Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Irish Pub

by Drew Martin
Last week I watched a really nice documentary, The Irish Pub, about the traditional pubs of Ireland. While these public houses are known for drink, the film emphasizes their place in the community for intermingling, and most of all good conversations and the feeling of belonging.

The latent linguist in me loved the hour + of Irish brogue, while the junk artist that I am loved the eclectic nick nacks that cover the walls and ceilings of these establishments and are part of the tales of each place: "nice tongs" from Canada, a mole trap from America, a blood-stained jersey from 1963 of someone who was hit by a car nearby, a camogie, an odd wellington pegged to a rafter, a samurai sword from a pub owner who was a prisoner of war for three years in Nagasaki where he survived the atomic bomb blast, an iron deadlock bar bent by the Black and Tans, and the painting here of a scene from John B. Keane's play Sive.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Doodling Dreams

by Drew Martin
I took the day off for my little kid's 9th birthday but then I ended up taking too long of a nap so now I can't sleep and it's past midnight. My 17-year-old daughter is up working on her portfolio so I am hanging out in her room doodling dreams I recently had while her affectionate cat makes it difficult to do anything.

A couple days ago I dreamt that I was stranded on a deserted island which had two humps of land masses. The water rose so much that the section I was on got cut off from the higher area, then became submerged. I needed to get to the other side but the rising water was shark infested. Apparently there was a headless whale carcass at hand because the plan I devised was to swim with the big body to the remaining part of the island, and shield myself with/hide under the dead whale.

Today, during my long nap, I dreamt that I was on a bus going to a Philip Morris Museum in some suburban part of Virginia (I think). I had wanted to go to take a picture of something on the museum grounds but forgot what it was during the bus ride. The sun was setting so by the time I arrived not only had I completely forgotten my reason for going but it was too dark to take pictures of what I did find there. On the way to the museum the bus passed a house, which had Pop Art versions of its own facade that were coming out of the front of the house, like in an exploded view, which continued to where the car was parked out front. I wanted to get off the bus to take a picture of it but figured I would first see where the museum was and then walk back but it was too late, too dark and too far.

That got me thinking, it would be cool to actually design this kind of house, or maybe one where the front of the house looked like a cross section of itself and then a garage out front would look like the front corner of the house, so elements of the yard/garage in front of the house would look like an exploded view of its interiors. I think I need to illustrate that too.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Shining Stars of a Dull Hotel

by Drew Martin
I never read or watched The Shining but I do think a lot about it, particularly because my parents often took me to the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York, where Steven King supposedly wrote it. So with that, in combination with the horrifying happenings at the Bates Motel in Psycho, and the unsettling lyrics of the Eagles’ Hotel California, I really need a hotel to work hard at making me feel like I will survive the night and that it is not some warped playground for a wacko. But more than that, I am typically more unnerved by the existential crisis I feel at the lack of culture and intelligence in a boxy, nondescript place.

When my family and I recently checked into a place in Massachusetts for a four-night stay, I immediately panicked. It was a tired, cavernous structure, with old carpets, shoddy construction, too much unpainted dark wood, and it seemed depressingly empty. But then I started noticing a couple young dancers trickling in and milling about. Within a couple hours the place was filled with hundreds of bouncy teenage girls in satin dance school jackets, and their perhaps-once-attractive middled-aged moms not far behind, moving slowly like pack animals. 

Lo and behold a regional dance competition filled the void for almost the duration of our stay. Sure it was noisy and chaotic, and the teens were splashing around in the indoor pool while eating chocolate donuts, but there was an infusion of youth, color, and creativity into the old, drab, and boring hotel. 

Due to the fact that I am on vacation with my family, I could only pop in on the events for fifteen minutes each day because my wife and kids were shockingly disinterested. My initial reaction from my arts background was that this was a gold mine and that I needed to document the event/take hundreds of pictures, and make a movie of it all: the costumes, the dancers, and the moms reliving their dreams. 

It was a fascinating occasion because on one level it was entirely inspiring to see all these kids honing their craft and doing something creative and physical with their lives/bodies, but then on another level there were all of these tense hopes and mini-dramas at work; somewhere between a kids beauty pageant and a varsity sporting event.

But alas, I only took a couple pictures with my phone camera and saw a tiny fraction of the phenomenon. And when they all took off today at the conclusion of the competition, and the hotel emptied out, it felt like someone poked a little hole in my soul.