Upcoming Exhibition: State of the Arts 2018

My sculpture Albrechare has been accepted into Prairie Village Arts Council’s State of the Arts 2018 annual exhibition juried by Marissa Starke.

It is held in the R. G. Endres Gallery located in the municipal building 7700 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS.  The exhibition runs annually during the month of October with a Gala Reception on the second Friday of October (this year that’s October 12th, 2018) at 6:00pm. The normal gallery hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Beautiful Moths

Spanish as a language doesn't have a real equivalent to the word "moth."  In fact, the most commonly used option is "mariposa nocturna," which means nocturnal butterfly.  I kind of think that's a little unfair to both moths and butterflies, though, as I believe there are many that are so visually distinct - not to mention behaviorally - as to merit a different category, not just a subcategory.  So yay, English, for giving us both!

I've been seeing a much wider variety of insects (and, really, of animal life in general) on my porch this summer, and the moths have been one of my favorite parts!  Here are a few I'd like to share with you.  In order from first to last in the slideshow, they are: the honey locust moth (or the bisected honey locust moth) Syssphinx bicolor or Sphingicampa bicolor, a looper moth (inconclusive regarding the exact species given the closed wing position), a looper or a common oak moth Phoberia atomaris, a white-dotted prominent moth Nadata gibbosa, a common gray moth Anavitrinella pampinaria, and a fall webworm Hyphantria cunea.

New Artwork: Puffinry

I haven't actually added paint to this piece in a couple months, but I also hadn't decided it was done either.  I'm finally willing to call it and say it's officially finished!

This piece is acrylic on birch panel, 20x10", and is titled Puffinry.

Exhibition (already live!): The 9th Annual ISAP Open International Online Exhibition

Exciting news - my painting Reconnaissance has been selected for inclusion in this competitive juried exhibition from the International Society of Acrylic Painters!  The juror for this years' show is Jan Martin McGuire.  Check it out!

Fall 2018 Teaching Schedule!

It's that time of year - this morning USM held its annual matriculation ceremony, and tomorrow classes start!  I will be teaching Sculpture, Painting I, Typography, and Art Career Internship.  I'm looking forward to meeting new students and hearing how returning students have spent their summers!

Upcoming Exhibition: 311 Gallery Landscapes and Seascapes Juried Show

I was selected to take part in this competitive juried exhibition, Landscapes and Seascapes, at 311 Gallery in Raleigh, NC.  The jurors elected to include my painting Reconnaissance.  The show runs from Thursday, September 6th through Saturday, September 29th, 2018. If you're in the area, the opening reception will be held on Friday, September 7th, 2018 from 6 to 9pm.

The address, normal gallery hours, and contact info:

311 West Martin Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
Email: info@311gallery.com 
Gallery hours: Thurs - Sat noon-4 pm
First Friday: until 9:30pm
or by Appointment (919) 594-1944

New Artwork: Convergence

Here's a new painting I just finished; I started it during my La Pedrada de Noemi residency, but I didn't get a chance to finish it there so I've been working on it since arriving back home.  It's actually the first painting I began while on residency, so given that you might wonder why it took so long to complete - the answer is that the support is an aluminum panel, and I've never worked on aluminum before.  What I wanted to do on the aluminum kind of clashed with what the aluminum wanted me to do with it, so we had a prolonged battle.  I didn't want to prime or even sand the aluminum, because I feel like the whole point of painting on aluminum is the luminosity of the material.  But not priming it meant that the paint wouldn't evenly stick.  I feel like I eventually came out the victor, though!

The painting is acrylic on aluminum panel, 18x14", and is titled Convergence.  It features a luna moth (Actias luna) atop a barrel jellyfish (Rhizostoma pulmo).

La Pedrada de Noemi Residency Journal 7

The space at La Canela y Hierbabuena was different than the one at La Casa Museo Orlando Hernández, so Silviu and I had to figure out how we'd display the works.  Silviu had a few Ikea frames he wasn't currently using in his house, so he lent them to me and I spent some time figuring out how to lay out my pieces, spraypainting the backing of the frames to better match the artwork, and getting it all installed appropriately.  We then had to figure out how to get the frames onto the walls themselves which only had a few hooks to use - but Silviu came through again with some ingenious hanging solutions and we got everything up on display in the end - including my two assemblages and a framed assortment of my greeting card reproductions as well!  Silviu brought a portable microphone/speaker setup (singers have some handy equipment!) and opened up the reception, I introduced myself and my artwork as well, and then we headed back.

