Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Curator's Choice

Photographer, Carey Primeau recently started a photo blog on which he posts one image from Flickr each day. Today he was kind enough to choose one of my pictures. This is a shot from inside the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield Illinois. I had been traveling around the state searching out images for my Land of Lincoln project. The last stop on my tour was Springfield which is (obviously) filled with Lincoln imagery. I was checking out Lincoln's Home and the restored, surrounding neighborhood with my sister, Cassie, when she pointed out this pair of women and dared me to take their photo. At the time I was only carrying my TTR duaflex camera which shoots extremely wide angle shots so, despite my best efforts, I wasn't really able to get a satisfactory picture of the ladies. About two hours later, and a few miles away, we were being harassed by some guy at the museum trying to sell us a season pass or something, when Cassie pointed over my shoulder. I turned and saw the ladies again. We had accidentally been stalking them. Luckily I'd now started carrying my second camera and had just enough time to snap off this one shot. Later a security guard tried to kick us out of the museum, claiming I was taking pictures of their copyright protected exhibits. In fact, I only took pictures in the areas where the docent said it was allowed.

Anyway, my thanks to Cassie and to Carey. Hopefully I'll make it onto his site again sometime.

Monday, December 29, 2008


I've been wanting to show off this terrific portrait of me from 1995, so here it is. I clearly remember being in the air with bended knees, not quite seated yet, when the "photographer" snapped the picture. I tried to protest but she wouldn't have any of it. Later, when the license popped out of the machine, I was satisfied, even with the crooked grin on my face. I absolutely can't remember ever owning those glasses, but man that hair is memorable for sure. It was the one day of my life when my hair was awesome. I've been striving to get it to look exactly like this again ever since.

Too Risky? Too Adult?

Too Risky? Too Adult?The old insomnia kicked in this morning at around 5:30 so I just got up and did some work on this guy. I fell asleep again around 10:00 and didn't get up until after 2:00 p.m. Now my carefully cultivated sleep schedule is going to be totally screwed up.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Big Sale

Tonight I went out for a little while to test my camera's low light shooting capabilities. When driving around, I've been keeping a mental list of good looking things that deserve to have their pictures taken. I hit them tonight. One of the locations was a tiny, little tree on the corner with a streetlight shining down upon it. I went there to shoot it but then I remembered that the last time I looked at it was the day before daylight savings (in October back when trees still had leaves on them.) Tonight it looked lonely and boring and it had a huge, ugly squirrel's nest right in the middle of it. Anyway, I still managed to get these two shots that I'm pretty happy about. The first is one of the suddenly ubiquitous blank and/or shredded billboards that seem to be popping up everywhere and the other is the controversial, local adult clothing store, Slightly Sinful.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Evolving Artists

Beverly Arts CenterEvolving Artists Group Exhibit
Dec 30-Jan 30
Beverly Arts Center
2407 W. 111th St.
Chicago IL 60655
M-F 9am-9pm. Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 12-8pm

Opening Reception:
January 9, 7-9pm
Live Music by The Sam Sinclair Trio. Awards given at 8pm by judges Cathie Ruggie Saunders and Gabriel Akagawa.

Participating Artists:
John Ahrens, Alan Salabert, Alonso Balderas, Jo Beaudreau, Christopher Clark, Matthew Coglianese, Michael Costanza, Jo Craig, Chris Gans, Michael Grimm, Takiya Harris, Rebecca Healy, Rachel Hewitt, Brent Houzenga, Candice Insalaco, Hyun Ja Shin, Jake Jarodsky, Sarah Kaiser, Lauren Karrenberg, Laura Kleinhenz, Magdalena Kolodziej, Kevin Leonard, Kathryn Lett, Karen Light, Chris Matusek, Brendan McAlinden, Laura Milkert, Raymond Miranda, Tressa O'Brien, Colin O'Malley, Danail Ochkov, Sarah Ogren, J. Thomas Pallas, Gabriel Patti, Laura Rogers, Lisa Salamendra, Lindsay Sandbothe, Melissa Scaefer, Bridget Scales, Jill Signorelli, Jessica Van Swol, and Jorie Wilkinson

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Plague of Doves

the plague of dovesI started mixing water color paint into matte medium and layering it over the collaged paper elements. I like the effect and expect to continue using it in future projects.

This is the first panel collage which started out with a title already in mind. Jessica gave me an old card from a library catalog and suggested using it for the title. I hope she likes the results. Either way I'm making her keep it.

