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Exit: Dane Zahorsky 5/5

Michael Wickerson @ July 30, 2014

Gestalt Residency: Day 5 [The Crest of Enkidu]

Updated about an hour ago
5 Day 'flash' residency while tending chickens, feeding cats, and talking to myself and the land at Wickerson Studios LLC

Day 5:

“Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand Still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.”
-David Wagner

Today, as I move through the land on this last, and uncharacteristically cool, grey morning, I’m drawn to the above poem. I’ve often read it during ceremony, or referenced the article ‘The Wild Human’ by Bill Plotikin from which I first found it. As I’ve had the pleasure this last week of spending my mornings speaking to this land, and doing some thinking about that idea of re-wilding, I’m drawn to thought of Enkidu, the friend and equal of Gilgamesh. He who after being stripped of his ability to run among wild things by lust and distraction, becomes the foil and grounding force for the god king, who upon Enkidu's death would face the idea of his own mortality, and the humility needed to correctly and justly govern his people. But, I continue to wonder if Enkidu, not Gilgamesh is really the more important of the two, or at the least where the line exists between the seeming disparate modes of being: that of the wild and the civilized, the natural and the arbitrarily conventional.

The way I know how to best frame this would be in falling to Emmanuelle Kant, and his notion of categorical distinction. He literally divided philosophical epochs by bypassing both empiricism and rationalism in his assertion that all experience and thus ideological progeny was inherently phenomenal, as opposed to noumenal. In other words, the world that exists outside of our perception is the ‘natural’ world in its most literal sense, and to get to it we must first process it as phenomena, thus being subject to all the twists and turns of our selves. This idea was not to be taken lightly, that empirical inquiry can indeed give us aggregate data, but that at the end of the day, that data only tells half a story, that the mystery and character of our day to day interactions with the world and each other fails to be constrained or catalogued by facts in and of themselves.

Thomas Reid, went further to differentiate natural from artificial language, more importantly to identity that there was a system of communication that existed a priori, and if not for the sake of which, we wouldn’t have been able to craft our cultural conventions that nest atop it.

However these ideas were championed most fiercely by John-Jacque Rousseau in his ‘Education of Emile.’ He believed that civilization as it was juggernauting through history, most specifically in the form of a burgeoning industrialization, stripped man of a vital authenticity, one championed in the noumenal sense. He was a believer in the weight and urgency of a call back to ‘natural man,’ one that attempted to navigate a balance between the authentic and conventional worlds.

And that’s the point, at least for me, here and now in this moment. As I get ready to pack the last of my things had head out West for a week, I sit with how to continually re-integrate those two pieces of a whole, and how my work might offer narratives that compel this dual inquiry within those who interact with it into the larger conversation about authenticity and the merit of as simple a fact as dirty hands.

And so here, on this spot, one that I plan to construct a place of meeting and ceremony, I give blessing, and gratitude to the land, to its genius, and continuity. I lay down the crest of Enkidu and I give thanks.

As for the rest, who the fuck knows about that.

Labour-atory: Dane Zahorsky 4/5

Michael Wickerson @ July 29, 2014

Gestalt Residency: Day 4 [Sine Labore Nihi]

Updated 35 minutes ago
5 Day 'flash' residency while tending chickens, feeding cats, and talking to myself and the land at Wickerson Studios LLC

Day 4:
In going over materials, and thinking about process vs product, the tools that we use, and the different manners of art in relation to work, I reread some work I did a few years ago, and it seemed wholly relevant for today’s practice:

In Alchemy the ultimate end more important than and necessary for the transmutation of base metals into gold, is a purification of the self. The journey towards an axis point of the many selves we present to others, and ourselves. It is both a charge and warning to and for the initiate that this is not a process to be undertaken frivolously. Just as Dante passes the threshold into the underworld so too must man accept that to ‘know thyself’ is to acknowledge a great many demons.

