Monday, October 29, 2018

The Circus part 3

These woodcuts don't make themselves, so it was time to get back to the Studio, bringing with me the current block.  Grabbed a slice across the street, then got to my space and eventually got to work.

The pencil doesn't always show up as well as one might like in these photos, but it's there enough for me to see what I'm doing.  The thing I was working on most was the food in the foreground, for which I at least had a photo reference.  In keeping with my orientation plan for the composition of this piece, I would have to reverse the image I had of the soft-shell crab platter, so the sandwich would end up on the right side of the drawing, and the fries and onion rings on the left.  To get he basic shapes I just turned the page with the printed photo over and held it up to the light (window in front of me) so I could see it in reverse.  To see more details, I used an actual mirror I keep in my printing cabinet.  Not easy drawing an accurate deep fried crab in any direction- both symmetrical and irregular, and with so many appendages.  Biology tells us that the crustaceans and arachnids developed along very different genetic lines, but he end results turned out to be quite similar.  As for my drawing of the crab, color and value will play a big part in showing the form and shape and making sense of all the legs, etc.  Also put in a little time on the Circus sign, but this will have to be worked on quite a bit before it is right.  Luckily I got a bunch of photos of it before the building was demolished.  Probably much of what I drew today will have to be redone, but you really can't fix things until you've got something down on paper (or wood) to fix.

On my way out of the building I noticed wreathes and Christmas trees stacked around the hallway.  So I stopped by the office to check with Nichole if the art show had to come down soon.  She assures me that the Tenants art show will remain up for its full planned time, about 2 more weeks.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Another Long Day

Being that it's Friday, that is expected.  Actually traffic up the Parkway was light this morning, and the school didn't shut down any parking lots today.  Taught my 2 classes.  Coming home, lots of traffic, due to multiple accidents on the Parkway South, but I got home.  Most important, I got home before the big Nor'Easter is expected to arrive, so I was able to move my pieces from the recent faculty art show (picked up at school today) home safely.  As I write this, the rain hasn't started yet, but a lot is expected, so tomorrow may be a good day to stay home.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Circus part 2

Took care of a few errands today, gradually working my way north.  For example, I stopped at the Boatworks to drop off the filled out form to register my woodcut class, a form I was e-mailed and found last night.  On the schedule for today was another meeting with Nichole at the studio building in connection with the upcoming print show.  This was something Mary was requesting, and so I set up the appointment while I was there yesterday, sent Mary an e-mail, then heard nothing.  Finally called her early this afternoon, at which time she apologized for not getting in touch with me sooner, but she's still sick and needed to postpone today's meeting.  When I got up there I informed Nichole, who was very understanding, discussed possibilities for a new meeting, and since I was there, went down to my Studio to get a little more work done.

And I mean a little more work.  I had left the wood there yesterday on my table.  The building faced route 35, and in it's last form, had the original round section and two wings that stuck out left and right.  There was parking all around the building, but the section for car service was the wing to the right, so I decided to make that the location of my piece.  The building was fairly symmetrical, which makes it easier for me.  I took photos of both sides, but the sun was always low and strong when I was trying to shoot the right, making everything extremely backlit.  This means I can draw directly from one of my left side photos, and the mirror image effect of relief printing means it will look like the right side- just have to reverse the lettering on the sign.  Didn't get too far on the block drawing, but important decisions were made.  The above image shows what I came up with today.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Too Soon No More

I don't like going too long without working on a print, but I feel like it's been a long time since I got any artwork done.  Art related- there's been a ton of that.  College classes, workshops, exhibitions- I've kept pretty busy.  But not much art getting done.  Maybe it's the effect of this Intro class they've had me teach the past few semesters; the most anti-art art class I've ever seen, but that is the way the university seems to want it.  The students who did see my work in the recent Faculty show seemed to really like it, but that started coming down this week.  The work in Ocean Grove also got some good reactions- that has a few more weeks.  Work is progressing on a print show I am providing guidance for.  A studio visit that happened last month was very much appreciated by those who came.  And I got word today that my next workshop in Belmar is officially on the schedule.  So maybe it's time to start acting like an artist again.

