Sunday, February 27, 2022

Art and Kyiv


Right now there is a lot of news from Kyiv (aka Kiev) as Russia has begun an invasion of Ukraine, and it is assumed the biggest city is a target.  Many believe regime change and a Russian takeover are the goals, and they may be right.  I do have a number of artistic associations with the city, due both to art history teaching and my own artwork, so when I hear the news, I have a lot to think about.

For example, on the news today there was talk about how Kyiv is the common point of origin for both Ukraine and Russia, an origin that dates back many centuries and began with the Vikings, and that is true. I know this from art history, which I used to teach at my community college.  Actually the Vikings were everywhere in the past, having a big effect on France and England (they were the Normans or Norsemen) that won the Battle of Hastings that created England as we know it today.  This came about because the French were tired of the constant invasions, and decided to just give them some land to live and work in if they would just stay there and stop invading.  A few hundred years later, the people of Sicily invited the Vikings to come and rule, as long as they chased out the ruling Moors first.  And this they did.  After all, the Vikings had been converted to Christianity as far back as the Roman empire, the Norse mythology becoming mythology instead of religious belief long before they invaded France the first time.  (my art history texts included representations of the early Viking Christian churches that were built then)  One of the arguments being made by Russia is that the area of Ukraine had been part of the Russian empire once upon a time, so they had the right to take it now.  An argument against it was that most of Europe had been part of one other nation or another at some point, whether it be Viking, Holy Roman Empire, or Nazi Germany, and those are not in force anymore, so why should this be?  What became known as the city of Kyiv started as a Viking trading center (either located on a river or near one, it was a quick trip from Scandinavia for the Vikings and their boats), and it grew from there to being the center of an empire.  I covered all this in my art history classes, so if my students were paying attention, they should know this, too.  

I learned more even earlier, as part of my own art.  While still in Carbondale, I began my Everyman project, and one of my earliest pieces in that series was my print ST OLGA.  The story as told in Butler's is that she was the wife of the prince of Kiev, and widowed when he was assassinated.  She 

found the men responsible and had them scalded to death with steam. And she had hundreds of their political followers executed.   And then she converted to Christianity and helped to Christianize Russia, if you are wondering how such a person became a saint.  Not only did I have an idea how to show the element of the story, she was a great example of the Everyman concept I was pursuing, so this piece had to be made.  

As a result of all this, making this print and teaching art history, I have dealt with the idea of Kyiv or Kiev before, and I have many associations with it.  I know its history, and where it fits in with the whole history of Europe.  I'm rooting for the Ukrainians to win this battle,  and they just might. 

Art is always happening


One thing about being an artist is that you always have something going on.  It never ends.  I am rarely bored as there are always things coming your way.  I had a conversation about this phenomenon just last week with Lil' Bobby Duncan (who is probably 20 years older than I am) toward the end of our opening in Ocean Grove.  (the patron for his current mural project has already started talking to him about the next one, and the commissions for paintings and sculptures keep coming) Over the past few days, my experience and abilities in art have been called on often. 

Yesterday, I went up to the Jersey Shore Arts center in the early afternoon.  They are to be open on Saturdays for the duration, but earlier in the day I couldn't go because I was teaching drawing to my niece.  I wanted to talk to Nichole about things related to the postcard, which I finally saw last Friday, and distributed a few that I took with me that night to interested people early this past week.  One point that was raised by someone getting a card was the lack of information.  The card contains no street address and no phone number, issues for a lot of people who might be interested in the show. There is a web address, but that may not work for the older crowd.  However, while Nichole was there, she was very consumed with preparations for a tea event, also scheduled for that day, so I just grabbed a small handful of cards from the lobby, and I'll try to talk to her during the week. But I did help out some, as I knew a few of the visitors from the BAC- Sandy and her husband Dave.  I knew that she knew Molly (I last saw her at Molly's opening in Manasquan several months ago), but she said she had seen those works already.  Sandy's biggest concern was how to get into the building in the future.  Her husband, again a few years older than me, has issues with walking himself, and was using a walker to get around. They had used his handicap placard to park in the designated spaces near the foot of the ramp, but the door at the top was locked from the outside, so she ended up helping him up the front steps.  I told her no problem, that the door could be opened from inside (panic bar) and pointed to Nichole as the boss. As they left, I saw them talk to Nichole, who showed them the door to the ramp, so I assume they found a safe way out.  When I was using a walker, I had to use that ramp from time to time.  Now that I get around with a cane, the front steps are easier, and I have a key to that door.

