Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Say hello to Emily Ann Pothast


Holy Mountain, 2008

Hi Emily! I wanted to chat with you after seeing Eternal Return. One of my favorite things about you is your variety of self-expression. You make visual art, music and write. The bonus is you're really good at all three! You're like the Beyoncé of the art world!

Ha! I prefer to think of myself as the "Michael Jordan of the golf world" of the art world.


Emily Pothast

MUSIC

You and David Golighty have formed a duo called Midday Veil. The music I've heard feels a bit like watching the birth of humanity from space. Sarah Brickner (Seattle Weekly) described it as, "If you ate some mushrooms and wanted to take a spiritual journey, this is the kind of thing you might put on the stereo...it would induce one hell of a trip." How would you describe it?

Well, from now on I'm going to describe it as "watching the birth of humanity from space." That couldn't be more perfect, actually! I have a little bit of a background in music, but I only started writing songs and taking them seriously very recently. I'm really influenced by singer-songwriters like Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, and also by female folk and jazz singers like Odetta, Sarah Vaughan and Bessie Jones.

I played a few shows earlier this year as a solo act, using loopers and various instruments to accompany myself, but as soon as I started playing shows with David I wasn't really interested in playing alone anymore. I'm more interested in what happens when I mix my thing with something else entirely, which is what David brings to the table. David has a music degree and he's influenced by 20th century composers like Xenakis, Stockhausen and Terry Riley. In Midday Veil, he more or less improvises on vintage analog synthesizers while I set up my loops and sing. The synth accounts for that "cosmic" effect that feels like you're in outer space. I love the tension between the electronic and acoustic sounds. Plus, there's nothing like working collaboratively to help keep your ego in check.

What's happening with Midday Veil in 2009?

An expanded band, for starters. We've already begun rehearsing with Simon Henneman on guitar and we're going to see if we can't get started with a rhythm section after the new year. David and I are also slowly but surely recording and editing material for an album. We will release something in 2009 if it kills me.


The Holy Bible: New American Revision, 2005

ART

I first saw your art at the UW MFA show in 2005. What I remember most was "The Holy Bible: New American Revision". It was a great piece in which you had blacked out anything positive, leaving only words with negative connotations/meanings. The end result was a bible full of black marks and words/phrases like rape, murder, death, "shed the blood". The black marks made it feel censored. And the remaining words were bleak. Was it more of a statement on Christianity or America?

Both. I studied printmaking in college and I'm obsessed with religion, so I'm very interested in the symbolic power of the written word and the impact of the printing press on Protestantism and eventually American Christianity (which is an entire category of its own). It's mostly about how the Bible is, historically speaking, a fluid document open to multiple interpretations but that we Americans have allowed a very narrow, divisive definition of Christianity dominate our discourse. This piece was made right after the presidential election in 2004, when I was, like many Americans, feeling like I had just been sucker punched in the soul by the evangelical Christians who turned out in droves to re-elect a shockingly unqualified sock puppet just because he got a perfect score on their nasty little two question spirituality quiz. This is the Bible for that culture of hate. It is not the same deeply symbolic, multifaceted--and yes, flawed--collection of sacred literature it is when it's on my shelf.


The Holy Bible: New American Revision (detail), 2005

I've heard Sagittarians are on a spiritual journey. Would you say spirituality is the primary driver in your visual art?

Yes. I would say that spirituality is the primary driver in everything all of us does, whether we care to notice or not. What I mean by that is, we're all made out of nature, and nature is made out of patterns. Slippery, sentient math from a mysterious, unknowable source. I am not uncomfortable calling that source God, although I can understand why many thoughtful people find that concept too horribly disfigured from centuries of abusive anthropomorphism to consider reclaiming it.


Divine Intervention 2, 2005
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Would you talk about how mysticism relates to your work? How does mystical differ from spiritual?
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I guess for me "spirituality" is a broad category, which may or may not involve "mysticism," which I would define as anything that puts a person in direct apprehension of that mysterious source—however fleeting.I have always been interested with religion and spirituality, but my personal relationship with what I call mysticism stems directly from the experience of having both of my parents killed by a drunk driver three years ago today (December 23). I was really close to my parents, especially my mom, and it nearly destroyed me. I sort of stumbled through a divorce a few months later and felt for the first time what it was like to be completely alone. I had all of my assumptions about reality destroyed in a very short period of time and basically rebuilt my entire life from the ground up. Aside from a few essays and art pieces for Rivet Magazine, I really didn't do much of anything for about two years except go to work and try to fix myself with DIY depth psychology.

