Thursday, December 31, 2009

More; and MOAR!

Got home a couple hours ago; and in a good mood about things in general. The drive home did not involve ice, snow, or any other wintry mix of precipitations bombarding the car, so it was pleasurable.

Yellow Springs is just out of ear-shot of Columbus' NPR station, so I listened to crunchy static steadily fade to "Echoes," which is my Secret Shame Ambient Music Program, or SSHAMP! for short. Funny, it's not something I listen to on purpose. "Echoes" just always comes on the radio while I'm driving, and I recognize the unspoken words in each song: "You are up late, my friend." Over and over. 'This is John Diliberto, and you are listening to... Echoes."

Here's a sample of what I've been up to in the studio: making precarious vertical structures. I may never get to be a doctor or an architect, but someday I'm going to build a wicked tree-house.

i dream of driving when i sleep, and i day-dream about sleep while driving

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Looking for the Dogstar

I've been brought low for the past few days by a cold; but managed to get it together enough to drive over to the studio space, and now eager to get working. My muse isn't here. It's somewhere else; out of sight, but always tantalizingly close in my mind's eye. Even out here, the faintest glimmer sustains me, fills me up, and pushes me to do the things I mean to do.

I had gotten bogged down in this space, trekking from one end of Yellow Springs to the other, till I got sick as a dog from walking in the snow-- all the while hoping I'd find that perspective; an audible click in the back of my mind, and then I'd have it for sure.

But my work here can't be about this place, it's about me and you; and how we relate to the problems of this world. Stop trying to make a site-specific piece, because in the end you know in your heart that every piece is site-specific. And maybe person-specific; though that remains to be tested here. Maybe next time I'll be brave enough to make something like that: something just for you; or you.

Sirius, the dog star, is the brightest star in the sky because it's actually two stars. It's a binary system, two suns working in tandem. What power we derive from each other!!

now go make some art

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Middle Finger

Injury post tonight; quite a little ordeal so I figure I'd share the story with you. A little bit ago I accidentally lodged a splinter of wood up under my fingernail. It was easily a half-inch long, and sunk in as far as my cuticle. At any rate, I was introduced to a pain I had no prior conception of: the nerve-endings under the human fingernail are alive and well, and very excited about conveying signals to the brain.

My mother-in-law managed to pull it out with tweezers twenty minutes later, and My God The Pain. But the main thing is that it's out, and the ordeal is over.

Gloves. I'm buying gardener's gloves, and wearing them every day for the rest of forever.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


I see you when I close my eyes now. You're miles away, and still there's an image of you emblazoned on my retinas. Neat. It keeps me up at night; the need to finish, to start. It's all I ever wanted. The only cost is a little bit of sanity. Or insanity-- I really always considered those progenitors of darker subject matter to be much saner and humane people in life; as if some soul-cleansing had taken place, and the canvas acted as a sort of filter, straining out the grit and garbage, dispensing only the flavor. So, yeah, coffee.

In other news, the gifts I received for Christmas this year were all very useful: coat, scarf, gloves, hat, wristwatch, rotary tool, windshield wipers, gift-cards, pajamas. All-in-all, I'm very content, and made out like a bandit this year.

And you probably guessed it; I took this photo in the Glen at Yellow Springs. I've got a lot fuel for this endeavor. The holidays have given me an excuse to slack off though, but the lack of sleep is a clear signal that I need to get back to work.

you are crystal-clear in my mind now;
you are so far away
I'll do what I can
just stay in my head a little longer

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Apparitions, and I'm Still Looking

Despite the cold and snow, this week has been remarkably comfortable.

We finished up the Christmas shopping yesterday, which entailed less than two hours. Wading through the pre-Christmas crowd at Easton was bearable and, dare I say, pleasant?

I lost my scarf somewhere there, which was heart-wrenching since my mom got it for me just this week. I lose winter accessories; they just leap out my pockets unbidden.

After I gave up searching, the scarf appeared. Someone had laid it on the newspaper rack beside Cup O Joe. I love that about strangers: people will pick up lost articles of clothing and move them to a better spot, safe from trampling feet. I was grateful to find it there. And reunited, I now believe it to be a "lucky" scarf, imbued with new powers from its time away.

