Monday, March 30, 2020

Still Indoors


Some things never change.  Once again, spent part of the day in communication with students, grading papers, etc.  I did some coloring last night at home, starting with light warm colors (yellows, browns) as is my custom when building color in a new print.

News mentioned more suggestions of changes and restrictions on life.  Got me out of the house for a little while to take care of business while I could.  Since my school was switched over to distance learning, I have devoted a lot of time to thinking about how I would teach the projects planned for my  class. The print project had to go, since it depends too much on things I provide (materials and tools), and I can't expect the students to have access to all that, or to spend the money to get it, if there is any place out there that sells it these days.  But I think I can pull off everything else that was planned for this semester- just involves thinking of new ways to teach it.

For example, I usually devote a week of the Intro class to a lesson in perspective drawing.  Coming up with a workable system for perspective drawing was complex trick for artists, took a long time, but eventually some early renaissance Italians figured it out, and shared it with the world. Me, I'm not a huge fan of perspective systems, since they do some considerable distortion. The problem is that the  world is three dimensional, and paper is two dimensional, and you can't lose a whole dimension without having a problem.  Rendering a single object in space is easy enough (even cave dwellers could do that well), but a whole group together, and showing them all in their proper space, that's a challenge. Perspective systems take advantage of the fact that objects diminish with mathematical regularity over distance, but there is still considerable distortion in using them, especially as you move further from the center of the composition. When I teach basic drawing, I demonstrate how these systems work, then immediately tell my students not to do it.  (I advocate using negative space and relative positions to decide where things should go) Of course the Intro class is not a drawing class, and most students arrive knowing nothing, so it's still an improvement, one they can learn quickly.  My typical assignment for this project is to have the students draw an interior corner of our classroom, which looks something like this:


I get them started, then spend the class period walking continuously around the room showing them the steps until they finish the corner or the class ends, whichever comes first.  But now we are all banned from campus, so none of that can happen. My collection of yardsticks stays in the car.

Had to come up with a way of doing it over the internet.  Been using this blog format for much of what I am doing.  Always had anyway, whether it be to review what we did during the class, or to have images online of past projects for current students to see, or often both. What I came up with was the idea of showing a series of drawings of an interior corner being drawn in two point perspective, how-to steps.  It's more help than I ever got.  We were taken outside and learned to draw an exterior corner of a building in 2 point perspective, then given the homework assignment over the weekend of doing an interior corner, but no further instructions.  So that Sunday night, there were a lot of beginning art students on the phone to each other (and these were rotary dialed extensions, not a quick process) frantically trying to figure it out.  Eventually I did (20th century Italian) and shared it with my classmates over the phone, without the benefit of pictures.  We survived that class.

I can do some sketching and coloring of my own work at home, but for a class demonstrations in photo format, I need space and a large tack board, and that is in my Studio.  So in the afternoon I took a big piece of white paper, my digital camera, and headed up there.  No Molly, so I put on some music, Abbey Road by the Beatles from my library there, and did a simple two point perspective drawing of a room interior corner, taking photos at each step, such as this one.


I'm asking a corner, a door, something on the wall (window, framed art, etc) and a small piece of furniture, not unlike what I would ask them to find in the classroom.  It will be a while before I learn whether this works.  This lesson is scheduled for late April, and while Nichole has said that we are considered essential employees in our space, the rate at which new laws and policies are announced causes me to have some doubts about what the future holds.  So take the photos now, teach the process later.

As I was leaving, the rain had come back again, making me glad I had not brought my new taped print with me to work on and photograph there.   Stayed safe and dry in my apartment. You'll have to wait for another time to see it.





Sunday, March 29, 2020

Wearing my Apartment Pants


Late last night I did a routine check of my college e-mail, since papers are due these days and they always write at all hours and days, but I got hit with a problem instead.  A screen pops up, stating that an administrator was choosing to require some kind of authentication process, naming a way of doing this, an also requesting that I scan a computer graphic, the kind of thing that is used to send information to phones and such.  Was this for real?  It made no sense, that the school was going to hit us with a major obstacle, even as we are being forced to teach all classes online, and not being able to access my e-mail account would make that very difficult.  And deciding this on a Saturday night?  On the other hand, the school has made a lot of strange sudden announcements of late, often related to the epidemic.  This past week I had two students tell me that they had days scheduled by the college to come get stuff out of their dorm rooms, only to be told forget it, you can't come, so now they can't get their school art supplies, which will make it hard to do their class work.  I ran this by my supervisor yesterday to see if we had some policy in place to deal with such a situation, and she wrote back to confirm that she had a "reliable" student tell her the same thing.  So nothing my employer does really surprises me at this point.  On the other hand, I don't really trust anything I see on the internet, and this could be just some scam to get me to scan something into my phone.  Since I don't have a device that scans, that didn't happen last night, and later today that demand was gone, so who knows?  Was it a scam, or some college administrator overstepping and being shut down the next day?  If I find out, I'll tell you.

