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2012: The Highlights

Yesterday was Brian’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Brian! As a result, I reflected, as one so often does on such occasions, on how quickly the past year seemed to fly by. He’s 27 years old? Already? Didn’t he just turn 26…? I guess the year flew by because it really was chock full of fun and fantastic-ness. We just hopped from one milestone to the next.

Brian turned 26

Please join me, if you will, on a look back at the past year with the Westervins, starting with Brian’s 26th birthday on January 31st, 2012. That joyous celebration saw a cookie cake—Brian’s favorite kind of cake, obviously—as well as a few choice presents and a relaxing break with the Wests outside of the city. We were all so happy that this sweet man was born just 26 years prior.

Grace Steinel Jones started guest blogging

Soon after, we welcomed one of our dearest and most talented besties, one Mrs. Grace Steinel Jones, as a guest blogger for Westervin. Cooking away in her hot Austin kitchen, Grace whipped up such delicioso creations as the above carrot cake with honey-ginger figs, homemade granola, and some super tacos!

Sarah West Ervin started working with Lillstreet

Later in February, I started working with the Lillstreet Art Center. For class credit, I offered my newly acquired marketing skills to Lillstreet to help spread the word about their many amazing services and products for the creatively inclined and curious. In exchange, I got some professional experience, an invitation to a screenprinting workshop, and an opportunity to work with them again on another fun marketing project.

Westervin got a makeover

In March, Brian exercised his creative muscles and unveiled a new look for Westervin.com. He’s so talented. Note to self: keep him around.

Newby Treasury GIveaway

We celebrated the redesign with a very special giveaway from Newby Treasury. This giveaway had been in the works for a few months, since around the first time I met Sarah Newby. I latched on to that cool lady like white on rice, determined to make her my friend. BTW, it worked.

Brian West got a new Job

In April, Brian started working at Columbia College Chicago…one floor above my office! Now, we get to go to work together and get coffee together and eat lunch together and go on walks together and go home together and BEST FRIENDS FOREVER!!!!!!!

Debbie Carlos starts guest blogging

In other tremendously exciting April news, Debbie Carlos started guest blogging for Westervin with her series A Sunday Ritual. I don’t think I need to say much about this, other than: apricot pie, coconut corn fritters, ratatouille, sesame pea-shoot salad, cochinita pibil, and savory bread pudding, and 60-second gooey chocolate mug cake. Oh, and I should probably also say, “OMG! Thank you so much, Debbie! You are sooooooo awesome!!!!”

Celebrated World Party Day

Also that month, we were invited by BIG THINGS, Kitiya Palaskas, and The Adventure School to participate in the fun DIY-ness of World Party Day. We made some margarita jello shots for the festivities. I think they were appreciated…

Columbia College Chicago Manifest: Please Generate Art

As I wrapped up my first year of graduate school last May, we rounded out the semester with our interactive art installation, Sound Collective, which was part of PGA: Please Generate Art, the graduate Manifest project at Columbia. It was a disgusting amount of work coupled with some poor timing (damn you, finals!), but I think it was all worth it for the delirious giggles and slaphappy bonding among the Sound Collective team: Caitlin O’Meara, Laura Bock, me, and (unofficially) Brian.

Westervin Honeymoon

Brian and I soon recuperated on our Dollymoon. That is, we took our belated honeymoon at Dollywood! Best. Trip. Ever.

Sarah West Ervin made some videos for Lillstreet Art Center

When we returned, I began working with Lillstreet again on the Make It video series. I’m a producer, y’all! I’ve shared a few of the completed videos, and there’s a few more still to come…

Westervin gets juiced

In June, Brian and I started juicing! The good kind, guys. In an attempt to circumvent my general disinterest in most foods of the vegetable variety, Brian got us a juicer and started sneaking nutrient-rich vegetables into my diet, disguised by the sweet nectar of fruit juices. Let’s face it: everyone knows that vegetables are gross. Also fact: fruit is nature’s candy. So, if you mix fresh fruit juice with a little vegetable juice, like carrot, celery, spinach, etc., you can barely taste it! Since our juicing ways began, I’ve increased my vegetable tolerance and we’ve been drinking several servings of fresh juice every day. As a result, we generally have more energy, my hair and skin feel healthier, and I barely drink soda anymore. I’m serious. The power of juice has broken the hold that sweet, sweet soda had over me. Get juiced!

