Saturday, June 27, 2009


Neda Soltan - Martyr for free speech - Gunned down, Tehran, 6/20/09

** The world is becoming more transparent... I started to write these words earlier this week. I was horrified by the brutality used in Iran to quell the protests in the aftermath of Ahmadinojad's "election". I was equally struck by the power and courage of the protesters.
Armed only with cellphones and the internet, they were able to provide damning proof of the government's response to their protests of election fraud.
At first I believed that I was seeing a tipping point. I believed that perhaps we were crossing a threshold where the one way directional feed of news was changing. Mainstream media proved sluggish at best; dumbed down and sugar coated. But the story was there on tweets, blog feeds and youtube.
Now (Saturday am) we've had a cheating governor and untimely deaths of celebrities supplant all other world news.
As an artist I find my influences in my interaction with the world as it is. Right now I'm seeing that transparent moment already clouding over.
I'm reminded of some lines from the movie "Good Night and Good Luck" concerning the life of broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow. "We have a built in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information.... television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Nodding Donkey oil pump

-Eureka! This piece is really about my oil well! It's about my
complicity in the world's self-destructive dependence on fossil
This spring I decided to submit a piece in support of the Landfillart
Project. Ken Marquis, organizer and curator of the project, hopes
to have a book and traveling exhibit by 2012 that "portrays the arts
communities efforts to positively impact the environment through
re purposing previous metal waste.."
All artists receive a reclaimed hubcap to use as their canvas. I got
mine back in late March. My original proposal had the intention of
exploring my automotive roots that consisted of helping in my
fathers auto body shop as I was growing up. Perhaps some kind of
transformation of the hubcap into an artist book? Much to the
dismay of my salt of the earth father and two uncles I spent an in-
ordinate amount of time welding 'assemblages' from the ever grow-
ing junk pile behind the shop. "You could make something of your-
self if only you stopped wasting your time."
Now it's late June and I've been back and forth: somewhere between
progress and procrastination. I had worked up a series of custom
decals based on vintage photos of the shop and wrecked cars that
went through it. They didn't click here. Somehow that story seemed
a bit intimate for the hubcanvas. There seems to be another narrative

Soldering mesh hands for hubcanvas mixed media piece

Instead I think the piece is about oil; we're hooked on it and our
landfills are filling up with the discarded products that had their
origin in the oil patch and our throwaway culture.
And, Yes I own a piece of this mess.
My grandmother, Maud, proud Nebraska frontier woman had
oil discovered on her ranch and I (along with a gazillion assorted
grand and great grand kids) all got a piece of this aging and nearly
pumped dry well. I still get an occasional royalty check from some
subsidiary of a subsidiary. Usually enough to buy a few art supplies.
So what the hell, lets make a piece that looks gift horses in the
mouth. No offense grandma, but we've got to make some tough
oil decisions.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lessons Learned

Journal entry, idea map evertson©09

"My advice to you sir is not to blog." My day at Wesleyan's
Writers Conference was off to a great start. I arrived fully
caffeinated and ready to soak up nuggets of wisdom from
authors and editors in the trenches. Seated in a seminar
entitled Literary Journalism, Alexandra Peers, noted free-
lance writer and former editor for The Wall Street Journal
calls out, "you in the blue shirt, what's your pitch?" I remember
thinking in vain that I should have worn my black shirt. "I'm
an artist and I blog about art, new media, criticism and my
works in progress." I hasten to add that "many of my pieces
contain text and type."
I was off to a poor start; mom doesn't want my art cluttering
up the shopping lists on the refrigerator. So just as I was jotting
DON'T QUIT DAY JOB in my journal I remembered that in fact
I'm not trying to pitch my travelogue to Con Nast and probably the
closest I'll get to the New Yorker is the newsstand. Peer's objection
was a professional opinion that writers should not be putting their
craft out there for free. I say craft here because just as in art there
are distinctions; some writing is craft, some is art. As one proud
of her craft she uses this as an object lesson that "the hallmark
of a professional is the expectation of payment; a carpenter
doesn't just walk into your home and build something for free."
Point taken because as artists we all too often are taken
advantage of in our quests to get some public face time. Still
lesson one seemed to be: use your big ego to bash down the
door to the big ego editor. (hint - start with a terse but
compelling email.)

