Issue One: A Blank Stare Spring 2011
Method Press wishes to thank the following supporters:
SPRING 2011, ISSUE 01 c/o Katie King 25 Inlet Ct Santa Rita, Guam 96915
Bryant, Mandy Callard, Jenni Callwood, Natalie
President Big Cheese Katie King
Vice President Gouda Cheeseball Dee Copley
Editor-ish Person in Charge of Certain Things Mandy Bryant Grammar Guru Sara Montague Miller Design Ninja Ashleigh A. Coyner Stealth Design Team Julia Williams & Anika Toro
King, Steven Montague Miller, Sara Smith, Helene Stanley, Jen Jae Toro, Anika
Girl Friday Jen Jae Stanley Lion Tamer Teresa Chipperfield
Thank you for your presence and support. Method Press Superheroes Victoria Bennett Beyer & Natalie Callwood Cover: Sara Montague Miller, A Blank Stare Method Press is quarterly and independently published. Subscriptions & Advertising Email firstname.lastname@example.org Distribution Method Press is available globally. Email us at email@example.com or call (773) 850-0760 Submissions We accept both physical and electronic submissions. Address submissions to Method Press c/o Katie King 25 Inlet Ct Santa Rita, GU 96915 or firstname.lastname@example.org with "I am a submission" in the subject.
All rights reserved by the artistsâ€™ individual copyright & owned by prospective individuals.
We are currently searching for independent printers & publishers to support our subsequent issues. If this is you please contact us at your convenience. -http://www.meetmethodpress.blogspot.com
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Page 4: Dee Copley, Vacancy Page 51: Ashleigh A. Coyner, The girl and the grass widow Back cover: Julia Williams, Help Japan; text by Galia Alena
Any typos will be attended to with great to-do in future issues.
A BLANK STARE
Found | The Unlikely Artist
A Blank Stare, Defined
Ashleigh A. Coyner
Spotlight | Mitsy of Art Mind
Explore | The Moment
Victoria Bennett Beyer
Dee Copley & Jen Jae Stanley
Ashleigh A. Coyner
Passionate Places | The Castle
Photography and Essay
+ MAIN Laura Evans Photography
A 1000 Cranes Project
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Meet Method Press Anika Toro is a mom by day/artist by night (and nap-time). She enjoys photographing the everyday beauty of the overlooked and forgotten. Loves include collaborating, listening to records, strange cameras, and comics. Catch her artwork on etsy and follow her blog at www.anikatoro.com. She is part of the Stealth Design Team at Method Press.
Ashleigh A. Coyner is a natural light photographer honing her skills with lots of practice on her two beautiful children and awesome surroundings. In a former life, she was a fish biologist working on the Columbia River. She is now selling her artwork on etsy and blogs at www.ashinbleu.wordpress.com. She is considered somewhat of a Design Ninja here at Method Press.
Dee Copley is a photographic artist who enjoys evoking emotion by blurring the edges of common perspective. She is currently the VP Gouda Cheeseball at Method Press. Her art tends to live at www.lillithsnapped.blogspot.com
Jen Jae Stanley lives in Austin, Texas. When not lending a hand at Method Press, she spends her time trying to capture this wide world within a tiny frame. Catch her online at FiveFootThreePhotography.com or 5ft3photography.etsy.com.
Julia Williams is a member of the design team at Method Press. A marketing girl and published photographer by day, aspiring activist and gypsy by night, she has a penchant for shenanigans, up-cycling, gardening, travel, design, and painting. You can find her artwork at www.flickr.com/jujubalee.
Katie King created Method Press in 2011. She eats drumsticks bottom up and could go for a game of tennis right about now.
Mandy Bryant is a photographer from a very small town in Indiana, where she resides with her sweet little family and their two dogs. She drinks chai lattes, wears bows, and says 'yay' a lot.
Natalie Callwood is an artist, photographer and mother of three, living in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Check her work out at www.dyluzo.etsy.com
Sara Montague Miller is the grammar guru who edits the magazine. She lives on the Gulf Coast with her husband, works as a full-time mental health therapist, and also sells photography at www.montagyoo.etsy.com. Sheâ€™s also staring blankly at you from the cover of this issue.
Teresa Chipperfield is a British mixed media artist, writer and photographer who lives with her family in the beautiful state of Oregon. She is an independent business owner and a contributing features writer for Method Press Magazine. Glimpse her work at www.PoppyPlacePdx.blogspot.com and www.TeresaChipperfieldStudios.com
Victoria Bennett Beyer is a photographer and graphic designer who tries to see the glorious detail of life and to share it with others. She put together the photo spread featuring the Female Photographers of Etsy (of which she is a member). See her work at www.victoriabennettbeyer.com.
