I’m busy tying up loose ends as I return to a normal routine. So this post is a grab bag of abstract musings from both my winter couch diversions, and my spring projects.
I am on the committee for MoPrint 2016, a city-wide printmaking festival which is entering its second scheduled biennial and had its first meeting this week. I’m on the Publicity Committee for MoPrint in my now-accustomed social media role, so I’m sure you’ll be getting news from that front as well. I’ve also joined an ongoing Faculty Advisory Committee at the League.
I’m trying to make larger work in the studio, both for inventory- I need to sell larger work, and to do that, I need a large selection of bigger work, and to enter a juried show in March. I’m making a series of monotypes in which I’ll visually express personal musings on love, sex and dreams, as well as teaching myself new methods in the printmaking craft. I’ll be posting soon, and two-three times subsequently about the new prints, which will of course feature poppies and thistles- what else? I’ve already started in the form of small studies. I just need to flatten the work and take photos before I post.
I’m busy putting up flyers and trying to fill my upcoming workshop. For me it provides, besides needed cash, a real social opportunity to get out and converse about art and making with peers (mostly middle-aged folks, a large percentage of them women, take my Tuesday morning class). I’m completing a series of quick-study cheat sheets about planned class sessions that I hope will help those who take the class absorb the welter of information, but will also help to promote the class in a more detailed way to those who are considering it. I’m going to find a .pdf downloader plug-in widget-thingie to make them available here.
I also need to install the long-promised web-store plug-in. I enjoy teaching myself to do these things, but it goes slow. Rather than pay someone to teach me- quickly- how to do it, I fiddle around endlessly, as if it’s a series of monotypes in which I’m projecting personal thoughts to the world at the same time I’m learning a craft. I recognize that this is less business-like than simply eccentric. I now feel that eccentricity is instead of a vaguely amusing, stylistic feature of old age, rather, its essence.
And, as during most winters, I’m entertaining myself with a stack of books and DVDs before the soccer/art show season starts.
So I’m going to post about books today, as I have a backlog of thoughts from the Holidays. Many of them will be comics and graphics-related, which I intend to continue with periodically, as it’s something which still doesn’t get a lot of attention. So I feel like it’s my niche as I’ve been reading them all my life and have a certain perspective as they lately enter a sort of renaissance in both publishing and TV/Film.
I’m reading Gold Pollen and Other Stories, by Seiichi Hayashi. I’m probably long overdue for an examination of Manga. Besides garden-variety xenophobia owing to its right-to-left pagination, strange art styles and often bizarre subjects, there’s another reason I’ve sidestepped it. It’s just so big, and a linchpin of managing my reading/collecting jones has been to limit the areas I spend time and money on. But Ryan Holmberg, who edited this series on Masters of Alternative Manga for publishers Picture Box, who also put out The Ganzfeld and several issues of Kramer’s Ergot, makes an irresistible appeal to my attention by including introductory essays which place the artists he covers in context. Lately I’ve been fascinated by the context in which comics are created. Just as the American comics were indelibly influenced by 50’s censorship, 60’s drug culture and the punk/DIY movement of the 80’s; so post war Japanese artists were early influenced by American Disney and newspaper comics that came with occupation, and the inherent irony of American superheroes fighting for “freedom” during the Vietnam war. Hayashi navigates these social touchstones creatively incorporating comics iconography, Edo-period woodcuts and his own war-torn life to come up with innovative pop graphics.
The Mystery of the Underground Men, by Osamu Tesuka. This earlier ( late 40’s) manga shows the influence of turn-of-the-century Victorian science fantasy, Mickey Mouse, Milt Gross, Popeye and other American comics in a very compelling sort of steam punk tale of a tunnel through the center of the earth. Also includes a loving essay by Holmberg concisely tracing Tesuka’s influences.
Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel ressurected several c-list characters, mostly from the 70’s and 80’s ( e.g. Gamora from Starlin’s sci-fi groundbreaker “Warlock”), in this effects-drenched buddy movie that does not take itself too seriously. Its a refreshing change from the bombastic superhero movies, while still offering lots of opportunity for spectacular CGI.
Agent Carter This prequel to TV’s Agents of SHIELD features a kick-ass heroine, a genius scientist/weapons developer, Captain America’s DNA, American post war sexism, and hadn’t even begun to stop manufacturing plot twists when I missed the last two episodes owing to meetings and workshops. Is it a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, wrapped in an enigma; or just comic book-y plot holes you could drive a Packard through, wrapped in unresolved loose ends? Who cares? It’s fun to watch. The fan-boys writing on my favorite comics blog love it, though it fails to generate half of the suspense and dramatic tension of SHIELD, which the fan boys revile.
The Spanish American War and President McKinley, Lewis L. Gould. Those who wonder why I would read something on this tawdry little exercise in colonialistic jingoism, engineered by one of America’s ignored presidents, obviously are unaware that I’ve already read a biography of McKinley’s predecessor, the even more obscure Grover Cleveland. And that I’m about to start on a major new study of his successor, Roosevelt, and his adventures with fin-de siecle journalism ( The same sensationalistic press that launched the comics). So it fits a twisted logic. And- a ginned-up war in a marginalized third world country, in aid of overly empowered American corporate interests. Sound familiar?
Petty Theft, Pascal Girard. A graphic novelist in the midst of a bad break up witnesses a woman shoplifting his own book from a small book store in this very odd mash up of cringeworthy Seinfeld-ian self-involvement and cartoonists behaving neurotically, all told in jittery Jules Feiffer-like drawings. That pushes all my buttons. Like this: