks also to mph & linda sawaya, who both sent kind emails.
of course, this was just the reception and there's still plenty of time to see the show: it's up till march 27 at collage (1639 ne alberta). so if you find yourself in the area or with a hankering for small, accessible art, you should totally stop by. and because there won't be a big crowd like there was tonight, you'll have all the time you want to look at the 80-odd pieces. :)
sven bought a piece from linda womack tonight. he's been loving encaustics and we recently saw her work at an outside interactive installation. as a fellow dinnergrrl she's on my radar for a while, so i'm glad to have had an opportunity to influence an art purchase! afterwards, sven treated kristen & i to north pix, where i celebrated with a chocolate pear rosemary tart. :) thanks, sven!
February 19, 2006
by gl. at 11:07 pm
last sunday i got invited to a printmaking party by a woman who attended a previous artist's way open studio, and other than gocco & letterpress i don't have a lot of experience with traditional printing techniques, so i was very much looking forward to it. i expected to use use the large shiny wheeled press more than i did, but really it was simple monotyping that i really enjoyed.
monotyping involves painting a piece of plexiglass with a design, then laying a piece of paper over it and using a rolling pin to apply pressure. using the "get through your first 50 failures as fast as you can" rule, these are the first two monotypes i created while everyone else was trying to create the perfect one:
we used Rives BFK for the first batches of prints (and random paper later as supplies began to dwindle), which has a high rag content and is a beautifully creamy, lightly textured, thick, soft paper. we soaked the sheets for 10 minutes because we were using water-based pigment (gouache & watercolor crayons) and it helped lift the print from the small sheets of plexiglass. also, soaking the paper allowed the plate to create a luxurious emboss on the print.
emboldened by the ease & speed of making monotypes, i tried more. i've been wanting to make more stellar-themed art, so i brought out a copy of a star map from 365 starry nights (which i cannot recommend highly enough as a way to learn the night sky, and it's the same map i used in "web"):
i love these. they didn't come out as expected, but i think they're beautiful. i'd lay the plexiglass over the part of the sky i'd want to print, paint blue first and swirl it around, the paint the stars in. except once the blue is on, it's very difficult to see the stars and monotyping is an imprecise process with a lot of spread. so these are more impressionist than print, but i'd like to think they have the same spirit as van gogh's starry night.
then i tried using two plates w/ the same technique:
the second one is a ghostprint of the first, printing what was left on the plate after the first print. i like these, too; they have a flavour of those tinted images you see from nasa, or nighttime infrared images.
but i still couldn't identify constellations and chalked it up to the vagueries of the monotype process: i hadn't quite caught on that monoprints are a reverse printing process (that particular detail almost always eludes me because my 3d spatial ability is poor, and positive printing is one of the reasons i love gocco so). so when i made a G on the next piece, it came out backwards and i salvaged it by stamping letters over it.
yes, i know it looks like "kidneys" rather than "kind eyes." i was going for an awkward justification effect where the letters simply fill the space without spaces or punctuation, and it would have worked better if the upper lines were more consistent.
so i tried a backwards G on the plate but then painted over it with another water-based medium, which obliterated it. still, it made a nice texture, and the colour intrigued me enough to try a plant-based print with it:
i tried a couple of different plant-based prints i'm not showing here, actually: the others were too thick and i couldn't apply enough pressure to get them to print -- and when i used the large shiny press, i forgot to add my paper, and so printed onto newsprint! (and the print still didn't come out). however, another woman made a simply stunning print of a small pine branch, so i know it's possible.
i tried more dimensional objects, and the puzzle pieces below did the same thing: the wide swath of white in the middle is where the puzzle pieces didn't print. so i tried an overprint: i removed the puzzle pieces and printed the swath of paint still left on the plate. i didn't line it up very well, but i like the asymmetry of it. if i can find decent lowercase letter stamps (they're all uppercase or overly quirky stamps), i'd like to print "i want to know" on this piece.
at that point my brain was full, so my last piece was this pink & red checkerboard. check out that spread at the top! sheesh! also, you might notice how incredibly, um, off-kilter these pieces are becoming; it's a trend that begins early enough on that i ought to have corrected for it, but i didn't notice until it was too late and then couldn't figure out what i was doing wrong, so i want to be more careful on the next round.
i can't believe i walked out with almost a dozen prints! now my problem will be deciding what to sacrifice to attempt lettering on them...
