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Artists Collecting Artists

We're moving apartments in Chicago at the moment, and so we've spent weeks sorting through all our worldly possessions and deciding which ones to keep and which ones to turn into other-worldly non-possessions. Patty thinks that we have thrown out, recycled, or found other homes for about 100 boxes of stuff -- clothes, furniture, kitchenware, air conditioners, books, CDs, DVDs, old documents, and above all, photos.

So many photos. Hundreds and hundreds of them. Many of them duplicates from our wedding in 2002. You might be horrified at the idea of someone throwing even copies of their wedding photos,but really, how many shots of people standing around in a garden looking at the bride and groom do you need? The whole process of discarding so much accumulated stuff made us marvel at how much junk seems to accrue to you in a short space of time, and how much you really can live without if you just let it go.

Simultaneously I carried out the same kind of ruthless culling of the he…
Recent posts

5 Books from the Joan Flasch Collection

Two of my artist's books were recently acquired by the Joan Flasch Collection at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Here are five really good books by other artists that I saw on display when I went there to deliver my little pieces.






All That Glitters

Here I am again in Interlochen, northern Michigan, where I have been teaching a handmade books class to a group of eager adults. Above is one of the Japanese stab bindings books created during the class.

One drawback about that beautiful decorative paper you see on the cover: I didn't realise when I bought the papers that they were covered in glitter, which slipped off the paper as we were using it and covered everything in the room, including faces and arms.

So people left the class with lots of beautiful handmade books, while looking they had spent the day at a rave.

James Joyce, Rembrandt, Picasso, Fellini, and Me

June 16th was Bloomsday, the annual celebration of James Joyce's novel Ulysses, the action of which takes place on one day in Dublin in 1906. I've written before about the set of etchings I made back in the late 1990s, based on the Nighttown chapter of Ulysses. But after posting images of these etchings via social media during the most recent Bloomsday, I realised I could still say something about the various things that influenced my particular interpretation of Joyce's text.
When I started planning the project in 1997, I was aware of a few other artists' visual responses to the book, such as Robert Motherwell's attractive and entirely abstract etchings, some hasty and uninspired lithographs by Matisse, and (the best ones, in my opinion) semi-abstract etchings by Mimmo Paladino:

I started by narrowing down to one chapter: the Nighttown chapter, which takes place in the red light district of Dublin, and parallels the Circe episode in Homer's Odyssey. Odysseus …

I Talk On Video

Here is a short video of me in my studio, talking about me, my art, and my influences.

My Work Acquired by Important Collection

When so much of making work as an artist involves slogging away in a room with no idea if it's ever going to be seen by the world outside, it's satisfying when a little success comes your way. I am very proud that two of my handmade books were acquired recently by the Joan Flasch Artist's Book Collection at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago. This collection is one of the most renowned collections of books made by artists in the United States, so it's a huge honour to be included.

Here is one of the pieces, an interleaved slit accordion fold of two etchings:


And here is the other, a heavily collaged accordion book bound together by sisal:


Each piece is now being catalogued and digitized, and at some point in the future they will be on display at the library, possibly in the company of books by artists such as Joseph Beuys:

And Christo:


And Richard Tuttle:

I have paintings in my studio that are six feet square, yet it's these two small books that have given m…

Teaching at Interlochen, northern Michigan

Last weekend, my wife Patricia Ann McNair and I taught a one-day journal and sketchbook class at the Interlochen College of Creative Arts. The ICCA runs classes for adults in a purpose-built space on the campus of the internationally renowned Interlochen Center for the Arts. The photo above shows one of the participants in the act of making a 10-second drawing, the first activity of the day.