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FOREWORD Katie King I was seated near the back row of the Gielgud Theatre and crammed behind a pillar because tickets were cheaper that way. My diet was mostly rice and beans at that point during my London stint. I don’t remember much about Equus, really--even the naked Daniel Radcliffe part. Blame it on the pillar. What did stick with me was a particular Peter Shaffer line written for the psychologist:
―The normal is the good smile in a child's eyes. There's also the dead stare in a million adults. It both sustains and kills, like a god. It is the ordinary made beautiful; it is also the average made lethal.‖
I was nineteen at the time, and still as idiot curious about everything as I always have been. I understood this stare, this blaze of nothing that happens at some point between dead dreams and desire, some rest stop between eager and apathetic. The exact moment when it does happen was the core of my worry. I knew that one could still classify me as a child by my stare, if we were, say, having a staring contest and the judges were all Peter Shaffer clones. But I knew it was only a matter of time before the dead stare became my default and, as usual, I dreaded it. I am a dreadful, eager thing. I think by now I’ve probably finally got it. There are too many factors in life that I don’t fight against that I should, and too many that I do fight against which I should let go. I still couldn’t tell you exactly when this occurred. Probably some point between the rice and the bean. I remember watching my mother drive as we would run errands across town when I was a child. It seems that any woman over the age of 30, not just my mother at the time, has stress hovering around her forehead like an unwelcome angel. I questioned this as well, perhaps creating the first early furrows of worry on my own brow--when did it happen, and when would mine come?! Would it arrive as with bells and whistles or more casually in a wrapped package with the return address of ―hopelessness,‖ ―adulthood,‖ or worse? Yes, instead of thinking of regular childlike worries, I pondered this issue and stared at my own reflection in the driver’s seat window. I liked that it often wasn’t myself staring back at me. Depending on how the light was shifting, I could turn into a city, or the zoom of another car, or a whiz of traffic lights, or the southwest desert sky or--swish, back to me--that freckled thing with a Ukrainian nose and somehow permanently seeking expression. Things were way more exciting this way. Zooming. Years later, I was at a high-school house party. It was the time of your life where you call things a ―house party‖ because ―hanging out at someone’s house‖ just sounds lame. We were watching Metamorphosis with Meryl Streep playing Susan Orlean
―It's over. Everything's over. I did everything wrong. I want my life back. I want it back before everything got fucked up. I want to be a baby again. I want to be new. I WANT TO BE NEW.‖ I knew that was a good quote at the time but didn’t understand why. I just remembered it being the only part of the movie that I could stand and coming to the conclusion that it was still a good movie simply because of that quote. We want to break the stare. But often, as artists, we want to become the stare. For a bit.
After studying acting for over ten years, I’m surprised to report that just about 90% of what you learn as an actor is how to relax, how to clear your mind, and how to let go (which, side note: I could probably use another 50 years of training on.) You may envision musical theater conservatories or acting BFA majors to spend lots of time thinking about being angry, or expressing joy, sensuality, etc. Such is not the case. We literally spend hours and hours on the floor. Doing nothing, which, if you haven’t tried it before, is quite hard. We practice relaxing every muscle in our body until we are at a place which some call ―actor neutral.‖ This is my theatrical nod to the blank stare, artist’s gaze, however you want to phrase it. Actor neutral is home base for the performer. It is the sweet spot in which all of your physical habits, stature quirks, bodily strengths and weaknesses fade to the sidelines so that new choices can happen within you to make a character. It sounds nuts: people who get paid to play with the medium of personality and emotion spend years on how to express, well, nothing.
It is the form we pass through to get to the beginning. Our reset button. The pose before the punch, the cleansing of the palate. In dance, it is the basics that greet us at the barre. In writing, it becomes more literal, as we stare onto blank pages, computer screens, whatever. It has a negative rap, and for a good reason. People usually stay in this phase for far too long, drowning in the I don’t knows of a project, getting drowsy in the dull of blankness which is supposed to be a peaceful passageway on the road to making. It is best to say hello to the blank stare and to return to it at the end of each creative phase where we can learn the cleansing truth that before we can create anything, we need to practice creating nothing, if only to know the difference between the two.
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Last spring, I had the opportunity to observe the powerhouse of Marina Abromovic in her exhibition at the MoMA ―The Artist Is Present.‖ There is more behind this woman and this particular performance than I could possibly do justice to in wrapping up this letter, but let me give you a tiny glimpse. Marina sat for a total of 716 hours and 30 minutes in a chair by a table on the first floor of the museum. Across from her sat individuals from the public like you and me. They were lined up waiting for hours on end to sit across from her. To do what, you may ask? To stare. To be present. To be there with her in the same space in time. People would sit there for as long as possible without looking away or loosing connection. This could be 5 minutes, or 5 hours, depending on what you were made up of and practically, how much you were enjoying the ride. It was unearthing to observe, and painful at the same time. It was almost as if Marina had turned into a type of pagan god which people were lining up to pay homage to. The draw, the pull, of having someone’s full attention on you. I’m sure we can all fully relate to that desire. Marina looked exhausted, totally wiped out, dizzy, weary, and undeniably brave. I could feel the weight in her bones and watched with relief as after each meeting, she rested her head back and took a breath. She was human after all. A fierce Yugoslavian human, but still skin, soul, and bones. Her goals was to stay present for all those hours, with all those people. Through one medium: a blank stare.
Art allows us to be stared at. Perhaps we have been strung along all this time thinking that we were making art instead of it being art that makes us. Maybe we are the muses that art keeps close by its side on lonely evenings. But what is staring back at us is quite different than a reflection. It is a choice.
So what does this have to do with the magazine that you are reading: our first issue? (Huzzah.) Everything. I’d like you to reflect on this point in the process and see what you do with that. Find your own blank stare and greet something very different from yourself staring back at you, humming a tune you thought you knew but didn’t. What are the ingredients that make up your method? As we have just recently passed this point in our own process here at Method Press, we invite you to enjoy and become an active part of our community as we grow and take shape.
