Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ironing Picasso

_Woman Ironing - William Ironing

_While working on the Dream Rocket quilt square, Karen took some pictures of me; when we downloaded them, one in particular looked familiar. It took a second look and a bit of googling but sure enough in bearing down to press a hem into one of the fabric appliqué pieces I came to resemble Picasso’s Woman Ironing. (Minor cropping required) From smarthistory - There is an old anecdote that tells of Picasso, who, upon emerging from an exhibition of drawings by young children, says, “When I was their age I could draw like Raphael, but it took me a lifetime to learn to draw like them.” This link also shows a nice comparison of this work to a Degas.
Sometimes I wonder how weeks pass so fast. This past week was one of those. Too many projects and not enough focus?…hours in the day? Travel the last two weekends meant a bit of catching up on the banal but necessary list of household to do items. So it was actually with a sigh of relief that I found that my Dream Rocket panel has some extra time for completion. Good news for others as well as coordinator Jennifer Marsh has extended the submission deadline until March 15th.

Saturn V outside the Space and Rocket Center

_Some other news on this project: smaller 1 x 1 sq. ft. squares are now available and best of all is that Marsh is organizing several venues for the display of quilt squares after display on the Saturn V in Huntsville this summer. The Earlyworks Children’s Museum in Huntsville as well as Eclipse Gallery in Algoma, WI are two of the post Space Museum locations already on board. Jennifer will soon announce what international locations will be displaying the works.
Since two of my previously posted works are in openings this week - a recap!

Several panels from my accordion style book in the Sketchbook Library ©2009

_This Friday is the opening of the Sketchbook Library Project in Atlanta. This will be the first in a series of travels for this project. It shows up in Brooklyn during February as well as a visit to Los Angeles, St. Louis and Chicago. The project will finally reside in the Brooklyn Art Library as part of the Art House Co-op permanent collection. Bar codes identify the volumes, which are searchable by artist.

Digital collage on exhibit in Brazil at MuBE during February ©2009

_February 3rd is the opening in São Paulo, Brazil of Um Livro Sobre Morte. Brazilian artist Angela Ferrara, whom I met through working on the A Book About Death project, has been organizing this show for MuBE (Museu Brasileiro da Escultura). Angela has been documenting new submissions to this expanded version of the original exhibit first installed this past fall at Emily Harvey Gallery in NYC.
Angela has been at work for several months now organizing this version of the A Book About Death. Since many new artists have submitted works, Angela has had her hands full with documentation, archiving and posting these to the exhibition site. Many thanks Angela. Plus gratitude to Matthew Rose for the original conception.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Mobius Weekend

Ox and O's performance at Mobius 1/16/10

_ I returned from my trip to Boston and my performance in the Mobius Work in Progress series feeling elated. The Ox and O’s piece was well received and seemed to engage the audience as participants as I had hoped. There is always some trepidation when attempting to encourage the audience in a participatory event. Beyond the “will they participate” jitters lies the wondering if they will engage on the level you intend or horrors… engage in ways not intended or imagined.

Audience participation in Ox and O's at Mobius

_ Mobius, a Boston fixture in the experimental art scene since 1977, is hosting these Works in Progress both to introduce the ongoing work of artists but also to give the audience a chance to discuss intent with an artist mid project. The feedback aspect is of particular importance as we get a sense of how our work is being perceived.
My work on this project, while being essentially worked out here on the blog still has many aspects that I was pleased to have an audience; for the experience of this feedback aspect. Initially thought of as personal symbols, my handstamps developed a game aspect as well as becoming a vehicle to examine identity and the role of choice. At Mobius I decided to present this as a game performance with the audience invited to use 40 of my carved pieces on prepared tic tac toe grids as a collaboration. The audience was simply invited to play with no further instruction and could take the collaboration home at the end of the evening. Three other artist were simultaneously performing their pieces as the audience freely moved about either observing or engaging the artists.

Question and Answer artist discussion after performances

_ After an hour we all regrouped and a question and answer session began.
I had a chance to get some insight as to what people found interesting in this piece. Luckily people did seem to find it interesting... on two levels; both how the game operated in relation to choice and how the stamps were beginning to function in a semiotic sense. The fact that I’m starting to have enough symbols to evoke a nascent vocabulary seems like an avenue for further exploration. One question pertained to whether I would begin using contemporary symbols. This also seems like a great area to explore as there are certainly current events and choices therein that continue to form and change the identity. A further suggestion on future display of audience produced works has led me to consider another video highlighting the play aspect of this piece as people became more adventurous "outside the grid".

