Art Appreciation

Like most of the artists whose work I’ll be sharing here over the coming weeks, Tran Nguyen’s lovely and intimate work speaks fluently for itself – predominately on book covers and in galleries around the world. I first encountered her dreamy portraits of young women lying on rooftops much smaller than they were – possibly her take on Alice in Wonderland as imagined by Rene Magritte:

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TASTE FOR BITTERSWEET BEDS (“A Place Procured From Our Yesteryears” exhibition)

Then I saw this piece (in Spectrum if memory serves) seemingly inspired by Gustav Klimt by way of Jody Lee. Beautiful in its patterns and tones, and oblique. I looked at it again and again:

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OUR FLUTTER-SOME ORDEAL (“Nurturing the Uneased Soul” exhibition)

And lately I’ve seen her work gracing Smithsonian Magazine. Every time I see her work, I am impressed and delighted:
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LAID IN A LANDLESS FACADE (Smithsonian Magazine Cover, Art Director: Maria Keehan)

 

Theatrical Thursday

Theatre poster of the week,  Godspell.

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No Shame Theatre post of the week.

A Republican Reverie

A piece for two voices        Voice 1: Bold Text        Voice 2: Italic Text

(lights up full)

 

All the presidents menus

Caviar without caveat.

Caveat emptor

 

The Emperor’s New Clotheshorse

Wayne Newton joins the Dick Armey

How the Newt Gingrich stole Christmas

How Do Ron Ron?

 

Ex-con, Exxon

Enron, L. Ron

Don Regan, Ron Reagan.

Nancy boys and Hardy Boys

The religious right, the religious right now.

 

Diabetics for Dianetics.

Rehnquist and shout.

Gone a-courting

 

Currying favor, carrying furor

Vested interests, interesting vests.

Caesar Dressing, undressing at the palace.

Julius and Sid. Milton Burlesque,

A John Milton Omar Bradley Game.

Fun for the whole family values.

 

Look on my works ye mighty.

And disappear.

 

(blackout)

 

Theatrical Thursday

Welcome to… Theatrical Thursday!

I design and illustrate theatre posters – a lot of theatre posters – for clients in New York, Atlanta, DC, and my hometown Portland, Oregon. It has been my good fortune to create posters for world premieres (from Stephen King & John Mellencamp, Craig Wright, and Stephen Sondheim), Opera (Aida, la Traviata, Madame Butterfly) and classics alike (1776, Blithe Spirit, Mame, the Mousetrap).

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I also wrote (and occasionally performed) short pieces for No Shame Theatre – it was a lifeline, an outlet, and a chance for me to learn with professional writers and directors Todd Ristau and Clinton Johnston. Many of these pieces were topical and timely, a few seem to hold up, and one or two still get performed.

A Painful Death

Cast

Arthur Halliday – A rumpled unshaven man with bloodshot eyes and messy hair.

Joan – A patient, composed and erudite Librarian

(Arthur is seated stage left – under a spotlight – at a table that has unopened bills, a pack of cigarettes, an ashtray and miscellaneous office supplies. He stubs out a cigarette, avoids opening any more of the mail on the table and nervously fiddles with some paperclips as Joan speaks.)

Joan: (speaking from offstage) This is Arthur Halliday. He lost his job as Worldcom’s CFO on December 10th. His girlfriend Jennifer broke up with him on the 11th. His wife Erica left him on the 12th and took his Lexus. His accountant Dave was arrested on the 13th. His lawyer Gordy committed suicide on the 14th.

Arthur is under investigation for embezzlement and insider trading. He is more than three hundred thousand dollars debt. He owes more than two thousand dollars in unpaid parking tickets alone…

Yesterday, the big men came and took all his worldly goods. All they left was this table and and a few kitchen appliances.

The SubZero Freezer (spotlight), the DeLonghi Espresso machine (spotlight), and the Garland Gas Stove (spotlight). Arthur knows that tomorrow, they’ll cut the gas off too…

After considering his options, Arthur has finally made up his mind.

(Arthur gets up, deliberately goes over to the stove. He turns on the gas, opens the door, kneels down and puts his head inside. After a long beat, Joan steps onto the stage.)

Joan: Arthur. Please take your head out of the oven.

(Arthur starts violently and bashes his head on the roof of the oven, before swearing, standing up, rubbing his aching head, and looking incredulously at Joan.)

Arthur: Who… Who… Who are you lady? How’d you get in here?

Joan: Please, sit down. It’s important that you listen to me closely Arthur – literally a matter of life and death.

Arthur:  But I… Who are you?

Joan: My name is Joan, I’m a librarian. You obviously need help, and I’m here to help you.

Arthur: (sitting down a little woozily) Help?

Joan: Yes, Arthur. Help. You were trying to end your pain and suffering by putting your head in the oven. It’s important that you understand that’s not the right thing to do.

While it’s true that more than one million people will try to end their own lives this year,

(on a roll now, she turns toward the audience in a statistical reverie)

Most will not succeed, and some will live on – in even greater agony than before.

While the US has suicide rates far below those in Asia, those rates invariably grow in bad economic times. The loss of a loved one, employment, or honor.

Arthur: (still holding his aching head, as he cuts her off) Lady! Why are you wasting my time with all these statistics? I just don’t care! I’m over it.

