Friday, October 30, 2009

Seen Around Midtown: Autumn Leaves







Ahh... Autumn! The time of year when the cold makes us want to be inside but the beautiful leaves draw us out in spite of ourselves!

All these and more photos, etc. are available on my deviantArt page.

Related posts:
Seen Around Midtown: Homeless People and Furniture
Seen Around Midtown: Named Apartments
Seen Around Midtown: Roanoke Neighborhood

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Eco Art


Artists are obviously influenced by the changes around them and I've been really interested in pieces that are expressions of artists' feelings about climate change. The picture above is one of my bleakest visions of the future (usually I try to hope that we will somehow muddle our way out of this). I made it just a couple days before I ran into these eco art pieces (via TreeHugger), which I find fascinating.

Mud Graffiti by Jesse Graves


According to TreeHugger:
Jesse Graves has been running around Milwaukee stenciling his artistic messages of eco-sanity on sidewalks, walls, and concrete pylons. But lucky for his lungs and his criminal record, he's doing it with mud instead of paint. Graves, who signs his work MSR (mud stencils rule), writes: "I use mud or earth because it is a fundamental life-giving substance, logical for my messages. Mud stencils are an evolving medium, intended for art and social justice, not corporate advertisement."
Visit Graves' website to find out how to make your own!

Climate Change Watercolors by Jamie Hewlett (aka Gorillaz Animator)

The following images are on sale (with others) from Oxfam, the nonprofit with which Jamie Hewlett went to Bangladesh to see the effects of climate change first hand.

"This shows the kids up in the trees, which for many of them is the safest place to go during the floods – gathering some food rations to keep them going and climbing up, staying there for as long as they can."


"This is one of the stacks that we saw which shows how the villagers store their crops. It’s built up on a platform so the water doesn’t wash it away. It’s attached to an old tree and on top of the mound they have netting which is fastened so it all stays intact."

"This is the river erosion, showing how the bank has almost been sliced away."

All quotes above are from Hewlett. According to TreeHugger:

Oxfam has been active in the area for years working with the people to help them learn how to prepare for floods and monsoons. They raise their homes up on a clay base to protect them from the flood waters. They store food and firewood on platforms above their beds to keep them dry.

Hewlett was very moved by his experience of spending a week in the town with the townspeople. The paintings, all in sepia tones, are very delicate and show a realism unlike his usual animation style. He says:

"Char Atra is such an idyllic place and it's horrific to think of it being simply washed away, devastating the community. I wanted my paintings to be optimistic as well as realistic and I wanted to show what a beautiful place it is. I hope by concentrating on the people and their every day lives that I have given people here in Britain something they can relate to."
He was particularly impressed by the children and their strength and resiliency.

The purchase of any of these images will go towards raising money for Oxfam.

Related posts:
Climate Change Art Destroys All Humans
Photographic Philanthropy: Blue Earth Alliance
Pika's On Pike's Peak

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Monday, October 26, 2009

How To Approach Women In Public Without Being a Threat

Found this amazing article via @hoochimama and it made me so excited! Women of necessity must navigate the world differently than guys and the best men are the ones who are sensitive to this. As someone who is often subject to street harassment and as a feminist who's generally trying to make the world a safer place for women, I was so happy to find this article outlining for guys the mental process women are going through when they are approached by a strange man. I know I talk about the negative side of this stuff, so I was really glad to find a proactive approach to share.

Below is the absolute best of the post, for the entire thing, visit Shapley Prose.

The first thing you need to understand is that women are dealing with a set of challenges and concerns that are strange to you, a man. To begin with, we would rather not be killed or otherwise violently assaulted.

“But wait! I don’t want that, either!”

Well, no. But do you think about it all the time? Is preventing violent assault or murder part of your daily routine, rather than merely something you do when you venture into war zones? Because, for women, it is. When I go on a date, I always leave the man’s full name and contact information written next to my computer monitor. This is so the cops can find my body if I go missing.

...

So when you, a stranger, approach me, I have to ask myself: Will this man rape me?

Do you think I’m overreacting? One in every six American women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. I bet you don’t think you know any rapists, but consider the sheer number of rapes that must occur... Consider: if every rapist commits an average of ten rapes (a horrifying number, isn’t it?) then the concentration of rapists in the population is still a little over one in sixty. That means four in my graduating class in high school. One among my coworkers. One in the subway car at rush hour. Eleven who work out at my gym. How do I know that you, the nice guy who wants nothing more than companionship and True Love, are not this rapist?

