It’s ironic to note that as the reopening of quarantined restaurants, bars and businesses presents options for going out after a long lockdown, the heat has made leaving the house quite unappealing. Viruses and global warming have made our world resemble a Steve Erickson novel.
My own narrative this Winter/Spring has included a health issue- no, not that one in the news- a lovely condition where one’s autoimmune system attacks your own joints and muscles, making going anywhere, even to the fridge for a drink, painful. Thanks to treatment, that’s now manageable, and I’m back in the studio, if not in the bars.
And I’m preparing for the Summer Art Market, now postponed to August 26-7, and distanced and limited to a few thousand visitors. As I was incapacitated for March/April, this postponement has been a fortunate twist. It was not fortunate for a friend- we’ll call her Susie- who went down to visit my booth during the traditional weekend, this last one, and found a quiet intersection in front of the school.
Don’t be like Susie! Read my blog for further updates.
Classes are also ongoing as people begin to venture out. A teen camp in July is full, and an adult evening class is registering now. The print room is religiously cleaned and distanced, and we’re going on a year without any reported re-closures or incidents. You may attend without a mask if you are vaccinated. Evenings in the print room are cool and pleasant.
Other than that, It’s been a lot of what I’ve come to think of as ‘comfort’ reading and viewing, with soccer books and telecasts a prominent feature. International football is returning with the Euro Championship, and with the US national team winning its own continental championship. I also re-read The Ball Is Round, by David Goldblatt, a history of the game from a somewhat Marxist/cultural perspective that is even more rewarding with a second run-through. I post on reading and pop cultural matters to break up the content presented here, and I may work up a post on that soon.
Stay safe and be cool! #sam2021 #asldprintmakers #monotypes
The Summer Art Market is back! It will of course be different as a result of the pandemic, and I’ll be posting about it several times before it returns, August 26-27. I’m going to be in a very similar spot to where I have been in past shows, which is right near the school’s main entrance at 2nd Avenue and Grant. I’m not publicizing the booth number yet, as the restrictions on attendance and number of artists are fluid, so the booth numbers may change, though the location will remain the same.
First note the dates. The old second weekend in June slot was too soon and too uncertain, so August was chosen. I’m glad, as the studio was closed for several months, and it’s given me time to make more work.
Second, and most important, the event will be smaller, per city guidelines. This may also be subject to change. There’s a limit to how many artists and visitors will be allowed in, 5,000 people as of now. This is about a 6th of the normal crowd, IIRC. It will allow for distancing.
To control for crowd size, a reservation system is being set up, and thus the show is expected to sellout before it opens. If you’d like to see the show, please consider reserving early. There will be a nominal $5 charge for reservations. The festival is the school’s major fundraiser, and will help them recoup lost revenues from the reduction in booth fees.
For more info, go tothe school’s website. I have not seen a link for registration yet, and will post it here when I do. I’m having photos of new work done, and will post previews soon.
I have several classes scheduled for Summer. An online teen camp from June 20-25 is registering right now. There is also a live teen camp in July which is full, but again, guidelines for class numbers may change, so getting on the wait list can’t hurt.
Tomorrow, June 8, begins registration for my adult evening class, Monotype Starter, which is a beginner’s class that gives you all the basics of printing monotypes and also certifies you to use the studio on your own. Registration link for that class is here. Numbers for adult classes are currently limited, so don’t delay. Again, however, changing guidelines may open more spots, especially as unlike kids, adults have generally been vaccinated.
More general info on all my classes is under ‘Workshops’ on the menu at top. I’m hoping to see some people this Summer, and I’m sure I’m not the only one!
I’m not sure how many Summer Art Markets I’ve done, but this year’s must be close to 25, if not there. I’m in booth #100. I’m entering the final week of preparations, and I think it’s going pretty well. Some years- especially the earlier ones- were frantic. There have been a few like this year where I had a good start, and though it’s always work, it’s been pretty calm the whole way.