Meanwhile, today was another day.  Thanks to expected heavy rains and a lack of donuts for sale, I had picked up Sunday breakfast in the supermarket yesterday, so I didn't have to go anywhere early today.  Did my usual morning routine, then prepared for another day indoors, which is what most people are doing these days.  With my school e-mail back to functioning, I've had to deal with some students (teaching is a 24/7 thing, even before the virus put us on remote), answering questions, receiving slightly late papers.


For my main meal, I took the pork and black bean chili I made last night and assembled some burritos today, filling tortillas with the chili, some freshly cooked white rice, cheese, a touch of sour cream, and some secret ingredients.  (have lots more of everything, so there will be more burritos in the coming days, reheat, assemble, and eat) Very tasty and filling, so that will be all the food I need today. 

Didn't want to drive to the Studio today, so working from home.  I didn't take the first proof much further than what I showed last time, but that was just color experiments and I learned what I needed to know. So I cut that first one loose from my drawing board, and taped the second one in place today.


It actually works as a black and white print, which is what I want in cases like this, but color was always the intention with this piece, so this one will be getting that treatment.  But now I know what I will be doing, choices already made, and I will take my time and be more careful.  Maybe more tonight at home.  Nothing on tv tonight, so put on some good tunes and get some work done.


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Ups and Downs


Like many colleges, my employer decided a few weeks ago to switch to distance learning, or online education if you prefer.  At first they said it would just be for a few weeks, but more recently they told all students and teachers not to come back to campus this semester.  As long as they are still paying me, I'll go where they tell me, and they are still paying me. As someone with decades of experience teaching in classrooms and a few weeks of experience as an online teacher, I can say that teaching over the internet is much more exhausting.  Log in early in the morning, and it doesn't end until evening, moving in and out of programs, dozens of e-mails, grading papers, and more after dinner.   Typing continuously and without end.  Last night I didn't finish until after 11:00.  Then more today.

Not surprisingly, I do need occasional breaks from the computer.  Haven't worked on art much the past few days (maybe tomorrow), but one task I decided I had to deal with today was cooking.  And what I decided I was in the mood to make was burritos.  Simple, tasty, and what I cook the first day will make several meals.  Plus, I had about half of what I needed in my cabinets already.  Kind of a rainy day, but not so heavy I couldn't get out to do some shopping.

Hit two nearby supermarkets today and got everything I needed.  Supermarkets are in better shape than they were a few weeks ago.  Aisles that would hold soaps and paper products are still barren, and self serve individual baked goods (rolls, donuts) are still missing, but a lot of the canned and boxed items that had been cleaned out in panic buying have been restocked.  Made more mental notes for a future woodcut, then headed home.

The main ingredient in these burritos is a meat based chili, takes a few hours to cook, but these days there is really no place to go.  The rest of the contents can be prepared tomorrow, or will be added cold.  Maybe I'll have a photo of the finished product tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Vesuvio part 19


Another day with a lot of different things going on, including dealing with students.  But I also had art materials at home and was determined to get some art done.  I made a shopping trip today, and used time in the supermarkets to do some research for what may be the next print, but most of my time with art was working on the new print.

Working in my Studio gives the advantage of a large work table and space to move around. On the other hand, the rain never really stopped today, a problem when you work with wood and paper, so staying home kept me dry, and at home I have access to my full music collection and no competition for access to the stereo.

I had started coloring the first proof of my new print last night, and continued that process today.  The other day listening to the radio I heard a song and wasn't sure what it was, but the vocalist was one I recognized, and when the songs were backlisted on the air, I got confirmation.  It was British singer Kirsty MacColl, and today I played the one full album in my collection, tropical brainstorm. It was her last album, recording finished and she took a break from promotion to have a vacation with family and died in a terrible accident, the album being released posthumously.  The music reflected a recent interest in all things Latin America (Cuban, Caribbean, South American), with her lyrics often about people who met in bars or through the internet, a recent phenomenon at the time.  (I do have a copy there in the Studio, one of my albums that Molly particularly likes) When that one ended, I put on Volume 4 by the Joe Jackson Band, an early 21st century album where he reunited his original 70's rock band and put out an album that felt at home among his earlier efforts.  (among the things these two albums have in common, they came out within a few years of each other, the artists are from England, and both reference science fiction, Doctor Who on the first one, Star Trek on the second)

This proof that I am coloring right now is suitable for experimentation. The paper slipped in printing, so the printing was never completed, and this one could never be part of the edition.  However it can be of use to try color combinations and ideas, and this one reflects that.


