Feeling Exposed.

There’s a small window of time each month when the gazes of Sol and Luna are at rest, allowing me to become particularly mischievous.

Cover image for coachellamagazine.com interview. Photography by Jorge Perezchica

Cover image for coachellamagazine.com interview. Photography by Jorge Perezchica

This season’s solo exhibit has provided me with a strong dose of exposure, both outward and inward.

Outwardly, I’ve connected with a great many like minded and creative people. So refreshing, so illuminating. Four articles came out discussing my work, amplifying my voice to be heard within my community. In the month running up to the opening of the exhibit, Linda Stoddard graciously wrote an article for our local newspaper, The Desert Sun, allowing me a chance to entice people to come see the work of a local artist they had likely never heard of before. Shortly afterward, Christine Lang volunteered a similar article for The La Quinta Arts Foundation to help broaden awareness of my work and the exhibit.

Imagine my excitement when another very talented local artist, Luna Fora, filmed, edited and featured a video interview of me and The Suboken Project on coachellamagazine.com (somewhat surreal to watch myself in that format). One of the most satisfying experiences this opportunity gave me was participating in an interview with Kate Buckley for her blog on palmsprings.com. Kate really dug in to uncover the philosophy and inspirations that fuel my creativity.

And the exhibit isn’t even over yet! My heartfelt gratitude to Deborah for your enthusiasm and championing of my artwork.

Looking inward, the exhibit afforded me a chance to explore how The Suboken Project has influenced my creativity and productivity, and what it might offer me moving forward. For the first time, I sought out curious and enthusiastic individuals to participate in creating art. To Calista, Micheal, Brenda, Chris and Kannon, working along side you, I was able to explore my process, and explore the dilemma of authorial intent from a more objective perspective. I can only hope that the experience enriched your lives as well. Thank you for jumping into the chaos. You are welcome to come art with me anytime.

To the universe I say, there is much more to come. I hope you’ll join me.

Hello 2014, can you come out and play today?

Discovering a Visual Shorthand: The Making of The Cartographer’s Dilemma

continued from part 1

A Series Of Dilemmas

“Cartographers use an illustrative short-hand to describe geographical features of the real world. This short-hand form of communication is designed to allow the viewer to have an easy baring on the contours and layout of the area depicted on the cartographer’s map. Exaggerated color palettes, lines of various weight and solid fields of color all act as simplified yet concise forms of communication informing the map viewer of the geography depicted. Instead of focusing on the actual details of the full terrain, the user of the map can rely solely on the map to find her way around the area.
“Spoken and written language serves as a way to describe the real world as well. Words are used as a concise method to describe all the vast facets and features of the world and the ways in which we interact with and within it.
“However, are words also just another form of short-hand, simplifying or exaggerating how we see the real word? A culture’s vocabulary has such a huge impact on how it’s members regard the world in which they live. Could it be that the more complex and sophisticated our lexicon becomes, the more removed we are from simply seeing the real world?”

– as described on suboken.com

The ideas and dilemmas philosophy introduced me to were the perfect concepts for me to explore through my art. Creating art wasn’t about making a thing, it was about exploring an idea. Visual art in particular become a new voice through which I could explore the world. During the process of building The Cartographer’s Dilemma (TCD), the individual elements became metaphors of the different aspects of the theme I was tackling. With regard to the completed piece, the more refined the artwork was aesthetically, the clearer the question posed by the artwork’s concept became.

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Discovering a Visual Shorthand: The Making of The Cartographer’s Dilemma

The Cartographer's Dilemma

The Cartograper’s Dilemma

I’ve written how hesitant I am to explain the art pieces I create. However, this past year I have become more comfortable participating in conversations about my work.

While being on-hand during the hanging of the current show, I enjoyed a spontaneous conversation with Abel Floris, owner of Desert Signs and Graphics, and the artist responsible for creating the vinyl lettering for the exhibition. He was curious about my process; in particular how I came to create The Cartographer’s Dilemma (TCD). I summed up the amount of work that goes into each TCD sculpture into a few sentences. I wasn’t trying to be deliberately coy, I was simply eager to hear more of his thoughts on the pieces currently hanging in the show.

