My Pal Loki

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My boy Loki passed away yesterday. I am not one to grieve in public, let alone online, but even though I have other things I could write about Loki is pretty much what I am thinking on. I miss him.

He was a very old boy. I got him in 1998, and he lived until yesterday, 07/12/14. So he was at least 16 when he passed away, but he was also full grown when I got him, so it is possible he was 17 or older. I took him to the vet a couple of years ago, and he told me Loki’s breed never lives past 11 or 12. He was some sort of Rottweiler mix… with maybe some Shepherd in there? Or he could have been a Lab mix too. His personality kind of reminded me of a Lab anyway.

I remember when I first met him at the SLC Humane Society we went out back to play ball. He was more interested in sniffing the perimeter of the fence than the tennis ball, but we still had fun and I knew he was my dog. When I went back to adopt him a few days later, he was so excited to see me he jumped into my lap and pee’d on my leg. Ha! Since then we’ve played hours and hours of Frisbee and fetch, spent years walking and hiking around, went on a few really good trips together, or just chilled out at home. He has been a constant companion for the whole 16 years I have had him. Like I say, I miss him so much.

Yesterday, after he passed, one of my other dogs came running up to me to say hello and get petted. I swear I saw Loki running up to me behind her too. But he wasn’t there. But he was. But he wasn’t. But deep down I really think he was.

I keep expecting to see him laying on his dog bed, but then remember he isn’t around anymore.

I don’t really talk about it, but I believe in reincarnation. Just a very strong feeling I have deep down in my heart. I guess me an a couple billion other people do, so I am in good company. Anyway, I guess I want to tell my boy Loki that I hope to see him again in this world, but if I don’t, I’ll look for him in the next.

I drew the picture of Loki (below) a couple of years ago. I know it is kinda cheesy, but I like it. To me, it shows Loki’s personality really very well. Plus, I remember that exact scene playing out. Loki jumping up all happy like that when a bird flew overhead.

I love ya Loki

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Chasing Ice

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esq-chasing-ice-120512-xlgI just watched a movie that I think everyone should see. A documentary called Chasing Ice. The film follows photographer James Balog and his team as they travel to and through the Arctic in order to capture on time-lapsed photography the effects of global warming and the glacial retreat. I heard a really good podcast interview with Balog a year or two ago (can’t remember which podcast though, dag-nabbit) and meant to see the film, but since it wasn’t out quite yet I guess I kind of forgot about it. This last week I saw it was on Netflix and I had to watch. I’m glad I did.

This may seem a little off-topic, but I don’t think so and its something I have felt for a long time… In my life I have come across two different mentalities and approaches to Nature pretty regularly that make no sense to me.

ChasingIce_filmstill2_by_James_Balog-Extreme_Ice_SurveySMThe first is an attitude that each of us are all too familiar with. That is, Nature is just a resource to be used, put up for sale, and exploited by man. The idea that Nature was created just to benefit our own materialistic greed actually does damage to me physically, psychically and spiritually. This approach, which has seeped into pretty much every aspect of our personal and civilized life, damages all of us. But not only us, it also damages every plant and animal we share this world with (wasn’t the world created for them too?). The idea that we can pollute the skies, fill the ocean with oil and plastic, tear and stab at the mountainside for coal, gas, and minerals, not to mention torture animals for their milk and meat… Hell, its obvious there are still some people who see other people that way too. As a resource to be exploited. Well, that attitude seems so ignorant I can’t even believe it. Its inevitable that there are consequences. Boggles the brain.

chasing iceThe other side of the coin is just as disturbing though. I’ve met many many people who sincerely believe that the world would be better off without human beings. Like we are not a part of this world, that we are somehow apart. But we belong here. I don’t mean that we have more rights than anything else to the air, land, and water, but just as much right to it at the very least.  Its a gift to each and every species that share this world. Sure, I also find it disgusting that we’ve exploited Nature too. This is a huge mistake. Whatever your beliefs, atheist, religious, nudist, we were created by Nature or God or Whatever to live here. We belong here. My feeling is we’re not a mistake. Even if you think it all happened by dumb luck and chance, I’m sure you’re still able to see how incredible it is that you can think that thought. And your ability to think that thought is one of Nature’s gifts to you. Whatever you believe, its plain to see we are Nature’s children and rely on Her for our existence, however our existence came to be.

