Thursday, March 31, 2011

Upcoming Show: Equally Empowered Art

Since it's *almost* April, I guess it's time to tell you about my upcoming art show. I'm showing (and selling!) several paintings in the NOW benefit "Equally Empowered Art," Saturday, April 9th, 6-9 PM at the Scarlett Garnett Gallery (504 E 18th St.) in the Crossroads.

This is one of the pieces I'll be showing:

It looks even neater in real life, so I hope you'll stop by and see it!

A few friends of mine are also in the show, so I'm really excited about this one! :)

Related posts:
Upcoming Art & Charity Events
Breast Cancer Awareness Art Festival

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vlog: May's Recent Art Projects

Yesterday I made a fairly spazzy video about my recent art projects. I have a hard time remembering to keep the camera pointed the right way... and you have to watch the whole thing b/c I know nothing about video editing and apparently I'm too lazy (or busy) to learn. X_x

(Click here to see embedded video)

I feel like this lasts FOREVER, but it's some pretty fun stuff, huh?

In other creative news, I posted on FB recently, asking my artist friends if they wanted to dress me up as a way of collaborating with me for my 365 self-portrait project. My friend Nicole said she wanted to copycat this image:

So yesterday after I made the above video, she had me wear this great dress, wig and cape (since it's cold again here) and took me to a local park. Then she parked her car and I used it for a tripod, hitched up my skirts and ran in my big boots up the hill, turned around and strode forward just in time for the timer to go off. Then I repeated it a few more times, but I ended up liking the first one best:

Day 240

If you're a local artsy person who'd like to collaborate, e-mail me at reddvenus AT gmail DOT com.

Related posts:
Seen Around Midtown: Street Art
Feather Friday
Wordless Wednesday: Recent Artwork

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Have You Ever Found Yourself In a Book?

Look out, people... It's about to get real up in here.

(Trigger warning: sexual abuse)

Watership Down is my favorite book, not just because it's an incredibly well-written, moving epic, and not just because my only truly happy memories of my dad were his rich bass voice reading it out loud to me and my 5 siblings when I was young (he read it to us more than once... just like the Bible), and not just because I felt a strong connection to the rabbit, Fiver, his helplessness, his strange too-sensitiveness and his knowing.

No, the reason why Watership Down is my favorite book is because it gave me a word for something utterly unnameable to me as a child. "Tharn" is a word Richard Adams used "to describe an animal frozen in terror," which was the closest thing I'd ever heard to what I felt like when I was molested as a child. I felt like my brain went somewhere else, but my body would just lie motionless as I stared off into space (at least, according to the part of one time I remember - I purged my memory banks pretty damn good of all that).

It may not sound like a big thing, but to a child of 8 or so who had no words to describe her experience (and who was never talked to about it in any direct, helpful way until the age of 19), and who felt the world was one big confusing mess of sound, color and sensations that she largely didn't understand [which I now know was because I have Asperger's Syndrome] - hearing part of herself identified in the words of another made her feel like she belonged in the human race maybe a little.

It also made me realize that I could find parts of myself in books & be comforted by the experience.

Re-reading Watership Down always feels like finding myself again.

Related posts:
Open Letter to a Ghost
Why I Love Comic Books

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Great Wall of Vagina

Image via

Many moons ago, I wrote about 3 books I think every woman should read. I recommended these particular books because they helped me personally to take pride and strength from being a woman, when I was in a crisis about myself as a person with female genitalia, since American culture is VERY male-centric.

One of the most powerful results of my reading those books was feeling like I finally had a grasp (no pun intended) on what was going on "down there." IMO women are not properly taught AT ALL about how their bodies work, and we're often left feeling as if there's something ugly or disgusting about our lady bits. So, of course, I think it's fabulous that artist Jaime McCartney spent 5 years casting the vulvas of female volunteers to create "The Great Wall of Vagina."

"The Great Wall of Vagina" is about 30 feet long and contains 400 plaster casts of vaginas from women all over the world, from 19 years old to 76. The exhibit website states:
It’s not vulgar, it’s vulva! This isn’t just sensation, it is art with a social conscience and McCartney wants people to stop, look and listen. This is about grabbing the attention, using humour and spectacle, and then educating people about what normal women really look like. Described as “the Vagina Monologues of sculpture” this piece is intended to change the lives of women, forever.

“For many women their genital appearance is a source of anxiety and I was in a unique position to do something about that.”

Vulvas and labia are as different as faces and many people, particularly women, don't seem to know that. McCartney hopes this sculpture will help to combat the exponential rise, seen in recent years, of cosmetic labial surgeries. This worrying trend to create 'perfect' vaginas is the modern day equivalent of female genital mutilation and sets a worrying precedent for future generations of women.
Finally, here's video featuring images of the installation and video of McCartney talking about the project:

(Click here to see embedded video)

If this exhibit was in your town, would you go see it? Why or why not?

