Artsy Neighbor

An article in the Sunday NYT Arts section  (12/16/17)  profiled art collector Beth Rudin DeWoody.  Her Bunker Artspace is located in a residential area in West Palm Beach and is just 2 miles down the road from Mar-a-Logo.  She believes that “art should be provocative” this is borne out by exhibits that include an x-rated area, a controversial image of the crucifixion and a doll-sized sculpture of Charles Manson on a playdate.  Quite an outlier institution in an otherwise conservative community.

One of the pieces I found most interesting was by Jeff Colson. I mistook it for a big luscious trompe l’oeil painting, but it is actually a sculpture.  This video of him building it is worth a look.






insight and inspiration: Mel McCuddin


Earlier this week I stumbled across the work of Mel McCuddin. Sometimes the most interesting discoveries are serendipitous. It gets better. Not only did I enjoy his paintings, I found a video that gives a glimpse into his process. Something about watching another person work makes me want to do the same. Watching Mr. McCuddin encouraged me to find more looseness and joy in my mark making.








330 Years of Female Printmakers

Article Link

I’m sure (maybe not sure, but pretty sure in that “someone HAD to have done that, right?” way) that a woman somewhere had created a original print prior to 1570, but there is currently an exhibit at the New York Public Library examining the certainly under-heralded work of female printmakers from 1570-1900, which both sounds awesome and makes me rue the fact that my local public library has only a couple of quilts on permanent display to show their support for the arts.  Yay quilts, but I know at least one quilt maker whose work could probably improve the breadth and scope of my public library’s display.

Also, for those of us who are neither close to nor inclined to visit New York, there are downloadable images available, so you can load up your Kindle or whatever, balance it on a bottle of wine, and enjoy your own private art tour while approaching publicly inappropriate levels of intoxication.  Or not, because I’m not going to tell you how to live your life, aside from that you might want to click that link up there at the top of the article.  The rest is up to you.



The Thrill of the Original

This past weekend, the 3rd Annual Portland Fine Print Fair took place, at the Portland Art Museum.  If you’ve never been to a print fair, basically art dealers bring their wares, set up a booth, and if you’ve got the money, honey…

There are always a ridiculous amount of unbelievable prints by remarkable artists at things like this; last year had my jaw dropping at a number of Whistlers, this year was a booth that had ukiyo-e by artists like Hiroshige.  But another print caught my eye, one by Australian printmaker Martin Lewis, titled “Spring Night, Greenwich Village.”


I apologize for the smallness of the image, there are bigger ones on the ‘net, but I didn’t want to step on toes.

In the era of the screen, one thing that people don’t seem to realize is that there is literally nothing like seeing the original piece of artwork.  Photography and pixels cannot accurately reproduce the subtleties of paintings and prints and pottery.  Yes, a jpeg is better than nothing, but when you’re limited by resolution and the size of your screen, you are always dealing with an imitation of the real deal.

The reason that this really hit home (again) for me was that, in a printmaking class I took a few years back, one of the class assignments was to reinterpret this very Martin Lewis print.  We all had intimate familiarity with the image (or at least a reproduction of the image), and the techniques Lewis used to accomplish this beautiful print (mainly drypoint, for those wondering), so getting to see an actual impression made from the actual plate that Lewis worked on is like having the world suddenly snap into focus after years of being slightly hazy.

I ended up discussing the print with another patron at the fair, who was confused by Lewis’ use of sandground (which I am unfamiliar with, and suppose it’s a relative of softground and responsible for some of the texture on the sidewalk and street).  I also explained that the rich (so rich!), velvety blacks on the image were from drypoint, applied insistently.  We both marveled at the image for a minute or two after I had explained that this very print had been one of my student assignments.

It might seem that something like an intaglio etching, which is primarily produced in black and white (even that’s erroneous, as there are dozens of different shades of black ink, each distinguishable from one another), would survive reproduction without much loss of detail, but when you compare something that you know pretty well via reproduction to the original, the reintroduction to something you thought you knew (but with MORE) can be intense and delightful.

For comparison’s sake, here’s my version of this print, which I titled “Crossover.”


As it turns out, drypoint is a very difficult technique to master!



insight and inspiration: William Stafford

Nobody cares…

Nobody cares if you stop here. You can

look for hours, gaze out at the forest.

And the sounds are yours too—take away

how the wind either whispers or begins to

get ambitious. If you let the silence of

afternoon pool around you, that serenity

may last a long time, and you can take it

along. A slant sun, mornings or evenings,

will deepen the canyons, and you can carry away

that purple, how it gathers and fades for hours.

This whole world is yours, you know. You can

breathe it and think about it and dream it after this

wherever you go. It’s all right. Nobody cares.



