Sunday, May 19, 2019

Faculty Exhibition on LBI

Today was the closing reception for the Kean Faculty Exhibition at the Long Beach Island Foundation for Arts & Sciences.  This all began last fall when we were given the invitation, apparently part of a series of NJ colleges that have been invited to have shows there.  At the time this started, we were in the process of having one of our regular faculty shows in our department gallery, and the starting point was contacting those faculty to see if they wanted to be involved.  I was approached personally as one of the rare shore area members of the faculty, so a logical choice to be part of a show in Ocean County.  Nothing happened for several months, then I contacted our organizer at a point where we were getting closer and people wanted to know.  She said everything was proceeding, and was surprised we hadn't been contacted yet, but was sure it would be soon.

A few weeks later we got the loan agreements and I filled out the information and submitted it quickly.  There seemed to be a lot of chaos at the gallery, but someone was ready to receive the work so I took a day to drive two pieces down (the ones I had planned and promised).  From where I live about an hour each way, for those coming from around the school, more like 2 hours.  We were told there would be a closing reception, and considering the distance, I saw no reason to go back until that day.  Which was today.

The LBIF has a large main room, with a long uninterrupted wall along the left side (shown above), while the right side has a few doors and a counter.  At the far end of the main room is a raised area that can function as a stage (shown below), but can also be used to hang art.

There were 20 faculty in the show, but about 6 or 7 were present today.  Of the others, maybe some had previous commitments, and a few claimed emergencies, and maybe some just didn't want to drive all the way down there.  I wasn't the only person who had noticed that gallery's website had no mention of this show during it's entire run, almost like it was a big secret.  No outside publicity either.  Still we had a good crowd.  Running along with our show was something involving the local garden club, which had produced a variety of artificial arrangements.  Hard to get an accurate count, but I'd estimate we had 80 or 90 people at times.  A huge tent like structure occupied a big chunk of the parking lot, but was not being used today.  Don't know if it was for something that already happened, or will be coming soon.

I quickly realized that my pieces were hung toward the back of that large room, on that big wall.  They got a bit of attention, from people who knew me and from strangers.  People were attracted to the boardwalk piece, which one person insisted had to be Seaside Heights.  Actually it's based on memories of a place in Belmar, but with this series I have found many people who insist they are the places they knew well.  Maybe they are all the same, or maybe I found some universal truth.  One viewer noted the accuracy of the prizes, the large expensive things on display, that no one ever earns enough tickets to redeem.

But most popular was the black and white piece, with its image of a piece of long gone but very remembered bit of highway.  There really was a piece of the Parkway that went right through a cemetery, also passing by a bottling plant with a giant beer bottle shaped tower, in my youth painted to look like a giant Pabst beer bottle.  The bottling plant is gone now, with that bottle carefully preserved for some future use we were told, though I haven't heard about it yet.  The headstones are still there.  It was almost like a piece of surreal art, practically begging to be used as the subject of an artwork.  I'm glad I documented it while it was still there.  As on a late episode of the Sopranos, where Uncle Junior is drawn to it while wandering Newark in a bit of an Alzheimer's fugue, if you are old enough to remember it, you probably won't ever forget it.  Over the years a lot of my art seems to have been about reminding people of what they had seen many times but now forgotten.

As we got closer to the end, the crowd got a bit smaller, and when the reception ended I could take down my pieces.  Rain never arrived in the daylight hours, so I was able to easily carry them across the parking lot to my car.  Just like the day I delivered them to the gallery, the roads were pretty empty both coming and going,  which will probably change when summer starts very soon.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Summer Classes

Back in my grad school days I had some summer classes, both as a student and a teacher. Since then rarely at the college level, which I attribute to the lack of willingness of colleges to pay people to teach classes.  I would think that at least some students might want to use part of their summer to deal with some graduation requirements.  As a grad student I took studio classes at both Montclair and Southern Illinois over summers.  Classes needed to be taken, I had nothing else I had to do, and it got me to graduation a little faster.  Colleges I have worked at since then have offered very little over summers.  I guess they have their reasons.

