Monday, January 29, 2007

Proposed Name Change for If You Break The Skin: "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?...the sequel"

If You Break the Skin Update

Well, friends, I am not at liberty to say what is going on with the state of the film right now, but it's in a precarious state. Or perhaps more accurately, I am at liberty but under legal advisement to not talk about what the state of the film is right now. All I'm saying right now is that the process at this point is very emotionally draining, infuriating, disappointing and angst producing. I am hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. And let me tell you how much I don't enjoy being vague with this.

Suffice it to say, I have been working on many things and I'm just staring straight ahead and fuming when I'm not working. I will be able to disclose the for real for real before the end of the week. Get ready.

Friday, January 26, 2007

5 things you might not know about Zoe Strauss

Brian Ulrich aka Master of Chicago Photography tagged me with a blog chain letter, the 5 things meme. I'm supposed to reveal five things you don't necessarily know about me, and then tag five others who should do the same. I am honoring this request.

5 things you might not know (and probably don't care that much) about Zoe Strauss

1. My full name is Adiah Zoe Strauss-Sheeketski

2. I am scared to death of horror movies and I didn't sleep for 2 days after seeing The Blair Witch Project

3. I coined the word "fatite" i.e. "fat" and "petite"

4. I have palatal myoclonus and have had it for the last 10 years.

5. My favorite food is salmon.

I'll come up with some better things in the future, these are just place holders until I can come up with some amazing facts about yours truly and I'm working on my 5 who I want to pass this onto.

That's my motto

stop the bullshit 3 copy

Some crazy, crazy things are happening

Which I am reluctant to discuss right week I'll be discussing what the what is's about the film.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Isaac Mizrahi makeover...tomorrow at 3!

Working nonstop

That's it. Will be done next week and then will be working with some stop.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

10th and Snyder 7-11

toys at 10th and snyder 7_11 web

At the 10th and Snyder 7-11 there are 21 toys hanging in the toy section and 9 are guns or gun related.


I have watched "If You Break the Skin" and there is something tremendously disturbing to me in the film. I said the word "like" about 100 times, possibly more. That's not an exaggeration. I know why... I am weighing my words constantly and it's a crutch, a hesitation allowing me an extra moment before I say something completely ridiculous to the kids. But, honestly, it's really embarrassing, and believe me you, I am rarely embarrassed.

100% Health

100% health web
white green and red building web

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Complexity of Family (Part I)

I write about my family, especially my immediate family, quite a bit in this on line journal. During the course of the "If You Break the Skin" project I have thought a lot of the idea of "family" and the how the construction of family occurs and how it shifts through one's life. This is very true of my own family. I have a fairly large extended family due to a number of complex connections. What I find so fascinating about my extended family is that my own loving familial relationships aren't determined solely through traditional family structure but rather through a mix of marriages, genetics and choice.

And so in the spirit of sibling spotlight, I present Extended Family Spotlight, a sampling of several beloved extended family members, who will be introduced through a ongoing series of posts. Now, may I introduce Russell Faux?

Russell Faux- Uncle Russell is my father's brother. I met him about 10 years ago when my father's birth mother, Mary Faux, searched for her son and found our family: her grandchildren...(me and Cosmo and Walker and Savannah) and her daughter-in-law, my mother. Russell is one of about 40 new relatives that came into my life in my late 20s, all of whom I love.

Last week I sent out an email announcing my sister's position as the new "assistant director." I promptly received the following email from my Uncle Russell.

"Hi Zoe,

I was a little concerned about this email, and not about your possibly being open to allegations of nepotism, but with Savannah's title of assistant director -- too pedestrian and even the small caps, doggedly trendy though they persist in being, remain just that. small small caps.

Thinking of Kim Jong-Il for a moment, we see a man who enjoys many titles as he rules his particular nation. Personally, I don't know about his underlings, but they probably have a lot of titles too. And I don't think it's wise to dismiss it summarily as just a "Korean thing."

Here are a few:

The Sun of the 21st Century
Guardian Deity of the Planet
Ever-Victorious General
Fatherly Leader of all Koreans
Heaven-Sent Hero

and so on.

So let's say you take on several of those (I think the "Fatherly Leader of All Koreans" would crown you better than foam on a cappuccino), leaving Savannah with "Assistant Fatherly Leader of All Koreans" -- pretty darn good for a kid just beginning to find her way in this crazy old mixed up world of ours. Sort of like the aforementioned cappuccino, but with somewhat less foam. I can practically hear you thinking "so appropriate!"