Museum of Glass

Last week I made a day trip to Tacoma to visit the Museum of Glass. It’s in a striking 75,000 square foot building completed in 2002.  I had plans to walk across the adjacent Chihuly Bridge of Glass, but the museum’s demonstrations and exhibits were so engaging they filled all the time I had. Hopefully the walk can happen during another visit and on a warmer, drier day.


My time there started in the Jane Russell Hot Shop (no kidding, real name) where  glass technicians, called gaffers, conjure creations from molten glass. The demonstration alone was worth the trip. MOG has a robust artist-in-residence program and installation artist, Fred Wilson, was directing the creation of large tear-shaped pieces intended for inclusion in a piece similar to one of his earlier works, Drip Drop Plop.


Drip Drop Plop    2001


An exhibit of paintings, drawings and sculpture, Every Soil Bears Not Everything, by Joey Kirkpatrick and Flora C. Mace, is in the galleries. These 2 artists have worked collaboratively for more than 30 years using blown and cast glass, fabricated wood and bronze.




Punching Up

In comedy, there’s a theory that a comedian should always be “punching up.”  In short, that means that comedy is funny when you’re taking on subjects that are higher in the hierarchy than you are, and that you risk coming off like a bully or worse when you make fun of those who are lower in the social hierarchy than you are.

I love reading David Apatoff’s “Illustration Art” blog for a lot of reasons – he’s got great taste, shines a light on amazing artists who aren’t necessarily in favor right now, and writes insightfully about illustration art.  So, take five minutes and read “An Artist’s Attic, part 3” right now.

Here’s what drives me insane about this article: Leonard Starr was a fabulous cartoonist, who’s particular skill at drawing facial expressions is deftly illustrated by the examples in that blog post.  Then, Apatoff tries to go the “the kids are all wrong” route by giving examples of more contemporary cartoonists’ work.  Unfortunately, it’s the work of cartoonists who’s work uniformly appears as if it was drawn with a pen clutched between one’s butt cheeks.  It’s not a throw-down between Starr and Kevin Maguire, who is known for his comedic mastery of facial expressions, and who has worked for the big two publishers consistently for something like 30 years now, which would have been a more fair fight.

There are great working young artists right now, and there are also ones who appear to draw only during seizures.  I wouldn’t have used any of those contemporary examples as examples of anything, other than of books I probably would leave on the bookshelf at the bookstore that I found it at.  This is what punching down looks like in art writing – taking someone’s unique, indisputable skill and juxtaposing it against people who barely qualify as visual artists.  You can make anyone and anything look badly through that technique, but it doesn’t really mean anything.

But also, feel free to take another five minutes to really go over those Leonard Starr faces, they are stunners.


What motivates us?

Sunset at Rockaway Beach, 7-27-15

Sunset at Rockaway Beach, 7-27-15

Waves, patterns, blues and grays, wind and sea: the immediacy of nature is compelling. What could ever match the enthusiasm of a run on the beach at sunset? What motivates us to do art, to want to be enveloped by it? Two recent art shows can help us to think about that.

At Things You Know but Cannot Explain, Rick Bartow’s show at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, his animal/man archetypes confront you in vivid color, in grand gesture, and with human eyes that make the space between you and each painting feel electric. These paintings reveal the inner self and harness the power of lucid dreams. My favorites include Minotaur 3, Fishmother, and Little Hawk’s Spirit. Of his wood sculptures, I love the salmon with fin-hands and Man Acting Like Dog. This exhibit will travel for three years, but you can see Bartow ‘s work at the Froelick Gallery.

The Portland Art Museum exhibit, Fotofolio – Adams, Strand, Weston, Weston, White – delves into how these artists chose images for portfolios. Ansel Adams’ photographs are “ends in themselves, images of the endless moments of the world.” Minor White’s sequences evoke emotion and a “better understanding.” Paul Strand included “the spirit of his subjects in the very body of the photo.” Edward Weston felt art was “a living thing which depends upon full participation.” Both he and son Brett pursued closeups of nature in the abstract – Brett called them “elegant bits.” Of all these, my favorites were Strand’s images of the lives of ordinary Mexicans, perhaps because they each tell a story (and are very fine photogravures). Here one might ask, “Do my images have a unifying theme, and what kind of story might they tell?”

Brian Dettmer’s Intricate Work

While trolling Google Images for places where printed media and 3 dimensional art might intersect, I stumbled upon the work of Brian Dettmer.  According to Wikipedia, “as a student, Dettmer focused primarily on painting. When he began to work in a sign shop, his work began to explore the relationship between text, images, language, and codes, including paintings based on braille, Morse Code, and American Sign Language. He then began to make work by repeatedly pasting newspapers and book pages to canvas and tearing off pieces, leaving behind layered fragments. In 2000, Dettmer started to experiment by gluing and cutting into books, the medium for which he is now best known”.  These books are what most captured my imagination.


In 2014, he gave a TED Talk about his process: