Sunday, November 29, 2009

Man Vs. Toddler

Here's something for those of you who think there's been too much toddler-generated content on this blog:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Amnesty International art auction tonight, in St. Louis

The St. Louis chapter of Amnesty International presents an exhibit featuring the women of Zimbabwe and a silent auction fundraiser, tonight from 7 - 9 at SqWires Annex, in historic Lafayette Square.

I've donated two linocuts for the auction, "Mad Dog" and "Right Answers, Wrong Questions". Add a little art to your collection and support a fantastic cause tonight by attending this auction!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

This same skull, sir, was Yorick's skull, the king's jester.

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio:
a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy:
he hath borne me on his back a thousand times;
and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at it.

Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft.
Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs?
your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?
Not one now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?

Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let
her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must
come; make her laugh at that.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Vintage Halloween Parade

We dug deep into FIMP's film vaults and found this clip of Great Grandma Rachel in her Halloween Parade. She's the bee.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How to Draw a Fish, and a Fish Water Pipe

Our resident master of the Magna Doodle provides a demonstration in drawing fish and a fish water pipe.

She had previously provided all of the artwork for the latest book from FIMP.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Plate of Shrimp and Electric Bassoons

So we were in downtown Greensburg for an art opening, and had to cross the street so that Rachel could check out the drum kit of the band that was setting up in the local coffeehouse. Marti's surprised to see one of the band members warming up with his electric bassoon. The band member is surprised that someone recognizes his instrument, and presents us with his band's 2nd cd (which would be "Snake Charming Music" by Sklenik, go check it out!). And on the cover of Sklenik's 2nd cd? A detail from Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights". There's this like lattice of coincidence that lays on top of everything. Suppose you're thinking about a plate of shrimp. . .

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Bosch and Buckethead

It would have been nice to have this video back in my teaching Art Appreciation days. Good for the first day of class, I think.

Friday, October 30, 2009

We the People

"We the People," the current exhibition on display throughout Hamden, CT, brings the startled citizenry of this small New England town a look at the darker side of the human condition.

These anonymous Hamden artists have taken the venerable form of the portrait bust and through a few well-chosen displacements of medium and presentation made it a potent vessel for commentary on contemporary life.

They have discarded traditional media such as stone or bronze and replaced it with the pumpkin, producing disturbingly hollow, irregularly shaped heads. Eschewing pedestals, these gourds-as-heads have been placed directly in the suburban landscape, vacant eyes staring up at the viewer from the ground, emphasizing the strange decapitated quality of these emptied shells.

Though the facial expressions are frequently carved with forceful exaggeration and animation, the artists have gone to great lengths to emphasize the void within the head, often inserting a candle or some other feeble light source to illuminate the vacuum behind the frenzied physiognomies.

Strangely, considering the earthy methods used to create these images, they seem to warn of a terrible detachment from reality that is only possible in our digital media-saturated age. These heads act as disembodied emoticons, portraits of the frantic and empty doppelgangers that replace actual human beings in the reality-programming based fully interactive one-stop shopping chatroom that we find ourselves swimming through in 2003.

On display through November 1

Text and images taken from FIMP's exhibition catalog/Book of the Month from October 2003

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Celebrity Sightings!

I've been amazed at how many of today's hottest celebrities are prowling the streets here in Greensburg, PA!

Derek Jeter!

Miley Cyrus!

Daniel Radcliffe!

The all-time Yankees hits leader, Hannah Montana, and Harry Potter, right here in town. Wow!

Monday, October 26, 2009

It's a new book, and a new address.

FIMP's finally got a new tiny little home at our local post office. We've left Pittsburgh, and are out in the beautiful Laurel Highlands.

And with at least half of the studio out of boxes at this point, the latest book is being sent out to subscribers.

All of the drawing in this month's book is done by my extremely talented three year old. From our post office box to your mailbox, keep an eye out for it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Taking Notes

I'm digging out my studio in order to move, and unearthed this sketch. This is pretty typical for my "dumb idea in the middle of the night" notes to myself. I think I thought that Larry King interviewing a house fly would make an interesting book. Somehow I'm guessing that this doodle is as far as that idea is going to get. But you know, now that I'm thinking about it. . .

