Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Walk Down By The River

A few weeks back (before the road trip actually ) I took a walk down along the Mississippi River which is basically out the back door of my studio (see previous blog entry 'A Tale of Two Studios Part II: http://stevebankspunchingholesintherah-rah.blogspot.com/2012/05/tale-of-two-studios-part-ii.html ).

Every few years we get some media attention due to whatever Flood-Du-Jour has invaded the downtown.  Here is the side of a hot dog stand that has the level of various noteworthy floods.  When I say hot dog stand, I mean that it has a menu on the side of the building, and I've heard of people reminiscing about getting hot dogs from there.  I have never actually seen a hot dog dispensed from there.

Well, this year we're having a wee bit of a drought.  As evidenced by the photos below.  These rocks are usually hidden under several feet of muddy water,

and this sandbar, shelf, beach, -whatever you want to call it, is a popular fishing spot unseen under several feet of water.

Back in '93 (I now officially old enough that I can have a 'back-in-my-day old-timer story').  This is how high the water got.  I helped put gravel bags (filled with gravel instead of sand) around the upstream side of Lindsay Harbor.  I will never forget how it was way too hot and muggy on that day to wear long sleeves to protect my arms, so my forearms were bloody and abraded from catching gravel bags all day.

I tried to shoot the above image so the arrow would be at eye level so you can kinda extend the line and imagine how high the water was.

Some portion of this seawall ladder is usually hidden.  In case you're curious, it's there so if you fall into the river, you have some way to climb up the seawall.

Out in the distance you can see a whole bunch of 'landmasses' peeking out of the water.  Some of them a fairly geometric, and I suspect some form of structure long submerged.  In fact, The Putnam Museum (http://www.putnam.org/) has an old map of Davenport that shows very little of what current citizens of the Quad Cities would recognize as the riverfront area.  It used to be the town garbage dump and basically increased the land area along the river.  Put some grass on it and call it good.....

On my 'short distance walks' I normally turn around at the train bridge just after the boat landing.  This next bit occurs between the two arrows I drew in on the image below.

I started seeing a profusion of tires, so I back-tracked to the boat landing, re-walked my path,  and intentionally started counting all of the tires in the water.

Shall we count them?  Sure!  One....



....Three submerged tires! Aht. Aht. Aht.

In that little stretch of the river I counted 28 tires.  28!  Really?  Unless there were alot of zany, mad-capped tire changing misadventures which culminated in someone desperately running downhill after their escaped tire only to perform a last-minute dive for the vulcanized beauty as it bounced into the river with a 'nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh noise', there are roughly.....I don't know......maybe 28 knuckle-draggin' six-toothed jerkweeds who like to throw tires into the river.

I would like to close with something from the 'Great-Googly-Moogley Files'  Below, circled on the left is what what remains of a Mississippi catfish.  To the right of the image (also circled) is a cement block.

Wanna go swimming?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Shake-and-Bake: The 72-Hour Art Show


This week I had an opportunity to put up an art show at Bucktown, -and when I say a week, I mean that on Saturday, I proposed the idea of the show, and by Friday we had the opening for the show.  The added bonus was that we didn't start loading in artwork until Wednesday (roughly 50 hours before the show opened).  The show: Im-Promp-Tu-Tu.

Although the time-frame was extremely tight, it was certainly do-able.  The major ace-in-the-sleeve was having access to artist with work at the ready.  In some ways it is like cooking, if you start with good fresh ingredients, you can't go too wrong.  The same was the case here.  If we could get the artist to get work inside the gallery in time (and since working with artist can, at times, be like herding cats, it's not a given) for the show, the rest would take care of itself.

There wasn't time to generate any invitation PDFs or develop any kind of coordinated marketing for Im-Promp-Tu-Tu, so I just snapped some quick shots of pieces as they were dropped off at the gallery and pasted them into a couple of e-mails.  For those friends (and actually quite a few strangers now) who have chastised me for being one of the last humans on the planet without a Facebook account, this is an instance where Facebook would have been the perfect tool to get the word out about something happening on such short notice.  So, to you I say "I will probably start one up before the year is out".  To me, you can say "I told you so".  Thanks, I needed that.....

 Here are the publicity shots:

You can see in the background a piece that hasn't even been hung yet. (ultimately it went to a different part of the gallery as well)

And here are shots from the show.....

A huge thanks to:

Meghan Hollister  http://www.meghollister.com/

Eric Mart

Karen Blomme

Leonard Metallo

and thanks to MidCoast Fine Arts http://www.midcoast.org/ and Bucktown Center for the Arts http://www.bucktownarts.com/

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

There and Back Again: Part II

Ahhhhh, the sequel.

Before we left New Mexico, there was another painting yearning to travel to California, Moonrise.  The origin story behind Moonrise can be found at TheArtFeed: http://www.theartfeed.com/profile/show/27.

The Armada was loaded and we were racing the sun to see The Petrified Forest in Arizona!  We arrived at the park at sunset/5:58.  The park closed at 6:00pm.  Wuh-wah.....  So we did what any batch of manly men would do when faced with utter defeat -we went to Williams, Arizona!

When you see a neon cow at the edge of town, you know you've come to the right place!  Actually, Williams is one of the few places where they still drive on the old Route 66 (and that's not 'code' for anything....).  The town is choc full of neon, Route 66 memorabilia, and some just plain hard-to-explain objects d'arte.

Object d'arte?

Pressed pennies and arrowheads purchased in order to demonstrate my ability to be parted from my discretionary spending money with relative ease.  SPOILER ALERT!  I totally won my money back at a casino in Nevada with some high stakes slot action.

