Sunday, December 15, 2013

Since July? Oops and wow....

Well.... I guess I have been a bit distracted since my last post. Much has been progressing along in the months. Perhaps the volume of finished work has dropped but the amount of hours I have been putting in has gone up a bit. I am right now in the middle of Japan trip recruiting, working on work for the show next summer, running the print department and managing a few odd and unexpected distractions over the last few months. The above pic is probably the longest and literally biggest piece I have worked on in some time. At the moment it is 7' x 9'. The idea is to create a printed stone garden. Seen above is one of the blocks. These are being printed in relief from woodblock using a reductive approach and ending up with seven colors from each block.

 This is a project I considered about two years ago but the initial results of that one were less then... well... crappy. This set is much more interesting in that it is totally modular. Each section is about 11" x 17". The idea is to be able to arrange them into different designs and set up. Each block is printed in an edition of 10 to 14 to create a good variety and to build in a preference for an asymmetrical composition.  I am very much the amateur when it comes to creating a stone garden. I have kept one in my own yard fro four years now. It seems to constantly grow, shrink and change. It is nice to be able to move the parts about during the good seasons. I suppose that was the impetus with pursuing this project. I suppose there is an irony in creating a garden out of basically synthetic products. I am also interested in the idea of bringing something for the world of space into 2d and then moving back out into the third.

The interesting idea of printmaking is to create images and reproduce them... as much as possible or needed. Initially I had sought to recreate particular gardens. This very quickly changed though. I do not wish to simply mimic those gardens. I decided that it is more important to use the visual language of the stone gardens is more important. These patterns that are printed come from many temples in Kyoto. Ryoanji, Kenninji and Nazinji temples are the particular gardens these patterns were pulled from. Ideally I would like to allow people to be able to rearrange these as they see fir. At the moment I am not sure how to accomplish this with out being able to be around each day to reassemble it. Perhaps that is just my controlling nature. I still need to decide if I want this to turn into one large garden or to break it down into a few smaller and scattered ones. I am starting to think more about the scattered ones as people would be able to venture around them more easily and interact with them on that level. Oh, decisions.... decisions.

 The picture above is one of the newer long projects I have been working on. I have never before made something of this sort. It really came out of a curiosity to see what would happen if I made lanterns. A while back I did a very long set of printed lantern banners. Well here is my attempt at making literal one. I have no real impetus or reasoning behind them yet. These are about two feet tall and 10 inches wide with silkscreen on muslin mounted to lexan; a flexible sheet of plastic which is then illuminated from the inside. These are silkscreened prints from my "Ryokan" series. A scene of trees from a cedar tree forest is the depicted scene.

 Please pardon the so so pic above but it does give you the idea of how they look lit up. This set is currently on their way to my fair hometown in Ohio as some gifts. Again I am playing with art as commodity. I won't get into that here as I have gone over this in previous posts. None the less it is lingering in this brain. I do believe though that I will be creating more in the upcoming months in different variations. Well now I think it time to go off and enjoy the holidays.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Ryokan and Simplicity....

Hello All. The last week has brought two new pieces into the world. Since this past spring I have been reading poetry and verse from a Zen monk named Ryokan. He travelled through Niigata prefecture subsisting off what he could and living with the barest of essentials. I have become rather hooked with his prose and views. Not since Albert Camus have I sunk into something like this.

As is the case I became inspired to start working on a new set of silkscreens documenting his writings, time and travels. I suppose you could say creating impressions of his views on the world and how I see them. The templates for the screens were created by old fashioned hand drawn images with sumi ink and brush. These were then transferred to the screen. One stencil with multiple colors. Basically I am working in much simpler terms for creating the prints. With the previous works the compositions become very complex through the layering of multiple images. While this is fine for the previous work I am seeking a more austere path.

The intent here is to create a new set of prints on a weekly basis for the next year. So here are two in two weeks. The prints will continue to be on fabric and will be put out into the world as usual in random intervals and settings. I am not sure that people will find them as interesting as previous works but the idea is to move forward in artistic practices and see what the "void" might bring. In his travels Ryokan sought out the simplistic: the surrounding environments, calligraphy, and those who surrounded him. I am fortunate enough to find myself in a similar and good position in life and now wish to equate tem in this manner.

Please forgive the crappy shots. My camera needs to be replaced soon.

Coming up next month we are hosting a one night show and reception at the Blue Box. This is the "Brown Bag: Cheap and Elegant" show. A slew of us are creating works on brown bags for the show. August 17th it will be. Below are my contributions. They are woodblock on cheapo bags with a few surprises inside.

Drop on by if you have the time or are in the neighborhood.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Japan, a museum and to summer 2014...

So it has been since March... long time oops! Well, much has been happening here in that time since. I returned from Japan in June after getting to stay for 5 weeks. Each trip brings new ideas, This time many pictures and a deeper understanding of the temples and Zen philosophy. It was strange to return but nice to be back in the studio and home with the family and gardening. The above pic is the first result from the travels. Taizo-in Temple is the inspiration. It is located in Kyoto, small and impressive. Overlapping maple leaves and the patterns from the raked stone gardens really brought this one together. Oh yes, and the adding of some color to the work. This is a set of 17. The printing is done now but I still need to figure out the final set up and grommits. I am thinking these might get set up in pairs for doorways.... guess I'll figure it out soon.

