Ahoy Matey, and Welcome to REPTIRE, an intermittent ‘ship’s blog’, chronicling the slow rise in the South Easterly skies of Reptire Designs; a studio that designs and crafts always artful, and sometimes useful THINGAMABOBS from old Indian Cucachou, aka ReTired Rubber.

Down Below, Ye shall find a permanent 'flagship post' marking the Maiden Voyage of Reptire Designs.

And below that, in the ‘hull’, can be found more recent posts chronicling the daring new adventures of Reptire Designs, dashed with small bits of whimsy, spotted pickerel, local color, and lizard lore..

In fact, on the right, in pale purple, ye shall find the Captain's Log’s Table of Previous Posts, which ye can peruse by year, month, and title to ye hearts content.

If ye haven't gotchyer sea legs yet, My Pretty, Ye can take a gander at our website at www.reptiredesigns.com, to get a proper Landlubber's Introduction.

Thanks for stopping in, I do hope you enjoy your visit aboard this ship! HARHARHARHAR.......

Sincerely, Travius Von Cohnifus

Captain, Founder, Indentured Servant, Rubber Alligator Wrestlor Extraordinaire a' this here ship.

enter the treadknot

On September 26th, 2006, I launched my tire art/design business, Reptire Designs, with a solo exhibition of my artwork in The Green Gallery at The Scrap Exchange Center for Creative Reuse, in Durham, NC. For many reasons, it was a night that I will always remember, and I am grateful to Laxmi (my girlfriend at the time) and Edie (my mother, still) for dutifully documenting while I shmoozed, so that I may now shmare a taste of the evening with anyone who was not able to attend...

On a cool but lively autumn night-before-Center Fest, a stream of friends and curious strangers trickled (like pebbles through a rain stick) through the forest of odds and ends (that roost at night in The Scrap Exchange), out into the warm light of the back savanna, a scene utterly glopped with bizarre rubbery hybrids. Tentative and curious, the visitors craned their necks, nibbled, pecked, stood back, moved in closer. From the walls, glassy mirror eyes gazed back through black unblinking eyelids, while beneath the visitor's feet, in a steamy drainage cistern, a mortal drama unfolded. Primordial forms, with no eyes at all, sat puckered on stoops. A cascade of glittering steal droplets formed a curtain, to which clung a colony of tiny tire knotlettes.

Vito D., a long-time collabator down from the Asheville area, caressed the warming air with his Strange Little Folk music. I bobbed and I flit, and at an increasing clip-someone must have opened the faucet a bit....for soon I was swooning, I just about lost it! As the evening progressed, to my delight and amazement, 'family' from Durham, Chapel Hill, Pittsboro, Hillsboro, Siler City, Asheville, and Fresno all made it! From the Cohn Clan to the Steudel Clan to the CFS Clan; from the WWC Clan to the Duke Ac Pub Clan to the SAF Clan; from the Bike Shop Clan to the Ninth St. Clan to the Scrap Clan... and every one in between, guys, they were all appearing before my stunned, blinking eyes. While I spun and I splayed, Vito now played-CHURNED- up a torrent of gritty ditties; while a staff volunteer (Brandon's a photographer, I swear) whipped up pitchers of Mango Lassies. And The 'Scrap Exchange girls' worked the door, the counter, and the floor, going "cha-CHING!", cha-CHING!","cha-CHING!".!.

By the end of the night, hundreds of friends, acquaintances and had-been-strangers had poured in, poured over the work, and partaken in, what was for me and my art, a monumental communal feast. And on top of it all, I got to place many of my preemies in hands that I love and trust, and in several instances, hands that fit them like gloves. What a privilage to be able to connect with people this way. Heading into the turbid seas of small business, I can confidently say that if I drown tomorrow, I am at least blessed today with the memory of (as Vito later put it) one authentically good Durham night.

Thanks to all of you who were there; in body and/or spirit.

Reclaimed-wood Builder and Reptire Collector Howard Staab enjoying magwi knot at the Scrap Exchange

Reclaimed-wood Builder and Reptire Collector Howard Staab enjoying magwi knot at the Scrap Exchange
I can't think of anything more rewarding for an artist than to see someone interacting with their artwork. Photo by Laxmi Haynes

Sammy and Dannette contemplate

Sammy and Dannette contemplate
Photograph by Laxmi Haynes

Cascade Colony of Knotlets

Cascade Colony of Knotlets
They would go with your jacket, would they not Claire?

Laxmi Resplendent

Laxmi Resplendent

Mavis In The Mist

Mavis In The Mist
Photograph by Laxmi Haynes

Tire Amazement

Tire Amazement
Photograph by Edie Cohn

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Durham Art Walk, Fall 2008

I thought I would give the Durham Art Walk a try
And Halloween Weekend brought all kinds of treats, and even a trick.

The trick came first this time, which suits me.
For about a month I had been arranging to show with 2 other artists in the lobby of the Snow Building, an elegent old art deco office building with torrazzo floors, elevators and polished granite walls. My mother used to rent a studio upstairs, back before its upscaling renovation, when the building was still still afforbable, so I thought I knew what I was getting in to. But upon arriving with all of our gear the night before, I and the other artists were faced with the rude realization that the new owners intended us to use a space next door, that was still under construction. 'Just take down the hard hat area signs, set your art down in the plaster dust, and make the best of it', was the suggestion. Maybe it was my fault though, I just assumed they meant the lobby, I never fathomed they intended for us to show in the dust nextdoor! I stashed my stuff, and went on with my Halloween plans, with a major case of the spookes..