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EDITORIAL | A Blank Stare, Defined Dee Copley and Jen Jae Stanley
ÂŠ Five Foot Three Photography /Jen Jae Stanley, 2010
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Apparently confused as to how to open presents, Dee produces her first documented blank stare. ÂŠ Patricia Linke, 1976
he blankest look I'd ever seen crossed paths with me on the day I handed my littlest daughter a ream of cotton candy. After some wideeyed marveling at its delicious fluffiness, the Season of Licking commenced. Her eyes glazed over eventually, and I could tell there was nothing more in the universe at that moment than herself and that blue cotton candy fluff. It's great to be a little kid - you have minor to no worries about looking silly. You don't feel you have to force yourself to do things you do not enjoy just to make others happy. Kids live in the moment. That's a bit what it is like when you are deep into the process of creating art you truly love. Inhibitions tend to fall away as you become one with the piece at that very moment. You understand the work, and understand the world a little more because of it. Art and the act of creating can crash in like a wave, enveloping an artist, taking over, and leaving one dazed. It is the same child-like experience of discovery and total symbiosis with the world that can stupefy an individual with the sheer, overwhelming connection which has just been made. Glazed eyes do not necessarily constitute a void behind them. And while a link can be recognized in the perspective of a child discovering their world with that of the heightened state of an artist, there is also the point where both of those moments peak. The sugar high wears off, and a meltdown occurs, or your muse finds the exit door. You ride it like the proverbial wave it is, meet its crest elated, and wash in exhausted. What can keep you going is the knowledge that you'll find the next cotton candy if you look hard enough, perhaps stare.
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PHOTO JOURNAL: A Blank Stare Victoria Bennett Beyer
Blank—The Outskirts Photography and Essay Mandy Bryant
When I was a kid, I was completely cliché and apathetic. I didn't like living in a small town surrounded by farmland. I hated the fields of Indiana for being simple and I hated the farmers for being…farmer-ish. . Then I grew up (just a little) and I went to art school in the city. And suddenly…Huzzah! I had some sort of revelation. Like maybe where I live is kind of amazing. The empty fields and lonely trees have become the canvas and subject, respectfully, for my little romantic vignettes. On the outskirts of town, condemned houses tell lovely stories, quiet and kind of tragic. And they're so beautiful, they break my heart. I'm not really a landscape person. With all the bazillions of landscape photographers out there, I did not wish to compete. The whole Getty-stock-marketable thing is not my strength. But it's okay, because I now see these stark scenes the way I see everything else I photograph. I see them as good design. I've been taught color and design theory so much now that I don't consciously think about the rules; I just feel them. It's allowed me to experience things differently, like an artist I guess.
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The outskirts, early Sunday morning. It's the best time to visit because it's incredibly peaceful. I drove my car along the winding roads slowly, absorbing everything around me. I stopped a few times to get out and take pictures, and only one guy in a pickup truck asked me if I was okay. When I'm alone out there, I'm able to stare blankly at the canvas, as it were. I see a winding path, a weird piece of farm equipment, a flock of birds. And I just stare. And when it's right, I click. I see a pretty tree all alone in a field. And I just stare. And then I click. And while I'm standing there blankly staring, I'm actually feeling and thinking a whole range of things. Like, "Are those cows symmetrical enough," or "Am I leaving enough sky around those tree branches?" "Is this beautiful, or is this boring?" I used to think it was boring, but I wasn't allowing myself to see it as art. And now I do.
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FOUND| The Unlikely Artist Ashleigh A. Coyner
―Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.‖ —Anton Ego, Ratatouille
hildren do not usually elicit the idea of artist. But if we look closely, we may find something truly remarkable in their artwork. I know I did.
My first featured artist is five year old Audrey. She loves using pastels and markers. She occasionally will use dry erase markers, like in her caterpillar artwork. She sometimes interrupts her drawing with a little dance and a made-up song. She drew her featured artwork at age two. I love that she had no pre-notion, no idea in mind. She just drew from her heart, her being. She had such an intense face when drawing this picture. I love how she raises her arms in triumph only to realize that she wants those big circles colored in. She claims it is a caterpillar, though I believe she may have called it something else when she first drew it! Do you have an artist waiting to be Found? Send your submission to email@example.com.
Now at age 5, Audrey still enjoys a good finger painting session.
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SPOTLIGHT | Mitsy from Art Mind Katie King
By this time, native Dutch speaker Mitsy has created well over 99 feelings. Feelings are her title for tiny clay creations which embody human emotions. Long before her recent and well-deserved popularity explosion on Etsy, Mitsy concentrated on making one clay feeling for each day. I was happy to have a short interview with her on her method as she shared with me several pictures of her studio space.
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You have a big job, assigning a form to an emotion. How amazing is that? And through your work, people are identifying with . . . clay. An inanimate object. How do you feel about this responsibility?’ The custom orders I have had for specific feelings are always special. It is daunting and exciting at the same time. You never know exactly how the people who order it see the end result in their head. It’s often very personal, and it’s really special that people confide in me to make a specific feeling for someone. Through communication and pictures, I try to make it a lovely experience for both.