Late at night I found a posted video from Amy Kucharik on my YouTube feed, videos chosen based on my past interest.  Amy was a former student of mine in Carbondale, who went on to a musical career that got its start in Carbondale, and a few years ago I contributed an image to a lyric video she was creating for an old song of of hers, posted to YouTube.  That piece was one of last woodcuts I did before my surgery, back when I had my real tools, and a camera, so you can see it online.  Her latest video was promoting an upcoming event in Maryland, where she will be concentrating on blues (there was even a blues book in the background), which is of interest to me, longtime proponent of blues music.  Perhaps I'll send her a related email soon.

The other thing I was doing on the computer was the latest step in an ongoing project.  My current computer dates back to 2009, and one of these days, it will stop working. I already have a new computer, but haven't used it much yet, as the old one is still working, and I have literally thousands of documents and images on the old one. The past few days I have been updating a document, which is a complete list of all my exhibitions, solo and group, going back to the beginning.  It hadn't been updated since 2014, and I decided I should, and then email it to myself, so I can eventually download it to the new computer.  I have kept my blog updated, so I just went to that, copied down information about all shows I had, and added them to the document.  Took several days, but now that's all done, right up to my current show in Ocean Grove.  I finished it before dinner last night, and that last step was to send it to myself at my college box.  

This morning I was watching the CBS Sunday morning show and they had a story about Shirley Woodson, a contemporary artist who has her first solo show at the big museum in her hometown of Detroit.  She a painter, using a modern style, very colorful, so borrowing elements of expressionism and fauvism, but with realistically proportioned figures.  Never heard of her, but there are a lot of paintings out there, one reason I switched to woodcut.  I did like the paintings shown, so I am not surprised she is finally getting a big show.  If she was part of our recent show in Ocean Grove, these would have been the most interesting and skilled paintings in the show.  There were also a bunch of news from Kyiv, where a Russian invasion in going on, but I'll save that for another post later.

Later on in the morning, I got a call from a surprising person, Tom Huck.  Another former student from Carbondale, and one I had a big effect on, as he went on to take up woodcut as a grad student, and has had a huge career, which he knows he owes me, so I have benefited from knowing him, from time to time.  It is from him that I had a paid visit to his Studio in St Louis, some of the major collections that I am a part of, and some group portfolios that have been shown widely.  I hadn't gotten a call from him in a while, and my attempts to contact him via phone and email went nowhere, so I assumed he had gone on with life.  Somehow he had found this number, and I was around, so I took the call.  It's a big project involving the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Hatch Show gallery/print shop (both in Nashville) and he wants me in on it.  The goal is a medium-small black and white print, with the subject of blues legend Robert Johnson, and since I started him on the path to blues fandom (see, I told you), he decided I had to part of it.  A good deal for me, as his print projects get shown in a lot of museums, and end up as part of collections.  Plus, it's not due for almost a year, so I have plenty of time to get things done.  First step is choosing a lyric, and while all my Robert Johnson is currently in storage, it's all available online, and I know it well, so finding something I can adapt should be easy. If I came up with an idea for Amy's lyric video project, I can come up with an idea for this one.

So projects just keep coming.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

More Promotion

We finally got the postcards at the opening of the show in Ocean Grove.  Actually no one handed me any postcards, I just took several as I was walking out the door at the opening.  It was exactly as I expected, at least the front.  The back was basic information about the show, though no phone number there.  This week I had speech therapy, so I decided to bring some with me. 

Barely had I walked in the door, that the receptionist had all sorts of questions about the opening.  (no one from my past life, except the other artists who work there was at the opening) I gave her the official postcard, which she was happy to get, and told her the basics.  Shortly after that my speech therapist came to get me, and also had many questions about the opening.  I answered them after we got to her office, and I gave her a card of her own.  She said her sister lives in Ocean Grove, and figured she'd meet her somewhere in town for lunch on a Saturday and see the show.  After that we got to the therapy. 

