Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Recircled Christmas

I have STACKS and stacks of paper left over from other projects, stolen from airplanes, gifted from old ladies' attics, found roadside, etc. These stacks, which will absolutely kill me, are also where I turn when I need to make cards. Thank YOU, circle template.

This is paper leftover from a coaster consignment for Little Amps Coffee Roasters. The original paper had come from a euro-bin in Florence. Because I'm really, really fancy.

Once, i found maps. I have no idea where. But they are a strange blend of French and German, and I have used them for a thousand different projects and will cry like a child when I come to the end of them.

Monday, December 12, 2011


I taught a cardboard workshop to wonderful, imaginative people in Ms. McClymont's seventh grade art class on Friday. Check out these portraits of Woody Allen. Maybe I'll try to send them to old Woody. (Probably not.)

Woody Allen drawing lesson: by Liz

by Bethany, 7th grade

by Eli, age 5.

by John, 7th grade

by Ryan, 7th grade

by Macy, 7th grade

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Poem for a Wednesday.

In that land there's a winter (The Tallest Man on Earth)

(There's also this song you should hear.)

The Verisimilitude show

(n) (or truthlikeness) is the quality of realism in something.

Midtown Cinema is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this month, and the kind folks in charge asked me to create a series of film director portraits.

So I did.

I just like going into strange worlds
(or, David Lynch)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

All things go, all things go (Sufjan Stevens)

Some things:

1. Chicago means "wild onion" in a Native American language. It comes from "shikaakwa". Yes, it does.
2. Ashleigh Hill is one of the smartest friends I have, and I am always interested to hear what she has to say.
3. Ashleigh participated in this little project we have, and I am always grateful to see that people have done that. Feel free.

Text: Farmer Boy, Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Only People For Me Are the Mad Ones (Jack Kerouac)

A favorite former professor of mine, with the grace to ignore the fact that I went to class about half the time, commissioned a portrait of Jack Kerouac for his son, Colin. When someone smarter than you commissions your work, it's enough to make you weep with terror and gratitude.

I made this portrait in the Dickinson College library after having taught a workshop on recycled art (on a side note, you should know that Dickinson is exploring some elegant solutions to old problems and employing wicked smart people to do it). I fished the cardboard out of the mail room trash and borrowed some scissors from the lady selling coffee in the corner. Thanks, guys.

The text is ripped from Dharma Bums, Colin's favorite Kerouac piece (on a side note, you should know that Colin used to be a student of mine. He's 17 now, happy birthday, and he's becoming one of my favorite writers.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Noamward Bound

In many ways, Noam Chomsky is a standing hero of mine. He represents some of the best thinking dished up by humanity, has a monkey named after him, and was the impetus for one of the best experiences of my adult life.

A funny thing about this portrait: I initially set out to draw Martin Scorcese, and by the time I finished the left eyeball (I generally begin with the eyebrows and move southward), I realized I was working instead on a Chomsky.

Next time, Martin.

Prints: $20
Original: $80

See some other portraits.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Her life was saved by rock and roll (Lou Reed)

When you're a freelance artist, you'll be asked to provide art on the drop of a hat sometimes. That leads to Gamble Art, or Art That You'd Probably Do Differently A Second Time. That's the story here, in a way. See, there was this Zombie Prom (I know, I know), and I was asked to make some pieces to sell. Since I'm moving next month (stay tuned for future interior design entries, boys and girls), it was really hard to find time to attend to this opportunity. In the end, I scrapped out four portraits of musicians. I'm not done with this project. I'd like to revisit some of these faces and work on the patina a bit.

But the Zombie Prom is calling. It always is, guys.

Some Kinds of Love Are Mistaken For Vision
(or, Lou Reed)
[ cardboard, pen, paint ]

Out for love, and they will lean that way forever
(or, Leonard Cohen)
[cardboard, pen]

Ses pensees sur la femme es ses vues sur l'amour*
(or, Edith Piaf with a lace collar)
[cardboard, pen, paint]

"his thoughts of the woman, and her views on love

She said she couldn't do the cha cha cha
(or, Sam Cooke)
[ cardboard, pen ]

Monday, October 10, 2011

Too many things are occurring for even a big heart to hold. (Yeats)

"Always do projects outside your area of expertise."- Top scientists.

Once upon a time, two of my best friends (Heather and Greg) got hitched. Obviously, I took this as a challenge. I asked my friend and brewmeister, Benny, to join me in my goal of providing homemade booze for their wedding reception. Benny makes excellent beer, and one day you will drink a stein of it with me in his brewery. So save up, because craft beer is expensive.

