Sunday, October 1, 2017

New View

There are two things I love about my new apartment:  it has a view, and it is generally very quiet.  The absence of these two things have long been my biggest gripes about the house I have lived in for the last twelve years.

Wait a second, you may be saying, if you know me and/or follow this blog for some reason, don't you own that house?

Yes, in fact, I do.  Still do, although that may be in some dispute now.  My wife and son still live there.  I now live alone.

Alone?  you might say.  You left your house and your family?  you might add.  But you probably won't, as that was kind of obvious from the previous paragraph.

I really like my new apartment, except that I'm rarely here and when I am it seems awful empty most of the time.  My son likes the apartment too, but I think he generally prefers the noise of the old house and I'm not sure the view means much to him, except when we get the chance to see 200 motorcycles drive by, like we did today.  Never would have seen that from the other place.

The other big problem is that I left a largish house that I own for a place where I will now have to pay rent, and at least currently I'm still paying everything at the old place.  For now it's working out because I actually lucked into the place, some friends of mine got sick of Salvador and decided to leave, and they paid the rent through next month.  Once the real bills kick in things will get more complicated, but one thing at a time.

If you are hoping I'll say something about why after 12 years I left the house I'm afraid you'll be disappointed.  I will possibly make mention of what went down over the last year or so in future posts, if there are future posts, but then again maybe I won't.  It's entirely possible my next post will be sheepishly written in retreat, from the confines of my old, viewless bedroom.

But I kinda doubt it.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Could Have Been Luckier

We had a dog.  Lasted about five months.  I guess that's better than our last dog, who lasted about 24 hours.

The little guy's name was (and still is) Lucky, an unfortunate moniker as it was just a little too similar to my son's name and thus ripe for inevitable confusion.  I rolled with it - it was in theory my son's dog and so of course he could name it whatever he wanted.

As things worked out the dog was pretty much mine.  I was the one who walked him twice a day, fed him most of the time, cleaned the patio area that he was confined to for 23 hours a day.  My son turned out to like the idea of the dog more than the actual work of the dog, despite his promises to get more involved with the little guy whenever it was threatened that he might be leaving soon.

The threat of leaving the house pretty much hung over Lucky since before he even arrived here.  I for one was not pleased at the sudden reality of a puppy being thrust upon us without warning - which is what happened when my sister-in-law came home from work with him one day and gave him to my son.  I was woken up one day with this news and I did not take it well.  I lobbied hard for him to be taken back to his mother, he had been weaned (ie taken away) too early and apparently was just a little pea of a thing when he arrived.  My wife didn't think he'd make it.  He made it, but he was not returned to his mother as I was told his mother had been hit by a car.  I would have preferred a grown shelter dog, but despite my best efforts we ended up with the puppy.

Dog owners fall into two schools: the inside dog school (me) and the outside dog school (my wife).  Outside dogs are fine, providing they have space to run around and preferably another dog to keep them company.  At our house, the only real outside option is the patio, which is only about 15 feet on a side.  This was okay for a while, but Lucky got bigger.  Quite a bit bigger - we though he'd be a smallish medium dog, but he ended up being more of a large medium/small large type dog.  He got really strong - taking him for a walk was more like him dragging me or me dragging him from one place to another, plus he had the unfortunate habit of slingshotting to the end of his leash when he got excited, which was often.

But I liked the little guy.  Sure, I resented somewhat that I had to get up early on my only day off to feed him, and I felt really bad for him when he would whine for the attention that he deserved but wasn't getting, and I hated it when he started barking for no reason. But I like dogs.  I've never really been a dog owner per se, but I've had dogs come into my life like Lucky did, and I've been nice to them, and they've been nice to me.  I'm happy to know that I helped Lucky get a good start: vaccines, walks, decent food.

Lucky's real doom was that he smelled.  He urinated and defecated in his area, although much less recently than when he first arrived, and he wasn't bathed as often as he could have been, as that was supposed to be my son's duty.  His patio was just off my wife's room, and my wife hates stench.  She also has the best/most sensitive sense of smell of anyone I've ever met.  Lucky also had a charming habit of jumping up and pulling the wash off the clotheslines that shared the patio with him.  No longer willing to accommodate him in the patio area, my wife wanted to confine him to an even smaller space, which I use as a shop.  I put my foot down and said no way.  My son's preference for YouTube videos over spending time with the dog definitely lessened my desire to fight on Lucky's behalf.