For all the furniture, I went with Cobalt Teal Blue, the closet color I have to the restaurant's turquoise, and I think I'll stick with that.  For the wall I went with New Gamboge, trying out both a full strength yellow-orange toward the corner, and a pale version to the right, and I think the pale version will be what I go with. Used that same color on the ceiling.  The light fixture and fan were colored to look like they did in the original photo.  For most of the people, I started with clothing and hair from the original photos I used, except for the standing woman in red toward the right- her original dress was pale blue and it disappeared into the background of the turquoise furniture, thus the change.  The pizza, of course, is based on my observations of the one I got a few weeks ago. For the floor I was playing with a pale grayish purple, and there are things I haven't tried yet. I'll study what I have here a bit before trying color on the better proof, but this tells me some things.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Vesuvio part 18


My plan for today had been to hang out in my apartment and do some coloring of my new piece.  But life interfered.  My school is on remote learning now, not that I would expect to be there today, but this seems to have students in a panic like everyone else.  First papers are due on Friday, but a bunch arrived today.  Normally I make the score sheets by making copies from the ones I created years ago, but it looks like I won't be in the department office any time soon.  So I went with the old window light box and traced it onto new paper.  Prepared two. I don't love reading and grading papers, but it's got to be done at some point, so if I'm stuck in my apartment, might as well get it done.  It's much easier to grade papers when it's printed out and in my hands, but I can only get them over the internet these days, so it's a lot of back and forth from one site to another.  Eventually I got it done, including sending back comments over email.  Plus some other student emails.

By the time that was done, night had fallen. I can color at night, and did so, but there just isn't enough light inside my apartment to take a decent photo, so pictures of what I did today will have to wait until tomorrow.  You'll just have to trust that I added colors to my first Vesuvio print.   There will be more tomorrow- I have a long way to go.


Monday, March 23, 2020

Life in the 21st Century


Late last night we got another e-mail from the Studio.  More of those same restrictive rules, plus something else- more limits on building access.  Some of it I had already heard. One new thing was that they may have to end some activity, anything considered non-essential was being banned in many places.

Woke to a depressing kind of day.   Not much light leaking around the shades, sounds of raindrops hitting the windows- a good day to just stay in bed.  But I had things to do.   The usual morning routine, then in the car for errands. To the bank, where all business must be conducted through the drive-through because they are afraid to let people in the lobby, got some money and answers to some questions.  Filled up my gas tank, then up to the Studio.  Over the weekend I had brought home my new proofs, my watercolors, so I had things to keep me busy for a little while, in case I couldn't go back to work in the usual place.  Could use some more wood, though, because eventually I would have a new print to do. And maybe more answers.  So I got another hunk of wood, the right size for a new supermarket print, brought that out to the car (bagged up against the rain), then went inside to learn more from the office.

The good news was that for me things might not be as changed.  When I was briefly in my Studio it was very much a mess- Molly was working on some big project recently, so that was nothing new.  But what I learned today was that what we do in our little basement space is consider printing, which qualifies us as an essential business, almost the same as manufacturing.  No classes running, no groups meeting, but we could both continue to do our thing for now.  That is a relief.  I was still planning to head home for a while and would work from there, but I was more relaxed knowing that I could go back to the Studio when I was ready to.

One more stop on the way home, the supermarket, to pick up a few grocery items and do some research.  The crazy behavior seen in supermarkets lately, panic buying caused by reactions to the current pandemic thing, seems like it has to be turned into a print. Had similar ideas following Hurricane Sandy, but the idea never quite gelled.  Have a lot more ideas now, think I know how to pull it off, but that will wait until I finish my current piece.

Back home, dealt with some school stuff first.  We got put on a remote teaching system for the rest of the semester, which turns out to be much more work than just going to the campus to teach in person. But the bank shows that we are still getting paid, so I'll keep doing it.  Not having access to the art building or my students in person has meant making a lot of changes to my semester.  Could be worse- a lot of what goes on in that building seems impossible to do at home or to teach over the internet, while much of what my class does can be- just need to figure out the rest.  My college classes almost always include some kind of print project, since it is what I know best.  In a drawing class usually a monotype, in 2D it might be a relief print, and in the Intro class I have these days, usually a collograph. A simple process, we are doing a variety involving relief and plates made from cardboard and cast off objects (so free stuff), I have all the needed tools and inks, and it fits into new school requirements for mixed media and texture stuff.  And the students seem to like it- learning a process they can do and make use of things around them. The problem is that it won't work in this new online system.  I can give them the assignment, describe it over the internet, show them photos of many previous student examples, but most of the needed tools and materials are in my car and they won't have access to them.  To do that multi part print project under current circumstances would require them having to buy a lot of tools and materials not on their semester list, which I wouldn't want to do, I don't know if it's even possible to find much of them around here these days, and most students won't spend the money anyway.  Laying in bed this morning, I thought of something I can have them do, using materials they already have plus found objects, and will satisfy the same requirements. But that's a problem for next week.  Today I had to put together information related to pastels, since the current project uses them and I won't be there in person to explain or advise on this. The blog system I am using for teaching is quite suitable for this- put information in a place where the students can find it.

