This week, I went to check out the M.C. Escher exhibit at the Portland Art Museum. I’ve only been to the PAM three times now, first for the Rembrandt exhibit, and also for “The Dancer” show last year that had work by Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec. The Escher show was very good, but nowhere near as deep as a show as the other two. Perhaps it’s an unfair comparison, printmaking is rather limited in terms of the size of the pieces, but it just seemed that there wasn’t nearly as much work presented. I’m okay with that, what was there was excellent. The must-see piece is the famous “Relativity” print, and it was fascinating to see an original print. One thing that struck me about the show was a sense of scale – Escher’s work in particular has been reproduced so heavily in such a variety of forms that the very idea that his work was supposed to be a particular size was kind of hard to get used to. “Relativity” was a decent -sized print, but seeing it not as a dorm-room poster was strange.
It’s been a low-key, recovery kind of week, which is why I don’t really have any art to show off today. Oh, I printed a handful of etching yesterday, and I’ll be hand-coloring those on Monday, and I’m going to be printing those woodcuts I’ve been putting off printing for about a month now then, too. But that’s then, and this is now. And what I have been doing this week is trying to refill the ol’ bean, so I can have some good ideas when I sit down to work hard again.
I also polished off a few comic books/books on comics. None of them were Earth-shattering (Ex Machina volume 7, Gipsy Star volume 1, and Underground Classics: the Transformation of Comics Into Comix), but the underground comix book seemed like a desperate, belated plea for artistic credibility. One of the dichotomies of sequential art is that the actual artwork used to produce a book doesn’t necessarily closely resemble what is printed. In fact, what shows up in print is considered the final version, and is what the work is produced with in mind. In this book, the authors chose to shoot the artwork as if they were pieces of fine art (complete with errant marks, corrected sections, white-out, and paper tone present), and most artists were represented with only one page or two, at best. Considering also that comics are meted out not in individual pages but in complete stories (or at least chapters of larger stories), the book seemed to be compiled not with the intention of accurately representing the work and the artists of that era, but instead by which original pages the authors had access to. As an overview of the genre, it was a functional introduction, but I would have much rather the authors visually present the work as it was intended, as well as finding short stories from the people they wanted to cover instead of giving random excerpts from their work. But I guess it’s inevitable that work that was intended to be anti-establishment would eventually be knocking at the door of the system, asking for a way in.
I hit another milestone as an artist this weekend – my first fine arts festival. That’s also why the posts have been pretty spotty the last couple of weeks, I was trying to get ready for the event, and that didn’t leave much time for anything other than the bare essentials. But today is my “recovery” day (something I learned to plan for when I did frequent comic book shows), and I feel like sharing!
In order to get such a semi-professional set-up, I was up until about 1 AM on Friday night bagging/boarding/pricing prints. On Saturday morning, I got out of the hotel a little late, and got a little lost in Silverton. I finally got to the show about an hour before it was supposed to open, and got everything done as quickly as I could. I think it ended up looking pretty well…
Another learning experience for a first-timer is seeing how your work is generally perceived. Certain words or phrases will pop up repeatedly over the course of a weekend. In my case, I had a general idea, but until you’ve actually sat and watched people’s faces for two full workdays as they look at your stuff, it’s all hearsay. The words that I got mostly were “different,” “interesting,” and “unique.” As you can imagine, the tone behind those words varied wildly. Some were bewildered, some were enthusiastic. Generally speaking though, people were very positive. From a cursory glance, it didn’t seem that there was much work similar in tone to what I do, which helped me out quite a bit. Not everyone has the same tastes in art, and I surely don’t expect everyone to love what I do, but just having non-decorative work present was enough to make a few people happy.
One of the things that this weekend taught me was how hard everyone works just to be there. Everyone’s work may not be to my tastes, but knowing how much sweat I had to put in just to show off my work for two days means everyone there deserves respect. After years of doing comic book shows, I figured I had a ball-park estimate of how difficult it would be to do this. But the truth is that at least in this instance, art fairs are a million times harder. Some of the other artists assured me that things really do get easier as you work out the kinks, and I definitely hope that’s true. Otherwise I’m going to have to embark on a winter-long training regiment on an Olympic-athletic level.
On the whole, I think the trip was pretty successful. I wasn’t expecting to sell out of my entire inventory at my first show (give me a couple of years first, and then maybe…), and I didn’t, but I did manage to cover my trip and a little bit (in an off-year, in my first show, including my first batch of “learning experiences,” etc.), and that feels pretty damned good. I’ve got four weeks until show #2 (in West Linn, OR), and I can’t wait for it. I’d love to do the Silverton show again next year. It was a great way to spend a weekend, and even though I don’t have anything to compare it to, I thought it was a great show.
Here’s a print I forgot about when I got my new digital camera! “Classico,” 9″ x 12″, intaglio/chine colle, 2008. Monoprint. If you want to see it larger, click on the image and you’ll go to my Flickr site…
Before I had a finalized idea of what to do with the plate that became “The Peep Show,” I just had the two nun figures. I thought it might be interesting to collage (again, I don’t know how to conjugate “chine colle,” but that’s what you call it if it goes through the press) figures from a couple of other etchings onto this image. I generally like this one – I’d probably do it a little differently, but as far as experiments go I think it’s a worthy one.
Today is making frames day. T-minus 9 days until Silverton, yeah I’m getting a little nervous. Steady as she goes, steady as she goes…
I’ve been busy, I swear! It’s been unreasonably, unseasonably hot here over the last week or so, and I’ve been doing a lot of necessary, yet non-creative work to prepare for the upcoming art fairs. I finished a new woodcut last week, and I’ll be printing that one this week, so that’s good news. But until then, I apologize for my lack of posts with a cute picture of my doggie, fresh from a late-night walk…