Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Come Not to Praise Faceplant, But to Bury It.

A while ago, here, I posted some thoughts about Facebook. I'd noticed that people who haven't bothered to join seem to dismiss it out of hand as superficial, as if most day to day interaction in any medium isn't superficial. I generally praised Faceplant while acknowledging its triviality and weirdness. Now let's look at another side of its weirdness.

I have a number of friends, in both the real world- and FB-sense who, for whatever reason, don't really post much. I get little messages from Facebook alerting me that so-and-so is not with the program. Sometimes there are weirdly quantified and vaguely ominous statistical judgments: "Jane Doe is only 35% active". The implication is that they need to be dragged back into the party I guess, that they are not pulling their weight with the Balloon-Boy jokes or status-postings about breakfast fare.

I don't want to make too many assumptions about their lives, whether tech-averse, or introverse. So, I snooped. I got a prompt from FB about one friend I'd re-connected with in the past couple of years, and went to her "wall", where some of her activity is visible. She posts every few weeks, mostly concerning family, social and charitable events in her area. The most recent wall item was from her daughter, thanking her for help on her college application. Another bizarrely quantified 'status bar" thingie on the left informs us that her "progress" is 80% (?!). She seems pretty "active" to me, and I assume she can decide on her own "progress". What should I do- get on there and chide her for not playing enough Mafia Wars?

Yes, I made a case that FB can be a valuable tool for a very fulfilling kind of connection-making. But coming from a family full of certified luddites and techno-recluses ( I'm the only one even on FB), I have a bit of sympathy for those whose lives do not revolve around the key board. A lot of this sort of thing comes from the enclosed world of office culture- how many of us have been encouraged to feel shame by otherwise sensible friends for not checking our e-mail twice a day? And isn't it a bit ironic that some pasty-white cube-rat in Silicon Valley is sitting in judgment of our "activity" level?

Leave the techno-recluses alone! They'll join the Facebook "revolution" when they're good and ready.

Probably to bombard us with invitations to play "Mafia Wars".

Standard Disclaimer: Squishtoid is not now, nor has he ever been, interested in playing "Mafia Wars", so don't send any more invitations, or he will "hide" you, and "poke" you to death.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Easter Eggs in November?!?

Yes, indeed there is one hidden in a recent post, and 2 peeps have found it. Will you be the next?

Other doings: For those of you in Denver, I'll be participating in the Open Press Small Print Show 2009 on First Friday, so c'mon down to 40 W. Bayaud (garden level) and say hello. Here is the Event Page Post on Facebook.

Discussions are beginning with several other Denver printmakers about a portfolio project for spring. I'll keep you posted here. We'll have 4-5 artists contributing prints, and will be aiming for a very reasonable price on what will be sort of and instant art collection.

I'll be sending out more info about 2010 shows after the holidays. The Spring Monotype class will be registering soon, too. You can e-mail me if you like e-mail newsletters, or keep checking back here. Don't forget the Fan Page ( link above).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Westering, 42x30", 2009

I put the last layer, which was the 7th, 0n a couple of weeks ago. I like it, but wonder if I could do future ones in less layers with better planning. This post will get you caught up with the earlier stages; here is the last post. Did I go to far? Not far enough? You be the judge.

I did have fun posting the stages, and people seemed to like it (many responded, in various media), so I'll do it again after the holidays. There's another big one, an interior this time, I've been working on.

For now, it's time to wrap things up on a very interesting year. I usually like to take the holidays off, then come back fresh in January. There are always loose ends, of course, such as the holiday print (l. Red Sonata, 7x9", 2009), and a small art show at Open Press that I'll announce on my FB Fan Page soon.

I hope everyone has a very nice Thanksgiving, and the first five peeps to leave a comment, or hit the 'follow' button, get a Holiday print. You can email me your street address. My crack mailroom team will get it out to you, and many years, the Holiday print has been known to arrive by Valentine's Day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Did anyone get the number of that year?!?

I've been slowly (yeah, okay, glacially) posting albums of artwork from various years on my Facebook Fan Page . Hopefully they will provide a bit of a retrospective overview, especially for newer friends. For me they generally bring back vivid memories of what I was doing, and what I was trying to accomplish in the studio.

Strangely, that didn't happen for 2002. Then I remembered: Oh yeah. That year. Does anyone else have that experience of sort of being in a daze after 9/11?

Anyway, the pix, along with my current interpretations are there, along with albums for several other years, too.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I came not to bury FX, but to praise him...

You don't meet many people in this life who can a) quote the Buddha, and b) land a jet fighter on a pitching, rolling aircraft carrier deck. So Tuesday, I put on my suit and tie and drove down to Ft Logan to observe Veteran's Day early, in the best way I know how- by celebrating a life.

