SHARE "the buddy system" 24

(For this event we asked each artist to bring along a creative partner.)

12.16.15. prompt: BOX

Jackie Avery, painter + Katie Pelletier, writer/photographer
Christine Calfas, actor/anatomist + Mike Barber, dancer/choreographer
Margaret Malone, writer + Kathleen Lane, writer
Daniela Molnar, artist + Sara Guest, poet
Lorna Nakell, artist + Poppy Milliken, writer
Carrie Padian, writer + Ken Schultz, writer/artist
Scott Poole, poet + Jim Brunberg, musician
Jennifer Rabin, sculptor/writer + Ross Chappell, writer
Brad Rosen, writer/musician + Robin Carlisle, writer
Mark Saltveit, palindromist/writer/comedian + Olga Sanchez, actor/director/writer
Amanda Shearon, graphic designer/photographer + Jacob Cline, filmmaker/musician


The Kolonihavehus was at the shipping yards. It had been there for three weeks after arriving on a ship that had departed Oresund five months prior and had made stops in New York, Haiti, Panama, Puerto Vallarta, Los Angeles, and finally Portland, Oregon. Prior to that, the box-up Kolonihavehus had sat in a crate in pa warehouse in Copenhagen since the nineteen forties when it was purchased at a blind auction by Mette’s Great Uncle Agnar. Uncle Agnar, after discovering the incredible deal he had gotten on a box-like vacation house for his new bride and himself, had hurried home from the auction, distracted by his own good fortune, fantasizing about his dear Ranka’s reaction, and was struck dead by a runaway cart, whose horse who had been spooked by a discarded can of beets with an especially bright label.

Mette knew none of this, but had been raised to understand that she would inherit a “fantastical retreat” upon the death of Uncle Agnar’s widow Aunt Ranka. When Mette was eighteen, she received word that her Great Aunt had passed away of old age, and that it would take some time to “transfer the property to Mette.” Mette had assumed that this was on account of the intricacies of Danish probate, and she had not asked questions until the first bill for her sizable college loans came due.

She worked out a plan with her boyfriend, Lincoln, while laying in bed one rainy Sunday afternoon. They had been listening to NPR and smoking cigarettes, and fooling around some (Mette wondered with some dismay if they had been together too long to overcome the torpor brought on by several months of winter to actually fuck). After a cutesy radio story about the Danish happiness index (reportedly the highest in the world) Mette had told Lincoln about the “fantastical retreat” that was tied up in probate, and they had decided to look into the matter “put a little pressure on the situation” was how Lincoln put it, and once everything was settled they’d move to Denmark and live in the “fantastical retreat” until their money ran out. Then, they would either run a bed and breakfast or sell the estate (for it was now an entire estate in their minds )

“We’ll sell everything and go there,” Lincoln proposed.

It was with some disappointment then that after they had “put some pressure on the situation” they discovered that there was a matter of payment that the inheritance required for which the Aunt’s estate had made no provision. Mette could not understand what this was. “Taxes,” Lincoln had said knowingly, and Mette had thought this sounded likely enough, so they agreed to send the money. They were further disappointed when after sending the rather large sum of money and making inquiries as to the “address” so they could plan their trip, they learned that there was no land associated with this fantastical retreat, but rather, the retreat merely waited shipment (for which they had now paid.)

At the shipping yard, Mette and Lincoln found a large wooden crate, of a quality of wood that was scarcely used anymore for houses, much less a mere shipping container, and their young imaginations began again to run amok with the possibilities of what could be inside. Kolonihavehus, it said on the outside, in faded black lettering.

“Don’t just stand there, get it out of here,” the yard manager said to them.

And so it cost them another hundred and fifty dollars—the last of their paychecks from their jobs at Safeway, coupled with the stash of quarters for laundry to hire two men and a truck to take the crate across town to a house in outer southeast where a group of friends were living, three to a bedroom, that had a large enough backyard to accommodate the crate.

“Whatever is in there, we’ll sell it, and then, we can buy back your Aunt Ranka’s fantastical retreat,” Lincoln consoled Mette, who felt certain there was some mistake, some error.

