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Showing posts from January, 2012

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.

Two works in progress

Medium: acrylic paint on printmaking paper.


Medium: acrylic paint and airbrush pigment on printmaking paper.

Meditation on Franz Kafka

After a Christmas hiatus, here is number 94 in this series of 100 short talks on art and artists. Yes, Franz Kafka was an artist, occasionally.

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Anabasis: Journey to the Interior: Diary 1/24/12

Drypoint on aluminium, 7" x 5"
"It was hard to breathe, pressed so tightly together against the fleshy walls, our two tiny forms bathed inside and outside by the amniotic fluid, deafened by the hammering thud of a heartbeat, tantalised by the distant sound of music and voices."
Text inspired by writer Patricia Ann McNair's daily journal prompts. Prompt # 16: It was hard to breathe.
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Film of Barbara Hepworth

Just over three years ago, I visited St. Ives in southwest England when Patty was teaching over there. One of the wonderful treasures there is the studio home of renowned sculptor Barbara Hepworth. She died in the 1980s (I think) in a studio fire, which is rather grotesque. The house has no trace of that tragedy, however. Instead, you can see her tools and her workshop, the beautiful Cornish house, and wander the lush gardens, built on a steep slope, and littered with her distinctive sculptures. Here is a picture I took in the gardens, with a very typical middle-aged English couple (and a cat) wandering around:

And here is a short film from the marvellous Tate Channel, shot at the house, and containing some recently discovered footage of the Dame in her studio:


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Anabasis: Journey to the Interior: Diary 1/18/12

The boys liked to stand with their faces turned towards the sky, near the old church, down in the dene, as the hawk sprang from its nest, sailed in a wide arc towards the smaller birds, and brought its prey to earth in a splash of blood.

(Text derived from writer Patricia Ann McNair's writing prompt series. Prompt #6: "The boys liked..." )

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Anabasis: Journey to the Interior: Diary 1/16/12

Derived from writer Patricia Ann McNair's daily journal prompt: Prompt #4, January 11, 2012: We were never sure what happened.

"We were never sure what happened. They say the army jeep slid on some ice and went out of control. They also said the driver was drunk, and didn't notice how close he was to the truck right in front. The man fast asleep in the passenger seat never had a chance. The personnel from the army base who were charged with giving us the news said that his body was badly scarred and burned from the accident. An ID had already been made, so there was no need to go through the trauma of seeing him in that state."
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Anabasis: Video #1

Anabasis: Journey to the Interior: Diary 1/11/12

The day is beautiful, o do not be afraid.
They have only gone for a long walk.

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Anabasis: Text # 1

Inspired by author Patricia Ann McNair's 2012 writing prompts. Number 1: On Another Winter Morning.

"On another winter morning I might not have gone to the firing range. It was Arcticly cold, the wind slicing down all the way from Scandinavia and across the North Sea, arriving at our village with an audible whistling, whipping up plumes of snow from the fallow fields around the mines. But Grandad liked shooting, and he said he wanted to teach us, so on a Saturday morning in January my mother piled me, my brother, and my grandfather into the Mini, and we drove to a place about an hour north of the village. I remember a long low building, walls sagging slightly, a dark interior, and the tinny ‘crack’ made by the low caliber pistols. My mother and my grandfather paid their fee, put on the padded earclips, and went up to their allotted firing station. Each station was really one long countertop, separated into booths by flimsy partitions. My brother and I were told we could go in…

Anabasis: Photo # 1

I want to take a photograph of the past. I want to capture the streaming photons of a long-dead event. But what lens could I use? Which direction would I point the camera? How long would the exposure need to be? Supposing such a piece of equipment existed, what would I end up with anyway?

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Anabasis: Journey to the Interior: Diary 1/6/12

Anabasis: A Journey to the Interior: Diary 1/5/12

"Surrounding the mining town where I grew up were mountains of coal, rising like ziggurats against the grey skies. Some of them were so big they had smouldering fires buried deep within them fires that never went out."

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Anabasis: A Journey to the Interior: Diary 1/3/12

"A journey into the undiscovered country, the cavern deep inside the mountain, the labyrinth where monsters lurk, the cave at the ocean's floor, the door into the attic, a place of secrets, a place of danger: ourselves."

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Anabasis: Journey to the Interior: Diary 1/2/12

"I dreamed about a swirling vortex, a whirlpool of black water that filled my field of vision entirely, and as I dreamed I felt that I was being sucked towards the gaping tunnel, whirling around in descending circles, pulling me by the legs until I could no longer resist and finally sucking me into its dark, terrifying maw as if I were a fly being flushed down a sink."

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It's 2012, and it's Florida

Well, this is my first blog post of 2012, and I'm still in Florida. Not much art to see here, but plenty of pelicans, cormorants, seagulls, black skimmers, ospreys, herons. I made some art of my own, in a sketchbook and with some NeoColor crayons that I brought along. These two were each done in a couple of minutes, from a boat sailing around the bay at St Augustine:




It's an opportunity for me to do some observational drawing, which I used to do a lot more, and which I only seem to do in vacations like this one. It's fun to keep my hand in (particularly as I am about to start teaching my drawing class again soon), even if my studio work is not really like this.

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On the goals I set myself for 2011, and how I did

It's the first day of the new year, 2012, and I spent the first part of it taking a walk on the shoreline of Vilano Beach, Florida, with the fog rising off the Atlantic Ocean and all kinds of birds swooping and circling above the waves. Technically, I spent the first minutes of 2012 standing on the balcony of our rented house, a glass of wine in my hand, watching some fireworks scattering in the air a mile away. On my morning walk, I took that picture above of a starfish, and I am trying to think of a way to make it an emblem of a new year. Maybe this creature, like a star, lights up the way forward in the darkness of night, leading us towards an unknown and yet promising future.

Hmm. In the first blog post of a new year, it's the custom to look back as well as forward, so I've retrieved my post from a year ago, reviewing the completed and unfinished goals from 2010. The link is here:

http://philiphartiganpraeterita.blogspot.com/2011/01/on-goals-i-set-myself-in-2010-and-ho…