summer show

I added new photographs and assemblages – all of them can be viewed here: https://sylviedakotahuhn.com/photographs/

The opening reception of my exhibit at the George R. White Library & Learning Center at Concordia University Portland went smoothly – much gratitude to the folks who came out (and to the catering table). My friend of a decade came up to visit, and I was gifted a cataloging rules book circa 1908 from my former exhibitor friend Amanda (Backstory Books) – I geeked out hard. The show will be up until the very end of August.

catalog cards

Fotoram.iomnemonic whale catalog example

I think need a break from the Mnemonic Whale for a while. I’m happy with the progress I’ve made on it, but I am ready to work on bigger paintings and make videos. Although the whale is a vessel that is never complete (more side drawers need to be added someday in the future), it is currently fulfilling its duty at Backstory Books. For some of the books chosen from Amanda’s shop (and subsequently placed behind each door), there is a corresponding catalog card in the right side drawer.

I took inspiration from the book The Card Catalog by The Library of Congress published last year. Actual visual examples win me over every time and it was more proof for me that art and library science can be combined. My handwriting has always been the worst. Attempting to fit my bulbous and kinked scrawl onto a 3 inch index card is a little personal challenge of mine (“library hand” penmanship this is not). But practice will eventually make perfect (or close enough) and I hope to learn “library hand” someday. For now, making these little cards are actually helping me with recognizing categories more easily at work. They are free for the taking of course ~

The updated Mnemonic Whale page can be seen here: https://sylviedakotahuhn.com/others/mnemonicwhale/

Mnemonic Whale’s fix-up – pt. 2

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The Mnemonic Whale will be installed for my show at Backstory Books in early March, which means this weekend I have kept myself indoors and been busy working on it’s next manifestation.  For now, I’ve decided to stick with one card catalog drawer (hand-cut without an electric saw) while the remaining space of the side box will be temporarily covered with small paintings. Two of the little paintings include a scene of Oregon’s 1970 exploding whale and one of my earliest sensory memories climbing on a fake one. The drawer will house catalog cards pertaining to each of Backstory’s books that will be for sale behind each subject door.  While making room for the drawer in the flurry of sawdust on my kitchen table, a piece of wood/particleboard I ripped out of the catalog box looked like the state of Oregon (or a file icon) – I’ll take that as some kind of sign.

Mnemonic Whale’s fix-up – pt. 1

mnenomic whale pt

The front and left side of the Mnemonic Whale is completed. For the left end, I added/modified a few tiny paintings I did years ago to the top + silicone, wood glue, gold and red ink. On the front, I sanded down the edges of the doors so they closed completely and I outlined the whale carving in gold ink. Now all it needs is the top layer, right end card catalog drawers, and proper innards (more about that soon).

Reception at Tiny’s

I made the kind folks who showed up to my opening each fill out an answer card from my archives/preservation info table, which included a display of articles and a Hollinger catalog.

The questions were:

“If we were to become extinct, what would you want to leave behind as an artifact of yourself to be found by future inhabitants (if the earth is still inhabitable)?”

(For example: your favorite jacket, your ashes posthumously pressed into vinyl, your paintings, your writings, your skeleton posthumously bronzed with two middle fingers raised)

“What preservation processes would you take to make sure this artifact survives extreme temperatures/time?”

I’ve been thinking a lot about death and ecological ruin these days… must be something in the air…

The tiny cards are now safely behind the Z section door of the Mnemonic Whale, but I hope to eventually put them in a tiny card catalog drawer I’ll be attaching to the right side. I will definitely be welcoming more answers from folks, so I’ll be keeping a few blank cards on me when I’m out and about. In the future I’ll be putting together a handmade book expounding on these ideas from friends.

archives prep

I finally finished the fold-up-pocket-disaster-plan for my workplace’s collections, and found a good spot for that handy-dandy-magnet-disaster-response-wheel. Still felt very inexperienced (or just unconfident?) during the interactive Orbis Cascade Alliance ArchivesSpace Implementation Choices Workshop, but I scribbled enough notes that I ended up grasping most of it by the end. My goal is to be confidently using ArchivesSpace by mid-Fall.

