Saturday, November 30, 2013

femme fest

I am usually the one behind the camera so it's nice to stumble on photos from sets taken by strangers. I am not sure who took this photo, so if you know, please drop me a line so I can credit them appropriately. Femme Fest was a rad show for a good cause and I really enjoyed myself, even though I was nervous as hell on stage. I don't think I've ever heard Mable's get so quiet. Hopefully that's a good thing?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

myself as a Disembodied Text

Been writing fiendishly lately. Sometimes I think it's working. I've been summoning the courage to do more readings, some in town, others out of town, in Dallas, usually through a gallery collective called Two Bronze Doors. One of the most genuine groups of artists I have ever come across- they are truly inspiring. Through them I was recently asked to submit some poems to the Dallas-based publication Disembodied Text. I sent along some slightly more experimental pieces that I've been working on, which they seemed to like and published. Do check out their website and the gallery sometime if you can, and enjoy these strange little poems of mine.

a ghost

the trees

Thursday, October 31, 2013

a poem: haunted

in the spirit of creepy shit, here's a halloween-ish poem i wrote for Denton Spoken Word Collective's recent chapbook, released at the dead poet show last Thursday. the book is full of lovely poems written by lovely people, and the cover was designed by the incredible Annavittoria. it would seem everyone had a lot of fun reading at the show (i did- i think- i'm pretty sure, at least) and as a bonus, i didn't get in a fight with the bartender.

remember candy is terrible for you and zombies aren't real and drunk driving is for assholes. Xo.

dead poets: dorothy parker, anne sexton, & edgar allen poe

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review of Fondly, of which i am quite fond.

my friend colin winnette wrote a book. to be clear, he has written quite a few books, but i would like to say a few words about his newest one in particular.

(you can read about him and his other books here.)

for the record, i have always looked up to colin as a human and a writer in countless ways and i am happy to report that fondly has renewed my already stoic confidence in colin as a creative visionary for our generation. he is a never-ending inspiration and reminder of the strides i hope to someday make in my own life, and i thank him for that.

(please note, in the following "reviews" i am simply trying to capture the feeling i got reading this story/novella duo. i really don't want to spoil anything for you. i also didn't really feel like putting you through the rigamarole of literary name dropping, though i could say if you are interested in the gnarly likes of harry crews, the epic family tragedies of garcia marquez, or if you would be into post-modern reincarnations of stories told by carver or paley and that sort of ilk, read a young winnette while you can. he knows a story when he writes one, and i have a feeling there's plenty more where these came from.)

in one story, the two sisters

read this before you go to bed at night and prepare for the strangest dreams. you don't need a terribly long attention span, just the ability suspend belief for a moment in order to enter this magical kaleidoscope. these stories are overflowing with a menagerie of characters, moments, and snippets of ideas perhaps not fully formed but existing on the page for our entertainment nevertheless.

prepare to be all-consumed by a timeless, nonsensical world, complete with immortal, immoral characters, most of which are both faceless and nameless. 

welcome to a collection of stories completely intertwined yet charmingly and in no apparent manner relevant to one another. 

you may find yourself unable to pinpoint exactly why you care about any of the characters but still do, regardless, which is beautiful. 

it’s everything you’ve ever wanted in a disjointedly fused story collection: kidnapping, cannibalism, incest, strange men in closets, anthropomorphizing, murder, runaway nuns, decapitation, and unexpected metamorphoses. a mise en scène with no boundaries. 

here lies a dozen stocking-stuffers for the junky of modern magical realism, the lover of unsolvable post-modern mysteries, or that special someone who always dreamed of being consumed by a fish or tree.


this might be the saddest story ever told. Winnette’s modern narrative describes in painfully relatable language a fatalistic fall through the branches of a dysfunctional family tree. it subtly paves the way to appreciating the ever-present baggage of everyone you’ve ever met.

at first read, this novella may appear appallingly unpredictable. it isn’t until the end of the book you may realize you have read the entire work through binoculars, only paying attention to the finest, most inconsequential details. this book is much larger than i could initially comprehend, or give it credit for. 

