Friday, December 19, 2008

In Pittsburgh? Get on over to GalleriE CHIZ

If you're in Pittsburgh, I would like to encourage you to stop by GalleriE CHIZ, and check out their big holiday group show. I'm delighted to be one of the artists included in the exhibition. It's a wonderful mix of 2-d and 3-d work. Here are a few of my favorites from the show:

Thomas Norulak
Secret Steps

There are several nice etchings by Tom Norulak. Tom pointed me towards approaching the gallery with my work. He's a great printmaker who lives here in Pittsburgh, and I've spent many fine evenings slinging ink with him in the printmaking studio at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

Mary Culbertson-Stark
charcoal on Rives BFK

There are several really beautiful drawings by Mary Culbertson-Stark. She really knows how to attack the page with the pencil. Great stuff.

Stephen Tuomala
oil on board

Stephen Tuomala has both paintings and drawings in the exhibition. I like the way he pushes the negative space around in these small interiors - the action is all in the space around the objects. Exciting work.

Priscilla Hollingsworth
Small Chartreuse Bowl with Large Spikes
terra cotta with englobes and glaze fired in oxidation

It was a real surprise to find Priscilla Hollingsworth's energetic and fun sculpture here. Priscilla and I were at Indiana University for grad school at the same time. I'm delighted to share some gallery space with her!

Marc Snyder
24 Poets and 1 Astronaut

Here's one of the nine linocuts that I've got hanging there now. One of my favorites, and it happens to be the last one from that edition, so that's just another reason to get in to see the show.

GalleriE CHIZ is located in Shadyside at 5831 Ellsworth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15232. It's open from 11am to 5:30pm, Tuesday through Friday, and 11am to 5pm on Saturday.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Kicking Daddy's Butt.

So I'm thinking this one's done:

You saw its beginnings here. I'm calling it "ape or angel", for now.

Then Rachel does this:

and says "Does it look like Rachel with a pretzel nose?".

In a couple of weeks I'm just going to give her the studio, and I'll work on the living room floor.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm Not Being Ironic

Well, this month's book just went to the post office. Hopefully the title is self-explanatory - I conducted a search for the honest truth by googling the phrase "I'm not being ironic". The book celebrates six of these small truths. Here's one of the pages:

Now of course there was a lot of sincerity out there that didn't make the book. Here are a few truths that made it to the final round but didn't end up in the book:

I love Cher.

I genuinely dig Lumpy and the rest.

In defense of Lederhosen, I'm sure the Brits would look as grand in them as they do in kilts.

There's good food everywhere.

This one is to me the Star Wars of all love songs.

I always have a shaved head with cut designs into it.

Always fun to talk string gauges and tubes with guitar kids.

I truly dig Hall and Oates.

I'm the kind of lecturer who is very imprecise.

I personally love the idea of slathering my thighs with something the texture of liquid concrete.

All I'm saying is that this is pure fucking Cinema, people.

You most definitely don't give a crap what people think about you.

I wish this show wasn't so boring. . .

Thursday, December 04, 2008

trees, buildings, and a chicken

Rachel was building a city this morning, and she started with this border of trees. . .

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

David Byrne, Jeff Koons, and Sarah Palin

You know how our culture just seems to keep pushing and pushing and pushing those envelopes? At first you think that it's kinda exceptional to hear a toilet flushing in the background of an interview with a couple of pretty famous people:

And then the next thing you know there's a candidate for high office being interviewed with a backdrop of turkeys being slaughtered:

What next, I ask you, what next?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

One messed up piece of paper.

So I was wondering what a thoughtful monkey would make of the question of whether man came from apes or angels, and monkey logic lead me to Santa.

You know, it's really hard to make a Santa image that isn't either really jolly or really cynical. I was going for confused-thoughtful-monkey Santa. We'll see how it turns out as we go.

I thought you'd like to see the dirty sock for scale.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A third option for the t-shirt cognoscenti

I decided that in my post below I had perhaps given the potential participant too few options. With the addition of this shirt I think we've got the bases covered. Visit who WOULD wear this? to make it your own.

I'm sure it's old news to you. . .

but the best thing I've seen so far THIS week is the moment Ringo reaches out to his cymbal and grabs some vinyl:

John Cage Lives!