I don’t.

When you approach me in public, you are Schrödinger’s Rapist. You may or may not be a man who would commit rape. I won’t know for sure unless you start sexually assaulting me. I can’t see inside your head, and I don’t know your intentions. If you expect me to trust you—to accept you at face value as a nice sort of guy—you are not only failing to respect my reasonable caution, you are being cavalier about my personal safety.

Fortunately, you’re a good guy. We’ve already established that. Now that you’re aware that there’s a problem, you are going to go out of your way to fix it, and to make the women with whom you interact feel as safe as possible.

To begin with, you must accept that I set my own risk tolerance. When you approach me, I will begin to evaluate the possibility you will do me harm. That possibility is never 0%. For some women, particularly women who have been victims of violent assaults, any level of risk is unacceptable. Those women do not want to be approached, no matter how nice you are or how much you’d like to date them. [That's me motherfuckers! -May] Okay? That’s their right. Don’t get pissy about it. Women are under no obligation to hear the sales pitch before deciding they are not in the market to buy.

The second important point: you must be aware of what signals you are sending by your appearance and the environment. We are going to be paying close attention to your appearance and behavior and matching those signs to our idea of a threat.

...

Pay attention to the environment. Look around. Are you in a dark alley? Then probably you ought not approach a woman and try to strike up a conversation. The same applies if you are alone with a woman in most public places. If the public place is a closed area (a subway car, an elevator, a bus), even a crowded one, you may not realize that the woman’s ability to flee in case of threat is limited. Ask yourself, “If I were dangerous, would this woman be safe in this space with me?” If the answer is no, then it isn’t appropriate to approach her.

On the other hand, if you are both at church accompanied by your mothers, who are lifelong best friends, the woman is as close as it comes to safe. That is to say, still not 100% safe. But the odds are pretty good.

The third point: Women are communicating all the time. Learn to understand and respect women’s communication to you.

You want to say Hi to the cute girl on the subway. How will she react? Fortunately, I can tell you with some certainty, because she’s already sending messages to you. Looking out the window, reading a book, working on a computer, arms folded across chest, body away from you = do not disturb. So, y’know, don’t disturb her. Really. Even to say that you like her hair, shoes, or book. A compliment is not always a reason for women to smile and say thank you. You are a threat, remember? You are Schrödinger’s Rapist. Don’t assume that whatever you have to say will win her over with charm or flattery. Believe what she’s signaling, and back off.

If you speak, and she responds in a monosyllabic way without looking at you, she’s saying, “I don’t want to be rude, but please leave me alone.” You don’t know why. It could be “Please leave me alone because I am trying to memorize Beowulf.” It could be “Please leave me alone because you are a scary, scary man with breath like a water buffalo.” It could be “Please leave me alone because I am planning my assassination of a major geopolitical figure and I will have to kill you if you are able to recognize me and blow my cover.”

On the other hand, if she is turned towards you, making eye contact, and she responds in a friendly and talkative manner when you speak to her, you are getting a green light. You can continue the conversation until you start getting signals to back off.

The fourth point: If you fail to respect what women say, you label yourself a problem.

There’s a man with whom I went out on a single date—afternoon coffee, for one hour by the clock—on July 25th. In the two days after the date, he sent me about fifteen e-mails, scolding me for non-responsiveness. I e-mailed him back, saying, “Look, this is a disproportionate response to a single date. You are making me uncomfortable. Do not contact me again.” It is now October 7th. Does he still e-mail?

Yeah. He does. About every two weeks.

This man scores higher on the threat level scale... You see, Mr. E-mail has made it clear that he ignores what I say when he wants something from me. Now, I don’t know if he is an actual rapist, and I sincerely hope he’s not. But he is certainly Schrödinger’s Rapist, and this particular Schrödinger’s Rapist has a probability ratio greater than one in sixty. Because a man who ignores a woman’s NO in a non-sexual setting is more likely to ignore NO in a sexual setting, as well.

So if you speak to a woman who is otherwise occupied, you’re sending a subtle message. It is that your desire to interact trumps her right to be left alone. If you pursue a conversation when she’s tried to cut it off, you send a message. It is that your desire to speak trumps her right to be left alone. And each of those messages indicates that you believe your desires are a legitimate reason to override her rights.

For women, who are watching you very closely to determine how much of a threat you are, this is an important piece of data.

Thoughts?

