“Calendar Boys”: A “Lost” Installation Refound

Calendar Boy 1

When we moved from Bodrum to Foça last May, I had the task of cleaning out my studio. It hadn’t had a good spring cleaning in around 10 years, and being a natural pack-rat (a  good characteristic for someone who makes collages, but a bad one for someone with a small studio space), I found some things I didn’t even know I had.

One of those things was a series of photographs of an installation I had done while I was at Hacettepe, back in the days before smartphones and wifi, when people still took photographs with cameras that had film and that you could hold in your hands and shuffle around to look at. (Didn’t that used to be fun?)

I am happy to have rediscovered this piece. It was installed in a room/alcove near the entrance to the university’s faculty/grad-student cafeteria. The actual cafeteria was upstairs, but the line to get in was so long that it went all the way down a flight of steps and past my exhibit – so it was as if I had professors and grad students lining up for my exhibit nearly every day!

I have no memory of a title, but I hope that I named it “Calendar Boys”.  At any rate, that’s what I’m calling it now. It consisted of a bed covered in pink plush, with a pink plush pillow, pink plus slippers, and a pink plush-covered book hanging over the bed, which was sitting in the middle of the gallery/alcove that opened on to the “lunch line”.  The back wall was all windows, and on the other two walls I hung 12 framed black-and-white photos (6 on each wall) of classical Greek and Roman statues – all male nudes.

The installation was set up to encourage people to walk around and look at the photos on the walls

Calendar Boy 4

and then to lie down on the bed and look at the pictures in the book.

Calendar Boy 3

The pictures in the book were the exact same pictures that were on the walls, except that I had coloured the ones in the book (with a bit of sepia-toned and watercolour photoshopping) to make them look “more realistic”.

Calendar Boy 5

Basically, the book was my version of a “pin-up calendar” – except for women: “Twelve Months, Twelve Naked Men”.

Calendar Boy 6

(There are 10 more, but these should be enough for you to get the idea.)

As with most of my work, this installation had more questions than answers.  The ones I started out with were:

“Why are ‘nude’ statues ‘art’, and ‘naked’ pictures ‘pornography’? Or is that even true?” and “Why is it ‘normal’ to look at pictures of nude/naked women, but ‘not normal’ to look at pictures of nude/naked men?”

After the piece was installed, I had another question:

“Was anyone actually looking at it? And if so, who?”

Since I couldn’t be hanging out unobtrusively in the background every minute of the entire week of the exhibit, that question was going to be hard to answer. Luckily, I was able to get some feedback from the gentleman responsible for managing the activities in the building – who, it turned out, was also very curious about the exhibit, and who was better placed than I was to be able to keep an eye on what was going on in the gallery space (and who was also kind enough to let me take his photograph while he was lying in the pink plush bed, wearing a pair of pink plush slippers, looking at the “Calendar Boys”).

According to my informant (I no longer remember his name), although not so many people were as inclined as he was to enjoy the comforts of pink plush, quite a lot of people – mostly women, and mostly when the lunch line was gone, so there was no one watching – were going up and looking at the pictures on the walls, and then opening up the pink plush book for inspection…. (Note to myself: If I ever recreate this piece, I will have to use a bigger bed, so that the only way to get a hold of that book is to get into bed with it.)

Calendar Boy 2

“Top 10 Ideas From Amongst Which At Least 1 Must Be Chosen Before Another Idea Is Had”

P2

You may have noticed that I haven’t written anything in a while, and that I haven’t posted any pictures of nice-and-shiny artwork, or even rough-and-tumble work-in-progress.

Of course, you may not have noticed, because you were busy doing things in the actual, three-dimensional world rather than (how shall I put this?) “spending time enjoying your vibrant, virtual community”.

Although you could be forgiven for assuming that my not posting can be chalked up to my “spending time enjoying my vibrant, virtual community”, you would be mistaken.

In fact, I have also been busy working.

And not just in the dosh-producing sense of the word, but also in the “production of creative material” sense of the word – although mostly, in the “travelling” and “thinking” senses of the word.

Yes, travelling counts as “creative work”, in the same sense that “research on background” and “sketching” count as creative work. In my case, I like to think that it especially counts, because in addition to just taking the opportunity to refresh the eyes and this sorry old brain with new sensory information, I use the time travelling to take photographs that I use the same way that some artists use sketches – and on occasion I even sit down and do some old-fashioned sketching myself.

Portugal - View from the restaurant 1

Thinking also belongs in the “creative work” box. Despite what some people think. (Here I must interject a memory: While visiting a friend at Hacettepe University one day many years ago, I got involved in a conversation that ended in a now-well-known contemporary Turkish conceptual artist explaining to me, “But Deborah, she (a now-well-known contemporary Turkish painter) isn’t a conceptual artist, so she doesn’t need to have an idea.”

On the other hand, even I sometimes “live too much in my head” and forget that just thinking about a thing doesn’t actually get the thing done. (In that way, “art” is a lot like doing laundry and cleaning the house…) So, when that lightbulb-reminder went off in my head again yesterday, I decided that I was not allowed to have any more ideas until I use up the ones I already have. These include:

1. Sitting down in my studio and doing some more oil pastels of people in the water, using the photos I took in Georgia, Portugal, and the Turkish Mediterranean coast as sketches.

more surfers

1a. “Shooting” some video interviews of people and their relationships to the water that I can edit to use in an installation with the above-mentioned drawings; interviews to include “individuals who attempted to migrate from Turkey to Greece by sea”.

2. Writing and illustrating a children’s book about “The Adventures of Yellow Dog”. In it, the erstwhile Yaprak is transformed into a doggie who had to leave her home for reasons she is too young to understand, but ends up making friends with a chicken and learning to swim.

