Sunday, March 29, 2009

Comparing Two Styles of Lino Block Cuts

We're three months into the new year. I've said it before and I'll say it again: So much to do; so little time!

The linoleum block illustrations that I'm developing for my CAGB grant are coming along nicely. I'm encouraged that I'll have a complete portfolio of work by the end of the grant year-September 09. In recent weeks, I've noticed that my "style" of cutting the blocks is changing. My signature style includes lots of organic swirls and movement in the negative space. Lately, tho, I seem to want to eliminate all of the linoleum material that is not directly related to the main subject. It's a very minimalist approach. I'm not prepared, yet, to completely embrace and adapt this style. I think that my graphic narrative of relief prints WALK IN THE DIRECTION YOU' GOIN' IN, needs to show consistency in my final presentation. However, I believe that I'll be able to find a way to incorporate this minimalist look. The two styles are posted. Which do you prefer?

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Haiku for My Son

The morning dew rests
quietly on eyes shut tight
spring has come too soon


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Well, It's Not a Deal Breaker. . ."

March 13th, 14th and 15th were three phenomenal days! I participated in a Metal Arts Workshop offered at Sloss Furnaces. Sloss is one of the best kept secrets in Birmingham, if not Alabama. Take a couple of minutes to check out their website and then come back here when you're done.

Joe McCreary is the Metal Arts Education Coordinator, at Sloss, and he was my instructor for the weekend workshop. He's a laid back Mississippian whose strength is in his quiet confidence. He's intuitive. Most Mississippi natives are, you know. Oh, have I mentioned that I'm from Tupelo? Joe leads a team of iron artisians. You would have been hard pressed to find anyone in the foundry with an ego. And if they had one, they must have checked it at the shed because it was amazing to find so many creative people in one place working together, effortlessly.

One of the first things that you notice when you arrive is that everyone and everything is in constant motion. It's obvious that each individual, on the platform, follows his or her own bliss (bliss meaning that each person has tapped into the energy that makes him or her tick). But Joe is the one who points a finger with authority or quietly nods in the affirmative when questions are asked and answered; directing, shaping the day. It's an unspoken language that you would miss if you were easily distracted. And believe me, there are soooooo many distractions on the platform where the studios, lifting equipment, casting sheds, foundry and fabrication shop are located. Oh, and the trains! Locomotives are passing on either side of the foundry, all day. Throw in the deafening roar of a cupola being stoked for an iron pour and you have an exotic orchestration of craftsmen and tools and processes and sounds and music. Great music . . . blasting from speakers strategically placed near the tool shed. They had me at "hello" when someone played the roots reggae tune EXODUS sung by the legendary Bob Marley & The Wailers. Rich.

I brought several mounted linoleum blocks to the class which I had designed and cut. My goal was to see if I could create an iron casting from one of them. We decided that I shouldn't use any of the blocks that I still needed to ink, press and complete an edition of prints with. So I "sacrificed" an 8" x 10" lino block that I had made a duplicate of, last year. It took one and one half days to prepare the block for the iron pour. I, also, created two additional forms on site. The preparation was labor intensive and required more attention than I had anticipated. However, in hindsight, I understand how important it is to set up properly on the front end. If you don't focus, your project will reflect nicks, nubs and residue material which you will invariably have to reshape or correct. Prep work requires A LOT of patience!

There were moments when I felt like I just couldn't spend another minute melting, dipping and massaging wax. Joe would say, "Well, it's not a deal breaker." Then he would grin e'va so slightly. It was a grin that all Mississippians recognize. I got it.

I melted, dipped and massaged wax until the sun went down.

Great workshop!

