what a bad-ass: Ai Weiwei

An artist with superb craftsmanship, timing and most of all for me, a witty and seemingly constant sense of humor, Ai Weiwei is the biggest bad-ass artist working today. 
detail of Ai Weiwei sculpture installation
It's not just that he critically examines his Chinese government; he critically examines all government and demands accountability. It's his persistent clear voice that cannot be denied. And ultimately, thanks to his poetic images and objects that quietly and relentlessly declare better of humanity, he'll always have the last word. 

Detail of Ai Weiwei installation, Straight, commemorating school children
One Ai Weiwei sculpture is displayed in front of the Sol Lewitt mural on the main wall of museum first floor, making it delightfully easy to consider relationships of minimalism, light and form between the two works.

Ai Weiwei sculpture in front of Sol Lewitt mural
Walk around the works spanning more than 20 years of Ai Weiwei's "According to What?" exhibition and let his insight make you shake your head, nod your head and giggle a few times. 

I did. 

Near that mural is a separate gallery space loaded with thousands of photographs rotating on multiple screens. Be sure to spend a few minutes in there and see some of the ongoing themes in Ai Weiwei's work.

My favorite is the only piece he made when he lived in New York in 1988. It's the most modest in scale but so simple and clever of a sculpture that you have to appreciate it. When you go, look for it and let me know what you think of it.

And let me know if you think he's bad-ass, too. Or if you don't, what artist would you name as a bigger bad-ass?

me at the entrance of the IMA


waking up

I felt it happen on Sunday evening. I came out of hibernation. The world isn't as blurry and I'm feeling hungry.  More to come...


run with turkeys

Instead of running with bulls, how about turkeys?

Missoula is a body-conscious, athletically competitive town.  The amount of time one spends on the slopes or on the river is worn like a badge.  These rugged people are real mountain killers, seeking out another peak to check off their list.  It seems that every month there is an opportunity to run around town with others to celebrate, in the most basic form, your individual athleticism alongside others in the community. It's fabulous, really.  For the athletic. So what if you aren't athletic?

I'm not a runner.  I ran as a kid, of course.  I ran break-necking around the brick corner of my childhood home, feeling wind on my face from my own speed, to reach the Oak tree in the front yard and touch 'home base' in a game of Ghost in the Graveyard.  I can still hear the swishing of my brother's bell bottom jeans as he chased me.  It was fun and I smiled when I ran then.  I remember that sense of wild freedom with each stride that propelled me forward.  And I ran at school.  I ran a teeny bit of track and I ran the required laps when training for Varsity tennis, but by the time I reached my teens, I didn't love it.  It never felt quite right.  

I quit running when I was still a teenager after a bought with pneumonia and a diagnosis of severe allergies and asthma. Many more battles with pneumonia to follow, I never started running again and I don't really want to run now.  I enjoy a walk or a hike instead and it's plenty for me (as long as I do it).  My asthma is well managed since living in Montana and I know that I could probably take up running if I want.  I'm surrounded by runners, a truly supportive bunch of athletes, by the way, so the possibility is on my mind regularly.  

Regardless, I make a great spectator at Fun Runs.  I cheer everyone on when they take off and I am ready, camera in hand, for their return (unless I'm keeping warm in a coffee shop and miss it, oops).  Sure, I shake my head and say they must all be crazy (which I am not taking back yet).  I complain about getting up early on a Saturday or going out in the cold, but watching the camaraderie is a treat.  It's inspiring even without running, especially when they are fundraisers. 

It was flipping COLD for the the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis, so cold that I declared my presence for the event was an indication of my true love to Bruce.  Many people came out to show their support for the cause running for friends and loved ones.  I'm really impressed by the people with arthritis who run, too.  Right on!  (I learned a lot about Arthritis because of this Run.)

Runners are given bells to tie to their laces.

Others add more color and creativity to the event with silly costumes.  I always appreciate dressing up in costume!  Of course, you need some reindeer in a Jingle Bell Run.    

It's Missoula so dogs are often welcome, even at a run. (I saw four inside the Ace Hardware yesterday.) Proper doggie attire required for a Run, of course!

A man with arthritis walked his arthritic horse in this Run which I thought was pretty sweet.

Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis, Missoula, 2012
 ~ ~ ~

My favorite Run to watch in Missoula so far is the Annual Turkey Run on Thanksgiving.  It's such a day of sloth and abundance in our culture that a big run brings some balance in perspective, even if I only walk around as an observer.  It was a beautiful morning along the river for it this year with a dusting of snow.

Costumes abound in this Run, too.

And dogs, plus strollers and babies (for sure in the 3K, and I saw at least 3 strollers cross the line for the 8K, too.)

Yep, even a turkey!  This one was pretty dang fast, too.  

I had my eye on number 496.

So even though I do not run, I have decided that I like Fun Runs. The sight of Marathons freak me out.  People lurching, collapsing, and limping their way across the finish line illustrates how seriously intense a Marathon is.  A few naturals reach the end like a gazelle making it look easy, but most runners in a Marathon look like they are miserable and in pain.  Way more people are smiling in a Run. 

