Monday, December 10, 2007

Week 4 of the Zero Sum auctions in the Blogger Show

Saturday's opening reception for The Blogger Show at the Digging Pitt Gallery here in Pittsburgh was a lot of fun. It was great meeting a few of you there!

The Zero Sum #33 auction, ending Thursday night, 12/13, at 10 pm Eastern time.

The Zero Sum #34 auction, ending Friday night, 12/14, at 10 pm Eastern time.

The Zero Sum #27 auction, ending Saturday night, 12/15, at 10 pm Eastern time.

The Zero Sum #35 auction, ending Sunday night, 12/16, at 10 pm Eastern time.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Blogger Show at Digging Pitt opening reception

The opening reception for The Blogger Show at the Digging Pitt Gallery here in Pittsburgh is Saturday night from 6 - 9 pm. That's tomorrow, 12/8, at 4417 Butler St., in Lawrenceville.

Zero Sum #31

Of the 4 gallery spaces involved, this is where the bulk of my Zero Sum Art Project has been exhibited. I've been rotating pieces in and out of the gallery, having one Zero Sum auction starting and one ending every day that the gallery is open for the duration of the show. Zero Sum #31 will end the night of the opening.

FIMP is delighted to be hosting an online exhibition of the Blogger Show, to complement the real world goings-on.

Well, I'm frozen and my face has collapsed. . .

but I'm pretty good otherwise. You?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Here are the Zero Sum Art Project auctions for the week. . .

The Zero Sum #29 auction, ending Thursday night, 12/06, at 10 pm Eastern time.

The Zero Sum #30 auction, ending Friday night, 12/07, at 10 pm Eastern time.

The Zero Sum #31 auction, ending Saturday night, 12/08, at 10 pm Eastern time.

The Zero Sum #32 auction, ending Sunday night, 12/09, at 10 pm Eastern time.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Fragments From a Journal of the Secret War

I recently designed and created the artwork for this broadside of Ron Offen's poem, "Fragments From a Journal of the Secret War", published by Leonard J. Cirino's Pygmy Forest Press.

This was an exciting project, as Ron and I worked quite closely from the very first sketches to come up with imagery that both satisfied his ideas about the content of the poem and interested me visually. I believe, as I think he does, that the combination of image and text creates a third thing that is a real collaboration between us. I wanted to go beyond illustrating the text, while still creating something responsive to it, and we both were very happy with the results.

The lower half of the broadside is primarily this linocut. You might recognize a few of the vultures from Circling, that linocut that went to Estonia earlier this year. Those animals from Casting Call were also an offshoot of an earlier version of the artwork I was putting together for this project, that Ron and I eventually abandoned for the final concept you see here. This linocut is about 7" x 10", and I'll probably sell an edition of it once I've got all the Zero Sum Art Project in the Blogger Show craziness finished in mid-January.

Here's a detail from the linocut/broadside. Rats! Maggots! Cockroaches! Flies! Definitely the most vermin infested print I've made. They were a lot of fun to cut.

I especially enjoyed cutting the flies.

If you would like to purchase the broadside, I believe that they are $5, including shipping. You can order them from the publisher, Leonard Cirino, by sending him an email: cirino7715(at)comcast(dot)net

There should also be versions signed by both Ron and myself, though I'm not sure what the price is. The 10.5" x 14" broadsides are beautifully printed on a warm off-white cardstock. Very handsome work.

Monday, November 26, 2007

This week's Zero Sum Auctions

If it's a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday night, you should stop in and check out the latest Zero Sum Art Project auctions. Here's the most recent crop:

The Zero Sum #22 auction, ending Thursday night, 11/29, at 10 pm Eastern time.

The Zero Sum #26 auction, ending Friday night, 11/30, at 10 pm Eastern time.

The Zero Sum #27 auction, ending Saturday night, 12/01, at 10 pm Eastern time.

The Zero Sum #28 auction, ending Sunday night, 12/02, at 10 pm Eastern time.

Trent Lott's Pure White Bread

Trent Lott's Pure White Bread
Individually wrapped - just because we like it that way!

Have you noticed in today's headlines that Trent Lott's resigning? He undoubtedly wants to spend more time with his family. That, or he wants to leave before the end of the year to avoid new restrictions on lobbying that start in 2008. Whatever. FIMP remembers Trent as the guy who fondly reminisced about Strom Thurmond's run for the presidency, saying "when Strom Thurmond ran for president we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had of followed our lead we wouldn't of had all these problems over all these years, either." Apparently the fact that Thurmond's candidacy was based solely on his effort to keep segregation in place and deny voting rights and civil rights to minorities didn't bother Trent much. Heck, Trent says, Strom would have saved us from a whole lotta trouble!

