Monday, December 31, 2007

The Year That Was 2007

At the end of the year there is always the tendency to look back at all that has happened over the previous 365 days. The good thing about the blog is that it's all there for me or anyone else to go through. Took a spin back through the 227 postings that preceded this one. Here's the highlights-

Prints- Not as many as I would have liked. Finished 3 new saints, and spent a lot of time on the History of Art block. That last one will be finished early in 2008.

Shows- No solo shows, but had work here and there. Two group folios from the year before put me on walls in Wisconsin and Kansas City in 2007. My Employee print was exhibited in two juried shows in NJ and won prizes in both. (same print was also completely rejected from two other juried shows, so there's no predicting these things) A few other things here and there.

Publicity- Had my name in local papers a bunch of times. The biggest deal was the feature article on the cover of Entertainment section of the Sunday Asbury Park Press. It brought my work to the attention of a lot of new people.

Firsts- My involvement in the Belmar Arts Council brought me two new experiences. I was commissioned to design a t-shirt, and devoted much time from July through November to painting a large mural. Now I know what it's like to work on a very large scale. I essentially curated a print show up at PCNJ (recruiting friends and a few strangers), which was well received in multiple locations. And then there's starting a blog.

CAA- Didn't go the conference itself, but went up to New York for a couple of days, seeing a bunch of my friends from grad school, all for the first time since I left Carbondale, as well as the really cool Glitter and Doom show at the Met.

The Studio- Still a fun place to be. Molly started a monthly discussion group in the fall that has brought new artists to the space. A print studio is meant to be full of busy artists.

Next year- Have a bunch of shows lined up for 2008, including two solo shows. Looking forward to finally finishing the current big block and starting some new pieces, including a new color series. Maybe some stuff going on in the midwest. And as always, there will likely be things I can't even imagine right now. Come back here often to find out the details.

Holiday Break

Been quite a while since I had some art news to report. Most of the past week has been spent dealing with various holiday and family related events. I was going to take a trip up to Long Branch to check out an art show yesterday, but I called the director first, who told me they were closed until after the new year. So I've devoted a lot of time to taking care of the final grading for all my classes. But that's done now, so the rest of my break between semesters is free for working on new or ongoing art projects, seeing art, etc.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A History of Art part 65-A

Didn't do anything new to the block except take photos of it today. I can't get a good photo of the whole block indoors, always some glare off some part of the block, between the overhead lights and the camera flash. So all the whole block views seen on the blog were shot outdoors in even daylight. When I finished the cutting a few days ago it was well past sunset (and the shortest day of the year to boot), so a photo of the block was not possible. Took care of that today. Since I still don't have the ink I need to print the block, today's time in the Studio was mostly spent thinking about some future projects. Earlier in the day I spoke to Danielle at Evil Prints, and got more information about the Outlaw Printmakers show in St Louis in early 2008, and I may want to try to finish something new for my contribution to the show.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas from Studio Arrabbiata

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A History of Art part 65

Big day at the Studio. Got to work around 3 pm. First I dealt with one of those remaining questions, the paper/drawing board on the easel in the figure class area (top photo). I had it as blank, but didn't know if I wanted it to stay that way. I decided to put a drawing on it. As it happens, I did two charcoal drawings of Amy in the chair from two different positions that day in 1995. The model in the chair is based on one, the drawing on paper to the right of it is based on the other. Drew it and cut it. Last thing to cut on the block was the self-portrait as a janitor (second photo). This is a reference to my Employee print and all it represents in my life.

And with that it seems I have finished cutting the A History of Art block. I may notice a thing or two when I ink it the first time, but I think it's done. I took a piece of newsprint and did a pencil rubbing of the top section. I matched it to a previously done bottom half rubbing and taped the two pieces together. The results are seen in the third photo. I like what I see, and look forward to getting some ink and printing a copy or two.

Meanwhile, Molly was also in the Studio, working on cards (for gifts, Christmas, etc). I had done a little Christmas decorating, creating a "Christmas Tree" by stringing colored lights on a couple of wooden easels (last photo). She continued working a little longer than I did, but we left together to hold our official print studio employee Christmas party at Vic's in Bradley Beach. Good beer, great pizza. Then down the street for some live music and another drink. I think we'll have a lot more employee holiday parties.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Relief Prints in the News