On the whole, it seemed like a pretty good reaction, so today I decided to go to the other place I had handed out my altered business cards the other day, my physical therapy place.  If I remembered correctly, my therapist would be there in the morning, and from there I could head up to the supermarket to pick up a few things I forgot yesterday.  So late morning I did just that.  Stopped by the PT place, just 5 blocks from home.  My therapist was with someone, so I waited a few minutes for him to be free. He came out to the lobby, where I gave him one of these official cards.  We had some conversation about life and progress, me and my family, and then I let him get back to work.  Also gave a card to the receptionist, who was a little confused about the location.  Whenever I tell anyone that my studio is in a building at the corner or Main and Main, it always causes some confusion.  However, when I tell them that it is outside the main gate of Ocean Grove, a big brick building that was the former Neptune High School, suddenly it makes sense.  It turns out the card not only lacks a phone number for the office, but also a street address for the building, just having a website and a P.O. Box.  I will point this out to Nichole next time I see her, after I have picked up several more cards for myself.  

What will come from this week's promotional push I don't know, but it could result in a few more visits, which is all the building can expect in a case like this.  And what results from that I cannot say, but I have done my part.  

Friday, February 18, 2022

2nd Annual JSAC Resident Art Show Opens


After a few weeks of effort, we finally had the 2nd Annual JSAC Resident Art exhibition.  I had decided that the safest thing would be to get there early, so I would be driving during the daylight hours and would find adequate parking there in the lot.  So I left home around 4:30 pm, and got there around 5 pm.  People who worked there were busy with a lot of last minute things, so I went down to my space, to kill time and to leave my coat there.  I used the time to check out a lot of things in the room, art I hadn't seen in a while.   I had some prints there done in the years before my operation.  I had assumed that they had been in my apartment and since I haven't seen them here, were in storage.  Good to know I had access to them.

Upon first arriving I made a quick check of all the hanging art.  This was the first time I had seen the whole show installed.  Walking around the hallway, I was surprised that I didn't see work from Molly, as I knew she was working on things.  But on my way downstairs I finally saw it, filling the whole hallway on the way to the elevator, including the chalkboard.  I came back upstairs just in time for the 6 pm opening to begin. 

The refreshments were over by the theater doors.  Not much there- a variety of cut cheese pieces, bowls of crackers, and sliced sausage pieces, probably a hard salami type thing.  And bottles of water.  Like I had said, when I told people about the show, I told them to come for the art, not the food.   I was told where in a side room inside a cabinet I could find wine, but I decided to hold off on that for the time being.  I had brought my lined mask with me, as last I had heard, we were still required to wear masks in all public spaces, and that first floor sure seems like a public space.  At first the staff didn't have any, but as the reception was beginning, boxes of surgical masks were put out by the doors, and all visitors encouraged to take one to wear.  (most did, some didn't) As billed, we had live music for about an hour, piano being played.  It had also been announced in email that the whole event would be live streamed on You Tube, and while cameras were set up, apparently if didn't happen.  

For most of the reception, we had about 25 people present, with individuals coming and going the whole time. I knew a few of the artists (12 participants were in the show, with a few to several works from each), but really no one else.  I had invited some people to come, but it was very last minute, so I wasn't surprised that none had showed.  The postcards were finally available, small stacks scattered around the space.  I grabbed about half a dozen to take home, and maybe hand out a few more in the coming weeks.  Part of my reason for going was to promote my classes, and I did get the chance to talk to some visitors about them.  Don't know if anything will come of it, but it's just something I have to do.

Not only was this the first reception I had since my operations, but this was the first art reception anywhere for a while.  Our pandemic had sprung up several months before my lengthy hospital stays and rehab activities, which meant that most art locations had been shut down for almost two years.  A lot of art lovers are very anxious to go anywhere and see some art up on the walls.  People will have the opportunity to do that for the next few months, if they can find a way to get in there.

When I first arrived, there were no artist names or titles up yet, just numbers. one by each piece of artwork.  These did correspond to a list printed on a sheet of paper, but I only found one copy of that list out anywhere.  Early on, a small paragraph about each artist was attached to the chair rails under each, and this listed the titles of all the works.  I did take a few photos of the receptions with my phone, but I still haven't figured out how to get them from my phone to the internet, so I can download them and post them here.  (When I asked at the phone store where I bought it, they insisted it was a problem with my data plan, not the phone itself.  According to my mother, we have a very comprehensive data plan, so this will require some more investigation.)

