Sunday, October 31, 2010

The latest on LinkedIn

A friend of mine who is scary out-front on all things interfizzle recently told me that LinkedIn will soon be the hottest way to connect online, hotter than Facebook.

Huh? LinkedIn? This kid is all sneaker and social media blah blah and isn't LinkedIn a boring businessman site? "No, it's credible, because it's no bullshit, just cold facts. You can't lie."

Look what I discovered on LinkedIn tonight.

That's right, Mark is joining me and Aaron in the studio as a TBD, starting tomorrow morning. I hope to keep him as a TBD as long as possible. Mark has so much to offer - and I am looking forward to him bringing it all.

Aaron and I and everyone we work with are lucky. Welcome, Mark.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Word power

Great day this weekend spent at Wordstock. Very comforting hanging out with a crowdful of book/word/idea/story nerds.

I was there manning the Wheel of Cogitation, a table that the studio designed and built for Oregon Humanities to take to events. Its purpose is to create conversation around ideas.

It was a great experience. All sorts of people participated, including lots of kids. The wheel seemed to create space for meaningful and meaty conversations, but in a fun way.

Here's something that happened: A woman walked up with her son, a mysterious mop-topped boy with auburn hair and big brown eyes. He reached out and spun the wheel and stared at the clicker and smiled. "He's autistic," the mom said of the four-year-old. The wheel stopped on a question.

I couldn't tell if he could read the words or understood them. He paused for a short moment, then reached down and touched a bare spot in the leather of a red antique steamer trunk that sat next to the table. "Healing," he said.

Monday, October 4, 2010

How Share went down

This past Saturday, I was invited to participate in the 1 year anniversary celebration of SHARE, "an event series that brings small groups of artists (writers, painters, actors, musicians, dancers, culinary artists) together to create from the same one-word prompt."

The event showcased some of the work from the last year of SHARE events. The organizers also invited thirty or so artists to create live at the event itself. I was one of those artists.

At 2 p.m. I was at SCRAP prowling for supplies, checking my iPhone for the prompt. By 2:03 I was getting impatient and sent an email to Margaret Malone asking for the prompt. My email had just crossed the one she sent to all the artists.

Cue Banjo music while I run around the store again looking for inspiration. Between...

Yes! I find a kit for making a wooden flower press that has 5 pieces of 6"x 6" plywood for pressing the flowers between. Get it? "Between"? I like how specific and contained the square pieces of plywood feel to me.

I stopped by Columbia Art and Drafting and picked up a basic set of word carving tools. I had a vague feeling that I wanted to carve words into the squares? Questions maybe?

Since we would have a live audience, I wanted to get them involved somehow. I liked the idea of something emerging from my choice of materials, a random prompt, and a conversation between me and another specific and random person at the event.

6 p.m. and the audience starts arriving. I put up a sign inviting people to sit down on a couch with me and have a conversation. I handed each person a card with a question.

The best part of the evening for me were the four conversations that ensued. Common themes came up - the nature of happiness, the role of money and time in attaining our goals, fear, death, things outside of our control.

Now I had to make something in response to each conversation, and I had two hours to complete all four.

I dove into the first one, working intuitively, combining every image that came to my mind as I listened to the first person telling me what stood between her and wanted she wanted most.

I had painted the wood black so that the cuts revealed the wood underneath. The materials were unfamilar and not particularly suited to each other. In short, I didn't know what I was doing, but I pressed ahead.

When it was time to start the second piece, I realized that there were similar themes in the conversations, so I wanted to use some of the same images, but it was clear that I couldn't work to the same level of detail as in the first piece. I simplified the image and changed materials.

By the time I started the piece based on the third conversation, the theme was feeling a little heavy. I was most interested in an aside. "I have a cat named Jelly!" she told me. "I love him. He's an ass. The relationship is completely on his terms. He's all male. He watches me undress, and it makes me a little uncomfortable."

That was fun. I finished the fourth piece just as the event was finishing.

When it was over, I was spent, and wished I had spent the evening in the audience, just enjoying myself, checking out the performance and the food and the other artists. I didn't really get to visit with anyone - including a lot of friends who were there. I thought to myself, I'll never do this again. Exhausting.

But this morning, thinking back on it, it was another great creative experience - working without a net, dealing with fears and expectations and serendipity and failures. It was great.

Congrats to Kathleen and Margaret and Chris Haberman for an outstanding event, and to Margaret and Kathleen for a cool idea. Big and risky and experimental and fun. I get the same vibe from SHARE as I did from RIPE in the early days. Something self-defining, born out of passion, nourishing the community, inventing itself and evolving as it grows.