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.