Related posts:

3 Books Every Woman Should Read
Erotic Power & the Pin-Up, Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Seen Around Midtown: Street Art

Those of you who come down to Westport for the St. Patrick's Day festivities might find yourself stumbling across some of these...

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Seen Around Midtown: PBR Painted Ads

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why Republicans Can't Admit Climate Change Is Real

Funny Pictures - Philosophy Sloth

Via @AlterNet I found a great article discussing why Republicans so steadfastly deny the scientifically-agreed upon reality known as climate change. "Naomi Klein: Why Climate Change Is So Threatening to Right-Wing Ideologues" is an interview by Amy Goodman with author Naomi Klein, who wrote The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

I found Klein's comments resonated with my feelings and observations of Republican politics. And, since I don't think I've stated it before, here's my essential take on Republicans: I think Republicans are holding onto modes of operating that are way past failure and don't have any benefits to give our society. That's my major beef with them (besides the whole trying-to-control-women's-bodies-and-pregnancies thing. Ugh.)

Anyway, let's see what you think of Klein's break-down of the situation:
Why is climate change seen as such a threat? I don’t believe it’s an unreasonable fear. I think it’s unreasonable to believe that scientists are making up the science. They’re not. It’s not a hoax. But actually, climate change really is a profound threat to a great many things that right-wing ideologues believe in. So, in fact, if you really wrestle with the implications of the science and what real climate action would mean, here’s just a few examples what it would mean.

It would mean upending the whole free trade agenda, because it would mean that we would have to localize our economies, because we have the most energy-inefficient trade system that you could imagine. And this is the legacy of the free trade era. So, this has been a signature policy of the right, pushing globalization and free trade. That would have to be reversed.

You would have to deal with inequality. You would have to redistribute wealth, because this is a crisis that was created in the North, and the effects are being felt in the South. So, on the most basic, basic, "you broke it, you bought it," polluter pays, you would have to redistribute wealth, which is also against their ideology.

You would have to regulate corporations. You simply would have to. I mean, any serious climate action has to intervene in the economy. You would have to subsidize renewable energy, which also breaks their worldview.

You would have to have a really strong United Nations, because individual countries can’t do this alone. You absolutely have to have a strong international architecture.

So when you go through this, you see, it challenges everything that they believe in. So they’re choosing to disbelieve it, because it’s easier to deny the science than to say, "OK, I accept that my whole worldview is going to fall apart," that we have to have massive investments in public infrastructure, that we have to reverse free trade deals, that we have to have huge transfers of wealth from the North to the South. Imagine actually contending with that. It’s a lot easier to deny it.

But what I see is that the green groups, a lot of the big green groups, are also in a kind of denial, because they want to pretend that this isn’t about politics and economics, and say, "Well, you can just change your light bulb. And no, it won’t really disrupt. You can have green capitalism." And they’re not really wrestling with the fact that this is about economic growth. This is about an economic model that needs constant and infinite growth on a finite planet. So we really are talking about some deep transformations of our economy if we’re going to deal with climate change. And we need to talk about it.
So, let's talk about it. Tell me what you think in the comments, or click through to read the entire article.

Related posts:
Eco Art
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Cultures Threatened as Climate Changes

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sh*t On the Radio

Day 222 of my 365 self-portrait project was taken with Tony's Kansas City & Leffall

What a day! I woke up & got ready to go to the local NPR (KCUR 89.3) studio, because I was invited onto Central Standard with host Jabulani Leffall and local bloggers Tony's Kansas City, Average Jane, Bull E. Vard, and Toellner!

I was nervous at first, but got over my jitters for the most part. I enjoyed hearing the other blogger's stories as well. Click through to download/listen to the MP3 or to see all the Central Standard podcasts.

I was going to talk more about this experience, which was quite a bit of fun, but I'm kinda distracted because I found out while at my PT job that Matt's father has throat cancer. His sister called me and asked me to tell him so he wouldn't have to hear it over the phone. Anyway, I just broke the news a little while ago, and Matt's not doing so great.

I guess it proves my dedication as a blogger (or goal-orientedness as a person) that I sat down to write this before either feeding myself or cuddling my baby like I should be. Speaking of which... I gotta go...

P.S. The title of this blog post is a reference to a Nelly Furtado song, and not a comment on the show!

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

I've had this song running through my head for the past few days:

(Click here to see embedded video)

If you've read for a while, you already know I'm in love with alternative transportation. I have an extra special love for bicycles, because while walking is fun and grounding, cycling is faster, and therefore more fun.

So when I bitched about not having a bike on Twitter the other day, I was totally ecstatic to get a tweet back from @MySpyderWeb offering me an old bike of hers.

