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I draw jasper johns paintings in the brown paper sketchbook

December 31, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Emmy Bright makes beautiful sketchbooks; I have one of them, and it’s basically my new favorite thing. I got some soft white & gray colored pencils, plus regular pencil, plus a 3B (that’s 3 degrees of soft, folks!) pencil; it was a funny scene of me sticking various pencils in & out of various pockets / my mouth, and also trying to find a place in the Phila. Art Museum to surreptitiously sharpen them all with a little knife which is DEFINITELY not allowed in there.

Whenever I find myself wanting to look more intensively at a specific thing, I know I need to draw it… buildings, people, anything. Often this is almost a moment of resentment, “Okay, I give in, this painting keeps pulling me back to look at it, I guess I will have to draw it.” You can glance over some art in the chaos of a gallery with people all around & be like “whoa that’s neat”, but when you draw it you get to really look at it & see how it’s put together.

My question here was, “What is Jasper Johns doing in these things besides using all these different tones/thicknesses of gray paint, cause he’s doing something compositionally, and he knows what he’s doing, he’s not just slopping paint around (though of course he’s also doing that).” …and of course the proportions & dimensions of all of them are really interesting, once you draw it & figure out what’s going on, as much as is possible standing up in an art museum trying to balance 5 pencils & an eraser…

At some point I’ll make a long how-to post about composition, the golden section, & proportional geometry stuff — but not today, I need to draw some more! and there are some things happening cause it’s new year’s. aahh! oh yeah, happy new year!

If you’re in or anywhere near Philadelphia (Providence counts!), please go see Dancing Around The Bride, the amazing show* where I saw & drew these paintings.

I would recommend it highly to anybody interested in graphic scores, dance, chance, chess, wordgames, playful nerds, gays, collage/combination/everyday objects in art, letterforms, painting, silkscreen, music, installation sound experiences, hissing whisper power voice, gray tones, friends/artists/lovers riffing off each other over the course of 50 years, etc. It’s free on the first Sunday of January (the 6th), and ends on January 21st! Go go go! Carpool! Super crucial & awesome.


Unrelatedly (well, maybe relatedly?) here’s some of what I’ve been working on recently which is stuff for my upcoming show in February… super excited about these little guys… okay back to drawing!


* My one issue with the show was that THEY SAID NOTHING about any of the artists being in actual romantic relationships with each other, in any of the printed literature or wall text! The curators were super into the fact that “ooooh, they were all so interconnected” but mention *nothing* about any of their sexualities even once (though they do talk about Duchamp’s wife a little bit). They write that Johns & Rauschenberg “met in 1954 and remained close until 1961” and mention that Cage “first met Cunningham in 1938 and later became his partner”, with no clarification of what kind of partner… but really? Does gay exist? Not according to these curators I guess… or only in code…

This is sad to me because I think about young queer people (including myself, hey!) looking for some model of gay existence that isn’t “the sad teen who is bullied and lonely”, and look! here are four extremely successful & lauded individuals who are all gay, and you’re making an art show that’s all about their relationships, and you maintain complete silence about their sexualities. Really?

art sale season is (almost) over…

December 17, 2012 at 4:40 am

… at least the part of the season where I stand around near a table & have all my prints on display for people to look at. yeah!!!

I’m pretty wiped out from being so extended into the public/social realm for the past two weeks, printing with a bunch of friends/visitors at my house/studio, then selling work last weekend at the RISD sale and this (just) past weekend at Cardboard Pankakes at NUA. But A) it was important to sell stuff & make the money, which you gotta do to stay alive… and B) it was really all lots of fun. Though I was really tired for some of the sale days, it is always great to talk to lots of people (some friends, many strangers) & ask them about their relationships with Providence & their lives and experiences (for example, someone told me about being a teenage night janitor in the Industrial Trust Building in the 1970s & smoking weed in the middle of the night up in the observation tower… what!!??).

