Saturday, December 31, 2011
A small (10 x 30 inches) study for a larger collage. I have not yet determined it's orientation. Collaged India Ink on archival mat board. Very much derived from digital culture and fragments of the urban environment.
I found a roll of old, dusty, damaged drawings as I was cleaning the other day. I hid them away a year ago not quite knowing what to do with them at the time. Most were damaged or not entirely successful for one reason or another. I did rescue a few from the roll, flattened them and put them safely away, but the rest I have been cutting up and collaging into new pieces. I trimmed the interesting portions of the drawings into three inch triangles and proceeded arrange them in to patterns that remind me of a quilt I owned years ago. The colorful collage came first and the monochromatic was the second. I conceived them as a diptych but now that they are finished I'm less sure. Each panel; 32 x 40 inches, mixed media (including watercolor, india ink, acrylic paint, various papers...)
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Recently my drawings are utilizing India Ink squeezed out of a plastic, narrow nosed, bottle as a tool. I like how inky and loose the drawings feel. And this method challenges all my perfectionist, controlling impulses. This image very much evokes the city and the built environment, but it descends into a morass of pattern toward the bottom. And how is depth indicated in a two dimensional plane anyway?
One additional train photo. Shot on Thursday, coming home from Terry's home after a lovely Birthday dinner. I was fairly bold with the camera, but then became paranoid and got off the train a stop early. It was a warmish evening and the walk home did me good after salmon, quinoa, asparagus and birthday cake.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
This past month I've once again been making panoramic photos on the train. Not sure where this impulse comes from, except the train seems very dynamic these days. I suppose more people are riding it again, with the slow economy and all. There always seems to be some intriquing scene going on around me. I'm often on the train later in the evening, coming home from the north side. I have a good friend that lives very near the last stop on the Purple line, in Wilmette. So, at the end of most parties I have to jump on the train and make my way back to Lakeview and the Addison Red line stop. It's a little nervy of me to take out my camera (do most people mistake it for a phone?) and shoot a series of photos. To tell the truth I usually wait until I'm near my stop in case I have to make a quick exit. I get a couple looks that mark me as a perv - the things we do for art. The train is such a slice of Chicago life, not one that everyone experiences. It's a little thrilling, a little dangerous, and a lot voyeuristic.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Very new; just finished yesterday morning, took about three days. India Ink on gray chip board, 32 x 40 inches. The pieces are made of the chip board, the black painted on a separate sheet, then cut up and applied as a layer. Consequently the collage has a 3D quality to it. If you look at the enlarged photo, (click on the small image), you can see some of the dimension.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
But I did make a couple building drawings this week. This was the most successful one. I finally broke down and purchased a new technical pen, the previous pen lasted for over a year, and it only worked sporadically the last few months. The size is 19 x 24 inches and the media is ink on paper.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Funny Story. Last year I sold a drawing to Polo Ralph Lauren. In transit the drawing was damaged. The box I built to send the drawing was crushed on its way to New York. I of course, offered to take the drawing back and exchange it for something similar, I was responsible for the inadaquate packing after all. Polo was kind enough to ship the damaged drawing back to me and in the return box, for protection I guess, there was a large section of a black and white photograph wrapped around my drawing. It was something that most likely had been used for in-store display and was damaged or for some other reason had been rejected. It was a large and the paper was of good quality. I won't mention what was depicted in the image, better to keep you guessing. It's creator and its history are not know to me. I destroyed the damaged drawing but held on to the photo thinking someday I might make of use of it, (and because I'm a packrat). Two weeks ago I had the impulse to cut the photo into two inch squares and then reassemble those pieces. It is a process I have been using in my India Ink drawings for a couple years, but had never employed using a photograph. I had some fun pieceing it together. Tried not to think about it too much. Let the pieces dictate their assembly, and employed a little problem solving for the last 15 minutes. The result; very Motherwell-like, and yet photo-based with hints of the animal world. I cannot make a decision about its orientation, I've turned it every which way. Settled on this direction but still unsure. I'd be happy to hear opinions about it, and if you have a guess as to what was depicted in the original photo....
