Who is Sue and what is Suelandia?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Vocations, Avocations, & finally, a vacation!

Hey people.  Exactly a year ago I was preparing for my first solo show at my best gallery, a place in Hudson WI (Seasons On St. Croix) that has been selling my work for almost as long as I've been making it.  What does any rational person do when they have a limited amount of time to make enough art to fill a room?  Oh-- make a giant, time-consuming, practically impossible to deliver item of course.  This here thing.  (At least Ray now has a peaceful haven in which to groom himself.)

Here's what you see when you're sitting under it.  I thought it would be super cool to put over a bed too.  Who knows?  Someday when I'm old and gray and don't weld anymore, maybe I'll be really glad no one bought it so I can go to sleep every night pretending to be some feral woodland creature.

Fast forward a year, and, I'm getting ready for my second solo show-- same gallery, and need this one to be bigger and better, because, heh heh-- that's how I roll.

In school I used to be accused of being lazy.  (Actually, things would be said like, "If you worked half as hard at just doing your assignment as you did figuring out ways to get out of doing it..."  To which I usually replied, silently, "I'd what?  What??  Be super boring?"  Yep.  Incorrigible.) 

Turns out, I just have an unnatural aversion to doing what I'm told.  Left to my own devices, I actually get kind of psychotically competitive with myself, and work really hard.  Not lazy.  Just... entrepreneurial? 

So I want this show to be the best I've ever had-- with TONS of pieces.  That means I won't get wrapped-up in another overly large project, and am trying to keep things reasonable.  but I have to admit-- happy as I am with how this piece came out, so far entitled-- "cool hangy thing", I am bummed it took me all day to make.  I've got a lot of art to make and only about 4 1/2 weeks to make it in people!

Yesterday I busted out the wing on the right.  The one on the left is the first piece I ever, ever made-- before I even had any notion of becoming an artist.  It was the first thing I'd done in years at that point, that made a bit of juice flow through me, some electricity.  It was very spontaneously stuck together back when I was just learning welding etc, and it set my course.

Making a couple of mates for it, using some chrome bumper parts seemed appropriate for this show, which is the 10 year anniversary of the gallery.  Kind of revisiting my own artistic roots.

Here's one I finished the day before.  I've been working with this piece of steel, and kind of hoarding it, since last winter.  (The paint froze to it when I first started fooling with it.)  I like it.

I still don't feel right just hanging up the 2-d painted steel and going "Tah-dah!  It's a painting folks!"-- because i don't consider myself a painter.  I've just figured out some ways to make painted rusty steel look pretty cool.  I feel the need to add a 3-d element to them.  Dan thinks this completes them too, and makes them more unique.

Whatever-- I like how they come out.  

So that's what's been going on vocation-wise.

Avocationally--I've been pretending to be a mountain bike racer for the last few weeks.  This is such an unexpected, ridiculous turn of events I can't even tell you.  Talk about something I never thought I'd in a million years do-- Talk about over-reaching!

Here's some stuff I overheard at the last race--

"Yeah, last April I crashed motocross racing and broke 14 bones, so, it's taken me a while to get back."
(14 bones???  WTF?!!)
"Oh yeah-- I know him-- his dad helped me off the course that time I broke my neck."
(Broke your NECK???  WTF?!!)

They aren't all insane.  Some are very soft spoken.  Some bring their whole family to the race.  All are respectful and friendly.  There are very few girls who race however.  And me-- seriously-- I am nothing but a tourist to this land of badasses.  It's like those guys who go to open try-outs or pay to go to "camps" or whatever to live out their big-league fantasies, except in my case it just cost a measly $10 a race.

The hilarious thing is-- because hardly any women show-up to race, I came out pretty good.  I raced 3 times.  The first time out-- semi-legit win-- placed 3rd out of 6 or 7 women, even if my closest competitor ahead of me-- a gal who is an AMAZING bold, fast, and apparently fearless rider-- finished about 20 minutes ahead of me.  She could have stopped for a little picnic and STILL kicked my butt.

Second race-- I pretty much sucked-- placing 4th out of 4 competitors.

Last race-- Only 2 women, including me, showed up, so I left the gates knowing I could be as slow and shitty as I wanted, and still take second, and had, by this time, made a decision about my riding-- that I'm really not made of the right stuff for racing probably, because I'm not willing to risk life and limb for it.  I won't ride right to the edge, and that, apparently, is what it takes to really shine.  (Plus-- even if I was willing-- I'm just not that good of an athlete, or in good enough shape right now.)  (To be brutally honest.)

But for all my efforts I did win a couple special *winner only* (1st, 2nd, or 3rd place) t-shirts.  I customized this one-- noticing I said "Woo Meeee!" every time I crossed the finish line, like the true dork I am.  I was going to write, "Yes actually, it IS me..." on the sleeve, but it was harder than I thought to get the sharpie to write neat on the fabric.

I had fun-- sort of.  It was mostly stressful for me riding the actual races.  I was in panic mode most of the time except during this last one when I took most of the pressure off myself.  Usually I'd be WAY behind the pack, which was a good thing because they'd have thought a mouth-breathing pervert was pedaling somewhere behind them.  I panted like Little Eeeffin Annie, unable to control my stress it seemed.

The best part of all of this, is that I now feel I at least have a nodding acquaintanceship with more of the riders/racers, who were nothing but encouraging and nice to me through this whole thing.  There is really no way to know what kind of man I'd be, if I was, you know-- a dude, but I can only HOPE I'd be cool enough to hang with these guys.

I know I'm a bit starry-eyed about their feats, but I truly marvel at their athleticism, bike skills, and even more so- that inner fire that enables them to summon-up that extra burst when their physical resources have been completely tapped-out, when they really have nothing left in the tank, and yet they miraculously push through and BLAZE.

