Not Exactly as Planned

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It all ended with this…. but that part happened later on.  On Saturday Catharine Stebbins came out to sit the HQ.  It was a good day, there were loads of people in town (odd for an august weekend) and things went smoothly – Catharine has lots of really cool overlapping skill sets from sewing to photography – and she made a new volunteer check in list as well as a sales record.  (which we needed since we sold another Brian Bosworth planter!)

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At about 1:00  the former smockers began to roll into town. Peggy, Ashira and Kenturah and then Kate, Michelle and Molly all came out from LA to help prep for for our Portland Maine debut as “the Group Formerly Known as Smockshop” (check it out – September 11th, 2010!).  We set up a work area in the back room of the HQ and spent the afternoon sewing a new banner and table coverings.

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In the afternoon, after the shop closed for the day I had plans to meet with Doug who was working on a series of filmed conversations with artists for the NY Times.   We headed back to A-Z West with plans for the panelists to finish the day working on the back patio with cold beers while I did my conversation with Doug.  And Sarah and Luke from Lucky Dragons were also working with Doug – so they came out to A-Z West too.   And to make scheduling more tricky my friend Jeff was doing a show that night at 7:00 in downtown Joshua Tree.  (This is a very difficult story to simplify).  I went with my posse to see Jeff’s gig while Doug and his crew filmed Lucky Dragons playing music at sunset on the top of the rocky hillside behind my house.

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This is a picture of everyone up on the hill as we were leaving the house.  What no one anticipated was the bee hive right in the boulders behind where Sarah and Luke were playing. About an hour later, disturbed by all the commotion, the bees swarmed the musicians and the film crew.  Described as thick dark roaring blankets they descended each person in the group who were trying to scramble while under attack down the precarious boulders – with bees stinging their faces and getting in their hair and clothing.  Sarah and Steve were allergic to bees and had to be immediately bundled off to the ER and all the filming equipment was abandoned up on the hill.  I got home just in time to wait for Brian the Bee man who arrived at about 10:00 PM with bee suits to help retrieve the recording instruments, computers, cell phones, sunglasses, etc that had been lost on the flight on the way down from the hill.  It was a long strange day and I’d bet money that something in my astrological star sequence has been out of whack all week.   (Though overall, and despite the chaos,  it was still pretty rad to meet Catherine, see all of the smockers, Sarah and Luke, and Doug and his really fabulously competent and courteous film crew)

Saturday at the HQ

IMG_1720_BlogcropAlex and Kimberlee were the sitters at the HDTS HQ this weekend – Saturdays at the HQ always go by really quickly!  Brian Boswoth came in with some porcelain succulent planters that were cast in in the shape of rocks for us to sell (Alex and Kimberlee both immediately each bought one) and we did a “product shoot” of some of our new goods that I had gotten from Chuck Moffit – I’m going to send this out as an email announcement so I hope he doesn’t panic when he sees our unorthodox treatment of his artworks (no white glove handling in this place).

Mt. Baldy to Chuck’s Place

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On Thursday Emmett and I visited Chuck Moffit in Mount Baldy.  The town of Baldy is a secret little village tucked up in the mountains next to Claremont – the small town vibe and idiosyncratic lifestyles make it feel similar to Joshua Tree – though with a bit more altitude.  Chucks place is a small cabin in the woods that he has completely taken apart and painstakingly put back together again – there are sculptures in all states scattered everywhere both indoors and outdoors everything feels earthy and organic – it is often hard to tell what is coming together and what is coming apart (in the best way possible).  Since Chuck has been a two-time HDTS artist my mission was to coax him into giving us a few more affordable works to sell at the HDTS HQ – I was successful in liberating a really nice ceramic floor piece as well as a brass “mountainscape”

First FKAS Product

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After the project “smockshop” was archived we realized that we were really going to miss working together.  So we started a new group called “formerly known as smockshop” – or more casually referred to as FKAS.  Our new products won’t be entirely clothing based and will eventually be available for sale both at pop-up sales, and via an on-line store.  And since every startup I’m involved in has a rule, so does this one.  The dictate for FKAS is that all of the products have to be made in the form of a rectangle – so each item is a “panel” of one sort or another – though these are all intended to be useful objects (similar to the “A-Z Personal Panels”, “A-Z Carpet Furniture”, and “A-Z Cover” pieces that I have made in the past).  Each member of FKAS is supposed to come up with their own panel product line so I’m trying out a new and very simple pattern that is loosely based on Guatemalan Huipil.  Here is my second try (sewn out of left over fabric from the bathroom curtain) – I thought that the first turned out great until I realized that the neck was sewn in crooked.. dang!

The Rest of It

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Since as I’m showing the kitchen, I should throw in an image of the patio area next to it.  A few months ago TK made the fire-ring with a drop-on barbecue grating.  The ring is totally huge which is fantastic for wintertime bonfires in which I secretly burn almost all of my household paper waste (meaning fewer trips to the dump which is about a 45 minute drive from A-Z West).  The gnarled teak root chairs and table came from the Sky Drive In Swap Meet in Yucca Valley (where Amy and Wendy Yao will be doing an HDTS project in October) – they used to have loads of great furniture like this, but sadly it has since been all sold off.  (thanks to my friend Giovanni Jance for this very perfect and professionally shot pic of the fire-ring)

Outdoor Kitchen

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Over the last several years I’ve been trying to figure out how to reconfigure my house so that I still have some privacy, but am also able to serve the needs of guests who come to stay in the wagon stations or camp out in the wash on the west side of A-Z West.  Eventually, when I have a little more cash, the long term plan is to pipe water down to the parcel and build a kitchen and showers down there – but in the meantime I’ve been working on an outdoor kitchen next to the house so that people can use whenever they want.  TK Smith, fabricator extroidinare, came up with this deluxe design for my kitchen.  I had wanted horizontal redwood siding, but was worried about wood not holding up on the south side of the house, which gets blasted with sun.  TK came up with the horizontal metal design –  that will eventually rust to match the rest of my house.  two weeks ago while I was traveling back east he put the final touches on the kitchen – amazing!

Framing Wilderness

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For the last week James Trainor, myself and 10 incredibly awesome Columbia MFA students have been roving around Hudson River valley and the Catskill Mountains in order to learn how America’s perception of landscape has been culturally and historically framed and defined by its art.  In a bus named gymsock we have visited the homes of Washington Irving, Thomas Cole, Fredric Church as well as sites such as Kaaterskill falls, Byrdcliff Arts colony, Woodstock, the Maverick Theatre and the amazing Tilcon quarry hidden in the backside of a mountain right on the edge of the Hudson River. Also thanks to some very generous folks up at Bard our group got to stay in their dorms, and we were able to check out a few studios as well as their MFA Thesis show.

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Small Victories

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Progress on the Brooklyn home-front at A-Z East feels like it has been moving forward at a snail’s pace.  I’m in my old apartment on the second floor every other month, but it seems like whenever I’m here there is a show to hang, or a bunch of meetings to make.  Today we finally hung a new linen window-panel in the bathroom that has been on my to-do list for over two years….  Victory.