Drift, 2008

Sometime in the fall of 2007, David taught me how to play guitar and everything fell into place from there. The immediacy I was able to experience while making music removed the last remaining obstacles to my creativity and I started compulsively making things during every waking second. The work in Eternal Return was all made in the last year and it documents my process of coming back to life. Conceptually, it's all about tearing things apart and rebuilding them. The images are tangentially related to the "stained glass" collage pieces I made in grad school and just after, but the shapes are much more abstract now, and my sense of geometry has become increasingly intuitive and metaphysical.
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Instant Values! 2, 2006
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I'm always interested in finding out who other artists like. Who's work do you like here in the Northwest? I'm going to go out on a limb and going to suggest Jeffry Mitchell (sacred geometry) and Matthew Offenbacher.
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Yes and Yes. I like a number of artists for a number of reasons. I love intense, meticulous craftsmanship and I love emergent things that are made out of millions of other things. Most of all I love evidence of psychological and spiritual growth. I have blogged about several of the artists I like (i.e. Anne Mathern, Claire Cowie, Lauren Grossman, Kimberly Trowbridge, John Grade, etc.) I have yet to write about others, including but not limited to Jeffrey Simmons, Robert Yoder, Gretchen Bennett, Tim Roda, Susan Robb and Kim E. Anderson, Jr, whose lovely drawings I just discovered via the current show at SOIL.
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In addition, I am optimistic about the collaborative spirit that is currently growing in the Seattle art community, from Matthew Offenbacher's "La Especial Norte" to all the excellent artist-run galleries. Your artist interviews are a great example of this community building. I agree with Matthew: you are totally the [slightly furrier] Terry Gross of the Seattle art world!


Axis Mundi, 2008
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WRITING
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Your blog, translinguistic other, is really great! I just don't think we can have enough of arts coverage here in Seattle. What made you start the blog and where would you like to see it go?
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Thanks! I have been meaning to start blogging forever and just recently got around to it. I've always felt like I should be writing about things like religion, spirituality and mythmaking, and I recently discovered that writing about art is a convenient way to take other people with me into those murky waters. This realization was inspired by the first couple shows I reviewed (Anne Mathern/Chad Wentzel and Lauren Grossman). I would love to see this blog or a new one take off and become something bigger, possibly incorporating additional features and other voices besides my own.
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Eternal Return, 2008

Thanks for taking the time to chat, Emily!
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Thank you for this opportunity.
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Eternal Return can be seen at Grey Gallery & Lounge through February 10, 2009.

The Curator's Eye: January 2009


Text Color
Greg Lundgren (visionary/Stranger Genius/owner of The Hideout) chose Troy Gua for this month's City Arts Seattle's feature The Curator's Eye. Included is a quote from my artist profile on Troy. Keep an eye on this guy, I have a strong feeling that 2009 is going to be his year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

"Please don't divorce us..."

The fine folks at Courage Campaign put a face on who's affected by Prop 8.

Hundreds of pictures here. (via slog)











Poppy

My buddy Dave took me to Poppy last night for my birthday dinner.

Yum on everything except the bleu cheese ice cream, which I really wanted to love!

THANKS DAVE!!










Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Kwanza Festivus Hannukah Solstice Christmas!




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No matter what you celebrate, I hope it's with people you love. Happy holidays, folks.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's my party!




















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This has been the best years of my life and I want to celebrate that and usher in 37 in a big way!

I've rented out Vermillion from 7 - 10pm (closed to the public). I'll supply the appetizers (meat/cheese/veggie trays) and babycakes (from Cupcake Royale).

Rainiers will be $2 each. Glasses of (certain) wine will be $3! All other drinks will be $1 off.

If you haven't been to Vermillion, it's fantastic and it's pretty centrally located (on 11th between Pike/Pine).

Swing by for a drink on your way to something else, or spend the whole night there. Regardless, I'd REALLY love to see you.

Since it's closed to the public and there will be a doorperson, the secret password to get in is "2009".

Bring yourself, bring friends, but please don't bring any presents.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Day 5

Last night, there was a palpable shift in energy. "YIPPEE!" has settled into "Will this ever end?" I'm still really good with it, but then I can walk everywhere and planned on staying in town for the holidays.