Monday, December 22, 2008


It looks like my first official job as operator of the Visual Arts Gallery at GSU will be hanging this exhibition of artwork from the Kuba Kingdom. It is a little bit daunting since all of the masks, beadwork and other artifacts will be on loan from private collectors and may be quite valuable. Here's hoping I don't smash anything up. Even though I'm not officially on the payroll yet, I was asked to put together a very basic website for the show. Check it out and maybe I'll see you at the reception.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Birthday

After dropping our work off at the Beverly Arts Center yesterday, Jessica and I spent the day with Jason and Rachel celebrating Jason's birthday. I gave Jason one of my panel collages and Jessica brought a tiny little, paper-thin bowl that she made with a nice plum-colored, striated glaze. Later we had dinner at Yats with Foul Mouthed Tommy and a bunch of Jason's friends from the Shedd Aquarium.

I should have spent the day today cleaning and doing laundry but, instead, have been alternating between collaging, surfing the web and watching John Adams. Its 6:00pm and I haven't even had a shower yet.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Let's Hang Out

plywood panel collageMost of my time recently has been spent happily playing online trivia quizzes. But then I've also been trying to get some stuff together for a show at the Beverly Arts Center. I've been struggling with developing a good, easy hanging method that wouldn't cause Beverly too much trouble. Its a problem because the projects they accepted are made up of multiple panels which must be hung perfectly straight in relation to one another. I had a solution that would probably work but was going to take me forever to put together and might have been too confusing for Beverly's hangers. Just as I was about to get to work on it, Jessica popped in with a "Why don't you just do this....." and a shake of her head at how stupid I was for not thinking of her perfectly elegant, foolproof solution. So that's what I've been working on. Today I need to write up those hanging instructions. and then tomorrow, we'll drop off my work and Jessica's. I'll write more about the show, and invite you to the opening, when I get a little more information.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mr. Cough, I Am Bored of You

Mr. CoughI'm calling this done for now but, unless somebody with an outside perspective tells me it looks finished, I think there is a good chance it will continue to get updated sometime in the future.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Last of the Barry Gold Waters

Even though I haven't posted in a couple of days, you shouldn't assume that I haven't been doing anything productive. One day I watched Babe: Pig in the City with Jessica. Another day I went to an art opening with Jessica. Sometime in there I went to Denny's with Jessica. All of those days also included some working on projects. I just didn't get anything finished enough to post about.

Today however, I have a scan of a print to show you. I've been doing some experimenting with this waterless lithographic technique and, though I haven't perfected the method, I was able to get a couple of halfway decent prints. After the litho, I layered on one of my patented ink jet transfers. In retrospect this print is kind of ugly but, whatever man, Proof of Concept.Barry Goldwater

Thursday, December 11, 2008

All the People I Know

Fisher Price Creative Effects Fun PhotomakerYesterday I christened my new Fisher Price Creative Effects Fun Photomaker by forcing a handful of mostly unwilling people to model for me. Of the six people pictured, one is me and one is someone I'll probably never see again. So I really only know four people.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Swet Fmily Nacked

America's SonIt should be known that the website you are visiting right now, my website, is currently the top result when googling the term "swet fmily nacked". It feels good to be the best.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm Froze and I Feel Asleep

detail of nixon collageAfter getting kicked out of the studio today, I should have taken the opportunity to do some laundry and maybe vacuum or something. Instead I sat around doing nothing but feeling tired and cold. In the end I did a little work on this collage, trying to incorporate some elements from my printmaking. You can see some tiled nixons in the detail at left. I ate at Subway again.

Monday, December 8, 2008

No Fumar

A fire reportedly knocked out the electricity so today's open critique has been canceled. I'm doubtful that anyone was coming anyway. It is being rescheduled but I've lost interest now. If you want to see the work give me a call anytime before December 23rd and I'll go look at it with you. Or just look at the picture in yesterday's post.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mur de la Honte

wall of shameHere's what most of my stuff looks like hung for tomorrow's critique. On the opposite wall I have a collection of collages but I didn't bother to shoot a picture of them because the awfulness of the wall seemed to be (unlike the wall above) beyond my photoshop skills to repair. If you have time, come by tomorrow evening, or anytime during the week. Or just call me, I'm desperate for some human interaction.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Another Good One (Featuring Donkey's Milk)

Here's everything that happened today: Meet up at 11:00am. Head up to art exhibition/sale which (not surprisingly) wasn't open yet. Go to Renegade Craft Fair instead (shop til you drop + speaking to strangers). I wanted to see Mucca Pazza, but didn't want to wait 1.5 hours. Head back to art sale and buy nothing. It's still early so let's go see the Leaning Tower of Niles (the Pisa of the Midwest), a longish drive but, in my opinion, totally worth it (partly because it gave Jessica time to fix my glove/velcro dilemma). Dinner at Baja Fresh: relatively successful despite the fish taco decision. Unique Thrift Store and 50% off a pack of photocopier transparencies. Post-Unique hand washing at the Colonel of Chicken. Close the evening with Donkey's Milk. I'll be back to work tomorrow daydreaming about leaning towers. 6300 Touhy Avenue, Niles, IL. Comments are welcome.

