The Art of Reinvention

Today’s news chum all has to do with reinvention and art. Perhaps it will inspire you to be creative enough to comment.

  • Reinventing Confiscated Items. We’ve all imagined the collection of items that accumulate at TSA checkpoints. Michele Pred, an artist at the California College of the Arts, decided to do something about it. She worked with TSA to obtain the items (including a waiver that TSA wasn’t responsible if she got hurt), and then turned the confiscated items into art. There are hazards to traveling with the artwork: in 2003, the artist checked in a suitcase of confiscated items for a NYC exhibition, only to be pulled off the plane and questioned, and to this day, the artists ends up unintentionally slicing herself on the sharp objects in the work. Still, she feels her artwork expresses extremely personal feelings of loss that ordinary travelers have faced.

    BTW, speaking of art that makes authorities suspicious: Artist Alex Schaefer is in the news for doing art of burning bank buildings. As a result of this art, police officers keep questioning him about his intent. Why did he do it? His explanation is the artwork was intended to be a visual metaphor for the havoc that banking practices have caused to the economy. They’ve been selling like, umm, hotcakes: The 22-by-28-inch canvas depicting a Chase Bank branch in Van Nuys going up in flames to a German collector for $25,200; and a 6-by-8-inch painting of a burning Bank of America sold for $3,600 to a collector in Britain.

  • Reinventing the Facts. Two museums. Two presidents. Two ways of presenting history. The NY Times has a nice article on the contrast between the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda and the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley. The Nixon Library presents the Nixon presidency, warts and all, and allows the visitor to decide. Reagan? His museum is still controlled by Nancy, and presents a very “spun” picture, including only a fletting a reference to his first wife, Jane who?.
  • Reinventing a Restaurant. Good news for those having to travel to Fr. McArthur or the port. Although Papadakis is gone, a new taverna will soon take its place. The intent, say the new owners, is to have the same feel, with greek-mediterranean food and entertainment. They even plan to break a few dishes.
  • Reinventing a Bill. It’s silly season again. No, I’m not talking about the end of fiscal year silliness here at the ranch. Rather, silly season for the California Legislature, where bills are gutted and reintroduced with little committee review, with the goal of sneaking legislation under the rader. I typically run into a few bills related to highways that have been gutted each year.
  • Reinventing the Slanket. A design student at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit has reinvented the slanket. Specifically, they came up with a sleeping bag that can be worn as a coat during the day—just perfect for your homeless neighbor! But wait, there’s more! The coat begins with synthetic quilting used in industrial clothing and stitches it to an outer shell of Tyvek, a paper-thin, crinkly material used in mail envelopes and building insulation. Tyvek is so water resistant and heat-trapping that the coat is good fin 17-degree weather and in the snow. The coat-bag weighs only 1 pound and looks like an extra-large coat with a big hood. It costs $7 to $10 to produce. After graduation, the designer plans to make the coats as a business, and intends to hire homeless women to work on the business. The goal is to sell one type of the coat to non-homeless people for a profit, and to use the proceeds to produce others to give free to folks on the street.