New York Comic Con 2013: On Art, Oddities, and Decorum

A New York Comic Con Attendee
Gets His Sweet Transvestite on
Outside the Javits Center
(Photo: Paul Niemi)
I never really had the desire to attend Comic Com before.  Don’t get me wrong. Pop art, graphic design, low brow and street art aren’t lost on me. But, I have never been a comic book fan.  Watching cartoons was a regular habit even into my high school years, but expelling energy on reading thought bubbles to figure out the plotline of a comic book has always seemed a little silly to me. Gaming escapes me as well.

Luckily, you don’t have to know anything about comic books to enjoy Comic Com.  I found that out when I had the opportunity spend two days at New York Comic Con at the Javits Center in Manhattan this past weekend.
 
Things that surprised me:  This is an event for the entire family. That hit home when I saw a mama Wonder Woman, a Flash daddy and infant Flash…so cute were they! There was actual original art, not just comic prints and drawings, available for purchase.  In general, you could purchase high-quality copies and limited edition prints for $10 to $20.   The number of comic book artists drawing and signing in Artists’ Alley in the Javits Center North was impressive.  There were so many people, it was nearly impossible to check them all out.  It was fun to see the enthusiam on the faces of people of all ages who really had a passion for and knowledge of the artists’s work.

Brooklyn-based Illustrative Artist
Drew Morrison Offered Up Art Prints
Featuring Strange and Charming Characters
(Photo: Paul Niemi)
 
On the main floor, I connected with illustrative prints by artists Drew Morrison and Alex Kirzhner.  Kirzhner offered a wonderful signed and numbered print of Edward Scisssorhands.  Morrison has created quirky illustrative worlds with interesting characters that have a strange but alluring charm. 

With thousands and thousands of people milling about Comic Con, it was amazing how calm things were and how friendly and polite people were.  Even the people who were turned away for presenting invalid entrance badges they purchased from scalpers on the street seemed to keep their cool.  I have been to many events at the Javits Center, and walking around was such a breeze.   It was fun to snap pics of people dressed as everyone’s favorite superheroes, comic book characters and film and book personalities.  While not all costumes were of the highest quality or worthy of praise, I give everyone an A+ for having the guts to show up!

To experience New York Comic Con, watch my video HERE!

Vincent Valdez’s ‘The Strangest Fruit’ Takes on a Century of Latino Lynching in the U.S.

Vincent Valdez, Untitled
From The Strangest Fruit, 2013
Oil on canvas, 55″ x 92″

In the United States, for most of us, the concept of lynching seems so far removed from our day- to-day experiences. After all, we have come so far from the barbaric days of the past, right? Wrong. That racism is merely transmitted in other ways through subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, aspects of our modern-day lifestyles. For certain, we are not a country made up of thoughtful people who like to remember the past as it was and learn from our mistakes.

Historically, we know all too well the atrocities that African-Americans have tragically endured as a matter of course in this country. And who could forget the 1915 abduction and hanging of  New York Jewish-American Leo Frank by anti-Semites in Georgia? This happened even after he was found not guilty of the rape and murder of Mary Phagan, one of the young factory girls who worked for him. Jason Robert Brown based the stirring Broadway musical Parade on his story that brought his experience to the mainstream consciousness years after the fact.  

Did you know that Latinos were hanged in the United States, more specifically Texas, up until the Mid-20th Century? This is one of our country’s dirtiest secrets.  As a result of the media and mainstream American society remaining tight lipped about the lynchings that began in the mid-1800s, few people know about them. While buried, these acts became part of written Latino history by way of community leaflets as well as traditional ballads called “corridos.”