Kudos to Joe, Remy, Bones, Heather and to all the artists at Sloss Furnaces.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gordo, Alabama

Last year in October, I participated in The Kentuck Festival of the Arts located in Northport, Alabama. I was stunned when I received notice that my work had been juried in, on my first attempt! My space was B-34. Little did I know that the space had been occupied by Glenn House, Sr. for many years. Turns out that he gave up the spot last year and it became available (for me). I set up my booth and display, with Tom's help, and settled in for a three day run. Students from the University of Alabama's Publications/Book Arts Program were to the right of my tent and on the other side was Peter Rose, an Australian born potter who lives and creates in Knoxville, Tennessee. Glenn House, Sr. and his wife, Kathleen Fetters, an award winning photographer were situated next to Peter. Add to the mix, Amos Kennedy, an internationally recognized letterpress printer and (as my son would say) "it was on." I felt as tho I had known these artists all of my life! On the last day of Kentuck 2008, Glenn extended an invitation to me and Tom to visit Gordo where he, Kathy and Amos have set up shop. I took him up on his offer and two weeks ago, on February 15th, we drove to Gordo, Alabama.

The afternoon was WON-DER-FUL!! To be in the company of such gifted and talented and FUNNY individuals has changed me and my way of thinking. First and foremost, I realize that I MUST spend more time around creative people. Secondly, I'm learning that you can't take yourself too seriously. Laugh out loud, life is short. Lastly, although I don't consider myself an intellectual or a philosopher by any stretch of the imagination, I accept that I can and I do have a lot to say and even more to offer with regard to my printmaking: what I create and why.

Gordo, Alabama is probably best known for it's Mule Day/Chickenfest which is held on the first Saturday in June. Oh, and they create a lovely mule manure paper, too! Gordo is located in Pickins County on U. S. Route 82 west of Tuscaloosa and east of the Mississippi line. It is what it is. A non-descript, small dusty rural town with Main Street running across the bumpy rail tracks simply leading you to the other side. The other side you ask? Yes, the other side of the tracks. That's it. No more; no less. The walking tour was slow and leisurely. Into one building and out; on to another. The museum of Glenn's mother, Ma'Cille, is called Ma'Cille's Museum of Miscellanea. You name it and you'll find almost everything southern as a part of this wonderful collection. Oh, the eye candy! My goodness! Behind each door was art and more art, letterpress equipment, paper, inks, hardware, antiques, junk, bottles, chipboard posters, dolls, jars of stuff and no telling what else. There was so much to take in. And the stories. Kathy and Glenn had stories galore and shared them effortlessly. Glenn's gallery is housed in an old NAPA Auto Parts store. Kathy is a co-owner of Gallery 121 on Main Street. She recently designed and printed a Chickenfest poster which she graciously autographed and presented to me.

We began and ended the tour in the building that houses Amos' Kennedy Prints. He's the real deal. Authentic. When I learned that he once worked in mainstream corporate America, I wondered if he became "authentic" after he left to follow his bliss or if, in fact, he had been "authentic" all along and realized that corporate America and all of the bullshit that comes with it was simply not a good fit for him. Doesn't matter. I'm that much closer to becoming "authentic", too. This is a good thing.

I spent the last couple of hours, of my day in Gordo, sharing lino block proofs that I've created as part of my GIA grant. I was in my element talking about my project: WALK IN THE DIRECTION YOU' GOIN' IN. I talked, they listened. I stepped back and shut my mouth. I wanted to hear what they had to say about my work for better or for worse.

I left Gordo with a broad grin on my face. A VERY broad grin.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Photo Shoot with Southern Living Magazine!

I've had an incredible run and rush, lately, of all things art related.

Last month I had two (2) photo sessions with G. Clark a fantastic photographer employed with Southern Living Magazine. What a professional! The first set of photos were taken in my home studio. The location for the second set of photos was the Alabama Bag & Burlap Company a dusty, old industrial warehouse located off of 1st Avenue North Birmingham. I love the place. The owners are Elizabeth & George. They run one of the oldest businesses in the city, if not the state, along with grandson Erin and with Mr. Floyd, their oldest and trusted employee. Look for the August 2009 issue of Southern Living Magazine. Good things are happening!

In my next entry I'll describe the Sunday afternoon, two weeks ago, that I spent with Amos Kennedy, Glenn House and Kathleen Fetters in Gordo, Alabama.

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