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Paris Update

I've been in Paris for nearly two weeks, teaching a class for the study abroad program of Columbia College Chicago. Instead of visiting the monuments and major tourist sites, I've picked up where I left off last year, wandering around without much of a plan, except to change direction as soon as I see a view down a side street that takes my interest.

Last weekend, I meandered through the southern part of the fourteenth arrondissement towards the Parc Montsouris. On the way, you come across several buildings that were home to many artists and writers at seminal stages in their development.

The first is the Villa Seurat, on the Rue de la Tombe Issoire:

The site originally contained a house used by the great Post-impressionist painter Seurat, which is renown enough. But the current building, constructed in the 1920s in an art deco style, became a warren of studios that was home to an impressive hothouse of creative people: the great painter Chaim Soutine, writer Henry Miller, wr…
Recent posts

Publicizing One's Art

While thinking ahead recently to what I want to achieve in 2019, I remembered something that I did in 2005 -- very much the internet era, but just before the advent of social media. In order to generate some interest in my work at the time, I had a tri-fold brochure printed, and physically mailed a copy plus cover letter to dozens of galleries and university museums around the United States. The results, as far as I can recall, were something like the following:
Reply rate 16% (the average is much lower than that for a mailer).One Chicago gallery took some big pieces of art on consignment.It led to three exhibitions at small museums in Maryland, Illinois, and Wisconsin. With that in mind, I've had a simpler glossy handout printed up. It's 9 inches by 6 inches, printed both sides on glossy card stock:
The text is in English and French, because I intend to leave it with some galleries in Paris during my teaching trip there. 
I'll do a follow up blog post on how this works ou…

End of Year Round-Up

As I look back on 2018, the notable points in the artist calendar were:

Taught 115 art-related classes, which expanded on 2017, which was the previous record holder for most teaching in one year.
Made art sales that reached four figures, for the first time in a LONG time.
Ended my writing gig at Hyperallergic, the celebrated New York-based art blog (or let's just say I began a long hiatus).
Returned to painting in oils on canvas in a satisfying way.
For the first time since 2010, I didn't exhibit my work in any venue other than my own studio. Instead, I concentrated on making work, and getting further along the road of assmelbing a new body of work in various media that I can start to put into the world in the coming year.
Here's to 2019!

The Remarkable Life of Milein Cosman

Earlier this month, London-based artist Milein Cosman died at the age of 96. She lived one of those lives that it's hard to imagine being duplicated: fleeing Nazi Germany as a child, learning to be an artist in post-war London, finding her way into the artistic set of the time, marrying musicologist and broadcaster Hans Keller, and having the great good fortune to spend time at rehearsals drawing some of the greatest musicians and composers of the mid-twentieth century, such as Stravinsky, Rostropovich, and Britten.

Speaking as someone whose typical daily listening is (to cite yesterday's playlist alone) Beethoven's late string quartets and Schumann's Dichterliebe, I think my ideal day job would be to sit with a graphite stick and a sketchpad in the rehearsal room of, say, the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

She was also a skilful printmaker, and from the 1960s on was a member of the Camden Printmakers group.

For a fuller accounting of this fascinating personality, please rea…

Two Chicago Exhibitions

In the last week, I saw two terrific exhibitions of work in and around Chicago.

The first was at a small but beautiful gallery space in Evanston. The work on display consisted of prints by Socorro Mucino and Janet Webber, who took one of my printmaking classes at the Lillstreet Art Center nearly two years ago. The title of the show, Paper Dolls, suggested a pun on the fact that these were works on paper depicting either a child's play-doll, or women as objects of desire (as in "hey, doll!").

Janet Webber's pieces were altered images of mannequins, ball gowns, and beauty queens, presented in rows or in combination with overprinted images and text. Very often the faces were obscured, and the image itself subjected to deterioration in the printmaking process, perhaps as a way of interfering with how these images of banal and old-fashioned female beauty would normally be seen by the male gaze.

Socorro Mucino's images of dolls struck me first as sweet and childlike, …

New Painting: II

With me standing next to it for scale: oil on canvas, 50" x 72".

This is the largest canvas I've started since the late 1990s. It's been a long time coming ...

New Painting: I

This year I've been painting with oils on canvas, for the first time in 18 years. I'm using a high grade canvas, and fairly expensive water-soluble oil paints. It makes a huge difference using the most expensive materials that you can afford. The texture of the canvas, the tooth, the way it resits and holds the paint, is like working with something organic, like skin.

The images in the painting are derived from the same source as everything in the last five years: half-remembered moments from family stories of my grandfather, a coal miner who was once trapped underground during a roof collapse. The apparently abstract marks are in fact derived from similar sets of shapes that I recall from art history. In this case, from a painting by Pierre Bonnard.