Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Dwelling," Nancy Chiu exhibition in Santa Ana

Nancy Chiu's drawing titled: "Grudge," will be shown at CSU Fullerton's Grand Central Art Center, 125 North Broadway, Santa Ana, CA
The opening is this Saturday, October (already?) 1st, from 7 - 10 PM. The show will run until 10/30/11.

Here's a quote regarding the exhibition from Nancy, who's a former CSULB Illustration grad student. "Dwelling is my latest project, exploring the haunting persistence of one's longing and desire. It consists mostly of graphite drawings and watercolor paintings on various sizes of paper."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hammer Projects, Grunwald Collection - A Review by Allison Peairs

Every Now. And Again. (Hammer Projects: Linn Meyers); Linn Meyers; Ink drawing on wall; May 7 - November 6, 2011.

Linn Meyers’ Every Now. And Again. is an installation in the Lobby of the Hammer Museum at UCLA that is on view from May 7, 2011 until November 6, 2011. Meyers' work is a brilliant example of the transformative power of line. Meyers’ work is essentially the compulsive manipulation of line through meticulous and almost rhythmic repetition into an enormous organic composition vibrating with near tangents that give the illusion of mathematical precision. On massive aubergine and navy blue blocked walls, the lines that make up the meat of the piece are drawn with pale yellow opaque ink. The shift in temperature from the warm yellow line work to the cool dark background contributes to the reverberating and almost glimmering quality of the entire work.

No World (from An Unpeopled Land in Uncharted Waters); Kara Walker; Etching with aquatint, sugar-lift, spit-bite, and drypoint; 2010.

Kara Walker’s etching, No World. (from An Unpeopled Land in Uncharted Waters), is a poetic allusion to trans-Atlantic slave trade. The piece is monochromatic and depicts two large black hands reaching from the ocean depths holding a schooner in their fingertips. The orientation of the hands gives a playful feeling to print, regardless of its dark disturbing undertones. A dark strip of sky, which emphasizes a ‘here’ vs. ‘there’ quality, bisects the composition while unifying element between the two sections of space is the dark ocean connecting them. These qualities lend to the almost mythological quality that horrifying chunk of American history has taken on in the midst of the country’s conception.

Preference: Between Meyer’s linear wall drawing and Walker’s illustrative etching, it’s difficult to choose a favorite considering how dissimilar they are to one another. I have personal preferences for each piece for different reasons that are incomparable- however in terms of concept I favor Meyer’s work. I find the idea of bringing art back to its most fundamental element (line) and generating a massive undulating composition exhilarating. Viewing the work has an almost meditative quality to it, satiating an unconscious suppressed desire for repetition.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Masters of Illusion: Jewish Magicians of the Golden Age

Immediately prior to the start of the Fall semester I ventured off on the dread 405 to the Skirball Cultural Center to see the blockbuster "Harry Houdini" exhibition. It was paired with a sister exhibition titled: "Masters of Illusion - Jewish Magicians of the Golden Age". Apparently, the "Golden Age" refers to the years 1875 - 1948, when feats of amazing legerdemain were performed live in front of an appreciative audience. After 1948, the mesmerizing was done via the little one-eyed god of the living room.

Good times! At the latter, I was utterly & completely taken with a
child-sized mechanical man named "Antonio Diavolo," created by the French magician Robert Houdin in the 1800's. As you may have guessed from the similarity in his adopted moniker, Houdin was Houdini's hero. Antonio was completely restored in 1986, & besides being an incredibly beautiful object, he can perform the most amazing feats of acrobatics (including going "hands-off") on his trapeze bar. Quite the clockwork toy. Should you go, make certain to take the time to watch the short video that shows him in action.

