The Summer Art Market returned, about 14 months late, after the COVID shutdown. People were clearly glad to see it come back. Attendance was crowded on Saturday morning, and steady for the rest of the weekend, with only the afternoon heat really slowing things down. The sales were strong for most artists I spoke to.
It was no different for me, as the show was an all-time high. That makes all the work of framing and wrapping, packing and hydrating worthwhile, but it’s been over 25 years of doing it, and I’m going to take a year off next year, in all probability. It’ll be nice to recharge the batteries, and the steady time in the studio has been very rewarding, so a year of simply doing new work without regard to what might sell could be a tonic. I’ll undoubtedly volunteer to enjoy the vibe, and for the first time, see the whole show.
As for now, I’m going right back in the studio, as I was really pleased with the way things were going, and was a bit reluctant to stop for the show. I’ll be monitoring the print room most Fridays and Sundays this Fall, which is when I work on my own things.
Other than that, I’m planning a relaxing autumn. Restaurants and shopping now seem safer, at least in this area, and like many who attended the show, working on freshening up my house will be a nice distraction. I’m postponing travel till Spring, hoping things will stabilize.
Reading is always a go-to activity in my house, and while I’ve been too busy to attempt any major works, I’ve been reading enough lighter things to post some blurbs. That will be next.
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.
This Spring’s DPL workshops will be the last of the year, as I’ll probably take a break from those over Summer and Fall. They’re free, so they’re the best way to try monotypes.
The MoxieU classes are very affordable and allow you to experience the League’s gorgeous print room. Sorry, the one scheduled this term rather quickly sold out, and I guess I’ll need to try and schedule more of these in coming terms. Contact the League at 303-778-6990 if you’d like to be on a waiting list, as cancellations do happen.
The regular workshops have been divided into two lower cost sections for beginners and advanced beginners. The Monotypes for Beginners section is filling fast, so I would register quickly if you’d like to take it.
The Monotypes for Advanced Beginners is intended to provide a more studio-oriented atmosphere for people who have taken Monotypes for Beginners or who have printmaking experience from another class or school. Please contact me if you have questions about this workshop. There are still spots open.
I have a one day, Monotype Sampler workshop on Saturday, May 14th, for people who can’t do weekdays. Very affordable at $67.50 (members). It’s a 6-hour intro, and most can get several small prints done in that time. There are spots still open.
There is a free demo planned for Saturday, March 19th, 1-2:30 PM at Meininger Art Supply on Broadway. Their set up is gorgeous and viewer-friendly with overhead mirrors and a P.A. system and comfortable seats, so you don’t have to strain to see and hear. A discount coupon for supplies is included.
I have several shows coming up this spring and I’ll put up a separate page for show/event info soon. Many are part of the Month of Printmaking Colorado fest, and I’ll be at many of the other MoPrint events, as I’m on the organizing committee. So let’s schmooze! I’m expecting to be in four shows this Spring:
“Print Educators of Colorado”, Space Gallery, Opens Feb 25th.
“Pressing Matters”, Juried by Bud Shark, Art Students League, 200 Grant St. Opens March 12th.
“Planting the Seeds: Pedagogy in Print”, The Corner Gallery, Lakewood Cultural Center, Opens: TBA (March)
“Summer Art Market”, 200 Block, Grant St, June 11-12. I will again be showing with monotype artist Taiko Chandler.
I also have a couple of nearly complete pop culture posts in the can, and I’ll put those up soon. One is a review of “Pretty Deadly” by Kelly Sue DeConnick, who is leading the breakthrough for women creators in the heretofore embarrassingly male dominated comics field. The other is a pet project; a close reading of a favorite Beatles song.
I think it will be a good year, and I wish you a prosperous and hope filled 2016.
I’ve spent the last few weeks either working long hours at my temp job at DU, or on the couch reading under a blanket in the frigid, dark days. I got a lot of reading done, so I’m posting more mini-reviews today. Now it’s getting noticeably brighter, the job is done, and I’m getting back into a creative routine.
Free Workshops at Denver Public Library
I’m catching up on the blog and posting my next few free DPL workshops, including the first, this week at Ross-Barnum Branch, 3570 W. 1st Ave from 6-7:30 PM. These are open to the public, with children above 8 yo to adult probably getting the most benefit. They are drop-in style, so don’t worry if you are not there at the start, though that’s when I demo the process. The schedule confirmed so far is posted here.
8-Week full Workshop at the Art Students League
Still haven’t found a part time job, but will push on with the workshops and making larger work. My regular Spring 8-week workshop begins February 24, so don’t miss out. This is a far more comprehensive class, intended to walk you through not only basic technical processes, but the creative process as well. You can avoid dead ends and find fresh ideas through the use of multiple variations of “ghost” prints, second impressions of the remaining ink on a monotype plate- it’s like getting a free print and another shot at your original idea. You can get a small preview and ask me questions at one of the free DPL sessions. Or register here.