You may also wish to consider:

Assistant Sun of the 21st Century
Assistant Guardian Deity of the Planet
Assistant Ever-Victorious General
Assistant Heaven-Sent Hero

and so on.

It's like a salad bar of honorifics, but without the crusty 1000 Island dressing tub at the end. Kind of gives the whole operation a sweet little jump start.

Now, we all want what's best for you and it is in an unusual spirit of boundless, though not infinite, magnanimity that I extend to you this low low cost idea."

How can describe my feelings upon receiving this email? I can't; it's impossible to describe the joy I felt upon reading it. Also, the sage advice that he put forth here will be used and I will choose a new honorific title for myself and for Savannah. One of my favorites not included in Uncle Russell's list is "the sun of Communist future," which is in the running for the new title.

Worth noting is that Savannah and I both enjoy fancy coffee drinks and whereas I enjoy quite a bit of foam, Savannah prefers little to no foam. How is possible that Russell used an apt cappuccino foam analogy with direct references to our own preferences? Such is the connection between us. Love to Russell and all the full Faux clan.

Coming up...

Andrea Glauner
Aunt Jane
and more!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Highly recommended...Locally Localized Gravity

Locally Localized Gravity
January 20 - March 25, 2007

The current 1st floor show at the ICA is an ode to the powerful and expansive artist-centered creative workings of Philadelphia...

"'Locally Localized Gravity' is both an exhibition and a program of events. Its focus is the phenomenon of artists working as producers. From running exhibition spaces to organizing music and performance events, to publishing 'zines and books, these artists do it all. The show is catalyzed by Philadelphia's artist-run scene-its abundant art schools and affordable real estate contribute to a do-it-yourself ethos-but includes artists from other cities working in a similar spirit. Their practices are social, participatory, communal, and the consequent energy created is provocative and generous. Such ways of working are often youthful, even tribal in spirit, and find artists banding together to tap into shared resources and inspiration."

This exhibition is curated by
Jenelle Porter, Associate Curator
Elyse Gonzales, Assistant Curator
Naomi Beckwith, Whitney Lauder Curatorial Fellow

Don't miss it. And go to the site to check out the upcoming events. Do it.
renee 2 web

My Gal Saturday (or the Ballad of Savannah Roberts, part II)

My Gal Friday (or the Ballad of Savannah Roberts)

I have hired a new assistant director, my sister, Savannah Roberts. "Nepotism?" you ask. Hell, yes! Unfortunately for Savannah, this brand of nepotism really works out best on my end because Savannah is paid about 27 cents an hour, and that's a generous estimate.

As a matter of fact, to possibly pick up some extra cash since I'm barely paying her, I am tempted to have Savannah strong-arm other artists into hiring her and call her company "Hannavas", in deference to our own Mayor's brother, Milton Street, who formed a company named "Notlim." Now that's high style nepotism.

Ms. Roberts arrived home from living in Prague and I just started working her into the ground as soon as she got back. This week I realized that I have pretty much been doing that since she was about 12, and maybe younger. Worth noting in this sick cycle of labor that she's been forced into is that there's a 12 year difference between me and my sister.
Too bad! You can't pick your family, Nan!

Help push two massive motor boats together on a lot?
Savannah, my mom, Walker and Lynn Bloom

Although many people help me for all of my events, it's always Lynn Bloom, my mom and Savannah. And I always need Savannah and often ask her to do the most tedious and difficult jobs.

Help adhere photos for first I-95 show

Help cut endless pieces of paper

Help copy, organize, store and move

But most important, I often need Savannah's opinion.

Honestly, besides Lynn Bloom, there is no one I trust to know exactly what I'm talking about when I can barely spit out a sentence. And she not only knows what I'm saying, she knows how to solve a problem or how to direct me so I can solve it.

Here is why I must always have Savannah for all of my events, regardless of her status as paid assistant or unpaid sibling labor.
For the first I-95 show I had picked one photo as the anchor and arranged the sequence of the other photos based on using the anchor photo as a starting point. I hadn't discussed the placement with anyone at all and had arranged the photos in hopes that there were at least 7 or 8 photos that could be read as "anchors." Several images were the ones that I knew people would be drawn to; Mattress Flip, Alzheimer's, Benny Krass, any of the Asbury Park photos. When the photos were all up, Savannah mentioned that she thought that her favorite and the most important photo was the one I had based the whole show around, Camden Mattresses. That's all I'm saying. For sure, she is in my corner.

So here's to my sister! A beautiful shining super-star genius! All rise for Savannah Roberts!

42 camden-mattresses-2 copy 2

Friday, January 19, 2007

Freshout Media piece by Jena Williams

Just click on the above link and get taken to a great article about me written by the up and coming blue-ribbon writer, Jena Williams. This is part of my continuing "world wide take-over" series.