Sarah West Ervin learns to screenprint at Lillstreet Art Center

In other self-improvement news, I built up my crafting repertoire by learning how to screenprint! Laura Bock and I went to a screenprinting party at Lillstreet, wherein we sipped wine, ate fancy snacks, and got our crafty on with the help of instructor and textile artist Nora Renick-Rinehart. If only every month could include such craft parties…

Westervin was Published in Design: Paper

Perhaps the most exciting development in June, however, was being published! Our handmade save-the-dates were featured in the beautiful book Design: Paper. We loved making those little postcards, so we were overjoyed to see them in a book!

Sarah West Ervin blows up on Pinterest

In July, I got a lot of Pinterest followers, and we’ve had a lot of fun together since then…

Sarah West Ervin turns 26

And, in August, I finally caught up to Brian and turned 26 myself. I doubled the fun by joining forces with our local bestie Laura, who turned 24 a few days after my birthday. The fantastic festivities included a potluck brunch party and a trip to Six Flags. Brian also fulfilled one of my lifelong wishes by getting me an edible arrangement, delivered to me at work. All together, it was a dream of a birthday.

First Anniversary

That milestone was followed by an even better one in September: our first wedding anniversary. We celebrated with a delicious dinner, a nice walk, and a new set of handmade wedding rings! I gotta say, this marriage stuff is great.

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago

Later than month, we hit up the Renegade Craft Fair. As the highlight of my craftventures for the year, much fun and shopping was had by all in our party, both new friends and old.

Sarah West Ervin went back to school

And, to balance out the fun of September, my second year of graduate school began. Fitzgerald and I felt the same way about it: Meh.

Brian West is Famous

But soon, things were looking up again! In October, Brian was commissioned to create the signature cocktail for Poetry‘s centennial celebration. He expertly crafted the bubbly and well-balanced Hippocrene, inspired by a Keats poem. It was written about in the New York Times, guys. Note to self: seriously, keep this fella around.

Sarah West Ervin is Famous

Soon after, I saw my five minutes of fame as a guest pinner for Etsy, my other love.  Ok, famous is a strong word here…  but I’ll use it just the same! LOOK AT ME! I’M AN INTERNET CELEBRITY! Would you like my autograph?

Sarah West Ervin went crochet crazy

In November, to combat the stress of sudden stardom (but mostly that of homework and impending finals), I got into crocheting. REALLY into crocheting. I went a little crazy with hats there….

Going to Louisiana

For Thanksgiving, Brian and I took a roadtrip to Louisiana to visit my family. Highlights included: gramma’s twice-baked potatoes, playing with my little brother, cracking pecans, and stopping in Little Rock along the way for a quick catch-up with my forever-valentine, Megan.

Westervin turned 3

And then it snuck up on us—-Westervin turned three. We’re pretty proud.

Goodbye to Sarah Newby and Ryan Glenn

Then, in December, we were forced to say a tearful goodbye to our sweet, interesting friends, Ryan Glenn and Sarah Newby. We shared a brunch with these two, gave them a little going away gift, and shooed them on their way to L.A. Expect a visit this summer, guys. Sunshine, here we come!

We got a new kitchen

When we were away for Christmas break, our landlord updated our kitchen. I really feel like the beauty of our new wood floors and clean, white cabinets has changed my life. I actually enjoy being in the kitchen now! And, I’ve even been helping Brian out a little in there with this thing they call “cooking.” It’s not as terrible as it seems! We’ll share some photos soon—-of both the renovation and my delectable (not really) creations.

Rang in the New Year

And finally, Brian and I rang in 2013 with our sassy frands, Laura Bock and Jonathan Thomason. Never underestimate the enjoyableness of pie, boardgames, and an all-night slumber party.

If you twisted my arm, I’d have to say that the last year was a pretty good one. Here’s to the next!

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PGA (Please Generate Art) 2012: Recap

thousands of balloons at PGA (Please Generate Art)

Well, we did it, folks. PGA (Please Generate Art) opened last Friday, and for 6 hours that day, hundreds upon hundreds of people wandered through the whimsical, mini-golf inspired art exhibit. Between shuttling people through Sound Collective, the section that Caitlin O’Meara, Laura Bock, and I created for PGA, and re-filling our balloon wall (you’ll see later), Brian and I managed to take a quick break to run through the course ourselves. I snapped a few photos so that I could take you through the magic, too!

mushrooms at PGA (Please Generate Art)

After grabbing a golf ball and club at the Pro Shop, we started the course at Identity Registry. Giant watercolored walls filled with fun, child-like drawings provided the backdrop for a canvas of thumbprints. We each added our thumbprint to the registry.

down the rabbit hole

Next, we went Down The Rabbit Hole. This installation, created by Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling graduate students, Emily D’Annunzio, Courtney St. Clair, and their friends, was dark and creepy and disorienting. And amazing. We had to carefully maneuver the course, which was crawling — literally, crawling — with dancers covered in glow-in-the-dark body paint. Quite surreal.