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When do the forms come to you, is it while you work? Is it before you drift off to sleep? And how does your series on feeling reflect how you experience emotions? Do they seem more or less like an out of body experience after giving them life in clay? I prefer to work in silence. Music distracts me somehow. While everyday life can be very hectic and busy, I love the silence in my studio. I made this set of feelings over a period of 3 months. Every day, one feeling. It was a project that was followed and carried by many on Flickr. I couldnâ€™t have done it alone. Some of the feelings really came out of my inner self, others were suggested by others. I would ask someone how he/she felt and then I came up with a way to express it. I love the fact that with minimal effect you can express the maximum.
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What worries you about making your art? What are your biggest concerns? What is your least favorite medium to work with, and why? I have very little worries about my art, as I don’t want anything to disturb my process. Each and every piece that I make carries a little of my energy in it, so I try not to worry while making my art. I’d like my work to carry a positive message, although some of the feelings are quite negative. The fact that they are acknowledged is enough to make 'em positive. I feel like I can’t draw properly, so even a sketchbook scares me off, and I freak out when I have to paint on a blank canvas.
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What, from your work with clay and emotions, do you think is the most important feeling? For me there is a difference between my favorite feeling and the most important feeling. I think feeling happy is the most important to me. When I'm happy, all things go more smoothly and life is fun. My favorite feeling is the feeling torn. It basically tore me apart to actually rip it open. I think it is visually one of the strongest feelings.
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In response to this issue's theme, Mitsy presented this feeling. I like her take on it very much.—the emptying out of past thoughts or beliefs in order to create a new space to begin again. For me, ―blank‖ would be like ―empty.‖ You can find more of her work on artmind.etsy.com.
**All Pictures in this feature are courtesy of Mitsy. 26 method press
EXPLORE | The Moment Ashleigh A. Coyner
I Am Here by Tammi Egenriether I have found a new happiness It grows from my toes and reaches far into the stars I am here I am here I have found a new happiness It stretches the span of the vast blue sea right here in me I am here I am here
There is Beauty in Darkness, BleuOiseau Photography, 2011
Cold. February. Zoom Lens. Slow Shutter Speed. Available Light. Absolutely Beautiful.
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PASSIONATE PLACES | The Castle Anika Toro
Hidden away in the rural town of Greenback, Tennessee is nestled one of the most unique treasures, The Castle, or as it’s now becoming known, ―The House of the Almighty.‖ Finding this place is difficult—not much in the press, no signs, many people in the surrounding areas don’t even know about it. But if you stop anywhere in Greenback, just ask someone how to get to The Castle, and they will tell you how and maybe even take you there themselves. Eighteen years ago, Mr. Floyd Banks, Jr. started building The Castle as a means to make a name for himself. ―Every man wants his own castle!‖ Banks says. But then, a few years into building, things changed. While working one day, his gaze was fixed to a spot high on the wall of the Throne Room. It was there that he saw an image of Christ appear amongst the stones. Since then, The Castle has shown Mr. Banks images of family members, Satan, Sam Houston, An Indian chief, animals, and many others. The Castle has been a way for Mr. Banks to communicate with the Almighty. As he says, ―God told me not to bother him with special requests. He said just show me you love me. So I don’t pray anymore. Working on this castle is how I show him I love Him; it’s my way of praying.‖
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Being here, in his space, as an artist, it is hard not to feel like I am in the presence of one of the greatest folk artists of my time. When I think about Floyd Banks and The Castle, I also think about people like the great Howard Finster and his Paradise Gardens. This space is filled with creative uses for recycled materials, found objects decoratively added to the walkways, walls, and to the faĂ§ade, and even sculptures and engravings. This space of his is not only a space where he can feel closer to God and grow his crops, it also reflects a place where he can remember the past, enjoy the present , and reflect on the future. Whatâ€™s special about this place he has created is that it can translate those feelings to the viewer as well . . . it draws my gaze and my mind and heart into his vision.
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I had the pleasure of walking around with Mr. Banks, a wonderful guide, asking him questions about his process and artistic decisions. There are so many nooks and crannies to The Castle that it takes multiple trips to fully absorb everything. He shared some ideas for expanding the carvings into a scroll. He spoke with a special passion for The Castle. Working on his project is Banks’s way of praying, his way of spreading the word of God; it’s the place that makes him happy. It’s hard for that feeling not to translate through his work, his passion. This house of his truly is an Almighty one.
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I had been here once before in the late fall, and The Castle’s mood seems to change with the seasons. Last time I came, the harvest of okra was ending; things were going to sleep for the winter. This time, I arrive just as spring is starting to show reminders of what’s to come. A lovely trail of daffodils welcomes you into the cross-laid pathway. The Pet Cemetery is surrounded by daffodils just beginning to make their annual appearance. The large crucifix that stands in front of the dozen or more tombstones (all for animals that in the past two decades Mr. Banks has cared for and/or tried to nurse back to health) with names ranging from ―Specks‖ and ―Grey Wolf‖ to ―Ranger‖ and ―Brownie.‖ Now I can see hints that some of the walls will be shadowed by honeysuckle vines and pecan trees. From the tower in the back corner of The Castle, you can see a view of the Smoky Mountains now becoming green. Mr. Banks’s crops also have a reputation for growing unusually large– huge pecans, green onions, and turnips. Should you happen to run into Banks while visiting I wouldn’t be surprised if you go home with a bag full of fresh vegetables . . . the turnips are delicious!
