Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 23

With a drop-in class scheduled for 6 pm tonight, I decided to go up to the JSAC in the afternoon, making sure to get a good parking spot and to get some artwork in.  Took two trips to bring everything in (no rain yet, so I had that going for me), and in between trips I stopped in the office to let Nichole know I was there.  At that point she shared with me the list of 80's music she had selected for tonight.  I suspected that a few of them might have been from the 70's, but the music part of the evening was her responsibility, so I let it go and got to work.  Down in my space I got in the mood by playing a few discs of true 80's vintage.  I first heard and appreciated the band Dream Syndicate while I was a student down in Virginia, but I didn't acquire the album Live at Raji's until I ran across it in a discount bin at a mall record store years later. But the concert it came from was in 1988, so it counts.  When that ended, I put on Big World from Joe Jackson, which has a major theme of modern times have eliminated exoticism and excitement from much of the world, but so many of the songs deal with the conflicts between the United States and the Soviet Union, that I think of it as a Cold War album. (Jackson, as a resident of England, seems to be a very concerned bystander)  Big World was unusual for other reasons- first it was a 3 sided record (I bought it on vinyl then, now burned to a single CD), two LP's and the second one had a blank side.  Second, the songs were all recorded live in a single take, with an audience that was asked to not applaud the performances until the songs were done.  Many rehearsals which allowed the technicians to adjust microphone locations and levels, so everything would be perfect when they started recording, leading to the producer making the accurate claim that the album was mixed before it was ever recorded.

My main purpose in going to the Studio was to pull a proof of the new block. I had cut more a few days ago, and liked what it seemed to be, but I had other plans for the day and put off the process of printing.  Today I knew I had about 90 minutes to devote to it, more than enough time to pull a single proof of a previously inked block.  For the occasion I had brought in some Lightweight White paper and even opened a new can of ink. Bought a fresh roll of wax paper to create a skin paper for it.

So here is the first official proof of this print, which will be known as Scenes from the Grand Opening #25.  The stray marks in the margins means it won't be part of the edition, but it's good enough to get the idea of the composition.

Cleaned up everything with ink on it, and took the elevator up to the 3rd floor to get ready for the class.  The cafe space was a little more hopping than for my last class, with someone manning the refreshment counter, where there were big pots of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and bags of chips, plates of cookies, etc. On the tables, a supply of art materials that Nichole had gotten for us- large pads, colored pencils, large pastels, etc.  Only thing missing were customers. A few people came in to buy snacks (probably connected to the dance classes), but no artists.  When I did see a woman carrying a large drawing pad, it turned out to be someone taking a meeting with Nichole, a potential teacher for another art class. I was told that several people had expressed an interest online, but no one showed tonight.  No idea if they didn't like the topic, or if there was an issue with the date.  For what is worth, I'm told that a lot more people expressed an interest in next week's activity (high contrast) and the week after that (60's music), so maybe it will work.  With the loud music coming from the dance studios on the 2nd floor, I don't know how well our music themed activity would have worked.  At times the tables and floor were vibrating to the rhythms of the dance music. Meanwhile the plan is to go forward with this, perhaps with better food options available if the permits come through.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 22

Had some available time this morning, and there are always things to be done up at the Studio, so that  is where I went. No company in the Studio today, so I could listen to music as I worked.  Chose one from my library there, Californication by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I first knew of the RHCP back in the 80's, when they were considered a wild punk/funk band and were becoming popular in the college radio world, of which I was a part.  Eventually Nirvana brought the college rock world into the popular music world, and this 1999 release was a huge hit.  Hearing the songs so often on local radio is what got me to buy my own copy.  Then as now, I think the rest of the album holds up.

One of my tasks for today was to document some things related to the requested design for a new BAC t-shirt, a follow-up to the first shirt I did for them about 12 years ago.  I'll give the details and images when I am ready to start on it,  which will be after I finish the current block.  I also wanted to talk to Nichole, since the first of the Wednesday night drop-in art events is this week.  I don't have to bring anything except myself, as I am leading the process.  Most of the promotion is through social media, which I have little to do with, but she says the number of interested persons is growing.  How many will show up and pay the small fee to be part of the event remains to be seen.