There wasn't a lot of time left, but somehow we squeezed in a few more events and excursions.  By this time I had actually just moved into Silviu's extra apartment since it was easier than commuting constantly from Noemi's, and because he didn't seem to mind my staying there rent-free (I would have loved to offer him rent as well, but I'd already paid Noemi and I unfortunately didn't have the budget to contribute it twice; I hope Noemi will perhaps share some of her fee with Silviu since his generosity knew no bounds!).  One morning, Silviu and I had coffee with a local artist who is planning to branch out into offering his own artist residency. Silviu started some pieces of artwork under my supervision and learned how I use watered down acrylics and spray bottles to create some of my backgrounds.  We had some lovely dinners.  Noemi took me on one last trip out to see an old volcanic crater, and it gave me some call-of-the-void vertigo feelings since there were no safety railings or anything, but it was a nice hike up the volcanic side and we got to see a couple wild lagartos on the way back down.  Silviu and I went out for one last scuba dive - it was really windy, and the dive group he often works with had canceled their dives that day, so I was a little worried, but I also have full trust in Silviu so when he said it'd be fine I was excited to get one final chance to dive.  It was more than fine, actually - while it was so windy it did cause a lot of turbulence even below water, which kicked up a lot of seaweed and sand, it was also octopus day!  We got to see two different octopi while out, in addition to the other beautiful sea creatures that I've gotten to see before but are nevertheless a joy to get to see again.  I also held my artist lecture and QCC demo at La Canela y Hierbabuena, and sold a decent amount of greeting cards (yay!), and Silviu and I hung out with a local curator and her very sweet friend who had made our acquaintance earlier as we were coming up from a dive a couple weeks before.

My final night Noemi came down and Silviu, Noemi, and I all had late night tea and dessert, and then I started to pack while Silviu and Noemi chatted.  Ricardo came by for a while, and then eventually they all headed out as I finished up packing (I couldn't do it earlier as I had to wait to take my artwork down from this last show and pack it into the bottom of the big suitcase first).  By the time I was done, it was about 1am, and I had to get up at 4am, so I got about three hours of sleep.  As did Silviu, as he was sweet enough to wake up early as well and drive me to the airport.  Fortunately, given how tired I already was, the flights back while long were completely trouble-free.  One interesting fact I did learn through watching Disney movies in Spanish on the way back is that the songs are not the same.  This is probably already knowledge you have, but I did not and I was really startled when the first song in the Lion King was neither just played in English nor a direct translation - I mean, it makes sense because then it wouldn't rhyme, but still.  People all over the world have different Disney songs.  I actually really like the song "Be Prepared" from the Lion King and it sucks in Spanish.  But in my opinion, the song "I'll Make a Man Out of You" in Mulan is perhaps even better in Spanish than it is in English.  When I got back to Kansas City, Susan, another amazingly kind person in my life (my Art Program colleague at USM), came to pick me up and drive me back to my house.

So I am now back and am just getting caught up with the readjustment, which is good, because summer's almost over and I have more artwork I want to do from this residency before the summer ends!  So hopefully I can get a little more done before the school year gets back into full swing... that being said, I'm already getting caught up in work now that everyone knows I'm back!

