Friday, July 16, 2010

Rock River Artists Open Studio -The Barbie Center

I can’t explain the fascination, if fascination is the right word, with Barbie. I cannot help but poke fun at the concept and why this would be the example to present to children escapes me. It must be the “oh so perfect” rich girl image that I imagine. Good for me, because sarcasm is right up my alley. And at the end of that alley, tucked neatly away in the corner behind the trash can is my imagination. I strongly disagree with those who imply that imagination is bizarre. My imagination leads me down a serpentine path to be sure … but one based on pure logic. At least, that is how I imagine it.

Nevertheless, the net result is a special section of my open studio devoted to Barbie creations. I set it up like a shadowbox. You know how Barbie loves pink. The black background should be perfect for her pink accessories.
Finding enough Barbie’s to do the pieces justice was a difficult task and required a great deal of thought and flea market bargaining . In the end, I acquired a box of Barbie’s for a reasonable price. By that, I mean cheap. I started with a piece I call “the Barbie Bouquet”. The first version contrasted the deep greens of the evergreen boughs with the golden Barbie locks. For the open studio, I redid the piece using bare branches in order to make Barbie the centerpiece of the work … and the perfect centerpiece for any table.

Several weeks ago, my boss gave me a pink box with a see-through plastic window that she thought I might be able to use. I thought immediately of Barbie. The shape and window on the box reminded me of old footage of a Houdini trick in which he was place in a box with limited air, chained shut, and lowered into a river to drown, give out of air, or escape. Hence, Houdini Barbie. With a few minor adjustment to her legs (chop, chop) she fit the box perfectly. I tied her hands. Given the oxygen situation, I decided a blue face was most appropriate. The box was wired shut and locked. Houdini Barbie.

I had another box in the barn. I thought about for a Barbie project months ago. It was in the shape of a coffin and had been used at school to pass around a stuffed squirrel to scare new teachers. The squirrel deteriorated and I got the coffin. I envisioned Barbie peacefully in state in the coffin and I thought … Dracula Barbie. Dracula always rests in his natural earth from Transylvania. Natural soil for Barbie would have to be pink … an easy fix. A quick trip to JoAnn's Fabrics in Keene and I had black, glossy material for the cape. Paint the top of the coffin pink … add some fangs … and Dracula Barbie was ready for the show.

I confess the next two pieces were not my idea. I saw them in a store window in Quebec City. One was canned Barbie parts … like heads, or arms, or legs. I made my version using antique canning jars with the wire tops. I added dried hot peppers to each jar (because Barbie is so hot and spicy) and called my creation Pickled Barbie. The second piece I saw involved Barbie and an old meat grinder. Input Barbie heads to the grinder and outcome fur. I assumed the fur was fox since Barbie is so foxy. In my version, the output was golden thread. I called the piece “Meatgrinder Barbie.

Don’t blame me for the next two pieces. Blame Charlton Heston. You may or may not know that Charlton Heston has invaded my dreams and is intentionally trying to make my life miserable with his clinched-teeth maniacal grin. I thought I had seen the last of him until the other night … 3:00 AM to be exact. He slipped unseen through the backdoor of my dream world and secretly eased a thought into my head. I had been thinking about what one does with leftover Barbie parts. Pull off a head and then what. I want to give credit where credit is due … even to my nemesis CH. In the movie that CH did about a futuristic, over-populated world struggling to feed the hoards, two wafer-like soy cakes were developed and feed to the people. The protein cake was called soylent green. The snoopy policeman in the movie (CH) discovered the secret … soylent green was made from reprocessed body parts and fed to the people. The perfect solution was those leftover body parts … Soylent Green Barbie.
The last piece in the series is also a result of the extra parts I had on hand. Again, what so you use them for. I thought about how we use our DNA to clone man-make versions of ourselves. Well, sheep for now mostly. I created a new cloned version of Barbie. Done on a pure white background (hospital sanitary conditions for this procedure), I created the Cloned Barbie from those leftovers.

For now, I am done with Barbie creations … but you never know … I still have to sleep at night.

Friday, July 9, 2010

39th Anniversary - Festivals and Food

Let’s face it. Our vacations and celebrations are about traveling and food … mostly food! Our anniversary was no exception. In a nutshell, we went to Old Orchard Beach in Maine but spent the majority of our time in and around Portland. We kicked off the trip with the obligatory stop at Flo’s on Route 1 on the way to Ogunquit for their renowned hot dog. I have been there numerous times and though the dogs are good, they certainly are not great. It is, however, a cool place to check out. I set the stage for the entire trip by pulling out in front of a car when leaving the parking lot … I blame him for not anticipating my actions. There was no metal to metal and all is well.

Anne did a lot of research prior to the trip and discovered that no less than four festivals were happening in the area during our stay – the Greek Festival, the Balloon Festival, the Lobster Festival and the Strawberry Festival.

