Tuesday, November 11, 2008

mini revelation

There comes a point in time when you simply can't get any more tooth paste out of the tube.

Friday, August 22, 2008


This is a collaborative art group made up of a bunch of people from all over the place. Last year some time I got to be friends with a bunch of the members at Dan Attoe's wedding party. My buddy Gordon had invited me along and they seemed cool with letting Gordon and I join in the group. It is going to be a killer experience. We pretty much have free reign of a space on Burnside for a bunch of days. No one knows what to expect, least of all me.
But it should be damn fun.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Dan Attoe

A friend and classmate, Cyrus Smith, does a radio show at school. Here's an interview with Dan. I'm regularly struck by how clear he is about his influences. Good painter. Nice guy.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Good ole Vanguard

Here's an article on my thesis show.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Some people just don't learn

You would think that Shelby would learn to sign off of my computer, seeing as I am untrustworthy when it comes to secretly adding blog posts. However, I am not a completely evil girlfriend... I could put some rather embarrassing pictures of him up.... but instead I am sharing one of my favorite videos, from when we went to the beach together and saw pools of tiny mollusks. enjoy.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Google Earth 4.3

more bad ass navigating. I really am impressed with how comfortable they are making this. It is interesting to watch them chisel away at imperfections.

nana sayin grace


Tuesday, March 18, 2008


"As artists we conduct our education in public"

-Anish Kapoor


this illustrative video on magnetic fields is crazy. scientists are really good at describing things sometimes.

Monday, March 17, 2008


I know it's not cool to talk about this guy. I should be talking about some other guy I might know that knows Shepard Farey or something, but I'm feeling a little nerdy right now.

One of the main reasons I like looking at this old guy's shit is the fact that a majority of his sculptures are unfinished. As a student or just anyone curious about how one gets to be 'MICHAELANGELO' it is amazing to see these pieces in their raw state. I don't think it was his intention to leave them unfinished. the popes jerked him around so much he would have to start another project before finishing something for the last pope.

Some definates about him are:
  • he was awesome when he was young as hell. that was agreed upon by lots of other sculptors of the time including DaVinci. (peita in st peter's when he was 23)
  • he was obsessed to the point of alienating people regularly and neglecting hygiene
  • he was a perfectionist with a temper (he broke part of my favorite sculpture because it wasn't looking right.)
Anyway, what i'm getting at is that it has helped me in learning about him and his work to see his process in stead of just a polished, finished object.

Now I'm not trying to say that he taught me everything I know about subtractive sculpture. I'm not even wasting my time trying to be a Michaelangelo caliber sculptor. But I am saying I think that full disclosure was what brought me in to being interested in what he does. A polished finished sculpture is boring now. There are thousands in the vatican. Whether he wanted it or not he got his story told. I know history alters stories and there is no such thing as the truth about a guy that lived centuries ago but I crave learning about all sides of someone if I will be interested at all. The only way the David doesn't bore the crap out of me is to see some of the turbulence traveled through to get him there.

Through George Saunders writing about Kurt Vonnegut and his struggles with writing Slaughter House Five I have come to a new appreciation of people submitting to being human. (write more here)

Disclosing the trials and tribulations you went through to make something and making that part of the thing you made is brave and honest. On the one hand, it opens you up to ridicule or a more detailed scrutiny, since you put your heart on your sleeve, but on the other hand you can have a richer more invested experience.

A self depreciating approach can be a political tactic too. If you have already acknowledged a flaw and made fun of yourself for it, it can disarm someone else. But that can be clumsy too depending on the flaw and the ability of the rest of the audience to relate to it.

So the point of this entry is that I'm for full disclosure between artists and people in general so we can learn from each other. And that means showing some things other than just the stuff that "worked". In light of that, I think I am going to structure my thesis show "exhibition statement" as a two part document. Things that worked and Problems. Or something like that.

review review

I'm pretty clumsy with my materials sometimes. I don't alway see them the way I think other's see them. Or there might be some obvious connection that I just don't automatically see. In spite of my facility in manipulating them I have made some definate blunders before in choosing them.
Anyway, I'm having a hard time stepping outside myself to view something from the position of a clean slate. I know all these things about each project and i can't seem to picture what the gallery will feel like without seeing all kinds of extraneous shit in my imagination. Like not picturing the story as I look at a tiny wooden sculpture. The show will actually be pretty sparse. I'm really excited about that part. But Pat and Harrell are right, there really need to be some consistent elements.