It was March when they pried the lid off of the crate with hammers and a crowbar borrowed from a neighbor in front of an audience of the Holgate house residents and neighbors. Lincoln had given a little speech about boxes and destiny, which Mette hoped everyone had forgotten in the struggle to dismantle the crate enough to get at the contents within. Inside the crate they discovered a stacked multitude of faded pink boards and railing, mullioned windows wrapped carefully (but whose glass was nonetheless shattered), a two-panel door, window boxes, curtains carefully folded, a table top and legs, rolled cotton sleeping pallets, embroidered cushions, along with dozens and dozens of unrecognizable brackets and other hardware. There was a simple chandelier, some worm-eaten books and magazines, a paddle, and a painted family portrait.

They laid it piece by piece across the soggy green lawn and Mette felt heart-sinking disappointment. It was junk. She thought of the thousands of dollars they had paid to ship it, the money to move it across town, the fifty dollars they’d paid to the folks in the Holgate house to leave it in their yard.
“No!” Lincoln said. We’ll use it! We’ll live here. It’s the original tiny house. It’s authentic,” he said. He took her hands, “don’t you see how wonderful this is?” he said. He looked around and grabbed the painting. They studied it: in front of a pink, box-like vacation retreat stood two adults and a child. The pink in the painting was similar to the boards laid across the green lawn, maybe richer for lack of weathering. On top of the house were three other figures, on a deck-like upper story.

And so it began. They assembled the house. They worked their jobs at Safeway, and later in offices and call centers. And when they came home, they lived their lives in the “fantastical vacation retreat” that Mette had inherited. Initially they outfitted it with a respectable mix of modern conveniences and “authentic elements,” but they knew this was all wrong. Every time they passed the painting of the family in front of the pink Kolonihavehus the figures seemed to furrow their brow and shake their heads. “They’re unhappy,” Mette whispered. Lincoln did not disagree. They began to make small changes. They exchanged their 1950s record player for an older Victrola, and the figures in the painting seemed at peace. But then Mette began to see that the espresso machine was all wrong, so they got rid of it, and for a time, the people in the painting seemed at peace. One day, she fastened her electric yellow Victoria’s Secret brassiere in front of the painting, and she could see that the painted woman squinted her eyes and scowled. The next day she bought a corset, and the painting was at peace. The painting began to demand that they do things like take up rowing and eat certain things and not others. And slowly, the people in the painting taught them how to live their lives in fantastical retreat.

Jennifer Rabin (sculptor/writer) + Ross Chappell (writer)

Sister Claudette
1. Olive seed rosary
2. Hair shirt
3. Holy Bible (King James edition) with the signatures of all of the women in her family and the dates of their births and deaths
4. Pair of bifocals
5. Gold wedding band
6. Pair of grey slacks

Sister Mary Margaret
1. Saint Anthony medallion
2. Small wooden box with inlaid heart (religious sacred heart of Mary)
3. Inside the box, a letter:

Dear Margie,
       Please be assured I have not forgotten your request to cease calling you Margie, but I must beg your forgiveness on this point as it may be my final opportunity to do so. I would ask only that you do me the kindness of considering carefully the contents of this letter as they speak directly to the sincerity and seriousness of the current dilemma in which I find myself.
       You have been as clear about your commitment to serving the poor souls so devastated by recent events in our country as you have about your certainty that you can set aside your feelings for me, feelings that you have acknowledged by refusing to deny their existence. It is your silence that gives me hope.
       I, in turn, have been as clear about my deep and abiding love for you as I have about my intention to marry you if you will but agree to my honest and respectable proposal. There is no shame in this, in this love I profess, in this love I know you feel. Why would God grant us this love were we not meant to express it to one another? I have no intention of forestalling your service to others or to God. I merely seek to be by your side as your serve. Can you grant me this?
       I will await your reply. Until such time as I hear from you, you will be in my prayers and in my heart, and I will remain,
       Yours in devotion,