Vincent Valdez, Untitled
From The Strangest Fruit, 2013
Oil on canvas, 55″ x 92″
The victims of these hangings may not have a musical telling their story coming to town anytime soon,  but they are getting an art exhibition that pays somber homage to the horrors they suffered. The Strangest Fruit,”opening on October 19 at Brown University’s David Winton Bell Gallery at the List Art Center is the brainchild of San Antonio-born and Rhode Island School of Design-educated painter and muralist Vincent Valdez.  Known for his metaphorical realism, Valdez has created an installation that metaphorically equates the unwritten deadly treatment of Latinos in the past with the oppression and persecution their descendants feel today in modern-day America. All of the exhibition paintings feature images of people with whom Valdez has a personal relationship. And while the ropes aren’t there, he has strategically depicted his subjects in positions that hint at the throes and aftermath of a death by hanging. “Slightly larger than life-size, the figures float, decontextualized on a white background,” says Valdez. “The compositions become an ambiguous scene between hanging and ascension.”

According to curators at the David Winton Bell Art Gallery, Valdez, at the far end of the gallery “presents an adapted version of the poem ‘Strange Fruit’ by Abel Meeropol (aka Lewis Allan) written and performed in the mid-to-late 1930s as a protest song that exposed racism and the lynching of African Americans in the United States, capturing popular imagination through recordings by singers such as Billie Holiday. The text stands as an transcribed ‘corrido’….inscribing the history of Latino lynching onto the wall of the gallery. The last line ‘…here is a strange and bitter crop’ echoes amongst the pained and contorted figures, presenting them as subjective evidence of ongoing social and cultural oppression.”

“The Strangest Fruit” runs through December 8.  The Gallery will present a symposium on Friday, October 18 from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the List Art Center Auditorium, followed by an opening reception at 6:30 p.m.  For more information, visit http://www.brown.edu/bellgallery.

 

 

 

 

 

The Rum, Tum, Tum of a Galaxy Far, Far Away Heard Closer to Home

Millenium Falcon Drum and Beaded Death Star Drum Stick
by Artist Dallin Maybee
Maple Wood, Basswood, Elk Rawhide, Acrylic, Ink and Glass Beads
18’x28″x5″
(Photo: The Artist)
 
I wouldn’t call myself a nerd, nor would I refer to myself as “cool.” Finding myself at New York Comic Con this past weekend, I realize I might just be a little bit of both.  Regardless, I know what I like.  A child of the 70s, it’s hard not to love all things Science Fiction, notably Star Wars.  The series, whether in books, films, video games whatever, transcends all generations because of that whole “Good versus Evil” thematic thing. And, as people on Earth appear to get more stupid, who can resist challenging the idea that life is nonexistent beyond this little ball of water and gases?  Sitting in the dark for nearly two hours with a myriad of strange beings reminds us to dream and think of the possibilities.  That’s a (pardon the pun) universal experience.  Let’s not forget all the cool costumes, weaponry and gadgets that spark the imagination.

 

While all these scenes, space battles are happening in the proverbial galaxy far, far away, we do have the opportunity to live in a world that offers art as one of its most valuable currencies.  And while I’m not sure what that would translate to in Renminbi, I do know you can’t put a price tag on its importance to humanity as a catalyst for and vessel of imagination.

 

It’s always exciting to see aspects of other cultures converging with art and the mainstream.  Contemporary Native American art, too, is pushing its way into the limelight because Native artists are celebrating our pop art roots like no one else.  And, it isn’t just Millenials either!

 

That’s why I love this Millenium Falcon drum and Death Star drumstick made by Northern Arapaho/Seneca artist Dallin Maybee The drum is made with a maple wood frame and a carved basswood extension covered by elk rawhide.   He then painted it with a metallic base and augmented it with ink.  “Of course, it was easier to take the round hand drum and adapt it rather than to try and stretch the rawhide around the shape of the Millenium Falcon,” says Maybee.   
 
 
 
The Death Star drumstick is a brain tan buckskin ball attached to a handle which Maybee painted with acrylic. A noted and skilled traditional Native American bead artist, he then adorned the handle with 13/0 cut glass beads.

 

Why did Maybee choose to create the drum as a show piece for a recent art event in Oklahoma?  He says the innate shape of the Millenium Falcon easily lends itself to being immortalized as a drum.  “I’ve always believed that our identity is shaped by our environment: Our languages, ceremonies and culture.  These days that environment includes many contemporary aspects of life that we share with non-native cultures.”

