Allen West: News?

Happy Holidays. See you in 2014!

December 26th, 2013

Allen West and the tiny bomb, a 200-page who done it.

December 22th, 2013

I can appreciate tiny things. I can't photograph them well though. Also, using a crappy camera on a crappy phone probably didn't help. But look! I made a mini bomb. It might have been a little inspired by going through my mother's shell collection from the 70's. I did not knit the shell.

Side notes, you can follow me on twitter now. One day when I get a smart phone it might become exciting. Also, it's almost time to rollover the news into the archive. I'm excited about this.

It's winter now but first Friday is still hot.

December 7th, 2013

The Arts board in Portland successfully got the city to close Congress street for the busiest hours of first Friday. At first I was a bit concerned. Without the dogging traffic factor I assumed I would be a bit board while I paced back and forth the peninsula. Also, I found even though we all knew the street was closed (myself included), people still stuck to the sidewalks for awhile. Up near State street I came across this.

There was a circus in the street and a huge audience that created a bigger obstacle than the cars usually do. Everything anyone could stand on to get a better view was occupied so I kept walking, but this is exciting because it's opened the door for big stuff. Things like the annual SPACE block party can now happen every month. I always appreciate reasons to leave my house.

The bad news is I finally got myself into the PMA to check out the biennial and was disappointed. The show was obviously themed with an abundance of meticulous process pieces. And, while I can respect the amount of dedication and care it takes to create some of the work in the show, when the final piece is so wholly unimpressive i question it's position as the best Maine has to offer. I don't really understand why there was a theme at all. It's a biennial, not just any group show. I expect the curator to make decisions about grouping work aesthetically/conceptually however, making such a narrow theme probably (hopefully) left many better pieces out. Maine, you need to step up your game.


November 21st, 2013

The cards came out awesome. It was very exciting. However, if I wanted to sell them in a store around here I am apparently 2 weeks late. They have already stocked themselves like a thanksgiving turkey. So I guess I'm on my own. There are fifteen different cards and they are for sale in packs of 5 with envelopes for $15. There are only 8 of each set so get 'em while they're hot. I ordered a small amount to experiment with and I'm really glad. I'm an awful salesman and this might not go well.

Knitting season has started

November 19th, 2013

It may have started much earlier for some of you and some of you may do it year round, but I follow far too many whims to keep focused on knitting. Never the less, this month has been an excellent start. I made a hat for myself to wear this winter. have a new plan to resolve structural issues with the bomb, I'm using up stockpiled yarn, and photographed some things that got finished eons ago. This was the first test of the white wall I painted in my studio and it performed almost as wonderfully as my model, Erica.

P.S. The printer still hasn't finished printing the Christmas cards. Running out of time, but hope is not lost.

What's Up

November 12th, 2013

I'll attempt to do this in chronological order. Sacred & Profane happened. Here's a photo.

There wasn't really anything I felt was particularly note worthy, but it was still a wonderful day. Halloween happened. I haven't been showing off my costumes here in the past and I see no reason to change that. That Masdevallia hybrid that kept killing it's buds finally flowered... twice! I took a clumsy stop motion of it and posted it to youtube here. Next time I will try to do a better job, but I haven't solved the 'plant needs water/sunlight/air movement' and 'camera needs shooting studio/stability/auto-timer.' Actually I think just buying or making an auto timer would improve the video one hundred times over. I admit it felt pretty good to post a video after so long even one as simple as this. A Birthday happened. Here's a pic.

I think that brings us to present day-ish. I've been working with Alison Hildreth installing her piece in the Portland Public Library. It should be open in roughly a week and you should go see it. It will be there for about 3 years though so no rush. It's been interesting working with her and the rest of the team. I've never been part of something this large and permanent before.

Were launching a new website for a local restaurant this month. I don't think the art world will care much, but I'm excited about it since I coded every bit of it front end and back from scratch. Also I've started learning python, another coding language. I don't know how useful it will be yet. Oh. I almost forgot. Last year I made mixed media Christmas cards. I posted one here, but I made 15 different illustrations, all snow-globe themed. This year I'm having them printed and I'll be selling packages of them. I'll keep you updated on how that goes. I should be looking at a proof this week and have a vendor by the 18th.