Melissa McCarthy and I

_ Adding a great icing to the cake was a chance to meet two artists that up until now I had only known virtually. Melissa McCarthy, (mixed media and Fluxus oriented work) made the trip from New Hampshire to see the performances and it was great to get to know her better. Melissa was able to add great color to the question answer session with her insights. Another friend is Jane Wang, who is a member of Mobius and has an intriguing body of performance and installation works that I first became aware of earlier this fall. Jane shot video during the performances and her clips can give a better sense of the evening than my descriptions. Jane Wang video clips of Work in Progress.

William with Jane Wang; experimental and performance member artist of Mobius

_ So, all in all a great opportunity for me. Two more nights of the Work in Progress are scheduled for the 29th and 3oth of this month. Many thanks to Mobius for that opportunity and their work in presenting cutting edge art for over 30 years. Special thanks to Mobius artists; Margaret Bellafiore, Jed Spears and Joanne Rice as curators and for their efforts to make possible the Work in Progress series. I’m always inspired by artists who can juggle their own work as well as organize efforts on behalf of the arts community in general. Please take a moment to visit the Mobius site to view their biographies and art.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Next !!

_Preparing boxes of handstamps for Mobius exhibit

_This week in the studio I’m working toward putting some parentheses around my Ox and O's work in progress for this weekends exhibit at Mobius in Boston. My current work on hand stamps, choice and identity will be on view Saturday the 16th at 8pm at 725 Harrison Ave. in Boston. I say parentheses because the exhibit is part of the Works in Progress program running at the gallery this month and my work on this idea seems to find new tangents to explore. So I’ve got to wrap a cover around where I am at this particular moment and present what I’ve got. Those that have followed my thinking out loud here have seen the personal mythology symbol stamps and Ox and O's game box. I’ve also produced two videos and an handmade artist accordion book. This weekend I want to explore an aspect of choice that I need an audience for: how our identities are constrained by the choices we are NOT allowed to make.

Collection of personal mythology symbols

_When I think about this game (or life) played with choice I think of the tic tac toe grid as a structure which constrains the freedom of expression and identity. There are many things we are not able to choose; our place of birth, our sex or orientation, our parents or their status and many others. So to further this idea I want to involve others in a dialogue in order to gather material via photos and video for the next phase in this project.
_From the press release: “Simple tic tac toe grids on paper are provided as well as a selection of the artist’s hand-carved symbols. The audience completes the work by playing the game and taking the art home.” So perhaps by next week this will evolve from constraint, choice and personal identity to the interlocking grids that form our social mesh.

At ZieherSmith for Visual AIDS opening
My card is top row just to right of my head
_The windy city title that Chicago bears could be applied to my weekend trip to NYC. Braving the cold was a small price to pay for slipping into the the Big Apple for a couple of shows. The main mission was attending the preview party for the Visual AIDS benefit at ZieherSmith gallery in Chelsea on Friday night. Packed doesn’t begin to describe the gallery as Karen and I arrived around 6:30.
The exhibition consists of postcard-sized works created by artists both well known and not so well known. All the work sells for $75, with the idea that you could pick up a work normally out of ones league; except that the pieces are signed on the backs. So if you’re looking to collect Ed Ruscha or Ida Applebroog you better have a good eye.

preview party at ZieherSmith
_No sales were allowed during the preview and all works were on display, if one could get close enough to see them. A perimeter trip took about an hour with a couple of time outs for refreshment. Karen and I were on the look out for my piece and those of several artist friends that we knew had contributed to the show. I managed to locate mine as well as one by Keith Buchholz.

Center postcard by Keith Buchholz
_Earlier that day we had also faced crowds at MoMA to see the Tim Burton and Bauhaus exhibits. Burton’s was approaching unviewable status because of the number of people allowed in at a time. Still with selected slipping and jostling we were able to see enough to confirm my admiration for Burtons creativity. From his early years growing up in Burbank his sketches and other works on paper show the arc his career would take. Many early ideas eventually find their place in later movies or animations. I hope to get another look before this closes at the end of April.