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Sunday, December 21, 2008

SNOWPOCALYPSE 2008


Liberty and Dave in a snowball fight with Jake.
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Seattle gets our fair share of rain (but surprisingly less than New York) but when it comes to snow, we just don't get that much. When we do, newscasters go NUTS (I'm talking to you Jim Foreman!). I think there's a contest to come up with the most dramatic, most fear-inducing name for each storm. Every year gets more and more extreme. When I first moved here, StormWatch was sufficient. Twelve years later and they've really outdone themselves. Ladies and gentlemen, presenting SNOWPOCALYPSE 2008!
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Bus chaos on Thursday. Jack-knifed buses everywhere.

The city is built on seven hills. And the hills aren't tiny. They're steep and once more than an inch or two accumulates, that's all she wrote for buses.


Photo by Ali Simmers
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By Friday, snow gave way to ice and the hills became treacherous. That didn't stop tour buses from attempting to drive down one of the absolute steepest hills (later to become sledding central for drunken adults, using surfboards, snowboards and even cardboard). One bus slammed into the other and pop -- one went through the guard rail and sat dangling over I-5.
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These are cars -- under lots of snow.
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By Saturday, it became pretty apparent that we might actually be in for a real storm. When I woke up, it was 15 degrees outside. Huh? That's not the mild climate of the Seattle I know and love. Snow is one of the few things that actually make Seattleites civil towards each other - at least when you're on foot. If you're in a car, odds are you're barreling down an icy hill at 30 miles per hour. Since the city can't seem to figure out how to close the iciest hills, you get a lot vigilante street closures. Garbage cans, traffic cones and "caution" ribbon haphazardly placed at the tops of streets protect cars from that awful crunching noise of metal on metal. The bonus is the instant creation of sledding hills. If there was a hill, there were sledders. It's so fun to watch. People actually let down their guard and smile and talk and laugh with total strangers.
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My first snow angel in years!
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Lots of my friends live on Capitol Hill, which also happens to have most of our favorite bars and restaurants. It's felt like one long super vacation. Meeting up with friend after friend, then walking down to the next place to meet up with more friends. And stopping to have drinks, hot sandwiches and Pabst at every stop in between. Between the cookie decorating parties, snowball fights, drunken stories, sledding, and singing, these have been my favorite days of 2008. What a way to wind down the year.

Winter Solstice


This morning, outside of my apartment.
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12:04 pm today marks the occurence of winter solstice for 2008. This passage is recognized the world over and holds special meaning for many, many cultures. Here in the United States, the traditional winter solstice takes a backseat to Christmas. For me, Christmas has always been a family holiday. Since this will be the first time ever I won't be home on December 25, Christmas just hasn't had the same spark as it previously did. I'm not buying one single present or sending out any cards. The remaining hold out will be a re-creation of my family's annual Seafood Fondue Fest.
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There are many places in America, where it would be impossible to 'avoid' Christmas. Western Washington isn't one of those places. In fact, coming from Spokane, Seattle seems downright godless. I've seen a statistic that said only 4% of Seattleites are Evangelical Christians. That doesn't surprise me at all. According to the US Census, Seattle is also the most educated city in the nation (SF is #2). For a long time, I thought that was collalory. There are some studies that have made that conclusion. To my Christian friends who read this blog, please don't overthink that. As I get older (and hopefully wiser), I think the correlation is incidental, not causal.
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One reason for the "godless in seattle" prevalence is that education makes you skeptical (or said differently, a critical thinker). And I would say Seattle is very skeptical (and pessimistic but let's blame that on the weather). We also suffer from group-think (which seems antithetical to critical thinking, but if nothing else, we're inconsistenly confusing here!). I think that high tech industries and great colleges (UW), have attracted/created a lot of educated folks. As to why we don't have too many churches? I think it's historical. The gold rush brought a lot of rugged pioneers to Seattle who were escaping something or trying to find something new. Religion just never got a foothold here (or in most Western states for that matter).
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Group Health on 15th.