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Although Mr. Banks has not had any formal training in the arts or construction, he has built a structure that’s remarkably well built and measures perfectly. Banks uses unique, handmade tools to build. Many of the bricks are from the days of slaves . . . he points out which ones and then heads me over to documents from different historical societies to show me proof that this land has indeed harvested relics of history - rare cannonballs from the Civil War, arrowheads from the Cherokee Indians– all of which Banks donated. There are a lot of spots dedicated to Native Americans around the Castle as a way for Mr. Banks to pay tribute to a group of people ―that we didn’t really treat too good.‖ When I ask about the tied bricks (above) he tells me, ―I don’t have a lot of tools. I use my fingers to scrape in between every brick. These are what I use to make things straight and level. The other day I found a tape measure outside and brought it in to check things out. I did a pretty good job keeping things even.‖ Whatever you choose to believe or not believe about what appears on the walls, your religious beliefs, or about Banks’s personal history, there is no denying that stepping into The Castle will open your eyes to one unique vision. What really impressed me was that the ideas are still flowing. In just 4 months since my last visit, there were three new birdbaths being constructed out of found railroad spikes, broken birdbaths, and cement—they are going to be beautiful. Even though unfinished, there was a nice meal of birdseed already added. Cannonballs are in the process of being painted to add to different areas outside the castle. Despite the fact that his carvings have slowed down due to his fear that it will detract from the validity of the faces appearing in the walls, Banks continues to add sculptural details in and on the bricks and décor onto the surfaces. One of my favorites is a table with cement pies in pie pans laid out like they are cooling in the open breeze. Next to it, there is a light bulb in a dish and a work in progress: stones with tiles and beads. This table sits in the open air next to a wall painted with a design that makes me think of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Chess Room collects painted bottles, but it’s hard not to have your gaze drawn by the glass chess pieces on the cement chess table.
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―Now I started carving, the Egyptians and the little fish before the Christ appeared, but I’ve stopped carving so people don’t get confused or think I had anything to do with the faces. I may continue the ones I started. Like this one . . . I started to make it into panels like a scroll.‖ His excitement intensifies. ―Don’t you think that’d be cool to have a scroll of panels that just unfolded?!‖ It would cover a whole inner wall of the castle-in between the dungeon and the room with chess tables . . . yes, I do think it would be amazing.
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ARCHITECT OF THE ALMIGHTY
The Castle space spreads the word and feeling that what we want to accomplish we can. If we strive to live with good intentions, a good life will follow. You have to listen to your heart. Carvings about the castle include recipes for ―Happy Food‖ and instructions on how life could be if we all lived as nice and honest people. This inscription to the left describes Floyd Banks’ belief that it takes 7 good people to influence 1 bad. But it only takes 1 bad to influence 7 good. The world right now is imbalanced (50-50) and we need to strive to be 80% (good people) / 20% (bad people) for a good life together.
Even the many faces of Satan that appear, Banks says, are reminders that good exists; that evil tries to break the will of the good, and that good can triumph. I admit that I don’t see many of the faces that he says appear in the walls, but many do and more importantly, Banks does. He has framed all of the images of Satan in red, and all of his family members can be seen outlined and/or shaded in black. The shading does make the images appear more apparent. Banks has photos of his dad, grandmother, and Sam Houston in picture frames ready to compare the likeness to the faces on the walls should anyone wants to see and compare for themselves.
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If you would like to visit The Castle, please feel free to send me an email. I don’t think I saw street signs. I know, however, that if you call and are re-directed to Mr. Banks, he will be happy to meet you at the Castle. Or you can ―go down highway 411 South of Maryville for about 15 miles and stop at the corner market,‖ and he’ll meet you there and show you the way.