the author ensures somehow each lethal plot-twist continues to allow the story to pick itself back up and continue where it left off, to trudge onward in the same unclear direction, usually dragging a broken limb or two. the book itself is impossible to set aside: the story takes the form of a injured stranger, doomed but presently intact, a morbid curiosity suspended on the reader’s sudden sense of responsibility to see it through to the end, regardless of the risk.

all this confusing language aside, what i mean to say is please read this book. 

because books like this are exactly why we read books in the first place: we want to experience something tangibly familiar yet ever so slightly out of reach; to feel a nostalgia or understanding so hauntingly similar to our own ideas about the human condition that we feel a little less alone, a little less terrified to endure the slow march of mortality. 

it is in books like this we are made to fear a little less the inevitable grind of time. 

we are allowed a small window of opportunity to imagine the impossible, to understand the incomprehensible.

books like this change us, they shift the scales of our perspectives forever.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

installation: "the spiderweb"

Most of you know that I have spent a great deal of time this past year co-hosting and curating a local creative collective called Spiderweb Salon. It has been life-changing. This community of people has kept me in Denton long past what I once thought was my expiration date for this town. In the last year, I have witnessed creative transformations that have motivated me to keep up the collective, but that have also helped reignite a passion for my own art. Best of all, I have had the honor to meet some truly incredible, beautiful, and talented people.

These people, this community, is solely responsible for inspiring my most recent art piece to date, simply called, “the spiderweb”.

“the spiderweb” debuted at Spiderweb Salon’s anniversary show last weekend. You can check out more photos of the project and close-ups of the work HERE, and pictures of the awesome show itself HERE.

My original idea to create “the spiderweb” began a long time ago and has taken many different forms. I find the evolution of creativity fascinating, and the complex beauty of this large-scale project we call Spiderweb Salon is not lost on me. Only three months after the collective started, I embarked on a time-consuming enterprise to paint a 8x8 portrait of everyone who had been involved until that point. I had lofty plans to finish some 30-40 of these portraits in just two months. Of course, I set my expectations far too high. I did not account for how little time I could dedicate each day to the project, and I certainly didn’t foresee the numerous projects we were soon to take on, including many workshops and the humble beginnings of our published zines.

After a few good discussions with partners and friends, I realized if I wanted to present my ideas of community and interconnectedness in a very personal manner, I would have to settle for a smaller scale art piece.

The web idea came to me naturally, and I started by spending a couple hours researching real spider’s webs. I went to S.C.R.A.P. Denton and purchased several rolls of strong string (with minimum stretch), as well as notecards.

I used a list we had already compiled for our website with the names of all the folks so far who have been a part of the shows, zines, and workshops. Days before, using my little blue portable Royal, I typed out the names onto the notecards, and carefully cut them into small strips.

After prep, it took me about 3 hours on the day of the show to construct the actual web and adhere each strip of paper/name.

You can interpret this piece however you want.

For me: I like that each name on the web symbolizes that person’s individuality and isolates them. At the same time, looking at the piece at a whole, one can see it is all connected. Like the community we represent, we allow ourselves to be united in some way regardless of how we identify ourselves personally or artistically. We embrace all kinds of creativity and artists and encourage collaboration beyond the norm.

The people involved in Spiderweb Salon are Spiderweb Salon. That’s what makes it a collective. We create it, we make it what we want. I am proud to act as a catalyst so this can happen. I spend so much time on it because I believe it is important, and I believe a lot of us need something like this community in our lives.

P.S. I had every intention to destroy it the next day (someone even suggested i light it on fire), but found myself making an effort to preserve it and ended up hanging some semblance of the original piece in our Spiderweb office at home.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

support local artists. support local everything.

There are a TON of cool local artsy events going on this weekendDenton Community Market is starting back up, the DIME Store is having their grand opening, The King & I premiers at the local theatre, and Spiderweb Salon's collaboration meeting for the next big zine project are just a few notable happenings to attend and appreciate. I thought this would be an appropriate time to reiterate what we've all heard a million times:


Or better stated: support local everything. Do whatever you can to put money back into the pockets of your community, your friends, and your neighbors. One of the things that I love about Denton (eh, well, you know, our Denton- certainly not the Loop or Razor Ranch) is that we have the opportunity to do this.

