Locked-In /// Yellow Springs Art Council by Jen Bachelder

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In the fall of 2014, I was honored with an invitation to participate in an artist lock-in. What's a lock-in? Well, at the Yellow Springs Arts Council, this is an annual event where three artists are locked in the council's gallery for 72 hours and tasked with creating a one-of-a-kind show.

The Rules

HERE’S THE SCENARIO:

3 artists locked in the gallery for 3 days

3 large boxes of ‘stuff’ donated from the community to use in an art installation

3 artist tools (each artist may bring 3)

3 phone calls (1 phone-a-friend for each artist with an ask to bring something they need)

The challenge: Can three artists, who may or may not have ever met each other before, in three days, look through three boxes of random “stuff” that they have never seen before, come up with and agree on a plan together, and then create an art installation? We get to find out in November 2014.

There are so many elements of this call for submissions that called to me. A chance to collaborate with artists I've never met? Fabulous. Build and create on the spot? Wonderful. Limited tools and mediums? Even better.

What did I bring?

I spent a significant amount of time trying to decide what I was going to bring to the table. With the medium up in the air, I thought it best to focus on how I could best embrace the community's donations. How could I work with whatever was there? I might need tools to construct new things, and I might needs tools to destruct old things. Decisions Decisions.

At the end of the day, I realized that it would be easier to use unpredictable "tools" or my hands to destruct items. Here's what I brought to construct new things:

  1. Industrial Glue Gun
  2. Gallon of Glue
  3. Staple Gun

You know it's serious when you're joking about plumbing

(Food will be delivered to the artists and camping-style sleeping accommodations will be available at the gallery. Indoor plumbing included.)

DOCUMENTATION

There was only one other person allowed in the gallery full time while we were working: Travis Hawkes. His job was to document the entire experience, from the moment we walked into the gallery for interviews the day before locking the doors through the show at the end of the week.

On Sunday, November 9th, these three artists will meet each other for the first time and see the gallery but not what is in the boxes. We will go over rules. That evening they get pre- interviews with Travis, the videographer. The next morning they will be locked in the gallery. There will be Peek Holes in the papered-over windows during the lock in. Come peek in­ Monday – Wednesday.

Throwing a videographer in the mix was a brilliant move on the council's part. With such intense focus on the creation process, it was hard to remember to eat and rest, nevertheless take photos of what we were doing.

Travis did a wonderful job with photos, video (embedded), and a healthy write-up of each day.

Here we go

After talking with the others about their skill sets and what we wanted to do with the space, we decided to create a handful of unique environments, each with their own backdrop, habitats, and creatures. Until this point, my portfolio was 99% flat works. This single conversation made it very clear that I had 3 days to turn that restraint on its head.

I immediately began creatching (Yes, our gallery-style cabin fever allowed plenty of time for making up words. Creatching is the art of making creatures.).

Upper Left: This tiny teacup being was my first finished piece. I knew that if I gave in to the need for perfection, I'd spend 3 days planning what I was going to do and make nothing (One of my favorite professors in college used to joke that I had commitment issues -- but in my defense, oil painting in front of your peers is intimidating!). We'd only been working in the gallery for a few hours, but I wanted to make something and call it done. Commitment issues handled.

Upper Right: This golden porcupine, on the other hand, took a significant amount of time. I assembled, painted, glued, disassembled, painted, tied, and re-glued until he was the exact right mix of packrat and sloth growing algae.

Bottom Row: These village people were also a labor of love, taking the full afternoon and evening portion of the second day. Their little heads were actually curled slats that I cut of some old blinds. The metal rings and bottle caps were added to counter-act the top heavy spring arms.

The Permanent Collection

When the show was complete, YSAC placed a piece (the teacup being and scaffolding he's sitting on pictured above) that Ron and I collaborated on in the council's permanent collection. This is the only simultaneous occurrence of "Jennifer Bachelder" and "permanent collection" that you'll find, and I couldn't be more thankful.

MEDIA MENTIONS

Locked In, Dayton City Paper, Nov. 11, 2014: Here

Artists Under Lock and Key, Yellow Springs News, Nov. 13, 2014: Here

 

 

Title Photo: Wesley Caribe via Unsplash

Third Eye Blind /// Katie Crain by Jen Bachelder

Katie Crain may have the truest Twitter bio on the internet: "Too nice for twitter." She really is. I bet she'd give Ellen a run for her money in a real life nice-off. Besides being nice, Katie is known for her work in the music industry and her love of Third Eye Blind.

Katie and her best friend (the lovely Meg Gardner) have a fascinating summer tradition; Working with a limited budget and minimum travel days, they plan a trip to attend as many Third Eye Blind shows as possible. Katie's background working at Invisible Records makes her especially savvy when it comes to minimizing miles driven or finding a great deal on a hotel room.

Creating a Custom Work

During the winter of 2013, Katie and I started discussing how we could document her tradition in a fun and engaging piece of art for her home. She wanted a conversation piece that would allow her to share specific information that wouldn't be obvious at first glance.

Turns out, Katie had documented everyone of the 47 shows she'd been to at that point (did I mention she's one of the most organized people I know?). We narrowed the information she had down to a few key variables that Katie wanted to be able to share with guests in her home: show date and location.

Using a hidden map in the background, my initial sketch (the banner above) had many layers of overlapping circles radiating outward from each city where Katie had seen a show. Each color represented a year and each circle a show. Similar to a growing tree, I thought Katie could quickly see how many shows she'd seen in each city by simply counting the rings.

Although this accomplished our goals for the piece, it was a little loud and complicated for Katie's personal taste. Instead, we used black dots to show each city (like an urban transit map) and made the black dots a little larger each time she saw a show in that city. The colored lines continued to represent each year, and stretch to show the path she traveled to get to the show.