On to the books:
You’ll notice quite a few comics in here. First, the DPL has really upped its game on carrying interesting, literary comics, so one can catch up on intriguing titles without busting one’s budget. Browse when you come to the monotype workshop! There’s been a lot of publishing activity in this category, and it’s hard to find cash for anything but my absolute must-haves. When I do buy, I find Kilgore’s Books on 13th Avenue to be my go-to stop (at the risk of ruining my ‘favorit fishin’ hole’, but they really do deserve credit for knowing and buying the best publishers and authors!) Some of my thoughts on comics history in general are here, and I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of Richard McGuire’s Here, which looks to be another breakthrough for comics into the publishing mainstream. I’ll review it next month along with some other items which didn’t fit here.
New School by Dash Shaw
Few artists in any visual medium are pushing boundaries like Shaw. His raw brush work is often superimposed on acidic, free-range color fields, untethered to any specific imagery; or even photos of clouds, flowers, etc. This has the effect of creating unexpected emotional vistas in a story that hovers surreally between sci-fi thriller and teen sexual awakening drama. If this one just looks too odd for your taste, try the earlier BodyWorld.
by Andreas Campomar
This book, like “The Ball is Round”, seeks to explicate a cultural history of a people ( in this case, South Americans) through the story of their football. To a lover of both football and cultural histories, this story is meat and potatoes, and well told here. To casual footy fans, there may be a bit too much of the various tournament summaries, though the tale of tiny Uruguay’s supremacy in early World Cups and before that, in Olympics, which then served as football’s world championship, is essential.
Nor can these stylish triumphs be separated, Campomar argues convincingly, from Uruguay’s prosperous democracy of the time. Similarly, the advent of brutal military dictatorships in Latin America often went hand in hand with the continent’s dark turn toward cynical, negative “anti-football”.
Read it before the Centenario tournament ( celebrating the 100th year of South American championship), to be held in the US in 2016. At some point, the two Americas may merge, in a football sense; and this is yet another book to explain why football is really the only game that matters in the world.
V for Vendetta
by Alan Moore, David Lloyd
Hacker collective Anonymous’ appropriation of the Guy Fawkes imagery, plus Alan Moore’s complex legacy as comics’ greatest auteur, made this early 80’s graphic novel essential reading for me. I had waited far too long to pick it up, and wondered how coherently it dovetailed with Anonymous’ libertarian/anarchist representation, and how well it fit in with Moore’s own very original, often metafictional ouevre. It does not disappoint, in the same way that “Watchmen”, “From Hell” and “Promethea” do not disappoint: they are all brilliant, though eccentric, examinations of the relationship of man/woman to the State.
The difference in this early effort is in the pacing. It was mostly completed in Britain before Moore arrived on these shores to begin his ground breaking Swamp Thing run at DC, and prior to “Watchmen”, where a fascination with metafictional storytelling (i.e, “Superheroes as government-regulated vigilantes”, “Super heroine as goddess of storytelling”, etc) set in. This sometimes has lead to overwrought, didactic story lines, and over-designed illustration. Here, though, the story is direct and driving, with David Lloyd’s stark, stripped down panels, awash in blacks and crepuscular violets giving the whole thing a noir-ish Golden Age Batman sort of air. Moore’s crank-ish comic book libertarianism is here too, but tidily contained in a near-future fascist England, though an Orwellian computer system has jumped the pages and can definitely be seen as an inspiration for real world Anonymous.
Convoluted politics aside, it’s a great read.
Why Read Moby-Dick?
by Nathaniel Philbrick
A nice little book of short ruminations on various aspects of Moby-Dick. There are nuggets about Melville’s career, including a running discussion of his friendship with Hawthorne. Themes of the book are raised, and though not an exhaustive examination in the manner of a critical essay, they are thought provoking enough, and free of the academic/critical jargon that sometimes clots discussion of literary landmarks such as this. It’s hard to resist a book like this.
White Cube by Brecht Vandenbroucke
I had completely missed this early 2014 release and was glad I spied it on the coldest night of the year when no one (wisely) attended a workshop I was hosting at Ross-Barnum Library. These faux-primitive 1- and 2-page cartoons concern two guys coming to terms with, or sometimes cleverly modifying, even hilariously destroying, the modern art they encounter at the White Cube, a typical modernist gallery. Very witty, even conceptual gags about the art, but also about social media. The pair are seen running from the security guard after painting a Facebook-style thumb’s up ‘Like’ sign on a critically-approved White Cube acquisition.