February 16, 2006
4x4 art show
by gl. at 1:16 am
ee! i've been accepted to the 4x4 show! i recreated "notification" (formerly known as "you don't own her") to fit in a 4" square because i like it so much and am thrilled it will be seen in public. the art reception is 6-9 p.m. february 23 (next week!) during last thursday on alberta. collage is located at 1639 ne alberta and the show runs till march 27. come say hi! w/ more than 65 other artists, there will be lots to see. :)
[original version: i forgot to take pix of the one in the show!]
sven got a wooden craft tile at craft warehouse, painted its z-dimension edges with black acrylic and added a sawtooth hanger on the back. he also mounted the piece for me this afternoon when i was afraid to breathe on it lest it do what the last one did. thank you, sven!
again, this piece uses ink & gold leaf; the stain uses four different colours of red. i tried using watercolor paper and arches text wove, and i am surprised to find the arches text wove worked better for this piece (and a little disturbed, since i gave all mine away).
but the most surprising discovery was that despite the recent investment in several types of folded pens, nothing compares to my favorite calligraphic tool in the whole wide world, the soda pop pen (a writing implement made from an aluminum soda can & a chopstick -- someday i should post the instructions).
see, i struggled to create a decent O with the firefly and the folded pen, even after consulting the calligrapher's bible (the only lettering book i know with not just one but three ruling pen hands) -- the edges are just too stiff, i think. but the soda pop pen is so flexible and effortless it's simply joyful. its only lettering deficiency is a tendency to scrape the inside of the letter, which causes the middles of strokes to be slightly lighter than the edges. but i had strayed from soda pop pens because i wanted more durable, easier-to-clean pens i didn't have to make myself. well, then. guess i'd better learn to cut my own quills next...
February 4, 2006
mare nubium estates
by gl. at 11:30 pm
i was going to write about this elsewhere, but sven considers this a "creative endeavor" worth blogging about over here:
tonight we went to an "alternative history" party (happy birthday, edward!). since the 20-year challenger explosion commemoration was this week, i ran across an old life photoessay where christa mcauliffe says of her children, "within their lifetime there will be paying passengers on the shuttle." i'm not sure there will be now, but you know if there's a chance, there's someone who will want to capitalize on it. and i've probably been influenced by the number of houses for sale in our neighborhood, so i decided that my alternative history would begin, "what if the challenger mission had completed successfully?" certainly cheesy lunar subdivisions wouldn't be that far off.
so... welcome to mare nubium estates!
[click the photo to see the "for sale" flyer (138k pdf)]
sven photoshopped the picture & i designed the flyer, nametags and sign for the cheese plate ("compliments of luna realty") while sven made them physical. we attended the party w/ more-or-less matching outfits, nametags on our suit jackets, translucent folders w/ flyers to pass out, and a a bowl of adorable bite-sized cheese cut into star shapes. i think people were impressed and a little overwhelmed we had gone through so much trouble. we're no good at socializing at parties so at least it gave us something to talk about. :)
January 10, 2006
how to have an opinion about art
by gl. at 4:13 pm
one of the hardest things about being an artist's way facilitator is having an opinion about art. i used to be incredibly critical & cynical, but one of the great things artist's way gave me was kinder eyes towards the art of others. as rob has said, "'bad' art is often a preliminary stage, larval -- even embryonic -- for the good stuff. We can help to guide it along, give it sunlight and water and sing to it, or we can crush it, piss on it, darken hopes and souls." i'm very much of the opinion that artist's way is less about Art and more about living a more creative life, and part of that involves a certain amount of forgiveness and generosity, both for yourself & others. it's like being able to taste the love in a homemade pumpkin pie, even if it has too much dark molasses in it.