Never got back to my current print, one of which I have taped to a drawing board, ready to attempt come color experiments.  Have all that stuff at home now, so maybe I'll get something done tomorrow.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Vesuvio part 17


All the news across the country seems to be governors battling to show who will be tougher on the corona virus.  Not knowing what will be coming tomorrow, I decided that this morning I should start taking care of some tasks that would need to be done, while I still could. I've had a song running through my head by the Police- "When the world is running down, you make the best of what is still around," from one of their early 80's albums.  The narrator sings of sitting around enjoying his old records and videotapes, because there ain't any more being produced.  Get some of that feeling of late.  Food stores look looted, so much else is closed down, including businesses that many rely on.  Got word yesterday that the BAC has decided to close its gallery for the duration.

So with all that going on, I set out.  First I had to repair a pair of jeans. Noticed a seam split the other day on one of my work pairs, and the places I used to buy them have mostly gone out of business.  Eventually I'll have to find a new source, but for today, sew them up.  (making the best of what is still around) Then I took a ride to the closest Home Depot.  Decided I should get a new piece of 1/2" birch plywood, what I've been using for woodcuts in recent years, as I don't have any large pieces left.  Don't need it immediately, but it will get used eventually.  Have doubts about the April woodcut class in Belmar running, but I do have ideas for the next supermarket print.  Plus I did have a gift card.  Just enough to get a new 2'x4' piece of plywood.


My next stop was the Studio, convenient because I had to drop off my latest purchase.  I did so, but I also had work to do.  With all these doubts about the future, I figured I should go ahead and pull a better proof of my new block, while I could still access my Studio. (nothing has been announced yet, but that other shoe may drop sometime) I brought the block back inside, and had tools with me.

When I proofed it the first time, Sonic Youth seemed to fit well, so went with them again today.  Started with the one I had there in the Studio- Daydream Nation.  First step was cleaning up the block- removing missed remnants that would leave stray marks. Especially wanted to clear any that were on depicted skin, ones on objects could be parts of them.  The other thing I did was go over that ceiling shadow, and took out some of the black bits. No particular pattern, just took out some of the black on the block.  Adjusted a few other shapes as well. When I felt I had done enough, I cleaned up the wood shavings, and laid out some ink.  Rolled it up, taped some obvious problems, then prepared to print. Brought some Rives Lightweight with me, easier to hand print, but I will have to tape it down before I color.  Luckily, I have a large roll of paper tape for that purpose.


This second proof is definitely much better.  First of all, more complete.  There was a slip at the end, but it as pretty much finished at that point.  Color will cover some of this, which will hide some flaws, and draw attention away from other things.  I'm satisfied so far. The first proof will be fine for the first experiments, and if I find something I like, I will color this version as well.  Because color is a big part of the original location, this piece won't be finished until then.

When the first disc ended, another Sonic Youth, brought from home. Went with the album that followed the other one, Goo.  Similar in some ways, but with their now bigger reputation, a bigger hit. Did videos and everything.  As that played, cleaned up the ink, and shot some photos. Mostly demonstrating how pastels work, since we are in the midst of a pastel project in my college class and I can't demonstrate these things in person these days.

My next stop was in Belmar.  We had gotten an email saying that the gallery would be closing for the duration of this virus problem, after the day shift ended today at 3 pm.  Wanted to find out some information before it closed, so I can post it to the blog later.  So I got there, learned what I needed.  And then home to relax, check all the school emails, etc.




Friday, March 20, 2020

I do not like green eggs and ham


The other day my mother decided to stop at a local place and get some bagels, and then she received a gift- the place slipped her a green bagel.  I assume it was some kind of St Patrick's Day promotion, but no one is out buying anything these days, so I guess they were giving them away.  She didn't want it either, and last time I was there she bequeathed it to me.  I told her, "I do not like green eggs and ham," (and if I had any, I would probably assume it was time to throw them out), but I was kind of iffy on green bagels, so I took it.  Brought it home, put it in a plastic bag, stuck it in the fridge, where it would remain fine for a few days.  But now it is a meatless Friday in lent, and my college is afraid to hold classes, so I am at home.  A bagel can make a quick lunch.


So shortly before my lunch break, I took it out to get back to room temperature, sliced it (just as green all the way through), stuck it in the toaster oven and gave it a good toasting.  Spread with cream cheese it tasted like a regular bagel, so it turns out I do eat green bagels.

