Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Year That Was 2008

Another year ends, so another opportunity to sum things up. In general it was a good year, plenty to keep my busy. You can get all the details by going back over this blog's last 200 or so posts, or you can check out the highlights below:

Prints- I finished the long in process tower print (A History of Art), added two new saints and a new supermaket print to those respective series, did a themed color print (Pest Free and Carefree) for the Global Footprints show at PCNJ, and started a new color series about NJ boardwalks, getting as far as pulling proofs of the first block in the series.

Shows- Had two large solo shows this year- 50+ works at Georgian Court University in March, and 44 works at Upper Iowa University in November/December. I also had a dozen or so pieces in an award 4 person show in Belmar in February (as well as numerous pieces in various groups shows there throughout the year). I showed several supermarket prints in an arts festival in Asbury in June. I had single pieces in the latest Outlaw Printmakers show (Museum of Contemporary Art in St Louis) and the travelling Global Footprints show.

Publicity- Not much compared to some years. A few mentions in local papers, but no feature articles or reviews.

Awards- Two awards this year from shows in Belmar, a best in category in a juried show, and 2nd prize in a relief sculpture competion. (ok, it was a pumpkin carving contest, but it was my woodcut skills that brought me success)

Events- Did a lecture and demo at the Ocean County Artists Guild over the summer. Got a surprise visit from the Drive By Press guys at one of my schools, possibly the first of many.

The Studio- No significant firsts this year. The discussion group that Molly started continues to grow in popularity, with several new regulars joining the group any given month. And it's still a great place to work.

Next Year- No solo shows yet, but I have work (16 pieces total) in 3 curated shows coming up in North, Central, and Coastal Jersey, a piece in a juried show next month, and most likely a few others. A possible trip back to Evil Prints in St Louis next summer. And enough ideas for prints to keep me busy through all of 2009.

Boardwalk Wheel Game part 28

Decided to head up to the Studio on this day off from work. No precipitation when I left my house, but a few blocks later I hit a few sprinkles, and within a couple of miles I was in a fair imitation of a blizzard- gusty winds and so much snow being whipped around that visibility was only about 200 feet. It was mostly the kind of big fat flakes that tend to be short duration flurries, rather than accumulating snow, so I decided to continue up to the Studio. In just those few minutes we had a decent coating of snow on grass and tops of cars, but the roads remained clear. I figured if nothing else, I'd pick up some things to work on at home. So I started loading stuff into my car- watercolors, frames, etc. However, before I was done the snow lightened, so I decided to gamble that the roads would remain fine for the next few hours, and stayed to work. Once in a while I took a peek out my window to where the demolition was continuing (see top photo) to check on the snow, but as I expected it never turned into anything to worry about.
Meanwhile I put in a couple of hours printing two new proofs of the new block. This time I was successful in pulling one on the Rives Heavyweight (bottom photo right), and then a second on the Okawara (bottom photo left), giving me 3 quality proofs. I hung up the two new ones to dry, and brought last week's slightly blurred proof on Rives home to start experimenting with coloring.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Another Day of Christmas

Brief stop at the Studio today. The ink was more or less dry, so I finished the card manufacturing process by folding the cards in half and using my paper cutter to trim the excess from the 3 sides. Twenty cards done. Writing them all out will take a little while, but that will be done at home.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Continues

Christmas Day has come and gone, but the season goes on, since I still haven't got my cards done yet. I might feel guilty about being late with mine except that relatively few cards from others had found their way to me before yesterday. Got up to the Studio in the afternoon today for a little while, put in another disc from my friend Doug (today was Gentleman Jesse and local boys The Gaslight Anthem), and cranked up the assembly line. 20 cards, 7 colors each, in about 2 hours. (when Doug's disc ended, another local artist, a Mr. Springsteen, filled in for the rest of the session) Next step is to fold and trim, but if the ink isn't completely dry it could smear, so I decided to leave them there for another day.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from Studio Arrabbiata

For those who are on my list to get the actual printed cards, they are a little late getting produced this year, but should be out by New Year's Day. Meanwhile, everyone can enjoy this digital version.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