My natural tendency with most things I do is to be willing to change. I feel like I learn more that way. So in each of these projects there have been very few rules I have been unwilling to break. I think "what would it be like if we didn't do it that way?" The funny part is that I acted defiantly along with someone (my collaborator) but the person we were defying was originally me. At this stage in the project this is feeling like it was a lack of discipline on my part. I'm sure someone told me this would happen somewhere along the way. Stepping outside myself to imagine that a viewer might be really confused and unsettled by each and every rule I decide to break is really hard. I was the one who got to set the rules in the first place. Maybe it shouldn't be so hard to stick to them. Is that the sign of a mature artist? One who can make smart rules and be disciplined enough to stick to them? I do appreciate a conceptual riggor in a lot of artists. But I also feel like i'm waiting for those artists to break their own mold at some point.

Maybe its a question of scale. Be rigorous and disciplined on a small project based scale and maleable on a grander, i'm an adventurous artist discovering crazy new connections kind of scale.
So, at this point, do I just go with my excited puppy approach, or do I turn the mature route and alter some of the choices made along the way.

clock is ticking.

Either way the projects are awesome as experiences for those involved. I am confident that will translate for the viewer somehow.

"An object can not compete with an experience."
-Hamish Fulton

happy st patricks day.

Ethne bore to Cormac a son, her firstborn, named Cairbry, who was King of Ireland after Cormac. It was during the lifetime of Cormac that Cairbry came to the throne, for it happened that ere he died Cormac was wounded by a chance cast of a spear and lost one of his eyes, and it was forbidden that any man having a blemish should be a king in Ireland. Cormac therefore gave up the kingdom into the hands of Cairbry, but before he did so he told his son all the wisdom that he had in the governing of men, and this was written down in a book which is called The Instructions of Cormac. These are among the things which are found in it, of the wisdom of Cormac:—

Let him (the king) restrain the great,
Let him exalt the good,Let him establish peace,
Let him plant law,Let him protect the just,
Let him bind the unjust,
Let his warriors be many and his counsellors few,
Let him shine in company and be the sun of the mead-hall,
Let him punish with a full fine wrong done knowingly,
and with a half-fine wrong done in ignorance.

Cairbry said, "What are good customs for a tribe to pursue?" "They are as follows," replied

"To have frequent assemblies,
To be ever enquiring,
to question the wise men,
To keep order in assemblies,
To follow ancient lore,
Not to crush the miserable,
To keep faith in treaties,
To consolidate kinship,
Fighting-men not to be arrogant,
To keep contracts faithfully,
To guard the frontiers against every ill."

"Tell me, O Cormac," said Cairbry, "what are good customs for the giver of a feast?" and Cormac said:—

"To have lighted lamps,
To be active in entertaining the company,
To be liberal in dispensing ale,
To tell stories briefly,
To be of joyous countenance,
To keep silence during recitals."

"Tell me, O Cormac," said his son once, "what were thy habits when thou wert a lad?" And Cormac said:—

"I was a listener in woods,
I was a gazer at stars,
I pried into no man's secrets,
I was mild in the hall,
I was fierce in the fray,
I was not given to making promises,
I reverenced the aged,
I spoke ill of no man in his absence,
I was fonder of giving than of asking."

"If you listen to my teaching," said Cormac:—

"Do not deride any old person though you be young
Nor any poor man though you be rich,
Nor any naked though you be well-clad,
Nor any lame though you be swift,
Nor any blind though you be keen-sighted,
Nor any invalid though you be robust,
Nor any dull though you be clever,
Nor any fool though you be wise.

"Yet be not slothful, nor fierce, nor sleepy, nor cheap, nor feckless nor envious, for all these are hateful before God and men.

"Do not join in blasphemy, nor be the butt of an assembly; be not moody in an alehouse, and never forget a tryst."

"What are the most lasting things on earth?" asked Cairbry.

"Not hard to tell," said Cormac; "they are grass, copper, and a yew-tree."

"If you will listen to me," said Cormac, "this is my instruction for the management of your household and your realm:—

"Let not a man with many friends be your steward,
Nor a woman with sons and foster-sons your housekeeper,
Nor a greedy man your butler,
Nor a man of much delay your miller,
Nor a violent, foul-mouthed man your messenger,
Nor a grumbling sluggard your servant,
Nor a talkative man your counsellor,
Nor a tippler your cup-bearer,
Nor a short-sighted man your watchman,
Nor a bitter, haughty man your doorkeeper,
Nor a tender-hearted man your judge,
Nor an ignorant man your leader,
Nor an unlucky man your counsellor."

