Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Daily art update 3 -- museum maps and a plea for help!


I wrote last week about train tickets that have been brought to me by vacationing friends.

And speaking of friends....

I'm always wildly grateful for help from my friends.  I've been asking people who are on their way to vacation if they would bring me train tickets, maps or any tourist things that include a map.  I'm thinking of things like museum brochures that have a street map on the back or business cards from restaurants with a street map.

Here are four pages that will eventually become part of a book called "My Friends Go to the Museum."  Each page has the name of the museum, a little picture of something on display in the museum, a map, and of course, thanks to the friends who brought it to me.




I find it interesting that different museums have such different approaches to maps.  The Bologna map is totally detailed, showing every street within a one-mile radius.  The Paris map is stylized, with only a few main drags.  The Sao Miguel map shows a whole chunk of Portugal.

I would love to have a lot more pages in this book, so here's an invitation -- if you have brought home piles of brochures from past travels that are simply gathering dust in your files or piles, and you'd just as soon have them disappear and become somebody else's junk, and a few of them include a map on the back page, send them to me!  I will love and cherish them and turn them into certified ART, and thank you on the page.

Same with tickets, or museum brochures that include a map/floor plan of the museum rather than a street map.  Every one will find a home in my daily art this year.  And these ephemera don't have to come from exotic places -- the next time you visit your local museum, look on the back of the brochure and see if you find a map.  If you do, I would be a very happy recipient.

In case you are moved to send me something, shoot me an email and I'll tell you my address (I'm hesitant to publish it on the internet, although of course a thousand hackers across the second and third worlds already know it).  And my sincerest thanks in advance!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Inadequacy and style


Last week on Hyperallergic, the daily e-newsletter about edgy art, I found an interesting cartoon, a recurring feature by CM Campbell about "How to Draw a Black Guy."  In two minutes you can get much to chew on about cartooning, race relations and artist doubt.  But what I liked the most was his almost-at-the-end conclusion.





















"That's why you should never force style.  It's just inadequacy combined with practice."

What a profound and true statement!  As I look at my own art practice, I see so many examples of inadequacy combined with practice.  Probably the most blatant is that I can't do beautiful calligraphy, so I have cultivated varieties of handwriting and handlettering that are deliberately awkward, wobbly and misproportioned.  I think they look pretty nice.

























I guess there are two ways to deal with inadequacy -- avoid the area entirely, or figure out a way to embrace the situation and make the best of it.  Think about that for a bit.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Daily art update 2 -- ticket to ride


Another format for my daily map depends on a train ticket, either one that I bought and used at some point in the past, or one that I found on the street, or one that a friend brought home for me.  And I must give a shout-out to those wonderful friends who are supplying me with tickets, museum brochures, flyers and just plain maps from their travels.  I really appreciate what you have brought me!!!

My rule for this format: paste the ticket onto an index card, add a map.  Thank the friend who brought it to me.


Serendipity struck with this last ticket.  As we went places in Hamburg in May, we ended up at the train station at least twice a day, and if I saw some tickets on the floor or in the street that weren't too encrusted with crud I would pick them up.



When I got home I inspected them closely and realized that this ticket wasn't from Hamburg at all but Graz -- almost 700 miles away in Austria. (I wonder how it got to the floor of the Hamburg station.)  And noted that in my newly acquired  collection of brochures was an ad for Graz tourism, complete with map!  So it was easy to match the ticket with its map.  I don't suppose I'll find that kind of coincidence again.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Daily art update 1 -- endless highway


This year my daily art is different from past years in that I don't make a piece every day with the same format that I can easily photograph and post to my blogs.  Instead I have a theme -- maps -- but no rules as to what kind of art I should do each day with a map.  Some days I might be making a little book, other days a collage/painting, other days a 3D construction.  Some days I work on a continuing project without trying to precisely document the beginning and end of that particular day's work.

I haven't reported on my progress in quite a while, so maybe it's time for an update.

One of the new formats that I've been doing more than once is what I call "endless highway," in which I cut small bits from the road atlas or other map source and join them to others.  Sometimes I mount these constructions in accordion books; sometimes I make cubes.



It's amusing to see a highway go from Cleveland to Honolulu to Twin Falls. 




The cubes are most difficult to make.  It's tricky to find a map bit with highways heading in three directions, meeting the adjacent sides in exactly the right place. 

And it's also tricky to construct the cube from cardstock; how do you get a firm bond when gluing the sides together when you can't get your hands inside?  But these little technical challenges are what I love about making art.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Art report / Hamburg 5


This is the end of my art reports from Europe, with something kind of funny from the Hamburger Kunsthalle.

Annette Streyl,  BMW M√ľnchen / Palast der Republik / Reichstag Berlin (details below)

As the wall sign explains:  "The sculptures use architectural models as their starting point.  Annette Streyl had the Reichstag and other landmarks of German politics and history knit at a scale of 1:100 and hung them over a clothesline.  Deprived of their power and importance, they resemble pieces of wet laundry."

Germans might find more of an instant frisson of recognition, but if you aren't familiar with the buildings (as Americans would be, for instance, with a model of the White House) you have to take it on faith that these are accurate scale models.

I got a laugh out of these pieces, especially the limply dangling flag atop the Reichstag.  The tall BMW towers looked to me just like as a pair of long johns.

Worth the price of admission!