Archives for posts with tag: art exhibition
St. Patrick Converts the 50 Foot Woman. © Kevin McCloskey, 2015

St. Patrick Converts the 50 Foot Woman. © Kevin McCloskey, 2015

My grandpa Patrick McCloskey immigrated from Donegal, Ireland. I got the grand idea to have some fun with St. Patrick, the most sacred hero of the Island of Saints. Fortunately for me, the Irish, even religious fundamentalists, tend to have a sense of humor.  St Patrick: The Lesser-Known Miracles will be exhibited at the AFA Gallery, Scranton, March 5-28. The prints will be up for St. Patrick’s Day.

Patrick & Celia McCloskey with baby Patrick, Mary, James (center front my dad)  and John

Patrick & Celia McCloskey with baby Patrick, Front: Mary, James ( my Dad) and John.

These are relief prints, carved from wood or linoleum. It is a down-and-dirty way of printing. In my case, a bit the prints are rough-hewn, but they tell a story. I learned this process from masters like Tom Huck and Endi Poskovic and from my printmaking friends in Oaxaca.

St. Patrick Arm-Wrestling a Pagan. © Kevin McCloskey 2015.

St. Patrick Arm-Wrestling a Pagan. © Kevin McCloskey 2015.

One of the new miracle prints is a linoleum cut of St. Patrick arm wrestling a Pagan. Kutztown printmaking student Victoria Beck asked if the pagan was Tom Huck. Good eye, there is a resemblance. I made my first St. Patrick print at Huck’s studio, Evil Prints in St. Louis. So this image is a shout-out to Huck. On another level, the legend of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland may be rooted in his driving the tattooed druids out of power.

The Irish discovery of Pi.

The Irish discovery of Pi.

I’ve read Thomas Cahill’s book How the Irish Saved Civilization and Seamus MacManus’s The Story of the Irish Race. Both interesting books celebrate Irish exceptionalism. I am proud of my Irish ancestry, but I toy with this sort of myth-making in my prints. Every nationality tends to inflate their ancestor’s contributions, I suppose.

St. Patrick Driving the Elephants from Ireland

St. Patrick Driving the Elephants from Ireland © KMc 2012

Reading Eagle reporter Lisa Scheid wrote about this project here. “We see a lot of pictures of a saintly St. Patrick, but Kutztown University professor Kevin McCloskey wants people to see something more. McCloskey, a printmaker and an Irish-American who has participated in his share of St. Patrick’s Day parades, has a series of prints about St. Patrick. The series, “The Lesser Known Miracles of St. Patrick,” doesn’t depict any aspect of the saint or legend but is a celebration of its spirit. Patrick came to Ireland as a kidnapped slave; he escaped and then, surprisingly, returned. “It’s kind of a subversive idea to go back and want to change a country,” McCloskey said. “With a religion from the Middle East, he returned to this cold, tough place to spread love.”

Original woodblock, St. Patrick's Headstand, 12 by 16 in, used as illustration for Reading Eagle 3/17/14.

Original woodblock, St. Patrick’s Headstand, used as illustration for Reading Eagle 3/17/14.

St Patrick: The Lesser-known Miracles can be seen at AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave, Scranton from March 5-28. Opening: Friday March 6, First Friday 6-9pm. I will be there and look forward to meeting my fellow exhibitors, Veronica Lawlor and Chris Spollen. Gallery info here.  A few more St. Patrick prints can be seen here.  If I don’t see you before March 17, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

AFA Gallery announcement, Opening March 6, Scranton, PA.

AFA Gallery announcement, Opening March 6, Scranton, PA.

Many thanks to my friend Scranton-based illustrator Ted Michalowski for introducing me to the AFA Gallery. Thanks, too, to Dean Bill Mowder of Kutztown University for a grant to support this project.

Edith Chavez, center front, and Alan Altamarino, center back with KU students at Taller Chicharra.

Edith Chavez, center front, Alan Altamarino, at back & KU students at Taller Chicharra.

While ice storms hit the U.S. a group of Kutztown students spent 17 days of winter break in sunny Oaxaca, Mexico. We worked with a group of talented young printmakers in Taller La Chicharra (translates as the Cicada Studio).

Alan Altamarino  on press pulling a large scale print with Kevin McCloskey

Alan Altamarino on press pulling a large scale print with Kevin McCloskey.

