If You Don’t Feed the Fire, You Can Only Work by the Light of the Embers

That’s my attempt to be quotable. Without sassy characters spouting this stuff, we’re left with titles. This one should be the retort of Jen, the younger sister of a cynical, burned-out musician named Josh. Hm.

Hold on, let me just write down this pitch for a show.

What I’m talking about, though, is making sure you have enough fuel to burn. Never mind inspiration, you need stuff to steal from. As much art as you can handle stuffed in you so it mixes into a stew with all the other art you see and hear.

Go to galleries, web sites, shows, concerts, forums, colleges, museums, streaming TV, magazines, libraries.

And then? I don’t know how or why, but unless you’re trying yo be like one specific person, your things come out different. Art magic.

Thinking About How We Approach Thinking About Art

I know, it sounds convoluted to me, too. What I’m pondering is how the mindset we have when we encounter something, “an art,” affects how we experience it.

From personal anecdata, pushing aside as much as I can any preconceptions about it. I’d like to think we experience an elevated state from accepting and examining a work, in other words giving it a chance to be its best.

This probably deserves fleshing out further, later.

The Lesson Learned Isn’t Always the Lesson Expected

It isn’t even the lesson being taught. Whether by yourself or someone playing the role of your teacher, what we learn to do and to be can be unexpected and surprising.

The important thing is to be open to it. To watch for change and insight. Understanding is often simple and incremental. Very little in our creative lives is sudden or obvious.

Photo Stream of Every Floor’s Glass Tile Mural in My Building

Opposite the elevators in my apartment building on every floor is a glass tile mural. The colors and pattern are different on every floor. I’ve been wanting to check out the differences, and today I decided to take a photo of all of them, so I walked floor-to-floor by the stairs as a kind of micro-pilgrimage.

It’s thrilling to see such a variety of colors and sequencing, and I wish I knew who designed/installed them because a lot of care and thought clearly went into the choices.

This sort of public art is an endearing kind. Something meant for just those who live next to it, but available to curious others and visitors. It’s abstract contemporary stuff, sure, but it’s also got some of the cultural connection most murals have.

I’ve Been Pondering a Comics Thing for a Bit and Will Probably Continue to Do So

Finger sketching on the phone is hard with figures.

I’ve been looking at Supersons, the DC team-up of Superman’s and Batman’s kids. I’m not very interested in much that is superhero—despite enjoying several of the Marvel movies—but for some reason this really grabs me.

The boys are struggling with their own identities, not just because of the privilege of power (and wealth), but also abilities that are just beginning to develop. This might be worth exploring, but I don’t know if I care about getting into the series so much. Something like it, somewhere, though.

A Simple Mysterious Cephalopod Emerging From an Ancient Floor Suckers Us In

Not a horror movie, it’s a reminder that there are still discoveries to be made in the world, not everything has been uncovered.

Via The History Blog: Pebble mosaic found in 4th c. BC Greek bath house

Things like the things you make may have been done before, but that’s been true for thousands of years. We remake the images and thoughts and ideas we’ve always made, filtered through one small, unique lens that can only be our own. 

Best of the @WomensArt1 Feed in the Last Day

Seriously, it’s a never-ending stream of treasures, if you aren’t subscribed already. My three favorites from the last day:

Amrita Sher-Gil, a painter who seems to me to have focused on women and their daily lives

Meredith Woolnough, who crafts beautiful, vibrant allegories to natural forms, skeletal and structural

And my favorite, Kumi Yamashita, whose work you may have seen in viral photo shares of her intricate nail & thread portraits or the same made with credit card rubbings. She works mainly with light and shadow, though, and those simultaneously delightful and disturbing sculptures are just amazing.

Art History Is Full of Artists Who Don’t Make the Textbooks, but Who Are Often Brilliant and Innovative

Every bit as genius as several of the abstract expressionist leaders was Thai painter Tang Chang, and his work is the subject of a retrospective at The Smart on the U of Chicago campus. When I look at Chang’s work, including “concrete poetry” (I need more of that in my life), it’s easy to see how narrow my view is—even with some significant effort, both in school and out of it, to broaden it—of what works and artists are important and need to be remembered, versus what we’ve been told.

It’s not that the wacky bunch of brooding white dudes didn’t do amazing things. It’s that they weren’t the only ones, and weren’t always the best or first doing them. There’s always a massive pile of feverish creation going on at any given moment. We share the same penchant for art, all of us humans.

Chang was halfway around the world from Jackson Pollock and de Kooning. If we’d had the internet in the 40s, would his stuff be exhibited with theirs? Would his name be mentioned alongside theirs? I think it’s important to keep searching for an expanded view of art history, and who has languished in obscurity while we lazily hold up the same set of dudes as our important icons. There’s a lot out there to know, discover, and understand.

TANG CHANG: THE PAINTING THAT IS PAINTED WITH POETRY IS PROFOUNDLY BEAUTIFUL

It’s Friday? Well, Then, Let’s Have Some Links, Shall We?

I’m preparing to move everything I own and everything I am across the country. It’s only one state, but that first leg north is a big one. So, while changing homes may not be quite as stressful as pop psych has cracked it up to be, it does feel traumatic in some ways. I distract myself, which you probably already could tell.

Punch Brothers released a new album today, and I’m playing it right now. If you like Nickel Creek or bluegrass or Chris Thile, you’ll like this.

Rosie Leizrowice has a different way to tackle procrastination.

We talked about typewriters, stand-up comics, lots of music, and rural life on my podcast this week.

New Yorkers got a marvelous bonus this week when library card holders also gained free access to local museums, and they booked the hell out of them. Here’s hoping that success spreads to other cities.

Finally, wonderful work by Otobong Nkanga at the Chicago MCA