The first night, we drove to Portand for the Greek Festival and almost walked away from it. Parking is a nightmare in the area and when we finally arrived, there was a line at least 100 yards long and about 4 wide just to get into the festival tents. Anne talked me out of going and luckily servers kept coming down the line to appease those waiting in line with samples of Greek pastries. The festival was a fundraiser for the local Greek Orthodox Church and included food, music and dance. We had the works including lamb dishes, Greek sausages, meat and rice filled grape leaves, Greek coffee and more. Locals were demonstrating authentic dances to music provided by a three-man group. I particularly enjoyed watching the locals doing the dances and the music. Food was wonderful. Great start for an anniversary weekend.

The next day we looked into the Balloon Festival at OOB. They were offering tethered rides at dawn and dusk and I figured that would be a great memory for our event. Unfortunately, the balloonist could not do the tethered rides unless there was no wind. I wondered when, if ever, there would be a time when there was no wind at the beach? We consoled ourselves with a trip to Portland for dinner at an Eritrean restaurant. It was a mom and pop operation with mom cooking, dad taking orders and serving and the kids running the register. I love the communal plate concept in African restaurants and the injera bread used instead of eating utensils. The whole night was fun and delicious. Needless to say, we never got our tethered ride, but on the last night, they inflated about six balloons on the beach after dark. It was a beautiful sight in the dark with each burst of fire from the balloons' burners … quite the spectacle.

The Lobster Festival was going on in Portland at the docks. Pretty good deal for about $12. You got lobster, salad and corn-on-the-cob and could listen to the Jamaican band there. We passed on the food and headed out on the ferry to Peaks Island instead. We had found a cheese shop with some of the best blue cheese and olives that I have ever had. Made a great picnic lunch for our hike. The island was beautiful and we hiked around it. Constructed a cairn on the beach for our 39th anniversary (40 stones).

Never made it to the Strawberry Festival in Scarborough. Too much to do.

We culminated our trip with a search for the High Tide Restaurant. We had googled it and it had great reviews. Unfortunately, the maps and street signs were not as good as the food turned out to be and we had a difficult time finding the place. I had an incredible bouillabaisse there. I have never seen so much shellfish and fish in a bouillabaisse before … topped off with a half a lobster.

All in all, what a trip! And I only had to log in 39 years of marriage to do it. Can’t wait til next year.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

39th Anniversary - CH at the Amusement Park

Anne and I both noticed it. The amusement park was different. Not the people .. the tourists... they were the same. Roving packs of feral teenagers ... on the hunt ... circling ... cutting the weak from the herd ... a nose for easy prey. Rough-hewn couples ... swaying to the music and the cups that they clutched ... pitching quarters toward the plates in hopes of winning the giant teddy bear. Barely able to see the plates ... the last coin tossed being a 30-day sobriety chip. The super-sized family (literally and numerically) ... mom and dad ... six snotty-noses ... and one in the oven. Can you judge a book by it's cover? Those stuffed animals will make nice pillows for the car ... their cumulative value I judge to be about this month's rent.

I stray. My point is that the workers in the park are different. Different in that they are indifferent. The hawkers are gone! "Win a cupie doll for the little lady". " Step right up." Customers parade by. The workers' interactions are cardboard. It feels like a movie set at best. Except for one. He seems to be everywhere and nowhere. I'd know that clinched-teeth smirk anywhere. It has been a while, but his eyes tell me that he recognizes me as well. "Long time , no see Chuck".

That explains the hot air balloon festival just outside the park. With Charlton Heston here, there is an unlimited supply of hot air for all of the balloons. I am pretty sure I saw him at the ReMax balloon, huffing and puffing with Miles Davis cheeks. In fact, I have seen him almost everywhere I have gone.

He was at the bumper cars ... complaining that the little girl that ran into him did not have a valid drivers' license.

There was a tall spinning ride that I did not recognize. I did recognize Chuck however. He was the green one puking.

The park did not have much of a roller coaster. No matter, Chuck insisted on having the front seat. But, I saw him later, pale and crying at the first big dip.

The log flume looked like fun if you didn't mind getting wet. I noticed Chuck's pants had a wet spot before he ever sat down.

I love ferris wheels but this one was slower than a revolving restaurant. That didn't stop CH from screaming, "Get me down, get me down" for the entire ride.

The last straw ... Charlton Heston sitting in the milk-toast bear ride with his clinch-toothed smile, bouncing up and down and clapping with the heels of his hands like a three-year-old.

I have had it. My 99 cent hot dog is in extreme jeopardy. I gotta go.

Friday, July 2, 2010

39th Anniversary in Maine - Cairns

One of the things I had planned for our anniversary trip was to build a cairn on the beach somewhere to celebrate. I did this for the first time on our 37th anniversary..
We were in Ogunquit, Maine. I constructed the cairn on the rocky shoreline along the Marginal Way. It had exactly 37 objects( rocks, driftwood, found objects ) and one more for the coming year of our marriage. I went back to the sight the next year and it had been washed away by the waves as I had expected

This year, we took a ferry to Peaks Island off of Portland, Maine. We spent a couple of hours scavenging on the beaches around the island. I constructed a cairn this time with 39 objects and one more for the coming year. It was a great location with a small cove in the background and sailboats coming and going. This one is a little more protected and may last a bit longer. It did crash once during construction on the 30th stone. Maybe that represent a troubled year of the marriage ... or the year that I was "unbalanced".

I keep the pix of the cairns on my camera and surprisingly look at them often. I like the idea of it.