Friday, August 31, 2012

"alice in wonderland" party in the 'burgh

How did I miss the "Urban Garden Party" at Pittsburgh's own installation art museum, The Mattress Factory?  This event took place two months ago, as I found out by flipping through an old magazine, but I thought that it would be cool to feature some photos from it anyway.

image source: WPXI
image source: WPXI
image source: WPXI

image source: WPXI
image source: WPXI

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

money-making schemes

I have a question for anyone out there with advice on selling artwork online.  Is it a viable thing to do?

For example, a friend of mine wants to try to sell artwork online. Like the following piece he made for me below, based on my steampunk interests and a photo I showed him of my purple hair phase from last year:

My questions are these:
  • Would there be any interest in drawings like the one above that he did of me?
  • What would be the best website on which to do this? DeviantART, this blog, Facebook, or some other method we haven't thought of yet?
  • What's the best way to generate interest online?
  • How many pieces would he need to display online to start out?
  • What would be the asking price for these sort of drawings (even if it's as low as $5.00)?
I know nothing about the retail art world, so any help would be greatly appreciated.

Also, I am making the colossal decision to use Blogger's AdSense option- something I have been trying to avoid doing since they first offered it.  But I have spent so much time on my blog in my spare time, and have had so many friends and acquaintances suggest that I take advantage of it, that I finally caved.  The main reason is that I am broke.  Not that I expect to be reeling in any big bucks from AdSense, but a little extra cash to help me pay for the expenses I incurred in the month that I was in between career-type jobs would certainly be a help.  Despite my straitened circumstances I ended up spending more money than intended on things I needed for the in-person interview I had for my current museum job, an upcoming wedding in which I am a bridesmaid, and health insurance and medical costs when I was in-between jobs.

What are your thoughts on AdSense?  Yay or Nay?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

pittsburgh happenings, 19th century style

A few things:

Carnegie Museum of Art's Exhibition Impressionism in a New Light: From Monet to Stieglitz is in its final week, so if you're in Pittsburgh be sure to check it out.  As far as I can tell most of the paintings in this exhibition will go back into the museum's permanent collection, but I'm not so sure about the photography pieces.

According to Carnegie Magazine's Fall 2012 issue, however, the exhibition's photograph of Alice Liddell, taken by Lewis Carroll himself, will eventually become part of the permanent collection, as promised by Wiliam Talbott Hillman.

Gertrude Kasebier, American, 1852–1934;
Miss Minny Ashley, 1905, photogravure;
Carnegie Museum of Art, Gift of the George H. Ebbs Family, 2007.51.44
image source: Callie Garp: musings and art of a feminist artist blog
After the Impressionism exhibition closes, you can get your 19th century art fix by visiting the exhibition Whistler and Rebellion in the Art World, featuring the prints and drawings of the radical and controversial artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler.  A proponent of the idea of "art for art's sake," Whistler rebelled against established art institutions and groups, as well as the idea that art served any sort of useful or moralistic purpose.  This guy was so radical that he sued the noted Victorian art critic John Ruskin for libel when he criticized Whistler's work: Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket. Talk about taking your art seriously!

Whistler and Rebellion in the Art World is open at the Carnegie Museum of Art until December 2.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, American, 1834–1903; The Dyer, 1879–1880, etching and drypoint on laid paper;
image source: Carnegie Museum of Art, Bequest of Charles J. Rosenbloom, 74.7.231

And finally, a costume shop's storefront window I caught in the South Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  Steampunk displays! (I apologize for the reflection- I couldn't get good shots from any angle):

Saturday, August 25, 2012

shameless victorian-related plugs

Reason #36 why my new job is awesome- the phone call I received yesterday from my coworker Jonathan.

To preface this, I need to mention that everyone working for the Art Museum knows about my steampunk tendencies by now.  The Natural History Museum has a smattering of people who have heard of it and appreciate it, but Art is just crazy about it. I guess it makes me strangely unique in an institution of already extremely unique people.

JONATHAN: Hey, I need a stuffy female Victorian name and I figured you'd know about that.

CLEMENTINE: Well, you came to the right place.  Why?

JONATHAN: For our World's Fair Facebook promotion.

CLEMENTINE: Okay.  Ummmm.... Pensington for the last name... Lady Pensington...

JONATHAN: Good, good!

CLEMENTINE: Ummm... dammit, I'm on the spot here... Victoria for the first name?

JONATHAN: A different name for a titled person, like "Woosley" as the normal last name and "Pensington" as the titled one?

