Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Circus part 4

Late November is here.  Now that I am past Thanksgiving and two family birthdays, now that I have gotten the heat fixed in my apartment, now that I have started work on arranging contact for work at a future location, on providing details to a planned spring art show, on setting up next year's health insurance, I can get back to the real important work- making art.  At least by day we are regularly getting above freezing, but not by that much, and the near constant wind (life at the Jersey Shore) takes 15 to 20 degrees off that all day.  Still, today seemed like a good day to get out of the house and work on some art stuff.

One early stop was BelmarArts, to check out the newest art shows (including several pieces by friend of the Studio Lisa Bagwell) and in the middle of our parking lot I spotted this ex-pigeon, seemingly a victim of this weather we've been dealing with in recent days.  Later I was told that it's been sitting there in the parking lot for 3 days, so I guess the cold has helped preserve it, though I'm not sure why nothing else has shown up to eat it.  Either way, I'm now really glad that I got my heat fixed last week.

I continued north to my Studio to get back to work on my latest block drawing.  After fixing the doorknob that I noticed was falling apart last week, I started making adjustments to my Circus piece. Not much new, but I have refined some details on the sign, and of the food items.  The more I look at this thing, the more I feel that the only way this is going to make sense as a depiction of the food is when the color is added.  Copied directly from a photo, the crab part looks more like an insect or an alien creature in the pencil drawing.  I'm hoping that some golden brown color on all the deep fried surfaces will make what it is clearer to the viewer.  Still a few other things to work out and then I can start cutting this thing.

Monday, November 19, 2018

On The Road for Art

Several weeks ago I got an e-mail from my former student Mary Lane, telling me about an amazing night she just had.  She had attended an artist talk by a Gwenn Seemel, at a place called Lyceum Hall, in Burlington.  Not only did she enjoy the talk, but she was very impressed with the building.  One of the co-directors told her that they had inherited some print related equipment and would love to find a printmaker who could teach a class or two.   So naturally Mary started praising her wonderful woodcut teacher, gave her my contact information, and then made sure I got hers, thinking maybe I would be good to teach classes there. When I had a free minute I sent her an e-mail, just a few lines about what I do and could do for them.  The contact, Barbara Fisher, said she was interested to talk more, and her normal days there were Thursdays and Fridays, which made things complicated.  All day on Friday I am in class, and I often spend the other day running around and getting ready for class.  Tried calling a few times, but she was never at the phone.  Then last Thursday we had the worst November winter storm in more than 80 years (so said the news) and I was happy to spend the day indoors.  Tried the phone again and this time she was there, and so we set up a plan to meet the following Monday afternoon.

My apartment has a number of issues right now, but outside, today was about as good a day as we will have this week.  Not exactly warm, but sunny and relatively mild weather.  I looked up the address on my computer map program and saw it wouldn't be too hard to find.  Wrote myself some directions (don't have any county maps for that part of the state), gassed up the car, and took off a little before noon.  From going to many trainings in Hamilton last year I know that there can be some significant traffic around that part of the state around rush hour, but I wouldn't be there for any of that.

I was inside a few minutes before our scheduled appointment, so I guess I had calculated the timing correctly.  I don't know much about Burlington, except that it is right by the Delaware River.  The neighborhood looked like a well maintained urbanish location, like the artsy parts of Red Bank, or Rahway, or Asbury, etc.  I was told that the building is quite old, and had been built as a lyceum, which is why it has that name now, back in the early-mid 19th century.  It had been vacant for a while before this latest arts group moved in, much like our studio building in Ocean Grove, and the Boatworks in Belmar, and so many other places that artists have settled in.  I knew from some web research that there is gallery space, but we never got to there.  Besides the directors' office, the first floor was mostly other art organization offices, and she showed me the classroom space.  Right now a lot of costumes and theater stuff in there, plus a disassembled roller press.  I have no idea how to put such a thing together, so it's a good thing my class doesn't need any presses. Mostly we talked in the office, about arts organizations, art, plans for this place, the kinds of classes I teach, etc.  She seemed very excited by the possibilities.  Turns out she has some familiarity with some of the towns I have lived in in the past, so we had some discussion of those places past and present.

Her hope is to set something up for spring, which should be possible for me.  The next step is she wants me to send her some artist statement and teaching background stuff, so she can present the idea to the board.  We haven't discussed money yet, though I did mention it would have to be sufficient to get me to travel all that way.  As the mapping program predicted, the trip took about an hour, not a short trip, but I drive that far each way on a weekly basis for the college, and have driven further than that for other arts lecturing, as long as the pay was right.  The situation seems worth exploring.
Eventually found my way back to the Turnpike, then home from there.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Behind Glass

To follow up on something I wrote about a few weeks ago, here is that glass display case at the Boatworks, the headquarters of BelmarArts.  I had been invited to put some small works into the case in the back room, and these struck me as the kind of thing that would work well there.  Was able to actually find them, and the rest is history, and documented in an earlier post on this blog.   I was there today to shoot photos for a holiday event and saw the display for the first time.  This situation lasts for about three months I think, and while there is no official reception, in early December there is a reception for a holiday sale of small and inexpensive works set in that building.  I am not part of that show, but anyone coming to see that might see my works, so who knows?