But my main reason to be there was to work on the latest block.   I had thought I might be finished last week, and inked it up, which revealed a few things that I thought should be fixed before I wasted some good print paper on it.  So I took a few blotter proofs on newsprint to take as much ink as possible off the block, and moved it to my drying rack. I knew that the ink (oil based) would not be completely dry by now, but judged I'd be able to work on it.

The problem that stood out most to me then was the shopping carts, especially the one in the lower right corner, which seemed to be just a mass of black.  Used my small round gouge to remove some wood between the bars, letting some of the white tile show through.  But mostly I was using a V gouge to cut thin lines representing the sides of the cart- verticals, horizontals, and orthogonals, seems I had left a lot out.  The cart further back needed some too, but not nearly as many.  Then I used the same two small gouges to clean up other parts of the block- the cakes, the sparklers, all around the lettering, marks showing up in the white tiles, the cigarette in the NO SMOKING sign, the faces of my two sneaky smokers, etc.  All minor changes, but to me they seem like they will make a big difference.  My hands were black, but soap took care of that.  Had other things to do this afternoon, so for now it's back in the drying rack.  I figure to come in a few hours before the Wednesday class (to get decent parking) which should give me plenty of time to pull a decent proof or two.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Catching Up in Belmar

Tonight was the opening reception for the latest show at the Boatworks, the headquarters for the BAC (formerly the Belmar Arts Council).  I didn't submit anything to the current show (Cornucopia of Color) but I was there to cover it for the BAC blog.  But I know a lot of people there, so I always end up having many conversations.

Early on I had Beverly thank me once again for being so efficient in removing my show from the Lounge gallery and doing such a fine job in repairing the walls. (above- the current show in that space) I told her I had learned from my last such experience.

My last big self hung show in Belmar was my display of the Fourth of July, part of an award from the annual juried show.  Two prints per page, and two push pins per page, meant 366 push pin holes to spackle before repainting the wall. No regrets- it was worth showing. but this time a more minor show on shorter notice.  So I chose to hang only four framed works, so only four hooks to nail up and four to remove and four holes to patch.  That's one way to get done quickly.

Ran into Stan and his wife, both now more active in the BAC, but I knew Stan originally as one of my old woodcut students.  They couldn't make the opening reception, but he said they did see my show while it was up.  He was unfamiliar with my larger size woodcuts.  I pointed out that all four had appeared in previous BAC group shows over the years, but whatever.  Twice he said that they were particularly impressed with the Death on the Highway piece (above).  It's a fine print, always gets a good reaction, which is partly why I chose it for this show.  I mentioned that the full edition was printed and I could easily sell them an unframed copy.  He said they liked it, but....  Such is the life of an artist.

Saw Dana there tonight, one of our current co-chairs, and the one who was present when I took that black and white show down last week.  She's also the one who is interested in having me do a new t-shirt design for the BAC, made some suggestions, and promised to send me a black and white version of the new BAC logo to be part of the design, but I got no e-mail from her.  She apologized profusely, and promised it would arrive soon.  I admitted that I had been too busy to even do a paper sketch of my ideas, so her delay had not impacted me too much.  Hope it comes soon, as I expect that will be my next piece.

Many people asked about the woodcut class, which ended up being cancelled twice.  Not my fault- a lack of commitment from so called interested students.  And not unique to woodcut-  many classes have been cancelled this year.  And it won't be back in 2019, just not enough time with the holidays coming.  I did mention the still life group in Ocean Grove starts this week, but due to the drop-in nature of the class, I won't know how many will be there until each one occurs.  Just have to hope that the people who say they want to do it decide to show up.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 21

As of last night I still hadn't heard anything regarding t he possible woodcut class in Belmar tonight, so I set out to take care of other business. Eventually my errands got me up to Belmar, a bit before noon. I was told the class was not happening. The woman who had left a voice mail and mentioned an interest in joining the class (several hours after we had cancelled it) had not called again or responded to calls that came from our office.   On my way out I took a peek at the side gallery and it was already full of youth art.  I guess I had gotten my art out in time and done fine with my repairs to the walls.  The day I took it all down I sent a reply e-mail to my contact, telling her it was all done, and I heard back from her yesterday, thanking me for getting everything done and being one of the more efficient people in the organization. No surprise- as far back as grad school I had developed a reputation as a guy who gets things done.  One of my first tasks as grad assistant in printmaking was to reorganize the printmaking supply closet.  A few days later I was talking to someone and mentioned I was the new printmaking grad student, and she exclaimed, "you're that guy who gets things done!"

