Friday, April 26, 2013

Banksy Strikes Again

It's Friday ladies and Gentlemen! Which means grab bag… and so for your weekend viewing pleasure here is a little bit of Banksy to bring a smile to your face and inspire you with your challenges over the weekend!

And if that wasn't enough for you here is a really fun Documentary on street art produced by Banksy called "Exit Through The Gift Shop" If you have Netflix you can watch it on instant play, but if you don't never fear the wonderful world of youtube has managed to post up the whole thing one way or another lol :):

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

(There could be a little chunk missing in between these, but this it the closest I could find)

Part Six

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Take Five With Cassie Fox

Mini Bio: 
Cassie Fox generally keeps busy by kicking butt and fighting for the issues that are important to her. When not attending to her superhero duties, she spends her time in Tennessee with her amazing husband and two adorable mini-humans.

Creative Specialities: 
Poetry, Prose, Photography

The Best Way To Describe Her Is: 
Passionate - about her family, about her friends, about the issues that matter to her.

Personal Pages: 

1. What is one thing you've learned as an artist that you wish you'd known when you first started out? 
For it to really, truly count, your art has to be your voice --it's not enough for it to come from your hands, or your mouth, or your body. Every pen stroke and brush stroke and adverb and pirouette have to be wholly and authentically a gift from your soul to yourself and the world around you. Be appreciative of what other artists have to say, but learn to say your own truths, and let others appreciate you. 

2. What is the greatest challenge you have faced as a creative person? 
I believe creative people are, by nature, extremely open – open hearts, open minds, open arms. We embrace all that we see, all we can sense and touch and dream – the beautiful and the horrible, the sweet-smelling and the decayed – and sometimes, we watch it crumble in our hands, everything reduced to a tiny pile of ashes or a burning pile of rubble, smoking at our feet. Sometimes, it seems like all the great triumphs and all the great ills of the world we live in sneak in under my skin, and when the input becomes greater than the output, I begin to feel claustrophobic inside myself. Words get bottled up in my bones, and extracting them can be a long, difficult process. 

3. If money were no object, what would you make? 
I would make everything. I would write the sun up into the sky and I would dance with dawn. I would draw lazy lunchtime daisies and photograph the faces of the fields around my house. I would sing out across a hundred sunsets and I would tell stories to the moon. But mostly, I would write – poems, prose, a single word, ten thousand words. 

4. What moment/place/time/setting lets you function to your fullest creative potential? 
I am both blessed and cursed with an imperfect but persistent muse. It doesn't so much matter where I am or what time I am there as where she is at any given moment. I think of her as kind of an older sister, one who comes home from college every once in a while, and who is really present and in the moment when she's there, staying up talking with you until three in the morning about all the things you're too embarrassed to mention to your friends, giving you your first wine cooler, lighting up a joint for you and not laughing when you cough, telling you in a hushed whisper to never shave down there because it's insanely itchy growing back and totally not worth it; but she dates these skeezy guys who leave bruises and she never eats enough and she has scars you don't even want to ask about, and she's just really wise and really funny and really amazing, but also really fucking broken. Which is all a very long way of saying that I write whenever the hell she shows up. 

5. How do you deal with the inevitable uncertainty that accompanies a creative life? 
I accept that being creative is not just something I do, it's something I am. When I was eight, we had a small pool in our backyard, and I spent most of the summer sinking to the bottom, learning how to hold my breath for longer and longer periods of time. By August, I'd worked my way up to two minutes and thirty-eight seconds, and the last thirty were the worst; sitting under four feet of water, pressing on top of me like a living thing, my eyes wide open and staring at my brother's brown legs, my lungs like liquid fire, counting, counting, imagining what it would be like to simply open my mouth and breathe, would it hurt, would anyone notice, wouldn't it be the best way to go, to inhale and then look right at the sun, so that a beautiful muted light was the last thing you saw before you closed your eyes? Not creating feels like that – like I'm eight again at the bottom of the pool, my chest expanding as big as the earth, ready to burst. And in the same way I always made it back to the surface in time, lungs sucking in sweet air that smelled like blue hydrangeas and tasted like chlorine and clover, I create, sentences and paragraphs and photographs and it feels just exactly like breathing.

For more from Cassie, be sure to check out her Tumblr.