Monday, November 7, 2011
Two new drawings of buildings, could not be more different from each other. Both India ink on paper, both 18 by 24 inches.
The bottom drawing I used an instrument where the ink poured out of the nib. I could not control it and just dove in. I attempted to create tension between abstract mark making and the image of a building.
For the top drawing I pulled out the technical pen and made many more marks. It creates this gray tone wherein volumes are defined by the changes in density and line direction.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
I've been home all week with a cold and have not had a chance to recap my drawing show at Scout last weekend. It all went very well; Larry and his assistants at Scout, Cheryl and Corey, could not have been more helpful, encouraging and upbeat. The Friday night opening, as in years past, was very well attended, and I had to greet people from out on the street for a time when my claustrophobia kicked in. It was great to see everyone, and thanks for all the support. And thanks to Mieke Zuiderweg for the photos from Friday nights opening.
Monday, October 10, 2011
As an offshoot of my grid drawings I've been thinking of the urban grid and particularly Chicago's street grid which has as much regularity as almost any other American city. So I thought I'd try a drawing of the city layout and I've been wanting to work larger and this thing ended up very large. The drawing is actually on a oversized box opened up and flattened, and it's overall dimensions are 50 x 80 inches. To move the finished drawing from my studio to Las Manos Gallery I was able to fold it back up to it's original configuration but even at that size I had a hard time transporting it. It would not fit in a cab, nor into most conventionally sized cars. My friend Mieke has a small open ended truck and we finally worked out a time for her to pick up the drawing. Comes to pass that the time we chose for the move was the morning of the Chicago Marathon. I happen to live in an area where the marathon, at about it's eighth mile, surrounds me within a block on three sides. I'm at the norther apex of the race, and it's turning south around me. It has always been fun to head down to the street and watch the first part of the race. There is a lot of excitement and energy with the officials, spectators, music on the ground and the helicopters buzzing around us in the air. The wheel chair participants usually move through first, followed shortly after by the elite runners. The problem is, after that point the crowd of runners grows quickly and geometrically. By about a half an hour into the race the street is packed with runners and it is impossible to cross the street for a good ninety minutes. This of course is the time we had planned for Mieke to pick up the drawing. We devised a plan that I would walk the drawing two block from my home and she would pick it up outside the area of the race. The only real challenge to that plan would be how to cross the street.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Beginning October 14, I will be showing new drawings at Scout, in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood, as part of Andersonville Art Weekend. Larry Vodak, the owner of Scout is quite the writer and has written a very nice introduction to the show that was part of the e-vite we sent out this week. I have on occasion accused Larry of overwriting, and perhaps praising me too much, but it is so gratifying to have someone this enthusiastic about my work, I can not and will not complain. I hope everyone can make it. The Friday night opening is usually quite the party with good music, nice crowd and a few drinks. If you require quieter surroundings to contemplate art, come by on Saturday or Sunday of that weekend, I will be in the store both those days. As always, there is quite a variety of work but there are a few very strong pieces if I do say so myself. Hope to see you there.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
A new series.
A return to watercolor.
A limited investigation of color.
A metaphor for the way I occasionally feel about the world.