With no class to run tonight, suddenly my schedule was more wide open.  After lunch I took a ride up to the Studio.   The predicted rain had not yet arrived, so it seemed a good opportunity to return the stuff I had picked up yesterday in preparation for the class.  Plus, I had some curiosity about my latest print.   The building was fairly empty.  Since I had the Studio to myself, I could listen to music.  Seemed like a Wipers kind of day.  Continued with the same old ink can I had used on the last day of the last woodcut class.  A lot of dried ink in there, but after some digging I found some usable ink.  My printmaking bag in the car had everything I needed, except my apron, so I was careful not to be too messy.  Used the black ink to roll up my new block and finally see what I had.

The composition seemed good, and the level of detail seems consistent with the series.  There were some flaws that can be fixed on the print itself, such as the broken up large F in FIREWORKS.  But there are also things that need to be cut- some minor, some major, like that shopping cart in the lower right corner. Way too dark and heavy.  I had left my cutting tools at home, and the ink was too wet for that anyway.  So I pulled a couple of proofs on newspaper (no need to waste good print paper on a proof I would never use) to speed up the drying time, left the block in my drying rack, packed up and went home.  And the heavy rain had still not arrived yet, so I got home safe.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 20

Had a strange dream last night (or maybe early this morning) with a lot of art content.  Some of it seemed to involve taking down a show and installing a new one.  No doubt influenced by my recent activities in Belmar, though this place was unfamiliar, as were the people in the dream.  As the first show was coming down, the music playing was vintage Devo, known for some intense and very electronic new wave songs in the early 80's.  I don't own any and don't recall being exposed to any recently so I have no idea why they were in my head.  Then another group started bringing in the next show, all packed in corrugated cardboard boxes.  The people carrying the boxes were all young African-American men (didn't recognize any, but reminded me of many of my college students) and the music they were playing was all 70's Paul McCartney and Wings.  Not a combination one often sees, and while I do have some of this in my collection, I haven't listened to it lately nor have I been exposed to it anywhere.  But where the dream got interesting was while unpacking the boxes.  Don't recall much about the art itself, except that it was all framed.  Turning up occasionally in these boxes were tubes of watercolor paint, and the one that I remember best was something called "charcoal orange". Never seen anything like that for sale anywhere.  Not even sure what it would be.   Perhaps a very cooled down orange, approaching a neutral.  Something that any experienced artist could mix, and not the kind of thing that anyone would produce as a tube color.  Strange things can wander through your head, especially when you are an artist.

My plans for the daylight hours included a Studio visit. I was very close on my current block and want to get that done and get on with the next project.  But before going to the basement, I stopped off at Nichole's office, but she was busy with someone so I figured I see her later.  After that dream it made sense to listen to some McCartney music, but I don't have any of the post Beatles stuff in my Studio library, so I brought some from home.  One thing I have is a 2 disc set called WINGSPAN, which contains a disc of "hits" (the band had many) and a disc of "history" (highly regarded album tracks), 40 songs total.  Not a bad collection, but unfortunately several of the songs are "radio edits."  When record companies send music out to radio stations, they often send records or discs with multiple versions of the same song.  Some of these edits are done for content, with potentially offensive words removed or even replaced.  The one song in the collection that had that issue was a hit, and left intact.  However, the other common radio edit is for time, a shorter version of the song that can be fit into the 3 minute limit favored in the top 40 format, and this set has 4 such songs.  There are 7 or 8 tracks I could have done without to make room for the full versions of those 4.

As for actual art, all I had left on this block was the shopping cart in the lower left corner.  In my original block sketch I had put a few items in the cart, so I redrew them a little more clearly and finished cutting the cart.  Then I took a pencil rubbing using a piece of copy paper, and found a few things that needed more cutting.  The technique doesn't show great detail or accuracy, but it can help you find those mistakes where something was forgotten.  I won't know for sure what I have until I ink the block, and I wasn't ready to do that today.  But I think I am done with the cutting now.

