The 20 Days of Cancer. (Day 385)

I’m feeling particularly Christmassy-festive, probably due to the constant assault of ho-ho-ho that has been going on since before Halloween. Last year about this time I kicked off the 13 Days of Cancer, which was all about being positive and thankful for not being dead yet (read last year’s post for the complete back story here.) Since a year has gone by and I’m still not dead, it’s time for more happy thoughts.

So here we go with a newer, expanded 20 Days of Cancer, culminating on December 20, which will be the 11th anniversary of my cancer journey. An interesting tidbit is that in December 2000 when I finally decided to go to the doctor because I knew something was wrong, I deliberately waited until the day after my birthday so I wouldn’t be a complete party-pooper. Next year at this time we all will be celebrating even more.

So here we go with some Random Good Things.

Day 20

  • I rebuilt my big 7ft. turntable last month. It is truly amazing, because it’s made from spare parts. It has the base from the collaborative piece of kinetic sculpture made by Chris Gulick, Tom McGuire, and me for the two-year show at the Wichita Art Museum. The bearing mechanism came from Mitch Willis at the Go Away Garage, substantial enough to hold and pivot a motorcycle. My friends give me stuff…thanks guys. Shown here is also the motorized cam mechanism I built that drips paint in a controlled manner, and Zero-Point Energy, a commission-in-progress that is going to California in the next few days.
  • The Uniball Gel Impact 1mm refill is the single best pen I’ve ever used. I tweeted once that it is sex in a pen. I’m sticking with that story.
  • In October we had The HOME SHOW, an art show in our house. It was wildly successful and a truly rewarding experience. I will forever give props to Lajean for the initial idea for the show, an idea she came up with after we heard the energetic Alyson Stanfield speak at Watermark Books. There was apparently some kind of serendipitous magic going on with that talk. Yes, usually my wife knows best.

Day 19

  • Public schools. Last spring I was privileged to help present, through Arts Partners, The 3 Legged Stool, a multi-session art+engineering project (that was partially underwritten by Spirit Aerosystems.) It was heartwarming to see kids get excited about something…not just something I helped create, but something they could learn from. One of the schools was Mueller Elementary, with a staff savvy enough to write and snag a $2 million grant. This is public school at its best, and it deserves everyone’s support. Instead, Mueller is now on the short list to be closed. I am shocked, and cannot emphasize enough how valuable public school is to our country’s future. Public school is good and deserves to be saved, not shut down.
  • Blue tape. This is, you know, painter’s tape. I use it in place of masking tape, and have rolls strategically placed around my studio so it’s always within arm’s reach.
  • Montana Graffiti Spray Paint. Yes, the same stuff the City of Wichita was going to make illegal. This is to spray paint what the Uniball Gel Impact refill is to pens. If you are inclined to be artistic with spray paint, get yourself over to Bluebird Arthouse and buy a can or three. They have the real stuff, not the fake stuff. Ask for the complete story.
  • Bluebird Arthouse. Crap, I was going to stop at three things, but since I already brought it up, I can’t save Bluebird for tomorrow. How many decades has it been since Wichita has seen Color King and Holliday’s? Well, we finally have a real-live art supply store again. On their website, the staff actually lists astrological signs before their education. There is hope for Wichita after all.

Day 18

  • The Aeron Chair. But not just any Herman Miller Aeron Chair, but this one. After I gave my former neighbor who worked for an office furniture company an education in Aeron Chairs, he told me he had seen them in dumpsters. To shorten the story (including the part where I wanted to throw myself out of the nearest window), he called not long afterward to say he had one for me. It had those two little holes in the upper back, and I’m happy to say they never got bigger after what is now several years of use. Rather than hate the holes, I like them because they represent “free.” And it’s an excellently designed chair as well.
  • Halogen lights. 10 years ago at the Lee Shiney Gallery, I got a quick education in good, cheap lighting. The bulb I found was the Philips Halogena 45watt flood that produced a clean, bright white light. I don’t even know if they still make them, because I’m still using my gallery inventory. Despite my quest for a good CFL, I really love the quality of light from halogen bulbs despite the fact they are supposedly ecological trainwrecks and only last a thousand hours or less. My latest find? Sylvania SuperSaver Clear halogen bulbs in a standard shape bulb for our bathroom. I do hope that LEDs step up to the plate someday…
  • Dustin Parker. With Kelly Moody, he scheduled my first art show for me without my knowledge and said, basically, “show up.” Dustin is, of course, a kick-ass artist, illustrator, and showcases other artists via his Proteus Magazine blog. He picked me today as the Proteus Mag Artist of the Day. When you see him, tell him thanks for everything he does.
  • Radical Face/Electric President/etc. This Ben Cooper is making me happy. I hope he continues to be prolific.

