Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I never knew "mixed media" would include red lace panties.

     One of my favorite contemporary artists, Wangechi Mutu, is having the first survey exhibit of her work in the United States. Born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1972, but based in Brooklyn since the early 1990s, it is fitting that the Brooklyn Museum is hosting this exhibit. 
     My only complaint, after soaking up the 50-plus luscious and complex collages, multimedia installations, sculptures and sketchbooks: it's not enough, I want to see more!
I'm such a hermit on the weekends of late, you know it really takes something special to get me on a train and get out of Manhattan and this exhibit didn't disappoint.

I took the N Train to Brooklyn and changed to the 2 to go a few more stops to Eastern Parkway. Easy peasey.

You can always tell when you are at a museum subway station because the art starts before you even go above ground - nice touch, MTA, let's be friends.

Fortunately for this hermit, I didn't have to walk too far from the train station to get to my destination. Heh.

As with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the entrance fee here of $12 for adults is actually just a "suggested donation." I paid $10 with the understanding that my "donation" would not include admission to the uber-trendy special Gaultier exhibit on the 5th floor. No problem, I came to Brooklyn for Wangechi, yo!

Got my admission badge -- well, even the Met's cool little metal badges are a thing of the past so I guess this isn't too shabby. Nice logo.

Up on the fourth floor I entered a nearly empty gallery -- it was a sunny Sunday, the museum was beginning to buzz yet I practically had Mutu's exhibit all to myself.  This was the spectacular sculpture that met me when I rounded the corner into the first gallery.

I'd only seen Mutu's collages and mixed-media pieces and was not prepared to see this massive sculpture/installation. Upon close inspection, it appeared that the tree-like sculpture was molded out of heavy cotton/wool  shipping blankets -- you know, those mottled heavy industrial blankets used to wrap furniture. And upon even closer inspection, I saw that those bright red pops of color were lace panties. Yep.

I really came to see her collages and mixed-media pieces in person. They blow my mind. I had to snap photos surreptitiously since the security guard advised me it was prohibited. There was only one guard on duty so I was able to wander through the 3 galleries and snap quite a few with my iPhone. The lighting was fairly dark so they're not the best photos -- I've included some better photos from her catalogue when I just couldn't get a decent photo. 

Turning past the textile tree, and on to the other works. I'll let the images speak for themselves………………..

Pretty Double-Head , 2010
Mixed media, ink, collage, and spray paint on Mylar, 34x41.75 inches.

Lizard Love, 2006
Mixed media, ink, spray paint and collage on Mylar. 25 x21.5 inches

Le Noble Savage, 2006
Ink and collage on Mylar, 91.75x54 inches

One Hundred Lavish Months of Bushwhack, 2004
Cut-and-pasted printed paper with watercolor, synthetic polymer paint, and pressure-sensitive stickers on transparentized paper, 68.5x42 inches

Misguided Little Unforgivable Hierarchies, 2005
Ink, acrylic, collage, and contact paper on Mylar, 81x52 inches.

Once upon a time she said, I'm not afraid and her enemies became afraid of her  The End. 2013
Mixed-media wall drawing

Riding Death in My Sleep, 2002
Ink and collage on paper, 60x44 inches

Yo Mama, 2003
Ink mica flakes, pressure-sensitive synthetic polymer sheeting, cut-and-pasted printed paper, painted paper, and synthetic polymer paint on paper. 59.125x85inches

Your Story My Curse, 2006
Mixed-media collage on Mylar, 101.5x109 inches

There were more pieces including 3 video installations and pages from her sketchbooks -- this is a must-see exhibit. If you need a reason to leave Manhattan, this is it. Heh.

Time to go home…….

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Coming to NYC for the Holidays?

If you are in New York City between now and January 19, 2014 be sure to make a stop at The Frick Museum. This lovely lady is on display as part of this exhibit "Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis."

Girl With A Pearl Earring
17.5" x 15" oil on canvas
Johannes Vermeer 1665

Timed tickets are available to view this special exhibit and our girl has an entire room all to herself. Don't miss it! 

Order your tickets online here.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Portrait Progression

Ok, who doesn't like a portrait progression, right? Here's my next lady on a train. She seemed a bit awkward and stressed, clutching several bags and, of course, the ubiquitous iPhone.

Here we go - pencil sketch on the gessoed wood block, which is approximately 4 inches square:

Then a few blocks of color:

Followed by some big, splashy patches of more color:

You know, some of our NYC subway cars have bright orange or yellow seats, while others have those icy blues. Sometimes I choose which color to paint, regardless of the original scene -- creative license, I guess.

She had her knees clamped tightly shut but her feet splayed outwards. That was the most interesting part of her pose, so I spent some time getting those legs just right:

Then I toned down that high-keyed lemon yellow behind her head, and paid some more attention to the crumpled shopping bags in her lap. I think this was a good place to stop, don't you ?

