Tacky is the new cool at You Tacky Thing’s craft studio!

Time again for me to feature another local artist who makes funky, unique hand crafted items; introducing my friend Stephanie Higgens-Rowley!  I met her when she started taking creative marketing lessons from me to boost her cool, hand-decorated bottle and hand-made jewelry business & so far so good….she’s made tons of awesome decorative items to sell and is now doing NJ vending events, so I invited her to be my next guest blogger so she can introduce herself to you & her “tacky” work…after all, her business is called You Tacky Thing!  Now in her words….
STEPHANIE BOTTLE 2
“Don’t throw that out!”, my mom would yell at me from the kitchen. Anything that could be used again, used for something else, used for something you haven’t even thought of yet was not to be thrown out. Both my parents grew up during the Depression. Everything has a potential use.
This is why I gravitate toward found items. I have access to bass and guitar strings, guitar picks and empty bottles. So when they outlive their usefulness I like to create something interesting. The strings most likely become jewelry while the bottles become decorative. I like using bottles that have an unusual shape or color to them.
I love being creative with things that would have been thrown out. Its like making something out of nothing. You never know what its going to be.
I have been doing this for a while now and I must say its the best job I’ve ever had. I try really hard to create things that are interesting and make you wonder how it got there or where it came from. Some of my favorite themes to use on my bottles are
Gothic and Victorian imagery , mermaids, dragon flies and bats. I even create bottles that can be lit up and I welcome custom commissions. As for my rock and roll inspired jewelry, my creations have been worn on stage by some pretty amazingly talented performers! You can purchase items from my Facebook page You Tacky Thing and you can find me at various vending events throughout NJ an NY. My next event will be at NJ Paraunity  Expo in Woodbridge, NJ. For more info : https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10216158534209635&set=gm.2287489841492576&type=3&theater

Welcome to the DARK SIDE…

Goth is alive..or undead…in New Jersey thanks to promoter Jet of Vampire Freaks!  He’s been bringing the huge, creative and awesome Dark Side of the Con event to us recently and the next one is coming up in March 29th-31st in Parsippany, NJ.  These are such elaborate, fun fests with cosplayers, bands, artists, guest speakers, authors, performers and more so I’ve invited Jet to be my latest guest blogger so he can tell us how he’s been inspired to create these events, what you can expect & how you can attend….take it away Jet….

Greetings, my name is Jet and I’m happy to be doing a guest blog for the lovely Steampunk Landing (Lauren’s Steampunk Facebook Group)  & Lauren Curtis Art Blog!
A little about me:  I’m the owner of vampirefreaks.com , which is the #1 gothic themed website in the world, which is a social networking site that also has an online clothing store.   I’m also a professional website programmer and have over 15 years of experience promoting events.
I’m here to tell you about, Dark Side of the Con which is the largest gothic / dark-alternative event in North America, and the only convention of its kind, taking place on March 29th-31st in Parsippany, NJ.
This year is our 3rd year doing this event, and it has grown in leaps and bounds each year.   Focusing on gothic, industrial, metal and rock genres, Dark Side of the Con is broken up into a few different parts.
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Live Bands:   We have over 20 live bands, our headliners are ‘Stabbing Westward’, ‘Aesthetic Perfection’, and ‘Assemblage 23’.    ‘Stabbing Westward’ actually holds a special place in my heart because I was a huge fan of them as a teenager, and I’d listen to their albums over and over again.  I’ve had the pleasure of booking them a couple times in the past few years and these guys are the most friendly and down to earth rockstars I’ve ever met.  And believe me, I’ve met tons of bands over the years, lets just say there’s some big egos going around the music scene and it’s not always the most pleasant experience.  So when I work with somebody as huge as ‘Stabbing Westward’, who’s been all over the radio and MTV and had huge commercial success, when they’re so humble and friendly it just blows my mind and makes me have that much more respect for them.
One other awesome thing about booking bands for ‘Dark Side of the Con’, is since the event has been such a success so far, we get flooded with applications looking to perform!  So it can be hard narrowing it down to band we accept, but it’s very exciting for us.
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Our special guest this year is Youtube sensation ‘Black Friday’, who has over 600,000 followers will be hosting a meet & greet as well as teaching us how to be a successful youtube star.  She is currently living in New Zealand and she’ll be coming to the US just for our event.
Burlesque:  Possibly our most popular event is our burlesque show each night, because lets face it, people love boobs.    We have a variety of burlesque acts each night from professional burlesque dancers, and they really do impress us every year!
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DJ Club events:   We have 2 different club events each night featuring our rockstar djs so that you can pick from different types of music.   This year our club music genres include ‘industrial’, ‘goth’, ’emo’, ’90s’, ‘alternative’, ‘synthpop’, ‘new wave’, as well as some surprises thrown in!
Panels / Presentations / Activities :  We have over 50 various panels / activities ranging in a variety of dark-themed topics, from gothic fashion and horror to oddities and witchcraft.   This year we’ve added some more kid-friendly activities such as ‘paint a ceramic skull’ and ‘Halloween coloring books’.  In addition this year we will have some live bats on display.
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Vendors:  We have carefully selected over 70 independent vendors who have all kinds of unique wares!  Including cosmetics, clothing, accessories, taxidermy and more.
I could go on about how fun this event is but really it’s something you have to experience with your own eyes!   We have some videos for you to check out tho:

