Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Partial Resurrection of The Gorilla-Fart Showcase

Old stuff into new stuff.  Many of the pieces being worked on for 'Merican-Tastic' have elements from earlier pieces.  I can't say this was an intentional choice made in 'the beginning', it just happens to be one of the things (image-making aspects) going on in my studio work at the moment.

Here is an example of an original piece that is now being reworked, or ripped-up and collaged into new work, that came from another show I had back in 2005 at Midcoast Gallery West called: 'The Gorilla-Fart Showcase'.  On the outside chance you haven't encountered the term 'Gorilla-Fart' while sampling the cultural finery this world has to offer, the term comes from a my undergraduate years in Missouri.  We had a fine drinking establishment that would 'offer' a drink which was just a random concoction of various hard liquors called a 'Gorilla-Fart'.  Since my show was basically a mix of recent work, and I didn't want to fall back on the tried and true 'Recent Work By...' show title, I went with something more....memorable?......visceral?......literary?......crass?

Anyway, this first piece is called The Exodus Triptych, and it is a chronicle of my departure from The South (Texas) and return to The Midwest (Iowa).  The three panels are (from left to right): The Three Faces of Mr. Wonderful in Cha-Cha Mode, Purgatory, and Soul's Arc: The Voyage Home.

The wooden frames have long since been stripped off and turned into carved frames.  The Three Faces of Mr. Wonderful in Cha-Cha Mode is now part of Swan Dive Bomber (see earlier post post called Toy Pieces/Swan Dive Bomber).  I think Soul's Arc: The Voyage Home was completely (and unceremoniously) painted over.  Purgatory has been ripped up and has been re-incorporated into a new piece called Halcyon Days of Yore.

Halcyon Days of Yore is actually the merging of two older canvases with some new elements (the 'Bunny' and the text blocks).  It's also going to have a carved frame which I just started carving this evening.  Here are a couple of glimpses of the frame so far:

I have assembled the boards, and drawn and inked the images for the top and bottom portion of the frame.  The sides remain a doodle in a sketch book that needs to be flushed out more before it becomes 'carve-worthy'.

In the background of this image (from the opening night of 'The Gorilla-Fart Showcase') was a piece called Contraption.  Please note the people in the foreground were paid actors and not actually people having fun at one of my openings.

Here is a close-up of Contraption.

If you look at the base image of Babelmundo, you can still see some of the elements of Contraption peeking through.

Babelmundo and Metropolis were the first two canvases where I started to uses thin washes of paint to separate dense layers of imagery.  My most prominent memory of working on Babelmundo was the time/detail I had to put into the four ships circumnavigating the globe.  Speaking of Metropolis, here are a few progress shots.  I have probably completed the line work for this layer and just need to add color.

Once this new layer is 'done', the piece will go off to Heidi Hernandez to add the actual 'Merican-Tastic!' elements.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Sacrifice.  Every now and then, a piece doesn't follow the typical path to destruction/reworking by being in my way one too many times in the studio.  Sometimes, they are just hanging on the wall being all nonchalant and arty.  Next thing they know, POW! they're dragged into the fray.

Metropolis was a piece I completed fairly early on in this direction of studio work.  I was just starting to embrace densely packed imagery in late 2005/early 2006 (but had not yet taken it to the 'layering' aspect).  I painted Metropolis during the heat of the Summer of 2006 (two years of living in Tallahassee, Florida without air conditioning has prepared me for some pretty sultry abuse).  Below, you can see the amount of line work I was able to lay down in roughly an hour.

If you're thinking 'Wow? That's not much!', you would be correct.  I dug through some of my old sketch books until I found the sketch I used to make the center yin/yang portion of the image.  Since the drawing is in pencil and kinda smeared, I had to ramp-up the contrast in Photoshop to make it more 'readable'

The final image didn't veer too far from the sketch (that is not always the case).  However, if you notice just to the upper left of the image is an early working title before I came up with Metropolis.

Anyway, Metropolis was hanging on the wall in my apartment this morning, and by the end of the day, it was Metropolis no more.

The first step was to haze out the original layer.

After applying a thin wash of dirty white and some excess paint thinner here is what it looked like by noon.

This evening I went back in and started adding some basic underlying color shapes for the next layer of imagery.  These shapes will get a great deal of black line work added on top of them (along with some more color).  There is a fantastically high probability that all of that will get hazed out with another layer of white before a final layer of imagery is added.

Look for the finished piece to be in Merican-Tastic! later this Summer......Happy Trails, Metropolis.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Other Miscellaneous Non-Sense.  Although 11 years is probably not my record for the longest time between the start of a piece and when I get around to finishing it, it's gotta be close.  'Divided By...' is a piece I started in late 2000, or more likely, early 2001.  It is simply two masks separated by a long board riddled with nails (with the intention of looking like a 'divided by' sign).