So, in honor of the day's news, I thougth I'd bring this item back from the archives. A couple of years ago the Samizdat division of FIMP paid tribute to Trent with this product, his own line of individually wrapped slices of white bread. You can view the whole product description here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Free Bad Luck

This morning I once again tested the theory that computer keyboards don't like to have Coke poured on them. Just so you know, they don't. The guy at the Apple Store assured me that this nice new keyboard doesn't like any kind of beverages poured on it, so I didn't have to test it. That was good of him.

So, on my way to the store I was thinking about all of the mirrors that I broke in grad school. I was up to about 28 years of bad luck, due to balancing flimsy wall mirrors on paint cans. It will be interesting to see what happens in, let me think, 2020, when my bad luck should be used up. Anyway, thinking about that got me thinking that it would make an amusing little sculpture to hang a mirror on the wall, put a hammer on a pedestal next to the mirror, and label the whole business "Free Bad Luck".

But hey, who needs to spread that bad luck around? So I'll just let you make the sculpture in your head like I did a few minutes ago.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. . .

Zero Sum #20

The four Zero Sum auctions that are currently up and running are Zero Sum #15, ending on Thanksgiving (bad planning on my part there), Zero Sum #17, ending Friday, 11/23, Zero Sum #20, the etching you see here, finishing Saturday, 11/24, and Zero Sum #21, another etching, ending Sunday, 11/25.

Look for an auction ending every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night at 10 p.m. from now until mid-January, with the exception of a week off for Christmas, as part of The Blogger Show at Digging Pitt Gallery, here in Pittsburgh PA.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Zero Sum Art Project's first year

Today is the one year anniversary of the Zero Sum Art Project. On November 19 of last year, the first Zero Sum Art auction started with this piece:

Zero Sum #1

The project started with whatever free materials I could find to make and package the first piece. This little drawing was made on Anti-Defamation League notepad paper with a Heart of Georgia Technical Institute pencil and a Radisson Hotel pen. The opening bid was $1.77, which was the initial amount that the project went in the hole for the eBay fees and postage. It ended at $22.72, which gave me my first opportunity to spend the profits and add to the studio. (Read more at the Zero Sum Art Project blog.)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Easily Amused

So, a friend of mine asked me to send him some FIMP books for his gallery, and he said to put together some kind of rack for them, with the FIMP logo on it.

I'm the first to admit I'm too easily amused, but I really enjoyed the crappy materials I was using to make the rack. FIMP books are very low-tech - origamified xeroxes, basically. That's one of the things I like about them. I've always thought the Xerox machine is a great printmaking tool, as long as you go in knowing what it can and can't do. Anyway, it seemed appropriate to make a cardboard/foam-core/gesso-soaked rack, and here it is in all of its rough-edged corrugated glory.

But I just had too much fun making it. In all of its lumpiness, it reminded me of some Cy Twombly sculptures I had seen a long time ago. . .

Cy Twombly, Epitaph, Jupiter Island 1992
wood, plaster, plywood, and paint
16 x 15 1/4 x 15" (40.7 x 38.7 x 38.1 cm)

And that got me thinking that it would be really amusing if someone would make some stealth sculpture, where the pedestal or the bookrack were far more interesting than the thing being displayed, but you'd really need to be paying attention to pick up on that fact. Someone oughta do that.

Zero Sum auctions, ending, starting, it's a free for all.

For the duration of The Blogger Show, from now until mid-January, a new Zero Sum auction will start and end every day that the Digging Pitt Gallery is open. If it's a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday night, at 10 pm Eastern time, and you're near your computer, tune in and see how it's going. Here are the first three:

Zero Sum #9 auction, ending tomorrow night, 11/17, at 10 pm Eastern time.

Zero Sum #14 auction, ending Sunday night, 11/18, at 10 pm Eastern time.

Zero Sum #15 auction, ending next Thursday, 11/22, at 10 pm Eastern time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dale Chihuly at the Phipps Conservatory

As I was heading into "Chihuly at Phipps: Gardens & Glass", I was thinking about the relationship between crafts and the fine arts, the value of the mastery of technical skills in the making of things, and the use of collaborators and workshops to create ambitious work; in other words, all of those issues that I thought a printmaker might find interesting in an exhibition of glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly. Wonderfully, within seconds of entering the show I forgot about those things, and just found myself wandering around with my mouth hanging open. It's a breath-taking spectacle of a show.