Sadly, the Houdini portion of the exhibition has moved on to other venues. Happily, the "Masters of Illusion" portion with all of its splendid & large lithographic posters & playbills (hence the printmaking/graphic design connection) will remain in place until 1/8/2012. Located at 2701 North Sepulveda Blvd., parking is always free. There's a docent led tour of the exhibition every Tuesday - Sunday that starts at 2:30 PM. Don't forget, this "mini-Getty" is free to the public on Thursdays.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Jamie Sweetman: Layered

In addition to teaching classes in anatomy & bio-medical illustration at CSULB, Jamie Sweetman is also busy having an exhibition of that appears to be mainly drawings, perhaps layered (hence the title) on Dura-Lar. Of course, the title also refers to the more metaphysical aspects of the work, as novelist D.N. Stuefloten wrote: "Jamie Sweetman's roots & vines make me think of synapses start clicking away in recognition."
The exhibition, at Whittier College's Greenleaf Gallery, runs until 10/7. The address is: 13406 Philadelphia Street, Whittier, CA ( boyhood home of Richard Nixon). The gallery is open Monday-Friday, 9:30 - 5:00 PM & the phone # to call for further info is - 562/907-4200.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Five On Paper

These 2 untitled works are, as far as I know, the last images my friend & colleague Linda Day made before she (as my Korean students are wont to say) "went back." Even though we all expected this news, it was not any less heart wrenching. The last time I saw Linda was at this opening on July 30th & the event was deeply moving, humbling & inspiring. I will always hold her at my core as a grace note of how live bravely without bitterness, defeat or self-pity in the face of one's own death. Her luminous last works are full of jewel-like color of radiant beauty, inspired by her trip to India during her last Sabbatical.

After the death of someone she greatly admired, Patti Smith wrote in her autobiography: "I chided myself for inactivity and self-indulgence, and resolved to rededicate myself to my work." I think Linda taught us all a huge lesson that way.

Both works are about the same size, roughly
39 x 32", & made from pigment, paper & cloth. There was also an equally impressive, but more intimate work on wood panel in the exhibition. Easily missed due to it's unassuming facade, the gallery is located at 600 South Pacific Avenue in San Pedro, CA.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sarah Whorf Exhibition

Work by my former student Sarah Whorf is currently gracing the walls of the Knight Gallery, near where she works, lives & whittles in beautiful Eureka, California. Sponsored by the Humboldt Arts Council, the exhibition will run until 10/9/2011. The gallery address is: Knight Gallery, Morris Graves Museum of Art, 636 F Street, Eureka. The hours are Thurs. - Sun., noon - 5 PM, the phone # is: 707/442-0278, & the organization's URL:

Her symmetrical image repro'ed here is a woodcut, titled: Advanced Hunter Gatherers, & visually it works equally well in either vertical orientation. Seemingly playful & innocent, her aquatic floral image belies the war mongering/whale harpooning/slave trading nature of the two mirrored ships, sailing around the earth's gentle curve. The subtle shift in color helps us perceive the ephemeral nature of time & the ever shifting briney deep. Skillful changes in mark-making in the background establishes varied weather conditions & time of day, helping to create the illusion that these floating vessels are easy prey for varied nautical forces.

I include below the quote from the "Humboldt Beacon," which hopefully further serves to provide the audience Sarah so richly deserves. (If you happen up that way, don't forget breakfast at the Samoa Cookhouse, which - despite it's name, serves up basic American fare.)

"New work of Sarah Whorf is on display in the Knight Gallery. As a printmaker, Whorf works primarily with the medium of woodcuts, and is currently working on a series which address her conceptual interest in connectedness and attraction. Depicting abstracted objects which are linked together to form mixtures that reference chandeliers, candelabras and fishing gear, she employs depictions of common objects to function symbolically, moving beyond their obvious function and serving as metaphor in a personal narrative."

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Linda Day Memorial Service

The address is 8687 Melrose Avenue, Pacific Design Center, Space B-267, West Hollywood, CA
The service is set to start at 1PM on 9/9/11

Friday, August 12, 2011

Joseph Lupo's Take...Comic Relief?