Monday, August 03, 2009

a few other houses by Frank Lloyd Wright

Well, whattayaknow, it's a new book! Long suffering subscribers to the FIMP Book of the Month club finally have something to look for in their mailboxes - "A Few Other Houses by Frank Lloyd Wright" should be arriving soon. FIMP moves to its new studio at the end of this month - hopefully things will start being produced with more regularity after the move.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

A new job, and such.

Sorry for the woeful lack of posts these days. Trying to sell a house, y'know.

But, in related news, FIMP is delighted that Marti Haykin has a new job!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Packaging Design

So here we are, looking up a vampire's nose - a vampire who has a mouth stuffed full of cookies. Adds a bit of menace to sneaking a treat. . .

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rachel Draws Seahorses

Seahorse, white-board marker and magnet on white-board

Refusing to be sucked into the whole "making precious objects" racket, Rachel's preferred drawing media these days have been her white board and her "MagnaDoodle", neither of which produce a drawing which lasts more than a few minutes before it's obliterated and something new is created. Drawing for her is a completely joyful practice. Here are two of her most recent pieces.

Daddy Seahorse and Baby, white-board marker and magnets on white-board

I wish I drew like that.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

"Makes A Lousy Gift", FIMP's book of the month

Subscribers to FIMP's Book of the Month club should receive "Makes A Lousy Gift" in their mailboxes today or tomorrow. In the tradition of FIMP's "Lousy Names for Boys" and "Lousy Names for Girls", "Makes A Lousy Gift" provides you with a short list of things to avoid when making one of those difficult important decisions.

Of course, something that would make a great gift is a subscription to the FIMP Book of the Month club.

A mere $25 gets you a bakers dozen of tiny books from the Fiji Island Mermaid Press, spread out over the next year plus a month or two. Now, in all honesty, the name should really be FIMP's 13 Books Over About A Year And A Half As Production Slowed Down A Bit When The Two Baby Girls Showed Up Club, but that's a little cumbersome.

I've been sending these books out since 2000, and the current count is 94, including this most recent book. I'm going to have to do something special when I reach 100 - maybe reprint the ones that have sold out and offer a complete set. Stay tuned, suggestions welcome!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Marc Prill's "FREE FOR ALL" exhibition

be sure to click to see this image in its full glory

Here's an installation photo of the FREE FOR ALL downloadable artists' books exhibition as created by Marc Prill. Sandwiching the books between the computer monitor and the knife and folding bone nicely sums up the way this show bridges the virtual and the real.

Check out Marc's website, where you can find his books and other artwork. It will also open your eyes to the surprisingly life-threatening nature of recreation areas in the UK.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

ME books go all "PDF"y

ME, An Autobiography, by Luc Fierens

So, FIMP has this ongoing project, ME, An Autobiography, in which FIMP provides you with the format and the questions for a tiny autobiography, you provide the answers, and then FIMP posts the results online in the ME gallery. The answer "unknown dust" remains one of my favorites for "this means nothing to me", by the way.

Anyway, with the FREE FOR ALL show providing artists books in downloadable form, the thought occurred to me when I received a request for a blank ME book that this would be a good time to make the ME book available as a download, instead of sending one through the mail, as had been my previous practice.

So, here's where you can download a blank ME book.

And here are the directions for cutting and folding the book. Even if you don't want to make a ME book, you might want to check out the directions, so that when you're in your next meeting you can turn a blank piece of paper into an eight page doodling surface, instead of just doodling on the handouts. It's more professional.

When you finish your ME book, if you want to enter it in the online gallery, you can either mail it to:

P.O. Box 775
Greensburg, PA 15601

or send it as a digital file to freeforall (at) fimp (dot) net

Have fun with it!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

FREE FOR ALL in action.

I'm delighted to see someone both making the FREE FOR ALL books and posting his own for download!. If you make the books, I'd love to see 'em in action. Send me photos of your personal FREE FOR ALL exhibition, and I'll post 'em here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

FREE FOR ALL - artist's books, yours for the taking!

FIMP is proud to present “FREE FOR ALL”. This online exhibition of artist’s books invites the viewer to download and assemble the books on display. The eight artists who have created books for this exhibition are Pati Bristow, Ginger Burrell, Warren Craghead III, Marti Haykin, Adele Henderson, Robert Hirsch, Judith Hoffman, and Marc Snyder. The exhibition will remain online indefinitely.