Alan Altamarino, who also goes by MK Kabrito, runs the studio. He is a recent graduate of the School of Fine Arts at UABJO, Oaxaca. He specializes in large format relief prints. In the image above he carved MDF, multi-density fiberboard, to print a mega-print for his upcoming exhibition in Guadalajara.

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Nueva Vida, 2-color woodblock print by KU student Elaine Knox.

Printmaking studio classes were scheduled from 11-4, but at times the KU crew was still working happily as late as 10pm. Of course, they took a long dinner break around 3pm. Some brave souls sampled fried grasshoppers, a typical Oaxacan snack.

Pajaro Rojo, print, by KU Prof. Miles DeCoster

Pajaro Rojo, print, by KU Prof. Miles DeCoster

Each student created an edition of 15 black and white prints for a portfolio to exchange with their classmates. They also created a limited edition with a second color printed from a block of carved plywood.

Figura Prehispanica, detail, by Ashley Ridgway.

Figura Prehispanica, detail, by Ashley Ridgway.

We came as a group with a reservation, but Taller La Chicharra offers short classes for visitors throughout the year. Besides woodblock, they offer classes in serigraphy and engraving metal via electrolysis. Typically, courses are for half-days and last a week. The cost ranges from 500-1000 Mexican pesos, $40 to $80 U.S.

KU student Blake Myers sketching in the mountains of Mexico.

KU student Blake Myers sketching in the mountains of Mexico.

“Impressions From Oaxaca” prints from the KU workshop will be on exhibit at the Student Gallery, Sharadin Building, Feb 10-15.

KU students carving blocks at Chicharra.

KU students carving blocks at Chicharra. Photo: Miles DeCoster

We had time for trips to the Prehispanic ruins at Monte Alban and Mitla. A highlight was a journey to the petrified waterfall known as Heirve el Aqua.

Wolfgang and Brigid inking plates. Photo M.DeCoster

Wolfgang and Brigid inking plates. Photo: M.DeCoster

Muchas Gracias to Alan Altamarino, Edith Chavez, Marcus Lucero, Mariana Rivera, and all the wonderful Oaxacan artists who made our time in Mexico so memorable! Nos Vemos! See you again!

Murray Tinkelman awarded the Rockwell Artist Laureate Award.

Murray Tinkelman awarded the Rockwell Artist Laureate Award.

I know of 3 Norman Rockwell Museums*, but only one Murray Tinkelman. The best of the Norman Rockwell Museums, the one in Stockbridge, Mass, bestowed the honor of “Artist Laureate” on Murray Tinkelman this weekend. He is only the third person to receive the honor, after artists Barbara Nessim and David Macaulay.

Self-portrait © Murray Tinkelman

Self-portrait © Murray Tinkelman

Tinkelman’s distinctive pen and ink drawings have gained gold medals from the Society of Illustrators, The NY Art Directors Club, and the Society of Publication Designers. Tinkelman began his illustration career in 1951 inking backgrounds for Sheena of the Jungle Comics. “Just vines and leaves, they never let me draw Sheena,” he said. Now in his 80’s, the man is still as sharp as a push-pin.

Tinkleman did many Sci-Fi and Fantasy covers in the 60's and 70's.

Tinkleman did many classic  Sci-Fi and Fantasy covers in the 60’s and 70’s.

Murray Tinkelman has taught hundreds of illustration students at Parsons School of Design, Syracuse University, and now at the Hartford Low Residency MFA program.  Bob Dahm, a 2007 grad of the Hartford program, rightly calls Murray “a walking encyclopedia of illustration.”

Knight on Rhinoceros, pen and ink, 1971, © Murray Tinkelman.

Knight on Rhinoceros, pen and ink, 1971, © Murray Tinkelman.

I learned that Murray is color blind. He jokes that he prefers the term “chromatically challenged.” Perhaps this explains why his most iconic work is black and white, done with a technical pen and india ink. His Knight on the Rhinoceros was on exhibit at the Rockwell Museum. The drawing is surprisingly large, about 20 inches square. It won the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal in 1971 and led to editorial work for the op-ed pages of New York Times, the Washington Post, and Atlantic Monthly.

58 Caddy, pen and ink © Murray Tinkelman

58 Caddy, pen and ink © Murray Tinkelman

His wife and partner, Carol Tinkelman was by his side during the event, as were their daughters and grandkids. Murray Tinkelman has a lot of accolades on his resume, but it was clear that he was touched by his new title bestowed by The Rockwell Museum: Artist Laureate.