Related posts:
Skirting the Issue: Fashion and Fetish
Rape is NOT an Occupational Hazard
The Unapologetic Mexican

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Gifted Hands Stops Domestic Violence Before It Starts

Attendees making stuff at Create Your Own Reality @ Gifted Hands.

My friend @darcybl puts on an event I've talked about before called Create Your Own Reality which I describe as being arts & crafts for grownups (tho kids can come too). You can also think of it as a quilting bee where you don't have to quilt. Every month CYOR is held in a different public place and this month, it was held at Gifted Hands.

This was beautifully appropriate since October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Gifted Hands is all about empowering teen girls and training them to avoid damaging relationships. I'm so jazzed about this because it's the absolute perfect response to this problem: stopping it before it starts!

In case you are clueless about Gifted Hands, as I was, here's some info: They are located in Crown Center and the front, fund-raising part of the operation is a shop that sells local artist's paintings, prints, bookmarks, jewelry and more. It was full of gorgeous stuff that I would have wanted whether or not it was going towards a good cause. I satisfied myself with this adorable ring:

Which I love and it goes so perfectly with this ring I got at Oh Wow! Balloons! from yet another local artist:

Okay, but back to the topic at hand! Can't let the shiny things distract me!

So, the shop's in the front and in the back (where CYOR was held) they have a classroom where they educate girls age 13-19 (no other restrictions) about relationships and more. And now I quote directly from the Gifted Hands (which is a 501c3 non-profit) brochure:
Domestic violence against women may be the most understated, misunderstood health crisis plaguing our country today. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control, domestic violence is the number one cause of injury to women in the United States and the number one reason women seek emergency medical treatment. There are numerous factors that contribute to this epidemic, but only one seems consistent with every victim: self-esteem.

Our belief is that one of the most important keys to alleviating domestic violence is prevention. Gifted Hands seeks to accomplish this by enhancing the self-esteem and sense of self-sufficiency in young girls in the hopes that they will never fall victim to the physical and emotional horrors of domestic abuse.
I love this approach! Nothing makes a Virgo happier than being proactive and I know if I had had self-esteem when I was younger I would have made MUCH better choices in my relationships. I'm excited to think of the lives this organization is changing! All the employees and board members who were at Create Your Own Reality were so excited about being able to help girls that it was impossible not to catch it from them. ^_^

You can find out more about Gifted Hands on their website or by dropping in at Crown Center.

Related posts:
Create Your Own Reality
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Commission Me! [NSFW]

I made this Pabst-gina on commission from the fabulous nerdcore rapper MC Router to give away at her show.

YOU KNOW YOU WANT ME TO MAKE SOMETHING CRAZY AWESOME FOR YOU!

So commission me!

I'll draw/paint whatever you want (assuming I'm physically capable and you like how it looks) and you'll pay for whatever materials I need and some sort of hourly fee. I'm thinking of using a sliding scale for the hourly rate from $5 to $10 but we can also just set a price arbitrarily based on what we think it's worth and what you can afford.

Drop me a line and we'll chat if you like: reddvenus AT gmail DOT com.

Feel free to browse my gallery in DeviantArt (the ones you can't see unless you're signed in are the naughty ones, p.s.) for examples of my work.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Love Your Body Day

Tomorrow is Love Your Body Day, a campaign started by the National Organization for Women (NOW). From their website:

Hollywood and the fashion, cosmetics and diet industries work hard to make each of us believe that our bodies are unacceptable and need constant improvement. Print ads and television commercials reduce us to body parts — lips, legs, breasts — airbrushed and touched up to meet impossible standards. TV shows tell women and teenage girls that cosmetic surgery is good for self-esteem. Is it any wonder that 80% of U.S. women are dissatisfied with their appearance?

Women and girls spend billions of dollars every year on cosmetics, fashion, magazines and diet aids. These industries can't use negative images to sell their products without our assistance.


Through a combination of learning to love myself and starting to do yoga, I recently got over all my body issues (SHOCK!) and promptly forgot how devastating and crippling they can be to one's emotional well-being. What reminded me was the following series of events:


I watched the first 10-15 minutes of Shoot 'Em Up, expecting a ridiculous romp and a good time and instead was absolutely disgusted with how a woman was portrayed as a helpless victim right from the bat. A pregnant woman is "helped" to give birth in the most brutal way possible - so brutal it it more like a rape scene - then is shown with her breasts exposed only after she has died and then is treated even MORE like an object than when she was alive.