I will always prefer giving gifts I've made, and I'm grateful to have friends who will likewise find meaning in that exchange. Of course, I can only pretend to have been part of making anything potable (Guys. I'm really busy), but I DID take on the task of making the labels for (what ended up being) Pale Ale and Hard Cider. For the project, I used very low quality photos because I believe in the power of Picasa. I took the shot of Greg on my Soviet-era flip phone while he was busking outside the Broad Street Market during the first week he lived in Harrisburg, and I lifted the shot of Heather right off the internet. Because I am creepy.

Once I doctored up the photos, decided on a punny name for each, and printed them on the thinnest computer paper money can buy, I then panicked because I realized I don't actually know how to make paper into labels. THANKS, KINKOS. You're a peach. Know why? It's not that you charged me a loooottt of money to make my paper into labels, which you did, it's that after I had already paid you to do that, one of your employees told me that YOU CAN USE MILK TO STICK LABELS ONTO BEER. YOU CAN. I tried it, and it is one of the most interesting party tricks I know now (besides this).

All that to say, congratulations to the most attractive people I know for a happy first year of marriage.

The old men and the sea-themed fire hydrant.

Remember THIS project? Just around the corner from Little Amps, on Third and Delaware Streets in Harrisburg, I painted a fire hydrant in hopes to win a contest/ a bunch of dollars/ the hearts of those around me. Don't worry! I came in, like, 83rd place or something, so my sense of humility is in great shape. But actually, I loved this project. I made friends with one thousand old men, thanks to my position outside ofThird Street Used Furniture store (which I recommend the next time you're acquiring ottomans for your living room.)

Do you see that splash of blue paint in the righthand photo? There is a funny/unsurprising story that goes along with that. Imagine a reality in which I was painting this fire hydrant on a rainy day, and that I am predisposed to not prepare for disaster. This combination of factors meant that a moment of frantic stretching of plastic over top of the fire hydrant resulted in the can of blue paint being toppled over via my foot. Whelp. Now it's a nearly-thematic square of sidewalk.

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons. (T.S. Eliot)

The last two months have been hectic. I am not the sort of person who is charming when things are hectic, so this blog post will have to serve as a general apology to everyone I know. I love you all, despite my furrowed brow. Fortunately for my situation, there is coffee all around me. And some lovely projects have come from that delicious reality:

1. Little Amps coffee shop opened, and I painted the exterior sign for the shop.
The developers, WCI, decided to use old floor boards as the base structure for the design, and that gave the overall aesthetic a rustic feel. I was really excited about this project, because having this be such a public piece forced me to be more focused that I... tend to be. Also, I have a big ole crush on the family who runs Little Amps, and I was glad they'd decided on a handmade, charminglysmudged aesthetic for the face of their shop.

2. ALSO I was commissioned to make some coasters for them. I make a LOT of coasters, and I usually err on the side of Just Strange Enough To Stare At. But for a setting that would be catering to People Who Are Not Necessarily As Weird As Me, I wanted to be as classically ambiguous in my design as possible while still making something that looked like I made it. For constructing the coasters, I used tiles that had been wrenched off the floor of my friend's basement, and, paper I'd bought for a Euro in Florence. Half of that sentence makes me feel super fancy. So, make sure to stick your pinky out before you return your cup to one of these babies.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bring them all back to life (Feist)

I've had approximately one jillion conversations about found poetry with approximately everyone I know since the Palimpsests show. Redactive poetry, or humenent poetry, has been a favorite method of writing since I learned about it in college (from my professor, the lovely and talented Matt Roth. Buy his book.)

We set up a station at the reception for people to tear out a page from a wrecked book and find a poem from it. If they left it in my Superhero lunchbox (thanks for that birthday gift when I was twelve, Rachel Laribee), the poem would then be in the running to be included in the internet-publication of the larger Palimpsests art show. (I will confess to you, here on the internet, that this interactive bit was a blatant ploy to take attention off myself at the reception. I'm not sure if you've ever been the artist at her own art opening, but it is SHOCKINGLY UNCOMFORTABLE. And this was a great distraction from me and my questionable new haircut.)

We got some GEMS at the Palimpsests opening, and since, I have continued reaping poems from any willing party in my path. I set up a station at the coffee bar here, passed out pages at backyard wine and cigar parties, and took my lunchbox on family vacation with 22 extended family members. (Guys. A condo of Laribees is a sight to behold.) Each time I have conducted this experiment I have been delighted by the results.

This project continues to develop. I have hatched a plan to collect a book of poems from the far corners of the nation. If you want to participate, send me a note and I will send you a page from a wrecked book. Find a poem, sign your name, send it back. (I'm looking at you, Ben Thorpe, Julia Sanders, Ashleigh Hill and Jordan Windholz and Juli Lindsey.)

