Monday, November 26, 2018

Snow Day 2018

For the last day and some change I've been socked away in the studio as a hearty snowstorm dumps on the area.  Officially, we received around 13.8" of snow by the time all was said and done.  Although we've certainly had bigger storms pass through the area in the past, it was still a large enough storm to merit staying in place, making a big slow cooker full of chili and blast away at some projects in the studio.  With that being said, here is what I've worked on the last 36 hours.

My main objective was to start several new works on canvas.  The first step towards that goal is stretching the canvas over stretcher bars and then prime the surface with several coats of primer/paint.

I won't bore you with an exhaustive barrage of action shots of me painting on the primer.  Suffice it to say, most of the last day and a half was spent priming canvases and moving them around on storage shelves so they could dry.

I even got around to hitting Kyklopes with another coat of primer.

After the first coat of primer has dried, that is when I start adding surface features/reliefs/sculptures.  That way I can hit those relief additions with the remaining coats of primer to help seal them all together.

Not that you would notice, but this is after the third coat of primer.

Resurrecting the fragments of an old canvas to begin a new composition.  The carved letters say 'Frontlines' so until a better title comes along 'Frontlines' it is.

Finally 'The Brain Jar of Dr. Pantalones' has a home!

With a little bit of color added.  I think I will hold of on adding anymore color until I make a small body for the good doctor...

Temple construct after two coats of primer.

About this time I decide to go out and brave the elements so I can accomplish 3 missions.  1) obtain chicken wings from Boozies (done!)...

2) Move my car out of the snow (done!)....

...3) and obtain provisions for the wintry siege (...and done!).

Back at it.  I also wanted to start adding the first passes of oil paint on to the surfaces.  These will be the initial color schemes that I will react to for the remainder of the process.  The piece below is currently being referred to as 'Two-Part Harmony'.

Now in red!

and Kyklopes gets some color as well.

By 1:30am, the snow had stopped falling and it was time to get out the shovel.  One more parting shot from the back door of the studio as I begin to shovel out.

Mmmmmm, sleepy time...

Saturday, November 24, 2018

An Unexpected History Lesson

Recently, I came across a small stockpile of matchbooks.  Not quite the bonanza I hit upon a few years back, but still a nice little cache.

One of the matchbooks was for a place I had never heard of before called the Mapes Hotel in Reno, Nevada.  The artwork intrigued me enough to run a quick search on the internet and see if there was anything out there regarding the Mapes Hotel.

I was expecting perhaps a two or three sentence long blurb about the hotel, but much to my surprise, it has some historical significance.  The 12-story Mapes Hotel was the first skyscraper built in the Western United States after World War II.  It was a combination Hotel/Casino, which nowadays is standard practice, but back in 1947 was revolutionary.

The two batches of things that jumped out at me were the list of celebrities who stayed and/or performed there (Monroe, Clift, Berle, Sinatra, Durante, and President Harry S. Truman) and more to the point at least one celebrity/entertainer Sammy Davis Junior (who performed at The Sky Room, but due to segregation laws, could not actually stay at the hotel).  As an added bonus, apparently during the 1970s the bellmen at The Mapes Hotel were paid a little sumthin' sumthin' by Joe Conforte to direct interested guest to the Mustang Ranch -a legal brothel owned by Mr. Conforte...

The takeaway is: Both prostitution and racial segregation were ok.

What I found even more intriguing than that (at least from the standpoint of making artwork) is that supposedly while enjoying a cocktail in the Lamplighter Bar,  Joseph "Tail Gunner Joe" McCarthy admitted to a reporter that he did not have a list of Communists in America.  This lead me to read about what was and was not revealed by the Venona Project -which was a counterintelligence program that started during WWII and was run during the Cold War.

Anyway, the information is out there for your reading pleasure.

Here are some of my initial sketches from a few of the matchbooks.

At this point I have no idea what the final product(s) will be, but with ingredients such as: a demolished hotel, high rollers, racial segregation, espionage, black listing, drunken power-hungry demagogues, prostitution, and the credo that "Only Experts Make Our Drinks", chances are it will be every bit as much of an emotional roller coaster ride as "If your baby more fat, order more size" or even "Joyous To The Eyebrow" for that matter...

Monday, November 19, 2018

Back On The Case With Kyklopes (KEEK-law-pace)

This past Spring, about half-way through my full-throttle production phase for Pop Culture Palimpsest, I conducted a serious analysis of what pieces I was working on compared with what pieces would actually fit in the gallery space (and which pieces had the best conceptual relevancy with each other).  There ended up being around 6 pieces I cut from my production roster so I could A) free up some of my dwindling studio time, and B) ensure every piece had its proper amount of space in the show.

Kyklopes was one of those pieces that were cut from the team roster.

I am now finally able to spend some time re-engaging with Kyklopes and figure out where I want to take this piece.  This post is primarily a long series of images that show some of my process in partnering different elements with each other and seeing what relationships they suggest.

I had originally envisioned Kyklopes being a vertical composition.  Only recently did I decide that I want to make it a horizontal diptych-esque piece.  Diptychs are natural choices for either times when you wish to compare and contrast two things, or show a before and after sequence.  I'll worry about that conceptual stuff in the near future, but the visual is king, so I want to start by making an interesting visual experience/composition.

'Leg' configuration No. 1

The initial pairing of the two (possible) halves.

The right side (the after part?).

Sample text configuration.  A little more magic brought to you courtesy of my trusty Dremel Tool.

The 'Eye' and 'Face'


Upper torso with arch support.

Upper torso with obnoxiously over-the-top arch support.  If you've been a long time reader of this blog, you can probably guess which one I prefer between the two...

Other cardboard negative shapes showed up for the audition process.

The double-arch support...

Testing the whole thing as a vertical composition again.

Testing some subtle configuration changes.  The two 'legs' are swung out to the right further in the top image...

...and a bit more back towards the left (and off-balance) on the lower image.

Since I've been working with an abandoned billboard/road side sign motif lately, I thought I'd pull this sign component into the mix.  I made several of these signs for possible use in Pop Culture Palimpsest.  Some made it, some did not.

Text configurations.

Having the text just shoot out straight for the foot gave me the idea to shift the whole line of text up to the middle to reinforce/expand the possibilities of interpretation for Kyklopes.  If I have to get more specific with the Kyklopes/one-eyed monster connection for you, may I recommend going back to reading your Little Golden Books or Highlights? (Links provided for both: and

Another 'leg' configuration.

Now the original 'legs' are over on the right side of the composition.

Pretty happy with this composition below.  We'll see what I actually end up doing.

Next time we're gonna get an unexpected history lesson!