Each book in the show is available as a downloadable file. The viewer typically prints no more than one or two pages of artwork and text, which are then trimmed, folded, and cut to create miniature books. The artists have provided instructions for the viewer for the entire process.

The exhibition explores the boundary between cyberspace and “the real world”, as the show is only finished when the visitor to the site has downloaded and assembled his or her own books. Essentially, the exhibit exists wherever someone creates their own collection of books.

Brief biographical and professional information about each participating artist accompanies the artist’s book in the online exhibition. Links to view more of his or her artwork are also included.

I included both a new, color version of last month's book "Live! from the Black Box", and FIMP's most popular book released over the nine years of the Book of the Month Club, "How To Draw Jean-Paul Sartre With Genuine Human Dignity". Enjoy!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Visual History of the George W. Bush Presidency

This linocut is my contribution to “A Visual History of the George W. Bush Presidency”, a print portfolio organized by William Mathie, John Lysak and Franz Spohn. Here's the premise of the portfolio:
President Bush has stated repeatedly that history will be the judge of his presidency. Upon the conclusion of President Bush’s tenure as President, this portfolio will use images and printmaking media to begin writing the history of his years in office. All images in the portfolio will be inspired by specific news accounts from major newspapers/news agencies. Each artist will choose the story that inspires the print they create. There is no predetermined political agenda for artist participants.

My linocut is a response to THREATS AND RESPONSES: SECURITY; Bush to Outline Doctrine of Striking Foes First, By DAVID E. SANGER, Published: September 20, 2002.

The portfolio, consisting of eighteen prints with slip sheets that reproduce the corresponding articles, will be on display at the upcoming Southern Graphics Council Conference in Chicago. The portfolio will also enter the permanent collections of the Southern Graphics Council; Anchor Graphics at Columbia College, Chicago; and the Edinboro University Printmaking/Egress Press and Research, the Erie Art Museum.

Here in Pittsburgh, the portfolio will be on display at AIR. I'll be sure to post the dates of that exhibition when I have them.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

After Hours

When you're stumbling around turning off the lights, you never know who you might find lying under the table.

Seems like good advice, but not in the bath tub.

If you wander around our house after the girls are in bed, you're always likely to find that sewing machine and umbrella meeting on that operating table. . . the Surrealists must have had toddlers.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. . .

So there's this meme making its way through Facebook these days. (Y'know, back in the stone ages we would have used the word "thing" where internet savvy folks say "meme"). It's a sort of chain letter thing (see, this is where you substitute "chain letter thing" with the word "meme") called "25 Things About Me".

Now, I shared some of crackskullbob's reservations about these lists. But when I learned that no less a person than Yoko Ono posted her list of 25 things (thanks for the tip, Bill), I knew I had to get in on this whole public disclosure of my deepest private "things" business. Because, of course, I try to follow Yoko's example whenever possible (this is most evident in my singing voice). That's one of those things my friends don't know about me.

So, in the spirit of that great quote from Picasso that "art is the lie that tells the truth", here's my list of "25 Things About Me".

1. I can really shake my money maker.

2. Chocolate ice cream makes me very sad.

3. My inner child has a parasitic twin, named Fernando. They often disagree.

4. Very small dogs standing on their hind legs make me nervous, as they remind me of the time my nose was chewed off by a rat when I was a child.

5. Strangers have been known to come up to me and tell me how nice my hair smells.

6. Few people can resist my Petits Fours Mazarin-filled Shortdough Cups. No, you can't have the recipe!

7. I have a large collection of pot holders that children made from those little weaving kits. I have purchased them from yard sales, and more recently from eBay, though I never made them myself as a child. Fernando claims to have made quite a few.

8. I was born on a Greyhound Bus, but it doesn't seem to have influenced my desire to ramble. I'm actually quite sedentary.

9. Beer commercials make me all weepy.

10. My prosthetic nose often itches, but I'm afraid to scratch it in public.

11. I've never been the same since I got my Chakras aligned. It was painful, but definitely worth it.

12. My slam-dunk is a thing of beauty, if I may say so myself.

13. Most people are unaware of my interest in mycology. I keep it to myself, as a little private treasure.

14. I cross my fingers whenever I use words that begin with x.

15. I find laundromats very soothing. I often visit them when I'm traveling, just to relieve my "sensory overload".

16. My middle name is an obscene pun in French, so I rarely use it in public, but it makes a good password for my online accounts.