Joan: (patiently) You’d like to be “over it” Arthur. But until you hear me out, your chances aren’t good. A lot of people try to end their lives each year – More than you’d think. But so many of them, like you, forget the importance of pain.

Arthur: Pain?

Joan: Yes, pain.

Arthur: I’m not forgetting pain lady. I’ve got enough pain for a family of four.

Joan: And your mental anguish only increases your likelihood of making a critical mistake.  I refer to physical pain, Arthur, physical pain. It’s crucial at moments of transition – In matters of life and death. You knew that when you were a newborn, you’ve just forgotten over time.

My sisters (admiring) who swerve into oncoming traffic , or throw themselves off cliffs, they understand.  But we souls who fear the pain– (self conscious) we who research obscure toxins, venoms and  asphyxia – we who take “the coward’s way out” – never truly get out Arthur. We have to stay where we were, where we are– forever. With the shame and horror of our shattered lives always around us. Without sufficient pain, we never transcend. We never move on. I don’t want that to happen to you Arthur. I’ve watched over this household far too long to watch you make that mistake.

Arthur: Jesus… You’re serious about this? You mean you’re a…

(Joan nods self-consciously)

Arthur: (panicky) Jesus…   oh, Jesus! I gotta think this through. (Arthur pulls out a cigarette.)   Got a match?

(Joan smiles wryly, pulling out a match. As she reaches out to light his cigarette there’s an immediate blackout and an earthshaking ka-boom)

Art Appreciation

Ursula Vernon is a wonder – her award-winning stories are often (but not always) illustrated. And her work is much beloved in this house and many others. Her stories (Nurk, Digger, the Seventh Bride, et al) are available at your nearest book and comic shops – her artwork (a smattering of which you see below) is available through Red Wombat Studio and Topatoco.

Where no man may kill a cat

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Vivid Platypus

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The Earl of Oregano

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Sir. Bunny vs. The Wockwurm

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Steampunk Rooster
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Westercon 69 Schedule

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In honor of Westercon 69 and GEAR Con 2016 joining forces, here is Cogswell, the Small God of Steampunk Gear.

Westercon 69
Itinerary for Lee Moyer

Docent Tour: Lee Moyer
Art Show
Fri Jul 1 1:00:pm – 2:00:pm
Docent Artshow Tour: Lee Moyer
Lee Moyer
Friday 4pm Kaffeeklatsch
Multnomah
Fri Jul 1 4:00:pm – 5:00:pm
Small group discussions with authors, artists, and other interesting personalities (referred to as “hosts”). Sessions are limited to the host and a small group of attendees.
Emily Jiang, Esther Jones, Jim Minz, Lee Moyer, Liz Argall, Mike Moscoe, Phyllis Irene Radford
Crowdfunding for Artists
Sellwood
Sat Jul 2 3:00:pm – 4:00:pm
How to navigate a successful crowdfunding campaign to advance your personal project or career. Learn what to do, and what not to do when getting cash from an online crowd.
Jeff Sturgeon, Lee Moyer, Ley Hazard, M. Scott Hammond
Match Game SF
Jeff/Adams
Sun Jul 3 9:00:pm – 12:00:am
Get ready to match the fannish stars! In this re-creation of the classic 1970s game show, contestants are selected randomly from the audience to attempt to match the panelists’ answers to fill-in-the-blank questions like “Captain Kirk has the biggest ___ in Starfleet!” All contestants will receive prizes.
Andy Trembley, David D. Levine, Jonnalyhn Wolfcat Prill, Kevin Roche, Kevin Standlee, Lee Moyer, Lisa Hayes, Lynn Gold

 

Wiscon, Waterslides, House on the Rock, and More

Prelude:

Years ago, when I liberated Venetia from Wisconsin in the dead of winter, House on the Rock was closed for the season. A return trip was, therefore, absolutely necessary. But when? And under what conditions? Answers: Now. And Wiscon in Madison over the weekend of my birthday. We would get to spend time with Mark Oshiro and Baize White, visit with Venetia’s old cellmate Kat Lemmer, and see as many of the surrounding wonders as possible.

As usual I worked until the last possible minute – this time on my homage to the great Steven Universe (a portrait of the Crystal Gems featuring Claire as Pearl and Mish as Amethyst) – even as our dear friend Phia sat in the next room sewing up my attempt at business-attire-cosplay. When we wrapped up, my Mother kindly ferried us to PDX, and the TSA lines were more or less as-usual. The red eye to Chicago encountered turbulence, and the airline (Spirit) featured the latest in sardine-like passenger-discomfitting chairs that didn’t recline. All told we got three hours of sleep that first morning.

CrystalGemsJPGArrival: Made very welcome

We got to O’Hare as the sun came up and made our way directly to the car rental counter. There, the lovely woman asked what is likely a common question for her – “What are you here for?” So we told her the plan: the waterparks of the Wisconsin Dells, House on the Rock, Wiscon. She wanted to know what Wiscon was, so we explained that it’s an inclusive feminist Science Fiction Fantasy Convention in Madison and that Venetia would be featured on a panel about creating religion in fiction. When she asked us about our own spiritual practices, we spoke about trauma and abuse and healing from PTSD. At this point, the woman behind the counter next to us joined in, asking questions and telling us her story. They were wonderful people, and we stayed with them for over an hour, talking animatedly in the moments between customers.