 

Maybee grew up with the Star Warssaga,  and what better way to acknowledge the fan boy culture than by creating indigenized art pieces inspired by the series?  “I loved the independence and nomadic lifestyle of Han and Chewie, ” he says. “I saw a lot of my culture in them–perhaps myself.”   Dallin Maybee  has a whole series of Star Wars-related projects in the works and sees this drum as a successful prototype for others to follow.  For more information, visit http://www.turquoisehousegallery.com/Artist/Artist%20Pages/Dallin%20Maybee.html

‘Surveying’ the Landscape at Affordable Art Fair NYC 2013 Fall Edition

Pop Art by Francois Coorens
Available Through Vogelsang Gallery
(www.gregoirevogelsang.com/)
Recently, I made a pact with myself that was I was going to spend my free time doing meaningful things.  Everyone who knows me well understands that fine art is my passion.  That is why whenever I can, I make sure I am anywhere IT is.  With all the seeming ugliness in the world, this ensures my surroundings are beautified wherever my journeys take me!
Argentinian Artist
Ulises Baine with
One of His Pieces
(www.espacioescarlata.com.ar)

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to work as an art fair assistant for Affordable Art Fair NYC at The Tunnel in Chelsea.  It is a volunteer position, but I would never treat it as such.  Working the fair from the inside is a great way to meet others who share my passion as well as keep myself busy.  Actually, these days, I’d rather work for fun because they are one in the same to me. I’m a natural networker, so the real enjoyment is making real connections with people and finding out how I can work with them in the future.  From manning the exhibitor storage and patron check-in desks, to convincing visitors to take surveys and everything in between, I had a great time racing about and learning.

 

“Under Construction”
Liquid Paper/Ink/Clothing Dye
Collage on Delineated Canvas
by Dionne Simpson
(www.michelemariaudgallery.com)

Despite the swollen feet and exhaustion, though, it’s a total blast and not all business.  Admidst the craziness, there’s even time to get to know your colleagues, share a slice of pizza and make some friends too!

Of course the best part of the Affordable Art Fair is seeing some of the most fabulous art from around the region and the world.  I enjoyed discovering pieces by Francois Coorens, Ulises Baine, Dionne Simpson, Courtney Raney, Gian Piero Gasparini, Ricardo Cony Etchart and so many more!  Watch my recap video HERE!

 

October Marks Arrival of 2013 Edition of Legendary Cape Dorset Print Collection to Manhattan

Kenojuak Ashevak, Serpentine Wolf, 2013

Lithograph, 22 1/8 x 30 in. (57 x 76.5 cm)
Printer: Niveaksie Quvianaqtuliaq

While I have learned a great deal about Alaskan Yup’ik basketry over the last couple of years, it wasn’t until recently that I began to read and learn about Inuit sculpture and prints. This month, the annual Cape Dorset Print Collection will be released.  Ann B. Lesk, owner of Alaska on Madison, a gallery specializing in Northwest Coast and Northern Alaskan contemporary and historic art in Manhattan will be hosting a preview reception from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 17.  Lesk gives us a glimpse into this wonderful annual event that collectors all over the world look forward to in anticipation:

PN: For those people who don’t know anything about Inuit prints, talk a little about the origin of the Cape Dorset prints, what they are and why they are so appealing to people.
 