All in all, I was happy with how it all turned out. The art looked good, and visitors seemed to enjoy it.  The people I talked to about my art all seemed impressed by what I had done, although there was still the situation of people claiming they knew the boardwalk I was showing and that they had been there.  That image came completely out of my head, so either they don't know what they are talking about, or I am just really good at creating the idea of a boardwalk.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Promotion Time


Part of having a show is promoting it.  This exhibition isn't costing me anything but time, so I will use what time I have.  In a way, the show also promotes my upcoming classes, which pay me if they run, so it is worth my time to get some people there.  I've done what I can do from home.  I did a posting about it here on this blog, including the design for the postcard, sent to us a few weeks ago.  I've also sent emails to some local people who have expressed an interest in my work before, so if they want to come to a free show, they can.  However, there are people who I don't have email addresses for, though I know where they are sometimes. These would be ideal people to hand postcards to, with all the dates, hours, and other relevant information, but those postcards still haven't been done.  We were sent the design and spelling to approve before the last storm.  And I asked about it the day I hung the show.  But I was told that cards still weren't made yet. I stopped by the building on my way through Neptune the other day, and still no cards.  The show opens tomorrow, so I can't really wait anymore. 

I had a new idea last night- put some basic information on the backs of business cards I have in my car, and hand those out.  Not ideal, but better than nothing.  So this morning I went out to my car and got a short stack of those business cards.   (second set done by Belmar Arts Council)  Later in the morning, I wrote on the backs of half a dozen: the opening reception and time, the closing reception and time, the open Saturday hours, and the web address of the NJAC.  My name is printed on the front. Like I said, better than nothing.  

In the afternoon I took a ride and passed a few out.  The plan was to bring them to some of my various therapists, the people I have had the most interaction with over the past several months.  Unfortunately, my physical therapist wasn't there.  It was the time he had worked, but I was told he changed his hours recently, and wasn't there on Thursday afternoons.  So it was just me and the receptionist, who knows me well, and we had a conversation about physical therapy, figs, and other important things, before I left her a card for the show, which she will pass on to my physical therapist next time she sees him.  From there I drove to my speech therapy office.  I knew my speech therapist had taken the week off (my next appointment is delayed until next week), but I was there to see the receptionist as well.  Gave her a puzzle to work on a few months ago, one of my boardwalk images, and that original print is one of those hanging on the wall right now.  So obviously I had to tell her about the show, and brought her a card.  No demands that she show up when I am there, but I figured she should know that the original print for her puzzle is hanging in a current show, and made sure she knew where the place is.  I have no idea if she will actually come to see it, but it would be rude not to tell her.  

So now I have done all I can do to promote the show.  New and clean clothes for the reception.  The rest is in the hands of the JSAC.

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

The Other Business

The bit of business that is more important to me than teaching art is exhibiting art, and that was something I was working on today, as this was the day I was scheduled to hang work in the new show in Ocean Grove.  I was given a time of 2 pm to do the hanging and told the location, all yesterday.  I had decided which pieces to put in the show and framed them weeks ago.  Everything else was out of my hands, that which will happen and that which has already happened.  

I arrived at the scheduled to time, and took the pieces I had put in the Studio yesterday, placing them in my large tote bag to make the carrying upstairs easier.  On my way down I had noticed my wall was completely clear and all the lights were on the first floor hallway, though no one was present there.  Only one person in the office, so it's a good thing I didn't bother to bring my computer with me today for possible fixing, as I was suggested to do.  Luckily the one person in the office was the person I was needing, the person who was to help me with the hanging.  It was Katelyn (or maybe it's Kaitlin, or Caitlyn, or Caitlin- I should have asked her how she spells it) who is usually on a computer when I'm there.  We agreed to meet at the assigned location. I took the elevator up, while she took the central stairway, as the stair/ladder thing is stored at the top of it, there on the first floor. I had learned yesterday that I was assigned a hanging space on the short wall of the hallway, to the right of the big doorway heading out to route 71, and left of the photo studio.   I've had work on this wall before- 3 pieces in a previous tenant show, and it was the place for the three organizers of the East/West show, though in the latter situation I also had works hanging on the long wall on the Asbury side as well.  I had attached two of the long wires I had from previous exhibitions there to these framed pieces, including one from the last time I was on this wall.

