Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Only Way Out Is Through

Drawing based on Inktober sketching, 2017
Current mood. Both figure and ground.

Print out this image for coloring and drawing in meetings, commutes, and other seated occasions. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


January of this year was the last time I posted anything here. This may mean it's time to pull this thing out by the roots and lay it on the compost heap of projects alongside KnoxLooks and abandoned studio projects.

In the meantime, here's one of the things I've been doing this month: an ink drawing a day for #Inktober on Instagram. It's been challenging to stay on top of the drawings, but the repetition of the task is helpful. Drawing in response to prompts I think are lame is helpful. Drawing when I'd rather do something else is helpful. It's the kind of gentle resistance visiting artist Johanna Winters cited recently in talking to SNC art students: we tear muscles slightly so they grow back stronger. So too in the studio do we introduce prompts, challenges, and materials that tear our making muscles a little and help us grow.

Below is one of the images from the month. The rest are on my Instagram feed here. You can also spend some time perusing the hashtags #inktober and #inktober2017 to see some of the millions of images posted. Lots of bare-chested witches last time I checked. That's not my jam, but right on for daily drawing.

From the Day 15 prompt "mysterious"

Friday, January 27, 2017

Let's Draw

I am honored to be part of Let's Draw, an upcoming art exhibition at James Watrous Gallery based on a long-running radio show by the same name. From the gallery's website:
"Let’s Draw" was developed by Wisconsin’s own WHA (now Wisconsin Public Radio) as part of the station’s School of the Air program. These weekly broadcasts wove together stories, dramatic readings, music, and instruction into lively half-hour programs that brought art lessons to rural and underserved communities around the state. The driving force behind Let’s Draw, James Schwalbach, emphasized originality and free expression. Schwalbach’s mantras were "We do not copy" and “Art is fun,” and he urged students to “Sit up straight, hold the crayon loosely, and swing your whole arm with a great big grin on your face.” After introducing each’s week’s theme, Schwalbach would say “There’s that big sheet of paper, and you’re just full of ideas, so let’s draw!”
Every time I read about the "Let's Draw" radio program my heart starts to beat a little faster. What an amazing thing: the gospel of everyone drawing-- on the radio! The show will be up from February 10th - April 9th with an opening reception Saturday, February 18th from 1-3 PM.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Revolution Sourball

Have been recently inspired by Mierle Laderman Ukeles's work and read her Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969.  Was especially taken by this line from it:
Two basic systems: Development and Mainteance. The sourball of every revolution: after the revolution, who's going to pick up the garbage on Monday morning?
The entire manifesto is Ukeles's smart and funny declaration that, from here on out, everything she does is art. Washing dishes, finishing reports, staying young -- it's all Ukeles's Art. We'll be reading it in Intermediate Printmaking soon and I look forward to talking about its contemporary implications.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Slouching towards 2017

I used to dismiss New Year's Eve as just another day, unworthy of making a fuss or resolutions. But now I think resolutions are a chance to reflect and reveal who we think we are and hope to be. Last year I resolved to draw daily. Now one of my resolutions for the coming year is to be more deliberate in the professional work I do, specifically to write and draw more and with more deliberate aim. In light of that goal, I know I need to read and look more.

Similarly, I recently advised an aspiring student art critic to read more art criticism and sent him four links.* The first is by famed art critic Jerry Saltz and unusual in that he's not discussing art, but the graphic photographs of the assassination of the Russian ambassador at an art gallery in Turkey. When I posted the link on facebook a friend-of-a-friend (a non-native speaker?) wrote:
"I read manu[sic] words about visual set up, but nothing about history. If to look from historical perspective such murders often happened to be the start of giant wars and disasters. Also I feel that esthetic approach to terrorism as a way to tolerate it. If we start that we can go forward, let's enjoy the beauty and the drama of WTC collapsing, murder of American ambassador in Bengazy[sic]... what next? 
It is the wrong way. When you step on it you will lose all limits."
The assassin and his victim, Russian ambassador, Andrey Karlov.
Photo: Burhan Ozbilici/Turkey/AP
This sentiment is similar to Micah Mattix's criticism of Saltz in his article. He writes, "Saltz's response also shows us the vacuousness of criticism that takes provocation as the only remaining touchstone of art." I will admit I ate up Saltz's article because it spoke to and stoked my provocation. Those images are glossy and surreal. They echo the slick packaged way we present tragedy or elections in the news. They are stunning and Saltz's smart clinical discussion is a way, admittedly not the best or most humane way, to process them.