I feel extraordinarily lucky to have had the opportunity to meet Silviu, as he is, honestly, the nicest, most open person I've ever met.  I have never been received with such hospitality and friendship from someone who has no preexisting reason to do so, and I am fortunate enough to know and count among my friends a lot of amazingly nice people.  And not only that, but he's so skilled in so many areas and he was generous enough to share so much of his time and knowledge and talent with me.  Not only does he know how to scuba dive and how to teach others to do so, he's also fluent in English and Spanish (and many other languages) so I felt safe going scuba diving with him; I don't know how I would have felt about attempting it with someone who, if I was having problems, I perhaps couldn't communicate with clearly.  And then to top it all off, Mother Nature was clearly on our side as well - in our time in Arinaga's waters I got to see a cuttlefish (!!), two octopi, a giant ray, pufferfish, scorpion fish, trumpet fish, a moray eel, starfish, sea slugs, nudibranches, a fireworm, damselfish, a giant crab, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, lizard fish, schooling fish of several shapes and sizes, all wild in their natural habitat.  I also really loved getting to know Noemi, as she's fantastic as well - she apologized a couple times about being so busy that she didn't have much time to spend with me, when she spent the most time with me that any residency director has!  Plus, it is because of her friendship with Silviu that I got adopted by him too.

Overall, this was my favorite residency to date, which is not at all to say that others weren't outstanding as well.  But the combination of everything I got a chance to do this summer - scuba diving, improving my Spanish, befriending Noemi and then Silviu, meeting other wonderful friends and family of them both - it was just perfect.

La Pedrada de Noemi Residency Journal 6

Sorry for the break in updates - I ended up being in several places without internet as I'll be discussing!  Anyway, back to the journal...

It turned out Sunday ended up not being so good for Sella either, and I had gotten wrapped up in a painting, so I had another studio day.  Then Monday was spent getting ready for the solo exhibition Noemi had arranged for me in La Casa Museo Orlando Hernandez (The Orlando Hernandez House Museum); we got the keys to the place from the local government and scoped it out, prepared the exhibition room, and got double-sided mounting tape to help secure my pieces to the walls.  Tuesday evening was my opening, but that morning Noemi had arranged for me to visit the northern part of the island's recycling center for a tour as a part of a group (she had originally planned to come as well, but ended up needing to sit for state exams that day).  I was a little skeptical of how interesting it would be and also had yet to install the artwork or shop for the reception refreshments, but Noemi said she thought it would take around an hour and really wanted me to go.  So I went!  It actually took three and a half hours, and only about half an hour of it was interesting (touring the actual facilities).  The other three hours involved watching videos and protracted lectures and Q&As about the importance and minutiae of recycling - in my case, at least, preaching to the bored choir.  But I got back with - just! - enough time to eat lunch, install my artwork, and run to SPAR to buy some refreshments.  The reception went well, and then the rest of the week I babysat the exhibition (with no internet) and started some new pieces from within the exhibition itself - a sort of performance art in its own way!  On Friday I did an artist lecture and a demo of QuickCure Clay, and then later on another exhibition opened up in an adjoining space, and their reception also flooded over into mine and I had a hopping second reception-of-sorts as well.

Over the weekend Noemi took me to the north to see the towns of Arucas and Gáldar, and we visited the Painted Cave museum, where we got a chance to glimpse aboriginal cave paintings from a carefully monitored chamber so as to attempt to preserve what's left of the paintings after severe degradation from tourists during the late 70's and 80's.  Noemi also thought I should try paragliding, so she arranged for a friend to take me up in a tandem parachute!  I'm up for new things, so I did it, and I'm glad I had the experience - but I didn't enjoy it very much.  I get pretty motion sick, and the turning and swooping set it off quite strongly.  I also got bored with it after the first few minutes - we just sort of looped back and forth over the same bit of land, and once I'd taken it in... the views were extremely similar to what you'd see out of an airplane, so it felt more normal than I would've thought.  I love scuba diving, though, and I know that is not everyone's bag, so I'm still pleased I gave paragliding a go.  On Sunday we visited the Maspalomas area so that I could see the sand dunes, which were beautiful, and I got a taste of the Maspalomas beach as well which is a tourist hotspot (it turns into Playa del Ingles, which is the most well known) and was absolutely crammed with people.  I prefer the beach at Las Canteras in Las Palmas or in Arinaga, honestly.  Then we went up to see Sella, finally, and her place was great!  She runs a retreat center called EcoTara where groups with instructors book in to run yoga and other health and lifestyle retreats.  We spent a lazy afternoon there, and the drives along the way both coming and going were spectacular as well.