On the other hand, local art centers often have classes year round.  I have taught summer woodcut classes in Belmar a bunch of times and and scheduled to again this year.  It's on their calendar for July and August, pending people signing up for the class.  I have no control over that, but usually makes enrollment in these summer sessions, so I expect it will again.  As I was setting that up again a few weeks ago, the secretary mentioned that there might be a demand for painting and drawing classes.  They recently had a few sessions of an official Bob Ross style class and it repeatedly sold out.  Some thought it might be a good idea to strike while the iron is hot and get some more on the schedule.  I have no experience with landscape stuff, but it seems like they have that covered right now.  However, if they want to teach still life, color theory, basic drawing, value, perspective, etc, I've been doing that at the collegiate level for over 20 years, and can throw together a class in a few days.  So I e-mailed in a proposal a few weeks ago, with attached student art images relevant to the class.  My suggestion was 4 week classes, each at a different level, using materials available in local stores, which could be scheduled to fit demands.  Right now no one is teaching traditional painting or drawing there at all, so there's a vacuum to be filled.  A few weeks later I finally heard back from the director, who loved the idea of a painting class, and was presenting it to the trustees.  When I was there this past weekend for an opening, a few people mentioned to me that they heard I would be teaching a painting  class and were excited to take it.  I could be ready to go in a few weeks.  Only problem- a lack of willingness to do it.  They want to wait until the fall.  Not sure why- they often complain that money is needed, and classes cost nothing if they don't run and make money if they do, and they get a cut of that.  I have some theories as to this hesitation, but I'm not going to share those here at this time.  Woodcut is still on the schedule.

Meanwhile, I've been working on classes at another local place.  The Jersey Shore Arts Center has never hosted art classes as an organization, but it would make sense for them to do so.  They have a large facility, a nice website, a large mailing list, a number of resident artists, and very little competition right now.  And new people running things right now has then more open to the idea.  I've been discussing a woodcut class with them for a while now, and thanks to the recent print show, there is some interest out there.  I scheduled a meeting for this week, and it got pushed around a bit, but finally happened this afternoon.  Right now they are leaning toward a woodcut class similar to what I have done in Belmar- four weeks, I provide materials and teaching, they provide the space and the students.  They need to get past their theater and school commitments, but after that they have the space and think classes can lure in more people.  But in today's meeting, I also threw out the idea of a painting class, since they want a spread of options.  Plus more classes allows the fixed costs to be divided among more places.  And the director loved the idea, including running it starting this summer, at the same time (roughly) as the woodcut classes.  So I promised her a proposal in the next few days (I can use the one for Belmar, so not too difficult) once I get past all the grading stuff.  The lack of competition right now is a selling point, with both colleges and high schools dropping art classes, maybe they can pick up some slack.  When I know something more, I'll share it here.

The Narwhal part 4

I had business up in Ocean Grove today, so I decided to also continue work on the Narwhal project.  A few nights ago I had some spare time and used the computer to look up more images and videos of narwhals, see if I could settle any issues.  For example, there is a spiral aspect to a typical narwhal horn, and I was curious as to if there was a standard direction.  Based on photos I found, it seems not.  Even the horns can point in different directions, up, down, etc. Markings on the side of the whale can vary a lot as well- plain, monochromatic, or spotted, shades from light to dark.  So when I got to the Studio, I used pencil and a marker to make few adjustments, then cut all the white out.

The one thing I'm still not sure of is what to do with the water.  I'll think about that for the next few days.  For the next few days it will be difficult to get up there, with the Seafood Festival traffic occupying most of the roads between home and the Studio. Plus I still have some grading to do.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Return of St Georgia

Last week I was at the Boatworks, photographing the latest art show for the BAC blog, when I got cornered by the organizer of their upcoming bird theme show.  They had one a few years ago, which I entered, but was not accepted into. Also rejected for the BAC big juried show about the same time, which is why I stopped entering juried shows there.  I always tell my students that juried shows are unpredictable, and there have been times when I've had a piece rejected by a juror and given first prize by another,  but after 3 consecutive rejections, I had to wonder. For the last bird show I had a new bird piece, and it had been rejected.