NYC Subway No. 19

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Put A Bird On It Redux

Nothing could be more iconic than a New York City pigeon. Yeah, I know you've got pigeons in other cities,  but there is just something about sharing the sidewalks and streets of NYC with hordes of these "flying rats," that makes them feel uniquely New York. And truly intrepid Nw Yorkers they are.

 NYC Subway Card Pigeon No. 7
2.5" x 3" oil on metro card

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Guggenheim Redux

Here's another NYC icon --

It's an icon I've tackled before. Let me know how this new version measures up against the prior versions:

 NYC Subway Card Guggenheim No. 1

 NYC Subway Card Guggenheim No. 2

Here's a close-up of the newest version:

And in a frame:

 NYC Subway Card Guggenheim No.  4

I can't pick a favorite. Just like my children............

But you can! Let me know.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Empire State of Mind Redux

I love painting this view - simple and iconic  - but experimenting with different color palettes. The same shape but different hues gives it a whole different mood and feeling. 

2.5" x 3" oil on metro card

 Compare it to one I did a while ago, such a different result:

2.5" x 3" oil on metro card

I think I'll do a series of these this weekend and see how many variations I can create. Committing to a series really frees you up to experiment - you've got the subject matter out of the way,  and also knowing that you're going to create as many variations as you like really takes the pressure off any single one painting. If it works, great! If it fails, put it aside and try something else.

Popped in a frame and it acquires a bit more grandeur, no?

NYC Subway Card Empire State Building No. 14
2.5" x 3" oil on metro card

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Better Face BOOK - Volume 1

Next up in my handmade tiny books -- a collection of some of my most popular pen and ink drawings, the Loosey Goosey portrait series.

There are 14 miniature prints in all, assembled accordion-style, just like my previous tiny book, NYC H20.  I printed the drawings on archival art paper, and fashioned the covers out of chipboard, covered with hand-made paper from Thailand.

I think between the two photos here. above and below, you can see just about every image that is included, save one - guess that will have to be a surprise.

This tiny book is secured with a slim leather strip fastened to each cover:

Signed and numbered inside the front cover, I've assembled a limited edition of 25. And yep, these are tiny, 2.5" x 3."

Available for purchase here.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

I'm going to submit -- how about you?

I've just received news of an "Upcycling Design Challenge," sponsored by online retailer Uncommon Goods. UncommonGoods celebrates high quality art and design by supporting a large community of independent artists and designers. 

For this  challenge UncommonGoods is soliciting talented artists to submit their most unique upcycled designs -- anything from handbags to kitchen tools, or from gadgets to wall art. 

I'm planning to submit several of my Metro Card paintings to the challenge, now also available in frames made of  sustainable wood (rubberwood and bamboo). Crossing fingers!

Here is the info provided to me by my contact at UncommonGoods:

-Grand Prize: $500 and an UncommonGoods Vendor Agreement

- We accept all sorts of materials as long as they are safe and animal-friendly. So no lead, leather, feathers, or pearls. We love unique materials, especially those that tell an interesting story, so don't forget to share your medium's tale with us in your product description.

- Judges: Writer and Reporter Yuka Yoneda, Chief Design Junkie at TerraCycle: Tiffany Threadgould. andUncommonGoods Associate Buyer for Home Decor Alexis Campagna.

-Submission Deadline: September 30, 2013 at 11:59 PM ET

-Submission page: click here.

- Judges will provide runners-up with a critique of their work, tips for marketing and growing your business.

Wish me luck, Night Shifters!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Painting Progression - the next lady on the train

 Step 1, first blocks of color:

Step 2 - more contrast, deep shadow under the bench, refining the shape of her head....

Step 3 - changed up the color in the background behind her, modified her hair, more detail to the bench and changed the color of her big, slouchy purse:

Step 4 - a touch of lipstick and more attention to her legs and feet. Hmmm, still muddling with them:

Finished? Not sure -- think I prefer her hair as in the step above and still not sure about the wall behind her head nor her folded arms. Added the iphone earbuds but they're not clearly attached to her head! Happy with her legs and shoes, tho, very happy:

Back to the drawing board -- stay tuned for the finale.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

"Give me such shows — give me the streets of Manhattan!" Walt Whitman

A stroll through Times Square is rarely on my schedule - to be truthful, I avoid it whenever possible. It's a must-see for visitors but hellish for locals.

Still, I was happy to take on a commissioned painting for one of my Etsy customers - it gave me the chance to see Times Square in a different light. Or rather, as a jumble of lights and colors. 

It was tricky condensing that landscape into a 2.5" x 3" rectangle, particularly since there really isn't one iconic image that screams "Time Square" -- it's really the cacophony of sights and sounds that you see as you do a 360 degree panorama-style view of the place. 

I decided to stick with a very loose, impressionist style to just suggest the buildings and lights at night. I added a slice of a taxi in the foreground that I think pulls it all together:

And once framed, giving you a chance to stand back and take it in, I think it works - what do you think?

Subway Card NYC Times Square No. 1
2.5" x 3" oil on Metro Card