Jews R Us

And Shabbat Shalom, friends!

Feel free to click on the above link to check out this article about me in this week's Jewish Exponent. I often wish my grandparents were alive, but this is ridiculous. Missing out on a piece about me in the Exponent because you're dead? Now that's just plain stupid. It's possible that both grandparents worked on this from the beyond, because it's so improbable and incredible that there's something about me in the Exponent.

My favorite part of article is this complete paragraph...

"'That's more money than I made in my whole life. That's a gazillion dollars to me,' exclaimed Strauss, who for the past 18 years has been in a relationship with another woman."

It's a complete non sequitur...Bryan, awesome job with cramming in my Sapphic ways. Seriously, I love that. I specifically requested that the writer, Bryan Schwartzman, somehow jam in my super gayness. Good job!

And speaking of Lesbian-Feminist Jewish artists... I am dying to read this book

Jewish Identities in American Feminist Art:
Ghosts of Ethnicity
by Lisa E. Bloom

If anyone from Routledge is reading this, just do the right thing and send a copy to

Philadelphia Public Art Project
attn. South Philadelphia Jewish Lesbian-Feminist Artists division
838 Cantrell St.
Philadelphia, PA

Now, on a personal note about the "woman I've been in a relationship with for the last 18 years" lady's last name is Bloom but she's not a Jew, she is an Italian Catholic. This can be very confusing for some. A good example is when in my lady's college days she got a paper back at the end of a fall semester that had the grade and also had "Happy Hanukkah!" randomly written on it.

Also, my grandfather could NEVER get that Ms. Bloom wasn't going to be diving into any sort of smoked fish brunch platter. This was beyond his comprehension.

And last, a quick digression; Over ten years ago my family went out to eat at the Triangle Tavern. Lynn sat next to my grandfather and soon as food was served he put a mussel right at Lynn's mouth and said, "Let's get started," meaning "let's get to the very serious business of eating." That was a great, great moment.

What's Up With Cosmo Baker

Click on the above link to read an brief interview with my brother from this week's Philadelphia Weekly. I love you, Cos!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My most desired vacation

I wish I could go to every site where an atomic explosion or test occurred and work on a big project about the lasting effects of the cold war.

"The effects could well be called unprecedented, magnificent, beautiful, stupendous, and terrifying. No man-made phenomenon of such tremendous power had ever occurred before. The lighting effects beggared description. The whole country was lighted by a searing light with the intensity many times that of the midday sun."
- Eyewitness Account of the Trinity Test

but what about this...

Did John Wayne die of cancer caused by a radioactive movie set?
My desire to go to Yucca Flats is like Richard Dreyfus being drawn to Devils Mountain. I have to go at one point and just hope it's not a particularly windy day.

Thanks, JP.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Friday, January 12, 2007

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Collision Part I

The other thing I'm kicking around for my 40s is sculpture...I have been interested in creating a "car crash" sculpture for about 10 years now. It's a fairly complex piece which would include 2 cars positioned as if a head on collision had just occurred.

As many reading this blog know, I am obsessive when it comes to certain things. The cars must be specific years, one must be American made, there must be working electrical systems in each car, head lights must be on and, believe me you, there's a list a mile long for the "engine" running action that I have thought about for a LONG time. I have a soundtrack laid out for what will be playing on the radio. Both cars will be registered in my name. And last, the sculpture must be exhibited inside, with the ideal exhibition space on a 2nd floor or above, or, on a roof.

Zoe Strauss Billboard Project

I am thinking about a billboard project for my 40's. I'm running down a few ideas, one of which is to produce 10 images per year to be exhibited on specific billboards, with each image on display for about a month, which I believe is the standard outdoor advertising time frame. I would work on this project for a period of 10 years, from 2011 until 2021.

I'm also thinking about corresponding images or pairs of images, with each image made in one place and displayed in another. For example, an image made in Detroit would be displayed in Philadelphia and an image made in Philadelphia would simultaneously be displayed in Detroit. However, I might also want to make images in the community where the billboard is, within a fairly close radius of the billboard, and have those images as the billboard images.

The photo below, Nina, was made within 10 blocks of where the two billboards pictured below are erected. It's possible that the images made in the community might make the most sense. I'll see; I've got 3 years to nail it down and I'll be damned if I don't get it completely right.

25- nina

OK, I am also thinking about connective themes, from one billboard to another and from one year to next. Not to mention the formal themes to be addressed in the actual making of the images. I am partial to photographs and see the images as photos, but I'm not tied to the idea of unaltered photos. However, I am certain that if I decided on this project I want the format of the image to be made in relation to exact to the dimensions of the billboard, as opposed to taking a image and making it fit.

