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Home BLOGS Guest Blog Guest Blog: Smile Forever

Guest Blog: Smile Forever

Written by Michael Sieben   
Thursday, 05 April 2007 05:27
Michael Sieben blogs up the creation and work from his current show that's up right now @Art Palace Gallery in Austin.
When I emailed John (Trippe) and asked him if he'd post something about my upcoming solo show (Smile Forever) at the Art Palace Gallery in Austin, TX he suggested that I write a blog about the experience. I agreed to it. But I have to admit that I do feel a little weird writing about my own show vs. having somebody review it. But, I'm starving for enough attention that I'm willing to push that thought aside and jump in with both feet.

Here's the press release for the exhibition:
Fueled by nostalgia, Michael Sieben's work deals primarily with a loss of innocence. Autobiography plays heavily into Sieben's first gallery solo exhibition of drawings, painting and sculpture. Combining the aesthetic languages of skateboard graphic design and children's book illustrations, Sieben works in a style he refers to as "soft-core gore." Monsters tread a fine line between sweet and grotesque, and security cameras are there to record it all. The title of the show refers to, on one hand, smiling in the face of adversity, and on the other, the loss of privacy in our contemporary digital age, where cameras, security, television and otherwise, are constantly recording our images. Between these two poles, we might as well smile forever.

That sounds pretty good, huh? Risa Puleo is responsible for the press release. I think what I sent her read something like: "Uh... like... this stuff is about forgetting all the bullshit in your life and smiling despite of it. Oh, and it's about how we're being recorded all the time now." I think she did a really good job of making me sound like less of a dummy.

I show more work outside of Austin than in Austin. Which means I usually have to take shipping charges into account when I'm preparing work for a show. Which means I usually try to create work that I know I can ship for a reasonable amount. It sort of sucks to have to think about that when you're generating work. But without a trust fund, what can you do? That being said, when I was preparing for this show I knew that I wasn't going to have to ship any work. Which made me want to try to do something more ambitious. Something big. Something unexpected. So I decided to work on a sculptural piece for the show. Something that I normally would never be able to afford to ship. Something fuzzy, blue, and hopefully awesome. So I called up my friend Chrissy Paszalek who is a seamstress and we began to discuss how to make one of my dudes exist three dimensionally. Cue the photographs, Trippe.

Monster barber shop

Did you know that you have to make a pattern before you make a huge stuffed character? I had no idea. Luckily Chrissy had a really good idea about what needed to happen. I thought I could just draw it and she could sew it. It turns out it's a little more complicated than that.

The following photos are taken at various stages of this dude's construction. I'd like to take the opportunity to thank Chrissy, Brandy Mac, Ryan Weibust, and Mike Parsons for their help. There is no way in heck that I could have ever made this dude by myself. I'm sure everybody out there knows how awesome it is to have friends, but I have to reiterate. Friends, man... friends freaking kick buns.

I know, I know. It looks like a weiner at this point.

This was what came to be known as the "blood assembly line." Don't steal that for your band name. We already trademarked it.

We were trying to figure out how to move the dude and Brandy suggested carrying him in a sheet. Which was way better than my idea which was taking him all apart and then sewing him back together at the gallery. I don't know sheet. (Get it?... I'm working on my old man humor.)

It felt really good to load him up into the minivan. It's hard to tell from the pictures, but it took many many hours (over many days) to construct this guy.

This is where I was stockpiling my work at my house before the show. Don't make fun of my carpet. We didn't pick it out.

Day 1 at the gallery. Nothing funny about that. I just like how galleries look when you first walk into them to begin an installation.

This is a series of 40 drawings I did for the show. Each of these were priced at twenty dollars a piece. I really wanted to have some work in the show that would be considered affordable to anybody who came through the door. Even teenagers.

Arturo Palacios owner of the Art Palace. If you ever visit Austin you should definitely try to meet this dude. He's one of my favorites.

Here's how the sculpture looked after the installation. I was so stoked to see him in the space. I think it really changes the way the paintings are viewed. Oh, I almost forgot to mention this, but this guy's name is Simon. Chrissy has a 3 year old son named Simon and we asked him what we should name the huge blue dude that he'd been living with for the past few weeks. Without a pause he said, "Simon." So Simon it is.

"soft-core gore"


I also made a cardboard video camera as part of the installation. Sculpture is totally new to me so if you're looking at this thinking that you can do better... well... you're probably correct.

The next set of images are photos of the paintings and drawings that were included in the exhibition. Please feel free to scroll past them if you don't like my work. I promise there's a few drunk people once you get past them (I totally used this joke the last time I did a blog for fecalface too.)

These two paintings are really new and are a new direction for my work. These were the first two pieces I generated specifically for the exhibit and I had intended to make a larger series of paintings in this style. Unfortunately these two paintings took way longer to finish than I had anticipated so I had to jump back to some simpler compositions in order to have enough work to fill the space. I plan on making more work in this style for upcoming shows now that I'm not in as much of a time crunch.

The following seven images are details from these paintings.

My Stepmum bought this dude.

Sorry for the glare.

Sorry for the blur.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dr. John T. Sieben (aka Dad)

Pettin' some chest.

Lo-Lo. Okay Mountain Intern.

Party people like to party. Just like in your town.

A portion of my "runnin' crew."

Seconds before being asked to "please stop."

During the opening these two guys just happened to be cruising down the street and they stopped and belted out some tunes. They were freaking fantastic. Thanks dudes. My camera battery died really early in the night and I forgot to bring my charger with me, so I didn't get too many pictures of my friends acting the fool. Which is okay I think, because Dewar's sponsored the opening and dropped off a case of Scotch. So needless to say, people really did end up acting the fool.

The next day (Sunday) we ate some Mexican food and had a dog pile.

This photo was actually taken about a week before the show, but I wanted to include it because I like it. This is Simon and he's the guy that named the sculpture. He's also my buddy. Check out Simon's dad's (Mike Parsons) website here.

So that pretty much concludes the Smile Forever blog. I wanted to mention that I have a new zine that I made specifically for the show that will be available on my website in the next few days (shameless... shameless.) Many many thanks to Chrissy, Brandy, Mike P. Ryan W., Rachel Reyes, Billie Jo, Simon, Arturo Palacios, Risa Puleo, and as always, my lovely wife Allison. Thanks everybody.


MAR 31 - APR 28, 2007
ART PALACE info@artpalacegallery.com
2109 Cesar Chavez St. Austin, TX 78702
Hours: Wed 7-9pm, Sat 12-5pm
By Appointment: (512) 496-0687 {moscomment}

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