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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Gilda Snowden

One of my favorite professors, Gilda Snowden, passed away today. It was sudden and unexpected. I was at work when I found out and had to leave the building for a few minutes to get myself together. She was incredibly supportive of all of her students, no matter what. Gilda documented everything- shows she went to, work she made, places she went. Oftentimes, she documented the work I did in her classes better than I did. Her enthusiasm and kindness seemed to push everyone to make better work, and she continued to be my go-to person for painting advice long after I graduated. I feel very fortunate to have had her as a teacher and mentor. 

The last conversation I had with Gilda was a week ago. I've had an idea for a specific painting for years now, but haven't been ready enough, brave enough, to tackle this idea until recently. I sent her a Facebook message looking for technical advice, and she delivered (as always). She seemed excited about the piece as I explained what I wanted to do. As I sat outside of my building today, processing what I'd just found out, I decided that the advice she'd given me about one painting was the very same advice I need to take for every idea. I sometimes plan too much, get too bogged down panicking over details and logistics when I should just pick up the brush and paint, or send out the email and plan the show. The hesitation ends tonight, because that's what Gilda really taught me. More than anything technical, she taught me to make the work I want to make, and to work on my art every day. I'll be forever grateful for that, and for having gotten to know her.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"our mental synchronization can have but one explanation..."

I'm not even going to apologize for the lack of posts- there hasn't been much I've felt like writing about lately. I'm painting, I'm entering some group shows (and getting rejected from some group shows, but it's all good), and looking for a space to try out my next idea. Details on that WILL BE POSTED when I find what I'm looking for. Right now, it's just a lot of google searches and asking for opinions on Facebook. RIVETING STUFF HERE.

However, I feel compelled to break my silence today because of the 12 on 12 Pop-Up Gallery going on in Dearborn lately. They did this last year, too- during the Jazz on the Ave concerts. It's set up by the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority and the Dearborn Community Fund (that's about all the information I've found so far- not much in the way of background info out there) and maybe some other group. They've got work from 12 artists and live demos, and it coincides with this big jazz concert. It's a very cool idea, and I'm glad to see Dearborn starting to embrace the pop-up idea. We've certainly got enough empty buildings around here to do it. 

However. My joy at this event ends there. I didn't hear anything about this last year until it was actually happening- I had no idea how they chose the artists, who chose them, or anything about how it was formed. Since it was obviously a success, I was hoping for more transparency this year. Once again, though, this city has disappointed me. I cannot find ANYTHING on how the lineup of artists was created. Was this a juried thing? Was there an application process? How the hell did this come together? As of right now, with the very little info I have (thanks to one of the artists replying to a Facebook inquiry I made on the EDDDA page), all I can guess is that this is yet another example of friends choosing friends. It feels an awful lot like the people in charge of this gallery made a bunch of obvious choices based on who they know and what's safe in this city. It's great that the ceramics club at HFCC is there, but is that really the best the city has to offer? The lineup, though impressive, reads a lot like the lineup from last year. It reads a lot like the lineup at EVERY art event in this city.

Why the hell is Dearborn so hellbent on maintaining the status quo? How do I get on this elite list of artists who show at everything? Why aren't people allowed to apply to be in this gallery? Open it up to the arts community in Dearborn, or metro Detroit, or wherever, and pick the 12 best artists that submit work. Why are the people in charge so afraid of challenging work? The art I see in the Padzieski Gallery is so safe, and expected. I'm not saying it's not any good, or that it shouldn't be shown. What I'm saying is that just once, I'd love to see this city take a chance and move towards something bigger. We're loaded with empty buildings, and great spaces. I'm sick of seeing dollar stores and frozen yogurt spots littering Michigan Avenue. I want more from my city, and that's what I'm working on. I want to see art from absolutely everyone, not just the same dozen people. I want to be challenged, I want to be offended, I want to be angry or sad or ANYTHING but I don't want to be bored. I'm going to find a space, and I'm going to open a pop-up gallery. Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't, but I have to try. Everyone keeps telling me to try other cities- Ferndale is great, and Detroit really has a lot of cool spaces. I KNOW THAT. I don't have anything against Detroit, or Ferndale, or any other city. I just can't stand watching the city I live in, the city I grew up in, stand still while everything around us changes and grows. That's not what art is about, and that's not how progress is made. Fuck the status quo, let's do something awesome.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

"make my mama turn another blind eye..."

Hey everyone! I've been trying to figure out what to post here for the last couple of weeks. I've been working on a couple of projects (details below!), so things have been a little busy. I'm also hoping to do a little bit of an overhaul on my other blog (my online portfolio, of sorts), but I'm still sorting out what all I want to do. After my backyard art show in September, I documented all the work I had left, so I'd like to get all of those images posted. I know they're not current, but they deserve to be posted. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I'll have that going. 

One of the projects I've been busy with is actually something I can't quite talk about yet. I'm working on a Super Secret Project for someone! It's a totally new direction for me, and I'm really excited about it. It's still very much in progress, but as soon as I can post details, I will! 

I've got a show lined up for March, so I'm planning to debut the latest series of work there (I've only posted a couple of pieces here so far). I've been struggling with where to go with this series lately, so having the deadline is actually a really good thing for me at the moment. I had a bit of a breakthrough earlier this weekend, so hopefully things will start moving forward. 

I'm still looking into finding a more commercial venue for another Bare Walls Suck show, but as soon as I figure something out, I'll post info! My backyard was really fun, but it wasn't ideal. I've had some great suggestions from people, so now it's time to start looking into specifics. Watch this space!

Eastbound and down,

Sunday, September 22, 2013

"I wanna see you be brave..."

