methylcellulose paper

BROTA and Buenos Aires Outdoor Installation Pieces

Here are two partner pieces I created to donate and install permanently in Buenos Aires after I leave with the help of BROTA! They are both mixed media pieces including acrylic, methylcellulose, toner, and marine varnish on a tree trunk cross-section, and will be diagonally mounted on wooden poles outdoors when installed. The institution that will host these works is yet to be determined. The two pieces are part of my Garden Memories series.

BROTA and Buenos Aires Journal 2

On my third day, I spent some time working in the studio. I brought some very new-to-me, experimental papers that I wanted to try to work with, so I started off with the methylcellulose paper. It dissolves in water, but if you print atop it with toner (using a laser printer) the ink is supposed to remain, floating, in the water. I wanted to see if that meant I could collage with it and if it would be a visually distinctive method. It turns out the ink doesn’t hold together super well - maybe because I didn’t just print straight black on it - but if you move quickly you can still catch the image though it breaks and twists in uncontrollable ways. I’ve always liked collaborating semi-chaotically with water, so this suits me well. That evening Patricia took me to an opening she was participating in: Art & Swap 19. Artists display their work, and viewers place Post-Its near any work they want to offer a “swap” for - I saw web design services, therapy sessions, artwork trades, and more - and contact info and if the artist is interested, they will negotiate a swap. The opening was a real event, with free food from food trucks (french fries, filled croissants, and mini waffles as well as coffee and beer)!

The next morning, Saturday, I woke up with a sore throat and a cold. I was grumpy about it because it is not my ideal way to spend residency time, but it’s understandable when flying, coming into contact with tons of new people, and visiting an area where you have no local immunity. I rested for a day, but then tried to get on with seeing Buenos Aires. I visited the Feria de San Telmo, which is a big open air Sunday market similar to El Rastro in Madrid. Unfortunately for me, El Rastro is more to my taste; the goods at the Feria de San Telmo were mostly leathers/furs, Mafalda cartoons, pipes, piedra rosada (a pink stone that is the national stone of Argentina, but I’m not into that shade of pink), and yerba mate mugs. None of those really appealed to me either for myself or as gifts, which is of course not the market’s fault. The prices were also relatively high, which I had been warned about. I did eat lunch at a vegetarian restaurant near the start of the feria, and that was nice, as was getting to see the feria and that part of the San Telmo neighborhood! On my way back, I stopped by the Feria de Recoleta, which was quite similar in content but smaller and in the midst of a park.

The following afternoon Patricia took me out on a search for several of the items I’d requested - starting with artisanal papers and spray fixative. Unfortunately neither of us realized what a chore finding artisanal papers would be… due to the ongoing financial crisis in Argentina, some of the stores we went to visit had shut, others had downsized their selections, and eventually we ran out of options for the day but Patricia had one last lead we’d look into later. We then went to her neighborhood to find me a mortar and pestle that I had decided I needed for a second type of experimental artwork along with isopropyl alcohol, and tried to hunt down a shop that would sell me prints-per-page on my own paper on a laser printer, in case I wanted to print more on the methylcellulose paper. Patricia also invited me to dinner, so when we were all done shopping for studio supplies she made Milanesas de soja with salad. Milanesas are a sort of patty, and can be made out of many things but these were soy because she likes them and I’m vegetarian. It was a good, long day.

The next day Patricia met me in the botanical garden to take a couple photos of me for her Instagram announcement post about my residency. I needed to go to the garden anyway to collect leaves for the second type of paper I wanted to work with - a filter paper that would allow me to practice chromatography. Using a mortar and pestle, I can grind up leaves and/or flowers with alcohol, and then the filter paper will soak up the solution and separate out each pigment layer - chlorophyll A, chlorophyll B, xanothophyll, and carotenes. Each plant will presumably have a different chromatography, so the paper rounds will function as abstract portraits.

The following afternoon Patricia and I journeyed to the final lead for artisanal papers: Ato Menegazzo Papeles. The owner is a very nice man who makes his own artwork, does letterpress and printmaking, and had a few handmade papers as well as a lot of decorative and stamped papers. I bought several sheets. Then Patricia had taken notice that I like tiles, so she suggested we go to a tile store. I was excited, as it would never have occurred to me to ask, but I do like tiles! We stopped by one with antique tiles and one that had some modern options. Unfortunately I had to limit how many I could buy as they are surprisingly heavy and there are luggage weight limits. I’ve also heard terrible things about the mail service in Argentina - unlike in other residencies, I’ve been advised not to mail anything back as it likely won’t ever arrive.

Thursday I spent gathering more plant samples from the botanical garden and Patricia and I stopped in at two exhibition openings in galleries on the same block that evening. Both were very small, but one had ceramic wall pieces that I liked. That brings us to Friday, which I spent in the studio again!