oranje - recent posts from my current home

Friday, June 30, 2006

The Christmas house

I was on my way to the grocery store today and had a little minute so I stopped at one of my favorite houses on 45th Street.

The owner came out while I was taking pictures of the Christmas house. There's a sign on the railing that says Merry Christmas and an artificial tree in the corner of the porch.

He says that he has been living in this house for thirty years.

There are dolphin wind chimes, pin wheels, artificial flowers, Jesus pictures and bible verses all over the porch. In the windows are statuary. Indians and rosy-cheekd boys, blonde dolls. The owner says that his wife has hundreds of these statues. Cast brass ones, rubber ones as well as the porcelain pieces in the window.

Sometimes people, all on their own, create what some artists strive for and never quite achieve. This is their life, right out where the world can see it. The meanings are obscure because the language is so personal that it does not invite dialogue but instead raises questions.

The objects in this display are there because they have specific meanings to the owners of the house. They aren't looking for understanding or to make anybody think about Indians and caucasians in a new way. Chances are they just liked these statues at different times in their long lives.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Something really funny

I wish this was subtitled, but...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Welcome to my neighborhood

I found Kilroy!

This little guy has been a fixture on 45th street for the last couple years. Rain, snow, sweltering heat; it doesn't matter. Sometimes he has a wardrobe change, or his props are seasonally adjusted. I'm not sure what the story is here, but he never fails to lift my spirit when I pass his way. Today, he has a rusty grocery trolley. And he's dressed in summery blue.

While I was taking this picture, I looked up at the house and surprise!

...there was this awesome gargoyle trying to crawl in the window. I don't know how long the gargoyle has been there. It was the first time I noticed it. Anyway, this house is about four blocks from where I live in Lawrenceville. Hee!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


With all of the time I spent over the last two weeks working at the festival, I haven't had a moment to really comment on some of the things I've been reading lately. The Friday Roundup post on Artblog was particularly interesting. I know the post is over a week old, but it was one of the ones I kept going back to.

Franklin Einspruch had posted This rather harsh essay on creativity is worth having a look at, whether you agree with the larger points or not. The essay, written by Steven Dutch, purports to examine anti-intellectualism but seems to address the mechanisms of creativity with some pretty sound observations.

Now we can address the contention that children are innately curious. They are not in the sense used here - they are tinkerers. The commonplace observation that children have short attention spans is direct refutation of the notion that they are creative and curious in any deep sense. The tragedy of our society is not that so many people outgrow their childlike curiosity, but that so few do. The adult equivalent of childlike curiosity is channel surfing and the ten-second sound bite.

Mozart was one of the most creative individuals who ever lived. I have a record of his greatest hits and the striking thing is that all the pieces are completely different. Mozart composed music at age three, but none of his juvenile pieces are played today except as musical curiosities. His juvenile pieces are variations on existing patterns. As a child, he was a tinkerer. A very bright one, to be sure - he was Mozart after all - but still only a tinkerer. His adult creativity vastly exceeded his creativity as a child, and even as an adult, his last few years vastly outshone his earlier period. We also should note that his childhood achievements were hyped, and in some cases assisted, by his father.

Most of what passes for "creativity" in children is actually ultra-linear thinking. It seems creative only because it's incongruous, and it's incongruous because it's so literal that not even the dullest adult would reason that way. The old joke about a child who asks his pregnant mother why, if she loves the new baby, she ate it is a perfect illustration.
Another point that he raised that I found interesting is the myths surrounding human nature and creativity. It seems that we tell ourselves that we, as a race, are creative and inquisitve beings and that it is our nature to explore. There are, in fact, very few historical instances that support this preconception. I'm not saying that there aren't instancs of exploration and creativity but that these do not appear to be the norm. If you have worked with children, you have probably encountered some of the same issues regarding the inquisitive spirit. Children are only inquisitive under certain controlled situations. When a majority of individuals are engaged in inquisitive behavior, for instance. A child will only explore when the child believes that the environment is within the scope approved by their caregivers. The juxtaposition of disparate elements that most adults find so charming in children is due only to the tinkering impulse and to naive reasoning. True creativity involves reason and discipline. It is not just a spurious assembly of objects and ideas but sophisticated play, where play is directed and honed by adult priorities.