when facilitating, i don't have an opinion at all about the art that gets made because artist's way is about the process, not the result. but i also believe there are legitmate uses for criticism, and i was really conflicted about how to legitimately like or dislike a piece of art w/o betraying my neutrality as a facilitator or the tenets of artist's way.
on thursday i think i finally figured it out. i went for an artwalk on first thursday with a group that was initially enthusiastic but became discouraged pretty quickly, rolling their eyes and raising their eyebrows & crossing their arms, moving to a bar to complain about the state of the art world. i have to admit, a lot of art gallery art doesn't usually appeal to me, but it often inspires me to make my own, and i like to immerse myself in all the influences. but the stumbling block for the group was hildur bjarnadóttir's "overlap" and its neighbor, victoria haven's "the lucky ones," both understated, abstract & geometrical, with distinct flavours of portland grunge. the group felt these pieces were lazy and obvious and incomprehensible as Art. i didn't really like them, either, but i didn't as actively dislike them and the strongly negative group reaction disturbed me. i didn't feel like i wanted to have to defend a show i didn't feel strongly about. can you dislike something and still be glad it exists?
later that night i discovered the key is to give yourself a chance to engage with the art before deciding whether you like or dislike it. after you've applied some form of response to it (like, say, the phenomenological/aesthetic/artistic responses i introduce in the creative clusters :), then you can hate it. but to hate it on a purely visual level means you're viewing it as entertainment, not art. we often say a piece doesn't "speak" to us, but often we don't try to talk to it; we just look at it and move on. if you view art as a form of creative self-expression, you have an obligation to try to engage with it, to ask questions, to look for the story. this is where viewer/artist collaboration can happen, and it should be the artist's obligation to help with that process (unfortunately, most artist statements distance the viewer even further). if after attempting to respond to the piece it still doesn't work for you, then fine! but now you have more to base your opinion on than whether your 4-year-old niece could make something better.
the other part of the solution, which came a couple of days later, was finally settling into a workable distinction between creation, craft & art. st. francis of assisi wrote, "he who works with his hands is a laborer. he who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. he who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist."
aha! so if the mystery ingredient for art is heart, an intention of creative self expression, then i can appreciate pieces that don't move me for their craft, or even dislike them if i find myself unable to find their heart. this is a huge relief: not being able to have an opinion about art has made me feel hypocritical and a little schizophrenic. bless you, father; i shall go forth & sin no more.
(btw, my favorite pieces from first thursday were from james jack's "ink" series, a beautiful exploration of calligraphic forms and sink marbling. these pix don't do it justice.)
January 4, 2006
and now for a word from our sponsors...
by gl. at 11:53 pm
i've procrastinated promotional work for the february artist's way creative clusters long enough: i meant to begin in december, but it vanished in the holiday haze and *poof!* and here it is january already.
though i had small creative clusters in fall, because my conversion rate for them was pretty high, vickie recommended i try simply extendeding my reach this time. so my goal is to distribute flyers or business cards to 150 different individuals & sites, doubling the 70 i had in fall. this requires a much more structured distribution strategy, which is both tiring and tedious. however, it does give me the opportunity to explore more of portland; it's amazing how one can become accustomed to what one already knows.
sven has been pounding the se pavement while i've been working on nw & ne. we've discovered hollywood is very unfriendly towards flyers (a woman at sweet indulgence even lied to me!), whereas alberta & fremont are welcoming of them. sven said burnside was a tough street, too. sven can consistently distribute 27 flyers in a 4-hour time period, but it takes me 5.5 hours to do 21. at that rate, the cost per flyer is relatively high, even at minimum wage (now $7.25/hour in oregon, so that makes each flyer worth about $1.50 each in labour alone).
before working the lists we began with 30-40 sites and as of today, we are up to 128 sites. i'm pretty confident we'll reach 150 pretty quickly now: i still have some nw to finish and sw to begin, but i also have a slew of networking events lined up this month. my weakest point is north (like the mississippi area) and gresham/clackamas sites.