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Back to the Studio

The weather forecasters had promised us one nice day this week and this was to be it.  Looking out the windows this morning I saw sun, so I guess they were right.  So one day to get a lot of stuff done.

Took care of a few minor errands before lunch, and then in the early afternoon, after a few more local errands (including letting Diane at BelmarArts know that I had someone interested in the woodcut class a few days after we cancelled it, but info saved for next spring) I got up to the Studio building.  The first thing I noticed was that the hook for our room had a tag on it, so either Molly was in or had been there recently. Getting to the 1st floor, I noticed her artwork was down from the wall (the last one to be removed), so she definitely had been there if not still there.  I had carried in a tote bag full of print stuff, including a block to work on if I had time.  Took the elevator down to the basement and found Molly was indeed in there, working on a few things, and then about to head out for some lunch.  I walked out with her to the parking lot to get more stuff from my car, then back to the basement to get some work done.

The thing I had gone back to my car to get was a crate full of bench hooks, from a collection I had made over the past few years.  A bench hook is a very simple device that helps hold a wood block in place, allowing the artist to devote full attention to using the gouges for the intended purpose.  I make them out of wood, but I've seen metal ones for sale, and people sometimes use those as a place to roll out ink, but my wooden ones would not be as good for that.  The ones I made vary in size, but would be best used with relatively small blocks, smaller than most of my recent work.  On the other hand, they are a good size for the kind of blocks my Belmar students make, which may be why these things have been popular there.  In fact, a few years ago I had a student who was so impressed with the concept, she made her own a week later.  Between classes I keep them in a milk crate in my Studio, but I had them in Belmar this summer, stored there for the duration of my two series of woodcut classes.  They were in my large plastic bin, marked with my name and class/dates in the storeroom, but it had disappeared at one point, part of an ill-advised reorganization of the storeroom by people who didn't know what anything was.  My storage bin had been removed from the shelf it had been on the past few years and left in a corner, sign turned to the wall, under an old tarp, but at least my stuff was still inside.  Leaving it in its new place, it stored the bench hooks for the second summer class, but when that ended I decided it would be safer to stash the stuff in my car.  With the fall class now cancelled, I figured it's better to pack them up and leave them in my Studio for now (need some of that car space for a snow shovel, since that may be coming this week), except for one small one that I stuck in my backpack to bring to school on Friday, to show a woodcut student who knows what it is but never made one.  Teaching never ends.

And speaking of school on Friday, my other Studio task today related to that as well.  This is one of the projects I do regularly with my Intro class- creating a collograph plate out of cardboard, scraps, and whatever else they come up with, which fits in with the formal issue of texture, something we are supposed to cover.  Ink and printing tools aren't sold on campus or anywhere near it, so I provide those as part of my deal for getting to work on a print project.  I had bought some water based relief ink yesterday, but I was sure I had more in my very messy ink bag (all those summer classes had their effect on my bag) and my large work table and the Studio are much better place to organize all that than my apartment.  I suppose I didn't need a sunny day to do this, but carrying all this stuff to my car, and then to the Studio building, is just easier on a day like this.  What I had in there before yesterday was all my oil based ink cans (not to be used in this week's class), my collection of water based color inks (brand no longer manufactured, but still good, used last year to color my mermaid sculpture and in my linocut class), some black ink tubes, a bag of brayers, and some ink knives.  One of the color inks was a large tube of phthalo green, and even though the cap was on and tube seemed to be intact, thick sticky green ink seemed to be on everything in the bag, so part of my task was to take advantage of the space and our big sink to clean everything and see what I actually had. Turned out that I have a bit of water based black ink in tubes, which I may try mixing with some of the new black ink in the can and use that this week.  Tossed out some empty black ink tubes, probably left from last spring's college class, and got as much green ink off everything else as I could.

The bag was still quite heavy taking it back to the car, but I'll load it more selectively for Friday's class.  Didn't get a chance to work on any woodcuts today, but no immediate deadlines on those, but these inks, etc will be used this week, so that was my priority.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

More Art Stuff

By this past weekend the forecasts for the coming week were predicting rain and/or snow for four of the five weekdays.  What will happen remains to be seen, but rain had started falling last night.  As both an artist who works with prints and a professor/teacher who works in 2D and printmaking, water can be a dangerous thing.  Water can have a very negative effect on things on paper.

Meanwhile I had a thing to deal with.  The Tenants art show at the Jersey Shore Arts Center was scheduled to end this past weekend, with some confusion as to whether it was ending on Saturday or Sunday.  But it would have to end, as Christmas decoration was already starting up and those walls had other plans.   Adding to the confusion, yesterday was Veteran's Day, so no one was in the office.  Life started up again today.

