Friday, March 22, 2019

East Meets West Reception

After what seems like years of effort, the East Meets West exhibition is up on the walls, and there was an opening reception for the show.  The host, the Jersey Shore Arts Center, had selected the time and date.  The show itself has been up for a few weeks and from what I hear is a success, with lots of positive reactions coming in from visitors.  However, this would be the first time we'd hear directly from some of those visitors, and the participants.

The schedule I had seen called for it to be held from 5 to 7 pm this evening, but in at least one place the hours were listed as 7 to 9, so it was decided to cover all the possibilities.  Through a combination of artist fees and donations, Mary had gotten us a variety of refreshments, and invited attending artists to bring a few things.  Because of our extra long reception Mary thought it would be good to have a couple of pans of lasagne heating in the kitchen, for those who would be coming directly from work (such as myself) and might not have time to eat a meal.  Of course, what is lasagne without some nice Italian bread to soak up the extra sauce, so in place of one of my soda bottles, I picked up a nice olive loaf to put out, either on the general table or with the lasagne later.  Got my late class finished quickly today and got to the Parkway before the main rush hour traffic, so I got down the shore well before things were planned to begin.

Not a huge crowd at any one time, but people coming and going throughout the event.  Some of the people I invited did show up,  so I was able to talk to them, answer questions, etc.  We weren't expecting the west coast participants to make it, but several of our NJ people were there and they seemed pleased with the show, as they should be.

The food table included lots of crackers, sliced cheeses and salami, sandwich wraps, cake, and later some of that lasagne came out as well.  Participants took some of the leftovers when they went home, and the rest was delivered to the theater in the building where a show was going on.  (when a show ends the actors are always ready to eat) 

As for the exhibition, it still has a few more weeks to go.  After that, we don't know.  It would be great if we could get a west coast showing, and the prints are pretty much ready to go- just needs to be shipped.  But we don't know if they have a place out there for it to go, and the Portland organizers don't seem particularly interested in getting one going.  Here in the east our organizer was very pleased with the results and is hoping for more events in the future, but will be happy to have a little time off before the next big show.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

2019 NCAA Tournament of Art

As I wrote yesterday, the annual NCAA mens basketball tournament is practically a holiday in this country.  This week countless individuals will be filling out bracket predictions for the Tournament, which gets going tomorrow.  (need to work on mine tonight)  Some people will go beyond logic to throw their support behind schools that they attended, or the local schools they know.  Since none of my alma maters are in it this year, the biggest support at this Studio will go to my art schools, colleges that are part of the basketball tournament this year that are also schools where I have some kind of art connection, such as a past exhibition, or have my art in their collection.  Some years I have several.  This year just three, and a few of interest that I'll get to soon.

This year's schools are LSU (East region 3 seed), Villanova (South region 6 seed) and Syracuse (West region 8 seed).   Villanova (exhibition of 2 prints in 1997) has won the whole thing in the recent past, and having seen them play I know they are a dangerous and skilled team.  I don't know that they will win it, but I wouldn't count them out.  The national bias against teams from the northeast means no one is predicting them to go far.  And I don't really know much about the other two schools.  LSU (group folio exhibition in 2006) has a fairly high seed, which means at least some people expect them to win a few games.  Syracuse (exhibition of 3 prints in 2005) has a low seed for a power conference school, which tells me the committee doesn't expect them to get too far, but we'll see.

There were a number of schools that I have connection to that didn't quite make it.  Some were bubble teams that many expected to be in the hunt, but lost their tickets in recent weeks.   There's one school I have a deep connection to (attendance, exhibitions, collection) but I had no expectation that they would be part of it, so I was not surprised that they aren't.   The College of William and Mary has been a part of Division I in basketball since the division was founded, but is one of 4 schools with that long a history in the sport who has never been invited to the tournament.  A few times in recent years they have gotten far into their conference tournament, where a win would get them an automatic bid, but they never won that last game, and they would never be given an at large bid.

