Monday, August 20, 2018

Art on the Move

Early this year, Nichole, our current director at the Jersey Shore Arts Center, invited me to take part in a Tenants Only show there in our Ocean Grove building.  I don't like showing things more than once in the same space, but I have photos of shows on my blog, quickly verified what I had in previous shows, and sent her some options.  She also had plans for a big fall group show.  But nothing seemed to happen and the days got away from her, so it was decided to have the tenants show in the fall, and save the big show for the spring, so she contacted me to see what I had available.  What I had originally sent her was mostly boardwalk prints, plus one classic black and white print, but I decided to save those for the spring show (more in boardwalk season, plus, an incentive to finally finish the next one in the series) and checked my parent's basement to see if I had anything else suitable.  My woodcuts are plenty bold and can hold a wall (as the expression goes), but the walls there are so big, that big prints are called for.  A few days ago I sent her images I had on my computer for 5 options, all framed and not scheduled to be anywhere else.  She liked them all, as she had the boardwalk prints, and told me to choose any 3 I wanted.  I informed her of my plan to save the boardwalk for the spring, and that I planned to bring 3 of the older ones.  She replied that she was hoping to receive work this week, but she wouldn't be there on Thursday, and we are expecting rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I decided to do it today.

These are the pieces I chose.

I had a framed copy of New Year for America in my apartment.  Always a popular print, draws a good crowd, students like it.  But well over a decade old, so not going to any other shows right now.


Death on the Highway was drawn, cut, and printed during a visit to Tom Huck's loft and studio in St Louis in 2003.  An adaptation of Albert Pinkham Ryder's Death on a Pale Horse but set in an iconic piece of New Jersey.  Where the Garden State Parkway passes through a little sliver of Newark it also passes through a cemetery, with head stones on both sides of the highway, and for most of my life, the remains of a bottle plant looming over all of it.  (in my youth, the bottle was painted with a Pabst logo)  That large dark cloud is from Ryder's painting, and the general layout, but the rest is based on photos I snapped by aiming my camera at the open window as I drove past.  Shipped the block and my tools on ahead before getting to St Louis, brought the photos and a Ryder book with me (did some preliminary sketches in the waiting area of Newark Airport), but the whole drawing, cutting and printing was done while out in St Louis.

The last one I selected was a collaborative piece done with Linn Nelson, a fellow print grad from SIU.  I gave her a piece of wood and asked her to draw some of her typical imagery on some of it.  She provided the large head, poles, and what seem to be banners and merry go round horses around a circus ring.  I filled the ring with images taken from my then current Everyman series (saints), then cut the whole thing- making a print that I would never had come up with on my own, but still looks like my work.  I named it Saints at the Fair, a line from a song by the Breeders, released around then.

I realized today was probably the best day to bring the work in, so went down to Manasquan to pick up the 2 works stored there, plus an alternate in case Nichole wanted options.  I was able to get all three framed pieces to the top of the basement stairs, but I couldn't hold all 3 and open the door.  Thought I had placed the Saint print in a stable place, but it slid, then tumbled down the stairs, shattering and flinging broken glass all the way down.  (when I do my own framing, I use plexi, but this was a cheap store bought deal, and they always come with thin easy to break glass)  No time to reframe if right then, so I used a broom to sweep all the broken glass down to the basement floor and to the side (I'll deal with it tomorrow)  The frame and the actual print were fine, but I don't need them right away, and I decided that my alternate was promoted to being part of the show.

So my new 3rd piece is the above one, Extravaganza, a woodcut conceived, drawn, and cut in an all night session at the Corner Diner in Carbondale, marking Eddie's decision to temporarily leave the program and return to Europe to earn some money.  A group assembled on his final night to make art and such, and I completed the process in time to have my usual Tuesday diner breakfast (large omelet with chili, cheese, green peppers, plus hash browns, slices of toast, and a big pile of bacon, enough to last me until dinner) then a quick dash home (a block away) to put away the art stuff, wash up and change, then off for 6 hours of grad assisting in the print classes, and after a short break, walk across campus to the C&P building for film history class (gangster films that semester)  Survived the lecture, but when the lights were turned off to show the movie, I finally collapsed.  The next day I pulled an edition of the print so that everyone present at the diner could have a copy- Eddie's had to get his when he returned to Carbondale the following fall.

Anyway, a quick stop at home to retrieve my large print, then up to Ocean Grove to catch Nichole during the hours she planned to be there.  Dark skies looked threatening, but no rain and I got all 3 pieces inside safely.  And she was happy to get them, as my work looks good in photos but even better in person, plus it was the first to arrive and she was getting worried.  (if it's just my three, it won't be much of a show) She asked me to send a brief bio and an price list, which I did when I got home in the late afternoon.

Don't have all the details on the show yet, but I believe it opens on September 9, 2018, and will be up for about two months, or until they have to make way for the Christmas trees.


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