oh! but i got my first registration today! and it's not at all related to any of the promotion i've just written about! oh, the irony!
reason 3,015 why i love portland: the museum of modern materialism, which i discovered across the street from cinema 21 yesterday while trying to juggle flyers, an umbrella and an ipod nano. the museum is a big red vending machine which dispenses a colorful plastic ball w/ trinkets inside for 50 cents (very much like my beloved poetry gumballs). my art piece included a small handful of tiny napoleon-style army men (too bad they're too tiny for mph's mensies; maybe i'll give them to grace weston); a 6-sided die; a simple sticker w/ the words "stay awake!" printed below an alien head; a piece of translucent holographic plastic w/ an embedded honeycomb pattern; and scraps from a language workbook, perhaps, that say things like "say these words in alphabetical order: flute, trumpet, oboe, clarinet."
December 4, 2005
the power of the portfolio
by gl. at 11:22 pm
we attended jill kelly's holiday open house today. jill kelly is a local author, editor & creative facilitator we keep running across via joanne, creative job club, vicki's art show, the last japanese garden writing workshop, and the art marketing workshop. (and i am shocked & suprised to discover we haven't written about the japanese garden workshop or vicki's art show!)
as naturally shy people, we stayed at the peripheries and nibbled the savory snacks -- until sven whipped out his 2005 art portfolio (a simple black plastic photo album) and then we brought down the house! we were almost the last to leave! we met more people in the last 20 minutes then we did the rest of the party. and of course, upon reflection, what would a party of creative spirits bond over? art! man, i gotta make me one of those! ;)
also of note: before the party we stopped by the mac store and picked up tara, our new terrabyte backup drive! when i get a chance (probably after i get my own shipment of apple goodness this week: a new 12" powerbook & nano!), i'll do the gigabyte shuffle: the 500gb drive will become the new moviemaking device and the 200gb drive will become the new media storage device (definitely itunes, possibly iphoto, but we're not sure yet).
November 5, 2005
lost and found in the stacks
by gl. at 1:30 pm
i think i would cry at this exhibit, i would be so delighted.
October 16, 2005
portland open studios tour: westside
by gl. at 5:56 pm
the portland open studios tour eastside conflicted with the hp lovecraft film festival last weekend, so we made up for lost time on the westside this weekend. the westside tour is always a difficult trail to follow because you invariably end up getting lost in multnomah village or the west hills around beaverton & tigard.
afterwards, we went to an ostentatious open house (over $850,000!) and explored a couple of other houses w/ unusual construction. then we came home, ordered pizza, and watched nausicaa.
what a busy week we've had! and i haven't begun to write about many of our other artistic adventures. i'm a little heartened that it seems to be getting easier to talk about ourselves as artists, although after pushing myself to have my artist's way spring schedule ready for the open studios, i only gave away 2 cards. :P
sven & i have discussed applying to the open studios tour ourselves, and we get stuck at "but what's the point?". neither of us necessarily feel compelled to sell art, especially sven. i'd want to get participants for clusters, but the tour is unlikely to be a big source for that. we like talking about our work and inviting people to the space -- is that enough?
October 15, 2005
LSGL teaser kicks off 2005 H.P. Lovecraft Filmfest
by sven at 6:08 pm
Last weekend (Oct 7-9) we attended the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival at the Hollywood Theater. My one-minute teaser for "Let Sleeping Gods Lie" was the very first item in Shorts Block One... Thus, kicking off the festival! (Or so I'd like to think. There were three screens, after all.)
Thank you Laura G., Leopoldo, Michael B., Philip F., Alex R. for coming to the show! --And a special shout out of apologetic gratitude to Jacque & Mari who came, but got turned away at the door because Saturday night sold out. I appreciate your support!
