I never got around to posting about the wonderful BMC conference in 2012, but I’m getting a head start on this one! Above is a small souvenir/artwork which I will be distributing at the 2013 event October 11-13, a project inspired by Anni Albers’ fabric art entitled “Red Meander,” and also by the book in which I encountered the image, written by Christopher Benfey. Benfey is keynote speaker at this year’s conference, which as always includes a rich array of scholarly and creative responses to the legacy and spirit of Black Mountain College,from the dissection of BMC/Bauhaus connections to the performance poetry of Ted Pope.
Benfey’s book is called Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay, and is a unique family memoir that ranges far and near in exploring the connections of art, craft, and history to be found in his family history and connections. Anni Albers was Benfey’s aunt, and figures largely into his take on the relationships among artisan craft, creativity, and authenticity in artistic processes. I was very impressed with his insight regarding a productive tension Benfey discerns in the threads of influence to be found at Black Mountain College – that between calm, disciplined and reflective approaches and the unfettered spontaneity made famous by the Happenings at BMC.
This year’s conference promises to cover that same range of possibilities, with presentations on archive resources, technical poetics, action painting, transcendent pottery, the BMC print shop, and multiple assessments of the importance of Anni Albers and her husband Josef Albers. Looking forward to it.
The 2012 BMC conference, held at UNC-A and organized by The Black Mountain College Museum and Art Center, centered on Buckminster fuller and the ways his ideas, many generated at BMC, have influenced our world. I would love to write about the ideas presented eventually, but above are thumbnails of a big highlight of 2012 – the outdoor technology fair that offered hands-on experiences of some of Fuller’s concepts. Click to enlarge, and be sure to check out this wonderful annual event sometime!
The Paper Plant presents anSaturday from . John and Cara will be demonstrating papermaking, marbling, printmaking and letterpress printing. A retail display of notecards, blank books and paper, with opportunities for hands-on interactions.
528 N. Person Street, 919-618-6883
Starting with the shameless self-promotion above, here is my current outlook on Raleigh creative endeavors. I dearly hope our open studio will attract (as it did last year) some of my Bain friends, new and old. Critter, a Bain documentor, has favored me with some mail art this summer and I’m dying to show him the new Ray Johnson material I picked up recently at the Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center. Ray’s mail art show in 1976 was seminal for me: my Bain experience was galvanizing in just as big a way, here in my old age. I hope our open studio can stimulate: we will be marbling, printing and making sheets, and at 6 PM we will toast the day with all who have gathered. Please come!
Dan and Nancy Lovejoy are having an open studio this coming weekend at Lovejoy Pottery in Wendell. I posted about their show last summer in the first weeks of this blog’s existence, and it’s always great to see them and the other artists, who include Edge Barnes, John Garland & Mary Paul, Alan Leland, Julie Olson, Susan Myers, and Nancy & Kathleen Redman. As described in the earlier post, Dan Lovejoy was a founding member of Raleigh Artists Community in the seventies, and the Lovejoy Pottery show is well worth the drive to 6117 Watkins Road off Rolesville Highway. (919)266-6053.
I had the best chat with David Beaver the other day at Borders. David earned eternal endearment in the Raleigh art community by acting as jovial scorekeeper for the Poetry Slams at Forum+Function in the late nineties. He is my emblem for a 21st century shaman, being a magician, virtual reality enterprenuer, and now key member of the emerging Overview movement, which posits that seeing Earth from space is so life-changing, common space-flights could fundamentally change humanity’s perspective on the planet. Though David is working on transforming the world, he is still affable and charming as ever, and he’s got my mental cogs churning about several of his fascinating ideas.
NandO featured David Simonton recently and turned me on to a fantastic blog – Prison Photography, now featured on my blogroll. Their post about David’s photographs of Polk Youth Center before it was razed for the art museum shows powerful work; a stark portrait of neglect and abandonment. David’s earlier photographic work reflects “his calling as a poet of the ignored or the ruined place, the lost or forgotten landscape,” as described in this Indy profile.
Below is a sending from Susan Soper, printmaker.
Susan Soper —
Clayton Center Gallery
Clayton, NC 27520
Gallery Hours M-F, 9-5
Public opening reception
Sponsored by Clayton Visual Arts
Carter Hubbard, a papermaking contact from way back, touched base recently about an interesting project. She and partner Sara Botwick are putting together an art exhibition in the downtown warehouse where Bill and Otho created “antiques” for Niemann-Marcus and employed several dear friends in the process. The MUSA website is a bit inscrutable, but the show will offer an “interpretive visual perspective … on what it means to be ‘made in the USA.'” I’ll get back to this project soon.
Joel Haas just held a signing for his new book, Poppy Bear, illustrated by Walter Stanford. Joel’s book is his own writing, based on the “most enduring character” of his late father, the prolific novelist Ben Haas, who entertained his three boys with endless “Poppy Bear” tales but never wrote them down. Joel wrote up a prototype “Poppy Bear” story and then hooked up with Walter. The book is available from either of their websites.
Thanks for your kind attention. As always, this is just a smattering of the wonderful Raleigh culture that has come my way. Back at ya’ soon!
Southern Living (Gators & Cottonmouths)
by Marty Baird
photograph by Mary Kay Kennedy
Lest I forget that cultural arts, not culinary arts, are the primary features of this blog, let me tell you about some of the wonderful art I’ve seen lately. The image above is from a great new show, Patterns of Memory, at the Miriam Block Gallery in the Municipal Building downtown through November 18. This piece really speaks to me as a Southerner, a naturalist, and a lover of intricately interlaced printmaking elements. Marty has incorporated real signage about animal threats into an intricate quilting of images that stimulate a slight discomfort in the way that cast iron “lantern boys” can, and yet strongly evokes a South deeper and wilder than Raleigh, and strongly rooted in the natural world. Every culture has its way of containing and humanizing nature and the South has a unique style in that regard. This piece seems to have interlocking ironies about animals, nature, people and race that keep me thinking as I revisit the piece.
