Matthew Corcoran and His Camera

He wouldn't be the first, second, or even third person to call himself an artist but Matthew Corcoran is one hell of a talented Photographer//Luthier//Musician//Creative. We spent the morning talking about what he is working on and before we knew it, he turned his bathroom into a darkroom and he made a camera out of a mini cereal box (the kind mom would never buy for you)!

You experiment a lot with different cameras and types of film, why is that?

I think really good art is intentional--for sure--but I tend to experiment a lot because my intention is to have it come out not the way I expected. I think it is really hard to not do something that someone else has already done before. And I always think I can find something new and interesting when I am experimenting.

Do you see things like cereal boxes and other objects and just think, how can I make a camera out of this?

A little bit! When I was in visual arts class in college, it was my first experience with a camera obscura. My teacher made the entire classroom a camera. I was thrilled. Here's the deal, the reason I am drawn to photography is because it is the combination of art and science.  It's the reason I have kept with film and especially Polaroid because you get to see an image appear right in front of you.

Have you found yourself creating more often since moving to MPLS one year ago and not continuing as a luthier where you were working with your hands every day?

Oh, yeah. That's a huge part of it. In general, I just like making things. I like making Halloween costumes or making cameras or making other stuff. I get it from my dad.  He makes a lot of things. Since I stopped working with my hands in my day job, I fulfill that creativity in a different way–and I kind of like it more!  Now that I sit at a desk for the most part of my week, that environment actually drives me to be more creative outside of the office. While I had–what some consider an artistic job–it is a 300 year old profession with not a whole lot of room for experimenting.  And the perfectionist nature of that field has ruined me a bit when trying to experiment or try something new. 

Are there certain times that you feel more creative? Do you have moods where you feel like you need to create something or you can't focus on anything?

It's sort of like, you know how your brain is more creative right before sleep? It's like that. I can't sleep unless I made something that day.  It doesn't even have to be anything significant, I just want to make something. You kind of have to get it out of you before moving on to the next thing. It becomes investigative. I have to figure out a way to make it work; how do I fit the square peg into the round hole? That goes for my photography, stop motion videos, etc. 

What do you see as a challenge or frustration when creating?

There are a few tricks I stick with when creating but most ideas are fleeting.  I feel like that is the same with a lot of creative people. Isn't it the worst when you have an exciting idea for a project and you do all of this work for it but by the time it is complete you have so many better ideas that you would rather be focusing on? And that's such a cliché for an artist's life–of never being satisfied–but there is truth to that.

 

Matthew made a stop motion for us! 

Connect and collaborate with Matthew on his new website! www.matthewandhiscamera.com

See his photographs and stop motion videos on Instagram: matthewandhiscamera

Photographs and interview created by KP


Daniel Jaffe the Flying Wolf Dog

Daniel Jaffe works mainly in paper but also draws, paints, makes prints, and does installation work. He is highly influenced by pop art , modern, and contemporary movements along with graffiti. Daniel was born Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1984 where he currently resides.

How long have you been doing papercuts?
I've been cutting paper now for about 5 years now .

Your works are so intricate... How long do these take? What tools do you use?
A paper piece of mine can take anywhere from 2 hours 16 or more. Depending on size and detail. I use scissors and recently started using an X-acto knife.

How did you get started in the first place?
I got into paper cutting when I had a buddy moving out of town and he had to get rid of 20 pounds of construction paper.

What gets your creative juices flowing?
A lot of things fuel my creative fire, music can a big one. Stumbling upon some new artist I've never seen before, or just watching Antiques Road Show. I got really into this potter named George E. Ohr (America's first art potter) who I learned about because of Antiques Road Show. He'd make things like puzzle mugs that you would have to know how to drink out of them or you'd spill your drink all over. And he would create all of these weird shapes and handles on vessels. I just went off of those images I had seen of his work to create my paper cuts for my last series. That and I'm really inspired and influenced by Greek Mythology so the shapes I used in my vessels reflect that.

What are you currently creating?
I'm working on a larger paper cut series of psychedelic retro greek beach sunbathers!

What's your spirit animal?
My spirit animal is a flying wolf dog that has a baseball bat for a tail and bagels for eyes.

Daniel's studio is attached to Modern Times Cafe. To see more of Daniel's work or to connect with him to collaborate: http://www.danieljaffeart.com/

Photographs created by Kristina Perkins


Murder of Bros: A Dudechoir

I’m excited to be creating for me. If I take your money, I have to create what you want and I don’t want to do that. This might not make me any money but it makes me happy and that is awesome.
— andy mcinnis

Why did you create Murder of Bros: A Dude Choir?

