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2014 StudioWorks applications available

I had an awesome residency experience this past summer at the Tides Institute and Museum of Art. You can read and see pics here.

I’m happy to share that applications 2014 StudioWorks residency are now open!

Review the info here: http://www.tidesinstitute.org/tides/printshop/artistresidency.html

Deadline: February 15, 2014

Go for it, buddies!

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Travelogue

Tides Institute and Museum of Art StudioWorks residency wrap-up

Just completed my first printmaking residency: I spent the month of June in Eastport, ME, making prints in the Tides Institute and Museum of Arts’ new StudioWorks building on the main street in the historic downtown.

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The Studioworks building is a historic preservation effort by the Tides Institute, assisted by talented masons. The renovation work is proceeding. For really cool photos of the process of turning a historic building into a working printshop, check out the Tides Institute’s Facebook page.

It’s been a productive experience: I’m coming away with three projects involving woodcut and letterpress printmaking, banners, and semaphore flags. Some projects are nearly finished, others are series with initial pieces completed and more ready for production.

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Finished projects on display in the Open Studio. Supported by the STUDIOWORKS/Tides Institute & Museum of Art, a private not-for-profit organization.

Eastport on a Nat Geo map.

Eastport on a Nat Geo map.

Eastport: Neighborliness in Abundance

It was quite an  adjustment, coming from the metropolis of NYC and adapting to small town life, where everyone knows each other and many are quite curious to meet new people such as myself.  In the city, anonymity feels safe and efficient. In Eastport, the standards of common courtesy are exceptionally high. For example, drivers will often wave to pedestrians. It’s baffling at first. Did they mistake me for a friend of theirs, I’d wonder. Did they wave because I was walking in their way?

To me, Eastporters’ investment in welcoming and learning about every individual living alongside them, if only for a summer month, is practically astounding. The weave of the social fabric was so tight. Many years ago, I made paintings that I thought were about the psychology of public space. But I see now that they were specifically about urban space, and isolation and distrust.

Eastport is technically a city, though it feels like a small town. In every direction from the house where I stayed there were people who made my welfare their concern. Most of all they wanted to know that I enjoyed my time in Eastport. The pride in their town was very clear.

The pace of Eastport made it possible for me to get a lot of work done; the distractions were few (though that will change this week with the Fourth of July). The past few weeks were restorative for me. It was quiet and very  easy to spend the day and evenings working, then wind down and get a good night’s rest. Very sociable artists might find the town’s night life in adequately lively, those who can tolerate a lot of studio time will find it perfect.

I stayed in an old Veteran's Hall, where I also did a lot of sewing. This was a great space for working—spacious, quiet, and light-filled, as the StudioWorks building is being renovated.

I stayed in an old Veteran’s Hall, where I also did a lot of sewing. This was a great second space for working—spacious, quiet, and light-filled—as the StudioWorks building’s renovations are underway.

The Fireman's Muster is an annual tradition; part of Eastport's Fourth of July festivities.

Eastport’s Fourth of July festivities are the largest in the state of Maine. I got to catch part of Eastport’s Fourth of July festivities, such as the Fireman’s Muster. Independence Day seems to kick off the busy summer season. Even in the four weeks of June, I could sense the town emerging from the winter and spring.

I enjoyed meeting many amazing, friendly people. The town’s demographic skews grey, but there are some very sweet and funny young parents with creative interests in the arts as well as local food. I attended some fantastic potlucks with great homemade eats, lively conversation and smart folks.

Butternut squash muffin, fellows from near and far, on Marit's family's camp porch. This would be after the swimming, and before the fireworks.

Butternut squash muffin, fellows from near and far, on Marit’s family’s camp porch. This would be after the swimming, and before the fireworks.

Porchlight song.

Porchlight songs.

Artists thinking about applying will be happy to hear that Kristin McKinlay, who coordinates the residency, is good humored, accommodating, and also a working artist. See her embroidered wall works at her site.

I also really enjoyed meeting Anna Hepler. Via conversations and a studio visit with her and her husband Jon,  I felt a great support and intellectual camaraderie. Both accomplished in their fields, they close to relocate to Eastport as a home base for being citizens of the world (with their two young children in tow; very inspiring!). Luckily, the Eastport Gallery invited Anna to do a talk this month, so I had the chance to learn more about her work and the development of her thinking. (Future residents can enjoy a talk by Kristin!)

The area is has so much history, much of it persists into the present in the form of amazing artifacts.

Boxes containing player-piano tunes.

Boxes containing player-piano tunes.