Such were the counsels that Cormac mac Art gave to his son Cairbry. And Cairbry became King after his father's abdication, and reigned seven and twenty years, till he and Oscar, son of Oisín, slew one another at the battle of Gowra.

i got this from Bill donovan's blog

some whittled installations on the way

Sunday, March 16, 2008

sandy and rebecca

They did a fine job on an interview blog about me for a class on writing we are taking.

new artist statement still too long

I am an artist because I grew up playing in the woods of South Carolina by my self. I tried to watch cartoons but I was always made to go outside. Once there, I definitely did what I wanted so long as I was home for dinner. Now I put a few restrictions on myself. Perhaps parameters or challenges are better words than restrictions. Either way the kid that built forts is still here. I set up games for myself to play. Sometimes the game is to find the most intriguing details surrounding a person or material or situation and highlight them. I highlight the complexity of these details and push them towards something people can relate to. Sometimes the idea is still just to play and relate to people on that level.

I’m a sculptor because I like touching different types of material and learning to use the tools that manipulate them. I am notably curious and am always trying to figure out how things work. Many times I have started projects simply by studying how a program or piece of equipment is most effective. I define and change the meaning of "effective" along the way, and tend to add other media as an emphatic gesture. Listening is a big deal to me. To others, to myself and my surroundings. Currently this concern is obvious because I'm working with other people and developing stories, but it fits with my sense of materiality also since I usually come upon something I intend to use without automatically knowing what I will use it for.

I've lately been making stories with people based off of real events and trying to work with them to communicate what is most compelling to them. Each story is told by a different person and can be heard through your cell phone as you make your way around an exhibition of mixed media vignettes. An element of which is a whittled portrait of the author. I have always learned lots from a good story and a good storyteller. Loud with emphatic gestures, slow and soft with the perfect descriptions, too many tangents, timing, punch lines, climax, and morals, all of it leaves an impression of some sort. I've really just set up excuses to talk with people more about it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


here's what we got for mandee right now.
interesting list story
to me it sounds a little like talking about a dream

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sunday, March 9, 2008


this is from a website i found with an awesome little storytelling search map. this site is an excellent recouce for finding storytellers in general. (including people in portland)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

artist statement

Shelby Davis

I am an artist because I grew up playing in the woods of South Carolina by my self. I definitely did what I wanted so long as I was home for dinner. Now I put more restrictions on myself. Perhaps parameters or challenges are better words than restriction. Either way the kid that built forts is still here. I set up games for myself to play. Sometimes the game is to find the most important details surrounding a person or material or situation and highlight them. Sometimes it is to highlight the complexity of the details. Sometimes the idea is still just to play.

I'm a sculptor because I like touching different types of material and learning to use the tools that manipulate them. I am curious and am always trying to figure out how things work. Many times I have started projects simply by studying how a tool, program, or piece of equipment is most effective. I feel like I am trying to develop a line of questioning that is a mixture of scientific and intuitive. Listening, translating and practicing are important to grasping any answers that come along and I am trying to develop these as a skills.

I have recently been working collaboratively because I like seeing what others bring to the creative process. The input of others brings more layers of meaning for me and adds to the story behind a project's development. It also makes me feel part of a community. I have been facilitating the building of stories based off non fiction and trying to help people tell them in the way that is most interesting to them. Each story is told by a different person and can be heard through your cell phone as you make your way around an exhibition of mixed media vignettes. An element of which is a whittled portrait of the author. I have always learned from a good story and a good storyteller. Loud with emphatic gestures, slow and soft with the perfect descriptions, too many tangents, timing, punch lines, climaxes, and morals, all of it leaves an impression of some sort. What is that?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


so i moved to portland oregon from south carolina for a shift in view. i applied to graduate school and got in. that sealed the deal. there is a ton of stuff that i miss about south carolina. including the dogwoods, the heat, my kin, and words like "kin". i like it in portland and have no interest in puting a length to my stay here. i've made some friends quickly, (i joke about it being like i bought them by going to grad school) the land is breathtaking, and there is an endless amount to do even when money is scarce.
still my parents home in pickens south carolina, and mine for my first eighteen years, will always be the one against all future ones will be measured. my most formative stories come from there. what each of those stories means to me changes often but there are visceral memories that shock the shit out of me with their clarity. the creek i played in as a kid can at times seem real and like i can even hear it a little. all its bends and falls are ones i can walk along in my mind almost like you can move through google earth.
what is it that occurs when you go back to places like that? some kind of endorphin thing? like a nostalgia hormone or something? is it a comfort zone thing? familiarity?
right now i have a sick nana. that is the toughest thing for me to be so distant from. with everything else the absence is making the heart grow fonder. i'll always go back and i will always look for the rocks to be in the same place. the roads will lead to the same places and anything that has changed will undergo a thorough investigation. my stories change a little as memories blur and the stories i invent to explain the changes that occur while i'm gone will probably mix in with them.
i don't think this story is all that amazing or anything. there are tons of kids that grow up like this in the country. my parents are a little unusual for the area but other than that i was a regular dirty kid there. and is back woods south carolina really all that different than back woods Vermont or Wyoming other than different fruit trees grow there and a few variations on how you pronounce things like 'racecar'? the thing i get a little kick out of is the combinations of places i think of as homes. Pickens, Charleston, and Southeast Portland. I might just be one of a hand full of people ever with those places under their belt. Doubt that anyone can tell me if that means anything but its one of the few things that can make me feel a little special. Not in the short bus sense or the 'my president cares about me' sense but more in the vein of 'i am an artist and i am a snowflake.' But still I think Dan Attoe said it well when he wrote "You're vulnerable just like the rest of us. Get some Balls. Better get your shit together." in bright neon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


