Inspiration is sometimes born from curious circumstances.
This past weekend I was supposed adjourn to Austin in order to attend my baby cousin’s wedding, but as I was standing at the top of my stairs, ticket in hand and bags packed, fate reached out its third arm and changed my directive.
As torn as I was, I had to ultimately make the decision to stay home and take care of matters that needed my attention. It was a heartbreaking decision to be sure, not just because it certainly would have been nice to get away for a few days, but because I love this person dearly, and there isn’t anywhere in the world that I would rather have been.
In light of this epic portion of lemons that life served, I wrung what lemonade from them that I could and made a day trip to the Oakland Museum to take in the recently opened installation of work by Los Angeles based artist, Michael C. McMillen.
In 1991 I saw a show of his work at this same museum, and was forever changed. His concepts, and their ultimate execution are among the most amazing I’ve ever seen, and instantaneously took the place of the black cloud that ws hanging above my head;
“Aristotle’s Cage” 1983-1992
McMillen creates environments that my conscious easily slips into, and within minutes I was transported back to a time when I was twenty years old, wide eyed and utterly confounded by his vision.
Secondly, during the time of his first show here, I was able to take in a lecture that he gave and was all the more inspired when I came to find what a genuinely nice person he was. Never before, or since have I been so taken with a person and his craft;
“Red Trailer Motel” 2003
Since I was young, I’ve thought that the sterile confines of a gallery was an improper environment in which to look at art, and have at every opportunity opted to see it in the artist in question’s studio. McMillen’s work speaks directly to this desire, in that he transforms the four white walls into another world entirely. In the preceding piece, you’ll notice holes in each of the doors. When peering into each peephole, the viewer is treated to a trip to a different time and place;
“Red Trailer Motel” details, 2003
Obviously I can’t say enough about this current exhibition, and by all means, if you find yourself in or around the Bay Area, I encourage you to go in to see it for yourself;
“Light House (Hotel New Empire)” 2010
After spending a good portion of my availble afternoon walking around in an attempt at taking each of his pieces in, I eventually made my way to the book store where my better half treated me to an autographed catalog of his work;
With my prize tucked safely beneath my arm, I left the building, but not before penning a short note in his comment book thanking him for unknowingly directing my own work, and ultimately helping to make me a more thoughtful human being.
If that’s not the role that art is supposed to fill, I don’t know what is.
At another point over the weekend, and though this said inspiration may or may not have been partially responsible, I took some time and built up a Black Market Tumblr page;
Check in early and often.
Now that we’ve covered that bit of fodder, we should take the chance to dip into the mail bag, kicking off with a correspondence from Pentabike Dave, who apparently was motivated to get some culture on this weekend as well;
“I rode my bike to the art museum this weekend to check out a new Italian renaissance painting exhibition.
The guard who walks around to ensure that no slashing or theft occurs walked by and said in a hushed tone, “I read that blog”.
He was referring to the AHTBM jersey.
He stated that he was pissed off at the April fools joke, and that he is from boulder.”
Certainly pissing off museum security is the last thing I want to do, as they generally have bigger chips on their shoulders than cops, plus they hold the keys to a kingdom that I very much enjoy visiting. That said, I would like to extend an apology to him directly.
Then from my ace homie, Shimano American string puller, and all around handsome man about town, AK writes;
“Going for a ride … and then a ride.”
That right there is what some might call putting your money where your mouth is.
Then, while still in the mail bag, but continuing to touch on the topic of visual stimulation, Ghostship Matt came though with a new bit of info on his virtual whereabouts, as well as a pretty sweet new drawering he did for us;
Here’s the drawing finished up. Everything is hand drawn (though I did scan the hand-written type into Illustrator to toughen it up);
I also finally got a website/art blog put together.
Got out to ride a bit on my local trails and was a little dismayed to find logs (that have been there for years) chainsawed and cleared to the sides of the trail. I suppose the town could have done it, but the DEP guy in charge of the trails is a mountain biker himself (and a friend of friend of mine). Not sure what’s going on in that place. Oh well. Guess I’ll start dragging logs back out. Hope all is well.
I appreciate Matt’s efforts on both the paper, and on the trail. He’s a good egg, that one is.
Finally, ace photographer, cultivator of beard hair and all around nice fellow Embry Rucker forwarded me on an email from his friend Whitey;
“A great way to waste 3 minutes and to help you forget about your taxes.
Hi everybody. I wanted to send you a video that I made, I think you’ll find it pretty entertaining. Hell, I promise it’ll be better than checking out peoples Facebook status or looking at porn. Well I know it’ll be better than looking at facebook.
Love or hate Superchunk, it’s hard to not enjoy the hell out of Whitey’s efforts, and I appreciate the fact that while some people might overlook a cat running around their neighborhood wearing a GoPro camera and carrying a switchblade, it was in that curious circumstance where Whitey found his own inspiration.
That beat anything by Mark Van Proyen.
nice. thanks for the laugh on a shitty day…
20+ years later Laura Ballance is still so f-ing hot it’s hard to believe.
People proclaiming their love for all things Oakland can get pretty tiresome. That said, I think the Oakland Museum is the best of the Bay Great Art, a super good natural history wing, and not a fucking big gift shop. They do it right.
I like Superchunk just fine. Nice art also, and hell the cargo bike was a winner as well. I wish I had more hands so I could give four thumbs up.
sinnfein wins. Laura Ballance makes my pants tight.
Who doesn’t love Superchunk? Laura=Rad
WOW! Thanks for sharing Michael’s work. It reminded me of a photographer/printer by the name of Lothar Osterburg.
This shot was taken in a partially frozen mud puddle next to his car tire.
Had the good fortune of viewing the Red Trailer Motel when it was installed in the downtown arm of the Des Moines Art Center a few years back. Cool enough that I brought my young daughters to view. Having to lift them up high enough to look into the peepholes. To this day, they both remember what they saw and talk of it fondly.