Saturday, December 26, 2009

More Clamshell Project Pictures!

Clamshell Boxes!

   My family has experienced a great deal of death over the past five years and as a result, I think about my loved ones a lot.  Finding ways to acknowledge how much I care for them has become very important to me and as an artist, a really natural way for me to do that is to make art about everything that is important to me about them.  That being said, when it came time to decide what to make for my final projects for my Artist's Books and Drawing Materials and Techniques classes, I chose, without hesitation to make a series of drawings based on family photos.  These drawings would be reproduced in sets of five and distributed among five clamshell boxes.  I'd then give each of my family members their own clamshell and set of drawings.  
   I'm really pleased with how the project turned out for a variety of reasons:
1. I feel pretty good about my clamshell-makin' skillz 
2. I've been able to focus on doing some highly-technical drawing and gain confidence in my drafting abilities
3. I've been able to analyze and understand my drawing process and experiment with several new techniques with the help of my drawing professor, Richard Deutsch
4. Each making session doubled as a kind of therapy session. In creating these tangible objects, I feel I've gained a greater understanding of intangible things like the feelings I have about my family and all of the death we've experienced
   I'm going to continue making these drawings and sending reproductions to my family and in the process, I'd also like to learn a bit about making quality reproductions- something I currently know nothing about.  Richard said his friend, SAIC legend, and my former professor, Peggy MacNamara employs some really impressive reproduction techniques, so I might be shooting her an e-mail sometime soon.  I'm considering taking a print class at some point while I'm at school in order to learn how to make multiples of my drawings.  Having a great deal of control and being able to use an extremely fine line is really important to me so if you, lovely reader, can think of a printmaking process that you think I'd like, lemme know.
   I hope everyone's holiday celebrations are going along swimmingly.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pop-Up Gallery!

 Ain't got no time to find a hip, hop, happenin' gallery?  Just skip on over to Monroe and State, walk halfa block towards Wabash, and you'll find yourself face-to-face with the Pop-Up Gallery.*  Having had my eye on these window displays of mostly sculptural work in ye olde Carson Pirie Scott building over the course of the past week or so, it seems the work has been rotated pretty frequently, but overall, everything that has been shown in the little exhibition is very playful.  With the cavernous room behind the gallery being worked on, the show feels very fleeting, as the name of the gallery suggests.  As the killer, pointy gold ornaments dangle and swing ominously over the unsuspecting doormen across the street at the Palmer House, brightly-colored figurines and fanciful sculptures warm the cold windows of the CPSb, and subsequently, the ice-licked Chicago streets.  

It's nice to see that the space is being used for something nice 'n' cheery.  I extend proper respect to the organizers of this tasty treat.

*I'm not sure if this is a traveling show, a simultaneously-occurring, multi-locational thang or a one time blip on the art world radar.

12-21-09 Update:
So when I walked by the gallery today, I saw the website printed on the window.  Apparently this is a project by the Chicago Loop Alliance and it is multi-locational.  

Saturday, December 12, 2009


   I'm incredibly disappointed.
   I've been looking forward to seeing the SAIC Advanced Fibers group show, Ano Viejo, all semester, but alas, last night during the the opening reception, I was in the Artist's Books studio, chipping away at the big assed block that is my final project and was unable to attend.  I wanted to go support two of my loveliest friends, Alex "Ziggy" Miller and Alex Zak, as they'd been working all semester to create epic-sounding pieces.  Ziggy made artifacts (and means of which displaying them) from a fictional archeological dig and A. Zak created an installation  consisting of a hand-crafted log cabin and several looped video pieces.  
   I'm so proud of both of them and am so annoyed that I couldn't get to the Tom Robinson Gallery to check thangs out.   As my brother Aaron sometimes says audibly, "sigh." 
   You're in my thoughts, fellas, for  you've each accomplished a feat of badassery and I'm more than proud of and inspired by you.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Jarry and Jerry

  About two months ago, my friend Brandon Kosters* called me to tell me that a quickly-written show proposal he'd submitted to the Gorilla Tango Theatre had been selected as part of an experimental performance series.  For the past eight weeks, Brandon has been busy writing a script and the music for his puppet rock opera inspired by the work of Alfred Jarry.  His friend, Scott Nadeau and I have both contributed things to the script and a lovely assortment of builders, musicians and performers have worked hard to realize this hour-long production.  