4. Stamped and sealed letter addressed to Charles Blake, marked “Return to sender. Addressee deceased.”

Sister Judith
1. Three pair of blue jeans
2. A bundle of paintbrushes, held together by a rubber band

3. A cardboard coaster:

Robin Carlisle + Brad Rosen

t finally came down to it. High noon. Not in the streets of Laredo, not at all. Because we wasn’t in the wild wild west anymore and we weren’t anywhere near Kansas. We was in Nebraska. The bout of all bouts. Dogface Johnny had come all the way from Pakipsi to face the notorious Zimby Caruthers in pounding of the death. Both of them, until they were dead. That was the word on the street anyways. Well, all through the corn field and down the one dirty dust of Main Street, in the old forgotten town of Main Street, Nebraska. Where the wind forgot to blow and the rain forgot to rain but nobody not nobody forgot about a fight.
The hall dark and cavernous. The wall of the arena distant and filled with the sweat and raw ambitions of the two men who stood in their separate corners of the ring. Dogface Johnny Kincaid had rode the tr4ain all the way from Pakipsi just to be there because of a woman, and it goes without saying that the woman was Zimby Caruther’s girl. His property, that’s what he said. That was the half of it. The other half was that Dogface was there to liberate her. And he said he wasn’t going to leave their alive without her. 
I mean, it sound like it was something that could never happen, that it was all make believe. That no one would show up to see it. But it had happened and let me tell you I wasn’t only there to bear witness, I was there to officiate. 
Them two men, with the resolute and pride drawn tight over their faces. You can imagine, Dogface Johnny wasn’t too pretty of a fella to begin with. Whatever it was that had gotten him to the place where he earned that name Dogface, well it couldn’t have been anything much too kindly of a doin’. Like he had been raised by dirty mules. His nose all crooked and broke too many places too many times. I mean, it couldn’t have done much of anything good to the gray in his matter, them brains that resided inside the chopping block of a box that held his intelligence. 
And Zimby, with the bruteness of his size and the violence in his eyes, you couldn’t have thought him to be nothing much of too intelligible neither.
I spose what I am trying to say is that neither one of them boys, they didn’t have much in the way of things of the intellectual capacity.
I stepped into the middle of the mat. The canvas giving way to the weight under my feet. 
“Now what we are going to have here boys is a clean fight,” I said “No cussin, and no calling nothin bad about each other’s mommas neither. I mean that would be hittin below the belt.” 
I pulled at the top of my pants to keep from falling. Being that I was running late to there I had forgot my belt at home.
“okay now you fellas come here and meet in the middle and touch hands.”
The two fellas did that, they touched hands, Not a grip but the fist bumped touching each other’s knuckles easy like they were about to play a game of scotch.
“LETS Get Ready to Ramble,” I yelled out to all them seat covered walls. I looked at Dogface, I looked at Zimby.
And then the lady of the evening herself spoke up, and let me tell you, she spoke up loud. “Neither one you pig ass sons of bitchs know nothing low rent mens is going to say nothing that is going being worthy of my love anyway so I don’t know why it is you have to be making all this fuss.”
The deal of it was, it was a fight to the death. And it was fisticuffs or snarls or bites it was a war of worlds, Not Orson Wells hell, Nothing too Sci-Fi about it. It was gonna be all Walt Whitman, I war of words, Poetry. Sheer unadultrated straight up lightin lickin poetry.
Dogface was the first one to throw a blow. I mean it was fast as a snake the way he just come out like that. Like it was nobodies business. Like nobodies was bound to get hurt. His lip curled curlin up into snarl that was never gonna let go.
“Pathetic,” He said. 
Zimby lazy eye straightened right up. A direct gaze like it wonna thing at all.
“Pathetic. Poetic. Forget it. Like violet in June and the bird song of birds singin’. Songs. Of faraway days and lonesome night without my love my love is you,” 
That’s when he turned to her , Lilly and he said , “Pathetic is my heart and it and it sits in a muddy pond waitin for the clear waters to come.”
Lily batted her eyes her lashes thick and loaded with Mabeline.
Nod I thought of them words that got thown out of the middle of Johnny’s jaw. The crowd gasped. I had now idea how it was that Zimby was going to top that. It was Johnny’s turn to throw out his punch, his word.
“Rhododendron,” he threw.
Johnny stepped back. The blow seeming to take a stab directly at his heart. But then as if by an epiphany his as if he eyes had channeled the very essence of the good doctor himself . Dr Zeuss that is because it became apparent that the good Dogface Johnny was the king of rhyme-dom on this planet and every other.
“A flower, the power of the hour that you took my bailing breast and with its zest cast a spell to dwell upon the cat and his hat who sat upon the rhododendoron that was deepenin on the shallow sea of lap of the luxuries that brought me here to have no fear from this man this cad this fucker.”
And all was lost. And it wasn’t just his bad choices of rhymes that had him in. He had cussed and broke the rule. He was finished. KO”D knocked out. With a bowling pin.

