Wednesday, January 30, 2008

erin mcelroy

if you're incredibly lucky, like i clearly am, then the smallest circle in the concentric ripples of inspiration that surround you, is your home. maybe if you've done something good in a past life it's right down the hall or maybe you even share a garage studio and a bathroom darkroom and run a humble gallery project together. oh yes folks, i start my search for stimulus and amazement in the breast pocket of my t-shirt, close to my heart, and there's erin. and she's not just my first feature because she's near and dear, she's brilliant and she works hard for the money.

erin mcelroy is a photographer and a painter and a photographer/painter although she's up to her elbows in a handful of other things as well. Her work is a something of a merger between personal relationships and cosmic occurences, the geometry of the manmade and the soft folds of the organic, the history of wood and found object canvas and the new breath of image and paint, and a dense, structural black with a soft dreamlike color palette. The following is her own statement which I stole off of her website: She also has an opening tomorrow night at City Art Gallery on Valencia in the Mission if you're in SF.

“Decision, the moment of saying yes, is prompted by something deeper; recognition.” – Jeanette Winterson, Weight

What triggers the release of my camera’s shutter is barely based upon the isolated moment that my subject exists in; it based upon something much older, something that has already occurred,something already vaguely recognized through my own eyes. They say that we only dream about things that we have already allowed into our brains, and in this way my photographs are snapshots of flickering collective memoir. As I go about my daily life, chance-sightings whispering bells of familiarity occur. Sometimes it’s the desperate look in a stranger’s eyes; sometimes it’s the angle between a blade of grass and a friend’s shoe, but either way, it’s familiar. Whether I print the photograph directly or I go on to work through it as a photo-transfer painting, my own processing of the subject’s familiarity surfaces first and foremost. -Erin McElroy

mid-week inspiration

i've been thinking a lot about information sharing lately, and in an attempt to do a little less of the "me me me" and "this is where i went shopping this weekend" diatribes i think i'm going to start a weekly inspiration jaunt, a blurb about a maker each wednesday. i'm sure i could use more structure and although i just bound up a new planner last night (i know, i know, a little late to the 2008 game, but i haven't finished my inspirational mix for the new year either so i guess "late" really equates "on time" for me this year) it seems as though i could stand to consistently think about all the amazing people doing amazing things out there. Maybe the vaccuum of my garage studio is more like a black hole of all the unassuming spaces out there that are harboring, if not bursting at the seams with ideas and supplies and fervent hands and complete and utter magic.

i know nothing about copyright so if anyone knows if i'm going to get sued for posting pics off of other people's websites, drop me a line, that would be helpful.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

movin' on up cupcakes

last friday was the well wishing party for my co-worker friend lia (of small stump), as she heads on to bigger and brighter libraries. despite the fact that i work in no man's land and not in the actual library, lia was the only work friend i had that would visit me just to chat, let me complain endlessly about the bureaucracy of working for a private college (clearly i have a lot to say), call me when the boss was stopping by and i was most likely goofing off, sit in the anti-social corner of the sweaty outdoor all-staff meetings, etc. etc. the list goes on. she was simply one of those work friends that makes work bearable if not humorous, and work friends like that deserve cupcakes at their going away parties.

i went for carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, it's as wintery as san fran tends to get lately, so i've been on a roots and nuts kick as it is. i thought they came out pretty tasty, so much so that i made a vegan version later that weekend for erin and the house, although I probably ate half the batch or more myself. what can i say, my willpower is a little wobbly when it comes to sweets.

here's the recipes, slightly adapted from recipes i pulled off of epicurious, the cupcakes from gourmet mag and the icing from bon appetit mag. to make the vegan version i just substituted Ener-G egg replacer, Tofutti cream cheese, and Earth Balance and although the icing wasn't quite as thick, it didn't make a bit of difference in the taste.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups finely shredded carrots (about 4)
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped fine, toasted lightly, and cooled

preheat oven to 350. stir or whisk together the dry (first 5) ingredients, set aside. mix together the wet ingredients (next 4). add the dry to the wet and mix. stir in the carrots and walnuts. set cupcake liners into a muffin pan and spoon batter in about 2/3 full. bake 18 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. cool before frosting. makes about a dozen cupcakes.

1 8oz pkg cream cheese (room temp)
2 tbs. unsalted butter (room temp)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar

mix cream cheese, butter and vanilla until creamy. add powdered sugar and mix until smooth. refrigerate at least 15 min before frosting cooled cupcakes.