The Glen has it's share of foot-bridges, though there's one place where you must hop from stone to stone to get across the creek. They tell me the floods here are pretty amazing, and from the shape of these gullies I wouldn't be surprised if whole sections of the place go underwater after a hard rain.

I've got a neat project idea that should keep me busy these coming weeks. It's something that I can work on both at home and in Yellow Springs, which is a big bonus. I'm pretty happy about it. More on that later.

maybe I'm done looking for you

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Different Halves

I was in familiar territory today, taking care of some business on campus. It was different this time, deserted, between quarters, and far too cold and biting for anyone to be out except on urgent business, though I did see the odd grad student puffing away on a cigarette here and there, sheltered in various alcoves.

I stopped off for a cup of coffee, but Hagerty was empty. The coffee shop was closed down, a metal cage dividing the space. I hung there for a moment considering my options, and then quietly left.

I visited the raptors last Friday. It was a little walk through the glen to their hutches and the caretaker's station; nothing like the epic hours-long trek that many of the locals had described. It's true: several people got great big googily eyes when I told them I intended to go on foot to see the birds, as if I were talking some kind of madness. "Walk? It'll take days to walk there, boy! You'll never make it!"

But not a bad walk at all. And I saw the birds, and marveled: owls, hawks, kestrels, vultures, a bald eagle, each hunkered down in their respective hutches against the cold. None are fit to be released into the wild due to their injuries, but at least they are well-fed and looked-after.

Crazy like a fox

Friday, December 18, 2009

In Unknown Lands

Okay, time to get to work. One of the other residents asked me what I had proposed for the space, and I could only shrug and say, "Dunno." I have no clue other than I'm hoping to stumble across it during today's wandering.

This town is a special place, and I'm hoping to capture an impression of it, sort of like when you lay a piece of paper over a leaf and color over it. I'm looking for imprints, and raw materials.

We're forbidden to remove materials from the nature preserve, nor can we leave stuff there. I'm going in today with recording devices: camera, eyeballs, sketchpad. That's all. I'm hoping to get a feel for the place.

Everywhere else is fair game for salvage, which is good: this place is a goldmine.

new purpose is old purpose.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Driving Days

That's my studio!

That's my computer!

That's my waste paper basket!

Okay, so technically I'm sharing the Mac with two other people, but it's still cool nonetheless; and that keyboard needs to go.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Well, I'm officially an artist-in-residency today. That's where I'm writing from, in fact. Two of us moved into our respective spaces this afternoon. I built a bird-mobile as a preliminary for my visit to the Raptor Center later this week. Too bad it wasn't a Canis Lupus Center, though large predatory birds rank in at a pretty close second place in terms of animals I admire. Third place being the Land Shark.

Ugh... the space bar on this keyboard sticks. May need to cut this short.

More later.

Monday, December 14, 2009



I think I just illustrated an album cover for Gwar. Ugh. Neat.

If you hadn't noticed, me and the stylus have been getting pretty wild these past few days. I've got a secret crush on blue and violet that surfaces on occasion, usually when depicting otherworldly things. There's something special about that end of the spectrum. Dark blue with accents; rawr.

I went to a former student's graduation party tonight. He was very happy; gave me a big hug when he saw me. Good times.

Although, I was an hour late looking for the place-- "Google-Maps" put me in the middle of an empty field. Obviously not the place. But I found it eventually, even had a stern conversation with the proprietress of the party site, as if her and Google had combined forces to undermine me in this life.

Picked up a bottle of pinot noir on the way home. I couldn't pass up the brand: "Rex-Goliath: Giant 47 Pound Rooster." Not a bad purchase, and one of those rare moments where my North Market 'Rooster' wine glass matches the bottle. Good boy, Rex.

See ya around.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Do To Me

I hit the town solo last night to see some art. Junctionview was having an open studio event and I was eager to see what my old chums have been up to this year.