Went online today to see if the article I provided information for ran as scheduled. I eventually found it as part of today's Courier News. So when I walked downtown on some errands this morning, one of them was to stop by the Acme, which carries a large variety of papers, to see if they had it. They did, and a quick peek showed that the article was in there, in the "Kicks" weekend tabloid section. (It may also have been part of the "Pulse" section of sister paper The Home News Tribune, but the online version listed an art article dated last Friday, and the print version wasn't available around here.) As you see here, there was one illustration, a linocut from Mark Estes, one of the other two award winners as well as a student in one of my woodcut workshops. A couple of paragraphs about each artist, and in my case it seems the author made use of the statement I sent him. You should be able to find an easier to read version here for now.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Present from Texas

Been a very busy week as fall classes are coming to an end. Doing all final grading this week. Four classes down, one more to go tomorrow. When I got home from school tonight I had a nice present waiting on my front steps, two packages from Texas. The big one was my long awaited set of prints from the A Clever Means : The Print Blitz Folio. Art from 32 print artists representing 16 states. (as usual I'm the only one from NJ) All kinds of printmaking as well. Shown above (clockwise from top left) are prints from friends Nancy Palmeri (folio organizer), Michael Barnes, John Hancock, and Denis McNett. My contribution, Everyone Enjoys a "Roadie" on the Train" was done at the very close of last year, my last completed print before starting this blog. I do know it was exhibited at SGC in Kansas City this past spring. I should check and see if it ended up anywhere else. The second package was also from Nancy, a mailing tube containing one of her woodcuts, a bonus in exchange for contributing to her cancer fundraiser walk.

Monday, December 17, 2007

He Knows When You're Awake

Had dinner out with family, then settled in to work on my Christmas cards. Started around 7:30 pm and finished the last of 10 colors applied tonight (to 24 cards) around 1:00 am. (those times listed on these postings are in Pacific time, but here in Jersey as I write this it's 1:36 am) Looks good to me. Tomorrow's my long day at the university, so I should try to get a few hours of sleep. Maybe tomorrow night I'll be able to fold and trim them. Then begins the really long part- writing them all out.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Best Laid Plans

The plan today was to get my Christmas cards colored this afternoon, or maybe this evening. Didn't quite work out. I did make some progress, getting all the backgrounds colored. I can probably finish them tomorrow night.

Not that I was goofing off all day. Got a lot of art business done. Got e-mail from my friend John out in Iowa. Some compliments for my Fourth of July blog, as well as an offer of a solo show next fall in the gallery at his university. I'll post details as to dates and location once everything is firmed up.

Also got e-mail from the art correspondent from the Courier News / Home News Tribune papers in Central Jersey. He's doing a piece about the current Members Exhibition at the Printmaking Council and wanted some information about me and my prize winning print. I replied with some basic biographical facts, as well as links to blog entries about the piece, and also attached a copy of the statement I wrote for the show. It's supposed to run this coming Friday. I'll try to track down a copy eventually.

Some other tasks- correspondence with a few others about payment for items sold and shipping of artwork. And burned a bunch a discs of new tunes for the Studio. Throw in a bunch of household chores and another Sunday is gone.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A History of Art part 64

After my stop at the photo store in Belmar, I drove on to the Studio. A quick visit, to finish the casino portion of the tower. I debated cutting designs into the panels of the slot machines, but decided to cut them blank, and anything beyond a solid color will be handled with a brush. I also resolved the back space and spaces in the lower center, as well as making some minor adjustments to the figures cut last time. I think it's done. Leaves just one major area left to cut.

Before leaving, I grabbed the Christmas cards I printed the other day (now dry) and my watercolor stuff. A big nor'easter is coming this way tonight into tomorrow. Here on the Jersey coast it is expected to be mostly rain and wind (not the snow and ice others are expecting), but tomorrow still might be a good day to stay home and color them in the comfort of home.

End of an Era?

Next week is the last meeting of all my fall classes, and typically I shoot examples of student work, to use both as examples in class for students and in job applications. These days that includes digital, which I've used on the class online pages, and most job listings these days allow (or even require) digital images in place of slides. But I also still like the slides, too, especially for students where slides are still the only way I have of showing images in the classroom to the students. (many college lecture classrooms are now equiped with digital projectors, but studio rooms not so much) So I made a stop at my local photo store today to pick up a roll of tungsten slide film to shoot some good samples from final student portfolios. Got some bad news- no Elite Chrome 160T in stock. Got some worse news- it seems that Kodak has discontinued the product. At least that's what the shop owner was told by his distibutor. It may be that all that's left is whatever stores have in stock. Is this true? A brief look around the web didn't confirm this, but Amazon lists it as out of stock and may not be available again, and the product does not appear in the list of slide films on Kodak's site.