And last, I'm also thinking about how each image will connect to place, especially in relation to the scale of the billboard. I'm taking into account how the billboard is viewed, eg. highway, rooftop, storefront, etc. I envision many of the images as very large and to be displayed on billboards that line major highways. The photo below has two billboards that would be appropriate for this project. This is the very first mulling over of this idea, but I've worked a lot with a sort of intimate connection with smaller pieces, 231 to be exact, and I'm interested in exploring intimacy on a different scale, something that would present a great challenge and produce great vitality in my work.

This is what I'm talking about.

In my 20's, I would often paint over neighborhood storefront billboards. Below is from the "Worthless Dollar" series. I've never really stopped wanting to continue the "Worthless Dollar" project, and I consider it open-ended. I could start painting this shit again at anytime, folks! Look out! Actually, I would encourage others to continue this me and I'll give you a copy of the original image to be painted on the billboards. And I'll give you tips so you're not arrested. I'm completely serious. info (at) zoestrauss (dot) com.

worthless dollar

the worthless dollar

Also, I would encourage someone to cover an existing highway billboard with a reflective mylar stretched taut and attached to the frame tight at the top and then pulled out so that the bottom of the mylar was one foot out from the bottom of the billboard frame, thus effectively reflecting the sky. Because who doesn't need an ad for the sky? I mean, come on!

If You Break the Skin Trailer

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

“The past grows gradually around one, like a placenta for dying.” -John Berger
I think this is comforting.

Unrelated: I had no idea that when I became middle-aged I would feel so old and so young at the same time. It's crazy!

Hold on, I have be told that I am not middle-aged...although I would say that I am. I am 36 and that means that I am in the middle of my life. 36x2= 72...that's old age. Hence 36 is middle-aged. I would argue that post 35, you're "middle-aged."
I am working on, and reviewing, the photos from the last month and I'm thinking that this one from 2st. will be the keeper out of the 4 photos posted below.

uncle sam web.jpg

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

4 Photos

Here are 4 photos made at the parade on Saturday. After the very first look at the 300 photos from that day, l found that the photos below were worth considering. In the second viewing, I found the top two to be the most compelling and the bottom one the least compelling. There are other variations on the bottom image that I will take a look again to see if I missed something, but I'm leaning toward cutting that one from the get go.

american star smoking web.jpg
uncle sam web.jpg
red white and blue wench web.jpg



addendum: I looked at these again and I can't even believe that the last one made it past an initial glance, I'm really not into it.

addendum addendum: I had to take down that last photo, I hate it so much

Laurence Salzmann: De Noche/By Night


Monday, January 08, 2007

Southwark Post Office

Here in South Philadelphia, residents who have been using the Southwark Post Office at 10th and Dickinson, myself included, have experienced a number of problems within the last year.

May I site my own sister who has mailed 4, 4!, packages from Southwark post office that were "lost in the mail." Four packages over a 5 month period...that's a hell of a lot of packages that got lost. I have had a few problems as well, including packages not received. Have any other South Philly residents had a problem with mail coming in or going out from Southwark? May I suggest that if you are mailing packages from Southwark, get insurance or a tracking number.


Now, the flip-side, an ode to 2 great mailcarriers coming out of Southwark; Tom and Chris.

Tom is my former mailcarrier and is mail carrier to my mother and sister. I love Tom. Occasionally, if I am not home, there will be packages for me at my mother's house, handed off from Chris to Tom.
Chris is our current mailcarrier and is awesome.

Here's to Tom and Chris! Heroes of Southwark Post Office!

2ST: Sacred and Profane: Part I

silly string web
Zoe Strauss, Detail I-95 (2ST. Silly String on Telephone Wires), 2007

I think that I made the photo above with an unconscious reference to the photo below. I'm completely serious; I thought of Serrano's ejaculation series the moment I saw this photo on my laptop. There is a distinct feeling of "release" during the midst of parade night on Second St. (but, for sure, a lack of grandiosity and self-importance) More on this later.

Andres Serrano, Untitled XIV (ejaculation in trajectory), 1989
I'm thinking about both of these...I'm not sure of either one, but there's something that interests me in both of these photos. I did some color correction on these and went back to the uncorrected images; I felt that the high yellow level was most representative of the real light in the stadium bathroom. I'm not sure what, if anything, is here.

drunk woman in bathroom at linc 2 web

drunk woman in bathroom at linc web

Greeting From Lesotho...Congratulations From Philadelphia

Congratulations to April Dobbins, the FIRST PLACE WINNER in the 21st Annual City Paper Writing Contest. There were almost 90 submissions for this year's contest.