Any Junctionview event in recent history can be summarized in one word: overstimulating. While not as big as the biannual Agora exhibitions, the place was still packed. I commend the crew there for whipping it into its current incarnation: I'll take crowds of snooty "alternative" kids over the empty tomb I first encountered in 2006. The place used to be dead, now it's living. Good job.

That said, you'll never see me drink too much at these large events. The reason being that it requires a sustained effort for me to navigate those corridors, with art and artists elbow to elbow: peddlers of wares and glowing proud egos all jostling for position. I worry that were my self-control to slip in this place I'd run gibbering from studio to studio, telling awful truths, and then flee into the night to the echos of sobs, wails, and the gnashing of teeth.

So yeah, it's important not to say too much. After a single beer, I caught myself starting to slip, and crazy-upon-crazy, suggested to one artist that he not build a frame for a piece in question. I hinted that maybe it was done, and he could leave it at that. "Your work looks better without those gaudy frames, sir." After receiving an incredulous glare for response, I slithered away.

The diversity of Junctionview is where I run into problems. You advertise an event as an Open-Studio Night, and I think, "Okay, time to sweep in, meet some artists, and discuss their work and ideas." But my interpretation of 'open studio' is flawed; instead, I walk through the door and get a sales-pitch, "Hey, is there a lucky lady in your life you want like to buy something for? It's the holiday season afterall." Damn, how I wish I was making that up.

But it's not their fault. They're just trying to survive, to turn a profit on their talent. Who am I to poo-poo on that?

Despite my criticism, It really was a fun night, and I did enjoy seeing the wares, mimes, and jugglers, as well as old friends and some new art.

What you do to me
What you do through me

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I'm impressed by the sheer number of ways we abuse ourselves. It'd be almost comical, if our time here was an infinite function. Sadly, it is not.


I met with some artist friends at a local restaurant last night. I thought it was neat that we all brought our sketchpads and notebooks unprompted. It spoke of an eagerness to share, to be involved. Still don't have a clue what anyone's artwork really looks like; though it was only the second time we've met. And at least we're talking shop. The rest will come soon enough.

They're a good group of folks. I'd like to see them go on to do great things in their respective careers. It's not an easy path, that much is sure.

I devoured those stories. Every nuance and pause. Our rhythm was awkward; the pacing wrong. Too many people crammed into a single booth, but this was the third time we had moved and the waitresses were ready to kill us. We dared not move to a fourth table, so there we sat crammed together like sardines. I contemplated letting myself go, simply tipping out of the booth and slithering away underfoot.

Aren't there some reptiles that can shed their tails to deter and confuse attackers? Not a bad idea as long as you remember to make good on your escape.

We should make this a weekly thing.

ah.. oh.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Recycled Landmarks

I swear we passed that structure fifteen minutes ago. I think we're lost. Probably going in circles. That would explain the recycled landmarks. Pull over, I'll go on foot from here.

And now I'm here; lost. Marooned on an alien world. But I know what I'm doing, I've packed a lunch.

Man, I'm going to miss that flavored coffee; the morning exchange of resources for nutrients at Hagerty that I grew to depend on, the jostling crowd. If you stand there for longer than 10 minutes, you'll see everyone you've ever known walk by. Uncanny; wonderful.

I will not miss getting up every predawn morning and tripping over things in the dark.

I'm waiting. Working things out here, but also just waiting. I have no idea how to prepare for this residency program except to relax and go with the flow. I'm good at stifling panic, though a slow-burning anxiety glows just below the surface. 'Let this work out,' I think over and over.

Today's secret music shame: The Birthday Massacre.
Pros: Crunchy Synthrock
Cons: Girly, corny, melodramatic, lyric content and delivery sometimes make me cringe

Yesterday's secret music shame: Slick Idiot.
Pros: German Industrial Band, helps me focus
Cons: the bad songs are really bad. Same as above, cringe reflex engaged

Secret music shame of the week that's not really all that shameful to listen to because it's flawless: Hybrid (Mike Truman, Chris Healings)
Pros: danceable
Cons: danceable
The Morning Sci-Fi for the win.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Rare Sleepless Night

Restless night. Ugh...

