Skip to main content


Showing posts from March, 2012

Final Printing for the Public Art Project

It's been a long time in the making, but I am finally in the last stages of putting everything together for the public art project that I have been working on for the city of Urbana, Illinois. For details of the project, click here . Below is a photo showing all of the images of the participants holding the whiteboard, printed onto Lazertran, a waterslide decal that transfers to the plexiglass panels of the luminary: I flipped all the images first, so that I they will be on the inside of the luminary when it's assembled, facing outward but protected from curious fingers. I also printed a test page for the accordion book. The images will be printed along with each person's name, in alphabetical order, over a background watermark of Urbana's Market at the Square: Tomorrow, I start transferring the Lazertran images to the luminary panels. I will install the work in the Urbana Free Library next Saturday.

Six of the Best, Part 4

Part 4 of an interview series in which I invite artists to respond to six questions about art, process, and creativity. Today's artist is painter Kurt Ankeny , who lives in Massachusetts. If you're on Google Plus, you might also be able to catch Kurt live and on-air sometimes in a Hangout. "Massacre of the Innocents," oil on canvas Philip Hartigan : What medium/media do you chiefly use, and why? Kurt Ankeny : I'm an oil painter. I prefer oil because it is infinitely plastic (which fits nicely into my background as a cartoonist) and because it holds so much affinity for our own mortal casing. Oil is the part of our flesh that our current society likes to deny, tries to banish. Greasy, sweaty, our own nature offends politeness and decorum. Oil paint can throw that back in our faces in ways that other mediums cannot. And the pigment is in its simplest form, dirt. I like the earthy quality, the raunchiness of oil paint. It can play nice, it can behave i

Six of the Best, Part 3

Part 3 of an interview series in which I invite artists to respond to six questions about art, process, and creativity. Today's artist is  Mia Leijonstedt , a Finnish artist who lives in England.  "How Stories are Born" artist's book Philip Hartigan : What medium/media do you chiefly use, and why? Mia Leijonstedt : I have a broad general training in visual arts, but my main discipline for the past 15 years has been contemporary bookbinding and sculptural book art. I'm easily bored with any one art technique, and books have proven to be a canvas that can accommodate an endless amount of creative experiments and numerous different materials, thus keeping me hooked. But beyond its any given outer form, my art is about conveying tales through the use of materials, the tactile details being the language in which a story is told. PH : What piece are you currently working on? ML : In the past year I have been transitioning from book art towards makin

"American Skin:" A True Chicago Classic

An odd thing happened at the Chicago Classics literary event last night. Several hundred people had gathered in the auditorium of the MCA Chicago for the final event of Story Week 2012, the annual celebration of writers and writing organized by Columbia College Chicago's dynamic and internationally-respected Fiction Writing Department. They were there to hear about twenty Chicago writers read short passages from their favourite Chicago writers. So, for example, journalist and radio host Steve Edwards read a poem by Chicago poet Maxine Chernoff; author John Schultz read from Saul Bellow;  writer and director Coya Paz read from Achy Obejas. The spirit of the event, beautifully hosted by veteran journalist Rick Kogan, was all about writers paying homage to this city of great writers, through writing that meant something personal to them. So when one person took the stage and took the opportunity to essentially belittle and poke fun at his chosen book, it seemed to my mind to s

Six of the Best, Part 2

Part 2 of an interview series in which I invite artists to respond to six questions about art, process, and creativity. Today's artist is Paul Baines , whose spectacular work caught my eye on Google Plus. "Garbage Man", 2012 Philip Hartigan : What medium/media do you chiefly use, and why? Paul Baines : I usually sketch in ink and then colorise digitally. I do paint but at a snail's pace. Print gives me the speed and scale I need. I am currently and very slowly working on a large scale painting, and even a novel, all long term plans. PH : What piece are you currently working on? PB : "White Castle" - I don't want to give it away, but it's definitely British art. PH : What creative surprises are happening in the current work? PB : I've realised I live in a "police kingdom" as a opposed to a "police state". I've always resented the idea of being a subject of anyone, dear old bleedin' monarchy

Six of the Best: Part 1

After a lull in the interviews for this blog, mainly due to my blogging for the New York based outfit Hyperallergic , the series kicks off again with New Mexico-based sculptor Mark Castator . In order to post more interviews with some great artists, at more regular intervals, this new series poses each invited artist the same six questions - hence the title Six of the Best. But while the questions may be identical, I can already tell from the first replies that the answers will be as varied as the artists themselves. "Plummet and Run" Philip Hartigan : What medium/media do you chiefly use, and why? Mark Castator : I am a fabricator. Basically that means I am a welder. I work in mild steel, stainless, copper and bronze. I’m drawn to this material because I like to work fast I enjoy the quickness of the medium. I love the alchemy of using heat to forge a very hard surface into something lyrical and elegant. It is also forgivable in that it is easy to make significant ch

Painting at the Whitney Biennial

Photo by Sharon Butler for "Two Coats of Paint." As an addendum to my video Meditation on Elizabeth Peyton, in which I mentioned the Whitney Biennial, Sharon Butler wrote about that show on "Two Coats of Paint" recently ( link here ). Ms. Butler is always worth reading when it comes to anything related to pigment and brushes, so if you haven't bookmarked her blog yet, now is the time.

