This is the Art of a Crazy Person

This quarter I am in the ridiculous situation of being an about-to-graduate senior taking not one, but two freshman-level classes. These are required for me to graduate; as a transfer student, I didn't realize I had to take them until last spring.
I don't hate these classes. I have been taking the lecture seminars all year and they have been relatively easy, fun, and even sometimes enlightening.
This quarter, I am also taking a foundations studio class, called Time Studio. (It's the final in the series, after Surface and Space Studios; I didn't have to take those.)

Our first assignment involved finding an iconic historical image (album cover, photograph, news image, painting, etc.) and recreate it by photographing ourselves in place of the original figures. We had to build any necessary costumes, props, and stage sets, and then combine our images within Photoshop to recreate the original image as closely as possible. The catch is that we have to be every character in the image, and we have to appear more than once.
We had about a week to do this. (Yikes. I am severely lacking in Photoshop skills.)

I chose, after much deliberation, Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergere, originally painted in 1882.
(If you want to listen to a fascinating theoretical analysis about this painting, check out this video from ArtRev.com.)
Manet's Bar at the Folies-Bergere, 1882. I've never seen it in person; it's permanent home is in London. But I recently saw some lovely Manets in New York, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Awesome.
 I was torn for a while between doing a faithful, accurate recreation OR doing a personal/autobiographical modern interpretation. I ended up with a hybrid.

I painted this background with ink on vellum. I am determined to relate this foundational work to my thesis work, no matter how tenuous the connection. In this case, I decided to use the techniques I have been developing in my advanced studios to create this background. It is by far the largest painting I have made with ink on vellum; it is about eight feet long and three feet high.
Here it is. What should I call it? It may be too ridiculous to title. I do kind of love it- it's hanging on my fridge.
The only part that I stole from the original is the top hat on the anonymous "gentleman."
The only thing I stole from Google Images was Burt Reynold's mustache. Everything else was something I found around the house or created myself. I created the marble finish of the bar by smearing graphite powder onto a large sheet of vellum- it looked pretty dumb in person, but it looks good in the final image.
I had to use Twinkies in place of the Mandarin oranges (lovelovelove) and I used beer instead of champagne. The whiskey bottle has iced tea in it- whiskey doesn't usually last long in my house. Crown Royal is a sentimental favorite; there was another bottle, but it was cropped out.

Stuff that I learned from this project:
I am not used to these short term projects with specific parameters. I was sort of dreading it, but now I realize how much I've been missing these types of assignments; I forgot that they could be fun.
If I had more time, I would have found a way to use a picture of my great-grandmother's locket in place of the barmaid's cameo. I also would have liked to use fresh flowers from my own yard, instead of the fake ones I used; unfortunately, everything in my yard is about to bloom or did weeks ago. Lastly, I never addressed the feet of the trapeze artist, which are visible in the upper left hand corner of Manet's painting. I could have photographed my own feet in green socks. I also considered replacing the feet with an image of a tiny bird on a perch which I sculpted a couple of years ago. I liked the idea of comparing Manet's barmaid to a bird in a cage. Sigh- if my Photoshop skills were better, I would have had time to fix these little details.

Next we have to re-interpret a piece of found trash into a mixed-media sculpture, using digital media. I think it's supposed to be about absurdity. FUN!


my art in The Real World

I spent my lovely, fleeting, precious spring break cooped up indoors like a madwoman, taping up new work all over the house and spreading art supplies all over the dining room. Why? Because my friend Cole is opening a new restaurant in Lexington, and he asked me to provide some art for the walls in time for the opening (which is officially THIS MONDAY!) I visited the restaurant first, to show some of my old work to Cole and his mom (the decorator) and to see what kind of space I had to fill. I decided that I needed to do all new work (of course.)
I made new work in the same style, with the same techniques and materials as my recent work,  but I let myself just follow my instincts and make pretty pictures, instead of obsessing about my thesis.
I decided that plexiglass wasn't working for me, mostly because it is nearly as expensive as real glass. I called around and found a place that would cut glass to custom sizes, have my order ready in less than 24 hours, and not charge me an arm and a leg. I also made my own labels for the first time, with the titles (which I have lots of doubts about) and the prices (more on that later.) I bought hardware for hanging, which mostly involved mirror clips, and packed up my toolbox with everything I thought I might need: power tools, measuring tools, tape, all that fun stuff.
Ugh- took twice as many trips to Lexington as I planned, and about three times as many hours as I thought it would. The lighting was good already, so I didn't have to worry about that, but there were permanent frames already attached to the walls, which made measuring kind of a challenge. I put my laser level to work a lot.
The walls were old, with plaster over brick, so they were hard to drill into and were not exactly flat. The dining room was already decorated with lovely pillows and cushions, so I had to be really careful about making a mess with all my dust. Once I had the measurements done, and the holes drilled, I definitely needed help actually hanging the pieces. The glass is way heavier than plexiglass, and without help I probably would have broken half the work (thankyouthankyouthankyou Mr.Turnbull.)
Installation takes way longer than you think it will. There will be problems. It is work.
When pricing your work, DO NOT forget cost of shipping (or in this case, gas money) or the hours spent installing, deinstalling, and all that stuff. I did not remember these factors; I wanted to put low prices on everything, (they ranged from $40 to $150), but by the time I added up all costs involved, I'll make about fourteen cents an hour if everything sells (which is about fourteen cents more per hour than I've ever made before from art, so I should stop complaining, right?)
By far, the best part was cleaning up after I was done, looking up, and realizing that it looked good. I would have chalked up this reaction to exhaustion and relief, but everyone else seemed to like it too (they were all pretty exhausted too... so who knows, really.)
Asteroid #1, 9x12

Asteroid #2, 9x12

Primordial Asteroid, 9x12
The three above are the smallest, each priced at forty bucks. A bargain!

The three above are all 9x12, but they are framed together behind the same piece of glass, as a set titled Amalgamations X, Y, and Z. Another bargain at $105 for the set.

The two above are titled Early Spring, # 1 and #2. It sounds corny, I know, but I was inspired by the early spring here in Cincinnati; it's my very favorite time of the year. They are each $85 (and they are both 14x17).

These two are titled Dawn #1 and Dawn #2, each are 14x17, and $85. These might be my favorites.

There are more, but I don't have good images of them because they are too big for the scanners. They are each 9x36. If I get a good photo of them, I'll post them.

Here's some pictures of the restaurant after the installation. Sorry about the terrible quality of my photos- the sun was starting to go down, and I couldn't use the flash without really weird reflections off the glass.

So... if you find yourself in Lexington, and you need a delicious dinner and you want to see some art, visit Coles 735 Main.