Joe Lupo, who teaches printmaking at West Virginia University in Morgantown created this sadbuttrue 3 panel strip in the style of the late underground comic book writer Harvey Pekar. If you click on the image, it should enlarge enough to reveal the text. Hey now, we obsessive compulsive types have to be able to channel our energies in some harmless way! At least the majority of us (besides being gregarious) have an appreciation for the ludicrous & amusing.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Internship at Bergamot Station - ASAP

The Lora Schlesinger Gallery in Santa Monica is currently looking for an intern to help out & gallery sit for the next two weeks, with the possibility of another short stint sometime in November.
If you are interested, or know of anyone who may be keen to do this, please contact Stephanie Mercado at
The commitment doesn't involve too many hours, but it would help if said person is available at least on Fridays / Saturdays.
While the internship is unpaid, it is a great opportunity make some lasting connections & to see and to hear how things work on the business end of the art world.
The pencil drawing repro'ed here (titled: Bird with Ball Balancing on Cat) is by former CSULB MFA student in illustration, Adonna Khare. She is represented by this gallery, as is Bruce Houston. I was at The University of Iowa with the latter, back when the earth's magma was just beginning to cool (the early '70's). To this day, I wish Adonna had taken some classes with me - she could have made some outstanding etchings!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Energy Exhibition - More Shameless Self-Promotion

Should anyone be in the proximity of Santa Ana, CA this coming Saturday evening (8/6/2011) please do consider dropping into the OCCCA (The Orange County Center for Contemporary Arts) from 6 - 10 PM. There will be an opening reception for "Energy" an exhibition that I've the good fortune to be part of, along with fellow printmaker (& Canadian) Sean Caulfield. Otherwise, I'd say that the majority of work appears either photographically or digitally derived. If those combination of factors aren't enough to entice you away from viddying instant movies on Netflix, perhaps the looming presence of not 1, but 2 upscale food trucks will tempt. "Brats Berlin" (one can only wonder if they'll actually have the dreadful currywurst) will be competing for your Yankee dollars with "Crepes Bonaparte," & Santa Ana's renowned "ArtWalk" will be in full swing.

I'm not certain which works by powerhouse Sean will be in the exhibition, but I'd guess something visually tasty, such as the above, titled Fire Horn, a mezzotint form 2005, might just be in the offing. The image below is from my hand, a woodcut/litho combo titled Perihelion/Aphelion. The Shanghai Museum of Art has a gallery of Qing dynasty paper currency, many of which incorporate the techniques of woodcut or engraving. Enthralled, I did small sketches in the gallery, one of which eventually became this print. I was interested in playing with not only ornamental pattern and decoration, but also with symmetrical duplication of the solar image that appears on many of the banknotes. I wanted to translate the nervous line energy from the sketch into the larger print, and to see if I could compositionally sequence the image in time through composing multiple inversions of it.

The address of the above is 117 North Sycamore Street, Santa Ana , CA, & no, that's not my late model blue sporty vehicle.

The 75 pg. catalogue is available for purchase at, for $25.00. Howard Fox, Curator Emeritus of Contemporary Art at LACMA did a bang up job writing an insightful essay.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hand Pulled: The Complete Shag Print Collection (July 2 – August 14, 2011)

This comprehensive survey dating 1999 to the present will bring more than 250 limited edition serigraphs, etchings and pigment prints created by Orange County artist Josh Agle aka SHAG to Grand Central Art Center. In conjunction with this exhibition Shag and Watermark Printmaking, located at GCAC, will also collaborate on a new etching available for purchase in the GCAC Sales Gallery. Other Shag merchandise will also be available for purchase.

Grand Central Art Center
will also be collaborating with SHAG on a limited edition poster with proceeds from the sale benefiting Japan relief efforts.

Opening Reception: Saturday, July 2, 7:00-10:00 p.m.
*Book and poster signing only 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Closing Reception: Saturday, August 6, 7:00-10:00 p.m.
*Merchandise signing 6:00-7:00 p.m.

