Contributing Toads {3:1}

José Arenas

José Arenas is a New York based artist who spent much of his young life traveling between northern California and central Mexico. His experiences navigating cultures, past and present, has informed his work on both a formal and conceptual level. Emerging themes in his paintings include migration, memory, rites of passage, and disjointed identities. Arena’s freely combines decorative elements, familiar forms, and culturally specific symbols to generate a host of visual and conceptual possibilities. The compositional result is a collage and pastiche style, which is dense and pattern driven, and with a world of narrative relationships that are both personal and open to interpretation. Arenas received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1995 and an MFA from UC Davis in 2000. Before relocating to New York he was an Associate Professor of Art at Foothill College in Los Altos, CA, from 2000-11, and now currently teaches drawing at Parsons School of Design. Arenas' work has been exhibited throughout the United States- San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and New York. Select solo shows include Yace Gallery, New York, and Hang Art, San Francisco. Group exhibitions at Love & Lux, San Francisco, Nancy Margolis, New York, and Arcilesi Homberg Fine Art, New York. I like to think of my personal everyday patterns, habits, and rituals as a direct source for my artistic practice. Objects that are part of our visual culture and elicit an emotional response are of particular interest. To me they act as triggers for ideas and emotions I am trying to emit and convey in my paintings.

Peter Berghoef

Peter Berghoef lives in Holland, Michigan. Sleep and specifically sleeping in is an art form I practice whenever possible. Staying in bed is important.

Emma Bolden

Emma Bolden is the author of Malificae, a book-length series of poems about the witch trials in Early Modern Europe, forthcoming from GenPop Books. She's been published in such journals as the Indiana Review, The Journal, Prairie Schooner, and Verse. She's an assistant professor of creative writing at Georgia Southern University. Something every-day that I consider an art is patience, because God knows it takes practice and craft.

Sean Brown

Sean Brown has published with the Indiana Review, Southampton Review, Texas Review, Poetry East, Wisconsin Review, Notre Dame Review, and the University of Iowa Press anthologies American Diaspora and Like Thunder. He's received Fellowships from the NEA for Poetry (1997) and Fiction (2010). "What aspect of everyday life do you consider art?" The answer is my garden: it’s actually not really for me, as deer eat the lettuce, peas and spinach, even the squash vines. The crows and jays polish off the strawberries, blueberries, and cherries; I never get more than a handful. I also have a cast-concrete pedestal fountain which they all use: birds, squirrels, even the deer drink from it. It is a joy to view it all in full bloom, the way I’ve mixed fruit trees and bushes with vegetables and flowers, and laid a slate-stone path and gray-stone retaining wall along the perimeter.

Melissa Carl

Melissa Carl is a teacher and poet who lives in York, Pennsylvania and Oak Island, North Carolina where she shares her admittedly messy existence with a husband, son, dingo, 13 hermit crabs and two goldfish. Her poems have appeared in various journals, e-zines, and anthologies such as A Day's Encounter, And Love, Amoskeag, Bigger Than They Appear, cellpoems, CircleShow, Fledgling Rag, In Posse Review, Melusine, Mouse Tales, Off the Coast Magazine, Third Wednesday, Waiting Room Reader, What Poets See, and Yesterday I Will. Her second poetry collection, Brutal Allure, was published in 2011. Among the aspects of everyday life that she considers to be art are wind chimes, the exact sadness of an iron bridge at dusk, and the lies her fortune cookies tell her.

Sandra Dyas

Sandra Dyas is a visual artist living in Iowa City. Sandra received her MFA from the University of Iowa in 1998. She is a Lecturer in Art at Cornell College, where she teaches photography, performance art and video. In 2007, the University of Iowa Press published her first book of photographs entitled "Down to the River; Portraits of Iowa Musicians". Her newest book is self-published through and is entitled "my eyes are not shut". This past summer Sandra created a successful Kickstarter project to raise funding for a large solo exhibition of her work at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. In 2009, she was chosen to participate in The 50 States Project. Stuart Pilkington was the creator of this year long online project. This year she will participate in a new online portrait project curated by Pilkington called Someone I Know. You can view her work at Sandraʼs work has been exhibited in numerous galleries and regional museums. Her freelance work has been published in Vogue, the New York Times, Random House, Newsweek, Redhouse Records, Penguin Books, Ecco Press, United Airlines, Simon & Schuster and more. Environmental portraiture and street photography are her two favorite genres. Life is Art and Art is Life. This was a common theory about the experimental performance art made in the late 50's and 1960's. John Cage celebrated every kind of sound as music. Merce Cunningham believed that any everyday action could be considered dance. Allan Kaprow's "Happenings" changed how people viewed and created art. No longer did art have to be a precious object (something unique that was bought and sold), instead it could be anything. Kaprow's essays, eventually a book entitled "Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life" was very influential. These anti-art ideas came directly from Marcel Duchamp who challenged everything concerning art. My education in the Intermedia Art Program at the University of Iowa influenced me greatly. Most of my work as a graduate student was in video and performance. The artists who practiced in a group called Fluxus are my favorite artists. I love how irreverent and witty their work is. I am also a huge fan of John Baldessari. As a teacher at Cornell College in the art department, I push my students to consider life as art and art as life. Photography is an excellent medium for exploring life and expressing ideas. I see everything around me as potential for creating art. It is all in how you pay attention to your surroundings. It is how you see and how you listen. Paying attention to life is key for me as an artist.

