Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Break from the Cold

The past couple of weeks has seen one of the coldest stretches of weather in recent memory.  Nothing below zero, just a long time without seeing the thermometer go far above 20 degrees, and mostly well below that.  Luckily not much precipitation in this time (at least around here), so despite a few close calls, no snow or ice to interfere with my first week of classes.  And now we've been treated to a couple of days of spring weather, though normal winter weather is expected back soon.

Because of the weather issues I had been working at bit at home recently, but the past few days were nice enough that I shifted the work back to the Studio.  Yesterday I started coloring the first of my three new proofs- my surprise project.   Based on the test colors on that first proof, today I fully colored the second proof, and then used what I learned from that to fully color the final proof, giving me one finished print.  I'll give all the details, along with photos of the various states, when I post all this in the near future.  In any case, after all the distractions of last year, I'm glad to have a new print completed in 2013.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Art Comes and Goes

Got kind of a sad e-mail yesterday, an announcement that SICA in Asbury Park will be closing their doors in a few days.  I've been a fan of the place going back several years to when they opened in a large industrial building in Long Branch.  I was only in one show there (a juried show in 2005), but I was a regular visitor, especially their annual Fresh Meat series, which featured art from graduating MFA students from New Jersey schools.  (my reviews of some of these can be found on this blog)  Besides the gallery, that Long Branch building had artist studios for rent, and a few artists from that group (and friends of theirs) became regular members of our critique group.  It was just a little over a year ago that they made the move to Asbury Park, fixing up a space on Cookman Ave, just a few blocks from the Studio, and I don't think I missed a show since then.

However, money continues to be tight everywhere in NJ right now, and the organization has decided that it's time to close the gallery operation.  I was in the Studio briefly today (I finished the cutting on my secret project block during the week and now have printed 3 copies; coloring will start next week) and as cold as it's been, it's not the kind of day where I'd normally go for a walk.  But I figured I should go see what's up.  Most of the office equipment was packed up, and only a few works remained on the walls.  But I talked with SICA's founder Doug (who I've known as long as anyone in Monmouth County's art world) a little while.  What comes next for him is still up in the air, but he did tell me about a few art opportunities, things I plan to act on quickly.  I'll write about the specifics if and when they come to pass.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Warming Up

It's a new year, perhaps time for a new direction in my art.  Not buying it?  OK, this is what happens when your plastic liquid laundry detergent bottle springs a leak.  If you're lucky, like I was, this leak occurs on a piece of old corrugated cardboard that you don't need.  I'm pretty sure that this resulting piece is not archival.  Still, maybe I should save it for Tim from our critique group.  He would get it.

Other than the most recent Christmas card, I haven't had much to show here in more than a month.  Not  that I haven't been busy.  In that time I've had to deal with a lot of school stuff (fall grades, trying to keep up with my constantly changing spring class schedule), the current Black and White group show, and I'm helping to coordinate a five person show that goes up in about three weeks.  The postcard design has been sent to the printer, so next on the agenda is putting together the press release.  This isn't a solo show, but I'll have more work in this exhibition than any I've had since 2008.

Despite the lack of new work shown here, I do have some things in progress.  I started a new smallish print a few weeks back, but the finished piece is going to be a surprise for someone, a person who is known to occasionally look at this blog.  I'm documenting all the steps as usual, but I won't post them here until it's all done.  Today the outside high temperatures dropped into the low 20's (wind chills in teens and single digits) and is expected to stay there for a few days.  I won't be taking any strolls over to the Asbury art galleries, or up to see the boardwalk, but I can certainly handle the walk across the parking lot at the Studio building, and now our space's new windows don't come with drafts of frigid air.  Today was a cutting day for the new project.  Got through all the negative spaces in about 2.5 hours.  Put the block away, leaving just the pile of splinters shown below.

The goal is to get this project done by the end of the month, leaving me time for my installation of the Fourth of July in Belmar in early February.  Once that's done, I hope to get back to my boardwalk series, but I'm thinking I won't be making any location visits any time soon.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Black and White Night in Belmar

No, this piece of black and white stained glass looking out over the Boatworks tonight is not a portrait of me, as many in the gallery believed.  (I still have a little more hair than that, and I never wear a bow tie)  But it's a good example of the variety of work on display at the Black and White exhibition.

