Category Archives: Philadelphia Winter 2014

Mission accomplished!

My exhibit NORTH of HERE opened this weekend in Philadelphia.  The weather cooperated pretty well, and I had a steady stream of visitors all weekend long.  Thanks to everyone who showed up, and for all the good wishes coming from those who were there in spirit!  Here are a few shots of the installation, minus the crowds, because I was too distracted to take any pics during the events.  The exhibit will stay up until November 9.  If you are in Philadelphia I hope you’ll stop by Twenty-two Gallery for a close up view of my new work.IMG_6312.

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Now it is time to shift gears.  I am already mostly packed for my residency at Listhus in North Iceland.  My next blog post will be from Reykjavik.  The first stop on my 2 month itinerary will be a visit to  The Arni Magnusson Institute for Icelandic Studies, a treasure trove of early Icelandic manuscripts.  Stay tuned!

Conservator me

I’m doing a little cross-pollination between my selves, these days.  Here’s a blog post I wrote for the Library Company of Philadelphia, some musings on woodcuts, and a sample of some “day-to-day” inspiration.  The influence of the rare book collection at the Library Company on me is subtle and deep, absorbed through 25+ years of hands-on work at the bench.  Click here for a picture of my work bench from a previous post.

Finding a hidden gem, a woodcut or engraving inside the covers of the books is always a reason to stop, look and share with my coworkers.  As I write in the Library Company blog “Beyond the Reading Room”, woodcuts speak in a timeless language.

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John G Hurtin, Baronet, will cover this season (New York State, s.n., 1800) The gouge marks in the ground beneath the figures’ feet show the carver’s bold approach. Photo courtesy of The Library Company of Philadelphia.

Light from Dark: woodcuts old and new

Discover another gem while you’re at it, click here for information about where I work, the Library Company of Philadelphia.  It’s ONLY a living breathing legacy, founded by our beloved Benjamin Franklin in 1731.  

 

 

Printmaking Me

My artistic process has undergone some major shifts recently. I’ve documented many of these breakthroughs here in this blog: working larger, stepping back from direct observation to allow my inner vision a larger role.   It has been a big year.

As I continue to refine my vision and expression, I’ve been making color prints.  This is another new direction for me, and It involves a lot of experimenting.  But even with lots of experience and confidence, the process of developing a print is like driving on a road with blind curves.  I am very excited about where it is going.

So after a long, somewhat muted period, Printmaking Me is discovering an amplified voice.  Painting Me is happy to have the volume turned up.

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And actually, now it looks like this.  I printed the band of rocks a second time, with a layer of black.

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About twenty-five color woodcuts and monoprints will be featured in my upcoming exhibit “North of Here” at 22 Gallery in Philadelphia.  Stay tuned for more info, I’m already shifting gears, cleaning up the studio and getting ready to bring work to the framers.

Making Prints

My solo show at 22 Gallery in Philadelphia will open in October, only 2 months from now.  Needless to say, I am busy working on pieces for the show.  In the winter I made a series 2-color woodcuts, and I finally printed the editions (printing 5 of each) this weekend.  The small bone tool that you see laying on the print is my favorite hand-printing tool.  I have been using this same bone folder for printing since I first started printing woodcuts by hand, in 1980.

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Here’s how they look drying on the wall of my basement print studio:

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And here’s a new woodcut with some nice rich color.  Looks familiar?  It’s the same composition as as stencil print/monoprint I did a month or so ago, for a series that I’m calling Saga.

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a CSA for artists?

I have been thinking a lot about Kickstarter and its relevance for artists trying to make a living through their artwork.  I posted these thoughts on my Kickstarter page, where I’m running a campaign to promote the collection of paintings and prints that I will be making while in Iceland.

Kickstarter for visual artists: A direct and fair Studio-to-Wall exchange

In a CSA, people who want to eat quality, local produce join together to buoy the farmer through the long seasons of preparation and cultivation, until a bounty is produced, and everyone gets to share in it.  The CSA is never misconstrued as a kind of charity.  Participants share risk and reward with the farmer, but they are also sophisticated consumers who want to support the Farm-to-Table ethos and eat yummy food.

A KS backer does the same for the Artist.  My backers know what they like, and they know how to measure risk in order to acquire quality artwork. KS backers are sophisticated and confident consumers of art, and they also enjoy being a part of the creative community by backing a project they believe in.  They buy directly from the artist who made it, in a direct Studio-to-Wall exchange.

That said, Kickstarter is much more than a business transaction.  I already know what it’s like to have the trust, confidence, and enthusiasm of friends and strangers alike, standing behind me as I work.  That was an unexpected benefit of being a Kickstarter backed artist, and I am fortunate to experience it again with my new project.  I hope you’ll join me!

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Click this image for a link to my 2014 Kickstarter page “A winter residency in North Iceland”

the I inside

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Now as I continue to work in the studio it’s apparent how much my residency in Iceland has changed me. Have barriers to my natural expression begun to melt away?  Maybe I am not so much changed as more permeable, more visible to myself, more accessible.  Anyway, I am aware of an eye inside me that has begun to open.

Here is a poem that I look at often.  It hangs above my work bench at the Library Company, a reminder that there is a great world inside me, inside of every human.

Is my soul asleep?

Is my soul asleep?
Have those beehives that work in the night stopped?
And the water-
wheel of thought, is it going around now, cups
empty, carrying only shadows?

No, my soul is not asleep.
It is awake, wide awake.
It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches,
its eyes wide open
far-off things, and listens
at the shores of the great silence.
~Antonio Machado

So this is what I’m seeing right now, an imagined mountain, loosely based on a sketch of some formations just East of Hveragerdi, in the South of Iceland.

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These recent 16 x 20 monoprints, are my first full-color prints (besides some dabbling efforts that never really “took”, and I abandoned)  I’m still working through the mountain forms trying to come closer to my imagined ideal, and I am beginning to play with the forms of the shadows on the massive mountain flanks.

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This is one, below, is from the great Icelandic painter Kjarval.  I’m not the only one to see figures in the mountain forms and shadows.IMG_5407

 

 

More woodcuts

With last Monday a holiday, and a big snowstorm, and then some more snow, it has been a wonderful long stretch in the studio. I am trying to focus in on a few themes: the mountain, my memory of the stillness and the whiteness, the cold, transparent atmosphere. The grazing horses and the simple fence that traces the contour of the fields, the distance to the mountain.

Now there is a cold, transparent atmosphere here in Philadelphia.  It seems to be keeping me in the mood to follow this train of thought.

All of these are 16 x 20, 16 x 16

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