The teaser showed three times: twice on the upper left screen, and once on the main screen (Saturday). Getting to have something on the big screen -- even if it was just a minute long -- was a dream come true for me. During the third screening, the sound system was wonky; but I didn't care. It was great just to be shown -- and every night, the theater was packed. Here's a photo of the the blizzard sequence actually playing on the upstairs screen:
Going into the fest, I was most worried about how the colors would turn out. Happily, they worked out just fine. The super-saturated red can be problematic on a regular television screen -- but projection dulled it down just enough. ...Color-wise, I think I had one of the prettiest clips in the show.
I talked to five or six of the other filmmakers and gave away freebie copies of the teaser DVD as good will gifts. They're excited to see the final product when it's done, and commiserated with/lauded me regarding the insane time commitment that producing this animation requires.
A few reviews of the shorts block have gone up online. Here's the feedback I'm getting... Folks are confused about what kind of animation they're seeing. [It's a variety of rotoscoping.] They're wondering how long the final piece will be. [Between 7 and 15 minutes.] One commented that the lavamen effect could get pretty old pretty quick... Which makes me think that I really need to make the "body heat fading away" sequence at the end sing, as a payoff for my strange visual premise. Folks said that the teaser was really too short to be able say much about it.
My big worry now: My notion that I could merge experimental art film with gothic horror might not make sense to a lot of people. This idea that the creatures are eternal, thus more real, thus photo-realistic -- whereas the ephemeral humans are blurry -- also may not communicate. There's not a lot I can do about it now; I'll just have to make my peace with the potential for blank looks. But me -- I still think it's a really cool concept. And in the end, since this isn't particularly a money-making venture, that's what counts -- right?
Oh, I almost forgot to mention: I spent the two days before the fest doing promo materials. I made two t-shirts (see photo above), a new sticker-label for the DVDs, and seventy snazzy little business cards / flyers. All of the flyers were gone by the end of the fest. And I think I gave away about 20 DVDs. ...Now that I've figured out how to use Disk Utility to burn .img files, it only takes about 15 minutes to produce each disk. I had a frenzied little DVD factory going on in the studio... [Thanks, mph, for the last minute iChat help with the software!]
October 8, 2005
two quick news items
by gl. at 11:22 am
finally! we have a scarlet star studios logo! what a relief: i've been trying to be inspired enough to do that for months and months. haven't decided how i want to transform the blog to match, but piece by piece, it will all come together.
also, and more importantly, sven premiered the "let sleeping gods lie" teaser at the hp lovecraft film festival last night! it was the first thing shown -- what a way to open! i heard murmers of approval behind us, especally when the music cue signaled "this can only end well." special thanks to laura grant, who appeared especially to see this!
(and i'm sure sven will write about this later, but it seemed too important to keep quiet about it! if you want a chance to see it on the big screen, shorts block one also shows tonight and tomorrow... :)
September 20, 2005
tba05: dada ball
by gl. at 9:38 pm
alas, the dada ball was the most disappointing event, perhaps because it was the final tba event and i had higher expectations of it. i had hoped for cool art, good music, good food, and spectacular costumes. none of that was true: only one art piece (large flower-shaped lamps); djed club music & a loud dazed guitar band; bagels, cream cheese, pears & coffee after the one small water cooler ran out of water; and i only saw two costumes i thought were clever or impressive (one, a woman in a hoop without the skirt, a blindfold, a stick mask w/ painted eyes, and a tall wire basket w/ lightbulbs in it for a hat; two, a man who was wearing a replica of duchamp's "bicycle wheel" on his head).
and it was pretty smokey, considering it was in a fairly open-air warehouse setting. it was like attending a nightclub, and you know how much i like nightclubs. *crickets* at the end of the night they broke out the big colored chalk and an impromptu performance with bicycles was gathering in the furthest room, but it was time for me to go.
for my costume, i threaded white christmas lights through my hair, dusted myself heavily w/ glitter powder, added crystals & stars over my exposed skin, and wore sven's sparkly sequined dress -- the same one i wore for burning man last year-- grey tights & my motorcycle boots. not the best costume, but costumes have never been my forté and in the dark, it looked angelic. against a wall, it even looked like i had wings:
so farewell, tba! i'll see you again next year, but i won't be the same wide-eyed and hopeful ingénue i once was.
