Archive for April, 2012


Altered Photo Workshop at MAD Festival

The 2012 West Virginia MAD (Media Arts and Design) Festival was held at West Liberty University on Friday April 27, 2012. As part of this annual, full day celebration of media arts, I taught three 0ne-hour mixed media workshops based on altered photographs. My inspiration for this workshop is the work of artist Alex Gross. I recently had saw the exhibition, Product Placement, at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in Chelsea. As part of that exhibition, Gross included a series of altered cabinet photos, which were most excellent! Once workshop participants got into their work (play?), I was able to participate as well.

 Here is a slide show of the workshop in progress, and some of the resutlts.

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A Short Story About a Photo Album

Chop Suey.

I enjoy finding old photographs and photo albums at flea markets. There is just something about being able to enter the lives of the people in these photos, if only for that split second click of the shutter. Most of the photos I find are given a new life as they end up in my collage work. The more interesting of the finds go on the wall or in the “collection”. Last summer I purchased a photo album at a local outdoor market, which in itself is nothing unusual. However, this particular album belonged to a student of the New York Institute of Photography in 1921.

Last week, in another one of my many attempts to clean my studio, I was moving some materials and rediscovered the album. I stopped my cleaning task to once more take a peek at the photos inside. After turning page after page of various portraits in a variety of settings and lighting situations, I discovered that there was a last page in the album that I had previously overlooked. Perhaps the page had been “stuck”, or it may have been that I had glance through the album too quickly. Regardless, here on the album’s last page were four photos taken on an elevated railroad somewhere in New York.

I had just revisited the wonderful Highline in NYC a few weeks back as part of a West Liberty University art trip. I was excited to think that these new found images might be early photos of that vary location. Upon examining the photographs further, I believe that this particular elevated railway may have been in Long Island, NY, based on a building sign in one of the photos.

In one of the photos you can see part of a restaurant sign reading “Chop Suey”, not unlike the sign in the painting by artist Edward Hopper. In the painting are two fashionable women dining and a similar sign can be seen just outside the window. Probably just a coincidence, but fun to think that just maybe….

I have included details from two of the photos. One shows a sign reading “Dr. Rubin Dentist”. If you look closely, you will see Dr. Rubin working on a patient. The other detail is of the Long Island Bird Store, just because I think the signs are so great! (The photo gallery may take a minute to load. Enjoy!)


First Rogers of 2012

When Chris and saw the weather forecast for Friday….sunny, high-fifties, and zero chance of rain…..that could only mean one thing! A trip to Rogers! This was our first visit this year, and several thousand other people seemed to have the same idea, and the flea market was jammed. By noon it was really difficult to move through the aisles. It was madness…..and fun! A beautiful to look at antiques, junk, people, food, and of course….art materials! Chris and I both found some tin, along with numerous other items which included a folksy looking wood dog that will now has a home. Here is a slideshow of the day, and while you are watching you will notice that Rogers becomes more and more crowded!

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The Ann Weber Project

In 2009, Chris and I spent 8 days in San Francisco. We had a wonderful visit, and for me it was my first return after having lived there as a pre-schooler. We stayed at the Parc 55 Hotel, near Union Square. Just off the elevator were two large basket-like sculptures. Chris asked me one day if I had looked at them, and I assured her I had. “Did you see what they are made of?”, Chris asked. “Ratan….. or some kind of basket  material,” I replied. “No”, Chris replied, “Cardboard!” NOW she had my attention! I suddenly took a new interest in these ‘baskets’!

We took several photographs of these sculptures, with the  possibility of creating a project for my Design II. or Sculpture classes at West Liberty University. For some reason I let the whole idea get pushed to the back burner, and forgot about it.

Then this past December I was planning projects for my spring Design II.class, and I ran across the photos of the cardboard sculptures. I decided that the first thing I needed to do was see if I could find out the name of the artist who created these pieces. After just a short time Googling various key words, I found the creator! California artist Ann Weber! Here are a few words describing Ann and her work, from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle on line:

Artist Ann Weber, a delicate woman, relies on some indelicate tools: a $25 Arrow P-22 stapler from Ace Hardware, a box cutter, shellac and loads of cardboard pulled from trash bins. Weber cuts cardboard into strips and staples pieces together until forms take shape. Sometimes the shapes are primal, looking like pods and seeds. Sometimes they are woven or coiled abstract figures. Sometimes they are smooth, elegant and towering shapes, resembling members of a wedding party awaiting a portrait.

“I was drawn to the challenge of making beauty from something so common and ubiquitous as cardboard,” said Weber, whose path to creating sculptures from cardboard began with her first pottery class in the 1970s, “I’m from the Midwest, where the saying is we can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

Weber’s works range in size from 12 inches high to 16 feet tall. While some of her pieces are finished in bronze or fiberglass, most are plain cardboard preserved and strengthened with shellac. She fishes around trash bins near her Emeryville loft for much of the cardboard, she said. She has come to see the difference in cardboard made in different countries, and looks for cardboard faded in uneven ways by the sun.

I shared Ann Weber’s story with my Design II. class, along with images of her sculptures. After planting that seed, the students put pencil to paper and worked out their ideas. From that point on the studio was a flurry of cut cardboard, and the air was filled with the sound of clicking staplers. While most of the students did use staplers, a handful did the project using a hot glue gun. On behalf of the Design II. classes, and myself, I would like to thank Ann Weber for both her inspiring sculptures and her words of encouragement regarding this project. Here are the results:

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