I love Nature. You could even say that I am in love with Her. Whether its a cloud, a tree, a stream, a bird flying over my house, a mountain, another person’s face, or something that other person has created, I see Nature everywhere and She is beautiful (yeah, gotta capitalize Her beautiful name. Can’t be helped). If I don’t spend at least an hour or two every day with Her just walking up the canyon under some trees, I feel like I am going to go crazy.

chasing-ice-melting-glaciers-6I look at the human species as a whole almost in the same way I look at an individual person. That statement probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense without some long-ass explanation, and this post is already long enough. But yeah, sometimes I see our species in the same way that I see an individual. Humanity wakes up for the first time in this strange world and looks around, learns to walk, learns to talk, tries to find its place and meaning, discovers things along the way, gets a little older, and we will eventually die. I know, as an individual, I certainly have made many mistakes in my life. Collectively, we’ve also made many mistakes along the way too. But Nature still gives us Her gifts, and I do believe we can learn from our mistakes and change.

Anyway, a bit of a tangent. You may ask what all these words have to do with the documentary. Well, I guess a good documentary makes you think.

Sometimes I think I need to be more of an activist, but I know that is not my role or calling. My job is to create, to make and share these sometimes strange pictures and ideas that fill my head. But maybe there can be a blending? Anyway, I truly appreciate that there are people like James Balog trying to open peoples eyes to the damage we’ve been causing this world. His film has helped me love Nature even more.

www.chasingice.com

ted.com

upworthy.com

chasing-ice-glacier

1913 Armory Show

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"Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2" by Marcel Duchamp, 1912

“Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2″ by Duchamp, 1912

If you have an interest in early 20th Century art or follow art history news you probably know that we just passed the 100 year anniversary of the 1913 Armory Show, a.k.a. 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art. It is called the Armory show because the exhibit was first held in the U.S. Coast Guard armories in New York, although it later traveled to Chicago and Boston.

The 1913 Armory Show was really the first large scale exhibit of Modern Art in America. Although there were a number of Americans who had their work included in the show, it was probably the first time most attendees were introduced to the new artwork being created in Europe. Artists like Picasso, BraqueMatisse, Cezanne, Duchamp, Gauguin, Leger, Hopper, Bellows, Goya, Seurat, Derain, Van Gogh… and so many others as well, with more than 300 artists.

"Portrait of Mlle Pogany" by  Constantin Brancusi, 1912

“Portrait of Mlle Pogany” by Brancusi, 1912

This show was a powerhouse, and it must have been so impressive to see. Without a doubt, it changed the artistic style of many American artists and the direction of American art.

100 years ago… I would love to have been there.

artsy.net/armoryshow1913

armoryshow.si.edu

nytimes.com | Armory Show

"The Blue Nude" by Henri Matisse, 1907

“The Blue Nude” by Henri Matisse, 1907

Urban Arts Gallery

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There is a new gallery at the Gateway that everyone should stop in and visit. Last weekend was the grand opening of the new Urban Arts Galley, and I am very impressed. It is a very nice and large space showcasing a number of different artists, and currently featuring the artwork of Jimmi Toro. A lot of very nice work! You’ll also find a boutique selling all sorts of local handmade stuffz.

There are also a number of events planned for the space, including dance performances, CONNECT, Gallery Stroll, and the Urban Arts Festival. Checkity-check!

utaharts.org/locations/urban-arts-gallery

www.facebook.com/UrbanArtsGallery

TurningArt

“Raven” by Todd Powelson

Check it out… maybe you already know about TurningArt, but I really like their business model. It seems like a great new and modern way to discover new artists, and you’re even able to hang prints of those artists in your home with a monthly subscription. If you find that you like the print, you’re even able to buy the original from the artist.