17. I have a really beautiful poem, titled "Footprints", framed and hanging in every bathroom in the house.

18. "Robot" from "Lost in Space" was one of my earliest heroes. I still yell "Danger, Danger" whenever I see something dangerous like little dogs standing on their hind legs.

19. I choose different postage stamps for different types of bills, based on whatever seems appropriate for that particular utility or credit card. I'm hoping it makes someone's life a little better.

20. I can balance a treat on the end of my nose, though I will twitch eagerly until you tell me I can have it.

21. I only use "free-range" worms when I fish, which is surprisingly often, let me tell you.

22. Every time I make a new friend(TM) on facebook I try to stop talking to someone I see in "the real world", just to keep some balance in my life.

23. My attempt to have Fernando and my inner child separated, captured on video, has received over a million hits on Youtube.

24. I can type with my teeth. I'm doing it right now. I have to take off my nose to do it.

25. I'm horribly afraid of making a fool of myself online. Danger! Danger!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Current Events. . . Octomom!

So when I glanced at the front of yesterday's paper, I momentarily thought that printmaking had finally made front page news. The Ethics of Multiples! Imagine my disappointment when I saw that it was only an article about Marvel Comics new character, Octomom. Strange thing is, they don't seem to have decided yet whether she's a villain or a hero.

Which reminds me of a quote I read recently: "Printmaking is like sex; both are about more than just reproduction."

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


This linocut is my contribution to the Moveable Feast portfolio, organized by Carrie Lingscheit and Danielle Wyckoff. So, admittedly, it's not quite the festive image that the portfolio theme suggests. But there's lunar imagery (the Moveable Feast in a religious sense is based on the lunar calendar), there's food, the food is certainly portable, so that's "Moveable". . . and feasting will happen eventually.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Photographic Possibilities by Robert Hirsch

I got my copy of Robert Hirsch's Photographic Possibilites yesterday. It's a beautiful book with a lot of great information for making images using a very wide range of photographic methods. Here's the book's description from Focal Press:

Focal Press proudly announces the publication of Photographic Possibilities, Third Edition, a marvelously updated resource of innovative and traditional photographic processes that imagemakers have come to trust and depend on to enhance their technical knowledge, create astonishing pictures, and raise their visual consciousness.

This concise and reliable handbook provides professional and advanced photography students with practical pathways of utilizing diverse photographic methods to produce engaging, expressive pictures from an informed aesthetic and conceptual position.

This update, in full color for this first time, offers new links between analog and digital photography by featuring clear, up-to-date, step-by-step instructions on topics ranging from making ambrotypes and digital negatives to pre-picturemaking activities that utilize a thinking system to visually realize what is in your mind's eye in an effective and safe manner.

This edition vividly showcases the thought-provoking work of over 150 international artists including Peter Beard, Dan Burkholder, Carl Chiarenza, Michael Kenna, Dinh Q. LĂȘ, Joe Mills, Andrea Modica, Bea Nettles, France Scully and Mark Osterman, Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Holly Roberts, Martha Rosler, Mike and Doug Starn, John Sexton, Brian Taylor, Jerry Uelsmann, and Joel Peter Witkin as well as other major and emerging talents. Image captions explain how each artist technically realized their vision and concept.

I'm delighted to be included in the book. One of my books, "A Mime of the Times", is reproduced in full. It's got a page to itself, directly facing the Table of Contents, so I couldn't be happier about that! It's a real honor to have my work included with this group of distinguished artists.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Morphine Makes Me Maudlin

Subscribers to the FIMP Book of the Month Club will be receiving "Morphine Makes Me Maudlin" in their mailboxes any time now. I spent a few days in the hospital last month with a messed-up hand, and thought I would report back on the experience.

Nothing as dramatic as this happened during my stay, but it was exciting enough for me. Exciting in an uncomfortable, tedious, when do I get to go home kind of way.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fuzzy Dan

I think we can safely say that in 1951 the Whitman Publishing Company's Tell-A-Tales Fuzzy Wuzzy Series jumped the shark with "Fuzzy Dan". Previous Fuzzy Wuzzy titles included "Christopher John's Fuzzy Blanket" and "That Puppy", which really are more promising themes around which to build a book that includes bright pink flocking on every page. Fuzzy Dan's claim to fame is that he had "the fanciest vest, And the brightest, fuzziest chaps in the West".