September 19, 2005
tba05: fluid hug-hug
by gl. at 11:10 pm
another in the short series of events sven & i attended at this year's tba festival....
i was sadly unmoved by kota yamazaki fluid hug-hug's performance of rise:rose. the music was great, the costumes evocative, the stage sparse but moody. kota himself was as lithe and and fluid as his name. but there was no emotional connection in the piece, no sense of depth or purpose. the other dancers seemed misplaced and unattached. it was a long time to feel absent. upon leaving the theatre, i responded more to the the full moon outside, burning behind quicksilver clouds.
September 18, 2005
tba05: portland stories
by gl. at 11:07 pm
this is another post begun over a week ago. i'm catching up, slowly but surely...
while waiting in pioneer courthouse square for a brief and impromptu tori amos concert, carl discovered portland stories, two women behind a nordstrom's display window who would "talk" with you using greasepaint pencils, though as the window became covered in writing, it became harder to find space to write. i was charmed & delighted by both the concept and the women, who seemed genuinely engaged with and interested in everyone. afterwards, one of them specifically stopped to thank me for telling them about the tori show, which they ducked out briefly to see.
September 16, 2005
tba05: dj spooky
by gl. at 5:29 pm
wow. this is a post that was begun a week ago. well, you know what i've been doing. sven's doing some really neat sculpture things that are very much like his open studio collage but they're not ready to be written about yet, which is why i'm taking up all the talk time here. no, i'm not self-conscious... why do you ask?
paul d. miller, aka dj spooky that subliminal kid, has a very long moniker but gave a relatively short lecture. when it began, it was dense with interesting language and concepts, probably in no small part due to the recent publication of his first book rhythm science, published by mit press.
some highlights and things i wish had been discussed more:
but the last half was essentially a portfolio review: clips with little segue or relevance to anything he had previously talked about. and the q&a was lacking because he wasn't good at actually answering the questions he was asked (except when he was talking about reducing "the band" to just a computer -- when i asked if he missed working with other musicians, he was emphatic: "no. i don't miss babysitting the bass player."). his persona is wonderfully erudite but playful and even kind, though, and i'm still intrigued enough to read a copy of rhythm science should it fall into my hands, or in case cough i buy a copy for cough someone for xmas and read it before i, um, wrap it.
(random: for a dj whose livelihood depends on sampling, i find it ironic that he chose a creative commons license that stipulates no derivative works can be made from his pieces.)
September 9, 2005
by gl. at 11:15 pm
sven and I are attending several time-based arts festival events this week. this is the first i've attended, though i've been eyeing their catalogues since i moved here. streb was a free event at pioneer courthouse square last night to inaugurate their third year and act as a farewell for their fearless leader, who's moving to a melbourne art institute (lucky gel!).
sven found us a great spot at the top of the fountain where we spread a blanket and i dangled my feet over the edge. it began with a bang, featuring an energetic drum march down broadway and through the square, departing for parts unknown. and streb's first piece, "wild blue yonder," was a jaw-dropping experiment in trampolines, timing, and tumbling. most of the rest of the pieces failed to carry through on this spectacular start: "spin," "hoops," "rise&fall," "slipnslide," "slapstick" & "fly" required a lot of setup for one-trick wonders that have been done better by other circus performers. but "gauntlet" was another eyes-wide performance that involved walking and jumping and leaping and crawling past huge cinderblocks scything through the air like deadly pendulums -- a terrific piece until they suddenly lost a performer and the lead guy brought the rest up for a hasty bow and ran his hand over his throat to signal the tech guys to kill the lights. yeek. fortunately, after intermission they all seemed none the worse for wear. the other well-done pieces involved interstitials in plexiglass boxes that looked barely big enough to fit a person inside, let alone a squirming one or six.
streb ended in a cloud of bubbles, which streb's director dubbed "antigravity machines." in the lights, they twinkled like stars. speaking of which, in the glare of pioneer courthouse square, it was only possible to see three stars, the stars which make up the "summer triangle": deneb in cygnus, altair in aquila, and vega in lyra. afterwards, sven & i danced fast and loosely in the crowd. and the traffic out wasn't nearly as bad as we feared it might be. all in all, a good night.
