The Days Are Running Together

Friday April 17th, 2020

Dear Diary,

I forgot to take my allergy meds yesterday and I feel crummy today.  We are pretty much five weeks into this mess and it’s another Spring day of periodic sun (which is nice) but its pretty chilly.  I am looking forward to the home edition of Real Time later tonight, though the TGIF feels aren’t what they were before.   As for work, I have a really great new service (that is socially distancing friendly) being developed in the wings…  and the shop, of yeah the shop.  After 5 weeks of this shelter in place business, I FINALLY started the great purge.  I haven’t done a proper clean out since ’16 so I am finding some gems under all of the layers and dust.  Boxes of artifacts from what feels like decades ago.   I am also having fun actually finishing some small projects that I started somewhere along the trail,  just for me : A vintage Victorian heat lamp converted into a Edison approved one, and a newly mended 1960 something boat logo from the ’18 Flower Show, which will go in my office.  The little steps in accomplishing things feels as close to satisfying as its gonna get.

As for my personal health, I thought the nerve pain had subsided but NOPE!  I was about to brush my teeth a couple nights ago and the dull pain started to come in like a slow wave, and then ZAP!!!!  ZA-ZAAAP!!!! The dumb luck with getting filling work done the Friday before businesses closed, and it turned into “sorry sir this is gonna be a root canal, we are just gonna put a temporary filling in until you can come back”.   I never thought I would actually look forward to a trip back to the dentist, but I am.  I am ready.   I must say though, the nightly doses of liquid courage assist with the terrorist nerve in my jaw.  Other than that, walking the dogs a bunch, exercising and spending time outside helps.  I did forget again about what day it was.  I thought we were having two Wednesdays this week, but noooooooo.

House projects that have been put off since the world still rotated are starting to get tackled.  I think my new favorite color is the pub-like vintage green in the downstairs bathroom.  Monopoly has never been such a popular daily activity in, well, ever.   We rotate between Stranger Things and Nightmare before Christmas versions.  I favor the totems of the upside down TV or the dead duck car.  Thimbles are so 80’s.

I will say that I am less stressed, and I have backed off on the candy.  Sadly though, without my Cuban coffee from Wawa, adding sugar back to the home brew is the only way I can enjoy the stuff.  I haven’t had my Wawa coffee in five god damned weeks.  The daily White House press briefings are sobering mixtures of horror, sadness, and shock.   Oh yeah, Bernie tapped out, so our Delaware boy Joe is who we’ve got.  Looking forward to seeing who he picks as his veep, and the return to a time when hearing someones political affiliation didn’t make one cringe before they even opened their mouths.  Tap your ruby slippers please Dorothy.

Well, the really interesting thing that happened this week was -that – I – made a piece of art!  Yay me!  In doing so, I realized that I hadn’t made a work that wasn’t a part of an installation, or of a commercial nature, in a very long time.  I have collected so many objects over the years, and it always got me down to see them just trapped in buckets and bins.  I saw the Delaware Contemporary’s post about a found object sculpture contest on Instagram, and well…   Found Object Sculpture (like murals)  is my happy place.  Who can resist a good Tom Waits song while foundering thru boxes of fabric and feathers,  and bins of rusty metal hardware bits?  OK, that doesn’t sound appealing to most folks, I get it but well, I fell in love again.   I am already lining up materials for a follow up, but the work I made for the contest was posted, and has received a nice response.   Here’s hoping it will gain the most “likes” so it can be one display when the gallery reopens.  Popularity contests are not my thing but it got the blood flowing again.

We are gonna need some art out there when the dust settles and rows are lined up for their vaccines.  Art and music soothes the soul.  Speaking of, I forgot how much I like Bob Dylan.   His new release is called Murder Most Foul.  Kennedy’s assassination is the subject matter but it’s about so much more…  a lyrical masterpiece of Americana.

All for now Diary.  I am running low on ink, and need to get back to it.

Laters,

Christian

The work above is yet to be titled, but is made up of old drawers, pine branches (that fell in the yard after all that crazy wind last week), an old can, wild turkey and pheasant feathers, broken glass, a vintage photograph, parts of a very old film projector, and taxidermy of a Brown Recluse.      I wanted to work around the idea of things being cropped and contained in a small space. where children, glass chards, and a big ole spider and all present. The broken glass represents the fracture of our lives as we knew it (like children in school).  Everything is purposefully muted, so it’s more about textures and shadows…  If you think its cool, hop on my INSTAGRAM and give it a like.

In Case You Missed disPLACEd

Right before the United States changed forever by this Covid-19 plague, The Philly Flower Show was held as it had been for the past 191 years.  Family and friends came and tons of folks reached out.  Some of the feedback was expected, but so much of it was either slightly surprising, or incredibly satisfying.   I love being “invisible” during the public hours at the show, eavesdropping the honest feedback in real time, like a secret undercover agent.

This post is about being thankful, and for allowing those who couldn’t make it, an inside look into the exhibit this year.  Even if you came, you might hear some insights that you didn’t already know.  The only things I couldn’t really squeeze into the six minutes, is how much I appreciate the crew that helped create this very special exhibit this year.