Ever since I decided to concentrate on printmaking, I have never had a lack of ideas for artworks.  I have a couple of blocks going already, but I had another one I wanted to get going on, an idea that's been kicking around for a few years.

Anyone who knows this area is familiar with the Circus Drive-In.  It's practically in my DNA.  It was built in the 1950's, which meant that my father worked there in his high school years.  It eventually became a landmark.  It was a pretty standard drive-in type restaurant, open for lunch and dinner, with a mix of burgers, sandwiches, and other typical road side dining fare.  The original shape was round (like a circus big top tent), but later wings were added to both sides, seating for parties, and more spaces for cars to park and order.  A few things set it apart.  One was the inclusion of soft shelled crabs on the menu- common enough in seafood restaurants, but you won't find then at most drive-ins. The second was the theme.  Every item was named after an animal or a typical circus/sideshow attraction.  However, circuses aren't as popular as they once were.  Several years ago the largest of them all, the Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey circus, closed for good.  The original owners ran the place for almost 50 years, then retired, and it was operated for a few years by different people, but the drive-in closed for the season a few years ago and never reopened.  The building remained in place for another year, but now it is torn down, with only the big sign (above) left to mark where it was.

A lot of what once existed in this area is now gone, the land worth more than the value of the businesses that were on them, so the businesses were closed and the land was sold.  Running a business is a long term commitment, while selling property is quick and profitable.  But, as my old professor used to say, art is forever.  The title of this post is a working title for this potential series of artworks about regional businesses that have closed and been demolished, never to be seen again.  It is adapted from a song lyric by the band Bad Brains, from their debut album (circa 1982), regarding the band's being driven out of its hometown years earlier.  Many businesses that were once big are now gone.  I dealt with a few of them in my boardwalk series.  This possible new series begins with the Circus.

My starting point was two photos that document things that no longer exist, one showing the last fried soft shell crab sandwich platter (with fries and onion rings) I ever had there, and a view of the building itself, one of a few I took after it closed but before it was torn down.  The idea is to show it as food on a car hop tray, hanging outside a car window, as a customer might have ordered it.  I've been seeing these images for years, thumbnail icons on my desktop every time I turn on my computer, and I've even tried sketching it out a few times, but turning those tiny images into a block sketch was a challenge.  So today I bit the bullet and printed out full page copies of the two most significant images and brought them with me to the Studio.  The above sketch is the idea I am going with.  Still have to work out all the mirror reversal stuff, and I'm not worried about exactly copying anything from the photos, but at least I have a plan now.  When I get it all figured out, I can start working on a block drawing.

Woodcut Class Returns

Well, I hope.

A few weeks ago I noticed a class or group (whited out, hard to tell what had been there) was eliminated from the Belmar Arts Council schedule for late fall, and decided to try to get another one of mine going.  Had two over the summer, both getting enough to make enrollment, one was actually over the cap I had set, so I decided if there was any demand, I'd be happy to add one more.  Plus, other than needing to buy one more board, I have all the supplies I need to have the class.  Would have been happy to fill out the official form, but no one knew where they were.

Unfortunately, our new director was on vacation again, so nothing could be decided right away.  She was finally back last week, and her quick reaction was to say it shouldn't be a problem.  I was there on the weekend to shoot the opening for the blog, but she was off for the day.  And the college student office assistant is no longer working there- don't know exactly what happened with that.  But today I checked the BelmarArts website and the woodcut class is now up, complete with registration form.  Now all that has to happen is for potential students to discover that it exists and hope that some  people sign up for it.  First class is in two weeks.  Didn't want to go much later than that, as I like to not push things too close to Christmas.

The class will meet 4 times, not quite as spread out as we were for the early summer classes.  The dates are November 7, 14, 28, and December 5.  At the usual 6:30 - 9:00 pm time we have used the past few years.  I'll start spreading he word tomorrow, and hope that BelmarArts can arrange some publicity.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Almost Done

We had the official reception for the 2018 faculty show just a couple of days ago, and now it's almost on its way out the door.  Yesterday I had a chance to see the show one last time, as it was the day in the semester when I bring my Intro class on a tour of the whole art building (they rarely have seen such things) and this typically includes the main gallery.  This year there happens to be the faculty show there, so when I didn't get to take photos of the show on Wednesday, I knew I'd have one more chance.