August 28, 2005
LSGL in H.P. Lovecraft Film Fest!
by sven at 9:15 pm
Well, I haven't received an official acceptance notice -- but the "Let Sleeping Gods Lie" teaser is now listed on the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival schedule! Go check out the website!
...For historical purposes, though, here's what the text there says:
Updates coming late August but will include: Arcane, The Call of Cthulhu, The Gibbering Horror of Howard Ghormley, The Lovecraft Syndrome, Ryleh, The Vessel, Late Bloomer, Experiment 17, The King in Yellow, March the 13th, 1941, The Courtesy Nudge, Let Sleeping Gods Lie, The Night of the Octopus, The Statement of Randolph Carter
August 20, 2005
on word and art word: show ends
by gl. at 9:54 pm
btw, the on word & art word show ended thursday and i went to pick up my pieces yesterday. as we arrived, we saw the curator taking pieces into city hall, a different building than the visual arts gallery, and when we got inside, they were already setting up another show. aiee! so we ran back to the other building and found my pieces in the office of one of gresham's city administrators. it turns out the curator had decided to leave early so he could do a kiln firing.
July 20, 2005
on word and art word: reception
by gl. at 3:58 pm
it was a fairly good reception, as receptions go. certainly i've said before that i am missing the mingling gene that powers most receptions, but enough people i knew came to keep me busy. colleen was there when sven & i got there, even wearing the labyrinth gift calligraphy! then a current mac student stopped by. rob & kyrie got there just a couple of minutes before the reception ended and the gresham city hall meeting began. michaelmas was late; we had to slip in and whisper and point. alas, my calligraphy instructor was apparently hit w/ a golf ball and had to stay home.
btw, i've already had to reprint both batches of artist's way flyers! that's a milestone i didn't hit for the spring classes. being out & about in gresham yesterday allowed me to hit a couple of places there and give flyers to people who stopped by the art show (thanks, colleen, rob & michaelmas!).
July 1, 2005
on word and art word: artwork delivered!
by gl. at 6:38 pm
i dropped my four pieces off at the show today & got a handful of postcards featuring two of my works verso! ee! i've never had that before. i am painfully aware that the "a grace it had, devouring" picture is the wrong resolution, but "born" sure looks good. :D
June 21, 2005
summer solstice labyrinth
by gl. at 10:02 pm
"Welcome! The summer solstice marks the longest day of the year. We are at a celestial pause: there is still time to delight in the warmth of the sun and the promise of the season, but today marks the slow slide of the sun into fall."
we hosted a summer solstice labyrinth tonight. it was just me & sven because i only put a call out to the artist's way sacred circle list, figuring i wanted to keep it small the first time. still, i printed little handouts in case people wandering by in the neighborhood were curious and wanted to try; when we were making it we caused such a ruckus! tonight, however, we were upstaged by the house being built across the street. only one mildly curious boy on a scooter and his jogging mom.
oh, well. i had a happy solstice, at any rate. and having a labyrinth is magic. :)
June 19, 2005
on word and art word: paperwork
by gl. at 10:21 pm
so i got my paperwork in for the "on words and up words" calligraphy show at gresham city hall next month. tonight the curator called and asked for some print-ready pix so that they could go on the promotional postcard. whee! the only problem being that i don't have any; i only have web versions. so off i go to the studio when i thought i was going to bed.