a couple folks asked for the recipe so here it is as good as i can remember.

*some olive oil
*a clove of garlic
*a large onion
a carrot
a can of sliced tomatoes
broth of some kind (bout 2 of those cardboard things of it)
*a sprig of rosemary
pepper and salt
a potato
a can of white or pinto beans
some parsley

everything with a * goes in first and then add the broth and everything else.
i really don't know the subtleties of timing in cooking so the noodles got all mushy. i guess those should go in last.

for real details consult someone who knows what they are doing. my grandma's # is 864 380 1268

then parmesan all up on the top

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

all the things you never said to your 3rd grade teacher

but you pomised.

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around sometimes. i even will start talking like someone if i spend enough time with them. i find that i still say some words like my good ole pal, i guess this is what you are if you change often. i alter my path artistically depending on who i'mbenjie. i wonder if this is a common thing. do other people/artists/animals do this? i feel like its an ingrained part of my personality now. i feel like i learn by imitating and then finding new sources. when some of my hippie friends ask me this question about whether i most associate myself with water, land or sky, i always answer water. i like the notions behind that element. i like that its flexible most of all. whenever the discussions around originality, memes and intellectual property come up i always think about how natural it is to mimic things you are attracted to. and maybe it all started with it being a survival tactic like it is with the chameleon. holla.

and i enjoyed the discussion on selling out. i agree with cyrus in that it is really about your own views on integrity. i think the tipping point could be vaugely defined as the point at which you are doing more things that others want you to do than you are doing that you want to do. that is probably the clumsiest way one could have possibly have written that. but that's okay. i'm not going to go back and edit because it is 12:30 and i'm tired. you get the idea.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Main Entry:
1whit·tle Listen to the pronunciation of 1whittle
\ˈhwi-təl, ˈwi-\
Middle English whittel, alteration of thwitel, from thwiten to whittle, from Old English thwītan; akin to Old Norse thveita to hew
15th century
archaic : a large knife


Main Entry:
Inflected Form(s):
whit·tled; whit·tling Listen to the pronunciation of whittling \ˈhwit-liŋ, ˈwit-; ˈhwi-təl-iŋ, ˈwi-\
transitive verb1 a: to pare or cut off chips from the surface of (wood) with a knife b: to shape or form by so paring or cutting2: to reduce, remove, or destroy gradually as if by cutting off bits with a knife : pare <whittle down expenses>intransitive verb1: to cut or shape something (as wood) by or as if by paring it with a knife2: to wear oneself or another out with fretting
whit·tler Listen to the pronunciation of whittler \ˈhwit-lər, ˈwit-; ˈhwi-təl-ər, ˈwi-\ noun

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


so as my co workers and i get closer to finished with these projects i will fill you in on details one by one.

Kevin and I, after the seemingly regular period of time it takes to get to know your way around people when you start graduate school, decided to break the ice by playing frizbee. Kevin and I both have a history of sports and general outdoor stuff so it seemed like a good thing to do. Kevin is tall and really coordinated and I am short and reasonably agile so we made a good match for games like catch and stuff where you need two people. We would both probably admit that we are pretty competetive too. It was a really good stress reliever during those first awkward weeks especially.
As graduate school has progressed Kevin has been game for going on hikes, rafting and skiing trips, and other adventures that might sometimes prove challenging to find companionship for. Some of these trips were for school and Kevin was a good level head to have around. When I took 10 of the MFA folks on a rafting trip, Kevin guided the other raft.
So when I asked Kevin to work with me on something for my show I figured he would be game. He said yeah and I said we would talk more. We parted ways for the evening and the next time I saw him he said he had an idea. He apparently has done this thing with certain friends where they go hiking near a waterfall, and at some point, they take turns taking pictures of the other looking like they are puking out the waterfall. I automatically liked the concept and thought about how we could work out a photograph that would make it look like the little wooden sculpture of him was puking out the waterfall. It sounded fun so I started whittling a little version of kevin puking. Trying to get that posture right has been challenging and I acidentally carved his right hand in the thumbs up position. I think he's signaling that he's actually okay.
On a chilly Saturday, we took the little sculpture and a camera to Oneonta falls up along the Columbia Gorge and went on a little hike. The resulting photos will be scrutinized and chosen from and one will go in a frame that Kevin and I are making. The frame is going to have whittled sports memorabilia adorning it. Kevin and I both recalled the sports photos of kids in cheap frames with soccer balls hot glued to the face. Sports kid nostalgia I guess.

