30 November 2008

Craftsexy, Pt. 1

This year I worked the door, giving people little blue x's if they wanted to leave and reenter the premises. Hundreds of people came, economic downturn notwithstanding. Perhaps it was this very economic downturn that caused the surely overtaxed-though-dizzy-with-relief-just-not-to-be-laid-off writer at the no doubt terrified-by-economic-downturn-and-therefore-cutting-costs
Journal Sentinel to mistakenly report the event was free. Who has time for the costly measures of, you know, checking last year's stories or, like, peeping the Art v. Craft website in the tense post-economic downturn newsroom?

At any rate, I enjoyed this year's event much more. I met Max Estes, the soon-to-be-no-longer-local cartoonist and creator of My Life As a Bunny. (He's moving to Norway.) It's obviously not his fault--but I expected him to be more cuddly. But a man who frequently features his cats in his work obviously has a great deal going for him. Max also has two books out Hello, Again and Coffee and Donuts. I also saw Milwaukee art scene It Boy Colin Matthes, Josie Osbourne, Melissa and JW Buchanan of The Little Friends, and several of the usual scenester suspects. I got a look at Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design, which features Michigander Melissa Dettloff. Yay!

I was impressed by three vendors in particular. Rustbelt Fiberwerks hails from right here in the Riverwest 'hood in Milwaukee. Artist Leah Parkhurst, who has a BFA from UWM, crafts items like t-shirts, aprons, and placemats. Her work is charming and affordable. She has an etsy site, of course.

Skirts by Orangyporangy of Madison are dead cute! It's not just polyester anymore, girls! The designer Natalie makes dresses and tops now, too.

I love ceramics and wish I did them myself. So, it stands to reason I would love Chicago's Circa Ceramics. Made by Nancy Pizarro and Andy Witt, their wares come in candy store colors and feature retro-y graphics. I bought the magnet in the photo above for a typewriter-loving friend. Their ceramics are also available at the store at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

All in all, I enjoyed myself immensely. I saw all different kinds of people there, including two men--one of them Packers-jacketed--and a little boy and several middle-aged women. So, it's like people are starting to think, Yeah, this is a Milwaukee thing.

12 November 2008

Folk Universe

Vetiver goes on tour next month--opening for, um, The Black Crowes on some dates--in support of their new record Thing of the Past. They will be in Milwaukee Dec. 7 at the Eagles Ballroom/Club/Whatever. Friend of Church of Style and cellist Alissa Anderson will be on the road with them. So, uh, you know how that goes...

11 November 2008

They're A Band

Sweated by the likes of Spin magazine, Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino, of the eponymous Brooklyn duo Matt and Kim, are playing a free all ages show in Madison this coming Saturday at Union South. Check them out.

10 November 2008

Let Your Folk Flag Fly

This past Friday Texan alt-country chanteuse and fiddler extraordinaire Carrie Rodriguez performed at the Pabst--bringing along an excellent backing band, which included an utterly scruptious (oh, and talented) guitar player. A maturing songwriter and instrumentalist, she is also a winsome vocalist.

Rodriguez definitely has the ear, so to speak, of NPR, and the Pabst crowd tellingly skewed toward the middle-aged, one that remained emphatically seated--no matter how irresistibly rollicking the tune. Nonetheless, it took me back to my girl-with-guitar music college days.

Hopefully, though, any demographic can enjoy excellent musicianship. My favorite tunes included "Dirty Leather" and "St. Peter's." Her set list, as far as I was able to discern, is as follows:

1. Dirty Leather
2. Seven Angels on a Bicycle
3. Infinite Night
4. Absence
5. Grace
6. 50's French Movie
7. I Don't Want To Play House Anymore
8. Waterbound
9. Let Me In
10. Steal Your Love (Lucinda Williams)
11. She Ain't Me
12. Confessions
13. You Won't Be Satisfied That Way
14. El Salvador
15. Rag Doll
16. Never Gonna Be Your Bride
17. La Puñalada Trapera
1. ??
2. St. Peter's

Photo by Courtney Becks

03 November 2008

Karma Neighborhood Watch

I was walking around Riverwest yesterday afternoon and starting singing "Ooh, Child." (I'd heard the Beastie Boys' "Intergalactic" earlier.) I'm currently looking for a job, so I was singing to myself. It occurred to me, though, that I was singing to all of us. At this point in our political and economic history, we all need to believe things will get easier, brighter.

We need Obama to win. I, like many people, have been almost too afraid to hope! We've seen Republicans lie, cheat, and steal their way to two presidential elections in as many election cycles. It's their specialty by now. Why would they stop this year? If we hope in Obama, and--god forbid!!--we don't win, there seems nothing to do but tumble headlong into the abyss of despair and bitterness. But we have to hope. We have to be able to imagine the better world.

It is perhaps true that certain populations look on Barack Obama as if he were nothing less than a savior--in every sense of the word. That may or may not be a bit co-dependent, but I say to you there is nothing not revolutionary about a Black man as President of the United States. No one familiar with this country's history would suggest otherwise. Obama as President will not wipe out the pain of the country's unjust history by any means, but--by his very existence as a biracial man who is Black and white--we could begin to bring racism's affect on our past and present out into the open. We could talk about it, and, yea, begin to lay our heavy burdens down.

I sat writing this blog post waiting for the 5PM service to begin at the First Unitarian Society in Milwaukee. Imagine my surprise when I heard the sounds of a song from my last year of college being practiced by the pianist in the sanctuary. "Karma Police" just got me where I live. So, today and tomorrow, I'm going to be praying this prayer: Please, please, please, you've got to help us. Please help us. We're scared.

Photo from huffingtonpost.com.

01 November 2008


Today I made the earrings pictured above at a really fun and interesting enameling workshop at UWM's Studio Arts and Crafts Centre. I'm glad I went. Everyone really got into it, which was really great--cuz sometimes people are like, Eh, whatever. This is stupid, infuriating many and ruining the class for some. Maybe because of the rising popularity of crafting and the theory couched therewithin? It's just so satisfying to actually make something, you know? One of the editors of Art Jewelry was also there--and I gave her one of the CoS buttons.

The people staffing the Arts and Crafts Centre were art education majors. I admire art education folk so much. Artists are such clever people, problem-solvers, really. They get such a bad rap; I mean, people think it's expendable or not serious, but art majors have serious skills. They can build shit, paint shit, make posters, make jewelry, draw, etc--which are obviously absolutely essential.