The original plan was to shut down in person classes at the college for two weeks, though they asked us for lesson plans for four (we have 8 weeks left in the semester).  Then last night we got an e-mail hinting that they might just cancel every meeting for the rest of the semester.  Not good for art classes, which are built on an idea of students working in studios, doing processes, using tools and specialized equipment.  Hard to even imagine ceramics, metalwork, or furniture design happening over the internet.  Things can be shown, but can't be done over the web.  My class is a bit simpler, and I posted instructions, images of example, active links to more stuff, all relevant to a project that they can do at home. (Been doing this project for years, and with frequent absences, most end up doing much of it at home anyway.)   But some of the students are very confused as to what all this means, and being Friday, no one with any power was around, so no ruling so far. When asked, I told students that for now they had an art project and a written assignment to work on, and I'd let them know something after I am told what is going on.

The news today was full of stories of states closing down more and more businesses, so after my classes were done, I took a few minutes to drive up to Ocean Grove and retrieve my current block. Just in case things happen that would prevent me from going back in there for a while.  Nichole was in the office, and said something about the place being open tomorrow, so maybe I'll go back tomorrow and try to pull a better proof.  Time may be running out.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

St Joseph's Day, 2020


Here at Studio Arrabbiata we do celebrate a few holidays and today was one- St Joseph's Day.  Very important day in Italy, but almost no one else has heard of it.  (Doesn't get nearly as much press as the  much less significant St Patrick.) The traditional celebration includes a traditional treat, a filled zeppole, and many times on this day I have one, and have shown it here.  But this is not a traditional St. Joseph's Day right now- the corona virus has much of the country shut down right now, including many businesses.  A lot of bakeries aren't even open these days.  On the way home from the Studio I stopped at one place I thought might have one, but they didn't, and I didn't want to travel around the county looking for one. So I fell back on my second option, a nice bowl of a classic Italian dish, fettuccine with sugo (sauce from the batch I made a few weeks ago).


A nice dusting of freshly grated pecorino romano, and you have something as tasty as you will find, even if you don't have a nice pastry filled with cannoli cream to go with it.  Had to settle for some thin mints I had left from my Girl Scout cookie stash.

Happy St Joseph's Day from Studio Arrabbiata!


Vesuvio part 16


Got e-mail from Nichole last night, an update.  Much of what was there is what we had discussed yesterday.  The locked doors, the cancelled and postponed items, that was the same, and for now we can still get in to do our work, just can't hold events. but I had no plans to any time soon.  Two new things- toilet paper is being rationed in the public restrooms, since it is too hard to get now.  Still mystified by this hoarding of toilet paper- if I had a paper mill, I'd be cranking out the stuff 24 hours a day.  Even without price gouging, there's probably money to be made.  The other thing- there is still a plan to hold green room classes in the summer.  If they want me, I'll be ready.

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm anxious to finish this new piece and glad that so far I have studio access, but fear that could change.  I'm off today, so guess where I went.  The building was pretty empty today, just me and Bobby in the basement, and I could hear the sound of his power grinding and chiseling.  In my space, music of course, discs from my library there.  Started with my home burned Wipers collection, and when that ran out, I put in something that felt related, Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth.  This Sonic Youth album predated videos, but it got a lot of attention in the press and put them on the map, and came out around the same time as the original Wipers albums.  And while both bands were built around extensive loud electric guitars, both seemed interested in making textural atmospheric music.

When I arrived at the Studio my first task was to take a pencil rubbing of the block in its current state, and I had brought a sheet of newsprint for that purpose.  The first thing I found was that I hadn't cut the eyes on the other seated pizza diner in the other corner, so I took care of that in a few seconds. Other than that, I liked what I saw.  There is a nice graphic nature to these pencil rubbings.


With the shadows on the ceiling I decided to go with an optical gray over the whole thing, and with the floor to cut some out and leave some black.  Did that, and the textural nature of the Wipers didn't hurt.


With that done, I decided I had enough time to pull a test proof of the block, the first one.  I had brought print paper for that purpose, and grabbed my printing bag from the car. Much smaller than the large deer print that had been my last print, so a much quicker process.  First proofs never have enough ink in the initial inking, and I considered re-inking as I went, but then I could see that the proof had slipped a little, and once that happens you are done- almost impossible to get it lined up the same again.


So not one I could use as a good proof, but complete enough to see where I was at, and good enough to do some color experiments on.  Needs a few days to dry first, and I'm too busy with school this week to deal with it right away.  Still, brought home all my watercolors as well, in case I do it there.  I prefer to work in the Studio, but if events continue to evolve and we get locked out, I can continue this process at home for a while.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Vesuvio part 15


When I got to the Studio building today there were few cars in the lot, and the front door was locked. Odd, but I have a key.  Let myself in, and stopped to talk to Nichole.  She said the door was locked by plan.  Partly to keep people out- fewer visitors, less time they had to spend cleaning.  And there may be some kind of statewide ban on performing arts centers. Tenants like myself are still allowed to come and go, and we all have keys, so no problem.