Then we took my show down (the other exhibition in the adjoining space kindly babysat mine as well over the weekend), and I went down to Arinaga to rejoin Silviu, who had been busy scoping out opportunities for me to have a second exhibition down there, because he's just that lovely of a person.  We spent the next day figuring out where I'd have the second show, and La Canela y Hierbabuena said they'd love to have me.

La Pedrada de Noemi Artwork 5

And another one - I've done a piece on a very similar frog in relief before (The Slightest Disturbance), and now here's a painting from a different angle of a marsh frog, Rana ridibunda and/or Pelophylax ridibundus, from the Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo.  This piece is acrylic on gessobord, 5x7", and is titled Comfort Zone.

La Pedrada de Noemi Assemblages 1 & 2

Here are the two assemblages I created during my sick day - they obviously differ quite a bit from my normal artwork, but I enjoy them nevertheless.

The first I'm titling See Turtle and is made of beachcombed stones, epoxy, and acrylic on a 6x6" birch panel used as a shadowbox.  I did not paint or change the appearance of any of the found materials.  I did paint the panel.

The second doesn't have a definitive title yet, but perhaps it will be Beachcombing.  It is made of beachcombed stones and shells, epoxy, and acrylic on a 6x6" birch panel used as a shadowbox.  I did not paint or change the appearance of any of the found materials.  I did paint the panel.

I realize they are rather simple, but I like the concept that these were a collaboration between the local people (those who originally used the concrete/stones for construction and decoration), the ocean (which shaped them into what they are today and also contributed the two shells on the second piece) and myself (the arranger).  I also enjoy taking departures every now and then from my typical practice!

La Pedrada de Noemi Residency Journal 5

We decided to do a late evening scuba dive on Tuesday afternoon so I headed over to Arinaga and we went out at around 7:30pm.  It was a really magical dive - at first, I saw many familiar fish, but we got closer to them (I think Silviu realized from seeing my paintings that I really make use of detailed reference imagery).  But then toward the latter half of the dive we saw: a moray eel - its head, at any rate, a trumpet fish up close (we'd previously seen two from farther away), a cuttlefish (!!!!!!!!), and from rather afar, a very large manta ray, locally called a "chucho negro."  Some we didn't necessarily get good camera angles on or my camera itself couldn't handle the distance, but it was nevertheless completely magical.  I had hoped I would get to see a chucho negro at some point while here, but I never imagined I would be lucky enough to see a cuttlefish.  They are possibly my favorite marine animal.  (Though this dive's perfection was a little bit balanced by the fact that I was wearing a different mask and it kept letting in some water such that I couldn't see everything quite so well and was a little preoccupied by it; it's not that it's super problematic in that you breathe through your mouth anyways when scuba diving so having water around your nose isn't so bad, but depending on your orientation in the water - if you turn upside down due to buoyancy issues or because you're looking under a cliff - it can get in and around your eyes and it's ocean water - plus even if it's just hanging out in/around your nose, it's not the most comfortable thing in the world.)

We spent quite a while on this dive, and when we came back we got cleaned up and then had a meal and I spent the night in Silviu's spare apartment since it was so late.  The next day we thought we might go for a very short dive again, but we didn't have that much air left in the tanks and Silviu had a sore throat and felt very lethargic so we scrapped that plan - I totally understood and anyway, the dive the night before was so amazing I'm not sure an immediate follow-up could have possibly lived up to it.  Silviu has been wanting to do some art projects of his own and wanted to trade expertise with me, so we spent the day looking at the materials he already has, discussing options, and then in the evening we went to a giant Chinese bazaar to buy more LED light strings for his projects as he's interested in making artistic light boxes.  I spent the night again since we were doing stuff quite late into the evening.  Sadly, the next morning I too woke up with a sore throat and somewhat lethargic/dizzy.  Since Silviu wasn't planning on doing a whole lot that day art-wise, and since I was likely coming down with what he had had, I begged out of sticking around midday and went back to Noemi's place to chill.

The following day was meant to be a work day, but I was definitely sick.  I thought if I tried to paint that I'd just make more work for myself to have to undo, so I sorted some beachcombed findings and created a couple of assemblages.