If you’re an artist, its a good way to help find a larger audience. I’ve been a member and have posted my work for a few months now, and I’ve found everyone involved to be very supportive and helpful. They’ve gone out of their way to help get as many people looking at my work as possible, and the way they do it is very new and unique.

Take a look at what I have available in my TurningArt gallery, try it out, and hang it in your home :)

turningart.com/artists/artist-todd-powelson

A conversation with Megan Kennedy

“St. Six”

Please enjoy the following interview I had with Salt Lake City digital artist, photographer and author Megan Kennedy, because I know I did.

ArtDuh: I was listening to Florence and the Machine this morning and I was like, “That’s what Megan’s stuff kind of reminds me of.” Have you heard Florence’s stuff?

Megan: Yeah, yeah.

ArtDuh: [The song] “Shake it Out,” with the demons and fighting them – you have a few pieces that focus on women and it always seems like they’re going through some sort of struggle or they’re fighting, but they’re also emitting a strong sort of presence.

Megan: It’s definitely something purposeful, but still subconscious. I’ve dealt with stuff in my life that has given me the kind of perspective where it’s all just a choice. To me, where you’ve got the abyss and you’ve got life and you just kind of have to make that choice every day to which one you prefer… What it’s boiled down to for me is that I just remind myself to choose the life anytime I feel that, because depression’s a scary thing to struggle with and anybody’s who’s been through it understands how heavy that can weigh on you. So pushing off of that is kind of a constant theme in my life now, just remembering it’s not anything that’s happened to you or about you; it’s just that you’re choosing to ignore it, whatever’s causing that darkness. So it’s definitely a theme that means a lot to me.

ArtDuh: Do you personally struggle with it, or do you have people close to you that do?

Megan: Yeah, I’ve got family members that do, but I’ve definitely struggled with it since I was a young adult, so it’s been a crappy presence in my life, but something that I think, you know, you go through stuff and you become a better person on the other end.

“When I Grow Up”

ArtDuh: Where else do you draw your inspiration? Right now you have a series that you call a fossil series or a dino series; where’s that coming from?

Megan: I just restarted school and I’m going in for history. I love old things. I love just that history, and how old the world is and that there was really such a time when there weren’t any people and it’s so hard for us to wrap our minds around it. I’m just really attracted to anything that represents this thing that we can barely really understand. Just trying to picture these things walking and that we can still dig them up and how lucky it was that the right circumstances made these bones survive because otherwise we would have had no idea.  Like, how old would we have thought the world was? So, just all the questions that something that old draws to my mind, it’s definitely why I like that series so much. It’s just fun. The museums did such a good job arranging them as well, so they do get credit for the awesome way they put them up. It’s awesome to go see them.

ArtDuh: Where do you grab your images? Some of them seem so surreal. The album cover you did for Arsenic Addiction and the skull, did you have that lying around?

Megan: Yeah, so basically what I do is either I’m taking the photos or just use them from stock photography (so people that take these pictures and then sell them or give them out for artists like me to utilize them). So, if there’s something I can’t take a picture of like, you know, I’m not in Europe, so there’s no way I can get a medieval castle around here to shoot, so luckily there’s these awesome photographers who take these shots for artists like me. And they’re artists in their own right, really. But usually I grab from that or pictures I’ve taken, pictures friends have taken, things like that. It’s almost a mixed medium, but not really.

ArtDuh: Do you work with other mediums?

Megan: I’m not a very good draftsman. I started school for art first before I switched over to history and it’s just, I love photography, I love the digital arts, but it doesn’t really translate to traditional forms. I’d really love to know how to paint and do it well, but that’s probably for another time.

ArtDuh: Are you self-taught?