The award is based on a sculpture by Peter Rockwell, Norman Rockwell's son.

The award is based on a sculpture by Peter Rockwell, Norman Rockwell’s son.

Illustration superstars attended the gala award ceremony, including Istvan Banyai, Kinuko Craft, and William Low.  Mark McMahon, who taught with Murray in the 90’s drove out with his wife Carolyn from Chicago. But, Bob Dahm certainly came the greatest distance – from Dubai!

NY Times Op-Ed Illustration © Murray tinkelman

NY Times Op-Ed Illustration © Murray Tinkelman

Many former students, now teachers, were there. Jack Tom and Cora Lynn Deibler came from Connecticut. Deibler is a Kutztown U grad who earned her MFA with him at Syracuse. She recalled Tinkelman forcefully insisting (“He nearly grabbed my lapels!”)  that she never neglect her own creative work for the sake of teaching. That jibes with my first Tinkelman sighting. In 1972 I took continuing ed illustration classes at Parsons in NYC. I never studied with him, but I saw him working in his faculty office on a massive line drawing during his breaks between classes.

Ted Michalowski, Bob Dahm, Murray and Carol Tinkelman.

Ted Michalowski, Bob Dahm, Murray and Carol Tinkelman. (photo courtesy of Bob Dahm)

I am grateful for the pleasure of carpooling to the event with the irrepressible Scranton-based illustrator, Ted Michalowski. During the drive to and from Massachusetts, Ted regaled me with legends of Tinkelman.

Norman Rockwell's art studio, Stockbridge Mass. Photo: K.McCloskey

Norman Rockwell’s art studio, Stockbridge Mass. Photo: K.McCloskey

* NOTE: Years ago I visited the Norman Rockwell Museum of Philadelphia. It is now long gone. I’ve also visited the Norman Rockwell Museum of Vermont in Rutland. It is a sweet little place with some memorabilia and quality reproductions of Rockwell’s work. The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass, however, is the real deal. This was my first visit. The museum is substantial and houses an impressive collection of original Norman Rockwells. The view from the grounds of the museum is postcard perfect.

 

Caitlyn McGurck in the secure holdings are of the Billy Ireland Library

Caitlin McGurk with in the secure holdings are of the Billy Ireland Library

Caitlin McGurk has had the 2 coolest librarian gigs in the world. Now she is at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at the Ohio State University. The Billy Ireland is the world’s largest academic research facility documenting printed cartoon art. Before landing this job she was the founding librarian at the Schultz Library at Center For Cartoon Studies in Vermont. She took me deep into the climate-controlled safe room where rare comics are kept. She told me the holding rooms have weapon grade security. (If a door is propped open for 60 seconds cops arrive.) She shared a clipping from an old Mutt and Jeff strip. The collection has 2.5 million such clippings, over 300,000 original cartoons, and so many rare manga volumes that scholars come from Japan come to study their own comic traditions in Columbus, Ohio.

From Bud Fisher's Mutt & Jeff, circa 1938.

Panels from Bud Fisher’s Mutt & Jeff, circa 1938.

Caitlin told me the library is named for Billy Ireland (1880-1935) a beloved editorial cartoonist for the Columbus Dispatch. I know little about Ireland’s art. I picked up his biography by Lucy Shelton Caswell and will write more about him in a future post.

Card belonging to Chester Gould, creator of Dick Tracy.

Card belonging to Chester Gould, creator of Dick Tracy.

Dick Tracy © Chester Gould (From Wikipedia)

The Mystery of Chester Gould’s Blackened Drawing Table

Caitlin also shared the strange tale of the table Chester Gould used to draw Dick Tracy. When the table was donated to the collection it was displayed horizontally, its blackened edge on the bottom.

Chester Gould's drawing Table at the Billy Ireland Collection.

Chester Gould’s drawing Table at the Billy Ireland Collection.

The curators logically assumed those carbon black stains were spilt india ink. When Gould’s daughter, Jean O’Connell, now 87 years old, visited Columbus and saw the desk displayed she said, “NO.NO. You’ve got it all wrong!” The blackened edge belongs on the right side, she insisted, as her father positioned the table vertically. He kept a box of kitchen matches on his taboret at his right-hand side. Seems he was always drawing against tight deadlines. When Gould finished drawing a comic strip he’d strike a kitchen match and run it lit beneath the bristol board to dry the ink faster. Caitlin says they checked the underside of Gould’s original art and found carbon marks consistent with match smoke. Jean O’Connell’s memory was correct and her dad’s drawing table is now displayed vertically.

