Friday, July 30, 2010

Live Painting with Mr. History @ Fringe Festival

Had a fun time making stuff at Create Your Own Reality @ the KC Fringe Fest Tuesday. I made some feathered headbands, a "freak flag" and a record monster, after which @darcybl and I scurried over to help put on an InterPlay demonstration (click through for video) @ another Fringe event happening that night.

Don't forget there's another CYOR event tonight! Please join us if you can!

And then, if you just happen to not have any plans Saturday night, I'm going to be one of two artists doing live painting on stage with Mr. History at the Crosstown Station! Turns out this is also a Fringe event, though I didn't know it at the time when my friend Matt E. (who's one of the band members and a guy I went to college with for a couple years) put out a call for artists on Facebook.

I've written about Mr. History before, so you can check out the review here. They also have music to listen to on MySpace. And here's a video for those of you who don't feel like clicking through to anything:

(Click here to see embedded video)

(My friend Matt E. is the cutie in the green t-shirt on the right.)

I'm excited about this show! I've never done painting in front of an audience before. My plan is to take the 3 blank canvases I have and switch between which one I'm painting on... so hopefully I'll have 3 new pieces of art when the show is over! And then I'm gonna sell 'em (again, hopefully).

Related posts:
Create Your Own Reality @ Fringe Fest this Week
Mr. History (Show Review)

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: My Rock & Crystal Collection

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Wordless Wednesday: A Peek Into My BDSM Toybox (NSFW)

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Create Your Own Reality @ Fringe Fest This Week

Create Your Own Reality (CYOR) is something I've talked about before, but in case you don't remember, it's basically a monthly arts & crafts networking event that my friend @darcybl started. Recently she asked me to join an advisory board to help out with spreading the word, so I started us a Meetup group and have enjoyed helping out with that, and also with helping to choose what supplies we should get for people to make things with.

So I'm really excited to tell you that CYOR will be at the KC Fringe Festival TWICE this week: Tuesday July 27th and Friday, July 30th from 6pm to 8:30pm at Arts Tech, 15th and Holmes, Kansas City, MO 64108.

You can bring a project you're working on, or take advantage of the free supplies we'll bring to create something. We'll have materials on hand to make "freak flags" which you can take home with your or display there!

These are free events, so come on out and play with us!

All the pictures in this post are from last year's Fringe Festival, the first year CYOR was involved. You can find more on Darcy's Flickr set.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

The Story of Cosmetics

Just a note - Adrianne Russell wrote a great post about unemployment, including an interview with me about the difficulty of finding a museum job. Please show her some love and check it out. And now, we return to our regularly scheduled blog post, already in progress...

The Story of Stuff people made another great short info flick, this one about the dangers of toxins in cosmetics we use.

(Click here to see embedded video)

On the site, you can find out more in-dept info and take action should you so choose.

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The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Movie Review: Winter's Bone

Went and saw Winter's Bone today with my friend Bob, and really enjoyed it, though it was hard to watch. In case you haven't heard about it, you can watch the trailer on YouTube, and here's the synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) sets out to track down her father, who put their house up for his bail bond and then disappeared. If she fails, Ree and her family will be turned out into the Ozark woods. Challenging her outlaw kin's code of silence and risking her life, Ree hacks through the lies, evasions and threats offered up by her relatives and begins to piece together the truth.

Based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell.

Lots of aspects of Ree's life reminded me of my own childhood: the distant, emotionally absent mother; how siblings were expected to feed and otherwise care for one another; how asking for help or complaining were severely frowned on; telling strangers anything about the family was strictly forbidden; how male family members "enforced" their command with violence, leading to the constant, imminent threat of violence, etc, etc. Plus, it was set in Missouri and Ree spends tons of her time walking around in them, like I used to.

It was such a powerful film. It spoke to a LOT of the problems facing poor, rural kids and the unwritten rules that determine who does what in certain regions of this country. The storytelling seemed effortless - one scene flowed into the other while the tension kept building and I just kept going "OH MY GOD this is the most beautiful horrible movie I've ever seen."

So if that sounds up your alley... you should give it a look-see.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer Reading: Percy Jackson & The Olympians

How was your weekend?

Mine was very laid back, as I was hiding inside from the awful heat and humidity. I only went outside to sit on my porch with the kitties for a bit, walk an errand or two, and have dinner last night at Margaritas with Matt and his sister.

I spent most of my time reading the first two books in the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series by Rick Riordan: The Lightning Thief and The Sea of Monsters. The Lightning Thief is already a movie, so you might've heard of it.

The stories are very fun adventures that put me in mind of the Harry Potter series, Holes, American Gods and Anansi Boys - some of my favorite books. I like how Riordan re-imagines the Greek gods and goddesses and their half-human children. I think it's a wonderful updating. He also has a knack for storytelling that just sweeps you along, which is one of the reasons I read both of these books over the weekend! :) I just couldn't take my eyes off of them!

Happily, my friend @jacaphene is going to bring over more of the series soon, because the cute Irish novel I was reading doesn't seem so interesting now...