True Confessions Of A Guerrilla Artist

My oh so terrifying knit bomb...
you're terrified right?
The time was midnight, it was dark and clear and you could just hear the sound of the wind rustling in the trees.  I had scoped out the spot earlier that day; not a security camera in sight.  I threw my bag over my shoulders and crept along the sidewalk.  As I moved through the night, my black clothes helping me to disappear into the shadows, I focused all my will power on calming my racing heartbeat.  This was my first job, and as much as I had prepared, the thought of getting caught still nagged at the back of my mind.  I needed to get in and get out.  Right then a car came zooming up around the corner.  Quick as a flash, I leapt behind a bush, ducking out of site from the gleam of the car’s high beams.  “Idiot!” I whispered loudly under my breath. “If you had just kept walking like you were supposed to be there, no one would have noticed you!  But no, you had to dress in all black from head to toe and then leap behind a bush like a criminal… because that’s not suspicious looking at all.”  I got up, brushed the leaves out of my hair, and kept walking towards my target, an old lamp post in the middle of downtown.  Once there, I paused looking around the deserted streets. No one is sight, good.  Bending over my bag, I reached in and grabbed the long roll of fabric I had spent the last three weeks making just for this moment.  Unrolling it I held it up the post and began to stich it on.  The needle slid into the fabric, knotted against the back and then synched the two sides together as I pulled it taught.  A lump fell into the pit of my stomach.  As I continued stitching, my hands began to tremble and I repeatedly kept dropping the needle and having to spend precious moments finding it again.  How long had I been standing here in the open?  The seconds were pounding away in my brain.  Another car zoomed round the corner and before I could stop myself I had dived into yet another bush.  Cursing myself for my ongoing stupidity I crept back to my project and began to ferociously attack my piece, sewing up the sides as fast as I could get my fingers to fly.  Finally, after what seemed an eternity of standing there exposed, I slid the final knot into place, cut the line, stuffed my things back into my bag and got the hell out of dodge.  As I slid back into the safety of my vehicle, my body began to shake uncontrollably, my hands fumbling to much to even secure my seat buckle.   Back at home I sat motionless, curled up into the fetal position on the corner of my couch, as if half expecting the police to burst through the door at any moment and carry me away.  I waited.  Nothing.  My eyes closed, my body exhausted by the emotional and mental strain of the night sagged and slowly I drifted to sleep…

Ok, so maybe I’m not cut out to be Sam Spade or the criminal type.  I mean come on, if I can’t even sew some soft fuzzy yarn on a pole without feeling like I’m suddenly on the FBI’s most wanted list… maybe that isn’t what I should be doing.

The thing is I LOVE guerilla art.  I love street art.  I love the passion behind it and the way that it brings a message directly to your audience without them ever having to pay $5 to step inside a museum.  Instead of them going to the art, you are simply just bringing the art to them instead.  Have I mentioned how much I love this concept?

So what’s a chicken, terrified-of-breaking-the-law-girl to do!?  Turns out a lot!

"The Gateway"
"A Line I Made By Walking"
In my adventures to find my street art niche, I tried all sorts of things.  Some didn’t turn out so well… hence the aforementioned story, but some of them really hit home with me, the two most prominent being Land Art and Guerrilla Gardening.

After my total failure as a knit bomber, I had decided to try something totally different.  Instead, of exploring the urban areas around me like I had been, I began to really dive into the natural elements surrounding me for a change.  Inspired by people like Andy Goldsworthy, Richard Long and Patrick Dougherty, I began creating work from nature.  I would often spend hours wandering around in the wilderness just getting to know the land, waiting for it to say something so that I could respond in the only way I knew how, through my art.  The best part was, this work wasn’t scary at all, it was almost sacred in a way.  I had found my niche.  To See more of my adventures in Land Art and read more about the projects pictured above, click HERE, HERE and HERE

After months of working with sticks and leaves and dirt and grass and trees and flowers and water and mud and whatever else I could come up with I began to really ache for those urban spaces again.  Then one day it dawned on me.  Why not simply mesh the two together?  Fueled with my newfound passion for land art, I began to brainstorm ideas for how I could combine the two disciplines.  After some time, I decided on a project that involved something known as guerrilla gardening.

At first, I was worried that this would be another horrific repeat of my knit bombing experience.  Nervously, I gathered up my tools and supplies that first day and headed downtown, determined to face my fears.  The difference was literally night and day… for one it actually was daytime.  I also didn’t try to dress up like some sort of crazed ninja assassin this time either.  Instead I was simply in a pair of jeans and t-shirt, slowly meandering around downtown pausing whenever I came to a spot I wanted to work.  I’m not going to lie, the first couple spots I worked I was pretty nervous, but nobody seemed to notice me.  Eventually it became clear that nobody really cared what I was up to as long as I wasn’t going to be smashing windows or vandalizing their property.  As I continued working, my confidence grew and I became more and more bold with my work.  In the end, I created and documented 21 separate guerrilla gardening installations downtown. If you want to see what my full Guerrilla Gardening piece turned out like, or want to read the artist statement behind what I was doing, check out THIS LINK HERE.