Why did they have to take the piano into custody?

My guess is it was performing an extended dance mix of John Cage's 4'33", with a reference to the old "tree falling in the woods" problem.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Who would actually wear that?

So, with the holiday season almost here, the daily pile of catalogs in the mailbox is measured in pounds. The poor postman - it's as if a couple of Artforums arrived each day.

Invariably, several of these catalogs contain t-shirts that leave me wondering "who in the world would wear that?" You know the kind, shirts with jokes about farts and humping dogs, that kind of thing. I wonder who says "that is JUST the thing I need, perfect for every occasion", or, perhaps, "my friend would just pee herself if she got this for Christmas".

Well, harnessing the power of the internet, I thought I'd find out. I did a little study, making shirts for both the "I gotta have this" and the "wouldn't that just be the best gift" scenarios.

The "couldn't have said it better myself" shirt:

And the "finally, my shopping is finished" shirt:

If you want to participate in this study by owning or giving one of these fine pieces of clothing, you need to visit who WOULD wear this?, the FIMP fashion store.

Talking Chimp

This chimp's talking, and he's talking chimp.

You want the first etching in the edition of 10? Here's where you can bid on it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thoughtful Monkey

The thoughtful monkey has an existential crisis wondering if man is an ape or an angel.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Visibly Thinking

Well, I've been making these drawings and prints of speaking and thinking, making use of the cartoon convention of "balloons". And when you're visually pointed towards a certain thing, you start seeing it everywhere. So here are three accidental thought balloons I've come across - visible evidence of politicians thinking.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Every morning I "reset the stage" in our living room. This involves putting the blocks, legos, cars, animals, dress-up clothes, dinosaurs, Cozy-Coupe, musical instruments, and other odd objects back in their proper places, so that Rachel can come and give them all a good playing with when she gets up. Without fail, there is some beautiful collision between items that wants to be dragged away from the world of play and tossed into the world of art. Toddler-surrealism is a wonderful thing. One of today's themes was animals on cars. Now I have to give her back her pig and mini-cooper.

Altered States Opening Reception Tonight

If you're in Pittsburgh tonight, you might stop by the opening reception for "Altered States" at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. I have three pieces in the show, and I'll be at the opening, sometime towards the end - it would be great to see you there.

You get five shows for one visit tonight, so it's a great time to check out the galleries.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Casting Call

Auditions continue for the FIMP Repertory Theatre's production of "Waiting for Godot". Here we see Robin Hood and Father Bear as Vladimir and Estragon. Their lack of feet may make the action with the boots difficult.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bird Talk, finished

Well, here's the finished - or at least, to be left behind for something else - version of the image that you can watch evolve in the animation below. . .

Monday, November 10, 2008

Block Snake

Here's the latest from Rachel, titled "Block Snake":

You may remember some of her previous work, which is much more expressionistic. With this piece it seems she's going all Bauhaus on us.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Saturday, November 01, 2008

It's A Free Book!

The most recent FIMP Book of the Month is a guide to interpreting the body language of your fellow citizens while you're waiting in line at the polls this Tuesday.

I thought it would be a useful public service to make this book available in a downloadable online version, so folks will have something to do while waiting in those long lines to vote.

How does this sit with the two major party candidates?

This piece of paper is all about change. This isn't a book that FIMP made - this is a book that we, together, are going to make. And here's a step by step plan showing how we're going to make it.

Listen to the eloquence, my friends. He says it's a book - but it's just a single sheet of paper. Words matter, my friends, and this is just not a book we can believe in.

The beauty of our democracy is that when it comes right down to it, you get to decide whether or not you want to download this file, follow the directions in the video, and call the resulting product a book. You can get the image file you need right here:

Election 2008: Body Language

and then you might want to watch the following video, which explains how to cut and fold the page to make the eight page book. Be warned though - the video channels the rhetoric of all of the candidates' performances in this year's debates.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Justice 2001 - 2009

Justice 2001 - 2009, linocut, 10.5" x 7" image area, Marc Snyder 2008

You might just remember Fragments From a Journal of the Secret War, a broadside that I designed around Ron Offen's poem. At the time I mentioned that the lower third of the broadside would be a stand-alone linocut that I would edition at some point in the future. Well, the future is now, and the first linocut from the edition is now available for purchase on eBay. As a matter of fact, odds are this will be the only print from this edition that I will sell at auction - the rest of the edition will be available for purchase directly from FIMP after the auction is over.