(my pieces are in the two alcoves to the right in the photo below, so you can't see them here, but they are up on this blog a few weeks ago)

Got the door combination from the person in charge of the show last week, so I let myself in this morning.  There was a gallery assistant there for the afternoon show.  The exhibition used to be much bigger in the past because the department was much bigger in the past.  When I first started working there, separate shows for full time faculty (over 10) and adjuncts (over 30) and the galleries were full each time, both with art and visitors to the reception.  A few years ago the numbers had dwindled to the point where the two groups were combined into one show- I think we had a total of 13 participants this year.  As for visitors, the assistant at the desk yesterday told me that over 100 people have been recorded over the duration of the exhibition and about 30 total had shown up at some point during the reception, though not all at once.  She also expressed disappointment (as she had when the show first opened) that it was so short, feeling the art deserved a longer run.  I do know that the gallery was empty for the first month of the semester, but something else is on the schedule for next week, so it will come down by then and the organizer will store my work in her office until my next class day next week.

As for the students, on the tour they reacted most strongly to the large charcoal life drawings in the hallway on another floor (my class covered charcoal so I told them with practice they could do the same thing), and in the exhibition they particularly liked a large carved bench (furniture design had been on the tour, so I pointed out that they could take a class to learn this sort of thing for college credit).  The show is being kept up through the weekend, perhaps to take advantage of homecoming activities (which resulted in much of student and faculty parking being eliminated yesterday, although at least my usual spots weren't roped off this time and I'm always there early enough to get available spaces), and while I don't know if the gallery will be open, if it is a few more people will get to see the art.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A Very Busy Day

An artist's work never ends, and today ended up being an exceptionally long day.

The change in weather may mean that the lawn mowing schedule may finally slow down, but it hasn't happened yet.  Finished this week's cutting today and drove straight to Belmar with hopes of catching our current director in the office.  A question had come up last week of whether I would be doing more woodcut classes in 2018, but it's not my call.  I'm available, and there seemed to be a hole in the building schedule that would allow it, so I left a note and an e-mail, but heard nothing.  First I need the approval of BelmarArts, then I need students, thus my visit today.  She was back from vacation today.   Gave tentative approval and said it would go up on the website.  That's the first step.

Stopped at home for a quick snack, a change of clothes, updating and printing a document, then put some gas in the car and took off.  The destination was Kean University for the official reception for the current faculty show, which does have a few of my pieces hanging in it.  The document is a handout for this week's class, and having it ready to copy today would mean not having to do it on the class day.  The timing for today's event was good, bringing me to campus in late afternoon, after the day people have started to leave, but before the evening crowd arrives, freeing up some parking spaces one hopes.  Saw a few spaces as I passed through the lot where I usually park, but when I got to the section close to my building, the place where I usually park, it was all roped off.  No reasons that I know of (no announcements about it went out), so maybe just to annoy faculty.  At the big lot on the other side of my building I discovered that the faculty spaces there had been converted to student spaces.  Luckily my permit allows me any space, and students also leave that time of day, so I found a decent accessible spot.  Went up to the 4th floor to make my copies, then came back down to the 1st for the opening.

Initially I hadn't expected that we'd have a reception, since the last time we had a faculty show the school refused to provide refreshments.  We got an e-mail last week saying that there would be a reception and refreshments would be provided, leading me to ask questions.  Turned out that the refreshments were being provided by the three remaining full time faculty, not the school.  And that refreshment table was sparse- bottles of water, cheese and crackers, grapes, a few cookies.  Luckily, there was no one there to eat anything.  I never saw more than 8 people in the gallery at any one time, and often less.  Most of the artists weren't there either.  Usually free food lures students, but not this time.  I was told that our Dean had shown up, but I've never met him and wouldn't recognize him anyway.  One of our full time faculty mentioned that we were all invited to be part of a show down at Long Beach Island in the spring, and wanted to know if I would consider participating, since I live closer to there than most faculty.  I said yes, even though it's still about an hour away.  (I had an hour drive tonight each way, so I can handle that) My woodcut student was there of course (he practically lives in the building) and we had a former student stop by.  Didn't recognize him,  but he said he had me for a class and they did woodcuts, so that had to be me.  Said he didn't particularly enjoy that project (all they had to work with were x-acto knives), and he doesn't much like printing, but he must have liked something about it, because he kept doing them.  Showed me photos on his phone of prints  and they weren't bad, so I guess I got another convert there.  With so few people around, I never got around to taking photos of the whole gallery, but maybe I'll try to get some when I'm teaching, as the show will still be up through this weekend.