 

Link for more info & tickets:
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Podcasts, Tattoos & Favorite Things

What do these 3 things have in common?  They are all new art exhibits and art interviews happening now…and I’m happy to be involved with all three of them!  Spring brings out the motivation & creativity in many of us so it’s a great time to create new work or get out & experience what’s going on in the art world.  Social media makes this easier than ever, especially with podcasts !  My friend at the XFactory hooked me up with the awesome guys at Know-Shit Podcasts to do an hour long interview about everything from what it’s like to be a full time artist, to the Gothic & Steampunk scenes, mythology, spirituality & more!   I hope you’ll take some time to check it out, & listen in on future podcasts as well, as they have many interesting guests.  Here’s the link to my interview:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjFT7TLpCF4&feature=share

As for Tattoos, they are an ancient art form that has gone thru many changes and stereotypes but is now more respected than ever as a true art form and is being honored in a new art exhibit at Atelier Rosal in Rahway, NJ!  Amazing works depicting tattooed people and art by artists who’s work has ended up on a walking canvas as well as images addressing this much maligned but now popular art form. Show runs thru June 7, 2018.  74 East Cherry St., Rahway, NJ.  
https://www.facebook.com/AtelierRosal/

Micro/Macrocom Tree (c)2010 Lauren Curtis

Digital photo collage using actual x-ray images.

I’m happy to have 2 of my “X-RAYted” digital photo collages in this show and the exhibit will also coincide with a huge biker fest in town Sat. May 12.  Here’s the Facebook invite page for details:   https://www.facebook.com/events/1803649219938141/

This town wide, free event will be the perfect place to see tattoo art at it’s best, both in the gallery and on human canvases!

Finally we come to “a few of our Favorite Things”.  This is the latest theme for the new art exhibit at the South Brunswick Municipal Gallery, which opens Fri. May 18, 6:30pm-8pm. It’s a free event, with refreshments served, that features art from many local NJ artists focused on things we feel a connection to, that bring back memories and tell stories!  I’ll have the photo below, “NOLA VooDoo Window” in this exhibit.  Show runs thru Aug. 5, 2018.
540 Rt. 522/Ridge Rd., Monmouth Jct., NJ www.sbarts.org

So, there are many ways you can get involved with the arts this spring, whether it’s attending a gallery show, a biker tattoo outdoor fest or listening to a podcast from the comfort of home…or all three!  Either way, I hope you enjoy these free and creative events…& stay tuned for more to come this summer!

Why would anyone do Steampunk?

So why should anyone be interested in Steampunk??   Well, Steampunk & Gothic event guru, Jeff Mach, has the answers for you…and the events to attend to check out this fascinating scene.  Here’s a blog he wrote & allowed me to share with you…

Are there reasons NOT to do Steampunk?  Oh, HECK yes.  Let me give you some.