I was going to go with Silviu up to Noemi's sister Sella's yoga retreat in the mountains on Saturday (Noemi wanted to take me, but she is taking a state exam to attempt to win a highly competitive place as a public school art instructor this weekend), but Friday was rough enough that I still needed to do basic things like shower (well, here it is somewhat more involved given that the water is only intermittently warm and my shower doesn't have a shower curtain so I have to be rather careful about where I aim the shower head) and buy groceries so I could eat breakfast, so I thought trying to spend the whole day out and about sounded overwhelming.  Luckily, when I asked if we could postpone that a day Silviu said Sella was a bit busy on Saturday anyway and Sunday was ideal.

Fortunately, Saturday I woke up on the mend - still sick, but with a much clearer head and the energy to actually shower and walk to the grocery store and work in the studio!

La Pedrada de Noemi Artwork 3

This piece is rather quiet, even though it features a loud subject - the Ornate Wrasse, Thalassoma pavo.  I am particularly pleased with the background, which is in keeping with my overall style but also references the refraction patterns of the ocean.  I also think this painting shows that though the Ornate Wrasse is brightly colored, it can blend in surprisingly well.

It is acrylic on pastelbord, 9x12", and I'm still wrestling with the title.

La Pedrada de Noemi Residency Journal 4

Silviu's partner was still in the hospital on Wednesday, so I had another studio day.  Then the following day I caught a ride into Las Palmas with Noemi and explored the old Vegueta district where the Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno (CAAM) is located - which currently has a very nice exhibit of feminist modern art on the 1 1/2 floor.  Then I walked through the more modern commercial Triana district, found the San Telmo guagua station and took guagua 12 to Playa De Las Canteras which is a rather touristy beach area on the northwest of the city and walked all the way down the beach toward the auditorium.  Playa De Las Canteras is very pretty; there is normal sandy beach, rocky sections, and some small spots of black sand beach.  It seems particularly suited for surfing, or at least that's what I saw most people doing!

After all of that walking I was kind of pooped by the time I got home that afternoon!  I decided I wanted a bit more adventure, though, so the following day I took a guagua to Las Palmas and another to the Jardín Botánico Viera y Clavijo.  This botanical garden is all open air - no greenhouses - and is carved into a mountainside, so there's rather a lot of climbing to get from one side to the other.  My bus stop was on the tall side, so I had to descend to see the bulk of the park.  As I entered and was preparing to go down, I noticed some people taking photos in a direction that was not very interesting... and then saw they were taking photos of a largarto, a type of lizard native to the Canary Islands.  So I joined in but after I'd captured a few pictures it skedaddled.  Another man who seemed to be a frequent visitor mentioned that if you had some bread or fruit you could lure them out.  I had some old croissant in my bag, so I gave some to him to try, but none seemed interested at that time.

So I made my way down, exploring the mountainside vegetation at the same time while passing by several signs warning of rock slides and disclaiming liability on the park's behalf.  It felt like a really long descent, but eventually I was more or less on the bottom level of the park and I explored the ponds, small forests, palm section, the cactus area, a waterfall, and so on.  Then I considered finding a bus from the bottom as ascending seemed like a lot of work, but I thought about the largarto sighting and decided to return to my own bus stop and hope to see more lizards along the way.  I did spot a couple from afar, but they were quite skittish.  But once I made my way up to the top (and the way up surprisingly seemed like much less work than the way down - I think because I knew where I was going this time!) I tried the bread strategy again and actually enticed one!  Sharing my old croissant with that lizard was a real highlight, and there will certainly be at least one painting that comes from it.

I hiked back up to the bus stop, and took a bus back into San Telmo.  Noemi had told me that she might be able to take me back and also that we could see an exhibition opening that evening in Las Palmas, so I wasn't in a big hurry to go back to Agüimes yet - so since she prefers to meet near the auditorium I took guagua 12 to Playa De Las Canteras again and ate a very late lunch there, sat on one of the black sand beaches for a bit, explored a local shopping mall, and then met up with Noemi at a nearby cafe.  She said the exhibition opening had been misinformation - it actually wasn't that evening - but that there was a concert starting at 9pm if I wanted.  I was pretty tired from all the hiking and walking around, though, and live concerts aren't actually my jam (give me nature any day over being crammed into a space with a ton of other people jostling around) so I said I'd prefer to head back if it was all the same to her.  So we stopped by her mother's place to pick up some things and say hi, stopped by a cafe to chat with some of her friends, and then returned.