But they do relate to some teams of interest.  A few years ago VCU made a surprise run deep into the tournament and I wrote about them.  And they are in it again this year, an 8 seed in the East.  Not expected to go far, but then they weren't in the past either.  What made them a team of interest is that many Virginia based students used to ask me why I didn't go there, as it is the primary art school in the state, as opposed to the one I graduated from.  Simple answer- I didn't know of this reputation, and I had no plans to study art when I went to college anyway.   Later I did learn that VCU was once part of William and Mary.  It had been started as part of a Richmond school, and for about a decade was attached to the college in Williamsburg, before eventually being separated again and becoming an independent university.  But it's not now, or during my lifetime, and I have never even been to the campus or had any art there, so it's not one of my art schools.  More recently I learned that Old Dominion University (South region, 14 seed) was once part of the college of William and Mary, and in fact was founded that way.  It started life as the Norfolk division of the college (sort of a junior college in the state system), and stayed that way for a long time, gaining independence I think in the 1960's.  (this was never mentioned at W&M while I was there) Still, I'm not going to count that as one of my art schools.  As with VCU, I have never been to the ODU campus, nor has any of my art, and I don't count branches of schools in this tournament, only the main campus of the school which is where the basketball team is generally from.  So for now they just remain a school of interest, and not one of my art schools, so I only have 3 colleges in the tournament this year.

As in past years, I'll update the status of my art schools after each weekend has passed.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

St Joseph's Day 2019

I mentioned a few weeks ago that one of the three holidays we celebrate here at Studio Arrabbiata is St Joseph's Day, with March 19th being the feast day for St Joseph, who is the patron saint of Italy, of people who work with wood, of dessert bakers, and I'm sure many other peoples.  For Italians one of the customs for celebrating this day is enjoying a nice filled zeppole, stuffed with cannoli cream or whipped cream, etc, and often I have done that, but I didn't find any in the places I went today.  So maybe no fancy dessert, but a nice Italian dish of pasta is always available in my kitchen, in this case fettuccine with a family recipe meat sauce that goes very well on this dish, plus lots of freshly grated imported pecorino romano cheese.  Followed up with some cookies.

Actually, thinking about it, there may be four holidays that we celebrate, when you throw in Selection Sunday, which occurred a few days ago, the day when this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament bracket is announced.  May not be an official holiday on most calendars, but one surely celebrated in offices all around the country.  In the next day or two I'll have my annual NCAA tournament of art announced, schools that will be playing basketball in the big tournament that are also schools where I have some kind of art connection.  Maybe I'll get that done tomorrow.

The Circus part 16

Back to the Studio this afternoon to continue on my latest coloring project.  This time I opened my watercolor case to have access to all my paints and palettes.  Continued where I left off yesterday, with everything that wasn't fried.  Some was relatively easy, using my printed out photos as my color source for the architecture and sign.  Some colors are not in those photos, so in those cases I relied on memories, or my painting experience to figure out solutions. May make some changes to the food tray before the next printing- I'll consider what I'm seeing here over the next few days.

Used some of the drying breaks to move some print stuff from my car to the Studio, cleaning before the car goes in for maintenance.  I also tracked down Nichole, so we could finally have our meeting regarding teaching classes in the building.  When her injury last week caused her to miss our planned meeting I attached some documents and images to e-mails and sent that to her.  She seemed impressed by what I sent her, so I guess now it's just a matter of working out details with the building.

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Circus part 15

Having finished my framing job, my second planned task at the Studio today was to check on my new print and maybe start coloring if it was dry enough.  I noticed that my Circus print was of similar size to the Ecclesiastes series and wondered if I could put those frames to the same use.  Turned out not exactly the same- same height, but slightly wider, so I couldn't use the window as I had it.  However, there was enough margin in the cut window mat that I could expand the window a little bit on each side and make it fit.  No immediate plan to exhibit this piece yet, but as long as I had all my mat cutting equipment out, and the final version of the print won't be changing dimensions, why not deal with this now?  So a little careful measuring, and placement of my bevel cutter, and I now had a slightly bigger window for when I am ready to show it.  No time soon as I still need to work out the colors and pull a better proof.

One of my plans for today was to start the coloring of the Circus proof I pulled the other day, and it was dry enough to do so.  Didn't get started as soon as I would have liked, but this time of year we have a bit more daylight, so I decided to start it before going home for the day.  And I decided to start with that soft-shell crab platter.  For now, used premixed colors I had, plus the photo I have of the actual food item itself.

About a half hour in and there is still a long way to go.  Not a surprise- I expected that capturing the richness of all this deep fried goodness will require a lot of layered watercolors.  Still, already it looks better, and what I have here will make even more sense when the colors of the sky and building are added to the print.

