Monthly Archives: September 2009

Upcoming events: Sept. 24-28

There’s a ton of stuff happening in the next week or so. First up is the Pete Froslie artist talk tonight, and then you can roll into daily artsy-type events for the next four days, if you so desire:

Thursday, Sept. 24: Reception and lecture 5:00-7:00pm in the Tahoe Gallery. Lecture 5:15pm in rm 320 (Prim library). If you’ve checked out the show and wondered what the connection is between wood maps, bloodstains, jazz, and an elderly gentleman with a chainsaw, here’s your chance to ask some questions. Answers are not guaranteed.


Friday, Sept. 25: This event is being put together by the English Program: Pulitzer prize winning writer, Bob Hass, and fellow poet, Brenda Hillman, will be on campus reading from their books this Friday from 7:00-9:00 in TCES 139. Free and open to all. Here’s a link to Hass’ poem “Dragonflies Mating”; and a link to Hilman’s poem “Little Furnace.”



Sat & Sun, Sept. 26-26: Candy Dance! The Art Department will be flipping burgers at this event, which takes over the picturesque town of Genoa for a weekend once a year — it’s a mindbogglingly extensive arts & crafts faire (it always makes me feel funny to put an “e” on the end of the word “fair,” but that’s the way they do it). We make a bit of cash for the department, and in the process make our peace with sizzling grease.


Monday, Sept. 28th: Megan DeArmond: Lecture and light reception 5:00-7:00pm in the Tahoe Gallery. Lecture at 5:15 in rm 320 (Prim library). She’ll be talking about her show, “Between Wonder.”

Dear John, Dear Coltrane

A thanks to Jon Winet, via the data stream, for his reminder that tomorrow would’ve been John Coltrane’s 83rd birthday. Click the link to see & hear the Garrison-Jones-Tyner configuration perform “Afro Blue” — below I’ve posted their performance of “Alabama,” which kind of breaks my heart when I listen to it with full attention, but in a way I’m grateful for.

Rachel Wiliams…







Here are a few shots from the Rachel Williams lecture. There was a great turn-out and a very “innovative” use of a white bed sheet….Following the lecture were our new faculty shout outs and wow…we have some thought provoking new peeps in the mix here at SNC. A highlight of the presentations was new Theatre instructor, Pan’s spoken word piece…..even little Isle (13 months old) was at complete and utter attention for his powerful and moving piece….wish I had captured it on tape…oh well, I guess that’s why they call it a performance.

Curtains For You

For the New Genres class, Becca had people follow a path through the woods behind the art building, reading notes that had been tacked to trees, as sort of markers on the path. Or creators of the path.



She had people walk along the path a slight distance from each other, so everyone could have a kind of “private” stroll through the words. The etiquette was a little weird and provisional. I was behind Russell and I kept slowing down, because I didn’t want to intrude on his space.

And then the person behind me (I won’t name names) actually lagged a bit too far behind, because he lost the thread of the path, and ended up taking a shortcut around the last few sentences.


These pics are somewhat out of order, and very incomplete. To piece the words together into a coherent thought, you’ll have to venture into the woods yourself. I doubt the papers will be there for long; I have a feeling Becca won’t want her work to turn into litter. Though the idea of the papers being left, and the sentences decomposing via the whims of rain and wind, is somewhat appealing.
But even if the papers are gone, it’s a nice walk. I haven’t done much exploring back there, so I saw a few things that were new to me — between one piece of a sentence and the next, sometimes finding an interpolated backyard.

At the end of the path, there were closed curtains. Some curls of smoke wafted up from behind them. When everyone arrived, the curtains were parted, and a brief performance took place. I didn’t have a camera with me at the time, so I have no visual record of the performance itself. I’m in the mood to just leave it at that.

And here, after the audience was gone, is the view from the stage.

Burning Man Snaps

Below are a few pics of Burning Man, pilfered from Logan — though the camera passed through many hands. Many of the students went to Burning Man last year as part of a class, though this year it was strictly freelance. As with most pics on this blog, you can click to embiggen.










Tamarin Monkeys chillin out to Metallica

A recurring point of interest, in the scattershot reading I’ve been doing on animal consciousness, is the area of non-human animal aesthetics. Humans are notoriously jealous of their capacities, but the more animal researchers dig into those categories which are supposedly “uniquely human” — the use of tools, the capacity for language, and now perhaps what could be called the possession of an “aesthetic sense” — the less “uniquely human” those categories appear to be. Temple Grandin, in her book Animals in Translation, even suggests a religious sense, or a sense of “God,” may be innate in some non-human animals. She hasn’t done any studies on this — she uses a combination of intuition and analogy to get there — but I find the notion as suggestive as the description I came upon, in the book When Elephants Weep, of bears climbing out onto hillsides at the end of the day to sit down and watch the sunset.

