Surface Walk with Nance Klehm Saturday February 11th

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Our friend Nance Klehm (and guest on episode 38 of the Root Simple Podcast) is in town! Here’s the 411:

Sat, Feb 11, 2017, 2–4 pm

Bowtie Project
2780 W. Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039

TICKETS $30

Ecologist and professional forager Nance Klehm will lead a walk at the Bowtie Project exploring the human uses and ecological functions of the native and spontaneous vegetation at the site. On this walk we will investigate how the vegetation relates to the ecology and vitality of the soil that supports it.

Surface Walk is part of Nance Klehm’s Bowtie residency titled Double Pairing.

Nance Klehm has been an ecological systems designer, landscaper, horticultural consultant, and permacultural grower for more than two decades. Her approach is centered on instigating change by activating extant communities. Her work demonstrates her lifelong commitment to redefining the way human populations coexist with plant and animal systems on this planet.

Adventures in Extreme Making: The White Rose

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For reasons I can’t fully articulate, I often think about an obscure film by the artist Bruce Conner called “The White Rose.” Conner’s film documents the moving of a huge and mysterious painting by the artist Jay DeFeo. The painting is so large that the moving company had to cut a hole in the wall of DeFeo’s second second floor apartment to get it out.

Perhaps the appeal of this film is the problem solving or the obsessiveness of DeFeo. Or maybe it’s the shots of the much more gritty San Francisco streets I remember from childhood visits to see my grandfather.

The painting now lives at the Whitney in New York. Here’ how the Whitney tells the story of the painting:

Jay DeFeo began this monumental work simply as an “idea that had a center to it.” Initially, the painting measured approximately 9 x 7 feet and was called Deathrose, but in 1959, the artist transferred the work onto a larger canvas with the help of friends. She continued to work on The Rose for the next seven years, applying thick paint, then chiseling it away, inserting wooden dowels to help support the heavier areas of impasto. Now nearly eleven feet tall and weighing almost a ton, the work’s dense, multi-layered surface became, in DeFeo’s words, “a marriage between painting and sculpture.”

First exhibited in 1969, The Rose was taken to the San Francisco Art Institute, where it was covered with plaster for support and protection, and finally stored behind the wall of a conference room. Legend grew about the painting, but it remained sealed until 1995, when Whitney curator Lisa Phillips had it excavated and restored by a team of conservators, who created a backing strong enough to support the heavy paint. DeFeo resisted offering an explanation or interpretation of the work, although she did acknowledge that despite the work’s enormous size and rough surfaces, there was a connection to “the way actual rose petals are formed and how they relate to each other in the flower.”

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Conner’s film documents moments familiar to any “maker” such as the “how the hell do we do this moment?”

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And the “I can’t believe we’re doing something this crazy moment.”

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Lastly, Conner shows the “I’m having a hard time calling this finished” conundrum via a shot of DeFeo dangling her feet off the fire escape. She began the panting in 1957 and the move took place in 1965 when she was evicted from her Bohemian hangout at 2322 Fillmore Street. As Conner put it, she needed an “uncontrolled event to make it stop.” I think anyone who does anything creative can relate to the problem of letting go and calling something done.

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Thankfully, “The White Rose” has a place of honor in a darkened room at the Whitney. You can watch Conner’s film with its haunting Miles Davis soundtrack here.

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Toggler Snaptoggle® Heavy-Duty Toggle Bolts

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How did I get through 50 years in this veil of tears without knowledge of the Toggler Snaptoggle® Heavy-Duty 3/16″ Toggle Bolt? In those years of suffering, how many times have I punched a series of holes in a wall in a hopeless attempt to find a stud? And how many times have I unsuccessfully tried to use a conventional metal toggle bolt? Those years of confusion have ended thanks to Eric of Garden Fork TV who alerted me to this miracle of the hardware aisle.

Some background. The dudes that built our house in 1920 determined the stud spacing with a roll of dice after a round of bathtub gin. Good luck trying to find a stud through the thick lath and plaster. Your odds are on par with the bland hacks of Nashville managing to deliver a decent Country tune. But I digress.

Why does one need a Toggler Snaptoggle® Heavy-Duty 3/16″ Toggle Bolt? Let’s say, hypothetically of course, that you’ve made an impulsive trip to Costco to purchase a flat screen TV so large that you have to strap it to the top of the car. Urban homesteady types would never do this as we prefer to spend our evenings spinning wool while reading Cicero to each other, of course. But let’s just say (again, hypothetically), that you want to mount that flat screen TV to the wall so that the cats can’t knock it over. This is where the Toggler Snaptoggle® bolts come in.

To use them you drill a 1/2″ hole and insert the metal toggle thing in the wall. You then slide the plastic cap into the hole and rock the plastic straps back and forth until they snap off. Insert the bolt and you’re done. The Toggler folks claim that the bolt will hold up to 238 pounds in drywall and a whopping 802 pounds should you have a concrete block wall. It’s easier to show the Snaptoggle® experience rather than write about it. Here’s Eric’s handy video:

Snaptoggle® bolts work way better than the more conventional metal toggle bolts I had used previously that look like this:

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My hypothetical installation of a hypothetical huge-ass flat screen, thanks to the Snaptoggle® Heavy-Duty 3/16″ Toggle Bolts, went really smoothly (hypothetically). That is until I opened the medicine cabinet I installed in the bathroom 10 years ago, located immediately behind the hypothetical huge-ass flat screen:

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At least the medicine cabinet is now more firmly attached to the wall now that it’s counter-weighted by the hypothetical flat screen in the adjoining room!

Update: In Facebook, David Feuer points out that another advantage over the Snaptoggle® is that you can remove the bolt without the metal thingy falling down in the wall. Thanks David!

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Learn How To Bake Sourdough Bread with Dana Morgan February 18th

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Want to learn how to bake your own tasty sourdough loaves? Take a class with the Los Angeles Bread Baker’s amazing instructor Dana Morgan on February 18th at the community oven in Westchester. Not to be missed!

This small class will teach you the basics of Tartine-style sourdough bread baking. Come learn about making and maintaining sourdough starter and how to mix, divide, shape and time the fermentation of amazing artisan bread inspired by Chad Robertson at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. Prepare your sourdough in class and bake it at home the next day. Ingredients for your bread will be provided.

Head over to the Los Angeles Bread Baker’s Meetup to sign up.

Saturday Tweets: DIY WiFi Antennas, Cardboard Drones and Giant Crabs