On the way out I stopped to talk to Nichole, now done with whatever inspection was being called for. This drop in Wednesday night thing is being promoted primarily through social media, and interest is building slowly, but it is building.  In fact I was told that there were quite a few commitments already.  Does that mean they already paid?  I was told no, that will be done at the door.  I like it when they pay in advance, and even if they don't show up, I get paid.  (if they do show up, I'm happy to work with them)  Meanwhile Nichole is plugging away, and we are hoping for a good crowd once things start up in a few weeks.

Haven't heard anything yet about the possible class in Belmar. So I'll stop by tomorrow and see what is going on.  I can be ready without much notice.  Just in case, I brought home the spare wood, left it in the car.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Yesterday was the last official day of my recent show in Belmar, and I was told that it had to all come down this weekend.  Another show is scheduled to arrive for this week. Given a choice I want wth Saturday.

I had been told when it was offered that I would be responsible for installation and taking it down, including repairing any effects on the walls.  As part of the redecoration of the room, a pair of parallel wooden strips was installed on the main wall, and I got verification that I was supposed to hang work from these.  No problem, in fact probably better than having to nail hooks into and repair drywall.

Taking down the works was easy, all on wires hanging from hooks.  Next step was removing the hooks.  Got the 6 foot folding ladder from the store room, and I had brought a hammer for home with a claw for pulling nails and such.  Problem is that first one I tried did not want to come out of the wall.  Got a set of pliers (the nail head was lost early and the hammer claw had nothing to get hold of) and still had to make a lot of effort to pull that small nail from the wall. The hook had come off easily, and with a lot of tries, most of the nail was removed.  (a short piece remained buried in the wood) Luckily the other 3 hooks came down very easily.  There was a small plastic pail of spackle and a putty knife in the closet, so patching the tiny holes made by the brads was very simple, and there was a large can of the red paint for the walls in the big closet.  I had brought a small paintbrush with me, and touched up the repeated areas quickly.

And now the empty red wall was back.  Probably spent more time moving furniture than removing art and patching holes- the lounge is way too full of furniture to be a proper gallery.  Couches, coffee tables, tables with chairs,  rocking chairs.  I get the impression that this was partly created as a way of storing unwanted furniture.

While I was there, Diane (our office employee) shared some information that she found unbelievable, but seemed quite plausible to me- We had cancelled the Tuesday class that day at noon for lack of students, and around 4 pm there was a voice mail with a woman asking about joining the class. Over the years a lot of people have decided at the last minute to take a class.  That is why I showed up that night for the planned start, just in case.  As far as I know, no one came that night looking to be part of the class.  Also present today was Dana, one of our co-chairs, and they would really like the class to happen, so I was asked if both the previous student and this new one still wanted the class, could I do it?  I could be prepared if they have the space, so Diane was going to try to reach them by phone and see if it could be worked out.  However, I never did hear anything else today, so I don't know if I have a woodcut class on Tuesday, or starting the following Tuesday, or maybe none at all.

Since Dana was around today, I asked her a follow up question about the idea of a new t-shirt, since my current block is almost done and that would be the logical next project.  What she had told me before was they liked the idea of something that involved sea shells, and they wanted a current BAC logo. (not allowed on the first shirt, by the organization that allowed us to have a t-shirt sale and required the sail boat theme) The problems that the new logo involves multiple colors, and while such things can be accomplished with both blocks and silkscreens, for t-shirt production of such a thing it would require multiple separate ink runs, bringing the cost way up.   As a woodcutter, I am used to achieving such effects with varying the marks used and created, and the pieces I had in the show had many such examples, it seemed a good time to bring it up.  She said she had already been considering that, agreed that a single ink run was what they would want, and said that she had a black and white version of the same logo that they had already prepared- she'd be happy to send it to me today.  Like the woodcut class, I didn't hear from her today either.  My current print project will keep me busy for at least several more days; I'll deal with it some time after that.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 19

