Saturday, August 31, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 8

Once again working from home, but sometimes sources come to where you are.  Local PBS stations often show episodes of America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country on weekends, cooking shows that I enjoy as they often include practical information that I can adapt.  Sometimes even for art.  For example, today one of them was doing an equipment test on large plastic coolers, popular for summer excursions.  Large plastic coolers are also part of my next supermarket print, one of the items that was sold in the seasonal aisle where I saw the fireworks, and something I had always planned to include in the background of my print.  On the show they decided not to test ones that cost over $1000 (and yes they come that expensive), but I don't think I've ever seen one like that in a supermarket, but they had plenty that could be at home in that location.  Recorded it on the DVR, so I could go back and freeze frame anything helpful, then went back and made adjustments to my block sketch. (had some already from memory, but these are better) As with yesterday, I'll skip a photo for now, as shooting good photos in my apartment is a challenge, so you'll see the results sometime next week.

The food part of the episode was about the best way to cook a full brisket in the proper Texas style, and this also relates to my art experience.  Not cooking it, but eating it.  Back in 2005 I was invited to be part of something called the Print Blitz in Arlington. Texas.  Organized by faculty member Nancy Palmeri, faculty member at U Texas Arlington and longtime member of the Outlaw Printmakers group that I have also been a part of.  Four main groups were present- invited artists (my group, mostly college faculty), undergrad print students (mostly connected to those college faculty), print students from the host college, and about a dozen high school students from a Dallas area arts magnet school.  The faculty types were given beds in a college dorm within walking distance of the studio building.  That studio set up was quite nice (still have my school ID that I had to use to get in and out)- two very large rooms with tables, presses, counters, easels, etc plus a smaller connecting room with lots of tables.  That's the room I set up in. Mostly me, Bill Fick (an Outlaw I have known for years and worked with in various locations) and some of the high school students, though many of our friends wandered in and out of the space.  The UT print students got the job of driving us around as needed, such as the local art museums (not bad really) and when I needed some art supplies, the closest place to campus, a building that held an art supply store and a gun shop.  (this was Texas after all) Food and drink as well.  Once I was in a group that went to a local place and was prevented from leaving by a middle aged couple yelling about how our car had damaged their brand new Mercedes by parking next to it in the parking lot.  Their car was three rows away, but they claimed it had been parked next to ours earlier and demanded a police investigation and report.  When the cops arrived all they found was a small chip in the paint on the bumper (could be road gravel for all we know) and couldn't believe they were called out to investigate this.  Worst of all, our group was late joining the others at a bar and missed out on some free beer.

Naturally we had opportunities to enjoy the local cuisine, and in Texas it's all about meat.  I remember one place we were taken to.  I couldn't remember the name today, but I found it easily on the internet.  It was highly recommended by some of the local students, a place called the RailHead Smoke House.  Food dished out cafeteria style inside, find a seat outdoors.  At least one in our group was excited to try their smoked sausage (big in Texas barbecue) but it looked just like kielbasa, which  I like well enough but can get that here.  I went for a combination platter- a big cardboard container of barbecued ribs (beef-it was Texas and that's what they prefer there), another big cardboard container full of juicy slices of beef brisket, and a third large cardboard container with a mountain of french fries.  Inexpensive and very tasty, filled me up for the rest of the day.   As diners left, they left bones and such on the tables, and I got to watch the greasiest scruffiest grackle I have ever seen hopping among the vacant tables, grabbing the old spare rib bones.  I'm used to seeing pigeons and sea gulls picking through garbage, but this was new.  I imagined that mother birds there in Texas might bring old spare rib bones back to the nest to feed their chicks, and was inspired to create the following piece while down there in Arlington.

The other print I did was my second bowling alley scene, an imaginary thing based on memories of a 1970's bowling alley snack bar, with what one fellow artist called the "saddest hot dog he had ever seen".  Unfortunately, I do not have a digital image of that piece to share here.

That Print Blitz was on my mind recently because of the class in Ocean Grove.  One thing I remember well was the intense interest of the high school students.  No formal classes- just a lot of print artists doing their thing, and the kids were welcome to watch, ask questions.  Over that week, some did a woodcut, and an etching, and a silkscreen, and probably a few other things, too.  They had an opportunity to work side by side with talented professional artists who knew processes and equipment they probably had no access to back in high school, and they didn't want to waste a minute of it. We adult faculty could come and go at will, and might knock off in the early evening to go have a beer or two, but the high school students just wanted to keep making prints.  The local college students had to be present to monitor the high school students, and I had heard that on the last night they had to throw the high school students out of the building around 3 or 4 a.m. so they could go home and get some sleep.  Nothing quite that extreme happens in Belmar or Ocean Grove, but I have seen a lot of students work hard to finish their block (or blocks sometimes) so they can print it on week 4, or print multiple copies, working right up to the end of the scheduled class.  They have the knowledge of what to do on their own, and the ability to go buy their own materials, but they really want to get things done right there, perhaps while they have access to an experienced printmaker.  If that's what it takes to get them hooked, I'll do my part.


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