Eliphas Levi, one of the first modern magicians described it thus: “The Great Work is, before all things, the creation of man by himself, that is to say, the full and entire conquest of his faculties and his future; it is especially the perfect emancipation of his will.” In each of us there is good kindling, fresh flint, and the possibility for flame. All that’s required is the proper application of friction. I think he would agree with Alexander Pope’s heed: “die of nothing, save the rage to live.” Or Ferdinand Toennies’ assertion that there is no greater expression of individual will than our work. With the right eyes we can see our lives and choices as an unfolding of that will. We each are given a choice to take assessment of who we really are, and from that swirling pool of possibility and potential much like Luther’s vocation, choose to refine what “calls” to us.

I read a book when I was young, a novel by an author who in recent years has come under some pretty heavy scrutiny. The book was “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand, and in it there are a great many fallacies, prejudices and misconceptions just as there are in nearly every book of the human cannon. And while I do not advocate or even agree with many of her ideas, I believe in the heart of what is written there, which is a strong and able protagonist who lives his life by a code. In it is one of the most eloquent and explicit depictions of the passionate and dedicated life I have ever encountered. In the opening pages, a young architect who knows himself and what he believes is being let go by a school who would ask him to work against those beliefs. In response he says: “I have, let's say sixty years to live. Most of that time will be spent working. I've chosen the work I want to do. If I find no joy in it, then I'm only condemning myself to sixty years of torture. And I can find joy only if I do the work in the best way possible to me. But the best is a matter of standards.” Those standards are the borderlands between meaning and chaos. For truly to ask what work is, is also to what end, and thus purpose we undertake it. It is to ask if there can be meaning in the universe and thus inevitably what that may be.

After the enlightenment we lost the final cause from the nature of work, moving from asking questions like what is a thing for, to how quickly, cheaply, and plentiful can we make it. The process thus became wholly epistemological IE moving from a focus on ontology and being to pure process. Thus the question remains, what are the long term costs of taking the guiding question of purpose out of the dialectic? I cannot stress enough here the fallacy of believing apples are oranges or that square pegs can fit into round holes. I would in fact argue that taking the why questions out of culture and replacing them with hows based on reductionism was the single most detrimental choice in the history of mankind.

To leave only the efficient cause as an adequate stopping point is to blatantly invite a vacuum. It’s like taking a drug addicts supply and replacing it with placebo, putting your faith on the dependency being ”fooled” into believing everything’s the same. It’s to invite base consumerism and entertainment, gluttonous excess and environmental degradation to become our new distractions, our new tickets to salvation. But we know better, in every breath we know that our feet are resting on a sphere that’s spinning at thousands of miles per hour hurtling round a burning star in a solar system and thus universe so infinite we cannot begin to fathom it. And the distractions inevitably fail us, because our instincts scream the truth, there is no such thing as a free ride: Sine labore nihi: nothing without work. It is hardwired into every neuron to search out the meaning in our lives, and to know that that meaning comes most often in the times of struggle that demand the best from us, that push us to problem solve and apply what we have learned: not simply to “do”, but to do so creatively.

Brass tax: Nothing is free, however the produces, processes, currencies, exchange rates, and qualities are entirely up to us.

Continued: Dane Zahorsky 3/5

Michael Wickerson @ July 28, 2014

Gestalt Residency: Day 3 [An Etiquette of Place]

Updated 2 hours ago
5 Day 'flash' residency while tending chickens, feeding cats, and talking to myself and the land at Wickerson Studios LLC

Day 3:

Today is the day for a story I don’t speak to often, one that enlivens the way I came to Know one of my dear mentors, Akiko Musuda, in a small town called Wailea, on the Big Island of Hawaii. While teaching myself how to ride a small engine motorcycle, I had reason to travel the back roads around where I lived, and one day after passing through some dense jungle, the bananas thinned into trimmed lawns and about ¼ mile of houses and shops that looked straight out of the 30’s. One of those was a small complex with an open studio called the Motonaga Gallery, named after the Japanese man who first purchased the property in the early 1900’s when the town was kept afloat by a now dilapidated sugar mill.

