Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day

Well, Donald Trump gets sworn in today.

Yesterday's political-news leak was that his proposed budget cuts spending for the Arts and Humanities to $ 0.

The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports that Brian Darling, a former Heritage Foundation staffer, now a Paul Ryan aide said about this budget:

"The Trump Administration needs to reform and cut spending dramatically, and 
targeting waste like the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be a good first step ..."

Sure, every civilization up till today has created its Great Public Art - pyramids, Versailles, operas, Sistine Chapel ceiling, Bolshoi Ballet, Muppets - art that survives its era and glorifies it.  Historically, it is Art that makes a civilization remembered as great.  

Or remembered at all.

But that junk's all "waste" so why should the United States of America spend a nickel?

public domain image messed with

The Washington Post has a good article on the stupidity of this "budget" idea HERE.

Monday, January 16, 2017


Now, I may completely enjoy the way gaf tape and paint are the lifesaving tools of theater construction, but I also appreciate real craftsmanship.  

Enjoy this video showing the crafting of a wooden box:

Did you feel all swoony at the dovetail joint bit?  Okay forget that gaf tape!  I demand dovetail joints on all my theater sets from now on!


Feeling calmer now.  

Speaking of craftsmanship... I'm feeling pretty happy with the progress of my next show for WaterTower Theater, which opens on the 23rd.  Silent Sky.  Meanwhile, here's a glimpse of the crafting of this set:

Silent Sky, WaterTower Theater, back of the flats

You're looking at the back of the curved wall - which is meant to suggest the astronomical observatory where much of the play's action happens, as well as the night sky.  Notice the tidy carpentry and the neat way the (mostly) concealed curved! door sets into it.

Silent Sky, faux "planks" going up

And here you see the opposite side of that wall, which has cardboard light-blocker underlayment with faux "planks" being attached.  These are slices of lauan, cleverly painted.

Silent Sky
BTW that apparent jog in the front edge of the stage?  Just a tech table gettin' in the way of my camera. Sorry.  I didn't want to disturb Tech by bobbing around to get a better shot.  The tornado warning sirens that brought 30 teenaged actors into the room for shelter that night seemed disturbance enough.  (They were very quiet and well-mannered actually - better than the weather.)

The painting is responding very nicely to changing theatrical lighting... and there's a little surprise to come too.

Come see!  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

New Year New (late!) Start

Superhero Baby New Year - public domain image.
Now, in the funny Doctor Who voice, "Welcome Citizen!"

Okay, I've been bad at blogging lately.

Been a little caught up with holidays and politics and work.  And writing actually.  One of my New Year's resolutions is to Finish the Book.  (There it is, out in the universe as a goal!)   Also eat better, exercise, sleep, yada yada...   Another big resolution is to be a more active citizen.  

Whatever your personal beliefs and political leanings, I think this past presidential campaign has proven to us all that:

A.  We all really really HATE politics.


B.  Politics is too important to be left to politicians, pundits, and idiots.

So.  Time to go talk to our friends and neighbors and - even more important - to listen! to them.  Past time to be better citizens.  No one party or person has a monopoly on good ideas or good will.  Let's work some stuff out sensibly, together. 

Me?  I'm talking politics with one neighbor now.  I've started donating (small amounts anyway) to groups involved with issues I care about.  I'm calling my state and local representatives about issues and leaving messages.  (This is supposed to work better than last year's emails.  For more advice check out HERE.)  I'm gearing myself up to go stuff envelopes or something for a political party - though I'm really an independent.  And I'm trying to decide where to volunteer in a social-help kinda way.  Where would my weird talents be most useful?

On the theatrical front, I'm working on several shows.

Sketching, sketching, sketching...

WaterTower Theater's Silent Sky techs this weekend!  It's going to be a good show.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Scenic Painting Examples

On a rainy Saturday it seemed like fun to put up some examples of sets that were interesting paint jobs...  All shows that largely depended on scenic painting to make their point:

Taming, Circle Theatre - photo courtesy of Circle Theatre

This political comedy was all about wrapping everything in the American flag.  Fun to paint, it took the scenic painter and I two days to achieve (plus his day or so base painting blue).  The trick was scumbling everything very loosely and using cut foam "stamps" to make the stars.  The business of the design neatly hid the door where the bed slides out.  (See next to the bedside table?)

Taming, my photo

The next show I didn't paint myself, but a pair of scenic artists did a lovely job of realizing my art deco design in faux burl wood, mahogany, and gold.

