28 August 2008

Belated Birthday Gift

(In the midst of readying my new Science Fair style post, I discoverd I had never in fact posted this entry, about my birthday drive to Greensboro, NC to vist the Elsewhere Art Cooperative. What an amazing place. I've been more than remiss -it's practically criminal that it's been languishing in the Drafts. )

When it's my birthday, I like to indulge myself, and one of my favourite ways is to take a daytrip. Preferably without doing the driving. I was pondering what to do this year - or what I could do for little money with a baby in tow - when I serendipitously stumbled across a posting at the Scrap Exchange - already one of my favourite places in the world - about the Elsewhere Artist Collaborative in Greeensboro, NC. Short version of the Elsewhere story via their site:

In 1939, Joe and Sylvia Gray began selling furniture imports at 606 and 608 South Elm Street in downtown Greensboro, NC. Following WWII, the furniture business transformed into a Surplus Store catalog company, mending used army goods and selling them to Boy Scout troops across the country. After Joe’s unexpected death in 1955, Sylvia began to stock surplus fabric, clothing, and eventually general thrift items such as toys, books, housewares, and knick-knacks. Shopping daily, Sylvia’s collection increasingly became an unmanageable mass stored in boxes and piles throughout the three-story building. The astounding accumulation amassed over her lifetime remained in a seemingly chaotic heap after Sylvia’s death in 1997.

Inspired by the potential for these “found objects” as artistic resource, George Scheer (Sylvia’s grandson) recruited fellow artists and friends to begin excavating Sylvia’s old store in May 2003. As the reorganization of Sylvia’s collection took form, local support increased, and the artist-residency program expanded, a living museum created by a collaborating community of artists flourished.

Check out their website:

What I loved most about this place was how the Grandson could have sold it off piece by piece on Ebay but is committed to a place where money isn't the point - where donations are nice, but there's no entry fee. Where the glass cases of a museum are removed and the public can touch and when invited, rearrange and recreate the collection. The day we were there, they were "archiving" all their vintage clothes by invinting people to don whatever they fancied and have their portraits taken. We dressed Simone up in old velvet kiddie dresses and feather hats and posed and posed. There was a communal kitchen in back for the artists-in-residence and a garden planted in the alleyway. Events and posters and plans and lots and lots of creative juice just flowing all over the place. Please apply for a residency there and I will come visit you.

14 August 2008


It's amazing how much work three minutes of audio can take. The interviewing (each time we pulled up to someone's house I really, truly did not want to get out and had to force myself with every fiber of my body), the transcribing, the rough cut, the music selection, the kinda rough cut, the finer cut, the final cut....we finally got our Radio Ephemera entry in at about one hour before deadline. The hardest part was reducing all the amazing stories down to the time alloted, especially when people had taken us into their homes - strangers! - and told us the most intimate, joyous, and heart-breaking moments in their life and I had to eye all this raw footage coldly and decide what "worked". Ouch. But I'm happy with the final result, and secretly, in my heart of hearts, I hope hope hope the judges are too. Should you care to listen, we're Item 72, "Family Tree", right here:

Besides making radio, I recently started a new job at a library and as luck would have it, a department that had been in the library forever moved to a new building and had a surplus sale of all their old goods. $5 a piece, cash and carry. It broke my heart that my husband was out of town because with an extra pair of hands and another driver I would have carted away much more. 50's and 60's era office furniture, the kind made in America with shiny chrome and bearing names like "Steel-All" are my vice. Look at the three chairs I scored (among other items). The sienna coloured steno chair and the orange shell chair are both swivel and rolling, to boot. I was dragging the red chair out on the elevator and an elderly and kind librarian gently informed me that it had been his first chair as a librarian, in 1969. Good librarian karma + sweet mid-century design - all for $15 bucks.