If you would like to read an interview with Mr. Banks or see additional photos, you can visit www.meetmethodpress.blogspot.com. For more information or directions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. A special thanks to Floyd Banks, Jr. for being so generous, gracious, and open-hearted. You make the world a better place. —-Anika Toro
**All Pictures in this feature are courtesy of Anika Toro. 37 method press
FEATURED ARTIST | Laura Evans Photography Teresa Chipperfield
LOVE! LAUGH! BELIEVE! That is the title of Laura Evans’s Photography shop on the e-commerce site Etsy. This speaks volumes about the woman behind the lens. Upbeat, caring, creative, and imaginative. Laura, who comes from Cambridge, England, lives in Germany right now with her Californian military husband, and they are expecting their first child, a boy, in April. I asked her how she felt about motherhood. ―I’m excited and scared shitless... it's been a long, long hard journey to this point, which I honestly never thought would happen, so there's been a lot of nerves. Sometimes I wonder if I’m as excited as I should be, but because the journey here has been so emotionally taxing, until I hold my little boy in my arms, I won't quite believe it's happening (even though I look like I have a watermelon up my shirt).‖ She also answered my question about how pregnancy has influenced her photography : ―You know, I wanted to do a whole series of self-portraits during my pregnancy, but I seem to have managed (so far with two weeks to go) only five!! I just can't get them right. I admire so many people who have the art of self-portraits down . . . mine tend to work out more through luck than anything. But otherwise, I’m not sure pregnancy has influenced my actual photography; I’m still the same person I was, just with a lil dude growing inside me. Being a military spouse is not easy, and Laura gave me a heartfelt response when I ask her to tell me about it: ―I love my husband with all my heart; I am so incredibly proud of who he is and the life he chose . . . the same can be said for all those who give everything for their country, to serve others as active duty military, spouses and families; the things I see them give up on a daily basis are a different kind of sacrifice, and I’ve been privileged enough to meet some amazing people along the way who have helped me discover myself and lead me to the place I am today.‖ Laura has an honesty about her that is really refreshing, and she has a great sense of humor. Laura elaborated on this topic: ―Humor wise . . . many would say I don't have a sense of humor but that's simply because (and I'm sorry to say this) many American’s don't get the British sense of humor. Mine is incredibly dry, sarcastic and a little twisted at times. I really do enjoy the simple things in life. I like smart humor as opposed to things like Jack Ass (which I find pointless). I really am not sure how else to describe it and my favorite jokes really don't sound that funny written down!‖ Laura has been working on developing a home-based photography studio so that she can continue to create her beautiful and poignant images after the birth of her son. This can be a very challenging time for women to stay true to themselves in their creative work while raising a family, she discussed how she hopes to keep the balance but is unsure how: ―I'm that person you don't leave your kids with; they kind of terrify me in a way adults don't . . . The studio, for me, was something I never wanted until I fell in love with boudoir, and then it became a reality because I had a baby on the way, and I needed to be able to work more from home. In some ways, my unborn son has forced me to step out of my comfort zone and do the things I really love‖. I was interested to know what it was like to set up a first time studio. ―I put together probably the most basic studio ever . . . I own three lights and two backdrops. I made the decision to invest in good quality, long-lasting items now whilst I have the chance, and I love the way it looks. Most of my advice came from established photographers who were happy to help me out with suggestions and of course the fabulous "boudoir divas" who I turn to more than I realize. I use our basement—not very business like, I’m sure—but it's a free space!‖ Laura produces a lot of amazing photography, and I asked her which pieces she would be hanging in the baby’s room. ―So far, I have only hung a couple of images in the lil dude’s room (it's still very much a work in progress).‖ She has hung up ―all the fun of the fair‖ as well as some letterpress prints of letters and numbers that were a gift from a friend. When I asked how she would describe her work, Laura said, ―Eclectic….ME.‖ As I browse through her beautiful images, I find myself fascinated, reading the storylines they evoke. Her photographic philosophy is ―Be yourself . . . photography is about who you are as an individual … you have to love the subject matter to create the perfect image.‖
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I think she does. She creates her work using a Nikon D300 and a range of lenses. She is trying to step out of the box more with these; Laura has made a few attempts at TtV but feels she is not quite there yet. (TtV, Through the Viewfinder photography, is a photographic technique in which a photograph is shot with one camera through the viewfinder of another camera.) In the future, Laura would love either a new D300, or in the perfect world, a D700. She also would love a Leica but then again, ―Who wouldn't!‖ she says. Laura owns a lot of vintage cameras, which she wants to start shooting with, but right now, financially, it's not an option since the cost of developing film and then scanning in the negatives is too expensive. But, she says, ―one day!‖ Laura says, about her initial connection to photography, ―I'm honestly not sure where I fell in love (with photography) . . . but I started taking classes when I was 17. I had always loved art and somehow photography felt "right" . . . yes, a cliché! But it's something I’ve left and come back to over the years. I got my degree in photography a few years back and loved it, then marriage plus moving countries meant my priorities changed. It wasn't until my husband deployed almost 2 years ago that I started taking photography seriously again. Finally, I’m finding myself in a place where I’m truly happy creatively. I firmly believe photography comes from who you are as an individual; you can't copy someone else or reproduce their work, because it lacks passion. You have to experiment and learn and discover yourself in your work to be truly happy with the outcome and yes, I have my cheesy moments!‖ I wanted to delve a little into Laura’s creative process and what inspires her. She told me, ―I'm not sure I have a process . . . sometimes I will have an idea and from that another idea and then finally, I end up with a photograph I love. Sometimes I just take the camera for a walk to find inspiration. Inspiration is a funny thing . . . it comes and it goes! Right now it's March, and spring hasn't kicked in, the pregnancy is tiring me out, and I’m working my larger-than -it-was-before behind off with my portraits (not that I’m complaining) which leaves my fine art a little lacking. Sometimes, I need to escape for a day; a place I love will speak to me over and over.