After my brief answer, however, Abel replied with a comment that arrested me with enthusiasm. I can’t recall his exact words, but the gist of his comment went something like, “…and just like that, you came up with the idea for the piece.” It wasn’t just the explanation on the concept behind the artwork that he was looking for, but the journey behind reaching the final presentation!
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Hanging The Exhibit

Today was the second day hanging the show. I knew I had dropped off a good number of art pieces for the exhibit, forty-two pieces to be exact. (I’ll steal a smile with Douglas fans, and don’t forget to bring a towel.) But walking into the space this afternoon with almost everything now hung on the walls made this whole adventure all the more real.

The moment that shifted my perspective was when these letters were revealed on the wall.

ImageThe show opens tomorrow, but here’s a sneak peek at some of the work featured in the exhibit.

Image

Image

Image

If you noticed that The Cartographer’s Dilemma is mysteriously absent from this post, there’s a reason. It’s in the show, but there’s something additional involved in its presentation. I’ll leave you with a coy hint, an update is long over due for The Cartographer’s Dilemma page on the website.

Speaking of web updates, our local newspaper wrote up an article on yours truly. You can give it a read online at: http://www.mydesert.com/article/20131114/LIFESTYLES0104/311140006/

The LEGO Infiltration.

Since April, production on new artwork, music and writing has been locked in overdrive. So much so that about two weeks ago I finally hit a creativity levee. Calista and I had so many things on our plates that, for my part, something had to give.

However, the factors that have been pulling my attention in different directions are 100% positive.

Factor One: An Old Friend Returns.

A great friend of mine, Tyler Maxey, landed back in town for a brief time. He and I were philosophy students at the same college, and it was great to have him hang out with Calista and I, waxing philosophic about life, health, the universe, careers and entertainment. The three of us went on many hiking adventures before the summer heat finally baked us into staying indoors. A highlight of our adventures was spending one Saturday morning bombarding our senses with sonic frequencies.

Painted Canyons Painted CanyonsPalm Desert: 6:25am 97°
Dome
I’m not much of a new-age soul, but the experience was well worth the drive to Landers, CA.

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A Suboken Project Special Report

We hope you can join us on November 25th, 2013, at the Palm Desert Community Gallery for the opening reception of a two month solo exhibit featuring The Suboken Project’s: The Cartographer’s Dilemma and In A Place: Coachella Valley.

The exhibition runs from November 25th through January 21st. Gallery hours will be from 8:00am until 5:00pm Monday through Friday. Calista and I are hoping to organize a couple of artist talks during the show’s run for anyone interested in touring the exhibit with Suboken (that would be me), and share in a conversation about the process and themes featured in both projects.
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Is The Osteodontokeratic Hammer Built Or Grown? part 1

Developing the ODK Hammer as a structurally strong sculpture while achieving an organic look has been a long process.

Once I had decided to use the various types of Sculpey to create the hammers, I began crafting some small test sculptures to see what techniques would work best to produce a realistic skin surface. The polymer clay I was focused on using, Super Sculpey, already went a long way in achieving a defused, skin-like luminance. However, there was still a great deal of work that could be done to push the medium even further towards appearing like real skin. I was hopeful to have the majority of detail sculpted into the clay to pull off the final look.

The early tests started off as solid pieces of Super Sculpey. I would push in a texture stamp to create realistic looking wrinkles and pores. After baking the clay, I used thinned out acrylic paints to add color variation and heightened surface details such as veins, freckles, and sub-dermal colorization. Since the post baked clay was already hard, painting in such details tended to sit right on the surface, not sink in to preserve and enhance the translucency of the surface layer.

Back to the drawing board.

As I was tackling the colorization issues, I was also brainstorming ideas on how to maintain the sculpted surface details while holding the hammer. An early solution involved a set of three armatures the hammer would rest on while I applied the texture stamping. The points of the armature that were in direct contact with the hammer would also have texture built in to preserve the details. This didn’t work out though. As I sculpted the base form of the hammer, the heat from my hands caused the clay to flex and bow under its own weight. (Remind me to talk about the heat issue again later. There’s a specific season that is ideal for making an ODK Hammer.)

