Category Archives: Art

Ideas of Mountains @ CRL

I thought the Creative Research Lab was walking distance from campus. (It wasn’t.) But I boarded bus #18 and found my way to the CRL in the heart of East Austin only 16 minutes late for the artists talk about their current exhibition, “Ideas of Mountains”, last Thursday.
I didn’t bring my camera to the event, but went back today to take pictures of some of the pieces. (Sorry the photo quality isn’t great and not all the pieces are documented — my camera kept dying!)

I got to the gallery space just as the presentation was beginning with Kendra Kinsey discussing her piece — a brown corduroy nest of buzzing televisions with the cords meeting in the middle.

“A stuffed TV incorporated more what I see them used for — comforting to people … it was a lot of experimentation. I didn’t know how it would turn out, it ended up differently than I expected.” – Kinsey

Megan Riley and Misha Penton collaborated on a multimedia installation that included a vocal track from a Celtic singer, original lyrics penned on the walls, an etheral light display, as well as the visual art elements of the piece. It was beautiful. When discussing the piece, Riley, who is actually a professional lighting designer by trade, said that it told the story of a woman who “had a lover that was a selkie, drawn back to sea.”

Nicholas Dertien‘s piece, “Asthma through a Transparent Body”, comprised of a series of 3 blown glass forms suspended from the ceiling with a light projected through them, casting shadows on the walls.

The piece actually extended out to the left of this, with three most busts grouped together in juxtaposition of this stand alone piece.

Inspired by the work of psychologist, Abraham Maslow and his theory of peak experiences, Dertien would exercise until he’d force himself to have an asthma attack. Then, he would sketch the sensation and make molds of these forms.

When I went back to the CRL to photograph the work today, I talked for a while to Nicholas Diertien. It was so exhilarating! I loved talking to an artist about his art and discussing the role of art in society, the importance of letting the work speak on its own, and the resources of an academic community and its influence on art.

Peter Reichardt, Mary Rothlisberger, and Kristyn Weaver’s installation: “Camp Base Camp: Everest Friends” was filled with whimsy and little details. I felt like I was exploring a giant play set. I was in love!

“We literally took the ‘ideas of mountains’ and came together as individuals to form a base camp where we could produce work and live. Instead of climbing a mountain we decided to deal with our friendship with each other. We chose to focus on Everest because it’s a three sided mountain, like the three of us.” – Reichardt

Each artist designed their own tent to best reflect their personality and role in the friendship. There was a recurring triangle motif that was subtle but brought all the elements of the installation together nicely. After the talk, I asked the artists if they had ever considered working in production design for films. Their installation was so nuanced, I bet they would be wonderful at such a job!

I wish I was an awesome photographer with a better (not dying) camera so I could have really shown off these works, they’re great! The exhibit runs through this Saturday. I definitely recommend it.

The Creative Research Lab is located in the Flatbed gallery space at 2832 East Martin Luther King, Jr.


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I’m not quite the Mona Lisa

I didn’t have a driver’s license during Christmas break of my sophomore year in high school. But I did have an old PC, Internet access, and a StumbleUpon toolbar. When the addictive persistent clicking of that irresistible blue and green button lead me to a web comic with mischievous anthromorphic PCs, thick girls wearing thicker rimmed glasses, and coffee baristas serving espresso with a side of sarcasm, I was in love. I’ve been reading Jeph Jacques’ narrative web comic “Questionable Content” since that day, and have enjoyed seeing the art style and characters develop through the years.

So naturally, I was psyched when Jacques posted on the news section that he’d be in Austin the weekend of the 12th and 13th for a web comic convention at Dragon’s Lair. My fellow web comic fiend, Alejandra, and I arrived at the comic book store Sunday around noon and saw a queue of fellow nerds snaking its way around the building.When the doors were opened the crowd made its way to the back room of the store, where a table was set up with a panel of web comic artists including Scott Kurtz, Danielle Corsetto, and Randy Millholland, among others.

The panel discussion lasted about 2 hours, and even then, only ended because the event moderator asked the panelists to stop taking questions. It was a captive and curious audience, to say the least. The artists discussed their work process, and the amount of time and effort that goes into running a web comic as a livelihood and not just a hobby. Kurtz and Millholland, who were the first to interject with an answer to an audience member’s question with zest and sarcasm, mostly dominated the conversation.

I was never interested in becoming a web comic artist before this panel – convinced I lacked the artistic chops to do so. However, in memorable quotes from Jacques “anyone can learn to draw, it just takes practice” and Kurtz “what’s more important is to have a unique perspective and something to say”. I was inspired to maybe try my hand at that one day.

More importantly, however, was that although the panel was specifically focused on the life and work of web comic artists, I found the advice and the experience they shared to be universal to any form of creative work. The artists preached the value of perseverance and intrinsic versus monetary motivation. Many of the artists didn’t even study art in college or attend college at all. They faced the same sort of demeaning skepticism that anyone with unconventional aspirations often does, but continued to craft their stories, their humor, and their art despite the challenges.

After the panel, I waited more than an hour in a signing line to meet Jeph Jacques. When I got to the front of the line, our time together was brief but I was really happy to have met the guy behind the snark since sophomore year. I believe I’m drawn to Questionable Content for the same reason I’m drawn to any piece of art. I love art that tells a story, especially one that’s relatable and has heart without taking itself too seriously.

I left the convention with a new appreciation for web comics, new electricity in my creative veins, and a snazzy portrait of me by the rockin’ Mr. Jacques.

Dragon’s Lair in Austin is located at 6111 Burnet Road, just north of 2222.

For more info: Dragon’s LairQuestionable ContentJeph Jacques

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