The General and the Jaguar: Pershing’s Hunt for Pancho Villa: A True Story of Revolution & Revenge
by Eileen Welsome
A book that gets to the heart of the long-running enmity between Mexico and the USA. It is all here- the violence and savagery that seems to plague the Mexican people, and the prejudice and high-handedness of Americans and their government. The story is grippingly told. Pancho Villa’s campaign against Mexico’s military government found favor in US circles until pre WWI exigencies compelled Woodrow Wilson to recognize Carranza, the dictator. Betrayed, Villa vowed to take his forces against US citizens. The result was a brutal attack on Columbus, NM, and a punitive expedition into Mexico led by John Pershing, later to lead US forces in WWI Europe.
Conceived as a face-saving gesture by Wilson, but as a prelude to US expansion into Northern Mexico by Pershing and the Manifest Destiny adherents, the invasion into Chihuahua quickly turned into a misadventure. Porfirio Diaz, whom the revolution supplanted as Mexico’s leader, once said “Poor Mexico- so far from God, so close to the USA.” Pancho Villa seemed to embody this tragic irony, though it was not Pershing or the US that finally defeated him.
I’m posting this pic of a collaboration I did with ceramic artist Donna Schnitzer for a show at Republic Plaza called Interplay. It was designed to hightlight the professional artist/ mentor-to- student relationships the Art Students League of Denver wants to encourage.
In this case, Donna is a long time, very experienced professional ceramic artist herself who just happened to want to branch out into printmaking and so my role originally was to suggest techniques that might facilitate her natural creative vision. Then when we went to collaborate, we adopted a call/response sort of procedure where one would start a print, then pass it off to the other after chatting about ways to approach it, and so on. There were several false starts, but ultimately we came up with 6-7 pieces we both liked, and 2 were chosen by curator Andra Archer for the show, one of which sold immediately. Some of the ideas we tried will be seen in future works of mine.
The show is up and open to the public in the Republic Plaza lobby through Nov. 20. Let me know if you’d like me to meet you there. Apologies for the picture quality, but we were on a very tight schedule and never had a chance to get it shot nicely. It’s printed in 4-5 layers on tan 22×30″ Rives paper. I’ve forgotten the title, and will update the post when I get it. Many thanks to my delightfully feisty collaborative partner Donna for a very productive and thought provoking summer project!
I’ve been layering Mylar stencils for transparencies, spatial density and complex colors. I hope for rich interactions of negative and positive space, with new visual textures. But a real danger can be overworked, cramped images. Planning becomes an issue.
Good, rich color often involves planning, with transparency and color designs interacting in fresh ways when planning works but becoming muddy or overbearing when it doesn’t. Spontaneity for me, is in the soul of a monotype. Hit it just right, and you get a richness combined with graphic power that people understand as its own unique medium. Overwork it in trying to correct for texture, registration or tonality, and you only make them wonder why you didn’t use paints or colored pencils, anything more controllable.
This image highlights that delicate ballancing act. The first image above, “Superheroine with Burning Boat “ had real potential after one drop, but was fragmentary and lacked real depth. That, along with a tighter, more integrated (meaning less random) blue/orange tonality.
The second, below, I tried to add a unifying, transparent dark blue over the oranges in the waves but succeeded only in confusing the issue with a heavy blue /black. The trees of the ship are better but still lack any real depth or unity. It still has potential, but needs another layer, though it is dangerously close to being overworked. I’ll keep you posted on this one.
However, this is a time for experimentation for me and the overall idea seems good. Perhaps a more open, less claustrophobic composition, and a lighter touch on the colors might be a good thing. Thoughts?
I have another series of “stage” progressions I’ll post later in the week or next week. It’s one that seems to be coming together more successfully.
I talked last time about organizational things that make the Art Students League Summer Art Market a favorite show of mine. Details like this make a show meaningful and worthwhile for both artist and public. But what makes it personal and fun- people. The SAM has retained, throughout its growth, the feel of a neighborhood block party. That makes it fun to do all the work.
I’m following up on this show in case anyone wondered how it went for me. It was great! I had a lot of help this year, so physically it was easier, though it’s always draining, especially when the heat hits. But just talking to all the people is really rewarding.
I get a lot of returning buyers at this show. They are very loyal, very enthusiastic about my work and the League and the SAM as well. One woman, Nicole, told me that her entire art collection comes from this one show!
The usual Saturday morning feeding frenzy didn’t really happen this year. Instead, it was steady traffic all weekend long. There are a lot of events in Denver every weekend now, but somehow people still made time for SAM. It’s become a destination for longtime and beginning collectors alike. I can’t recall this happening before, but this year, Sunday had more sales than Saturday. Overall, it was my 2nd or 3rd best show ever, so I was very happy.
