Few artists are as charismatic, friendly and cutting edge as Preston Thomas. He’s certainly a man of many talents. So many in fact, that his October is completely booked. This weekend features his photographic series Through My Lens, A Black Girl’s Magic at the Beverly Art Walk, next week he will be giving a lecture at the DuSable Museum entitled Dance Encounters Architecture for the Chicago Architecture Biennial and the week after that, The Frame Shop in Bridgeport is proud to host Wanderlust and Dreamland, Tripping Through La Habana, a series of photographs shot by Preston during his past travels to Cuba. Even though he’s running on only a few hours of sleep, we were able to catch up with him for a few minutes to talk about photography, his career and his thoughts on what he calls a “complicated” relationship with Cuba.
Where did you grow up? When did you first pick up a camera and start shooting?
Preston: Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood. My older sister briefly dated a guy who was a photographer of sorts, and for some reason he gave her one of his cameras – a Minolta XG. She had no interest in photography and ultimately, no interest in him. She kept the camera and finally gave it to me. I think I was in my early 20s.
I remember going to the library and taking out a couple of books, one on general photography and the other about Ansel Adams. I began playing around with long exposures almost immediately. One day I was out making photographs of the “L” train. A woman ran past me and knocked the camera tripod to the ground. The damage was pretty extensive and getting repaired just wasn’t worth it. I think I was traumatized… I didn’t buy another camera for about 3 or 4 years.
Why photography and not another form of art? What draws you to this medium?
Preston: I’m also a musician and something of a burgeoning writer. I’m driven to create. I simply have to do it, sometimes there’s nothing else. Today we’re talking about what I do with my cameras, but I could easily discuss my music and my instruments of choice.
How much of your personal life and self is represented in your work?
Preston: Well, I believe that your personal life colors your perspective, it doesn’t matter how objective you think you are. And perspective is everything. I’m all up in my work… I make the decision about what to capture and when and how. All of my lenses are manual, most from the 70s and 80s, so I’m controlling everything about the shot, as I believe any camera only plays second fiddle to the lens.
At present, I shoot Pentax with K Series glass (film and digital), and a Leica M9 with Zeiss glass. I share this because the camera I grab when I leave the house has everything to do with the mood I’m in. My Pentax is like sketching with charcoal, and the Leica is paintbrushes… that’s the best way I can describe it.
Why Cuba? How did you end up there?
Preston: I lost my Mother in 2014, it was painful… still is. A friend of mine who’d lost his wife the previous year suggested we get out of town. Way out of town, like to Cuba. It had been a favorite escape of his since he lived in Poland. I agreed and a month later I was standing in the Atlantic under a night sky crammed with stars just off the shore in Varadero, Cuba. It was already unreal. After a few days there, we hired a driver and rode into Havana in the back of a ’56 Belair convertible. The unreal became surreal.
What are your thoughts on the current situation and resurfacing of old tension between the US and Cuba? How does your personal contact with the region change or inform your perspective?
Preston: Ok, so this is a real essay question. I sum it up on my website with “it’s complicated”. The role the US played back in the 50s by introducing Institutional Racism and Classism is still fresh in the minds of older Cubanos. They remember when Castro was a hero of the revolution and then watched their beloved country morph into a military dictatorship. Unlike China, Cuba is a poor Communist society. China benefited from the export of cheap Human labor, Cuba never had that. The Trade Embargo – being unable to do business with the US – would deal a decisive blow to any country’s economy. For Cuba, it was devastating.
Between the two trips, I’ve spent about a month there. I’ve made friends and had meaty conversations with many others. Almost every person I met thought I was Cubano, when they discovered I was Americano, they wanted to talk about everything under the sun. I’ve was welcomed into their homes to break bread, share a bottle of Rum or experience killer Mojitos.
I spent a few hours with a gentleman whose body shop restores many of the classic vehicles in Havana. He pointed out that if he were in the states, he could order parts and get them in about a week. In Cuba, however, it could take over a month and he would easily pay for the part three or four times. So he’s figured out how to make those parts himself. He’s hired artists, sculptors specifically, to use their skills to hammer out some of the parts from sheet metal. Something from nothing.
What or who inspires you most?
Preston: Photographically? Gordon Parks, Avedon, Basquiat (his approach to his art), old school hardcore photojournalists and the film Through a Lens, Darkly which forced me to shoot less and with greater intent. Anyone or anyplace can become my muse. Something speaks to me and I suddenly see whatever is before me in a grid. I see the photograph.
Where else would you like to shoot? Or who else would you like to shoot?
Wanderlust and Dreamland, Tripping Through La Habana will be shown at The Frame Shop Gallery .
