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My Mannequins Are Moving

February 20, 2011 1 comment

The following is a fictional account of how an artist sometimes draws creativity through odd objects and the telling of tall tales.  This practice was often explored by one of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury, who developed unusual stories around the dark psyche of things and people.  Of course, in my case, let me stress the word, fictional, and the following account should be taken in the spirit of Gothic Horror or perhaps, a little Gothic Humor.  I recently gave a speech at my old alma mater, where I was honored as their distinguished alumni.  To create a memorable presentation, I included this somewhat offbeat and unusual tale. Unfortunately, I fear that I didn’t provide enough explanation and suspect my audience took my story seriously. If that is the case, then I should consider a well deserved, self-imposed, exile.  I hope you enjoy my story called, “My Mannequins are Moving.”   

I am an artist, printmaker, and professor, with a somewhat lackluster blog. My literary attempts may be endemic of a more serious dereliction. My words limp along, because

Monique, A Stealthy Succusbus

Monique, A Stealthy Succusbus

 I’m tired, and my creativity is equally waned. Artistic slump is difficult to overcome. However, I must remember that my introspection is often rejuvenated by the things in my studio. To this end, my words today are dedicated to all those artists who have unenlightened lapses and bland corners in their studios. Draw energy from them, my friends; don’t let your walls be empty.

Creativity is a strange thing. It is most elusive and sometimes paradoxical. It is the nexus where two parallel lines meet; it is the shadow realm, where puppets inspect their strings and clowns remove their face paint. It is a Tarot deck where all the cards are identical, except the one printed on the box. It is a genealogy chart where everyone is born on the same date, or Dada is rational. Yes, art holds all these allegorical secrets, like burning coals in the eyes of a snowman.

As a quest for this creativity, I converted my living room into a printmaking studio. I filled it with somewhat curious artifact. On my fireplace mantle is a reproduction of a Corinthian column. Situated just atop of its floral support is a boor’s skull. He stands vigil over my living room.  The joy of my life is a 2000 lb intaglio press, made by F. Reem, saved from the 1966 floods of Florence, Italy. I restored all its parts and graced its frame with chrome plated motorcycle bolts. Not too far to the right is a corner of oddities. I call this my laboratory corner. On its sagging Victorian shelves are chemicals, flasks, test tubes, a large tome entitled, “Ghosts,” by Hans Holzer, and a red covered 1958 text, “The Theory and Practice of Embalming. Every home should have an inviting corner such as this. A place to putter and create special blends of intaglio inks, dyes, and sundry printmaking tinctures.

Even though I live a gentle, quite life, I am not alone. My inanimate dog, Bowser, keeps me company on Christmas and Thanksgivings. Bowser sits next to the couch, usually

Monique Bowser and Myself

Monique Bowser and Myself

 beside my visiting Jehovah Witness friends. He doesn’t bark, nor does he eat. He is the best Plaster of Paris friend anyone could ever want or need.

Ah, but the mannequins are a different story. I don’t trust them. They think they’re so clever, inching across my oaken floors each night. Their movements are subtle, perhaps traversing only inches in the span of a week. I know their movements; I can hear them from the corner of my eyes and smell them with my ears. It’s difficult to hide sounds in a hundred year old house. It’s difficult to hide the foot falls of scurrying mice, disturbed by slowly shuffling plastic feet.

Last November, I procured the services of a security company to install monitored surveillance cameras. Additionally, I dead bolted all the interior doors. My friends seem concerned. It is so reassuring to have good friends who believe in my stories.

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March of the Mad Hares

February 19, 2011 1 comment

Sometimes we find an area of expression that consumes a lifetime.  Mine happens to be an artform called printmaking.  It utilizes copper or zinc plates and subjects them to many processes.  The image is drawn in reverse, which means the artist must see images and values in reverse.  After the images are etched onto a plate, then they must be transferred, or printed to paper.  This is the printing process and utilizes a large printing press, also called an intaglio press.  The plate is wiped with ink and carefully registered with the paper.  The press applies tons of pressure to deboss a beautiful image called an intaglio.  Intaglios come in several forms, the chief two are called etching and engraving.  There is no art form quite like a well printed etching.  All line are debossed with one powerful, clean, and spontaneous stroke; the image shouts, printmaking.

Below, I have created a little montage of my images onto a video.  I am not an expert with editing programs, but wanted to do a video because it is a good vehicle for containing my work.

“March of the Mad Hares,” represents the art of Professor Ralph Slatton, done in the printmaking process called, intaglio. His animal images represent the individual cages in which humans hide, and the surreal landscapes that exist within each individual.

Prof Slatton and His No Techno Zone

January 4, 2011 3 comments
Broken Telephone Lines Are Silent

Broken telelphone lines are silent with many voices trapped inside.

Not that it matters too much to anyone but me, but I find the era of computers and search engines to be daunting.  This is particularly true for someone who chose the world of fine art as a profession.  This is surprising, because I embraced technology when I was a kid.  I took apart anything that had wires, including parts of my house.  My mission was to inspect, back-engineer, pry, prod, and basically discover all those hidden mysteries inside my machines.  I later studied electrical engineering and tinkered with my own circuit designs.  Now that I’m almost reaching retirement, I’m faced with the age of computers, websites, and search engines.  I thought I could conquer these like I did my old pocket watch, just take it apart, pull out a few pieces, and see what functional part changed.  Unfortunately, the hardware part of computers is much easier to grasp than the software concepts.  Just when I thought I had licked HTML, now I have to learn about CSS, where everything is hidden in its own secret box.  I’m posting this to express how much I hate living in the cyber world and would trade it all for a nice safe cave, if I knew I could still feed myself.  By the way, what exactly is an “app?” – Prof. Ralph Slatton – Blackhand Press Templars