Each drawing (I consider watercolor a drawing medium), 12 x 16 inches, on Arches cold press watercolor paper.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
I spent Labor Day weekend in Lake county Michigan with my friend Laura Soskin. She is part of a design collective in Three Oaks called 'Trilogy' and they were celebrating their one year anniversary with a party on Saturday night. We also took in the opening night of the Outsider Art Fair at Judith Racht's gallery in Harbart on Friday night, hit numerous farmers markets and vegetable stands, spent an afternoon at the lake, saw a very cool and retro A-frame on the lake in Lakeside and ate many a good meals. One of the highlights for me was a visit to a new retail space on Red Arrow Highway at Sawyer Road, called 'Sojourn'.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Up to ninety degrees today. There can't be too many more hot and humid days left this summer. After some work at home in the morning I head over to the lakes' edge with my watercolors and my bathing suit. I jump on my bike and pedal to the old rocks behind Waveland Golf Course, one of the few remaining areas of the old lakefront infrastructure. The rocks themselves have been in bad shape for years, and this year the gravel road that allows access to this area is eroding away with each storm. Most of the lakefront in Chicago has been converted in the last ten years to a stepped concrete structure that lack character or warmth, and makes it very difficult to swim. So I treasure the old rocks. They are nostalgic and inviting. This summer I've found a particularly good spot for swimming and painting. If the water temperature is moderate there are any number of places to jump in. The bigger problem is getting out of the water gracefully. There are obstacles such as large metal pilings and large rocks at all sorts of angles. The rocks get covered with algae and become very treacherous. But I'm careful and adventurous so I come to this place often. My friend Chuck Meyers, a very talented painter, likes to swim in the lake also and we have for the last few years we have swum together here along these rocks. I'm a firm believer in never swimming alone and it's good to have a partner when swimming in Lake Michigan. Chuck likes to get in and swim down the shoreline for a good distance. He can be in the water for 30 minutes. I on the other hand, particularly when it's warm, am one to jump in and out of the water repeatedly. Swimming a bit with each immersion but never too far at one time. I like the feeling of drying off in the hot sun after a plunge into the chilly water, and then getting hot and repeating the experience. And as a note the water is cold, and clear, and refreshing, some days you can see all the golf balls that have been hit into the water over the summer. Chuck does not like me to take photos of him, and I respect that. I can usually persuade him to allow one photo for the sake of record keeping. But the photo today turned out so well, and it captures this place at the lake so nicely, I had to post it.
Be sure to check out Chuck's website at: ChuckMeyers.com
Thursday, August 25, 2011
That is the question I have been asking myself all week. I continue to make drawings by dipping various materials, mostly cardboard and foamcore, in India Ink and making marks by pressing their inky edges on the paper. In a way the results are a form of monotype, just one where the print is built piece by piece, mark by mark. I've been fustrated by the results and have resolved to move on a number of times. And yet I return to this technique feeling like I haven't really pinpointed what it is I'm after conceptually and visually. There are a few things I like in the process; the removal of the hand in the mark making, the inky splattered quality of the mark, and the process moves along relativly quickly. So these are the latest drawings using this approach, created just this week. Based on simple geometry, really more arithmatic based than geometry base. In retrospect, I find both the process and the result meditative. Once the concept is determined, the execution follows, an idea straight out of Sol LeWitt's '15 sentences on art'. The finished drawings are like 'mandalas', made to be stared at. They alude to many things, I don't want to mention what, but this morning I Googled; TV test patterns, Parcheesi, various city plans, rubiks cube, Japanese window screens, Chinese window screens, mandalas, Sol LeWitt...
At this point there are four drawings in the series. I'd like to create nine all together, there seems to be a nice symmetry in that number given there are nine squares made up of nine smaller squares in each drawing. The drawings are large, the paper at this point is 42 x 50 inches, but could be trimmed at some point. The inked area is approximatly 28 by 28 inches in each drawing and all are made with India Ink on Strathmore water color paper.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
I spent the first week of August dog/house sitting in Wilmette. I always try to bring a project or two with me when I'm up in the suburbs to take advantage of the time and place to make some art. I like to thing of it as an Art Residency with a dog, a house and a car. I like this particular dog, his name is Frankie and he is adorable. He and I would sit out int he back yard and I would work on the out door table. This year it's india ink and grid-like drawings. On a dog walk I found some cardboard and it made sense to me to draw on the found materials. Here are two examples.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
I found an older set of photos from a few years ago that I had never assembled into panorama. This work comes from a period when I was shooting panoramas of Chicago from the top floors of parking garages, mostly in the evening or night, always in color. The idea was all about free access to views of the city and an updating of the tradition of urban panoramic views. I still think the photos have a nice quality about them and as time goes on, the sense of a beautiful isolation becomes more evident.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Thursday July 21, 2011
Another hot and humid day. My poor air conditioner can barely keep up. I live in a mid-rise building and we have what are essentially window AC units but built into our walls. Mine is old and still puts out some cool air, but is a bit noisy and we are now into day five of this hot spell and the poor thing is exhausted and dripping water. I just cannot run it all day and night so my strategy is to save it for sleep and when I need to be working in my condo during the daytime. So one of my thoughts was to spend the afternoons at the lake where, if we are lucky there will be a bit of a 'lake breeze' and I can always jump in the water if necessary. I brought along a few art supplies including my watercolor set thinking I might revisit a series of drawings I created three years ago. I like to go swimming at a spot behind a nearby public golf course. The infrastructure at the waters edge is still the old stepped rocks that made up the Chicago Lakefront since at least the 1950's. Most of these rocks have been replaced now with new, cold, unfriendly concrete steps that not only do not appeal esthetically but also are very difficult to swim from. There are only a couple place in Chicago where these old rocks remain for the most part they are in ramshackle condition. This spot is no exception. Rocks have shifted much over the years and most of the retaining wall has been worn away. Over the past winter much of the gravel road that runs between the golf course the water was eroded away and access has been restricted. You can still walk or ride your bike in but I fear that this area will be closed off completely soon.