Peter: Well, I can't say I created Murder of Bros, but I can say what it means to me. I never listened to music more intently than in middle school and high school (in the 90s), when it was my best friend in the world. And I always sang along, to CDs or REV105 or whatever, in harmony. So I'm kind of re-living that time and experience now, but sharing that friendship with the company of great [human!] friends. And simultaneously, in a small way, redefining masculinity and brotherhood for myself/ourselves, in sharing a dude-ish space without all the competition, aggression, and binarism that made masculine spaces incredibly alienating for me during adolescence. But also, I just think it feels good to sing with other people.

Andy: The concept is really Jeffy's brain child. I just wanted to sing and also have creative input. Jeffy and I got to singing. Then, we got to talking. Then, we got to drinking. Then, I puked into his screen door. Then, we knew we were on to something huge.

What's your favorite snack?

Peter: is beer a snack?

Andy: Fruit platter. Why? = Shit's fruity.

If you could collaborate with another creative in the MPLS, who would it be?

Peter: Teenage Moods

Andy: This is gonna sound like a cop-out but there are far too many talented ass people in this city to choose. I would not collaborate with that one smelly guy though.

What is your process, pre-creating?

Peter: uhhmm

Andy: My process usually involves getting super weird. Red meat, ummm ... beer happens. Auditions happen on the first new moon of every month. The key of G determines our repertoire. 

Nirvana rehearsal

Murder of Bros is: Peter Hogan, Jeff Hnilicka, Andy McInnis, Jadrian Miles, A.P. Looze, Paul ClarkScotty Reynolds, Andrew Nelsen Csavoy, Jael O'Hare, Matt Zumwalt, Garrett Ferderber//Absent for feature: Scott Artley, Aron Lorber, Bryan Pyle

LIKE Murder of Bros on Facebook. Book them for your next party.

Photos, video, and audio created by Kristina Perkins


Kirsten Zache is Positively Square

Kirsten Zache is a designer, writer, and an advocate for social positivity. She maintains the blog Meeting Flannel where she chronicles the hilarity of and the sometimes embarrassing moments encountered when dating in the Midwest. She has also created a movement called [Positively Square] that is sure to brighten everyone's day from now until the end of time.

Write Positively. Post Proudly. When did you start Positively Square?

I started this three years ago. The very first square I gave out was to this guy at the bus stop. He was being really creepy, I thought. He started to talk to me late at night, asking me about my day and I asked him about his day and he said "I just gave bone marrow to my niece who is dying." Oh my God. Then our bus pulled up and I didn't know what to say, so I pulled out a Positively Square and I just wrote on there, 'Whatever happens, I hope everything goes well.' And that's the first one I gave out. They're good for those moments when you don't know what to say or do.

Why did you create Positively Square?

It's kind of cool because I get to see that people have retweeted that they found a square I left for them on their bike and it made their day! And I think, ok good.  That's the movement doing what I set out for it to do. Previously I went to hospitals and parks to try and give them out but now that I am working more, I have stopped doing this as much.

Would you ever want to have a street team for Positively Square?

Yeah, that would be awesome! Because I want to grow and what I like about this is that it isn't digital.  It is a physical thing.  And we kind of lose that in this day and age. But I know that social media is still important for people so I need to update the physical squares that I hand out to include my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.  I do want this to be promoted via social media.  It is a social movement so that only makes sense. And someone doesn't have to repost the square that is given to them but it helps to spread the word a bit.

Have you looked into continued funding for Positively Square?  Even just printing costs, etc?

It's weird because when I was really in the momentum of making these and getting them out the door to the public, I would get people emailing me saying they wanted their own set.  So I just started mailing these and fronting all of the cost for printing and shipping. I was unemployed too, so it wasn't the smartest move. Then people started asking me how much they were but I never excepted money. It would be cool now if I excepted either donations or a small amount for sending packs out to people that half of the cost would go to printing, mailing, and the other half would go to an anti-bullying organization or something. That's the future path I want to take!

[Positively Square has a BRAND NEW website that Kirsten created. If you'd like to join Positively Square's street team, connect with Kirsten through email: positive.square@gmail.com]

Follow the movement on: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Photographs  and interview created by Kristina Perkins


Desiree Forget

Creative. Jewelry Maker. Completely Awesome Human.