Once settled into our car, we picked our destination – Lee Street Park. The drive there was dull and unappealing, until we got to Evanston where we were only a few blocks from the park and the edge of Lake Michigan. There, the lawns grew wider and the houses grander until we came to the brick mansions and small stone palaces overlooking the lake. We parked the car in a nice shady spot, rolled down our windows to enjoy the warm breeze off the lake, and promptly fell fast asleep.

LeeStreetParkMuch later we awoke to hunt for food and retired to a lagoon in the park, to eat and soak our feet in the cool water. Refreshed and rejuvenated, we began to contemplate our surroundings with more awareness and discovered that this beautiful oasis was none other than Northwestern University. Though we still had hours before Mark and Baize arrived, we decided to start the drive back to the airport, but this time avoiding the toll roads completely by using surface streets. Heading due south, we soon ran into a grand and expansive cemetery. Already this trip was proving most useful and worthwhile as we took picture after picture of Celtic crosses, patina-ed copper, and deer which (unlike the rest of the inhabitants) were not dead but merely resting. After a dodgy sleepless start it was exactly what we needed.

CalveryCemetery_compilationCalveryCemetery_CopperLionsWe picked up Mark and Baize from the airport and headed straight for Madison, already ready for dinner. By the time we reached Madison we were hungry and desperate for food. Happily, Mark’s advanced Yelp skills found us a genuinely delicious (and surprisingly affordable) Venezuelan restaurant called La Taguara. Everything there was delicious – including the peculiar sodas! Check it out if travel takes you hence.

Immediate food needs met, we headed to Costco to do some longer term food shopping. En route, we were lured away by a vasty store called Woodman’s across the freeway. We never made it to Costco. As we moved through Woodmen’s peculiarly midwestern enormity, Mark and Venetia bonded over peanut butter and rice crackers. Luckily we found food we could eat, and our way out – only discovering the invaluable store map as we departed into the gloaming.

We reached the Wisconsin Dell’s as the last light faded from the night sky and were gratified to find the promised kitchen, and the room’s jacuzzi overlooking the lake. Soaking away the aches of travel was a perfect way to end to the first of several surreal days.

Day 2: Boom, like that!

Mark and Baize started the day with run along the lake where they saw an ostentatious mansion on it’s own little island guarded by door-sized black stone lions. We all ate breakfast, put on swim suits and headed out for the first day of our water park extravaganza! The Wilderness Resort is so full of different water parks it was a little confusing. We started with the Water Dome (“two swimmers enter, one swimmer leaves”) where Venetia experienced her first-ever water slide. It would not be her last! After a few trips to the top of those stairs (Ye gads! The stairs! I wouldn’t have believed I would so willingly climb as many flights of stairs!) and down the big slide, we left the overheated faux-tropical Dome for the second giant room of water slides. Waterslides (like most amusement rides) come in a small variety of possible physics-observant permutations – we tried them all. The tallest and most berserk featured a sharp drop (Venetia loved going over such falls backwards) that opened into a funnel shaped area where the riders of the raft-thing (we tried it with 2, 3 and 4 riders) soar up and down in a whipsawing motion before plunging once more straight to the bottom.

After a brief return to the hotel to dry off, we headed back to the resort – this time for drier (if no less interesting) diversions. There, Mark proved to be a well-practiced sniper whose efficiency was only matched by his glee and savagery. His massive victory was tragically (for us) inevitable. Lee found that his odds were not helped when his white shirt and socks glowed incandescent in the black light of the psychedelic wild west environs. Lee’s later first place finish on the go-carts proved little consolation – it seems that bumping, ramming or bashing was counter-indicated so those who start first tend to finish that way too.

Venetia was breathtaking as she moved through the mist-shrouded Laser Escape Room. Nimble and possessed of an amazing degree of body awareness, she escaped in…. well, it wasn’t record time exactly, but being 28th among the 25,000 without practice runs or do-overs was pretty astonishing to the rest of us. Afterwards, skee-ball, pinball, Whack-a-Mole, Dance Dance Revolution, and Kung-Fu Panda punching games fell to Mark’s might on the Midway. Then back onto the shuttle bus to the hotel.

UpsideDownWhiteHouseThis time we were driven the long way around the lake, and by that curious mansion (on it’s own wee island) that Baize and Mark had seen earlier. The shuttle driver told us that it was the 18,000 square foot palazzo home of Nick Laskaris (owner of Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park) and how his 9 bay garage (which held at least 2 Lamborghinis) is insured for 2.7 million dollars. What made this especially startling to me was the sheer number of trailer parks that dotted the surrounding area.

Venetia and Baize found us a place for dinner – a lovely little restaurant down on the water, not too far from the ubiquitous Tommy Bartlett’s water skiing extravaganza. Happily there was no show that night, and we watched rain roll in and out from the safety of our covered patio. The food was as average as the waiter was charming. We were exhausted from the day, and lingered a long time over the meal. So into this idyll, image our surprise as the sky went white with a Lightning strike. It was pretty much straight up and down, smashing into a cove around the lake to our left. Seconds after the flash, the thunder! We’d never heard anything so loud, and glad though we were that it hadn’t struck us – we were a little concerned it had hit our hotel. This feeling intensified as the smoke began to drift up and over the lake! We talked a little nervously about it, and I suggested that we were probably fine. After all, I was pretty sure our hotel was more to the left. Surely the lightning had hit that palazzo on the island. We left 15 minutes later, walking through the small throng of diners who had come out to watch the smoke and hear the sirens blaring, seeming to converge at the invisible spot of the lightning strike. As we left, a man on his cell phone seemed to have news, so I asked him about it. He had called friends in emergency services and they had told him – the lightning had hit Nick Laskaris’ palazzo on its little island. Don’t mess with Zeus.

