Saturday, September 29, 2018

Studio Visit

Today something happened that was a long time in coming, and it almost didn't happen.  Pam had contacted me last year regarding a visit to the Studio.  I'm not against such things, but it didn't happen last year.  Perhaps we couldn't work it out around my many part time jobs.  We decided to try to set up something another time. She contacted me again (all by e-mail) early this year, but again the timing wasn't right.  At least part of that was Jackie's impending move out of the space and there was quite a mess.  But eventually the move happened, and after a long delay, Molly finally cleaned up her mess and we now had a more presentable space.  Pam contacted me again several weeks ago, wanting to bring a cousin from Brooklyn who had some print experience and this time it seemed possible.  We ended up with a date the end of the summer (less crowds) and that became today, at 1 pm.  Since a lock was put on the door to the stairs earlier this year, I suggested we meet on the 1st floor, which happens to have an exhibition of work from people in the building right now, so they would have stuff to look at.  Fridays are very long work days for me, so Saturdays are often spent recovering from Friday, but I got up at a reasonable hour today, got through the usual morning routine, and gathered some stuff to bring with me.  Planned to leave about an hour before the scheduled meeting, maybe get a little work done, and sat down for a minute.  Next thing I remembered, my phone was ringing, my brother calling to invite me over.  The time- 1 pm, when I was supposed to be in Ocean Grove.  Not good.  Tried calling the office, maybe they could let my visitors know I was on the way, but usually no one there on a weekend.  So I got in my car and got up there as fast as I could.  Perhaps they would have spent time looking at the show.  Perhaps taken advantage of the nice weather, go for a walk and come back.  Perhaps gave up and left.  Hoped for the best and got it.

Went straight to the 1st floor, saw and man and woman, and they turned out to be my expected guests.  I apologized for my lateness, but they were good about it, having spent some time looking at my prints on the wall, and wanted to talk about those.  I know all those stories well, so no problem.  Eventually they wanted to see the Studio, and the elevator was the most efficient route from where we were, so we took that and I led them through the bowels of the building to my space.  There they had the opportunity to see some finished prints (both black and white and colored), and lots of the blocks, which are all stored there.  Her cousin (Steven I believe) brought a small portfolio of his own prints (both woodcut and wood engraving), sketches, and other related things he had done.  We talked about those, and some print stuff in general, but mostly they were interested in my work and the process.  Some of what I do is very traditional for a process that hasn't changed much in 1000 years, but I've also developed some unusual techniques over the past few decades, so I was able to share some of that as well.  (same as I would do for my college students, or my local students, or even on this blog)  Is he going to try any of this stuff in his own art? They talked of coming back for he spring print show, and if so maybe I'll find out then.  Around 3 pm they had to leave to get to their next planned location, so I helped them though the basement to the main stairway and made sure they found their way out.  Then back to the Studio to straighten out the disorder from the visit, and home before going out to my brother's house.  All in all a very pleasant day.  It would have been very unfortunate if I had missed it, so I'm glad I was woken up in time.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Faculty Exhibition 2018

Two weeks ago I brought two framed pieces with me to school to loan to the next faculty art show at my university.  I was a little concerned as my chosen pieces were not particularly new, but of the things I had ready to go, I felt they were the best choices.  Since no required dates were given I went with my own criteria- things not shown in that location before and art that could hold a wall well.  Last week we were asked to send titles and such so they could create title cards for the works, and a few days ago they requested that we fill out an insurance form.  Couldn't make the insurance form attached to an e-mail work, so I went with plan B- grab a printed form left in the mail room, fill it out this morning, and leave it in the organizer's box.  Despite delays caused by the 4th major rainstorm this week, I got to school in time to take care of this before class.

The show was scheduled to open today, but as usual, when I arrived the gallery was locked and dark. No problem, as I would be there for several hours anyway.  During a class break I wandered down to the 2nd floor where I found Tino at work on a new woodcut in the print room.  I shared some requested information about tools, and he asked about ways to transition patterns and stuff in his complex composition.  I told him he might find answers in my portrait piece in the faculty show, and the organizer mentioned that she had opened the gallery so people could check it out.  We took a walk down to the 1st floor, and while the lights were on, the gallery doors were locked.  Have to try again later.

About an hour later the organizer stopped by my classroom and mentioned the she had opened the door again (mystified as to who had locked it earlier) and on my next break I collected Tino and we checked out the faculty show.  When I show my work to students, whether it be at the college or in a local class, I always emphasize that it's not because I want them to copy what I've done, but just to show them how I decided to resolve the issue.  His subject and style are very different from mine, but it seemed he was getting ideas looking at my piece from almost 20 years ago.  I'm sure we'll talk more in future weeks.

