Skip to main content

"In Urbana, I ...": Day 1

On Friday night, I drove down from Chicago to Urbana, IL, with Patty, in order to get to the farmer's market early on Saturday morning. After talking to the public arts co-ordinator and the city officials who run the Market on the Square, we were allocated a a spot near the north-west entrance to this vibrant market. Here are a few shots of the market in progress:

We looked the part with black clothing and lanyards that I had made for us. I also had the idea on the way down of bringing a whiteboard, to which I stuck the words "IN URBANA, I..." in blue letters. This introduced an element of play, as people could write their ending to the project's phrase on the board, hold the board up in front of them while I took a photo, and the next person to take part could wipe the board clean and start again.

"Our fish special tonight is ..."
Although we weren't permitted to solicit volunteers, dozens of people came up to us voluntarily to write their phrase and pose for their photo. One chap in particular liked the idea of the project so much that he rounded up several of his friends to sign up. Here is one photo of a family who did a collective phrase:


There are more on the project Facebook page.

My aim for the project was to get at least 100 participants, in order to fulfill the idea of creating a community portrait through the pictures and responses. In four hours, I got up to 30% of that total. Everyone was very pleasant, the sun was shining (I got bad sunburn, because of course the one thing I forgot to bring was an awning). And Urbana is really a very nice place to visit. I can't wait to go back.

 Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How to etch a linoleum block

Linoleum as a material for printmaking has been used for nearly a hundred years now. Normally, you cut an image out using special gouges similar to woodcut tools, cutting away the lino around the image you want to print. This is called relief printmaking, because if you look at the block from the side, the material that remains stands up in relief from the backing material. You then roll ink with a brayer over the surface of the block, place paper over it, and either print by hand or run it through a press. You can do complex things this way (for example, reduction linocuts), but the beauty of the process is that it is quick, simple, and direct.


A few years ago, I saw some prints that were classified as coming from etched linoleum blocks, and I loved the textures I saw in them. In the last few months, I've been trying to use this technique in my own studio, learning about it as one does these days from websites and YouTube videos. I've also had email exchanges with several pr…

Brancusi in Plastic

Artist Mary Ellen Croteau is showing these columns made from recycled plastic cartons and lids in the window of the Columbia College bookstore on Michigan Avenue. They are a playful homage to Brancusi's "Endless Columns", with a serious environmental message for our times:

Mary Ellen also runs a wonderful experimental art gallery in a window space in west Chicago, called Art on Armitage. I will be exhibiting a mixed media piece there during August 2012.

Artist-Writer-Artist: Gerard Woodward

I am extremely pleased that poet and author Gerard Woodward agreed to be interviewed for this series. Gerard and my wife, Patty, were colleagues for a short while at the end of 2008, when Patty taught for one semester at Bath Spa University, where Gerard is a faculty member in the Creative Writing program. Gerard spent the spring semester of 2011 in Chicago on a reciprocal visit. Gerard has published poetry, short-stories, and novels. "Householder", his 1991 collection of poetry, won the Somerset Maugham Award in the UK, and his novel "I'll Go to bed at Noon" was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction. Of his most recent novel, "Nourishment", The Daily Telegraph reviewer wrote: "It is a novel to be savoured, and Woodward is a novelist to be treasured." It turns out that in addition to his success as a writer, Gerard started his adult life in art college, and still draws and paints when he can. So here, from a writer's point of view…