I've scheduled the auction to end one hour after the polls close in California on Election Day. This image is my portrait of the state of Justice after 8 years of the Bush administration. It's my great hope that an image that I might make four years from now of the same topic would be much different than this one. Maybe we'll see some hope of that on November 4.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Talking Monkey, continued.

Here's the current proof of the talking monkey etching. You may have noticed the first proof here.

It's probably a few aquatints and a good bit of scraping away from being done.

Friday, October 03, 2008

If you want it, here it is. . .

As promised a post or two ago, you can surf to this auction to pick up Crow IV. The auction finishes up next Sunday.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

That dog's got quite a habit.

A couple of month's ago I was doing my version of "research" for the book of the month, the topic being the great conflict between hat-wearing and cigarette-smoking. One thing I noticed which I didn't make use of was the presence of smoking in children's books. My favorite example is this one from Richard Scarry's "Great Big Air Book", published in 1971. In my daughter's library I can also find Curious George smoking a pipe, and numerous instances of people smoking cigars and pipes in various Dr. Seuss books. I'm not sure when the exact cut-off date is, but I don't find any smokers in any of Rachel's contemporary books, which probably doesn't surprise anyone. They only show up in those books that are from my childhood or earlier.

Now, of course, there shouldn't be books out there for kids that encourage them to smoke. And I understand why publishers and educators have a list of "taboo" subjects for children's books. But the avoidance of these taboos can sometimes create a world in the books that is just too sweet and light and too far removed from what my daughters see when they're walking down the street with me. Now I wouldn't tolerate racist imagery in any of her books, and I have very little patience for all of the princesses and other helpless females that tend to appear in Disney offerings. But for some reason the smokers in these old books seem like a breath of fresh air, so to speak. Knowing how difficult it would be to publish them these days, finding them in the older books just amuses me.

Admittedly, this image is from a story on air pollution. Dogs using the beach as an ashtray don't appear in other contexts in Richard Scarry books. But the fact that Father Cat is allowed to smoke two big cigars over the course of the story, and the only repercussion is that his white suit gets dirty, is somehow oddly refreshing to me. You just couldn't get that published now.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monkey Says

Here's the first scratchings towards another image with a speech balloon. This one's an etching.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Crow IV

Here's Crow IV. . . you can see its earlier state in the previous post. I'll probably put this one up for sale on eBay this coming Thursday night. So, after a long hiatus from online auctions, here's a chance to pick up something of mine over the web.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

cawcawcaw. . .caw.

This one's in progress. We'll see where it goes. This will eventually be the fourth of these crows, if all goes well. You can see the other three down below.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Why Draw? William Kentridge.

drawing from Felix in Exile, William Kentridge
charcoal, pastel, and gouache, 120 x 160 cm

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev - You've often said that everything you do is drawing, and that you see drawing as a model for knowledge.

William Kentridge - What does it mean to say that something is a drawing - as opposed to a fundamentally different form, such as a photograph? First of all, arriving at the image is a process, not a frozen instant. Drawing for me is about fluidity. There may be a vague sense of what you're going to draw but things occur during the process that may modify, consolidate or shed doubts on what you know. So drawing is a testing of ideas; a slow-motion version of thought. It does not arrive instantly like a photograph. The uncertain and imprecise way of constructing a drawing is sometimes a model of how to construct meaning. What ends in clarity does not begin that way.

Christov-Bakargiev - So although you said at the beginning of this interview that for you drawing can become a self-centred process, drawing does not justify itself per se.

Kentridge - No, but I believe that in the indeterminacy of drawing, the contingent way that images arrive in the work, lies some kind of model of how we live our lives. The activity of drawing is a way of trying to understand who we are or how we operate in the world. It is in the strangeness of the activity itself that can be detected judgement, ethics and morality. Trains of thought that seem to be going somewhere but can't quite be brought to a conclusion. If there were to be a very clear, ethical or moral summing-up in my work, it would have a false authority.

from an interview in William Kentridge published by Phaidon

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Why Draw? Jim Dine.