So unless I run across a spare roll somewhere, or someone stocks a different tungsten balanced slide film, my slide shooting days may be over. There are other slide films still available, but they would either require shooting in daylight (at the mercy of breezes and constantly varying light) or using film that may have unpredictable results (unlike the various exposure settings I have worked out to use with different size works shot under sets of 250 watt photo bulbs). And that's not even getting into color balance issues. On the other hand my ancient SLR may not have too many rolls left in it before it reaches a total breakdown. And I don't think I'll be replacing it. So maybe the end of my preferred slide film is not the disaster it seems. I shot several digital images since leaving that store, including the one above (an empty box found in my photo supply crate), so I guess I'm ready.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A History of Art part 63

Another post-work visit to the Studio this evening. I wanted to get back to the tower block, which I hadn't touched in almost 2 weeks. Started with little stuff tonight- the manhole cover in the lower right corner, the B 25 Mitchell in the upper right, and the jet airliner in the upper left. Next I started on the casino area on the top level. Devoted a few minutes to cleaning up the drawing, then cut all the architecture and the figures. Still not sure about what I want to do about the slot machines, so I decided to end it there for the night and go get some dinner. As I left, Molly was there along with former student Rob, both preparing to do some silkscreening.

Monday, December 10, 2007

2007 Christmas Card continued

Had an exhausting day at the sub job, and might have gone home, but I decided to take care of some timely business in the Studio. (besides, I stayed home yesterday to do a little book research, and I only get so many hours in a week for art) I continued with my Christmas cards, doing the printing. I had some paper scrap strips left over from tearing paper for another project (likely the last group folio) that were the perfect size. Tore down each in half, so each sheet could now hold two card prints. Spent about 2 hours printing 2 dozen of the cards. Left them in my rack to dry. By the weekend they should be ready for coloring. As mentioned last entry, I'm going to hold off an showing any images on the blog until Christmas, so that the cards remain a surprise for those who receive them. Meanwhile, Molly was also printing whole bunches of cards herself. She had screened some patterns onto small pieces of colored paper earlier, and now was using the silkscreen to overlay a variety of designs suitable for the holiday and other occasions. When the John Lee Hooker disc (burned from vinyl, sides originally recorded in the 40's and 50's) I had in the player ended, it was time to go home and get some dinner.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Christmas Time Is Here Again

The cold weather of the past week and the diminishing students in my classes are signs of the drawing near of Christmas. (so are all the Christmas decorations, such as these in the main hall of the building that hosts the Studio). For me that means it's time to get going on my annual holiday cards. Friends of mine are familiar with these- I take a painting from the history of art and adapt it to a winter/Christmas scene. I came up with this year's idea a while ago, did the block drawing yesterday during some down time at school, and today I cut the block between dropping off and picking up my stuff at the craft sale. Took a rubbing, which looks good. Normally I'd be posting an image of it here, but I don't want to spoil the surprise of what's to come for those who will receive one. So I'll break with tradition, and wait until Christmas to post the results. Just 17 days to go.

Holiday Craft Sale 2007

Today the Belmar Arts Council hosted its second annual holiday craft sale, at the Taylor Pavilion on the boardwalk. The BAC keeps a table for itself and all members in good standing are permitted to contribute items to the sale. As I did last year, I put some of my mini-saints on display, but this time I had my black wire rack, an inexpensive item at a craft store chain going out of business sale from the summer. A lot more visible than when they were in a small box last year. Don't know if it was the difference or not, but last year I had no sales and this year I sold two. Not going to get rich from that, but money is always good. After the BAC takes their percentage, it's still enough to fill my gas tank.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Warm Group on a Cold Night

Tonight was the third meeting of the discussion/critique group that meets the first Wednesday of every month in the Studio. We had a pretty good crowd, despite the bitter cold evening and the threat of snow. Fortunately, the precipitation pretty much missed us. The top photo shows some of the group in action. The other images show some of the paintings (Jill's portraits and bird, Sandy's chairs, and Tim's doplets) and prints (Harriet's dark interior and Mary's resting heart) that were on display. Molly and I both showed ongoing works in progress, the tower block in my case. As usual, a very diverse bunch of work, but all interesting, and some good discussion resulted. Watch this blog toward the end of the month for an announcement regarding our January meeting.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Mural Finished?