For me, that image of sunset-admiring bears is at once surprising and consoling. There would be something horrible about a vast and verdant world, a world that humans find self-evidently beautiful in both its enormous vistas and its detailed filigrees, populated with an army of creatures completely insensible to that beauty. If beauty is just a freak of the human mind, it amounts to little more than a pretty mirage laid over the landscape.


I caught an interesting interview on Talk of the Nation today, dealing with monkeys and music. Ira Flatow interviewed both biomusic researcher Patricia Gray, who jams with Bonobo apes on synthesizer, and David Teie, a cellist who has composed music for tamarin monkeys. Both interviewees end up relating music more to behaviors and emotions than to aesthetics (you’d probably get closer to musical animal aesthetics with songbirds or whales), but there are a lot of fascinating details that shake out. The second-funniest bit is when Flatow asks Gray: “Does it matter when you play with them that they hit the right notes?” I’d really like to know what he thinks the “right note” would be for a monkey.

The funniest bit is when Teie reveals that, of the human music played to tamarins, Metallica and Tool made the most impact — and the impact it had was that it calmed the monkeys down.

And then there was this bit:

Mr. TEIE: According to my hypothesis, the reason we have rhythm and the sense of – and the foundations of all music are of the womb sounds that we have heard, that the fetus can hear for five months and the sounds of the heartbeat, the female voice of the – the voice of the mother and the respiration, they account for all of the universal traits music found in all cultures.

That’s an evocative notion: that music has as much to do with the womb as it does the brain. The capacity for musicality, for musical art, is impressed upon us in the dark, before we’re even born. And in this case “us” is a noun that encompasses more than humankind.


And with that, I’ll leave you with a video of a Walrus playing a Swiss horn:

On-Campus Art Events, Thurs thru Sat

Thursday, Sept. 10, 2-4pm, David Hall:
Visiting artist/scholar Rachel M. Williams will be presenting and doing critiques of SNC art students’ work. ABout Rachel, from the CCAI blog:

Rachel, a recipient of a MFA in painting, and a Ph.D. in Art Education from Florida State University, has worked with prison inmates in several states. “Women on the Inside” was a two-year program with prisoners at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women. Participants read and discussed the works of well-known women writers, attended workshops with visiting authors, and then wrote stories of their own.

She is currently working on graphic novel.


Thursday, Sept. 10, 7pm, David Hall first floor:
“Meet the New Fine Arts Faculty Barbeque.” Slide shows of the new faculty members’ portfolios, plus burgers, hot dogs, etc.


September 12, 10am – 12pm, Prim Library:
“What You Always Wanted to Know About Burning Man but Were Afraid to Ask” Art Professor Russell Dudley. Continental breakfast will be provided for $3.

Short… But Suggestive

Roger Lee’s “Short… But Sweet” show is already down (he wasn’t kidding about that title), but I had the good fortune to catch the opening. His work on display actually made the word “opening” function as a double entendre — the biomorphic ceramic forms often had elements that suggested orifices. Though constructed from the hard carapace of fired clay, the forms give the illusion of something soft, pliant, organic.


The sculptures play with a sexual syntax, though their taxonomy is ambiguous enough to suggest a wider array of function than reproduction and seduction. The pendulous droop, the soft acquiescence to gravity, forms a parabolic link between earlobe and breast.


The sculptures reference bodies, but not the major, public appendages — they root in the nooks and crannies, or at least the overlooked details that buttress the more noticeable superstructures. An elbow, for instance, would be too social, too obvious, to suggest — the wrinkled fold on the other side of an elbow, however, would be right up Roger’s alley.




The opposite side of the elbow is called the antecubital area. Roger’s work plumbs a vocabulary that is only used by specialists of the body. The philtrum, the canthus, the frenum.




The non-ceramic materials have the luxuriance of fetish apparel. The velvet, rubber or nylon elements frame and support the ceramic the way a high-heeled shoe might support a perfectly manicured foot.


And at the same time, there’s something very fresh and toylike about the work. While I was at the opening, a father walked in with his young daughter, who was delighted to find that she was allowed to push one of the sculptures (pictured below), making it sway back and forth against its nylon anchors, swinging its heavy red uvula in counterpoint.



“It dances!” she exclaimed, with an enthusiasm that rendered the most scrotal of the sculptures as innocent as a bellybutton.