In the studio there were two giant steel buoys sitting in a vertical line of pebbles [sort of post-modern rock garden], and I knew immediately that I was in love, and that before I left the island I needed to make something in that space. Long story short, a 76 year old Japanese woman named Akiko, who guaranteed, can lift more weight in a wheelbarrow than you, me, or that friend who lives at the gym, invited me to come and talk with her.

Within 5 minutes of sitting down this bolt of electricity had asked me questions more personal and open ended than any girlfriend I’d ever had, and let me know that if I wanted to make work here, or even photograph the space, I would first need to get to know the spirit of the place, to learn its etiquette, and that started with sitting.

Sitting, sounds innocuous enough, but this wasn't your grab a chair and relax kind of sitting, this was sitting as a practice, this was zazen [traditional Buddhist meditation] in which you sit for 1.5 hours, then try, often in vein to lift your limbs that are screaming with pins and needles and walk a centimeter at a time in a complete circle around the room, chant mantras in languages I didn’t even know were possible, and then, do it all over again. So for 7 days I sat, I tried to repeat the words, I walked, and it was excruciating, and also absolutely wonderful.

Not because enlightenment jumped off a cliff and took a nosedive into my chest [it didn’t] but because, she had a point. You are never more aware of the smell, the light, the character, and dialect of a place, than when you are forced to attempt emptiness, to run clear like water, within it.

When I came back with my camera to begin getting a feel for the materials, and to begin thinking about the work, the ways in which I approached, I was aware of the place in a different capacity. We like to throw around phrases like ‘placemaking’ or ‘genus loci’ without ever really invoking their character, but in this I was forced to consider the place as subject, that any action I might take in that place as dialog, an exchange, as equivalent as I was willing to make it, a space in the Bachelard sense of the word, one that through mannerism, etiquette, and enacted ritual was pregnant with a glory and vision just waiting to come through any given moment, to be channeled into action, through work, as the made.

And so now, here, in this land, in which I again come to a purity of intent and action, I am forever changed in the way I approach space, place, and land. Today I walked the space I have chosen to build; to make place within, and the work begins with a greeting, with a nest, the dwelling that is both temporary and permanent.

At the end of the 2 to 3 hour sessions, we would always end with the same phrase:

"Every moment is an opportunity to deepen our practice and ourselves, to be better human beings and to be of service."

Enough said.

Kansas And Missouri Artists Selected For ‘State Of The Art’ Exhibition At Crystal Bridges

calderkamin @


In 2013, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., embarked on a project to discover “the most compelling American art being created today.”

Over a period of about 10 months, museum president Don Bacigalupi and assistant curator Chad Alligood crisscrossed the country. They traveled more than 100,000 miles — by plane and car — and stopped in the homes and studios of nearly 1,000 artists.

The result of this epic journey: 200 artworks and 102 artists selected for the exhibition,State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now, which opens in September. Bacigalupi calls it “a glimpse into the state of art in our nation at this moment.”

There’s sculpture, ceramics, painting, photography, video, site-specific installation, and more. The artists range in age from early 20s to late 80s, from every region of the country, including 27 from the Midwest.

Five artists in the exhibition are based in Missouri, including Miki Baird and Calder Kamin (Kansas City), Jamie Adams and Tim Liddy (St. Louis), and Julie Blackmon(Springfield). There are also two artists from Kansas: A. Mary Kay (Lindsborg) andRandy Regier (Wichita).

“We looked for engagement with issues and narratives that underpin our everyday lives, as well as an ability to manipulate material in manifest or beautiful and accessible ways,” Alligood told the Los Angeles Times. “We talked a lot about appeal. Contemporary art is vital and important and can reach a wide audience; it’s not hermetic, not closed, not purposefully obfuscating.”

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, designed by architect Moshe Safdie, opened in 2011. It was founded by Walmart heiress and arts patron Alice Walton. The museum’s permanent collection spans five centuries, from Colonial times to the present.

