Thursday, June 29, 2006

ICA Monotype Marathon

This was a very busy month... not only was there the show at the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting company (until this Saturday), and the glass blowing class and a couple of other little things. But there was also the "Monotype Marathon" organized by the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). This is a pretty cool fundraiser event for the ICA. Here is how it works:

Artists find a sponsor (or they self-sponsor) to be in a half-day intense
workshop where they crank out a couple of monotypes. The best one of these monotypes goes into an auction which acts as a fund-raiser for the ICA. The remaining monotypes become property of the artist. The sponsor pays a certain amount of cash to sponsor one (or two) artists's participation at the marathon. For each sponsored artist, the sponsor is allowed to bid on one monotype at the auction and the money they paid in sponsorship counts as the opening bid for their chosen piece.

OK, confused already? Well, it does sound a bit confusing, but it really all makes sense. The cool thing is that really everybody benefits from this scheme. The artist gets access to top notch print-making facilities (including expert printmakers as assistents) for a couple of hours + gets all the materials needed (sponsored by various companies). The artist also gets to keep all except one print. The ICA puts on a cool event and raises money. The sponsor has to shell out some money first but this money is then used as opening bid for one of the pieces they want to buy anyway. So really, everybody wins!

Maybe I should backtrack for a moment and explain that monotype is a print-making technique which lives somewhere in between painting and classical print-making. It is sometimes referred to as "painterly printmaking". The resulting prints are one-of-a-kind works and typically are marked with "1/1" because they are the first print from an edition of 1. Artists often make series of prints where one print is developed out of the "ghost" of the previous one. But each monotype in the series is unique.

I created 2 series at the marathon. My first monotype (the one that is in the auction) was built in several layers (meaning it was run through the press several (4) times) and was relatively complex (the top image on the left). After that one I started from scratch and made a series of 4 monotypes where one was developed out of the ghost of the previous one. The last two of that series are shown on the left as well. Maybe I should also mention that these are the largest prints I've ever tried - all of them are 22" x 30". As I have only a small press myself, I typically work on much smaller prints.

As mentioned, one of the monotypes is in the auction. The auction preview opened last week and is on show till July 15 at the ICA, the day of the auction. The auction is open to the public and will definitely be a fun and exciting event to watch! More information can be found on the ICA web site.

The ICA is located on 451 South First Street in downtown San Jose. Gallery hours are Tues, Weds, Fri: 10:00 - 5:00, on Thursday: 10:00 - 8:00 and on Saturday: 12:00 - 5:00. Admission is free! So there are no excuses not to check it out! :)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Show update and a new hobby...

The last two weeks were extremely busy, that's why I didn't post anything, although there would be plenty to talk about, actually. First of all... the show reception went really well and I estimate that about 30 people showed up. I heard a lot of very positive feedback so if you haven't gone to the Los Gatos Coffee Roaster yet to look at the paintings, you still have time till the end of the month to do so.

At the reception I gave a little talk about the art shown and then focused on the home-made oil paints used for the pieces. I brought my paint making tools and pigments and described in some detail how it's done. I didn't give a live demo because - well... having loose pigments in a place where people are eating is not a good idea...

Besides all of that excitement a lot of other interesting things happend in those two weeks, for instance I took my first glass blowing class at the Bay Area Glass Institute ( which is a very very cool (well, actually it's hot) place. So I'm taking this 4 week class (4 long evenings) and this week we had our second session already. And I was able to make a few really neat things even in this second session already! The photos show a glass flower and a paper weight I made.

And in addition to all of these activities I took a class on documenting artwork at the Kala institute in Oakland and participated in the ICA's monotype marathon (and a few other things I won't even get into here) I will write more about that in my next posting when I have more time.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The show is on...!

Yesterday evening I put up my paintings in the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company. When you talk to artists about putting up your first real show there is something you hear over and over again: it's way more work than you could imagine. The are wrong. It's actually way more work than you can imagine, even if you imagine it being way more work than you could possibly imagine :) As I had lots of warning along those lines I did an obscene amount of preparation for this show. And - surprise - it was still more work than I had imagined (especially after all that preparation).

But, I think it was worth it. The show looks very nice in this setting. Of course the setting has its unique challenges. For instance... brick walls. They give a very strong horizontal element to the space. Paintings that hang straight, don't look like it! I brought a level to make sure every painting hangs right, only to step back from each and unstraightening them so they look as if they were straight. It stresses a lesson I learnt early in art school: "In art you sometimes have to lie to tell the truth".

The coffee roasting company has hooks up in the wall so you can just hang wired artwork with long wires. This sounds easy. But it isn't quite so easy because those hooks are not evenly spaced (and they are high up). Sometimes you just cannot get a picture to hang exactly where you want it - only like 2 inches to the right. Or so. And by now I am convinced there is a special place in art hell for the inventor of picture hanging wire. Not that the alternatives would be so much better, really. And they definitely are more pricey :)

It's hard to put up a show. Especially when you do it for the first time. And I'm not even talking about deciding which pieces go together. And you don't want to get on people's nerves who are sitting there trying to enjoy a chat over coffee while you are busy hanging paintings around them. The main lesson I learnt yesterday: you absolutely need more than 2 hands! Ideally attached to two separate bodies! So next time I will bring help. If necessary, I'll pay somebody to help. You cannot do this easily by yourself. It's hard enough if there are two of you, but don't ever again try to do this by yourself. I know, I won't next time.

So, that said - check out the show at the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company. Have coffee (I love their "Cappucchino Ibarra"), check out the "Morning Glory bread" which is delicous (warning: it's a small meal). And enjoy the artworks (there are 12 paintings there - more than is shown here in the blog).

The show will be up till the end of June.