Young Fashion Woman

First off, it’s ridiculous. An imaginary 19th century which never happened and which we explore in the 21st century? Why in the world would anyone want to do that?

Relatedly, it doesn’t seem to make sense, when you think about it. I mean, when people imagine they’re at a Renaissance Faire, at least there is some degree of hypothetical actual history involved. It’s taken something like 50 years for the modern Renaissance fair to evolve so deeply into something which doesn’t really involve the Renaissance.  It took decades for Renaissance Faires to get to a point where they embody “some sort of point in history where people carried swords; something after the Dark Ages and before the Internal Combustion Engine.  Heck, in my own lifetime, with the coming of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, I’ve seen Renaissance Faires be pretty excited to welcome Pirates of clearly 18th century backgrounds–ie, at LEAST a hundred years after the Renaissnance is acknowledge to have ended.  That’s an impressive (and, to be clear, incredibly fun!) historical innacuracy – but at least it took a really long time.

Steampunk doesn’t have that excuse. How long has Steampunk as we know it been a thing? Eight years? Perhaps 10? I certainly know people who feel they and practicing it longer, but the very least, the Steampunk we see today has existed for less than a decade. It didn’t start out accurate and get weird. It started weird, and got more inaccurate from there.

And at least if this was something like punk rock or Goth or the hippie movement or even, as some claim, just a genre of science fiction literature, we don’t have anything like the hierarchy of those genres!  For example, there may or may not be a top Steampunk band or two. But those are the main reason people discover Steampunk. Is there a topSteampunk author? I think there are many incredible steampunk authors, and some have sold more books than others, and some might have had more influence than others, but I don’t think ANY particular Steampunk author is the creator of the Steampunk we know–certainly K.W. Jeter, who coined the very term, has said repeatedly that he did NOT create the Steampunk we see today.

Famous steampunk makers? We certainly have some. We certainly love their creations. I think I could possibly narrow my own list of the top five Steampunk creators down to… I don’t know, perhaps 10 people, all of whom could lay reasonable claim to being in the top five.  And most of them are actually too modest to say that. And some of the finest creations in Steampunk have absolutely not been made by people who identify as Steampunks–they’re just people who love playing with this culture.

Is Steampunk created by events? Would that mean that the people who run events run Steampunk? I’ll be honest. If you’re reading this, you are probably seeing this on my own website for my own event, or through social media that is related to an event company which bears my name. Do you think that I run Steampunk? I run the world’s largest Steampunk event. Am I in charge? Have you even heard of me?  The answer to the first question is definitely no!  The answer the second question is not definitely “no”…

…but I’m pretty sure that if you took all the people world who identify as Steampunk, and asked them if they know who runs any particular Steampunk events, most of they’d probably be able to answer only for the events they go to or for which they’ve seen advertising.

So why play with, create for, former lifestyle around, experiment with, or otherwise be a part of Steampunk?

The Steampunk World's Fair - "Wonders Untold"

Photos © 2010 – 2016 Babette Daniels Photography Purchase your copy of this image at http://www.babetted.com/Events/Steampunk/SPWF2016

For exactly and precisely each and every one of the reasons above!

Because Steampunk doesn’t have to make sense!  Steampunk doesn’t have to have a leader! Steampunk doesn’t have to be any damn thing at all except a gorgeous 19th century canvas upon which we are throwing all manner of paint, and sketches, and words, and ideas. And what we get out of  something which brings joy and fascination and beauty and community to a world which could choose to be humdrum and mundane and boring.

Let the world be boring?  NEVER!  We make the choice to be precisely the opposite. We are Steampunks!  In fact, each and every one of us IS Steampunk itself. You, right now, are building steampunk just by thinking about it and contributing your presence to this culture, even if all you do is read a few articles and put a few thoughts out into the ether. In fact, people who do that “matter” just as much, in their own way, as people like me whose lifestyle and actual living depend on Steampunk.  Because this isn’t a contest where somebody wins; this is a world-building to make a giant, deeply individual, deeply shared Universe we can call our own.

