Friday, July 27, 2012

The Show Will Go On

Three days ago I was wondering what on earth I was going to show this coming Sunday.  Now I think I'm in pretty good shape.  If I can crank out the color on one more totem piece and do two more iconic pieces, I will have 11 or 12 pieces.  I am supposed to split the wall with a woman that I went to under graduate school with as well, so 12 pieces seems like it will be plenty.  I was really pleased to come up with the group of six iconic pieces.  A former teacher who always speaks to me about my work keeps telling me that it, my work, is all about the characters.  Today I asked my friend Sam about the falling mouse character and he started to tell me what he thinks it is all about.  I am not sure that either of these individuals is completely correct, but it does seem fair enough that there is something to the statement that everything that is in me goes into the production of those characters.  So in essence, what I'm getting at here is that the iconic pieces with the characters is almost like a holy pilgrimage for me.  Pardon me if you find that sacrilegious, I mean it more as a discovery of self which is always a guided journey.

Here is the most up to date collection of the totems.

I am very pleased with all of them.  They completely tell a story of who I am, with some very careful nods to the northwest Indian culture whose totems I am most interested in.  Read it from top to bottom.  Let me know if you can figure out what they mean.

Here are the iconic pieces as well.  You can fill in the blanks on these stories much like you can with an image of Christ or the Virgin Mary.

 I am very impressed with how these pieces are coming out.  They seem much stronger than I had originally anticipated them being.  I think when I am through with these six I may try to do another series of them and focus on one character in particular. 

That's it for now.

Iconic Images

Last night while playing cards with my friend Ed, I realized that I needed to do some work to accompany the totem pieces that were a bit larger.  It really doesn't make a difference if you make 12 pieces and they are all tiny.  They will still not fill a whole wall.  It also occurred to me that each of the totems reads as a character by itself, not so much a group of characters telling its story.  Rather the story is the character.  I wanted to call more attention to a couple of the characters so I decided to pull one out from each totem and create a more iconic image of each of these stories. 

Here are two that I started putting together today.

I like how grouping these two sets of images starts a dialogue between two different methods of telling religious stories.  The Christian Bible is full of tales that pictorially are represented with iconic images of Christ.  Whereas it seems that multiple icons in other religions are used to depict stories.  They seem to stand as a whole.  I'm not incredibly sure, but I realize now that I want to start researching these methods of display a little bit more.  This project seems like a good place to start.

Hope you dig.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Totems & Floating Gallery Spaces

I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about the coast and the sea.  I have lived on the ocean for approximately 7 years now.  At least I have been on a bay which has ocean water for 7 years, that is.  I've spent four years in Casco Bay and 3 years in Elliott Bay.  Both Seattle, WA and Portland, ME are places which are very close to my heart.  I do not know that I will stay here in Portland forever, but that is not to say that I don't have an affinity for the area.  I remember, when I was little, taking a trip with my father to Lake Ontario.  As the sun set, my father stood staring off into the Abyss, like there was something calling to him or mesmerizing him.  When I got a little older, I started to stare off into the distance of the water trying to figure out what he saw and what he heard.  I don't know that I figured out what he was after, but it wasn't long until the sound of the waves and the feel of the surf's crash started to take root in my brain and in my body.  We are all water and we are all tiny.  Never is it so obvious as when you are standing on the shore of a large body of water.

The towns that I live in, therefore, need to be close to or on the water anymore.  Today, as I was creating totems which tell my own life stories and mythology, it only seemed appropriate to make a totem to the two cities that I love.  There is not so much a nautical reference in the piece, but there is the idea of steadiness coupled with that which changes.  Here is that totem:

More specifically involving the ocean towns that I love, is the second project that I have started which I would like to share today.  I have long wanted to create a pop up gallery on a ship.  Currently a friend of mine, Anne Bryant, is sailing about on her vessel the Mimi Rose.  I suggested the other day that we do a small portable pop up gallery and to my delight she liked and encouraged the idea.  So today I set about looking up nautical terms and trying to think of a name for a small gallery.  I looked through some old school illustrated seafaring maps. 

I decided upon the term Mizzenmast because in reading I have always been attracted to the sound of the word.  Also, it is not the main mast, but the second mast.  It made sense to me that since this is not a mainstream art event, but an event living in the substrata of the art world.  This is going to be a great project.  I have already enlisted my friends Anne Buckwalter and Pilar Nadal to submit and look to have several other great additions to the show.  All of the work will be in miniature and clearly portable.  Here is the first rendition of the logo.

