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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn


cropI've been without power and water (though generally not at the same time! [well, excepting camping, but that was by choice]) and it sucks, so my sympathy to all those folks in Texas (including a sister-in-law and some nieces) currently suffering. My own studio roof is developing stains because we've been putting off roof repairs owing to COVID; water leaking in one's housing envelope just plain gives me the heebie-jeebies.

I was gonna say that, living in a midwestern state where the temperature can and does vary between 0 and 100 degrees F, we don't go days without power or water, but that's not true; back when I lived in a poor, mostly Black neighborhood, we lost power all the time —and for much longer than I experience now; and I have never had the city shut my water off for hours at a time for a week or two running except while living there. That's what I think of when people talk about ‘environmental’ racism.

It's been an open secret for decades that US infrastructure, especially water and power, are a mess across the entire nation, to the point where I would hope even conservatives would be deeply concerned about the national security risk these aging, fragile targets present; it all desperately needsto be upgraded: this is the sort of ‘good-paying work’ our current administration is talking about—jobs that can't be farmed out overseas, for a public good that would benefit everyone, and make us more resilient as global climate change brings these greater weather extemes—so far, my state has been relatively lucky with regard to both winter storms and searing summer heat, but we live in Tornado Ally, and I do wonder how climate change is gonna affect that.

Anyway. With a bit of luck, I hope to go back to posting M-F, or at least M-W-F later this week, but just in case I don't, here's some more links...

  • The Taiwanese personifies disease as beautiful manga characters—yeah, problematic but still deeply cool.https://boingboing.net/2021/02/19/easy-to-build-self-watering-containers.html> —I don't have much sun and do have a lot of critturs, plus the amount of plastic in this system is kinda unappealing, but still, cool. Wonder if I could somehow adapt the concept to houseplants...
  • Dreamers can have rational convos with awake people—I've had dreams so convincing that I sometimes wasn't certain what was memory and which dream, leading to some worrying personal reflection (surely I didn't go walking around in my neighborhood, even early in the morning, with no clothes on top...?) Oh wait, that was a dream!
  • Ambient noise reduced by as much as half during early covid lockdowns. Not only that, noise pollution has been steadily rising for 20 years...surely I can't be the only one who detests it!
  • 3D printed braille dice —haven't played even the roll-your-own version D&D (that among other things was my lead in for truly learning how to write fiction) for over a quarter-century, but am happy to see a) the resurgence and b) greater accessibility of this imagination building game.
  • The earth's shifting poles—and the resulting lack of an ionosphere(?) to protect against cosmic radiation—may be why our ancestors took to hiding out in caves—and decorating them. I always appreciate these sorts of mundane, pragmatic explanations for ancient behaviour (rather than ascribing everything to mysterious, weird rituals) but the comments on the article are depressing. Yes, climate change means change and it is terrifying—but it's also an opportunity to think about a better, more humane way of life, to pull together, and strive mightily to make the world a better place for all living creatures.
  • Nikkaliah "Aliah" Sheffield's Earth is a Ghetto is a beautifully rendered plaint an artist's plea for just the sort of life I too want for humanity...and also a bit, the promise of social media bringing to us the art of people who likely would be filtered out by the old gatekeepers.
  • What got my attention about this article (via Alas) of clowns who informally have their signature makeup recorded on eggs was the authors’ citation of two other examples of in-group IP (intellectual property) management—tattoo artists, and, especially, women's flat-track derby player names. I know people who have belonged to both groups, and even though I never managed to pass my skills test, I still came up with a name:) This sort of thing fascinates me as an artist deeply dissatisfied with our current, and, IMNSHO, broken copyright system.
  • The shoe designer who did the shocking approach of listening to his foremost client. So obvious...
  • Crows are cool.
  • I'm deeply grateful I've never been badly scammed, but scammers scare me, so I'm always up for articles about them, like this one from the NYT I intend to listen to... (about 35 min, via bb
  • Smithsonian Folkways has an excellent spotify playlist according to bb...well, my biggest connection to the Dead was the woman who made those upcycled collage sweatercoats, but they had me at ‘Leadbelly’ and other delta blues musicians.

In the meantime, placeholders like this doodle.


cropToday's page has been in the queue since last March, and as I have been waiting 11 months for Valentine's Day to roll around again so's I could post it on the day, by gum that's exactly what I'm gonna do.

For those of you not into Valentine's Day, since we're having the coldest week so far this winter (thanks, polar vortex), it seems appropriate to feature snow crystal pix again. If you'd like your natural beauty a little more warm and sunny in nature, about this sweet vid of monarch butterflies?

Or you can take a gander at what is likely to be the only posting for this week, cuz I gotta lot to do. Enjoy.


cropWell, all the stuff in process last week two weeks ago is still in process (& likely to be next week as well, at the rate I'm going). Will try for some more pages later this week, but in the meantime, I might as well dump some links, which are likely more interesting than my scribbles anyway...