CSUF Grand Central Art Center
125 N. Broadway Santa Ana, CA 92701
General Phone: 714.567.7233
Fax: 714.567.4145

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Entry - June Gloom is a Wonderful Thing

OK, I'll be the first to admit it, despite my own best efforts, today's post is not about prints or printmaking so... mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Instead, I'm chronicling my late morning adventures at the "Long Beach Outdoor Antiques & Collectibles" an absolutely staggering visual smorgasbord of everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. Not for the faint of heart or weak of limb, it covers over 20 acres of macadam & occurs on the 3rd Sunday of each month. This event takes place at Long Beach Veteran's Stadium, which seems to be a part of Long Beach City College. The entry fee is $5.00, well worth the cost of admission, if only for the excellent people-watching aspects. The next one occurs on July 17th, but the better half swears that when he goes again, he'll wear his L.L. Bean day-pack loaded with water & fatty snax.

My first spot of something that had everything I want in the way of a "collectable" were the 2 hairdressing/barber signs below. The proprietor of the stall must have been off to the rest room, so I couldn't put my evaluation of these wonderful paintings to him or her, but I'm guessing that they were made by Joel Adjame of the Ivory Coast, or created by someone who has gotten his style down pat. (An adherent of the "Adjame School,"one might surmise.) I base my assessment on the use of a white background, simplification of style, placement of text, profile format, & the use of linear heart-shaped enclosures around each head depicted. Of course, I'm certainly no expert in these matters, as my only 1st-hand experience with this art form was merely having had the good fortune to view the exhibition at the Fowler Museum (back in '95), titled: "Crowning Achievements: The African Arts of Dressing Hair." A knock out!

Many of these house-painted signs are found hanging on buildings, or just tacked up to trees & over a chair in parts of Africa. Judging from the rough appearance of the plywood backs of these, I'd warrant they had a similar past life. I've always imagined that Botswana's #1 female private eye, Maa Precious Ramotswe to have a similar sign that advertises her considerable prowess in her chosen field.

Elsewhere, Daisy Mae Duke's (or Daisy Mae Abner's) Dogpatch denims were available for sale, & if those didn't suit every occasion, Miss Havisham's wedding weeds were also available.

The African trade beads from Nigeria were fabulous studies in both color and texture.

My modest purchases could all be carried in my pocket...3 new marbles to add to my collection!

It really wasn't cool enough today to warrant wearing the yeti's coat, but it helps to look like a fashionista while you attempt to figure out how to fit that overly large purchase into your somewhat smallish car. Roof rack & bungee cords?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Born to Endless Night

Born to Endless Night
Paintings, Drawings, and Prints by William Blake Selected by John Frame
March 12, 2011-June 20, 2011
Works on Paper Room, Huntington Art Gallery

Huntington library boasts a large collection of William Blake's etchings and prints, a sample of which are on display in a new exhibit.These prints and drawings were put together by contemporary artist, John Frame. These selected works include illustrations of the Book of Job. These powerful etchings show a mastery of detail and ability to convey the power of God and the power of the human spirit in the face of tragedy. John Frame is greatly inspired by Blake's portrayal of the Human condition and quest to explain our frailty. It is this essence of Blake that John Frame explores.
The new Blake exhibit runs concurrent with an exhibit of Frames work. It is intriguing to experience an artist body of work displayed along side the artist which inspired him.

The door opens up and you are immediately engulfed in the world of Frame. It takes a moment to acclimate to the surroundings as the lights have been dimmed and the “stage” is lit. His pieces are odd puppet like creatures, meticulously crafted by the artist and his wife. The fine details of every object suggest his thought in the attention he has given to the carefully chosen objects. All his pieces hold an old world appeal as if handed down through the generations.

The meticulous nature of William Blake's work is mirrored in the work of John Frame.
The puppet creatures of his dioramas have perfect working parts down to the smallest 1 cm movable fingers. The eyes are made to portray realism. There is a sense that at any moment the tiny creatures would move when not on view.

Frame's work is a visual as well as sensory experience, the dimly lit room with the lighted figurines help to create this mood. It is as if you wander from sequence to sequence, in a dream like state, focusing and refocusing your vision.
The main “stage” displays an array of figures and tiny scenes taken from Frame’s own dream, in which he crafted the figures and world in which the creatures exist.
There is a definite foreground, middle ground, and background. The stage is mechanical, filled with clock works and metal trinkets and doll heads all specifically lit or unlit.
The works of William Blake hand chosen by John Frame, on view are a mere demonstration of the talents Blake possesses, as seen in his series of the Book of Job.
Frame writes, “He [William Blake] grappled always with the basic questions of human life. “Prayer is the study of art. Praise is the practice of art,” he said [Blake], and, pursuing this dictum, he fashioned a world that was wholly his own and yet reached beyond himself toward God.