I was prepared to let this latest bird show go as well, but that organizer begged me to try again, pointing out that since the piece wasn't in the last one, it was eligible for this show.  And the deadline had been extended to the end of this week.  I'm still in the midst of getting my spring semester grading done, but I decided to give it a shot. One issue is that I prefer to pay fees in person (don't trust the computer system there) and that the place is closed tomorrow and the weekend.  With the Belmar Seafood Festival coming in this weekend, that's a logical precaution, but it meant I had to take care of everything by early this afternoon.

It's all online digital applications now, having skipped over slides, from the old method of dropping off work to be judged in person.  And I had the image I used last time (that's it above), but the rules for this one specified that files had to be within a very specific range of sizes.  Nothing to do with the work itself or what can be sent or viewed digitally, but regulations that seemed chosen just to be annoying.  So I mounted the piece onto a piece of foam core and took it outside to photograph, since natural light is always best.  Then back inside to download, edit, and see what I had.  None were the right size, so I had to do all those steps over again.  Second time around I seemed to have a suitable one, so I went ahead an filled out the whole application, sent it in, then drove to Belmar to pay the entry fee and at the same time make sure everything was in and right.  While there I confirmed that it had been received and saw that my newly taken photo worked well on their monitor.  The work will have to be delivered in early June, so I guess I'll hear the results soon.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Narwhal part 3

Had a little spare time today between school work and yard work, and decided to do some Studio work.  Stopped in the office briefly to talk to Nichole about some class stuff (we will have a longer meeting on Thursday) then down to the Studio.  Molly was down there working already and I didn't want to disturb whatever it was she was doing, so I just got to work on my project.

Only had about an hour available today, but that was enough time to advance the narwhal project a little bit.  My ink wash value drawing (which Molly mentioned she really liked) was a basic breakdown of the animal into three values.  Today I cut out the white, except for the horn, since I want to look at the spiral effect on some actual ones again before I cut that.  Played around with some of the gray (medium value) a bit, but I remember that on the lateral line (includes the eye) seeing some complex patterns on some whales, so maybe I'll look at that again as well.  After all those other things are settled, I decide what to so with the water.  The use of color (likely through relief ink) will be significant in this piece.  May not have much time to deal with all this until after I get my spring semester grading done.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

The Narwhal part 2

Had a little time this afternoon and decided to go up to the Studio and advance the Narwhal project a bit.  I wasn't quite satisfied with my initial pencil drawing, so the first task was to make some adjustments to the shape of the whale, particularly near the head and tail.  For many years now I have been a proponent of using ink wash in the block drawings, especially for figures.  This comes from my love of charcoal (especially compressed) and when I use it, I tend to go dark and heavy.  Probably related to my interest in woodcut and the strong contrasts found in block printing. I had a supply of black drawing ink, plastic cups, etc, from the days I taught drawing, and after a search, I finally found it last night.  No human figure this time around, but the simple value breakdown in my paper sketch caused me to realize that process would work again here.  So with a brush I put in some straight black ink on some deep shadows and to outline everything, a middle value wash near the mid line of the whale, some light wash in the water around it, and left some untouched wood as highlights.  I ended up repositioning the horn a little more forward, more consistent with my paper sketch, as well as with reality.  (the "horn" is not a horn, but actually a tooth or a tusk, from one of the canines in the mouth of the narwhal, poking through the lip) The ink is just a value guide, since all this will be cut away in the final version, but now I have a better idea what I'm doing.

