Thursday, July 4, 2013

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

Today is the 20th Anniversary of the beginning of my series "The Fourth of July".  Although it is a piece completed while I was still in school, many consider it my signature piece.  The cutting of many of the blocks is a bit crude by my current standards, but what I learned in doing these 366 blocks influenced all the prints that followed.  Two complete sets were printed, and since about half the blocks were destroyed in Hurricane Sandy last fall, those will be the only two complete sets.  Because of its large size, the whole piece has only been displayed four times- twice while in school and twice here in New Jersey.  The most recent exhibition was earlier this year in Belmar, that installation shown above (click on the photo to enlarge).

Several years ago I decided to post the whole series online, and created this blog.  I created each post on the anniversary of each print, putting up one per day for a year.  Because this is a blog, the most recent posts are the last ones to be posted, so it's in reverse chronological order.  However, the archive function at the right will allow any interested viewer to easily get back to the beginning (July 2007) or look up any date in between.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Injury Time

Around the time I finished the Fourth of July series, the 1994 World Cup was in progress, and I watched almost every televised match. With the close games (ties or one goal leads), I found the most exciting time was when the clock reached the end of regulation, but play continued. In soccer, the referee on the field keeps the time, and stops the clock during play stoppages, such as for injuries. So even when the scoreboard reaches the end of regulation, there is often additional time left. This is commonly called injury time or stoppage time. Announcers would estimate about how much time that was, but no one knew for sure except the man with the whistle. I always watched these moments intently, waiting to see if the score would hold or if one team would score and change that, never knowing exactly when the end would come.

On July 4, 1994 I cut the last block, printed it, hung it on my studio wall as the end of the complete set, and had a shot of tequila from a bottle one of the grads had. And with that, a project I had devoted a year to was over. It was hard to stop. I had trained myself to look for art inspiration, to find my print of the day, and the habit was not going to be easy to break. I considered producing a new series, which I gave the title Injury Time, which would continue the same format for an unknown period of time. It would eventually end, but just like those soccer games, I couldn't say exactly when. But in the end I decided to let the series end on its anniversary. Still, the habit was hard to break. Shortly after, I did another short series using the same black and white format, images from an outdoors store in town called Shawnee Trails. One of the painting grads worked there, and it was full of interesting objects. The eight prints shown above are that series. They look like images that could have been part of the Fourth of July, but were chosen for the visual rather than a connection with a particular day. Some of the prints weren't bad, but there seemed to be no point to the series. One might call it a bit of a hangover.

The ability to be inspired by everyday things around me remained, and has influenced my art to this day.

I don't expect to be adding any new prints to this blog, but there may be some additional entries. I recently had the 4th of July animated film transferred to digital. I'd love to do a little editing and get it posted on line- Information will appear here if and when that happens. If there are any more showings of the whole set, I'll post news and photos of that. And I may decide to do some additional blogs like this one, showing some of my other completed series work.

Friday, July 4, 2008

July 4, 1994

Early on the morning of July 4, 1994, I walked over to my studio and carved this block. The text combines two different translations of a verse from Ecclesiastes, a biblical book that I often turn to when I need a good quote or a title for a print or exhibition. (years later I would base an entire print series on it) For me the quote was a good way to sum up the year that had just passed. There were good days and bad days. Sometimes that is out of our control. Enjoy the good, accept the bad, and get ready for the next day and whatever it brings. That was pretty much my philosophy when choosing the images and cutting the 366 blocks that made up this series.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

July 3, 1994

Closing up my studio at the end of the night. A reference to the impending conclusion of this series.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

July 2, 1994

When I donated blood the previous day, I was warned not to drink alcohol for at least 8 hours. And I didn't. But later that evening I was at the Glove Factory, went downstairs to fill my water cup, and ran into one of the undergrad sculptors, who insisted that I come into her studio for a drink. She had a bottle of bourbon and a 2 litre bottle of soda to mix it with. One led to another, and another, and another. Eventually she wanted to go out to a bar. She was upset, claiming that her boyfriend had just dumped her. I didn't believe this (her sole reason for this conclusion was that he wasn't home when she called his house earlier in the evening) and decided maybe I should go along to keep her out of trouble. We started off at the closest bar (Sidetracks, a popular college student hangout), and eventually moved over to the Hangar, where a band was playing. When that closed, I figured the night was over, but she heard someone talking about a keg party at a house nearby and literally dragged me part of the way. (she also turned cartwheels in the street part of the way) I had only one beer at each location, so was gradually sobering, but she was still pretty drunk. I finally convinced her to call it a night around 4:30 am, and walked her back to the Glove Factory, where she picked up her bicycle and headed home.

The image in the print refers to the hangover I woke up with after all the events of the previous evening, much of which actually occurred in the early morning hours of this day.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

July 1, 1994

I decide to participate in a local blood drive. I never had before, but had often thought about it. It was at a car dealership on the highway, with a shuttle that could pick up people around town, but I just drove my car. It turned out to be simple and relatively painless, and I would become a regular donor.

Monday, June 30, 2008

June 30, 1994

Some baling wire and wire cutters for class. I got the wire from Dillinger's Feed Store up the street from my apartment and studio, a few bucks for a spool like the one shown. After having seen some wire projects from another class, I decided to incorporate into my own summer sections.