Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Postcard Project

Recently, I’ve been revising some work I made twenty years ago.
In 1988, I participated in a mail art project. The project involved making 35 original postcards and mailing them (in an envelope) to someone who was collecting all the cards, and sending back 35 cards from different artists. It sounded fun, and I threw myself headfirst into the project of making the postcards. At the time, I was mostly making collages, and I labored over these 35 cards for about three weeks, clipping images and text from 1950’s homemaker’s magazines, old textbooks, and religious books bought at garage sales, and painstakingly assembling collages out if them. I put a lot of time and effort into these postcards, and I sent them off just before the deadline, then anxiously awaited my package of postcards from other artists.

When the package arrived, I was pretty disappointed. I received 35 cards, but most of them were pairs of cards from an artist, instead of cards from 35 different artists. Much worse than that, however, was that many of the people involved obviously put no effort whatsoever into their cards. One person scribbled on a piece of poster board with several differently colored markers, then cut the board into 4 X 6 inch squares. Another glued whole pages of newspaper onto a sheet of poster board, and cut that into squares. I even received two of my own cards back (which I can’t seem to find right now). Receiving two scribbled pieces of board seemed pretty bad after pouring so much effort into the project. While there were a few decent photo cards in the package, many of the 35 cards ended up in the trash.

When I made my collaged postcards, I ran up against the deadline for mailing them and had to send them off before documenting them (this was years before I owned a scanner or a copy stand). Figuring it was better than nothing, I had my sister take them to work and make B&W photocopies of all 35 postcards. These copies have sat in a folder in my file cabinet for 20 years, until now.

With the home remodeling project (which just passed week five of the supposedly three week project-and it’s still not finished) I’ve been without my basement workspace for making alternative process prints. Tired of sitting around waiting to return to the studio, I pulled the 20 year old grainy B&W photocopies out of the filing cabinet, scanned them all, and have been digitally revising and coloring some of them.

Here’s the original photocopy of the revised card seen at the top of this post, for comparison.

Of the 35 cards, probably a third of them really aren’t very good and are best left buried in the file cabinet. I remember running out of steam about 3/4 of the way through making them, but forcing myself to push out a few more. Another third are ok, but nothing much can be done with them. That leaves about a dozen or so postcards that hold up decently well after 20 years, and that might benefit from being reworked and updated. I decided not to try and recreate the cards as they originally looked. After 20 years, I can’t remember how they looked in their original state, and in some cases, it’s hard to recreate anything from a grainy photocopy. Besides, it’s more fun making something new out of them.

Here’s another one, the original first, followed by the revision.

As of this writing, I have four of the cards completed, and two or three more in progress (including one that I’ve done two versions of, and don’t like either one). I enlarged a couple of them and printed them, and they look great. So good, in fact, that I’m thinking of listing them as prints on my Etsy page.

I’ll post more of these postcard revisions in a couple of days.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Adventure Time

This quirky, offbeat, and totally charming cartoon short has just been picked up as a series by the Cartoon Network. I can't wait. I was laughing out loud watching this. It's bizarre, in a good way.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Watch This Space

I'll post some of my own art here soon. Meantime, check out this great PSA about art education:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Photo Essays

Still not much happening, art-wise. The remodeling project in my house keeps dragging on and on, so I am without my basement space for making prints right now. I start teaching classes on Aug. 25 after having the summer off, and it's looking like the remodeling won't be finished before I resume teaching. I was hoping for a small break between the time the project is finished and school starts, to regroup and start working on my new darkroom (which is part of the remodeling job). That's not going to happen, so I'll have a few weeks of teaching while simultaneously putting the darkroom together. Should be nice and exhausting!

I have been doing some shooting, and have some ideas for things I want to start working on. I also have a few negatives for more bookmarks ready to print, which I probably won't be able to do for a few weeks.

I've also uploaded quite a few photos to JPG magazine, including a couple of photo essays. These are basically groups of thematically linked photos with a bit of writing. The first one I titled The Institute. It's several photos I took of the models for a new wing the Art Institute of Chicago is constructing. I've made cyanotypes of several of the photos I shot of these models, some of which I posted to this blog over a year ago.

The most recent photo essay I posted to JPG is titled Night at the Fair. It's a selection of photos I took at a small carnival back in 1996 using color saturated film.

Posting to JPG magazine and making bookmarks haven't really replaced making art, but it has kept me busy through a summer in which my studio work has taken a back seat. I know from past experience that as soon as I return to teaching, having a structured work week will likely push me back into the studio.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Yay! More Bookmarks!

OK, I really wasn't planning on posting any more bookmarks on this blog, but I really don't have anything else to show right now. Work has been going really slowly this summer. Several attempts at gum bichromate prints haven't turned out well (I have a couple that need one more layer, but I've been avoiding finishing them, because I know I won't like them when I do).

Meanwhile, my basement work space has been torn up due to a remodel/construction project we're having done to the house. Eventually, the construction will be over, and as part of that project involves building a real darkroom in my basement, I'll soon have a nice space to work in that I don't have to share with the washing machine and that I can make light tight. I'll be able to develop film and print B&W photos, not just alternative process photos.

Until then, I'm stuck, as far as printing is concerned. I probably could attempt some alt process prints, but I'd have to move junk and rearrange stuff for an hour in the basement before starting, then put it all back before the construction resumed the following day.

I've actually been doing a decent amount of shooting, especially with my Holga camera. Some of those will likely turn up on my Photo A Day blog pretty soon.

So, it's more bookmarks. These have been on my Etsy page for a while, but are making their first appearance here.