PGA (Please Generate Art) all lit up

the big eye at PGA (Please Generate Art)

Once we putted through all the holes in Down The Rabbit Hole, we pushed our way through the curtain to the next section and found ourselves staring at one enormous eye, blinking and looking around as it was projected onto the curtain walls. Our good buddy Sarah Newby created this voyeuristic section. So cool, Sarah. So cool.

colorful cardboard city at PGA (Please Generate Art)

Next was one of my favorite sections — We Generate Our Own Environment by Master of Arts in Teaching candidates, Danielle Holtz and Sarah McHugh. They created a giant cardboard city, which participants could alter by adding stickers or projecting different colors, patterns, and textures onto the walls. The end result was just beautiful.

balloon room at PGA (Please Generate Art)

After adding our stickers to the cardboard city, Brian and I wandered through Balloon Consume. To pass through, we each had to blow up one balloon and add it to all the other balloons that had been added before us.

a wall of stories at PGA (Please Generate Art)

In addition to orchestrating much of PGA (Please Generate Art) throughout the pat year, recent Master of Arts Management grad and our fun friend, Lucia Palmarini, put together her own section for the exhibit. Throughout the last semester, she collected art, photos, stories, and poems from friends, family, and strangers. On the big day, these bits and pieces were strewn together by PGA participants, creating new, changing narratives as the day wore on.

real tweets at PGA (Please Generate Art)

Next up: Town Crier. Boy was this one amazing! It was like a non-virtual twitter feed. We wrote down brief sentences on index cards and handed them to the crier who proceeded to read our “tweets” aloud through a megaphone for all of PGA to hear. After being announced, we tied our “tweets” to pieces of yarn that hung from the ceiling and left our words to mingle with everyone else’s ideas, opinions, and silly thoughts. Our favorite “tweet” of the day was the very first one: “I need soup!”

paint blast at PGA (Please Generate Art)

Next up was Paint Blast. It was definitely a blast. We dipped golf balls in paint and rolled them across a canvas on the ground. Messy, but so much fun.

colorful carnival at PGA (Please Generate Art)

And finally, we found ourselves at the last section — Sound Collective, created by yours truly and my crazy-awesome classmates Laura and Caitlin. We had a giant rainbow colored xylophone, a glittery metallic tunnel filled with tiny jingle bells, and the magnificent tambo-ring of fire. (Disclaimer: We didn’t actually set this on fire. That would have been crazy. Too crazy.) We putted through the tambo-ring using special tambourine clubs and then rounded the corner to the big finale — a game of darts with an enormous wall of balloons. Some balloons had noisemakers inside! People loved this.

balloon wall at PGA (Please Generate Art)

By the end of the day, our balloon wall had seen hundreds and hundreds of people. We went through 1,000 balloons, folks. I consider that a measure of success.

Sarah West Ervin, Laura A. Bock, and Caitlin O'Meara at PGA (Please Generate Art)

Also a measure of our success: we be such good friends now! And I gotta give a special shout-out to all the artists, administrators, and volunteers who made PGA happen: Lucia Palmarini, David Marts, Brandea Turner, Jessica Weisensell, Carolyn Sybesma, Alistair Porter, Sarah Schwartz, Sam Funt, Caitlin Duerinck, Stephen DeSantis, Katie Collins, Emily D’Annunzio, Danielle Holtz, Sarah McHugh, Courtney St. Clair, Michael “Hoodie” LaHood, Chris Naka and the Workroom staff, Jefferson Godard, Kari Sommers, Building Services, DEPS, The Recycling Department, The Graduate Office, Student Organization Council, Xerox, Ace Hardware, Jo-Ann Fabrics, and Home Depot. It took a village!