The exhibition is one visual delight after another. It occupies the majority of the interior spaces at the Phipps Conservatory, with a few pieces placed outdoors as well. As I wandered through the various gardens filled with sculpture, what most struck me was how the glass seemed to have been designed for those specific plants - surely Chihuly had that exact cactus in mind when he made that particular form? But no, here's that form again in another setting, and it seems perfectly at home there too.

Eventually I realized that what I was responding to was how well these forms are drawn. These objects live so well next to natural forms because they are beautifully observed abstractions of nature. While not referencing a specific plant, they have a specificity of their own, that makes them seem to be the product of natural processes. The elements tend to be grouped in various families of forms, but each piece has its own history of growth that makes it a unique individual as well.

These herons, placed in the pools in the Japanese garden, were by far the most specific sculptural drawings. If I were teaching these days, I would direct my students here to study gesture. There's nothing about these forms that is specifically birdlike, but the gesture drawing is unmistakable.

One of the rather unique aspects of this show is that it's actually two shows - the daytime version and the show after the sun goes down. When darkness falls, the sculptures are artificially lit. As you might guess with glass sculpture, visual fireworks result.

Undeniably, a lot of the work was a lot of fun after dark. But I found the exhibition to be a lot less compelling when the plants became more of a frame and less of an active participant in the show. Natural light, and a more balanced relationship between the natural and the crafted, made for a more rewarding and thought provoking experience. But, that said, both versions of the show are well worth a visit.

The exhibition's stay here in Pittsburgh has been extended through February 24th. The Phipps Conservatory is located at One Schenley Park, Pittsburgh. You are required to order tickets ahead of time to guarantee admission to the show.

Many thanks to Heather Gabrielle for the use of her fine photographs!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Blogger Show's Pittsburgh venues open their doors today, and ZSAP takes off!

Zero Sum #9

A couple of hours ago the doors opened for The Blogger Show's Pittsburgh venues, at Digging Pitt gallery, Digging Pitt Too, and the Panza Gallery. These three shows will be up until January 12. The opening receptions for the Digging Pitt and Digging Pitt Too shows will be on Saturday, December 8, from 6-9 pm, and the opening reception for the Panza Gallery will be on Saturday, December 15, from 6-9 pm.

And, I just gotta say that all of the Blogger Show artists owe a huge Thank You to Susan Constanse, who has done the lion's share of work installing the Pittsburgh shows, and has done a fantastic job. Thank You, Susan!

My contribution to the show will be a frenzied rotation of works from the Zero Sum Art Project. The first six pieces are up on the walls now. Each day that the gallery is open during the exhibition, a new auction will begin from the Zero Sum Art Project. These auctions will run for a week. So, every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night from here until January 12, you will find a new piece from the Zero Sum Art Project being auctioned off on eBay. Every week I will take out the sold pieces from the exhibition, and replace them with the next artworks on the auction block. It will be a different show every week. Visitors to the gallery will see a small slice of the project, but they will see it in "the flesh". Online viewers will see the work through the pixellated haze of the computer monitor, but they will be able to see all of the work in the project in one place. So it's an odd blend of "virtual" and "real" worlds.

The first piece, that will start its auction at 10 pm tonight, will be Zero Sum #9. You can find the Zero Sum auctions, once they start tonight, here.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Agni Opening of the Blogger Show - James Kalm Takes You There!

James Kalm provides the first glimpse of the Blogger Show in its Agni Gallery incarnation, for those of us who weren't able to get to New York last night. . .

You gotta love John Morris' over-the-top puffery in describing the show. Honestly, I think the show is at least three-quarters assed already, and by the time the Pittsburgh components open next week, we'll be up to one-and-a-half asses, minimum.

Susan Constanse has posted some pictures from the opening reception and described the event, and she'll have some installation photos coming soon as well.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Zero Sum #26, and the Blogger Show opens

Zero Sum #26
cyanotype and acrylic

Here's Zero Sum #26, the first of the Zero Sum Art Project pieces to use the cyanotypes that I hired photographer Justin Kasulka to help me make.

Tomorrow night from 6-9 p.m., the Zero Sum Art Project makes its first appearance in a bricks-and-mortar gallery space when the Blogger Show's New York City component opens at the Agni Gallery. I won't be able to make the opening, alas, but if you're in the area you might want to make the visit - you'll get to see a lot of great stuff and meet many of the bloggers that you might have been reading if you've visited the Blogger Show's online exhibition.

I will be at the opening for the Pittsburgh portion of the Blogger Show on December 8, so maybe I'll see you there.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Art Museum of Estonia

Remember Circling, that linocut I made for the Analog Digital Disorder portfolio? Well, you can see it hanging on the wall at The KUMU Museum of Art along with the rest of the portfolio, courtesy of Hybrid Press.