Cleaning off a camera

October 19th, 2013

Since Sacred & Profane is in a few hours I recently cleaned off the memory card of my snapshot camera. Photos got sorted into trash/archive/print piles. This is the first camera I've had that also takes video though. Storing the video seemed kinda silly. They're big files of short clips of relatively minor events. The Gif is my solution.

It's Adam Chau. I took this at the botanical gardens when I was out in Chicago.

A PS downgrade is a gif upgrade!?

October 16th, 2013

I know how hover crafts work now! It was a mystery until I built my own. Turns out tiny moose is a little too heavy though and upsets the steering. Also it seems the Russian hacker bots have given up trying to crack my site. Perhaps they were offended by my crude, inaccurate drawing of them. I hope if I am ever in Russia this doesn't come up.

I made a small piece for a quick show

October 14th, 2013

Oops. I was in a show this past first friday. I didn't mention it. It was a little thing though. You didn't miss much. I needle-felted some anatomy and since all the work was meant to be shown inside cardboard buildings, I also made a little steeple to house it. (below). It's got a trachea, heart, lungs, liver, stomach, small intestine and large intestine. Many details got lost when I put it all together. The show is down now. It was at the Meg Perry Center on their final days. The Hidden Ladder collective (they've been running the art shows there) is moving. I don't know where, but I'll probably make some more work for them in the future. I will try to notify people ahead of time.

Sacred & Profane is this Saturday! I missed it last year because I was somewhere far away, but not this time. It's hands down my favorite art event so I'll be going and I will report my findings as usual. Also on the agenda, redownload Photoshop Cs5 32bit. I was so excited to have a 64bit computer (oh the speeds) I trashed the 32bit version immediately. Why would I need a slower version? I wanted to make a little animated gif for you of an early birthday present I got. Turns out 64bit don't gif. Oh well. I'll still get it done and post it soon.

I drew some plants

September 16th, 2013

I decided to take a break from the postcards and make some postcards. They have regular messages on the back so I only scanned the front. I own both these plants, but had to draw the flowers from internet pictures. The one on the right has tried 6 times to flower, but 5 times has abandoned that task. Fingers crossed the current one makes it. The schunkeana (shun-kee-AY-na) I just got on ebay and it was in bad shape so it won't likely flower for a year.

The postcards have completely replaced my sketchbook. I use a tiny book about the size of a credit card for notes and calculations and everything else starts as a postcard. It's been kind of awesome.

Russians are trying to invade my website : Allen West is still equally popular

September 12th, 2013

I noticed my website had gotten twice as popular in the last few months. At first I thought "How cool, I'm twice as popular." This was not the case. I am still equally popular. However, hundreds of bots ( independent computer programs ) from Russian web servers are trying to find some way of cracking my site. You might ask why. Before you do, I'll just tell you. They want to advertize through spam on my site for free in-order to direct my visitors to their own sites. Some of their sites are porn. I'm putting up a good fight. ( I'm doing nothing about this. ) If you visit this site and there are advertizements for things that don't make sense, aren't in english or just on my site at all, then I have lost. I will try to fix it asap. They might never succeed. In which case this quick sketch was for nothing.

This is a dramatization.

First Friday

September 9th, 2013

I enjoyed this first friday. Usually the dense crowds, buskers, children, conversation snippets and expected art gives me much more stress than pleasure, but this time the other scale got tipped. Among the reasons was the opening of a new little gallery, Vestibule 594.

The gallery is run by people in my own generation, which, is pretty exciting. Colby Myer (could not find his website) was featured this month. The gallery is small, but has good fung-shui and can fit a few medium to large paintings. I have high expectations so we will see.

Space is always worth checking out. They've got a show on sign painters right now. It's got some interesting pieces, but nothing stood out for me. If you like hand painted signs it should be on your to-do list, but otherwise I don't think you're going to miss much.

Rose Contemporary has been hit or miss forever. Even when it was called Whitney Art Works. Frequently they have some of the most boring art. It was not the case this time. Their current feature, Jeff Badger, is funny.