It was the third year in a row of being the black sheep of the show, and three years worth of trust in partnering with Mark Harding of Flower Haus.  Mark is so much more than a florist.  Mark is a clown, an artist, an author, an aerialist, a performance artist, and a generally incredible human being.  The most wonderful things about working with Mark is that he can understand and contribute to my wild visions, switch gears on a dime, and he has no ego.  Jeremy Horner came back to work the entire week with Mark and was instrumental in doing anything from carpentry and lighting to going on coffee runs.  He was selfless and brought humor and support.  Brady Everett was too busy to give us the week this year, but made the return on the last day to help push the botanical designs to closure.  He too brought laughter and unfettering support.

 

The support for the “girl power” in our crew, likely gets a jolt from being the father of a daughter as well as having a Fine Arts degree.  Nevada Tribble and Alizah Lathrop were both in their final years at Shephard University Fine Arts program.  Nevada works with just about everything but has been doing a lot with fabrics and sculpture installations, while Alizah has an approach to painting in layers that is incredibly fresh.  I am heartbroken that their final year and shows were totally disrupted.  Kayley Kemp is working on her masters degree in NYC and her figural painting skills are absolutely stellar.  These girls returned for the entire install, and were instrumental in both the mundane and repetitive tasks, as well as the absolute creative freedoms.

Lastly, and certainly not leastly, I need to thank Matt Sullivan and Jason Prezant from Short Order Production House.  Matt helped me garner some press with a “big boy pants” press release, and Jason came to the show twice to shoot and edit all of the gorgeous photography in this post and within the video.  My forever lovely wife Leisa… she makes these in-sane projects come to fruition.  From offering warnings, to lifting me up when I am second guessing (the former happens much more often).   From boats, bobcat loaders and forklifts on the driveway, she puts up with me.  The late nights and longs hours take a toll on familial regularities every year and I can’t thank her enough for keep all of our s#*@t together.

COVID-19 – the movie

We are at a point in the States now where all media outlets are reporting the same things (perhaps for the first time in years).   This is not political anymore.  Nations are closing their borders, children have no school to go to, and there are not enough tests for people who think they may be ill.   It is as if we are living in a film.   A surreal X-files episode to some, and perhaps a government conspiracy drama to others.  However it shakes out I have to admit that I have always gravitated to dystopian themes, whether it be photography (image above from gatefold LP of PJ Harvey’s Hope Six Demolition Project) or films and tv shows.  I absolutely treasure the visuals and scores from Nolan’s Batman Films, the Bladerunner franchise, and one-offs like The Road, I Am Legend, and Book of Eli.  The concept of societal collapse is incredibly scary and intriguing at the same time.  There is a safety belt that you can buckle into when viewing such scary ideas thru the lens of fiction, like I did when I was introduced to The Terminator during the nuclear arms race and cold war period of the 1980’s.

The good news is that I feel GenX ‘ers are more ready for this social distancing and home quarantine than anybody.  We grew up on microwave foods and board games during the 70’s and 80’s, so the idea of going back to a time with no internet and riding around on bikes without wearing helmets isn’t so scary.  What can be scary is trying to reassure your young child.  When we are settling into the reality (or at least trying to), we don’t really have a story to tell when we are asked “what did you do”.  The truth is that the Corona Virus is happening to us all, and all the folks who tried to compare this to Ebola and Bird Flu are finally settling into the new reality as well.  There is no longer a “well when this happened years ago” story to tell.  We are in unchartered waters, but I am still reaching for that safety belt.

Here are a few shares of pop culture that have influenced me and my crazy creative mindset over the years.

 

THE WALKING DEAD

Societal collapse backstory from a unknown disease that creates zombies from the dead.  This survival series was a weekly ritual-holiday in our home for years.  It left such a mark on me,  I am currently checking the news after waking to see if any virus casualties have reanimated overnight.

BLADERUNNER 2049

Like an old bestie of mine plainly described, “every frame of this film is like an oil painting”.  Gorgeous cinematography marry an epic score by Hans Zimmer that I listen to while working often.  Every performance and scene in this movie are perfection to me.

I AM LEGEND

I could take or leave the World War Z-like hopped up zombies in this, but the location is jaw dropping.   Will Smith’s character is the lone surviving resident in Manhattan, where nature is starting to take back over.  The shots of an overgrown Times Square that had wild animals running free was visually intoxicating.

DE Artist Refugee-Themed Exhibit Wins Bronze

In our 3rd outing as a major exhibitor at the Philadelphia Flower Show, team WISH tackled the incredibly heavy theme of the refugee crisis, and pulled out our second bronze medal at the largest indoor flower show on the planet.  The exhibit titled disPLACEd, features vignettes of the top 5 countries plagued by the global refugee crisis.  This was selected as a theme in response to the shows title of “Riviera Holiday”.  Featured nations are Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, and Myanmar.

In partnering once more with Mark Harding of Flower Haus, we delivered a comprehensive botanical showing of plants and floral, either native to each region of crises, or which match the aesthetic and are trending in the industry.   Also returning to our team was a group of visual art students whom were each responsible for creating murals on the exterior of the exhibits walls (made of doors) representative of the 5 nations focused on within.

Once more,  I could not express more pride in my team.  Mark, Jeremy, Nevada, Alizah, Kayley, and Brady… we did it.   I keep hearing the similar responses from complete strangers –  “Thank you for tackling this subject”.
(photography by Jason Prezant)

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