I was delighted to learn today that the ADD portfolio will enter the collection of The Art Museum of Estonia. My work tends to get out of the house a lot more than I do these days, it seems!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Zero Sum #25

Zero Sum #25, taking advantage of that new moon etching of mine. It goes up for auction later tonight. Visit the Zero Sum Art Project blog for all of the details.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


If you were to dig around in my studio, shoving aside the empty Coke cans, here's a few bits and pieces that might catch your eye:

This is a detail from a linocut I just printed. The linocut includes four rats, four roaches, and seven flies, along with some other non-vermin imagery. It's part of a broadside I just finished, working with a poem by Ron Offen, to be published later this year by Pygmy Forest Press. When the broadside comes out, I'll let you see the entire print.

I've got a few etchings of the moon scattered about. These are going to be used as collage material, along with the stack of

cyanotypes that I just received in the mail. These were made from transparencies of photographs I made from my Box. All of the collage material will end up in pieces for the Zero Sum Art Project.

Speaking of the Zero Sum Art Project, the animation above is a record of the making of Zero Sum #24, which will be on display at the Agni Gallery in New York City during the month of November, as part of The Blogger Show. After it's stay in NYC, it will be auctioned off on eBay, consistent with the ZSAP rules.

I'm telling you, I'm up to my elbows in here. Lots of stuff kicking around. . .

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Blogger Show, in cyber- and meatspace.

John Morris, director of the Digging Pitt Gallery in Pittsburgh, PA, has organized an exhibition of 34 artists who all share a common interest in extending their studio practice through blogging. The show is spread between 4 galleries and 2 cities - the Agni Gallery in New York City, the Panza Gallery in Millvale, PA, and Digging Pitt and Digging Pitt Too here in Pittsburgh. And I'm delighted and honored to tell you that I'm one of the artists in the exhibition.

Besides having my Zero Sum Art Project included in the Agni Gallery and Digging Pitt exhibitions, FIMP is also hosting the cyberspace exhibition of the Blogger Show. Visit the show online to see works by all of the artists involved, along with links to all of their blogs. I'm excited about the way this exhibition is spread out over space and time - this seems to mirror the nature of the blogosphere and its goals quite nicely. The fact that the one place you can see work from all of the venues at once is on the web seems very natural (if anything can seem "natural" in cyberspace!).

The first part of the show to open is the exhibition in New York at the Agni Gallery - here's the vital information:

Agni Gallery
170 East 2nd Street, Storefront #3
New York NY 10009
November 3 - 30
Public Reception:
November 3, 6-9PM

Every artist participating in the Blogger Show will have a piece at the Agni Gallery.

A week later the Pittsburgh Shows open, and you can find them here:

Digging Pitt Gallery
4417 Butler Street
Digging Pitt Too
45th & Plummer Streets
Pittsburgh PA 15201
November 10 - January 12
Public Reception:
December 8, 6-9PM

Panza Gallery
115 Sedgwick Street  
Millvale PA 15209
November 10 - January 12
Public Reception:
December15, 6-9PM

It would be great to see you at the shows. Be sure to visit the online show as well. And tell the artists what you think - this exhibition has ample opportunity for "comments"!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Animated Etching Proofs

One of the many nice things about making an etching is that you are left with a trail of proofs, that document what you were thinking and the decisions you made along the way. I'm a firm believer in the thinking-while-making school of art - I do my best thinking when I'm pushing the materials around. So I like to jump into a plate, get something on it, scrape it off, put something else on, until things start to come together. And this animation gives a little sense of how that process looks.

The final image is a collage, Zero Sum #23

which is the most recent finished work in the Zero Sum Art Project. If you would like to see a larger image, visit the auction on eBay.

After I finished that Zero Sum #23, I went back to work on the etching plate. I decided I liked the vulture a lot, so I scraped out one of the bird heads and socked in a nice black aquatint, from which I will carve a vulture. We'll see what happens. . . if nothing else, a lot more proofs, no doubt.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Analog Digital Disorder


"Circling" is my contribution to a 26 artist exchange portfolio that will be exhibited at the Impact 5 International Multidisciplinary Printmaking Conference in Talinn, Estonia. The portfolio was organized by Dusty Herbig around the theme "Analog Digital Disorder", to complement the conference's overall theme of "Slices of Time".