Have you been doing any summer reading? Got any suggestions for me?

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Neat Stuff I Saw This Week

I'm not normally a link dump kinda person, but I saw so many interesting things this week, I felt one was called for. So with no further ado, I give you the things that I most liked reading and/or seeing this week (in no particular order):

Local museum blogger Adrianne Russell wrote about the strange appeal of the stinky corpse floweron Cabinet of Curiosities.

Artist Will Wagenaar's Flickr set of steampunk sculpture is ADORABLE! It's like if Tik-Tok from Return to Oz had a bunch of babies.

Unfortunately, I can't find the name of the author of this, but Cyborg Ivy is an ongoing steampunk/sci fi web fiction told through a series of letters. These are also accompanied by an alternative history including timeline, as well as other essays about the universe in which this story takes place. The entire set-up and execution are really impressive.

The Rauthus posted a music video by Flying Lotus that is full of lush, fractal imagery, and some odd role playing, but I'm sharing it because of the part of it that looks directly out of Tron.

Bridges on the Body, a blog about sewing & corsets, shared images of a lovely, never-worn 1890s whalebone corset.

I started reading a web comic called Monster Commute, in which a demon and a robot are stuck in traffic FOREVER! It's a bit steampunk, but mostly just silly.

The Old Spice Guy is cracking me up with his bombastic, ridiculous speeches. Gender roles are so much fun when they are played with, and Old Spice Guy's caricature of ultimate manliness is hilarious.

@steampunk22 is showing off the amazing wooden wings he made. There's two posts with pictures, one here and the other here.

@uppoppedafox wrote an adorable account of her little girl and why she likes to wear ties. Such an awesome kid!

Ok, that's all I got. Any suggestions for me?

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Monday, July 12, 2010

The Last Cephalopod

This is my latest, and possibly last, cephalopod painting. It's called "Asperger's Syndrome." This is what I said about the painting when I posted it to deviantArt:

I am a woman with Asperger's Syndrome (a form of Autism), but like most women with AS, I went undiagnosed until just a few years ago. Finding out how this has shaped my life and experiences has been both liberating and painfully frustrating - since now I know that all these things that are "wrong" with me aren't ever going to go away.

When I'm feeling really bad, I feel as I have shown here: part dummy/part puppet controlled by a giant monster that is scary despite being fairly well-intentioned. I feel like people often sense the monster lurking behind the puppet and its why they don't like being around me.

I have a feeling this will be the last cephalopod painting I make for myself (though I'm happy to do them for commissions and one already has shown up in my new set of mandalas). I think it throws all my other cephalopod paintings into a wildly different perspective... at least, it does for me.
Like I said, I really am intrigued at how this causes me to reinterpret my previous stuff, which I personally thought was pretty cheery... until now. Although, it's like me to want to focus on the cuteness of my "monstrous" personality instead of the dark, painful side of it, which I very rarely talk about.

So you should put that in your pipe and smoke it... all the way to seeing my Magical Cehapolopod show at the Westport Coffee House (4010 Pennsylvania Kansas City, Mo). It's only there until the end of July, so please stop by and let me know what you think! :)

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Black Milk's One-Of-A-Kind Leggings

On a very rare splurge a while back, I bought a pair of galaxy leggings from self-taught Australian designer James Lillis, who calls his label Black Milk. This is how he got started:

At the beginning of 2009 I walked into a little sewing shop and bought two shiny new sewing machines. It was a slightly unusual sight - a shop full of older women making patchwork quilts for their grandkids... and me.

I didn't mind. It seemed very punk at the time.

My idea was fairly simple - I would teach myself to sew, buy some beautiful stretch fabrics, and make insane leggings. Then I would find girls who would get into them. Girls who wanted leggings that could pack a little more punch than the ones on offer at your average department store.

I made the leggings, found the girls, and so was born Black Milk.
I found Black Milk through someone who's since chosen not to stay my friend. She recommended his blog and I started reading. Girls kept sending in the awesome pictures of them in his leggings and while we were flush with cash, I decided to pamper myself with some shiny starry leggings.

Now, of course, I also want these:
(It's the cape I want, though his ruched skirt is pretty awesome)

So many gorgeous leggings! They are actually pieces of art to me, not just something to wear. Although, if you think that looking at them is fun... you should try wearing a pair!

Walking around with a galaxy wrapped around my legs is my idea of a good time! Plus, it's shiiiiiiiiiiiny!

Anyway, I started this post to tell you that a picture of me in the leggings (not the one you've seen here) was on his blog yesterday, so you should go check that out!

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

National World War 1 Museum

Image from
The main museum is beneath this courtyard/tower structure

Even tho I've lived in Kansas City most of my life, I never made it to our National World War 1 Museum at Liberty Memorial until today. I went with my friend Bob, who'd also never been there, and we had a really great time. Also, since it was Wednesday, we got a 2-for-1 ticket deal, which was GREAT cause it's a bit expensive: $12 per ticket.

