Bags of Crap Part 1 {The Dark Side of Good Ideas}

Bags of Crap Part 1 {The Dark Side of Good Ideas}

The bane of existence is too much crap to deal with. I get really stressed out by having more to do than I can do. So, let me tell you about a problem I’ve been living with for a few years that is the result of a great idea becoming so overwhelming it calcified into total execution paralysis with a heaping helping of hoarding. If you’ve read my last few posts you know I am not one for excess stuff so what exactly went wrong?

While walking the dogs I collect things that might be useful for making sidewalk faces. Even though I pick up very little on any given day, over time it adds up. It might take me a few months to notice but at some point, while rifling through a tornado of plastic poop bags for that blue marble I’m sure is in there somewhere, I come to realize the bag is full to the brim with disintegrating plant matter, bits of plastic headed towards a terrible end our ancestors will curse us for, sharp sticks and rusty nails (thank goodness for tetanus shots I tell myself when I put yet another rusty garden staple into the bag. I do worry I’ll forget it’s there and puncture my skin, but they make such great noses!).

For example: Below are the contents of my bag from November 2017. That doesn’t seem like much stuff to me now but it’s enough junk to make locating any specific item difficult.

Three years ago I do a simple act and dump the contents of this messy satchel onto a white table for sorting. No big deal. Easy peasy. Being the type of artist I am, I make a face. Then several faces. It was really fun because there was so much to work with. I posted some photos to Instagram stories and thought maybe I’ll make this a regular part of the practice.

Did you spot the big paralyzing idea? In addition to making multiple faces a week, color correcting, writing up captions, sharing on Instagram and occasionally blogging about it, I will now also never ever clean out a sidewalk face/dog walk bag without making a whole bunch of new faces and sharing them on social media. Honestly it seemed like a good idea at the time. It is a good idea. But it’s also an idea that necessitates a ton of work. It’s not a thing you can just dash off.

I did it again four months later, felt good about the results and kept stuffing my bag with items.

For a while the bag was filled with wonderfully useful material all organized into easy access containers such as the little Altoid boxes above. But some things resist being contained such as a four foot long bicycle chain. Surely that would make an awesome face outline, right? It’s pretty heavy, should we pick it up? You bet! It’s greasy, should we put it in the bag? Pop it in a poop bag first! Just do it! You’ll be glad you did.

With this type of positive attitude the bag quickly came to weigh 7 lbs and I was growing tired of lugging it around. The pleasure of abundance was feeling more and more like obligation. I desperately wanted to thin out the contents but…do you see where this is going?…I would have to make a whole day of it. I would have to film the process and make art and do stuff I theoretically want to do but don’t actually want to do. The bag got heavier and heavier.

I don’t know exactly when, because who marks on a calendar, today’s the day I give up, I left the heavy-laden bag at home and grabbed an empty one. I have two beautiful handmade leather satchels and I started using the 2nd one. I used her until she filled up. Then I started using a fabric bag that’s older than my 16 year old son. When that one was growing obese I started to worry. My storage closet floor was home to these two hibernating bags of crap and they were crowding out the vacuum cleaner. It’s not like there is another place I can put the vacuum cleaner. But the bags couldn’t be properly put away because they were full of stuff that needed to be dealt with. Artistically dealt with. What the what?! There is a dark side to having good ideas.

In Bags of Crap Part 2 I will show you how I recently got out from under this crushing conundrum. I did what I said I would do. I cleaned out the bags and made faces. In Bags of Crap Part 3 you will get to see a giant face made from a rusty bicycle chain, one made from a broken car mirror and one made from a Prada business card. Are you trembling in anticipation! Was it all worth it? Stay tuned! Part two coming next Tuesday October 19th.

Making Art is Like Organizing Cooked Spaghetti Part 2

Making Art is Like Organizing Cooked Spaghetti Part 2

Can’t believe you missed part 1, the essay everyone is talking about even though it was written 5 years ago. Link at the bottom. Catch up!

While looking through old posts, this title made me smile. Yep! That still sounds right. I think I will elaborate.

Let’s start with the point of it all, as in is there one? Is there ever a good or necessary reason to organize cooked spaghetti? I can’t think of one. Just put it on the plate and eat, right? I’ve never thought of my belly as an organizational device before but sure, that’s a good if temporary place to store cooked noodles while we strip them of nutrients. Otherwise, if there is too much, put it in Tupperware. It’s organized in the sense that it’s not co-mingling with other leftovers and I can find it again. But if I had to organize it strand by strand, it would be really hard and seem pointless. Just like art!

I think you know I don’t really find art pointless but surely you have had the experience of looking hard for this particular point and having a hard time locating it. Art is so messy and irrational. Art is mysterious and defiant. Art is useless and compelling. Art is strange and upsetting. Art is for eating, not for organizing. Art is for contemplation not for transaction.

It may be more accurate to say that justifying art making is like organizing limp noodles. It’s so easy to cook spaghetti and it’s pretty to listen to music and draw in a little book or make a face out of an evaporating water splotch on the sidewalk. The harder job to say explain to one’s self why this is a reasonable acitivity. To formulate a coherent, satisfying and convincing argument for why this process should be repeated over and over. To give one’s self a satisfactory explanation for why the resources of time and money are being used to fund so much unnecessary visual detritus.

Let’s say you did organize the heck out of those gelatinous strands of cooked Italian dough. Then what?! Would you be excited if someone very close to you, such as your very own self, informed you it would now become a regular part of the work week. Maybe.

Making the art is easy, understanding the art is hard. Justifying the art is impossible.

I make art because I don’t know how else to deal with reality.