AL: Cape Dorset is a community of about 1200 Inuit (Canadian Eskimo) which describes itself as the “Capital of Inuit Art.” Every year since 1959, Cape Dorset has released a set of limited edition prints created by artists from the community. The first prints were stunningly sophisticated, especially when you consider that this was a new art form for the Inuit. The annual collections have shown a wide range, including exquisitely realistic portrayals of Arctic birds and animals, stylized fantasy compositions, social commentary, and shamanistic images. I think that they appeal to people because they combine sophisticated design with an exotic Arctic perspective. Cape Dorset prints originated through serendipity. James Houston was a Canadian artist who was living in the North and, since 1949, had helped to create a system of Inuit-owned cooperatives to promote and market Inuit art in the South. Initially, this meant soapstone and ivory carvings. Houston was talking with one of the artists, who looked at Houston’s pack of cigarettes and commented that it must be very boring for someone to have to draw the same picture on each package. Houston took a walrus tusk that had scrimshawed engravings on it, applied ink, and showed the artist how one could make a print from a master image. This conversation led to experiments with printmaking in Cape Dorset. Houston went to Japan to learn low-technology printmaking techniques that could be used in the Arctic, and supervised the creation of a printmaking studio in Cape Dorset. 
 
PN: How many prints are available for 2013 and how much can collectors expect to pay for a Cape Dorset print?
 
AL: The 2013 collection comprises 32 prints by 11 artists, ranging in price from $300 to $1800. Only fifty impressions of each print are made. The complete collection can be viewed online at http://www.alaskaonmadison.com/exhibition/9/exhibition_works/list/ P
 
PN: October marks the opening of your Cape Dorset print show for 2013. How many years has Alaska on Madison offered these prints to collectors of fine Alaskan art?
 
AL: This is the second year that Alaska on Madison has offered the Cape Dorset Print Collection. We are the only gallery in the greater New York metropolitan area that exhibits the collection. The other American galleries with the collection are in Maine, Minnesota, California and Washington State.
 
PN: Who are some of the most famous Cape Dorset print artists of all time and who are the up and comers in your estimation? Do you have any particular favorites for this year?
 
AL: Kenojuak Ashevak (1927-2013) was undoubtedly the most prominent Cape Dorset print artist. Her death in January was a great loss for the Inuit art world. She catapulted to fame when one of her prints, “Enchanted Owl,” was published on a Canadian postage stamp. She continued to experiment with new techniques right up to her death, and was an inspiration to generations of new artists. This year’s collection includes seven of her prints. One, “Serpentine Wolf,” is a new departure for Kenojuak, using lithography to introduce texture into the design. Recently, we also lost Kananginak Pootoogook (1935-2011). His elegant portrayals of Arctic wildlife were mainstays of the Cape Dorset collection for many years, along with astute graphic observations on the relationship between the Inuit and outsiders. The stars of the next generation are Ningeokuluk Teevee, who is represented by six prints in the collection, Tim Pitsiulak, who has three prints in the collection, and Shuvinai Ashoona, who was represented in last year’s collection. This year’s collection includes prints by three newcomers. The youngest is Saimaiyu Akesuk, age 27, who is the granddaughter of Latcheolassie Akesuk, one of the great first-generation carvers in Cape Dorset. Saimaiyu’s prints include an explicit homage to her grandfather’s work, Lacheolassie’s “Birds,” and her other prints clearly show the influence of his abstract style.
 
PN: For the first time Cape Dorset print spectator and perhaps purchaser, what tips do you have for buying pieces on the secondary market?
 
AL: The Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection is offered only through galleries and museum shops. Each print is signed, has a legend that indicates the year it was made, the impression number (e.g., 13/50 means that this is print number 13 of the edition of 50), the title, the print technique, and the community (Cape Dorset). Many prints also include a “chop,” or stylized signature of the artist and sometimes also the printer. If you are buying older prints, be sure to look at the condition of the print carefully. Be sure to check the print technique (see below). For both old and new prints, you should find out what you can about the artist–whether they are well established or unknown, prolific, or represented by only a few works.

Ningeokuluk Teevee, Tulugak’s View, 2013

Etching and aquatint, 32 x 25 in. (81.5 x 63.5 cm)

Printer: Studio PM

 
PN: What is the artistic process that brings Cape Dorset prints to life?
 