The plan for today was to work on that left side of the block, including the bakery section. Looked at my music shelf and nothing leapt out to me as being appropriate music of cutting out a bakery.  So I went with high energy rock and roll- a compilation of songs from the Ramones called Ramones Mania.  Don't know if it can be called a greatest hits collection because I don't know if they ever had any hits, they barely cracked the top 100.  However, if you listen to rock radio, you know many of the songs.  The story is that the four young men from Queens showed up at the legendary CBGB club, all dressed in leather jackets, t-shirts, torn jeans, and sneakers with long shaggy hair, carrying instruments, and the club owner didn't know if they were a band or a group of hoodlums who had robbed a band and were looking to sell their instruments.  After the audition he still wasn't sure, but booked them anyway.  The band members all disliked the current state of 70's popular music and preferred the simple rock and roll they grew up listening to.  The problem was even that was too complicated for them to learn, so they developed their own style- short songs, played super loud and fast, maybe one chord, lots of references to the seedier aspects of New York in the 70's.  And thus punk rock was born.  And following that pace, I could get a lot done.

As part of my research, I had looked at the bakery section of my local supermarket, seeing what kind of stuff was for sale, and of course the sparkler cake was something we actually put together and tried at a critique group, but my guide for much of it was the paintings of Wayne Thiebaud.  One different thing was the sign indicating the location is done to evoke a neon sign, which I have never seen in such a location.  but I liked the idea.  Color would help a lot of in this section, making it easier to understand everything depicted, but that's not an option with this series.  Also cut out the shopping cart in front of the counter.  A quick rubbing looks promising.  However, I still didn't do the shopping cart in the lower corner, still thinking about what to put inside it, so that will be the last step, another day.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

No Gig Tonight

Last week I stopped by the Belmar Arts Council to check on the status of my latest woodcut class. With one week to go we had one person sign up, which is more than we got last time it was offered, but not enough.  However, with a week to go, and another e-mail blast planned, I was hopeful.

Stopped at the BAC today around noon, and the total sign ups was still at one person.  It was decided to pull the plug.  A lot of that was about fairness, so the person who had signed up could find out in time that there would be no class.  Great effort was made to get this class to happen.  It has been on the website for more than a month.  I was invited to display my woodcut prints in the side gallery, and information about the class was posted nearby.  It has been listed on art websites, in the local paper, talked up at functions. I was told that the woodcuts received many compliments and the approving visitors were reminded they could learn the technique in the class. Multiple people walked up to me and told me to my face that they couldn't wait to sign up for the class.  The price is competitive with all the other classes there in Belmar, and in the area, and all necessary materials are provided so students don't have to go on a search to find them.  But people still don't sign up.

The office sent the one registered student an e-mail about the cancellation, his refund to come shortly.  Unfortunately, I have no control over the website, and as of this afternoon the class was still being listed there.    I'd hate to have someone show up thinking maybe they could join the class and then finding an empty building.  So I decided I would be there at the class start time just in case anyone showed up.  A lot of people like waiting to the last minute to do things.

I was there about a half hour before, and the building was dark.  Hung around.  Just about our start time, a few people showed up, and the lights came on and the door opened.  Someone was inside so I went to check on what was going on.  It was Neal and the writers group, which sometimes has had simultaneous meetings with my class.  I let him know what was going on with my class and requested if anyone showed up looking to cut wood, to let them know what was going on.  With that settled, I felt it was safe to go home.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 18

With building business done, I could get some artwork in.  No Molly today, so I could listen to music.  From my Studio library I selected a home burned disc of Townes Van Zandt.  As the recent Ken Burns documentary series about country music progressed, I wondered if and when we we get a segment about Townes.  Burns had always been detailed about everything, so eventually we got one. Townes was originally from Texas, a good singer and guitar player and an outstanding song writer, and like so many other Texans, made his way to Nashville seeking success in music.  One thing that series showed was that so many of them were sent packing, usually back to Texas. The people who ran the business in Nashville believed that the industry had to run their way, and artists with their own   ideas were shown the door. Townes Van Zandt recorded several well liked albums, but none sold particularly well.  What he had going for him was the admiration of so many in the industry- song writers and performers, and the royalties from the covers kept him going for years.  What he had going against him was a history of mental illness, and a hopeless addiction to everything, with alcohol being the thing that took him in the end, killing him around the turn of the century.  I remember a radio interview with his good friend from Texas, Steve Earle, a music buddy, drinking buddy (until he finally cleaned himself up), where he said something to the effect that some great artists fail because they never get a chance, but not Townes. Due to his skills he got many chances, but he always blew them. Didn't matter where his foot was, he'd find a way to shoot himself in it.  At least we were left with some great songs, his versions and the dozens of excellent covers by those who admired his work.  What I have on my shelf at home is a two disc set, an anthology of some of his best work, which I had condensed down to 71 minutes for the disc I have in the Studio.