Please click on the image above to enlarge this detail and see how you can get lost in the painterly intricacies of this piece. The various elements are brought together by a roughly sketched gate that represents the frame we always use to cope with our relationship to the flora and fauna around us.
The Block Gallery show also includes hand-tinted gelatin photographic prints by Alison Overton and an installation of assemblages by Scott Renk. Renk’s work, which is in the display cases on the second floor of the space, consists of highly personalized, realistic historical artifacts given iconic status by their inclusion in the quaint yet ironic structures created by the artist. At the reception, Scott confided that a viewer sidled up to him and asked “Have you seen the voo-doo houses?’ whereupon he informed her that he, in fact, had made them. Reminiscent of the eery feelings of injection into a past created by the Titanic show at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, these windows back into time are worth a look. My snapshots are below (with thanks again to Mary Kay Kennedy for the pristine images above).
Artspace: Now in Print: Printmaking Invitational
Exhibition: September 13 – November 15, 2008
The exhibition presents a glimpse into the diverse methods and techniques within contemporary printmaking today. The exhibition features a large woodcut banner by Cannonball Press (NY); intaglio monotypes by John Ford (NC); deconstructive screenprints by Julia Freeman (WA); engravings by Oscar Gillespie (IL); multiple color woodcuts by Endi Poskovic (MI); and vitreopgraphs by Dan Welden (NY).
Artspace has a very strong show in its main gallery. It certainly isn’t a broad show, with just six artists, but each type of work has its own area of the room, and these are large scale pieces with highly varied techniques, so they need it. Largest of all is the fantastically huge patched-together woodcut print by the team of Martin Mazorra and Mike Houston, aka Cannonball Press.
The artists say this piece is about the American perception of the economy as diety. It dominates the room, but also breaks into individual visual narratives as you get close. The price listed on this piece is a slightly astronomical extrapolation ($6000) of the sixty buck high quality prints for which this team is famous.
Rebus Works has a strong political show which includes pillow portraits of Sarah Palin and stunning pieces of hand-laid paper. Below is a description of those pieces. I have to mention that Cara and I used garments from old romances ( as well as objects old, new, borrowed and blue) to make the pulp for our wedding invitations. Combat Paper is a much more profound use of the idea, but the idea is not new. Having that perspective made the work all the more powerful for me.
Combat Paper is a collective project based in Burlington, Vermont. Created as a vehicle for returning Iraq war veterans to reconcile their experiences through art, veterans involved in this project use their uniforms to make paper. This hand-made paper is then incorporated into prints based on their experiences. Contributing artists for Pro/Con are Drew Cameron, who served in the Army and is the director of the Green Door Studio, which is home to Combat Paper and Jon Michael Turner, who served in the Marine Corps in Haiti, Fallujah and Ramadi. These pieces provide a first-hand look into the effects of war, and the experience of those who have served.
Rebus Works deserves praise for their bravery in showing these artistic acts of true patriotism. Sarah Blackmon, involved in half of the shows in this post, continues to bring challenging and highly creative work to our local galleries.
Susan Toplikar has a magnificent, career-capping show at Meredith. The link will take you to a sumptuous color online brochure (pdf), which includes extensive statements by Susan, the curator and another artist/writer. Six major oil works comprise a series that explores multiple levels across each of the fundamentally similar pieces. The horse images derive partly from Susan’s experiences of the cave paintings of France’s Dordogne Valley. The harlequin pattern that borders each piece derives from ceramic tiles she saw in Avignon on the same trip. The painted sticks which so exquisitely insert themselves into the oil paintings “reference a part of the horse’s anatomy or [alternatively] the role of the horse in our collective history.” There is a wonderful interplay of themes and techniques, but the real reason to go see this show is simply to enjoy the fusion of skill and emotion in Susan’s gorgeous oil paintings on linen. The horses evoke the archetypal Ole Paint of our cowboy dreams, visioned in the smoky memories of cave art, and framed with elements that help bridge the eons. These horses will move you!
The Paper Plant presents an Open Studio Thursday and Friday, August 14 and 15 from 10 AM to 6 PM. John Dancy-Jones will be working and demonstrating. Papermaking, marbling, printmaking and letterpress printing will all be showcased with opportunities for hands-on interactions.
Location: 528 N. Person Street, Raleigh, NC
For information call 839-8277
I am wrapping my summer up with a bang! Two big days of open studio with all the pistons pumping. I will be making hand-laid paper, pulling Snapper prints with the flatbed press, printing a bookmark with the Kelsey 3×5, combining a block image with text on the Excelsior 9×13, and marbling laid sheets! We will have our usual studio display of notecards, blank books, and stock rag papers. Anyone who comes by can probably pick up a couple of tomatoes – our plants have gone crazy.
Hope to see some of you. This was a chance to respond to some of the many requests and inquiries since the N&O article last winter. Also, I have a couple of friends who have been wanting to play in the book arts a bit, and I hope to see them for some hours of sharing and learning.
The Paper Plant was Raleigh’s home for alternative arts in the 1980’s. Hand-laid paper and a letterpress shop was nestled in a used bookstore which also had monthly art openings and the Thursday Night Open Readings, which I, John Dancy-Jones, emceed for over seven years. I also acted as papermaker, printer and publisher. The bookstore closed in December of 1990 but I continue to make hand-laid paper, print, and publish.