Tried phoning, but no one answered when I called, so I just decided to go up to Ocean Grove after lunch and figure it out then.  Last night's major rain storm ended up moving out to sea earlier than expected.  The sun never came out, so the day remained dark, but at least no rain was falling on everything, and one must take advantage of these opportunities when they happen.  In the office I found a newly hired building manager, who knew very little about the recent exhibition, and Nichole wasn't expected back until late afternoon, but he did know that they were in the process of installing wreaths and trees, which meant the art had to go, and he was more than happy to help take it down so I could get it out of there.  He also knew that Nichole had wanted to get Molly to come remove her wall installation, but they'll have to work that out with Molly themselves.  If it was still raining, I would have moved the framed art temporarily to my Studio, but it seemed safe to take it home, so as the building manager was taking the pieces down, I went out to my car and got some packaging materials.  Back inside, I thanked him for his help (saved me from having to climb the ladder), packed the work into various large plastic bags, and loaded them in my car.

Decided to take advantage of there not being a storm to take care of another errand that can't wait much longer.  This Friday my college classes are printing collagraphs, which means we need ink.  I probably have it, but the ink bag is big and messy, so best to organize it in my Studio space (I'll do that tomorrow), and get more ink today just in case.  (if I don't need it for this week, it will eventually get used) So I departed Ocean Grove, took route 33 to route 18, and made it up to Shrewsbury with no trouble, which is the home to only major art supply store in the region, at least he only one that carries any printmaking supplies. Got a jar of water based black ink suitable for relief, and headed home.  A couple of trips to unload the art into my apartment for now, then I could relax indoors the rest of the day.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Art Comes, Art Goes

Haven't done much new art over the past week, but art is never far from my life.

Last weekend I took care of something at the Boatworks, the headquarters of BelmarArts.  For a few years now we have had glass cases in the back gallery room, which are used to hold art pieces for sale, created by members.  As part of the redistribution of responsibilities, long time member Jim Aberle is now in charge of the "store" and sent me an e-mail offering me a chance to put some small prints in the case. (somewhere between an offer and a request)  What struck me as the best thing for this situation was some of my mini-saint prints, made years ago for sales and things like this.

The above photo shows some of these at a small works sale, in a rack that I acquired long ago, from a store closing sale I believe. The problem was that I didn't know where the prints were, or the blocks that made them for that matter.  I suspected that they were in the Manasquan basement, but finding them would probably require a major excavation of all the junk that's been piled up down there.  Then I was surprised to find about a dozen packaged prints (mat backing boards, typed labels, comic book bags and tape) in a box in my living room, more than enough for this purpose.  (still more missing, so that basement excavation will have to happen eventually) Traded e-mails with Jim for a few days working out the specifics, and then last weekend I dropped off 3 prints as requested, and the inventory form, at the Boatworks.  The work will be there for 3 months, with me being able to replace anything that sells with more of the same.  No official "opening", but there is a brief holiday sale that may bring people in.

Meanwhile, I had a print workshop series scheduled to start there on Wednesday, but promotion was not as good this time, or maybe it's that we are getting close to the end of the year, but no one signed up as of the first day, so we decided to cancel the class.  If I can find a good time slot, I may try to offer it again in the spring.

I know that the Tenants exhibition we have in the Studio building in Ocean Grove is scheduled to end this weekend, but we have received no notice to come pick up our works.  I may need one for another show in the spring, so I stopped by this afternoon to get some information and measure the size of the frame.  I don't know what was going in the building, but the main parking lot was full.  Someone must have left early because there was one parking space.  Since one is all I need, I grabbed it, went inside, and found not much going on.  The art show is still up, no one was in the office, and no events were going on there on the 1st floor.  Took care of my measuring business, and started working my way home.  Just a week ago my classroom was hot and humid, and opening all the windows did no good, but today was like full winter- ambient temperature well below normal for this time of year, plus sustained winds made outside feel like around freezing.  Glad to be done with errands and get home.

Actually I was in the building earlier this week for another meeting, regarding the print exhibition planned there for February.  Questions were answered, plans were made, and we still seem to be on track for the February opening of the show.

Took care of one more thing from the comfort of my apartment, information for an upcoming show.  Back during the faculty show last month I was asked if I'd be willing to participate in another one in the spring, off campus this time.  It seems we were invited by the Long Beach Island Foundation of Arts and Sciences to show in their gallery, part of a rotational thing involving college faculty around the state.  Besides being a regular exhibiter, I was also sought for this because I'm a shore area resident.  Actually LBI is still about an hour away from where I live, but I am probably a lot closer than those faculty who live near Union, not to mention those up in New York, and we will probably be expected to deliver our own work to the gallery.  As with the last faculty show, everything is being coordinated through an online document edit, which as of tonight shows a roster that is pretty much the same as that faculty show, but only about 4 or 5 people (including me) have so far put information  on the form. The deadline is still a few days away, so maybe more will be coming, or maybe more works will be requested.  I'll post details when I know them.