Art & Soul, part one of... lots

That's me and Michael deMeng, the instructor for the "Six Million Dollar Man" class. I was too excited to remember to put back on my Extremely Flattering belt. I guess that makes me a fan girl now. Fan woman. Devotee.

After the drive from Increasingly Diverseville on Thursday, I dropped off my "doodad," the papier mache house we were to alter, at the Embassy Suites.
It's not bad... and I did try more layers than I usually do. I'd read something about an artist who says she always does at least 7 or 8 layers on a piece, so I wanted to try that. But my layers weren't always sufficiently transparent, so it mostly just felt a little thicker and solid than it might have otherwise. Still, I did use some of my gorgeous papers [mmm... paper.... drool], the hamsa as the protection charm on the door, and transparencies that would look interesting against the liner of patterned tissue paper. The first one's of a smiling man and his baby girl; the second one's of my mom as a baby.
And I used my Sullen Girl in the doorway...

And I was very good about not worrying too much that it wasn't Cool Enough. I fussed for a little, and then I told myself, that's what you have, and it's Cool Enough. An attitude that withstood, mostly, even seeing these doodads:
(Above: one of the winners)I whimpered a little, and then left.

Then I stayed with my college roomie Wendy, and met her man Brian. They're extremely amusing people, and I completely forgive her for not having gained any weight since college. Over dinner at a local Thai place, Brian regaled us with stories of things that he's seen extracted from people in the emergency room. And I told him things about Wendy that haven't changed a bit, like the fact that she whacks your arm to get your attention. (Her mama never taught her it's not nice to hit.) I paid for dinner as a thank-you, but Brian snuck a twenty into my luggage to pay for their dinner. I'll get him back later.

So! Up at the ass-crack of dawn to fight Portland traffic, but I did get there in plenty of time to settle in and do some trading before class. I exchanged small, stamped bags of ephemera, because Everyone Needs More Stuff. And I wasn't taking it back with me. The class was "Six Million Dollar Man," in which we altered plastic anatomy figurines, the ones you can take the guts out of to see where the heart, liver, etc. fit into the body. In Michael's words:

"We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first modified dollar store anatomy man. Better than he was before. Better…stronger…faster… and, well, cooler looking. "

I forgot to bring an apron to wear, but my seatmate Anjali...
... literally gave me the shirt off her back. (She was getting warm in the room, and it was an old long-sleeved shirt over her t-shirt.)

Michael didn't give a lot of step-by-step instruction... it was more "here's how I make this color" and "here's what you want to do to make your piece a little sturdier, and to keep things from breaking/falling off" so now you can go for it. But he was right on top of any question, and he's so friendly and approachable that it didn't really matter.

Michael provided the bases for our pieces: everything from sink stoppers to round plastic whatchamacallits. He also had this really cool epoxy putty he'd brought, which you pinch off and then rub between your hands to get it tacky. Then you put it wherever you need it (within five minutes), and it dries within maybe ten minutes! I liked it because it's "dry," not goopy like regular glue, which distracts me by demanding to be peeled off my fingers. We also used a certain type of caulking for texture on the anatomy men.

At the end of class, we had a critique -- a very gentle one, where we discussed what made the piece work and what it says to the viewer. I didn't finish, but I had great fun, and I think I'll actually complete it at home. So here's what I came up with:
Elements: dental mirror, a bit of ball-chain necklace, fortune cookie fortunes, letters of metal type in a mini jug, brass wings, plastic bits from children's toy packaging, wire, wheeled thingies that I re-purposed as skates, electrical outlet cover as a base, and a beer bottle cap from a road near our house.That's "please" carved into the figure's back. (I'll highlight it later.) I've been interested in the word "please" recently... people use it in so many different ways, just by using different inflections and in different sentence placements. I remember Michael saying that my piece had a great narrative going on that drew in the viewer. It looks like Real Art, don't it? And it's so funny that it looks like metal, but it's such light plastic that your hand completely flies up too fast when you pick it up.

Whew! I'll post stuff about the evening and day two later.
Posted on October 10, 2007 and filed under "Art and Soul Portland".