Mr. Elvis Presley outside of Cruisers Cafe 66 (explore the magic here: http://www.cruisers66.com/).  Cruisers strategic placement of an outdoor BBQ smoker tipped the balance toward BBQ for our evening meal.  I have, in a previous trip to Williams, gone to The Pizza Factory (http://williams.pizzafactory.com/) across the street and down a bit from Cruisers.  I would be doing them, and you, a disservice by not recommending the robusto pizza I had there.

Now I don't want to make this a blow-by-blow account of every Zinger, Twinkie, Pepsi, Ho-Ho, Peanut Butter Twix, Mountain Dew, Hostess Chocolate Pie, Peanut M&M, and slab of beef jerky that crossed my path, (-and was heroically dispatched btw), but a time comes when greatness must be acknowledged.

I recommend for the feint-of-heart, or readers who may themselves be young and impressionable children, that you just skip over to the *Grand Canyon Portion of the show at this point.

We live in America and the only thing better than eating a grilled animal, is eating TWO animals.  Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you Cruisers Cafe 66's very own ULTIMATE CARNIVORE BURGER.

An Angus cheeseburger topped with pulled pork barbecue, beef brisket, coleslaw, lettuce, tomato, and pickle.   This burger was nothing to be trifled with, and may have single-handedly won The Cold War (a link to the Wikipedia article can be found here in order to verify: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_War).


It came with a couple of packs of mayonnaise which I had intravenously pumped straight into my heart.

Object d'Arte at Goldie's Route 66 Diner?

Spanish omelette, hash browns, and toast as a chaser the next morning.

*Grand Canyon Portion of the show!  Ahh, now that we have all of that sinful feasting out of the way, let's focus our attention on a little attraction roughly 60 miles North of Williams, The Grand Canyon.  It's big.  Some would dare say grand.  Some might even say Oooooda-Lolly!  Anyway, like any wheezebag tourists, I shot way too many pictures of something that can neither be captured on film or by words.  I will limit my images to seven, and my words to 69!

Big, Beautiful, Scary, Exhilarating, Awe-Inspiring.

Grand canyon = scary.  Tarantula = not quite as scary.

The canyon suffers from a deficit of macho, so some had to be imported.  Please note that the use of 'macho' is subjective here since I am clearly standing a good five feet away from the rim.  In fact, pondering the plummet into the canyon was so scary that I think my shadow soiled itself too.

With The Grand Canyon behind us, we stopped in Cameron to experience the mystery and wonder of the Navajo Taco (which is taco meat, beans, lettuce, cheese, tomato, and guacamole on Navajo Fry Bread)  The Navajo Fry Bread was an amazing contribution to the 'Taco Milieu'.  A recipe for Navajo Fry Bread: (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/navajo-fry-bread-recipe/index.html).

The Vermilion Cliffs in Southern Utah.

Zion National Park in Southwestern Utah

The Grand Canyon is grand and all, but Zion is breathtaking!

After experiencing the humbling and soul-touching views of nature, few things cleanse the palette like some hot casino action.  I was feeling lucky, and I needed to wager. WAGER BIG!

I put $3.00 into a slot machine and won $3.25!  Just like the song says, 'ya gotta know how to hold 'em....'

As we journeyed towards the Bay Area of San Francisco, we crossed through the Diablo Mountains.

We reached Davenport at sunset.  For those who are connoisseurs of 'Davenports' (there are over a half-dozen of them in the United States), this one is an exceedingly charming little hamlet (or is it a thorp?) overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

In 2000, I waded into the Pacific Ocean at Davenport only to be soundly schooled on the motivational effects that cold water has on my delicate constitution.  All of the Navajo Tacos, Ultimate Carnivore Burgers, Pepsis and chocolate candy bars were actually part of a carefully constructed regiment to build a protective layer of subcutaneous fat so I could tolerate the cold of the water.

Here I am after the first wave of cold water defiantly expressing my....uh...defiance?

By comparison, here is a picture of that random guy from the Gila Cliff Dwellings (who happened to follow me to Davenport, California).

While I was chugging heart-stopping quantities of sugary beverages in the name of science, this poor sot was was consuming a low-calorie alternative.  Needless to say, his face shows the pure terror that overcame him as he realized, too late, that he was not tubby enough for the mission.  Que lastima!

The next day was the last day of the journey.  Both paintings had made it safely to the Bay Area, and all that was left to do was visit see the sights.

The Golden Gate Bridge

Alcatraz Island

Apparently it is becoming a popular thing to confess your eternal devotion to another human by clicking a padlock with your names on it to the bridge.  Think about though, these things might be there for awhile.  Who wants to be the 'Relationship Grim Reaper' that comes along with state-sponsored bolt cutters and nips apart a healthy, rock-solid relationship?

Rodin's 'The Thinker' at The Legion of Honor (http://legionofhonor.famsf.org/) where we caught a small Marcel DuChamp show, and bunch of Rodin sculptures, and a knock-out painting by Konstantin Makovsky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Russian_Bride%27s_Attire_-_Konstantin_Makovsky.jpg).

Outside the Legion of Honor was this George Segal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Segal_(artist)) sculpture The Holocaust.

They say end on a high note, so after 3,246 miles, 10 states, 1 National Wilderness, 2 National Parks and countless new memories, we must say 'adieu'.  Please note, we did all of our own stunts.

And remember, a '3/4-ass job' beats a '1/2 ass job'.

More art-related shenanigans in the next post.