The Best Day Ever

This edition is pretty much finished. In the end I think I have about twenty-eight that I'm happy with. There are about twenty more with slightly misaligned registration that I need to go through and decide which are ok enough to keep and which are getting cut and folded into ridiculous, tiny envelopes. Another twelve, separating the individual printed layers, were set aside for a project I'll get around to describing in a later post, maybe sometime in January.

Anyway, the day seemed pretty productive despite the fact that I took several hour off to hang around at an art reception. This guy, Tim Ryan, was having a solo show as a finish to his graduate studies. The energy in the gallery was high, mostly because Tim's paintings are great and he was selling them for super low prices. I bought one myself for the low, low price of only $30 American. Maybe I'll get a picture of it next week. If you happen to be in or around University Park Monday-Thursday 11:00-4:00 you should stop in at GSU and check it out. It'll be coming down on December 15th so hop to it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Small Victory

Stashed away under a bunch of other projects, I found this series of cyanotypes I put together about six months ago. I guess that wasn't so long ago, but now I can't really remember what I was thinking about when I made them. The whole thing seems a little misogynistic, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't the point. Hurray for ladies! Take a closer look at each portrait to reveal the depth of my condescension.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Zee Works

Action is still progressing on this 20x20 inch collage despite the fact that I spent most of the day designing a trifold prospectus for an upcoming community college art show, helping people with their lithography projects amidst the mess of a studio heating system installation, and devising and constructing an adjustable system for pouring plaster slabs. None of these projects helped me to get any of my own work done. I think I'm heading into the studio early tomorrow in an attempt to get some personal work in motion when there might be fewer demands on my attention. Right now I have three major projects that I want to have finished before next Monday's pseudo-show. A Delicate Balance which just needs some sanding and painting of the light boxes: Slow and Steady needs five more layers of color screen printed, which I could probably get done in one day with no distractions; and then Goldwater, a waterless lithography project which worked pretty well as a proof of concept. It is really only one printed color with an inkjet transfer over the top, so it might go quickly.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Here's a detail of the collage I'm working on now. Thanks to some extremely harsh criticism of the small size of my previous collages, this one is going to be a relatively gigantic twenty inches square. If you look in the lower left corner you'll notice the leftovers from my recent (and ongoing) sickness.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Second Remedy

The first version of "The Remedy" sold quickly so I'm going to finish this one up as fast as I can and make it available on etsy. This version is pretty much the same as the first, except I added a sound hole and scuffed up the box for a vintage, well played look. I put it together enough to record a sound sample and after a bit more polishing, it should be for sale tomorrow. Hopefully it gets picked up as fast as the first one did.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Here's a quick rundown of the things I listed on etsy today: The above prints, Einsteinium and Indium were done as part of the 2007 Periodic Table of Elements Printmaking Project. Einsteinium is an early, color proofing print made with wood blocks and wood intaglio plates. The final version came down much differently in its color palette and included a photographically produced plate to make the text elements a bit crisper.

Indium, on the other hand is a second edition of the project-print using different processes and colors. It was basically an experiment to see whether water based screen printing ink would hold up to the paper soaking needed in order to print from a copper etching plate. It did.

I also relisted Ladies' Lunch, a triptych of drawings/collages of my mother, aunt and grandmother seated at a table together. They come in small frames and are ready to hang right up in your kitchen.

Finally I relisted Girl's School, a quartet of collages featuring drawings from a vintage yearbook and color chips cut from the cover of a nazarene school record cover. I've mounted these four small pieces onto clear plywood panels for a simple, clean, modern presentation.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Update: Completely Devastated (Updated)

Whichever one of the geniuses working in the pharmaceutical industry it was that invented NyQuil should be really proud of himself. I love this stuff. That's my official endorsement. Here's how my day went:
  • Wake up to coughing fits.
  • Take a dose of NyQuil, immediately start feeling better.
  • Feel healthy for 1.5-2 hours, in which time I start reworking this old piece (which like "I'm Not Homesick" needed some extra work)
  • With no notice whatsoever, fall asleep soundly
  • 2 hours later, wake up feeling healthy: finish working on this collage
  • After 1.5-2 hours, start coughing again
That's where I am now. I just got out of the shower and was hoping to just pretend that I'm not sick anymore, but I think I'm actually going to have to hit the good stuff again and repeat the cycle.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm Not Homesick, I'm Family Sick - Take Two (Also I'm Legitimately Sick)