Yes- I count myself among those who daydream about a future life of recognition and wealth somehow born of being a writer or artist. I struggle a little every day to come to terms with the fact that this is pretty unrealistic. Art, writing especially, is my passion- which means I can never stop striving to create. Whether I am writing, painting, shooting photos, taking on a creative project, or making music with my friends, these are the things that fulfill me and breath life into an otherwise pessimistic existence.

That being said I am honored to know people who have taken their inspirations a step further. While most of them are still very far from that pipe dream existence, they are the amazing, inspiring artists who have taken their craft a step further and are making a name for themselves and a little money to support their craft, in whatever capacity they can. I am proud to support small businesses run by talented, creative people, and most of all, I love to support my friends and peers who are artists and beautiful humans in general.

I don’t care if you don’t have a ton of spending cash, what I’m saying here is you can still find a way to support the artists close to you and encourage your community to keep creating. Here are some ideas:

  • When you’re shopping for gifts for friends or family, try local shops.
  • Check out the galleries around town. There’s UNT on the Square, the universities, but also look for original local artwork in cafes, wine shops, and boutiques.
  • Participate in free community arts events: First Friday, Community Market, Jazz Fest, house shows, etc.
  • Ask your friends if you can buy art from them.
  • Save some of your drinking money and spend it on a CD or T-Shirt at a show.
  • Read local blogs. They can enlighten you on new perspectives, introduce you to people and things around town you may have never heard of, and keep you up-to-date on events and happenings near you.
  • Always, always, always tip your bartenders, servers, and baristas.
  • Commission a painting or song from a friend.
  • Go to a local crafts fair. Try the new Etsy shop, the DIME store.
  • Listen to local music.
  • Read a zine. 
  • Drink locally crafted beer, buy food from local farmers. I know this is not always possible, but every step we make to support those near us is a step in the right direction.
  • Talk to people, find new places to explore and things to do in your neighborhood.
  • Participate in open mics. Be respectful to the performers. Bring something to offer.
  • Create something yourself, and sell it at a reasonable price.
  • Collaborate with other artists.

In the spirit of local fanfare and artist appreciation, I'd like to draw your attention to some incredible people whose work I have been lucky to appreciate in the last month or so, and encourage you to check out their work as well:

I can say nothing but awesome things about Laura and Dave, the dynamic duo who run this great letter press business. I met them when we had booths right next to each other at an Austere Magazine event in Dallas and I bought this awesome little notebook! Soon after, Conor and I hired them to print our business cards for Spiderweb Salon. Triple Threat Press was easy and awesome to work with and the cards turned out beautiful and just in time for the madness that was 35 Denton!


If you keep up with this blog, you'll remember my recent post about Annavittoria the Amazing. Anna gifted me with this awesome piece after I interviewed her for the Denton culture blog We Denton Do It. It now hangs proudly on the wall in my bedroom. Anna has an Etsy store you should totally check out, and she works on commissioned pieces too, if you have any ideas for artwork hit her up!! She did some amazing cover art for the newest Forever & Everest album- SO COOL!

Regine does AMAZING pottery work. During a sale she's been having over the past month I bought this mug donning the face of one of my favorite poets and ordered another one while I was at it. This piece is SO BEAUTIFUL and well made, I absolutely adore it. Everyone should own a Regine original. I don't know if she has an Etsy store yet, but I can let her know if anyone out there is interested in a ceramic work-of-art of their own!

is the FREAKING COOLEST! Look at this dino-print! He does all kinds of incredible illustration artwork and you should go look at all of his stuff right now!! Some of it is heavily video game or comic book hero themed, which I don't always understand the references to, but I always love his style, regardless of subject matter. He has his own Etsy shop and can also work with commissioned ideas. He is also the designer and illustrator for Spiderweb Salon's zines (some of which can still be acquired if you contact one of us)! This print is now hanging proudly in my kitchen, underneath a badass painting by Cole Dalton.

(Matthew, I might still owe you money for this actually, don't let me forget!)
There are still lots of copies of the last Spiderweb zine available!


It would appear I just can't stop buying T-shirts from these guys. I missed their big sale last weekend due to an extra long band practice, but I have recently acquired three really great T-shirts designed and printed by them. All their shirts are super comfortable and one-of-a-kind: they'll let you pick your shirt and colors, and at select events you can watch them screen print your shirt right before your eyes. It's pretty incredible. Check them out!