I tried sifting through the junk on my table to see if it sparked anything in the creativity department, followed a couple of tangents to dead-ends, but nothing useful. I've given up on it and decided to write a bit:

So yeah, hi.

I keep coming back here. Each day I sit down to write, and feel like I never get to the thing I've been meaning to say to you. I'm close; I can visualize the words, but they go all wrong when I try to pin them down. It's like a dream or something, where the message gets lost in the reading. Though that's borderline cliche right there.


Do I speak in cliches? For someone with no qualms about being cheesy, I have a fear of speaking in pre-programmed phraseology, "Ain't that right, Sport?" *shudder* I think it cuts too close to the bone with the whole art thing. Name me one artist who'd not be offended by being labeled as "prone to using cliches."

It cuts too deep! Aaargh!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Raining Again

I'm used to blaming the weather for the bad things in my life. It was 54 degrees this morning so I grabbed my light jacket. Lo-and-behold,: something like a Nor'easter is roaring in to pummel the inhabitants of this city as they scurry for shelter. I can barely keep my eyes open because of the wind and rain flying sideways into my face.

It's beautiful though. Leaves leap up in great walls, breaking like waves, and spinning in rustling tornadoes across my path. Winter reaches her hands down the back of my shirt and I jump at the shock-- the audacity of such a touch. She pulls me close, breathes into me; my lungs burn from the cold. Like a persistent lover she hounds me every step of the way. I can't ignore her, there's no way. I'm wearing a jacket and a t-shirt. All the world they'll do me here, I might as well be wearing swimming trunks.

I'm almost done with finals. By the time you read this I'll be starting my math exam, or fighting my way home through this wind. I can't wait till I'm on the other end of this thing, just to close the book on it and say 'done.' There'll be the inevitable fallout, of course: the mental repercussions of failure, and the resources that this expedition cost, but I'll pay for it, and gladly.

I got my teeth cleaned a little bit ago. Despite the rampant coffee consumption I was awarded a clean bill of tooth health. Coffee's apparently not as bad as I thought. It's got a relatively high PH level, equatable to rainwater, which is like 100 times more acidic than regular bottled water. Good news is that figure is still not enough to destroy tooth enamel; I'm no doctor, but I'm going to go ahead and say that the coffee and booze actually strengthen my teeth (and give me super-powers).


Monday, December 7, 2009

Successful Despair Mindwarp

Amidst the wreckage of academic defeat, I am surprised to find myself in dual universes tonight: the first, where I kneel over broken things, and a second, warm and inviting place, where I apparently have a new gig: an artist residency.


I'm excited about this. And terrified.

You asked the other night how we envisioned our future selves. A fascinating question, but too easily blunted by inane chatter. I snatched it out of the air, filed away for later consideration. Our future selves...

I see an ocean; the sand at our feet. We run along as the tide rolls up, splashes against our ankles. Is this the future? The past? I don't know. Probably neither. And both.

I've missed you these last few days: the heat of my routine. I got used to staggering around in the predawn gloom. Purpose. Fire. Impulse. Structure. I daydream about finding a poet to break these words for me. In my fantasy we hold up the paintings for him and he translates. Wonder of wonders, wouldn't that be something to behold?

For the time being, we'll have to get used to walking in the dark.


Deviation of Orbit

Okay, right, so... let's try this again.

If you see me in person and/or read these blog posts often, more than likely you can consider yourself apprised of the situation, and aware of The Big Ole Plan. This operation began 10 months ago when I decided to reenlist myself in university studies with the intent of climbing the highest, steepest mountain available to me: Pre-med.

The furnace fires were lit, the ancient machinery of my math-brain roared to life: I had a new goal; something that seemed impossible. I would become a doctor and help people with my giant brain; do things for them that I couldn't as an artist. I'd become someone new and useful. It would be great. I would scale this mountain. Oh yes, I would.....

Alas, as the door creaks shut on 2009, I find myself floundering in intermediate classes-- Physics 111, Math 150, ect-- scrambling for purchase on icy slopes. Now I'm taking my finals, totally confused, more than likely failing these classes (unless they curve these grades). However the chips fall in the next couple of days, I think I'm done with school. I won't be returning next quarter.

