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After the pandemic times, this is the biggest thing that's happened to me (that is positive) in a long time. My art isn't about anything deep or important, unless you think rolling your eyes in pleasure or feeling the subtle shift from feeling like you're just alive to feeling like you are full of life isn't important. I am so lucky that I'm a person who can get excited about literal trash on the street. People make fun of that plastic bag scene*

from American Beauty but guess what-- plastic bags ARE kind of beautiful blowing around. Yes, they are trash. Yes, they will be stuck in a tree- but at that exact moment they fill with air and look like they are billowing of their own will, it is pleasant. There is a podcast I enjoy called Everything is Alive, where the host interviews a different inanimate object every week. You get to hear about their experiences, as they give you a view of life with the limitation of immobility and treatment at the hands of humans. The first episode is with a soda can, and let me tell you I SCREAMED at the end. When I was little (before kindergarten) I had imaginary friends and would also grant humanity to just about every non-living object around me. We make all these things, some we need and some that we absolutely don't, but once they exist it would be wasteful not to be thankful and appreciate them as pieces of matter that are now in our world. Do I think there is too much? Oh heck yeah. But like the Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, CA or the collections of Lego Lost At Sea, we can derive enjoyment from our imperfect behavior and creations. We've made a big mess, and hopefully it's possible to change and clean it up, but in the interim, to stave off hopelessness, look at that puddle or pile and appreciate how it has changed what was once to what is now.

Rag Soup & Sugar Sandwiches opens tomorrow at 2pm-5pm at The Arsenal in Japantown. Come say hi. And follow me on insta at @artwormsbrown.

*Come on, that character was a teen. TEENS FEEL THINGS and it is beautiful. Let's all forget that Kevin Spacey was in that movie and just remember Annette Bening just acting the hell out of each scene with her roses.

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The art show I've got coming up is a two-person exhibition with Alyssarhaye Graciano. We're both known around town mainly for our fiber-based business. I'm known as the carrot lady from Jumbo Jibbles and she's known for her knitting at Black Sheep Made. Both of us also make art* but are known for our business- we'd like to change that.

So we've been put together because of this fiber-assumption, but what we're working on isn't necessarily what's expected. While most of my artwork so far has included fabric, I'd say only about 10% of the work I'm showing does. And while Alyssarhaye's does include yarn, it definitely isn't knitted.

So what's up with this name? Rag soup and sugar sandwiches are spare recipes either made to spare time or with the bare minimum. They make use of scraps or items that usually wouldn't be the main course. The materials she and I use fit into this category. She's saying goodbye to being known for knitting by creating pieces that literally cut up yarn and turn it into something else. My paper technique is a method I've used on fabric, and many of the pieces look like a pile of kitchen scraps.

During the pandemic, I started keeping all the paper and cardboard and flat pieces of plastic that would have gone into the recycling. Part of me really thought this was the end of civilization and I might need to use this stuff as art supplies to make things last longer. Yes, I assumed that as society crumbled around me I would still be making sculptures. Eyes on the prize, all the time.

My two and a half-D sculptures are made with paper, watercolored then cut out into flouncy curves. After the initial piece is cut out, there is a little line of color still left on the scrap pieces. I cut that out too, collecting a nest of particolored twigs and ribbons. Anything with color left on it gets cut. I've got a box for the big curls, thin strips, and occasional "pebble" (anything larger than 1/4" that can be cut in a vague circle. Lately I have been more choosy about what I keep, but

I'll never forget that weird mix of feeling like I had this treasury of inputs while also making art out of trash. It was a self-delusion that helped me through a shitty time.

A sugar sandwich is filling for a little while, but you can't live on it. [Insert wry comment about being an artist here.] Maybe that's a little too on-the-nose- come look at my art, like it, buy it, leave it, but then you go back to real life. Art is what comes after the basic needs are met. This art is trying to be the meal that gets you there and also the prize at the end.

RAG SOUP & SUGAR SANDWICHES opens at The Arsenal this Saturday, August 28th from 2-5pm. The gallery is open when the art store is open. If you'd like to schedule a private viewing you may contact the gallery. If you'd like an artist tour, same! I would love to host people at their convenience, and small groups can take their time.

*Yes, I understand the products we make are art, but we're talking about the stuff that isn't designed and made over and over.

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I saw a good artist friend this weekend, one who I can talk to about the foolish idea that art can make us any money to survive on. In the past, we've joked about starting a cult-- her attention to detail and ascetic style, plus my charisma and costume design could really be a brand. Yes, a brand-- isn't that how people get by these days?

There's also an element of how to make art that doesn't kill our bodies. When I was still mostly sewing, I always had to be aware of my right hand/arm and repetitive stress. This friend also has myriad back problems. What to do when what you love is hurting you?

My answer: breed designer hamsters.

Or start a cult- not sure which is faster, but starting a cult probably requires more up-front capital. I would go the cult route, because I don't like cleaning cages and have always been scared of holding animals with tiny teeth. To me, they look like small wood chippers ready to start grinding my fingers down to nubs.

Said friend is going through a major life move: getting a house and trying to make said house not a deathtrap. It's really expensive to make something liveable. So she's finding out what electricians and plumbers charge. It's a lot. Maybe enough that they could be funding several cults on the side. "So we should go to plumbing school?" I asked. Not a bad idea, especially since it's a male-dominated field and maybe a company owned by two women would do great. I'd love to only have women workers in my house!*

Later that day, we talked about time and training versus pay. Cleaning toilets came up-- a tricky topic. Toilets need to get cleaned, but it would be hard to find someone who LOVED cleaning toilets. One day, maybe we just won't need to poop anymore. But what would make cleaning toilets a more desirable job? The same thing that works for any job- more money. I wish anyone who had to clean a toilet would get paid just so much money. She asked if I would accept a single job if someone said they'd give me $100 to clean a toilet, even though I'm trained to do other things. "Of course! That's $100."

"But would you enjoy it?" she asked.

"No, it's a toilet, but $100 is a lot of money so maybe I'd learn to like it. I'd figure out a way to make it fun. I WOULD PUT GLITTER IN THE TOILET.

My immediate idea (I have a lot of immediate GREAT IDEAS) was using glitter as a scrubbing agent. So, we'd be making enough money to live comfortably, choosing our own hours, and we'd be known as those two women who come over and dump a cup of glitter in your toilet

Yes, yes, glitter is actually quite awful for the environment and contact guarantees at least one piece of glitter stuck in your eyebrow for the rest of your life. I will not actually dump a cup of glitter in the toilet. I'll google an image and I bet I'll find one.

Trying to make a career as an artist does sometimes feel like flushing glitter down the toilet, but I don't want to live a life where such ridiculous similes don't exist.

I've had a successful business as a plush designer, and now that I'm trying to make a name for myself in art I understand I have as much chance of living off that money as becoming a pro football player. But I've got my first non-group show happening this weekend, and that's a great first step. If you'd like to meet someone who is actually still thinking about the environmental ramifications of flushing glitter into our sewer system, please come by The Arsenal in Japantown San Jose this Saturday, August 28th from 2pm-5pm. You can also make an appointment for a private showing or an artist through through the gallery.

RAG SOUP & SUGAR SANDWICHES run August 28-September 18th. Featuring Amy Brown (me) and Alyssarhaye Graciano.

*When I got my first new couch, the delivery person (a large muscular man) asked me to feel his muscles, then said he was really strong and could pick me up. I was alone, and it was really scary. I hope that guy has a permanent eyelash stuck under his lid.

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