The Amazing Finds of a Pack Rat

Yes, I confess.  I am a total pack rat.  I save (or repurpose or recycle) nearly everything.  I have art supplies from when I was 9 years old.  (Caren D'Ache Neocolor wax pastels never go bad.) My favorite flat pliers are the economy ones I bought for my first metalsmithing course in 1989.   

My saving grace is that I'm as good with organizing how to fit lots of stuff into small spaces without looking like a hoarder as I am designing where to put tiny Russian filigree wires inside unique frame spaces.  Still, there comes that point in my room-scale spatial endeavors when I'm toast and I just pile boxes in the general area they go without clearing all the clutter I should.  So when promised myself last fall (I practically took a vow) that I would go through everything in my studio that hadn't been totally organized, I got the big rewards.

Toward the floor and a little to right of the photo I took of the Step Pyramid of Saqquara in 1991is a bin on wheels, made for rolled papers.  In it are a tube containing a large, exquisitely dyed, calfskin vellum from my friend and amazing teacher, Reggie Ezell, a huge roll of transfer paper, an even bigger roll of glassine, 4 rolls of Xmas paper (4 Christmases ago I kept forgetting I'd already bought plenty), many fantastically gorgeous printed papers, the layouts for my final silk screen project in my surface design course way back in college, the technical drawings for a playground I did in my architectural drawing class when I was a senior in high school, and posters spanning my tween and teen years.  How could I part with any of this stuff?!?

Ok, well, there was one tube... well 3 tubes really of those tween/teen posters that have traveled with me since moving half way across the country and back in 1988 then every place I've lived since and that I finally decided to clear out.  My mother got a laminator in the mid 80's and convinced me to laminate everything I couldn't afford to frame.  Bad idea.  I made myself go through them and let go of as much as possible.

There, carefully curled up in an old ballet poster was a pristine treasure.

See it, there on the lower left of the photo?  When I unrolled it, I was dumbfounded.  I thought it had spirited itself there straight from the island of Katie.  I couldn't believe I owned it, couldn't remember how it came to be in my possession, a promotional poster from Nick Bantock's Griffin and Sabine Trilogy.  Then I remembered.

My dear friend and highschool classmate, Heather Drucker, introduced me to Nick's art and books when she worked for Borders Books back in the early 90's.   The poster could only have come from her, and knowing I couldn't frame it at the time, I squirreled it away for a more flush day. It was hiding inside that tube for nearly 20 years.  But that wasn't all.

I was ready to toss the rest of the tubes, knowing there were more dance posters and that there couldn't possibly be anything else as cool as the G&S one.  I should just part with the works, but, no, how could I just toss them after carting them around states, neighborhoods, and various parts of my studio for decades?  Perhaps, just perhaps...


I found an equally pristine poster of Kermit and Miss Piggy, dressed as Cleopatra and Caesar with scrolls and books as part of the 'Read' campaign from the 80's.  I think I might have bought it at the dearly long departed Oxford Books, or it too came from the lovely Heather.  Forgive me; it's been too long, and my RAM is full.  When I get it framed, I'll post it too.

The living art heroes of my life are not what one might expect looking at my own work.  Charles Schulz, Jim Henson, Maurice Sendak, Edward Gorey, Arnold Lobel, and Nick Bantock.  Their artwork is filled with a passion for mark making mixed with deliciously wicked irony.  I bought all Nick's books as they were released and studied with him in 2007.  He's my only art hero still kicking (he's quite young, practically 19... inverted), and knowing Nick fairly well, I can safely say he'd cringe at being called an art hero.  (I also know he'd secretly like it.)

Here's to his ceremonial spinning top and Grandpa's Burpee Seed clock that greet me each morning when I stagger pajama clad into the studio to make things.  Life imitating art, imitating life. 


Mare said...

Pack Rat....or Collector of Treasures? Personally, I like to go with number two. =)

Victoria Lansford said...

Thanks, Mare! Just don't look under the furniture in my studio. ;-) I haven't quite finished the nesting yet.