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was sold to gypsies as a small child for half a tank of gas and a kitten. She was quickly, if not easily, retrieved by her mother after the kitten was revealed to be an Eldrich horror looking for a ride into the nearest metropolitan area to begin wreaking havoc. It's been a bone of contention between Maria and her family ever since, whether the Horror-kitten would've been more or less trouble than she grew up to be.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

School 33

Last Friday, my schools' art club paid visits to some of Baltimore's art galleries. I shared my experience at Maryland Art Place yesterday. Today, spotlight on School 33.

School 33 is a community art gallery which not only exhibits individual artists, but allows the community to become involved in the gallery as well. None of the students knew this going in, so imagine our surprise when we found out we got to contribute to the gallery.

The gallery, by local fiber artist Melissa Webb, was titled The Temporary Nature of Ideas.

"As a fiber artist, I love the process of making… of obsessively crafting an object, a costume, or an installation… then combining the fruits of these efforts to create entirely new realities through the use of performance and audience participation.  I tend to construct detail-oriented, otherworldly scenarios that can be viewed and interacted with in a casual manner, and where the performers are encouraged to react and improvise.

The work becomes fully realized through this continuous interaction between the performer, the viewer, and the surrounding environment. I am interested in removing the separation between the viewer and the work of art, as well as between the audience member and the performer.  I want to enable others to become directly involved with the work, and to give them a role in determining the ultimate outcome of each piece.  This concept is evident in The Temporary Nature of  Ideas, a series of large-scale, “living” installations that I began in 2009. Viewer / participants, using provided materials, are invited to delve into the process of making with me, and to be a part of the growth taking place over time within the space." -Melissa Webb
Walking into the gallery was initially overwhelming. There was so much to look at, so many contributions from the artist and from the public to take in and interpret. Without a chance to breathe, we were shuffled into an adjacent room, where buckets of cloth, yarn, and netting lined one wall, with hot glue guns on the other. The floor was strewn with pillows for us to sit on while we worked. We were supposed to make something, to use the cloth to express an instantaneous, fleeting idea.

Though it wasn't said, it felt like we'd been shown just a glimpse of the gallery to inform us what we were creating for, but then left to our own devices and our own ideas. It was slightly staggering and most of my art club companions were sharing looks of confusion; our college does not offer courses to deal with spontaneity. But at some point we all got swept up in creation. There were plenty of ideas, tenuous and incomplete, and by the end, all but the most uninspired of us had something to add to the gallery. 

My little contribution (pictured left) got me into a discussion with the artist herself, about ideas that come out of nowhere and the bits and pieces of our lives and experiences that somehow coalesce into something coherent. By the way, Melissa is really nice. Just FYI.

I will refrain talking about my piece in this blog, but if anyone is really curious, leave a comment and I'll explain there.

As it was, this exhibit was unusual, unexpected, and totally worth the hot glue I spilled on my jeans. I'm a little sad that I won't get my little doll pictured here back, but there's a wonderful sense of satisfaction in contributing and knowing that others can see and enjoy your creations.

The Temporary Nature of Ideas closes this week, on the 30th. There's a free closing reception Friday October 29th, 6-9pm. But please check out upcoming exhibits. The gallery is free and open to all ages.

The exhibit gets an B+. It's a little cluttered and confusing, but getting to contribute adds a lot to the experience.

The gallery gets a B-. While the mission is fabulous and the galleries interesting, the building is tight. And whereas the Maryland Art Place is impossible to find because of the surround structures, School 33 is impossible to find because the last thing you'd identify the building as would be an art gallery.

Critically Yours,

Maria D.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Maryland Art Place

Friday of last week, my colleges art club visited two Baltimore art galleries: Maryland Art Place and School 33.

Maryland Art Place is a small gallery on Market Street, hidden between Rams Head Live and Power Plant Live, two of the largest, most popular clubs in the downtown (though they're moving to a larger, more visible location in a few weeks. More on that next month). The gallery is small and at times slightly sterile, but unorthodoxly charming. Their current exhibit, Art and Film, seems at first like a very stereotypical modern art exhibit. However, by the end, it was probably my favorite of the galleries we saw. The first two rooms of the gallery are devoted to Glenda Wharton, an animator whose film, "The Zo and the Invisible Friend" was at this years Sundance Film Festival. On display were 16 original cells from the movie.

Glenda Wharton's style reminded me of a more sophisticated version of the drawings in one of my favorite children's books, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Her illustrations provoke gut reactions; the imagery is not comfortable or especially beautiful, but it is captivating. The movie is hypnotic, keeping your eyes glued to the screen even as you're dragged through a nightmare. It's a fabulous show for fall, evocative of the decay and gloom we naturally associate with the shortening of days. The fact that Halloween is also fast approaching adds a disturbing appropriateness to the show.

The rest of the gallery is devoted to the videos of four other artists. Sadly, we had to move on to the next gallery before I got to really see them, so I don't have much to say. However, the one video I did get to see some of was LoopLoop by Canadian filmmaker, Patrick Bergeron. On a trip to Seoul, Korea, Bergeron videotaped a train ride through the city. The video loops sections of the ride over and over again, focusing on the details revealed in the video that were missed in real life. His concept statement and the video itself were maybe not art, but they were certainly interesting and thought-provoking. How much life do we miss while trying to survive?

The exhibition gets an A from me. It was interesting, thought-provoking, mostly unpretentious, and I want to go back.

The gallery itself gets a B. While I love the curator and the space is nice, it's nearly impossible to find. I'm eager to see the space they're moving to.

Tomorrow On the Blog: School 33. With photos!

Aesthetically Yours,
Maria D.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Where Is October Going???

I had PLANS for blogging this month. They were GLORIOUS plans! Things of BEAUTY and PERFECTION! They are obviously not to be.

This semester midterms are not at the middle of term, but instead are terrible things that stretch from the 4th week of school to the week before finals start. The online writing lab won't send back ANY of my assignments with edits and one of my teachers is grading us in part on whether we follow instructions of the lab editors. The on campus student writing lab is never open anymore, and the new libraries grand opening has been pushed back AGAIN I've heard, so I have no where quiet to study. This is not including my work with the BVAF, my continuing job quest, and personal work on Nevermore and other assorted projects. And I lost my good hat with all my pins and buttons from BEA. Someone kill me now, please.

I'm going to try VERY HARD to do at least SOME of what I was planning in these last two weeks of October. I was such a good idea and I was looking forward to it SO much. *sob* I DO have an editorial I was planning to submit to the school paper, but which I can also publish here. And I have some movies and books I've been meaning to review. And I wanted to tell you all about my very first RPG. But OH GOD WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE???? WHERE???????

Hopelessly Yours,
Maria D.

ETA - the library, at least, is still opening as scheduled. And I just found out that it's a Green building! Totally eco-friendly! And it has a cafe! And seats that haven't been jizzed on! Oh happy day!