CLEMENTINE:  Women didn't really do that... ummm.... Rosaline.  Lady Rosaline Pensington.  Or "Margaret" as the first name.  "Lady" is the closest you're going to get to a stuffy title for a woman.  I'll keep thinking.

After a quick Facebook consultation with another steampunk friend, I was able to present Jonathan with "Prudence Imogen Merriweather" as an alternative name.

The exhibition to be featured?  Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World's Fairs, 1851-1939.  The exhibition highlights the unique and often ingenious decorative art pieces made for various World's Fairs, including the first World's Fair held in London in 1851 otherwise known as the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations.

But why should anyone care to look at a bunch of old fancy items displayed 80 to 160 years ago?
[The] fairs were the most important vehicles for debuting advancements in modern living, democratizing design as never before. Inventing the Modern World showcases approximately 200 examples of the most extraordinary works of furniture, metalwork, glass, ceramics, textiles, and jewelry produced by leading international artists and firms, including Lalique, Herman Miller, Sèvres, and Tiffany. These exceptional and singular objects—some never before seen in the United States—represent the pinnacle of scientific and artistic achievements of their time. Inventing the Modern World breaks new ground in its exploration of innovation in decorative arts.
As an aside, the first World's Fair was brought to fruition mostly by the efforts of Queen Victoria's consort Prince Albert.

The exhibition is set to open to the general public on October 13 at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

Jonathan's Facebook campaign, meanwhile, is just meant to be fun.  This is the caption that he ended up using via roflbot:

image source: Carnegie Museum of Art Facebook Page

Friday, August 24, 2012

another attempt to explain

Yep, this is pretty much another method I have used to explain steampunk to the uninitiated.  And often the same reaction, if only nonverbally:

My only question is: Why is a scene from Young Frankenstein the headline image?

In other news, the coworkers at my new job continue to be awesome- giving me at least appreciative smiles when they saw the bowler hat and goggles I brought to the office to wear to a small outing after work.  One of them went so far as to squee.

Things are so wonderful for me right now.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

DIYer destroys spanish fresco

The following story is how even good intentions can have disastrous consequences.

According to an article in The Telegraph, a 19th century fresco in a Spanish church has been drastically altered when an elderly patron tried to restore it:
A woman in her 80s, upset at the worsening state of an image she loved to gaze on, took it upon herself to restore the artwork to its former glory, but with devastating results....

The amateur restorer had completed her transformation of the masterpiece without anyone noticing and the "restoration" was only discovered when descendants of the artist made a donation towards its upkeep and an expert was sent out to examine the fresco.

The transformation of the painting is shown below- from first a 2010 photograph (far left), then another one taken in July 2012 when it is believed the elderly woman scrubbed it to remove peeling paint (middle), to an August 2012 photo showing the woman's complete "restoration."

image source: The Telegraph
This example is exactly why one cannot always take matters into their own hands.  Experts need to be consulted, and work approved, before trying a project of this caliber on something that does not belong to you.

The matter is now being investigated by Spanish authorities and experts consulted on the best way to try to save the destroyed painting.

You can read the rest of The Telegraph's article "19th century church frescoe destroyed by rogue DIY pensioner" here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"swords for hire"

Here's a rather excellent steampunk song from artist Jon the Magnificent.

I have an album by Jon the Magnificent on my computer, courtesy of a free download he offered members of the SCSS.  I wasn't impressed with that album, Yesterday's Gone so I never gave it more than a full once-through listen.  But now I think I will have to give it a fairer shot all because of this song.

Have you ever had an album or artist that you did not like upon first listen but then grew to love?

Monday, August 20, 2012

an ode to lovecraft: roaring elder god style

Today is H.P. Lovecraft's birthday!  To celebrate the horror sci-fi writer's anniversary of his entry into this world, my friend Narla Thotep organized a gathering of local goths, steampunks, and other alternative-type peoples at an old, run down cemetery in the Troy Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  Although the party took place a day before Lovecraft's b-day due to scheduling reasons (Sundays tend to work best for most people in the group) we still celebrated in full-spirited Necronomecon style, with Necro-Nommy-Pops, "Soul Jello" ("Tastes just like souls!  Apparently souls taste like cherries!") and Eat'n Park Cthulu cookies!

Necron Pop 
Soul Jello, Cthulu cookies, brownies, and hummus

For those of you unfamiliar with the mostly Pennsylvanian chain of restaurants called Eat 'n Park, they are famous for their signature Smiley cookies.  Narla has a friend who decorates these Smiley cookies, so she very kindly requisitioned a few and put the tentacled Cthulu on them in place of the traditional Smiley.

