Friday, April 25, 2008

Balducci's Might Be Run By Morons

This afternoon I went to Balducci's to use a deli coupon to buy a couple of sandwiches and quickly learned that I cannot do that, which confused me. I naturally assumed from my experiences getting sandwiches at delis at several grocery stores in the Midwest and New England that this was common: ya' want a sandwich? Go to the deli! In fact, if I recall from living in Brooklyn, if I wanted to get, say, a Rueben, I could walk to a neighborhood deli and order a Rueben. Not a grocery store, mind you. An actual business called a d-e-l-i wherein they make s-a-n-d-w-i-c-h-e-s.

This is not the case at Balducci's on New Mexico Avenue in Washington, DC. In the deli department you can get your "deli sliced meats." The deli department does not make sandwiches; those are made by the sandwich department which may or may not be in the prepared foods department. I'm going out on a limb here, but I have a feeling the sandwich department gets its meat from the deli department.

The objects I most wanted to purchase from the deli are pictured on the right of the coupon. Pictured: Sandwiches! However, sandwiches are not "sold by the deli," as I was informed by the clerk. "They are sold by the sandwich department." Therefore, the sandwiches I wanted to buy, the sandwiches pictured on the coupon, were not valid purchase items.

Apparently there is a glitch in their system - or departments just don't talk to one another. For example, if I were to buy a sandwich it might get rung up under prepared foods. If I were to buy cream it would go to the dairy. If I purchased a hunk of Fontina cheese, it goes to the cheese department (yes... I know... that's a dairy product, but not a product sold by the diary department). So, when the graphics people in the marketing department make the coupons that go to John Q. Public (or, in this case, John J. Anderson), they don't know the ins and outs of sales. So, if there is going to be a special in the deli, why not represent that deli transaction with a sandwich? After all... IT JUST MAKES SENSE!

That is, of course, unless you are handling the sales, which is run by Major Major from Catch-22.

Maj. Major Major Major: Sergeant, from now on, I don't want anyone to come in and see me while I'm in my office. Is that clear?
First Sgt. Towser: Yes, sir? What do I say to people who want to come in and see you while you're gone?
Maj. Major Major Major: Tell them I'm in and ask them to wait.
First Sgt. Towser: For how long?
Maj. Major Major Major: Until I've left.
First Sgt. Towser: And then what do I do with them?
Maj. Major Major Major: I don't care.
First Sgt. Towser: May I send people in to see you after you've left?
Maj. Major Major Major: Yes.
First Sgt. Towser: You won't be here then, will you?
Maj. Major Major Major: No.
First Sgt. Towser: I see, sir. Will that be all?
Maj. Major Major Major: Also, Sergeant, I don't want you coming in while I'm in my office asking me if there's anything you can do for me. Is that clear?
First Sgt. Towser: Yes, sir. When should I come in your office and ask if there's anything I can do for you?
Maj. Major Major Major: When I'm not there.
First Sgt. Towser: What do I do then?
Maj. Major Major Major: Whatever has to be done.
First Sgt. Towser: Yes, sir.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Graffiti Research Lab: Art Happens

Though the adult in me finds Borf to be a nuisance for the defacement of property, the artist in me has always found his "tags" - on a graphic level - to be very compelling (even if his stuff is a tad derivative of Banksy and Fairy). And there is something in me that wishes I had the chutzpah to do the street art that might be deemed as "destructive." For instance, with the plethora of exhausted fire hydrants in DC I wouldn't see a problem if several of these tripping posts could be adorned with gold leaf (like the icons of city mismanagement that they are). Unfortunately, I think the po-po would find my amused interest otherwise. To this date, apart from the occasional moving violation, I don't have a record... I'd like to keep it that way.

So, we have the Graffiti Research Lab, empowering persons of various persuasions to post non-destructive marks of creative interest on whatever surface they so desire. After all, they can be easily removed and have no permanent effect (or defect) to the surfaces they adorn. They are made with projections, or magnets stuck to metal. In the case of Mark Jenkins - tape.

A philosophy of mine is that "Art Happens." This has two meanings, and both happen outside the gallery environment, which are warehouses of art that has already happened. The first is a transformative experience that occurs when an individual stumbles upon something "out of the ordinary." Typically, the out-of-the-ordinary physical object placed in the environment that forces a person to pause and reflect. Graffiti does this, whether it is classically painted onto a surface (Borf, Basquiat, Banksy or anyone else whose name starts with B) or whether it is a sculpture of tape.

The other way art happens is when we project meaning onto an otherwise mundane object or event. Think: the videos of the floating bag from the movie American Beauty. In either event, if we allow it, Art forces us to engage our perspective of our surroundings: physical, social, aesthetic, etc. It allows us to assess everything between our known knowns and our unknown unknowns.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

USDAT activities on Boing Boing

The one downside to working for a fictitious government entity is knowing (or not knowing) if there are others out there silently plodding away on their own agendas. While I can only assume Billy Kluver, Under Secretary for the Bureau of Reality, is probing the after life for ways of making technological bridges back to our world, most activities of the US Department of Art & Technology, to the best of my understanding, are only being concocted within a few blocks of my apartment.

But today I learned of (Trade) Mark Gunderson and his Artistic License. (Here is a permanent link to his enterprise.) Neither of us are listed as staff in the Department, so I have no clue what his role is. But, it's entertaining, just the same.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I blogged too soon: grant award from DCCAH

Tuesday afternoon the fat letter from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities arrived, awarding me with my second (and final) Young Artist Project grant award. (Rejection letters are typically thin because they do not have all the additional tax paper work that needs to be filed upon acceptance).

The proposal was to create visually interesting work (for the bulk of us) that was also aesthetically interesting to the visually impaired.

The project proposal stems from a student I interviewed at American University (Paul) who is blind. The intention of that interview was to create a sort of video documentary/profile to gain some understanding - as a sighted individual - about how the world is perceived when blind. However, what I was learning in the course of the interview became far more interesting than a video piece. I knew, going into the interview, that Paul played saxophone in a jazz group, and was also a very talented classical pianist, so he did have some appreciation for the arts. But, part of what interested me was when he told me about experiencing the Torqued Ellipses and other serpentine sculptures of Richard Serra.

Every time I go to the National Gallery I marvel at Serra's steel sculpture that, if installed improperly, will kill the preparator. It's a piece that really cannot be felt like one of his Torqued Ellipse (at least, I'm not brave enough to touch it). You can walk through the ellipse and it will affect how you hear the space. If you are prodding through it with a white cane, it will also affect the dimensions of your boundaries - for example the wall might meet the floor over there, but every time I walk there I bump my head.

Think of how many other works of fine art can be experienced like that? Pieces that are heard and touched - as well as seen. My grant from DCCAH will fund a few pieces that should affect at least three of our five senses.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Read the Fine Print

After completing another application for a Small Project grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities I found the one line that may explain my last few project proposals getting rejected. "Priority will be given to applications who have not received grant funds from the DC Arts Commission within the past five years."

Of course... maybe it has something to do with my last few proposals funding the Graviton - my project which will pull the moon out of its orbit, closer to the earth.

Who knows?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

When it rains it pours.

Confirmed today - August is going to be a busy month of exhibiting.
Future posts will depict images of the Virginia work.