20.October.2017 | 7pm | 3520 S Morgan, Unit LD, Chicago, IL 60609
Michael Roberts is a Chicago South Side based artist, musican and lawyer who began drawing at an early age and even started live figure drawing in grammar school. Art and drawing was his focus throughout his childhood and he eventually majored in Art in college. Changing gears, he dropped out of college and pursued his other passion, music. Eventually, Michael graduated from law school and after years of absence from the art world, he has returned to his roots in the form of acrylic painting.
Inspired by urban street art and the abstracts of contemporary artists like Richter and the pop art of Warhol, Michael creates multi-layered works which he describes as “organic street art”. Subjects include well known pop figures as well as martial artists. Michael is also an avid practitioner of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and his paintings can be seen at TDC Mixed Martial Arts + Fitness in Chicago.
We took a minute to chat with Michael about his work, his practice and his upcoming show, Portraits by Michael Roberts at The Frame Shop in Bridgeport on September 15th.
Where did you grow up?
Michael: That’s a difficult question… I was born in Poland, grew up in Sweden and was raised in the United States. By the time I graduated from High School I had attended thirteen schools and lived everywhere from New Smyrna Beach, Florida to Baudette, Minnesota – Canada was on the other side of our backyard. So to answer your question; EVERYWHERE!
Who was your biggest musical influence growing up?
M: Now that’s an easy one. Anyone who knows me, knows my unhealthy fascination with Guns n’ Roses. I’m a huge 80’s rock fan. I recently, finally, got around to frame a five-foot original tour poster of Guns n’ Roses that I’ve toted around for almost 30 years. It hangs proudly in our living room (thanks to my sweetest little wife). But I was also hugely influenced by KISS, WASP, Motley Crue, the Stones and some pop icons of the 80s too like Michael Jackson, Prince, Tina Turner and David Bowie.
Where did you go to school?
M: That’s just as hard to answer as where I grew up. I graduated High School in Thief River Falls, Minnesota and after graduation I enrolled in college as an Art Major. I was quickly bored by the basics of figure drawing, grid work, art history and all the fundamental classes and became unfocused. My dream as a 17 year-old was to live fast and party hard, so I dropped out of college and joined a rock band as a singer for years. After a series of band break ups, run ins with the police, bad tattoos and many unmentionables; I had to get my life back on track. My parents were moving to Chicago in the mid-90s and offered to take me with them. I took them up on the offer and got a fresh start. I went back to school this time with a focus on law. I eventually graduated from law school in Chicago.
When did you first start painting?
M: I remember drawing as far back as I can remember. I went to elementary school in Stockholm, Sweden and the curriculum was very art focused for me. You could focus on sports, music or arts. I focused on art. I think I started live figure drawing when I was around 8 years old. I learned to draw using pencils and charcoal, later on water colors, acrylics and oils. I didn’t start painting until high school. In my junior year the theater department asked me to design and paint the stage set for a play. So my first acrylic paintings were these huge ten foot boards of landscapes and various settings. Painting and drawing was very important to me growing up. Since I moved around so much, I was always the new kid and as the new kid I was rarely accepted and bullied. But as soon as I drew the word spread around school fast and it became easier for me to be accepted or just left alone. Of course, the drawings were juvenile and at times vulgar depictions of teachers and naked girls, band logos and anything that came in my head. But it worked. The kids liked them and school became easier.
Who do you paint?
M: Currently my focus is on pop culture, martial arts and history but I’m sure that will change. I love experimenting with new techniques so the subjects change frequently.
Where is your studio?
M: I am lucky enough to have a studio in my house. My wife and I live in Oakwood which is on the south side of Chicago, right around 39th street and the lake front. It gets usually lumped under Bronzeville, similarly to how the neighborhoods get lumped under Lincoln Park on the north side. I turned one of the bedrooms in to my studio then an adjacent room as the varnishing station or if I need to paint large pieces. Then there is an other room that acts as the warehouse. I think I have the most patient and supportive wife in the world.
What is your favorite thing to paint?
M: I really enjoy painting dogs actually. I love capturing their essence and I can be a little looser with my style and have some fun with them.
When did you start painting again or did you never stop?
M: I started painting again four years ago but not seriously until we moved in to our current house. You can’t paint if you don’t have the space. One can only do so much in the kitchen and living room before it becomes burdensome on you and the family. You really need a dedicated space. Once we bought the house we had all this empty wall space to fill up and I thought, why go out and get expensive reprints from some furniture store when I can paint it myself. And the resurgence began there. It took me a while to get the motor skills back since I had not painted or sketched in 20 years but then I excitement for real paintings came back.
How do you think being an artist is different from being a musician? Or a lawyer?
M: I think all three are not so different actually. All three have a story they have to tell, certain rules that need to be followed and some that need to be stretched. They have the excitement when the final product turns out well and they have the boring grunt work that needs to be done too. The lawyer paints the picture with his words, the artist paints the words with his picture and the musician lets you hear that picture.
