I’m slowly making my way through Artomatic and plan to have a couple different picks lists assembled by this weekend to assist my friends and neighbors who’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the size of the show. Ill-health has slowed me down a bit, but while I get my act together, enjoy Andy’s list. There isn’t an artist on it I’d remove from the list – this is all really great stuff.

Snap to Grid: Artomatic 2012.


Longtime readers knew Carl Cordell as Reservoir Carl, a nickname I stuck to him in 2007 before I ever even met him, based on a photo I saw of the Peeps diorama he made for the Washington Post Peeps Diorama contest. Fortunately, he thought it was funny. This birthday post I wrote about him 2 years ago explains it all.

No human being on the face of the earth could aggravate me more than Carl. He reveled in this, of course, and we laughed about it, in those times when I wasn’t secretly plotting ways to drop him to the bottom of the Potomac River with rocks in his pockets.

Carl was my biggest fan, reading every word I wrote and sending me a detailed email about every single thing I posted.

He was also the hardest worker Artomatic ever had.

He was also a royal pain in my ass. Let’s not get too sappy, here…

Carl passed away last year. Before his health began to spiral downward, he sent me an absurdly long, overly detailed, utterly ridiculous, totally Carl list of things I was instructed to do upon his demise. I promised I would do my very best.

At the time we made this deal, he swore his health was fine. It wasn’t long before we all knew that was a lie, of course.

Carl had no way of knowing that Tracy and Roger and Michele and Brian and all of his friends would create an amazing shrine to him for this Artomatic, or probably even that the whole event would be dedicated to his memory, but they did and it is. Instead of placing flowers next to his last peeps diorama as he’d instructed, I had a real place to put the flowers I was asked to bring.

I posted this on Facebook this morning. Facebook being Facebook, the message didn’t display for everyone so some wackiness ensued. Here it is again, in perhaps a more stable form:

Dear Carl,
Okay buddy, here we are on opening day. I’m not running this crazy shindig anymore but I got permission to bring the flowers I promised you, 1 for each artomatic we did together. I’m sorry I had to go w your 2nd choice, roses, but I just couldn’t find good sunflowers this morning.

I know, ants love all flowers, but I made you a promise I couldn’t keep.

I’m sorry you aren’t here to see this event & I’m almost sorry we won’t get to have our traditional opening day fight and I’m actually even sorry I couldn’t keep the other promises you made me make, but let’s be honest, even if we’d gotten you mummified, I doubt I could have done the ritual to reanimate you as Carl-Tet, mummy king of Artomatic. I’m pretty sure that movie we watched was a Hollywood movie & not a documentary.

But I digress.

I need to go now cause even though I’ve got permission to be in the building, I’m just sitting here crying and scaring the volunteers witless.

Also, this bench they put in front of your shrine is sorta rickety & I have my doubts about how long it’ll support my weight. That’s just the kind of stuff you’d have called me to worry over, though, isn’t it? :-)

I was a wreck by the time I got those flowers put up. My full instructions were to get a dozen flowers and place one for each Artomatic we worked on together next to his diorama and the rest in my space. I did that this morning but I suspect when I arrive tonight for the opening I’m going to have to move them all over to his shrine or I won’t be able to go into my own space without crying.

Carl being Carl, my instructions included a list of acceptable flowers. The list was several pages long. Decent-looking sunflowers being in short supply in my neighborhood stores this morning, I went with the 2nd choice, roses.

Later in the day, Roger sent me this photo. The sunflower crisis is over:

I don’t know if I’m going to be able to recite Jabberwocky at Meet the Artist Night or edit Carl into a copy of Empire of Ants, but this flower thing, I could do this. So I did.

This story is so tragic it could almost be a country song.

About a year ago, I developed a stress fracture. (That’s not the tragic part).

It healed eventually, but then I developed a neuroma and/or some tendinitis. (That’s not the tragic part, either).

My foot apparently didn’t heal properly and now my right foot is slightly wider where my cuboid meets my tarsometatarsal joint. (Still not the tragic part).

The tragic part is that my adorable red Frye harness boots no longer fit. I would have been sad about this longer, but the day after I discovered this I saw a colleague from Nashville who’d been coveting a pair of red Frye harness boots. They fit her beautifully and we all lived happily ever after.

Oh right, about those Artomatic rumors….

Must be something about the crisp Fall air that puts Artomatic rumors into the wind. I don’t have any Artomatic news to report but I would like to remind you that the best way to stay informed is to hit the Artomatic website and sign up for the monthly newsletter. When things start hopping, you’ll be among the first to know.

Of course, I’ve been on sabbatical this year from the Board so I can’t rule everything out since there might be super-secret things happening even I don’t know about, but I doubt it. I’ll return to duty soon, so I’ll keep you posted. Or, you can just sign up for the newsletter….

