Preview: Free Art Friday — Lexington, KY Edition

Attention Lexingtonians! The Errant Easel bloggers will be participating in Free Art Friday tomorrow, Friday July 13 right here in Lexington, KY. Along with other creators in town, we will post copies of our works (for free!) Friday morning in various locations.

Important notes:

These are original works that we want people to take home and enjoy or gift to those who would.

We will post the location of our work here on the Easel and at Facebook HQ for the event.

Check the Facebook page for the location of other free works submitted for your consideration.

If you have works you would like to send out into the world, join the FB group and spread the word.

If you take art, let us hear what you think on Facebook, Twitter, or here on the Easel.

Staci’s work will appear in the UK/South Limestone area, Dez will share her work at the Richmond Road Starbucks, and I will canvas the Woodland, Euclid and Rose Street areas. Hope you get some free art tomorrow!

Days of Remembrance – Life Prior to 9/11

Friday became a day of awareness for me.  I had planned on doing a lesson about the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in my art class with the hope that I could tie our discussions about symmetry, contrast, and how artists plan out their work.  Other teachers in the school had also decided to, instead of not addressing the 10th anniversary of that fateful attack, deviate from their original lessons and take the moment to teach our students about the events of 9/11 and try to answer the questions they were having – and believe me, they had the questions.

Most of my students have no memory of the attacks, and if they do, they are vague (I teach middle school students).  After showing what I believed to be a well put together collection of clips – Craig McMurtrie touring the site and talking to the architect, a time-lapse video of the actual building of the structures,  and then a virtual tour of what the site should look like when the memorial is integrated into everyday life (after the completion of the One World Trade Center skyscraper), I gave my students a few simple questions to answer about the site.  What BALANCE is the artist using in his design?  What elements CONTRAST in the artwork?  What do you like about the memorial? – explain your answers.  Simple enough, should allow those who haven’t done well on my two tests to make up for it, show they understand the material…..but it wasn’t.

My students wanted to know more about the attack than I had anticipated.  They wanted to know why it happened?  Why would anyone want to do that?  Why do they hate us?  Will it happen again?  I tried to answer their questions the best way I could.  I explained that Al Qaeda doesn’t like the way we live and believed that what they were doing was right.  We talked about religion, how extreme belief can cause people to do extreme things.  I really tried to focus on telling them that just because one group of people do something horrible, doesn’t mean all of that particular group are like them.  All day long we talked about the “whys” and by the end of the day, I wasn’t so sure that I had done a good job at all.  We even spent some time talking about a world prior to 9/11 and how the events of that fateful day changed everything.  While it was already harder than I imagined talking about the 9/11 attacks, it was discussing a world prior to  those events that struck me the hardest.

My students don’t know a world prior to 9/11.  They don’t know a world prior to Columbine.  They only know terror alerts and war.  They practice lock down drills and have their cell phones on them at all times.  They are so connected to the world around them via technology, yet many don’t know how to talk with someone they are face to face with.  They participate in sports but don’t know what it means to have sportsmanship or how to recover from a loss.  Everyone wins, no one can fail, and if someone does fail, it’s not a learning experience to make them better or inspire improvement – it’s someone else’s fault and it better be fixed.  It’s a strange world to live in right now.  It feels as if we are on the edge of something, that all it will take is a push, and we will tumble.  I have felt this way for a while now, but today felt as good as any to comment on it.

I’m not trying to say that I grew up in a golden time (mid-80’s – late 90’s), and that my childhood was better than their childhood is.  Looking back though, I feel that is was distinct.  It was almost as if there was a grace period between events in the United States and I got to grow up in that grace period.  This is an idea I want to explore more though both writing and art, but it won’t be today.  I can’t articulate it enough to do my memories, or the reason for remembrance on this specific day, justice.

It hurt to watch the planes crash into the Twin Towers.  It hurt to feel the fear that other people in other countries feel on a daily basis.  The events of 9/11/01 have shaped the country we live in today – they helped shaped the world we live in today.  At times, I don’t know how I feel about that.  All I can be for sure on is that I feel loss when I think about the day the towers fell.  I feel sympathy for the people who had loved ones die on that day, and subsequent, ongoing, days during the War on Terror.

I don’t know how to end this writing.  I don’t know what I can write that will express how I feel this morning.  Maybe I should have kept my thoughts to a blurb on Facebook and left it at that.  I don’t know about that at all, but, I do know it is important to remember, to acknowledge, to discuss, to encourage positive change, to understand that your point of view isn’t the only point of view, to learn and keep learning, to love, to hope, and to keep living when everything changes around you.

Life can’t be lived in memories or fear, but it can be shaped by both.  Hopefully we are being shaped by the memories of bravery, courage, community and not by the fear of the unknown threat.

