Ex Libris—In Absentia, a hard ground etching on copper was created in response to a call to printmakers from around the world to engage with and explore the implications of the destruction of Bagdad’s intellectual and bookselling district on Al Mutanabbi Street by a car bomb in 2007. The Al Mutanabbi Street Project seeks to draw attention not only to the attack in Bagdad, but through the idea of “Al Mutanabbi Street starts here” to raise awareness of the connections between Bagdad and the threat to culture (artistic and literary thought and exchange of ideas) in the face of the potential for intolerance and violence on our own street.
Woland famously remarked in Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita” that “Manuscripts don’t burn”, meaning…what, exactly? Of course, they do burn, and so do people, as evidenced by this project, but perhaps it is the sense that ideas don’t burn that makes this such a powerful statement. In which case, where do they go, when so emphatically rejected by the arbitrary and malevolent forces of “the real world”? Is there some sort of continuum, a “space behind the curtain” so to speak that allows minds to connect and reconnect with the essence of burned manuscripts? These are some of the questions that came to mind in the process of exploration engendered by this project.
Too Close to the Sun, my most recent etching, is now available and has been selected from over 3000 prints to be shown along with work from 28 other artists at the IPCNY’s New Prints 2014/Winter exhibition from January 22nd to March 12th, 2014. It was also accepted into the 2014 Delta National Small Prints Exhibition from January 30th to February 28th, 2014.
Too Close to the Sun is based on the 16th century engraving of the fall of Icarus by Hendrick Goltzius from his series, The Four Disgracers that depicted the results of blind arrogance and ignorance in the face of the inexorable forces of the gods and nature. Safe, Clean, Cheap—Phaethon in the 21st Century, which can be seen on my website, was my previous attempt in this vein. I have adapted the work of Goltzius, which was created at the time to comment on the excesses of Phillip II in oppressing the Netherlands, to reflect on current curses of humanity that have been created for our own good by people who know what’s best.
A final note—due to the all-encompassing forces of supply and demand as exemplified by the Invisible Hand of the Marketplace, as of the end of January the price for the etching (not the book) Obeliscolychny will be $1000.00.
OBELISCOLYCHNY —an appellation that intoxicates the viewer with the potentials of unknown narratives, filled with mysterious possibilities leading to…what exactly? Obelisk-shaped lighthouses? Spit-lanterns wearing high-crown’d hats? A windmill inhabited by a cuckoo clock? Imagine these things and more, with the publication of the artist’s book, Obeliscolychny, featuring two etchings by David Avery and excerpts from Rabelais and Jarry connected with the abovementioned term.
Etymology: <Middle French obeliscolychnie (Rabelais, 1548-52) <ancient Greek ??????????????? a spit used (by soldiers) as a lamp-holder < ????????? OBELISK n. + ??????? lamp-stand (see LYCHNIDIATE adj.)
A lighthouse: a lamp-bearer.
The final state my etching Obeliscolychny is now completed and can be seen on my website. It will ultimately become the visual component of a limited edition artist’s book that will attempt to bring together the image with the texts from which the ideas that inspired it were derived.
“Obeliscolychny?” you may be tempted to ask.
And with good reason. Arguably one of the most obscure and rarely used terms to be found in literature (or anywhere else), but with, perhaps, undue influence relative to its obscurity, obeliscolychny was invented/appropriated by Francois Rabelais (@1483-1553) and used in books IV and V of his sprawling tales of Gargantua and Pantagruel. Possibly derived from Aristotle’s Politics, which used it to describe a kind of spit used by soldiers to hang lamps on as a metaphor for…well, something or other, it acquired the meaning somewhere along the way of a lighthouse in the form of an obelisk.
Centuries later, Alfred Jarry (1873-1907), poet, playwright, critic, puppeteer, and subverter of objective reality, discovered the word while reading Rabelais and became enamored with it, using it (pataphysically, of course) in several of his novels. That these works tend to be as convoluted and recondite as the origins of obeliscolychny itself is part of what provides grist for the mill of this project.
We are expecting the book to be completed soon, and are aiming for an opening event in mid July, so please stay tuned. Below are listed my most recent exhibitions.