So I'm old enough to remember Reagan, and his demonization of government, so I find this essay (NYT) about a post Reagan presidency interesting. The short version for those unwanting to click (or use up their free NYT articles) is this theory that there are 40–60 (i.e. 2 generations) cycles of governmental theory—Roosevelt's New Deal was one, then Reagan came in with his Greed is Good government-is-the-problem approach, and even the Democrats were working with that framework, or, as they used to say in my salad days, paradigm. Now, though Biden himself is very much a centrist and pragmatic, the overall zeitgeist is MMT, UBI, and the like. Personally I'm ready. More than ready.

Part of the new assumption is that the idea that politicians are people, sometimes quite ordinary people, who genuinely want to help their constituents; and under any circumstances, it seems to me that our elected officials, no matter how loathesome, should never have to endure death threats!

(Nor should they be fomenting insurrection and sedition—not only because it's treasonous and a violation of their oath, but also cuz it's damn expensive to combat.)

Busy, multi-lane roads with many interceptions are the most deadly for cyclists, whatta surprise.

I clicked on this article about bad behaviour on commercial websites cuz I wanted to see if it was really as awful as the authors claimed—perhaps some attention grabbing tricks might actually make the experience more engaging and interesting? —but no, it was bad. Sneaking on extra items or subscription fees without consent, lying (or at the very least being deceptive) about quantities, etc—it was bad, and nothing like the little things, such as posting process pix to IG with a sort of countdown to releasing a new collection, that a lot of artists do.

The NYT has a list of recced science podcasts.

The creator of that THX note they play in the movie theatre (remember those) to tell you how awesome the sound system is describes how he does it, but the bit that got my attention is his likening the 2? 3? second clip to a story.

And, *unicorn chaser!* Dude rescues a budgie egg and rears it to a beautiful adulthood. Sweet and kind, and the world can surely always use more of that. Plus I think the wizard actually queued up one of these listen to a forest links —I find I do better with nature sounds than actual music...I mean, our furnace is fairly quiet, but I'd still listen to running water and birdcalls.

Hey, and speaking of nature, here's a page with some rather (ahem) sketchy mushrooms. Did you know you could grow oyster mushrooms at home? (NYT) Anyway, see you next Monday, if not before.


cropWhoopsie, sorry about the broken page—I goofed and left out an all-important slash from the path. It looked fine in the local version, I swear!

Sorry, too, that I kinda fell down on posting, but I've actually been busy making art:) Speaking of which, here's an old film of some very famous Impressionists, made at the dawn of the movie age—Monet, Renoir, Degas...I used to fantasize, a bit, of being a woman artist back then, possibly because in addition to be an exciting and beautiful approach to painting, it was really the first time where there seemed to be women painters (I mean there was Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot...) but aside from some obvious problems (such a lack of boldness in my art) evidently all the big names smoked like chimneys , and I'm violently allergic to tobacco smoke. (This was a problem even when I was a child, never mind the late 1800s, and I'm deeply grateful the smoking laws have made so many public spaces, like restaurants, accessible for me.)

With luck there'll be something next week, but if not, it just means I'm actually working. With walks in between, of course:)


cropHeh, the projects in process I've been mentioning intermittently are still...in progress! So that's this week's theme as well, works in progress.

Just about all artists have the dreaded WIP, or worse yet, UFOs (unfinished objects—basically WIPs likely forever abandoned...)

This is why artists talk about the ‘journey’, and the ‘journey's’ value to developing one's art, blah, blah, blah—because more often the destination is a mirage, and even if you do achieve it (on some level or other) then it's boring, and on to the next challenge. Ahem, WIP.


cropYesterday we had a bit of whimsical architecture with an actually interesting (& serious) backstory; today's interview, with June Williamson, an associate professor of architecture at the City College of New York, and Ellen Dunham-Jones, a professor of architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology, discusses a more serious, and ongoing, shift in suburban architecture. It's not just the single family homes with large lawns, multi-car garages, but commercial properties such as malls as well that also no longer serve, on the one hand the empty nesters who'd just as soon not do all that maintenance on the now too-big house and lawn but young people who would rather exchange close-by cultural amenities for larger living quarters.

One of the things I appreciated about these architects’ approach is its descriptive quality and the attitude that it makes more sense to think about how suburban spaces can be constructively repurposed—parking lots into parks, malls into community spaces with lots of little, independent shops for particular communities. In a sense, they're following the footsteps of the seminal Jane Jacobs, who also stressed the need for ‘secondary’ architecture—older buildings which no longer served their original function, but were cheaper stock that could be taken over by upstart businesses on tight budgets but that, over time, add innovation to the overall cultural milieu.

I'm looking forward to getting ahold of their new book, Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Strategies for Urgent Challenges, if no other reason that I think I'll find it a lot more optimistic than the truly aggravating naysayers who made it their business to block every proposal, it seemed, that the author (& his cohort) proposed of the current book I'm reading which is (you guessed it) A Promised Land. (Which is due back at the library today, and I still have a couple hundred pages to go...)

Also, I have a henna inspo'ed giftwrap.