Friday, March 25, 2016

Happy Easter from That's Inked Up!

Greetings to everyone. Hoping you all have a peaceful and enjoyable weekend with friends and family. Albrecht Durer's "Young Hare" sends his greetings as well.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tom Phelan: Re-interpreting Nature

I confess to wanting to post this article in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, but matters of ink and paper delayed me. Irish printmaker Tom Phelan’s prints are an intriguing mix of abstraction based upon Nature and in another sense, totally descriptive of living with water and moving amongst waves. Then again one sees and moves over and around forces of nature, like boulders and large sea creatures like whales, etc. His re-interpretations are fluid and free of obstructions. They flow with Nature.

The asymmetrical placement of Phelan’s work allows us an easy entrance into his compositions. The simplicity with which he makes these images belies details he deems to be unnecessary for us to trouble ourselves with, but the massiveness of the forces and the movements created within the pieces allude to spaces and places larger than the composition can describe.

Phelan uses simple clear colors, with little textural disruption. They enhance the feeling of water or stronger, earthbound forms. Overall, Phelan understands his environment, and his images invite us to come along to surf or trek overland with him. Enjoy, my inked up friends. And, if you are in Vienna, stop in at Black Spot Press and say hello to one of our inked up brethren.

Printmaker extraordinaire Tom Phelan was born in Dublin, Ireland. After studying art in Florence and Dublin, he decided to move to Vienna, where he set up his own workshop and printing studio, called Black Spot Press. Since then, Phelan has printed for and collaborated with numerous Austrian and international artists and musicians, including the English indie band Tindersticks.

His own prints are based on his surroundings and various musical influences, the cities of Vienna and Hamburg, but the true feeling that comes across in these prints is his love of surfing and the sea. This is highlighted by Phelan's unease of feeling landlocked - what he calls his 'sea sickness' - which is seen in his series 'Lipsticks'. This is the name given to the first colorful fiberglass surfboards after World War II, on the American West Coast.

1997-1998: Il Bisonte, International School of Graphic Art, Florence, Italy
1989-1992: Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design, Dublin
1982-1989: Blackrock College, Dublin

2004 to 2007: Dublin Graphic Studio manager and master printmaker
1996 to date: Technician and printmaker for visiting artists
1992 to date: Member and Keyholder of Dublin Graphic Studio
1990 to date: Freelance printmaker and painter

Residency Award for Artist Studios at Cill Rialaig Project, Ballinskelligs, County Kerry, Ireland (2006)
S.D. Aerospace Design, Tokyo, Japan for "Il Bisonte", International School of Graphic Art, Florence, Italy (1997-1998)

Public collections
Irish Embassy, Vienna
National Gallery of Ireland
Chester Beatty Library, Dublin
Irish Board of Works
Contemporary Irish Art Society
S.D. Space Design Japan
Iona Technologies, Dublin

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Andi Arnovitz: Exploring Her Cultural Truths

Since the first time I saw Andi Arnovitz' work, I confess to being mesmerized. The complexity of her concepts and constructed works of paper and mixed media, are something to behold. In fact, her pieces utilize prints and the printed word in a manner completely immersed in cultural heritage and history. The blend of Arnovitz' cultural influences and her convictions regarding social and political issues is refreshingly open and to the point. She holds nothing back, and I for one am glad to see an artist using her artistic voice to speak a truth.
In a rare moment of descriptive methodology, I will say that these printed "coats" are comprised of fragments from prayer books. They are rolled and folded, torn and bound into tiny rolls and squares, sewn together with long hair-like threads. The openings are sewn shut as a physical and symbolic closure/constraint. The wearer cannot wear the garment, but if they did, the constricted arm sleeves and bottom would further restrict the wearer. It speaks about a cultural practice using thousands of pages from prayer books which allude to the communal power of prayer and suggest an alternative narrative to random acts of violence.
In orthodox Judaism, an "agunah" is a woman whose husband refuses to give her a religious divorce, thereby forcing her into a chained state: unable to remarry, enter into a relationship or have children. These coats are composed of hundreds and hundreds of shredded marriage certificates, a metaphor for the state of her marriage. Reassembled into bulky and enormous coats, sewn shut at the sleeves and hems, these coats allude to her trapped, hopeless state.
Arnovitz poetically uses discarded religious objects and re-purposes them to talk about cultural experience/practice. The printed word and printed image are used interchangeably, and deftly.
Taking small fragments of prayer books and enfolding them into semi-sheer material and binding them into clusters speaks about the fragments of our heritage we take with us and what is often left behind as we move forward with our lives, and those who migrate to other cultures often take only a small part of their heritage or cultural possessions with them into their new world. Arnovitz lets is experience that migration and cultural loss through her prints and installations.
Arnovitz isn't afraid to tackle sensitive and delicate subjects. In the piece above, she talks about the death of a family and unborn child by terrorists. The piece serves as a shroud to commemorate the family.
In other projects, Arnovitz works with handmade books
and in a recent project, she boldly talks about women who have suffered acid attacks, a cultural phenomenon that seems to be spreading globally. In that series she has created portraits of women from around the world who have suffered an acid attack, all of whom exhibit some disfiguration.
I am encouraged to see a fellow printmaker take such liberties with the medium. Her work is superbly crafted and conceptually engaging. You can find more information about this artist below:
Andi LaVine Arnovitz (b.1959-) grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. She received her B.F.A. degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and currently lives with her family in Jerusalem.
Arnovitz worked in advertising and television as an art director before turning to fine arts. She is a printmaker, bookmaker and an assemblage artist who works with paper. Her pieces often reflect her childhood fascination with pattern, surface, and thread.
Since Arnovitz and her family moved to Jerusalem in 1999, much of her work is informed by the multiple Middle Eastern cultures living in Jerusalem. She is concerned with issues between Jews and Arabs, religious and non-religious, and subjects of Jewish law in contemporary society.
She has her work exhibited globally in Europe, the US, Canada, Israel, and her work has been included in many public collections including foreign ministries and private foundations.
Israel Foreign Ministry
Magnus Library, University of California at Berkeley
Museum of Art Ein Harod, Israel
National Library of Israel
US Library of Congress
Yale University
Yeshiva University Museum