After my classes were over, I was up on 4 returning the slide projector and ran into another adjunct who has work in the new show.  He had a few general questions, including whether I was planning to hang around today for the opening reception.  I hadn't heard anything about a reception, and told him I was planning to go home after class.  On the way out, I stopped in the gallery and talked to the student watching the place.  She knew nothing of a reception, just planning to lock up when her gallery shift ended a little later, but seemed a little disappointed that one wasn't planned, feeling that the show was good enough that more people should come to see it.  I wasn't surprised at the lack of a reception as the last faculty show we had the school declined to hold a reception or provide refreshments, leaving it up to the faculty to provide whatever we decided to bring in.  We are now fewer in number than we were then, so I'm not expecting anything over the next 3 weeks that the show in on the walls.  I took a few quick photos of my pieces to document my part of the show

and when the gallery student realized who I was, she became very interested in talking to me.  She said she had been very curious about the title of the portrait piece and what it meant, so I gave her a quick version of the story of my model and how I came up with the idea, which seemed to satisfy her.  As long as she was there, I gave her a brief version on the boardwalk story as well.

After all these conversations today, I am no longer worried if my pieces are too old for this show.  Our chair was eliminated years ago and our deans are now in a new building and never set foot in the art building, so no one of consequence is likely to see the thing.  All but a few of the faculty are part time, so we have little interaction.  I figure this show is something for the students to see, and today students who need no grades from me were very interested in the work I showed, so my decisions must have been fine.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

East Meets West part 4

It looks like most of the East Meets West show has been resolved.

After things broke down with the plan to hold it at BelmarArts, and East Coast Mary was  considering looking elsewhere, I made the suggestion of the Jersey Shore Arts Center in Ocean Grove.  I knew that they were looking to expand their art exhibition schedule, and I knew that Mary knew the location of the building, from having been to critiques in my basement studio many times.  What I hadn't realized at the time was that she had never seen any of the rest of the building, so I arranged for her to stop by and tour the more than one century old building, and it is an impressive location.  We also set up a meeting with Nichole, the new director there, who I had sounded out about  Mary's exhibition idea and seemed potentially interested.  Both parties came away enthusiastic about the possibility, and there has been a series of meetings since then as details have been worked out.  West Coast Mary (Pacios) arrived in town a few weeks ago, a trip originally planned to coincide with the planned exhibition in Belmar, and she got to tour the new building and meet with everybody.  She was also impressed, and I found out a few days ago that they all had a second meeting several days ago and worked out more details to everyone's satisfaction.

Today I attended a meeting at (East Coast) Mary's house in Bradley Beach, with the other Mary still hanging around the area for a little while.  (They've known each other for about 60 years going back to school, and enjoy getting to hang out)  Lunch was served (taco salad) and the three of us, and Katie, went through letters, dates, and other details, trying to make sure were are covered for all possibilities.  I'll save some details until we get closer, but we're looking at the show going up in February and coming down in April, which seems fine for all parties.  We may have some sponsors lined up and perhaps a vendor demonstration.  We talked about trying to make connections to some local schools, and I have been given the task of investigating the possibility of conducting some print related classes around the time of exhibition.  I'm also going to try to get some of my former students to participate- college, Belmar.  Showed them photos in my camera of some of this work, and they were impressed with what these relatively beginning students accomplished.  Decisions made at today's meeting will go into the creation of a revised Call For Art, which I will get into the hands of my former students as soon as I get it myself.  So a productive day.

Since the sun had dried things out all day,  I went down to Manasquan and mowed until the batteries ran out (just one piece left), then home for my second Mexican influenced meal of the day.  Last night I cooked a pot of chili (pork, black beans, etc), intended for a burrito week, and since I had bought the rest of the ingredients already, I wasn't going to let the taco salad lunch interfere with my dinner plans.  It helps that I have a stomach that can handle all those spices.  Never any heartburn here.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Union Business

Friday is my day up in Union, NJ, home of the university that employs me.  I'm up well before the sun (alarm clock- it's not my natural waking time), and on the road very early because there is always traffic on the Parkway, then quickly getting ready for my morning class.  All that happened as usual, but I was still in time for my first class, most of the students showed up, so a typical day.  But other stuff happens, too.

For the past week or so I have been spending time talking to Tino, one of my former students, first from my 3D class, then from an independent study/mentor class with a focus on woodcut.  (if they are in New Jersey and want to learn woodcut, they eventually find me) Showed him better tools, better ink, better paper, and soon he was hooked.  Decided to make relief printing part of his BFA show and came to me for help.  I knew him to be a hard worker so I agreed and he started cranking out the work.  Disappeared briefly last spring, but now his is back and his final show is hanging in the small student gallery downstairs.  He often works large, especially his paintings, so his traditional woodcuts on paper are not in the show, but he tried a few pieces where he combined the two mediums.  I advised him to go for it- it's not my style, and some traditional printmakers would freak out at the suggestion, but I know from experience that artists are going to make the art they want to make, so it's best to help them make it the best they can.