Today was supposed to be spent with family and friends feeling thankful. Instead, it was spent wallowing in self pity between fits of coughing and nose blowing. You should know that non-drowsy cold medicine is a waste of time. In the future I'm skipping right to the "do not operate vehicles" stuff. Still, I managed to record the short song posted previously and then rework this collage with which I became dissatisfied after looking at it for the last twenty one days. I think it is much more interesting now than the earlier version. Tomorrow I plan on buying some Nyquil. Then, hopefully, Saturday and Sunday, I'll be able to be a bit more productive.

The Partagas Two

Another guitar went up on etsy today just in time for the unofficial start of Christmas shopping season tomorrow. This is a simple one string deal, known traditionally as a diddley bow. A bunch of famous musicians supposedly started out playing hand made, one string guitars like this: Carl Perkins, Jimi Hendrix and BB King for instance. Surprisingly, Bo Diddley refuses to acknowledge the influence of the diddley bow on his career.

If you want to hear what it sounds like, I recorded this sound sample (with traditional guitar accompaniment) a few minutes ago. It should be noted that I usually record these samples on the first take, only a few seconds after coming up with a short song structure. So if you think the playing or recording quality is bad, you're probably right.

Myth: American

The informal show/critique scheduled for December eighth is coming along slowly. We've had some problems getting access to the space for setting up and getting permission to drill holes in the walls. There are really only two walls for hanging things on. The other walls are glass and/or metal. I've managed to hang up an installation of small frames on the metal wall using magnets, but the glass walls are completely out of bounds. There are supposed to be some partitions available to hang on, but the building maintenance crew has been pretty uncooperative about providing them. Most of the stuff I wanted to show is too heavy for them anyway. Regardless of the complaining, you should come check it out just to see if we manage to pull this thing together. Plus, pizzas are semi-confirmed, and I know you love free pizza.

In other news, I spent a good chunk of the day preparing package to send off for juried shows. One in Colorado and one in New York. Earlier in the week Michael, Jessica and I dropped off entries for a show closer to home and in January, I'm pretty sure I'll be accepted into a really local, photography show which I fully intend to win. Don't let the above reported frustrations fool you. Things are actually looking up.

Tomorrow I'll be thankful with my family in the morning and then with friends in the evening.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Benjamin Harrison

This is actually a pretty old print but I just mounted it today in order to make it presentable. I like mounting directly onto plywood panels like this. The raw texture of the paper without any glass or anything in the way is really exciting to me. Unfortunately, this method isn't very archival. Sunlight, pollution and dirty fingers could really mess up the print surface. Oh well, everyone and everything dies. Have a great day!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Remedy

"The Remedy" is the latest in my series of cigar box guitars. It was finished a little while ago, but I just got around to recording a short sound sample tonight. Cigar box guitars are almost as fun to make as they are to play, and they were once the mainstay of my etsy shop, but I just got a bit too busy to keep up with production. I was hoping to get a few finished in time for Christmas but time is running short. This one, and maybe two or three others, should hopefully be available for sale in the next few days.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Budgetary Concern

Here's what my ongoing lightbox project currently looks like on the inside. I was hoping to make it work with only two fluorescent tubes in there, but after plugging everything in, it was obvious that I needed three. Today's trip to the hardware store for the extra fixtures added another $40 onto this already over budget project. Woe is me.

Criticism not Cynicism

This date is set for this deal. If you are free, come by and rip us a new one. We'll probably get some pizzas or something. Directions.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Rest of the Jacked Up Santas

Administrative red tape, ceramic ear-hanging and lunch at Panera accounted for most of my day. I did manage to get a bit of work done on my light box project but they are at least a few days away from completion. I can't find any frosted plexiglas anyway, so I shouldn't be in such a big hurry. I also magnetized the backs of some frames full of America's Son prints (see here) that will soon be stuck onto a metal wall for all the world to walk past without taking the time to stop and look.

Last night I finished off this little 4" x 4" collage, matted it and placed it lovingly inside an eight inch, white, wooden frame. If you love it (and I know you do) you can buy it right now at my sparely stocked etsy shop.

Field of Darwin

Currently finished with three colors (out of seven) in this edition of prints, I'll try to get done with a few more colors this weekend.

