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It’s been a while

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on this blog. After coming back from my trip to the States and Canada I was super busy with a solo show and group shows and then a studio show at the end of the year. I was exhausted and lost my mojo for lots of things – writing blog posts was just too hard.

This year I haven’t printed very much. And I haven’t seen very many shows. When I do go to a show I’m just wanting to soak it up, so I’m not thinking about how to write about it. Hopefully that will change and I can get this blog back on track. I’d like to reflect back on some of the things I did on my trip (there are some blog posts waiting to be tweaked from back then) – I can’t believe it was over a year ago!!


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Behind the roller shutter

I mentioned my heart dropping disappointment when I found what I thought was Guerra’s windows covered by a roller shutter. When I left Guerra, those roller shutters were up revealing a truly magical sight. I saw shiny glass objects, quite large and in the most beautiful organic liquid shapes, almost oozing, on the floor, on benches, on shelves. Inside these forms: green, growth – live plants. The space looked like some kind of crazy botanical laboratory. It was the studio of Paula Hayes. I was very tempted to ignore the “by appointment only” and knock on the door, but laden with bags of art stuff, my aching arms meant good manners prevailed.

A gallery version of what I saw

Next time.

In the meantime I watched this: 

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Finding Luscious Pigments

(c) Sebastiaan Bremer 2008, "Little Silver Breakfast," silver leaf on vintage Yamato paper, 24.5" x 36" image and sheet.

When I visited The Lower East Side Print Shop I admired the print “Little Silver Breakfast” by Sebatiaan Bremer.  I was trying to figure out how it had been made, as  it was intriguingly described as being made of silver leaf. I gave up, asking Christine Walia who had shown me around if she could please tell me about the process. She looked up the record of the work stating that a patent silver imitation leaf made of aluminium pigment had been brushed onto screenprinted Rhoplex adhesive medium. She also fetched one of the technicians, who talked to me about the process and the artists interest in using unusual pigments. He showed me pulverized rubber from pigment manufacturer, Guerra, down in the East Village which I decided I had to have!

Yes! Open!

On my art material buying day I headed down there and after having my heart sink because I’d found 510 and the roller shutter was down, I realised I was looking at next door.

Guerra was open and I felt like I’d walked into Aladdin’s Cave.

The seductive sample wall.

On my left, the wall was covered with large samples of the different pigments showing changes in intensity.

I wished I had the skill and patience to make my own printmaking inks. A good-looking man in paint spattered clothes (what else – this place was down and dirty genuine) showed me the pulverised rubber and talked about the pigment business. There are some links to great articles on the Guerra website for more on this.

I was then given a demonstration down the back of the store, of how to use an acrylic medium and a surfactant with the rubber. But I didn’t need a mixture, just the powder. (This sounds like some kind of illicit activity – I swear it was innocent!!)

They have an extensive catalogue to fantasise over (and then order from!) Does anyone else lust after colour and pigments like I do?

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A pressing place

Lower East Side Printshop open access studio

Got here. Eventually. To a”printshop” the word used more often than not in the local (North American) parlance. This one is the Lower East Side Printshop.
Also in NYC there’s The Robert Blackburn Printmaking Studio -the exception that proves the rule? In Australia we usually say “printmaking studio”, rather than printshop. Or if you’re in a French speaking part of the world, just let “atelier d’estampe” roll off your tongue.

Squeegee wall

The Lower East Side Printshop,  is no longer on the lower east side, having outgrown the original premises in 2005. Like the other places I visited it’s in a non-descript building up a few floors, but it’s a clean, light-filled welcoming space. There were only a couple of people working there when I was shown around by the incredibly helpful Christine. She filled me in on what the printshop offers – 24/7 studio access, classes at all levels, residencies (- available to legal US residents), master printing and of course details for all of these services are available on the website.

Exhibition space with "Collaborations" show on the walls

"Collaborations" in the exhibition space. All works (c) the artist

Apart from the etching presses, silk screen printing area (and areas for processing plates and screens of course) and digital facilities (complete list of facilities?: yes on the website), there is also an exhibition space.