Towards the Sun! will run for two nights only at the Gorilla Tango Theatre:
Monday, December 7th at 9:30 p.m
Monday, December 14th at 9:30 p.m.   

You can buy tickets for $10 here.

I am warning you now: this show isn't for everybody.  When Brandon was writing the script, he told us he was replacing every use of "shit" with "cunt" because "'shit' isn't shocking anymore."  If you decide to come, do not bring baybays, itty, bitty boo-boos, or other chitlins, this ain't appropriate for 'em.

*   I met B to the K, K in Blair Thomas' Puppetry and Performance class last fall.  Over the course of this year, we've talked about working together on various projects, but all this talk 'tain't never amounted to anything, until this past August when Brandon called my ass on the telephone, explaining that he'd written to the producers of the Jerry Springer Show with some cray-cray idea for a show and that they'd bitten and wanted to get in contact with him and the other people involved in his "real life" scenario so they could put 'em on the show.  Brandon then told me what he had in mind.  He would play a student that worked at his college paper by day and become a super hero at night.  I would play his girlfriend, a nice young lady on whom he's cheating with not only my adopted Chinese sister, but also a colorful array of amateur superheroes.  We'd go on the show so that Brandon could come clean with me about his psychosexual issues.  For several weeks, the JSS production staff strung BK along, gathering his cohorts' contact information and talking to the dudes cast as Brandon's various lovers.  Eventually, Brandon got a call from one of these fair fellows who told BK that he thought he might've fucked up.  When a JSS producer called this fellow up, he'd gotten a tad carried away with his story and ended up telling them about his cavorting with masochistic little people.
   The producers didn't call Brandon after that.

   Even though we never got to go (and I'm kind of glad we didn't- it would have been cray-cray), I'm not sure that anyone could flatter me more than Brandon did by having so much faith in my acting ability that he thought I could go on the JSS.  Plus, I can tell this story for the rest of m' days, which is pretty much all I need to be happy.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

GG and B&B

  After the glorious Groening|Barry talk, I went to another Chicago Humanities Festival event: the Guerrilla Girls talk.  As you might imagine, 'twas glorious.  Them ladies is a buncha powahouses.  Here's the response comic I made after the talk.

   In other news:

   Two weeks ago, a gaggle of us went to see my friend Jeni's work in the Self Portraits show at the  barbara&barbara gallery featuring:
I couldn't locate websites for everyone, sowwy.

   I really liked most of the work and was really impressed by the good chunk of technically-focused paintings and drawings that made up the show.  I rarely see really proficient oil paintings at hip, happenin' art shows these days, so seeing oils at the show that I confused for photographs was really satisfying.  Aside from the great drawings and paintings, there was a pretty nice array of other media represented including fibers, photography and collage.  Even though the work was so diverse, its physical arrangement was really successful, which made the show flow really well.  I think b&b did a nice job of making the whole presentation really harmonious.  

   Even though I'm more of a audiobook-listenin', movie-watchin' homebody who prefers small dinner 'n' board game parties to loud-assed jamborees, I enjoyed the DJ's set.  I was yelling the whole time I was conversin' with my friend Ziggyface, but a bowl of Warheads distracted us from feeling frustrated in any way.   