Schadenfreude dictated we do a little drive by, if only to see how the locals were taking it. There was almost a traffic jam of drivers, and no shortage of neighbors peering curiously at the smoke and the mass of assembled firemen. And while little damage was visible to us, the wafting smoke suggested that some serious damage had indeed been done. And it was a comfort to know he was well insured….

Chicago_WI2016_050After our neighborly gawking, we returned once more to the scene of the earlier amusements – this time to the rope course and glow-in-the-dark miniature golf. It amazed me how many amusements could be crammed into a finite space. The golf courses were squalid, but they fit into a couple otherwise useless caverns.

Chicago_WI2016_063The rope course was delightful and hung over an arcade populated with similar games to those we’d seen earlier. Those playing below seemed oddly uncaring about the cat’s cradles and odd ropes and ladders that were being traversed mere feet over their heads – 2 stories of safety-harnessed fun!

Safely back at the hotel that night, Mark secured us cheap tickets for Mt. Olympus the next day.

Day 3: Ready to (House on the) Rock!

We arose Thursday later than we might have liked (but let’s face it, 3 separate visits to every water slide and attraction our feet could carry us to, and a surprise lightning strike might just require a little sleeping in!), and headed south to House on the Rock. The drive was wonderful – bucolic and calm. “Giant carousel! Too many dollhouses!” was all Venetia had managed by way of warning or explanation, so we were, as Mark often says in his podcasts, not prepared.

The House itself surprised me. I’d somehow imagined this all-American folly would have been…. older, more Victorian. Instead, it’s the embodiment of a very different era, when smarmy swinging 60’s super scientist Jonas Venture would have invited hot chicks in with a single rakishly raised eyebrow and a mellifluous, ”Hey doll, have you ever made it in the Infinity Room? It’s just delicious, kitten….”.  The small bachelor pad on the Rock is filled to busting with conversation pits, cozy nooks, massive walls of books, re-purposed stained glass windows and Tiffany lamps. Oh, and a mechanical orchestra in the kitchen, natch. There is carpet on nearly all the floors (good), many of the the walls (hmm) and a surprising number of ceilings (peculiar… but then the ceilings are dangerously low). While I’m sure it prevents wear (and helpfully collects dust), I cannot imagine keeping so much carpet clean. Miles of carpet. Because these days, that original House on that original Rock is surrounded and buttressed by a veritable labyrinth of other less-photogenic structures – it seems that once punters were paying to see the great work, there was nothing for it but to add more. And more. AND MORE!

HouseOnTheRock_compIt took us 4 hours to traverse the strange pathways of House on the Rock. Highlights included:

The “Life-sized” kraken battling a giant whale with enormous teeth.

The Mikado was just one of the almost-insane and often nearly in-tune music rooms (by which we mean rooms filled with automatons that eerily play musical instruments, often to a vaguely recognizable tune. ‘The Blue Danube’ was more curdled and strange than its namesake in a winter flood!)

HouseOnTheRock_100The giant Carousel about which we had been warned (and which readers of Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ have encountered in fiction. The staff knew nothing of the mythic Halloween carousel ride that Venetia had witnessed years earlier “Hmm… no. No one ever says anything about that”. The staff did admit some excitement at the prospect of the ‘American Gods’ miniseries being shot on site later this year or next).

HouseOnTheRock_107As a longtime docent at the Smithsonian Institution’s Natural History Museum, I know that Museums have collections. The tricky thing about the collections at House on the Rock is that (despite the endless rows of cabinets, shelves, interactive displays, et al.) they are not a Museum – it’s history, and faux history and no-history mixed up in a pop (and popped) culture blender designed by Rube Goldberg (from napkin doodles by Nikola Tesla) and built by Ed Wood and Tim Burton.

The contrast between the Ladies’ and Men’s rooms was deeply peculiar, yet oddly gender-normative. After our own forays, I felt it only mete to invite another group of women into the men’s room. So much wonderment, surely it would be a shame to miss any!

HouseOnTheRock_MalevsFemaleEn route back to the Dells, we stopped briefly at the Forevertron. This enormous sculpture is what the Transformers might have looked like had they invaded Earth during the Edwardian period (It seems that Rube Goldberg casts a large shadow over Wisconsin).

Chicago_WI2016_065A quick visit to the hotel suite and a speedy change of attire later we were off to Mt. Olympus, its 3 active go-cart tracks and, of course, even more water slides.

Chicago_WI2016_046While Baize and Venetia stuck to the ground, Mark and I climbed still more stairs.  “Zeus is feeling particularly aggressive today!” These were the words that greeted us at the top of the huge wooden roller coaster. All we could do was nod. And laugh. Of course this was intended as a warning about the speed and ferocity of the juddering old roller coaster. But given the events of the previous evening, the hubris of stealing Zeus’ thunder seemed more…. topical. Of course we sat in the front, thusly:

The Dells is not a hotbed of fine cuisine, but after dinner at Noodles and Co., Venetia’s enjoyed her first custard milkshake and became a Culver’s convert. Afterwards, Mark (who has boundless energy) headed back to the Arcade while Venetia and I relaxed in the jacuzzi.

