Saturday, July 04, 2020

It is the Fourth of July

Today is July 4, which is a major day in the Studio Arrabbiata calendar,  maybe even more important than Mardi Gras or St Joseph's Day.  It marks both the start and the end of my biggest ever project, and in some places, the one I am best know for.

At the time I made it, a lot of people thought I was crazy. When my print professor learned of it that fall (he had the summer off) he told me I shouldn't tell anyone about it.  Why? Because then people would expect me to finish it.  Of course I would finish it- I said I would do a print a day from July 4th to July 4th, and if I say I'm going to do something, I do it.  (after I reorganized the print closet in the Allyn building, I had earned the reputation as "that guy who gets things done." )  As that year continued, we got the invitation to do an exchange exhibition with the University of Illinois, and word had gotten to Champaign that I was doing this huge project.  The professor covering print in those days wanted me to show the blocks, but not the prints, as the department we were exchanging with had painting and not printmaking, and it was thought that the blocks were more like painting.  I disagreed, thinking he blocks were more like sculpture, and the piece was about the prints.  At that point Joel spoke up and pointed out that if my piece was going to be shown, then they had to show work from Linn Nelson, the other full time print student that year, and I agreed with that.  Perhaps deciding that my piece was too important to lose, we got our way on that.  As the year was near its end, Joel changed his tune and suggested I do a whole 2nd year as well. I may be crazy, but not that crazy- the 366 prints were enough. I ended up printing two complete sets- the original proofs were used in my U of I show, and cleaner proofs in my MFA show in Carbondale.  I used those better proofs in the two other shows that exhibited the whole set- once at my current employer, and above, in Belmar.  Those two sets are the only ones that will be printed, as about half the blocks were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. However, it you want to see all the prints, years ago I posted the whole project to the internet. 

Things are a little weird this year.  Normally this is one of biggest days here at the shore, and having the day fall on the weekend is even bigger, but there are still may rules, regulations, and restrictions in place due to the pandemic, so it will not be the usual economic boon that is expected.  Which doesn't mean that visitors aren't still showing up in huge numbers.  I've seen the lines of cars emerging from the parkway road, many with out of state plates.  It was the main reason I didn't go to the Studio yesterday- I had the time, a project to work on, and the conditions in the basement weren't too bad the day before, but I just didn't want to deal with the crowds on the roads.  Getting from home to there means passing through several beach towns, always a challenge on summer weekends and during summer holidays.  I have no deadline on the current piece, so it can wait a few extra days.  There are no fireworks to see- most towns cancelled theirs, for fear of crowds or lack of sponsors I don't know. Restaurants and bars are mostly closed down.  Me, I will sit in front of my air conditioner and fan, and try to keep cool.  Maybe enjoy a beer from the fridge. 


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