Tenochtitlan Toyland

This is one of two proposals I recently submitted for a solo show… boney fingers crossed. The first, The Thinking Reed is pretty much ready to hang; this one resides mostly within my head and deals primarily with perception and the problems that arise from appropriation and misappropriation.

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Tenochtitlan Toyland: Playthings from New Spain

My proposal for “Tenochtitlan Toyland: Playthings from New Spain” is a theatrical concept room, an installation piece that essentially represents a nursery from hell. My concept which employs painted and constructed assemblages, cardboard and papier-mâché figures, marionettes and paintings on paper also incorporate an interactive element in which to engage the gallery viewer.

The nursery in question is that of the Infanta Margaret decorated with imagined booty from New Spain. By utilizing commonly found construction materials, I wish to poke fun at consumerism and the incessant quest for novelty.  To achieve this end I plan to make a plywood Selfie Booth, fashion a series of cardboard jumping wall puppets , even introduce a live performer encased in a walking puppet of my making. There is also a faux didactic element to this installation; I’ve painted a series of watercolor illustrations for an alphabet primer of New Spain that completely misses the mark in comprehending these vanquished people. From encouraging the use of hashtags for my proposed Selfie-booth, to passing out crayons in which to color pastiches of Baroque wall hangings, I wish to engage the viewer, reflect the past and hold up a mirror to the foibles and vanities of our current society.

My work is always narrative based and whether expressed through two dimensional or three dimensional works, I seek to tell universal stories and explore universal truths. With this installation I wish to employ every weapon in the arsenal. Paintings, sculpture and interactive engagement are part of my concept; I wish to create a sense of Gesamtkunstwerk, but instead of a Wagnerian Valhalla, I instead wish to create a dark and funny depiction of our seemingly unquenchable thirst for power and privilege.
Much of this work is still in the conceptual stage, so I have provided preparatory drawings to illustrate my intentions. I have also, when available, enclosed images of completed elements such as marionettes, paper dolls and pages from the aforementioned Primer of New Spain. I have also enclosed an itemized page providing details concerning my concepts and anticipated materials for the elements which make up the whole of Tenochtitlan Toyland; they are numbered to correspond with the images. Concerning which gallery I would prefer I have submitted a scaled rendering of the show situated in the W Gallery; of course that decision is up to the gallery. Given that much of the work is site specific I would appreciate, if I were fortunate enough to be selected, a later date in 2017 for the opening. Given my themes of consumerism and toys, a slot close to Christmas would be devilishly delightful!

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An Itemized List Concerning Tenochtitlan Toyland: Playthings from New Spain

1- “The Rape of Tenochtitlan”, 2016, colored pencil on paper, 18 by 24”.
The initial impetus behind this concept.

2- Pages from my alphabetic primer The Primer of New Spain ; letters A, B, C and D shown. The entire alphabet will represented .
Materials: watercolor on paper.

3- My marionettes of the Hero Twins. These marionettes are part of a body of work that includes other puppets and doll derived from the Popol vuh, that will be incorporated into the concept as a whole.
Materials: Sculpey modeling medium, armature, paint.

4-Part of a collection of paper dolls that I have been working on over the last few years. Some of the dolls are nearly life-sized, some conventionally sized.
Materials: watercolor, graphite, on paper, brads.

5- The Coatlicue Selfie Booth , given that Aztec goddess Coatlicue (and her war god son Huitzilipochtli) is quite a fearsome presence, she is an amusing choice for a selfie cutout . I would actively encourage the hashtag #teotoyland while visitors snap away; both ridiculing social media and exploiting it.
Anticipated materials: self supporting painted plywood cutout.

6- My proposal includes four “jumping jacks”, childish amusements of the Victorians, the difference being, as is the case with this depiction of the rain god Tlaloc,my offerings would be considered inappropriate for the nursery by most sane people. I imagine including three other Aztec gods including the aforementioned war-god Huitzilipochtli. Each will be placed behind a baroque inspired “tapestry”, that with crayons provided near by, I would hope gallery visitors would color in. I imagine an interactive experience, as with the selfie booth.
Anticipated materials: paint, cardboard, string, brads; tapestries, enlarged renderings with crayons provided.

7-The Templo Major, the heart of Tenochtitlan, home to the primary altars of Tlaloc and Huitzilipochtli , scene of countless human sacrifices and terrible battles , could not be a more inappropriate inspiration for a dollhouse; yet I propose just that concept . The installation would include rag dolls of gods, priests and their unfortunate victims. I anticipate quite a few hearts.
Anticipated materials: Painted wood and or papier-mâché construction, lightbulbs, mixed media as yet undetermined.

8- One of the aforementioned rag dolls, in this case, Huitziliopochtli.
Materials: rags, thread, paint.

9- A Meso-american television complete with vignettes from the creation myth , the Popol vuh. It would include the aforementioned marionettes.
Anticipated materials: painted wood and or papier-mâché , lightbulb , mixed media elements as of yet undetermined.

10-A prototype of #9, the Meso-american television.
Materials: painted wood, mixed media.