My take away message to date?  

A Marathon is for maniacs, but a Run really does rhyme with Fun.  

Whenever you might visit Missoula, I would bet there's a Run happening.  And there is of course, the Missoula Marathon in the summer (click here for more information).


the last weekend of the season at Holland Lake Lodge

We are always coming and going and living a busy life, but this year especially has been full of busy travels.  We are fortunate to travel, but the trips aren't always true vacations and it's become clear that we need to make room for breaks.  

Living in Missoula, luckily we don't have far to go for a retreat in the woods.  Even so, we compete with the tourists and everyone else living here for reservations.  We have friends who are Masters of tracking availability of the best Forest Service cabins, getting in the rotation for reservations a year in advance and watching for cancelations.  We, however, are not such dedicated retreat planners.  We schedule trips for work or family visits, and vacations for ourselves are sandwiched into the calendar.  And for a trip to the woods, I've grown more and more into a Princess about amenities.  It doesn't have to be deluxe, but simply put: I prefer having hot showers and a bed.  Plus, if we venture into bear territory, (Hello! We live in Montana and bears live here, too), I won't sleep a wink if I'm laying in a tent.  The older I get, the further my camping days are behind me if I get to choose.  

So what's the easiest getaway solution for people like me?  

1) Cabins & 2) OFF SEASON.       

Holland Lake  © Toni Matlock. 2012
In the middle of October, we slipped away to Holland Lake Lodge for a low-key weekend of rest and relaxation.  Even with rain and fog, perhaps even more so because of the weather, it was a beautiful and romantic, getaway weekend.

We stayed in the cozy Griz Den cabin.  (Cabins are limited and coveted, so it's best to reserve them far in advance.  We got lucky calling only a week in advance for the last weekend of the season.)

Bruce at the Grizz Den cabin, Holland Lake Lodge, 2012
Our misty view  from our cabin.

If we had wanted a camp fire, there's a fire pit in front of the cabin on the Lake's edge.

I do enjoy cooking and even welcome the sparsity and challenges of camp-cooking, but I also appreciate after a hike and a shower to simply stroll up to a Lodge with a good restaurant for drinks and dinner. At Holland Lake Lodge I can expect to enjoy a simple menu of well-prepared food and a decent glass of wine.  The Lodge is an intimate structure originally built in 1924 with additions and remodeling from the 30s.  It's not overdone like the  casino- or resort-style 'western' lodges scattered around the Rockies. For this Goldilocks, it's 'just right' comfort in the woods. You get the luxury of a well prepared meal while nestled into a gorgeous setting with a fire crackling nearby.   (You can also get a room in the Lodge.) 

Holland Lake Lodge on a rainy day, October 2012
If you go, be sure to say hello to our new friend, Gary, a toad we met on our first night along the path by the Lodge gift shop. 

Gary, the Toad, Holland Lake, 2012

Walking around the Lake, look for birds of prey waiting around in the top of a snag, like this eagle.

You can hike an easy couple of miles up to the Falls, which looks something like this.  

Holland Lake Falls, Toni Maltock © 2012

See Bruce?  He's the tiny figure wearing a blue jacket in the lower left portion of the frame.  He went ALL the way up to within a few feet of the falls.

You can sit on big rocks and look at the falls or turn around and have a view of the Lake.

Nothing to sneeze at, eh?  As the clouds shift the sunlight in and out, we took a few snaps to commemorate the rejuvenating weekend.

Then we scrambled back down this path to the Lodge for drinks and a delicious dinner.

Studio Note: Holland Lake is one of the primary locations for the art video that I made titled 'you don't hear me'.  A sample of that video is on my art website, ToniMatlock.com, (click) here.

Full disclosure: We are friends with the owner of Holland Lake Lodge, Christian, so we we can't help but have a behind-the-scenes appreciation of the Lodge's history and its operations.

For more photos of the Lodge, go to their Facebook fanpage, or follow their blog. Visit the HollandLakeLodge.com website for reservation information for next Spring or Summer. 


capturing velocity shooting days

My sculptural video installation, titled capturing velocity, was included in the Montana Triennial this year.  In the last week of the exhibition, my friend Doug Ness documented it for me.  
The final installation in the Missoula Art Museum looked like this.

capturing velocity, Toni Matlock, © 2012, photo Doug Ness

capturing velocity, detail, Toni Matlock, © 2012, photo Doug Ness

The projection of the video into the granules of salt made a slightly reflective and rough texture that looked something like this.

capturing velocity, detail of projection into salt grains, Toni Matlock, © 2012, photo Doug Ness


I shot the video footage over the course of 30 Spring days in Missoula, Montana.  

When it didn't snow or rain, shooting days usually looked something like this:

pointing west, Missoula, ©2012 toni matlock

watching wind, Missoula, ©2012 toni matlo

To follow posts of my artwork, see ToniMatlock.com

See my earlier post on the making of capturing velocity by clicking here, it's titled knocking myself out

See Doug Ness' photography website, too.