Selling her products through Facebook, Instagram, boutiques, and local art/craft fairs, Desiree is a self taught creator of lovely, vintage inspired jewelry for the last couple of years. MPLS Creates had so much fun and laughed way too much while chatting with Desiree and learning her creative process!

What does a day in the studio look like for you?

Creating jewelry and coming up with puns that make me laugh at myself. AND Beans [adorable cat] climbing all over all of the things.

How many vendors do you use for your materials?

Hundreds!

How did you come up with the constellation idea for your earrings?

I am really into dinosaurs, and meteors, and space this year with what I am creating. Last year, there was a lunar eclipse on my birthday and that really inspired me to create more related to space, and stars, and glow in the dark things--things that make me happy!

What percentage do galleries and boutiques take for your work sold?

Half. Generally half. At best, 60/40. That's why I only sell at a few stores. I also need to charge more for what I am making. I don't price it high enough to make selling in private locations worth it. I don't think it is fair for me to price gouge someone just because I only see half of the profit. I determine my price point by time it takes, price of materials, and then researching if there are similar items online with comparable prices.

Do you sell a lot of work internationally?

You know, this year I did! A lot in Sweden, surprising, Australia, and London. 

Were there any tutorials or websites that you referenced when you were starting out?

Mostly, trial and error. Unless it is a process that is really difficult. The one thing that I did read a lot about before starting was etching, acid etching. Basically, I didn't want to kill myself attempting that. I like finding easier ways to create what I want to create but if I see someone else's process that works really well, I can appreciate that.

Check out Desiree creating a pair of her constellation earrings:

 

You can find Desiree and all of her Owl & Lark creations at Art-a-Whirl this weekend!  She will have a booth set up in the 331 parking lot!

Connect with Desiree: Facebook // Instagram

Video shot by Jake Ryan, edited by Kristina Perkins

Photographs created by Kristina Perkins

Playing Around with Ed Vogel

Edward Patrick Vogel is a Minneapolis Creative that is playing around with music. Ed has a real passion for making music and helping others make it too.  He has developed a series of coloring books that teach iconic music and art history all in one fell swoop. His studio is a little like a playground. Which makes perfect sense because he's having such a good time playing around. And, by toying around with the way we learn music, Ed has stumbled on an entertaining way to plunk away while you play. Here's what he had to say about his colorful idea.

Tell me about your project.
I am interested in associations and how they can enhance an experience. In this case it is presenting music to learn at the piano in the form of a coloring book. Here's how it works!

How long have you been playing the piano?
Off and on for about 15 years

How did you come up with the idea for this project?
I was teaching a "hands on" course in music theory at a summer camp in Albuquerque. I had twelve little keyboards and was expecting class sizes of twelve and the kids to be ten to fifteen years old. I ended up with classes of fifteen and twenty with kids from five to eighteen years old. The keyboards are too small to share so I needed to rotate groups of kids at the keyboards and something else. I chose music themed coloring books. One of the things I noticed during the sessions were that in addition to coloring many of the kids were dancing. Dancing to the music that they were learning right before they were going to sit down and play it. I thought to myself "there has got to be a way to throw a lasso around this!" Playing music, dancing, and coloring as an integrated activity would be a great way to learn and recreate. That was in 1998... think I am getting closer to being able to throw that lasso. 

What motivates you to create?
Nothing!
I am motivated by the possibility of an impossible task, to create something from nothing. 

What do you think connects music, dance, and art?
A mind body connection that is a very important part of being human. I suspect (hope) that this mind body connection is an aspect of all living things perhaps even core to a shared consciousness.

Where do you do most of your work?
I do some at home but I prefer to take sketch pads, computer, keyboards, and music out into the world. Coffee shops, parks, just sitting in my car enjoying a sunset or moonrise.

Do you come from a musical/artistic family?
Yes and no. We certainly did all enjoy music but only some of us played instruments. My father played piano and hated it as a child. He started learning and playing guitar much later in life, I think I was twelve or so. My brother Tony is a guitar impresario. Myself, I didn't start 

What's your day job?
I work in product development for a medical device company. A nice combination of analytical thinking and working with my hands. On any given day I might design an electronic circuit, build it, write a computer program, and work in the machine shop. It is pretty sweet.

What is your vision for your project?
Twin Cities Piano Lab is going to become a group piano education program along the lines of the Yamaha teaching system and Maryron Cole Group Piano. Yamaha is rigorous and Mayron Cole has fun and games. I am tending towards fun and games. An enrichment activity that creates works of art that illustrate a piece of music. 