The small engravings describe the scenes of Job’s life. It is in these scenes that the questions of man and his belief in the higher power of God as faced through tragedy are portrayed. The engravings contain text of bible which aids in the contemplation of the scene. The scenes are small yet captivating and draw you in towards your own contemplation. The engravings of the Book Of Job use only line quality to illustrate the scene. His use of line and tonal values are a clear distinction of an understanding of the engraving.

The Upright Man is Laughed to Scorn - Illustration 10 to the Book of Job Engravings

Then a Spirit Passed Before My Face the Hair on My Face Stood Up - 1825 llustration 9 to the Book of Job Engraving

Equally compelling were the small engravings of "Song of Innocence" and "The Sick Rose". These two plates were displayed side by side. They seemed to carry an air of innocence yet loaded with all the essence of the human soul. These works were illustrations that Blake and his wife hand colored for editions of books that he had written.

The Sick Rose
By William Blake 1757–1827

O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

T. Dana

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Art and Magic at the Skirball Cultural Center

Art, magic, and Jewish history at the Skirball Center. Currently there is an exhibition highlighting Jewish magicians of the Golden Age, and especially Houdini.

"Masters of Illusion," Jewish magicians from 1875-1948 and the poster art that advertised their talent and enticed their audiences. Displayed among the memorabilia, the posters were revolutionary examples of the advantages of stone lithography. These color lithographs were amazingly detailed and usually poly chrome. The majority featured a common composition of a portrait of the magician, skulls, smoke, full skeletons, and women. Also popular were devils and small red or green devilish imps, crawling around the magician and whispering in his ear. These imps seemed comical, but they alluded to magics early association with witchcraft. A beautiful example of these litho posters is 'Rosini Napoleon of Mystery,' New York City, 1930. Here, the magician is the center of the composition, along with the portrait of his wife/assistant. Her head is floating above a cauldron and surrounded by smoke. At the base of the cauldron are red roses, and the entire scene is embedded in a grayed cobalt blue background. Interestingly, in all the posters, the magicians eyes do not look out at the viewer, but it is always the women as assistants who make eye contact. Unfortunately, pictures inside the exhibit were not permitted.

The jewel of the show was the artwork inside the "Houdini, Art and Magic," exhibit. This art was by artists who were inspired by the man and legend of Houdini. These artists portrayed Houdini as a symbol of strength, rebirth and innovation. Among the most famous devices Houdini used for his stunts, were paintings and drawings from various fans of the magician, educating the public of Houdini's craft of showmanship, innovative thinking in terms of technological advances and the constant renewal of his image. A lot of drawings included text. One of the most revealing was a pen, ink and gouash drawing on paper by Raymond Pettibon, 'No Title (The Desire To)' 2009. Pettibon made a dynamic composition of three male figures, possibly Houdini, falling out of a window and gradually breaking free of chains. Primarily thick and gestural lines formed the figures, and the text around them read, "The desire to seize and grasp all that was nearest, bound him to Earth, and caused his sympathies to revolve within a narrowing circle. Yet in that very power of adhesion to outward things, might be discerned the strength of a spirit destined to live beyond them." So insightful into the vision and human spirit inside Houdini.

There was one other drawing there that was significant to the connection between art making and magic. Whitney Bedford captured a life size portrait of the back of Houdini, hanging upside down and at the moment when he outstretched his arms after releasing the strait jacket he untangled himself out of. 'Houdini (Upside Down), 2007, featured a nostalgic palette reminiscent of the black and white film of historical photographs. She highlighted the span of his arms with a single pale yellow oil brush stroke, otherwise the figure is drawn in ink on unprimed paper. The medium is what parallels the tricks of artists to the tricks of magicians. Eventually the image will fade as the medium sinks into the unprimed paper. Mostly a contour drawing, this image speaks beyond what is visible. It conjures emotion and thought, that there are similarities between artists of all kinds.