   The barbara&barbara gallery is a teeny, tiny little space but it's got a mighty 'tude.  It's cozy, has a backyard and shows good work.  The only negative thing I have to say is that it's not located in the most convenient of all places.  I mean, I'm used to trekking out to the weird-ass edges of the city where there are only warehouses for as far as the eye can see to get to little theatres, so relatively, it's not that hard to find, but getting there in the dark when you don't know the area all that well (I've only been there twice- both times at night) can be sorta tricky.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Birfdee Giffs

   Here are some gifts I've made for my fancy people in the last few months. The top image is a portrait of Kitty Cat Man from Tim and Erik, Awesome Show, Great Job! for my brother Samson "Gerald Garner" Gorman.  The next image is one of two Glowscape tea light covers I made with Sculpey, ink, acrylic and goauche for my cousin Danielle.  The third image is an illustration I did for my friend Tiana with ink and gouache.  The bottom image is a collage-drawing I made for my Mama with casein, goauche, ink, postal tape, silverpoint and graphite.

   If you likes what you sees and want to commission me to make a holiday or birthday present, let me know!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Matt 'n' Lynda=BFFs 4 Lyfe

  "I consider Chicago to be the best American city because there's ample parking and mediocre-looking people are considered foxy."
-Lynda Barry, 11-5-09
   Last week, as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, Matt Groening and Lynda Barry gave a talk at UIC.  Luckily, I moved my schedule around and got to go and WOO-HOO, it was great!  The place was crawlin' with all kindsa people: stank-nasty art kids, nice, tidy fellas, and academic-types wearing sweater vests.

   After the Humanities Festival representative gave a sort of sad introduction (he reminded me of an old man version of Brand from The Big Lebowski), Matt and Lynda mentioned a few anecdotes about their time together at Evergreen State University in the 1970s: 

-Before they met, Matt had heard about "the girl who'd written a letter to Joseph Heller" -who turned out to be Lynda- and wanted to know more.  She'd written "Ingrid Bergman" above her return address, and the letter itself consisted of praise for Catch-22 and a marriage proposal.  Heller responded saying he would marry her, but he just didn't want to live in a dorm room.  

-Lynda mentioned that all one had to do to get into Evergreen was make a peace sign out of lentils on construction paper.  

-One day when really, broke, Lynda was having a bit of a freak-out in the cafeteria.  All of the sudden, one of the art teachers hurriedly approached her, asking, "you're a model, right?" Apparently their model hadn't been able to come into class and they needed someone to draw, lickity-split.  Having remembered that the school models got paid a whopping four bucks, Lynda agreed.  When she showed up, they told her it was a nude modeling session, so she took off her clothes and started posing.  Since the only naked lady "art" she'd seen was in Playboy, Lynda started posing like a trashy, modern day pin-up.  The teacher told her to tone it down a little bit.

-Matt was the Editor of the school paper and wrote an ad saying he'd publish anything.  Lynda started giving him comics and the rest is history. 

   One of the best parts of the talk was when they read some Will and Abe strips.  Matt turns his kids' conversations into comics and they're really, really funny, so check 'em out if you get the chance.  Matt also showed some of his favorite clips from The Simpsons and Lynda read the introduction she wrote for a book about comics.

   Lynda tended to dominate the conversation, which was okay for the most part because she's so damn funny, but things got a little awkward when she mentioned that Matt had proposed to her at one point and she'd turned him down on the spot.  I couldn't tell if he was pissed at her for mentioning it or not, but he played it off well by saying that they both couldn't really stand each other.

   The day after the talk I went to the Flaxman and checked out the first three discs of the third season of The Simpsons.  It was funny, but I don't know if I'll ever be a major, hardcore, die-hard fan.  I like it, but it 'tain't m' favorite.  The reason why I wanted to go to the talk in the first place was because of one of Lynda's books, 100 Demons.  It's beautiful, as are all her books.  Go to your library and check them out.

   I'm sorry if this post is shittily written.  I had to whip it out real quick and don't have time to do a thorough proofread.  I'll make corrections later, but for now, try to ignore any mistakes you might find.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


   I'm starting a secret project.  

   It involves: 
  • lots and lots of drawing
  • guache
  • my beloved Rapidographs
  • the laser cutter
  • my family crest
  • debossing
  • and five colors of bookcloth

   I'll keep you updated.