But by and by, my pardner (following his own volition) saw to it that I 'chase that devil back down in his hole', (in true Haloween tradition). After a full night of monster mashing and also consorting with some spirits (some very atTractive spirits I might add, check it out on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqRD5EDh-oA,), the next morning I found myself on the sidewalk downtown, bleary eyed and blinking at a rising sun, which heralded in one big beautiful weekend for Durham Art Walk, and what's more, it seemed, a bright new day for America! (Traction Got Out the VOTE!).

When life hands you lemons, put them back and grab some oranges, that's what I always say. Following would be booth mates, Letitia's lead, I set up on the sidewalk instead, In front of the Snow Building anyways, right down at Five Points on Main St.- a more choice location you could not find to spend the next two days. The sun warmed the new red brick sidewalks toasty, and damned if we weren't going to set ourselves out there like the greatful fat iguana's we were.
Luther and Lola
"Quitchyer complainin' already!"

I was in good company. Boothmate Lynn hunkered down , and gallantly brightened up that under-construction space nextdoor with her exquisit jewelry- (she really did- it was amazing, everything just receded to background). And boothmate Letitia, down from VA, brightened up my sour assitude with her strong-lassitude, culled from 5 years experience on the circuit (she shared her Tandoori chicken lunch with me-what a sweety- this girl knows how its done).

The Snow Building is as classy and elegent of a building as you find in Durham, and I was very lucky to get to show my work there in its cavernous entryway. Such a setting really brings artwork to life, thanks to the DAC for giving us this rare oppurtunity to show our rubys and garnets in the rico canyon of our downtown, which was once the pride and glory of CenterFest (R.I.P. - Bring it back on center!). Such a setting can't help but rub off on artwork, and fine crafts and art compliment architecture so well-

a little saliva on the stone,

 buffs it all up and makes it shine!

Several events/highlights stand out for me from the weekend.
One was when Big Tyrius the tireworm hit the scene -and I must say, I think he really hit it.
Man Loved to Death by Giant Grub in Back of Pick Up Truck

For those of you who don't know Tyrius, he is a big grubby puppet that I and my faithful assistant, Alexander, fashioned for PaperHand Puppet Intervention's show "I AM AN INSECT" this summer.

He was fabricated by hand-sewing mountain bike tires bead by bead,
creating a long tube, with a tapered butt and a snout. The cool thing about Tyrius is that he can stretch out and contact (by dint of each tire's 2 side walls, which show his faded pink and yellow tender side). On a cold day, he is about 10 feet long. But give him a good tug, and he more than doubles his length (accordian style). As things were starting out slow, I thought I would bring him downtown to sign some autographs, being the big celeb he is these days. My good pal Dane was trusting enough to lend me his 'new' station wagon. So I pulled up to the curb, opened the hatch, and with a shout and a heave ho, let Tyrius fly, hurling him out into space above the pavement, almost twice the length of the wagon in front of it. Beautiful. (I should do Lamaz for Station wagons!)

Here am I, gracefully reenacting the glorious 'Flight of the Tire Worm'
for some mesmerized Japanese tourists.

And awww, Tyrius made a friend.
This one little lass was not one bit daunted by Tyrius's rough exterior. She was even kind enough to share her balloon with him.

Fearless Worm Trainer At Work,
Do NOT attempt this at home!
(Fortunately for me, earthworms don't have teeth, so the best the big brute could do was was limply gum it).

Another thrill was when a couple kids recognized my art. To my amazement, whenever I bring the big guy out, a kid will see him and say "hey, I saw that at the puppet show!", or "Mom, Mom, its the worm!" This always makes my day.
But what blew me away this time, was that this little girl recoginzed my change purses, from the Scrap Exchange's Artist Marketplace. Wow, This was new for me.

Also encouraging was that three seperate, completely sane looking people proclaimed "this should be public art!" Well cool, lets do it! I'll bring Tyrius over for tea any time. This was cool for me, because Durham has often been in the back of my mind when developing this work. Durham is a diamond in the rough. A funky tire tyed in a funky knot, all it's own.

Another Highlight was that my mother, Edie, was showing her Incredible new portraits next door (of people she has met in her travels ), and that was kind of proud for me. Her artwork has just exploded in that last several years, and I was proud to be showing with her downtown, more or less, side by side.

And I got some nice visits from old friends, and made a few new ones too.

Da Crew
That night I ran into Scott and Colin from the Durham Bicycle Coop at the Federal, and got to share some of my art, and a beer with them, out on Main. Colin upgraded to a sleak black coin purse, and Scott made his own good selection in exchange for a Canadian 20. Damn I love this town!

Tyrius showing off his dimples.
Yeah. pretty cute lil' T, pretty cute.
And to cap the weekend off with a purple fez, that night my Super Friend Ana (pictured above) helped me cart Tyrius to a comfy pine needle nest, nestled against some pine trees at EK Poe (a school). My friend Suzie had asked me to bring Tyrius to show and tell with her Kidnergarden class. So the next morning, groggy Tyrius got a 50 kid wake up call! What a blast. We rolled his big grubby ass out to the garden out front, and made him gallop through the leaves.

The kids were amazing- when I told them all my story as an artist/designer, miraculously, they fell utterly silent. In all my spotty years of teaching, I have really only experienced this one time- I took this as a high mark of honor for my art- but maybe it was just nap time (they had some good teachers too).

So in summary,
I may be guilty of singing my victories, but mark this weekend a win for good weather, sharing and friendship! Ain't that the way its supposed to be?!
I didn't sell a whole lot that weekend, but I hardly noticed. I felt like I was being taken care of, in many other ways.

Monday, November 10, 2008