My mother was not a model of the feminine. She was happy to wear mismatched socks and sandals in the Oregon drizzle. Sometimes she would forget to brush her hair and would wear the same shirt and pants for days on end. She did not fit in the box of WOMAN which my twelve-year-old brain wanted her to occupy. My mother kept a box of makeup in the bathroom medicine cabinet. It was a jumble of eye shadows and lipsticks and several things I couldn’t identify. A couple times a year she would apply a little while getting ready for a night out. Two decades later, I’m convinced she still has most of the same stuff in that box.

These were the days of slumber parties; of whispered secrets girls made up on the spot; of experimenting with becoming adults. While playing with the cult of the feminine, we broke out the makeup and tried applying it to each others faces. I loved the bright Wet n wild red lipsticks and obscenely blue and green and silver eye shadows. After a long time sitting still with my eyes closed – allowing other girls to reimagine what my face looked like – I went to take a look at their work. I stood on a pink bathroom stool and stared into the mirror. The image startled me. I was convinced I would look like Winona Ryder – I did not. I tried angling my head a little so my eyes were partly shut and my lips a little pouty – the way the models in the magazine ads would pose. Still no Winona. I didn’t look like Claire Danes in My So Called Life either. I was failing at fitting in the box I thought was waiting for me.

I didn’t just want to conform – far from it – I liked being a little different. I just wanted to be pretty while I was a weirdo. I wanted to collect my own box of little boxes full of pigments and use them to make myself a more presentable lady. My mother was not being helpful.

She had a way of saying things where she didn’t actually say she did not approve, but I knew she didn’t.

“You’re not really watching this are you?” she would ask while passing through the room and observing me watching Mad About You. “No, I’m just trying to find something good.” I would automatically respond, reluctantly flipping the channel at random. I didn’t want to disappoint her. “Oh Poppy’s not growing her bangs out,” I overheard her say, “her face doesn’t look good without bangs.” I deeply believed this for at least fifteen years after she said it.

When I ask her about these things now, she has no memory of them. She wasn’t ever malicious or manipulative, only painfully honest. But I also wanted her to look like the other moms. The ones with matching pant suits who carried purses and had to reapply their lipstick in the car while they waited to pick up their kids. I wanted her to be someone I could go to for womanly advice.

If I asked her about shaving my legs, or learning how to apply eyeliner, or how to walk in heels, that same honest tone would come through. “You don’t really want to do that do you? You’re still so young.” It did enough of a number on me that I never told her when I got my period. I just started taking her pads until she noticed and quietly started buying me my own. As much as I wanted my first bra, I didn’t work up the courage to tell her for over a year. A child of the 60s and hardly filling an A cup, my mother hadn’t worn a bra at any point in my memory of her. I wasn’t even sure she would know where to go to get one. I had to write her a note because I knew she couldn’t respond with a, “surely you aren’t ready for one yet?”