Just this past week I installed this set, from October of 2012, at the Wenham Museum in the fair town of Wenham. It will be there from July 12 to July 21. The final title is "Passing." It is really fun to see it out in public finally.

After putting it back together, different from the original setup, it became a learning experience. As many stones that were brought I realized just how large this piece can become. As well it was really interesting to how different configurations alter the concept of the piece. I'm not sure what is going to happen to it once the display is over. This show was/ is in conjunction with the annual Art Grows Here event. It was fun to take part in. I am hoping to do more work in this vein locally.

The Blue Box will be hosting a show in August called "Brown Bag: Cheap and Elegant." I inherited a large amount of bags this past spring. A good amount of my comrades have been given 10 bags and asked to make art with them, on them.... etc. This will be a one day show and reception on August 17.

I have not much in my brain to wax poetic about, as I usually do, so I bid you a farewell until next time.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Of Lanterns and Rock Gardens and Other Possibilities...

So March is now here and it seems we have finally had a real winter. Yeah and no thanks but we learn to live with it. Sick of shoveling looking forward to spring. So with that in mind I worked on this set over the last two weeks. A sort of return to basics I suppose but these really helped bring spring to mind. Lanterns and rock garden patterns.

There is the front of our beloved Blue Box with the new set all strung up. These are extremely simple and were quick to print. As that was not the real goal it just sort of fell into place. Playing with positive and negative view is what happened here. One simple lantern printed over two different rock garden patterns.

Sometimes one forgets the elegance in simplicity and symmetry. Perhaps similar in thinking to how as the winter ends certain sounds come back after the long silent cold. But it all comes back to the same notion I often look for these prints to bring about: The ability of people to have a few moments of solitude and simplicity in their world without the constant conflict our contemporary times bring us.

There is another project I have been slowly working on as weather has permitted, which is very little this year, that I hope to complete in the upcoming weeks. I have taken to patching the brick sidewalks in town with some of the printed ones from this past fall. I have really taken to the idea of repairing them in the mind of putting something really interesting out into the city. I have managed to complete three repairs but have not had the chance to document them. Hopefully over the next melt I can accomplish that.

I had the chance to visit a few printmaking studios over the last week, letterpress shops in particular. It was a king of mind opening experience. One of the things I walked away with was realizing what I want to do with the Blue Box and Velvet Pelican Projects. I am going to take the next part of the year to expand the range and kind of projects I am working on. I would love to take on some gardens, buildings and perchance, what I would call a temporary mural project. If anyone has any ideas please feel free to drop me a line. I look very much forward to seeing where this might lead down the line.

That is all.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Two months again and update stuffs...

Looks like another two months has slipped by me since the last update. A large amount of good stuff has been going on since the last post. Art has benn progressing and the projects are building up. In May I will be finally returning to Japan for a month! And on top of that I have landed a solo show in the Adirondacks for the summer of 2014. Yup it is a ways off but excellent all the same. All since the start of 2013.

The Blue Box has survived the storm this past two days. I don't think we'll be getting in the back door anytime this week. There is about four feet high of drift and about ten feet long past that. There is no chance I'll be shoveling out. But I suppose I should delve into some of the new work.

This is from a set of our. Each one measures about three foot by four foot. As most often they are screenprinted on muslin. The source idea for this set is the town of Nara in Japan. It is not hard to find deer wandering around near the temples; particularly Todaji Temple. Yes, that is an actual deer I snapped off in Nara on my last trip. The impetus for this set is different from other sets I have been working on over the last year.

The more obvious landscape features of previous flags is removed to a less abvious ground. The space becomes more flattened as well. The landscape is still referenced through the repettition of the maples leaves overprinted several times over in black and white. The Buddha like image was snapped somewhere in Nara. I know not where. None the less... the brain started functioning. What are these about? HA! I got it and early. When Buddhism moved into Japan it absorbed and did not wipe out the existing religion, Shinto. Instead it absorbed it and let it become a part of it. I am not interested in the theistic sides of this. More so, the idea that a set of values did not get wiped out but included. This is where my interest lies.

In the name of always moving forward in terms of how people think I do believe we have hit a stumbling block. I am interested in how the Buddhists picked up the Shinto practices and beliefs and how they moved forward. By letting one become another very interestings things happened in life and art and philosophy. This is where this set of prints is located. The merging of old ideas to bring forth new and innovative ones. The ability to accept them helped bring about a new term of life that prospered in arts and sciences. Yes I am sure it was rough and had many bumps in the road. These prints show the belief in people to move forward past our Cold War mentality at to think in terms of what happens next.

So this above pic is a woodblock I have been working on. It is in the first state. Many more to go before it is done. It is based on a Zen monk's writning. his name is Ryokn. He lived very simply for many years upon simplicity. the particular passage has to do with the complexity of big town life and that of simple country life. I have no answers as of yet but I will keep everyone posted.

Good night all.