   In the mean time, if you're an SAIC-er, go to the AIC.  I went this past weekend when my family was in town and I realized how much I take it for granted.  I was particularly excited when seeing A Sunday on La Grande Jatte because last week my drawing class visited the Prints and Drawings Department and Richard had a sketch pulled that Seurat had done for the woman with the umbrella.  It was so cool to see because it was clear that he fucked up a few times before finding the right line.  It's always nice to see that a master stumbled before becoming a master and that even when they were in their prime, they still screwed up.  It makes me feel a little closer to them and gives me hope that I'll continue to improve as I continue to practice.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Few More

More LPZ Pictures

Lincoln Park PRISON

   I've been to the Lincoln Park Zoo researching for my Animal Behavior class a couple of times over the last few weeks, and even though I dread the packed 151 bus trips*, I really enjoy my time at the Zoo.   Taking walks there has been so calming and wonderful- a nice change from being in the Loop.  It's really quiet, there are babies around every corner, and true to Midwestern form, the leaves on the trees are all bright yellow and orange.  Today I actually stopped and said out loud, "those are some yellow leaves."  I talk to myself a lot at the zoo.  I talk to the animals, too.  Sometimes I'll ask them how or what they're doing, but mostly I say things like, "look at that sweet baby" or, "poor baby." Most of the animals' pens are really spacious and nice-looking, but I feel like some of them don't have quite enough room.  I've seen a lot of animals pacing or swimming in the same patterns over and over again, which makes me feel really awful.  The title of this post is a joke, but I really do feel guilty when going to zoos.  I feel like, in general, the people that work in zoos have good intentions that are rooted in conservation and education, but there's something kind of messed up about watching animals in fake environments, with tags on their arms being yelled at by middle schoolers and other assholes.  Today, I saw this teenage girl banging on the glass between her and a sleeping lion.  I was watching her, shaking my head without realizing it.  Then she and the boy she was with looked over at me.  I walked away, hoping they weren't the kind of people to shank a bitch for giving dirty looks.

   ANYWAY, the point of this post is to bring attention to some of the gorgeous decorative arts and architectural details at the zoo.  Every time I go, I notice a pretty little something.  I've been taking a lot of pictures of flowers to draw later, but mostly I'm really, really interested in all of the little unique bits and bobs that adorn the animal houses.  I really want to go to the Harold Washington and research the evolution of the zoo and how the buildings have changed over the years.  

   Here are some interesting links:
-I would like someone to make me a personalized  piƱata for my birthday (or Earth Day) at some point in my life.
-Scroll down to see some pictures of Bushman
   *Today there were three teenagers sitting by me who couldn't stop talking (loudly) about the albino man that had gotten on with some friends at the stop after ours.  It was really weird.  Like, they didn't recognize that he had any sort of condition, they just seemed to have a kind of disdain for him.  They thought he'd dyed his hair white because he was arrogant and wanted to make a *statement* or something.  Then, one of the kids started talking about his friend's mother and her "mild case of Tourette's." He said she'd once told a man wearing a white jumpsuit at the grocery store that he looked like a hot dog.  He also mentioned that she had Social Anxiety Disorder, too and that she was "always good for a laugh."  Jeebus!

   I hope my kids don't turn out to be bratty little shits.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

REJECTED Flaxman Button Submission That Should Have Been Posted Awhile Ago

I'm gonna be a shidass and submit a colored version of this next year.  I haven't seen the ones they chose this time 'round.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Books! Drawings!

1.) Coptic bound book
2.) Round back book in progress (!)
3.) Silverpoint on casein/gouache ground (unfortunately I ruined this with the addition of white gouache on the far left) 
4.) Silverpoint on casein/gouache ground with ink and pink gouache (Um, my childhood: a rapun)
5.) Ink and gouache

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Yub Nub.