The Art Students League #SummerArtMarket2019 is one of the better shows for artists, and many long time shoppers believe, for art buyers. It combines experienced artists, many of them, like me, on the faculty at the school; with newer artists doing their first festival show, many of whom are students at the school. It has a real community feel, and tends to emphasize the art, rather than the food vendor and sponsor booths, and it is the school’s biggest fundraiser. Only media taught at the school can be exhibited in this show, so various ‘craft-ish’ items are not allowed, giving the show a real focus that true collectors have learned to love.
A nice feature of the Summer Art Market for buyers- Giclees and other reproductions that represent themselves as ‘fine art prints’ are not allowed, so one can shop for original art with confidence. At some shows, you might see these offered in “limited editions” at inflated prices, as if they themselves were art. At SAM, you can buy actual handmade art, often for prices as friendly as others charge for their Giclees. It’s worth pointing out that at any of the many printmaking booths at this show, only true, hand-pulled fine art prints are for sale.
You’ll probably find art bargains there. The beginning artists, many of them quite good, tend to keep their prices very low, whereas the more well known need to protect themselves from the competition in this large show, and many probably also try to keep prices as low as they can, or offer smaller more affordable pieces as I do. Many of us are trying to maintain a consistent, gallery price level, so higher prices from established artists are not a surprise, either, though Denver in general has low prices for art, so it can be hard for a full time artist to generate sustainable sales in a year. Great for buyers, though. This is the balance an aspiring art community must attain.
Haggling is a personal issue with artists, though a show of this type, especially on Sunday afternoon, would probably be as good as any a place to try it . Some artists seem to see it as an insult. I personally don’t mind it, though it should be reasonable, for the issues of consistent and sustainable prices mentioned above. Even galleries offer discounts, especially when a multiple, or larger sale is being considered. Repeat buyers also get nice prices. Be respectful, is my advice. Again, if you’re shopping for art in Denver, you’re probably getting a deal, anyway.
If you’re just looking, that’s fine, too. Questions about process and philosophy are fun for me, anyway- they break up a long day; and questions about my classes are certainly encouraged (you can register there too!). But be mindful of monopolizing an artist’s time for too long, as this may be a major source of income for their year, so they must make sure they don’t miss the opportunity to speak with any potential buyer. If you are a buyer, monopolize all you want. Enjoy being a hero. Not only have you paid some nagging, distracting artist bills, or even launched a career, but you’ve put money into the creative economy, money proven to be beneficial to a region’s economy and quality of life, especially as it tends to be returned to the economy quite quickly!
Other situations call for common sense: Solicitations for donations for your group’s charity auction, or for your new framing business or whatever are not that welcome if they’re going to take up valuable time. I certainly don’t mind if you leave your card or a flyer. No artist is going to make room in their crowded booth for your ad flyers for CFE’s, shows, etc.
The real value of the show is interaction and feedback from peeps you wouldn’t normally meet in a gallery, so don’t be shy. I certainly enjoy it- all conversations about art are more welcome than say, any conversation about the Broncos. Stop by and introduce yourself, make a comment about the art, get to know the community.
Search: #sam2019, summerartmarket2019, #asld, #artstudentsleague, and my personal favorite, #sambooth100.
I’m Preparing art for a number of different shows and events this Spring. Most are related to the MoPrint (Month of Printmaking) festival of events and I’m organizing one event myself. It makes for a busy schedule.
“Master Printer and Print Educators of Colorado”, McNichols Building 3rd Floor, January 13-April 8 : This one has already opened, though viewing hours are limited, and the venue is often closed for private parties. The best way to see it may be the MoPrint Kick Off event on February 23 at 6-9 PM. I will be there. I have 3 pieces in the show ( I fall into the second category in the title), but I did not have any large work ready for the show.
