Friday, July 20, 2018

An award-winning experiment finds a home

The Artdog Image of Interest


One of the nicest things that happened for me while I was at Westercon/MALCon (Myths and Legends Convention) in Denver earlier this month was receiving a blue ribbon in the 3D category at the Art Show. I feel very honored, because there was a lot of wonderful 3D artwork in this show.

The honored piece was a special, one-of-a-kind Artist's Proof (abbreviated AP) of the Common Cliff Dragon--Male collection of multiple originals. I called it the "spiny ridge" AP because in a fit of madness I experimented with cutting out each individual scale on the ridge along the dragon's back, then sculpting them to stand up slightly.


I took the second photo in December 2016 before I matted the piece. I have to admit it looked pretty cool, but it was a delicate operation, it took a long time, and when I'd finished I swore I'd never do that again. Granted, one should "never say 'never,'" but now I'm officially on record that it was a one-of-a-kind experiment.

A one-of-a-kind experiment that was awarded this wonderful honor, and one which also has now been "rehomed" with a new owner. The owner got some prize-winning new art, but I was the one who got to keep the ribbon!

IMAGES: Both photographs were taken by me, Jan S. Gephardt, of my own artwork. If you wish to re-post or reblog either of them you may, as long as you include an attribution to me and a link back to this post. Thank you!




Wednesday, July 18, 2018

One year, and one disaster, later

I recently overshot an anniversary that I can't leave unmarked. A year ago, my son Tyrell and I attended NorthAmericon '17 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was a lovely convention (though small), and a memorable bright spot in my life. We blogged about it in this space (and its twin), though I never did manage those follow-up photos from Old San Juan.

A tourist paradise vision of Puerto Rico (the NorthAmericon '17 hotel, the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino), from happier days--although the financial seeds of the disaster had already been sown, even then.

Then, on September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck. The Category 5 hurricane (it was Category 4 when it made landfall on Puerto Rico, but that was plenty bad enough) made a diagonal track across the island that ensured every square foot of the entire US territory would be devastated. And don't forget, they'd already been nailed by Hurricane Irma a couple of weeks before Maria came along.



I watched in horror (safe in Kansas City), I donated money, I blogged about it, and I prayed for my friends there, their families, and their communities. But time seems to have marched and marched and marched by, without touching Puerto Rico as much as we could have hoped. Thousands were still without power as recently as May. As of July 17, it's still not on, everywhere. 

FEMA has struggled to deal with the island-wide disaster. Yet the need is enormous. One estimate of the total cost to rebuild is $94 billion (yes, with a "b"). If you want a chilling overview of the general dimensions of the problem, there's a recent Frontline production that sketches in enough to give a decent taste.

Duke Energy linemen from North Carolina and Ohio help restore power in the mountains outside Ponce, Puerto Rico

Some problems are exacerbated by bureaucratic requirements in ways no well-meaning middle-class person might anticipate (they hauntingly remind me of bureaucratic tie-ups here in Kansas, designed to suppress votes).

But then that other ugliness rears its head. There's a reason voter suppression bears a haunting resemblance. Voter suppression, in Kansas and elsewhere, has deep roots in racism. I apologize that some of the sources I will cite to make this argument are not "mainstream news" sources, but even today most mainstream news sources are predominantly run by socio-economically advantaged white people who just don't see this problem the way minorities who have to live with it do.

Unfortunately, it's hard to avoid the realization that racism has played a part in both the financial disaster that already had begun creating difficulties for the territory, and in the government's response to the disaster. Minority-run news outlets had no trouble finding it. I've come to the conclusion that anyone who doesn't see racist and colonial roots in the Puerto Rican crisis really isn't looking very hard, or thinking too much.
Does this man (his name is Miguel Garcia) look like your fellow American to you? Your answer could make an enormous difference to him, and everyone else in Puerto Rico, when you go to the polls this summer (don't miss the PRIMARIES!) and fall (You DO vote, right?). Photo by Alvin Baez/Reuters.

Does the US owe the Americans of Puerto Rico a better response
than they've gotten so far? Unfortunately, that largely depends on whether you see Puerto Ricans as "us" or "them." 