Welcome: Dane Zahorsky 2/5

Michael Wickerson @ July 27, 2014

Gestalt Residency: Day 2 [H is for Heuristics]

Updated 3 minutes ago
5 Day 'flash' residency while tending chickens, feeding cats, and talking to myself and the land at Wickerson Studios LLC

Day 2:

A heuristic is the cognitive tool that enabled us to move beyond direct visual observation as our only means for ‘knowing’ a thing or better in solving a problem, a shortcut. When asked how many sides a square has, I will tell you 4. It doesn’t matter if I can see the square or not, because I know conceptually, relationally, through precedent, that a square has 4 sides, and if it doesn’t then it’s simply not a square.

In the same way we usefully engage heuristics to make value judgments based on our available information. One of my favorite lessons in heuristics comes from a course taught by one of the best lecturers on the planet, Daniel Robinson. In speaking to heuristics in relation to functional fixedness [or the tendency to use a concept or behavior that has worked in the past non-contextually or willy-nilly], he speaks to a pedantic tool that a friend of his uses when teaching a class on the very subject: The professor enters the classroom on the first day of class through the window, he then asks his students is that a window or a door?

As stated yesterday the point is that, we learn through instruction and example how to use a thing. The challenge then both in relation to artistic practice and everyday life is to take stock of both the heuristics and algorithms that we implicitly rely on, and to see them in tune with those values and dogmas with which we would choose to be associated in the first and all instances after, as in Kant’s moral imperative, or the Thomas Paine's idea of fidelity.

It also means being able to look past those that do not serve us or do a disservice to us and to move past the limitations therein.

A window can be a door, though it might not make pragmatic sense to use it as such, to let our creative faculties free to rethink use, is often the only way to find inspiration, and indeed innovation.

Enter: Dane Zahorsky 1/5

Michael Wickerson @

Gestalt Residency: Day 1 [Relative Authority]

Updated 17 hours ago
5 Day 'flash' residency while tending chickens, feeding cats, and talking to myself and the land at Wickerson Studios LLC

Day 1:

Since Nietzsche’s ‘Gay Science,’ was published in 1882, and followed by the secularizing of, well, everything, we were charged with being, as individuals, the single progenitors of meaning. We became our own Prometheus.

In other words, we, not anyone or anything else, are responsible for creating the meaning in our lives. We act, and in so acting, meaning is made through the implications and consequences of those actions.

I believed this for a very long time, from Roark to Sisyphus, everywhere there was opportunity to fashion the world in all the ways we want, to produce function, purpose, and meaning, as aggregate forces that unify into a single vision, one’s will made manifest as the truest end of an examined and joyous life.

Though with age, and some perspective, one cannot stray too far from the words of John Haines, in his essays on country living:

“When life is simplified, its essence becomes clearer, and we know our lives as part of some ancient human activity in a time measured not by clocks and calendars but by the turning of a great wheel, the positions of which are not wage-hours, nor days and weeks, but immense stations called Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.”

This stands in line with another school of thought; one most clearly articulated by a man I don’t turn to often, Martin Heidegger. He would stand for Reception, not Action, being the true arbiter of meaning and purpose within one’s life.

That we must choose to face what the idea of ultimate or necessary authority means. In this instance, authority not as a monotheistic God, or an overarching government, but instead, as a life defined by seasons, ones that have no care whether we plant barley or grain, as they will continue to unfold regardless. When we talk about global warming and it’s consequences we become more attune to realizing that to live in a state of balance on any level we must take into account the authority of our environment, to exist within healthy limitations necessary for habitation, to provide certain structure, that thus gives us a framework with which to fashion infinite possibilities.

Likewise, when we choose to focus or hone certain skills or receptive faculties that train us to be open to specific types of experience, we give into the authority of a larger structure, the one that allows for arete. The chess master sees the 2 or 4 move mate, because he has worked himself into the authoritative framework of playing chess, just as the rice farmer sees the coming breeze while planting or harvesting, not as coincidence but at part of the larger task at hand. It is from within this structure that one can move towards creation, improvisation, and manipulation while staying true enough to that structure as to still exist within its definition.

We know what things mean by the ways in which we use them; we know who we are through the types of experiences we pursue.

To find a balance between Action and Reception is also to find a 'Relative Authority' to both actively take responsibility for the creation of meaning, while also engaging in a humility and functional subjugation to the authority of any given system or experience, that there is indeed something larger than yourself, mainly:

Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.