I pull out my watercolors and sketchbook, randomly put out a color, and of course, first thing proceed to knock the paint on to the sketchbook and a little bit soaks into the edge of every page. I’m fustrated, it's hot, my sweat is mixed with sunscreen, and there is no breeze. The water is so cold that I can only jump in and get out immediately without my feet becoming numb. This does not put me in the best mood and I do not really have paper or paint to waste. But I persevere thinking it will be a good exercise. I don't really know color, I don't use it much, and have to rely on the color on the labels, which aren't particularly accurate, to indicate which colors and shades I might use. But I can see the color of the water and I can see what is on my makeshift palette and do the best I can. As the afternoon goes on, and the shadows get longer, the air cools a bit, and I become used to the chilly water. I swim between each sketch, and end up making three. This was the best one and I was able to trim the spilled paint off the edge. Maybe this spot has some potential, and next time I'll be better prepared.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
The Gay Pride Parade took place in Chicago on Sunday June 26th. I live in the neighborhood that it meanders through and for the last nine years I have hosted a brunch before all the the start of the parade. The idea is to get a little food into people and a little sunscreen applied before we head out onto the street and cheer on our people. During the parade, if someone needs a bathroom, or a refresher on their cocktail, my condo is a half block away. When the parade is over, or as was the case this year, at the three hour mark and we couldn't take any more, we head back to my place to regroup. Some people eat, one person took a short nap, and mostly we sit on my balcony and relax. Then the hearty few that remain head out into the chaos of the post-parade street. We head to what we call 'ground zero', the corner of Halsted and Roscoe streets and take in the scene. Every year I try to make a panoramic photo of the landscape, but by this point in the day I've had one too many drinks and I can never quite make it fall together cohesively. This year was no exception. Valiant try but not quite there. You can see a few of my friends, Greg and Mike Anderson, and their niece Phyllis slightly to the left of center under the Roscoe Street sign.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
The weather this week has been quite varied; hot, cool, dry, very wet... This evening a front moved through. It was hot and sticky all day. Then the temperature dropped ten degrees late afternoon. But this crazy storm did not move in until later that night. The lightning was occurring with a frequency that I had never experienced before. Perfect conditions to capture lightning on a camera. I was on my balcony holding my finger on the camera button and mostly randomly I would take a shot. The exposures were slightly long, something near two seconds, and that increases the likelihood that one might capture something. I shot a lot. Some bolts were so close to my building, I'm on the seventeen floor, that I would run inside for a minute or two. You could feel the static electricity and hear a crackling sound just before a big bolt.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
This is the e-vite card for my up coming show at Las Manos Gallery. I picked up the work today from the framers and I have to say it looks good. The show opens this Friday, June 10, 2011 but we will not hold the reception until the following Friday to avoid the craziness of Andersonville Midsommarfest which takes place the weekend of June 11 and 12. Stop by if you get a chance.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Last week we had two days where the weather was sunny and warm and then come late afternoon the wind changed directions and brought in a fog off the lake. The lake temperature is still very cold and that cool moist air hits the warm land mass and you have fog. I went out both days and shot photos, here are two of my favorites.