If you're seeing too much of the wrong kind of response--and if you actually live in a state, where you can vote for your senators and congresspersons, I hope you'll leap any and all hurdles to your registration, so you can VOTE in primaries (where many decisions are made!) AS WELL AS in  the general election! For most of us, it's our most important political power.

IMAGES: Many thanks to the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino (lovely place to stay), for the photo of their "Edge of the World" pool, convention center, and environs; to NOAA via YouTube, for the infrared satellite video clip of Hurricane Maria crossing Puerto Rico; to Duke Energy for the photo (and cool accompanying article) about their efforts to restore power in the mountains of Puerto Rico; and to Alvin Baez of Reuters and The New York Daily News, for the photo of Miguel Garcia and his ruined home in Maunabo, Puerto Rico, in January, 2018.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Our main challenge

The Artdog Quote of the Week 


Getting people to talk with each other, rather than at, or past each other, is our primary challenge right now. It seems to me this is a primary task for true patriots.

IMAGE: Many thanks to Brainy Quote, for this image, featuring a quote from Rollo May.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Morning after

The Artdog Image of Interest

Multiple levels of the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, quiet for one sparkling morning. Westercon's done. -Photo by Tyrell Gephardt.

My son Tyrell Gephardt took this picture last Monday at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, before we left town after Westercon 71/MALCon 6. It was a "waiting" kind of quiet. Presumably some other event is coming soon. But we loved the play of light and shadow on multiple levels in this view of the atrium.

IMAGE: Many thanks to Tyrell Gephardt for taking this photo and allowing me to use it. If you wish to retweet, reblog, etc., please attribute Ty as the photographer, and include a link back to this page. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Impressions from Denver

Preliminary reflections 
on Westercon 71/MALCon 6
I'm freshly back from Denver, and the 71st Westercon, hosted by Myths and Legends Con 6, a Shiny Garden event. The first panels and an opening reception began on Wednesday, July 4, 2018; the last events and Closing Ceremonies came on Sunday, July 8.

The reception on the 12th floor of the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center at Westercon 71/MALCon 6 on the first night (July 4, 2018) gave us a panoramic view of several municipal fireworks displays in Denver and along the Front Range of the Rockies. They went on for at least an hour.

I intend to devote at least one more post to the programming (possibly more), but I'm still waiting on a couple of things, so today I'd like to give some more general impressions. As I noted last week, I managed to miss connecting with the Programming folks. As a result, this was a very unusual con for me in one way--no panels to prepare for or moderate! 

So I did what any truefan would do: I volunteered when possible, to help out. Science fiction fandom runs on volunteer power--and the best way to get to know people is to participate


Here's a photo from the Art Show setup at Westercon 71/MALCon 6 in Denver. We had a pretty small space but Art Show Director Bruce Miller (far L, white hair with his back to us) and his MileHiCon Art Show Team who could make it--some were ill, sadly--have this setup thing down to a process. My son and traveling companion Tyrell Gephardt (3rd from right in the background) and I helped as we could. I can't see well enough to identify the guy in the middle by the doorway, but the woman in the foreground right is Lizzie Newell, a fellow paper sculptor! (although her work and mine are different). At far right in the background you can see about half of Robert Pechmann, a mainstay of Bruce's Art Show Team.

Mostly, I volunteered in the Art Show. Having been the Art Show Director at ConQuesT for three years, before gratefully turning it over to the capable and talented Mikah McCullough, and having been involved in art shows since the early 1980s (including co-writing the original version of the ASFA Art Show Guidelines with Richard Pini, in intense consultation with Teresa Patterson, who is writing now but was running art shows then), art shows at sf cons are my "natural environment." I like to think I helped, this weekend.

Here are two views from above: at left are fan tables and several general-interest booths; at right is a view from the catwalk above, of gamers enjoying tabletop games inside the atrium at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center.