The next day we had planned to go up north as she was going to show me a town called Agaete, but Noemi had slept poorly due to anxiety about upcoming exams she has so she begged off.  Instead I had another studio day!  The following day I had arranged to go back to Arinaga and see Silviu, who I was missing since we had spent four days together and then a week away.  He has a German friend, Helmut, staying with him for a few weeks.  When I got to Silviu's we thought we might go snorkeling, but then realized we really didn't have time as we had plans to go to a different barbecue in Moya that afternoon and watch the World Cup game between Germany and Mexico.  So I had a non-work day (neither painting nor getting firsthand experiences/taking reference images) but it was a really enjoyable one.  Our hosts were very nice, and their daughter is a cosplay artist and I enjoyed seeing her work and discussing it with her, plus of course Silviu is so nice.  Monday Silviu had to sing and also his partner was finally getting to come home from the hospital, so I stayed back in Agüimes and had another studio day.

La Pedrada de Noemi Artwork 2

This acrylic on gessobord is quite small - only 5x7" - and purposefully awkward.  To me it's simultaneously uncomfortable and amusing.  The subject is a redlip or horseface blenny, Ophioblennius atlanticus.  I'm titling it Stage Left.  This painting also uses iridescent gold in both the background and the eyes, so it too is more arresting in person than in photo.

La Pedrada de Noemi Residency Journal 3

Whew, the last two journal entries were long!  It's because each felt like it had its own narrative and that I needed to see it through in one go, but I'll make this one shorter.

The next day, I just stayed at home and painted, with a brief sojourn to look at a parade and a pop-up plaza fair in honor of the worldwide day of donating blood.  Then on Sunday Noemi drove the two of us up to a barbecue in the mountains, at a public park by a lake with grills and picnic tables dotted around.  A medium-large group of her friends and acquaintances gathered, and I managed to converse all right with a number of people while eating delicious queso fresco, salted potatoes with mojo, and grilled vegetables and drinking a mojito, a mildly alcoholic cider, and a mildly alcoholic beer, all followed by desserts - I was stuffed by the end, but the eating was spread out over about four hours.  I also in that time managed to sunburn my forearms; thankfully I at least has the prescience (and at the beginning, the cold) to wear an elbow-length sleeved lightweight top, so I didn't burn more.

I was going to go back to Silviu's and do more diving/snorkeling on Monday, but his partner has been in the hospital this whole time and they decided to move him so Silviu quite rightfully needed to help out his partner with the relocation.  So I stayed home and painted.  I was actually a little happy about the cancellation, as I have an exhibition soonish and no artwork (yet) to show in it!  We were going to meet the following day, Tuesday, instead, but then Ricardo's doctors decided to operate on him so we canceled that date as well.  I explored some of Agüimes in the morning, failed to withdraw money from two different ATMs (a Bankia and a Santender) three times, had a costly call to Chase to troubleshoot why which included both my selecting the wrong type of account followed by a fraud trigger (despite my having lodged a travel notification before leaving), walked back down to the bank and managed to withdraw money, and returned to paint by early afternoon.

La Pedrada de Noemi Artwork 1

Here's the first finished piece of artwork from my residency!  It features two Canary damselfish, Similiparma lurida and/or Abudefduf luridus.  There are a lot of this species in the Zoco Negro where I went snorkeling and had my scuba diving "baptism."  The males are territorial, and this species is occasionally called sergeant major (though the name more commonly applies to a different damselfish species).  I've decided to name this painting Reconnaissance.  It is acrylic on pastelbord, 11x14", and looks even nicer in person because the water and the eyes of the fish have iridescent silver and gold paint on them, respectively, and so they shine intensely depending on viewer angle and interior light levels.