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.