Day 4-6: Welcome to the Weekend

At noon on Friday, Memorial Day weekend began in earnest and the outdoor water slides opened. So of course Venetia and Mark had to experience all 8 of the newly-opened rides in 90 minutes’ time. Whew! While they cavorted in the sun, I spent a long luxurious morning in the hot tub catching up with the delightful Kat, who had brought us all an amazing and delicious home-cooked Indian meal. The best part of traveling (and of having people stay with us) is getting to spend deep quality time with them – and Kat is always a favorite. :)

Venetia drove Mark and Baize (and my art show) down to Madison but then frantically called me for help in setting up. It seems the art show ran out of proper hanging hardware! Happily, Kat got me to the hardware store and the day was saved. The art show had a great set-up (and kindly displayed my work front and center). You can see the last-minute piece (printed on metal in the nick of time) below:

Chicago_WI2016_WisconArtShowOnce the art show was set-up we left to join Kat in another delicious meal. This time the highlight was a rhubarb cinnamon lemonade so amazing we had to share it with our friends the following day as we wandered in the heat of Saturday Farmer’s Market around the capitol building.

Venetia’s panel about creating religion in fiction was also on Saturday, and I hope she shares her notes for this blog at some point. We attended a Steven Universe panel where we got some hot tips on the French releases still unaired in the US, and an extended intro animation. So of course we ran back up to our room following the panel to catch up. And then to nap. A lot. It turns out that our life of adventure compounded with masses of people is pretty tiring! Who knew? Venetia ended the day by playing multiple rounds of one of her favorite board games, 7 Wonders.

Sunday brought the best panel we attended: You Got Race On My Class! You Got Class On My Race! – a panel with Mikki Kendall, Na’amen Gobert Tilahun, and Nisi Shawl. Fascinating and nuanced stuff. But Sunday was for friends and extracurricular activities too – so we geared up for more sun and boldly set off to the Madison Zoo. Our bravery was rewarded with a nearby parking space and an afternoon with Venetia’s dear friends Sarah and Jamie and their kids. As we parked in the lot for dinner by the lake we got a surprise – water skiers arrayed like a three layer cake! And as we left? A huge rainbow that made a brilliant contrast with the lightning we’d enjoyed 3 days earlier.

WisconsinTrip_159When we returned and got gussied up, we were surprised by the line for the Desserts and Guest of Honor speeches. But as some of you know, I do love a line as it gives me the opportunity to chat with people I might not otherwise encounter. The dessert selection was splendid – allowing me to sample several (ok, many) desserts. We got to sit with dear friends Rachel and Phi, and watch the speeches, and the speeches were better than the desserts. Really.

All three women are astonishing, and their different approaches made for a unified and inspiring whole:

Justine Larbalestier spoke in a light accent that reminded me of that other Australian American Liz Argall. She dropped the occasional f-bomb for effect as she talked about the rejection of ‘Young Adult’ novels by her otherwise sensible peers. And she went deep into the word and concept of “teenage”, its origins, its arbitrariness and its extraordinary power.

Sofia Samatar was as stylish and poised as she had been when I watched her win the World Fantasy Award a few years earlier. She read us some of her breathtaking rejection letters, showing with great clarity how ridiculously stale and calcified the olde world of publishing is and how difficult it is for even supremely assured and powerful work to find a home with the mighty publishing cartels. The status quo needs changing, but it isn’t going to change itself, and it isn’t going to go quietly.

Nalo Hopkinson slyly lampooned the troglodytes who have spent their time in racist, sexist protests against progress and inclusion. She sang us a little Lady Bey and talked about a new award she is creating – an annual award for those in the field who are making things better – turning those lemons into lemonade. By the time I’d volunteered to work up the award certificate, 2 others had already volunteered. Wiscon is full of good people.

I wish I could find a link to these speeches on YouTube or the like, but so far no luck….

Day 7: Monday Monday

Monday was quiet in comparison, but still full of good friends and conversations.  I was surprised and delighted to run into the radiant Esther and her children in the sparkling con suite. It’d been far too long since last we’d met. And so much longer since I’d sculpted Calvin and Hobbes for the top of her (and Ben Rosenbaum’s) wedding cake. While I was gabbing away, Venetia got quite the workout carrying Sarah’s eldest son everywhere on her back. She was over the moon getting to introduce him and his brother (and Sarah) to Steven Universe. I assisted in the tearing down of the artshow – not just my small panels, but the whole kit and kaboodle. Even though I’ve been exhibiting in shows since 1980, I am constantly surprised by the different mechanical and cultural ley lines that shows around the country present – in this case, coloring books for sale with the fine-art dolls, and abstract paintings and 3D papier-mâché science sculptures! My biggest surprise was the lack of inclusion in the artwork. This is endemic in most shows, but I had guessed that Wiscon would manage better.

That night while Venetia recovered from her exertions, I had a marvelous time at the final party of the convention. Travelers and friends converged – coming from as nearby as Madison itself and as far away as York in the UK. A lovely night, and new friends into the bargain.

Day 8 and 9:

The next day we were off to Chicago. Driving south we quickly saw an approaching (and very ominous) storm front. We turned east in the very nick of time, racing ahead of it. By the time we arrived in Chicago, the storm seemed well behind us.

