28 September 2009

Live From Memphis Flipside

Live From Memphis, or as I affectionately refer to them, Chris, Sarah, Brad & sometimes my roommate Tommy, have been doing Flipsides for the past year now? Maybe two? They're mini-documentaries of people and groups in Memphis that are doing cool shit, originally billed as a side-project branch of $5 Cover, hailed Memphian director Craig Brewer's latest claim to fame. I don't think a single one of them actually ever aired on MTV, or its website, or even had a sad link in the sidebar of $5Cover, but they are still really badass little videos that pretty much sum up why Memphis is cool, and why LiveFromMemphis is cool. They're helping us--the big us, the collective of creatives of Memphis us--look important, and feel important, and letting other people know, whether in this city or another, that Memphis is home to a lot of really creative and driven people, despite our mayor and crimerates. LFM is kinda like a motivational speaker for our city. They're that dude in the back of the crowd flailing his arms incessantly until people look, saying "No! Stop watching the news! Start watching this band!"

Anyway, point is, LiveFromMemphis is doing a lot of good in this city, and making a lot of shit happen, whether or not you're paying attention. Here's the Flipside LFM did of my little collective, Rozelle Artists Guild:

And finally, after something like fifty Flipsides about OTHER people's accomplishments and hard work, I give you the Live From Memphis Flipside:

To my friends Chris, Sarah, Brad, and sometimes my roommate Tommy-- Keep up the good work. You're makin' me proud.

27 September 2009

Kathleen Turner Overdrive

Man, I'm not really one for celebrity gossip schtuff but I was just watching Californication and saw Kathleen Turner playing this really unattractive, hoarse-voiced, scarily masculine woman. It actually frightened me. I love ole KT but she really hasn't aged very gracefully. Guess that's an inherent issue with being a hot young starlet...

26 September 2009

Sport-Stacking, you say.

I have never heard of Sport Stacking. There is apparently a league for the sport of speed stacking plastic cups. Seriously. And it's actually kinda cool. What's even cooler is that the second place winner for the World Sport Stacking Association's 2008 Championship and the American Egg Board's newest spokesman is this 14 year old kid named Luke Myers. He's also the first person to get a "5" on camera, or a perfect stacking routine in less than 6 seconds.

Check out his video on his YouTube Channel: YouTube.com/SlimJimXXL34

Mom & Dad Save the World

Mom & Dad Save the World is not a "good" movie. It's pretty horrible by film standards. It's got an inane plot, really terrible acting, and a measley 4.7 out of 10 on imdb.com, but it's still one of my favorite movies. If you haven't seen it, it runs in the same vein of campy, make-it-up-as-you-go, sci-fi comedy as Idiocracy, only in my opinion, much more bearable to watch. The best thing it's got going for it?

The set, costume, and character design. I would have LOVED to be one of the artists working on this movie. It's kinda like the Labyrinth's puppets meets Tim Burton's signature Nightmare Before Christmas curves meets the Super Mario Bros. live-action movie. I can't really find photos online from the movie, unfortunately, but it happened to be on cinemax at four o'clock in the morning. Anyway, if you're looking for something stupid to waste a Friday night with, hit up Black Lodge and rent this little gem. It's worth it, if you can look past the whole, shitty movie thing.

BONUSES: Kathy Ireland is half naked most of the film, if you care about that; This is Thalmus Rasulala's last film before he died, and he sports a pretty sweet pre-Wolverine flarey sideburn beard.
CONS: You have to see a lot more manthigh than anyone should ever see, and it's mostly Jeffrey Jones'; Eric Idle's role is unexpectedly small.

25 September 2009

Man V. Woman: Advertising

Okay, usually I'm not an advocate of the whiney, feminist crap, and I'm not starting now, but... an observation, if you will. This commercial for Centrum Men's Vitamins I saw today is as follows: An image of a powerdrill, a barbecue grill, a nice leather recliner, and then the vitamins, with the narrator saying "Of all the things made just for men, this may be the most important."

Powerdrills? Just for men? Cushy chairs? Just for men? I can't say I know how to grill for shit, but I can sure as hell use a powerdrill, and I sure as hell have a bad back. I don't think those are really all that gender specific. It's 2009, Centrum.