Deep One: "Om Nom Nom!"

And of course there were the resident Elder Gods in attendance along with the picnickers themselves.  Fortunately no souls were taken:

Cthulu and Elder God along with the crazy bird who crashed the party
The purple-hazed Nim Derringer
Gina the Gothic Lolita
Some baby Elder God doing crazy brain-eating things with Narla
For my outfit I forwent the steampunk aesthetic, deciding instead to seize the opportunity to embrace my inner 1920s good-time girl look, in honor of the historical era in which Lovecraft wrote most of his stories.  The result:

Friday, August 17, 2012

fundraising in the name of tesla

Matt Inman of The Oatmeal is making a plea to the Internet- donate money to buy Nikola Tesla's New York laboratory, Wardenclyffe.  The proceeds would purchase land to save the property from developers and start a project to create the first U.S. museum dedicated to the great inventor.

Inman has recently gained Tesla fan-boy notoriety before through his comic "Why Nikola Tesla was the greatest geek who ever lived," While I have a few qualms about some of the exaggerations in his Tesla comic, (despite Edison being an asshole at times, he's no worse than other businessmen of his era, and he actually got discoveries out there into the market, for example) the cause that Inman is now touting is pretty worthy.  Tesla is not easily recognizable to many outside geeks, steampunkers, and science-minded folk in this country.  Such a museum might help to bring Tesla back into the spotlight.

Also, think of all the amazing steampunk gatherings that could occur at Wardenclyffe!

To learn more or to donate to this cause, click on the link to The Oatmeal's "Help me raise money to buy Nikola Tesla's old laboratory."  The state of New York will match up any fundraising amount up to $850,000.

Also, I would like to point out that, after one day of fundraising, Inman managed to raise over half of the $850,000 goal.  I've donated.  Will you?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

vintage craigslist

It's been a good bit of madness over the past few weeks in the mind of yours truly.  Have any of you readers ever gotten a sense of having so much going on that your brain hurts?  It's a good hurt, but it's sort of like information overload.  Not only am I in the third week of my new job, which provides me with wonderfully productive and satisfying workdays, but my twin sister also came back from Germany in that time and I've been busy visiting her and the rest of my family, trying to fit a social life in.  Let's not forget my college friend's wedding at the beginning of next month and my role as a bridesmaid in it.  There is a bit much on my plate to say the least, and will continue to be until next month.

I have a plethora of reviews and articles for neo-Victorian and steampunk related media lined up to write for this blog, as well as many blogs to catch up on.  Please bear with me as I adjust to the new schedule and try to finish up a few old projects.

Does anyone ever look at the "Free" section of Craigslist to purchase goods?  I quite often do, especially around August, when renters are moving out of their apartments and more willing to get rid of good items for cheap.  The other day I came across a listing for free books, and was led to several more listings, from the same seller, for a bunch of vintage or vintage-inspired items, such as these tea tins.

The tea tin on the right side of the above photo is particularly unique as it has a crank on the side that operates a music mechanism on the inside.  Of the four tins, this one is the most modern, but I am still impressed:

The musical mechanism
 The next item is vintage-inspired rather than being straight up vintage, but I like it anyway.  Not that I have a need for any more candlesticks:

The seller also offered two vintage prints that she estimated were from around the 1920s or 1930s.  They are reproductions of fashion plates from a late 19th century French fashion magazine called La Mode Illustrée.  The frames are falling apart and will need to be replaced, but I got these prints for a steal and am thrilled to have them.

Finally, the only free items I received were a series of books, including this one:

The Robber Barons by Matthew Josephson
Now I can learn all about Andrew Carnegie's unscrupulous industrialist ways.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

review: fight like a girl

image source: mookychick
Finally I've gotten my fill of Emilie Autumn's new album, Fight Like a Girl enough to write a review on it.

While I had ordered a physical copy of the CD, a digital download was provided by The Asylum Emporium so I could immediately enjoy the goods... or so I thought.  Well, the download was only partially successful.  I could play all of the songs on my computer, but only a handful on songs on my MP3 player- making my MP3 player an official piece of unreliable junk.  So I waited for the physical copy to arrive before making an assessment.  It arrived very quickly- a little over one week after purchase.

The CD case itself is very beautiful in its artwork both inside and out- its dull tones mixed with the pink vibrancy of EA's hair is stunning to behold.  I wasn't so pleased that the case itself was cardboard, but many artists seem to be doing that these days and at this point can just be shrugged off.