Monday, January 7, 2008

marc fischer

I like the mixture of formal argument and personal touch in his writing. I've had some good discussions on relinquishing the urge to be original and would like to have more. Read this.
This is Marc Fischer from Temporary Services and he's lecturing and visiting with us tonight. I'll report more depending on how the lecture goes.

write ups on the tank

The newest one where she is upside down in Disjecta got in the WWeek

Big thanks to the Jace Gace for all their cooperation.

the oregonian article

the mention on port

PDX pipeline

thanks to all who came and or responded

Saturday, January 5, 2008


when artists i admire make statements about art in general i listen hard but am usually a little suspect. i don't know why. i guess there is always a real gut decision at the base of my character judgement. I'd like to imagine that the care an artists takes in the way they interact with people, or the way they deal with stress, for example, is as important as the work when I'm considering what i think. everyone probably has something of a tendency towards this. maybe its like meeting val kilmer or something and finding out he's actually pretty down to earth. I'd be more inclined to go watch his movies if that were the case than if he turned out to be a dick. then after that it would be difficult to step back from a performance and really judge objectively. like making an assumption about his ability to stand the tests of time like jimmy stewart, ronald reagan and sean connery. these are ridiculous examples.

for me it is all in the details. when i look at work i imagine the person who makes it. i imagine if they would be interesting to hang out with. would they listen to anything i had to say? i would like to sit a few rows back from them on the bus and watch. then i would make my decision.

even making these judgements often seems so self righteous. who am i to judge? but as i'm sitting here scrutinizing my own aesthetic i am weighing other's for comparison sake. i don't guess that makes it right but it seems like what i'm supposed to be doing here in grad school. it does make the everyday decisions i face unfold a little smoother with a quick reference guide of who and what i like most close at hand.

i have always thought that jasper johns was an ass hole since i saw a documentary of him installing his work when he's old and he was bossing everyone about. pretty cruel. now i just think of that when i see his paintings. but i like rauchenberg. they were pals so maybe i'll give him another chance. he was probably cooler when he was younger and not as drunk. and i think baldasari would be a hoot to take a class from so i tend to like his work. (maybe not all of it but most)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

books on cd

Recently its been all books on cd. I'm trying to do a bunch of whittling and listening to stuff passes the time quickly. I need it to slow down actually. since my thesis show is fast approaching.
So I really like historical fiction. There is usually something awful about the actual writing. sometimes in a good way though. its either boring or over-the-top romantic. I think it comes from the fact that the author is primarily a historian/nerd more than a solid writer. i like the boisterous ones. All the hyperbole and adjectives in the world can't seem to get across how dastardly and complex John Wilkes Booth or Joseph McCarthy were. When someone gets super excited about what they are researching there might be some personal dignity relinquished just to make an image stick. Aside from all the drama, I get into the "facts" as they are presented and enjoy drawing connections between the little amount of history I remember and the highly detailed, flowery context the author describes. So I'm going to go ahead and say that I like the excited puppy history writers more than the dry ones that probably have voices like the adults from Peanuts.

I also like learning about world history through a material. I've read a book loaned to me by Walter Lee on gunpowder. Fascinating. I read one that took me through all the changes in technology and culture as new metals were discovered and mastered. I'm currently reading a book on the history of wood. Yeah it sounded a little vague to me too but it goes way far back to hunters and gatherers and brings us up to how it is still a sound ecological, functional, and economical building material. Anyway I like how in something like 400 pages an author isn't afraid to tackle all of human existence. It is bold, filled with generalizations and takes on an almost geologic perspective. Like humans are only going to really take up a little of earth's time. Its humbling and comforting to me at the same time.

the twelve-day chase for Lincoln's killer

The Age of Anxiety,
McCarthyism to Terrorism