on getting to the 
finished product:

sometimes you need unconsciously to let your mind consider an idea. you have to consume one idea so that the next idea comes.

miuccia prada


conversations with max & zan

Conversations with Max & Zan

We grew up in the 70s. Came of age in the 80s.
It was rad. So rad, we often talk about how rad it all was.

So you know, we edit, but never censor. Not language or ideas or emotion.

In this edition:
Prince: expression, equality, & censorship

Zan: Prince dies…so sad.

Max: It’s horrible.

prince, 19, robert whitman photography

Max: Only 57, wonder what happened.

Zan: Four days ago he had to land his plane to be treated for the flu. He performed the next night and said he was okay. Then he went home to Minnesota. When they found him, he was unresponsive in an elevator in his house. He couldn’t be revived and died at home. Elevator equals interesting…ascending to the Great Perhaps? Also, it’s raining in Minneapolis today. Purple rain?

Max: And if the elevator tries to bring you down, go crazy, punch a higher floor.

Zan: Oh shit.

Max: You know the song Darling Nikki is what made Tipper Gore start her movement to put warning labels on tapes and CDs.

Zan: I remember. I guess she was a square. Did you buy the Purple Rain album in ‘84?

Max: Of course! Fucking loved it. Still do.

Zan: Me too.

purple rain, released july 1984, amazon
Max: Remember how just looking at the cover, opening the tape, and reading the stuff inside made us feel? The hours we spent listening to it, reading every word of the insides. The way it smelled even. How awesome was it when they had the lyrics?

Zan: I fucking loved having the lyrics. It was like a book. And with the Purple Rain cover, it said so much about what we were about to find in the music. It was badass, sexy, and I loved the feminine elements. Not just the flower border, but how he was embracing his femininity. It blew me away.

Max: Yes! His music wasn’t like anything at the time. Not for us, anyway. Girls in the Midwest. My favorite song is DMSR. So good. On Purple Rain, I’d have to say Computer Blue. Although, The Beautiful Ones is so intense.

Zan: All solid tunes. Hey, speaking of not being like anything we’d seen before… What about Boy George? He’s touring with Culture Club again. He was a judge on Project Runway. I love him. Love how he plays around with that gender-neutrality thing too. The fashion of Prince and Boy George? I was a part time tomboy and needed these artists. I mean, I didn’t know that then, but I felt it. It’s like they were saying, “Forget gender, just be who you are.”

Max: I’m not your woman. I’m not your man. I am something that you’ll never understand.

Zan: Exactly.

Max: Okay, since we’re on the subject. Other greats. The Cure.

Zan: Duh.

Max: Howard Jones.

Zan: Saw him live in ninth grade. Awesome.

Max: Did you go to Simple Minds back then? I swear I remember you telling me about it.

Zan: I wish I’d seen Simple Minds. I found Jim Kerr so fascinating.

Max: And Prince? In three words.

Zan: Inspiring, sexy, smart.

Max: Androgynous, eclectic, unique. But I prefer the definition of unique: unlike anything else.

Zan: Oh that’s good. Favorite outfit? Favorite hair?

Max: I like him shirtless in the bathtub. Never thought I’d say that, but… I love his hair when he was on American Bandstand.

Zan: I like the black crop top and tight pants in the Kiss video.

Max: I’m sticking with shirtless. Because even without all those shiny clothes and ruffles, he’s still so cool.

Zan: Right?

Max: Google his American Bandstand appearance.

prince with dick clark, 1979, prince.org
Zan: Oh shit. The feathered hair is amazing. I’d forgotten about it. How did you remember this?

Max: I loved American Bandstand. Until Solid Gold stole my heart.

Zan: He’s 19 in this performance!

Max: Oh yeah. He was still looking for representation then.

Zan: Your memory is amazing. PS: I LOVED SOLID GOLD. But… was it sexist?

Max: Of course. How about this? Nasty Girl, Prince wrote it, and it was the first time I ever heard a woman sing about sex. Not love or heartache, but straight up sex. Prince was a feminist.

Zan: Right. Sex, equality were spiritual things for him. So, here’s a question: Would you rather be a Solid Gold dancer or the baggage handler on Prince’s tour bus?

Max: Easy. Baggage handler. But I’d get fired for stealing.

Zan: What would you steal? I’d steal a pair of pants. The man had awesome pants. I love pants.

Max: Slacks.

Zan: Right. Slacks.

Max: And I’d steal whatever was sparklyist. Yes, sparklyist is a word.

Zan: Right. Sparklyist slacks.

welcome 2 america tour, 2011, getty images

Zan: Well, I gotta go.

Max: Me too.

Zan: Have a good night.

Max: Dream purple dreams.


Recently I wondered...

What would happen if, instead of getting amped when something stressful came into my life, I simply let it roll off my back?

Then a series of interesting things occurred.

First, I came across Cyndi Lauper's book Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir. It's truly amazing what she went through in order to reach success as a musician. In the 80s, the music industry was dominated by men and Cyndi's creative drive was often ignored, laughed at, or battled over. Still, she kept on rolling.

Next, a few stressful somethings came up and I got amped. And stayed amped. I wasn't rolling with it. At all.