“Hand Pulled: Mark Lunning’s Open Press”, PACE Center, Parker, Co, March 2-April 30: This is a show honoring the Open Press artists. The printmaking facility on Bayaud Ave run by Master Printer Mark Lunning is soon to close and move to Sterling, Colorado owing to the rapidly dwindling affordable space for arts orgs during the recent development boom. I haven’t worked there in a couple of years, since I now do most of my work at the Arts Students League, so this show will feature 3-5 large pieces from my past work there. It will be a mini retrospective of sorts. Opens March 2, 5:30-8 PM
Open Portfolio, Redline Gallery, March 17, 2-5 PM: This will probably be the most affordable show I’ve done in a long time. It was a fun show during the last MoPrint (2016) so I’ve decided to join it this year. Every artist has more art than they can sell, and this will be for printmakers, a chance to clean out the flat files at bargain prices, and that’s just what I’m doing. You’ll also see a lot of young artists trying to launch a name for themselves, I’m sure. Starting a print collection, and on a budget?
Art and Soul, Art Students League, February 10: This is the major fundraiser for the League, a big party with food and art auctions to benefit the school, and I always donate a piece. Tickets here.
artma, February 8: A fairly glitzy event that benefits The Morgan Adams Foundation.org. This year it will be in the Evans School at 11th and Acoma, an opportunity in itself to see this historic building.
I’ll mention here that many of us artists are approached by charity auctions on a regular basis. Any auction is risky to begin with, as it can be damaging to your ‘market value’, especially if poorly organized and callous about their donating artists’ career needs, as many appallingly are.
This is not one of those, however. artma is the creme de la creme of charity auctions, with artists on the board of the event, professional treatment for donating artists, and an overall spirit of gratitude for artists’ generosity. I’ve been donating for several years because of this.
Meininger Art Supply, Broadway, March 3, 11-1 PM: I’ll be doing a monotype demo here. It’s a fun place to do one, and well equipped for the large groups they usually get. It’s about an hour, but you get a coupon at the end. Come early for a good seat, though they have mirrors and PA, so it works in the cheap seats, too.
Monotype-aThon, Art Students League, March 3, 9-5 PM: Same day! I’ll rush over there to join eight other artists doing 2-3 hour shifts, with the public invited to watch and kibbitz. There will be prints donated for sale to benefit the League and MoPrint, light snacks and lots of different approaches to monotype making.
Textures and graphic effects are a way of bringing energy to a print composition. A highly detailed texture will attract the eye and demand attention, a subtle one will invite mental rest and contemplation. A heavier, darker texture or a very transparent one will tend to create depth by playing off what’s behind or underneath it. In this three staged monotype, I had some fairly unique coloring and a balanced, if plain image, and I put it aside with a vague feeling of disappointment as it really didn’t have a lot of intrigue. Intrigue can be defined in prints, probably in all art, as something, a bit of mystery or surprise that might keep the eye exploring the picture, possibly to extract meaning ( or determine if meaning is indeed there), or to solve the puzzle of its composition, or simply to bring the visual exploration to a fairly logical stopping point.
In this case, I didn’t want to give up on the print because I liked the sense of calm, or is it desolation? which I think comes from the pink light and the fairly empty expanse on the left side. So I wanted to heighten that distance and light, without cluttering the picture.
The picture was also a bit sparse though, lacked a real focal point and featured mostly hard edges. I wanted to add a bit of visual richness and narrative movement while maintaining the graphic simplicity.
First I added in some more visual elements in the foreground which enhanced the designerly, modernist look of the first layer, and although these are also hard-edged shapes (created with mylar overlays), I think the addition of more complexity in the foreground makes the emptiness in the background more pronounced.
Then I thickened the glade at the right avoiding too much clutter, by adding some trace monotype lines.
