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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Do you remember that one time you made it backstage and met the singer/dj/flutist who was socially disappointing?  Or that writer who was better on paper?  Sometimes the art that we love is made by folks we wouldn’t like if we knew them.  Sometimes bright, heartfelt, awesome, positive work comes from people who could be described the same way.  Carl Oxley III is one such artist.  He is the Happiness Company, and he’s a nice guy.

Detroit doesn’t enjoy the same kind of prestige as its big city counter-parts on those other coasts, but it does have a creative community working together with respect and a lot of heart.  Oxley has collaborated with the city’s finest, exhibited in the full range of the cities venues, and left his mark on more than a few corners around town.  In his own words; “I believe art should be accessible to everyone. It is extremely important to me that the people who enjoy my work the most, can afford to take home the piece they love.”

Carl Oxley III just wants to see you smile.  You can check out his gallery at popartmonkey.com, buy some art on his etsy, and look over his virtual shoulder via his facebook fan page.

My time as a printer at VGKids probably came into play on this piece.  I built up the green mother-board background pattern through layers of ink and acrylic washes before stenciling the labyrinth of reflective silver figures.  I knew the result would depend on several interlocking process, and documented the different stages of development.  Loosely based on the pages of the kama sutra, these robots find a variety of ways to express their physical affections.

10 inch square, 1.75″ deep
acrylic, ink, and spray paint on reclaimed hand-made wood box frame with a protective gloss varnish.

robo-sutraThe box-framed surface and underpainting had probably sat in the studio for about a year before finding it’s way back to the easel; as the annual “robot-love” exhibit at good: a gallery was around the corner.  I began skething robots as blocky iconic couples, as a skyline, as lovers, composing different positions in illustrator and organizing them into the square.

robo-sutra
When I got to a composition I liked, I printed out two copies the size of the physical surface.  One print was cut for the silver of the robot bodies and registered to the painting.

robot sketch

robo-sutra

robot silver stencilUsing a light coat of contact adhesive on the back of the stencil, I laid down silver spraypaint.

On the second print I drew out the line work in a way that made the robots positions readable, trapped the silver border, and kept the stencil intact.

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I’ve long admired the work of Matthew Billington.  I first came across his unique illustration and design style on Society6, and have kept a happy eye on it since.

The temptation to mix sources and styles is seldom as rewarded as it is in Billington’s collage of text and image, vintage and modern, bringing anxiety and comfort into balance.  His work can be found in editorial and advertising around the world, and as luck would have it, in your home.

Here’s a Haiku about getting ready to live in a temporary city in the middle of the Nevada desert:

you can smell the dust
on your hands and all over
packing up the car

The last time I found myself in that situation I was pleased to have already contributed some dang art to Burning Man 2011.

Black Rock City’s “Least Best” Newspaper The Shroom asked me to work up DJ Passive Aggressive for the two on-playa issues:


My partner and I had fun painting two side panels and a stair riser for Portland’s ThunderBridge; one of 22 regional collaborations for Burning Man’s Circle of Regional Effigies (CORE), and with all of them burning together, one of the largest fires I have ever seen.

 photo by suzie starr

thunderbridgeI volunteered with the ARTery department, mostly as field-ops (kind of like Placement for art).  Before the event they took submissions for logo design’s and the ARTery staff selected these dang designs for the team and for the 2011 event:
ARTery

Last but not least, it was an honor to design Black Rock Spatial Delivery’s shwag for the “Rites of Passage” theme:

BRSD

I’m happy to have provided some dang art to so many of my favorite people and groups that have been throwing down in the desert for years.  Thanks to the Portland C.O.R.E. crew for doing most of the work and letting me steal three panels for thier bridge.  Thanks to ARTery for the excuse to chat up artists and for letting the new guy draw their logo.  Thanks to The Shroom for my first published comic strip. Thanks to BRSD for being the best camp on the playa, and huge thanks to k8 for all of her patience, help and visual expertise.

Chimeric
24x24x1.5″
acrylic, silver reflective enamel, and ink on canvas

It’s always a pleasure to send my work out into the world, and I’m glad to start 2012 with a sale on etsy.  “Chimeric” is on its way to a good friend in New York.

This piece was originally shown with Launchpad Gallery in 2008 for their Dreams show, and again with Cravedog Loft Gallery in 2011.

Not to throw too many words at it, but for me this piece explores the grid vs. gesture structure I’ve worked with in other paintings, this time stripping the gesture character of line, leaving the ink work to only the grid, and employing washes for the curves.

As far as the “imagery,” a bird’s-eye view of city streets emerged and informed some of my choices – but that was never as important as working with layers, depth, reflective silver, and paint in general.  I think it looks pretty neat.

For the etymologists in the house:

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Starting with a primed panel I penciled a grid interrupted with arcs.  I brushed in ink as the hierarchy of line and curve developed.  An ink wash established values before washes of color layered over the top.  Keeping the color thin and the contrast high gave the piece the look of glowing stained glass.

spring gesture
acrylic and ink on panel, cradled box frame
37.5 x 48″

building
acrylic and ink on panel, cradled box frame
29 x 45.5″

This piece stands as one of my favorites from my years in Detroit, made in my studio with 555. Theme’s of shelter, post-industrial decay, reuse and sub-optimal weather were always close at hand in that strangely beautiful city.  “Building” was one of those pieces that came together without much fight.

More insights on Detroit, and moving there from a small town in SW Michigan, can be found at Jim Griffioen’s fantastic blog; Sweet Juniper.