Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Workshop till you drop...Vancouver B.C. and beyond


Howdy pardners, getting ready to head off to Australia to see my girlie-friend, from there we are off to teach at Stacey and Rob's place in Bali...I know, woe is me.

Just wanted to give you the skinny on a few upcoming workshops.

Extra, Extra, Just in!
I'm heading back to Vancouver B.C. this Spring to teach a couple days of classes. The Upstart Crow is sponsoring me. I'll be teaching my deMented Toy Workshop and a class called Nicho Libre, in which will be creating little homes for...something...possible something from the deMented Toy class. The classes can be taken separately or build off of each other.
The dates are March 28th and 29th...coming right up.
Here's where you can find more info:
http://www.theupstartcrow.ca/news.html

deMeng de los Muertos in Oaxaca Mexico
Just wanted to mention that my annual Day of the Dead class is starting to fill up. So if you're on the fence...you won't regret it....I promise.
For more info go here:http://michaeldemeng.blogspot.com/2008/12/demeng-de-los-muertos-2009.html
or to get on the list contact:
Colleen Darling
colleen950@hotmail.com
Home 805-688-1221
Cell 805-448-1509


Hope to all of you....somewhere.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fish and Bird

So I'm still a bit haunted by that Island of Dolls in Mexico. Since that trip I can't seem to get a particular song out of my head. The song is "Fish and Bird" from the album Alice
by Tom Waits.
Originally this music was created for Robert Wilson's opera of the same name. It is the Alice in Wonderland story, which to me, has always been a bit disturbing anyway. It is sinister, to be certain, but it also about madness, loneliness, and the struggle of separate worlds trying to meet.

The Isla de las Munecas relates to this tale in a variety of ways but first let me explain my interpretation of that haunting place. It is the saddest yet simultaneously sweetest place I have ever been. To recap the story, this is a place that young girl drowns and years later is inhabited by a hermit, who senses her ghost. He proceeds to appease her spirit by collecting dolls for years and years, which he hangs up all over the island.

When I was on the island I couldn't help feeling that this whole island was an act of love....not out of fear. It seemed to me that the hermit, Don Julian had a psychological relationship with this spirit (real or imagined it doesn't really matter). His life was devoted to someone that he had never met, at least, not in the traditional sense. Nonetheless he creates this strange realm for her to play. There is a relationship between he and this ghost. Perhaps, being reclusive, this was an easier relationship for him to deal with. Decades they were together on this island and who knows what conversations existed between the two. It is a sad relationship in that it is world separated by vast distances...the distance between the living and the dead. I have no opinion whether the little girl's ghost is real or imagined...to me it doesn't matter. She was real enough to Don Julian. Back to the song that keeps going through my head...."Fish and Bird". I know that Tom Waits is not everyone's cup of tea but he has been a huge inspiration to my work, in particular, Black Rider
(another theatrical collaboration with Robert Wilson.. a Faustian tale). Some people can't get beyond his harsh vocals, but for me it is heightens the carnival/alice-in-wonderland/maddening/heartfelt, aspect of his songs. Here are the lyrics to Fish and Bird:

They bought a round for the sailor
And they heard his tale
Of a world that was so far away
And a song that we'd never heard
A song of a little bird
That fell in love with a whale

He said, 'You cannot live in the ocean'
And she said to him
'You never can live in the sky'
But the ocean is filled with tears
And the sea turns into a mirror
There's a whale in the moon when it's clear
And a bird on the tide

Please don't cry
Let me dry your eyes

So tell me that you will wait for me
Hold me in your arms
I promise we never will part
I'll never sail back to the time
But I'll always pretend you're mine
Though I know that we both must part
You can live in my heart

Please don't cry
Let me dry your eyes

And tell me that you will wait for me
Hold me in your arms
I promise we never will part
I'll never sail back to the time
But I'll always pretend that you're mine
I know that we both must part
You can live in my heart


I have to say, I do know a little something about relationships that span vast distances, so it could be that I'm easily touched by these types of tales.

Monday, February 16, 2009

deMented Toys

Just got back from Cincinnati and had to get some studio time in before I head to Fort Collins for my workshops at the Artists' Nook.
so here are a few creations....I think Doll Island is getting to me.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Escape from Dead Doll Island


As promised, I told you I would post a video of my little adventure....so here it is using my best Anderson Cooper impersonation...I even grayed my hair for the occasion.
Part One
Journey to the Center of Dead Doll Island
Filmed in Rust-O-Rama

video

and now
Part Two
Escape From Dead Doll Island
aka
The Trees Have Eyes And They Are Made Of Plastic

video

I think I mentioned that I couldn't post all my photos since some of them are being used in my Mexico book but if you want to see more from this trip, take a peek at the photos that my travel partner Stacey took: http://arcangeloproductions.blogspot.com/

Some photos Stacey took were from her toy "Holga" camera, which creates very random unusual effects...this is a plastic blue, yellow and pink device that matched the color of our Mexican gondola.See what I mean...camera and boat match.
...as I said check out Stacey's blog...she'll be adding more entries soon...after all she took twenty million photographs. I only took 2 million.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Isla de las Munecas


Okay so the primary reason I went to Mexico was to visit the Island of Dolls. Isla de las Munecas. I was working on my book and doing a piece for the Mexican ghost story la Llorona when I heard about this place, and had to go. It is an island...sort of...basically a bit of land surrounded by canals...in the area of Xochimilco. This area is renowned for its floating gardens. Gondola style boats go up and down the waterways, some filled with tourists on a picnic, others transpoting things like locally grown flowers.

The basic story behind what is worth 4 hour round trip boat ride, is that in the 1920s three little girls were playing on this island and one of them drowned. At some point a hermit named Don Julian took up residence and started to see the spirit of the girl. To appease the little girl's ghost he started collecting discarded dolls from Mexico City. 50 years of collecting lead to the current state of the island...creepy. Thousands of these little guys are strewn all over the place.

Here's a little taste:

Its a trip...if your ever in the area...check it out if you dare!
the next time I post...I'll show you some video I took while there.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Mexico City - Part Uno: Art on Grasshopper Hill


So just go back from a great trip to Mexico City. I'll show you some of my art adventures in parts. Just to let you know...I'm saving the best for last

PART ONE
These are images from an exhibit on the main thoroughfare of Paseo Reforma, in Chapultapec (grasshopper hill)

The artist's name is Leonora Carrington, who is British born but spent much, if not most of her life in Mexico City. Carrington is a surrealist and the exhitbit is of large bronze sculptures of her work. I came across it in a cab on route to the Anthropological Museum (I'll go into that in another post).

What a great exhibit...you can admire it from a car, but I got out and walked the exhibit...much nicer.
Here's the main fish dude at the beginning

wouldn't you love a stove like this:



this is one of my favorites
this is a nice photo cuz you can get a sense of how the exhibit runs down the boulevard...plus what is not to love about stingray-faced man

The jouney ends with a grim group
They remind me of something from my private collection. My grim group is by the Oaxacan black pottery artist Carlomagno Pedro. okay that's it for now