I found this article and some of the others on Steven Dutch's site to be, at the least, an interesting read.

Monday, June 19, 2006

TRAF - June 17 & 18

And so, we say goodbye to the Three Rivers Arts Festival for 2006. It's been a long sixteen days. A lot of paper got folded. A lot of things worked well and some things, well, could have been a little better. (It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.) Above left is the lizard that I had folded, transformed by the children at the festival. Above right is the last large-scale piece that I folded for the festival. This elephant stands about 36" in height and was folded from 9' square paper.

On the last day of the festival, we put up a sign inviting folks to take home flowers from the garden as well as miscellaneous other models that had been installed thoughout the park. The flowers disappeared in a matter of one hour. Some of the other models were taken by people on their way to the concert.

It was interesting to watch the interactions of people with the origami. Generally, you could find a small group having lunch under the tree with the horse. The flower field seemed to draw a lot of attention, with folks bending down to take a closer look, taking picures and sitting in the middle of the flowers. The small flock of waterfowl kept changing position; people would turn them in different directions.

The squirrels as well as some of the other smaller models didn't stick around very long. Actually, a number of flowers went missing every night. I hope they found good homes. The installation of cranes in the walkway probably drew the most attention. Folks would lean on the railings and watch for a few minutes on their way through to the point. An occasional bird would go missing, but the installation stayed intact for the most part.

All in all, it was a really tremendous experience. I met all sorts of interesting people from all sorts of places. At some point, I'll put this together as a portfolio on my website, so stay tuned.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

TRAF - Monsters!

Hey, the festival is winding down. The papier mache' crew has been working hard to put up a crowd of monsters. Above left is dogaroo, center is parphin and on the right? Hmmm. I'm just not sure. All the chillun have been having a blast painting and re-painting the beasties for the last two weeks.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

TRAF - June 16

The last large-scale project that I mounted is this lizard. He is constructed from twenty pieces of 32" paper. His body is made from a link fold. Installing him took quite some time because of the wind. I kept having to chase down the pieces. He is also anchored into the ground with wire. He seems to be holding up pretty well, even with the high winds.

Hongla put together this really interesting piece. It's based on a napkin ring fold. I think she is planning on adding some additional models to the installation when she comes in next. Which I thin is today.

I folded an elephant yesterday and worked on a way to install it. Hopefully I'll get it up before the end of the day today. Tomorrow is the last day of the festival, so everything has to come down at the end of the day.

TRAF - June 14 & 15

On June 14, the dragon died. His final resting place? The trash can outside of the origami tent. He put up a good battle but the wind got the better of him in the end.

By the time this piece was put into the trash, he had suffered the droppings of birds, the hatching of some pretty scary looking insects and the buffeting of high winds.


On a brighter note, we have all been working on assembling a field of flowers. The field isn't very big because we weed out the ruined flowers every day and replace them with fresh flowers. I would say that the flowers last about three days before they fall apart. We made these from wall paper samples. Over the course of a day, we may make one large-scale origami piece. The rest of the time, we show people how to make frogs or work on smaller pieces like these.

The flight of cranes has extended quite a bit. Sometimes, a bird goes missing. Unfortunately, we had a limited quantity of 52" paper. So the flock is constantly changing. At this point, we have installed several pairs, made from 32" paper. I love walking through this area. The wind makes the birds swing back and forth. There is this really great movement to the pieces. I think it would be a more effective installation if the birds were all one color and one size. Like red. These would look great in red paper.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

TRAF - June 11 & 13

So, Sunday was a trouble-shooting day. No new intallations. I do have some images to upload but I am feeling a little low-energy right now, so stay-tuned!

The weekend brings all of the families out. Since this project is placed in the family activity area, the adults and children that visit the origami tent expect to be able to participate in a hands-on project. It has been a challenge to find projects that are easy to communicate to novice folders. If we give a child a large piece of paper to decorate, the child expects to take the paper with them. They're fine with just splashing paint on the papier mache' beasties, though. No expectation of taking anything home there!

The Children's Museum has a booth right next to us that has hands-on activities for the kids. I gotta tell you, though, that by the end of the day every trashcan near the exit of the family activity center is awash in these projects.