These guys are as creative as it gets when it comes to beer. I can't tell you how happy I am that their Quakertown Stout is now sold in nearly all my favorite bars, and I can't wait until they have jumped through all the right hoops to open up their own place right here in town. I am very proud of Bobby and Yianni and I LOVE THEIR BEER. I'm getting tispy just thinking about it. They have a map so you can find all the places in the area carrying Quakertown right now. Big kudos to Deep Ellum Brewery, another excellent local craft brewer, for helping make Armadillo's [and everyone's] dreams come true!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Annavittoria the Amazing

Annavittoria at Spiderweb Salon's New Year Show
This article was originally written for a blog I have been writing for occasionally of late, but to my discouragement it appeared online today quite over-edited. I wanted the original article to be available to those interested in reading it. Anna -as an artist and a human being- is a true inspiration and local gem, and I am happy that I was able to begin to know her through the magic that is Spiderweb Salon and with the help of this interview!

Anna's art displayed at Spiderweb Salon

Meet Annavittoria Conner. You can call her Anna. She is an artist. Her collages are featured in her online Etsy store and have been spotted in art zines such as Raw Paw (Austin, TX) and galleries around Denton, most recently Spiderweb Salon’s New Year Showcase and 35 Denton Presents: Spiderweb Salon at Dan's Silverleaf.

What’s so cool about Anna? Besides her stunning artwork, maybe it’s her bright personality and excited outlook on life. Maybe it’s her passion for local businesses and affordable artwork. Or maybe it’s that she’s fluent in Italian and participates in extreme sports. Anna may have a lot of wild stories to share but she’s an incredibly easy person to relate to. She’s been a Dentonite since early childhood. She followed her parents’ footsteps to the classrooms of UNT, where she studies Interior Design. She’s on the prowl for new ways to share her passions, ideas, and her art with others.

One visit to Anna’s meticulously organized studio says a lot about this gal. She claims to dabble in everything and master nothing, but her collages are the products of great care and experience. She pours me a glass of wine and we flip through the old school books she snips pictures from. I gaze at the eclectic array of artwork covering the walls as she describes to me her dream art-project, an idea that actually came to her in a dream: a collection of tiny terrariums, each depicting a powerful and unexpected moment in someone’s life: a man in a diving bell lost in the jungle, adolescents embracing in a forest, and so on.

Anna is fascinated by America’s obsession with hamburgers, and fast food comes up a lot in her work. On the walls of her bedroom hang her own oil paintings of brightly-colored hamburgers: one seems to have grown human legs, the other is the body of a sea turtle. She’s in the process of planning her next artistic undertaking: 3-D fabric collages. On the docket to be created is a hand-sewn sculpture of a giant hamburger (“as tall as a small man”), bursting at the buns with odd items, and a life-sized nude elderly couple, amorously involved.

Following a disastrous internship with MTV, Anna switched her major from Radio TV and Film to Interior Design, and looks forward to perusing this as a career alongside her art. Of course, selling enough pieces to live off of would be ideal, but Anna feels strongly in providing art that is realistically affordable and accessible. She lives up to her philosophy. Take the tiny, handmade artist cards, for example, that she freely passes out at shows, and the incredible little collage she gifted me with upon leaving our interview. Having friends who are also artists encourages her to share her art and ideas with others. She loves when she is able to purchase her peers’ work and allow them to do the same. “We’re all artists and we’re all trying to work for the same thing, and it’s really nice each other and buy things and have a collection, and maybe when you’re eighty one day, that person is famous and it’s worth a [lot] of money, you know, or not and you just have an amazing memory of when you were younger.”

