Observation Skills: Three Things

"Training our awareness is important, not only for writing, but for experiencing life moment to moment. Here is an observation exercise I do daily — not as a discipline, but to alleviate boredom. I do this exercise when I am standing in line a the DMV or grocery store, or walking to get somewhere, or otherwise experiencing what used to be dead time. Before, my thoughts would turn on themselves, like a cat licking and licking its fur, obsessively grooming. Now I simply say to myself: Three things. Look around, observe three things that are striking or unusual, and note them." — Kim Addonizio

Kept this gorgeous advice from Kim Addonizio's Ordinary Genius in mind on my walk from free parking to the gallery today. Witnessed: 

- stellar alliteration at the christian youth program place on Luck Ave. "Faith and Fun" "Straight Streets" "Hope and Help" 

- an office plant pushing through closed mini blinds to reach the light 

- an open, full, can of AriZona Sweet Tea set in the center of the wide sidewalk adjacent to the windowless wall of the Verizon data center. 

Addonizio's approach reminds me a ton of the guiding aesthetic behind street photogrpahy, a few great examples of which are below: 

East Village of New York City, April 1998 by Edward Wexler

Some artists, like those below, strategically vie for this sort of attention, installing works directly into the gallery of the daily world. 

#Dysturb paste-up near the Australian Centre for Photography in Perry Lane, Paddington (Sydney).

What have you seen lately?  



It's palimpsest time

by Tessa Cheek

Here at the gallery we're luxuriating in the cheeky, story-inspiring weirdness of Kyle Wilson's "LOVELY SINS," paintings that reinvent and reimagine thrift pieces. Many of Kyle's works feature marvelous, hideous beasts brightly invading trite landscapes. But he's also snuck in a few elements of quiet desperation — a small "For Sale" sign before a bucolic cottage, for example. This multi-layered quality has become a kind of aesthetic obsession for us. It's palimpsest time! 

Kyle's work has lead us to other artists who've toyed with this palimpsest form. Check out artist Wayne White's fascinating, layered "Word Paintings," a recommendation from one of our lovely patrons!  

"Hot Shots and Know-It-Alls" by Wayne White, via his website (click image to visit).

"Hot Shots and Know-It-Alls" by Wayne White, via his website (click image to visit).

"All That Fake Laughin for Nothin" by Wayne White, via his website (click to see more!). 

"All That Fake Laughin for Nothin" by Wayne White, via his website (click to see more!). 

Have you seen visual "palimpsest" works elsewhere that inspire you?
Let us know in the comments below! 

Be a funktionslust

by Tessa Cheek

"There is a German work, funktionslust, which means the pleasure of doing, of producing an effect, as distinct from the pleasure of attaining the effect or having something. Creativity exists in the searching even more than in the finding or being found... Play is intrinsically satisfying."  — Stephen Nachmanovitch, Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art

The fabulous writer Jeanne Larsen has me asking what creativity is and where it comes from in her mind-bending class on creative pedagogy at Hollins University. The answer, Nachmanovitch suggests, is play. Play free of the demand to produce something useful, something at all. It takes bravery to play like this, to act the fool. That bravery keeps you flexible and strengthens your work, not matter what it is. So let's get this fool train chugging! 

The foolish song:    

The foolish character:

"King Lear and the Fool in the Storm" by William Dyce

"King Lear and the Fool in the Storm" by William Dyce

"The Fool does not follow any ideology. He rejects all appearances, of law, justice, moral order. He sees brute force, cruelty and lust. He has no illusions and does not seek consolation in the existence of natural or supernatural order, which provides for the punishment of evil and the reward of good. Lear, insisting on his fictitious majesty, seems ridiculous to him. All the more ridiculous because he does not see how ridiculous he is. But the Fool does not desert his ridiculous, degraded king, and accompanies him on his way to madness. The Fool knows that the only true madness is to recognize this world as rational." — Jan Kott, Shakespeare Our Contemporary. 

The card: 

Whether it's standard playing cards or tarot, the fool or joker arises as a symbol of newness and rebellion, what plays the game outside the rules.  


How can you bring a childlike sense of play, a puppy's reckless tumbling, a jester's sense of humor to your own creative practice?