Sunday, July 11, 2021

Being an Artist

 Earlier tonight I was watching 60 Minutes (in summer everything is a rerun), and one of the stories was about Colson Whitehead.  I've never read any of his books, but apparently he is a successful author-received a couple of Pulitzers, sold a lot of his novels, so pretty successful by any standards.  He is married to a literary agent, which is a useful situation I'm sure, and both appear on camera as part of the piece.  She describes learning that his routine in life was to write a novel, get it out, then write another novel, get it out, then write another novel, and get it out, etc.  What about now- time to write another novel.  This author's life sounded very familiar to me.  I write no books, but my art can serve the same purpose.  All my mature work is based on narrative, on things I have seen or experienced. In that sense, we work much in the same way, as his books are often based on historical or contemporary events that he read about or experienced.  Adapted as writing, changed as needed to be more suitable to his literary style, but based on what he has experienced, and that sounds a lot like what I do.  His latest book (the process often takes years to be finished) took from a story about a reform school in Florida where some bad things happened.  

Like I said, much of my work is based on what I have seen. A speech therapist from my job in Hackensack came to my MA show in Montclair, which was mostly about experiences I knew from that job.  Her observation was that my work told stories that people with that experience would know, but probably forgot.  Luckily I never forget anything.  (nothing personal revealed- we have rules about that)  I worked that field for many more years, but found other things to make are about. My Fourth of July piece was very specifically about new experiences every day, my saints and Ecclesiastes pieces are very much my interpretations of books I had read, the supermarket prints are about experiences I have had, my formal portraits (not the figure studies that have been about leaning how to draw bodies) all tell stories- either about the subject, or use the model to tell a story I have experienced.  My prints about local landmarks that have since been eliminated from existence are telling stories about things I remembered that are gone now. I have made work about other jobs I have had, or the country in general.

What comes next remains to be seen here, but once I get started, it will fit the pattern. 


Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Print Work part 2




 Yesterday I was asked a common enough question, what kind of art do I make?  In fact, I mentioned this concept in my last post.  (what brought this on yesterday was that I was wearing an art themed t-shirt- my speech therapist, like my physical therapist, is a big fan of my vintage t-shirts) What I told her was that I make art about whatever I feel like, even if there is no known market for it.  This blog can prove that if one feels like reading back to 2007.  

I am planning a new piece and am still gathering source material.  (that also came up yesterday, an email from another former woodcut student, inquiring about what I was up to)  But I am still not fully recovered from my surgery, so I am working my way back, just as the galleries are working their way back from Covid. 

While I am still without a regular job, I am doing other things.  Last week I started a project related to my print experience, printing an edition for someone who isn't capable anymore.  When my assistant and me both ran out of gas, we stopped at 4 good proofs (and two I considered substandard) out of 6 requested.  I was paid for the whole job, despite my efforts to delay that until the job was done, but I have enough pride of workmanship that I was determined to finish it.  The next day I had available was today, so that became my plan for the afternoon. 

The triple digits we had last week have ended, but some heat has come back- heat indexes were close to 100 degrees today.  Luckily my host/assistant has AC in her house.  I got there just a little past the planned time (the hot weather always brings a lot of visitors to these beach towns, and the roads were full), but was lucky to get a spot almost in front of her house, so bringing in print supplies didn't take long. And then we started right up.  

With only two proofs left to do, I was determined to take a little more time and make sure they looked good.  It took about two hours, but the prints did look good to my eye, and my assistant, who is her best friend.  And I learned that the creator of the two lino plates will be coming back to New Jersey late next week, escaping the really unpleasant heat of the west coast, so she will see for herself.  Last week I had intended to take photos with my phone, but I was so caught up in printing that I didn't even think of it, so you'll have to do without again this time. 

Mary and I also discussed some other print projects while I was there.  There may be another paying job,  print related, but that will wait until I have more time.  On her own, Mary has been working on establishing an art/print center in the JSAC building in Ocean Grove.  She owns a small roller press, lots of equipment, a giant sink basin with a holder I built for her a few years ago (see above), and she's thinking at her age it might be best to find it a home outside her house- a place close enough that she could access it when she wanted to.  She's willing to donate all this to the JSAC in exchange for them putting it to educational use.   She sees this as especially important because as part of a print show she organized a few years ago she was hoping to do some educational things with local schools, and learned to her dismay that Asbury Park has ended all art programs in their schools.  She had some meetings already with the director of our building and she was impressed enough with the presentation to discuss it and even show Mary a possible space this could happen.  This will take a long time, but organizing the program will take a long time, too, so this is not a bad thing.  And it's always nice to have a goal.  I'll update this space as I come to know more.