The big 50

When Katie and Meg hit the road for their 50th show, they took to Twitter to let the band know that they were on their way... with a massive canvas in tow. Turns out, if you bring a 3x5' custom work dedicated to the headliner to the actual show, they might be sweet enough to sign it for you. Yep, Third Eye Blind signed a thing I made. They even added the finishing touch by drawing the line to Detroit and marking it with a cool "50!" 

In case you actually clicked on all those Twitter photos and thought some photos of the piece looked a little different, you're right. Katie commissioned me to make a piece for Meg, but the list of shows they've attended are not identical. Yes, Third Eye Blind was amazing enough to sign both works.

 

 

Title Background: Kyle Szegedi

Hosting Family by Jen Bachelder

It can be difficult to host family around the holidays. The larger the family, the more complicated hosting gets. After years of hosting my very large family, my uncle has started taking a few minutes before dinner to remind us all of the rules. For his Christmas gift this year, I interviewed family members to collect the full range of rules that have been shared over the years.

Here's what they shared:

Guest Coats: Guests can hang their coats in the center section of the closet by the front door.
Foyer: There is no loitering in the foyer. Once you decide to leave, it’s time to get out. You have one minute.
Food: Jack and Debbie will prepare more delicious dishes than your little stomach can handle. If you haven’t already, you should be stretching. If you stick around long enough, once Jack wakes up from his nap, seconds will be served.
Drinks: The refrigerator in the kitchen is likely full of goodies for the main course. Drinks, both alcoholic and non, may be found in the refrigerator in the lower level.
Dessert: As they should be, desserts are placed in a handful of areas around the main level. There are likely cookies and candies on the counter separating the kitchen and the living room. Pies, cakes, and more cookies can be found on the dining room table.
Dishes: Listen up! This may be the most important information you hear all day. Dishes, paper or otherwise, should be rinsed and stacked near the sink.
Compost: Biodegradable waste should be disposed in the Folgers can under the kitchen sink.
Recycling: Cans and bottles should be placed in the recycling bin behind the trash can.
Questions: Please feel free to direct any questions to the host He would rather answer your question than correct your mistake. Proper grammar is greatly appreciated. Errors will be corrected immediately — without remorse.

A quick sketch of the kitchen, and tah dah!

Title Block Photo: Jonathan Pielmayer via Unsplash

Band:Smart Digital Release /// Martin Atkins by Jen Bachelder

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After two long years of copy editing, rearranging, new layouts, rearranging, content cutting, rearranging, and email after email after email, the first digital edition of Band:Smart by Martin Atkins has been sent out into the world. *Insert The Scream here*

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Working with Martin is always a learning opportunity. We just see the world in very different ways.

When I look at the current version of the book, I see so much potential. The kind of potential that keeps me up at night and pushes me out of bed in the morning. "Ugg, that chapter still has some serious layout issues." "This content is not ready for viewing by the general public." "A full page image could really help break up these text heavy bits." However, I've been working on this page-by-page with Martin for over two years. From what I understand, he's been working on this (with a variety of support characters) for closer to 10. That's crazy.

He and I are always battling over what's "good enough" because we're looking for different things. I'm wondering if the (sometimes utterly brilliant) content can shine through all the other crap. He's wondering if people will still care if we sit on it for too long. Recently, we finally found the middle ground.

This spread, from Martin Atkins' Band:Smart, is from Chapter 25: Free is the New Black.

Good Thing Martin's a Bit of a Genius

One day, while we were debating "good enough," I mentioned that typos are a huge issue for me. If I'm reading a book/article/blog and notice a word is misspelled, it stops me in my tracks (I've never won a spelling bee; it's likely an obvious one if I catch it.). After the second typo, I'm starting to lose faith in the author. Three and I've likely put the book down. Martin's reaction was basically, "Great. Let's make that a thing." (If you know him, you know he doesn't speak that way. That's a massive simplification.)

We put together a form and a public-facing spreadsheet so readers can share typos, content flow issues, suggestions, or whatever else they want to tell us. This lets Martin say, "I know this isn't quite ready yet, but I couldn't wait to share it with you." It also opens up a dialog with his super-users. If they take the time to fill out the form, Martin learns a little more about his readers and has a direct avenue to shoot them a quick thank you. If there's a best-case for losing an argument, this is probably it.

This spread, from Martin Atkins' Band:Smart, is from Chapter 18: Packaging.

For Those Who Gave a Fuck

To get the production process started, Martin ran a successful Kickstarter a few years ago. The $1 kudos gave you a shout out in the thank you section in the back of the book. For a few dollars more, you could sponsor an actual "fuck." Yep. Not only can his fans tell their friends that they "gave a fuck," they have a page with their name on it to prove it. Amazing.

This spread, from Martin Atkins' Band:Smart, is from Chapter 9: Outside the Box.

This spread, from Martin Atkins' Band:Smart, is from Chapter 9: Outside the Box.

There's No Going Back. It's out there.

A pre-release PDF was shared with the Kickstarter backers this morning. CDBaby is sharing the link with their 400K+ newsletter readers tomorrow. That might mean 400K+ typo submissions that need sorted through and executed before the print in January, but for today, so far so good.

Getting the first digital edition out the door was a huge milestone, but there's still plenty of work to be done. Here's to making "good enough" better for round two.

 

Mentioned in the spreads above: Matt Bauerschmidt, Mike DoughtyJosh Hogan, Paul Jamrozy, Cameron Mizell, Fran Snyder

Title Block Photo: Samuel Zeller via Unsplash