My favorite piece was in the front window of the June Fitzpatrick Gallery. I didn't like a single other thing there. I have taken a terrible photo of it for you. It's a Ralph Steadman-esque pig by Thomas Cornell.

Thanks Mail Man

September 4th, 2013

Sometimes tilting the screen shows more detail!?

August 30th, 2013

What's up with that?

I sort of made a splash page

August 28th, 2013

It happened. The guilt of using a blog type page as my homepage finally got to me. If you're disappointed just bookmark this page and your problem is solved. I've also settled on how I'm going to post the post (below). It makes way more sense and I don't have to spend time blurring peoples addresses. Of course the rare vertical card comes and messes up everything. That didn't stop me from making two of them in the last couple days. We'll see how that goes.

Lights & Plants

August 15th, 2013

I'm working on a plant light. I think I've got the aesthetics just about down, but the perfect LED doesn't exist. So I'm looking at different surface mounted chips and trying to find a close-ish compromise. I've given up on a 20 degree viewing angle. I refuse to deal with bulky power units though so I may not reach my 7500 foot-candle goal. At the same time I'm trying to refine my orchid collection. I've a Lycaste and a Maxillaria coming and Adam Chau is going to make some special ceramic pots for them once he gets his new kiln setup.

August 11th, 2013

I found the lost postcards and have finished moving again. Hopefully I'll be in this one place for awhile. Also, a small orchid native to the Philippine cloud forests did not like being moved around (c'est mort). Photo on it's way.


July 17th, 2013

Super exciting. I finally ran out of american flag stamps. Not to be unpatriotic, but they were starting to get to me. New stamps... apples. Despite the fact that apples came from the middle east originally, I feel like they're only one step towards weening myself off USA themed postage.

I also rescind my earlier statement about running out of out-of-state friends. I went through my phone and found another dozen address to fetch. I then lost all the in progress cards during the first move. I have high hopes about them being rediscovered during move #2 though.

Moving and then Moving

June 29th, 2013

Not much to report. I have about 8 postcard fronts finished without backs. and I've started to run out of out-of-state-friends (at least the ones I could get mailing addresses for) so perhaps I'll start over and keep sending them to the same people.

I got invited to be part of a fashion show. This is the first time I've been invited to be part of a fashion show rather than having to apply and it feels pretty good. The show itself is up in the air at this point, but the woman who's in charge has a good record of following through. I wont say much because it's too early, but I'm excited and I'm going to try really hard not to use electricity at all this time.

I just finished moving into a temporary space so that I can move again in about three weeks into a (hopefully) long term place. I'm pretty excited about the future apartment because it has a studio attached. It will be the first time I have a studio since I was in Germany.

Awesome Blossom

June 13th, 2013

Osmoglossum pulchellum, AKA Awesome Blossom. Lost some flowers. It doesn't really fit in with The Plants I Killed considering they naturally died as they are supposed to, but a nice image anyway.

Frames and plants. Live and dead.

June 11th, 2013

It was a rainy first friday. Not too many people were walking about. I did get to see some ballet and some related work by Jess Lipton at key bank. The show at P&C went well despite the lack of people throngs. It's still up for the month so you can go see it on a sunny day.

I changed the 'logo.' The TV headed fox was supposed to be a place holder and it did so for a little longer than I planned. Now it's an illustration of my piece from the show. It's a dead Neofinetia falcata 'Tomakongo', a Japanese cultivar orchid that I killed awhile ago. On that note I learned a new word, phyto-necrophilia. It refers to people (both botanists and non-scientific) who like dead plants. Since I've never thrown out a dead orchid and have spent so much time photographing and sketching them, I feel it's appropriate. I don't like the word for obvious reasons. To offset the dead plant I'm posting my most recent bloom, an Osmoglossum pulchellum. It smells spicy early in the evening and much more flowery when I wake up.