Once I took care of my initial school work, decided to take advantage of the day to get some art work done, too. For music today, went with things I had there.  One I mentioned the other day, Giant Sand (maybe why it was on my mind today) and the collection Giant Songs.  When that ended, a disc I got from my friend Doug, Street Songs of Love by Alejandro Escovedo.  No relationship that I know of between the two acts, but similar style music- the kind of thing where a radio station that might play one would likely also play the other.  That would be a good station to listen to.


As for today's artwork, I continued where I left off yesterday. It wasn't until I got home yesterday that I noticed that I hadn't cut out the glasses on my seated diner to the right, so I took care of that first.  Then the other six figures scattered around the restaurant.  Still haven't touched the shadows on the ceiling and floor, but maybe I should take a rubbing of the whole thing first, check my value balance, before I cut those last few parts.

Not wanting to take any chances, brought the block back home with me again.  Getting close enough on this that I want to see it done, and would hate for some new law to suddenly take away my access to the block.  If the Studio is open tomorrow, maybe I'll finish it up.



Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Vesuvio part 14


Had no new e-mails to deal with this morning, so got my school stuff taken care of quickly and a few other local errands (more and more of a challenge as this virus moves through our nation) and got myself up to the Studio in the late morning.  Didn't bother to pick any particular music to bring with me- figured I had enough there in my library that I'd find something suitable.  There was evidence that Molly had been there since yesterday, but she wasn't there while I was, so music got played. Just started flipping through my cd collection until something sounded right to me, and I ended up with Vendetta by The Brood. Good high energy music suitable for this blah kind of day.  An early 90's girl group, with a retro sound like a 60's girl group, and a look like the Ramones in drag, so all over the place.  Think I first heard them on my friend Kathy's weekday rock show, but my friend Doug also mentioned them around the same time, which is not a surprise as they were both really into music and knew my tastes.  When that disc ended, I went with something different but related, the debut album from Elastica.  Not quite a girl group but close- a male drummer but all guitars and vocals came from the 3 women in the band.  Found them at the radio station in Carbondale, where we had an advance EP on the new releases shelf, and an very long time passed before the self titled album followed.  Part of the British guitar group fad, perhaps the best in my opinion, but like so many of those groups, follow up albums couldn't live up to the first, and soon they were gone.  Also good high energy music.

Today I started on the wall artwork, framed reproductions of paintings.  There are items in the background of the image and can be treated as such.  I sketched in the basic shapes in pencil, and cut them out in a very reductive manner. Crude images that will lack the presence of everything else in the room and won't compete.  Then I started on some figures, taking on the two on the right.  The two most clear in my drawings.  At that point the second disc ended, and I was getting hungry for lunch and decided to end the session.



I ran into Nichole on the first floor and updated her on a few things.  One thing she mentioned was that she expected our building would remain open during regular hours for the duration of this health crisis, which is good because this is where I work.  Still, decided not to take a chance, and brought the block home with me.  Things have been happening way too fast the past few weeks, and I'd hate to have access to one of my blocks get cut off.  Predictions are for nice weather tomorrow, so no difficulty in bringing it back to the Studio and see how far I can get on this.


Monday, March 16, 2020

Vesuvio part 13


Like so many other schools, my employer decided the way to go was to close campus for a while. Not sure what the point is, since it is assumed that everyone will eventually get infected anyway, no matter where you are, and younger people so far are the least likely to develop any serious symptoms.  But for now the campus is essentially locked down and we were put under orders to teach remotely for the next few weeks, using the internet.  (if this had happened back when I was a college student I don't know what would have happened, since the internet hadn't been invented yet, but somehow we learned a lot just using books and such) Spent much time the past few days on the computer, coming up with plans, and sending e-mails, probably 40 or 50 just the past few days.  Plus the time spent creating documents to be mass distributed, building websites, etc.  By this afternoon I was ready for a break from computers and video screens, and for my money, nothing serves this idea better than cutting wood.  Since my college days I have known that putting hands to work was a good cure for fried brains, and in my recent woodcut classes I've had those students tell me that they searched the state for a woodcut class just to find something not involving a computer.  So I shut down my PC, and went to my Studio.

Have a project to work on, so it was not a waste of time.  Before I shut it down, used the computer to get a better look at my original digital photo of the interior, so I'd know a little better what I was aiming for.  Was in a jazz mood today, so brought with me my home burned Dexter Gordon Blue Note compilation, and of course my Vesuvio block, my good tools.

The ceiling fan was easy.  Cut the glass parts of the light fixture, but left the rest for now.  In the photo appears to be black metal, so I'll be revealing it as in the negative space in those shadows on the ceiling.  Haven't settled on a plan for that yet, so I'm holding off on that just a little longer. My block drawing gave me enough information to handle the hanging plant.  If this was a black and white print, I'd just leave it black, but since I have color to work with, I cut those leaves out.  Also did a starting version of the walls, though I won't be surprised if in inking I learn there are things that need more work.