I would guess the board riddled with nails is probably 90% done.  And yes, it is another completely boring endeavor that if it were a paying job instead of my own personal studio work, I would quit that job in a heartbeat (surrounded by a cloud of obscenities as I walked out).  However, since it is my boring stuff, it is......actually...still fairly boring.  I guess the main difference is instead of hot glue gun burns, every now and then I land a top notch hammer-hit to my thumb (is compression contusions the proper term?).  The nail-studded board has sat untouched and unloved in my back storage space for over a decade, and I decided the time has come to finish the piece.

The general idea is something ominous/rough/complex/daunting (the board full of nails) that separates two people.  The challenge was never really wailing away on a bunch of nails, but to develop two masks that I could get excited about to kind of balance out the monotony of mindless nailing.

Here is the very start of 'The Queen of Fire and Ice Mask'.

Both masks start out with cardboard and fabric.  Here is the lattice of fire crown that will be mounted on top of the mask.

Wrap it all with a layer of fabric and then prime it a few times with paint.  You can already see some spray foam on the inside of the mask form.  The foam was that last little uninspiring bit that comes out of a spray can when you blast a whole bunch on a large Twinkie the Kid mixed media sculpture (hypothetically -of course!).  Notice how my hand is blurred in each shot to give you that 'action sequence feel'.

The other mask is constructed in a fairly similar fashion.

Once they are completed, both masks will get a rusting treatment similar to the 'Pharaoh' piece I mentioned in an earlier post.

Another project I finally tackled this past Friday was to set-up, and document in a non-exhibition environment, my piece Trojan Horse which was part of my Artifice, Artifact, and Allegory show this past Summer.  A friend of mine has a warehouse space that I was able to use.  It took several hours of set-up a clean up for roughly 60 seconds of shooting (I fantasize about having assistants for just this kind of project).

Since I already have shots under nice gallery lights, I wanted something a little harsher and more industrial.  Here is a shot from the show back in July.

Although the gallery installation shots are warmer and more inviting, there is still some rough charm to the warehouse shots.

Detail shots of the center structure (the texture is a combination of Bondo and that rusting compound).  Also some shots of the debris (ceramic shards with imagery 'paddled' into the surface, ceramic food items, and Ionic columns, and masks).

Several hundreds of pounds of clay went into making all of this detritus.

A few parting shots of Trojan Horse.

I was surprised when I unpacked this stuff and found about a half-dozen ceramic faces/masks.  I thought I had used all of them for my piece Passage in ELEMENTAL this past Fall at MidCoast Fine Arts' Gallery West.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A smidgen more Merican-Tastic!  There is one more branch of work that is going into the Merican-Tastic! show, and this is life-sized sculptures.  Here are the 'starts' of several pieces I am working on.  With any luck I will have a Twinkie the Kid, a Captain Cupcake, and 2 or 3 other figures generated from my sketchbook doodles.  All output, is of course, subject to change.

I want the construction process and the materials for these pieces to be obvious/deduce-able to people who look at them.  Although there will be large areas of 'finished' surface, I want the chicken wire, lumber, driftwood, screws, twine, cloth, all of it, -where it can be seen.  These pieces are about many things, one of them is pulling away surface/superficial illusions.

These are the bases/beginnings as they are being built.  The image directly below is a big smiling face.  The verdict is out if I will add eyes or not.

These are two different bases that are underway.  What you see is what you get as far as they are just constructed from driftwood, scrap wood, plywood, screws, and fabric.

Here is the beginning of a head made out of a chicken wire frame, driftwood, and spray-foam.  The spray-foam flows around the chicken wire which kind of locks everything into place (much like a ferro-concrete sculpture)

In fact, allow me to take a quick detour from this narcissistic diatribe and show you some actual ferro-concrete sculptures done by my former students in Advanced Sculpture at Northwest Missouri State University.  The artists are: Catlin Scroggie, Katherine Byers, and Amanda Herzberg.  Instead of spray foam they used cement, and instead of an armature of driftwood, they used steal rods (rebar).

This is Catlin's 'Foo Beast' as it was being hoisted out of the sculpture yard.

Katherine Byers piece as it is being positioned near the entrance to campus.

And Amanda Herzberg's 'Crane', located behind North/South Complex.

Now back to the nonsense at hand.

Taking a quick lesson from the Romans on using rubble concrete to fill the center of their columns, I am using 'rubble Styrofoam' to much the same effect.  Ya see kids, Art History does pay off!

Once the Styrofoam hardens, I cover it with a layer of fabric and prime the heck out of it using a gallon of mistint paint (good quality paint if you don't mind the funky colors -which I don't).  Here is a few more steps down the road with a mouth added.

I still have to build out the nose, brow line and such, but you get an idea where this one is going.

In an earlier post, I showed some images of the start of a Twinkie The Kid that I am building.  Here are some shots of it as I add the foam layer.

I just let the foam sit overnight, and the next day it is firm enough to move around/flip over.  It actually becomes pretty hard in less than a week.

Free-standing Twinkie!  Then I put a layer of fabric (some old drapes left in my studio from its previous occupant) over the body in a manner similar to that goofy-looking head from earlier, and basically used an entire gallon to prime the fabric, -which is to primarily stiffen the fabric.  Here is a start of the second layer of fabric.

Just last night I added the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Now it is time to start constructing a cowboy hat out of cardboard.....