Margaret Graber

Margaret Graber is an M.F.A. candidate at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. Her chapbook, Beads, was a finalist in the Button Poetry Exploding Pinecone Chapbook Contest, and her work has been featured or is forthcoming in Utter, Avatar Review, and Josephine Quarterly among others. She is lifelong friends with Lake Michigan, the avocado, and pop-up books. Aspects of everyday life I consider art: currently my brother tying his shoelaces into knots and the sound of my dad eating potato chips

Alan Habhab

holds a BA in Creative Arts from Bradford College and a MFA in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University. He has not previously published much. The Hawai'i Review took a poem some years ago. At present, he is working part time as a legal secretary in Pittsfield, MA.
I don't worry about art; I just try to write a good poem. One will take care of the other.

Suzanne Marie Hopcroft

You can find Suzanne's most recent poetry in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Harpur Palate, Weave Magazine, South Dakota Review, and Anderbo. Suzanne is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at Yale University and writes from Long Beach, California. Now that I've moved from New York City to the outskirts of LA, I find art in a lot of the simple but totally foreign (to me) parts of life here: the hipster teenagers dodging traffic on their beach cruisers; the green dressing on the heirloom tomato salad at the vegetarian cafe across the street; the way the air smells like the ocean all the time, even when you can't see the water. I think the most artful ways I've ever seen nature integrate itself into an urban landscape are here in Southern California.

Matthew Olzmann

Matthew Olzmann is the author of Mezzanines (Alice James Books), selected for the 2011 Kundiman Prize. His poems have appeared in New England Review, Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, The Southern Review and elsewhere. For me, art is a shaped thing with a particular function that rarely happens by accident. Because of this, I consider very little of “everyday life” to be “art.” However, I consider almost everything to be the raw materials of art. All actions, objects and experiences contain the possibility of art. Everything—potentially—is enchanted and charged with mystery and waiting to become something new.

Yeon Ji Yoo

A native of South Korea, Yeon Ji Yoo immigrated to the United States with her family in 1982. She grew up in Queens, NY. After earning her B.F.A. at the Cooper Union, Yeon Ji became an arts educator. In 2005, Yoo earned her M.F.A. in New Forms at the Pratt Institute. She augmented her knowledge base by earning her M.S. in Environmental Science at the College of Staten Island in 2007 and continues her personal and artistic pursuit of growth, overgrowth, death, and life. Yeon Ji Yoo currently resides in Brooklyn and teaches. I think about movement and sound and come to a childhood memory. There was a road that cut across the small town to home, stemming from the bus station where relatives visiting from Seoul would get dropped off, to the small market area with one tiny candy store and two or three still bicycles, past the open and verdant rice fields, past the cow tied to a tree, and through the dark pine woods. These trees would be tall, bending, limbs gnarled, with tufts of spiky needles all over. They were majestic during the day and menacing at night. These were the trees that ghost stories came from. These were the silent homes of a million living things and a million dead things. These woods are also the resting places of distant ancestors, graves marked by unmarked mounds of dirt grown over by flora. I wonder if the person lying under the mound is still a person who once had memories and used to shed dust.

John Popielaski

Some of John's poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Bluestem, Canary, Counterpunch, and Theodate, and his collection Isn't It Romantic? won the 2011 Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize from Texas Review Press.
An aspect of everyday life that I consider art is imagining that individual voices can be impediments to the grand designs of such corporations as Cianbro, which would like to build an east-west highway across 220 miles of central Maine because there is money to be made.

Aleksey Yudzon

Aleksey has a BFA from Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, UK. His most recent solo show was at DeCastellane Gallery, Cape Cod, MA. I would say that I see art primarily as a way of thinking and the way it develops beyond that is up to each person. (Back to top)