Things would have worked out differently if he could have stayed in the house with us at least part of the time.  It would have worked out differently if he was older and calmer and I could have taken him to the store with me during the day.  And obviously, if my son had been more interested and engaged that would have changed the calculus.  I have to keep reminding myself that I didn't want the dog in the first place.

So my wife lobbied hard until her sister agreed to come and take Lucky back to her house, which is what finally happened today.  I would like to feel better about it, to think that he's off to a better life, but the reality is that he almost certainly is not.  He will be confined to another concrete area, and I'm sure nobody will be taking him for walks anymore.  There is an area for him to run around in, with grass and trees and stuff, but my guess is he'll rarely be able to take advantage of it.  And there's the unfortunate reality that dogs don't tend to last long out with my wife's family, they either disappear or die before their time.

Now it's the next morning and I am freed of my obligation to walk the dog and wash away his poop residue.  The patio that I built gates for and raised clothes lines in sits empty.  I can take the chicken wire off my potted plants now that there's nobody to dig in them anymore.  No more plaintive whining.  I'll be happy about that, eventually.

If there's a next time, and a next dog, it will be on my terms.  The dog will live in the house.  Miss you little Lucky.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Markuza Shows Art

Welp, I done did it.  It's taken me about a week to recover from my extraordinary efforts, but I can proudly say I have mounted my first solo exhibition.  Before I turned 50.  Who knows, maybe I'll do another one some day.

I'm not going to write much here, a picture being worth a thousand words I think I'll go for some ten thousand picture-words with brief annotation.

The dragon - probably the most popular piece of the show. It is made entirely of what they call eucatex here, I can't remember the damn name in English.  All scavenged from the street, formerly the back part of cheap wardrobes.  It's segmented and each segment fits into the next one.  It is modeled after a wheatpaste I made that went to China with Eric Marechal of Urban Hearts.  This I mostly worked on at the store during quiet periods, of which there have been many lately.

This is an older piece that I included when I realized that I wasn't going to make enough new art to fill up the whole space, which was pretty big.

The owner of the space encouraged me to "break out of the rectangle," which is why I made these more sculptural things.  This guy is a Markuza version of those bird mobiles you see around, if you pull down on the tail he flaps his wings, briefly.  Also made of entirely found materials - I only bought the paint, the string, and the eye hooks to attach the wings to.  Well, I bought the hinges and stuff too, but for previous, forgotten projects.

My dad met Alexander Calder, and was friends with his daughter.  He used to make mobiles too, which is probably why I was inspired to make one myself, albeit a super simple one.  There's a preschool in this space (hence the toys and the tent) apparently the kids loved these guys.  Let me just take a second to say that my dad would have been thrilled that I did this show. 

The last of the semi-3d 'kinetic' works.

All these guys are made from repurposed particle board, mostly old shitty wardrobes that get thrown out on a fairly regular basis around here.  I had been looking around for one to make these guys out of and rescued one out of the back of the dump truck.  As you can see, an extremely fragile material to work with.  I was terrified the flapping guy would fall on the ground and meet a similar fate.

These two paintings were by far what I spent the most time on.  I wanted to do the whole show in this vein, but it's just as well I couldn't pull it off - the owner of the space didn't really like them.  He said that although my other pieces were mature works, these looked like I was "trying to be a painter," to which I say: fair enough.  I wasn't terribly pleased with the result either, I needed at least another week of dithering on them to finish them properly.  However, they have gotten a positive response on Facebook and by the few who were present at the opening, so now I feel better about them.  And will continue to work on stuff like this, regardless of what people think.

More filler works: the one on the right is part of a tryptich of unfinished panels I did, this was the only one I was able to finish in time for the show.  The painting on the left glows in the dark and is one of the only paintings that is done on a proper canvas, the rest are painted on repurposed political posters.

The freakin' gorgeous view out the back of the "gallery."

He had the idea to make a labyrinth in the entryway, which turned out pretty cool even though it didn't photograph well.  It would have been better if I'd had a couple more hours to work on it.  It was also the item that pushed me over the edge into the realm of pure exhaustion.

And that's it!  This is a picture of a rainbow, because everybody loves rainbows.  It has nothing do with the show.  I took it while I was walking the dog, something I won't be doing for much longer, if at all.  I'll leave that story for the next post.