This is our studio. Just around the corner. Supplies are free.
Studio Manager and Location Scout
Decaf has been with the team from the very beginning. As Studio Manager, he sets the schedule. Whining at the door means go time. He doesn't tolerate dawdling unless in the service of smelling dog pee so we have learned to work really fast.
Stylist and Life Coach
Feather is a terrible stylist and has repeatedly selected discarded chicken as a prop despite my insistence that decaying meat is the only medium I won’t work with. You really just don’t know how much chicken is all around until you have a dog. Feather makes up for her art direction deficiencies with superior ability to motivate. Joy is synonymous with watching Feather run off leash on our weekend photo shoots at Runyan Canyon.
Caren McCaleb, Sidewalk Face Maker and Poop Picker Upper
It’s not very distinguished but all my photo shoots are accompanied by waste disposal. Perhaps this contributes to my casual attitude towards keeping my hands clean in the service of art. I’ve handled a lot of grubby stuff. It’s odd because my maternal grandmother was a notable germ-a-phobe who bought rubbing alcohol by the crate so she could pour a bottle over her mailbox before having to open it. I did not inherit her fear of contamination but I did get the propensity towards compulsion. I really can’t stop myself from finding and making faces. I suffer from pareidolitus, a severe and chronic form of pareidolia, which is basically a tendency to see things that aren’t there. I use this otherwise marketless skill to entertain myself by making faces out of the stuff I see while walking the dogs; I mean the team.
If the part of me that makes these faces is my Batman (who I am compelled to be despite all good sense), my Bruce Wayne is a professional documentary(ish) editor in Los Angeles, CA. She sits at a computer all day weaving footage into stories. Editors don’t start with a blank template like writers, painters and song writers. Someone gives an editor stuff and says please make some sense of it. Whatever that skill is, I use it for sidewalk face making, my version of editing with reality. I look around for a thing that needs a face and then I look for stuff that can complete the face.
I’ve always used my free time for creativity and I seem to like making a whole lot of something. I find it comforting to create strong constraints around a project such as: make faces super fast with only material found in the immediate environment while wrangling dogs, then make as many as I can for as long as I can. I’ve been at it since October 2015 and have published over 800 faces to my Instagram account. I post one a day with the occasional tech holiday thrown in for mental health.
I like that the faces are ephemeral and impermanent. Maybe it’s because I already have too much stuff and there is no where to put more art. Or maybe because it helps me be less controlling when I make then. The desire to make something interesting does not actually help it become interesting. The more I labor over a face, the more likely I am to make it conform to something I already know rather than let it emerge as something new. But new and different is more interesting to me. So working fast with garbage and plant detritus has been a real advantage for overcoming conformity.
I do this to improve the quality of my daily life. Art makes life fun. I hope you are having fun with your life. As the Dalai Lama says: Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.
Sometimes I bring her along to cheer her up and because she has better ideas than I do.
All images © 2015-2019 Caren McCaleb