‖ Other days, she says she creates ―whole series of images‖ that leave her ―grinning like a Cheshire Cat.‖ ―Sometimes I lie in bed, and it almost comes to me in a random thought (I have some of my best ideas in bed, in the shower, and when driving). Sometimes I just look around my home for things that will look pretty together or interest me. I never stop looking at what's going on around me which helps. I love when an idea works out better than I ever dreamt of when I almost "stumble" upon the perfect moment. Anything that speaks to another individual or conjures up an emotion amazes me.‖ Laura believes you can never stop learning. ―I see all these amazing photographers around me, and I want them to teach me, show me new tricks and help me find ways of improving my work. I love to take workshops and wish I had more options for these, because it opens your eyes to things you never knew existed.‖ She also added that some of the people who inspire her ―are artists who have lived the dream, so to speak, been true to themselves, and never given up. I see work on Etsy that blows my mind, then there are the more well known photographers who over the years have inspired me: Ansel Adams, Dickie Chapelle (... the woman had guts, determination & did it all wearing pearl earrings), William Eggleston, Richard Avedon . . . It’s funny, but many of those I admire have shooting styles totally different from my own.‖ When I asked Laura where she sees her life in five years, she said, ―We have another 18 months here in Germany, and then who knows . . . we're hoping for Spain or Alaska which will open me up to all kinds of new photographic adventures! I want to explore more, take more workshops, see my work for sale in stores, and of course, raise a family. I'd like to find more time for the things I love . . . I want to take photos full time!‖ She added about future plans: ―One day I would like to own a shop, sell my work, and maybe other pretty shiny things, and teach again; I love teaching.‖ In the meantime, she will be busy experiencing the magical next phase in her life, motherhood; she says she will continue to be curling up with her cats. I love the unconditional love my fur covered family members give me . . . and reading . . . books are another form of escape for me.‖ Laura will continue her passion in photography. ―There's nothing more appealing to me than getting lost amid the old streets of a little town or exploring abandoned buildings, photographing every tiny little detail that makes a place what it is.‖ And she will maintain her caring leadership role in the group fPOE (Female Photographers of Etsy) where she encourages new members to ―have fun . . . experiment . . . take advice . . . don't copy, but find yourself . . . try it all!‖ www.levansphotography.etsy.com www.lauraevansphotography.blogspot.com www.oohprettyshiny.etsy.com **All Pictures in this feature are courtesy of Laura Evans Photography. 39 method press
UP AND COMING | Marco Suarez Mandy Bryant
â€œEmotion is everything. It's the essence of why art is valuable.â€?
arco Suarez, a graphic designer and fine art photographer from South Carolina, is getting a lot of attention lately for his unique take on landscape photography. By breaking out of the rectangle' and presenting his lush, porthole-like scenes in an unexpected way, he is also breaking new ground in the art world. Marco explains how he got started in graphic design and photography, why emotion makes art valuable, and the reason he won't use typography in his art.
How did you initially get into graphic design and photography? Everyone is born with natural desires and abilities. For some it's athletics, or science, or creativity. My love for creativity started very early. Like many artists, it's not the tools that I am drawn to, but the feeling of knowing you created something. It doesn't matter if it's cooking, yard work, or oil painting. But I'm a Ireland in the Round graphic designer by trade. That's how I support my family. Though, I feel I have more in common with fine artists than I do with designers. An artist friend a few years ago told me he'd love to see me create some fine art using the technique I've developed in my commercial design. I thought that was an intriguing idea. But I didn't want to rely on typography to help create these images. Often when designers create fine art they use typography as a crutch more than a passion for their shapes. I didn't want that temptation, so I decided not to use typography at all. That opened the door for me to start combining mediums: photography, ink, watercolor. Most of my work is combined digitally.
When you tell that to people they act like you're not a real artist. I guess that's ignorance, though. Maybe people did that to photographers back in the day. What is your creative process? My work usually starts with one photograph. Rarely do I know where I want to take it. But I start adding and taking away, similar to a sculptor or a painter. I view textures and colors the same. But ultimately, it's the emotional response I'm interested in, more so than the technical detail. To me, emotion is everything. It's the essence of why art is valuable. I really have two directions I take. I love bright, colorful, fun, energetic designs. Or I'll go for the muted, moody, antiqued, high art look.
How does your location inspire and influence your work? Bonus question: If you could travel anywhere to make art, where would you go? Greenville, SC isn't the most inspiring place to live. It's getting there. But the architecture and culture leaves much to be desired. My wife and I visit NYC frequently, and it's always a time of recharging my batteries. I always leave there inspired. All of my circle prints were taken in Scotland and Ireland. Those places really got me interested in landscape photography. I would love to visit Iceland, Switzerland, and the upper northwest for photography. I'm also in love with cities. There are numerous ones I'd love to visit. But to work, Greenville is home. I need to feel connected to my friends, family, and familiarity.
What art or artists inspire you? Andy Warhol initially inspired me. I love his work. I love how he viewed common life and how he combined such different mediums and ideas. Fabien Barral is a designer from France who inspired to me get passionate about design. At first, I was unsure I wanted to pursue a career in graphic design, but Fabien's gorgeous work showed me what is possible. His work has a great emotional connection. Currently, I love the work of Dolan Geiman. I love his use of texture. I look at texture the same way as I look at color, and Dolan makes great use of color and texture. He also does a great job of breaking out of the rectangular box. I'm waiting for the day I can afford one of his mixed media pieces. He's also a great model for how to market your work. He really makes the web work for him.
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What are your favorite pieces from your own portfolio? Any of my circle prints are my favorite right now. That's really what got me attention recently. But that's not why I'm interested in them. I really like the idea of breaking out of the rectangle and how framing your work in different shapes changes their composition. I really want to explore that more.