The few images that were available for photographs were inside the permanent collection, featuring four thousand years of Jewish history. Always eye catching is the infamous Andy Warhol, and here he has on display pieces from a series, "Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century," New York, 1980. There were three from this series of screen prints on Lenox museum board, featuring the Marx Brothers, Golda Meir, and Albert Einstein. The first two have large blocks of color on a black and white portrait, with nervous yet confidently drawn color contour lines. Albert Einstein is in similar composition, but entirely black and white. Such an appropriate tribute to genius, art and showmanship.

Corey King

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Class Assignment: Found Objects

When doling out topical assignments to my printmaking classes, I attempt to make them interesting enough that I might become utterly transfixed to tackle them myself. Such was the case for the final assignment for my relief class this term, & my results (shown in 2 different color versions) are repro'ed here. At 2 x 3" the actual size of these Resingrave prints is somewhat smaller, as I wanted to make objects the scale of something that could be intentionally ingested. That brings me to the photo of the fellow in the impressive hat below, Mary Cappello, & Barry Moser.

#1. The man proudly displaying his vast collection (now housed in Philadephia's Mutter Museum - road trip!) is one Dr. Chevalier Jackson, who extracted these "found objects" from various Victorian human hosts where they had been placed keeping? Perhaps as souvenirs or protective amulets? From this remove, one can only speculate.

#2. Mary Cappello, who has a keen interest in objects of "disruptive beauty" currently teaches at the University of Rhode Island & recently was awarded a coveted 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship. She wrote a non-fiction book about Dr. Jackson titled: Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration & the Curious Doctor Who Extracted Them. I have placed it at the top of my "must read" list, following in the steps of other scientifically macabre books I can highly recommend.
(Heather Pringle's The Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession & the Everlasting Dead, & Mary Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers followed by her book Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife)
Reading reviews of her book suggested the theme of the project - to use not only a found object as the basis of the image, but to make it an object so compelling, so darn tasty, that for whatever reason, one might wish to secret it inside of one's own private Idaho.

#3. That brings me to Barry Moser, Supreme Master of Wood-Engraving. Back in the 1970's I worked with Kim Merker at the Windhover Press in Iowa City, creating (sort of) wood-engravings (sort of) on Turkish box-wood end-grain for a book translated by W.S. Merwin. Kim had worked on a previous project with Barry Moser, & still had his INCREDIBLE blocks knocking about the shop. When he showed them to me, I realized that what I had been doing seriously paled in comparison, & I really should just hang up my gravers, hang my head & return to my gouges & planks. I did this for many years, but after seeing Moser's prints for the Pennyroyal Caxton Bible, I was itching to give the medium another go. Imagine my surprise to find that the end-grain box-wood blocks were a thing of the past. Trees grow ever so slowly. I then read that all 229 illustrations Mr. Moser had engraved were done on a newly developed synthetic substitute of hardened epoxy resin called "Resingrave." Yippee. It's swell stuff, available at McClain's.

#4. Finally, a plea. Would the knave who "liberated" my high magnification swing arm lamp & all my wood-engraving tools (housed in a very ancient Yardley soap box) please return them to the shop. I am bereft & bereaved, especially of my tools!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Drawing on Stones

I like to think that Robert Rauschenberg was thinking of the medium of lithography when he once said "You begin with the possibilities of the material." Towards that end, here are images of my students doing just that, with the materials of lithographic crayons, rubbing crayon, gum arabic, tusche wash, spray paint & scraping with razor blades.

In the image at top, Taylor ("Dusty") Guerra is drawing an image of a fecund "Lady Madonna" on a medium sized stone. We indicate the sizes of the various stones with the colors of blue, green & red painted around their sides.

Miranda Conway split her image into a diptych via the use of a gum arabic border. To make these borders on the stones, we use "spent" amounts of gum that had been used for etching the stones. We collect them together in a large plastic jug, thus assuring that as little as possible goes to waste in the shop.