24 September 2009

Surgery: Post-Op

So, usually I try to keep my blog limited to updates on my work and opinions on stuff going on in the world. Not that I don't think what's happening in my daily life isn't important, but it isn't necessarily important to anyone else but me. However, given the nature of my present situation, I thought I might break the mold and update the world on my life as it stands.

On Monday, I had surgery on my spine to repair a herniated disc. I've been lounging around my dad's house since. It's been... boring. Thankfully, I have a squishy couch, a decent stash of pain medications, HD cable television, my laptop, and a stocked fridge, so I'm more than set in creature comforts. But I am quite bored, nonetheless. I have another week and a half of takin' it easy. We'll see how it progresses.

14 September 2009

New Character

I really didn't like Benny, so I made up some new characters. This is the first of many. He's a little Chinese war vet. I'm still developing him.

13 September 2009

Book Reports are different at Art School

Lauren Rae Holtermann / Illustrated Story II / Joel Priddy / 09.13.09

Blankets is an illustrated novel written & illustrated by Craig Thompson which chronicles the writer’s two first real connections—his close friendship with his younger brother (and what he considers his failures within it) and his first love as a teenager. Though these are the primary focus of Thompson’s story, it is more a tale of a boy coming to terms with his own perceptions of identity, religion, relationships, family, love, life calling, and the subsequent contradictions that present themselves between them.

In the book, Thompson is portrayed at different ages and stages in his life: as a young boy around 8 or 10, a teenager around 17 or 18, and an adult in his twenties. However, it is not written chronologically, but rather, in more in a series of flashbacks when appropriate. For instance, when Craig goes to visit his first love, Raina, a girl he met at church camp, for two weeks at her home in Michigan, he is torn between an overwhelming physical attraction to her, and the ideals of lust, temptation, and sin instilled in him through his highly religious parents. The writer then takes us back to a time when young Craig’s busdriver finds a drawing he had done of a naked woman, and returns it to his parents. They tell him that he has a gift not to be used to do the devil’s work. In the creative mind of a child, he imagines the portrait of Jesus in his parents’ room turning away from him in shame and disappointment. This non-linear method of storytelling, I feel, is particularly effective because rather than presenting a perfect recount of his life, childhood to adulthood, we are only exposed to the parts of his childhood which he later finds important or relevant to his subsequent maturation.

The portrait of Jesus is also a significant storytelling device. In his teenage years , in Michigan, he finds the same portrait in Raina’s room, but feels Jesus is proud and approving of his half-naked, hormonal encounter with his girlfriend. The exact same portrait existing in his parents’ bedroom and Raina’s alike may be an embellishment by the author rather than a factual aspect of the story, however, that’s really irrelevant. Its storytelling purpose is clear. The portrait is a representation of Craig’s perceived adherence to Christianity, and Jesus’s image acts as a literal scale between utter blasphemy and complete faith. The fact that it is the same image suggests that Craig’s perception of religion is continuous, not dependent on his surroundings or company. However, I believe that the scene in which he and Raina are twisted around in the throngs of passion, when he sees Jesus smile upon what would be considered in Christianity to be a lustful, sinful act, is the point in which Craig’s faith is first tested and begins to morph. Having been a part of the Christian faith, questioned it, reinterpreted it, and eventually denounced it myself, I can relate to this stage in Thompson’s life. The faith is easy to follow before being exposed to the rest of the world outside of family, home life, and the church. When you have the opportunity to either resist or give in to temptation, it takes a big life-changing decision moment, because the choice to take your shirt off with your seventeen year old girlfriend or stop and sneak back into the guest room of her parents’ house isn’t simply that; it becomes a matter of fully embracing your faith or embracing the rest of what you are as a human. It’s confusing, but in Craig’s experience, he had at that moment personalized his faith. Although the sequence is without dialogue, the descriptions provided makes me think Craig has rationalized his actions… How can something that feels so right be morally wrong?