Friday, May 20, 2011
This dumpster has been hanging around my neighborhood for the last month or two. It disappeared last week, presumably to be emptied and now it has reapeared and I thought I'd better photograph it before it goes away forever. The yellow sticker caught my eye initially, with it's reference to the immigration issue that hovers around our country these days. But as I was assembling it I noticed so many other wonderful details.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
I've been working on a huge drawing. I had a larger roll of good watercolor paper that I been saving for just the right project and after a bit of work 'counter rolling' it, I decided to jump in and make the largest drawing I've ever attempted. The media is India Ink and I'm using foam-core and cardboard to make the marks. Dipping the ends of the two materials into the ink and them pressing them onto the paper makes for some interesting impressions and by extension some interesting drawings. The work goes relatively quickly, given the size, but I can only work on a small portion of it at a time given my workspace, and then any section has to fully dry before I can move on to the next area. So these drawings develop over days and are difficult to view fully from any distance. The drawings can be interpreted in any numbers of ways, but of course I think of towers and the Tower of Babalon in particular. The hubris implied in the story of the Tower of Babylon is evident in a drawing that is too unweildiy to view in my studio, to large to hang in the gallery, and impossible to frame. A few photos of the process and the drawing so far.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
I'm in the final stages of preparing for a June show at Las Manos Gallery in Chicago. I'm working on a last few cross hatch drawings to complete two distinct series. One series is called 'Winter Trees' and the other, unnamed at this point, has to do with recreating famous art works in the crosshatch technique. The latter series includes the pictured Marilyn and a Rothko that I'm keep under wraps. Silly idea but I felt the impulse.
The June show at Las Manos begins the weekend of the 11th and will run into July. More information to follow soon.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
This month I've been making new drawings using foam-core and cardboard. I dip the ends of each material in ink and make impressions on a piece of paper. The advantage is a new type of mark-making for me. I'm still drawing with the materials but my hand is not as primary. Of course it's mostly been variations on grids but i enjoy the quality of the ink and the spills are sincere and not planned or manipulated at all. This week I'm working on a very large version of these two drawings, (these could be considered studies, even at 44 x 50 inches in scale.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
My friend Melissa had a big birthday last year, I won't say which one, and I made a panoramic photograph to commemorate the occasion. I gave her a print of the image and she immediately had a unique idea on how to frame the photo. It was not an approach that had ever occurred to me, leave it to a non-artist to come up with something unusual. The framing presented some issues to my framer, Leif at 'Wall to Wall' Framing in Chicago. But he loves a challenge and after some time problem-solving, came up with a beautiful finished product. We installed the piece last weekend, made a party out of it, and I'm posting both the original photo and the finished product as it hangs on Melissa's wall. It gives me an idea for a future installation!
Sunday, April 10, 2011
I spent the last week of March house/dog sitting in Wilmette. I did the same thing last year for spring break and the weather was 70 degrees all week. This year the weather was cold, 30 degrees and cloudy. I always try to bring a project with me while in the suburbs and this year being trapped inside most of the time, I cross hatched a triptych of plant forms. The image came from the bird sanctuary near Montrose Harbor in Chicago. The drawing moves from chaos and density, up toward simplicity and clear form. It did take almost 40 hours of crosshatching, but they had good cable and I broke up the days with dog walks. Each panel is approximately 12 x 19 inches.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Someone asked me about my 'Dog Beach' photo and I pointed them to this blog. They could not find it. I would have sworn I posted it months ago, it's an older image, but I don't see it on here either. Anyway, here it is, possibly for the second time. The dog beach is in Chicago along the Lake Michigan lakefront between Montrose Avenue Beach and Foster Avenue Beach. It is very large and during the warmer months full of all types of dogs. This photo captures something of the crazy energy that happens there. I photoshopped my friend, (and Gallery owner), Michelle' dogs in years ago. She had to put one of them down this month, and he will be missed. His name was Scooter and in this photo I referred to him as 'the critic'. Take a guess at which dog I am referring to.