9/11/01 – we will never, I will never, forget

Travelogue Part I: the Unexpected Art of Mini Golf

Although my posts have been few lately, I promise it has not been due to idleness on our part. This past weekend, my husband and I traveled to Clemson, South Carolina to attend the wedding of a good friend who Bradley has known since elementary school. The beautiful affair went off without a hitch and the happy couple was well-wished off to their honeymoon cruise. My favorite non-wedding aspect of the big event was finally meeting another of my husband’s long time friends, a submariner who has been often referenced in the Belfry Crew’s legendary tales. One a personal note, I am so lucky my husband has such great taste in friends who are loyal and form such a wonderful support system for us both. He is obviously a great judge of character but his choice in marriage is beyond me 😉

It's like he knows the end is nigh

The (Not So) Lost World -- Bradley Given

We took advantage of the geographic location of the wedding to plan a short escape to North Myrtle Beach. The weather was beautiful even if the sun was scorching in its intensity. After getting in the requisite beach time, we moved on to other touristy activities. As mini golf is a non-negotiable component of any vacation itinerary we plan, we naturally ended up at Dino Adventure Golf. This putt-putt course was set in the lost Jurassic world discovered by the intrepid Professor Hacker when his hot air balloon is blown off course.

First, I would like to note that this archetypal pulp story has fascinated me since the first Halloween my family ruled me too old at 10 to go Trick-or-Treating around the ridge. (Honestly, I would probably still be going if they had not intervened). That evening, I planned my own private celebration eating candy and listening to the local public radio Halloween programming. I remember listening to a radio adaptation of HG Wells’s The Invisible Man and being entertained. However, I was much more interested in the airing of radio-adapted Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. I remember being intrigued by the characters of intrepid adventurer, scholarly academic, youthful journalist, and the leading lady and their adventures in the hidden land of prehistoric dinosaurs. This radio show sparked my lifelong interest in pulp adventure novels and later Victorian sci-fi and steampunk that lead me on enjoy the works of classic authors Jules Verne and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and contemporary authors Ken Scholes, Tim Akers, Gail Carriger and Cherrie Priest.

Grumpy Dimetrodon is Grumpy

Get Off of My Lawn -- Bradley Given

The second great appeal of this course for both my husband and I was the dinosaur theme. While I entered and exited the common childhood phase of dreaming of being a paleontologist in favor of astronomy in the second grade, I’m not quite sure my husband ever did. He was the child who loved all things dinosaur, knew the scientific names, and collected books and toys representing them all. To this day, when choosing toys for my toddler nephews, he leans toward introducing them to different Jurassic creatures over planes, trains, and automobiles.

Finally, as we were putting around the course enjoying the Jurassic scenery, it occurred to me that someone had to build this set. It’s definitely not everyone who takes these things for granted, but it was somewhat of a revelation for me to realize that parts of the course were likely one-of-a-kind works of art. I suddenly saw the grumpy looking dimetrodon and the downcast gaze of the apatosaurus in a new light. Someone had to build, sculpt, paint, and arrange these dinosaurs. Art was not what I was expecting to find while putt-putting but it was really interesting to think about in terms of exposing the general public to mixed media, sculpture, and all the other techniques required to build an interesting course.

Dr. Grant, my dear Dr. Sattler. Welcome to Jurassic Park

Dr. Grant, my dear Dr. Sattler. Welcome to Jurassic Park -- Bradley Given

With a little help from Google, it soon became apparent that mini golf as art was old news to professionals. An article by Jonathan Haeber detailing the history of mini golf explains that the design approach to courses has evolved through a number of stylistic eras from Romantic Era Emergence to Post Romantic Classicism to Sterile Minimalism to Cultural Renaissance, to Corporate Minigolf. There have even been a number of museum exhibits commissioned across the country over the past few years to create public art in the form of putt-putt courses including the Golden Door Mini Golf Course associated with the Jersey City Museum, the 9-hole Putting Lot in Bushwick and Figment’s City of Dreams Mini Golf 18-hole course on Governors Island, Contemporary Masters: Artist-Designed Miniature Golf at the Salt Lake Arts Center, and Smash Putt Golf in Denver just to name a very few. Many of these exhibits are temporary but it is likely that their impact on the thousands of enthusiastic, often young, and potentially museum-shy patrons they attract is more than just memorable.

I have really enjoyed learning about this unique form of public art and hope you will click a few of the links above. I think mini golf is a really fun way to bring art, fantasy, and imagination to wider audiences than museums and art shows alone can attract. The accessibility and the enjoyment of these “exhibits”are evident when you see people from ages two to eighty-two smiling and pointing at a giant octopus or raptor. I know I will be examining my future mini golf courses with a keener eye in the future and hope you will, too.