Saturday, July 23, 2011

Meet Me at the Crossroads, Part 1

Thank goodness I braved the heat advisory to join my sister Lisa for an outdoor concert at the last minute. Due to some car trouble, a friend of hers was unable to make it to the Old 97’s, Cowboy Mouth, Those Darlins, and Robert Ellis concert at Crossroads KC at Grinders on Thursday night. When Lisa unexpectedly asked me to be her date a couple hours before the show, I happily obliged. I gotta say, I just love my music with a little twang. The alt-country bands we saw certainly provided some.

We unfortunately missed the majority of the Robert Ellis set, because we just had to eat while we were there. The restaurants Grinders and Grinders West adjoin Crossroads KC, and I posit they serve the best BLTs in town. They are loaded with crisp thick-cut bacon, fresh avocado, lettuce and tomato, and finished off with a spicy chipotle aioli. YUM. My Sugar Sister treated me to dinner (a BLT for me, of course, and a Philly cheesesteak with turkey for the sis, plus a shared fruit cup and smoked gouda potato casserole), a very cute Old 97’s t-shirt in baby blue (Lis got hers in pink), and the price of admission. Such a fine girl and such a fine concert it turned out to be, despite the heat.

Next up were Those Darlins, a band from Tennessee. They were incredibly energetic and led by a woman. No matter how much I like a band, I will probably like them even better if there’s a spunky frontwoman. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened when I saw Those Darlins. Their music was a little bit punky and a little bit twangy. Which I loved. 

After that, Cowboy Mouth rocked our socks off. The charismatic lead singer/drummer Fred LeBlanc is a true showman, I'm talking master of ceremonies. He single-handedly (single-drumstickedly??) worked up the crowd. In fact, he walked around the perimeter of the crowd, microphone in hand, to “persuade” stragglers to get closer to the stage. As he walked by my sister and me, who were standing a bit apart from the the excitement, he threatened to bite me if I didn’t get moving. Then he ushered us into position, using a hand on each of our backs to guide us. Yes, the lead singer of Cowboy Mouth touched us!! To show our respect, Lisa and I danced to every song without inhibition. It was really fun, they were great musicians (ooh, plus their  badass bassist is a woman), and I was sad when their set ended.

My sister, however, was especially excited to see Old 97’s, one of her most beloved bands. Like most of the girls in the crowd, I swooned when I saw the lead singer. He is so dang cute, and, oddly, he reminded me of a boy I used to LOVE in elementary school. Lisa got the giggles every time he swayed behind his guitar. These guys played with enthusiasm and honesty, but Lisa wishes they had played more of her favorite songs!

Overall, we had a great time dancing to the music, checking out the beautiful people, and sweating profusely. I keep a shortlist of my favorite sweat-induced fun times. ;) This definitely ranked, albeit in an entirely different sort of way!

And the next night I did a near repeat. More about that later. 

Who have you seen in concert this summer? Who do you want to see?
Alison :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

Alison's Book of Treasures

What a weekend! I don’t think I’ve sweat so much all summer! No, I haven't been bellydancing; I have been helping my parents clean their garage. In addition to that, I spent hours going through things I still have stored in my childhood bedroom. Although I am a natural born pack rat, I was able to let go of many of my past belongings. I no longer felt such a strong attachment to most of them.  Pretty soon my parents might even be able to transform the space into a guest bedroom.

Hopefully, people will view my junk as their treasure when they spot it at The Goodwill Store. If I happen to see anything of mine during a future visit, I’ll just pick it up and say to myself with a twinge of nostalgia, “I used to have one of these.” It’s difficult for me to make the decision to let go of objects, but once they are out of my life, I don’t regret the loss. In fact, I feel a lot lighter than I did at the beginning of the weekend.

In the course of clearing out my room, I found all my old sketchbooks, from childhood to grad school. To me, these sketchbooks are treasures in the truest sense. In fact, I even named an early sketchbook “Alison’s Book of Treasures.” Below are a few images from the early years: elementary school through high school. These drawings are not finished pieces; they are daydreams, illustrated on lined paper and then brought to life by an active imagination. They document my thoughts, feelings, ideas and interests. They serve as a reminder of the girl I once was and the process of becoming the person I am now. They make me laugh, reminisce, fantasize, cringe, and wonder why it took me so long to figure out how to draw chins and locate eyes and ears correctly on the head.

I hope you don't mind my little trip down memory lane:

Elementary School

I suspect this scene was based on the 
song "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" by Cher.

I have always drawn pages and pages full of 
girls in various costumes. My interest in clothing and 
bodies is apparent when you see my more recent artwork.

A fashion show or beauty contest, perhaps.

Middle School

I employed a little trickery here. 
Flipped upright, a gymnast hangs from a bar. 
Flipped upside down, a ballet dancer takes the page.

This is one strong broad. I can't get over all 
the details, especially the design on the towel!

I can't remember exactly what was going on here, 
but I think it had something to do with a babysitter.

Music, particularly oldies with substantial
narratives, influenced many of my early drawings.

This pretty lady is Ophelia. I found the original
inside the family copy of The Illustrated Shakespeare.

The faces at the top and the right are based 
on art by Modigliani, while the face to the left is 
after Cezanne. I am still a huge proponent of drawing 
from the Masters. It's a great way to learn new techniques.

High School

Figuring out how to draw a 
dragon for a Medieval-inspired alphabet. 
In the final project, he took the form of the letter S.

Exaggerated features, shading, and a mixture of 
Scheherazade, Greek Goddess and Xena: Warrior Princess.

To this day, I love drawing pots. My 
perspective is off, but that's okay, right?

Taking liberties with the hands, or maybe 
I was just being lazy. Hands take patience.

Here I appear as a tomato taking down the 
cartoon versions of some real life tormentors.

After the beginning of freshman year, I stopped keeping 
a notebook dedicated to art. Instead, I focused on full-scale 
projects in my art classes. However, I still doodled prolifically in my 
class notebooks, and every once in awhile I made preliminary sketches. 
Planning a large-scale project. I called it "Bitter Heart." 
Looking back, I realize my 16-year-old self was dramatic, not 
bitter! I still think the project has merit, and now I have the experience 
to back it up. Of course, I would say I am still more dramatic than bitter.

Playing around with complementary colors. This is a rarity. Color wasn't 
really my thing. I have just always preferred the simplicity of black and white.

I was the Entertainment Editor and an artist for my high 
school newspaper. Here I was working out an editorial cartoon. 

As a senior in high school, I was disturbed by 
the commodification of religion. Here, I was trying to 
make a connection between the popular imagery of aliens 
and Jesus Christ. I still think this sketch is more successful than 
the finished piece. I also tackled this issue in my College English class.

In another post, I will share more ideas, sketches and themes from my later sketchbooks. What did you draw growing up? Is it at all related to what you do now or the final pieces of art you make? I still doodle a lot, especially when I am on the phone. I just can't seem to keep my hands still. Do you like to doodle, too? What images or designs pop up?Lately, I've been doodling mushrooms. I would love to see your childhood sketchbooks! If you have a link, send it my way.

Alison :)