I started a project today that I had hoped would be suspended in the moat area of the park. Alas, it is not to be, at least not before the end of this festival. I think it is do-able, but I would need additional materials and supports that just aren't available right now. Plus, I would have to draft a number of folks to help with lifting it into place. It could be cool. Maybe I should build it to scale and propose it to someone down the line...

I am having a grand time with this project. It doesn't seem like it was long enough.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Carnivalesque - June 10

Last night was the artist reception for Carnivalesque at Digging Pitt Gallery. For those of you that couldn't make it, you missed a great party! Marci Ghering supplied us with these wonderful bags filled with tasty popcorn, as well as some other carnival nibbles. And a really cool piece of art. Above right is Miss Ghering, posing with her Patriot Clown chair. Isn't she magnificent?

The gallery was pretty crowded throughout the evening and the reception lasted a bit longer than usual. We had performermances by some local talent and a psychic. We even had a local child come in and entertain the crowd with her vocal stylings. Installation images and more images from the reception will go up on the Digging Pitt site early next week, so check in there for more details.

Addendum: June 16
I've been so busy lately that I am not thinking straight. A shout-out to David Grim, who curated the Carnivalesque exhibit. Check into the Digging Pitt site to read his curator statement.

TRAF - June 10

I did get the horse model mounted yesterday, with the help of two festival goers. We were a little short-handed at the Origami tent, what with all the chillun. So, I walked out into the middle of the common and asked two very lovely people to give me a hand. I told them about this blog, so if the two of you check in here, would you please send me your names? I either have to start carrying a notepad or I have to get better at remembering names. Here they are (left) after we had hung the horse. At right is the horse after it had been completely monted. The model is suspended from the branches and tied off at the bottom. This horse used two 9' square pieces of paper and was folded from the bird base. It has an internal support of foam core board and PVC pipe and is posted with a dowel rod. If you click on the image, a larger file will open and you can see some of the ribbon embellishment. I think I'll add additional embellishment today.

At left is Hongla's fishing bear. The bear was made from two sheets of 52" square paper and the boat from one 9' square piece of paper. She put a lot of time and detail into this scene. She added a fishing rod and about a half dozen fish. She mounted this display yesterday afternoon. I'll be checking on this and the other installations today when i get in to see if there are any missing pieces. I don't know what today will bring. During the weekend, there are four of us in the tent. I'll probably wait until Tuesday to start another large model. We won't have as many chillun around and not all of the origamists will be there at the same time.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

TRAF - June 8 & 9

So, on June 8, I folded a lion (left) and started folding a large scale horse. The horse is finished now and I hope to install it today. Two of the cranes that were installed in the footpath, both squirrels and the lion went missing overnight. Origami is an ephemeral artform and I know that these pieces are particularly vulnerable being out in the elements. And it really is impractical to re-stage these pieces every day. I hope that wherever these models are they have a good home. The papier mache' projects are looking pretty good, aren't they? On the right is the amazing chicken-lion, resplendent in its bright pink plumage. Pretty cool, Heather!

Taichi has been working at assembling flowers and cranes from wallpaper sample books. In the above right photo, you can see where he has placed some of the flowers. At left, he has hung additional pieces in a tree. He has to replace about 30% of the flowers each day, so the field is growing pretty slowly. We all fold small figure in between the larger projects, mainly because we have a limited supply of seamless paper.

Hopefully, I'll be able to post a picture of my horse tomorrow. it's about 50" in height.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

TRAF - June 6 & 7

With all of the rain we have been having, the models that have been created are starting to show some wear. Constanstly dragging them in and out of shelter and just the dampness has taken its toll. So, no new pictures of new work for the last two days. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I was scheduled to be at the festival for three hours each day. I spent most of that time repairing models, staging others and basically troubleshooting. I have also been installing the new exhibit at the gallery.

Excuses, excuses.

Next week may be a little calmer and I hope to get to some of the galleries.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I need a break

Man was not meant to fold paper all day. I need a break! I ran into a friend of mine, who told me that Chris Ivey of Hyperboymedia had released a short video on Youtube. So folks, lets give a big round of applause for Christiane d. who is...