Journal text, diagram: thinking about art evertson©09

Pleasantly, seminar two was a look into writing a personal memoir.
After teasing apart chapter 5 from Nabokov's Speak, Memory several
people from the week long participants read aloud their memoir work.
Lesson 2 - Hook the reader early because no matter how well written
we need an immediate compelling reason to spend time with you.

I tend to use text visually as fragment; a flash of memory. I'll
continue to remind myself of context as I work; am I
shooting for chance, gestalt, symbol or sign?

I'll probably also be forced to create art 'on spec' since as I look over
my shoulder I'm reminded that I have no patron sitting there, I have
inadequate sales and no desire to paint things to match clients sofas.
But as I looked around the room I saw a few faces light up at the
realization that if they only wrote about peoples pets they could
sell some writing.
Finally I attended a blog and digital media seminar. Here at least the
facilitators were sympathetic to bloggers. A bit of history ending with
a discussion of the current protests in Iran where the only non-
state controlled reporting possible was blog, tweet and cell pictures.
My biggest lesson here is recognizing that while blogs, fb and web
page presence is de rigueur for the 21st century, there are
applications that can can lock me out of the Internet for short
periods of time.
That might give me some time to make art when the blogging
addiction becomes too great ;)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Writer workshop

Detail of text from Brule © evertson 07

I'm off to a one day session of the week long version of Wesleyan's
Writer's Conference. From my earliest years as a student I've
included text and type in my work. I've made videos that actually
required a great deal of writing. I find it does not come as natural
as some other skills, thus I have great respect for the writer's art.
I have some hope that I will come away with a renewed sense of
inspiration. Ravi Shankar (who doesn't play sitar), founder of
Drunken Boat, one of my favorite web zines, will be a speaker.
Add to the mix some advice from novelist Kit Reed and editor,
publisher Ron Hogan among others and I have my inkwell

Text Messages from the Dead insert to postcard ©evertson 09

Until my recent work on a postcard for A Book About Death
which contains a short story that co-exists with the card image,
I've primarily used text and typography as fragments and
visual elements in my collage.

Detail of text from Meltdown ©evertson

I'm not sure that impulse will continue as I've been so awed
(and a little intimidated) by some work I've come across.

Two artist I enjoy from the Drunken Boat can be found under
Web Art (I'll let you navigate on your own to prevent a dead end)

Mark Marino's piece Labrynth: The Rulebook without Game
is a visual treat of hypertext opportunities.

Travis Alber has a piece entitled 30 Days of Rain, which
is a story of leaving San Francisco told through 30 animated

Last but not least -
Cathie Borrie's contribution to A book About Death contains
a fragment from her memoir concerning Alzheimer's. Her
main web site can be found here.

Detail of text from Dr. Strange ©evertson 06

I mentioned in a previous post my penchant for working beyond
my comfort level in different mediums as a way to break out
my ruts. So tomorrow I venture out into the scary but oh so
refined atmosphere of the literati.
It was a dark and stormy night....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Peace wish for Iran

A spark of freedom?

