Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Signs of spring / Two buildings by Aalto

Took a little stroll through Kirkkopuisto (The Church park in downtown Jyväskylä) and couldn't help but notice the signs of spring. Birds singing in the spruces, a warm wind, sunshine in the late afternoon and snowbanks receding to reveal 4 months of dog crap accumulated along the footpaths.

A random photographic sampling of the offerings of spring:

I figured that since I had my camera out already, I might as well take some photos of 2 buildings by Alvar Aalto - the man who brought us the most uncomfortable lecture halls and lavatory facilities ever.

Both of the buildings in the following photos are located on the edges of Kirkkopuisto.

City Theater (Kaupungingteatteri), completed years after the Master's death.

White Guard (Suojeluskunta) Building - This decrepit building is in need of some repairs. Hopefully the city finally decides to do something about this building. If they are so intent on preserving the structure, perhaps they should consider making an investment in it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Column in New World Finn

I recently had another column published in the New World Finn. You can read it online here. My column can be found on page 16 of the pdf.

If you haven't heard of the New World Finn before, I suggest that you check it out. It is a quarterly journal concerning Finnish-American (Finlander) and Finnish culture that is published in the United States. In existence since 1999, it is part of the long history of Finlander publishing in North America.

Small publications such as the New World Finn of course rely on subscriptions, so if you can, help keep this fine quarterly afloat by purchasing a subscription.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Article about my show from Keskisuomalainen, translated (finally)

I finally made time to do this rough translation of the article that the Keskisuomalainen newspaper published concerning my recent art show.

”I’ve worked in factories, on construction sites, been a cook, been a writer, dishwasher, bartender.” says Willie Lahti, an artist who moved from the U.S. to Finland, describing his colorful employment history.

From these experiences came these Naïve paintings which depict the diligence of the working man. They make up an exhibition called Duunari/Working Man which is on display at Vakiopaine.

Lahti moved to Jyyväskylä officially in 2005. His career as an artist began already in the U.S. – in the artists own words “by accident”.
“Sometime around 1995 an artist friend of mine suggested that I should try painting. The next time I went to his studio he put a couple hundred bucks cash in my hand. A customer who had stopped by his place has wanted to buy my painting.”

His paintings are still selling. Fellow artists are of the opinion that the paintings go for way too cheap but Lahti has his own opinion on the subject – “Its better if my things are hanging in people’s living rooms or bathrooms even. I don’t want to be the artist that dies with thousands of paintings that no one has ever seen.”

Lahti has begun to feel at home in Jyväskylä after some initial inevitable difficulties – he say that his job at Vakiopaine feels right. The hard-working man can’t picture himself in the role of full-time artist.

“In my family we have always been working men. My first months in Finland were rough when I couldn’t find work right away. I couldn’t imagine being a full-time artist.”

“In the States we don’t have the same sort of grant-money system that one finds in Finland. Artists there have to either go to work or sell their work if they intend on eating.”

In the show at Vakiopaine, Lahti’s paintings concentrate on the subject of getting the job done. The characters portrayed in the paintings symbolize the truths of anyone who has toiled for an hourly wage.

“The chicken or rooster seen in the paintings is a recurring character in my work. Chickens are birds that tamed themselves and came out from the jungles for a better life with humans. They are parasites either – they give us meat and eggs”.
“In two of the paintings there is a menacing coyote with a pistol. This figure represents employers at their worst – living off the labor of the workers – but then again, without them there would be no jobs..” ponders Lahti.

The original article in Finnish (click on image to enlarge):

The show is over now. I feel that all went well - I got lots of feedback and managed to get two paintings sold.

Working man
Photograph and acrylic on canvas

Death-eye Dog and mongrel pup with working man
Photograph and acrylic on canvas
For Sale

Always on his mind
Photograph and acrylic on canvas

Boss and union rep always interfere
Photograph and acrylic on canvas
For Sale

Work is the curse of the drinking class/Deatheye dog
Photograph and acrylic on canvas
For Sale

Deatheye dog and mongrel pup/working man redux
Photograph and acrylic on canvas
For Sale

Boss and union rep made another sweetheart deal
Photograph and acrylic on canvas
For Sale

Kaupunginkirkon kellotornin kellot toimivat taas - The clocks on the church downtown work once again

I know that they were doing repairs on the clocks in the tower of the church located in Kirkkopuisto Park downtown. Yesterday was the first time that I noticed that not only do all of the clocks now work, they all seem to be telling the correct time.

Photo taken at the time shown according to the clocks!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Article from Keskisuomalainen

My recent show was covered in an article in Keskisuomalainen a few weeks back. Click on the article to enlarge. I'll try and translate the article sometime in the near future for those of you who don't read Finnish.

The paintings will be on display at Vakiopaine through the 21st of March.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Project jalapeño - an update

I have previously posted about project jalapeño, in which I moved a jalapeño plant from the garden to our kitchen. It has sinced flowered and produced jalapeños throughout the winter and fall.

A few weeks ago I decided to take a cutting from the plant to see if it would produce roots. This worked out quite nicely, with the cutting (taken from below an internode ), sprouting roots after just a week or so in an old bottle with some tap water.

I planted the rooted cutting in a well-rinsed yogurt container. I poked some wholes in the bottom of the container for drainage. This explains the tin can dripcatcher.

The new jalapeño started flowering last week. Once the flowers opened I tranfered pollen from flower to flower with my fingertips. I plan on tranfering this plant to one of our gardens, most likely at the end of May.