Pardon me. I need to go buy a scanner.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Put a Plug On It**

** My affection for this lent me to go with a really dumb title for this blog post. DON'T CARE.

I'm one of the competing artists for this contest, in which a bunch of us will paint our own designs on fire plugs through Olde Uptown in Harrisburg.
The image to the left is my design, to be painted on the fireplug at Delaware and Third by September 16. The title, obviously, is Yellow Plugmarine.

I chose it for a few reasons:
1. It's just very difficult for me to not act upon a pun when I think of it. For example, I almost just wrote "act upun", but I thought it wasn't worth the risk.
2. Fire plugs really ought to be yellow.
3. Everything really ought to resemble a submarine.
4. I like referential art, and I like that this design is almost inescapably cheerful.

I have no idea how voting works! Do it if you'd like, but it's whatever. I'm just glad for beautification projects happening in this dear, dear city.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Palimpsests Show

I am a one-song bird, admittedly. I really, really love palimpsests (as I've said before. Thank YOU, borrowed writing from before), and that is the theme of the art show I am sharing with my dear, dear friend Evan Cameron. It opens this Friday at the Yellow Wall Gallery at Midtown Scholar. (It's not nepotism. I promise.)

The process of the show started while making author portraits out of the cardboard (cardboardtraits?) being discarded from the Midtown Scholar, my workplace. The image of the author (to the left: "You will find that we are all, as I said before, bugs in amber" (or, Kurt Vonnegut), 2011) is meant to appear in surprising, rudimentary ways while self-referencing the canvas.

Oh hey. Here's my artist statement and some images from the show.

When I was in a film class in college, we used the idea of palimpsests to describe the jarring experience of watching an actor play a role outside of what we were used to. He can carry a lawyer’s briefcase, but John Wayne will always be squinting into a cowboy’s sunset. It makes this new story he’s telling a bit smudged. A bit more interesting. In these palimpsests [author portraits in pen, paint and bookstore cardboard; poems found and circled in cheap novelty books], it's important to me that the original manuscript is visible despite all the scraping. The Making New, the Redemption part of it only works if you can tell that there is a different and earlier story having been told.

My work almost always involves the repurposing of something else, and it’s in this process that I
am trying to find meaning. Here, I used discarded bits and overlooked scraps of this bookstore to
continue telling stories. The authors I’ve chosen are layered in my life in ways I can’t even quite
tell you about. The dime novel poems force a new meaning to make room for a cheekier, sleuthier past.
There was another life that I might have had. But I am having this one. (or, Kazuo Ishiguro)
Liz Laribee, 2011. $45

Good behavior is the proper posture of the weak. (or, Jamaica Kincaid)
Liz Laribee, 2011. $45

If you read someone else's diary, you get what you deserve. (or, David Sedaris)
Liz Laribee, 2011. $45

I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.
(or, Aldous Huxley)
Liz Laribee, 2011. $45

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

With your face sketched on it twice

Tomorrow closes a month-long show at Garden Fresh Market in Harrisburg. I had drawn and tacked together a series of maps of the city on things I'd found roadside. I chose maps because I like the way they can tell a particular story. All of these labeled boxes alongside one another trap that story into a very specific time frame. I HOPE I'm not alive when something called Loving Handz Family Care Center goes belly up, but for now I've seared it into posterity (as far as it reaches from one tiny show in one tiny town by ten tiny fingers). By being a map, these pieces insist upon seeing coinciding realities existing at once and in community. They show how the proximity of disparate, even strange in their juxtaposition, entities are the architecture for a diverse city. They show what we care about. It's important to me that the art I create dictates what I care about most. And these days, that's Harrisburg. You can see the rest of the show here. (Interested in purchasing? Prices are negotiable.)

And now welcome to a segment we call This Person Has Surpassed Me, in which I catch wind of someone doing excellent work and would like to tell you about them. Today's guest is Evan Cameron, who is a dear friend and fellow Reclaimer Of Tossed Away Things. His exhibit is the one following mine at Garden Fresh (which, coincidentally, features the best sandwiches of all time.) The invitation reads that Evan "will be opening an art show featuring both visually rendered and redacted Found Poetry that has been lacquered, mounted and roughly framed with reclaimed fencing. These small, rough-hewn moments of emotion are meant to inspire further thought. Many of them seem to come at the middle or end of a longer account conveying an impression of narrative as faint as the whitewashing each piece is bordered by. The collection will be on display at Garden Fresh from January 21-February 20." See you there, kids.