Framed. The Art Show

June 4th, 2013

Everyone come to Framed. It's this Friday, June 7th, at Pinecone & Chickadee, from 5-8pm. Kris Johnson makes these P+C group shows happen. He also made the image for the show (above) and does lots of graphic and printing (silk screen) work for local bands and business. If you like Facebook, THIS is the event page. It's got a map and a couple of photos and a greater ability to share. For anyone who has tried to find me on facebook, sorry. This Allen West isn't there. I assume there are other Allen Wests there, but they're silly. Don't be friends with them. Digression over, Hope to see you Friday!

Posting Posts.

May 19th, 2013

Since my piece for the frame show is so simple (comparatively), I wont be previewing it here, but I'll post a picture of the show after it opens on June 7th.

Today was null.

May 11th, 2013

Always bring some kind of camera to First Friday Allen West

May 4th, 2013

Before I continue scolding myself, everyone look at the tree outside my window.

Sorry I can't open my window to get a clearer picture. I tried banging on it to loosen whatever is keeping it shut and a bunch of paint chips and stuff fell off the side of the apartment onto somebody and their dog.

Yesterday was First Friday, and a warm one too. There were hand painted matryoshka dolls, A remarkably bad show at rose contemporary and a sprinkling of dancers, fire twirlers and musicians. What I really wish I had my camera for though, was this traveling music show trying to out run the cops. They set-up in one parking lot after another playing two or three songs and then packing up with remarkable efficiency and hunting down their next unwilling venue. It sounded great too. I caught two of their performances, including the one were the cops finally catchup with them.

I was pretty surprised how quickly people called the cops. It was loud for sure, but on first friday there are so many bands playing everywhere, and the whole event only lasts 2-3 hours. I really would have thought people would get over some loud music in the middle of a city during a public festival.

Hello, Happy May

May 1st, 2013

Coming Up

April 30th, 2013

Group Show at Pinecone & Chickadee. I don't know what it's called, but I would guess 'Framed' because you had to pick out a frame before you could make the work. It opens First Friday in June. I'm promising myself I wont use electricity at all. Also upcoming... more postcards. I finished three this week and just have to scan them before I send them out.

I acquired some runway photos.

Runway Show

April 21st, 2013

Last I posted about the dresses, I had a moss related dilemma. Much has happened since then and last night was the fashion show. It went great. I'm still bad at the schmoozing. Meghan Harrington Did an amazing job with the models hair and Abby Ellington got their make-up perfect. Meghan's a total pro though. She works at the prestigious J. Henry salon in the Old Port.

Meghan on Erica's hair (left) and Abby caressing Beth's cheek with cotton(right)

(left to right) Erica Gammon, Beth Schneider and Harmony Rush generously lent their bodies to the project. I'll try to hunt down the photos that the sponsor, Maine Home Magazine, took. I was running around with wire cutters and spools of copper so I wasn't super focused on documentation, but I do have a short video I'll try to get up here.

Couple of Postcards

April 3rd, 2013

While I was in Florida I only got three postcards finished and another four half finished. Two of them should be arriving now.

Orchids in central Florida

March 28th, 2013

Besides the Jacksonville orchid show, I went on two other orchid expeditions. One was to the Tomoka State Park. I got to see wild growing orchids (yay) for the first time. The top two images below are a sample. There were tons of the Epidendrum on the right, bigger ones too, but they were much higher up in the trees. If you go to that park just look for the trees with the resurrection ferns (weird brown things in the picture). The left one was the only one like it that I found. Hopefully no one messes with it so it can grow, flower, get pollinated and spread itself around. The three pictures below that one have no orchids in them, they're just cool stuff I found.

I also explored EFG Orchids. That place was cool. Driving up to the green house we were greeted by a donkey and an emu. Emus are still very silly birds. The donkey yelled at us for 2 minutes before coming over and letting us pet it. That's me in the green house in the awesome section where there are these tight paths totally surrounded by endless orchids, ferns and some just weird plants. They had one orchid that was flowering and nearly as tall as me. Further into the greenhouse they had huge beds of plants with a hundred of each. At one point I looked up and there were dozens of pitcher plants growing above us. The pitchers were actual pitcher sized. You could serve iced tea out of one of those.

I left with a tiny Maxillaria variabilis. I didn't ask what color the flower is. It'll be a surprise, but I'd like it to be a really dark red, rather than yellow.