Stopped by the office briefly to update Nichole on some things she asked me to discuss with Molly, related to programming and the website.  At that moment Bobby Duncan walked past and mentioned that a woman, probably a dance mom, had asked him if the guy who does woodcuts would be teaching any classes in it because she would like to know more.  He said he told her where my Studio was, but I haven't heard anything yet.  Meanwhile, it can't hurt for the person who is running the building to hear that there may be some demand for a woodcut class, especially because we are trying to set up such a class for this summer.  I'm one of the few people in New Jersey who teaches it, and the fans often find me.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

The Narwhal

Last year I had a request from my brother and his wife for a carved wooden mermaid, which I produced as a low relief sculpture in birch, hand colored.  Combined aspects of my long experience in whittling and my extensive training in woodcut printmaking, plus a little of my painting background.  Went into my youngest niece's room.  Don't know if she knows what it is yet.  This year the oldest daughter wanted a narwhal. Actually what I heard she wanted was for my father to go out in his boat and catch her one, but that's not going to happen for too many reasons to type here.  That's without even getting into the question of what she would do with a narwhal, which generally weigh at  least a ton.  Instead we settled for a narwhal themed artwork for her wall, and making use of some thin plywood my brother gave me.  Prior to a family event last week I did a series of sketches of narwhals based on photos on the internet, brought my favorite to them, and it was approved for this project.

Last year's mermaid was designed as a low relief sculpture.  Technically this piece will be, too, but on a much thinner piece of wood, and my woodcut printmaking skills will be needed more.  I'm still not quite sure what kind of wood this is, just that it's a 1/4" thick with a smooth surface, looking much like lauan.  There was a label on the wood itself but it doesn't really tell me anything, except that it was manufactured in China in 2013.  In a sense, this project is an experiment to figure out what this wood is.  I'm going to cut it as if it were a woodblock print, which will allow me to learn whether I can use the wood that way for any more significant projects.

Had some other business up at the Studio today, but it seemed like a good day to start making this narwhal.  Decided to keep the animal's orientation the same, so the first step was to work out a mirror image of the original sketch.  Then I started sketching it out right onto the block. Here's what I got so far:

Still needs a bit of work. Need to reshape the body in parts, and to check the proper spiral on the horn.  I was thinking of using ink wash to do the block drawing of the creature, in the way that I have often used it for large figure woodcuts.   Took a while but I located my supply of drawing ink and cups, not really needed since I last taught drawing at the college.  But that will wait for another day.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Everything Comes to an End

Word had come in that Tuesday would be the day to take down the East Meets West print show in Ocean Grove, starting at 10:00 am.  I got there just a few minutes late but work had already begun.  Nichole had taken down several of the foam core panels with prints on them, the short wall adjacent to the rest rooms.  I went downstairs to stash my jacket and bag, then came back up to help, but which time most of the East prints were down.

In her last e-mail to me Mary had mentioned that Katie wanted to photograph all the work, as part of a website display, but I figured the work being down would not be a problem.   Nichole asked me if I had any pliers, so we could pull the points out of the molding, points that had been installed to help keep the panels flush against the wall as they hung from wires.  But then she mentioned that I could take my large framed piece right then if I wanted.  Since the rain had not come yet, decide to go with that, and went out to my car to get my packing material.  Ran into Mary and Katie just arriving, gave them an update, and got my stuff from the car.  After carefully wrapping my piece and carrying it to my car I went back to the basement and came back with a pair of vice-grips and a wire cutter, hoping one would work for my purpose.

The vice-grip was too large to fit between the framer points in the molding and wall itself, so the wire cutters were put to work.  The points had only been driven a tiny bit into the molding at the base of each panel, just enough to hold the foam core panels flush against the walls, so not hard to yank out.

Went around the walls and got them all.  No one wanted to save them for re-use, so all were recycled.  The whole show was packed and loaded into cars in less than an hour.  The plan is that Katie will be doing some kind of web site that will document the show, so she will photograph all the pieces before we get them back at a Thank You party in the coming weeks.  (decided it was easier to send an image to them of my large piece rather than try to photograph it though the plexiglass) so I did that later.