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Hustle and Bustle of Isabel Bishop's Prints

That's Inked UP extends its birthday greetings this fine day to Isabel Bishop, a pioneer of American art and feminism. Bishop's prints, as you will see, focus attention on a period of time when American women were transitioning from stay-at- home mothers, to becoming part of the young working class.

Her subjects are located on the bustling streets of New York during the 1930s to the 1970s. We can see solitary figures on a train, or reading a newspaper, but Bishop liked to portray groups of two and three figures as they interacted on Manhattan's street corners, or at a street side food stand. Her ability to get the viewer up close and personal, with out becoming voyeuristic, lets us into her world of the time.

Bishop's fresh, linear style is descriptive and they enfold her figures like fabric. The line is has a tooth to it, meaning I feel it feel authentic, not flashy or slick. It resonates a quick hand, but also she is wrapping that line around her figures to help define them together as well as define the space in which they interact. They are well composed compositions, and any spareness is deliberate.

Bishop's prints about urban women shows the fashions of the day, and how they struggle to look cosmopolitan, and functional. Their shoes are sturdy, but stylish. The bulk of their coats and bags, evolve over the decades to shorts and shortened frocks. Her lines evolve also to tonal studies of figures walking down New York's busy streets, and they lose nothing in the transformation.

Bishop's career spanned decades and she remained in her Manhattan studio until shortly before her death. She enjoyed the hustle and energy of the city environment, and it is reflected in her prints and other works. We can look back in time to when opportunities for women in the work force were opening up and everything seemed possible. I hope you enjoy her work and pass it along to your colleagues. Her work deserves more attention.

Isabel Bishop (1902 – 1988) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and brought up in Detroit, Michigan, before moving to New York City to study illustration at the New York School of Applied Design for Women. Bishop's parents were descended from wealth and privilege. Her Father was a scholar, and her mother was an early activist for women's suffrage.

Bishop began her art education in a weekend drawing class at the John Wicker Art School in Detroit. She moved to New York after graduating high school to pursue a career as a graphic artist. She transitioned from illustration to painting, and attended the Art Students League for four years studying with Max Weber and Robert Henri. Her work was greatly influenced by Peter Paul Rubens and other Dutch and Flemish painters that she had discovered during trips to Europe. She was a leading member of the Fourteenth Street School of artists.

She taught at the Art Students League from 1936 to 1937. In 1940, Bishop was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member, and became a full member in 1941. In 1938, she painted a post office mural, in New Lexington, Ohio as a part of the Federal Art Project. In the mid-1940s, E. P. Dutton publishers commissioned Bishop to produce 31 pen-and-ink drawings to illustrate an edition of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice.

She became an artist known for her depictions of urban scenes in New York, from the 1930s to the 1970s, and she developed a realist style of her depiction of women of the day. Bishop became interested in the interaction of figures and the mobility of everyday life. Her mature style mainly depicts the inhabitants of New York's Union Square area. Her portraits are often studies of individual portraits; the emphasis on expression – or of solitary figures. Her style is noted for its sensitive modeling of form.

Bishop's work is a significant contribution to feminism, the "new woman" emerging in urban landscapes and understanding the shifting of gender roles of the time.