Finally though, I remembered how I wanted to try something new in the face of stress and I took a breath. And then another. I focused on things that made me feel good. I looked for the bright side. I laughed. And then...

Inspiring and helpful discoveries and people began to appear. Nothing big or major. Just subtle niceties and smile-worthy moments. And lots more laughable situations. I revolved away from frustration and back toward my creative endeavors. Over and over.

The funny thing about trying to change is that it can be, well, trying, to change. Small turns feel insignificant and some days it's hard to notice that amusement and joy are laced through almost every experienceIt helps to joke with friends. It helps to have fun. Which made me laugh...

Isn't that what Cyndi was always trying to tell us? Girls just want to have fun. But she was also saying something else.

About equality. About expressing ideas. About judgment and inclusion and the notion of having friends and family accept us for who we really are. And about claiming and using personal power. All of it kinda serious stuff. 

And there it is. The rotation between the lighter side of living and the heavier, stressful side, where we face tough situations or people that challenge our ultimate goals. Or our true self. And in these worrisome moments the advice to "just roll with the changes" can feel wrong. Weak. Condescending. So, for me, I realized rating the threat level of an unwelcome situation (or person) is a must. If the threat to my true, lightest self and creative goals is high, I dig in and defend. But if it's low or silly or trivial, why bother? I need that energy to keep things rollin' along.

Roll: mixed media, 2015. Using a reproduction of a magazine clipping as a base, I acrylic-ed over the images to recreate a portrait of the stars of the movie Whip It. The image was then collaged onto a watercolor, hand-lettered, and glazed.


a friend reminded me of this
gorgeous annie lennox song.
go ahead. fly.


A few days ago I commented on the starts, middles, and endings of projects, and today I'm realizing those things matter so much to me because I'm just beginning to understand and practice process. Meaning, the process of building a story or piece of art. Truth be told, the art of process challenges me. Mostly because I feel like I don't have time for process. There are too many things to do. And often I'm looking for short cuts to get to the finished piece. Because I see it in my head. I feel its message. I know every detail that wants on a canvas. I hear every word that wishes to be typed. So, shouldn't I be able to will it to life in a split second? That way I can get on to the next idea that 's brewing?

Sure, sure, I know the beauty of process. I know where experimenting and rough drafts can take a person. I have, well, processed. Many times, actually. Including today. What came out of it was a room lined with canvases and files, flung open so all their inspirational contents could be strewn about. Oh, and this...

Just this.

Five pieces, all pleasing me. And placed side by side the reason is clear. I like the color story, which happens to be mirrored from one item to the next. Turns out, I hinted to this color story in the mixed media pieces propped up against the walls. The pieces have remained unfinished because I couldn't quite put my finger on what was missing in each one. But now I've got it. Now I've got the element needed to call the pieces finished and to tie them together. It's not just the element of color, but how it relates to the other colors. And how it makes me feel. And maybe that's all process should be...the act of creating and conveying feeling. Truly, I'd be glad to make time for that.

Wishing you a bright-as-spring creative weekend.


curiouser & curiouser

sometimes there's this thing. a chest, a box, a case. 
it's always more mysterious when there's a handle, 
but you know it's not a suitcase.

and then when you open it, it's not that you're amazed,
it's that you're enlightened. amused. satisfied.

you compliment yourself. "oh, of course it's a typewriter. of course."

and then you ditch the carrying case and give it a once-over.


then you give it a good, hard look.

yep. it's a portable typewriter. smith-corona. 
midcentury. in excellent condition.
cool design. fabulous color. funny smell.
the ribbon still holds ink.
we fool with it for a few days.
we vow to research it.
we walk past it, behold it, chuckle.
then we put it in its case and go back to life.

still, the art of it sticks with me, and no surprise, when i take it out to look at it again, there's a character here. she's typing, furiously. because, goddamnit, she has something to say.

In the fall of last year, I wrote a few posts about a slew of midcentury objects coming into my experience. In those months and the months since, many changes have taken place in my life. Endings, beginnings. And yes, middles. Lots of middles. And because it can be a tendency of mine to get stuck in the middle, I've been pushing for more starts and finishes. I've done okay. Even with some unexpected care-taking of a family member. Even with a home sale, a home purchase, and a remodel underway.

Still, I'm not quite up to the standards I set for myself after a 3-day creativity course in January. And here it is April. Fast approaching the exact middle of the year. So, this week I've been taking stock of the things I want to start and those I want to finish. I'm realizing, joyfully, and celebrating, quietly, that I've set a good foundation for my starts and finishes. Ticking off items on the pre-work list and, often in the moment, moving the finish line. Because with writing and art there are many finish lines. Like with this vintage typewriter.

From the start, I felt curious and amused by it, but not really inspired. I mean, what's not to love and admire about the thing? But my true connection to it was a mystery. Until today when I imagined that girl, typing. She's not a writer, either. And she's not using the typewriter in a workplace. She's alone. She mumbles as she types. Daylight's flooding in. And what I know for sure is she's driven. Determined. Blindingly determined. To get her message out.

For now, that's the end. But at least it's a start.