I got so mad about this and the way women are constantly being shown as weak little things who can't do a thing without a MAN to help them when I know from life experience that women are two times more likely than men to get things done, are incredibly strong and resilient and can fucking take care of themselves.


I determined to use this anger in a constructive way and so decided to create an army of breastplates called "The Amazons" to help women feel empowered and to celebrate the amazing uniqueness of our bodies. Borrowing from the idea of giving pregnant women belly casts, this would be along the same lines, except not necessarily including the stomach and I wanted to make these look like armor.


My first experiment with casting was on myself.
It's much easier (and less messy) to do others'!


Once I started trying to recruit women to this, I was just how much most women loathe their bodies. I heard more self-deprecating remarks in response to this than I have heard since I was a teenager in a bathroom with a bunch of other teenage girls. Most of these started off with the statement "I hate [insert body part here]." It made me so sad because I then, of course, remembered how fucking awful it felt to feel at war with my body all the time and to be so disgusted with everything the mirror showed me.


So today, ladies, plan now to do something tomorrow that shows your body love. Take a nice long soak in the tub, bust a move to your favorite tunes, get a special someone to massage your back or self-massage your hands and feet. Whatever will show your body love and make you feel good!


Also, if you want to love your body more in general, try to expose yourself to less crap that tells you how to be "the perfect woman." Perfection doesn't exist as a cookie cutter life or body. Perfection exists only in honing your skills and talents and body into the best version you can. That's it. When you ignore what you're "supposed" to be/look/act like, it's much easier to simply be yourself and be happy with it.


And, if you're interested in being cast for "The Amazons" let me know! ^_^ I'm trying to get a range of women of all ages and sizes. So far I mostly have women in their late 20s. The women who have done it say it makes them feel like super heroes. You know you'd love that!


Related posts:

Weight, Honesty and Obesity in the USA

Happy "Women's Equality Day"?

How To Develop Your "Look"


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Friday, October 16, 2009

Show Review: Spring Awakening



Tuesday night I had the pleasure of being treated by the ever-fabulous @darcybl to Spring Awakening, a new musical set in 1890 Germany examining the essential problems created between adults and teens when their burgeoning sexuality is treated as a moral problem rather than a human condition. I had absolutely no idea what to expect except that I knew it had been banned for many years and was about "emerging sexuality" and I was absolutely blown away.

The story begins first with the town's group of teen girls, then the teen boys, singing their frustration with the adults in their life who refuse to tell them things, expect them to believe everything they are told and basically treat them in ways they find frustrating. The boys, we are led to believe, have it worse as they are beaten by their school master and overwhelmed by schoolwork while the girls seemingly have much more leisure time and freedom.


As the musical continues, the main story revolves around two young friends who become lovers. The girl is entirely innocent about sexual matters, as her mother, despite her pleading, has refused to tell her how babies are made, while the boy, who has been left to his own devices, has found out all about the physical act of sex through books. The two other main storylines follow a beaten-down, depressed who is toying with the idea of suicide as he is tortured by lustful thoughts that keep him from sleeping and succeeding in school and the other is a gay teen who knows the game well enough to play along and to get what he wants at the same time.

One of my favorite songs was "The Bitch of Living" [embedded video below]:


All of the songs were well-written and beautifully performed. Some of my favorite tricks they used during songs was to use the singing as if it were the internal dialogue of the character happening in between bits of conversation going on around him/her.

The teen angst might be too much for some, but I thought it was an appropriate measure of just how frustrating being a teen is when people are trying to keep you ignorant of your body and consider sex to be a bad word and a forbidden topic. Overall, it inspired me to keep up the fight for kids to have science-based sex ed and to keep in mind just how many totally unnecessary problems are created for society and people when that isn't present.

Spring Awakening
is a lot of fun, heartfelt and an unusual mix of new and old. The show's only in town until Sunday, so hurry up and see it while it's here!



Related posts:
Review: Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Mr. History (Show Review)
Kids in the Hall at the Uptown (Review)

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Lil Bro!

Me, my lil bro and my lil sister @ my big sister's wedding,
one week before I moved back to MO from Seattle (over 2 years ago)

Today is my favorite (and only) little brother's birthday. He's 24!

It seems like just yesterday I was refusing to wake up for what I thought was going to be another middle of the night star-watching expedition when my dad asked me if I wanted to meet my new brother. I told him it could wait until morning and went back to sleep. Lol!