Before we were done loading, Mary was already thinking about the next show.  Another print show, or one featuring members of the old critique group (something we had talked about in the past). Well the JSAS has some other things on the schedule, so it won't be right away.  I guess we'll discuss this as that party in a few weeks.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Studio Tasks

Originally on the schedule for today was the taking down of the East Meets West show at the Jersey Shore Arts Center.  Than last night I got an e-mail from East Coast Mary, telling me that the schedule had to change.  Nichole, our boss at the building, realized that she had another thing to deal with early Monday and asked us to move our plan to Tuesday morning.  I can accommodate that, so I sent an affirmative reply, and came up with a new plan, mowing the lawn.

The weather was clear today, so I started that process late morning, doing the front lawn and a little bit of the back before the fully charged and bit of leftover battery from last week had both run out of electricity.  Left one in the charger for next time.  Home for lunch and then it was time to go out again.

A short while ago my brother offered me a piece of wood he figured I might be able to use.  (from something he had to dismantle) It was 1/4" plywood, about 4 feet square.  A little too large to fit in my car, so I had to leave it there for another time.  But I was reminded of it when I was back there the other day for a child's birthday party, and yesterday I went back with a saw and dealt with it.  Just drew a line down the center (with the grain), plugged in my saber saw, and cut it into two pieces, which would fit in my car.  One will be cut into something smaller soon, a new project I plan to start this week.  If that works, I'll see what I can salvage for something larger.  I haven't bought 1/4" wood for woodcut for a while- don't like how they are making it- but this stuff is a bit vintage, so it may be fine.  It has a few knots in it, but if I can work around those, the price is right.

My exhibition plans were done for the day, but I still had to get up to the Studio for other stuff.   Got those pieces of wood out of my car and left them on my table.  Deal with that tomorrow.  And speaking of tables, the shifting of the plan to dismantle the show put off for a day the plan to give a table price to Nichole, but that could come soon.  I tried to price materials online the day before but didn't get very far.  I used a particular size and style of bolt when I first built them, but finding that on the website was a challenge.  Over 300 varieties of bolts, and not in any order that I could see.  It would be easier to go to the store myself and just see what was available, but first I wanted to make sure of what was needed.

The easiest way to get at one of bolts would be to just flip the table and unscrew one, but that would require clearing Molly's junk off one of the tables, an arduous task in itself.  Since each leg is held in place with three carriage bolts, temporarily removing one would not make the table less secure, but it meant crawling around on the floor a bit.  Used my ratcheting set to take off the nut, hammered it back though the hole, then used the hammer's claw to try to pry the bolt out.  But the threads on the end of the bolt were snagging the wood.  Inserted another heavy screw into the 1/4" hole left behind by the bolt, hammered that a bit, and finally forced the bolt most of the way out.  Now I could actually get a grip on it and slowly unscrew the bolt from the wood.

 After measuring it, I was able to re-insert the bolt, and put on the nut and tighten it.  Then on to the store to see what they actually had available.  I bought the wood and hardware for the original tables at the local Home Depot, which is right there in town.  Of course, Neptune Township is quite large, so it was still a bit of a journey by car.  As expected, I was able to locate the desire hardware in seconds just by looking at the shelves.  Didn't buy anything, just wrote down prices.  Did that for wood as well.  And with that, I could go home and relax.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Table Factory Preparations

Made a quick trip up to the Studio today.  Hoped to see Nichole and get information regarding the removal of the big East Meets West print show.  It's scheduled to end on Friday, and I had offered to help with taking the show down.  Not sure what day that will be.  I figure she's in charge of such things, and will probably know.  But she wasn't there when I was there in the afternoon.  Maybe I'll send an e-mail to East Coast Mary tomorrow.  Taking the show down should not be too difficult, and they might be able to get it done without my help, but if I'm available I will likely join them.  If for no other reason, to pick up all the prints I have in the show.