Two of the mixed media pieces are seen above.  Both feature large heads done with woodcuts (Maya Angelou, whose poetry is the theme of this series) surrounded by painted images.  These pieces have gotten a good response (like the two young students who visited the gallery last week while we were in there talking) and visitors of any age have been mystified as to how the heads were made with such  detail.  General knowledge of woodcut is shockingly low.  On the other hand, Tino is very much into it, even had a new one going right now which he showed me last week.  Woodcut can be done anywhere and does things that painting can't, so he's not going to stop.  The big problem has been keeping the gallery open.  He's been willing to show up each day and open it up, which is good as the school has not opened any of the galleries in our building this week, and it would have been a shame if no one saw this show.

Across the hall is the main gallery and that better be open in a few weeks.  The next faculty show is going in there by the end of the month and I want people to be able to see it.  Yesterday I packed two pieces to bring in, and the weather was passable enough today for me to retrieve them from my car between classes.  The faculty member who was supposed to take them was not in her classroom as promised, but I found her in her office on the top floor and she followed me down to the 3rd, where I removed them from the tote bag system I used to bring them in.  They were still wrapped in plastic so she didn't see them, but she thought that the size and number of pieces was perfect. (of course, there are two other faculty members accepting work, and there seems to be no coordination, so who knows?) No paperwork yet- she says she'll e-mail that to us soon.  Anyway, here's what I am lending he show, two things I had in frames ready to go.

What Did Your Face Look Like Before Your Parents Were Born? is one of my typical black and white portraits, done at the request of the subject.  Dawn had been a co-worker before I had went off to grad school, and was willing to pose for some of my odd ideas, and came to a show at the Newark Museum to see an exhibition that one of those pieces was in.  Clearly pregnant, she had seen some tv show about a woman who had posed for a formal photograph in a pregnant state and wanted to do the same, a woodcut print in my case. Discussed it in a phone conversation and she mentioned that she had been adopted (if I knew I had forgotten) and this baby would be the first opportunity to see the face of someone she was actually related to.  The title was taken directly from a zen koan, a riddle that teaches zen philosophy.  I don't know what the zen answer to it is, but what occurred to me was that it might be your grandparents, and with this baby she was thinking she might see the face of her unknown parents and older relatives.  So I had her pose, hand on her large belly, thinking about her daughter to come, while looking into a mirror at her own face.  It's good that we got it done when we did, as the baby came a few weeks early.  The subject was very pleased with the results.

The other piece I am lending them is a little more recent, one of my boardwalk prints, the one featuring food.  Good print, never shown there before, so I believe it will work.  The complex scene, the bold colors, the humor- all should appeal to any students who get to see it.  And everyone loves going to the boardwalk, though I imagine down in the Carolina's right now it would be no fun.  Details on the show will follow when I know what they are.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Work Never Ends

So many busy days...

This morning I had a meeting with the director of the Jersey Shore Arts Center, and both East Coast and West Coast Mary.  The main topic was the plans for the East Meets West print show that my former student is organizing (East Coast).  Looks like we're on target for a February/March show.  Once all the details are worked out, I'll put it up here.

Answered a bunch of e-mails from students regarding materials for class, since I have some of those tomorrow.  While there I will deliver two potential works for the faculty show, so I spent some time wrapping them and loading them into my car for tomorrow's drive.  Again, more details to come.

In between, lawn mowing, as this was the first day in a while that it didn't rain.  Half done, stopping because I ran out of battery power.  Should be able to finish it on the weekend.

More school stuff tonight- updates to my museum assignment to reflect new emphasized goals of the school.  Printed it out, copies to be made tomorrow morning for distribution.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Show Opens in Ocean Grove