I know things have been ridiculously quiet around here. I know a lot of you maybe thought I gave up on this career, or something like that. I know. But yesterday I did something amazing. My friend and I put up a bunch of our artwork in my backyard. We put it on tables and leaned it against the garage and set up temporary walls to hang it on. We invited a bunch of our friends and family and co-workers. We bought some beer and snacks and hung out for a few hours consuming those things. And the amazing part? Our friends and family and co-workers showed up, and they spent time looking at our art. They bought paintings and prints and asked us really great questions about the work, and brought their families to look at our art. We took a backyard that had no resemblance to an art gallery, and turned it into one. It was really casual and totally DIY and I made the world's shittiest flyer (even though my friend is an actual graphic designer and I'm just a woman with a sharpie and a couple of bucks for the copy machine). And you know what? It was FUN. I haven't had that much fun at an art show in my city in a long time.

I think art should be fun. I have fun doing it, and I want people to ENJOY what I do, because that's the point. I love making it, and I'd still make it even if no one in the entire world ever saw any of it. But there's a really great rush you get when someone looks at something you made out of nothing, and they LOVE it. They love it so much they want to take it home and put it on their wall and look at it every time they walk through that room. And that's pretty much the best compliment I'll ever get about my work, from anyone. Critics can say whatever they want, and your work can be in a hundred galleries. But when someone who is not your mother or boyfriend or anyone obligated through love or genetics to hang your artwork on a wall DOES hang your artwork on a wall? It's the best.

I'm incredibly bored with the art scene in my city. Granted, it's not a New York or a Los Angeles or a Grand Rapids or an anywhere with a well-known art scene. But it's a city that I love, and I think we can do better. I think everyone who loves this city should EXPECT better from the art scene, because I've seen what we can do in other areas. We need to be innovative, and we need to stop playing it safe, and, to quote Kid President, we need to be AWESOME. Art can be a lot of things, but it should never be boring. Art does not exist to play it safe. It exists to make you stop and think, to grab onto something inside of you and make you feel, to show you things you never thought possible. My friend and I made an art gallery out of some tables, and we've already got more ideas. Expect much more from this blog, because I finally figured some stuff out this weekend. Get ready, because the amazing thing we did this weekend? Was just the start.

Amy Stegner

Sunday, November 18, 2012

"I had that same dream again..."

Hey kids! Brief post today while I do some cleaning up of the links. I'm also adding a new link- I joined Tumblr. I'm using it to do a self portrait, using only my library card. Every item I check out is going to be documented. I started it because I've worked in a library, and I always liked to decide whether or not I'd be friends with someone based solely on what they checked out. It's kind of a fun game, and a really interesting look at someone's life. So, I figured I'd flip it around, and let everyone else look at what I check out. Take a look, feel free to let me know your thoughts!

I've got a new painting in the works- I took the little shapes I've been drawing lately and I'm playing around with those. I'm really pleased with how it's going so far, so hopefully there will be something finished to share soon(ish).

That's all the news I've got for now.

Eastbound and down,

Saturday, September 15, 2012


HOLY DAMN I SWEAR I'M STILL ALIVE. I know I basically fell off the face of the earth for the past few months, but I've actually gotten quite a bit of work done. I don't have any good excuses, and you deserve better than that anyways. I promise, though- it's not you, it's me. I still love you and I promise to do better.

The preview I posted back ages ago, of the cassettes? That painting is done, and I'm very much in love with it. I have a couple of pictures I took of it on my easel once I finished it, but I'm going to actually hang it on a clean wall and get a good picture of it soon. Of all the found object pieces I've done so far, it's definitely my favorite (but don't tell my other paintings). Mostly, I feel like I'm really starting to hit my stride with this body of work, and that one is the clearest example of what I'm doing. I don't even want to post the shitty picture I took in my basement, because I want you to really see it proper. 

I do have a picture of my newest painting, though! I'm working on the texture and base layers of this one, which is an ode to my favorite dive bar. And yes, those ARE plastic cups you're seeing! Also very excited about this one. I'll be better about posting updates once I really get into this one. 

I've got another new one to post, once I get better images of it. Very different than my other work, so I'll be eager for feedback on that one.

You'd think I have a billion and one updates for you given my lengthy absence, but alas. Just that. I am working on putting together something to submit to a gallery, but I'd like to get this current piece done first before I do that. Nervous to do that, but very excited. 

Eastbound and down,

Friday, April 27, 2012

"look alive, sunshine..."

Hey kids- I know it's been really quiet around here lately, but there's a reason for that. I've become increasingly unhappy with the whole tone of this blog. In my day-to-day life, talking to me can be a bit of a mess. I mumble, I talk too fast, I don't enunciate, and my sentences are littered with "ums", "dudes" and various curse words. To be honest with you, I'm probably much more impressive on paper. In my attempts to be "professional", I've toned all of that down. Unfortunately, eliminating all of my verbal garbage seems to have eliminated everything funny, cool or remotely interesting. Cue sad trombone.
Turns out that what most likely annoys my friends, family, co-workers and the strangers I talk to at my day job is what I enjoy best about my voice (as a writer and, in all honesty, as a person). Minding my language and being polite to people who sometimes don't really deserve it aren't my strengths in life. I can pull it together for the 9-5, but once I clock out, it's hard to keep that going. Hell, part of the draw of being a working artist is so I won't have to take shit off of strangers anymore. Like I said, it's one thing to lock it up while I'm working for The Man, but not when I'm representing myself.
Long story short, changes are coming. I'm working on new paintings right now, and trying to really get my career going. I've been stalled for some time now, but it's time to get MOVING. The radio silence is gonna last a couple more weeks, though, unfortunately- the Relay for Life event that I participate in is fast approaching, and my free time is devoted to that.

Eastbound and down,