The other reason I went up there today was to check into what goes into making my work tables.  The building may want some to use for classes (including mine) so I need to come up with a cost, which will be based on a combination of labor and materials.  When Molly and I first took possession of the space, I spent a few months building lots of furniture, but I no longer have the plans I created for that purpose.  The simplest way to figure all that again is to look at the tables themselves, so that is what I did today.  Made a list of all the parts- the number and lengths of 2"x4" boards, the types of hardware,  the plywood tabletop.  I will price all those items (expect to get it off the internet), add in a reasonable amount for labor, and then pass that on to Nichole.  If the building wants them, she can arrange for the materials to be delivered and then I just need to build them.  Back when I made these things I had a pickup truck; my current vehicle can't transport the large wood.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Painting and Printmaking

I was off work today for the Good Friday holiday. Always a treat to get to sleep late and not drive up and down the parkway in rush hour traffic, and I'm sure my students weren't upset about it either.  But that didn't mean I didn't have to work.

For example, right now I am involved in organizing and scheduling woodcut classes at local places.  The building that has my Studio is looking to get into running art classes, and would like to make me teaching woodcut to be one of them.  They might even hire me to build them some suitable work tables for this purpose (and other classes).  The coordinator saw one of the tables from Molly's project a few years ago and was impressed with what I had done.  Then she stopped by my space and saw the tables I made for the Studio when we first moved in and was really impressed- simple, inexpensive to make, and very strong.  (I build things to last)  Whatever happens will be this summer.

Also this summer I am working on more classes for the BAC.  First step was getting a woodcut class on the schedule.  I knew from e-mails and the website that they had a lot going on in the spring, but nothing official yet for summer, so it made sense to grab some spots now.  So yesterday I went in and wrote things on the calendar and filled out the standard class agreement form.  Today I e-mailed a written description of the class to be posted on the website (the organization website was redone again this year and everything that had been on it was deleted) as well as some images that might be useful (old ones also deleted).  Luckily I have lots of stuff saved on my computer, so it was just a matter of finding it and sending it.  Dropped by later to make sure everything arrived.  The board has to approve everything so nothing is official yet, then people have to sign up, but I expect that to happen.  I've taught the class enough times that there is little special prep to be done.

But they also threw something else at me, at least the person running the office did.  This spring they have a Bob Ross inspired class that filled up quickly, and are thinking maybe they need more traditional art mediums.  I have no experience with that wet into wet technique and very little with landscape, but it sounds like they have that covered anyway.  But I certainly know still life and figure, and agreed to put together some ideas.  But can I teach painting?  Well, my first college degree and half my second degree were in painting, so I probably know more than any student I would likely have.   Although I have never taught a "painting" class,  have covered color theory in classes at all three colleges that I have taught at, including having them use paints in those projects.  I am familiar with techniques and materials in oils, acrylics, and watercolors.   Before I was asked to cover the 3D Design class at my university all my 3D experience was two foundations level classes in college, so I looked at at bunch of art, figured out what it was, and wrote up a syllabus.  Ended up teaching the class 7 times between two schools, with several of those students earning their degrees this past year, so I must have done something right.  When it came up yesterday I was asked about painting and drawing (have taught the latter a lot more already) but today I was told that painting may be the priority, maybe to cash in on this other class. But no idea yet if they want a one day thing, and ongoing class, or something in between. So I'll think about different possibilities, write up some options, attach some really good student color works, and send it in,  Maybe something will come of it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Kean University Faculty Show on LBI

Today is the official first day of the latest faculty show, so it seems an appropriate day to show the card.  Got several copies of it last time I had class. None of the images on the front are mine- full timers grabbed those. I am listed on the back, one of the 20 artists.  They spelled my name right, which I don't take for granted.  I've had solo shows where the galleries spelled my name wrong on the promotional stuff, which can make internet searches more of a challenge.