Day 17

  • Bourbon Barrel Beers. Can’t go wrong with alliteration, and somehow I’ve heard of these bourbon-tainted beers at least a half dozen times in the last week or so. The one today at The Anchor certainly did please, as did the French sounding pork burger at the top of their menu (the name I forgot.)
  • Paintstiks. Despite having the amazing ability to somehow get tracked from the studio up the stairs and onto the carpet, paintstiks (mine are actually spelled this way) have some of the coolest characteristics. They defy description; you would just have to use one to see.
  • Arts Partners. Tom McGuire and I created these robot things that draw on their own. Then we went into some 4th and 5th grade classrooms and let kids assemble their own and draw with them. And then Arts Partners paid us, with help from grants by Spirit AeroSystems and MetLife Foundation. In a parallel universe this process might have been just so much screwing around in the studio, but Arts Partners makes it possible for artists of all flavors to get into the classroom and connect with kids and teachers. It’s a rewarding experience.

Day 16

  • One Day Art Deal. 09-66 I should have done this earlier, but better late than never. For only one day, this artwork is almost half price at $150 (normally $295), so I can help spread some holiday cheer. Tomorrow I’m marking it back up. Click here for all the details on LS09-66. I’m picking this one for today for no other reason than it’s right here in my living room, so easy to walk it right out to your car. An emphasis on “your.”
  • Wade Hampton. If you are reading this, you are in danger of missing his first solo show in four years I just hope you saw his stunning show. I hosted shows for Wade Hampton at the Lee Shiney Gallery nearly 10 years ago, and he continues to hit the mark. At Naked City Gallery in Wichita.

Day 15

  • Christmas Tree Farms. Somehow along the way I had the hare-brained idea that using live trees for Christmas was bad for the earth. Now that I am old and wise, I can objectively compare 10 pounds of manufactured plastic against planting a seedling, nurturing it, and waiting, then repeating. Don’t argue with me that we should not even use trees. We also should all ride bicycles. Who gets the love this year? Prairie Pines. Here’s their website with a $5 off coupon.
  • One Day Art Deal. 09-51 This one also is in my living room. I’d like it to be in yours. $150 today only.
  • Macs. I have been needing to upgrade a several-years-old iMac, and so I finally made a new Macbook Pro my workhorse computer. From day one, which was sometime around 1989, I have relied on these machines to simply get work done. I have not had to worry about viruses, or scenarios that sound like “my modem quit and I lost everything.” Apple computers still sound like good investments to me. RIP Steve Jobs.

Day 14

  • The Art Deal. 10-39 A piece that is a little over a year old, created for the Horizon show at Watermark Books in 2010. 30×30″ acrylic on gallery wrap canvas. Today: $150.00.
  • Clothespins. I can’t use these outdoors for the purpose God intended, because our fancy-pants homeowners association doesn’t allow clotheslines. But I keep a box of a few hundred of them for holding and clamping any number of things in the studio, and a bunch are always in our kitchen too. Otherwise, I park a box-trailer in our driveway just to annoy the HOA.
  • Artwork Commissions. I just completed a painting commission for a new collector in California. Probably the only thing more rewarding than selling existing artwork off the wall, would be someone giving me artistic license to make something special for them. If you think you might be interested in commissioning artwork, I’m interested in talking with you. Or go here to read my guidelines on Commission Work.

Day 13

  • Roasting coffee. You may know from other blog posts that I roast coffee beans. This morning, due to my wimpiness at not wanting to stand outside yesterday when it was cold and windy, I roasted a batch at 6 am because I was completely out. Completely out of coffee is not a good thing, but it was, this time, a beautifully crisp and still morning. And out-of-coffee means some went straight to my grinder instead of waiting the usual 24 hours. And that, my friends, is fresh roasted.
  • Politics. I have been known to say I hate politics, but excuse me if I flip-flop on the issue. To keep from killing myself, I have to view it as pure entertainment, even if politicians are taking sending us all straight to somewhere in a handbasket. Anytime someone can leave the race for POTUS by quoting a song from the credits of a Pokemon movie, I’m thankful there are people filling the void of you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up.
  • More art. Today’s offering is a Redition, which is a term I have coined for “REclaimed EDITIONS” made from things I find in multiples and re-purpose into an art edition. This one is painted on window screen and framed with an aluminum screen printing frame. It’s raw and gritty, and at $50 each, you could buy all three and give them to friends.