The Mnemonic Whale’s next phase (a plan)

News: The Mnemonic Whale is ready for its next manifestation (whether I am, remains to be seen). I invested in getting the print custom-framed at Luke’s Frameshop to protect it from getting torn further by the cat, but also so I could mount it on top of the shelf.

My goal is to modify a wooden file box I found for free at a garage giveaway by cutting out mini drawers to hold index cards. A recent book I picked up inspired me to try my hand at a card catalog (more on this in later blog posts). The file slots of the box are still up for debate with purpose, but I’m thinking of documents. The box would be attached at the right-facing end of the whale, while a couple small paintings will adorn the left-facing end.

My long (probably remaining life-long) goal is to eventually fill each LOC section of the whale with a book I make. One of the doors may even hold a tiny video and sound display. These are all just ideas that are swimming in my head at the moment of course. But I would truly love to bring them to fruition someday soon.

Rambling post about deinstalling the Mnemonic Whale, barcodes, coloring, reference and the tactile

Untitled collage

The Mnemonic Whale officially left the Working Library this past Saturday. It was a slightly messy deinstallation, which consisted of my friend and I sweating and struggling not to knock over the bookshelves as we pushed and pulled to get that box out of there. Finally, Rory (WL’s co-founder) walked over and turned the box at an angle and gracefully removed it as I stood there gaping like a sweaty, embarrassed doofus.  I’m pretty grateful to of had the opportunity to show in WL, and I hope to come back in the coming weeks to see how those shelves will be transformed by the resident artists.

It appeared that most (all) of the items in the whale weren’t taken or traded, but two books were added (one in the N section and one in the Z section).  So I had to lug back bags of books and music home, but I plan to donate them somewhere soon. Although the use of the whale didn’t go as I had hoped, my partner in deinstallation told me at least it was the thought that counted.  Now my cat and I will have to figure out how to best utilize it in my studio.  I’m also planning on creating some shelves within one of my paintings (made out of a wooden shipping pallet) for archival documents and photographs.

Thoughts about art-making in Old Portland: Given the rising tide of demolitions and new, glassy, expensive apartment boxes within the past 10 years – “Old Portland” to me equals anything that has existed since the ’90s and before. The East Portland Eagle Lodge 3256 has existed since 1965, and it may meet the end of it’s life soon.  My friend and former co-worker Lacey has been hosting a coloring book night on Thursdays, where she brings art supplies, puzzles, and her colossal collection of coloring books.  It’s been giving me an excuse to sit among friends, work on a painting inside an old vessel, on a desk next to a mural from 1983, and over-looking decor from the ’60s and ’70s (including what I believe is a rhinestone eagle).  I think once you realize a place will be gone, you want to soak in the space/history as much as you can. The process of art-making alongside others can be a therapeutic way to do that.

Thoughts about work: To save time, it’s usually helpful to just scan a book’s ISBN barcode into OCLC Connexion to bring up search results instead of looking at the copyright page.  But sometimes that ISBN barcode is covered with a store/price barcode and that ancient barcode sticker is glued on tight and no amount of peeling will remove it entirely.  Of course I become all interested in the layered/torn barcodes – and initially I thought it was just a purely visual fascination but I just remembered that it equally has to do with touch.  Texture, rubbing and peeling are all a large part of my painting process, and I don’t think art-making would be worth it to me if the roughness wasn’t there.  I do love copy-cataloging, and I’m looking forward to learning how to catalog from scratch.  I also love being a reference librarian, and although this summer term has brought less students/hours, there are still needs. Last week, an older gentleman came in looking for our hardbound issues of Life Magazine.  When he found out that they had been thrown out to create space, he seemed pretty upset.  Luckily, we both learned that Google Books had digitized the exact issue from 1950 he was looking for. Although he wanted that tactile feel of turning the pages, what we found for his initial request was an example of the benefits of digitization and that librarians can still be involved in providing access.