Fisher of Men

Michael Wickerson @ July 23, 2014

Jorge Luis Borges wrote a fascinating short story ‘Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’ about a world, discovered in an Encyclopedia, which slowly through the literary process, comes to posses customs, philosophies, psychology, history, language and literature. So much so that it inevitably grows to encompass and eventually overwhelm our own world. Tlön and Uqbar are a world which:

A secret and benevolent society… arose to invent a country. Its vague initial program included "hermetic studies," philanthropy and the cabala. From this first period dates the curious book by Andrea. After a few years of secret conclaves and premature syntheses it was understood that one generation was not sufficient to give articulate form to a country. They resolved that each of the masters should elect a disciple who would continue his work. This hereditary arrangement prevailed; after an interval of two centuries the persecuted fraternity sprang up again in America. In 1824, in Memphis (Tennessee), one of its affiliates conferred with the ascetic millionaire Ezra Buckley. The latter, somewhat disdainfully, let him speak - and laughed at the plan's modest scope. He told the agent that in America it was absurd to invent a country and proposed the invention of a planet. To this gigantic idea he added another, a product of his nihilism (4): that of keeping the enormous enterprise a secret. At that time the twenty volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica were circulating in the United States; Buckley suggested that a methodical encyclopedia of the imaginary planet be written. He was to leave them his mountains of gold, his navigable rivers, his pasture lands roamed by cattle and buffalo, his Negroes, his brothels and his dollars, on one condition: "The work will make no pact with the impostor Jesus Christ." Buckley did not believe in God, but he wanted to demonstrate to this nonexistent God that mortal man was capable of conceiving a world.
-- Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths, 1988

Though I doubt Mike has ever read any Borges, his sculptures and drawings attempt in their own way to modestly duplicate Ezra Buckley’s efforts, in that they are the awkward remnants of a machine-age which never happened.

His sculptures are built out of concrete, steel and bits of wood. There’s an industrial feel to them; both in the sense that his work seems to be the creation of some foreign manufacturing, but also because they’re the tools that would work in some unknown and unknowable endeavor.

I’m tempted to say that they seem to be the modernist leavings of a more primitive world. Of a civilization left behind. An awkward society of giants able to lift monstrous tools of stone and wieldy machines of iron. Yet, at the same time, those very materials are those of the world of now. Concrete, forged steel and milled wood. They’re the detritus of our industrially developed North America and its crumbling manufacturing sector.

And so, like Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, Mike’s sculptures are the firmament of a world not rediscovered, but one created in toto and waiting, either for entropy to bury it again, or for the lands of his fertile invention to overcome and overwhelm our own.

- Lars Townsend, Michael Wickerson Catalogue Essay, 2012

Student Opportunity Deadline: Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey announces a $500 award!

calderkamin @ July 17, 2014


Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey has a 30 year history of making dance accessible to all, teaching young people critical life skills through dance, and modeling interracial and multicultural community partnerships.  To celebrate our 30th Anniversary and community members that exemplify the life and vision of our mission, we are requesting proposals from Kansas City Art Institute students to create an three-dimensional award for KCFAA to present at their 30th Anniversary Gala.


The winning design will receive $500 plus the cost of materials to produce the piece.

Medium options:  glass, ceramic, fiber and other materials considered.  Material must be three-dimensional, inspired, and appropriate to use as an award.

Dimensions:  No larger than 24″ x 24″

Theme: The ART of Dance

Proposals due: August 1, 2014

(please include estimated cost of materials)

Proposal Winner Announced: August 18, 2014

Project Review: September 2014

Project Completion: October 1, 2014


Proposals submitted to:

Randy Williams, Advancement Office

Kansas City Art Institute

4415 Warwick Blvd.

Kansas City, Mo  64111

e-mail: rwilliams@kcai.edu

phone: 816-802-3527


Job Postings for July 2014

calderkamin @


HMK Hallmark has a part-time opening for a Graphic Artist – Service Specialists. They are responsible for the stores graphic design, laser engraving, dye sublimation, embroidery, and high speed printing/book binding. Submit resume to sm0399@hmkcsg.hallmark.com or contact Leslie Anderson, Store Manager 816-931-4555 for more info.