Tonight was the opening for the salon style (as we call them) exhibition at the Boatworks in Belmar.  A group of volunteers did an amazing job in rehabilitating our building, so we had freshly painted walls and floors to welcome us to our first function since before Sandy.    Above are my two pieces in the show.  Below is the crowd in the back, my spider piece just barely visible on the wall behind everybody.

The crowd got much bigger than this shot from early in the reception- the official estimate was over 100 people in attendance.  More photos and details from the reception can be found here.  Out of the 60 or so works in the show, there were 8 woodcuts- two from me, two each from two of my previous woodcut students (who indicate they want to continue the classes), and two from another artist.  I had them put my Eddie piece in the front room for the discussion, so that's the one I briefly talked about in the salon.  (the artist who did the stained glass piece was able to point to her real model, also in attendance)  The show stays up for a few more weeks, but I don't know if there are any gallery hours yet.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Black and White in Belmar

Another week without getting any new artwork done.  I did write out and mail a few more of my Christmas cards.  Put in a lot of work preparing a syllabus (which means planning the whole semester) for a class that I last taught 6 years ago, but may have a couple of sections of this coming semester.  And since I was asked to help coordinate the postcard for the planned Award Winners show in Belmar, the past few days have been a lot of e-mails gathering photos and distributing information between the group and our card designer.

I was also in Belmar today, but that was for a show that opens next week.  A lot of work (post hurricane clean up) has been put in over at the Boatworks, and it looks like the place will be ready to go for our first show of 2013, called Black and White.  All media, members salon, with the only rule being the work must be black and white.  (grays are ok, too- I was asked to look into that)  By my records, I've shown something like 45 works there over the past several years, leaving me not much recent work that I haven't shown there already,   However I still have a bunch of stuff scattered around my apartment that I rescued from the flooded basement in Manasquan, things that are too old for me to put into a typical juried show, but would work for this show.

The older piece of the pair is the one shown above, Extravagnza, which goes back to grad school.  During my first semester there, Eddie, one of our gang of Scottish grads, decided to take the following semester off to go back home and make some money.  On his last night in America, a group of us went over to the 24 hour Corner Diner (about a block from the Glove Factory, our studios) for an all night art event. The others brought pencils, watercolors, but I brought an odd piece of soft thin wood that my professor had given me with vague instructions to do something with it.  So while Eddie was working on something, I did a portrait sketch of him, and then got out my tools and started cutting.  Gradually the others faded away, but I decided to just keep going until I finished cutting the block.  Since the following morning I was scheduled to be the assistant in two consecutive printmaking classes, I decided  that I might as well stay there and have my usual large Thursday morning diner breakfast, then head off to class.  I was able to keep going just fine until I got to my film history (focus on gangster films) class in the afternoon.  No problems sitting through the introductory lecture, but once the lights were turned off to watch the film, I was out.  Printed an edition of the block the next day to distribute to all those at our diner art session.

My other piece (below) is the 19th print in my ongoing supermarket series.  One of the more literal images.  Walked over to the tiny, ancient supermarket in town to pick up something I needed to make dinner, and as I was looking in the Italian cheese section I noticed that a spider had found time to spin a large web across the cooler shelf.  The place wasn't exactly loaded with busy shoppers.

Like I said, this is a member salon show, so all the artists in attendance (all wearing black and white) will be given a few minutes to present their work to the assembled crowd, and take a few questions, if there are any.  The salon / opening reception will be next Saturday, January 19, 2013, from 5 to 7 pm.  Don't know what gallery hours will be over the next few weeks, so if you want to see the show, come to the opening.

Monday, January 07, 2013

New Year Critique

In recent years, the first Monday of January has been on or near New Year's Day, so we have pushed the critique to the 2nd Monday to get away from the holiday.  But this year the holiday came on Tuesday, so we could have our first Monday meeting.  It seems to have worked well for the group, with about a dozen people showing up, most bringing some art to show.  The first wave above included a small pair of encaustic paintings (upper left) from Sheilagh, some small watercolors from Harriet, a series of colorful acrylic paintings from Katie, and a sculpture of cast off plastic from Lisa, who received gifts of plastic bits from 3 of our participants tonight.  (Margery's two small clay sculptures were too small to photograph)  Below, a better view of Katie's painting series.

Above are some mixed media paintings from Ani in various states of completion (lower center is probably finished) and a more minimal painting from Tim.  Below Molly showed something she just put together this evening, a mixed media print piece combining a woodcut (red ink) on transparent paper glued down over a silkscreen (blue ink) on wood panel.