Athena's Night, Jim Dine, 1995
charcoal and isolated areas of pastel, 79 1/8" x 41"

Drawing is not an exercise.

"I don't make sketches. I don't make studies. A drawing is a drawing, a painting is a painting. There are certain subjects I don't paint. I don't paint portraits. I don't believe I have ever painted a self-portrait, but I've drawn myself a lot with great elaborateness. There is a lot of rubbing out, a lot of bringing back, and certainly working on it for many months. A drawing is a labor for me, not in a bad way, but in an intense way. I am able to search through drawing, for the age and personality. I look at the way flesh falls. I want to get it right, but right doesn't mean just anatomically correct, it means to get it right so it's convincing to me as an invention of the face. I have a total connection between my hand and my eye - it's just that I can't see sometimes. Sometimes I can see perfectly - by seeing I mean it's like an inner eye. It's not just two eyes seeing, it's the memory of how things look or the memory of how I want them to look. I'm very ambitious for my drawing. When I'm taking out and putting back, I'm not building necessarily - I'm taking out, hoping the next pass across the page will be a touchdown. I am not erasing because I couldn't get the object accurately, but because I am hoping for grace to come to me. I don't think hard work makes a good drawing. I have had a lot of students who worked very hard and after two weeks of drawing would turn out a drawing that was completely dead, even though it showed rigorous looking. It's not what I want. If I erase, it's because I didn't get what I wanted the first time, and if I don't get it by the twentieth time let's say, and the paper is halfway gone, then I start to patch the paper. Drawing is not an exercise. Exercise is sitting on a stationary bicycle and going nowhere. Drawing is being on a bicycle and taking a journey. For me to succeed in drawing, I must go fast and arrive somewhere. The quest is to keep the thing alive - the drawing and the state of grace. I get the endorphin high by the intensity of my looking and it is then that I leave my body."

"I need a lot of time to make a drawing. I always needed time for my incubation process, but now I need more time because I want so much more from the work and from my romantic unconscious. Drawing is the medium which has been the blood of my life. It allows me and others who are open to human emotion to experience a straightforward view without artifice, but with poetry."

excerpts from Jim Dine's essay "Putting Down Marks (my life as a draftsman)"

Why Draw? Mauricio Lasansky.

from the Nazi Drawings, drawing #2, Mauricio Lasansky, 1966
pencil, water and turpentine based washes on paper. 23" x 23.5"

"I tried to keep not only the vision of The Nazi Drawings simple and direct but also the materials I used in making them. I wanted them to be done with a tool used by everyone everywhere. From the cradle to the grave, meaning the pencil. I felt if I could use a tool like that, this would keep me away from the virtuosity that a more sophisticated medium would demand." --Mauricio Lasansky.

If you're unfamiliar with this amazing series of drawings, you should definitely spend some time here.

One of my best experiences as a grad student was installing an exhibition of the Nazi Drawings in the I.U. gallery - I was paying my tuition by being the gallery assistant that year. In this capacity I also got to chauffeur Mr. Lasansky around campus when he came to lecture and critique. As he was leaving he gave me a signed copy of the original exhibition catalog for the Nazi Drawings, from 1966. It's one of my little treasures.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Crows 2 and 3.

Crow II, linocut, acrylic, and collage

Crow III, linocut, etching, acrylic, and collage

Well, here are Crows II and III (see Crow I below). I'm pleased to report that these three pieces were selected by juror Robert Villamagna for "Altered States", a printmaking exhibition that will be on display this November at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Caw, caw.

Crow I, linocut and acrylic

Here's the first of what I'm thinking will be 3 images from the linocut you might have noticed a couple of posts ago. . .

By the way, there's a new feature over there in the right column, at the bottom, that allows you to "follow" the blog. If you want your avatar on the page, and a quick way to see new posts from FIMP, well, there you go.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


This is going to be the base of a few images. . . stay tuned.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Ou est Philippe?

This month's book is Ou est Philippe?, which combines film noir imagery with French 101 dialogue. Darkly expressionistic imagery that will give you language lab flashbacks.