No masters. No slaves. No rules except the simplest one:

if you want to be a part of Steampunk, you can.

To get info on upcoming events:  http://steampunkworldsfair.com

Steampunk portrait

Steampunk called him home…

Have you ever felt that you were born in the wrong time or era?  Are you very creative and eclectic?  Do you have a fondness for fantasy and sci-fi?  If so then you are like many of us who have discovered the magic of the Steampunk Culture!  One person who felt the call to “go home” to Steampunk in a big way is Jeff Mach!  I met Jeff several years ago when he was planning his first Steampunk World’s Fair event in Central NJ….it took over a large room in a corporate hotel and has now expanded to a 3 day extravaganza, often taking over two complete corporate hotels, with hundreds  of cosplayers, artisans, vendors, musicians and those that want to just be a part of the spectacle!

Goth Girl

Goth Girl

As you may or may not know, Steampunk combines sci-fi with the Victorian Era, so fantastical contraptions are created as if solely fired by steam power.  Elements of Goth, fantasy and anime can be found as well.  Here’s a taste of what Jeff’s events bring…  https://www.facebook.com/SteampunkTendencies/videos/1317398068374556/?pnref=story

And in his own words, here’s a bit about what drew him to all this madness: 

3D computer graphics of a cyborg woman with a headdress in science fiction style

There’s a simple goal I have for every Jeff Mach Event: I make weekend-long homes for unusual people.

What does that mean?
The second martial arts school I attended was literally in the back of an alley, up a long flight of stairs. And leading to the school door, there was a pair of signs. The first was a standard martial-arts school notice, “Please remove shoes”. This simple act gave a physical reminder that I was leaving one place—“the street”—and stepping into a different world, with different rules.
The second was at the top of the stairs. “You are entering a traditional karate dojo. Please act accordingly”.
How did one “act accordingly”? I knew many common rules and practices—I also knew that every school I had seen had its own style, rules, approach. What was proper in one school might be utterly wrong in another.
Yet the practical value of that sign was enormous. It always gave me pause, called to my mind all of my associations with training grounds, what I learned there, and who and what those things made me. “Act accordingly”: know what you have come to do, know what you are doing, at least in your own mind. Or, at the barest minimum, recognize in your gut that you’ve come to a place where things are different. Don’t just take that difference passively, when it enters your space; make it a part of your consciousness.
And thus. And so.
You’ve entered our world, a place where we belong, a place where we are not the outsiders, a place where what we do matters, is meaningful, is real, and we are NOT the only ones who know it.
Steampunk, Rocky Horror, Renaissance Faires, Geeky spaces; it doesn’t matter.
Leave the outside world for outsiders.
We bring our homes with us, inside us, we foster them with love and passion.  We’re different–not better, just not the same–and sometimes, we realize: we are not alone.
And that place?  That place is home.
The next Steampunk World’s Fair is May 5-7, 2017 in Central NJ….here’s where you can find all the info & tickets:  www.SteampunkWorldsFair.com

Goth comes back to life in NJ

Goth Girl
Some of you may remember the Gothic sub-cultural movement of the 80’s….to me it was a heyday for music, fashion, art, literature and more…with roots stretching as far back as Victorian England, to 70’s punk & a romantic way to rebel against the mainstream, Goth became a major genre & continues on today…it waned for a while but has been making a huge comeback & Steampunk Convention guru, Jeff Mach has joined forces with Gothic networking powerhouse VampireFreaks to create a brand new event….
Dark Side of the Con asks the simplest question:  Why aren’t there any weekend-long Goth/Dark Alternative events in the US anymore?

Answer: Dark Side of the Con…an Underground Event for meeting alternative-minded people; A Three Day Gothic, Dark Alternative Festival and Convention in New Jersey!