AL: The 2013 Cape Dorset Print Collection includes prints made using four techniques: stonecut, stonecut-and-stencil, etching-and-aquatint, and lithograph. The first Cape Dorset prints were stonecuts. As the name suggests, a flat surface was made on a large stone, the image was cut into it, inked, and printed. The second technique introduced in Cape Dorset was stencil or stonecut-and-stencil. In a stencil, a pattern is cut out of a mask, and ink is applied to the paper in the cut-out areas. Stonecut-and-stencil prints combine these two techniques. Lithographs were introduced next. Although lithography was originally developed using stones, as the name suggests, modern lithographs are made by applying ink to a metal plate that has been treated with chemicals. Etching-and-aquatints combine traditional etching techniques with hand-applied coloring. The prints are frequently a collaboration between an artist, who prepares the design, and a printer, who cuts the stone, prepares the lithographic plate, colors the etching, or inks the stencil. The printer may make significant decisions that affect the appearance of the final print, emphasizing or downplaying elements in the artist’s drawing. The interaction between the print’s designer and the printer can be seen in these pictures of the drawing and finished print for Kenojuak Ashevak’s “Dog Sees Spirits.” You can see that the print does not just follow the lines of the drawing; it smooths them, and even adds a little bird-like creature at the top right. The way that the ink is applied also enhances the overall esthetic effect of the print. These changes would have been discussed between Kenojuak and the printer, Kananginak Pootoogook.

1960 Pencil Drawing of Kenojuak’s “Dog Sees Spirits”
 
For a link to a film about the process of making Kenojuak’s “Arrival of the Sun” click HERE.

1960 Print of Kenojuak’s “Dog Sees Spirits”

 

 
If you would like to read more about Cape Dorset prints, please see Ann’s blog at http://alaskaonmadison.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/more-on-cape-dorset-prints-and-the-2013-annual-print-collection/
 
For more information about the Alaska on Madison preview reception, visit www.alaskaonmadison.com or follow the gallery on Facebook and Pinterest.

Micro-Mosaic Jewelry Artist Courtney Lipson Cheers Patrons’ Unique Stories with Collaborative ‘To Life’ Accessories Series

Plantagenet Family Crest Cuff in Micro-Seed Bead Inlay
by Courtney Denise Lipson


We all have defining moments in our lives that change who we are and how we feel about ourselves. Jewelry reflects who we are. According to Seattle-based micro-mosaic artist and jewelry designer Courtney Denise Lipson, jewelry is both shield and regalia for those who wear it.

Side View Plantagenet Family Crest Cuff
by Courtney Denise Lipson

“I have experienced times of complete transformation wearing jewelry, and at other times have felt it is a part of me, as much as my own skin,” she insists. She also believes that jewelry as adornment is a reflection of personal memories and thoughts.


 
It is no surprise then that Courtney’s work has the ability to spark memories–thoughts of a walk on the beach, a hike through the forest or the desert, or even a swim with innumerable sea creatures. Her mind is able to capture the textures, tones, sights and colors of journeys past in the smallest of spaces and in the most remarkable way. Every piece is a handmade, one-of-a-kind work of art. Her limitless imagination results in colorful earrings, rings, cuff bracelets, and extraordinary statement piece necklaces that have been the focal points of a number of beautiful, highly-artistic jewelry collections that celebrate the natural world. Her work is achieved by creating the shape of the design in sterling silver and/or gold, inlaying glass seed beads one at a time, and then enclosing the design in complementary colored grout.

 

Courtney is very intuitive, empathetic, and a natural storyteller. Continually trying to push the creative envelope and challenge herself technically, she offers something new and altogether unique…The ‘To Life’ Collection. With her signature silver and micro-mosaic hand grouted beadwork, Courtney can interpret your story– the spirit of an individual, a special event or a specific moment in time–and transform it into a collaborative, extraordinary and stunning piece of jewelry. While many commissions involve total separation between patron and artist, Courtney will meet or correspond with you or your representative, every step of the way. From concept to drawing, she maintains her creative integrity to ensure a balance between a collector’s vision and her expression.
 