The music, however, is a different story entirely.  In many ways EA's strange Victorianindustrial genre has been utterly tossed out the window with this album- songs such as "What Will I Remember?" and "Goodnight Sweet Ladies" are delicate, slower pieces, the types of songs that EA's Opheliac lacked.  In many ways this is not an industrial album.  The best description is the one that I have seen from EA's own marketing- it is pretty much a musical soundtrack to her semi-autobiographical story The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls.  Many of the songs are crafted to reflect scenes from the book, such as "I Don't Understand" and "The Key."  Others give exaggerated descriptions of the world of the Asylum that were not as spelled out in the book, such as the showtune "Girls! Girls! Girls!"- also a scene from the book, but in the POV of the Asylum staff and the extremes of public opinion regarding females and madness.

FLAG does, however, pay homage to the industrial roots that many listeners fell in love with in Opheliac with the title track,  "Time for Tea," "Take the Pill," "We Want Them Young," and "If I Burn."  But the true craftsmanship is in the composition skills that EA, as a classically trained artist, shows in her understanding of tempo, meter, and key changes in songs such as "Take the Pill," "Girls! Girls! Girls!" and "If I Burn."

The crowning piece of this album, however, is "Goodnight, Sweet Ladies."  The harmony Emilie Autumn has crafted with the multiple recordings of herself using different ranges of singing voice in a round-like harmony. I get chills listening to it nearly every time- the minimal instrumental accompaniment, along with the haunting vocal harmonies, is heavenly and yet sobering, especially with the artfully added excerpts of lines from her Opheliac songs "The Art of Suicide" and "4 O'Clock."

Despite its inspiration from The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls, Emilie Autumn does end the album on a much happier note.  While the former ended in despair and insanity, there is a glimmer of hope for the Asylum inmates in "One Foot In Front of the Other."

Personally, I had a hard time adjusting to the different musical style, while having a slight music geek love affair with her composition skills in many of the songs.  I had rarely liked any of Emilie Autumn's songs on first hearing them, eventually loving them after many listens.  While I am not fond of several of the tracks on the FLAG album ("What Will I Remember" and "Scavenger," for example) I do love several of them already- "If I Burn" and "Goodnight Sweet Ladies," among the ones I had heard and loved previously- "Fight Like a Girl," "Time for Tea," and "Take the Pill."  The songs I do not like as much have more to do with them not being as creative as many of the other tracks in both musical composition and lyrical construction.

If you are a fan of Emilie Autumn's showmanship and subject matter, I strongly recommend giving this album a try.  It is very different from Opheliac, but not in all bad ways.  I am confident that most Plague Rats will eagerly devour its musical message, despite the less industrial feel of the album overall.  But if you want a happy, cheery album or don't like musicals, then I suggest you pass this album up.  It won't be your style at all.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

andrew carnegie: pittsburgh steel tycoon

image source: Wikipedia

Congratulations to The Professor over at The Dancing Manead for winning my first, shoddily advertised giveaway prize for guessing the gentleman who founded the museums where I now work- Andrew Carnegie.

This 19th century Robber baron, born in 1836 came from modest lineage in Dunfermline, Scotland.  When he was a boy he as watched his father, a weaver, was gradually put out of work by machines and industry.  As a result the family immigrated to America in 1848, ending up in the poor suburb of Allegheny City outside of Pittsburgh, PA (Allegheny City eventually became what is today's North Side).  There he worked as a bobbin boy at a cotton mill, changing spools of thread. Later he got a job as a telegraph messenger boy for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, where he memorized the streets of Pittsburgh and the faces of important men.  He also taught himself to telegraph based on observing the operators at work, and was promoted to a telegraph officer.  With the help of Thomas A. Scott, president of the company and his mentor, Carnegie moved his way up the ranks, eventually becoming superintendent of the Pittsburgh Division.  With the help of Scott he made his first investments, reinvesting his returns in businesses that were valuable to the railroad, such as ironworks.

After the American Civil War Carnegie left the railroad industry to devote all of his time to producing iron, which eventually led to him producing steel.  This latter industry is where Carnegie made his vast fortune and where he received the infamy associated with the steel magnates of the 19th century.  Not only was he a part of the very industrial practices that abused workers' rights and led to the creation of unions, but he also is connected to two deadly tragedies in the Western PA area- the Johnstown Flood in 1889, caused when a dam burst due to rising water levels caused by the winter thaw, and changes made to the dam by the wealthy sports' club to which Carnegie belonged; and the 1892 Homestead Strike, where a bloody confrontation between striking steelworkers from Carnegie's own Homestead Steel Works and Pinkerton detectives resulted in ten deaths. In the first instance Carnegie is rather indirectly connected, and in the second Carnegie was in Scotland at the time, and his business partner, Henry Clay Frick, made the fatal decision to retake control of the steel works by involving the state militia and Pinkertons in the strike.  But still, Carnegie is a Robber baron, an example of 19th century businessmen who used questionable, unorthodox, and sometimes immoral means to acquire their wealth.