Megan: Pretty much. I took those few classes at the University of Utah and it was 3D art, 2D art, and a kind of instruction drawing type thing. It wasn’t digitally focused. But no, pretty much self-taught. Like, I found this stuff, and it’s funny because I’ve never been into art, but when I was a teenager and going through probably the darkest period that I referred to earlier, writing… I’m a big writer, I’ve written my whole life, but it wasn’t doing the trick as far as therapy. So I found deviantART, I found dark art, and it was so new and it’s expression of darkness and how they were doing was exactly what I was looking for. And so it just compelled me to start trying to build my own.

ArtDuh: I find that fascinating because I don’t know if I’m drawn to making art in the way that I need it as an outlet for emotion.

Megan: It definitely is for me. I have a hard time processing emotion really just as a person, I think. I just get really uncomfortable with feelings, I don’t like them. That pushed-down stuff, this is where it comes out and I’m grateful for it; it’s really awesome the stuff that comes out. You know, watching people buy it at festivals, it’s just cool to actually connect with people and it’s a different kind of emotional connection and one that’s actually not uncomfortable for me.

ArtDuh: So when you’re at these festivals, what does it feel like when someone shows an appreciation for your art?

Megan: It’s powerful. It’s an acceptance. For somebody who has such a hard time connecting with people, it means a lot. Because I think especially dark artists or digital artists… every artist suffers some sort of rejection even in their art. So to have people like the one where it says, “When I grow up I want to eat the weak;” I made that as this dark joke, and I can’t believe the amount of people that responded to it, like old women and moms that buy it for their kids’ rooms and people want to put it in their office all the time. For something that was just a dark joke that usually some people would criticize me for and to have so many people just laugh at it with me, it’s just cool. It’s given me a whole new perspective on people. It’s hard not to judge people, but it gives me a whole new perspective on people who I would have never thought were into that. It kind of opened my eyes in how much art can affect people. There were people I otherwise would never have talked to, probably, because we share no interests, but in that one moment we shared that same joke.

“Wildling”

ArtDuh: You said you weren’t really attracted to art in the first place. Tell me about that.

Megan: Yeah, as a little kid, it was mostly science. Science and history. I’ve always been fascinated with history. I suck with numbers, but I can remember eras and I love storytelling. I’ve loved books my whole life. I don’t know, my brother was always (he’s not the hugest artist or anything now) the one doodling around or sketching and he was all very good at it. So we just always kind of thought he was the artist and then just this transition happened. (I enjoy art, especially CD covers, that’s kind of what got me into it. I love the art that comes with music.) But until I got this digital medium where, not that it was any easier to learn than say painting or traditional mode, but just whatever it was spoke to me as a person and the way my brain operated and it was easy for me to finally translate that stuff. For somebody that has never been that artistic outside of writing, it was a really awesome thing to discover that I could do. But yeah, logic brain, that’s where I’m comfortable.

ArtDuh: Do you incorporate history into your art?

Megan: I try to, yeah. I’ve always dabbled in the idea of doing some flat-out historical piece. But there’s something very flat about it, the way I’m approaching it, so if I can hit it in the right way, then absolutely. I got really into paganism the last couple of  semesters, just learning about what these religions  really were. I’ve incorporated a lot of that lately into my art. But yeah, if I can find the right, reason to use it, I will.

ArtDuh: What else do you do for work?

Megan: I work part-time, day job at a pet store. I love animals. I’m about to start school again at the University of Utah. I’d love to expand my degree into archeology so I can actually dig this stuff up and study it but for right now it’s about getting the degree first. I work for SLUG Magazine, and I’m covering Napalm Flesh which is the heavy metal side. It’s super awesome because I’ve been a metal head for a long time so it’s cool to be a part of the community. I’ve got the art and then the writing. I’ve had a couple things published and I’m working on novels and things like that. It’s fun. I like hobbies.

ArtDuh: I saw that you also photograph for SLUG, too?