When Thompson takes us back into his adolescence and teenage years, there is a big gap between age 10 and age 17. Raina brings up this discrepancy, to which Craig explains that the relationship with his younger brother had disintegrated around the time that they got their own beds. This also brings up the title of the book: Blankets. The title is obviously a metaphor. Blankets as a symbol, are an easy interpretation: a symbol of comfort and familiarity, but not necessarily of consistent happiness. In Thompson’s autobiographical tale, he jumps between different phases in his life, but each seems to be defined by blankets, or moreso, by the people he shares a blanket with. This recurring symbol changes meaning, corresponding to Craig’s age, maturity, and priorities. As a young child, blankets are sails on the ship of his bed of which he and his younger brother Phil are captains. Blankets are also the joined warmth of brotherhood in the cold winter months when his poor family cannot afford the comfort of heating in their drafty shared bedroom. However, when he gets older, blankets are the binding connection between he and his first love, Raina. And through their relationship, the blanket symbolizes their love, personified in the handmade quilt that Raina meticulously cuts and sews for Craig. In his twenties, the blanket is a representation of memories destroyed. The room that was once a roraring ocean, navigated by Craig and Phil as small boys has been stripped of blankets, and Raina’s quilt, a symbol of innocent love has been stuffed into a garbage bag, hidden away in a closet to be forgotten. When Raina and her blanket are retired, Craig fills the void with a reinvigorated relationship with Phil, although blankets are not now the center of their connection. Blankets, in their absence, seems to serve as a symbol of his maturation. In his twenties, when Craig is lastly portrayed, the comfort of faith and shared beds are not evident. He has grown out of their need, finding solace as we all do post-romantic fancy and childhood magic… in the small moments of life, in the “holidays as a ritual with meaning, and the seasons as an increment of measurement.”

10 September 2009

Illustration 3: Silhouettes

[ click to embiggen ]

For this project, I had to take silhouettes of objects and turn them into something else. The first is a wrapped candy turned into a little girl, second is the wave from Hokusai's Great Wave print turned into a Chinese dragon, and the third is a butterfly turned into a two-headed calf.

Published in Memphis Magazine!

[ click to embiggen ]

If you pick up the September issue of Memphis Magazine sometime this month, flip to page 38 and you can check out my first serious publication! I did an inkwash drawing of a former KKK Grand Dragon preparing to burn down a church, accompanying a story about a former klansman living in the Mid-South. It's a decent article, too! Go me!

MLK's Assassination Site: Glorified Injustice or Humbling Experience?

Today I went to the Civil Rights Museum to drop a key off to a friend and I ended up sitting on a grassy knoll drawing, something I haven't sat down and done in a while. It was nice, even though it was unbelievably sunny and humid and my bandana was sticking uncomfortably to my unwashed hair. When I leaving, I noticed that lady that sits on the corner near the museum boycotting the museum. She's been there, on that corner, for 21 years and 239 days, as of today, boycotting the museum on the grounds that it is a monument to a great injustice.

On one hand, I can kindof see her point. It is a little odd to purposely and meticulously preserve the shitty motel where one of the greatest orators & civil rights leaders of the century was gunned down. I had to mull it over though, on the way home. I mean, it isn't completely unheard of to build museums or erect monuments commemorating the site of a great revolutionary's death. There are war memorials all over the South immortalizing great generals, prepared to go into battle, right where they were eventually slain.

But more importantly--and this is where I feel I get a little controversial--I feel like Dr. Martin Luther King's death was just as much a part of his career as his politicking and orating. I mean, it would be different to sanction off the patch of grass where someone like Ted Bundy died. But for a man like MLK, a man who made his career on preaching love, acceptance, equality, and peace: being killed by an act of ignorance and hate is... in a sick way, poetic. I mean, would his impact have been so immense if he had gracefully aged into the new millennium? I think standing in front of that small, frumpy, mint-green motel in the middle of what was a pretty undeveloped area of Memphis in 1968, seeing that tiny balcony, and realizing all that enormosity associated with MLK, his ideas and his philosophies, all ended in its human form with one tiny bullet, on that tiny balcony. It's... humbling. We as a species need visual explanation. When someone says that the national deficit is $11 trillion, I have no idea what that looks like. I don't even know what a thousand dollars looks like. If someone said a trillion dollars in one dollar bills in one hundred stacks measured as tall as the Statue of Liberty, I'd get it.

As sad as it is, 'martyr' is not a concept outgrown by mankind. We still need drastic examples to drill points home. Whether you're against black people or against white people, I bet you're against murder more.

04 September 2009

Learning to teach students to learn to teach to...

