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.