Chicago_WI2016_162We dropped Mark and Baize off with the McCartys and shared a wonderful lunch of Duck Egg Hash. After a hasty goodbye, and a quest for gasoline, we headed downtown. The storm broke all around us – wind tearing into awnings and spewing garbage into the streets. It was portentous as all heck! We arrived at our hotel just as the storm hit the city in earnest. But thanks to Venetia’s cunning, our car drop-off was a mere block  from the hotel, and I was barely wet when I returned. We were quite surprised to find that our room (which had been booked at the last moment) occupied the top floor of the hotel, and had such a great view of the park, the museums, and the lake beyond. We ate some snacks we’d brought and enjoyed the view and, when the sun set,  even some TV – a thing that never happens at home!

The last day of our trip was spent in the parks of downtown Chicago. The first ‘attraction’ was the repulsive line at the Shedd Aquarium, purposefully engineered to convince people to spend more money in an upgrade and deliberately making poorer people wait in a 45 minute line. As with the increasingly haves vs. have-not culture of air travel, it left us feeling bad for all involved. The neo-liberal oligarchy has some serious problems, and they don’t seem to be getting better.

WisconsinTrip_208We did a little research and discovered that we could get into the Field Museum at a discounted price if we didn’t go to all the special exhibits. It turned out we didn’t even have the stamina for all the regular exhibits! We were both impressed by the displays and the way the museum placards are recontextualizing the way people think about pre-colonized North and South America. There were many beautiful and functional displays that were educational and interesting. There was a marvelous Tibetan display with not only religious objects but also pieces of everyday clothing and the necessary items of life – from clothing to teapots. And the crowning gem for us was the astonishing and exquisite exhibit of newly-restored Malvina Hoffman sculptures. Sadly the museum was sold out of her art book. Sadder, there seems to be no book featuring the work properly – only books gassing on about it. I wish we’d taken a hundred or so photos, because…. wow!

ChicagoPanosThe final highlight of this delightful vacation came from a most unexpected source. We were seated next to a baby taking his first flight, and it seemed a recipe for disaster. Instead, he the cutest and best-behaved baby on the plane. After cooing and smiling at Venetia, he promptly fell asleep for the entire flight. Awww.

Pin-up Gallery at Naked Winery

IMG_6464One delightful place you can find my art this summer is at the Naked Winery in the heart of Hood River, Oregon. Many of my pin-ups (and calendars and postcards) will be there all summer!

NakedWinery2016_05 copyThe tasting room is marvelous. Joe Garroute and company will make sure you are treated right. Bottoms up!

NakedWinery2016_23

Progress of the Year

Thus far the year has flown by with work and travel and guests.

I’ve worked on book covers, theater posters, logos, and more but through all that have still found time to do some personal work.

Month of Love this year came during one of my busiest stretches so I was unable to go all out and post every single week as I love to do. However the two pieces I did have time for are two of my favorites this year.

As with most of the US, I have been swept away by Hamilton and wanted to create my own homage to it’s ground breaking beauty. I hope to continue with more pieces in this style as a series.

LAFAYETTEJoseph-Désiré Court, 1791

My sweetheart Venetia posed for the Dominatrix, not her usual style and the outtakes from our photoshoot are quite entertaining.

MonthOfLove2Our dear friend Accalia was here from Canada for the Rachel Brice Elements program and posed for the Goddess Allatu.

AllatuZZHopefully the second half of 2016 will see more personal projects as well as business as usual!

 

2015 Christmas Letter: Naughty

We are chagrined to hear that you’ve been naughty, but… we admit we’re not completely surprised.

We hope that the naughtiness is of a fun or societally scandalous nature and that it brings pleasure to you and yours.

Failing that, we hope you see it in your heart to follow the wonderful examples set by so many who preceded you, and atone.

We have it on good authority that said heart really can grow three sizes today.
Either way, we trust you’ll get busy. Cheers to a wonderful 2016!

DashingCardEmailSize(Much thanks to Mark Oshiro and Baize White, and the inspiration of internet publishing phenom Chuck Tingle.)

2015 was a strange year in many ways – it was spent closer to home than usual, and deep in thought for the future. We saw many guests, attended many events, and ate a lot of delicious food. Lee took to wearing glasses most of the time (and while he cannot yet bring himself to consider actually wearing the bifocals, it seems a fair guess that that time will come sooner than he’d like).

Guests:

We had several major slumber parties this year, the first being the Librarian’s Slumber Party in March when our house was headquarters to librarians coming into town for the ACRL Conference. June saw a full roller derby team down from Seattle, courtesy of Liz “Betsy Nails” Argall, a member of the Socket Wenches. And we again had a full house in October when more friends from Seattle came down for Orycon. It’s a good thing we have lots of flat spaces for people to sleep on! Right now the record for the most people in our house at one time is at 7 (plus the 2 of us) for 9 warm adult bodies. No one has yet tried to sleep on the massage table, but there’s always 2016….

We also hosted many more friends this year as well as some delicious lunches and dinners with friends passing through (and hope to continue opening our house and giving tours in the coming year): Ang, Rose, Gail, Miko and Jackson, Alaina and William, Erika, Kristina, Jaym, K and Tamra, Andy and Merrill, Debi, Priscilla, Leighton, Laura, Liz, Scott, Kat, Katelyn and Janelle.