It is great to have a little momentum back.  It is great to be working with some awesome people.  Here's hoping we can keep bring some interesting stuff your way and that maybe you can jump aboard the Mimi Rose sometime soon and see some art.  Keep up.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Quick and Slick

I am a momentum guy.  If I have a lot of momentum and things are going well; people are asking for more stuff, few revisions, lots of different ideas, then I work so much better.  I get more done and I am happier with myself and the work that I am producing.  The ridiculous thing is that I nearly always get stuck on the big projects.  Work that is time intensive or that requires a lot of sketches and meetings makes me lose momentum.  When I lose momentum I start to question why I am doing any work to begin with.  I really need to start working out a schedule that leaves time for the open and more spontaneous works.  It is the only way that I will ever be able to remain stable.  I need balance and a secretary.  Does anyone want to be my secretary?  I'll pay you in.....something awesome.

Anyway, I put together two totem pieces today in preparation for my little show at Bard Coffee coming this weekend.  By finishing up these two guys, I am now stoked to wake up tomorrow too.  See how simple a creature I am.  Life is rad.  Here be:

 I also love working on longer rectangles and warped pieces.  It was good to end my day this way.  Much love peeps.


Ups & Downs; Everything in Between

It pains me to say that I will not be making a mural in North Adams, MA.  Contracts didn't match proposals and I just can't afford a residency situation currently.  Perhaps someday I will be able to work under those circumstances, but for now, paying my bills and feeding myself seem more important than being able to have an extended stay to make a piece of artwork.  However, like so many other things, when you lose one opportunity you gain another.  Within moments of cancelling the mural I received an email from Diana Matoso from DS Way Community in England.  She's producing a community through artwork and crafts made from our re-used refuse.  Her site shares ways in which we can re-use materials which are commonly thrown out.   We have been talking about doing some collaboration, which would be amazing.  I can't wait to get my work overseas a bit.

I was also offered the opportunity to make a different mural in the city of Laconia, NH next summer.  I just had a meeting this morning with the owner of Bard Coffee in Portland and we are moving forward with the t-shirt designs that I had been putting together.  It is going to be great to see my work on t-shirts around town. 

I'm also putting together a few small pieces this week to hang in that same coffee shop.  It's going to have to be one of those quick groups of pieces as time keeps escaping me.  Today I believe that I am finishing up the last project for Eco Kids that I will have for a while.  I've been working on a set of stickers.  I only have one left to finish.  Here is a small sample of the 26 that I have put together.

The large scale commission that I have been working on is also coming out well.  It is a slow process cross hatching work that is the size of an entire wall.  I wonder how Robert Motherwell's work would have looked if he had cross hatched it instead.  Perhaps that would be an interesting project to attempt.  Re-creating someone's work that was so dependent on blacks in a manner where blacks are so time intensive to develop.  Here is a sample of that piece.

Last but not least for today, I have been working on a new piece for a fellow who I made one commission for earlier this year.  The second piece is quite different and really seems like a blast from the past in painting style as well.  I think that I am leaning more towards working like this in the near future.  I may be mixing some of the characters in and working those out the same way.

There's a lot of good going on here.  I'm really grateful to be able to turn down a project that I thought was going to be amazing and still have work to do.  This is turning into a great ride.  Thanks for coming along.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Steal my Sketchbook

It's July.  It's been hot.  Not super hot; I live in Portland, ME.  It is hotter, pretty much everywhere than it is here.  Perhaps not, but it has been super warm.  I've determined that introspection is the mother of second guessing.  I've also determined that being amongst people, even talking to said people, doesn't necessarily equate to being an extrovert.  In fact, I've been thinking a lot about the phrase: "alone in a crowd."  To sit and draw and reflect on the people around you, even to give them pictures, to smile and joke, to laugh uproariously, this isn't really being an extrovert.  If you want to know what I think, steal a sketchbook.  Everything that I am is in my sketchbooks.  Everything I understand, and everything that I can't wrap my head around.  It's in the sketchbook.  When I have a bad week, it's in there, disguised as cute furry creatures loving one another, one magnificent world of coping.  It's all so small, trivial.  Thoughts built upon thoughts.  None of them take up much space, but when you add page to page, day after day, it starts to build up, and you realize that you are a sum of billions of moments in this life, positive and negative, all added to each other and making you, for the better or for the worse. 

I bring this up because I realize that when I take work from the intimate arena of a sketchbook to a mural or a large installation it is like amplifying my thoughts.  The introvert becomes the extrovert in one fell swoop.  What is it too, to see thoughts amplified at this scale?  Is it egotistical?  I wonder what this desire to see my work so large is.  It is probably in reaction to feeling ignored as a kid.  Well if that's it, "Ignore this!"

This project has been pretty great.  I have been going through some awkward social business this week and it has been incredibly cathartic learning to cross hatch with a paint brush.  Cross hatching to me is like feeling the crash of the surf; an ebb and a flow where in the ultimate rhythm of life is felt.
Heaven essentially.