Tag Archives: creativity

The Gods and The Press.

Had a great couple of weeks since my show opened at a.Muse gallery – 3 pieces have sold (including one to a local collector), a few more sales are looming, and I’ve been in the press a couple of times!  Here‘s an article by Cynthia Popper about the show, and here‘s another by Jeremiah Barber for KQED that references the collaborative piece I made with Todd Anderson for the show about Time (the piece is mentioned at the end of the article, so keep reading!).  I also managed to make an appearance in Alan Bamberger’s photo blog featuring local exhibitions.  All together, not a bad few weeks!

I’m starting to learn that although I hate networking and schmoozing and self-promoting (she says as she writes a blog about herself), some really great connections and opportunities arise when you put in the effort – and I don’t just mean sales.  For example, because of all the promoting Lori and I have done for my show (Lori owns a.Muse where my work is currently exhibited), I was contacted last week by two curators who have started an interesting on-line gallery idea.  The website is called Violet Strays.  Here’s their current offering:

PROVISIONAL ENGINEERING from Lauren Klenow on Vimeo.

It differs from other on-line gallery sites in three important ways.  Firstly, it appears to be by invitation only, meaning the quality of work shown is of a high standard – not the mixed bag you often find on other art websites.  Secondly, only one artist at a time is featured on the site, much like real galleries.  Each artist is given a week long exhibit, then once the week is up the work is removed and the next artist gets the full attention of each visitor.  As an artist I love the space for reflection that this system promotes.  This is not an art superstore whose goal is to show you as many artworks as possible in a short space of time in hopes that you’ll find one you like, and buy it.  Instead the viewer is offered the chance to ponder deeply the meanings and intentions of a select few artworks, sometimes just one.

Lastly, the intention of these curators is evidently not to make money, but to foster creativity and make connections with artists.  When they approached me about creating something for the website they left it wide open.  It was as though I was being dared to do something new – something I hadn’t shown the world yet.  Fully bake a half-baked idea.  In any medium.   After working so hard to complete a body of work for the “Occupied” series this was just what I needed.  A chance to go back to the drawing board and try something that didn’t have to relate to anything else I’d done.  Just grab one of those random, fleeting ideas and make it real.  So I think I’m going to try some stop-motion…. with drawings of bodies.  Then again, maybe I’ll make a kite.  Or a sculpture of a kitten. Or a massive installation that records all the creative thoughts that enter my head in one day.

Another amazing connection that came out of this period of focused promotion was the discovery of an artist called Kirsten Stolle.   She contacted me after someone sent her a link to my website (or my show, not sure which), and a brief conversation ensued.  I asked for links to her website, and I fell in love immediately upon seeing her work.  There are some obvious connections between our work – scientific references, and a fondness for repetition and drawing.  Seeing her work has encouraged me to try to return to painting on panels instead of on sheets of polypropylene, and to experiment more with mixed-media work.  I can’t wait to get to Dolby-Chadwick gallery here in SF and see her work in the flesh.  I’m actually so enamored with the work that if I can afford it I’d love to buy one of her pieces, and start my collection of scientifically themed art!

So what’s the point of this post?  I suppose mostly that if you put in the effort to do the stuff you don’t like (promoting yourself), the gods will sometimes reward you with new sources of inspiration.  And the press is one way in which these fortuitous connections happen.  If nobody knows you’re out there, they don’t even know to look for you.

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Todd and I Have Ants in Our Brains.

My good friend Todd Anderson and I have been getting nerdy with ink and video and software and stuff, and have created a collaborative project called Ink Space/Ink Time.  I have to admit that I don’t really have the brainpower for this amount of nerding, and have mostly relied on Todd’s colossal brain to do the hard work.  You can read more about the project here, and you can also see some awesome videos of the process.  But, a brief synopsis of what we’ve been doing is this:  Taking a chaotic event (releasing sumi ink onto a puddle of water), and videoing the transformation of this event over time.  Todd then takes the video and stacks the frames of the video on top of each other using fancy software.  This creates a 3D model of the event.  Finally, he uses a CNC router (or we’ll be using a 3D printer if we can afford one) to cut the shape from high-density foam.  Then I paint it and make it look like an iceberg 🙂

Here’s a photo of what one of the sculptures looks like:

On the surface, the project was about letting our curiosity guide us.  I have always loved watching the way the ink interacts with the water as I paint.  Todd was fascinated by it too.  I could see the neurons firing on all cylinders while he watched the blackness creep outward in fractal-like shapes.  Over the next few years, as Todd finished his PhD, he began to play around with ideas of using custom software to capture the event and make it physical.  Then he began dabbling with machines and routers.  He’s one of those guys.  A genius tinkerer.  His brain seems inexplicably drawn to complex things.  Like a colony of ants it starts to explore and map out the new territory, biting off chunks and returning it to home base for processing.  And once all the interesting pieces have been collected, investigated, tagged and stored in the big messy Cave of Stashed Info that’s been collected over the years, connections start to happen.  Sometimes unlikely ones.  Sometimes more obvious ones.  And so, like dot-to-dots, a line was drawn between the software he used at work, the machines he was playing with at the Tech Shop where he liked to tinker, and the ink blossoms I showed him.

Why am I telling you about Todd’s brain? Well, because I think it illustrates an important issue in the making of art and in the living of life.  It seems that it is important to play, with no goal in mind.  Just spontaneous action guided by curiosity. The ant colony inside your head wants to find new things, learn new things, without judgement or purpose.  It also wants to assemble new ideas and make new connections using the stuff its already stashed.  From what I understand from brain research, your brain really needs to be doing this.  You don’t want the neurons to keep firing down the same old paths.  Apparently, learning new things (such as a new language, dance, quantum physics, knitting – anything) can help stop or slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s and other degenerative brain issues.  It’s also just fun.

And when the ant colony is doing it’s job, creativity happens.  Ideas start looming in the fog, getting clearer and clearer as more connections are made.  Sometimes, if you’re lucky, they just burst into existence, fully-formed. But they’ve still come to you via the Cave of Stashed Info.

So the moral of my rambling is this:

Feed your brain.

And find yourself a Todd.  Sometimes your ants need to meet new ants.

Oh, and stay away from anteaters.

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