Some people think that Carnegie's philanthropic endeavors, especially in the last 20 years of his life, were a result of the guilt that he may have felt for being so wealthy and well-off compared to the steel workers who gave their blood, sweat and tears for his steel works while living in poor conditions.  But Carnegie is not considered to be a ruthless man by 19th century standards, and his philanthropy is viewed by many as proof of Carnegie's genuine humanitarianism.  Whatever the case, the man who was once a poor bobbin boy from Scotland ended up giving away nearly $350 million over the course of his life to good causes, and at his death the remainder of his wealth ($30 million) was given away to charities, foundations, and pensioners.  Oh yeah, he started a pension program in the early 1900s for former employees as well.  Pretty impressive considering what most employers did at the time for their employees- nothing.

As a result of Carnegie's philanthropy the world was gifted with such institutions as:
My new job is at the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, which were opened in the 1890s and have grown to become part of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, which includes the Carnegie Science Center and Andy Warhol Museum.  Although he had an office in the now Natural History building, Carnegie himself was rarely here- he spent much of his time in New York and Scotland.  But he was very interested in acquiring new specimens for his collections, including excellent, mostly complete fossils of Tyrannosaurus rex and Diplodocus carnegii (named after the man who worked fervently to purchase the specimen for his new museum).  There are also mummies, a gem and mineral collection, an excellent collection of Impressionist and other 19th century art and contemporary art (with modest contributions from other eras of art) and casts of architectural masterpieces from around the world.

I would not normally advertise the location of where I work, except there are over 1,000 employees here, so you'd be hard-pressed to find me.  Also, I will be promoting a lot of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh goodies on this blog as a direct result of my enthusiasm for this institution, so it's only fair to give you readers a warning now.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012

shop talk and a giveaway!

Let's shop talk!

As far as first weeks at a job go, this one has been typical in some ways, and totally new to me in others.   It's overwhelming in the sense that I have to learn so much new information and try to process it, all the while knowing that when the two museums I work for hire the person who will be my direct supervisor (which they plan to do in a few weeks) it might all change and I'll have to get a handle on a new way of doing things all over again.  But that was expected, as first weeks are like that.  

What has been new to me is the experience of having coworkers working the same hours and in the same office as me.  Yes, for the first time in my life, I actually have people I not only see on a daily basis (as it was with the lawyers for whom I worked part-time) but I also work alongside them.  At my last job everyone but myself worked from home or were on the road, and my boss was not there a great deal of the time.  At my first job I worked with an ever-changing rotation of volunteers, while I only saw my supervisors sporadically on weekends.  

It's also refreshing to realize how enjoyable it can be to have other people in the room and interact with them in real time to get feedback and advice in a timely manner.  But the best part is apparently they are all as nerdy as I am.  They all know what steampunk is, and they also appreciate it!    Also, one of them contacted me shortly after I was hired to inquire whether I was "Clementine Dahling, the be-costumed blogger," because one of my blog posts popped up on his PR newsfeed and, upon further investigation of this blog, he came across my photos and discovered the "new girl." 

They also encouraged me to revert back to my Christian name on Facebook, but that was for work purposes.  I'm supposed to be on top of the social media efforts of the two museums I work for, among other things, and they didn't want any other museum personnel deleting my Facebook account from administrating the museum's page simply because a name not associated with an employee (Clementine Dahling) was monitoring it.  But they don't care one bit that the cover photo and profile pic pay homage to the steampunk subculture.  And so go years of being lectured to hide myself on Facebook for professional purposes out the window.

The most interesting part about the job has been the history of the museums themselves, but I think that that will have to wait for another post.  Instead I leave you with an image of an infamous associate of the 19th century figure who founded the museums for which I work.

image source: Tumblr
First one to guess the name of the Victorian-era gent who founded the museums where I work based on the photographic clue above wins a prize!

Here are the rules:
  • I can't know you already, especially if you are friends with me on Facebook or good friends with me in real life.  
  • You can be from Pittsburgh.
  • You must give me the first and last name of the mystery person.
  • You have to be the first person to give me the right answer before I reveal where I work in a blog post before 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, August 8.
Good luck!