Harry was born at home like me and my little sister so when I did finally wake up, I went to the bathroom first and found my dad playing with a placenta in a bowl of blood... and not just any bowl, the mixing bowl for our mixer. Nice, right? I don't think I was brave enough to touch it myself, but I was certainly fascinated by watching the membrane swirl around and around in the blood.

When I finally made it into my parents' bedroom where my mom was still in bed, my sweet little blue-eyed brother was there waiting to steal my heart! The minute I looked at him I knew that out of all my other siblings, this one was "mine." And either because of that or just because we've always been remarkably similar, my little bro and I have remained close even when we were estranged from the rest of our family. He's my twin separated by four years and two months.

Happy birthday little bro! I'll always have your back.

Related posts:
Pikas on Pike's Peak
Anxiety and my Genetic Inheritance
Plastic Jellies & Summer Memories

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Auctions = Bad Idea

So, no more auctions. That shit wasn't working for me. Although, it was a complete waste since I was able to raise $65, thanks to the generous patronage of @hoochimama and @xonassis who won the last auction and purchased a drawing outright, respectively.

To try another tact, I've decided to start taking commissions. That means, I'll draw/paint whatever you want (assuming I'm physically capable and you like how it looks) and you'll pay for whatever materials I need and some sort of hourly fee. I'm thinking of using a sliding scale for the hourly rate from $5 to $10 but nothing's set in stone.

@ this year's Crown Center Chalk & Walk

So if you're interested in owning one of my originals and you want me to draw something for you, or just re-draw a picture of something you like, whatever! I'm totally open.

Drop me a line and we'll chat if you like: reddvenus AT gmail DOT com.

Feel free to browse my gallery in DeviantArt (the ones you can't see unless you're signed in are the naughty ones, p.s.) for examples of my work. There's a fairly wide range... within a given set of parameters, of course.

Kthanxbai!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Seen Around Midtown: Homeless People and Furniture

Don't forget! Today is the last day to bid on my original drawing Another Bed of Roses! And you only have until NOON (Central time).

I obviously love Midtown KC and have spent most of my "Seen Around Midtown" posts on the perky positive side of things. This one, however, shows some of the things that make me sad: homeless persons and illegal dumping. Both are totally out of place in their environment and no one wants to step up to help, generally speaking. It's frustrating to feel helpless when faced with these problems.

This guy will never look me in the eye or say hi no matter how hard I try.
He always turns his back on me and strums his little tiny guitar that looks like he made it himself.

Related posts:
Seen Around Midtown: Named Apartments
Seen Around Midtown: Roanoke Neighborhood
Seen Around Midtown: Whimsical Neighborhood

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

Original Drawing Auction: Another Bed of Roses

Well, it's pretty discouraging that the first auction was a total FAIL. Here's hoping I have better luck with this one, because, if not, I'm quitting is auction stuff and going a different route.

I'm trying to fund raise for my June wedding, so please help a sister out!

The beautiful drawing up for grabs this week is Another Bed of Roses:


Detail

With Frame

The image is 12 x 18 inches, framed without a mat in a frame of the same size.

How to Bid
  1. Bid by leaving comments on this blog through noon (Central time) on Friday, October 2. The highest bid at that time will win.
  2. The starting bid is $20 (so I can at least get the cost of the frame covered!) and will increase by increments of 5$. So if the standing bid is $30, the next smallest bid would be $35.
  3. IMPORTANT! If I cannot locate contact information for you from your comment (i.e. you don't like to a web page with contact info or whatever) please leave your email so I can contact you if and when you win.
If You Win
Local winners will not only win this framed drawing, but they will also get to come and see my studio (aka my apartment), meet me and get a tour, blah blah blah. Winners who are not local will have their mailing cost covered as long as it is under $10. If it is over $10, I will ask for additional funds.

And since I don't trust PayPal not to rip me off (srsly, look into it!) and Google Checkouts charges more than I'd like for processing payments, I'm going to accept payments of cash or money orders only. Sorry for any inconvenience.

If you want to help in other ways, PLEASE help me spread the word! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I've heard that people are waiting to bid because they want to see what's coming next. Doesn't really make sense to me because it's only depending on how successful these auctions are that I will continue to sell more of what I have, so therefore I can't tell you all I'm going to sell. However, the ones I have currently framed and ready to sell include the following: Forbidden Fruit, Dreaming Tree 5, Goddess Figure and Watching the Sun Set.