2a. And then there’s the sequel, “Yellow Dog and Her Friends”, in which Yellow Dog and her chicken-friend, over much objection from their families, end up visiting one another at their respective homes – and nobody gets eaten.

3. Going back and doing some large (for me) oil-stick drawings like the ones in the “swimmer” series I had started a few years ago and then had to abandon because “the princesses” had taken over my “outdoor studio” so there was no room to work out there anymore.

4. A “film project”. (I have this “wild hare” of an idea to organize a festival, or something, of films on “cultural heritage”… please don’t steal this one…)

5. Paint some more wooden furniture. (This is not as easy as it sounds – if you place the emphasis on “wooden” – because everything these days seems to be made of pressboard and the like. Boo-hoo.)

6. Continue making temporary trash sculptures. (This one should be pretty easy; there’s a lot of trash out there.)

7. Something to do with food! (I’m not there yet…)

8. An illustrated travel book…

Portugal - View from the restaurant 2

9. Painting a mural on the top row of kitchen cupboards. (This was agreed with my husband before we got new kitchen cupboards. The choice was not between whether to paint or not, but between what to paint: 1. Beach scene; 2. Abstract painting of the vastness of the universe, with lots of gold leaf and light blue; 3. Tropical paradise. And the winner is… “3, Tropical Paradise”!

10. Two paintings (oil stick on plywood, 40x40cm, of flower blossoms on a mainly black background with a lot of line drawing done in gold leaf) “commissioned” by my husband in return for making him not hang a painting in a spot that I didn’t want it to be hung in.

There.
A list of 10.
A nice, round number.
“Top 10 Ideas From Amongst Which At Least 1 Must Be Chosen Before Another Idea Is Had”

Valentine’s Day Open Studio

little wc books 3 f

So, a friend of mine mentioned an artist she read about who was trying to survive on donations she was soliciting as a means of support for her art-making. I’m guessing that if she’s doing this through a crowdfunding web site, she’s “giving away” pieces of artwork as “gifts” to the folks making these donations. I suppose that was what I was doing when I put the Ottoman Princess fundraising campaing on Indiegogo. It allowed me basically to pay the costs of making an installation piece that is not “saleable” by getting support from people who were ostensibly “buying in” to the concept/aim of the Princess Piece.

For Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d just go the route of crash commercialism – in the spirit of the holiday – and open up my studio for people who might want to browse… and shop.
And maybe get a glass of pink wine as well. (In Marxian terms, I suppose a glass of pink wine and a little notebook could be considered equal in exchange value.

little wc books 1 f

Or is it use value? I never was a very good Marxist.

On the other hand, I’m pretty good at telling fortunes, which I found to be a very good way to get people to look carefully at art.

dur

And so I’ll be doing that at the Open Studio this Saturday as well. No charge.

I suppose I could take a line from one of those fake gypsys in their below-the-sidewalk lairs and announce, “I see a beautiful work of art entering your house to make you very happy…”

And then invite someone to look at this marvelous wardrobe, handpainted with an image from one of our favorite beach retreats, and announce that I do commissioned furniture pieces as well…

DEBORAH_DOLAP_2

But mainly, the Valentine’s Day Open Studio is just a way to catch up with old friends

Deborah 2a

and get better acquainted with some new ones

Water Pastel 090216

Happy Valentine’s Day!

(For directions to the studio, just leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you.)

Wisteria Books

So, I made these books last month, see?

little wc books 3 blittle wc books 3 f

Back when the wisteria was in full bloom here in Bodrum.

Here we call it “Mor Salkım” – in other words, “Hanging Purple”.

Boy, it was just hanging all over – I even followed Fadime’s advice and made some Wisteria Jam –

believe it, or not.

little wc books 4 flittle wc books 4 b

I just collected a bunch from my friend’s wisteria vine – which I sat in front of all day drawing,

back on one of the first nice days of spring/summer.

And I had such a good time making these little notebooks (fronts, backs, and in-betweens),
I thought I’d make some more.

So I went down to the seaside to draw.

little wc books 1 f little wc books 2 b little wc books 2 f

That was back just before ‘the season’ started.

That is the most deceptive time of year.
So many of us out there, artists, trying to figure out ‘what to make to sell to the tourists.’Frankly, I make some pretty nice stuff. But as any successful salesperson will tell you,
‘A good product is not enough.’

And as I could tell you, (and often have, probably), I lack the ‘salesman gene’. (I mean, check out
my Etsy Shop; no, wait: I haven’t gotten around to maintaining that since… wait, I’m thinking, since…)

Well, I guess I was just having such a good time making these little books, and I thought they were

SO NICE,

that I just ‘plum forgot’ that I’d likely never be able to sell them – or at least not at a price that
would make it worth my while to sit down and make ’em as ‘business’. Fun is fun, and making a dozen or so
little notebooks for no money is fun; but making like a hundred or so? No Fun.

So, now, I’ve got these little notebooks, see?

little digiprint notebooks 1

And I’ been thinkin’, I ain’t gonna make any more of them, see?

little digiprint notebooks 2

So – should I give them away as presents? (Could do…)
Or should they get themselves turned into an installation, somehow? (Could do…)

If I sent ya a notebook, would you write in it? (Maybe…)
Maybe even send it back to me so I could read it? (Maybe…)

Hmmm….

The Little Book of Dirt

The Little Book of Dirt

From “the psudo-science microbiology” comes…

“The Little Book of Dirt”

or, why we all need to remember to wash our hands,

and perhaps not head for that box of poison

to get rid of those pesky little varmints in our garden,

especially when (we read that) coca-cola will do the trick…

whos in my dirtWhos in my dirt accrdnWhos in my dirt 1 Whos in my dirt  2 Whos in my dirt  3 Whos in my dirt  4

The end.