A real prize from my collection of strange little children's books.

This Land.

Pete Seeger's one of my favorites, and it's so great to see this.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Litho Press for Sale - The Death of Printmaking - Art and Craft

Over the past few days there has been an interesting exchange of emails that has arrived in my inbox by way of the listserv of one of the larger printmaking associations. In greatly simplified form, the discussion went something like this. A university was selling its litho press, as lithography was being dropped from their printmaking curriculum. A flurry of emails followed, with people expressing their regrets that lithography was no longer going to be taught at this university. These were followed by folks saying that the university should teach printmaking any way they see fit, and if litho isn't a part of it, what's the big deal?

As the rhetoric escalated a bit, the "hate to see litho go" side put forth the argument that those who were expanding definitions of printmaking to include, well, just about anything (digital processes being one of the main culprits here) were responsible for the deterioration of printmaking, the death of a discipline. Removing lithography from a university's printmaking program was a hostile act towards printmaking in general.

The "where's the tragedy, get over it" crowd argued that printmakers should teach those methods that excite them and their students, building a program based on their strengths.

So this "for sale" sign had turned into a pretty interesting debate. My feeling was that it revealed a pretty basic dividing line in teaching philosophy concerning printmaking. Do you teach printmaking primarily as a craft or as an art? I say this as someone with great respect for both, and who feels that both are a necessary component of successful teaching.

Craft concerns itself with preserving and maintaining culture. If you see your role in teaching printmaking as someone who is providing students with access to a body of knowledge, you're probably very interested in the craft of printmaking. Successful teaching of relief, intaglio, lithography, and serigraphy should produce students who have mastered the various techniques associated with those four pillars of print. The university may be the only place where the next generation of artists can be exposed to these techniques, and teaching them will keep them alive.

Art is less concerned about preservation and more interested in engagement with contemporary culture, being a part of the cultural dialogue of the moment. If your goals as a teacher focus on your students' engagement with contemporary art, printmaking may be more about the use of process to convey meaning, the meaning of multiples, indirect versus direct methods of making images, the combination of digital and traditional methods, and similar "conceptual" aspects of printmaking. The "meaning" of the image, including the meaning of the medium used to make it, might be more important than the mastery of a defined set of skills.

Now, I'm guessing that most people would argue for a healthy mix of both. But the passions stirred by the "for sale" sign hint at some strong leanings in one direction or the other, with assumptions being made about the "correct" way to approach this strange mix of craft and art. Those assumptions might benefit from a thorough examination before next semester's syllabi are written.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

21st Century Photography

Robert Hirsch, World in a Jar

One of FIMP's favorite photographers, Robert Hirsch, is part of an upcoming symposium and exhibition that sounds really exciting. Here's the information:

f295 Seminar on 21st Century Photography Hosted by B&H Photo

January 18 from 10:30am - 4:30pm at B&H Photo Event Space in New York City

21st Century Photography is a phrase meant to describe the type of photography in which many artists are presently engaged. A 21st century photographic approach includes the use of historic methods, alternative processes, and adaptive techniques. The decision regarding which methods to employ in a project is driven by the artistic vision of the photographer rather than the technical limitation or possibility of the equipment. Terms such as alternative, historic, hand-wrought, DIY (do-it-yourself), and antiquarian have been used to describe this type of work and while those terms can be accurate they are mostly not. The use of any one term greatly simplifies the complexities, combinations, and adaptations which are taking place while at the same time weighing the discussion with preconceptionand bias. Recognizing that photographic technology has become so sophisticated that, for the most part, it is irrelevant and, in an effort to create something new, many artists are freely inventing and combining techniques and processes from the history of photography to create a new 21st Century Photography.

F295: 21st Century Photography Exhibition at Camera Club of New York!

F295 is pleased to announce that the Camera Club of New York will be hosting an exhibition entitled F295: 21st Century Photography from January 16 - 20, 2009. This show coincides with the F295 Seminar at B&H Photo on January 18 and features work from a selection of artists who have been involved with the various F295 events over the past 2 1/2 years.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Printeresting: Since 2008, the thinking person's favorite online resource for interesting printmaking miscellany.

I just wish I'd thought of that name.

Thanks for the plug for the Book of the Month Club, Printeresting!

Thursday, January 01, 2009