St Georgia Comes Back Again

Last month I was at my brother's house and he asked me when they would get their St Georgia print.  He hoped before her 2nd birthday.  I had done saint prints for each of his other two children, which I framed in some old Ecclesiastes frames, with new mats to fit both frame and print.  I completed a prototype for a St Georgia print (latest daughter) a long time ago, and finished making a copy for them last summer.  Just hadn't gotten around the framing it yet, as the school year gets very busy.  But with another birthday coming, maybe I should get to it.  A few weeks ago I picked up a frame at my parent's house, and located a suitable piece of mat board in my supples.  (it used to be easier to buy mat board years ago, but most of the places I typically got it have gone out of business or just stopped selling it)  So when my brother asked me about it again a few days ago, I was able to give him an answer- I believed I had materials and planned to deal with it after the weekend.  And that weekend has come and gone.

This afternoon I brought that older frame, my found piece of mat board, the St Georgia print that has been in my apartment for months, and got up to the Studio.  I store the mat cutting equipment and my home made machine there, and it has a suitable table.  I store the mat cutting machine behind my drying rack, so the first task was extricating it from that place, but after that it went smoothly.  First I cut a piece of mat board to fit the new frame, then a nice beveled window to fit the size of a saint print, not the same as the Ecclesiastes print that had been in there before.   It occurred to me that this frame might be about the right size for my new Circus print as well.  Deal with that after I finish the first one.

The rest of the process went as expected. Cut the window and set it aside.  Trimmed the print of the excess paper tape, signed it and mounted it, Then assembled the whole thing and framed it.  Job done.  Next time I go over to his house, he can have the 3rd saint print, which I believe is framed to match the first two.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Circus part 14

After examining yesterday's pencil rubbing of the new block, I found no obvious places I missed cutting, so today I moved onto to next task, pulling a proof.  Only way to find out what I got is to print it.  Decided to go with some Rives Heavyweight, since this piece will be colored, and that paper can hold up to multiple attempts at coloring, which may happen with a first color attempt.  So I grabbed a set of the chosen paper, and everything else I needed was already out in the car or in the Studio.

Everything went as I expected.  No big complications in the inking, and the balance I was working on  for the space between the rooftop sign and the food in the foreground shows up so far.  After a preliminary inking I pulled a quick proof on a piece of newspaper, then re-inked the block.  When it seemed properly inked, I started printing it on a piece of the Heavyweight I had brought with me today.

Above is my test proof.  This is just a practice copy, so I'm not worried about the stray marks here and there.   Everything that I cut seems to be what I intended it to be, and I expect will look even more like what I planned when the color comes in.  I left the proof in my drying rack for now.  It will be a few days before it will be dry enough to start the first attempt at coloring, but since much of the scene is based on photos I have, there is already a plan as to how I will proceed.  If I don't like the balance of color and value at that point, I'll make adjustments until I get something I am satisfied with.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Circus part 13

Brought my block back to the Studio for another cutting session today.  Since the last time, I had looked at photos taken of the building that I had stored on my computer and made adjustments to my block sketch.  With that information, time to resume cutting, which today meant that area in the middle, between the rooftop details and the food items.  Knowing what had to be done, it didn't take that long.  In fact, after a quick rubbing at home, which seems to indicate that I haven't missed anything, it looks like I am done with that phase.  My next session with the block may be to pull a proof and see where I am at.  If that looks good, then time to start playing with color.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

The Circus part 12

Looking around on the web today for news about last night's basketball game, I ran across a news story about a drive-in hamburger place that is being fixed up for business.  It had closed several years ago, leaving only two left in the chain (and one in NJ), but a guy who always wanted to have such a place has bought it, and plans to fix it up to look like it did in its prime, and sell all the classic foods.  Sounds very familiar, as the closest drive-in restaurant that sold hamburgers went through that same process a few years ago, except that after a year plus of being empty, it was completely torn down, so I doubt it will be re-opened.  And after the original owners retired, it had passed through a number of hands, and despite huge summer crowds, all eventually walked away.  The drive-in restaurant business may not be as simple or as profitable as it looks from outside.  I wish this new guy luck, as I believe the world could use all the good independent hamburger stands it can get, but I have little confidence in its future.