Sandy brought a recent series of colorful abstractions, though in each case she allowed recognizable images to remain in the compositions.

Since I haven't had time to do anything new in a while, I didn't have much to show.  I passed around the most recent Christmas card, which people admired very much, and my bound photocopied version of the Fourth of July. along with some installation photos.  I don't know yet if my work schedule will allow me to come to next month's critique, so I decided to go ahead and promote the planned mid February exhibition tonight.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

A New Blog for the New Year

On a few occasions in the past I have taken advantage of these blog sites to set up websites devoted to specific bodies of work.  They are free and allow me to put details about past work up on the web for easy reference.  One of my more popular prints ever is the one shown above, A New Year for America.  It collects stories from all 50 states, Washington DC, and a few national stories, all reported within a few weeks before and after New Year's Day 2003,  and shows them as a single complex landscape.  I think of it as a portrait of America.  Whenever I show it to the public, whether in an exhibition or at a lecture or workshop, people usually ask me to point out how some of the specific states are represented.  This happened most recently this past summer in one of my Belmar workshops. It gave me the idea to set up a blog site devoted to this particular print.  Each Sunday I'll post a detail photo of the print focused on a particular state, and provide the particular story that inspired the image.  Should take 52 weeks, and since the print is linked to the beginning of the year, I decided that the beginning of January would be a good time to start the process.

I've included a link in the permanent list to the right, but here's the address:

I'll be doing the states in alphabetical order (Alabama is up there right now), so check in once a week to see each update, or come back in 2014 to see the whole set.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

The Fourth of July Comes Early This Year

My first show in 2013 will likely be the Black and White show at the Boatworks, assuming that renovations are completed on time.  A lot of work going on there, both cleaning up damage from Sandy, but also doing a little remodeling as long as things are being fixed.  I'll have more details about that show by the weekend.  However I was there at the Boatworks this morning laying the groundwork for the show that will be installed after Black and White.

Last year I took top prize in the 8th Annual Jersey Shore Juried Show in Belmar.  In addition to a small cash prize, I get to be part of a special exhibition for the 5 prize winners for the show.  That annual winners exhibition (and idea that I suggested and have benefited from twice now) is traditionally held in late winter just before the following year's Annual Juried Show.  We winners were asked to come in this morning to have a preliminary discussion of what was expected by the BAC, what they would provide, etc.  The problem was deciding what to put in the show.  I don't like showing things more than once in a given location, and looking through my records, I've shown something like 45 pieces in the Boatworks over the past several years.  I have some framed works that haven't been there yet, but I would like to keep a few things in reserve for future shows there.  It doesn't help that a lost a bunch of older work in the flooded basement this past fall.

Knowing that the usual size limits wouldn't apply this time, I thought it might be cool to install the Fourth of July.  I have two complete copies of the whole series- the original set of proofs (printed diptychs from the blocks) and the better printed and trimmed prints that I showed in Carbondale and removed from their plywood mounts (see above photo) earlier this year.  To install the latter, I'd have to do it the same way they were on the wood, with linen tape hinges.  I did a test at home and it was possible to stick them right to the wall that way.  But those are the best copies I have of those prints, and with about half the blocks destroyed by Sandy, I can't make a replacement set.  So I decided to go with the first proofs, not quite as well printed, but still worth seeing.  It was these that I installed at Kean several years ago, tacked to the wall with push pins, just as they had been displayed in my grad school studio for the year I was making them.

I brought the bound photocopies of the whole series, along with some photos of the installed set, to this morning's meeting.  They didn't need to see art today, but I wanted to make sure that everyone would be ok with my plan before I put in the work to prepare it.  As it turned out, the BAC would prefer that we fill the whole building (front and back rooms) and since we have just four artists (the fifth is a sculptor who won't need any wall space), they love the idea of me putting up a very large work.   So that's the plan.  I have to make sure I have all the prints in order and have enough steel push pins, and come up with planned dimensions that will work on whichever of the large walls I end up with, but I have about a month to get ready.  The installation will be a bit of work, but I've done it before, and I can spend up to a week getting it done if I need to.  Plus, it's a chance for a new audience to experience this body of work, and it could lead to more interest in my BAC woodcut class.  I'll post dates and times as we get closer to the mid-Februray show.