May 27, 2005
on word and art word
by gl. at 11:29 pm
oo! i'm going to exhibit four pieces in the "on word and art word" exhibit at gresham city hall in july! my calligraphy teacher introduced me to the guy who's hanging the show and he said yes! the pieces will be the four i still have framed: "aliya's tree," "blue fish," "tongue far from heart" and "a grace it had, devouring." of these, only "tongue far from heart" will not be for sale. not that i expect them to sell, but "tongue far from heart" is the first piece i executed from a late-night calligraphic epiphany, and it was my first insight into how the artist's way was finally working for me, so i consider it irreplaceable.
May 21, 2005
mhcc calligraphy: class 7
by gl. at 2:51 pm
it rained so hard we got leaks yesterday. combine that with the monotonous strokes of blackletter, and it's like chinese water torture. :) actually, i like blackletter; it comes out of my fingers really easily and in a rhythm unmatched by any other hand.
it also turns out we were not doing spanish round gothic last time (though the handout said we were); instead, we were doing "rotunda," and this week we did spanish round gothic. the ironic part is that spanish round gothic is a "rounder" hand than rotunda.
during the last half of the class we carved stamps, the neat part of which was coloring them w/ crayola markers instead of using a stamp pad. in this case, it turns out the second impression is much more detailed and beautiful than the first one.
there's a calligraphy show july in gresham. the instructor has asked me to bring in some of my stuff next week to possibly submit. ee!
May 17, 2005
mhcc calligraphy: class 6
by gl. at 4:59 pm
eep! almost forgot to write about the last calligraphy class! we covered versals, which i always love, (especially roman capital versals), and i smiled a little at the juxtaposition of using fluorescent gel pens to create ancient letterforms. we also began spanish round gothic, which also has a wide pen manipulation (from 30-90 degrees), but it's not as schizophrenic as rustics and really has a flow and density that's similar to uncials. i've been jonesing to practice it for the last few days.
we also got to go to the student art show. some very nice calligraphy books and pieces, but the work that really got me was a boxy installation covered with pine boughs, and the inside was red and lit and as huge as a giant's heart. two doorways were flanked with maroon velvet curtains and inside were golden buckets filled with inky blackness and a crack in the ceiling had text i don't remember peeking out.
masarie open house/create the world
by gl. at 4:03 pm
i already wrote about this on my other blog, but it was mixed in w/ star wars and this is an interesting enough event that it's worth mentioning here in case i ever get around to doing something about it here at the studio.
the "create the world" party was an "open house" of sorts, an all-day event in the raleigh hills area where we talked, ate, and drifted between mini sessions about things people were interested in, like wire-wrapped bracelets, non-violent communication, or ukranian cooking. not that it was as agenda-heavy as a conference, mind you; instead, it was a celebration of passions and discovery, complete with a game room, meditation room, a no talking/reading room, and a treehouse to explore. it's a format i find endearing and exciting, and probably the perfect place for a creative curious introvert like me to meet people.
March 30, 2005
it @ nocturnal
by gl. at 12:29 am
sven & i went to it @ nocturnal tonight (the last night it's at nocturnal; next month it moves to acme). starts at 7 -- ha! michaelmas & i were there at 7 and they said to come back in 10 or 15 minutes. (michaelmas was interested in nocturnal because it used to be the home of future dreams.) we waited till they let us in the door, then decided to go home and watch buffy. by the time i watched an episode of buffy, said my goodbyes and drove back to nocturnal, they still hadn't started yet! sven & i then waited in a crowding, smoky bar with a very obnoxious man yelling things every chance he could get. the in-jokes were thick and furious. so the atmosphere was not so much fun.
once they got around to showing the movies finally, though, it got lots better. i like seeing people make and show art. sven seemed inspired. and cinema queso's work is pretty good.
March 11, 2005
red76: blow back
by gl. at 11:40 pm
reed had an ephemera exhibit from red76's ny public archive project. it was unfortunately spread between the kaul auditorium & the library (kaul had more of a "history & background" flavour while the library actually showcased some of the actual items gathered by the project). and alas, like most ephemera exhibits, it was hampered by the glass that separated you from it. but the actual project itself is very cool & is another nudge towards my idea for distributing a "thoughtful alphabet" about town.