Check out the beginnings of her novel in progress by clicking the above link.


....hamingjuoskir, Ms. Dobbins.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Eagles 23 Giants 20

fireworks 2 web

Obviously, someone working for the Eagles was at "Zoe Strauss Night at the Whitney" because the "Eye of the Tiger" entrance theme was used for our own Philadelphia Eagles entrance. I am proud to have inspired the expanded and continued use of Survivor's anthem.
american face paint making out mummers web

Friday, January 05, 2007

Highly recommended...Dorothy Allison

Dorothy Allison is one of my favorite authors; I regard her as one of the greatest American writers, ever. Her writing has deeply influenced me.

I read Trash when it was first published in 1988 and I reread it yearly, at a minimum. It has steadily stayed in one of my top 5 fiction slots for 18 years.




"Change, when it comes, cracks everything open."
Dorothy Allison, O Magazine, January 2004

The Kid From Brooklyn Comments on Starbucks

"Fucking Liquid Gold"

Good News...Here's Nancy Pelosi!

I just wish she was swinging this gavel at George Bush's face.

Yes! I'm #1 on Brent's Top Ten List!

I am honored to be on this list at all, no less at #1! WHHOOOOOOO!

I love Brent very much and I also respect his opinion, so I find the inclusion on his 2006 top 10 art things list to be 101% great.

Also, Brent is the author of the Creative Time blog, which I highly reccommend reading.

Photo Credit David Bivins
Please look at this cute picture of Brent.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Based solely on my aesthetic leanings, I find that there are commonplace patterns that are generally unappealing or distracting when I'm making an image. For example, I tend to shy away from bricks as a major architectual component in my photos; the photo below will never be a contender.

midnight on Juniper st. web

But there are always exceptions, and the photo below, "Al New Year's Eve," is a strong photo and the bricks become an important part of the geometry without overwhelming all other elements.

al midnight new year's eve 2006-3-1web

also, I'm normally not a fan of cylone fencing...but check out these two photos that are the exception

if you break the skin, you must come in-1web

93 asbury-park-tilly-2

Zoe Strauss Press Dossier Update

1. The Believer

Jenelle Porter, of ICA fame, wrote this great piece for The Believer...

selected by Jenelle Porter

Andrea Bowers
Nicole Cherubini
Anne Chu
Trisha Donnelly
Rachel Harrison
Jessica Jackson Hutchins
Liz Larner
Zoe Strauss
Rosemarie Trockel
Charline von Heyl


Obviously, I'm very proud to be in the company of the women on this list. I encourage everyone to check out the work of the women on this list; it's impressive to say the least.

Here's an exerpt from Jenelle's piece-

"...while acknowledging that all lists are subjective and exclusionary, here are the reasons (besides gender) I chose whom I chose for my list. I’ve tried to select artists who form what I do as a curator, and who make work that forces me to keep coming back to it with more questions. Some of the artists I know personally and have worked with over the years; some I chose because I’m just starting to discover their work and sense that I’ll be wanting to spend a lot of time with it in the future. When people ask why I like the work of a particular artist, I’m often hard-pressed to deliver an articulate speech on his or her work’s merits. The best explanation I can offer is this: my favorite artists make art that is inexplicable, even to someone like me, who spends a lot of time specifically thinking about and looking at art. If you could really and truly explain the art’s effect on you, what would be the sense of continuing to ponder it? At the end of the day, these are ten artists who inspire me, who teach me things that I need to know, and who keep me thinking."

Jenelle, I've got to give it to you. You killed it with this piece! Your article is awesome!

There's a beautiful, removable stack of postcards of Kehinde Wiley paintings affixed to the cover of this issue of the Believer, which makes by buying this issue worth every cent. They're really spectacular.

2. The Metro

Eric Sullivan wrote a piece about me that was published in the Metro about 2 weeks ago...and let me tell you, I was seriously thrilled to be in the Metro. Helllooo? The free paper! My lady and I saw some woman getting the issue out of a Metro box at Broad and Locust and I was honking and pointing to myself, but I don't think she really understood what I was doing. I don't know why, it should have been obvious!

OK, the Metro article had the absolute best headline about me EVER.

3. America Photo;

Here's an interesting piece by Miki Johnson on blogs written by photographers and the different approaches photographers employ in presenting information to readers. It features my biggest photography crush, Alec Soth.

Check it out!
Shoot It, Blog It, Share It by Miki Johnson