Not an art post today, but a post in solidarity with the students
intellectuals, artists and moderates suffering from brutality
in the aftermath of Ahmadinejad's "election".
Our fascination with new media, instant media and social networking
has an aspect that is playing out in the streets of Iran. Living and
working in the US with its sanitized non news can be frustrating.
Waking up and reading the newspaper is already passe for fast developing
events. Broadcast is no better. Leave it to the internet or tweets to
find out what you may suspect is lying in wait between the lines.
Checking my fb tonight I find that Matthew Rose put up a link from
Andrew Sullivan (warning - graphic photos) concerning the riots
in Iran. File this one under things not to ignore.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Checks in the Mailart

"Wish You Were Here" postcard containing short story ©evertson 09

Well, not a check but my postcards that are on their way to
The Emily Harvey Foundation for this falls exhibition of
"A Book About Death" an unbound book about death. The
exhibit opens September 10th in NYC and runs through the
22nd of Sept. If you follow the A Book link you will be able
to watch the ongoing contributions to the exhibit as it
continues to evolve over the summer. Follow the Emily
link to find her all too short but fascinating biography as
well as information about the foundation.

Insert of my story Text Messages From the Dead is included with the postcard

My short story Text Messages From the Dead is included in the
postcard. Yes, the postcard has a 'secret' compartment.

The project, originated by artist Matthew Rose, draws inspiration
from the late Ray Johnson. His unbound "book" was mailed to his
New York Correspondence School "students". The global nature
of the exhibition is a reflection of Ray's influence in the realms of
performance, mail art and Fluxus.

Back of postcard for an unbound book about death evertson 09

A visit to the A Book site is a constantly evolving visual
treat. P.S. any fb members can join both the A Book About
Death group or the Ray Johnson page.
For me this was a
wonderful opportunity to excise a few demons concerning
the untimely deaths of loved ones and honor the
contributions of an exceptional art pioneer.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

More "A Book About Death"

Production facility for "A Book About Death" postcard

I swear it was Karen who had the wine not me when she suggested
I include the short story that accompanies my "A Book About Death"
postcard. The moral is if you don't want criticism, don't show your
work. My prototype was all ready with a front and back; I just needed
to post it to the printers site. The back has an address to my blog where
the story is available. Karen in her infinite wisdom points out that you
can't just put your finger on the postcard and hyperlink your way
anywhere. I knew she was right; the image and story are two sides
of the coin, canvas and paint; both are equal and integral to the
project. While the story is short, it was still too long to print on
the card. I had the front and back shipped to me and I'm sitting
and glueing them on three sides and inserting a copy of the story.
Only 350 to go as Karen glides by with her riesling and says, "since
when have you ever listened to good advice?"

Shiva and Kali battle Space Invaders ©evertson '81
pastel and gold leaf on paper

Before my postcards arrived I was continuing to rebuild the
last few files from my hard drive crash. I came across the
piece above. I'll keep that seemingly endless and addicting
game in mind as I finish up the cards this weekend. 349, 348,

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Don't Look Back

contact sheet - Moses - West Side Highway ©80

I don't know why I keep telling myself this as if it's some profound
mantra. Perhaps if it's not fresh it's dated, past expiration, ready
for the compost. But things in the rear view mirror have their own
perspective that is hard to explain. I believe in many ways it has to
do with 'context'. Art Ravels covered the Whole in the Wall: 1970
exhibit and it pains somewhat to see street art ripped from
it's context. Still it's not surprising that we find ways to package
our art.
Context takes on a particular importance for certain types of work.
That graffiti on a canvas is bound to have a different effect on a
viewer is a given. The 70's if nothing else brought about an explosion
of site specific works. many of these works were driven by artists
concerned with re-defining the boundaries of what an exhibition
space is as well as ownership of "public space".
One concern in my art is confusion of context. Blending of opposites;
rich/poor, urban/pastoral, sanity/insanity.
I recently blogged about my piece Moses. The contact sheets above
are the trigger for the original context.
One of the topics of particular interest to me began in the streets of
NYC in the 70's and it concerns the plight of the homeless. Looking
back? The perspective don't seem to change no matter which way I

Self Portraits as Derelict ©evertson '80

NYC has always had a role in defining the extremes of wealth
and poverty living side by side. The contact sheet above (circa,
1980 - Self Portraits as Derelict) contains photos I used as
publicity shots for a group exhibition. There are several great
blogs that feature current street art, waiting to be discovered
in context. An excellent place to start is the Wooster Street