The day I visited, I saw
“Collaborations” a selection of work done by artists working with the master printers in the Special Edition or Publishing Residency programs.  Pictured L-R: William Powhida, Ars Magica, 2010, screenprint, portfolio of 13,(I loved the humour of this work) Joe Fig, Inka’s floor, 2008, screenprint, Joe Fig, Brushes (Bill Jensen), 2008, screenprint, (stunning use of colour in these prints about the mess and well, colour of the painting process) and Sebastiaan Bremer, Little Silver Breakfast, 2008, silver leaf (loved, loved this! Technically intriguing and beautiful -more about this work in a future post).
You can see these and more artists works on the website, biographical details about the artists and purchase work through the online store. Other artists in this show were Emilio Perez, Havard Homstevdt, Joan Lindner and Amy Cutler. Each artist has used different techniques in their work – evidence of the breadth of technical knowledge available to artists working in these programs.

I would love to come back and do some work here… maybe when I find a patron or win the lottery! It’s just a bit far from home for me, but if you’re in NYC I’d recommend doing some printing here!

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A visual feast of folk art – Part 1a

American Folk Art Museum exhibition flyer

EvB exhibition flyer

I neglected to provide a link to The American Folk Art Museum. That’s because the information about the exhibitions is not very informative and in regards to Eugene von B. the information is the same as on the flyer you pick up at the entrance. I was so curious about how this man’s work was discovered, so I asked the woman who I purchased my ticket from, thinking that she would have to know something. After all the only other staff there were the coat check girl in the basement and the gallery guards.

Giving out information was clearly not in her position description as she knew nothing! She didn’t even alert me to the links on the Museum website, nor the catalogue on sale in the bookshop.
So, I’ve done some research for you. You can read Wikipedia -it’s pretty basic but gives you some background information. I’ve also read the articles linked to the museum website and recommend reading this one from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. There’s a few images of his work (photography was not allowed in the show so if you want to see more you’ll have to follow the links), and some of his life story but there are also links to other shows that his work has been included in as well as the review in the New York Times. And if that’s not enough The Frieze review has some beautiful and evocative descriptions of the work in the New York show. Enjoy!

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Stitched and stuck together – a visual feast of folk art – Part 1

It was late -not enough time to jump into MOMA, but enough time to enjoy what was on offer next door at a great little place –  The American Folk Art Museum. Just a few long, narrow floors that  are divided into an exhibition space and a walkway by an atrium displaying weathervanes and other large objects. There were three exhibitions to check out: a collection of work by self-taught artist Eugene von Bruenchenheim,  a show curated on the theme of the figure in folk art and a beautiful exhibition of quilts – this being the year of the quilt.

Painting by Eugene von Bruenchenhein from the "Into the Life" series.

I had never heard of Eugene von Bruenchenheim, but then then that’s the thing with “folk” or “outsider” artists -they aren’t “known”, they just make. He was prolific, producing drawings, photos, sculptures, paintings and poems!! Fifty years worth of sustained and energetic creative output was sitting in his Milwaukee house when he died in 1983, with just his family and a few close friends knowing about his work. An online collection of his painting with a fair bit of info on him, states that he did attempt to sell his work but had no success. Lack of recognition clearly had no effect on his desire to create.

The work is unbelievable – the slightly gawky photos of his wife dressed up as different charachters, the lurid rainbow coloured paintings of buildings that look like some kind of drug-induced hallucination, the insane collecting of turkey and chicken bones that are then glued together into towers and thrones and coated with metallic paint, the weird botanical ceramic things (that were apparently made from clay from a building site and baked in his oven!) and the geometric ball point pen drawings in a wallpaper sample book… I walked around unable to really comprehend that not only was this was the work of one man, but it was also a very small sample of his total ouput.

Discovering something that makes you wonder at the complexity of the imagination, something that communicates the joy of making and when you walk away you feel inspired – that’s what going to a show is about for me.