The most expensive item in Anna’s Etsy store, “PICKLEDPUNX”, is $150.00, to compensate for its difficulty to part with. Each of her pieces are one-of-a-kind originals; nothing is reproduced, and she is willing to work on commissioned pieces. Her desk is currently covered in tiny pictures of dogs, soon to be constructed into an advertisement for a pet groomer. To make her collages, Anna scours thrift shops and antique stores for hours, on the hunt for old illustrated books. She goes through piles of razor blades, carefully cutting out the pieces of her composite work. She keeps her projects scrupulously organized in folders, drawers, and trays around her studio.

original artwork Anna made for her boyfriend
One of Anna’s greatest struggles as an artist is what she calls involuntary dry spells. “With school and with work and everything, sometimes I don’t have the time...It’s the worst, because I just have all these ideas and I feel like I’m losing them and forgetting them and they’re disintegrating into my mind, you know, leaving my body.” I enthusiastically agree; I think this feeling tends to be universal among twenty-first century twenty-something artists and writers. Anna offered some great advice to fellow creatives who struggle with dry spells: “Sometimes I turn it into the most amazing experience.” She describes how, inspired by a song-writing project launched by her boyfriend, she pushes herself to create at maximum capacity for a very short amount of time. She does this especially when she feels uninspired. “I try to knock out ten pieces in twelve hours.” One of the pieces she created during this exercise, “Red Cross Wishes for Vacation,” ended up being a favorite. She’s even been contacted to use it as a T-shirt design.

If you can’t find her in Denton, Anna’s probably at one of the skate parks in Lewisville or Allen, grinding poles with her BMX bike, endearingly christened Princess Diana. (You can tell she means business by the banged-up bike tattooed on her left shin.) She also works closely with UNT’s Italian Club, hosting occasional Italian-language movie nights in her home. Keep a lookout for her work involved with more Spiderweb Salon projects and other galleries in the area.

Monday, March 18, 2013

ambient bee word

This is one of my first adventures into Ableton Live. I would not say it is good... not by a long shot. But I think it is just as important to document the beginning of creative journeys just as one would the rest of the process, so here it is. It was composed last spring, and I am only just now becoming re-inspired to delve into Ableton again. I have been inspired by Bluebear, of course, but also other electronic projects that have interested me of late, including the newest Efterklang and Mouse on Mars as well as Summer of Glaciers. The upcoming Spiderweb Salon event has me stoked as well! I may play this very short piece during an intermission or something... we will see...

Edit: For the record, I also learned Nowhere Man on guitar today too. So there's that.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Summer of Glaciers & Balmorhea [2/8/13]

I had the opportunity to photograph a really amazing show this weekend, put on by Gutterth Live and SpuneBalmorhea, a six-piece instrumental group from Austin, was the headlining act and they blew me away. Summer of Glaciers opened for them and totally rocked it, too. I won't say much more about all that just yet as I'm supposed to be writing a little blurb for the Austere Magazine blog. So I'll just leave you with a few shots from the show.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

friday night in denton II

Another Friday night means haunting local establishments in search of new fun and classic nostalgia. It's a happy mix of finding events sure to satisfy and exploring where we're yet to feel comfortable. Good people, full crowds, draft beer [everywhere], and loud, foot-stomping music. I'm still getting used to wielding my camera in dark places, but that's part of the fun. I love snapping pictures as we take on each new adventure! These snippets of memory-making are from last Friday [2/1/2013]:

The night started with a group of beautiful friends [and some pad thai from Thai Ocha!]. I wouldn't have it any other way. After dinner we made our way to the square, where the city's monthly First Friday was happenin'. Local shops and galleries take the opportunity to stay open later than usual and serve wine, beer, and snacks to patrons while they check things out.

Over at S.C.R.A.P.- the thifty craft shop next to Banter - our friends from Armadillo Ale Works handed out free samples of their homemade brews. Their beer is exceptional- it's no wonder Bobby and Yianni have rallied so much support from the community to start producing on a larger scale. As of a couple weeks ago, they are now teamed up with the guys at Deep Ellum to start making all of our beer dreams a reality! I am really excited for them, and just as excited about the prospect of getting that Brown Ale I had the other night in a six-pack at Midway Mart.

We heard there was an open mic going on a place I'd never heard of before but my friends were all familiar with - Green Space. We got there a little too late, though- the open mic was nearly over. Upon arriving we heard some sort of Bjork remix coming from the main room and entered to see a group of improvisational artists rolling around on the ground in the heat of the creative moment. I enjoyed it but wish I could have seen more to have a little context. We got to meet the owner of the place afterwards, who was very nice and told us a little more about the space and the collective. Something definitely worth hitting up again!