Owen and Jennifer, my brother and his wife, always come down to help break down. We had beers toward the end of the show, and my friend Dee and her friend came by, we had a lot of laughs when we should have been packing up, but when we did, the traffic and loading was smooth and easy. Then Owen and Jen and I went for pizza and tasty craft beers in our neighborhood. The show pays bills yes, but also serves as a great social occasion. I meet new friends there, too, then have to be reminded of their names next year, though I try to remember.
It usually takes me a week or two to get back into a steady schedule after this show, but I don’t have that luxury this year. A workshop begins tomorrow, a large piece is being shipped to Connecticut, and this web site needs a bit of fleshing out. So I spent a couple of days watching soccer and now- back to work.
Related side note: I was really too busy preparing for the show and didn’t notice that several comments had come in on the new site. It turns out that though I criticized WP’s clunky, glitchy publishing software, their spam defense is great. Too great- among the many links for “Fake Oakley Sunglasses” etc, I found several comments from friends and comrades. I must have assumed I didn’t need to check the “approve” list- rookie mistake. I’ll learn, and I apologize for late replies.
I welcome comments and discussion of any topical matter, really, and in the next few weeks I’ll link to some of my favorite blogs and sites to get the discussion rolling.
Art shows of the street fair variety have become popular.They come in a wide range of styles and sizes, but what makes for a good one?
Many new show are popping up along with the many that already have long histories. Organizers of art festivals typically charge $4-500 for a booth spot for the opportunity to meet those new potential collectors. It’s a real benefit for artists, especially emerging ones. At my favorite show, the Art Students League Summer Art Market, I see more new and returning collectors and would-be collectors than I see in all the year’s other shows combined. It’s a lot of work, but worth it. Other attractions are thrown in to create a crowd: food, music, merchandise sales. But the main attraction at a show should be the art, and there, not all shows are created equal.
Some shows, especially newer shows, don’t seem to put much thought into just who is showing. With the drive to sell all available booth space, there’s a temptation to welcome all comers. Democratic, yes, but often repetitious and limited for this reason: If not deliberately balanced by a jury or by category quotas, most shows are heavy on photography and crafts such as jewelry and stained glass. These are the people who have always found the art show circuit to be a good way to make money, and they apply in large numbers.
A new festival, such as ArtStir, which was held for the first time at Denver Pavilions downtown this last weekend, can be flooded with these sorts of exhibitors, leading to a large spread of artistic intention, and wacky pricing. Some booths seemed to feature unique personal visions. Many others showed fairly routine wildlife images, or tchotchke-like items for home decor. Photography, though clearly one of the century’s great art forms, is also often used as hobby or craft by those who simply love wildlife and mountains. Jewelry can be creative and fun, but low prices and stock-in-trade designs don’t attract the kind of crowd a show needs to sustain itself. An art show, even a street-level one, needs to be curated for diversity and creativity, or dedicated art buyers get bored and leave, leaving only lookers and strollers. Hey! Where’s the beer tent?
Another difference in a quality show and a newer or less curated show? Reproductions. These mostly take the form of “art prints” or “Giclee prints” which are digital images printed onto canvas or good paper. It’s one of the nicest forms of reproduction one can find, but essentially, they are fancy posters.
Giclees and “art prints” can really muddy the waters for traditional fine art printmakers such as me, since they are deliberately marketed as “fine art prints”, even though they are machine reproductions. Some shows control for this confusion by setting quantity limits on clearly marked reproductions that can be sold, but many, such as last weekend’s ArtStir, clearly do not. I saw one booth that was nearly ALL giclee-style reproductions with only a small legend, e.g. ‘canvas print’ to help customers distinguish. The organizers should know better.
By contrast, the Cherry Creek Festival places a target on number of exhibitors in each category and clear, strict limits on what can be displayed. Exhibitors juried in to the show tend to be polished in their work as well as their presentation, but this, along with high end booth fees naturally leads to a higher price scale.
The Art Students League Summer Art Market offers one of the more pure selections in town, as it controls by category and no reproductions whatsoever are allowed. By coincidence, this means no jewelry or photography since only things taught at the school are allowed ( this may change, as the school has formed an alliance with Colorado Photographic Arts Center to team up on photography classes).
At the same time, the League resisted charging market value booth fees for a long time, allowing novice artists to try their hand and learn the trade. Even now, fresh new faces and students can enter by demonstrating involvement at the League, and simply teaming up to defray costs. Faculty and established professional artists make for a nice mix of work. Yet prices remain within a reasonable range, since many showing have talent, but no commercial track record.
The Summer Art Market features food and music, demos and kids’ activities. But the League makes few mistakes when it comes keeping the focus on the actual art and artists. The show is very interesting and walkable with wide lanes and a variety of styles. Many people make it a must-see each year and the dynamic, especially on Sunday morning, is relaxed and sociable. That makes it a favorite destination for people looking to add to or start their collections, and for artists like me, our favorite show of the year.