However it did remind me that I have a print going on right now about that former local drive-in, and I had some time to devote to it today.  Got up to the Studio in the afternoon and continued the cutting of the block.  With the sign done, and the car hop tray done, time to move on to the space in the middle.  So a little more architecture today, and a little bit of the clear vinyl panels that went up each year in the colder weather, and were up when I photographed it ahead of the demolition. Even caught a reflection of my vehicle (see above), which should make clearer that the food in the foreground is on a window tray and the function of the location.  However, I decided to stop after that, as I had sketched that part of the block a long time ago and I'm not sure about what everything in there is.  I have long believed in the philosophy of check twice and cut once (very important in woodcut) and I had more photos of the scene at home, so why not verify what is there before I commit to anything?

But I was enjoying doing some cutting, and I had all my sets of tools with me today, so I decided to deal with something that had to be done sooner or later.  I cut a nice wide border around the rectangular image of the scene, which will make a clean margin a bit easier when the time comes to print it, which may be in a week or two.  The results of the day's efforts can be seen above.  The pieces that are left are all just solid color and tone shapes, so should go quickly.  So far the overall balance looks good, but it's good to do these things gradually.  After all, I have no specific deadline, and it's best to check twice and cut the wood once, as I can't put anything back after it's cut.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Mardi Gras 2019

There are three holidays that are regularly celebrated here in Studio Arrabbiata.  There is Christmas, and if you look back through the whole blog you can see the cards I created for each Christmas.  Another is St Joseph's Day, coming in just two weeks.  On that day it is things Italian of course, and I show that year's filled zeppole (purchased) and maybe a pasta dish (made in my kitchen), when available. The third holiday is Mardi Gras, the last day before Lent begins.  Versions of the holiday exist all around the world, but I am most interested in the New Orleans approach, and in that case less for the excessive drinking, and more for the music and food, which in the latter case is traditionally spicy, which should not be surprising for a studio named Arrabbiata.  So last night I cooked up a batch of Jambalaya, which makes enough for three meals.  (couldn't find the written recipe I had developed years ago, so I did it from memory, which seems to have worked)  Had some last night, and then a nice meal of it tonight, as I enjoyed recordings of cajun and zydeco music (built up a collection in my radio DJ days).  The rest will be saved for Thursday, as there are a number of reasons I can't eat it on Ash Wednesday.  Alas, no crawfish in it, as I have never seen them for sale at any supermarket I shop in, but in doing research years ago I saw so many variations of the recipe and learned it isn't required.  (sometimes I will throw in some shrimp, but didn't have any this year)  The only rules seem to be a rice dish that contains pork (the name is based on the French word for ham) and I had those covered.

The Circus part 11

Had two purposes in getting up to the Studio today.  First was to bring in some information- since I am showing the 50 state piece again, I figure it would be best to have my list of 50 state stories again.  In fact, Nichole had mentioned that she had it, but right now she's not sure where it is, and figured it could take a while to find.  Seemed to me that the better option was to bring in a printed copy I had and let her photocopy it.  She was in the office when I arrived, so that only took a moment.  Said she had a plastic sheet protector already, so I didn't have to leave her one.  The print is interesting on its own, but viewers seem to really like learning the stories, so it can go up again.

With that taken care of, time to make more art.  Continued the cutting on my Circus Drive-In print, the rest of the tray of food. Today that was the deep fried soft-shell crab on a bun, and a wedge of lemon next to it, plus the cardboard containers.  At the moment it doesn't look like much, almost more like a mix of aliens and spiders, but that's what crabs look like anyway.  As I have said before, color in the final print will be a key to making it look as it should. Still, even in this form, I was getting hungry just thinking about it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Circus part 10

Had a little time in the afternoon, so a quick Studio visit.  I have no particular deadline on my newest piece, but while I have the time I'd like to make as much progress on it as I can.

As I wrote yesterday, I wanted to take on the crab sandwich platter next, and I started on the left side of the block, with the onion rings and fries.  I did a bit of cutting in this area, though I will want to take a rubbing and see what I got.  At the time I was drawing it, I mentioned that color would play a large role in making this look like the food items that it is.  That is still the case, but my extensive experience in cutting things for black and white helped today- textures and contours will also aid in making all this look like the foods it represents.   I'll move on to the sandwich itself next time.  When students ask me how I manage to cut very large blocks (and at times I have) I tell them it's done a little piece at a time, and then keep going day after day until it finally gets done.  Today was another little piece.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Circus part 9

With most of the work for the East Meets West show done, I had time for some artwork of my own today.  Got to the studio building a little past 2 pm.  The office staff was not around, but the lights were on.  Yesterday when I saw the sign in book that Mary had put out it had a message from her, and I added one of my own. When I looked today, there was one from Nichole, and two from women I don't know.  I guess people are starting to show up.