Francis Xavier Rozinski was not perfect (just ask his family!), but he was a hungry mind; generous of spirit and not afraid to get the most out of life. The Marines are not perfect, either (though in the Halls of Montezuma, they simply did what their country asked them to do. As for the Shores of Tripoli, there may not be a more important moment, post-1789, pre-July 3, 1863, in assuring this nation would be around today). But when the Marines and FX got together, amazing things happened. Frank got to fly, over Korea, and many other places, besides. Later, he joined the Caterpillar Club (had to eject, and "hit the silk").

He had a large family, retired, and flew private clients, including the bands Yes and Chicago, around the US. His and Leona's house was filled to bursting with friends, good Polish food, attractive daughters and their boyfriends (this is where I come in), and the expectation that every one of them would become their best, and strive to be happy.

In the same spirit, he wandered the art colonies of the Southwest, then retired to Colorado Springs, one suspects, to tell the more dunder-headed members of the military just what he thought of them. He read and talked about things; then joined a club so he could read and talk some more.

Why is it that no matter how hard one tries, one can never find words adequate to a life before it is done? Perhaps no one understands this gulf between words and actions better than the military. Before the USMC honor guard on that beautiful Tuesday morning had even finished unfolding the flag over his bier, most of the women were sobbing. I was dabbing my eyes when the first volley of a 21-gun salute went off behind us, making everyone jump, and the geese on the lake howl in cacophonous protest, as if nothing living could imagine Frank ever dying.

I don't know where Frank is now, but he lives on in a wonderful family. He always wanted to fly, and at this moment, I'm positive he's doing just that. And, if I were religious I would say, "Get ready, angels!"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I come not to bury Facebook, but to praise it.

People who aren't participating in Facebook often put it down as trivial or superficial, a safely ignored passing fad.

They're mostly right, but they're missing the point.

The other day, a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I went to a gathering at a local restaurant. Its purpose was to rally in support of a fellow artist who was about to begin chemo treatments for prostate cancer. John's prognosis is actually good, and while chemo will undoubtedly be hard on him, the mood of the gathering was rather celebratory. As was intended by its organizer, Renna, a Denver writer into collective action and shamanism. She wanted to have a gathering of the tribe that for once, wasn't a memorial (we've lost several well-loved Denver artists lately). That there was a need for that was quickly apparent. I wasn't the only one who had to apologize for not remembering the name of someone I hadn't seen in years.

One subject that kept popping up- Facebook. Not surprising, really. The gathering had largely been organized through Facebook. It could all been accomplished by e-mail, flyers or phone tree, but it wasn't. I'm sure there was some of all of those, but they couldn't have created the sort of family reunion type atmosphere we instantly got. Emails are too business like, flyers too time consuming, phones too invasive for such a far flung group. Letters? forget it. Facebook was just right for turning a semi-private event into public knowledge. It's viral, so word got passed along from friend list to friend list. It's somewhat passive and undemanding, so one could simply rsvp regrets, or ignore it altogether. It didn't make too much, nor too little, of John's challenge. And it allowed Renna and his other friends to set the tone.

Even the folks who I do remember, I haven't seen in the flesh much. A grinding day job, playing catch-up with a family or creative life, an unanticipated, but very powerful need to go to bed at 10:30- as the years go by, these things mitigate against the kind of daily contact needed to nurture the best friendships. But inexorably, Facebook had brought us back together around health care diatribes; photo sharing and You Tube video links, and now it had gotten us out of our offices and studios to compare bifocal prescriptions and gray hair, and give John a pat on the back or a hug. And, it provides enough superficial info about people you once saw on a daily or weekly basis, to allow one to dispense with the awkward small talk and get to the big talk right away. How did your last show go? How does that feel now the kids are off to school? Are you still a Downtowner? For a bunch of 40-50 somethings, just staying connected is half the battle. It is precisely because Facebook IS trivial and superficial that it is not a fad.

Facebook's show announcements, polls and coffee-cup haikus allow you to pop in on lives long drifted from you, and even the assorted silliness provides companionable banter in a world where all too often, the only kind you hear is from the get-a-life crowd in the Broncos jerseys. And this is not to mention the more transcendent moments such as last Sunday, or the Mexican food I shared in downtown Albuquerque with my high school friend George, whom I hadn't seen in over 30 years.

The terminology is stilted ("friending" ? "status" ?), and its
mostly mundane content a gold mine awaiting exploitation by The Onion, but its power to create (or revive) affinities among the strivers, dreamers and street-level pundits buried in the detritus of the info age is unmatched. In the numbing triviality of the workaday world, it is almost indispensable to those who haven't given up on the fine art and pure spontaneous joy of bending -or lending, an ear.