The moral of the story is, figure out what works for you.  You have to decide if your fear is coming from a place of discomfort with the act you are about to perform, or if it is coming from a place of nervousness about putting yourself out there as an artist.  If you are uncomfortable about the act itself, don’t do it.  You don’t have to be like everyone else.  Because you don’t like something, or are uncomfortable with it, doesn’t make you any more or less of an artist than another person, it simply makes you unique.  When you listen to your heart and go where it leads you, you will find yourself making the work only you could have made in a way only you could have made it.  Art isn’t about being the coolest, or the most trendy, or the most daring person.  It’s about having something to say and find your perfect medium in which to say it, your way.

So experiment this week, discover who you are, what you have to say and how you can say it. Don’t let your fear of exposure as an artist keep you from having your voice heard!
Me hanging out inside one of my favorite land art projects "Gateway"

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Guerrilla Art 101

Ok people, here's the drill, this week we are talking about facing our fears and building community by bringing our work out into the open and straight to the people.  Who says we need a gallery show to be  artists, or a stage to be performers?  As creatives we are often insecure about sharing our work with others, but hiding it away from everyone for too long is often just as bad for us.  One way to get out into your community and start sharing your artwork is guerrilla art.  No, there are no gorillas involved in this process (although I suppose there could be hmmm…. intriguing….).  And no you are not required to do anything illegal.  To guide you through the magical land of guerrilla art, I've created a little guide for you of just a few ideas, ranging in intensity (and thereby also in illegality) so you can find the perfect fit for your creative personality type.  Hopefully this will help get you started on your challenge this week and lend you a bit of inspiration!

Land/Nature Art

Andy Goldsworthy
Nature art is probably the safest bet for anyone just wetting their feet in the world of Guerrilla art.  It's mostly legal (as long as you aren't being destructive or trespassing on private property), relatively risk free, and usually done with little to no audience present.  Done properly it is some of the most moving and inspiring work you will ever see.  For more inspiration check out the works of people like Andy Goldsworthy, Jim Denevan, Patrick Dougherty, and Richard Long.

Flash Mobs

You've probably already seen them on youtube everywhere, but if for some reason you've been living under a rock lately, a flash mob is really just a group of people all getting together at the same time, in the same place, to do some sort of performance piece in public together.  For the most part this is pretty legal and safe, however, depending on the location and type of performance peice you may need to ask for permission first.

By the way, who says flash mobs have to be singers or dancers?

Street Performances

I live about two hours from downtown Nashville TN and let me tell you, it takes guts (or a lot of booze) to grab your guitar, or your harmonica, or your Melodica (it's a thing I swear, I just saw a guy playing one on a corner last night honest to God) and stand on a street corner pouring out your music while people wander by... or stumble by.  For the most part this is also pretty legal and safe.

If you haven't already seen this video, you should watch it. Joshua Bell is one of the most talented violin players in the world and they put him in a subway station playing one of the most difficult pieces you can ever preform.  Read the amazing article all about it HERE.

Chalk Art

Chalk, it's not just for hopscotch people! Chalk is a fantastic medium for the more conservative guerrilla artist, you can still make a big statement, on the ground, on a wall, wherever, and if somebody hates it, it just washes off with water.  Most people are pretty cool about chalk art, but again be smart about where and what you a drawing.  If you draw a swastika in front of a synagogue, that's not going to go over so well.. just be smart people.

Guerilla Gardening

Here's where things are going to start to get fuzzy people.  Guerrilla Gardening is actually really fun and a really really low
key form of guerrilla art.  For the most part everyone is pretty excited about artists bringing a little beauty into the word by planting things.   Especially when you do it in an area that is really lacking in aesthetics or green stuff.  However, don't go around digging in grandma's prized flower bed if you are looking to stay under the radar ok?  For tons more info and inspiration check out!

Yarn Bombing

Street Artist Jessie Hemmons
If you have a talent for knitting, crochet or just soft fuzzy yarn in general this might be your thing.  Yarn bombing (or knit graffiti as it's sometimes known) can be political, it can be heartwarming or it can be just plain funny.  You can do anything from show a sense of warmth and care for your environment to making large political statements, all with yarn.  Now if we get down to it, this isn't strictly legal since technically you are defacing public property.  However, for the most part people rarely care and if they do the project is usually so easily removable that people calm down pretty quick and get over it.  Just be warned ok?  If you want some inspiration, THIS SITE has some really really great stuff documenting Philadelphia's knitted street art.