As Katelyn was moving the stair/ladder to the wall, I unwrapped the three pieces I had brought in.  I had no particular order I wanted to hang them in, but Nichole had suggested putting the largest one in the center, and my assistant liked that idea as well.  She also liked the idea of using the attached long wires, so we started with those two.  Because of the historic nature of the building, they don't believe in putting any new holes in the wall, so all artwork is hung from hooks already high on the wall.  There is also a chair rail 5 or 6 feet above the ground, so all artwork must hang above that.  A little over the usual viewing height for art (typically centered at about 60" high, or standard eye level), but luckily, my work is bold enough that it can be seen well even if it isn't right at eye level.  First we (Katelyn did most of the work- I just handed her things and gave suggestions as the artist) hung Trance, which was in its original frame with a new/old hanging wire.  We got it level, and with the wire that was on it, it was hanging about 6 or 8 inches above the chair rail, which seemed a good height to us.  Next we put Fever Dream to it's left, again using my attached long wire, which had come from another framed artwork that had hung in this same gallery years ago.  The previous piece had been a tall vertical piece, while this frame had previously held a shorter vertical piece, and I was now using it as a short horizontal.  As a result, it was not hanging at the same level as the first piece.  A problem?  We decided to see how things looked when we got all three up.  My third piece was a larger horizontal, a boardwalk print (After Sunset). that had not been in a previous show there.  This one had no long wire, so she hung it the way she liked, by a single wire, heavier than what I had for the other two, looped around the hook high on the wall, and the standard hanging wire attached to two sliders in the frame itself.  Naturally, this ended up being a different height than the first two, longer by several inches.  She decided to shorten the single hanging wire, but now it was too short.  At that point I contributed that she could probably make short adjustments to the height by simply moving the sliding mounts on the frame, less work than reworking the looped wire. That was done to match the central framed work, still attached by wire to the two hangers on the frame.  My other piece with their wire and the completely reworked frame, was now a few inches too high, and she wanted it to match the others, and offered to rewire it.  No problem for me, but I pointed out that this one had no previous hanging wire, as I had converted the frame from vertical to horizontal, and the previous wire wasn't long enough to fit this new configuration.  Katelyn asked if she could use the long wire to make a hanging wire.  I pointed out that it was their wire, technically it belonged to the building, so she was allowed to do whatever she wanted. So she cut that wire, made a new hanging wire, attached one of her double loops to that one, and hung it again.  Close, so she used the sliding mounts to adjust it, and we were done.   She was really enjoying those sliding mounts, but I had to give her the bad news that the place I bought them had gone out of business, and the place I got them after that was now also out of business, and I haven't found those same frames anywhere else yet, so I was reusing what I had and couldn't get new ones. 

Katelyn didn't know any more than I did about the reception, only what is on the card, the design for which is at the top of this post.  The card lists the 12 participating artist, dates, and such. No idea what will be served at the reception (could be cheese and crackers, could be hot food in steam trays- I've seen both there) though she guessed the art would be better than the food.  (don't know if that is what she believed or if that is what she was telling me because I am an artist) What I will tell people is that they should come to the opening to see the art, and if the food is high quality, that is a bonus.  There was only one other artist hung so far, and from what I have seen on email, no idea when the rest are coming. I just know that the opening reception is Friday, February 18th from 6 to 8 pm, and that the show will hang until the end of April.  According to the postcard, viewing will be during the opening, and they will have open doors for a few hours on Saturdays during the show's run, and otherwise it's be appointment.   Lucky for me I have a key, so if anyone wants me to show them the work, I can.

Artist name and title tags will be put up later, I guess when they come up with a hanging method that won't permanently damage the walls.  This will also give some consistency to the tags, all made by the building.   I don't mind as long as they get everything right, and I have given them the information multiple times and ways.  So my part of the hanging is done.  I will help with promotion, as it may help me, too.  I am teaching some classes there in April, if people sign up. 