Today I decided to take on the single most complex part of this block, the Circus sign on the roof.  (the crab sandwich and onion rings are in some ways even more complex, but being organic objects, no one would notice if there are any uneven or irregular portions, so a little easier in the end)  I started by removing the backgrounds first, then cutting out the letters, then finally the ring of clowns and acrobats that were attached to a rail that went around the sign like a ring.  About an hour and a half to cut that out today.  Probably move on to the sandwich platter next.

Monday, February 25, 2019

East Meets West is Open for Business

Yesterday I heard from Mary, telling me that things were progressing.  All that was left was the short wall featuring framed works from the east coast organizers (me, her, and her daughter), which Nichole would be taking care of when she got back.  I told her I would send a new statement, information about my framed piece and the two small works I dropped off with her the other day.  Which meant I had to get that done, but I've written about all those things enough times that I can knock something like that out in no time, so I took care of it and e-mailed that to her.  Then a relaxing  evening at home listening to the howling winds outside.

Awoke this morning to sunny skies, seasonable temperatures, and more intense winds roaring around my building. Nothing I couldn't handle or to keep me away from checking out the hung show in Ocean Grove.  Walking along the road through my complex on the way to my parking area was a bit of a challenge (the wind caught the small bags of trash and recycling I was carrying and drove me backwards a few feet).  Shore area towns are usually windy, but this was ridiculous. Sustained winds all day of 25 to 30 mph, with frequent gusts in the 50's and close to 60 mph.  Glad I wasn't driving over the Driscoll bridge on the GSP today; there can be some serious crosswinds there.  No problem getting to Ocean Grove.

Coming in from the front parking lot, the first thing I saw was the second east coast wall.  This one included my two additional prints, plus Katie's two traditional relief prints, a print from Molly of her creation "Monocle Bear", and an unidentified print, which I later learned was from Nichole.

The adjacent wall is the one started first the other day, with my new print on the far left. That middle panel includes 3 from Molly- one extending outward so both sides could be seen, and two from her sexy turtle series.  This wall also includes 3 from Mary G, a critique founder- two of her heart images, and an etching that I didn't recognize.

Next around the 1st floor main hall is the short wall for the east coast organizers, so my large framed New Year for America piece (as requested by various parties), Mary's recent Yo Yo Ma woodcut, and the color piece from her daughter- not a traditional print, but Katie did put two linocuts in the show and helped with the hanging and is designing the show postcard, so it was allowed.  Just to the left of those pieces is the East sign, as all to this point has been the east coast printmakers.

Across a gap that leads to a side stairway and a building gate, and we come to the west coast organizers wall, with a large framed piece by Mary Pacios, and small prints from others.  Plus a west sign to distinguish this second group of artists.

We saw the first wall of west coast printmakers last week and we had installed some of the second wall that day, but a hook nailed in the wall prevented one panel from going up and we needed different tools to remove it, so that was delayed.  Fellow resident artist and part time building employee Little Bobby Duncan (as he likes to call himself- he's actually older than I am) told us he would take care of it.  He also provided two old framed prints, which he hung on the stair wall across from those above.

Mary mentioned yesterday her plan to have a table in the middle of the hall to put the binder with artist statements and a comment book, and it was all there today.  She even had my updated statements in there.  Now all we need are visitors.  Katie is working on a postcard for the show, but meanwhile the show is part of a large card done for all the March events in the building.  I was given a short stack which I will pass out until I get the others.

So as this card says, the show opened today, and will be up through April 26, 2019.  Stuff will be on view any time the building is open, but the best times to visit are Monday- Friday 1 to 3 pm, and Saturday 9 am to 1 pm, as all the hallway lights will be on.  There is also an official reception on Friday, March 22, 2019, from 5 to 7 pm.  More related events may be added, but we concentrated on getting this all taken care of first.