Too Many Cooks, Circle Theatre

Below is an example of extreme teeny detail - just barely seen by the audience.  Here the hard working scene painter did everything but my tiny Delft tile decoration.

Lovers and Executioners, Circle Theatre

Opposite extreme!  Painting that took over and designed the whole joint.  Swingin' Sixties London, baby!

The Lucky Chance, or The Alderman's Bargain, Echo Theatre

BTW, another bed slid out of this set - from under those steps.  It too was painted with giant flag-itudeousness.  The colors, deliberately messed with, changed under different lights.

Below is a show that skipped color entirely, creating a world of grays...

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Fun House Theater and Film

Another Fun House production, Romeo and Juliet, used color to define the feuding families' territories: blue for Montague, red for Capulet.

Romeo and Juliet, Fun House Theater and Film

In this R&J, color was important and so was texturing... paint methods that emphasized the texture and variety of the faux stone and wood.  But below is an art deco world of radio where there is hardly any texture... and color disappears in favor of the B&W of old films.

The Frequency of Death, Pegasus Theatre

Even more removed from the everyday is this cartoon inspired TV game show set.  All in the design and painting...

Whatta Ya Think?! 

Realism?  It's the scenic painting - especially of that fieldstone - that sells the reality of this house in Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike:

Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike, Uptown Players

Exaggerated, obviously faux, stone defines the next set, emphasizing the crazy unreality of its gothik/horror/comedy...

The Mystery of Irma Vep, WaterTower Theater

So let's hear it for the hard working, long-suffering, desperately important - nay irreplaceable! - scenic artist!  Whose work very often IS the set.  Cheers!

The Winter's Tale, Trinity Shakespeare and the noble Scenic Painter

Friday, December 2, 2016

REALLY Haulin' Stuff

One of the difficult aspects of theater set design and construction can be all the haulin' stuff around - the heavy platforms and flats, the furniture (all the furniture!), or, as with my new Kitchen Dog play Feathers and Teeth, the heavy kitchen appliances.  When three of us managed to move and lift a refrigerator up onto our raised "kitchen" platform without any hernias I felt a bit proud of us...

Then I saw THIS guy carrying his refrigerator on his back - on his bike.

Amateurs.  Just amateurs...

PS.  The photo of the Feathers and Teeth set is courtesy of Kitchen Dog Theater, not sure who the photographer is, sorry.  The video is from You Tube, discovered via BoingBoing

Monday, November 14, 2016

Not Usually a Sign Guy But Geez

Gotta be my favorite protest-Trump sign quote.

"Geez" indeed.

From a tweet by Alex Leo HERE.

The peaceful protests?  Fair notice to our incoming president that his actions will be carefully watched... and reacted to.  As with any new leader of the free world (if that title will still apply), only starting with more doubt and distrust due to his own past actions and speech.

What else can We the People judge by?

This has gotta be my favorite Trump quote so far:

I know words.  I have the best words... but there is no better word than 'stupid,' right?

I'm watching.  Because I suspect electing Mr. Trump will be a stupid, stupid idea.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Sanity Break

Every so often we need sanity breaks.

Mine was a week and a bit in California's wine country and at the family ranch.  I even got to practice a little water color painting.  (While the ranch-cat "helped" - spot any paw prints?)

(Rough) water color sketch, California Gold Country - copyright Clare Floyd DeVries

We really do need more sanity around here:

Please go vote for the non-orange candidate.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Last Chunk of Concrete

If Trump hadn't lost my vote long ago, he'd have lost it yesterday...

I just realized (okay, I'm slow) that his vulgar '80s Trump Tower is built over the dead body of an Art Deco jewel, the flagship Bonwit Teller department store.

Not only that, but he deliberately had his (undocumented, underpaid) Polish workmen destroy the lovely carvings and grillwork rather than save them for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.   Wanton destruction. 

The guy's a barbarian. 

Those of us who build, who design, who make art, have to push back against the forces of destruction... it's civilization against barbarism every day: whether the vandals are ISIS destroying archaeological sites in Palmyra or the Taliban dynamiting ancient Buddhas in Afghanistan "for religion", or greedy developers in NYC for a buck.  Or book burners.  Or political candidates who try to dismantle whole parties and, oh, free press and confidence in the election process.  Those kinda guys.

Please, if you're undecided about voting, don't let this vandal near the White House.

Photo from the Department Store Museum

(More HERE at Art Watch International and HERE at the Department Store Museum.)