The job I gave myself today was to finish cutting out all the white tiles in the supermarket floor, at this point over on the left.  Not particularly difficult, but time consuming.  Using my good tools helped, so I got a lot done while the 71 minute disc played.  Even got to the table where the sparkler cake sits (but not the cake itself), and some stuff around the shopping carts. Still haven't decided about everything in the shopping carts, so those and the bakery counter will have to wait until next time.

The Latest Studio Business

Got up to Ocean Grove around 11:30 this morning.  Had gotten an email over the weekend that the building would be doing a check of the heating systems this week, so I had some curiosity about that. One of the reasons I made my first stop in the building Nichole's office on the 1st floor.

The heating things being looked at right now are not the ones we have in the studios, which in our case is one that hangs from the ceiling.  As it is needed, a coil heats up, then a fan blows the warmed air into the room. The good thing is that the system works, and our basement Studio has never not been a comfortable temperature in winter. The bad thing is that when it gets very cold out, the unit runs almost constantly, making a lot of noise.  In the past, there were cracks around the window frames (daylight was visible), but the new windows installed a few years ago seems to have resolved that problem.  Back then we had less light as well, as two of the windows were covered with boards, but those left with the new windows.  One thing that didn't change was that the thermostat that controls the whole system is on the wall only inches away from the windows.  Nichole agreed with me that it can't be a good thing, so when those heating guys come around in the coming days, they have something to check.  Don't know if they can do something about it, or what it might cost, but heating is a building expense, not ours, so whatever is decided won't affect us.

Meanwhile, Nichole showed me a handout flyer she had made for the Wednesday night drop in group.  It's called the JSAC Artist Creative Collective.  We have scheduled four nights, beginning in late October.  All will be up in the 3rd floor cafe space, where we had a still life drawing group a few weeks back.  October 30th and November 13th will be rhythm and art, the idea of participants making art in reaction to different types of music, something I've been doing with my Intro class for years.  Nichole is in charge of picking the music, and participants can choose their materials (though a grant has been submitted that would help us provide some.)  November 6th is a high contrast challenge, and November 20th is a still life challenge.  That takes us up to the Thanksgiving holiday and since getting people to show up during the holiday season is almost impossible, that will be the end of these art classes for the year.  Word has gone out through social media, and so far there has been a good response to the idea.  That is not surprising.  Getting all those people to show up those nights and pay the $10 fee for refreshments and participation is a whole other matter. We shall see how this goes.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 17

Got to the Studio around 11 am.  Molly was already there, so no music today- she had NPR on so I got to hear discussions of President Trump's recent activities, evaluations of some of the many varieties of apples on the market in various parts of the country, theories about how genetic characteristics may be passed to generations, etc.  So I got some work done.

Today's mission was to finish more of the right side of the block.  So I finished up all the shelf scenes- the front edges, the back panels, and even things like the coolers and beach pails.  Then I moved on to the floor, clearing all the white tiles from the right edge to the area under the rotating sparkler rack.  That leaves the only untouched areas the bakery department, the floor in front of it, and any items found in that area. I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 16

A very gray day with threats of rain that never quite showed up.  No problem, because I was working indoors today.

First stop was in Belmar today.  Have two things going on there, my next woodcut class is scheduled to start a week from today, and my woodcut show is scheduled to end next Friday.  I can't come in on Fridays, so I guess it would have to come down on Thursday or Saturday, which would involve patching any damage from the picture hooks.  Sounds like something to be worked out next week.  Bigger concern today was the woodcut class.  I asked in the office if I had any students yet and was told that one person had signed up. Not enough to run the class, but it's more than I had last time and we have a week to go.