Entrance to Tim Burton exhibit at MoMA

_The Bauhaus exhibit will only be up until Jan. 25th so if you haven’t seen it yet…! The exhibit struck me with the feeling that so many of the ideas worked through during its existence seem so integrated in our design sense as to be like the air we breath. It simply is there.. all around us. The implications of the artist commanding the machine and production has now spilled into our information culture although one wonders whether we will ultimately have inexpensive but beautiful information or corporate noise.
Entrance to Bauhaus exhibit
_As a side note I have always loved the work of Paul Klee and to see his puppets right after the Burton models and props once again proves there is nothing new under the sun.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Irons in the Fire

_Mobius flyer for Works in Progress. Anyone Boston bound?

_This year begins full of frenzied work. Good frenzy because it’s always better to have too much art than not enough…right? At least it’s good for my discipline to order priorities and not fly off in too many directions; at least for a month or so.

Mobius, Boston’s premier alternative artist space, is hosting Works in Progress on four dates this January. I’ll be presenting an installation/collaboration on the evening of January 16th. My Work in Progress (WIP) is a continuation of the Ox and O’s game I’ve been working through on this blog. The original hand stamps I started with soon became conflated with images from a personal mythology. My thinking has found a variety of tangents involving choice and the development of identity.

The idea of presenting a WIP is a bit nerve wracking. There’s always the feeling that with a bit more time this particular artistic endeavor will become more clearly defined. Yet an opportunity to get the work out to a larger audience promises to push my idea in new directions. While the details are still coming together, I envision my piece as collaboration with the audience. Partially completed works on paper involving my grids will be available along with a variety of the hand stamps for the audience to “play” with… actually completing the collaboration. The audience then takes the work with them.

I’m also working on re-editing and expanding my Ox and O’s videos in order to provide a visual cue as to how the “game” works.

Work for the Visual AIDS Postcards from the Edge benefit

_The Visual AIDS benefit, Postcards from the Edge has its preview party this Friday night (Jan. 8th). I plan on attending to continue my support for this cause. The show is at ZieherSmith at 516 W 20th, NYC. My piece for that show also involves the choice theme and grid format. My Dec. 10th post has more detail, but in essence while AIDS prevention and treatment has made some advances many countries' programs remain unimplemented or underfunded. The challenge that this disease presents must be faced as infection rates continue to climb faster than those receiving treatment.

Karen at work on template for applique for Dream Rocket quilt panel

Dream Rocket!... Another iron in the studio fire this month. A must do before the end of the month. Luckily I’ve got a start on this with the design and templates for my appliqué made. Probably most of this piece will have to wait until after I finish with my video and props for the Mobius performance. Luckily my wife, Karen, is collaborating on this as her flight time on the sewing machine is far greater.

More than Mail Art !! :

_I’ve received some mail art masterworks!!!

From Corrine Bayraktaroglu of Jafabrit’s Art came a beautiful embroidered piece. This is actually one that caught my eye a while back on her blog. She describes its origins and her associations better than I, so a visit to her blog is definitely in order. The picture doesn’t really do justice to the loose threads that define the features of the figure in the piece. Inventive in its translation from a sketch on paper to an embroidered piece, the threads amplify the loose freedom and power of Corrine’s drawing. Corrine’s note indicates that I can do as I wish with it; use it in an assemblage or frame it..whatever…but yikes; how to improve on it leaves me at a loss.

"Shroud" - Collaboration with Ria Vanden Eynde

But speaking of collaboration leads me to a simple painting on silk that I sent to Ria Vanden Eynde, asking her to do something with it. Her input totally transformed the piece; providing context and a hauntingly arresting work. Her title “Shroud” is also perfect description for how she used the translucency of the silk to provide a veil for her self-portrait.

Ria Vanden Eynde

Her description of her working method is perfect. Visit her Art on the Road blog for more pictures and details about this collaboration. (My meager contribution is the bamboo and iris painting on the silk.)

Now and Then - Art by Mara Thompson

Mara Thompson also sent me one of her pieces and it arrived in the nick of time. Her “Time Management while you Sleep” system is just what I could use right now. Mara’s piece is actually a set of pillowcases that have the words Now and Then.

Art "product" and packaging by Mara Thompson

They were packaged with pictorial instructions as well as a “bonus” memory device for my finger. Mara’s mailart is a perfect Fluxus play on humor and irony in a beautifully conceived “product” format. Also visit her mixed media pieces here.

Thanks to all for the wonderful mail art I've received! I'm already thinking about adding an art annex for exhibiting everything!