I can't go to museums anymore without being very observant to how they flow, treat guests, display objects, etc., etc. since I have a degree in museums, and I have to say I think the WW1 museum is the most well put-together, interactive, multi-layered museum in this area that I've ever seen. It blew me away!

Some of the spiffy display techniques they used were:
An interactive display table with many different sections that discussed things like camouflage. Using little flash lights you could answer mini quizzes, move from one "slide" to the next, and find out a bunch of multi-layered information. This was one of the most popular sections for both kids and adults.

Close-up of one section of the interactive table display.

To one side of this table, were four small rooms, each seating about 4 people, where you could close yourself off from the rest of the museum, rest your eyes, and listen to a variety of selections from the WW1 period.

Touch-screen display goodness!

You could pick from music, poetry, quotes and... uh, dang, I already forgot what else. Bob and I listened to the entire poetry selection since we like poetry. That was just slightly over 11 minutes long and had 4 or 5 poems with short introductions. We listened to most of the songs as well, which also were briefly introduced before a partial clip was played.

The museum also showed some films. Many were simply playing silently while splashing across a space in the museum floor. One introduced the museum by laying out the general events that led to the war starting, and one was splashed across a HUGE screen you watched from a balcony that overlooked a huge diorama (below) where sometimes other additional silent films would show troops marching or loading artillery.

This film was mostly about how the Americans joined the war and it did a good job of covering the many viewpoints that existed at the time (i.e. not just the tired ole "we did it cause of the Lusitania" story that normally one hears in school). This film also discussed the experiences of the soldiers and the general state of the war at that time. It was short, but managed to pack a lot of information and images in.

This last display was much simpler than that, but it was so unique I was absolutely delighted by it:
That's my friend Bob using the WW1 museum's moveable magnifying glass on a case of old photographs. Being able to bring the people's faces closer to yours really brought out the humanity in these group photos and helped me to pick out details I never would have noticed otherwise. It's such a good idea! I wish more museums would use it.

This gives you an idea of the scale of the place. Since most of it is underground, you really don't realize how HUGE the museum is. This picture shows two very large artillery pieces. They were surrounded by cases full of many different artifacts, a side wall with the timeline of the entire war, and the opposite wall where cases were interspersed with an audio-visual trench scene set-up. And this was just one of the very first sections! The size of the place was just astounding.

I loved all the historical uniforms! The fashion is one of the major draws of studying history for me and this place was STUFFED full of uniforms for both men (the majority) and women for all sorts of warfare and in many different armies. There were so many uniforms that I was actually astounded to keep finding more every time I entered another section of the museum. Just SO MANY!

Red Cross uniforms
British nurse uniform, like my heroine Vera Brittain would've worn.

Asian uniforms

Unusual uniforms, for the time, since the others were all more dandified

Uniforms were usually displayed along with the types of items a person wearing it would use, such as the battle garb shown with hand grenades and knives below:

Of course, there were many cases that were just dedicated to all the neat STUFF that military and civilians used and read:This shows many personal items a soldier might carry in his pack, as well as military-issued supplies.

Sharp and shiny bayonets & knives.
I actually did a happy dance in front of this case.
I <3 knives!

A French death certificate. Fancy, huh?

Telescope (on the left) and sighting thingamabob I forgot the name for.

Gas mask

Partially wooden Ford!

Mmmmm.... antique motorcycle ::drools::

A very uncomfortable-looking hospital bed

Love the airship drawing!
Of course, no trip to the WW1 Museum would be complete without going up into the tower AKA Liberty Memorial (which, incidentally I used as the background for a zombie painting recently), which you reach first by elevator...

Then by stairs.

Here I am at the top, my eyes watering from the sunlight (I'm really getting much more sensitive to light than I once was):
Recognize that top from anywhere?

And here's the obligatory cool-view-from-the-top photos:

Union Station and downtown Kansas City (Missouri, not Kansas)

I love how our horizon (minus the city skyline) dissolves into tree tops & sky.

But our trip wasn't over yet!! There are two little buildings up near where the Memorial are, that once housed all of the WW1 museum (from what I'm told). In them were some awesome old paintings like this:

And a special temporary photography exhibit "American Women Rebuilding France, 1917-1924." I never knew that so many American women were involved in the rebuilding of French society. They were strong, independent women who drove their own cars, brought food and supplies to communities, taught classes and more.

These ladies were mechanics for the group's personalized Fords.

Teaching domestic skills to young women.

Traveling lending library

It was on this positive note that we ended our trip, after walking the wrong way down the stairs and having to walk all the way around to the back where our car was... I should not be allowed to navigate in public areas X_x

But the WW1 Museum is definitely what I consider to be the best museum in the area. There are multiple ways to interact with information and objects. Kids as well as grownups (and even *gasp* TEENS) were all there and having a great time from what I could tell. It generated tons of conversations between me and Bob, and taught us both things we'd never known before. This is the hidden jewel of our community! Go see it!

Related posts:
3 Visions In Glass @ the Nelson-Atkins
Life on the Road as a Traveling Exhibitions Registrar
Adventures in Collections Management

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