Meditation on a painting by Elizabeth Peyton

Number 98 in the series talks about something that caught my eye the other day on

Minimalism at the MCA Chicago

At the MCA Chicago, there is a very good exhibition of Minimalist art, entitled " The Language of Less (Then and Now) ," which runs until at least the end of March 2012.  Donald Judd, "untitled", 1970 I have two thoughts about the exhibition. One: that the way the artists sought to pare down the material of expression produced work that now has a classical appearance. Classical, in the sense that it appeals to notions of order, symmetry, balance, absence of superfluity both in the materials chosen and the thoughts expressed. Classical in the sense of emotional coolness rather than heat. Looking at a painting by Brice Marden, we aren’t going to be seduced in the same way as by a Velazquez, or even a Monet. But as an object, the picture absorbs us nevertheless. Brice Marden, "Grove Group V", 1973-76 Richard Serra, "Prop", 1968 Two: that the works chosen as examples of contemporary Minimalism seem fussy and busy by comparis

Anabasis: Text # 5

Text derived from writer Patricia Ann McNair's daily prompt series , #4, We were never sure what happened: We were never sure what happened . Because when I picked up the phone, she was still babbling in a high pitched hysterical voice so that I couldn’t make out the words, only her name. I handed the phone over to my mother and said, “It’s Linda.” My mother listened, saying “Oh God, oh God” into the mouthpiece of the big yellow phone, from which I could hear Linda’s voice, tinny and distorted now, still wailing in long sustained notes. My mother went next door, to where Linda lived, and didn’t return until hours later. Ashen-faced, she told me what she knew.  Linda had finally locked her violent husband out of the house, telling him that he was out for good this time.  Her husband, a soldier who had just completed his third tour in war-torn Northern Ireland, had bellowed through the door that he would get her back somehow.  The next morning, their teenage son Tony had

Google Reader Round-Up

Here are some good things I've found on the latest posts in my Google Reader pages: Studio Critical:  Interview with artist Louisa Waber : Watercolour, gouache & pastel on paper, 8 x 9", 2011 Hyperallergic : Art Fair Roundup Tyler Green's Modern Arts Notes podcast : interview with sculptor Richard Serra . InHabitat :  Dutch Baseball: Artist Peter Schuyff Carves Old Baseball Bats Into Extraordinary Spiraling Sculptures .

More Jogged Pamphlets

I started a few more jogged pamphlets in my studio this week. I did two using the 'vortex' print mentioned in a previous post: And I took some double-side prints made a few years ago and stitched them together to make alternating colours: Though I now realise that the best method is to print everything on the inside pages first, and then print the 'cover' image last.

Some public art in Chicago

I took a walk around Grant Park, Chicago, on Monday afternoon, in a stretch I've never trodden before. It's the area directly opposite Columbia College, 600 South Michigan Avenue. There are some public sculptures placed on the grass, made from recycled bits of cars. Exhaust pipes forming a chaotic trellis: And fenders fashioned somewhat boringly into flowers: I suppose it's better if public art is just inoffensive, as opposed to actively terrible. I like the shapes that the exhaust pipe trellis make, but the flowers just get in the way of the view back towards the city, in my opinion.

Meditation on a painting by Donna Marsh

Who is Donna Marsh? She's a Canadian painter I discovered on Google Plus. This is pretty typical of her painting style.

Anabasis: First Books

On my last visit to my studio, I started making some books based on the sketches and photos that I did in January. I used the technique that I almost always use these days: taking xeroxes of the drawings and sketches, playing around with the resolution at Kinko's, then transferring them to paper using the paper-litho transfer process. Here's the first one (works in progress, again): The image is from a map of all the coal mines in the area of north-east England where I grew up. I printed it in ochre on four strips of paper, then in blue on four more strips of paper, and then braided them together so that you see alternating squares of different coloured maps. I'm going to layer more strips of prints over them, then sew them all together on a base. The idea I have in mind is that you will peel back the upper strips until this is revealed at the bottom of the pile. Then I took the 'vortex' picture that I drew at the beginning of January, and printed it on so