I had a dream shortly before waking for the last time this morning, in which I was talking to a bunch of Intro art students (none that I actually know, just symbolic characters), who were fascinated with some examples of student art on a table in the classroom.  The pieces looked like examples of student projects from my 3D class, made with found objects, and the Intro students were excited by the possibilities of making art like this.  I pointed out that the works were from a higher level class, but that we had a number of scheduled assignments that could make use of such materials- late in the semester, since we had more basic stuff to do first.  But there would be times we could make use of such things....Of course I had to wake up eventually.  Too bad, as students that interested in art are few and far between in those Intro classes.  This could all relate to a conversation I was part of a few days ago.  One of my former 3D students is finally having his BA show, a requirement for graduation.  So he did those same projects, none particularly memorable.  But that same semester he was taking introductory printmaking, which includes woodcut, and like many of my art students, he occasionally brought other things to class to work on in spare moments.  They get cheap old tools to use in that class, and relatively little instruction, so I told him a thing or two, and showed him what better tools could do (the ones I use in my local class, not the top level ones I use for my own work) and where they could be acquired.  Before long he had bought some of his own.  A few semesters later he saw me in the hallway and asked if I could work with him to prepare for his show.  He's a dedicated art student, so I didn't have to convince him to work, just showed him a medium that he could do well with and gave advice when asked.  I recent years they have given me Friday classes, and the galleries are often locked up, but he has a key to his space and plans to keep it open for the duration of his show.  So we're in there talking about his art and a couple of young college students are standing in the hallway looking in, very excited, so we invite them in.  One is taking the Intro class that day (not my section) and showed us things she had done in the past- photos on them on her phone of course.  It's a tiny space, and my former student often works large, so no room for his traditional woodcuts, but with my blessing he had included large sections of woodcut on his painted canvases, and these pieces have proved popular.  These young students had no idea what a woodcut was, but they really liked those pieces and I let the artist explain what he had done.  Woodcut doesn't grab everyone, but when an artist likes it, they don't want to let go.

Today was the official first day of the Tenant Art show at the Jersey Shore Arts Center, something put together relatively quickly from among the artists working there, filling all those big walls on the main floor.  And also promoting us, too.  No official reception today we were told, but the building would be open to the public, lights on, labels up, artist statements in a book.  Decided it would be good to be there in case people had questions.

Above is a better shot of my wall, from today.  Below is Molly's installation, a mix of silkscreened and sculpted forms.  Other walls included paintings, photographs.  But when I arrived this morning (during the official open time) I found no labels, no statements, and no visitors or artists.  At least it was all hung and the lights were on.

Decided to hang around a while and see if anything happened.  Just a few visitors, one of whom was looking for a business in the building that hadn't opened as promised, and one who was wanting to know more about painting.  (spent a lot of time looking at the big paintings on the wall, and also my Eddie piece.  as with those young college students, woodcuts can be a mystery and a draw) Our director returned from an errand and filled in some more information.  She wanted to get the work up first, and hopes to have the labels and statements on view this coming week.  A formal reception may be in the works, perhaps later this month or in October.  The painting guy asked about possible studio space and classes.  To the former, nothing available right now and a waiting list exists, and the latter is something they are working on.  (reminded her that I've taught many workshops around the state and she should talk to me when she's ready) I pointed out to the guy that there are arts spaces all over, but they come and go, since it's a hard business to make money in.  A web search may find him what he's looking for.

Since not much was going on there today, I decided to split and go watch the first Giants game of the season.  But I'll be meeting with the director over a curating thing later this week.  If I hear about a regular reception, I'll post the information here.  Meanwhile, the show is open whenever the building is, at least through November 11, 2018.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Fall Shows

Exhibitions never end for artists.

I currently have a piece hanging in Belmar, but that show comes down this weekend.  However, at least two more will be happening this month.

The first will be in Ocean Grove, at the Jersey Shore Arts Center, which is also the building where I have my Studio.  Which is why I have this show.  Our current director decided to put together a show of work from the building tenants, taking the place of another show that was delayed.  I always have work ready to go, and I was the first to actually bring in some things for the show.  And when I stopped by few days ago to see how things were coming, I was the only one to have anything hung on the wall, my three pieces filling one short wall.  Looked like this-

An impressive show, but without more people, few may show up.  Today several of the walls were filled, but not all, so I guess they have some work to do before the show opens this weekend.   Nothing is labeled yet, though in proper print tradition, my pieces all include title and signature.   Nichole (our director) was on her way out, but I did get a little more information.  Sunday is the first day of the show, which goes into November, but there is no official reception.  She will have the building open for several hours that day, for anyone who wants to come see it.  I will be there for some of it.

Today I officially let it be known at my university that I plan to be part of this year's faculty art show. When I first started there, the faculty show was only for full time professors and I made the mistake of asking if they ever had adjunct faculty show.  And I was put in charge of creating such a show.  Well, it did give me a chance to meet many of the other adjuncts, a large number back then.  The number of total faculty has shrunk considerably since then, full timers either retired, moved on, or died, many adjunct positions eliminated, so a few years ago the two groups were unified, since it would have been difficult to fill the gallery otherwise.  Today we were just asked to provide our intention to be part of it, and the type of work we would provide.  Size, number of pieces, those are decisions for the future, as would be the specific pieces.   The show opens toward the end of September, so when I know something I can tell you more.

Next week I have been invited to participate in a meeting for an upcoming show in the spring.  This is the East Meets West show of printmaking, still working out details of location and dates, but both organizers will be in New Jersey next week, taking a meeting with the potential location, and I expect to be a participant in that show.  I am not an organizer, but I have been sharing my experience with all involved and have tried to help it happen.  Again, when I know more, I will share it.