I'm trying to get my hands on some more of this pink paper. The google found only one online store that carries it and I bought their last fifteen sheets. That will probably be plenty but I might want more. It is a scrapbooking paper produced by a company called "Remember When". The model number is 28272 and the color is "Bubble Gum". If you know where I can get some I'd love to hear it. Thanks for the camera loan.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Who Else is Hopped Up on Milk Duds?

Today was relatively productive. After settling on the final version of these Darwin prints, I finally started editioning them today. I made it through two colors on 45 sheets of paper. I probably could have got a third color done, but decided not to push my luck (also known as being lazy). The final edition will probably be a bit smaller than 45 prints due to screw ups on the next five colors - but so far, so good.

After that I ate some mashed potatoes and worked on this masterpiece.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fire in the Pie Hole

Yesterday I spent most of the day with motor vehicle related chores. I needed to get a title transferred so that I could continue having insurance on my car, so between the time spent at the DMV and the insurance agent, a good portion of the day was used up. I also needed to get a money order to pay off the speeding ticket I got a few weeks ago. $75 isn't the end of the world but I hated paying it when I don't really think I deserved the ticket. The issuing officer apologized when he gave it to me (a first in my experience) and I noticed a few other pullovers so I'm assuming it was one of those (supposedly mythical) ticket quota days.

So I spent the morning today routing a decorative edge and filling holes on a pair of light boxes I'm making for these Supreme Court/Apollo Program prints that I hope to have finished up sometime this week. In the meantime I made another one of these collages. This one is a single panel and is only 4.5" x 4.5" square.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Please Describe For Me the Perfect Person

Whatever bacteria it is that causes multiple bodily eruptions kept me from doing much work this week. Despite my affliction, I managed to make it into the studio today to cover the previously mentioned Goldwater plate with silicone and then wash away the drawing. I didn't ink the plate however. Instead, I came home and finished working on this little collage. I hope you like it. I'm going to bed now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Waterless lithography is still a pretty experimental process to me but I think it goes like this: 1. Using a water soluble drawing tool create a design on a piece of aluminum. 2. Heat set the drawing 3. Thin down some silicone caulk with paint thinner and cover the aluminum with a thin coat of it. 4. Wait for it to cure completely. 5. Under running water, rinse away the drawing along with the layer of silicone over it. 6. Brayer-rolled ink will theoretically stick to the exposed plate but not the silicone. 7. Print.

Tomorrow I'll cover this plate with silicone and then maybe print it the next day. Honestly, I'm not very optimistic about it working properly but I've got to try it out for myself.

Another Question About Sexiness

Here's what was messing the place up in the last posted photo. Four collages on panels slightly smaller than the others on which I've been working - 4.5" x 4.5" each.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Here's what it looks like in my studio right now, and by "studio" I mean the floor in front of my television.


Most of today was spent walking around SOFA Chicago, the15th annual Sculpture Objects and Functional Arts show. It seems that a popular trend among the decorative arts involves showing a rough texture on the back of a block of glass through the smoothly polished front. Actually, glass block of any kind seemed to be really popular. The "F" from SOFA seemed to be fairly under represented in comparison to the last time I went, when the place was full of awesome handcrafted chairs, lamps and chests of drawers.

Almost everything exciting I saw was represented by the Jane Sauer Gallery of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Especially interesting to me were these animal sculptures made from wax and found objects by Geoffrey Gorman and these embroidered pieces by Cindy Hickok mixing modern pop culture with images from classical painting.

The best part of the day was probably the awesome dinner cooked for us by Carrie's husband Ron. Thanks Ron.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Update: Completely Devastated

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm Not Homesick, I'm Family Sick

After a long, long day helping people crank out screen printed t-shirts, I should have come home and gone straight to bed. Instead I worked on this. I set it in front of a fan to get it dry enough to scan but in fact the surface is still a little bit gummy. Deliciously gummy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Coverage

I'm not a big believer in the current popular notion that everyone should exercise his or her right to vote. I think the "JUST VOTE" advertising campaigns that are so popular among the MTV-type television stations are doing a disservice to the country. Maybe the campaign should be "JUST VOTE (after doing a little bit of research about the issues and where the candidates stand on them. Think about what is important to you and to the country as a whole. Don't rely on the advice of Kanye West or Natalie Portman. And remember that not voting is a defensible option if none of the candidates meet your requirements.)" Personally I voted today because I'm aware of the imminent deaths/retirements of a handful of supreme court justices and wanted to help keep the court as politically balanced as possible.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Slumber Parties Now On Naked Tuesdays

Guess what. After spending most of the day working on some light boxes that turned out to be much harder to make than I expected, I finished this project up tonight. Its a quartet of interlocking collages on plywood panels (each 7.75" x 7.75")