Archive for March, 2010

Software Rabble-Rousers

March 25, 2010

When I left my academic teaching position, I also had to leave my office’s Apple desktop computer, and the institution’s technical support staff.  This was particularly hard for me because at the time most of my computing was done in my office and not on our home computer, a desktop with Windows.  Even though my spouse is very computer savvy, grew up using DOS, and is familiar with the Windows operating system, I dislike Microsoft and especially their operating system – to put it lightly. On numerous occasions, my spouse has saved our home computer and me from some pretty major computer-related meltdowns.  So it was an understatement to say that I was reluctant to return to using Microsoft Windows, its glitches and inevitable three-year crash, that Microsoft so kindly provides to its costumers.

I am slightly cyberphobic and Microsoft products create more fear and frustration than I want to deal with; I dreaded the idea working with our home computer.  I would have liked to purchase an Apple, but at the time spending several thousands of dollars for a Mac and appropriate software seemed foolish, especially since our income was going to drop to less than half.  I needed access to a computer, especially if I wanted to become a self-sufficient artist, so I didn’t know what to do.

During my last semester of teaching, the brother of one of my students started Orange Computer Solutions.  This business specializes in providing affordable computing solutions and promotes open source software.  At the time, I was vaguely aware of open source and the counter culture that exists around it.  I visited Orange Computer Solutions and was introduced to a Ubuntu: a free, open source, Linux based operating system.

I have found Ubuntu to be user friendly and intuitive.  The system provides all the needed utilities you would find on Windows or Mac OS, including a compatible office suite from, graphics programs, games, and numerous other open source software options.  As a result, for the first time in my life, I am excited about my computing potential and possibilities, and I am becoming much less cyberphobic.

This is not to say that I don’t get frustrated with my computer, I do.  My wife continues to help me with my software usage problems and issues, which is invaluable to me.  In addition, Orange Computer Solutions provides unbeatable customer service and has helped me keep my computing needs in good working order, the latest being installation of  3.2. I believe that’s PowerPoint equivalent, Impress, will solve my presentation needs for all those artist workshops I hope to give in the future!

I also strongly believe in the grass roots nature of open source software and Ubuntu’s mission.  It seems to fit into my own life philosophy: humanitarian, socially liberal, environmentally conservative or sustainable, live creatively, and speak out.  My heroes tend to be artists, rabble-rousers, eccentrics, and, people who walk softly on the planet but loom large in character.  Ubuntu and open source organizations are electronic/software rabble-rousers.

Related Links

Open Source Defined

Ubuntu Website

Ubuntu Philosophy

Getting Started with Ubuntu 10.04 Manual Project

Orange Computer Solutions

*Open source rabble rousers, Ubuntu,, and Orange Computer Solutions did not pay me to say nice things about their products/services.


The Stolen Four

March 2, 2010

Today I found out that one of my favorite art works, Blue Bug with Tail and Graffiti, was stolen from Concordia University, in Saint Paul, MN, after the 3rd Biennial Concordia Continental Ceramics Competition.  A very good contemporary ceramic exhibition that ran from January 28th -February 19th.

How am I supposed to emotionally and intellectually deal with the thoughts and feelings that go along with such an occurrence?  Three other excellent artists’ works were also stolen. Leopold Foulem’s, the most established of the four of us, has his work in numerous public and private collections.  I would be honored to have my work in a collection alongside his, as well as with Keven Snipes and Eva Funderburg’s.  I guess I do, because whoever stole this work has a very nice collection of contemporary ceramics, valued at over $12,000.

Who and why would someone steal this work?  It is not like the average American has knowledge of the art world much less the ceramic art market.  The thief or thieves are not going to be able to take the work to local pawn shop and convince the owner to buy these artworks.  From my experience people who buy art  either have deep pockets or are willing to sacrifice much of their income to surround themselves with art — these are fine, noble, and, rare people.  So what is the motivation? Does the thief have connections to the black market? Are they just avid lovers of ceramics and willing to go to such drastic measures to surround themselves with it?  Am I honored to be in their stolen collection, I don’t know, maybe I am?

Blue Bug with Tail and Graffiti, was one of my favorite pieces.  I was keeping it for my private collection, and exhibiting it as NFS (not for sale).  I make one-of-a-kind pieces that cannot be reproduced.  I might be able to recreate a facsimile of the original, but the nuances can never be recreated.

If this pieces is not recovered, and/or not damaged,  I am sure that Concordia University will reimburse me for the insurance value of the sculpture.  I can definitively use the money, as my studio fund is slowly dwindling, and my wife and I live very close to the bone at the moment.  My new series has not been available for public viewing yet,  so I am not creating an income.  However, money comes and goes, but the artwork of  the “Stolen Four” is more important than its monetary value.  If it wasn’t, artists would not create, as most of us are rarely compensated for our creative efforts.  Art making for the most part is a labor of love and a lot of handwork and perseverance.  Most people with aspirations of making a living as an artist don’t, and many stop making art all together.  The point being, I would rather have my sculptural teapot back, safe and sound, rather than be reimbursed for its market value.  I keep a record of who owns my sculptures.  Therefore, it is very surreal and uncomfortable not knowing where my artwork is and who is taking care of it.

I have to admit, in a very strange and weird way, I feel slightly honored that someone deemed my work good enough to steel and that it is in such good company.  Farewell Blue Bug with Tail and Graffiti, I will miss you!

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