Day 12

  • The Large Hadron Collider, the Higgs boson, and all that stuff. I am not even qualified to talk about this topic, but it fascinates me anyway, to the point that I give paintings names related to particle physics. There is talk that “they” are getting close to finding the Higgs boson. All I know is if I were a scientific-sounding particle and didn’t want to be found, I’d be in Topeka, Kansas.
  • Turmeric. I have a hip that is deteriorating, possibly due to radiation from 10 years ago. When my daughter suggested turmeric for the constant inflammation, I assumed it was snake oil. It’s not. I’m sold. But man, I really really miss running.
  • Fast, immediate art processes. Like encaustic; hot wax that “dries” in seconds. And working with corrugated board. I cut it with a razor blade and assemble the pieces with hot glue. I could have made artwork in less time that it took to agonize over this Day 12 writing.

Day 11

  • Hummus. One part hummus powder (dried garbanzo beans from
    Green Acres) to 1.5 parts water. Mix. Add a glop of tahini paste, some EVOO, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt, and whatever else. Equals hummus-always-on-hand + done-in-a-couple-minutes.
  • Summer. i.e. the opposite of winter.
  •  Art deal. $30.

Day 10

  • Bosch 12v cordless driver. There is a category of tools where you’ve done fine without them until you have them, like night-vision goggles. I don’t own those, but I do have a Bosch driver. Good thing, because it’s a must-have.
  • Logitech MX Revolution. I didn’t know a mouse could make such a difference. Mine is several years old and thus, no longer made. A multitude of buttons are programmable, so I can do things like close windows with one click, and the scroll wheel freewheels like crazy. When it is time to finally replace it, Logitech had better have something similar or I am totally screwed. I am so hooked, I gladly have the obnoxious USB dongle sticking out of the side of my laptop.
  • Art deal. Not exactly on sale, but I’ve thrown in free shipping through Christmas on these encaustics available only through Etsy. Nicely affordable at $45 each.

Day 9

  • Moleskine Japanese notebook. My idea of a perfect 5,000 square foot studio would include a 100 foot wall just for notes, sketches, ideas, etc. This linear, 9 feet long sketchbook helps, because “out of sight, out of mind” is how my head works.
  • Higgs BosonArt Deal: Higgs Boson (again.) This is a recent work that was not done in anticipation of any upcoming news event. So I guess it’s serendipitous. This price is the same discounted price as during the Home Show, $795. Still good through maybe the end of the year. Tuesday, December 13, you may want this one really, really bad.

Day 8

  • Music. Thanks to The Anchor in Wichita, where this week I am pretty sure I heard part of Karn Evil 9 by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.
  • Music. And to Eric Westbrook. I’ve never met Eric, but his Last.fm account spits out a weekly automatic tweet about his most-listened-to music channels. It’s a way for me to get my new music fix. Don’t tell Eric I’m probably over twice his age or he’ll think I’m just a creepy old guy.
  • Music. And to KCRW for just being there. Example: Morning Becomes Eclectic, weekdays with Jason Bentley. Music, new music, and live music. This station is simply full of music goodness. I stream it on iTunes.

Day 7

  • Music (Day 2…yes, it takes two days to talk about music.) I received one of those been-around-the-world-twice forwarded emails that supposedly listed things that were going to be dead soon. On their list was music, because the internet, supposedly, is killing the record companies who thus have no motivation to expose us to new music. I really can’t begin to list all the ways this is such a giant load of crap, but thanks to where we are with technology, I’m being exposed to so much new, excellent, music I can’t begin to pick favorites or simply take it all in. I play music all day as I’m working, and I am so thankful I can hit a button and hear something new, interesting, and challenging. Music industry – please die. And yes, you too, forwarded emails.
  • Music. What’s playing this instant? F**k Buttons on Pandora One.