Yukon-Ho cover, ©1989 Bill Waterson, watercolor with ink overlay,

Yukon-Ho cover, ©1989 Bill Waterson, watercolor with ink overlay,

In keeping with Ohio State’s tradition as a land-grant university, anyone can visit the library and see nearly any part of the collection, academic credentials are not required. So if you are a scholar, or just a dedicated fan of a particular comic strip, The Billy Ireland is the place to visit.

Willie Nelson © Richard Thompson on view until 8/3/14 at Billy Ireland Museum

Willie Nelson © Richard Thompson on view to 8/3/14 at Billy Ireland Museum.

Right now the Billy Ireland Museum galleries have 2 exhibitions: Exploring Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson and The Irresistible Force Meets the Immovable Object: A Richard Thompson Retrospective. Both shows will be up until August 3, 2014.

10363481_708167229241311_5049042458637648788_nHours and details of future exhibitions can be found here. Even if you can’t get to Columbus, the Billy Ireland blog is a great resource worth exploring. The galleries at Billy Ireland are free and open to the public. There is admission charge for the Wexner Center for the Arts, which is next door and well worth a visit.

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Tom Corbett Space Cadet rocket on display.

Tom Corbett Space Cadet. Wow! That’s my Governor’s name!

We will leave with one final image from the amazing Billy Ireland collection. The original artwork for The Legend of Wonder Woman #1 by Trina Robbins …

Wonder Woman © Trina Robbins, Billy Ireland collection, Ohio State University.

Wonder Woman © Trina Robbins, Billy Ireland Collection, Ohio State University.

KUTZTOWN as GALLERY

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Here is your invitation to walk into Lucky 13 Tattoo & Piercing Parlor and The K’town Pub and Basin Street Tavern. If you don’t want another tattoo, go to Lucky 13 before you hit the bars! Meet Kutztown area artists at a variety of local businesses. Each venue will feature works from one or more artists, and many of the artists will be available to talk to about their work on Friday evening.

Linear Composition, painting by Jan Crooker.

Linear Composition, painting © by Jan Crooker on view at Lucky 13.

What I really like about this event is this: it’s not a fundraiser!  It is meant to build an audience for Kutztown artists and give you a reason to enter a new business. It is free to see. The artists don’t have to pay to play; perhaps someone might buy their work. The Kutztown Community Partnership is the sponsor. Thanks to Kutztown booster Jim Springer of Dunkelberger’s Jewelers for coordinating this unique event.

Navajo Madonna and Child by Maureen Yoder. Kutztown

See Navajo Madonna and Child © by Maureen Yoder at Vynecrest Wine Shop

Artists will also be at Global Libations, Uptown Espresso, Jackie & Daughter, Monaghan Realtors, Wholesome Foods, Adam N’ Eve, Firefly Books, J.A. Meyer, CC’s Wooden Grill, Pop’s Malt Shoppe, Main Street Inn, and Spuds. Start anywhere and grab a list!

Portrait of Azuka ©Leah King at KTL Cigars.

Portrait of Azuka ©Leah King at KTL Cigars.

Leah King was my illustration student at Kutztown. She’s had success lately doing art for children’s books like Bathtime for Brandon by Angela Hunt. Leah will be showing her mixed media artwork at KTL Cigars, 100 Constitution Blvd. Two of my former KU design colleagues are Artist Harvest participants, Dianne V Dockery and John K Landis.

Clay monoprint © by Dianne Vottero Dockery at Dunkelbergers.

Clay monoprint © by Dianne Vottero Dockery at Dunkelbergers.

John Landis is sharing his hand-made miniature buildings. His work will be on view at Colasanti Printworks. He sent me some photos of his tiny buildings based on real places he recalls from his childhood, like the one below. What is happening on the second floor?

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Dress Store and Doctor’s Office © John K Landis at Colasanti Printworks

All the artists and venues will be happy to see new faces. Most are located along Main St. At the edge of town Nectar’s Cafe will be open for dinner Friday Oct. 4 from 5-8pm in celebration of the Artist Harvest. My friend Camille Eaton Romig will be showing quilts there and Nectar’s will be rolling out a new orange cognac coffee just for the event.