What is left is the four framed artworks on the walls (vague shapes of color will be fine for these things meant to be in the background), those ceiling shadows, perhaps some floor shadows, and of course all the people.  These last few items will have to be worked out slowly, as the overall balance of light and dark will depend on them.  But it's good to have something to serve that purpose.

When I got home, fired up the computer, and found I had three new student e-mails that I had to answer right away.  I enjoyed my time with wood while it lasted.


Friday, March 13, 2020

Vesuvio part 12


I'd call this a rare Friday off from school, but we will be off the next few as well, with the college closing the campus against the virus and all classes switching to remote learning (internet in other words).  But I hate to waste time, and wanted to get to town to check on my new show there, so I included a Studio stop in my day's schedule.


Today's music was the album Algiers by Calexico.  Not a huge hit album by any standards, but the weird atmosphere created by this virus thing had me thinking of Hurricane Sandy and I associate this album with that time. The storm destroyed the local electrical system, and we were without power for over 10 days.  I suppose the whole experience could have been a lot worse.  My brick apartment building had no damage, and we're up on a ridge, so no flooding.  We have gas for everything, so a gas stove that lit with a pilot light, let the water run for a few minutes and the warm water came up, and the pipes running under the floor meant that it was always warm.  So like an easy form of camping.  No electricity meant no tv or internet all that time, but I had a good supply of candles, and my transistor/short wave radio, which was my only entertainment in that time. The station at Brookdale stayed on the air, and the program director must have really liked that album because it was in heavy rotation, and the songs got played a lot.  Got to liking it, too.   Ended up putting it on my Christmas list.  A band from the southwest, mixing rock, folk, latin styles, all in a very acoustic mellow way.  I believe that the two main guys were part of Giant Sand at one point, but pretty much everyone in that part of the country played for Giant Sand at some point.

The easiest thing to tackle today was the upholstered banquettes, so that was my first goal, cutting all those out.  Also did the curtains on either side of the window, having drawn in the pattern of them a few days earlier.  Cut out that window and what could be seen through it, and that took all the time I had, so I ended things right there.  For the ceiling fan and light I want to look at photos again on the internet, so that had to wait.  Getting close though, maybe a week or so away from finishing it.

Supermarket Opening in Ocean Grove part 2


Watching the news this morning as I was getting ready for my day I saw a familiar sight- the supermarket across the street from where I live.  The news story was that early in the morning that 24 hour store was mobbed with crazed shoppers.  Right now this country is in the midst of a pandemic, the covid 19 virus has arrived and ain't going away, despite our president's insistence for weeks that it would. The virus is said to be highly contagious, and some experts predict that eventually most of the people in this country will have it.  There is no cure, and a preventing vaccine is likely at least a year away at best.

The good news is that most will survive it- the mortality rate is fairly low, mostly affecting the elderly who also already have other health issues.  But that hasn't stopped a lot of people from panicking.  For instance, the university that employs me has joined the throng and decided to close their campus to faculty and students through the end of March.  But classes will still be going on by remote learning, which means using the internet to teach them.  Art is not a subject that works well under such circumstances (art has been taught person to person for many centuries), and we were only given one day's notice to make the changes, which had to be reported to the school.  Like everyone else I have given them enough for now, and I'll get it figured out as I go- don't have class again for another week.  And in general anything that involves gathering in public places has been cancelled or postponed, which also complicates my classes, but we're working on those plans, too.  Since none of my immediate family has been affected yet, the biggest problem I have faced is the loss of basketball- all the seasonal college tournaments went from no changes, to playing with no live audience, to cancelled and the season is over, sometimes in the same day.  (it kind of hurt)  I also learned today that the fish and chips Lenten dinner at a local church was called off, the second biggest disappointment, but with most of the participants being elderly people, it's probably for the best.  The reception for the fiber arts show in Belmar this weekend was cancelled (again, a very old audience), which saves me from having to go blog about it.

But I still can't figure out the supermarket thing.  Panic buying I understand- we have a lot of storms come through in the course of a year.  My mother has remarked how every time snow is threatened, everyone wants to make French Toast.  (rapidly buying bread, eggs, and butter). Hurricanes and nor'easters have the same effect, both before and after.  Hurricane Sandy took away our electricity for 10 days, and those stores that could open were quickly emptied of any food that didn't require refrigeration or complex cooking, as well as batteries of all sizes and candles.  I always prepare so I don't have to fight for that stuff later, but I understand the demand.  Weird stuff this time around.  My mother mentioned going to a supermarket recently and no jars of spaghetti sauce were available, as if everyone in the area decided that was the best food to eat during this time.  I hear bottled water is getting bought up rapidly, but I don't know why, as water flows from the tap just fine and this virus has nothing to do with the water supply.  Hand sanitizer, I can see that one- I use regular soap and water, but a lot of people prefer the waterless lotions as a preventive for this virus, so it's sold out everywhere and impossible to get.  But what really mystifies me is the demand for toilet paper. It's what people were scrambling to get this morning, and the other day I saw a news story about two women who came to blows fighting over the last bundle in another store.  And when I stopped by a supermarket later today on the way home,  looked down the paper aisle and the shelves were barren of everything except the signs telling people of limits per customer on these items. For the few who get this disease it's a respiratory illness, so why is so much toilet paper needed? Perhaps there's a supermarket print in all this.  Have to give it some thought.