Grabbed a slice of local pizza and then drove up to Ocean Grove.  Brought more Pixies today, a record company album.  The last new album before the original break up came out in 1991, which has given the record companies time to put out a lot of other music- out takes, live cuts, alternate versions, etc.  The disc I brought from home today collected songs recorded for the BBC.  Success in England generally involves promotion on the BBC, even for American bands.  In the case of the Pixies, they were based in Boston, but originally signed to a British label- 4AD, which had the only releases of the early albums (my copy of the first two albums was a two for one on a single disc issued by the British label and imported as there was not an American distributer yet- now they come as two separate discs) and still got a cut of all subsequent albums.  I don't know what the current state of radio is over there, but in the Beatles early days there was just one legal BBC radio station and it played classical, except for a few short shows of popular music on Saturday mornings.  As an up and coming band, the Beatles needed as many appearances as possible and even had a few shows of just them, performing live in the station studio, regularly through 1965.  (America had its own equivalents, and many jazz, big band, blues, and country musicians all had regular broadcast slots on their way to fame.)  The internet may have changed things, but back in the early 90's, success in England meant going to the BBC studio and performing live songs for playing on the air.  This disc I had today (issued in 1998) collects 15 songs the band recorded from 1988 to 1991.  Some had been issued on 12" EP's in England, or as single B sides in various countries- I had heard and owned a few, but this is the biggest set I know of. And since they were a band that didn't favor a lot of elaborate production on records, their live performances are generally pretty good.  When that disc ended, I went with their last studio album (Trompe le Monde), of which I keep a copy in my Studio library.

On the block I continued where I had left off yesterday. I worked to the left, cutting the rotating rack of sparklers, plus some of the floor and other things surrounding it.  The biggest things left are the bakery section and a lot of floor, plus some of the shelves of pails and other beach stuff.  Assuming the Belmar class happens, it will be good to have something in progress to show the students.  The rack has two signs, one saying "Not for cakes" (a reference to the sparkler cake that can be seen a few inches to the left) and "Hey Kids! Sparklers", a spoof of the Hey Kids Comics rotating racks found in so many supermarkets and drug stores.

Monday, October 07, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 15

Another Monday- time to get back to work. Arrived at the building in late morning, started my day with a visit to Nichole's office.  Just a little information exchange.  There has definitely been more promotion this time- a Facebook meet up group, information distributed at an event this past weekend. Because this is a walk in art event(s) we have no advance sign ups, but several people have acknowledged the computer invite and expressed an interest.  I guess we will find out the results at our first class meeting.

Then I went downstairs to do a bit of work.   Put on some Pixies burned from vinyl.  On one disc I have the entire Doolittle album, which turned out to be the last new release vinyl LP I purchased at a mall record store.  Within a few years, all the big music chains would be gone, from malls and the stand alone stores, a victim of the changing tastes of people younger than me.  Most mall bookstores are gone now, too, eliminating the two best reasons to visit a mall.  Anyway, this disc I made also includes a 7 song live vinyl record, a radio only release that I found at the college station I was working at the time that the Pixies album came out (and borrowed long enough to make tape copies), and a 4 song vinyl EP I got at a local record store in Nutley that used to give the station free records as part of an underwriting deal.  (suddenly became a hair salon, but still had a large box of old inventory and I picked up the first album from Southern Culture on the Skids that way)  I had put the three records on disc back when I could still record discs. That disc is on a shelf at home, and what I have in the Studio is a copy of that one.  Probably for the best, as the disc looks like it has been chewed on by Molly. Some of the songs no longer play.  The band is symbolic of its era, the late 80's and early 90's when the original releases came out, which was followed by decades of solo work, then a re-formed band, which has since changed line ups (internal fights), but now have a new album out.  Most fans prefer the old stuff, which was a mix of early alternative rock, punk, surf music, with lyrics that address science fiction and biblical stories (this disc includes songs about David and Bathsheba, Samson) and fine art.  Good to listen to while in an art studio.