What's your least favorite thing to photograph? I'm not sure if there are any subjects I dislike photographing. But one thing I dislike is posed photography. I'm talking about a posed shot of life, not a commercial posed shot or an artistic posed shot. I want to capture momentsâ€”moments that can't be replicated very easily. When my first nephew was born, I took a photo of him in the hospital. It was a black and white close-up of his face and in the background you could see my sister's arm and hand holding his finger. It was a precious photo. When my sister had her second child, my mom asked if I could take the same photo. I told her absolutely not because then it wouldn't be special. But I did take other photos of the baby that were special. I now have a 7-month-old girl. I do not want her learning to smile when the camera comes out. I want our photographs of her to capture moments in her life. Posed shots will just capture what she looked like, but not who she was.
I don't consider myself a photographer of people, besides my family. I'm really only interested in landscapes right now. But the idea still applies. The circular photo of Loch Ness was taken on a sunny day in March. We were riding down the loch when a pretty ugly storm blew right over us. It created the most unbelievable look in the water and sky. It was freezing cold, and water was splashing over the bow of the boat, but between breaks, I ran to the front of the boat, snapped a shot, and ran back to avoid getting wet. That moment will probably never happen again in the same way. But I got a photo of it. I think that's pretty special.
How does your music influence your art? I've noticed a lot of similarities between art forms. Like, the core of a song is the composition: chords, melody, lyrics. The same is true for fine art: lines, focal points, subject matter. And then you add color and texture to it. Those words mean the same if you're talking to a musician or an artist. I think it's pretty common to find great artists to be talented in other arts. Like I said earlier, it's the act of creating something, not the tools, that gives you the high.
What are some things that you believe are beautiful?
To me, beauty has two prerequisites: truth and goodness. Picasso's Guernica is one of my favorite paintings, though I think a lot of people would say it's neither true nor good. It's a depiction of the travesty of war. And though its subject matter is deep, intense, and altogether difficult to take in, it's driving home the fact that war is terrible. That's true. And it pushes you away from the evil of war to the desire of peace and hope. That's good. So in my opinion, Guernica is beautiful.
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“To me, beauty has two prerequisites: truth and goodness“ —Marco Suarez
In my pieces, you'll see a lot of trees and nature and not a whole lot of mothers with dead babies at their breasts (like Guernica). My pieces don't have a deeper meaning with tons of symbolism. I love trees. I love their lines in the winter and their colors in the spring and fall. I love how detailed and beautiful a leaf is and how detailed and beautiful a forest is. Ultimately, it is the awe of the real creator: God. I love trees so I photograph them. But God creates the idea of a tree as well as the physical tree. Now that's awe-inspiring.
Where to find out more about Marco and his work: marcosuarez.com marcosuarez.etsy.com http://marcosuarez.com/nickajack-has-finally-arrived/
**All Pictures in this feature are courtesy of Marco Suarez. 42 method press
Method Press is extending a call for submissions to all fresh and emerging thinkers (or even old dogs with some unruly tricks) for consideration of their work to appear in our future issues. By thinkers, we mean people who think about stuff. Maybe you're a professional clown or an amateur photographer. Maybe you're a house-husband, a struggling stamp collector, or a 9-5 non-creative and all this artist stuff gives you the heebie-jeebies. We don't care. And we don't really have heebie-jeebies. We just want your ideas & to see them presented in an interesting way that respects your individual method. We celebrate the creative process and welcome all ideas on presenting not just your final pieces, but the method of your madness in bringing them to life as well. All submissions must be original. We cannot presently pay for the use of work, but strive to gain exposure for artists and writers through our digital and print media. We just ask one thing; give us the real deal. If interested in having your art included in our magazine, submit to email@example.com.
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A 1000 Cranes Project Holly Clark
If I could fold 1000 paper cranes to make a wish, I'd make it for the people of Japan, to erase their sorry, heal their wounds, soothe their wounded souls. This is my first crane, folded for Students Rebuilding and captured for Miya Group. The strength of 5000 fingers holds the power of many, many good wishes. Collectively, we can wish for a brighter future reaching 1000 cranes in the blink of an eye before moving on to the next. Won't you join me? The organization Students Rebuilding is collecting 100,000 actual cranes. If you get a group together and fold more than 50, they will even send you pre-paid postage. The cranes are being woven into a sculpture, and the Bezos Family Foundation has pledged $2/crane up to $200,000! The money will support Architecture for Humanity's rebuilding efforts in Japan. The link for more information is http://studentsrebuild.org/. And for those taking pictures of your origami cranes, this company is donating money for the first 1000 pictures they receive: www.miyacompany.com
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Weâ€™ve watched shocked, and humbled, from our comfortable lounge rooms and safe studios as natural disasters have ripped parts of the world apart. Our hearts ache to help those in need at this tragic time, especially our kindred spirits, artists. We imagine precious works lost, beloved supplies gone, and a deep turmoil from which many are struggling to pull themselves with no way of knowing where to begin to rebuild. It is to this end that Method Press and all its collaborative artists have agreed to donate any profits from the premier issue to an individual artist affected in Japan and hope to bring to you a follow up feature article in our next issue that looks at how these natural disasters are affecting artists and how these artists are having to reinterpret their worlds through their art works. If this is you or someone you know, please contact us directly. Our prayers and blessings are with you all.
Published on Apr 13, 2011
The debut issue of Method Press. Method press is an independent art-filled quarterly celebrating low-fi thinkers. If you would like order yo...