My solution was to create a core form that would be baked without any surface details. Once cooked and cooled, I would then apply the surface texture without the issue of the hammer bowing. After a couple tests, this seemed to be the ideal technique. Yet, I still had the colorization issue to figure out. Then a solution finally dawned on me! I could make the core sculpture more detailed with color regions that simulated the muscle tissue, vein structures and bones. Then the surface texture wouldn’t need as much paint to pull off the full effect of looking alive.

Confident, I went into a mini production of five hammers. I sculpted and baked the five cores, plus the horn/claw portion for each hammer. After these elements cooled down, I sculpted on the skin texture with a greater detail and baked the sculptures a second time. These hammers looked amazing, better than I had expected.

I just realized that out of context, all these references to hammers must read as a rather peculiar blog entry.

With five completed ODK Hammers finished, I went right back into another production of five more.

However, it was now May. The Coachella Valley is home to an obscene number of golf courses and resorts. A large percentage of the population only reside here during the winter months, which for us is “The Season”. The Season ends around mid May, and the Snow Bird Exodus begins. Want to guess as to why? If you remove all the resorts and golf courses, take away the track homes and swimming pools, the Coachella Valley is actually a desert in southern California. May usually sees the onslaught of tipple digit temperatures. Those of us who live here year round can do so only through the prolific assistance of climate control technology; air conditioners! Yet, the AC only creates the “air” of comfort (pun intended), through the actual blowing of cool air. The heat still remains at the core of everything. If the cool blowing air stops, the heat becomes all too apparent.

Sculpey doesn’t work very well in the heat. It becomes too soft and slightly gummy. It’s near impossible to work with Sculpey when the heat kicks in, especially if you’re trying to add texture detail. There is a season for which an ODK Hammer (produced in the Coachella Valley) can be created. It is the winter.

Production was put on hold. It would have to wait until the following October, when the temperatures start to fall.

ODK Hammer Prototypes 02ODK Hammer Prototypes 010042542000000-st-01-super-sculpey

In A Place featured at Kickstarter.com

Here’s a quick reminder that there are only 20 days left for my Kickstarter.com project, In A Place. Since launching the project, I’ve been receiving some great feedback on both the art book and the project as a whole.

Within the project’s first week, Kickstarter selected In A Place as a Staff Pick on their website’s blog. During the second week, Janice Kleinschmidt from Palm Springs Life interviewed me for an article she is writing for the December Art + Culture publication about local artists turning to Kickstarter for funding and exposure. Janice and her photographer Elena RayAntaratma even followed me on a photo shoot documenting how I create an In A Place scene. And, I’m excited to announce that Debra Mumm’s Venus Studios in Palm Desert has already offered to host our Southern California launch.

One of the biggest questions I’ve been getting is “How does Kickstarter work?” I’ll defer to the Kickstarter experts to explain:

“All-or-nothing funding? Every Kickstarter project must be fully funded before its time expires or no money changes hands.”
… thus, taking the risk out of this fundraising event for everyone. If my Kickstarter project is successful, I’ll have enough money to print and ship the books. The fun part is that I can also spice up the deal with great rewards such as original artwork that’s directly related to the In A Place project. Please note that backing a Kickstarter project requires an amazon account for payment. This protects your credit card information and makes it really easy for anyone who already has an Amazon.com account. Should the project fall short of reaching its goal, no one get’s charged a single penny.

A huge thank you to everyone who has been supportive of In A Place. It has been quite an adventure putting this whole project together, from building miniature picnic tables, to photographing the scenes, to designing the book, and finally offering copies of the book for everyone to own. This is our big chance to make this book available, so please tell anyone who you feel might be interested in buying a copy of In A Place about my Kickstarter project.

Thanks again!
Suboken

In A Place @ Kickstarter.com

During the six years that I’ve been collecting images for In A Place, I have crafted twenty-seven miniature picnic tables. A few of them have been modified several times to give them a stronger presence in the book. Some haven’t survived the many adventures that I’ve subjected them to.

It’s time to give the miniature tables their moment in the spotlight.