How does one transport 12 plants on an airplane?

March 24th, 2013

I went to the Jacksonville Orchid show with the goal of buying a couple orchids. (All the plants I had up until now were other peoples rejects or gifts). Long story short I left with 7 plants. Over the next two weeks I acquired 5 more plants. I had the plane ride back in mind so I only got small ones, but I didn’t really have a clue what complications might arise.

Luckily TSA is pretty lax about live plants. At least within the country. As long as they can x-ray it, you can carry them on. Here's what I ended up with.

I'm not trying to support Jack Daniel's, but it was a nice case and I really did enjoy toting this around the airport.

Bonus picture of Feetz, my sister's one eyed cat, and I napping before a 6am filght. Thanks Chris for capturing proof that I have nothing against cats.

I have returned to Portland

March 21st, 2013

I meant to keep updating with things I was doing down there, but I couldn't connect my camera to my computer. So I'll do it now in odd intervals and out of chronological order.

First, a bit about moss. I entered into the MECA runway show. There were a handful of reasons why I didn't want to be in the show, but that made it the perfect place for an experiment. I wanted to grow moss on clothes. Many of you have probably heard of green graffiti. It's where the 'vandal' paints with a paste that grows moss rather than paint. I made three dresses, fit them to models and created the 'slurry'. I used the beer, moss and sugar recipe. Unfortunately I couldn't get it very pasty after Meghan and I set her blender on fire. We were still able to put the moss on flat surfaces though.

That is how I left it before I went to Florida. It was too dry though. When I got back, very little progress had been made. With the show happening in one month the roots wouldn't be strong enough to make it down the runway and back again. I have no interest in gluing, sewing, tacking, taping or adhering moss to the dress in any way that would somehow fake the moss growing on the dress for the show. which leaves me with the following dilemma. Tomorrow I have to fill out the inventory paperwork. I can either make something completely new and let the dresses keep growing to find out if it can really work, or remove the moss and re-purpose the dresses to save time, money, and stress, but never see the moss dresses completed. I have about 16 hours to decide.

The reason I want to make the dresses carry the moss is because I remember a short piece of some documentary I had to watch in school about early astronauts. After NASA had solved the physical problems resulting from space travel they started to tackle the mental ones. The sent up a little patch of live grass with the astronauts. In space they became almost obsessed with the grass, spending hours checking on it and manicuring it. It's a vague memory, but it makes me think about how much comfort we gain from having plants around. Even people that kill all their house plants are compelled to buy more. Interesting no?


February 25th, 2013

The Sensory Circus had a great turnout. See the images below for... some images of that. It was even more than what I expected. For better and worse, but when the show rolls around again next year, I wont miss it.

I'm giving myself a new postcard challenge. I'll be in Florida for nearly three weeks.While I'm there I'll bring the blank cards, some watercolors and pencils/pens. I'll see how many can I complete during this short period and I'll post images of them after I send them just like last time.

Show Tonight!

February 1st, 2013

The Sensory Circus was featured in GO yesterday! "Artists take 'Sensory Circus' in extreme directions". In the article... a picture of Sounds of Felt. The hastily named piece that I previewed below. Of course seeing the full piece is less than half of experiencing it. See you tonight!

Meg Perry Center, 644 Congress Street, Portland Maine - 5 to 8pm.

Sneak Peek

January 29, 2013

The show is going to be quite a show. With performances and edible art! Definitely come to the opening if you can. It wont be the same the next day.

Preview of my sound piece #1

January 13, 2013

I'll have two works in this show. One you can touch! Sensory Circus opens next first Friday and has 18 artists participating.

Allen West, Bob Tkacik, Sighless, Patrick Russell, Abbeth Russell, Ms. Renda, Asher Platts, Gloria Pearse, Sebastian Meade, Tina McLuckie, Jessica Lipton, Marrion Ladd, William Hessain, Megan Gates, Jonah Fertig, Seth Dussault, Nick Cartier, Myles Bullen

I don't have a schedule of performances yet, but they might be running the length of the event. So I recommend arriving at the beginning. I'll add more details as I get them. Hope to see you there.