Monday, February 07, 2022

Taking Care of Business


Today was a day to take care of business up in Ocean Grove.  Haven't heard anything new from anyone up there, but automated systems are working.  Over the past week or so, I have received notices for 5 sign-ups for my April classes, including 4 for drawing, so I have to think that will run.  Still, I had many questions for Nichole, plus I've had framed works hanging around the dining room here where I live, and would like to have that space back again.  We never did lose cable or electricity, though we did get a good snow last week (officially 18"), so I've spent a bit of time over the last week shoveling snow.  Four times on last Saturday alone, just to keep the front steps clear and to be able to open the front door, then a bunch more on Sunday to clear the cars and make a path over that way, then many times during the week to make a dent in all the snow and ice deposited by the brief snow plowing we got, trying to make room for a car on the street.  Been limiting myself to a half hour at at a time, as the last thing I need is to over stress myself and strain a muscle or cause myself some damage.  We had another winter storm come though this past weekend, but not much fell here, which didn't bother me at all.  Today was the first day above freezing in a while, but those above freezing temperatures came with some rain.  But I really wanted to get up to the JSAC and settle some things, so as soon as we had a break in the rain, I loaded my car and went up there.

Nichole was in, so I left everything in the car and took care of my business with her first.  Although she had mentioned in an email that postcards for the new show would be available the week of the 1st, we are now in the week of the 7th, and no cards yet.  She does think she'll make them soon.  Next thing, hanging locations and times- what she has planned for me is the side wall, between the photo studio and the doorway toward route 71, which is a space my work has been before.  My work has hung on various walls in that cavernous first floor hallway, but that space will be fine.   And I'll have help to hang it tomorrow, so we have a plan for that.  They even have more wire, so even though I will have mine, we may not need it. On to teaching.  I've been looking for the past week for links to registration on the main site, but so far I haven't seen any.  How have all these people signed up, and where can I direct people in the future?  Nichole insisted that they have been there, and I had her show me on her computer.  The home page for our facility had more things on her computer than mine does.  Including the links to the new classes.  Why not mine?  She really didn't know, and I can't get in touch with the person who is my usual computer advisor, so I still don't know.  It could be the age of my computer or its operating system, and it just doesn't read the internet the same way.  My computer is old (by these standards anyway), but she showed me some things I could try to bring up what I'm looking for.

Meanwhile, I am getting the notifications about students and I've seen the links to the class she sent me, so I can see what is being advertised. This led me to another issue.  The image she chose to accompany the description of my beginner drawing class is the one at the top of this blog post.  It's a fine drawing of a hand, by a student (college) and a process (chiaroscuro drawing) that I will be teaching there, but as part of the advanced class, not the beginner class that people are signing up for right now.  I can teach this process to anyone who has the materials (really not much different from the shoe drawing we open with) but conte crayons don't appear on the materials list for this class, so is this deceptive advertising?  I had mentioned this in an email to Nichole, but gotten no response, so I brought it up again to her directly.  Made the same basic points- if the students who take this class really want to learn chiaroscuro drawing I  can show them the basics, but if they follow my published list, they won't have the necessary conte crayons. Do we change the class or the image?  Not a demand from me as much as pointing out an issue she may have.  What she decided was to change the image, and she found a mixed value student charcoal drawing I had sent that she thought could sell the class well.  Not as nice as the hand drawing, but still impressive.  That will do.  (Technically that is also something from my advanced class, but at least they will have the materials and knowledge in the beginner class if they want try it.  As it turns out, that hand above wasn't assigned, but a student applying a process done in class and materials used in class to a homework problem, and doing a very good job with it.)  She plugged in the new image to where it needed to go, and quickly it propagated to all the places it needed to go. 

With all those items settled, I took care of some things there, which meant that I brought in the artwork I had out in my car.  For now, it's stashed in my Studio space, so I can grab it tomorrow when it's time to hang the show.  And I brought some of my packing stuff back out to the car, even though Molly hasn't been there for a few weeks.  At least she hasn't picked up the check for next month's rent yet, which means she hasn't spent much time there. And then I headed for home.

Back home, my JSAC home page still didn't look like hers, but I did find a way to get to that information from the main page, and that's good enough for me to send out some advertising of my own.