Faire Play

Faire Play: Four Markets in Four Weeks

renegade handmade holiday craft fair chicago

Did you take advantage of all the craft fairs before the holidays and buy handmade gifts? We sure did! And what’s that? You want to hear about all the fun we had on our holiday market marathon? Well, if you insist…

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PGA: Please Generate Art

PGA: Please Generate Art, Speaker Womb exhibit

{ Speaker Womb installation, by Mike LaHood, at the PGA: Please Generate Art 2011 exhibit; Photo credit: Braxton Black }

Now that I’m back in school, I’m reminded of the all opportunities and resources available to students. But I don’t just mean events with free food and student discounts. Turns out there are all sorts of organizations and offices on campus that offer workshops for professional development and avenues for creative expression. This year, I’m taking advantage, dangit. I’ve decided to get involved with the graduate student component of Manifest, Columbia College Chicago’s annual, urban arts festival, which showcases the work of Columbia’s graduating students. The project devoted to graduate students is called PGA: Please Generate Art, an over the top, interactive art exhibit disguised as a miniature golf course.

PGA: Please Generate Art, Pro Shop exhibit

{ Start your journey at the Pro Shop, by Erin Moren and Emily Lamoreaux; Photo credit: Braxton Black }

Last year, the course consisted of about 12 “golf holes”, which participants navigated through… as best they could. Some of the golf holes were functional, allowing the participants to actually sink their golf balls into a bathroom sink or through a life-size board game, for example, but most of them engaged the mini golfers in other ways. Each golf hole was designed and executed by a graduate student or small team of graduate students, from each of Columbia’s 15 graduate programs.

PGA: Please Generate Art, Pro Shop exhibit

{ Photo credit: Braxton Black }

PGA: Please Generate Art, Bathroom/Meadow exhibit

{ Bathroom/Meadow installation by Mike LaHood; Photo credit: Braxton Black }

In the Bathroom/Meadow golf hole, participants parted a shower curtain and found themselves in a fully furnished bathroom, complete with a graffitied wall they could add their names to AND a surprised bather! This actor was wearing a bathing suit, of course—it was a family friendly experience, after all. And it just so happens that I was the surprised bather for part of the day. It was interesting, to say the least.

PGA: Please Generate Art, Bodyscape exhibit

{ Bodyscape installation by Emily D’Annunzio and Courtney St. Clair; Photo credit: Braxton Black }

Through the Bodyscape golf hole, a group of Dance/Movement Therapy students performed a type of contact dance improv. Participants had to navigate through a room of painted, contorted bodies to get to the next “hole”.

PGA: Please Generate Art, Operation exhibit

{ Operation installation by Emily Moravec; Photo credit: Braxton Black }

There was also a functioning, life-sized game of Operation…

PGA: Please Generate Art, Plinko exhibit

{ Plinko installation by Mike LaHood; Photo credit: Braxton Black }

.. a “televised” game of Plinko…

PGA: Please Generate Art, Tea Party exhibit

{ Tea Party installation by Lucia Palmarini; Photo credit: Braxton Black }

… and a magical tea party with lions, and bears, and the pink panther. I was also dressed as the bear for part of the day. How do I get roped into these things?

PGA: Please Generate Art, Balloon Womb exhibit

{ The “Balloon Womb” leading to the Paintroll installation by David Marts; Photo credit: Braxton Black }

So this year, I want to play a larger, more creative role in PGA: Please Generate Art. I’ve teamed up with three fellow Arts Management students (my dear friends Caitlin, Katie, and Laura) to submit a proposal for our very own “golf hole”. The working title? Sound Collective. From our proposal:

Sound Collective is about appealing to the child-like musicians in all of us, about drawing forth the joy of making noise/music that most of us keep buried and hidden from criticism, about watching ourselves (through the strategic placement of mirrors) as we assume the roles of masters of our musical universes, and about the emotions we are able to conjure by seeing ourselves in this state.

Stay tuned, folks! I’ll be chronicling our PGA adventures as we further develop and construct our installation.

 

Out & About

Out & About: Manifest 2011

Last week Sarah was pretty busy helping out with Columbia College’s Manifest, which is a kind of showcase for graduating students (undergrads and grads), and an all-around good time. This was the first year that graduate students were involved, so as a member of the graduate admissions team she was busy helping out with PGA: Please Generate Art, a mini-golf themed experiential art playground set up in the historic Ludington Building. But not only was she helping out behind the scenes, she also participated by wearing a bear costume, and lounging around in a bathtub. See if you can spot her in the above video.