I know a lot of college students in Memphis. Having grown up here, I know a good 300 or so just from high school, plus everyone I've met at MCA, and through Rozelle Artists Guild. They all have a very broad range of majors, from American History to Philosophy & Religion, to Printmaking. It's really cool to have that broad range of studies available to you and the chance to hone in on one of them so seriously for a few years, but everytime I hear someone spout off a major that isn't law or medicine, I immediately have to ask, "...Soooooo, what are you going to do with that?", to which almost all reply, "I don't really know, probably teach."

I'm in no way against the proliferation of knowledge. Contrary to that cliche high school argument "when am I EVER going to need to know this?", I really do think it's important to learn the basic principals of physics, geometry, American history, the selected works of E. E. Cummings or whatever else you're forced to do in those four years, even if you literally never use a calculator or read a poem again. It's about training your mind to think in different dimensions, and it's about exposing yourself to a shitstorm of different things with the hope that, by the time you turn eighteen, you will have found at least one thing that interests you enough to continue your education.

That scope will linearly lead to a declared major in college, a degree in it, and if all goes well, some career that employs it. But aside from the few lucky exceptions like those guys that preserve really old documents at museums or the old, sage men with PhDs and smoking jackets who write weighty books, what can you really do with a degree in history? What career is there for history freaks? What, other than teaching?

It does seem a bit off that there are so many kids today going to school for things that there is no secondary use for. I am all for education, and lifelong education is not an idea I'm unfound of whatsoever, but isn't the root purpose of education the preparation for real world application? In this age, I find that more art students, as hard as it will be for them to find good jobs, have a bigger advantage when it comes to venturing out of the teaching possibility post-grad. We're all just learning some specific sect of knowledge to pass down to the next generations, in hopes they might find it interesting too, so that they'll have something to declare as a major in college, so when they get out, they can teach kids the same thing.

It's a cycle I really don't have an opinion on. I'm for it, if anything. I'll always be supportive of an educated populace. I'd rather a world of teachers who are also students than a world of people that never found any reason to go to college themselves. Even with the stress, lack of sleep, doubt of a future career, and insurmountable debt incurred, I think it's worth the trouble.

03 September 2009

Tibetan Monks visit Memphis

The monks of the Loseling Monastery are in Memphis for the week. Wednesday night, they had their opening ceremony where they sang, chanted, and played these badass instruments I've never seen before. There is a shrine to The Dalai Lama set up in the main gallery at Memphis College of Art, and a few feet away, a table on which the monks are carefully constructing a sand painting of a mandala. They are working 10AM-6PM Thursday, September 03-Saturday September 05 2009. The closing ceremony is on Sunday at 1PM. Also, Sunday, September 06 at 7PM, the monks are performing at the Shell in Overton Park.

[click to visit flickr set of the monks]

01 September 2009

Project Sketchbook Catalogues are here!

And they look so good.

64 full color pages, 7.5x7.5 inches, softcover, saddle-stitched. They are $30 each or $25 if you're an artist in the book. E-mail rag@rozelleartistsguild.org to order a book, or swing by the gallery at 511 S. Main to check out the show & buy a book from the gallery rep.

Features a page each from sketchbooks by:

Jennifer Absher, Ryan L. Arthur (KS), Daniel Berish, Markece Brown, Baxter Buck, Fred Burton, Dwayne Butcher, Dail Chambers (MO), Kayla Cline (VA), Shea Colburn, Maritza Davila, Derrick Dent, Hamlett Dobbins, Will Drummond, Eric Easterday, Sara Estes, Adam Farmer, Jon Fayette, Rachel Fitzpatrick (NY), Richard Fudge, Adam Geary, Caitlin Goodman (IA), Greg Haller, Tiffany Harmon, Jon Hart, Bryan Hobein, Natalie Hoffmann, Kiefer Holtermann, Lauren Rae Holtermann, Ian Hudson, Ashley Leem, Stephanie Less, Ashley Luyendyk, Tommy Kha, Michael Kline, Lisa Maners, Taylor Martin, Shane McDermott, Pamela McFarland, Evelyn McMillan, Stephanie Miller, Carl E. Moore, Willie Nelson, Ashley Odum, Maria Parham, Bob Pearce, Chandler Pritchett, Christopher Rex, Michael Roy, RS70 (CA), Jenni Saiani (NC), Booth Sartain, Ryan Steed, Vincent Tabor, Claire Torina, Billy Welch (MO), Cole Weintraub, Susan Younger, and Eric Zeltner.