11- Mictlantecuhtli (Lord of Xibalba) parade marionette. A walking interactive puppet depicting the major god of the underworld . Once again introducing an absurd interactive element into the nursery concept. I hope the performer to be most fetching.
Anticipated materials: chicken wire armature, papier-mache, dowels, string, wire, paint.

12- Schematic of my proposal within the Wubdemann Gallery; drawn 1/4” scale.

 1-Rape of Tenochtitlan
1-Rape of Tenochtitlan
2-detail from Primer of New Spain
2-detail from Primer of New Spain
3-Hero Twin marionettes
3-Hero Twin marionettes
4-Paper-dolls from Xibalba
4-Paper-dolls from Xibalba
5-Selfie Booth
5-Selfie Booth
6- Tlaloc Tapestry design
6- Tlaloc Tapestry design
7-Welcome to the Xibalba Dollhouse
7-Welcome to the Xibalba Dollhouse
8-Huitzilipochtcli Rag-doll
8-Huitzilipochtcli Rag-doll
9-Xibalba Variety Hour
9-Xibalba Variety Hour
10-prototype example
10-prototype example
11-Walking Puppet
11-Walking Puppet
12-Installation Schematic
12-Installation Schematic

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Well, that’s it. I’m not sure which worries me more, being rejected or actually having this proposal accepted and going mad putting it all together! Wish me well please.

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A Reliquary for Daisy (and a few others)

Last evening, without exaggeration I went without a wink of sleep; in my 50 years I have never had an entire evening of insomnia.  I couldn’t bear tossing, listening to the pugs and  the husband snore (out of harmony) ; so instead I finished a biography of my hero Max Beckman and worked on a charcoal self-portrait (not at all flattering, Beckman haunts the soul ). Initially I attributed my insomnia to the stubborn flu I have been fighting, my throbbing ankle from a recent jog,  and my mortality ( as I mentioned Beckman haunts); but when dawn broke I realized that two years ago this day my very beloved pug Daisy died.

Her death though mercifully swift was unexpected, sudden, bloody and violent; one morning she awoke, that evening she was hemorrhaging violently , ultimately dying of a heart attack.

Her heart wasn’t the only one broken.

It may seem maudlin but my attachment to this dear beast remains strong, tears well up readily when I think of her, which is often. I believe , and this may be mystical voodoo  rubbish speaking, but I believe on some level  that I was unconsciously keeping vigil for her. The hours I was a awake were the same hours as her struggle with death; death won and I believe my body remembered .

After her death I set about dealing with my/our grief. Daisy was truth be told “my” dog, we both loved her deeply but I work from home and pugs love nothing more than snuggling at your feet while you paint. Daisy was the supreme studio sentinel. One way I dealt with the loss was to build a reliquary, I built two. The first was glazed ceramic, I cannot find it, frankly the glaze was a disappointment and I was never happy with it. So next I fashioned a proper mini mausoleum for the dear girl. I was far happier with that, and it is now her final home, sitting atop the studio library.

This is what it looks like:

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Daisy’s Reliquary

2011

painted wood, paint, oven dried clay, mixed media including mortuary ashes

28″x12″x7″

figures no larger than 6″tall

As can be seen, Daisy’s ashes are housed on the “ground ” floor. Sadly the Christmas before, our odd little cat Moses had also died, as had David’s father; small urns of their ashes also reside within. 

0 “Chinois” Daisy as studio sentinel.

This is how I remember Daisy best, always watching me. Frankly she wasn’t the prettiest pug-as if there is such a thing!- my current pugs Rose and Viola are quite beautiful; but Daisy with a ridiculously long tongue and outsized personality charmed almost everyone she encountered. She was quite a force.

I so loved this image of her I painted a portriat from it a few months before she died. I feel very fortunate I was able to do that, to be able to examine her funny little feet and crooked face for distinctive characteristics;  I would have missed that opportunity after she died. To see the painting and more very funny pictures of Daisy follow this memorial link I made shortly after her death.

The following are details of Daisy’s reliquary.

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side panel decoration, one of two, both inspired by the Danse Macabre.

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This is a detail of the upper floor. I was in denial about Daisy’s health. She was a  frequent visitor of many veterinarians since we  had adopted her as leggy pup. She was epileptic , which wasn’t a very big deal, but she seemed to be chronically afflicted with other ailments. This upper floor is crammed with just a small sampling of her medications. The 19th c. figurines seemed a proper mourner. The Hell Mouth a suitable architectural style.

000detail of Daisy’s medicine cabinet.

I crafted funny little dark figurines, for no particular reason aside to keep Daisy company. They seem archetypal although from my imagination, they are as follows:

2Grumpy pauper king with skull.

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Mischievous Demonette

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Gilded Slug of Wisdom.

To be fair, I must include a photo of Daisy’s eternal room-mate, the quite handsome if not quite grumpy Moses. He was very beautiful , very tormented, unwell most of his life, but a peculiar delight, We still hear his odd little squeak .

R.I.P. Moses.

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Moses disturbed from his nap by annoying admirers.

I appreciate the indulgence, I hope this post wasn’t too maudlin. I will work this evening, then retire early to a new day.

Until then, take care and be well,

LG