In the classroom I am a champion of quantity over quality and of separating the acts of creation and editing. There needs to be spitballing and what Anne Lamott calls "shitty first drafts." There's much to be said for putting-it-out-there without design by committee, but for me, in 2017, I want tighter focus. To make sure the work I do is doing good and not, as Saltz's writing, trading in provocation. To what end do my drawings, actions, essays go out into world? What do they do? I think answering this question calls for more production, but coupled with more editing and reflection too.

So here's to doing more in 2017, but more importantly, doing better.

* The other two articles I sent are about an exhibition in Minneapolis and reveal different approaches to art criticism. Original article by Gregory Scott here and rebuttal by Cristina Schmid here

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Semi-Annual Update

Hello, hello. Below is my semi-annual update in which I detail in one place some of my exhibitions and projects of the past year. If you subscribe to my newsletter, you got the a slightly different version in your inbox. (A link to subscribe is at the bottom of this post.) The newsletter included a link to my 2016 catalog of current work for sale which you should probably click on right now before everything gets sold. 

Visitors to the MOTHOLOGY exhibit St. Norbert College's Baer Gallery

Summer and Fall
Through an ART WORKS grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, St. Norbert College was able to host artist-duo PlantBot Genetics (Wendy DesChene and Jeff Schmuki) for a three-week residency. During that time I helped the artists stage their Moth Project in and around Green Bay. A culminating exhibition, MOTHOLOGY, at SNC broke the previous attendance record set by an exhibition of Packers' Super Bowl rings. We also produced a Green Bay-specific Pollinators Guide which you can download for free or pay to print here.

The St. Norbert College Magazine ran a nice feature on the Land Scouts. You can read it here.

I made a screenprint of muscular female thighs for an Exquisite Corpse show at the Hardy Gallery in Ephraim, WI.

I worked on a second illustration for Bruce Tonn and Dori Stiefel's article featuring Willow Pond, an imagined typical American subdivision converted to be more self-sustaining. Sadly the publisher (MIT!) decided to go with in-house illustrations for consistency.

Illustration showing the various sustainable technologies of the imagined Willow Pond subdivision


In an effort to keep up with drawing and creative work while on family leave from work I took on a practice of daily drawing (#dailydrawing on Instagram) and organized a collaborative mail art project: Plywood by Post. The process of shipping our drawings to one another has been more complicated than anticipated, but it's been nice to receive an unexpected drawing and prompt to studio work every month (or so). The daily drawing practice has been similarly helpful and sporadic.

I had my seed ball piece accepted to the Wisconsin Biennial, an exhibit sponsored by Wisconsin Visual Artists at the beautiful Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend.

Baby Crazy: Double Self Portrait, mixed media on mylar, 2015
I was invited to participate in Candice Corgan's portfolio exchange The Wanderlust Matrix: A Long Distance Relationship. Unique to this portfolio was that all the participating artists made drawings and sent them to Corgan, then at the Tamarind Institute, who processed and printed the drawings.

Mosaic Art Inc. invited me to help jury the submissions to their annual Artstreet festival. I was reminded by the experience that good presentation matters as much as, if not more than, the work itself.  My drawing Baby Crazy: Double Self Portrait (above) was accepted into the Neville Museum's 71st Art Annual.

I was invited to be part of the panel of jurors who curated the Hardy Gallery's 55th Annual Juried Art Exhibit in Ephraim, WI. My friends and artists Don Krumpos and Johanna Winters invited me to show my Costumes to Save Your Life at their new Jabberwock Gallery in Algoma, WI. This body of work comes from my grad school days and I enjoyed revisiting the pieces and seeing them newly inhabited by gallery visitors there.

In July we kicked off ReallyBIGPRINTS!! and welcomed printmakers from all over to Manitowoc for four days of large scale relief printing. You can watch some vines (i.e. short videos) from the event here.

Detail from Taraxacum officinale, my "really big print" from this year.

The school year began and my colleagues April Beiswenger, Shan Bryan-Hanson and I debuted Fashion This, an exhibition and lecture series about sustainable fashion. The really-big-print I printed in 2014 with Don Krumpos and Johanna Winters was accepted into a show at the Fe Gallery in Sacramento, CA and my seed ball piece and Land Scouts Guide Book were accepted into Atypical Topographies at the Cylode Snook Gallery at Adams State University in Alamosa, CO. I had a solo show of the WERKBOOTS project at the Donald P. Taylor Gallery at Silver Lake College in Manitowoc, WI and got to work with students there making low-resolution paper prototype boots.

And now it's November and you're up to date with my professional goings on. I'd love to hear how you're doing, what you're making, and how you plan to fight the good fight in 2017. Lastly, if you've not already signed up, please consider subscribing to my semi-annual newsletter by plugging in your information below.

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Sunday, November 20, 2016