I rediscoverd trace monotype, a favorite from Paul Klee’s early work in my art history class days, and decided to experiment with it to see if it might add to these pictures I’d never finished. It has a fairly spontaneous and softer-edged feel to it as opposed to the hard edge of the mylar stencilling, which might, given the subject ( strangely lit glade) add some visual balance. The softer-edged elements were placed in front of the earlier graphic elements, not usually how you do it, but as in photography, the depth of field is being manipulated to sharpen and highlight middle ground elements, an example of what I mean by visual intrigue. When you highlight or sharpen the middle ground, you are, in effect, asking the viewer to “enter” past the foreground elements. Like pushing to the front of the crowd for a street busker, say, it asks for a bit of commitment.
It added a bit of “dirty” look to the print, which adds an edgy but also timeless feel to the modernist hard edges. Blacks ( not too heavy) always add depth by bringing out color and balancing tones, which here were sitting mostly in the middle-light to middle-dark range except the ghostly whites. I used the trace mainly for spindly forest brush (plant) images and ground debris which adds a bit of suggested perspective and realistic “bottom” to the pic, but also a kind of synaesthesia in that one can imagine the crackling of twigs, which draws one in to the place depicted. It’s also somewhat calligraphic and hints at a story in the scene. The second layer of leafy designs in mylar plays off the twigs to create a sort of diversity of textures and heightens the original play of positive negative space in the pic. I like that the imagery is denser, but the two image sets are now in a bit of visual tension with each other in a sort of necker cube shift of dark and light. Is the white log stencil some sort of border treatment, or is it a log that has shifted to another dimension. A ghost log? I always enjoy signal-to-noise problems, and this one suggests information degradation or decay, since it exists at the edge of the picture plane, where an image might be expected to fade anyway.
Whether this all works is of course for the viewer to decide, but as the “first” viewer, it made me happier. This was a print which seemingly had no chance of ever being seen by the public, until I decided that other textures might make it just intriguing enough to show ( Yes, I have to see intrigue, or at least stylistic interplay in something before I can bring myself to show it). It seemed to lack any sort of visual grace or interior dialog beyond the pink and brown coloring, which I always loved, and which probably kept it near the top of the stack of unfinished items, rather than buried in a flat file. It seems to have a fair amount of depth and “placeness” in it now. It’s a place I would like to go to and walk around in, so I went there.
You can see it and judge for yourself at the Art Students League Summer Art Market, June 10-11, Booth #96, where I’ll be showing it along with work by my booth mate, Taiko Chandler.
Large work has been a priority for me last Fall, and didn’t happen quite as much as I’d like, so I extended “printing season” into December. I went down to Open Press ( a somewhat legendary print studio in Denver ) and started on 2 30×42” monotypes, one of which was completed, and will be in a 25th Anniversary Open Press Show. It’s easier to work on 2 pieces at once, with the second being a ghost of the 1st run-through (“drop”) of the first. This gives me more options or ways forward if one goes wrong, or needs extra attention, especially if I’m on a deadline. And it worked- I got a nice monotype on the 2nd variation, applying a new layer over the top, then leaving the 1st variation, which was meant to have 1 drop, but needed two, for a head start on January’s return to studio.
The need to keep a good inventory of small work ( for cash flow purposes) and attend to other, business-side issues (such as this website) really make it hard to carve out the “large” blocks of time needed for work over 22×30″. So I’ve decided I will keep going in at least once a month and working on large work, so I can have an inventory by November. This is how most things work for me. I even made a “schedule” of time blocks for such things as Social Media, Web and Framing. I don’t always stick to it, especially when picking up temp jobs for extra cash, but it does tend to keep vital tasks from getting lost in the shuffle.
I’m also working on Month of Printmaking (#MoPrint 2014). MoPrint is intended to showcase, on a biennial basis, the large, diverse and exciting range of printmaking being produced in the Denver Metro region, and in Colorado at large. It will be a great event to be a part of, so it’s good I was able to squeeze in the extra working time. I’m helping with a Studio Tour on March 29, as well as contributing to Social Media.
It will run from Feb 28, 2014, through March and even into April, and the Open Press 25th Anniversary show at McNichols building in the 3rd floor gallery will be the kick off party , though the show is available for viewing on Saturdays, 10-2 PM from January 11th on. Thanks to a generous donor there will be a nice catalog, too.