What's on the horizon?
I am collecting images and music themes for several more "color and play piano today books" of the single page size. I think my primary emphasis is going to be on melodic themes and colorful pictures of classic art. 
1. Ravel's Mother Goose Suite
2. Nutcracker Dances - in progress but I think I need to change the art to scenes illustrative of what is going on in the ballet rather than Paul Klee abstracts
3. "You're Playing Leo's Song!" - a series of jazz standards themes for Leo the piano guy at the Normandy. Leo's thing is also in puzzle format which should I hope turn into something comparable to "Where's Waldo?" with music that you can play. Another aspect of working with Leo is the booklet is a souvenir when you tip him and I am hoping to send him to all of the "Pianos on Parade" pianos this summer.
4. Schumman's "Album of the Young"

Tell me about the French Connection. 
I went to Paris for Thanksgiving Holiday 2011 to walk around where Erik Satie lived and composed and played the music that I very dearly love myself. Also on a whim, the trip was priced at $799 for air and 5 nights lodging with breakfasts.

Erik Satie began his music career at Le Chat Noir in the 1890s and it just happened that someone had restored the the cafe in recent years so I had to pay a visit. I sat down with a drink and listened to a woman sing in French and English a variety of jazz standards. I stammered out some compliments and small talk in French and found out that Keri was from the US originally and now lived in Paris for the most part. She also has a company based there "Arts Embassy International." We stay in touch via email and Facebook.

Recently I discovered the music of Michel Legrand and "The Umbrellas of Cherborg" a "pop opera" and approached Keri with the idea of a complete graphic novel of the shown with the music in "color and play piano today" format. Along the lines of this:

The opera "Carmen" in storybook format.  The music shown is the "Toreador's Song"
She has to finish her current show and it is likely we will start with a single song as an insert to a program but the whole thing does have me thinking Paris for Thanksgiving 2014 may be a good idea.

Tell me about a Minneapolis Creator or Artist that you admire.
Joan Vorderbruggen. Joan really is emerging as the Twin Cities' Joan of Art post Joan Mondale. Her leadership in Artist's in Storefronts and at Block E is very inspiring to me because she includes lots of everyday people in her process. Also her exhibit at the Ledge "Letter from Carl" hits on all cylinders for me as a multimedia work. She communicated a very personal relationship that spanned a decade in a very accessible way. Carl's letters also read like poetry. Just a great show.

What is your favorite place in Minneapolis to see creative people doing what they do best?
Northrup King on open studio nights. House of Balls which is Allen Christian's studio and gallery. 

Tell me about your Cigar Box Guitar!
 I was teaching piano as a volunteer at a Pentecostal church in North Minneapolis.  None of the kids had money for a decent keyboard to have at home to practice on so I thought a nice project might be to design and activity where they made a real, tune-able, playable musical instrument.  Also incredibly inexpensive.  I did some research and discovered "cigar box guitars" and decided to take some example designs I found in a book "Cardboard Musical Instruments" (I believe) and adapt them to suit my student's needs.  It ended up taking several months and the church moved somewhere else and so the kids never saw the project.  I did do it with kids at a couple after school programs and Leonardo's Basement.  

Make Magazine!!! How did that Happen?
I was listening to NPR's "The Tech Report" (I think) and Mark Frauenfelder the chief editor of MAKE was on talking about DIY and new spirit of craft and I thought it was really interesting so I visited the MAKE website.   I saw a link "Write for MAKE" and clicked on it.  Instead of a bunch of gooblydegook legalese and stuff there was a simple contact form.  I don't think I even wrote anything.  I attached a picture of one of my guitars and a sound file.  Mark Fraunfelder emailed me back 10 minutes later.  "You have to write this article!"  

So we talked a couple days later on the phone and he explained how he liked to do stuff and his editing process which we agreed was a good fit.  Then he said "so 2500 words . . . does twelve fifty sound ok?"  The last magazine article I wrote was about that length and I was paid $100.  I was pretty sure he didn't mean twelve dollars and fifty cents so I said "sure fifty cents a words sounds reasonable."   I got it done in June and when the magazine came out in Oct 2006 I had no idea it was going to be the cover article.

Where can people purchase your books and learn more about you and what you do?
"Playing Around with the Moon" is available on Amazon. I also have books for sale on my website: http://twincitiespianolab.weebly.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html

Copy & Photos by Jennifer Sandquist
Video by Ed Vogel