Hard Core Guerrilla Art

Guerilla Art By Banksy

Alright, now that we've covered all the mostly legalish forms of guerrilla art, here are some example of what can be done by the more bold among us.  Most of these are going to be considered defacing public property, and seen no different by the law than say plain old gang related graffiti, so be warned and participate at your own risk.  The master of this genre of art is probably a dude named Banksy.  If you haven't heard of him go do a google search right now, seriously.  However, there are thousands of amazing street artists in the world today doing some really amazing work.  Try checking out for some great inspiration!

If you want to hear more about just how much impact this kind of art can have on the world and society take a listen to this TED video!

Alright, so there you have it, everything you need to know to decide what kind of Guerilla Artist you are!

Did we miss anyone that is your all time favorite street artist?  If so, drop us a line in the comment section and let us know who inspires you and your art!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Challenge Number 3: Face Your Fears

Sweet Challenge Swag - steal it today!
This week, we want you to go rogue. More specifically, we want you to go guerrilla -- and bring your art out of the studio or gallery, and into the public space. Does that sound terrifying to you? It did to me:

You may recall my mini-freakout last week. As part of raising awareness for Denim Day Tucson, I signed up to both do hair and paint jeans at this past Saturday's live art event. Unfortunately, right around 9:30am on the day of the event, I had another mini-freakout. Actually, it was more of a bona-fide freakout, because I had yet to paint the back of one of the pairs of jeans, I still hadn't come up with any sort of clever composition to resolve the back of the pair I had painted, I hadn't showered, gotten dressed, or packed up my supplies for the night, and I needed to get to work by 10am. Worst of all, I was beginning to doubt that I had what it took to do a "live painting event." Was it supposed to be performance art? Should I have choreographed this?? What if I didn't finish?? What if I suck???
Thankfully, the nature of making a commitment to something is that you generally still have to do it, even if on the inside all you want to do is run back under the covers and wait for all your apparently insurmountable problems to disappear. Since hiding under my comforter wasn't an option, I got ready, went to work, left early enough to pick up stuff from my house on the way to the event, and started banging out some awesome hairdos.
I figured maybe I'd have time to finish the back of the jeans later -- nope. I figured maybe I'd get to go buy the pallet that I had completely forgotten to grab from home at some point before I had to start painting at 9pm -- nope. But it all worked out. 

The amazing artist who was painting right before I was supposed to go on lent me her pallet for the rest of the night. The back of the jeans worked themselves out. The composition came together once I saw the jeans actually on the model. My models -- and all the models -- were AMAZING, and the other artists were so inspiring, and the crowd passing by on the street was overwhelmingly positive. You can see a whole album of pictures from the event - including pics of the jeans I was so freaked out about - here. I had a ridiculous amount of fun, and fell asleep that night wondering what it was I'd been so afraid of, anyway.

What I hadn't put together, the whole time I prepped for the event, was that I would be painting the jeans on the street, not inside a bar or gallery. I'd thought I would be in a protected, codified art space, where I would be being judged by my activist and artist peers. Instead, I was out in the open, completely exposed to John and Jane Q. Public's reaction to my art. It's a good thing I was too busy trying to figure out what I was doing with the jeans to realize this beforehand, because I would have gone straight to the highest threat color level imaginable. Thinking about it afterward, of course, it made total sense. Guerrilla art is the perfect medium for raising awareness about important issues, because it's unavoidable and inescapable. It's also incredibly high-pressure, because there's no pretending like something never happened, since it happens in a public space.

Which brings us back to this week's challenge. This week, we'll be giving you LOTS of examples of awesome guerrilla art -- but most importantly, we want you to make some of your own! Maybe try yarn bombing, or plant a sidewalk garden. Think of the awesome stuff accomplished by Improv Anywhere. Push the limits of public/private space. See if you can get in trouble (but not too much trouble!) and see if you can get people to step back for a moment and think.

For me, guerrilla art was exactly the experience I needed this weekend, because it forced me to actually finish a piece and not worry about how people would react to it -- they already were reacting to it, because it was in public. Scary as it was (and it was), I'm glad I did it -- and I'm going to be doing it again, soon.

Now it's your turn -- grab yourself a swag badge for this week's challenge, post it on your blog or Facebook, and get out there and create!