Graphic © by Matt Williams of Firefly Books, Kutztown

Graphic © by Matt Williams of Firefly Books, Kutztown

Depending on the venue, the art work may be on view Saturday and Sunday Oct. 5 and 6, as well. However, if you want to meet and great the artists, get to Kutztown Oct. 4. It’s like New York, but smaller.

 
Reflejos de Huida, stencil, 2013, Lapiztola.

Reflejos de Huida, stencil, 2013, Lapiztola.

MACO,The Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca has an exhibition of street art on its walls. Does street art belong in a museum? Well, MACO’s Hecho en Oaxaca spills over into the streets. The artists came from all over the globe, Swoon, The Date Farmers, How and Nosm, MOMO, Retna, Saner, StenLex, and Vhils. Oaxacan artists Yescka, Dr. Lakra, and Lapiztola round out the show curated by Pedro Alonzo.

Lapiztola Collective's birds seem escape onto the street

Lapiztola Collective’s birds seem escape onto the street.

I am fond of Lapiztola’s work. I’ve met them, in fact they once let me hitch a ride home with them from a birthday party in the hills. Their stencils are always crisp graphic statements, often they relate to musical themes. I was not familiar with L.A. artist Retna. Retna’s blue wall at MACO (below) titled “Somos los ninos de las manos manchadas” translates as “We are the children of stained hands.”

Art by Retna, 2013 Acrylic.

Art by Retna, 2013 Acrylic.

His work resembles Arabic calligraphy. I thought Retna also painted the front of ASARO’s studio, Espacio Zapata, home to a gallery and the cafe,”Atila Del Sur.”  A reader informs me it is the work of Sanez.

Retna, Espacio Zapata, Studio of  ASARO collective, # 519 Porfirio Diaz. Van artist unknown.

Wall by Sanez, Espacio Zapata, Studio of ASARO, # 519 Porfirio Diaz. Van artist unknown.

Dr. Lakra has an untitled mural in the exhibition. It looks to be inspired by Hollywood, Bollywood and cheap whiskey. In Lakra’s case, I prefer his simpler ‘dragon woman’ mural on a wall near Espacio Zapata.

Dr. Lakra, untitled, acrylic and spray paint.

Dr. Lakra, untitled, acrylic and spray paint.

Dr Lakra, Street mural, Porfirio Diaz. Oaxaca.

Dr Lakra, Street mural, Porfirio Diaz, Oaxaca.

Swoon’s project is among the largest artworks in the museum. Like many old public buildings in Mexico the museum was once church property until it was seized by the government. Swoon worked around fragments of painted wall decoration which may date from the 17th century. She turned a high-ceilinged room into a temple of intense female figures. To borrow a phrase, the walls reflect both “agony and ecstasy.” Overall, her imagery evokes a suggestion of hope. I first saw Swoon’s work on a wall in Braddock, PA. She is an inspiring artist.

Swoon, detail, showing fragments of colonial wall decoration.

Swoon, detail, showing fragments of the colonial wall decoration.

Wall by Swoon at MACO, Oaxaca.

Wall by Swoon at MACO, Oaxaca.

Swoon’s outside murals were on prime real estate in the historic center of Oaxaca. I was told the building houses Dr. Lakra’s painting studio. Her works are woodblock prints on kraft paper which are pasted to the walls with wheatpaste. In some places they call these works “throw-ups.” The street artist can unroll the work and throw it up on a wall in a matter of minutes.

Oaxaca Street Art by Swoon, complete with a museum label on right edge.

Oaxaca Street Art by Swoon, complete with a museum label on right edge.

I will leave you with an image that includes art by Swoon, but it looks to be a collaboration with Retna and perhaps the blue skull is by Dr.Lakra. Next post I will share work by my old friend Yescka.

Oaxaca Street art, Swoon, Retna, and maybe, Dr. Lakra.

Oaxaca Street art, Swoon, Retna, and maybe, Dr. Lakra.

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I visited Hoboken, my old hometown, for the opening of an art show from Meadowlands, Thomas Yezerski’s beautiful children’s book. His book is about the battered, but amazingly resilient, ecosystem that exists just a few miles from Hoboken and it’s better-known neighbor, New York City. The exhibit runs to March 10 at the Hoboken Historical Museum, my favorite small museum.