Wednesday the 19th brings the return of the Artomatic Happy Hour:

Artomatic Happy Hour
Wednesday, May 19
5pm – 7pm
Bistro Bistro
1727 Connecticut Ave, NW

Also on Wednesday, Dave Mallen, founder of Innovation Station Music, hosts a monthly music business networking event at Whitlows on Wilson. I’m super-lazy today so I’m going to copy/paste from the email Dave sent out because it says it’s okay to forward it:

Just a reminder about this month’s Metro Music Source networking event, which will be held Wednesday, May 19th at Whitlow’s on Wilson in Arlington, VA at 6pm!

This is a great opportunity to connect with others in the DC area music community and have fun doing it! The Metro Music Source was founded nearly a year ago with the goal of bringing the disparate elements of the vibrant DC music scene together, encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing amongst music creators and music industry professionals, as well as helping to raise the profile of our music scene on a national level. ??In past months, MMS events have brought together local musicians, major and indie label executives, artist managers and marketing reps, record store managers, publicists, filmmakers, music publishers, producer/engineers, and more.

Whitlow’s is located at 2854 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA, 22201 (Metro: Clarendon). We’ll be meeting in the room with the 2 pool tables. Musicians are encouraged to bring their instruments and sign up for the Iota open mic next door (sign up by 7pm and 10pm).

I hear these are great events and I swear someday I’m going to get to one. This week is pretty hectic, with every night triple-booked, so I know I’m not going to make it this time. There’s always June…

Today, we celebrate the birth of Reservoir Carl.

Reservoir Carl was born a small child. He grew up to become the deeply weird and intense character we know today. Along the way, it was Marshmallow Peeps that showed Reservoir Carl his destiny.

On a cold, grey, rainy February day in 2007, some Peeps became imbued with a cosmic life force and a blinding light shown down upon them. The Peeps drew themselves up to their full height, which, admittedly, isn’t very tall. Then, one of the pink peeps cleared it’s throat and spoke to Carl in a soft but resolute voice. “Carl,” The Peep said. “It is your destiny to be a leader in the DC arts community and make art accessible to tens of thousands of people.”

It’s also possible that Reservoir Carl inhaled too many glue fumes while creating macabre and witty dioramas out of said Peeps and only thinks that they began speaking to him on that fateful day in 2007.

It’s also possible I made up some or possibly even all of the part with the lights and the talking peeps and the metaphysical mumbo-jumbo.

To make a long story short, in 2007 Carl was a finalist in the Washington Post’s inaugural Peeps diorama contest. Michele L got the Post to display the Peeps at Artomatic that year. Carl thought Artomatic was so cool he actually participated beyond the Peeps and did umpteen volunteer shifts. Then he joined a committee. Then he became part of the team that attends to every single detail pertaining to the buildout, maintenance and tear-down of the event. Then he became Chair of a Committee. Then he stopped speaking to me.*

Now, I don’t think Artomatic is the end of the road for Carl. The Peeps aren’t done guiding Carl. I can’t say for sure what his destiny is, but I suspect that there’s a lot of art to be made and enjoyed along the way and it’ll be interesting to see where Carl’s path leads him.

This much I can say for sure: today is Carl’s birthday and it’s been a hell of a year for him. Let’s get this year off to a better start for the guy. Stop into the comments on this post and wish him happy birthday, because if you don’t you may find him some night in your kitchen with a few cases of Peeps and a glue-gun, and I’m not sure you want that to happen.

*He didn’t really, but would you blame him?

Since this post has been getting a lot of traffic, I’m adding a post-script. Carl Cordell died in 2011. Here’s my post about the shrine to Carl and the 2012 Artomatic being dedicated to Carl’s memory.

Last year, Artomatic was runner-up for Best Arts Festival in Washington City Paper’s Best of DC issue. This year – WE CAN WIN IF YOU VOTE!

Please vote for Artomatic for Best DC Arts Festival + share with friends on Facebook, Twitter, and email. Use this link: http://bit.ly/9FzE3E

Everything you do to help – big and small – continues to show Artomatic’s value in our community, and lets us to create better and better events!

Please vote for Artomatic in City Paper’s Best of DC issue for Best Arts Festival!

Oh my but do I have stories for you, kids. Right now, however, I have a headache, I need a shower, and I need to head to Artomatic for a manager’s shift. Artomatic is closed to the public now. Only participating artists are allowed in the building right now and they must show ID. Photo ID. Legal photo ID.

I finished the Sunkist Cardi today, after it dries and I sew the button on it I’ll post pictures. I don’t think I’ll take any knitting with me tonight. It’s too hectic to sit and knit while I manage and I really don’t think I should have sharp objects while I’m there. The temptation would just be too great. I’m pretty sure there are only so many times you can tell a grown man to get out of the dumpster before you completely lose it.

In the meantime, why don’t you check out the remarkable comments spawned by a post Ta-Nehsi Coates wrote about Mayo v Miracle Whip over at The Atlantic. It’s fun.