Remembered my camera this time, so you get to see where I am at now.  Last time I had finished the display box with the "fireworks", and today I started working outward from there- the two sneaky smokers, the rockets shooting out of the top of the box, some folding chairs behind them.  A lot more to go, but I have no immediate deadline, so I can take my time.  So far I like the results.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 14

As I have said, the demands of students never really end.  After a few days of trying I had arranged another potential meting with Nellie, who was pleased enough with her experience in my August woodcut class that she hasn't stopped since.  First she showed me (at the Belmar opening) her in progress drawing of a new portrait piece. Then I heard from her with a request to come into Ocean Grove so she could print it under my supervision.  When I couldn't commit to a time right away, she used the knowledge gained in my class to print it herself.  E-mailed me an image and it looked  just fine.  Then questions about sharpening tools, so I e-mailed her what I know about razor strops and water stones. Then having acquired a stone, she wanted information on how to use it.  Don't want to leave an interested printmaker hanging, so I told her I'd be in my space today.

Got there this morning with a plan of my own- continue work on my latest supermarket block.  Felt like a blues day, so I started with T-Bone Blues by T-Bone Walker (a compilation of 50's sides cut for Atlantic), issued as an LP in 1972, and I was very glad when a CD version came out in the late 80's.  Walker was one of the great Texas guitarists, clearly part of the tradition that gave us Lightnin' Hopkins and Stevie Ray Vaughn, both sounding like them and not like them.  High quality recordings, exceptionally clear for that era.  When that disc ended, a home burned combination of two John Lee Hooker albums from vinyl in my collection, sides from the 40's through the 60's.  In that era, blues musicians didn't record albums, just songs for 78's that record companies might assemble into albums if they felt there was a demand.

Meanwhile, I continued cutting.  I wanted to finish that fireworks display box, taking on the complex designs of the side with its list of fireworks names.  Had made good progress when Nellie showed up.  First she was pleased to be hearing some blues, but I had no knowledge of her potential interest, so just a coincidence, or perhaps that people just like John Lee Hooker. Like many of my students, she decided that she wanted some tools of her own and bought some of the same variety I have for my classes.  These are not the top quality ones that I use, but are Japanese made and far better than anything that can be found locally, yet at a reasonable price.  But she has been using them and showed me the results.  It turned out that her portrait piece was not a woodcut as I assumed, but a linocut, proofs of the two being indistinguishable.  Tells me she loves the wood, especially the natural quality of it, but sometimes the cutting makes her sore.  Well, it can have that effect- it takes a little effort at times.  Worth it I think.  She hasn't given up on wood, and showed me a piece of poplar plank she acquired, having been told it works well for the process.  Never tried it and have no idea.  Also showed me a recent purchase, a brand new can of ink, made by Speedball and with Bill Fick's name on the label.  Fick is a core member of the Outlaw Printmakers, whom I've known for many years and have worked alongside in places from New Jersey to Texas.  He's a linocut artist, an if he's endorsing this ink it must not be bad- I'll get her report when I can.

But the real purpose of her visit was to learn about sharpening.  She had ordered and already received a grooved molded sharpening stone, but it came with no directions, details, or instructions in the packaging.  Hoping it would work the same as the stone I have, I dropped it in some water to soak while we were talking.  When it seemed that sufficient time had passed, I placed it on a paper towel to absorb the excess water, selected one of her gouges, and showed her my guess as to what would work.  She tried the sharpened tool and thought it might be improved, but wanted a better test.  So we took her 1.5mm round gouge, her favorite tool and the one she used most, thus the one that now most needed sharpening. So she tested it first on some scrap wood, then I resoaked the stone, found the bevel angle, and put the tool through the process.  I tested it on wood, then she did, and she felt it was now better.  In fact she seemed relieved, knowing she'd be able to get more use from her small gouge.  She also wanted to know if there was a more detailed tool available.  I pointed out in the catalog, that for a little bit more than the standard quality tools, she could get a superior quality level gouge, which can come in a 1.0mm- just be careful not to break it.  She told me that she intends to order one soon, so I guess she's hooked.  We also talked about some of her new blocks in progress, additional options for what she had already carved, other materials (she confirmed what I had told her- that water based inks that claim to be waterproof once dry did run when wet), upcoming classes there in the building, the ups and downs of being a model  (as I told my students using charcoal last week, it's when you're not supposed to scratch that you suddenly feel very itchy), stuff about colleges, etc.

When she left, I got back to my block, finished cutting the section I had been working on, then cleaned up and got on my way.  Got class tomorrow and have to get ready. Forgot my camera today, so you'll have top see the results next time.