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I met Thomas last year when he came to Kutztown University Children’s Literature Conference. Raised in Allentown, PA, he now lives in Hoboken. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s famed illustration program. Thomas has illustrated a variety of kid’s books, but Meadowlands: A Wetland’s Survival Story is his masterpiece.

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His ten years of research began by reading everything he could find about the natural history of the area. Then he got into a canoe so he could observe the North Jersey wetlands firsthand.

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Thomas found some remarkable wildlife thriving beside some of our nation’s noisiest, and ugliest highways. His watercolor washes and finely detailed pen and ink drawings are perfect for depicting this strange world. The New York Times gave the book a glowing review: “Meadowlands is tremendously (but not intimidatingly) informative, fun to read and gorgeous to look at.”

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The book is a generous 40 pages, more than the typical children’s picture book. Nearly all of the panoramic two-page spreads are framed by multiple vignettes, like those appearing here. Thomas includes dozens of these supporting images in the current exhibition.

The artist custom matted his illustrations to include the supporting details.

The artist custom matted his illustrations to include the supporting details.

Thomas Yezerski will return to the Hoboken Historical Museum on Sun. Feb 10 at 4pm to describe his research, writing, and illustration process. (And sign books!) More info on the event can be found here. Admission to the Museum is $2 for adults, free to children and members.

Thomas Yezerski at Kutztown

Thomas Yezerski at Kutztown’s Children’s Lit Conference in 2012

If you can’t get to the Hoboken Museum, Thomas’s publisher has a nice page about the book with more pictures. To see the wide range of his illustration work, visit thomasfyezerski.com.

All artwork on this page © 2012 Thomas F. Yezerski

A prior clothing installation from jarodchazewski.com

“SCARP” A prior clothing installation from jarodchazewski.com

Kutztown University will host Canadian artist Jarod Charzewski as he transforms the Miller Gallery into a “site-specific installation based on the consumer culture of Kutztown shoppers.” What’s that mean? Come find out. Based on his past installations, Charzewski’s work is likely to be colorful and eye-pleasing, yet also thought-provoking.

Army Man Made of Books about War © Jarod Charzewski

Army Man Made of Books about War © Jarod Charzewski

Charzewski’s winning artist residency proposal was one of nearly 125 that came from all over the world. His Kutztown U gallery installation will be in progress from Jan 21 – Feb 7.  Artists (students or not) who would like to assist him in the project can contact Karen Stanford via the Miller Gallery webpage. The exhibition will be up until St. Patrick’s Day.

Detail showing Books about War.

Detail showing Books about War.

Born in Winnipeg, Charzewski graduated with a BFA from University of Manitoba. He got his MFA at U on Minnesota. He is currently teaching at College of Charleston, S.C. I emailed him a few questions:

Q. How important is drawing to your process of visualizing an installation?

Jarod Charzewski: Drawing has always been an important part of what I do. I have always drawn. It’s the first creative thing I did when I was growing up. I don’t really think I was very good at it. I could blow my friends away with drawing, but that was only copying things from photographs. I wasn’t very spontaneous with my subject matter.

Many of the drawings I do today are schematics for planning my installations. My wife is an architect so I frequently bounce ideas off her as far a traffic flow and the height of things.

installation sketch © Jarod Charzewski

installation sketch © Jarod Charzewski

Q. What tools do you use to draw?

J.C: Right now I am using Sketchup to do drawings of all forms. Everything from detailed schematics with dimensions, vegetation and pedestrians to doodles and scribbles. It’s a very fun tool to play with.

Sketchup drawing ©  Jarod Charzewski

Sketchup drawing for a project at Ohio University © Jarod Charzewski

Q. What is the best advice you got in art school? From whom?

J.C: The best advice I got was from Alex Bruning. He taught advanced drawing in my BFA program at the University of Manitoba.  It was one class when he gave us some instruction and then turned us loose to work. I sat in front of my drawing board with a blank piece of white paper on it for – I guess – ten minutes, wondering what to draw. Meanwhile, my buddy Richard Wlodarczak just jumped right in, without hesitation or evidence of a single thought and started drawing.

I was amazed. Alex Bruning came by and said to me. “Richard trusts himself…. You must trust yourself”.  I think about that a lot. I can’t say I remember what I did at that moment but I recognize now the things I trust myself with. It’s also fun to see students in my classes that trust themselves.  By the way, Richard Wlodarczak is an accomplished painter living in Vancouver, B.C. 