After that? A rollicking night at one of my very favorite bars: Dan's Silverleaf.

The line-up was irresistible, and judging by the huge crowd that gathered there I wasn't the only one who thought so. The show featured A.M. Ramblers, Boxcar Bandits, and Hares on the Mountain. What night of entertinment could better satisfy the uppity-country-folk-rock-lust within every Dentonite's bleeding heart? To be sure, these bands did NOT disappoint. It was a pretty incredible evening, complete with plenty of laughter, hand-clappin', whiskey, and hollerin'. For more photos, go here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

a friday night in denton

a friday night in denton means trying to do it all and still be in bed with enough time to get five or six hours of sleep before work the next morning. a friday night means hitting the town with some of your best friends, a few cans of beer, and a vague plan to have a good time. a friday night in denton means seeing a hundred people you know. it means long walks and hitched rides. it means house shows and live music. it means bad beer mixed with good beer mixed with liquor mixed with endless cigarettes. it means making new pals and seeing old ones and going home much later than you ever intended, completely exhausted. that's just how it works and i kind of dig it.

so here's a small mess of denton things from Friday [1/18/13] for you to relive with me, internet.

808 Elm - New experience for me. A small house turned DIY music venue. People arrived slowly and hesitantly and it took us a minute to grasp our bearings when we arrived- the house had no number outside and no designation that it was indeed the correct house. Only a handful of folks were there when we showed up so we awkwardly shook hands with some nice folks who seemed at ease and waited for something to happen. The show started nearly 45 minutes after advertised, but we can't be mad because, after all,  here in denton we are not known for our punctuality. Our main purpose for this venture was to see Tiger Tooth and Paw, the solo project of an old friend of mine. Utilizing a cleverly arranged pedalboard stacked on a oversized text book I'm pretty sure was entitled The United States Constitution, he played five songs, looping guitar tracks of varying intensities. I quite enjoyed the newest songs and I would recommend checking out some of his stuff especially if you have inclinations toward the wistful yet rollicking sounds of The Walkmen or Arab Strap.

Greenhouse - After five years this place is still one of my favorite restaurants in town. Sure, it's a little pricey but it makes it all the more special when I do scrounge up enough tips to take a trip. After the show at 808 we were starving and luckily this place was right around the corner. The half-hour wait ended up only being about ten minutes, which was nice. We met up with a few more friends, ordered some drinks and a bunch of their signature jalapeno "bottlecaps,"and goofed around with the very pleasant waitress. One of the specials this month was calling my name: a roasted poblano pepper stuffed with corn, zucchini, and sweet potatoes. It ruled. Dear Greenhouse, if you're reading this, would you please put this entree on the menu forever? Thank you.

Macaroni Island - A venue that is yet to disappoint me. This particular night they were showcasing a number of acoustic acts that really suited the space. It was intimate and charming, a lot of folks felt comfortable enough to sit on the floor and gather around whoever was performing. Like story-time. Unfortunately, bouncing around town all night did not allow me to be in two places at once so naturally I didn't arrive on time for the first few performances, though I'm sure they were lovely. As I arrived, George Neal of Hares on the Mountain was stirring the room with his unmistakable hollar-time folk songs. I particularity enjoyed the song about Laika [Лайка], a Russian dog who was shot into space in 1957. I've always been a fan of George's musical projects, and seeing him perform solo holds no exception for me!
Next up was Dale Jones of the rowdy local group New Science Projects whipping up his unique take on twenty-something angst. Several musicians joined him throughout the set, including a clarinet solo by Scarlett Wright, also of NSP, and a beautiful cello accompaniment by Daniel Folmer. I enjoyed the harmonious compliment that the crowd would offer up in choruses throughout the set. After this, I had enough time to stick around for one more set, kind-of, sort-of, technically speaking. Ryan Becker of RTB2 was up next, playing a collection of songs [mostly] familiar to my ears. A beautiful and peaceful end to my evening, as the barista lifestyle beckoned me once more to get enough rest to serve the hungover citizens of denton come morning.

i hope you enjoyed this edition of a friday night in denton. see you later. probably.