Monday, June 05, 2006

TRAF - June 4

Okay, so I didn't make a lion yesterday. The weather was still pretty bad, with rain all day, high winds and cold! that we decided it would be better to wait until the weather was a little nicer to make and install the larger origami figures. So, we made a flight of cranes (left) and suspended them in a covered walkway. Also, a flock of waterfowl (right) that are currently installed under a tree near the main stage. And a squirrel (below) that stands about two feet in height. I didn't work at the festival today (Monday) but will be there tomorrow. My schedule is posted here, so if you are in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello.

And hey, if I'm not there, I'm sure that some Origamist will be there to show you how to fold a flower. Hongla, Anjee and Taichi have been working the festival into their schedules and have been wonderful help. All of them have some folding experience, but this is the first time that they've worked with such large-scale models. Pictured at right is Hongla, who was working on a number of small dragons. We were trying to figure out if a group of dragons is called a herd, a covey or maybe a pride. Anybody have a clue?

Before I left the festival last night, I swung by the moxie DaDa booth to say hello to Christine Whispell. They have a number of very nice works on display. If you are ever in the 'burgh, you should drop by and say hello.

I hope to be able to get to a couple of the TRAF-related exhibits over the next week or so. Over the next couple days, I will be doing double duty, installing Carnivalesque at Digging Pitt Gallery and working at the festival. I'll post when I can. Hope you are enjoying the unfolding of the Origami menagerie!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

TRAF - June 3rd (a dragon)

First large figure for the project. This dragon took about 2 1/2 hours to fold and an hour to set up.

The paper is nine-foot square, seamless backdrop paper.

The dragon is folded from a stretched bird base. This was tricky because I couldn't really stretch the base. I folded the bird base, unfolded the model, then folded the stretched bird base flat.

Today, I will be working on installing components that we have been folding in other parts of the festival. And maybe a large lion?

The papier mache artists are real troopers. In the face of adversity, they are still assembling their creatures. At left is Gene Fenton, maker of dinosaurs and other creatures that sort of look like dinosaurs. I caught him here in a brief moment of sunshine. The troops are getting really good at rescuing their pieces from sudden downpours. Did I mention that IT RAINED? Thunderstorm, really.

Pete Spynda, who is the project coordinator, gets constant weather updates. It's supposed to storm today, too. Onward!!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

TRAF - June 2nd

It's the first day of the arts festival. Following the venerable history of the festival, IT RAINED. It could have been worse. We could have had a torrential down pour. The Origami tent in the family center played host to a surprise visitor, Brent Burket, who posts at Heart As Arena. He showed up early in the day while we were setting up. This picture makes it look like it was lighter out then it was. My camera settings were a little off. Really, it was a dark and stormy day.

The Origami tent is next door to the papier mache' tent. While we remained only damp, the papier mache folks suffered from massive flooding, with the tent roof bulging under gallons of water. The plan is to build giant papier mache' animals and have the children paint them. Even with all of the flooding the artists got a really good start on a couple armatures and started wrapping them in gluey paper. After one heavy rain, all of them were soaked through to the skin. And it got pretty cold.

We didn't get so far as to assemble our first large-scale model in the origami tent. With the help of a group of volunteers, we trimmed additional paper and got a start on folding flowers. You can see the beginning of the field behind Brent in the picture above. The volunteers also helped to fold some cranes that we have suspended from the ceiling of the tent. Pictured at right is Taichi, who is helping out with this project for the festival.

While I was at the festival I took a few moments to look around at the art market to see if any of my friends had rented a booth. I did run into Suz Pisano, who makes accessories. She does really girl accessories, with lots of beads, feathers and other assorted bangles.

Along one aisle of the Artists Market are the booths of a few local galleries. Boxheart is one of them. They have several of Tracy Helgeson's paintings up. They are the ones on the left in the back. I wish this picture did them justice; the work positively glows with color. If you follow the link back to Tracy's blog, she posted yesterday about how much the humidity affects her painting schedule when she is preparing her underpaintings. And you will get a better idea of what her work looks like then you would with my pretty bad shots.

Right now, it's 8:30am. The sun is out and the weather is supposed to be much nicer today. On to folding big (9' x 9') pieces of paper.