Jarod Charzewski borrows, then returns, clothing from Goodwill for installions like this.

Jarod Charzewski borrows, then returns, clothing from Goodwill for installions like this.

Q. Is Canada more supportive of the visual arts than the US?

J.C: It is and it isn’t. It’s common for anyone with BFA to get provincial and federal artists grants as soon as they graduate.  There are many that make a living doing just that. What is rare is a chance to exhibit the work you make with the grant money, as there are so few galleries, compared to the US.  I feel it’s the opposite here in the US. Even before students of mine graduate they have shows in commercial spaces and are selling their art in one way or another.  It’s the grants that are few and far between.

Jarod Charzewski’s artist statement and many more images of his artwork can be found at jarodcharzewski.com. If you are near Kutztown, visit the Miller Gallery. The artist will be talk about his work, free and open to the public, Feb 7 at 7pm. The official installation opening is the same day, 2/7/13, from 4-6pm. Details here.

Back in the ’80’s, when I told my pal Putka I was getting an MFA in illustration, he laughed, “What’s next?  -a Phd in Wallpaper Hanging?” What’s Next? Looks like the answer is Advanced Comics…

The SAW campus © SAW 2012

The SAW campus © SAW 2012

Stanford is a great university with one respected graphic novel class. But suddenly, universities across the country are offering complete advanced degrees in comics. CCS, the Center for Cartoon Studies, in Vermont has offered a Comics MFA for several years. CCS is not to be confused with CCA, California College of the Arts in San Francisco which is launching a new low-residency MFA in Comics in 2013.

detail from Roots © 2012 Adrian Pijoan

detail from Roots © 2012 Adrian Pijoan

A curious new educational option has sprung up in Florida. It is called SAW for Sequential Art Workshop. Cartoonist Tom Hart who taught for a decade at SVA in NYC has relocated to a storefront on So. Main St. in Gainesville. There, with a group of dedicated faculty and students, he has begun an intensive comics course. SAW’s one-year intensive program is not an accredited MFA, but it cost far less, $3600. I contacted a SAW student, Adrian Pijoan, to learn more about this grassroots educational experiment.

Adrian Pijoan at SAW from www.adrianpijoan.com

Adrian Pijoan at SAW from http://www.adrianpijoan.com

KMc: What do you think of MFA’s in comics?
Adrian: “I’m all for MFA’s in comics — the more that the art world accepts comics as a legitimate medium the happier cartoonists will be.”

You are in a non-degree program, Why is that?
Adrian: “I met with some cartoonists who are also faculty at a major art school over the summer to talk about the MFA program at that school. Those faculty members convinced me that if my interests really lay in cartooning then the MFA program would be a waste of time and money.

comic panels from Roots ©2012 Adrian Pijoan

comic panels from Roots ©2012 Adrian Pijoan

For some reason drawing, painting, and literature are all legitimate art forms, but there’s still this idea that when you combine them some sort of dark magic happens and the end product is no longer art. So, I think the idea of a comics MFA program is great, but that there’s still this silly prejudice against comics in the mainstream art world. There’s also the issue that a lot of cartoonists — myself included — are more interested in producing art that is available to everyone than in producing art to hang in a gallery or in the houses of the extremely wealthy.”

detail from Roots © 2012 Adrian Pijoan

detail from Roots © 2012 Adrian Pijoan

Why SAW?  Adrian: “SAW is a really fantastic community and a much more holistic learning experience than I experienced in college or anywhere else. The curriculum is very rigorous, but it is also adaptable to encourage our growth as individual artists. During our end of semester show last Friday (12 /14) we were all impressed by the improvement we’ve undergone in three months. The whole school — students and faculty — work together as a community and we’re constantly pushing and challenging one another. There are always other artists around to critique or help you solve a problem.

Student show at Saw, August, 2012, used with permission.

Student show at Saw, August, 2012, used with permission.

Another reason I chose SAW over a degree program is that SAW is very inexpensive, but provides the opportunity to work with really amazing faculty. And though there’s no degree, I believe that in the art world your portfolio is more important than having a degree. So the quality of the education is more important than the diploma.”

from Fig about co-evolutionary symbiosis between wasps and figs. © Adrian Pijoan

from Fig explaining co-evolutionary symbiosis  © 2012 Adrian Pijoan

Can you tell us something about your background?
Adrian: “I have a bachelor’s degree in botany from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I realized while there that my interests are more in outreach and education that research. I think a lot of research gets locked up in academic journals in the same way that a lot of art gets locked up in galleries. So my interest is in taking that scientific information — primarily about ecology and conservation — and translating it into a medium that is accessible, interesting, and fun. Even more than that I’ve found that my comics about science are creating conversation and generating curiosity about the natural world.”