I don't know exactly how many artists are involved, but there are over 60 artworks, so it all came together.  Nichole said she was surprised at how quickly it all got up on the wall, which I credit to good planning and a good hanging system.  Still she is already looking into a rail hanging system for the near future.  The moldings are starting to break down, and while they will hold up for this show, something stronger will be needed eventually.  It's an expense, but after one time there will be a lot less work, which may be worth it.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Postcards and Prints

When we were starting to install the print show in Ocean Grove, a few things came up.  When Mary had previously mentioned that she feared there would not be enough east coast printmakers (the advance list of west coast printers was quite long) I had offered to loan her a few more if she needed to fill wall space.  On Tuesday she decided that she could use two more, so I made plans to dig some up.  That same day, I also inquired about postcards.  I couldn't remember if it was decided to have any or not. She thought there may be some, just hadn't been done yet with other priorities handled first.

Yesterday I sent her an e-mail with information about postcards and their history.  Their place in the art world has changed radically, which I think is a generational thing.  Back in my school days, postcards were a necessity, the idea of doing a show without them was almost unheard of.  Not nearly so common these days, a few decades later.  What happened?

My guess is the world changed.  That never stops.  I remember once in the late 1980's, my college friend Dave and a high school buddy of his took a trip north and my father gave us a lift into SoHo, where our painting professor was doing desk duty at a co-op gallery he was a part of.  The SoHo neighborhood had once been home to a lot of manufacturing businesses, and the buildings had large loft spaces.  But those businesses moved out and the empty abandoned buildings were gradually taken over by artists, who needed cheap spaces and were not concerned about the lack of active commercial businesses in the neighborhood.  (on that first trip, it took a long time to find a place that served food for lunch)  In the early days, it was just block after block of galleries and studios, and we spent the day walking in and out of spaces, looking at art not found in art history textbooks, and collecting postcards.  A very fun day for us art types.  One thing that doesn't change in the world is that when artists reclaim a neighborhood, an audience comes, and businesses move in to cater to that audience, creating a demand for spaces and raising prices, driving out the artists.  About 15 years later I had occasion to show art in SoHo, as part of a curated group show in a 7th floor walk-up.  The ground floor spaces were occupied with competing branches of Starbucks.  (no more street level galleries)  The arts neighborhoods of SoHo and the Village gave way to Chelsea, then Brooklyn and whatever comes next.  Years ago I was part of a group show in a reclaimed building in Union City, and a few days ago I told the story of how our space in Ocean Grove came into existence.

Postcards were a part of many other shows I was a part of, both solo and group, easily into the 21st century.  But now they are much rarer.  Part of that may be to save money, even as the cost of producing them has been brought way down by technology.  I think most of it is that younger people have no interest in anything printed on paper.  They don't write or mail letters, don't read books, and probably don't collect postcards. They prefer all information to come in electronic form- websites, e-mails, texting, etc.  If they can't download it to their smart phone, they don't want to see it.

So I wrote to Mary (and her daughter Katie) yesterday, since they had asked what kind of information would go onto a postcard.   I shared some of the above information and some of my experience of the past 30 years.  I also advised seeking information from the Portland contingent, since they make up more than half the artists.  In the end, it's up to the organizers and the host I figure.

Winter weather roared through yesterday, but was melted away overnight, so it was possible to venture out today.  I have a considerable number of completed unframed prints stored in my apartment, so I selected an assortment of Everyman (saints) and Ecclesiastes prints, which are about the right size for the plastic sleeve hanging system, grabbed several postcards, and drove up to Mary's house in the afternoon.  From the prints I had brought, she selected two prints for the show.

On the left is an Ecclesiastes print, "Money answers for everything" which comes from a passage that reminds us that food and drink are quite enjoyable, but eventually there is a price for everything.  My visualization was based on a typical restaurant table at the end of a meal, covered with empty dishes and glasses, used utensils, spilled food, trash, and of course the bill.  On the right is ST BENNO, from the saint series, which borrowed heavily from an earlier black and white piece I had done involving a toad, dead grass, and a quote from Christopher Smart relating to toads.  Now redone in color, with the story of St Benno, a bishop who loved fine music and was annoyed by the loud croaking of frogs around him and commanded them to be silent.  He quickly regretted this, as he realized that frog noises might just be the way they choose to praise God, took back his command, and the frog noises continued.  The toad quote came from Smart's long form poem Jubilate Agno, which includes a section about his cat Geoffrey, who he believes praises God in being as cat like as he can is all his cat activities.  That pure animal behavior worked into both pieces and was respected by both Benno and Smart is just a coincidence.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