Purchase Award, Ink, Press, Repeat 2013; 1/21 to 2/15/2013, Ben Shahn Center for the Visual Arts, William Patterson University, Wayne, NJ (Jacob Lewis—Pace Prints Chelsea).
Lindquist Purchase Award, 2013 Delta National Small Prints Exhibition; 1/17 to 2/20/2013, Bradbury Gallery, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, AR. (Anne Coffin-IPCNY).
Man, Machine and Nature; 1/17 to 3/1/2013, LA Print Space, Los Angeles, CA.
New Prints 2012; 2/1 to 3/9/2013, Visual arts Center, University of Texas at Austin, TX.
34th Bradley International Print and Drawing Exhibition; 3/9/13 to 4/20/13, Bradley University Galleries, Peoria, Il. (Stephen Goddard—Senior Curator, University of Kansas Kress Foundation).
24th National Drawing and Print Competitive Exhibition; 4/2 to 2/26/13, Gormley Gallery, Notre Dame of Maryland University, Baltimore, MD. (Amy Cavanaogh Royce).
26th Annual McNeese National Works on Paper Exhibition; 3/21 to 5/9/2013, Ambercrombie Gallery, Lake Charles, LA. (Claudia Schmuckli).
The New York Society of Etchers 3rd National Exhibition of Intaglio Prints; 5/20 to 6/7/2013, The National Arts Club, NY, NY. (Dr. Leonard Moss and Dr. Muriel Moss).
If you are in the New York area this October, I will be exhibiting two prints in the New Prints 2012/Autumn show at the IPCNY Gallery, located at 508 West 26th Street, 5th Floor. The opening reception is Tuesday, October 30, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.
Out of over 2600 submissions, 36 prints were selected for this exhibit, and two of them are mine: A Ticket to Ride, and Safe, Clean, Cheap–Phaethon in the 21st Century. Both of these works can be seen on my website.
Yes, this is becoming my own Tower of Babel, but, as promised, I will be showing an impression of the second state (about two thirds!) of my ongoing project, Obeliscolychny, with the Bay Printmakers during the first weekend of San Francisco Open Studios at Ft. Mason (see details above). Also featured will be Tempestuous Muse, first place winner in last year’s Open Studios exhibit. And, in a further example of shameless self-promotion, don’t miss the blurbette on me in the 2012 Open Studios guide (heavily edited to protect the public). In addition to the usual display of the perennial favorites in glorious black and white, at least some of the texts which caused my current project to come into being will be available for examination, and for those who must insist I will, of course, be on hand to attempt some sort of rationalization as to what connection there could possibly be between these recondite excerpts and the images that supposedly resulted from their discovery. Looking forward to seeing you there.
“…Ho, ho, I see land! I can see harbor! I can see a great crowd on the pier. I can see fire on the obeliscolychny. “
In addition to Open Studios, here is a list of current and upcoming shows in which my work will be included.
2012 Harnett Biennial of American Prints; 10/23 to12/9/2012, Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art, Richmond, VA.
New Prints 2012/Autumn; International Print Center New York, New York
Culture: Man, Machine and Nature; 10/3 to 11/16/2012, Sisson Gallery, Dearborn, MI.
Inclusions, Art from within Bernal Heights; 9/22 to 10/21, Inclusions Gallery, San Francisco, CA.
Hopefully, if you have gotten this far, you have visited my updated website. Almost all of the work I have produced to date is now available for your perusal in glorious black and white, including my most recent etching, Abstracting the Quintessence. Don’t forget my dealers, Annex galleries, Jane Haslem Gallery and Warnock Fine Arts, whose sites can be found on my links page.
This summer I am becoming involved in a new book project, entitled Obeliscolychny. It will involve an etching 28 inches by 5 inches which will be utilized as a vertical accordion foldout in the book, as well as being editioned as a separate stand alone print.
“Obeliscolychny?” you may ask.
Ostensibly, “a lighthouse in the shape of an obelisk”. —Perhaps. An ancient Greek word favored by Rabelais and Alfred Jarry and used in their work. Twice. For both of them. Possibly originated with Aristotle, to describe a kind of spit to hang lamps on. Described in the Oxford English Dictionary as “rare, obsolete”. Hmm. Well, I’m running with the obelisk-light house thing, with letterpress text by the above-mentioned writers. And since it is to be a lighthouse in the shape of an obelisk, it must also be a windmill. You can see the kind of direction this thing could be going in…
I will post images of the sections I am working on as they develop (28 inches is a lot for me), so please check back occasionally if you are curious as to what could possibly be going on.