I had the opportunity to work with her to create this piece that is a tribute to my English ancestry–Edward II–my 27th Great Uncle. As you can see, she superbly captured the essence of the Plantagenet Family crest by creating four quadrants and breaking up the elements–the three lions and the fleur de lis–to artistically hint at them. We decided to lessen the intensity of the original crest colors to make them more subdued and masculine. On one side is an eye (inspired by a photo of my own eye) that represents Edward and my ancestors’ eyes watching over me. On the other end of the cuff, is white beadwork representing the ermine fur that wouldhave been worn on royal regalia. A carnelian stone is the centerpiece that hints at the cuff’s royal inspiration. When I first approached Courtney to make the piece, I asked if it was possible to have the crest be the background and then superimpose elements of Edward’s face on top. I knew logistically, this might be difficult because of the small space. Regardless, she listened to what I wanted and I couldn’t have imagined a better design for the jewelry.



 
As with all commissions from artists, it takes time for her to make the work. In the end, it’s worth it, because the final product is something that you can’t get anywhere else. In line with Courtney’s philosophy that the piece is her artistic expression channeling another’s personal experience, collectors can be assured that their story has never been told before in this fashion.




Micro-Mosaic Silver Cuffs by
Courtney Denise Lipson

 
For more information on commissioning a ‘To Life’ piece or purchasing any of her existing work, visit www.facebook.com/CourtneyDeniseLipson.

Etling and Kolitsopoulos Headline Infrared Photography, Lithograph and Drawing Show in NYC’s Chelsea District

“When I was a child, I was fascinated by the old family photos
at my grandmothers house…the magical quality of photography, its ability to freeze time and preserve the past.” –Photographer Jackie Etling
 
 



“Versailles Forest” by Jackie Etling

When I experience fine art, I like to do it in places filled with as little pretense as possible.  I also love to meet sincere people who are so filled up full with a true awareness of who they are that it comes across in their work and when they interact with others.  Smoke and mirrors in some instances is very entertaining, especially if nice wine flows freely and there’s a decent food spread, but I’ll leave that for those who are more interested in the party than looking at great art. 

In 2008, I started blogging about art.  One of the first New York City venues I was introduced to was the Pleiades Gallery in Chelsea.  The space is simple, but there is always a wonderful variety of work to be seen there. Most importantly, you always meet “fully present” people there.  According to the gallery web site, Pleiades was founded in 1974 and is “one of the oldest and most successful artist run galleries in the country.”   Its membership, which is comprised completely of established, well-known, as well as emerging artists whose work has earned the respect of their peers, upholds a rigorous jurying process to welcome new artists into the fold.

I am excited to head back to Chelseathis coming Saturday evening, October 5  for the opening reception for “Works on Paper, Lithographs, Drawings and Watercolors by Sheryl Ruth Kolitsopoulos” as well as “The Language of Trees,” photographs by Jackie Etling.   Both share billing for the member show that opened on October 1 and runs through October 26.  

I love a good drawing, and those who have mastered them captivate me.  Kolitsopoulos’s work is based on the simple moments in life.  Her pieces capture people mid-action, and she shares the very personal world she has created in her mind with the spectator on paper.  Undoubtedly, collectors will find something very special to purchase from her body of work.  You can learn more about the artist at www.sherylruthkolitsopoulos.com.

Since I have spent considerable time in New Mexico, I am particularly excited about getting to know the work of East Coast and Santa Fe, New Mexico favorite Jackie Etling up close.  This time around, the Pleiades Gallery Vice President will feature works that explore and capture the “transcendent essence” of one of nature’s most mystical living things–the tree. While Etling is lauded for her work in both black and white and color, her latest body of work utilizes infrared photography that picks up the infrared end of  the light spectrum.  When outdoor images are shot, the camera detects the infrared light given off by plant life.  The end result is a subject that appears “ethereal and other worldly,” according to the artist.  Her work for this show is derived from photos taken during visits to Europe, the American Southwest, as well as New England.  For more information about Etling, visit www.etlingphoto.com.
 
The Pleiades Gallery is located at 530 W. 25th Street, 4th floor, New York City. Visit www.pleiadesgallery.com.