But I'm not in despair. Not anymore. I gave it a good try. And maybe my heart wasn't totally in it, or it could be that my brain isn't wired to deal with high mathematical concepts. But I do want to thank all of you who stood by me this year, built me up, carried and tutored me, kept me caffeinated. I love you guys.

together now

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Okay, Right, So...

Weekend shenanigans....

Ready for a life change.

Should be an interesting week.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Disguised As Artist

It's really hard for skinny guys to look cool in puffy winter coats. There's something about the profile I cut around this time of year that I really don't like. The bird-legs spoil the effect; not that I'm trying to impress, but it'd be nice to have a warm coat that I loved, and not this puffy aesthetic abomination.

Though I am warm.

And then there's the goofy winter hat I got in Yunnan that is the warmest, most awesome thing to sit on my head, though functional, makes me very self-conscious in public. People stare at the hat. It's not red, and it doesn't say, "Go Buckeyes!" and it makes me look like I'm about to go for a sleigh-ride in a Norman Rockwell painting.

I've actually got an identical problem with the goofy summer hat I acquired in the same province. It's a giant cowboy hat. There were two different styles circulating in the village; I started to go with the classic Western cowboy hat, but our guide nodded me toward the authentic one. This thing is a massive tower that says, "Hey look, guy in goofy hat!" wherever I go. I'm not brave enough to wear it, though I really love the way it keeps the sun off.

I did the art thing last night, went to some openings. I'm usually a champion eater at these things, loading up a towering plate of food and shoving my way through like I own the place. Last night however, a more cautious, almost birdlike behavior emerged. I nipped at the food table surgically, and my stomach was appalled at the weak offering: one mini-peanut butter cup, one sushi roll, one piece of broccoli, and what looked like about ten grains of rice. What was this? A growing apprehension?

Ah, the old ghosts. I was anxious about facing them, looking somewhere, anywhere for a friend, someone to back me up. But we all must face the music on our own, and that's how it was: these benchmark moments where you stare eye-to-eye with the past and say, "Ah.."

Don't blink.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Let's Roll

Whether it's another dream or just a hallucination, I'm now certain the Mothman that terrorized my homeland has tracked me here, and these cloistered city walls are no longer a safe haven.

It's probably my fault too. I had to time-travel in order to find something that was missing; some old memories. Now I've remembered, but at a small cost:

the beast has returned...

mothman's shorter than I remembered....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In Your Dreams

This week I've been hiding just beyond the reach of normal events, sometimes observing scenes as they would have happened, but not participating in any real way. It's like watching surgery on yourself as an out-of-body experience; or watching your own funeral from behind a tree. There's a detached curiosity that goes along with it.

I walk behind myself a couple of paces, watching the back of my own head; and wondering if I could just hit the breaks and let the body go on by itself. It knows the routine well enough, I think it'd be fine on its own. I can just float here like a cloud and catch up on some sleep.

And then I realize once again this is a dream and I've overslept for the third time in as many days. I crawl out of bed, limp to the bathroom in the darkness.

Huck Finn watched his own funeral, right?

Or was it Tom Sawyer?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Torque and Lever Arm

Everything feels broken today, though that might be the lack of sleep talking. Throw in some post-holiday blues and a gaping wound that won't heal to make things worse. Fortunately for me, typing out this junk actually helps, so I continue:

I applied for that residency yesterday. We passed the hypothetical question around last night regarding what would happen if I actually got in. I laid out an elaborate plan that involved sleeping on a cot in the workspace and driving a million hours every couple of days... It's a good plan.

It'll work, as long as reality isn't taken into account. I don't know how I'd make school work out with a residency so far away, but if I can't make it work under current circumstances I might as well go for broke. Compound things until something snaps.

Some machines are built with the sole purpose of shaking themselves apart. I actually take comfort in that. I might need this system to break down again. Why? To get back up. Dust myself off, build something new.

Good. See? Now you've cheered me up. Easy.

Now back to work.

Take care of yourself. I miss you.