Megan: I’m on the photography team, technically, but it’s mostly writing. I started with writing, and then I went and covered Mayhem Fest and they had an extra camera. Shooting bands is one of my favorite things to do. It’s so cool to watch people in their element and capture that happiness. And they’re never like that off-stage, it’s just that one moment.

ArtDuh: How did you get the inspiration for the album cover?

Megan: That was so much fun, because I was struggling. I’ve done their album art before. This was the first time where they were like, “We’re not going to be on the cover as a band. We don’t need to do any photography and this is all up to you. We’re just letting you do this. We trust you.” It was a lot of pressure. I don’t even remember my whole original idea, but it was something totally different and then I just thought, “You know, let’s just do something crazy.” And so I’d been working on it for 3 or 4 weeks already and it was so frustrating because it didn’t feel right. (And I’ve been getting better as the years go by, recognizing when it doesn’t feel right and to just abandon it. It’s hard to do that when you’ve been working on it for 15 hours already.) The one that came up, that album cover, I did that in 5 or 6 hours in a night because it just hit. It was something about the way the woman’s body was bent. It was such a dramatic expression. It came together and I got the colors right and I decided to make it that foreground focus thing because it felt like you were coming upon something that you weren’t supposed to see. It just popped.

ArtDuh: Tell me about your book.

Megan: It’s a horror novel. It started as a frustration project to get some emotions out, basically. I’m way into zombies, I’m way into horror picture. And more than that I’ve got this super fascination with anti-heroes and what means good and bad and the whole apocalyptic world view. You always wonder what would happen if it really did happen and what would the remainder of humanity be like. And the zombie movies, they’re entertaining, but it’s all of these good guys, these people that survived by banding together and everything. But nobody does a movie about just the bad guys. That’s who I think would survive; it would be a world of the worst people ever, because they would be cold enough to survive. So that’s the perspective I came from and I have a huge soft spot for the South, so I set it in New Orleans  so I could have some fun with that. And I just started building this story about this jerk drifter that’s the worst kind of survivor and coming across others who are just as bad as him.

I’ve had more downloads than they say you should expect as an indie e-book person. If it gets my name out there, awesome, but I have plenty of writing to do, so I’m not too worried.

Thanks, Megan! Look for Megan’s art at

duskblood.tumblr.com

facebook.com/abuseofreason

and her E-book, “Bury Me In Smoke” at Barnes and Noble.

Also, find more of Megan’s writings under her other name, Megan Dipo.

Introducing the fascinating Megan Kennedy

“Communion with the Damned,” album cover for metal band, Arsenic Addiction

“Ghost in the Trees”

Megan Kennedy’s art is the sort I respect. My own artistic endeavors tend to be bright and “clean,” so when my eyes meet a piece of artwork I wouldn’t naturally create myself, I can’t help but stare. There’s something deeply human about experiencing raw, dark art. I feel more comfortable opening up to people when I realize there are others out there who have emotions, too. That they’ve experienced emotions that may have been more intense than I’ve ever felt.

Recently, I had the opportunity and pleasure of speaking with Megan about her work and our conversation was a fascinating peek into her world. Please stay tuned for the complete interview. For now, here’s a preview with her thoughts about her piece “Funeral Girl.”

“Funeral Girl”

ArtDuh: You said on your Facebook that Funeral  Girl is one of your most popular pieces.

Megan: I don’t know what the deal is in that. You don’t see it in a lot of movies anymore, but just the funeral thing with all the black umbrellas… there’s something just so visceral about that. It’s just such a haunting representation that you don’t even have to put in a dead body or a coffin and people know what that is. You’ve seen movies where ghosts are following kids around and things like that, but just that kind of perspective, where it’s like what would that do to a little person if she had that heaviness following her around? I just found the perfect little girl and I like that she’s all Victorian; it kind of added another layer to it, a seriousness to it. Yeah, people responded to that one. It was another surprise because it is dark. Especially with little kids, it’s always sketchy because you have to make sure you’re getting your point across the right way.