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Art that involves meeting in the middle

“Stop thinking about art works as objects and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences.” –Roy Ascott

If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, The Art Assignment is a vlog that launched earlier this year. In the debut episode, hosts Sarah Urist Green and John Green introduced artists Douglas Paulson and Christopher Robbins. Then, the first assignment of the series was explained and the artists embarked on it. The first vid documents their adventures/misadventures.

Unlike other blogs, however, The Art Assignment is meant to be interactive. Which is to say, the audience is also encouraged to do the assignments. Here are the instructions for the first one:

1. Pick a friend and calculate the exact geographic midpoint between where the two of you live. You can use GeoMidpoint or other websites to calculate your midpoint, or even use a paper map.

2. Decide on a date and a time to meet there and don’t communicate until then.

3. Document your experience. You can do this however you’d like, using photos, video, text, drawings or anything else.

4. Upload your documentation and share it online using whatever social media platforms you prefer, being sure to tag it with #theartassignment so they can find it.

I see this as the perfect opportunity to not only experience art in a new way, but also to complete another one of my “firsts.” Who wants to play?

raven and books stamp

A letterboxing adventure, part 2

In an effort to dare myself to experiment more, I’ve set about about following Lu Ann Cahn’s example of engaging in fun and daring “firsts.” This is my list.

One of these planned firsts involved going letterboxing, which, according to Atlas Quest “is an intriguing pastime combining artistic ability with delightful treasure-hunts in beautiful, scenic places.” You can learn more about it here.

Last weekend, I put together a small bag of supplies (a rubber stamp, ink pad, letterboxing notebook, my cellphone) and piled into the car with M and our dog Duncan. The first park we visited turned out to be the wrong one, but after looking on the map for the actual location, we drove outside of town and parked next to a picnic pavillion. Then, the three of us trekked into the woods in search of the mysterious letterbox.

Following the clues left on Atlas Quest, we climbed over trees, pushed aside leaves, stumbled over rocks, swatted away a million bugs and sweated buckets. Unfortunately, after about an hour of searching, M and I had reached the proverbial X on the map, but there was no treasure to be found.

That’s right, our first letterboxing adventure was a total bust.

I know there are people reading this who will say: “It wasn’t a bust. It’s the journey that matters, not the destination.”

To those kind but delusional folks, I say PISH. If I could have teleported to the exact location and found the treasure, trust me, I would have. And I would have ended up a lot less hot, sweaty and annoyed.

The only good thing about the whole experience was the end, in which we left the park and drove straight to Fast Eddie’s, one of our favorite ice cream stands. M and I both indulged in double scoops and Duncan cooled off with a small soft-serve vanilla in a cup.

Despite this minor setback, I will not be deterred. Although our misadventure technically counts as a “first” and thus deserves to be crossed off my list, I plan to try again, because damn it, I must obtain at least one stamp!


There are only 3 ages for women in Hollywood: Babe, District Attorney and Driving Miss Daisy

The process of choosing a favorite actress was much more difficult than selecting a winner in the actor category. It’s not that women are less talented. Far from it. It’s just that there are few great roles available to them (see above quote by Goldie Hawn).

For example, according to, the biggest movies that played in theaters this weekend were:

* “Transformers: Age of Extinction” (mostly male cast, geared toward male audience)

* “22 Jump Street” (mostly male cast, geared toward male audience)

* “How To Train Your Dragon 2″ (mostly male cast, geared toward children)

* “Think Like a Man Too” (mostly male cast, geared toward mixed audience)

* “Maleficent” (woman lede, back story of a fairy tale villain which includes a metaphorical rape scene)

In most Hollywood films, women are frequently relegated to roles that serve men: prostitutes, secretaries, strippers, maids, slaves, daughters to marry off, the token girlfriend, crime victims, etc. As such, talented actresses only have the opportunity to really shine in romantic comedies (which I love) or in films that are created/written/directed by other women. This situation is incredibly frustrating for the brilliantly skilled women working in the business, but also for women like me, who enjoy going to movies and seeing strong male and female characters on screen.

So to choose just one favorite movie actress would be impossible. I can however, urge you to seek out films featuring performances by: Glenn Close, Emma Thompson, Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, Julia Roberts, Viola Davis, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Meg Ryan, Margo Martindale, Kathy Bates, Lois Smith, Allison Janney, Julianne Moore, Jane Lynch, Jodie Foster, Susan Sarandon, Halle Berry, Helen Hunt, Stockard Channing, Dianne Wiest, Christine Baranski and Sandra Bullock.

(Photo by YunYulia.)