Meanwhile, I have a current supermarket print show to deal with.  When I dropped off the prints a few days ago was told it would probably be up in two days, so since I was in Ocean Grove anyway, I decided to go see how it had gone.  Plus, I had e-mailed a bio and artist statement and wanted to see if they had gotten it.  By the afternoon the rain had stopped, so I just walked up the street to see what was what.  Despite the sun and relatively warm day, the streets were pretty empty- saw more dogs being walked than pedestrians, but that is typical of Ocean Grove.


Since the other day her plan for hanging the show changed a little. The framed print was now on another wall opposite these, and the ten unframed prints hung edge to edge on the empty wall, just filling the space. My statement stuck to the wall just beneath them in the middle, as seen above.  The prints are all at eye level, and the bold images are easily noticed and draw attention.  Of course, the store was empty today in early March, but I know how this town is, and a little later this spring the crowd will start showing up, and people start wandering into all these stores, and if the right person sees a print, I may get a sale.  So we shall see.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Vesuvio part 11

Hate to waste a trip to Ocean Grove, so once I was done with my gallery errand, I put my tote bag in my car, grabbed my backpack, and headed down to my space. Still no sign of Molly, so it was a music day.  Chose my Morphine disc from the library there- described on the blog last year if you care about it.

Hadn't done any extra research since yesterday, so all I could do is continue with what I knew.  Still a lot to go.

Continued with what was clearest, the tables and chairs. Now all the tables at the back of the room are cut, as are the chairs near them. Then I cut anything on the tables- food, utensils, glasses, condiments, etc.  I stopped there today.  The walls and paintings can be figured from the photo I have, as well as the banquettes around the room.   Ceiling, floor, and people, those will require more thinking, so that will be put off for a few days.  But it seems to be coming along.

Supermarket Opening in Ocean Grove


Things move quickly sometimes.  Spent much of the morning dealing with the latest crisis at my college, which has joined the throng of schools that has decided to close the campus and switch to an online format temporarily.  This is in response to the corona virus epidemic, which has definitely arrived in this country.  We are off this week for spring break, but they want to know by tomorrow how we will be teaching our classes for the rest of March, even as faculty and students are banned from campus.  And for good measure, our plans for classes the first half of April, even though they tell us to expect to be able to return by then.  Even when there are no classes, we are expected to be working.

But that's a problem for tomorrow. Today I had to deal with a sudden surprise show.  This is the one I was offered yesterday by Jackie, and she also wanted to know quickly, so I had agreed to stop by today to see the space, show her some work, and maybe leave it with her to install.  In our discussion yesterday she indicated an interest in black and white prints, and based on the size she described, I figured supermarket prints would work best.  Dug up a bunch from my supply, filled one of my BAC large tote bags with unframed prints, and one framed one as an example, carried it to my car, and drove up to the Studio building.  Parked in our lot and called her (as she requested) to let her know I was on my way.  I had scouted the location from my car on the way home yesterday, but still I took her up on her offer to wait on the sidewalk.  Did not take long to get up the street.

The location is called Artisan Home and Design, located at 62A Main Ave in Ocean Grove.  The part of Main that was built as the business district is all typical commercial buildings, but many of the houses along Main have also been converted to stores and restaurants, including basements that can be accessed from the street.  That is the case with this place.  That big porch there in the front was not the destination.


The gallery is reached by a stairway to the right, take that down.


Get to the purple door, and you've made it.


No photos of inside, but there are a variety of rooms, some are Jackie's gallery, some belong to her partner in this, a guy who sells vintage toys. Her plan for me was a large blank wall not far from the front door.  She sees my framed piece in the center, and kept 10 of the unframed prints to tack up around it.  She and her partner were very impressed with the prints, which they agreed were unlike anything else that have ever shown there.  Not a surprise, as my black and white prints can pack a real punch.  

When I asked about the duration of the show, she mentioned maybe until the end of March, until her partner pointed out that it was only a few weeks away.  Turns out she thought it was February, but now knowing it was mid-March, she now suggested late April, if not beyond that.  No problem- I have no immediate exhibition plans for any of these prints, and I know from experience that as the weather gets warmer, foot traffic on Main increases, especially around Easter. No guarantees in art, but I do know that nothing would have sold sitting under my bed, so why not get it up on a wall that may draw a crowd looking to spend money? Promised I would send them a statement and bio via e-mail, took my tote bag, and walked back to my car.