She kept the note. I don’t recall the exact wording, but I opened it:

Dear mom,
I think it is time. I feel uncomfortable going down the stairs. There is just too much movement.
It worked. I managed to get her to take me to a department store where a scary older lady who smelled of musty perfume and wore blue eye shadow had me stand on a box while she measured my chest. I had the stereotypical first bra experience. I was absolutely thrilled.

If my mom didn’t exactly raise me to be the picture of a lady, my dad wasn’t much better. He was convinced I would make a brilliant electrician. When I complained I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up, he would bring up the electrician’s apprentice program. Or the Welding program at the community college. He also was the parent, years later, who suggested I might try wearing a little makeup when I was going to job interviews. “I would do that, but I don’t know how to put it on.” Was my response – met with silence of course, as he knew as well as I did that no one in that house was going to be able to help me there.

I never really learned the girly stuff. And I’m okay with that. Because instead of teaching me how to apply lipstick so it doesn’t get on my teeth or how to curl my hair, or how to fit in the box of WOMAN, my mother taught me how to be a person. Someone who is interested in the world; questions why we are doing things; thinks the big thoughts; and enjoys a cupcake now and then without worrying what anyone else might think about that.


7.14.15. prompt: FIRE

dave benz, artist
Brad Cohen, writer
Joyce Garay, poet
Alex Harris, designer
Katherine McDowell, visual artist
Jennifer Mercede, artist
Lena Munday, a/v artist
Jennifer Rabin, conceptual artist/writer
Mette Hornung Rankin, designer/illustrator
Mark Saltveit, palindromist/writer/comedian
Liz Scott, writer
Toni Tabora-Roberts, dabbler
Bill Wadhams, musician

Toni Tabora-Roberts: Going into SHARE, I knew I would start with creating a blackout poem aka erasure. It's recent practice I've taken up inspired by lots of makers on Instagram. 
Here's how my blackout poem turned out:

help drive need
some form of burning rekindles
relentless whisper brings energy jolt
it is power
it is moving

From that, I found myself drawn to the word whisper. I then played around with word pairs derived from the poem.

"Power whisper" jumped out at me. Everything up until then had been pretty straightforward, kinda serious, earthy. I wanted to see if I could create something more funny. I did a free write in which I started discovering a character. 

This is where I got a little stuck. I took a break and enjoyed some almond thins and more beer. I went and bugged my pal Lena who was getting into some interesting things. After we chatted, she offered for me to draw from her Science Tarot deck for inspiration. That was just the kick I needed. Gathering more inspiration from my tarot draw, I started improvising a two person scene on paper. Below is a character outline and the first scene I wrote. I was imagining a "post-apocalyptic sit com" kind of genre. 

The Maven
  • speaks in slow whispers
  • likewise, moves very slowly, very little
  • seems old
  • loves to be outdoors
  • never sits down, only stands or lies
  • meticulous dress
  • fastidious
  • warm, soft
The Empress
  • voice is deep and lyrical, almost a song
  • slow moving, grand gestures
  • has a feline quality
  • almost always seated
  • never leaves her space
  • cold on the outside, warm inside
Maven: Thank you for this water.
Empress: Not many places offer it for free anymore.
Maven: You're a good friend.
Empress: An old one.
Maven: Yes, I can hardly remember.
Empress: Because you're wasted.
Maven: Because I'm wasting away.
Empress: What was your last meal?
Maven: Peas. Four peas from one pod.
Empress: When?
Maven: Yesterday. Lucky me, eh?
Empress: An actual pea pod? Like from a plant?
Maven: I know, seems impossible.
Empress: I had peas, too, but from a can. I'm jealous.
Maven: Here, a blueberry.
Empress: You're a good friend.

Who knows if I'll ever do anything more with these characters, but I do quite like them. 
You can read a much more verbose version of this post here.


10.14.14. (optional) prompt: POCKET

jackie avery, painter
dave benz, artist
jennifer coleman, poet
chad crouch, musician
sara brant guest, poet
courtenay hameister, memoirist
james harrison, sculptor/designer
ameena lacey, musician
alyson osborne, actor
matt sipes, sculptor
lynn yarne, artist

 Read the rest

More work coming soon!