The exchange portfolio, for those of you who may not have run across such a thing before, is one of the pleasures of printmaking. The basic idea is that artists are invited to create an edition of prints equal to the number of participants in the portfolio, plus one or two for exhibiting institutions. Frequently the artists will be asked to create work of a certain size, with imagery based on a certain theme; in this case, all of the prints are 12" square, based on the theme of "Analog Digital Disorder". The curator assembles all of the prints, making portfolios that include one print from each artist. These portfolios are then returned to the artists, who now have a print from each member of the exchange. The extra portfolio or two are exhibited or enter the collection of some sponsoring institution. So, an invitation to participate in an exchange portfolio means a sizable addition to your print collection, along with an exhibition opportunity or two. It's a pretty nifty deal.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Kids These Days

Oh my, it looks like we're heading towards the "terrible twos" around here. . .

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Zero Sum #22

Zero Sum #22

Zero Sum #22, another original etching, is the latest piece in the Zero Sum Art Project that is up for auction on eBay.

This is the second etching I've made using solarplate, and I'm really enjoying the process. The major drawback is that the plates can't be reworked like a traditional etching plate, which limits the amount of plate history in the image, which is one of the major attractions of etching for me. So I imagine that I will use this technique primarily to add photographic material to more complex collage/multiple printing element images in the future. But I am really happy with my first couple of plates as stand-alone pieces!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Shadows, Strings, and the past 10 years

So, do you ever have one of those moments in the studio where you say "gee, so that's what I've been thinking about"? They're nice, aren't they. I just had one, courtesy of Judith Hoffman, an artist who does fantastic things with metal and artist's books, by way of a comment she left concerning Zero Sum #21. I had mentioned that I was enjoying working with my new box, as it reminded me of theaters, and puppets, and cameras, and she pointed me towards ShadowLight Productions, a shadow puppet theater company founded by Larry Reed. So I wandered over to YouTube. . .

and was blown away. Isn't that great stuff?! One of my favorite things about that is the flames used as the light source for the shadow puppets in the traditional production. So, after my video-watching-adrenaline rush subsided, I thought about some drawings I had made in the past.

That drawing was one of a bunch of pieces I made for a show I called the Existential Theater. I made those drawings back in 1996. At the time I was really interested in making images that had a mix of drawing from the model and drawing from casts, and I enjoyed how the viewer would bring figures to life even if they were made from disjointed parts. What I wasn't really thinking about at the time, but which I'm finding more and more intriguing these days, was the way these drawings were really a species of still-life, but a form of still-life that looked to the stage for inspiration, in the contained spaces and dramatic lighting and deployment of figures in the images. The theatrical aspect was obvious, but I wasn't as focused on the "still-life".

So in 2004, I go to this puppet show at Bard College,

a performance of "Nevsky Prospekt", by the Russian puppet theater company "Theatre Potudan". It blows me away. Just incredible. It was a miniature stage, with wonderfully beautiful and strange and delicate puppets. The imagery was frequently very surreal. And yet, as an audience member, you were fully involved with these puppets as living beings. One of the wonders was that, with such a tiny stage, the viewer was seated just a few feet from the performers, and the fact that these performers were made of paper and sticks and strings was celebrated, not hidden. Though you understood them to be puppets, the suspension of belief, the empathy you had for these objects, was just breathtaking.

The climactic moment of the production involves the suicide of the main character. This is shown by way of the puppeteer's hands entering the stage, gathering the puppet's strings, and cutting them. That cliched metaphor of the puppet's strings, so often used to symbolize being in someone else's control, here was turned around to show us the strings as the very life-force of the puppet. Which, of course, they are. After the puppet falls limp to the stage, the hands reach down and cradle the lifeless form. Gosh, it was beautiful.

I left that production just astonished. That was some seriously powerful stuff. I didn't have a place for it in my own studio practice at the time, but boy, I wished I did.

I recently became aware of a project that William Kentridge did in 2005, the "Black Box"

or "Chambre Noire". Kentridge's work has me all fired up as well, with his combination of drawing, animation, and puppetry. And in this particular project, his building of a mechanical miniature stage in which the lighting of scraps of drawings and wire, their movement through the space and the shadows they cast, the use of some images as "characters" and some as "setting", all resonates with me.

And, thinking about all of that, makes me realize how I'm digesting those influences in my own work. When I started the Zero Sum Art Project I didn't realize that I would start accumulating these strange objects in my studio, and I certainly hadn't planned on building a stage to place them in. I hadn't planned on incorporating photography, and I didn't realize that collage would play such a large role in the artwork. It's kind of delightful that these things have happened, but it's only now that I'm really seeing the relationship of those choices to a lot of things I've worked on and looked at and thought about in the past.

Zero Sum work in progress

So thanks for the heads-up, Judith, I really appreciate it!