KCAI has an opening for an academic and career advisor.

Townsend communications, Inc. has an opening for Corporate Art Director / Graphic Designer. The Art Director  formulates concepts, designs and production of layouts for magazines, advertisements, other related publications and company sales /promotional aids. Applicants should contact Alice Chandler: alicec@townsendkc.com

Bitterman Family Confections  has an opening for a Creative Designer. This position makes custom labels for customers using their logo and adding a creative spin. Product flyers, catalogs, signs, candy bar wrappers, etc as needed. Submit a resume and link to your portfolio to HR@BITTERMANCANDY.COM

Murray’s Ice Creams & Cookies seeks a people person to fill a Soda Jerk position. Contact Murray Nixon at mplosey@gmail.com.

The University of Missouri Extension in Lexington, MO has an opening for a Community Arts Regional Specialist

The Kansas City Ballet currently has a receptionist position open.

Full time Graphic web Designer and Product Manager Position in Overland Park focusing on building wordpress sites.

Framer position in westport.

CR Promotions is currently hiring a part-time Graphic Design Artist for the Kansas City area.

DeCloud Studios, an Overland Park, KS based School Yearbook & Senior Photography Company is currently accepting applications from talented, responsible and highly motivated individuals to join our team as a Seasonal Photo Editor.

Phoenix Gallery is opening a second gallery in the Plaza and would like to hire a KCAI student or alumni for a part-time position. Send your resume and contact info to Susan Shea at info@phoenixgalleryks.com

Division-D in Columbia, MO has an opening for a Digital Creative Associate. They are responsible for internal branding, developing and designing creative units for current and future clients. Send your resume, contact info and portfolio to careers@divisiond.com

Kansas City Web Design® seeks a Full Time Web & Graphic Designer / Project Manager. To apply go to http://kcwebdesigner.com/contact-us/ for more info contact Phil Singleton phil@seokcmo.com

University of Missouri in Columbia has several opening available: https://myhr.umsystem.edu/psp/tamext/COLUM/HRMS/c/HRS_HRAM.HRS_CE.GBL?SiteId=9  and at their extension school http://extension.missouri.edu/careers/positions_available.html


Interact Center is a non-profit arts organization offering full time creative practice at the professional level for adults with disabilities. We are a state-licensed adult day care center offering both theatrical and visual arts daily artistic programming. Mission-driven and creative, we are looking for the right candidate to join our team.

Curator: Utah State University’s Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art (NEHMA) seeks a visionary Curator specializing in modern and contemporary art with a particular emphasis on art and artists of the western United States.


Various job opportunities at the Guggenheim Museum: NYC.

Current available positions at The Museum of Modern Art, MOMA.

Current available positions at The Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC.
SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) current Opportunities. San Francisco, USA.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago job opportunities. Chicago.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago: Current Full-time Faculty Positions. Chicago, USA.

Cincinnati Artswave current Job Opportunities.

Association of Midwest Museums current Job Opportunities.

The Art + Design Department at Columbia College Chicago is accepting applications .

Gold Coast boutique in Chicago seeks dynamic individual, must have general sales & office work experience in addition to product photography & photo editing skills.

Kompleks Creative, a graphic design and digital marketing agency based in Downtown Durham, NC, is searching for a graphic designer to join their team. To apply visit:  http://komplekscreative.com/careers or careers@komplekscreative.com


Beach Museum Open A.I.R. Resource Page

calderkamin @ July 8, 2014

Calder’s artistic practice and ideas are based on her research. Calder created a list of YouTube videos and links that cover her ideas on de-exinction and tallgrass prairie megafauna for gallery visitors during her mini residency at the Beach Museum of Art at K-State.

Resurrection Biology

CNN: Bringing back a mammoth for cloning

TED Stewart Brand: The dawn of de-extinction. Are you ready?

Pure Nature Specials – The Return of the Buffalo









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