The expected winter storm did what we had hoped- mostly pass to the north, leaving our part of the state with a few flurries and rain sprinkles. With the roads wet, but not frozen, today's big mural dedication went on as scheduled. Had a pretty good crowd, I'd say more than 40 people overall. During a moment without precipitation, we all went outside for a few words from Belmar's Mayor Kenneth Pringle, and a champagne toast led by Councilwoman (and muralist) Merry Brennan. Then we ran back inside where it was nice and warm, to enjoy refreshments and Bob Mataranglo's video of our mural project. Backed with some undersea themed Beatles songs, the video was mostly the photos I gave him, along with a bunch from other sources (including some that show me working), plus Bob's animations. I was happy to receive a copy of my own.

Is the mural finished? Not really, but weather like today is more likely over the next few months than the nice Sunday we had last week, so I would say that work is suspended for quite a while. Perhaps in the spring we will go back to work, adding more of the undersea elements. We're close, just a few more days of work should be needed. Meanwhile, what's done is progress enough for people to enjoy.

We also had the Salon show up, about 30 works, mostly the sea/landscape/floral stuff that dominates the member shows. While my piece does include some landscape and flowers, it certainly stood out. It received a lot of compliments before and after I explained the story behind it. Although the plan was to just keep the show up until the next member meeting on Thurs Dec 6, the show looks nice enough that we are going to see if the participants are willing to keep it up through mid January.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A History of Art part 62

After leaving the Boatworks, I drove up to the Studio. There was a holiday event going on, a big thing for kids with a stage show, Santa, etc. As I expected, the main parking lot was packed with cars, so I went to the back lot to park. Normally this little fenced in area between the old school building and the derelict mid-century annex is locked, but a few other cars were there already. If not I would have unlocked the gate myself, as I have the key. (the back door is the closest entrance to the Studio, so sometimes I have used it for unloading lumber and other large items)

Once inside it was business as usual. I had brought some art history texts with me so I could have a reference to finish cutting the other characters in the prison. I finished cutting two more demonic creatures from Bosch, Goya's bat, Ryder's figure of Death on his horse, Caravaggio's St Paul off his horse, Titian's Venus, some figures from Kirchner's Dresden Street, and the clock from Van Gogh's Night Cafe. And then I finished cutting all the stone areas. Long time finishing this piece of the tower, but it's done. Just a few more parts to go.

The Mural Continues part 20

OK, back to business. I dropped by the Boatworks around noon to lend a hand with getting ready for tomorrow's big mural event. Unlike the actual painting of the mural, today there was quite a crowd of volunteers, so I found the Salon show was pretty much done being hung (see my piece in the 3rd photo), so I got to do such fun things as cut down the dead plants in front of the building, move surplus materials to the shed, help set up a dvd and monitor for showing Bob's documentary, and make a few other suggestions. I did straighten out a few questions regarding the February show. I did notice that Pat had added a few touches to the mural since last week, as seen in the above photos. (adding a few plants, the snails, detailing the crab, etc) Too cold to paint today, so this is as far as it gets before tomorrow's official dedication. Right now we're just hoping the winter storm moving toward this region misses us, so we can acually have the event.

Some New Things in My Head

A lot of intense dreams last night. Some while passed out on my couch, and when I finally actually went to bed around 4 am, a few more. Some were art related, which is not unusual for me, but these broke new ground. In one dream I was watching tv, an episode of Sunday Night/Night Music (a wonderfully eclectic music performance program from the early 90's) and saw two of my fellow grads from SIU on the show. (one was Shona, playing a little flute piece while they were going to commercial, don't remember the other now) As soon as I saw it, I thought it was something I would definitely put on this blog.

That's right. I had a dream about blogging.

Well, it was bound to happen. I figure I've created over 400 posts to my various blogs over the past year- kind of surprising it hasn't happened sooner. When I woke up, the first thing I realized was that it was Friday night, so I couldn't have just watched the Sunday evening show, so it had to have been a dream. (that the show has been off the air for 15 years took a little longer to enter the thought process) And as far as I know, Shona never played the flute.

Another dream was related to the mural I've been working on for months. We were now working on a similar one inside, and after a long walk through the woods to get there, I did a little painting, lots of blue water. Went out for a while and came back, to see that someone had painted out much of it with red. I knew this to be the result of an invasion of some group of supervillains, and the dream took an odd turn toward comic book stuff. What matters to me here, is that I did have a dream about painting the mural, another first.

There were other dreams that I remember vividly- waiting in a small office for someone to finish a therapy session, kids playing on a large rooftop park, and going on a motorcycle tour of Southeast Asia with a native female guide (I've never eaten Thai food, but in the dream I liked it, so I may have to try it soon) who helped me avoid some dangerous people, but did introduce me to legendary bluesman Willie Dixon (who was in a club playing some kind of unusual sounding but extremely cool primitive stringed instrument) - but this isn't the place to go into details about all that.