A day off from my jobs, but not a day off from working. Not with my annual Christmas cards not yet printed, much less distributed. I got to the Studio around 2:30, found Molly already there, still working on her latest commission. I had some new tunes to play, thanks to some cool discs my friend Doug included with his Christmas card- the retro soul of Eli "Paperboy" Reed and some throwback punk from the Jim Jones Revue. I quickly knocked out an edition of 20 of my new Christmas card. I cleaned up all my ink, then I took one of my proofs from yesterday and colored it, to see how it would look. I liked it, but didn't have time to color my best quality proof, so I took it and some watercolor stuff home with me. That I did later in the evening. Results will be posted tomorrow. Until then, enjoy the above photo of this year's Arrabbiata Tree, a holiday tradition since last year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Boardwalk Wheel Game part 27

I had originally planned to go into the Studio after work on Monday, but the arctic tempertures convinced me to just run a few errands (including getting a few sheets of bristol board paper to use for my Christmas cards) and go home. Today the tempertures got up into the 30's, relatively warm, so no need to put it off any longer. Today's goal was to print. I got there around 4:30 pm, checked out and photographed the progress on the demolition of the annex outside my window, and tore down some paper to appropriate sizes. Opened a brand new can of ink for the occasion. The block has a slight warp in it, but not so great as to make it exceptionally difficult to print. I looked at the inked block (top photo) and decided that I liked it, so went ahead with the first proof, pulled on Rives HeavyWeight, a paper I use often for prints that get colored with watercolor. The first proof always needs more ink and as a result, the first proof I pull often requires some re-inking. As long as most of the paper stays in contact with the block, it's usually possible to lift a piece of the paper off the block enough to re-ink a small area. I was doing that and it was coming along well, but eventually the paper slipped a tiny bit and some areas got smudged. As a result the proof will never be suitable for an exhibition, but I can use it to practice color. Because this print has a root in Japanese woodcuts, I also brought a package of Okawara, an extremely thin Japanese paper. After re-inking the whole block I pulled a second proof with the Okawara. Much easier to hand print with thinner paper. For that and other reasons, the second one turned out much better. The second photo above is the first proof, the third photo is the second proof. The difference can be seen easily in the areas all around the girl game attendant. In the first proof these are dark and indistinct, but in the second these areas are clearly printed. More proofs will follow, but for now at least I can see what I have, and I like it.
With those out of the way, I also pulled a few copies of the new Christmas card, on the bristol, just enough copies to have some to practice colors with. I'll run more in the next few days.
Meanwhile Molly had arrived in the Studio as I was in between proofs of the Boardwalk block. While I was printing, she was working on her latest table project. We had previously decided to have our annual Studio staff holiday party tonight, so after I was done printing, I cleaned up and we went to Pete and Elda's for some beer and pizza. A great way to end a productive Studio session.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Boardwalk Wheel Game part 26

After considering the matter overnight, I felt unsure about the large area of black around the wheel. I didn't want to get rid of it (the image needs some black to anchor the deep space) but large unbroken shapes of black can be problematic as well. After a lot of thought, I decided that maybe I'd leave the black behind the left side shelves, but do something on the wall above the wheel. Maybe more of those diamond shapes that I used by the 25 cent sign. When I got to the Studio I drew in some large size versions of those in that space, but I didn't like it. Erased it, and came up with the idea for string of flags that would be more or less centered and run across most of the diptych, positioned so that they would be behind the jumbo hanging toys. Not only does it break up all that black, but the curve of the string and the triangle flags are echoes of the round wheel and the triangular wedges on its face. I cut it. It's ready to ink next time I'm there.
Before leaving the Studio, I also finished cutting the small block for my Christmas card. If I can find some suitable paper, I'll try printing up a few of those as well.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Boardwalk Wheel Game part 25

Had enough time for a short visit to the Studio today. First I hollowed out the letters I cut last time. Next I drew in short chains of diamond shapes above and below the 25 cent sign, liked it, cut it. Then I cut the edge of the divider that separates the booth from the narrow strip on the far right, changing it from a heavy black line to what will be bands of color. A few other touch ups were done, and now I think I've finished the cutting of the block. Above you can see the right side panel and the whole diptych. I did a rubbing of the second panel (right next to the left side I did last month), to get a sense of the value breakdown. Still not sure about all that solid black in the upper center of the diptych. I'll think about it and decide before my next Studio visit, at which time I'll likely ink it for the first time.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas time is here again

Today is the last day of the semester, which means Christmas is almost here. Been busy with lots of art related stuff, so I haven't done anything about my annual woodcut Christmas card, until now. Well, that's not entirely true- I came up with the idea about a week ago, and cut a board for myself in the Studio yesterday, which I brought home. My last class was this afternoon, so tonight I was free to work on it. Got in the mood by watching some classic Christmas cartoons while I sketched the design on the block. I'll cut it over the weekend, do a quick print run. I won't get them out before Christmas, but I should have one ready to put up here on the 25th.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Boardwalk Wheel Game part 24