Here's a portrait I made for my friend Aury of she and famed Ewok warrior, Wicket Warrick.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

International Museum of Surgical Science Pictures

The International Museum of Surgical Science

   This past weekend I visited the International Museum of Surgical Science.  The Museum was hosting two medical illustration shows: Vesna Jovanovic’s Pareidolia, drawings and collages that struck an interesting chord between reality and make believe, and Redefining the Medical Artist: Biomedical Visualizations at UIC, straight-forward, (mostly) computer-generated, and medical diagrams.  Although the work in both shows was okay, the overall presentation of the work was horrible.  As a matter of fact, the quality of presentation in the entire museum was exceptionally bad.  The building itself is stunning and the collection is incredible, but the place as a whole is really, pretty darn jank-jank.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve always been a snob, a facet of my character that, I think, comes with being observant and ridden with jealousy.  I’m always looking for slip-ups, especially in artwork and presentation of artwork, so I approached the shows and the museum as a whole with a judgmental eye, but that being said, I think casual viewers would be just as bothered by the state of the galleries an institution as I was.  Small things like curled, yellowed labels, pamphlets and gum wrappers that had been dropped into display cases and not promptly removed, fallen description boards and exhibits being used as storage space (yes) are things that could easily be fixed but remain in disrepair and it’s disappointing to see that no one is doing anything about it.   The galleries looked the worst out of any of the rooms in the museum.  There were chair rails dividing the walls, the top portion covered with light blue polyester fabric, which was freckled with nail holes and sagged and billowed around the work.  Redefining the Medical Artist looked like a middle school art presentation, its pieces mounted in black mat board frames and pinned haphazardly to the baggy fabric.  A time-based collection was being shown on a TV in front of a window in the room.  The window was covered in a big piece of black cloth and on the cabinet where the TV sat, the guide to the collection (we’re talking a Times-New-Roman-on-copy-paper sorta deal) was taped.  It was so shidassed.*  Rawrrrrg.  I felt terrible for the artists in the show.  The whole time I was in the gallery, my face was all screwed up in disgust.  I was so distracted by the shitty presentation that I could barely focus on the work itself.  Good thing I got a BEAUTIFUL black and white Xeroxed pamphlet to pour over later at home!!! 

   I suppose I shouldn’t place all of my blame on the Museum.  After all, I’m sure the artists came up with their own sexy mat board frames and hung their own work.  I think the idea of the artists misusing the opportunity to show in a museum pisses me off more than the idea of a museum being too poor or too lazy to pay for a simple renovation (like, painting a wall white).  The show was comprised of work by students, faculty and staff.  Shouldn’t the seasoned faculty and staff  have known how to install a show and present artwork in a professional-looking manner?  A bit of advice I got from my Research Studio II  professor, Adam Scott, keeps coming to mind as I think about these shows, “the presentation of the work is just as important as the work itself.”  So true.

  Even though the gallery that hosted Pareidolia was just as crappy-looking (she’d custom-framed her pieces, though, which looked better than the mat board frames) as the one that held the UIC show, Jovanovic’s work was a lot more interesting. Her marriage of fact with the absurd was much more engaging than the other (sometimes technically-mediocre) show.  I appreciated her use of materials and emphasis on scale.

   Honestly, I felt so much more connected with the museum than with the art shows, the building especially.  According to a wall tag, “The Museum occupies a four-story mansion designed in 1910 by famous Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw for the Eleanor Countiss Robinson family.  The house’s classical symmetry was derived from Le Petit Trianon on the Grounds of Versailles. The many little rooms and strange little nooks and passages made it feel like a home.  Wandering past display cases full of gall stones and artificial limbs, I couldn’t help but wonder what the people were like that used to live there.   I wondered where the servants stayed and what sort of events had been held there.  I wondered if children used to play where the Iron Lung is now displayed.  I wondered if anyone is still alive who had visited the building when it was still a home.  The whole museum is shrouded in mystery- lots of locked doors and screens blocking hallways.   I went on a rainy Saturday, but it was colder inside.  I felt very tense wandering through the exhibits.  Seeing pictures of kids with Rickets and Polio is always a strange experience, but seeing them in such an old, dimly-lit quiet place made them even more disturbing.