Monday, January 21, 2008

new week. rainy day off. cold fingers. sleepy cats.

trying to warm up and head down to my studio in the garage to look at stuff and maybe take apart a few chairs that have been lurking. days like this it's tough not to wrap up in a blanket burrito, listen to the rain, and nap the day away. mmmmm.....

la la la. nappity nap nap. so i've been thinking about getting a new mattress, since clearly i spend so much time lounging around with my lazy, good-for-nothing cats, and my current cheap-o free craigslist mattress is slowly becoming a taco. esti and i went this weekend to try out some mattresses as she's looking to upgrade as well.

we only made two stops, sears and ikea, but that was enough to convince me that my small budget and bad back would be better served by a second hand mattress like the posturpedic-y ones at sears then the ones for a few hundred bucks at ikea. say what you will about a second hand mattress, but i've been sleeping on one for years and it's never grossed me out in the least. plus, mattresses take up tons of space in landfills. like, tons. fortunately, san francisco has programs like bed busters, where they pick up your mattress and recycle it for a relatively small fee, but most places are not so green, so why not recycle it by giving it to someone else. in the end i decided to buy a mattress off of craigslist and give my old mattress to esti, so there you go. win win.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

wednesday gratitude

oh, wednesday. i'm glad you're here, because i am tired this week. this whole "back to the grind" thing is taxing you know. oh, wednesday, i bet you're good friends with "long lunch" and "three day weekend". i bet you know how to kick back and have a good time.

yes yes yes. so here i am at work, daydreaming about taking naps, about working from home, daydreaming about daydreaming. i might be, just maybe, becoming a broken record. what do you do when you're stuck in a reasonable job, a job where you sit alone in a room for most of the day and space out, where you can work on your blog, on your hand sewing, on your crochet technique, where you can catch up on your reading, where the actual work at said job doesn't occupy nearly the whole work day, but you still feel stuck, like legs in the mud up to your knees, stuck at this reasonable job.

le sigh. i've been reading Craft, Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco, probably like most of the other people reading this book, probably holed up, probably tied to their desks, probably dreaming of something more fulfilling and trying not to doubt themselves. why is it hard to have faith, to take a leap, to put yourself out there? i read so many other blogs of crafty people that are just doing stuff, that are flying by the seat of their pants, and seem... fearless. this fear is so totally boring, i have no idea how i've let it get the best of me.

blah. i'll be less sourpuss and snoozeworthy next time i write, i promise. we'll talk you about how i went to the giant camera to see the sunset on the first sunny day after all that rain. we'll dote on amazing people's amazing artwork. we'll swap recipes and ideas, and we'll see how loud we can whistle and how far we can spit.

it'll be great. i'll bust through this slump in no time. no time at all. thanks wednesday for cheering me on. i knew i could count on you.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

new year diatribe (me me me)

alright, seriously folks. new year. no more b.s. no more abbreviations of swear words. i'm letting it all hang out.

i was just gazing, no, glaring, into the harsh lighting of the medicine cabinet mirror, you know that unforgiving light that is only good for things like picking your teeth and removing that pesky ingrown hair from your chin, looking for grey hairs. looking for grey hairs people, that's what i was doing. granted i've been fever-ravished and bed-ridden with the flu for the last 4 days and sicker then i have been since i was about 6 years old, but i'm not sure my sweating and coughing hallucinations could even account for this sort of behavior. i mean, vanity is not especially high on my list of crutches, it's on there, sure, but it is majorly squelched by a few heavy hitters like pride and paranoia and such.

anyways... the point is, as it seems to always be, time. i am looking to denote time on my body because another year has passed and i know it's taking it's toll on me. i didn't find it in my hair, but it's there, in my semi-arthritic fingers, in my incessent under-eye circles, in the fact that i threw my back out doing a dance in th bathroom line at a bar a few days before xmas. it's in my cells and manifesting in my minds eye, it's taunting me with intention and expectation.

i need change.

it's very clear to me that complacency has all but opened the window itself to jump out, and i need to /make/force/dive on top of and wrestle into submission/ some things happen this year that i've been waiting to happen on their own. i think intention is my key word for the year, i'd like to operate with more intention, focus and perspective and less passivity, compliance and brooding. so i've made my resolution list, my intention list, and this year i intend to follow through. i intend to learn and progress and create. and i intend to make bold strokes as i go.

there you have it. wish me luck.