Ali Azimi sacrificed his antique VCR to create a whimsical drawing of its various component parts.

The brownish-red color on the stone in the flayed human/rabbit hybrid image is where Jonanthan Torres utilized prepared red iron-oxide paper to transfer his drawing. As you can see, the numbers he indicated are backwards, as they needed to be drawn in reverse to print correctly the right way around. He drew with the hardest litho crayons (Korn's #'s 4 & 5), which contain smaller amounts of grease, as he wanted his finished print to appear as sensitively drawn as his sketch.

Pai Chu Li began drawing on her stone using a wooden bridge, in order that the grease from her hands not adversely affect her architectural image. I often think she's channeling the spirit of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, in her equally fantastic & complex images. Because she has more experience with the medium, she's also using various mixtures of tusche to create washes. Tusche is akin to watercolor but is actually a very greasy liquid ink.

As for the # 23 written on the side of her stone...Once upon a time, we named all the stones in our shop (we had the trios of "Faith, Hope & Charity," along with "Porthos, Athos & Aramis"...the 3 Musketeers) but it became a nightmare to keep track of who was using what. We switched to the rather boring numerical system, which has been great for tracking, but not at all imaginative or literary.

The generous gum arabic border around the stone's edges allows for a place for the scraper bar on the press to start & stop. It also is the area where the "T & bar" marks are made by cutting into the stone with a razor blade to insure for correct paper registration & borders.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Lightness of Hyper-Segregation: A Review of Henry Taylor's Exhibition at Blum & Poe

Review by Maximillian Piras

Photos by Roxanne Sexauer

There is really no way to reconcile the arrangements Henry Taylor made inside the Blum & Poe gallery. If they seem displaced, confused, and thrown together it is because they have no option to be otherwise. They have been forced into a fixed space that lacks viable resources for enlightenment. To spell it out: they are oppressed. This is of course not speaking literally of Taylor’s physical pieces, but his subjects. For those that might not feel the imposing hopelessness projected by his massive canvases and array of faceless black sculptures, then you might want to study further into hyper-segregation.

Taylor’s voyeuristic eye has been looking into the urban landscapes which have caged its inhabitants, those who lack resources to escape – or more plainly put: to go on vacation. His subjects are those who were born into the inner city, and who will die in the inner city. Although it is not necessarily a quick read, coinciding with Taylor’s own statements regarding his work. He mentions that it isn’t his goal to beat anyone over the head with a message; he holds no strong political agenda. At most he should be classified as a social observer. Which might be why his paintings are so enjoyable.

If Taylor has one gift emerging above his others, it is his grace in portraying the lightness of his subjects. Who knows why, but his subjects generally appear content. If he is speaking of the tragedies in hyper-segregation, then perhaps his subjects are unaware of their own encapsulation… or just do not care. Of course to consider Taylor’s paintings in this single scope would be to completely undermine his artistic existence. He does not solely existence to enlighten us on this occurrence, but he is damn good at it.

Inside the subtle nuances the darkness appears. Slight portrayals of the shortcomings in education, oppression by authority figures, and worship of marketable idols as escapism transcend throughout. The most prominent for me rose from his painting That’s My Baby Sister, where one subject sports a sweatshirt reading “Califirnia”. It’s also an easy guess to see his sculptures, which are essentially arrangements of detritus painted black, in this light. One area looks like a shrine to Michael Jackson, as his poster hangs above an arrangement of chairs broken apart and incorrectly reconstructed.

Thus far Taylor’s exhibit is one of the best I’ve seen this year. It could easily be considered outsider art, but perhaps only as a beneficial classification. This is the type of art that holds its own visual language and database, which can be utilized free from preconceived contexts often dwelled upon in the art world. In that respect it is more humanitarian and accessible to any outside the aristocracy and bourgeois. Fittingly so, since the latter are the ones likely to see it, it could contain the power to turn any quick to dub it outsider into the outcasts themselves. Because to regard this art as irrelevant echoes dangerously close to saying: there is no solution, for there is no problem.

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