The list of artists may be the same one as our fall faculty show on campus, which is where I was first recruited for this one.  I can't compare it, as I don't have a list of that show's artists, and the school would never spring for a postcard for a faculty show on campus.  They won't even get us a plate of cheese and crackers for our reception.  The card back does include a website in small print, but when I checked it as recently as this afternoon, our show still isn't even listed on the site, so I don't see much point in sending you there.  If you want to see the show and need directions, you can get them there.

I will say that the exhibition is at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences, in Loveladies, which is near Harvey Cedars.  If you've ever been to LBI, you know those places aren't near anything else, which is why I don't expect to stop by before the closing reception on May 19th.

More Fire

Today was a very nice day weather-wise, so after some business at the Studio building, I took a walk east to the boardwalk to check out the results of this weekend's fire.  Comfortable mild temperature, no rain, good day for a walk.  Of course, once I got up to the boardwalk there was a lot more wind, generally in my face.  (at the shore, no matter what direction you are going, the wind is always in your face) The fencing and caution tape may be left over from the day of fire fighting, or it may be new, but either way I took it as a sign that we weren't supposed to get any closer to the action than that.

Right in the center is the remains of the Casino building.  When I first started coming around here there were windows at each end filling most of the space, with space for pedestrians to pass underneath, but the windows are all gone now.  Not from the fire- they've been gone for a while.  Don't know if they finally fell down, or if they were removed before they could fall down.  To the left can be seen the roof of the Carousel House, which also survived the fire.  To the right is a big pile of what is left of the building that burned down.  What will replace it remains to be seen.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Fire Fire Everywhere

Big news over the weekend was another fire in Ocean Grove.  Actually probably not that newsworthy, certainly not unusual.  Ocean Grove has a lot of fires.  Most of the town was constructed almost 100 years ago, mostly wood, houses are only a few feet apart, near constant wind- any fire gets going and it likely takes out several buildings before they can bring in under control.  The hotel in the center of town where my brother had the reception for his first wedding went down in a big fire shortly after that.  A few years ago a former hotel caught fire one night and burned well into the next day. (I saw it on the news as I was getting ready for work)  Several adjacent houses also burned that day, as they pumped water from a nearby lake onto that neighborhood as part of the effort to extinguish it.  The news reports a few days ago mentioned the boardwalk, which is the opposite end of town than my Studio, so that was good news.  Actually what burned was a large building on the beach side of the boardwalk, occupied by various stores, etc.  No great historical significance, and weeks before the holiday season, no customers to be hurt.  I was a little concerned because the closest building to it is the old Asbury Park Casino/Carousel building, which is a bit decrepit, but a historical landmark, and I've seen parts of it on t-shirts, in movies, and even in a tattoo on the arm of a nude model I used to work with a lot.  It's a favorite of my college friend Jenny and her family, that and pizza is probably the main reason they ever visit.  The burned building is the closest building, but there is a little bit of space around it, and they were able to contain the fire to the first building.  In the end, no great loss, though it's an odd time of year for this kind of thing- boardwalk fires ofter come after the tourist season is over, not just before.

But today that fire was overshadowed by news of a bigger fire, this one in Paris, where the Cathedral of Notre Dame went down today.  Spread very quickly, and most of the building was gone in just a few hours.  The very recognizable tall spire in the center of the roof came down when the whole nave went up.  They rapidly worked to pull out and save as much loose artwork and religious relics as possible, but anything on the walls or part of the architecture was lost.  By the evening the fire was mostly contained, though not completely out. The two massive masonry bell towers that dominate the facade were still intact for the moment.  At the moment, I'm not too worried about this loss.  It was a very large and impressive building, and I would have enjoyed a chance to see it, but that opportunity has passed.