The only thing I feel kind of bad about, is that the truly amazing female racers-- really courageous athletes-- were forced to share the podium with poser me.  They were always gracious and good-natured about it.  I can only hope it didn't diminish their REAL wins.

Lastly-- (sorry this is so long) vacation!!-- after my show opens me and sis are going on a *just us* hiking trip up north, and staying at a hotel with fun, big water slides.  Woo Hoo!  *Can't WAIT!*


Rich said...

Sue, you do not give yourself nearly enough credit! At Hillside you do not get to see the diverse crowd that makes up the entire Minnesota mountain biking community. Most races have multiple classes so that each person will be competing against ~equal~ athletes, in both strength and age. In the State Series there are three classes of ability in which women can compete, and from there they break it down into age groups. Why should you be competing against ladies with 10+ years of training and that are 15 years younger than you? I have ridden with you and have seen your lap times at the races, and I can assure you that if you were to enter any of those races in the series you would definitely do very well in your class. You aren't supposed to be racing against those ladies that are that much faster than you, but at Hillside we just don't have the numbers to have more classes. And by the way, ever notice how I'm usually finishing right around last place? :-) I'm just there to have fun. Those people that sound all "crazy" are the minority. 95% of them are just like you. They are very realistic about their abilities and have no delusions about going Pro. They just want to have fun and hang out with their friends.

I tell you what. Just for the heck of it ride the Citizen course at Hillside and time yourself. I'll bet you would podium against those entered this year...

I'm not putting this out there to try get you to race more. I'm just making sure you don't think you suck. You don't. You just haven't had the chance to gain as much experience as those that are better. It's all just a matter of time. Just think, after 10 years of riding, you could be in last place in the Expert class just like me! ;-)

Just keep it fun and don't let anything make you feel pressured. I've been down that road and I'd rather quit than turn it into a job. We all need to spend our free time doing things that make us happy, not more frustrated!

Ride-On SuperGirl!!!

irishk said...

I love love love this post. It's so full of all the sides of you. First of all, the art. The "cool hangy thing" is more than cool, it is amazing. I want it! Seeing your 'wing' made me feel privileged to know the story of that first piece of solid artistic recognition within your soul. You should consider doing some bed canopies, I bet they would go over well. Being able to add fabrics, etc. would totally create a new piece. Those pergolas were Charlie's favorite pieces at your show. Your bike adventures are so gutsy. I admire your willingness to take yourself to new avenues. That is just a great trait of yours. Listen to what Rich is telling you. You know it is true. Just showing up at that race is a step ahead of all the rest of us. Kathleen

pseudosu said...

Akk! Where to begin?!

First thing everyone needs to know is that Rich is full of B.S. about being "almost last" all the time! Just last weekend he rode in a downhill race (in the dark-- at a ski hill) and took 3rd place out of a pretty big field, then, after drinking what have been reported to be massive amounts of beer after that, competed in a 24 hour race that fired up the NEXT MORNING, at the very same ski hill (yes, you heard right, a 24 hour race) His 4 man team took third place out of a HUGE field, thanks in no small part to Mr. Rich himself digging deep to bust out the fastest lap time of his whole team to get them the final lap they needed to secure their podium finish (after having raced for about 22 hours, on what I'm sure was a pretty empty tank). So--- so much for not being very good Rich. YOU are the super star!
Also-- I felt out of my depth and out-classed for sure, but I did have fun with all other aspects of it, and you have always been a major component of the fun factor over there, not to mention my biggest motivational/confidence booster. So thanks man! :) I'll probably try it again, like in a couple weeks, in the dark. ;)

Kathleen-- Thanks so much! I'm so glad to hear someone besides me thinks the canopies are cool. Thanks for being such a great supporter of my art, and such a cool new friend too. (Get a helmet and I'll get you on a mountain bike yet!)

JKB said...


My old uncle used to do fancy welding and made an entire bed out of black steel. Or painted it black or whatever, but that thing was GORGEOUS.

I can't wait to see what else your twisty little art mind comes up with!

courtney said...

Those pieces are STUNNING! And uhm, you are like one of the least lazy people I know. 'Lazy' and 'Sue' in the same sentence DOES NOT COMPUTE.

You've earned a great vacation, lady.

pseudosu said...

Jen --
Awe shucks man! :) The canopies were fun to make, and I love the bed idea too, but they are REALLY hard to move around, so I'll probably stick to smaller pieces unless someone commissions one.

Thanks hon! I think we're on the same page with the whole school thing aren't we? (ha! i spelled it scool at first-- typo! Would have been funny to leave it that way. ;) )

Linda G. said...

Question for you: how can you bear to part with your art?

pseudosu said...

Thanks. :) You have to take a "there's plenty wherever that came from" mentality.

Maery Rose said...

I love the look of the pieces you show in this blog, especially that last one. It speaks to me. Anyway, since Rich is so good, then you can take what he says seriously right? I think that you admire the intensity at which the great bikers go at the sport because that's what you do with your art and other parts of you life.

pseudosu said...

Thanks Maery-
I think you're right-- about what I admire about them. I think that adds to my feelings of not really being *worthy*, because although it is my choice to some extent (except the part about lacking the physical ability/skills part), part of me wishes I WAS as daring and badass as them. Self preservation wins-out though. :)

Maery Rose said...

Yes, well. I drove to Governor Knowles yesterday and rode Luke for 4 hours and could have camped there overnight and rode again today but I wimped out and drove back to the barn. Luke was at least tied at a campsite for a couple hours. Taking it a step at a time.