From Sitting Ghost © Adrian Pijoan

From Sitting Ghost © 2012 Adrian Pijoan

Any advice for young artists interested in making zines and comics?
Adrian: “Do just that – make zines and comics! Make them and get them out into the world. Trade them with other creators, go to conventions, put them online – get your work out there. And, even more importantly, keep making work. It can get discouraging when it feels like no one is listening, but you just have to keep on going. Don’t get too hung up on your early work, either – your first comics probably won’t be great, so finish them and move on. Set goals by the project. If you make a mistake or don’t like the way it’s turning out, finish the project and then try not to make that mistake in your next one – but don’t get discouraged. Also, even if you think you are going to draw in the most flat, cartoony style, still take the time to learn traditional art skills because your drawing can always benefit from them. If you don’t want to go to a traditional art school, look for local figure drawing sessions or evening classes taught by local artists. Or, better yet, apply to SAW! “

hand

Adrian, one more question: What’s with the argyle sock on your arm?
“Haha, the sock — I get lots of questions about that. It’s a trick I learned from Tom Hart (director of SAW). It keeps the oils in your skin from getting on your bristol board (which can interfere with inking) and it allows you to slide your hand across the drafting table smoothly to make straight and consistent lines — especially helpful when you ink with a brush like I do! And on chilly nights it keeps your hand warm.”

Check out Adrian’s work at www.adrianpijoan.com and watch Kathryn Varn’s video of him at the drawing board. I really appreciate Adrian’s perspective and expect more great things from him.

Indie alternatives to institutional higher education in the arts deserve support. Non-credit, off-the-grid, DIY art education centers are popping up all over. Tom Huck’s Woodcut Bootcamp in St. Louis, Maine’s Beehive Design Collective and Pittsburgh’s Cyberpunk Apocalypse are a few examples I’ve seen. I hope to see more. SAW has a fundraising Etsy page with original art by Vanessa DavisDash Shaw, John Porcellino and other important comics artists. Check it out.

"Un Gran Consejo"or "Great Advice," César Chávez, 2011

“Un Gran Consejo” or “Great Advice,” César Chávez, 2011

Our 2011 visiting artist César Chávez of Oaxaca, Mexico left a great impression on Kutztown University. He also left a number of plates.

El Chamuco drawn by Cesar Chavez.

“El Chamuco”  by César Chávez, 2011.

Ceramics Prof Jim Chaney formed a half-dozen red clay plates, then iced them with a coat of white slip, or diluted clay. He invited César to the ceramics studio to draw. Prof Chaney speaks some Spanish and once did a ceramics workshop at the University of Azuay in Ecuador. Even though César spent most of his time at Kutztown in the printmaking studio, he was happy to spend one very productive afternoon in the ceramics studio.

"Mescal" by Cesar Chavez 2011

“Mescal” César Chávez, 2011

César is a happy fellow who often draws moody, morbid sketches of the human condition. The plate above suggests mescal, Oaxaca’s agave-based alcohol is “Good for Nothing and Good for Everything.”

"Mojado" by César Chávez

“Mojado” by César Chávez, 2011

Interestingly enough, César is back in Mexico and working in another new material, glass. He has been working with artist Jason Pfohl who founded the international art glass and jewelry studio, Gorilla Glass, in Oaxaca. César’s one-man show “Peste” (Pestilence) opened at Gorilla Gallery this week. He is printing multiple impressions from etched and melted glass. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. César is also continuing his ongoing experiments in computer animation and image projection.

César Chávez, photo  courtesy of Gorilla Gallery

César Chávez, photo courtesy of Gorilla Gallery, Oaxaca, Mexico

César told Gena Mejia of the Imparcial newspaper that he is excited by the infinite possibilities of working in glass. It appears fragile, but can be a strong and very versatile material. If you can read Spanish the full story can be found here. César Chávez is an inspiring artist, a 21st century renaissance man, always searching for new materials in pursuit of his artistic vision.

EXPOCESAR-01

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