Conventions:

We planned to stay close to home this year, and we didn’t really intend to attend so many gatherings. Oops?

1. The one big exception to our “Year Without Jet-Lag” was Lee’s Guest of Honoring at Arisia in Boston. We knew it was off to a great start when Lee collaborated with Nora Jemisin to create the Blue Lotus from her Dreamblood books for the Arisia badge. Lee was honored that Nora got the Lotus as a tattoo!

Nora'sTattooWe saw so many lovely friends in Boston, both at the convention and out in the chilly and slightly snowy city. Crystal took us to the MFA and we saw their Goya Exhibition along with Olivia and Mark. After the museum, Venetia got to hear Mark read from his book and turned many shades of red while laughing at his reading bad romance fan fiction. Meanwhile, Lee enlisted Barb, Grey and Kat to assemble and frame 50 pieces of art for the art show and, later, hang those (and the additional 50 Small Gods). We could never have hung the whole show on our own, but thankfully Michelle, Talia, Jacob and others toiled while Lee began his first day of programming.

ArisiaArtShowPanorama2. April saw us up to Seattle for Norwescon. It was especially busy this year as Game of Thrones creator George RR Martin was the Writer Guest of Honor and the halls were stuffed to (or past) capacity. The brilliant Julie Dillon was the Artist Guest, and we were lucky to come home with one of her large canvasses.

3. CthulhuCon brought the too-long-absent Paul Komoda to Portland. We were extremely glad to use Paul’s trip north as an opportunity to make him a glorious coloring book to sell (adult coloring books are currently all the rage, but we just wanted to create something so that Paul’s fans could take a little bit of his extraordinary work home with them).

CthulhuCon2015Trio copy copy4. Lee later attended a most unusual and inspiring convention in Portland: The World Domination Summit. This (ironically-named) convention took the place of San Diego Comic Con on Lee’s calendar for the first time in a decade, and will do so again in 2016. Our dear friends K and Tamra were going and graciously invited Lee to go with them and we were delighted they did! He had a marvelous time and was very inspired and motivated by the many creative people he got to meet and listen to.

5. August saw us struggling through the fiery gates of Mordor to the World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane (which was, at that time, surrounded by a ring of terrible forest fires). We made the most of our one breathable afternoon to explore the park and the gondola over the falls that had been built for The World’s Fair in the 70s, but other than that it was not safe to venture outside. Venetia and Liz may look slightly shady in the picture below, but going out without a facemask was like breathing pumice! The red sun you see below is, if anything, less red than it appeared to all of us in Spokane.

6We finally met the outstanding Jim Wright, the blogger better known as Stonekettle Station, and bought one of the  wooden asterisk ornaments he made for the event (it adorns our Christmas tree even now). We wrote a more detailed accounting of our World Con adventure at the time.

IMG_2621 copy6. Lee was a guest at the Cascade Writers event in Seattle, educating traditionally and self-published authors about the work of designing cover art and design.

7. Lee designed the poster for this year’s 20th HP Lovecraft Film Festival as he had the 10th, a decade back. Having won the previous year’s version, he couldn’t compete in the live painting competition/demonstration, but he looks forward to a spirited return next year.

HPL2015onlineThe undoubted highlight of that show was that it brought our beloved friends Janelle and Katelyn to stay with us in Portland. We spent as much time with them as we could, with adventures at Powell’s, the Audubon Society, and the Rose Garden. The perfection of that day is hard to even comprehend as Portland enters its 24th day of rain, but hopefully the pictures tell the story.

JanelleKatelynRoseGardens2015(Photos by Janelle.)

8. Lee attended Portland’s own Orycon where he displayed more than 40 pieces, hobnobbed with old pals, and met several wonderful people.

9. Ambercon NW at Edgefield was marvelous as always. Lee’s t-shirt design this year featured the Unicorn (much to Venetia’s delight), and Lee ran his first game in the long history of his attendance there. This year the demonstration of taiko drumming by Murray and Emma (coincident with the celebration of their 30th anniversary) was an especial highlight.

Ambercon201510. While we did not attend the Rose City Comic Con, we enjoyed two of their after-parties immensely – the first, Rachel and Miles X-plain the X-men’s fabulous Days of Future Past bash, the second Stephen and Nicolle’s costume soiree.

11. Venetia and Tracy made several trips to Seattle, however the one for the fabulous Drinks with Authors event after Emerald City Comic Con and the drive up in a rented Prius stand out particularly. While Venetia enjoyed the video game aspects of driving this strange hybrid vehicle, she still prefers our older and less flashy Honda Civic.

Some highlights of the year:

Rob and Lisa figure largely in our highlights of the year – showing us an amazing time in Seattle, Port Angeles, the Olympic Mountains and Victoria BC. Below are three panoramas shot on our phones.

PanoramasThey introduced us to the wonders of the game Legendary and despite Lee’s noted antipathy to games involving “too much randomness and luck”, it quickly became part of our every day routine. As much as we love the game for it’s storytelling, background and math, I think it’s safe to say that we enjoy its collaborative nature most of all. We are pretty fierce team! On average Lee wins every 4/5 games but that just means Venetia can do an extra dramatic victory dance whenever she beats him.

IMG_2206Liz Argall also introduced Venetia to the dopamine pleasures of Neko Atsume and Venetia is now very devoted to checking on her cats in her zen garden and buying them all the best toys.