1888 campaign ribbon at Marit's.

1888 campaign ribbon at Marit’s.

A sweet "rose-velt" campaign item from FDR's Rosevelt-Campobello Park on neighboring Campobello Island in Canada.

A sweet “rose-velt” campaign item from FDR’s Rosevelt-Campobello Park on neighboring Campobello Island in Canada.

For those artists influenced by landscape and light, or people who savor them, Eastport is amazing.

Artists can watch the tides go in and out, just past the Tides Institute, from their breakfast nook.

Artist-in-residence at the GAR building can watch the tides go in and out, just past the Tides Institute, from their breakfast nook.

The view from Harris Point, a nice walk from downtown.

The view from Harris Point, a nice walk from downtown.

A school of fish, perhaps herring, plashing in the bay.

A school of fish, perhaps herring, plashing in the bay.

Looking out towards Campobello Island at sunset.

Looking out towards Campobello Island at sunset.

Twilight over Eastport.

Twilight over Eastport.

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Travelogue

Process photos

A story in photos on the making of letterpress labels for a set of semaphore flags representing the VIA Character Strengths and Virtues.

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California Job Cases of lead type.

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Setting type in the composing stick, which for an Indistrial Age metal contraption, is amazingly ergonomic.

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The type locked up with wooden furniture and ingenious locking quoins.

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The printed labels.

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Label assembly. There are 24 character strengths in all.

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Labels are sewn onto cotton twill tape that forms the hoist end of each flag.

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Each flag is sewn from linen and features an interpretive, abstract icon appliqued in ribbon.

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The first five prototype flags.

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The semaphores alongside other projects at the Open Studio

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Travelogue

Eastport Aesthetics

Many residents of this area are creative, but visual arts are only one party of the larger aesthetic experience of being here.

The island, its climate, and the outdoors seems to attract as spring showers persist into summer.

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Eastport's heyday was in the 1800s, and most of the architecture are historic buildings. I love the pleasing and inventive palette of the house on the far right.

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Amazing scents!

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These brilliant orange flowers with crepe paper petals are blooming all over the island right now.

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The harbor is coming to life. Summer starts a little later in such nirtern climes.

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Looking out towards Deer Island from Eastport's Moose Island.

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Rainbow joy.

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Greetings from Eastport

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Across the bay, Canada.


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View of downtown Eastport from the pier.

Months ago, I applied to an open call with a proposal to make banners inspired by maritime history and semaphore flags.  

Today, I am posting this from Eastport, Maine, one week into the Studio Works residency at the Tides Institute and Museum of Art to which I am so grateful for the opportunity.  

Eastport is the easternmost city in the U.S., but it is more like a small town (so small, in fact, that my very definition of “small town” seems to be expanding while the conceptual parameters are diminishing). Coming from New York, it feels a bit anachronistic to me. Many of the buildings are beautifully preserved from the 1800s, when Eastport flourished. My lodgings are similarly historic,  so it seems fitting that my digital and online capacities are reduced while I’m here. For that reason, my posts this trip will be infrequent and concise, if I can help myself.  

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Page from an 1800s Eastport directory in the collection at the Tides Institute.

A few reflections, great and small, in no particular order:  

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New woodblock print of a flourish (typographic ornament) on linen.

• Printmaking is a little like riding a bike. Though I printed most actively in my undergrad years, once I got back in a print shop it seemed quite familiar. I enjoyed many “I remember this” moments: feeling my arm fatigue mixing cold inks straight from the can, listening to the sound of the brayer to learn about the tackiness of the ink, and all the peripheral tips and tricks in setup and cleanup to save time, like making little tabs of scrap materials to use for skimming inks or modifiers.    

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A very handy reference chat for the organization of letterpress type. Without it, I'd be helpless.

• Printmaking is nothing like riding a bike. It’s a long slow process of proofing, refining, modifying, adjusting pressure, adding packing, and so on. The ideal is perfect craftsmanship demonstrated through identical reproduction. I was never into that. And I don’t want to get hung up on it now. I’m trying to let this be more experimental, not having to produce an edition, unless it’s an edition varie. To let my hand, indeed, my ability, however lacking, show. I’m interested in decoration and domestic production–e.g. how individuals, not corporations, made flags for hundreds of years–so I think it makes sense that the banners aren’t perfectly mass editioned like Victorian collectibles.  

The most rewarding place from which to learn has been, for me, the mistakes. At the same time, perhaps there are no mistakes–there’s just more than one right way to do things. –Marcia Tucker, A Short Life of Trouble

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