   To summarize:

-I am a nit picky snob.

-The International Museum of Science and Industry needs to be a bit more attentive to their curatorial and presentational decisions.

-Artists should take as much responsibility as possible for and care about the presentation of their work.

-I am happy to live in this medical era.

-I’m so, so glad there are people in this world that are medical practitioners, who are gifted enough to find cures, develop more efficient equipment and help their patients get better.

- You should visit this weirdo museum.


*From the Jane Phrasebook: shitass or shitassed (alternate spelling: shidass)

From the Gorman family. Created by Granny Wanda and popularized by Sammy and Anna. The noun shitass refers to a person who is lazy,

irresponsible, unprofessional, or half-assed. A derogatory but not

necessarily cruel term. A shitass can be a rude or mean person, but this is not an integral part of the meaning. A shitass often is quite benign, and moreover they are always more or less intelligent, they just don’t put forth much effort. The adjective form “shitassed” can also be used to describe a lack of motivation, or something that is poorly done. The Dude from The Big Lebowski is an example of a benign shitass; Sammy’s alter ego Dougie is a more mean-spirited shitass.

“I was feeling sort of shitassed today, so I didn’t brush my hair and just went to work in sweatpants.”

“You re-gifted that stupid Doonesbury oven mitt? Man, that is so shitassed.”

“Leo is such a shitass – he’s thirty-five and he still lives with his parents.” 

Hannah Free Pictures

Hanna Fwee

  I’ve taken two classes at SAIC with Rick Paul (production designer) and Pat Hart (costume designer).  They met thirty years ago while in the theater program here* and they’ve been working and teaching together ever since.  In their mask-making class last fall, Rick commissioned me to make a set of about sixty silk Moon Flowers for a movie he and Pat were working on called Hannah Free.  Knowing Rick had added my name to the credits and that the flowers were guaranteed a little screen time, I wanted to make sure I got to see the film while it was playing in a theater.  As fate would have it, while figuring out what to do last weekend, I saw that the film was playing at the Gene Siskel Film Center.* *  Even though I was a little put off by the trailer (it looked really sad and really intense- not usually my thang), I walked to the theatre and bought my ticket for Monday night.

   I was actually pleasantly surprised by the movie.  Yes, it was sad, but it was also really sweet and funny.  The story wasn’t the most interesting thing in the world (think Fried Green Tomatoes meets The Notebook), but I imagine a lot had to be left out when it was converted from a play to a screenplay. I would’ve liked to have seen the play just in case it delved into some of the off-shooting story lines that were alluded to in the film.  That’s the thing about movies based on other sources.  Not everything can be fit into a feature-length film, especially when they’re so darn expensive to produce. 

  The cinematography was really beautiful and the actors were great, lots of whom are hot shots in the Chicago theater scene. Sharon Gless was absolutely sensational as Hannah.   I hope to see her in a play sometime.

   One of the coolest things about seeing the movie was hearing the discussion afterwards.  It was so cool to see the people who’d come together to make something.  They kept talking about how the film was a “labor of love” and how it was “a real Chicago-based film made by real Chicagoans.”  Most of the people (about fifty percent) that worked on it were women, which was also really neat.

   The people-watching opportunities were good too. There was a guy sitting in the front row that had one of the strangest bald heads I’ve ever seen.  It looked as though he was wearing a very shiny loaf of bread as a hat.  There was also a lady who had a similar head shape and haircut as Sloth from The Goonies.  Another guy had a laugh that echoed through the theatre every time he got weak, which, in turn, got me weak. * * *

  Seeing my Moon Flowers on the screen was pretty freaking cool.  And even though they started bringing up the lights while the credits were still rolling, I got to see my name. Woo hoo.


* SAIC used to have a partnership with the Goodman Theatre.  Check it out.

* *All you SAIC-ers should go to the GSFC.
  Admission is only $4.00 for students and faculty!


* * * An expression we use in the Nasty to describe someone who is laughing so hard they’ve become physically weak.  An “h” can be added for emphasis.