East and West finally meet in Ocean Grove

As the above poster proclaims, this show was 57 years in the making. Luckily my part was only the past few years.  In a way it first started when Mary Lane first took my woodcut class in Belmar several years ago.  First woodcut was ok, but nothing special, yet she decided to take the class again.  The next time her woodcuts were a little better- she had figured out the medium a little better.  And she took more print classes, with me and others.  She met up with an old college friend at a reunion, now a print artist out west, and they had much to discuss.  They hatched the idea of an East/West printmaking show and sought my advice as to where they could have such a thing.  It turned out that the Belmar Arts Council, where I had been teaching woodcut, was seeking a printmaking show, so I had them create a proposal.  It was submitted, approved, and added to the schedule.  And then there was a major turnover in people running things there and many disagreements followed, to the point where the two organizers were looking for alternatives.  Mary had been to my Studio in the basement of that building many times, a regular at the critique group, but never had been to the first floor or above.  Meanwhile that location was looking to have more art shows.  Mary took a tour and was very impressed with what was going on in this restored building, and eventually the two print artists decided to move their show, and its dozens of artists from around the country, to the location in Ocean Grove.   There was still much to be worked out, but they got it on the schedule and began the long process of organizing a group show.  Today began the process of actual hanging the show on the walls.

Above we see part of the first floor, a main space for art shows in the building.  Below we see what it looked like earlier this afternoon, with part of the show installed.  The Jersey Shore Arts Center started out as Neptune High School, built in what is now Ocean Grove, in the 1890's.  Operated as such until the 1970's, by which time the needs of the school had outgrown the building (despite a few additions over the decades), and the building was abandoned in favor of a modern complex nearer the center of town.  The derelict building gradually became just a shell, but they built things to last back then, so it was still standing.  As it was on the verge of being demolished in the early 90's, a group of local people decided to reclaim it and restore it.  It turned out that grants were available for an arts related project, and between those and a whole lot of volunteer effort, we got the place we see today.  Theater, music, dance, visual arts (Molly and I have had our studio there for about a decade) all moved in as the building was gradually rehabilitated.   The top floor was only restored and repurposed a few years ago.

While the show was still scheduled for Belmar, the idea of hanging the works in plastic sleeves was developed, a system they had done there a few times.  Seemed like it would be good for those west coast artists, who wouldn't have the expense of framing and shipping all the work to New Jersey.  And then when the show moved to the new location, where we had hand plastered walls (no wall board in this historical building) and driving nails is not allowed, we were ahead of the game.  Over the time between the proposal and the hanging, the organizers developed a new version of what was originally planned to be a line hanging system, with those sleeves now attached to foam core boards, and hung with wire to hooks mounted in the molding above. The boards were prepared at home, so all that had to be done was install them today.

The large rolling ladder that the building had made the process easier.  Each board arrived today with prints attached and a long wire fixed to one upper corner.  First Nichole (building supervisor) put in hooks mounted to the molding (the one place nails and screws can be put) at the spacing that Mary had devised, then as Mary and her daughter Katie bought each panel over, Nichole draped the wire over the hook, and then Katie attached it taut to the other corner and cut the excess wire.  A good plan and executed efficiently, and soon most of the show was installed. Above we see the first panel from the east coast side going up, and below we see how he first few looked.

A few more of these panels need to be made, and a few framed works from the organizers (brought one of those in myself today) will go up in the next few days, around the latest expected winter storm.    But it looks like it will all get done on time and look good, a nice outcome for Mary's first organized art show, some 57 years in the making.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Circus part 8

No snow or ice today, just a lot of cold wind.  But that wouldn't stop me from getting up to the Studio to do a little work.

I had expected that I might use the time to sharpen my personal tools, and had brought my water stone container with me, and before going into the building, grabbed my sharpening stone and class tools (as possible back up) from the car.  I did begin the process of sharpening the tool I had used most in the last session, and a test showed improvement, but it looked like it would need more and I had a limit on my time today.  So I set that stuff aside and decided to work on a part of the block that my small gouge (with a sharp edge last time) could handle.

So what I ended up doing was some trim and stuff near the roof line.  Not a lot, but it needed to get done at some point, so why not today?