I'm a huge fan of Gothic cathedrals, and know more than a little about them.  Once in grad school I even took a class about the Gothic period (billed as a Renaissance class which is why I took it in the first place) and on multiple occasions I had to explain things to the teacher that she didn't understand or had gotten very wrong.  (always in private- no need to embarrass her)  I've covered the art and architecture in various studio classes I've taken, and I've taught art history a few times.  So I know that Notre Dame was a very good example of Gothic cathedral design and construction, but I don't think of it as that special.  It's not the first, not the largest, not the tallest, not the most innovative, not even the only Gothic cathedral in Paris- France has a lot of them.  Just the name that most people know of, especially if they don't really know about art.  Most cathedrals were built over hundreds of years, with designs often changing with each new generation who worked on it.  It is expected that this cathedral will be rebuilt, and I would expect those masonry bell towers to be incorporated into the new design.  A lot of donations will be needed, as I doubt that the Catholic Church has that kind of money to spend on construction these days.  A lot of stained glass was lost, but that can be made again, if they want to.  When large buildings that old burn down, they rarely get rebuilt exactly as they were- many see it as an opportunity to have a better building.  (the desire for these new Gothic style cathedrals with their soaring heights, and huge stained glass windows was preceded by a wave of Romanesque cathedrals all over Europe mysteriously burning down, requiring the new ones to be built) Over the past 300 years, the oldest building at my old college (the Wren Building) had burned down and been replaced often enough that no one is sure what it looked like originally.

One thing the fires in Ocean Grove and Paris had in common is that no one was injured, and that's a good thing.  And another common thing is that I expect both will be rebuilt in some way.  Eventually there will be a new Cathedral of Notre Dame, though unless some billionaires or corporations get involved, probably not in my lifetime. The large building on the nearby beach will probably happen sooner, as with the new Taylor Pavilion that replaced the old one destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in Belmar- larger, more accessible, better balconies, other modern touches.  There are long term plans to rebuild the Casino building to something more like what it once was, which likely will have some kind of influence on what happens with this adjacent beach and boardwalk property.  Stay tuned for news.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

The Circus part 20

Put in a few more hours on the coloring this afternoon.  Think I'm almost where I want it to be.

As with yesterday, I incorporated some of yesterday's color experiments on the first proof into this second version.  But to continue the color breakdown from yesterday....

The reflected car in the window was again a light gray, but I tinted it a little darker.  Used the same color on the left half of the roof support just to the right of the car.  A much lighter gray was used for the background of the rooftop sign, matching what can be seen in the photos I took before the building was demolished.  The deep red on the sign lettering, the architectural trim, and the right half of roof support to the right of the car reflection, is the one I used the first time- mostly alizarin crimson, though that  whole roof support on the right was given a wash of indigo to help it sit back in the shadows.  I also used a touch of indigo on the lower halves of the cloud banks, giving them a little more depth and especially helping the lower one separate from the white trim along the roof line, and the upper one sit back from the rooftop sign.  The architecture just behind that roof support was a deep wash of brown and then a wash of indigo.  A stronger wash of indigo was used to represent the headliner of the car, replacing the dark gray I had the first time, which was more of a match for my actual car, but felt kind of dull.  The colors used on the clowns on the rooftop sign are the same ones, but may be a bit clearer since I recut that area between proofs.

Comparing the two proofs, the value ranges seem to be about the same, but the colors are just a bit bolder in some cases, and I like the effect.  I'll come back to it in a few days, and if I come up with no further changes to be made, I'll declare it done and start thinking about the next piece.

Monday, April 08, 2019

The Circus part 19

Coloring the new proof today.  Started by looking at the earlier version, and got some ideas as to color changes I might make, so I tried some of them out on that first proof.  I won't write about all of them right now, but just mention them as they come up in this new proof.  The blue sky is the same phthalo as before, but maybe just a little more intense.  The fried food is pretty much the same as well.  One new thing is I added a little bit of a bright red to the tray, which appears at the far left and in the center.  And as planned, that far left piece of the cardboard tray that holds he crab sandwich, I had cut out some of the black ink, and now that shadow has some indigo wash on it.  So far, so good.