As noted above, at least one more blog post in this space will deal with the panels I attended at Westercon 71/MALCon 6, but in more general terms I'd like to quote from a journal entry I wrote on Saturday of the convention (July 7, 2018), about my experience:

"I feel as if I’ve been attending an intensive writers’ and artist’s immersion experience this week. My typical day has been a wake-up into immediately thinking about my book, working on the book, then working in the Art Show, surrounded with amazing art and interacting with some of the people who made it, going to panels that are (at their best) almost like graduate-level seminars on the topic of the panel—frequently thought-provoking, even when they don’t reach that pinnacle. Evenings have been spent reviewing the day’s events and input, discussing experiences with Ty, and more writing."

To my surprise and delight, theArt Show Judges (independent from any influence by the Art Show Staff I'd become a temporary part of) awarded me with a First Prize in the 3D category. The picture they honored was the one-of-a-kind "Spiny Ridge" version of the multiple original Common Cliff Dragon--Male. As I explained to Bruce, I don't intend to tie up my time with anything that intricate again! We'll see how long that resolve holds out.
After the better part of a full week at the convention, I must say my mood was divided. Part of me wanted to linger longer (maybe get more work done), but we also needed to get home!

Heading out on Monday, July 9, 2018: My little green Subaru fit right in, with the Denver crowd. The Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center has a lot of glass in that atrium.
IMAGES: All photos in this post were taken by Jan S. Gephardt, including the one of Jan's own artwork. Please feel free to re-post, reblog, share, or tweet any of these photos, but please include an attribution and a link back to this page. Many thanks!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Something special

The Artdog Quote of the Week



The "something special" is the kind of meeting of minds we think about in the days of the salons, when clusters of brilliant people hung out together and created amazing things. But the synergy that forms when creative people gather in a mutually-energized group transcends any single historical period. It is the fuel that feeds artistic movements, renaissances, and breakthroughs in almost any field.

As we enter this month of July, when my fellow Americans and I celebrate our nation's birthday, we particularly need to bend our creative powers to a coming-together between diverse groups. Progressives and conservatives, old and young, immigrant and those whose roots have grown deep in one place for generations--our communities and our country needs us all.

The American spirit is one of strength and capability, of innovation and resourcefulness--something we can only achieve when we bring a diverse range of talents and knowledge and points of view to the table.

Let's get together for the good of us all, and then let's get creative.

IMAGE: Many thanks to Brainy Quote, for this nugget of wisdom from Joy Mangano.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Busy and useful

The Artdog Image of Interest

I have examples of all my current artworks on my Westercon 71/MALCon 6 Art Show Panel.

This time I have all the artwork!

Well, all my current artwork that's finished, that is. Today's Image probably looks a lot like several earlier Images of Interest you've seen on this blog through the early summer: my Art Show panel at yet another sf convention.

I'm at Westercon 71 this week, hosted by Myths and Legends Convention, a Shiny Garden event. It's in Denver, in a pretty cool hotel, the Hyatt Regency in the Denver Tech Center.

This has been an unusual convention for me so far, most notably because a communications glitch has resulted in my not being a panelist. This Concom got the same head shot, bio, and introductory letter that's set me up with programming duties elsewhere (including Worldcon 76 in San Jose, CA, my next convention).

But there was a typo in the email address on my part, an unforeseen and unrelated complication for the Concom, and ultimately--no panels for Jan. Now, I know I probably could have pressed the issue and ended up with a panel or two. But there's nothing that screams "insecure wannabe" quite so loudly to a convention committee as someone not chosen for programming, who then whines and moans and complains about it until the Programming Chair finally puts him or her on something, just to shut the obnoxious loudmouth up, already.

I can't honestly claim that I never whine (if I tried, I know folks who would shoot me down in a New York minute, so I won't go there!), but I do try not to be obnoxious. 

So instead, I've been volunteering this weekend--most particularly in the Art Show. No sf convention on the planet ever had enough volunteers, so that was the logical choice. I wanted to stay busy and do something useful. I know art shows (God knows I should, by now), so I knew to expect that Art Show Director Bruce Miller would need extra hands on the morning the art show panels went up. My back hurts as I write this, but I did stay busy, and it appears I made myself useful, too.

Honestly, is there a better thing we can do with ourselves?

IMAGE: The photo was taken by me (Jan S. Gephardt) of my own artwork on my Westercon 71/MALCon 6 Art Show panel. Please feel free to share or re-post it, but if you do please include an attribution and a link back to this post. Many thanks!