Running errands around the area today, leaving me only a short window to spend in the Studio. I put it to good use. First I cut a small piece of birch off a larger board. This will be for this year's Christmas card. I have the idea, just haven't had time yet to start it. However I was mostly working on the boardwalk block. I cut out the two remaining signs- the prize conversion chart (with all the 3's and 1's) and the 25 cent sign. After looking at various signs from my boardwalk photos yesterday, I decided that rather than worry about the shapes of the letters, I would just deal with orientation and color. The bouncy arrangement I used in PER PLAY is not uncommon in boardwalk lettering. Neither sign is quite done- I plan to cut out the insides of those letters and numbers so that I can color them. I also cut out some of the wall, in front of the counter, but left a few bits in place above and below the 25 cent sign. This was to leave me the option of putting something in those spots, maybe some kind of decorative design. I'll think about it and decide something before I come back again. On my next visit I expect to finish the cutting.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Last Chance

Just one more day left to see my current solo exhibition America at the Bing-Davis Memorial Gallery at Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa. The above installation photos were sent to me by John Siblik. Between them you can see pretty much the whole show. From top to bottom: 1) the Ecclesiastes series, 2) the Everyman series, 3) Everyman and Scenes from the Grand Opening, 4) Ecclesiastes, Employee, and A New Year for America. Several of these prints will be on display in New Jersey in early 2009.

January Print Exhibitions

I learned today that I will be part of two exhibitions in the same location this coming January. The one I've known about for a while is a 3 person show in the Library Gallery at the Printmaking Council of New Jersey, the award for 3 prize winners from last year's Annual Juried Member's Exhibition. I'll have a wall to display my choice of art and I decided to go with a selection of recent supermarket prints. What I learned today is that I also have a piece accepted into this year's simultaneous Annual Juried Member's Exhibition in the Main Gallery. The print above, A History of Art, will be part of the Mirrored Image exhibition, a theme around the concept of the self portrait. My whole piece is essentially that, in terms of my life as an artist, as well as including some actual small self portraits. Both shows open on January 17, 2009 and remain on display through March 7.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Boardwalk Wheel Game part 23

As I was driving up Route 71, I noticed a lot of construction equipment piled up in the back lot behind our Studio building. And did I notice a little more daylight? After parking in the main front lot and bringing my stuff inside, I went out the back door to get a better look. Sure enough, big changes back there. Behind the original 19th century building is a second more modern building almost as large, an annex constructed decades later. The two buildings had been connected by an enclosed passage. The annex was never restored and ever since I've been there, the intention is to eventually demolish it to make way for something else. Maybe today was the first step. The top photo is a montage that leaves out the alley that now goes through between the buildings (original on left, annex on right), but it does show the two doorways that had once been connected, the triangular piece over each door matching the old passageway roofline.
Since it was a relatively nice day, I decided to use a piece of my time there to walk to Asbury and check out a new gallery that I had read about last week. Called the Mattison Gallery, it's in a nice old corner building (a former bank), with a ecclectic debut show of assorted painting, drawing, and sculpture. (And giclees, but they don't count as real art.) Since there were no other visitors during most of my time there, I had the opportunity to chat with the owner a bit. Somewhere down the line I may show him some stuff.
However, most of my time was spent in the Studio itself. I printed a very late student block, then settled into my own. Still hadn't decided exactly what to do with the signs immediatley above the boy, so I dealt with everything else. I finished cutting out the EZ WIN letters, then the two large stuffed animals to the left. Then I moved on to the narrow vertical strip on the far right of the block. This includes pieces of a ferris wheel, a sign, a building, a boardwalk pedestrian, and the boardwalk itself. The cutting was going well, so I just kept going until it was all done. Results can be seen in the second photo. Over the next few days I need to come up with a plan for those remaining signs so I can finish this thing up next time I'm there.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Boardwalk Wheel Game part 22

I started today's session by first making some changes to the sketch. I had mentioned last time a plan to change the area above the boy, so that's what I did. The top photo shows what had been there, which I decided was too cluttered with text. The second photo shows what I changed it to- replacing the list of prize size conversions with numbers in ascending sizes (and colors will clarify it), and moving the 25 cent sign down while eliminating the 1 win = 1 prize sign. I think it works, though I will probably try a more exciting typeface for the "per play" part.
Then I started cutting. I finished the front of the counter, then started on the EZ WIN sign. Results from today's cutting can be seen in the 3rd photo, and the last photo shows progress on the whole block so far. The EZ letters will be cut out next time, like the LUCKY sign on the counter. If I still like the changes I made to the sign, I'll cut those as well, and see what else I get to after that.