She dropped it off Saturday and I was super excited to ride it. Sunday Matt and I had dinner with a friend and we had our first bike ride together as a couple on the way there. It was so much fun! I know I'm a romantic dork and all, but I was squeeing inside so loudly the entire way.

Monday was also awesome because it took just 5 minutes to zip over to Penn Valley, where I was early enough to set up a library orientation for my student with a cute curly-haired librarian named Mike. (My student had never used a library before).

On the way home, I set up my camera on a retaining wall and snapped a shot for my 365 self-portrait project, then zipped home.

Being out in the cold feels way less annoying when I don't have to be in it quite as long as I did before! Plus, this has seriously opened up an entirely new level of urban adventures for me and Matt (who already had a bike). Now we can cycle around town together, we will be able to visit my lil bro on the Plaza so much easier, and I feel a lot safer being out by myself in the city, which is still occasionally intimidating, now that I can make a speedier get-away!

I was looking forward to riding my bike to work today, but it's rainy so it would just get me all muddy. It's too bad because... sing it with me: I want to ride my bicycle!!!

Thanks @MySpyderWeb for making this all possible! :)

Related posts:
How I Fell In Love with Alternative Transportation
"My Life Is More Precious Than Your Car"

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tutoring for Literacy KC

I haven't talked about my volunteer tutoring with Literacy KC for a while, because I had to stop tutoring my first student. He had major problems with showing up for our sessions, and since Lit KC has a really long waiting list of students ALL THE TIME, those who don't show are kicked out.

I had to wait for a couple months for another student, but three weeks ago I heard from Beth, the volunteer coordinator @ Lit KC, and now I am meeting with a 40 year-old African-American woman with a 12 y/o son. She's currently attending classes at Penn Valley, and wants to become a social worker.

It's interesting working with people who are so not literary-minded as I am. I grew up in a house where reading was like breathing: something we all did and didn't consider to be unusual. So being exposed to people who don't do much reading, and definitely don't usually read for pleasure, is an eye-opening experience for me.

I almost couldn't believe when my new student said she had no idea what " " were or what they meant. I mean... that seems like a really basic sort of thing to know, at least to me. It's also interesting to note how vastly different my vocabulary is from the students I've worked with.

The most wonderful thing to me is seeing how reading and working with stories opens someone's mind. Not a lesson goes by without her saying "I didn't know that," to something and making me feel so happy to share all the info in my head that often feels like it's going to waste.

This student is really dedicated to self-improvement and has perfect attendance so far. I'm excited to keep working with her and see how her ability to comprehend what she reads and to express herself in writing grow over the next year!

Related posts:
Volunteering at Literacy KC
International Literacy Day

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thing a Day 2011 Wrap-Up

Yesterday marked the last day of February and the last day of Thing A Day 2011. Here's a review of what I made over the last 28 days. I'm only going to post photos of my favorites so this thing doesn't end up being longer than my leg. You can click through to find my Thing A Day post for each day; each has a picture or two and a few comments about what I made.

Day 1 I made a skirt out of a dress that didn't fit me anymore.
Day 2 I made a collage:

On Day 3 I painted a cork like a mushroom and put it with some rocks on a lil jewelry box:

Day 4 I made a big crazy necklace.
Day 5 I made a necklace out of some embroidery floss and some washers.

Day 6 I drew a little something something:

On Day 7 I made a Valentine's card for my darling.
Day 8 I painted:

I spent Days 9 & 10 making another painting:

On Day 11 I made a birthday/Valentine's card for my mom, whose birthday is on V-day.
Day 12 I made a vision board.
Day 13 I made a black bean, potato and quinoa soup - an original recipe.
On Valentine's Day I practiced the art of flower arrangement.
On Day 15 made a few rings, a necklace & a painting cause it was Create Your Own Reality night!

Day 16 I hit the 200 mark on my 365 self-portrait project, so I used my self-portrait as my thing:

Day 17 I wrote a love letter to my sweetie-cakes.
On Day 18 I was too busy to do anything else, so I let my 202nd self-portrait be my thing again:

Day 19 I made a bottle of hope for an assemblage I've been working on.
Day 20 (which I accidentally posted as 19) I made a bottle of love for my assemblage.
Day 21 I finished a painting that I had started the day before. It has a lot of layers of tissue paper embedded in the heart:

Day 22 I made a bottle of grace for the assemblage.
Day 23 I made a bottle of dreams for my assemblage.
On Day 24 I attached a piece of fabric to the door of the found object which is the basis for the assemblage I'm making & painted it:

Day 25 I was too stressed & busy to do anything.
Days 26 & 27 I spent covering an old ottoman with some of the same fabric I used a while ago to re-upholster a piano bench:

Day 28 I made another collage:

Related posts:
Thing A Day 2011: Day 1
New Creative Collaborations
Wordless Wednesday: Recent Artwork

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