IMG_2426When birthday-girl Alaina B visited early in the year, she took Venetia to her first strip club. The ladies had a splendid time enjoying the artistry of pole dancing, and were impressed by the skill and musical taste of the dancers (one girl danced to a Firewater song!)

We attended our friend Marysia’s astonishing Renegade Birthday Party and were entertained late into the night so by many talented people – jugglers, poets, acrobats and singers. Lee’s modest contribution was a rendition of Monty Python’s classic Not Noel Coward Song.

While we never seem to have the time we’d like, we managed to see several memorable TV series and movies, Agent Carter, Daredevil and part of Game of Thrones and AntMan, Mad Max: Fury Road, Spy, and Song of the Sea.

Venetia made an apple pie when Miko and Jackson came to stay with us on the day of pie singularity. Not only did we enjoy the pie, we shared it with Lis via the miracle of the internet.

After much debate and consultation we bought a new washer and dryer – the kind that sings when it’s done. Venetia can now do several loads of laundry in one day and is still thrilled by the power.

The abundance of our garden this summer was overwhelming. Literally. We were able to satisfy many friends and the most delightful flock of cedar waxwings with our two crops of figs and Venetia had fresh raspberries every morning for breakfast for almost two months.

2015RaspberriesPostmodern Jukebox visited Portland two times this year, at the Crystal Ballroom. While standing at the front of the crowd and dancing was splendid, we both appreciate the view and relaxing in the balcony on their last trip. Ariana Savalas’ whistling and Sarah Reich’s tap-dancing elevated their version of Bad Romance to new heights.

As usual, this year’s Laurelhurst Yard Sale was (as usual) a huge success! We found everything we were looking for, from a drinks hutch for Liz (requested that very morning, the first item we saw, and hand-delivered by the previous owners in their truck. My, but we love this town!) to the gilded kimonos seen above in the Worldcon photo, to a gorgeous old piano stool (We didn’t know we were looking for it but it was absolutely necessary!)

This fall, Petra led an expedition to the magical bra shop in Portland – The Pencil Test.
Venetia will happily take anyone who needs a proper fitting bra to this fine establishment.

With Halloween impending, Lee figured the time had come for his best Roy Batty. Happily the remaining hair cooperated with the nice lady at the salon, and the lighter tone seemed to go over well in all corners, though he was bemused to have people ask if he was costuming a character from friend Chris Roberson’s TV series I, Zombie. Apparently the key to a successful Blade Runner costume is to carry a rain machine with you at all times. The movie is so much more about atmosphere than mere accoutrements….

22740000365_f95a99fd88_oNews on the work front:

At long last the Doom saga has been laid to rest! In June of this year, the FTC came out with their first ruling on Kickstarters with the Doom that Came to Atlantic City. While it was a major news item, we are happy to move on knowing that the game is out and available and it is a relief to know that justice was finally served. Many stars finally aligned, for the three game creators to be in the same place for the first time ever:

DoomLee was on several podcasts this year but our favorite was the interview on creativity.

Venetia has started volunteering at a daycare and is greatly enjoying her time spent each week holding tiny babies and reading stories to them.

Progress continues on Starstruck, Lee received the final pages from Elaine Lee & Michael Kaluta this month and, even as you read this letter, is (with the invaluable help of James Ratcliffe) hard at work finishing them.

StarstruckLee created almost 2 dozen pieces for this year’s Months of Love and Fear challenges, even as last year’s adorable trick-or-treater (the adorable Rowan) found his way into Stephen Jones’ The Art of Horror.

ArtofHorrorSome delightfully random and fun work was created this year, and a great many portraits. Lee was able to do another cover for the fabulous Elliott Kay, as well as see previous covers go on to new heights with Amazon and Audible.

2015PaintingsThe Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan Volume 2: Beneath an Oil-Dark Sea came out and it looks great next to the previous volume. Subterranean Press does the most elegant design for their books, and Lee is grateful that collaboration with Caitlin, Bill and Yanni always yields such fine results.

OilDarkSea31Below is the latest painting for 13th Age – with pencil work by the amazing Aaron McConnell. It’s our favorite dragon painting to date.

GMScreenOnlineMiscellany:

Lee continues to attend yoga three or more times a week. After guiding Lee’s practice for more than three years, the marvelous Sarah and her husband moved to Idaho at summer’s end. It occasioned an excellent party thrown by her grateful students, but she will be much missed.

Venetia got a keyboard and enjoys playing scales on it (she swears she’ll get some YouTube tutorials this year and graduate to actually playing songs!) There were many milkshakes and crepes at one of our favorite food carts in Cartopia and due to mix-up in shake orders, Venetia has now replaced the dulce de leche shake with their strawberry shake as her new favorite. Our other favorite food cart in Portland is just around the corner and Vivi’s Yummy Rolls was especially outstanding in providing pho-to-go for Venetia’s colds this winter.

2015TreeKnown Adventures in the Coming Year:

Well it promises to be busy! These are the places we know we’ll be for sure, several conventions are still pending confirmation.

March 24-27: Norwescon in Seattle

June 30-July 3: Westercon in Portland

August 11-14: World Domination Summit in Portland

August 25-28: Bubonicon in Albuquerque NM – Lee is the Artist Guest of Honor

November 3-6: Ambercon NW

And as always, please let us know if you are in Portland! We would love to see you, show you around, put you up if you need a place to stay.