Jeff Mach says:  I’ve had the good fortune to run into Jet from VampireFreaks a few times as I’ve run around doing The Steampunk World’s Fair and Glimmerdark and Wicked Faire and our other events.  He’s such a great guy, and his team is pretty marvelous to work with.  And VampireFreaks has helped us put together such an incredible weekend.
I mean, we’ve got Voltaire, we’ve got Xentrifgue, The Amatory Murder, Nigel from Platform One, and a whole slew of panels.  We’ve a hundred vendors, and marvelous drink specials.  And, of course, we’ve got dance parties to suit every taste, running until the wee hours.
We’re working with our favorite hotel, the Radisson of Piscataway.  I look forward to seeing everyone there!
Here’s a bit more info from the event site:

St Patrick’s Weekend – for 3 Days we take over the beautiful Radisson Hotel in Piscataway, NJ and provide you with an escape to socialize, make new friends and create new experiences.

To show our support for independent businesses and alternative culture, we will have a wide variety of unique and unusual vendors, catering to all your dark needs.

For your entertainment pleasure we bring you a host of events, entertainers, panels and activities.

Sponsored by VampireFreaks and Jeff Mach Events, both companies have an impressive history of hosting events and bringing people together in the dark alternative scenes.

The very preliminary schedule is up; check out all the cool things we have going on!

Here are the links:

www.darksideofthecon.com for info, darksideofthecon.com/tickets/ for tickets, and https://www.facebook.com/events/199366893801128/ to follow on FB, and http://vampirefreaks.com/cult/DarkSideOfTheCon on VampireFreaks.

A Beautiful & Powerful Art Exhibit

“Beautiful and Powerful Statements” is an art exhibit featuring the arts of calligraphy and re-purposed materials.  It opens Saturday, January 28, 2-5pm at Nails in the Wall, the Gallery at St. Luke’s, 17 Oak Ave., Metuchen.  The exhibit includes nearly 70 pieces in many media, from photography and video to fabric, ceramic and glass as well as all manner of re-purposed materials. Work from all over the U.S. and as far away as Israel is included in this show, along with the work of New Jersey artists. The approach to calligraphy was a very broad one and was open to any work that was text-predominant. That has allowed us to include not only work with elegant traditional calligraphy in many diverse languages, but other pieces that are very powerful and direct. “Anatolia” by Woodbridge, NJ artist Gozde Ture includes a quotation from the Orkhon Inscriptions with calligraphy in the Goturk alphabet that speaks about time. Ruth Schreiber’s works, from Israel, while connected to the Hebrew Scriptures, employ a “fantasy writing” using porcelain and other images. And California calligrapher Beverly Womack creates her work using layers of materials and images. The photography-based altered prints of East Orange artist, Onnie Strother, on the other hand, use bold text to speak directly to their viewer, and Georgia-based Craig Wilson’s almost stream-of-consciousness words dance all over the page. The art from “repurposed materials” makes their statements by way of the material itself…employing everything from actual bees and beeswax as Montclair artist Art Paxton does in “Buzz”, to the steampunk-related cast-offs used by NY artist and teacher Seth Apter, and another Steampunk influenced 3D piece by Lauren Curtis, as well as a piece by  Metuchen artist Amy Brooks in her work “Post-Truth Apocalypse”. “We were sought to incorporate in the show work featuring calligraphy or text that made, individually and collectively, a powerful statement. We were also interested that the work accepted using re-purposed materials had an inherent, accessible beauty. We were constantly weighing those two interests as we reviewed the work and decided what would fit well in this show, so that each piece really was appropriately “Beautiful and Powerful, “ noted Gallery Board Member Robert Hopkins. The Opening will be carried by Facebook Live, beginning around 2:30pm. This will be especially helpful for the artists who live great distances. It will allow anyone who wishes to log on to the Nails in the Wall Gallery FB page and interact with the visitors present at the gallery. Nails in the Wall is in the midst of its fifth year presenting international, interfaith exhibits of high-quality fine art. To learn more about the gallery, visit www.nailsinthewall.org or call the Director 732.322.6512.  Link to the Facebook invite:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1765730973753205/

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I’ll have this large, 3-D Steampunk style box in the show.

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