Wednesday, September 13, 2023

2023 09 Michael deMeng at Shake Rag Alley

Cryptozoology: Shrines of Legends & Lore

Sept 7-10, 2023

Michael deMeng

It is time for my annual adventure with Vancouver, British Columbia, assemblage artist Michael deMeng at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point, WI.

Here is the class description: "Everyone has heard of the Loch Ness Monster, the Abominable Snowman, or Big Foot, but it’s surprising how many types of mysterious beasts people believe to roam the planet. The technical term for such a critter, a “cryptid,” is described as creature said to exist but is … yet … unproven. In Wisconsin, there is the devilish Hodag, Mexico and the Southwestern states have the goat-stalking vampire, the Chupacabra, lurking below the waters in Western Canada is the Ogopogo lake serpent, and who could forget the red-eyed Mothman of West Virginia? By land, air, or sea, they seem to be everywhere … yet they elude us. In this workshop, in honor of our secretive friends, you will create a shrine to commemorate a cryptid of your choosing. This could be from local lore or legends across the globe. Using found objects, clay and paint, you will become artistic cryptozoologists and create shrines for our shy and beastly neighbors."

My cryptid was "the Scottish folklore, The Blue Men of the Minch. The blue men of the Minch, also known as storm kelpies (Scottish Gaelic: na fir ghorma Scottish Gaelic pronunciation: [nə fiɾʲ ˈɣɔɾɔmə]), are mythological creatures inhabiting the stretch of water between the northern Outer Hebrides and mainland Scotland, looking for sailors to drown and stricken boats to sink." (from Wikipedia).

It always helps me if I work through my projects at home. Michael had mentioned that the cryptids he was working on for class samples would be done in the style of Victorian portraits. I could not get this out of my mind and settled on a huge frame I had purchased in years past that has been stored our in the garage waiting for a project like this. 

The frame did not have a backing so I fixed a piece of plywood to the back so I would have space to work on. 

I selected a child mannequin made of foam for my body form but I felt like I had to cut it in half in order to have it fit well within the frame. 

I recently was in a resale shop in the Twin Cities, and knowing about this project, I was enamored with a folk art ship I found in the window of the store. On the bottom of the ship it says "Made Chris Westrud in USA 10-5-12."

With the van packed I headed off south to Chicago's O'Hare Airport to get Michael on Wednesday. We drove to Mineral Point and checked in with the staff of Shake Rag. The afternoon was spent setting up class and buying supplies. We had dinner that night with a few other early arrivals.

Class ran from Thursday to Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Lind Pavilion of the Shake Rag campus. 

Michael deMeng

I had this idea that my frame would contain an old crumbling canvas so I laid down a piece of muslin on the plywood I had installed at home. 

The mannequin needed a head so I added a plastic skull I brought from home. 

I had taken apart what I believe to be a wood wine rack at home and brought the top with me to represent waves.

It was fun to paint up the body.

Photo by Shake Rag

Photo by Shake Rag

So this was about how far the project got at Shake Rag before time ran out. (Don't worry--the next post will be about the finished project). 

On Saturday in Mineral Point, there was their annual car show. 

On Sunday when Michael plays "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" theme, it is time for the class critique. Here are the photos of the work my fellow students did. 

I would like to thank Michael deMeng for a great workshop and all the staff at Shake Rag Alley for once again housing us in a great environment to create. 

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