Surprising to many of my Seattle kin, I was a real big church-goer during high school. In fact, I got baptised at age 18. Like a lot of gay people, the older I got, the more it became apparent I just didn't fit in with traditional church.. There's still a lot to love about Christianity (in an abstract form for me personally). Love your neighbor. That's one I don't do enough. I hope in 2009, I'll do a better job of not letting my politics divide me from those that might believe differently. But I'll be honest, it's been especially hard this year. Because I live in a city with the 2nd most population of gays and because I live in a city where the vast majority are not church-going, being gay has simply never ever not even once been an issue in the 12 years I've been here. Until this year. And I don't like that how that feels. It's been baffling and surprising and has put me at odds with some folks I really love and care about. I want to put it bed before 2009 rolls around. I know that time is on my side. Statistics show that each successive generation will be as shocked as I am that being gay was ever an issue.
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Anyway, I said this post was about winter solstice. And it is, at least metaphorically. The most common element from winter solstice celebrations is the concept of the rebirth of light. And that's my point. It can be a big, dark world at times. And the only thing I've found that cures that is the light shining in all of us. And I'm not kidding around here, I'm not being cliche -- I really believe this. I promise all my friends and fellow humans that this year, I'm going to keep on shining. And I really need you to do the same.


Last night, at Smith.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cookie Party Cookie Party


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A bunch of people getting drunked up on eggnog, listening to Sufjan's Christmas album, decorating cookies while waiting for SNOWPOCALYPSE 2008!
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If that doesn't scream HAPPY HOLIDAYS, then I don't know what does!



Sandy not only makes excellent movies, but she also makes a mean stigmata gingerbreadman!



You sure you're a professional? More cookie pics here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's happy hour again!



A group of us went last night to check it out in its finished state. Holy Cow!! It's amazingly beautiful! And already completely packed, even on an icy night.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Sissy Bounce!


Sissy Nobbly, photo by Ports Bishop

Sissy Bounce. Haven't heard about it? Neither had I until this weekend. Jake and Liberty were telling Dave and me about this podcast they got from XLR8R magazine (compiled by DJ Dre Skull). Holy crap! I'm in love.


Big Freedia and Katey Red, Photo by Ports Bishop

The queens of sissy bounce are Katey Red, Big Freedia and Sissy Nobbly. I love that tranvestites (oh yeah, all three are transvestites) can thrive in the thug mentality of the hip hop world.


Big Freedia, photo by Ports Bishop

Atlanta has crunk. Miami has bass. New Orleans has bounce.

Sissy Bounce mix by Dre Skull.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

it's snowing!


I'm sure it's ridiculous to folks in other parts of the country, but even half an inch of snow in Seattle brings out the best in us! Unless you're on the roads, then it's the worst (and the stupid)!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

11th Avenue is hopping!



Swung by 11th Avenue tonight for two great openings. First up was Emily Pothast's opening of Eternal Return at Grey Galley & Lounge. A really great show (despite my pics)! I remember her from the UW MFA show a couple of years ago. I liked it then but I really like it now. She also a great art blog.



Next up was Vermillion. Diana turned the front space into a design heaven -- full of really great furniture, lamps, wall hangings, art and the like.

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Vermillion is going to relax for a second and keep this show up for a whole month! From Diana's email, "This kicks off our one-month show featuring local designers specializing in repurposed materials and will transform the gallery into a temporary showroom suitable for sitting and relaxing. "
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It's really fun and beautiful stuff. Check it out. This crazy orange felted piece really caught my eye.
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It's almost the end of 2008. And I just want to give a shout-out to Diana (and Martin) of Vermillion. Seattle is SUPER saturated with amazing artists and galleries. But Diana Adams has really stepped up to the plate and done amazing things this past year. She does lowbrow, she does highbrow and everything in between. If I had to name three places that blew me away this year with their art offerings, it would the Henry Art Gallery, Free Sheep Foundation and Vermillion.



I can't believe that tonight was the first time I've seen the work of amazing photo-realist painter Ann Duffy. Do yourself a favor and check it out!

Thanksgiving (revisited)


Pyramid Formation
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My friend Jody posted pics from Turkey Bowl 2008 (and I swiped them)! I can't imagine a better way to Thanksgiving than this annual tradition. It starts out with a football game. After an hour or two, we head over to Jody and Kelly's. Since they are with child this year, they got smart and said, "It's casserole time, folks!" and we started a new tradition that I expect will carry on. Who doesn't love a potluck with casseroles (many involving Cream of Mushroom soup)?
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IF Dave and I were a couple and IF we had a kid, wouldn't this be the best family picture ever? I'll tell you what, that kid Sam is about the best baby I've ever met! So calm, so happy, so engaged.
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Folks were not kidding with this year's new trashy casserole/sidedish contest. Tammi (and Sandy) spent 24 hours creating this seven layer spectacle of Jell-o. It was honestly one of the prettiest things I've ever seen.