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We are what we remember

Did you notice that I mentioned seeing three exhibitions of work at The Centre for Book Arts in my last post?

I was reminded of that a moment ago when I picked up the catalogue for the third show there in a side gallery that lead through to the back workspace of the Book Arts studio. The title of this post is a quote from the catalogue of “Book Marks” – the work of Barbara Page, an ongoing project that traces and forms her reading history. Images are drawn, collaged and /or painted on old library cards and then filed in a beautiful wooden library card-file drawer.

barbara page flie drawer

"Book Marks" file case (c) Barbara Page

Her artist statement, in the catalogue explains how cards can be selected from the drawer for exhibition purposes,  and arranged in different ways: “Arranging the cards horizontally in chronological order of books I’ve read reflects American social history of the last sixty years…Alternatively, arranging the cards by subject matter focuses on my singular persona. What we choose to read tells a lot about who we are.”

I’ve just finished Peter Carey’s “Theft”. The next (English text) book next to the bed is Gogol’s “Taras Bulba”. I’m not sure if I want to read about lusty, proud war-loving Cossacks. Otherwise it’s Victor Hugo’s “Notre Dame de Paris” in French.

What are you reading at the moment?


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With Food in Mind

Nice shiny catalogue from the "With Food in Mind" show at The Centre for Book Arts

I had a list about the length of Brooklyn Bridge, of places I wanted to visit and things to do whilst in New York City. Walking across Brooklyn Bridge was on the wish list but I ran out of time…

However one of the first places I managed to get to was The Centre for Book Arts. After being re-directed down to the correct floor I discovered a treasure trove of printing equipment, a couple of busy artists and three different shows.

I spent some time in the main exhibition space checking out the offerings presented for With Food in Mind.

Sneak peek showing "The Art of Fruit Desserts" 2003, John Ross with Sam Joffee

I really enjoyed the interactive recipe swapping piece by Heather Hart “The Oracle of Epicure”. According to the gorgeous catalogue (containing recipes as well as pics from the show), Hart’s recipes come from her Grandfather’s self-published cookbook.

Sounds delicious!

I chose this one in exchange for my remembered version of Stephanie Alexander’s Silverbeet Frittata. (Later I discovered Americans call silverbeet, swiss chard.)

There was a also collection of work from the 2010 Artists-in Residence Workspace Program scattered around the space, diverse explorations by each artist evidencing the open approach to book arts encouraged by the Centre. I particularly liked the work of Jennie C Jones (must be the music connection) and Angie Waller.

Of course I wasn’t allowed to take any photos of the shows but nor was I allowed to take photos of anything else in the workshop, which disappointed me – they had a great display of the stages of a dirty rag before it was time to chuck it, that I REALLY wanted to snap! Hence all the links in this post. Please follow them for more info and visuals.

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From Melbourne to New York City (via Kew)

I met Damon Kowarsky at The Australian Print Workshop  – just one of the talented and friendly printmakers that one meets in such places. He is a hardworking artist who always seems to be showing in exotic locations.

However, a few weeks ago he had a show, Civitas, in Kew, right down the street from my work. As artist in residence at Trinity College he has been able to print his etchings at the school and display them in The Daley Gallery, their very nice, purpose built space. Damon is not only highly skilled in etching, his exquisite images are underpinned by solid drawing as evidenced by the two large scale drawings in this show, one of Melbourne and the other of New York.

 I loved these large (100 x 240 cm) charcoal drawings. Little did he know how those drawings would resonate for me, as I was only a couple of weeks away from landing in New York.

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Getting started

What’s been taking me so long? Getting organised to go overseas, going to work, doing all the domestic stuff that you have to do as a parent, dealing with the crap that bureaucracies throw at you and dealing with a computer dying, learning how to use a digital SLR as well as learning to create a blog… you know it was hard to juggle all those balls and the blog learning/creating one got dropped.

So now here I am actually writing a post. I’ll be back soon to fill you in on the pressing matters I’ve been seeing and thinking about.

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