It will feature a multitude of gallery shows, studio demos and special events intended to allow those interested in this rich yet often ignored medium to learn first hand and up close what Denver printmakers and print studios have to offer. Here’s a link: http://moprint.org/ You can upload your own event there.
I’ll post an image of the larger works when I receive a file from the photographer. In the mean time, above is a smaller one as a preview of sorts.
Some shots of my Zip 37 show with fellow Monotype artist Randy Hughes. It was a fun opening with quite a few visitors since then.
I’ve been writing a post about color, as it has seemed to pop up in my work lately, but as always, it has bogged down a bit it the first draft state. Soon!
I was recently asked to jury a show at Core New Art Space, a co-op gallery I used to be a member of in the 80’s. The show’s theme was “Horizontal Line”. Here are some thoughts from a Juror’s Statement I wrote for the entrants and show-goers.
Jurying a show (my first time solo) is fun and tough. Fun, in that there was a lot of great work, and I’m sure I’ll be meeting new artists at Friday night’s opening at Core New Art Space.
Tough, as I had to leave out a lot of work I did like to create a tight and focussed show, which was a priority. Above is a teaser photo. This was taken just after jurying finished, so any work glimpsed here is in the show.
One can never explicate a set of hard and fast rules for such a time-specific and ad-hoc process as jurying a show. It is common to say that jurying is subjective, and not so common to explain how that affects a given set of choices, so I’ll address that here. My objective was to give a good accounting of work that engaged the theme “Horizontal Line” in the context of a professionally presented art show. If work engaged the theme in an original and professionally adept way, I wanted it in the show. If it failed on some level, I wanted it out. A complementary concern was to find a show that fit the space well, and that created some very tough decisions.
In addition to work that thematically or technically excelled and which I juried in immediately; or alternatively, work juried out quickly as it fell short of the mark; There was a t least 50% of the work that required a real decision on my part. I’ll give you some of my intentions, and beliefs and define some terms here to illuminate that process.
As to theme, I confess to a bias in favor of metaphor and visual complexity, as I tried to outline on my own and Core’s Facebook pages: “‘Horizontal Line’ is a very simple theme but carries complex implications, including landscape, narrative and time. I’ll be looking for entries that have thematic energy…”. So some entries were well presented and fit the theme in a basic way, but were left out in favor of more complex works that presented narrative or visual metaphor. This is defined as complex colors that communicated tension or ambiguity, surprising or subversive forms within the theme, or hidden narratives. However, I’ll admit to inconsistency here, in that there were a couple of pieces that were somewhat tangential to the theme, whose strength in conception and execution made them impossible to leave out, no matter how many times I tried.
Technical concerns: Core New Art Space has been around for 30-plus years, and has presented a lot of young artists early in their careers, including me. Though work with marginal presentation or technical skills is always welcome if it is thematically strong, I recommend self-jurying your own work before entering. Then devote more time and resources to conception, presentation, and materials and enter fewer, stronger works. It’s good to try a number of shows, yes, but three pieces that are marginally presented and tangential to the theme aren’t better than one that engages the theme and is attractively presented.
Also, I believe larger work, though it’s often hard to sell in this city often provides the best route to developing and finishing an idea. This can be seen in my choices for “Best of Show” ( not a hard choice; its sense of narrative from an idealized, abstract, distant horizon to an all too real foreground fenceline ), and “Honorable Mention” another large piece with a real sense of depth and conceptual resolution. Many smaller pieces in the show might’ve made honorable mention, but I decided on only one.
Thanks to all that entered, even those who were not included. I could well have made a second, smaller, non-thematic show that is just as attractive. Thanks to Core members who left me alone to make my own decisions and mistakes. I’ll discuss and advocate for work in the show at a Gallery talk at 3 Pm, Sunday July 28. It will be hard for me to comment on work not in front of me, but I’ll be happy to dialog about the show and theme in general.