Hung around past 6 pm, hoping the Parkway would clear a bit.  Whatever may have happened, there was still plenty of traffic heading south when I left.  But the day was not over yet.  At home I got on the computer to take care of one more thing- my former student Mary had been to a talk at an arts center in Burlington and thinks it would be a great place to have some woodcut classes, and gave our contact information to the other.  I waited a few days to see if the Burlington contact was going to write me first, but it hadn't happened yet.  So tonight a quick e-mail to introduce myself and what I can offer.  Mary mentioned that the place had received a large donation of print equipment and had no  one who knew how to use it, two things that may go together.  (my two colleges have disposed of much printmaking equipment in recent years, severe cuts or elimination, and with no classes, it's hard to learn printmaking)

So pretty much this whole post is a giant to be continued.  What happens with the Belmar class, with a potential Burlington class, the show in LBI, images of the Kean gallery- all is wait and see.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Lots of Errands

Lots to do every day, and today was no exception.  In the morning alone I had mowed the lawn, moved stuff to the basement (finding some things I had wanted in the process), and visited recycling. Art stuff started in the afternoon.

Got an e-mail a few days ago from someone at BelmarArts, saying that they were working on the new website and wanted to know if I had class information to put up.  Since there is no class yet, no, but maybe I should get one going.  So I talked to the office there, found some information, came up with a plan.

Next up to Ocean Grove to see if I had any mail.  My visitor to the Studio last week had asked in an e-mail about an address to send something to, and rather than give her my home address, I gave her the mailing address of the place she had been to already.  I dropped by the building today and sure enough I had some mail.  (we all have mailboxes there, but this was the first occasion I had a reason to expect something) What had been sent was a small woodcut print.

The image of a brayer had been a prize of a sort from an event at PCNJ, a place I haven't been for years but I know quite well.

I spent part of the evening writing e-mails to all these people, replying to things I had gotten from them over the past few days.  We are expecting a big rain tomorrow, which may make it a good day to deal with all this stuff some more.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Time for a Fun Pak

Had a birthday recently, which brought me back to an old tradition that has roots in my college days.

At my undergraduate college, we had a convenience store near the campus, easy to walk to, called the  Tinee Giant.  It is part of a chain in that part of the country.  I always assumed that they were connected to the Giant supermarket chain, but I don't know for sure if that is true or not.  Anyway, a typical convenience store, selling bags of chips, candy, snack cakes, some groceries, lots of beverages  (as a senior I remember buying a 6 pack of malt liquor there for me and a friend to share with a professor at the end of the semester), self serve hot dogs and condiments (50 cents), and other stuff.  A rack near the front window had an assortment of "fun-paks" as they were called- small bagged with a cardboard header, dime store quality items, or things you might win with a visit's worth of tickets from a boardwalk game.  I remember one called "candy and water weapons" which had really cheap candy, and something almost like a water pistol (unlike the ones I knew, this had no trigger, just soft plastic gun shape that could hold some water, and you squeezed the whole thing to get water to shoot out the nozzle), some very cheap amusements.

One of my art school buddies was my friend Dave (the malt liquor friend above) and we adopted a form of the "Fun-Pak" for ourselves, often sending each other birthday gifts of stuff we made or picked up for free (artist post cards, etc).  Got one from Dave a few days ago.

Being a comic book artist, often the content of his packages is comics related.  This time it included a complication of recent short comic strips, a preview issue of an upcoming graphic novel about the Georgetown Steam Plant (funded by the city of Seattle), stickers, and a t-shirt that he helped design for a convention in Hot Springs, Arkansas (who'd have thought he's have a connection there?), plus a card.  Got it Friday, had time over the weekend to finally read everything. Fun, as expected.