Printmakers in Island Heights

Spent a good bit of the afternoon at the Studio. When I opened the door I saw a large envelope on the floor. I picked it up, figuring it was something for Molly, but was surprised to see it was addressed to me. I believe this is the first mail I've ever received at the Studio (not including internal building notices). The other surprise was that it was from the Ocean County Artists Guild, since they have my home address and have sent me mail there before. Not surprising was what it contained, postcard announcements for the upcoming Printmaker's Invitational show there in February. About a month ago I received an e-mail from one of the organizers, asking if I would allow them to use one of my prints on the card- A solitary man with no companion from my Ecclesiastes series. I agreed, but didn't know if it would be the only image, or one of several on the card. Today I got my answer. I also learned for the first time the names of the other artists in the show: Leona Lavone, Laraine Centineo, Richard Kushirisky, Lizzie Schippert, Sal Catania, Katie Stacy, Gene Kronberg, Jim Miele, Dorothy Matteo, Frank Gubemat, Sandra Hogan, and Alix Lorance. The card also reveals that this show grows out of a printmaking workshop at OCAG last spring, along with a few of their regulars and some guests, like myself. The show opens on February 1, 2009.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Boardwalk Wheel Game part 21

Today is the birthday of my good friend David Lasky, himself a prolific distributor of birthday greetings on his own blog. In honor of the occasion, I decided to pick up a couple of cupcakes at that bakery down the street from the Studio. Since Dave lives in Seattle, I'd send him a photo and eat his for him. So after work I parked at the building, dropped off the stuff that I had with me since my gallery sitting last Friday, then walked several blocks up the street. The bakery was closed. I walked a few blocks further to a second bakery that also usually has cupcakes, but it was also closed. Went across the street to where there was a sweet shop, thinking there might be something tasty there, but it also had closed. With temperatures in the 20's and the sun going down, I decided I was through wandering in search of baked treats, and walked back to the Studio. Sorry, Dave.

The day was not a total loss, since I did put in an hour plus working on the block (listening to the live album by the band X, a favorite of Dave's), cutting out the countertop on the right side, as well as the kid playing the game. Looks good so far, but after spending a lot of time considering this right side panel over the past few days, I'm pretty sure that I'm going to make significant changes to the signs above the kid. I'll deal with that next time I'm there.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Boardwalk Wheel Game part 20

Went on location tonight. It was my turn to do some gallery sitting at the Boatworks in connection with the current Small Treasures show. I arrived to find it all decorated for the season, as seen above. My experience is that very few visitors show up when I'm gallery sitting, so I brought the block and tools along to keep me busy. Put some Christmas tunes on the stereo, my block on the back table, and cut the area of shelves under the wheel- the prizes, shelves, and a few more boxes. At 8 pm I turned off everything and went home for the night, having seen no visitors to the gallery, but advancing my piece a bit.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Boardwalk Wheel Game part 19

Back to the Studio today to resume work on the current block. I decided to continue the wheel, so my time there was devoted to cutting out the part of it that's on the right side panel. Above are shown the finished wheel and its place in the diptych. After that I packed up and left, so I could get the rest of my business done before going to school.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Big Art at the Crit Group

For the second consecutive month, the decision was made to move the critique and discussion group out of the Studio and into the cafeteria. The room was a bit chilly due to a nonfunctional heater, but it seemed the best option due to the size of some of the works to be discussed. The top photo shows a piece in progress from Molly, destined to be table top for an immense dining room table. There's a long way to go, but it's looking pretty interesting so far. Also large was one of the two paintings brought by first timer Pat (second photo), both works in progress for which she was seeking input. Michelle brought a recent construction (on the table in the top photo) and I showed the half cut Boardwalk block and a rubbing of it (middle photo). People seemed to like what I've done so far. We had a first for our group tonight- work presented on a computer (bottom photo), in this case photos taken by our other Molly on a recent European trip. We also had work from a few other veterans of the group, and a few students there to watch and occasionally participate. Everyone had a good time as usual. Next one should be January 7th.