Also it’s amazing when people come up to me & say “I saw your print on the wall of my friend’s house in Dublin!” or “My professor had us over to her house for the final class of the semester & her kitchen was full of your work…” or when people get a certain look in their eye when they’re buying something & you know that it connected with them on a very specific & personal level. It is strange, super humbling, and magical. What just happened? I had an idea for something, and made this thing that I thought of, and now it’s gonna be on someone’s kitchen wall for a year & they’re going to look at it every day & think about it every day… or it’s gonna fade into the backdrop of their daily life, but still be there in the corner of their eyes when they cook eggs and drink coffee with their friends… or their kids will grow up with this poster on their bedroom wall & it will be “that poster that I had on the wall when I was a kid” for somebody…

Anyways I don’t want to exaggerate the importance of what I do cause it’s just posters & letters & graphics & colors. But I also want to acknowledge that it has a power and it is important to our identities and that we choose graphic material to be around us because we feel the meaning of it or we want to be reminded of what it is telling us… I have lots of thoughts about this & they’re all garbled right now because I’m still exhausted, but the simple upshot is that I’m super honored that people choose my work to be around them! thanks everybody! it’s really amazing & I’m glad you like the work.

[… at the RISD sale, I was tabling alongside traditional glass-worker/high-tech ‘maker’ Jenine Bressner (Fireworks/Flowerclouds), across the aisle from fabric artist Cynthia Treen & photographer Karen Philippi, and I got to hang out for one too-brief moment with screenprinter colleague/pal Liz Squillace from Bridgeport, above! … and NUA, of course, was full of wonderful people actually too numerous to mention, many of whom can be spotted here in Max Binder’s photos.]


Okay and in self-promotion mode… if you somehow missed corralling me in person while I was standing behind that pile of paper, but you still want a print! Both Craftland and Frog & Toad have some of my prints & postcards at their stores… It’s getting close to the wire for Christmas-eve-arrival mail-order but here’s the WEBSTORE anyways, if you’re in the northeast USA a mailing tube will probably still get to you in time for that holiday! OR, if you’re in Providence you can come over & look through *all* the prints here at the studio & take some home with you, get in touch: secretdoorprojects (a) gmail.com. yet another OR, if you’re in Philadelphia I’ll be heading down there on the 22nd or so, get in touch & we can arrange a pickup / drop off.

OKAY BEDTIME

“we don’t like to keep it simple”

December 12, 2012 at 11:53 am

we don't like to keep it simple

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working with Priscilla Carrion (a textile artist, and New Urban Arts alumni student & alumni mentor), assisting her in creating a four-layer screenprint that is for sale as a fundraiser for NUA. Our process has had a similar structure to the project I did with Noel back in the summer; and I think the results are equally if not more awesome…

looking at the different transparency layers

The print is called “We don’t like to keep it simple”, and the title as well as all the text that’s incorporated into the image are drawn from NUA students’ artist statements over the past years.

In this case we started out with relatively well-defined imagery (see drawing to the right in the photo above) that we wanted to replicate, and I worked with Priscilla through the steps of color separations, rubylith cutting & creating transparencies with ink on mylar, decision-making about ink mixing, and printing some epic rainbow rolls: (ANIGIF ANIGIF ANIGIF feat. Printeresting “dirty apron contest” prize apron!). The final print dimensions are a little over 12″x24″, it’s super complex & a beautiful mysterious landscape, if I can say that myself…

We made it as a fundraiser for the New Urban Arts studio, it’s a place that has changed my life, among many other people’s, and is super close to all of our hearts. You can ACQUIRE a copy of this print at the “Cardboard Pankakes” art/craft/studio sale at New Urban Arts, 705 Westminster St, Providence, this weekend, December 15th & 16th, from 11am-4pm… They are sliding scale $45-$150+; get a beautiful print & help an awesome organization sustain its continued future!

cardboard pancakes!
(Yolibel at last year’s Cardboard Pankakes, photo by Jesse Banks III)

There will also be lots of other local artists & craftspeople (including me) selling their own work at “Cardboard Panckakes”, it’s the best-feeling “commercial” space you will have ever been in, come by & check it out. Facebook event here!

Here’s a sequence of images from our print-making process — click on any of them to see the whole lineup as one large image.

print process sequence part 1
print process sequence part 2
print process sequence part 3

WOWZA!


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