Trying to catch up…a busy second half of 2011, with the purchase of “A Post-traumatic History Lesson” by the Library of Congress, a purchase award at the 33rd Bradley International, as well as the First Place Award at the 2011 San Francisco Open Studios Exhibition, and many shows. I am also now being represented by the Jane Haslem Gallery in Washington, DC.
As you may have noticed, we are in the process of revamping the website to make it more complete and easier to get around. In addition to the four categories, there is also a complete listing by chronology. You may notice that as you scroll though the titles, some images do not come up. These images are not available yet, but will be added as they become so. The unintended consequence of this inefficiency is that you will be motivated to return to the site again and again to see if the next image has been put up. In the meantime, the following is a listing of shows I will be involved in which all happen to open in January:
From Dublin to LA and Back; 1/9 to 1/28 2012, Monster Truck Gallery, Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland.
Global Matrix III; 1/9 to 2/29 2012, Purdue University Galleries, West Lafayette, IN. Traveling thereafter through 2013.
2012 Delta National Small Prints Exhibition; 1/19 to 2/17/2012, Bradbury Gallery, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, AR.
Traces, Marks and Fragments; 1/20 to 2/26/2012, San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, San Luis Obispo, CA.
The Sixth Annual Invitational Exhibition; 1/17 to 3/4/2012, Gratton Gallery, Gratton, CA.
Off the Press, Contemporary Printmaking from the San Francisco Bay Area; 1/12 to 3/16/2012, The Halden Art Gallery, South Lake Tahoe, CA.
Well, it seems that Saturday, May 21st is Judgment Day, so please come and judge for yourself , the work of 30 printmakers exploring the extremes of size, intimacy and environment at a reception from 6:00 to 9:00 at the Meridian Gallery on 535 Powell Street. I will be showing several recent etchings, including a just finished piece, “A Ticket to Ride”, that is loosely based on Albrecht Durer’s “The Knight, Death and Devil”. In addition, I will be creating an intimate environment in which to present the work that will involve not only some of the very smallest pieces in the show, but also the largest, in the form of a single piece of silkscreened wallpaper (108 sq. ft.!) created and printed with the help of Art Hazelwood.
For more information, including the press release listing all the participating artists, please go to www.meridiangallery.org
First of all, the etching, A Post-traumatic History Lesson has been awarded the Lakeview Museum Purchase Award at the 33rd Bradley International Print and Drawing Exhibition. (See Art for Aids post)
Feeling a bit Lightheaded will be available to bid on at Kala-fornia: State of the Art, an exhibition and auction to benefit the Kala Art Institute. The auction will be held Saturday, April 30th from 6:30 to 9:00, and will feature the works of over one hundred well known Bay Area artists. the silent auction opens on April 20th with a preview party from 6:00 to 8:00, (this part is free!). For more information www.kala.org/auction.
If you are in New York City on May 5th, there will be a one day only benefit for the Red Cross to help victims of the earthquake in Japan at the Sacred Gallery, 424 Broadway, 2nd floor. Again, over one hundred artists from around the world, with no artwork priced over $200.00! I will be showing The Ticker. For more info: www.sacredgallerynyc.com.
Current and upcoming shows:
Ink and Clay 37: W. Kieth and Janet Kellogg University Gallery,CPSU, Pomona, 3801 West Temple Avenue Pomona, CA, Juried by Allegra Pesenti, Curator at the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum, through April 29.
Light/Dark: Juried by Enrique Chagoya from the membership of the California Society of Printmakers, showing at the Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut Street, Berkeley, from April 2nd to May 22nd.
In Extremis: Prints Monumental, Intimate and Encompassing, at the Meridian Gallery, 535 Powell Street, May 21st to July 30th. In this upcoming show, featuring 30 printmakers at the extremesof their medium, I will be creating a special environment to show several of my most recent (detailed in the extreme) etchings, including a new print inspired by Durer’s Knight Death and Devil. More on this soon! For more info: www.meridiangallery.org