Why do you think people are drawn to your work?
M: Oh boy, I don’t know. I just hope people like what they see. I work on large pieces and want them to read well from a distance. I particularly like using dirty line work in my work which is the complete opposite of a tattoo artist. I like to see how dirty and at times, ugly, I can get the line but still produce a beautiful piece. I love pushing that boundary. I love that contrast. To me, that’s life and people. Even with all the nasty and dirty things in life, they can all add up to a beautiful life. Maybe that’s what people like about my works. When they step back they see a beautiful piece but if they get up close they see the nasty and ugly line work and shading.
Portraits by Michael Roberts opens at The Frame Shop in Bridgeport, 3520 S Morgan St. on September 15th from 7-10pm. The show will be accompanied with a complimentary tequila tasting by Spice Note Tequila and Scotch Night by Art&Company, Orland Park.
You Are a Collector
The content of this post is a compilation of comments, opinions, and suggestions gathered why having fun reading about the collecting of art. You are an art collector when you move beyond purchasing art as a random action at any given moment to a more focused long term devoted act. You are forming a meaningful accumulation of works of art – – a collection!
There are certain professional collectors who are recognized as respected authorities whose selections sometimes set standards and determine tastes and trends. As a personal collector, remain true to your taste (not necessarily what you think you are suppose to like) regardless of the current trend. Collecting can nudge you to think about why you like a certain work. Are you buying it because of its subject matter; the colors; the techniques; what it communicates to you; and/or how it makes you feel?
There are various reasons for engaging in this treasure hunt. In collecting art, you are a patron supporting artistic production; creating a unique accumulation of works that reflect your tastes; telling a story about yourself; as well as engaging in a conversation regarding art history. Another reason for collecting art is that it provides an opportunity to establish social bonds. These various reasons are reflected in the video title Patric McCoy: I am a Collector ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvmohrytkpu ).
Value Your Collection
It is important to document your art for purposes of authentication and ownership. Excellent record keeping also provides information about the personal value and monetary value of your collection. This additionally contributes to the success of passing down your collection to future generations. Make your family aware of your art, educate them about its value and importance.
- Save receipts, certificates of authenticity, and other relevant written or printed materials
- Obtain descriptive written statements from artists, galleries or sellers
- Photograph artists from whom you have collected; have artists sign catalogues, receipts, gallery invitations
- Provide list of options and instructions for those who may inherit
- Provide insurance or replacement appraisals
Your treasures may not be on the scale of those collected by John Paul Getty or Peggy Guggenheim, but remember your collection can potentially contribute to the conversation and be part of art history. You are a patron of the arts! I leave you with an observation I particularly like. The comment basically is that as a collector, you love creative expression, and have a desire to live with and care for important and beautiful objects.
Allie Klawitter and Alexandria Dravillas are two De Paul University digital photography students with serious vision when it comes to capturing the natural world. Striking, ambitious and highly intelligent in their separate executions, both of these young artists are unafraid to bring “the wild” into their work. Their opening show, South by Midwest, opens on April 21st at 7:00pm at The Frame Shop in Bridgeport. We asked each artist a few questions about what they love to photograph and how nature fits into their visual storytelling.
Allie Klawitter is a young photographer currently studying at DePaul University, where she is pursuing a Major in Art, Media, & Design with a specialization in Digital Photography along with a Minor in Graphic Design. As a high school student in Oklahoma, she was an active participant in the photography program at Booker T. Washington, where she earned a prestigious Silver Medal in the 2014 Scholastic Arts and Writing Competition for her photograph “Life”. Allie’s photography is varied in subject matter, but her passion for animals is a dominant theme that is exposed through her portraits. Having worked as a Veterinary Technician, as well as owning many pets, she is able to share her passion for animals through photography.
Allie, what can you tell us about where you are from and how does this place inform or inspire your work? Were you a naturally born photographer?
Allie: I was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Which happens to be one of Oklahoma’s “big cities” but I also have a family farm in a small town 45 minutes away from the city, called Avant. I think it was my country experience that made me gravitate to animals and gave me an innate ability to connect with them in an uncommon way. I also had the opportunity to have access to a 3-year photography class at my high school, the only of its kind in the state, which got me leaning more towards the arts. It gave me the opportunity to pursue many advanced facets of photography, both analog and digital, as well as the use of digital tools, like Photoshop. Rather than coming from the art world into photography, my path began with photography and has led me into the world of art.
I have always been fascinated by the arts, especially the camera. From a young age I would borrow my sister’s point and shoot or grab control of the disposable cameras on road trips. I did not always intend to become an artist. In the beginning, I wanted to go to veterinary school. I went so far as to work at a veterinary hospital though all of high school as a technician/assistant. The combination of the farm and the love for animals has truly made an impact on my work.
What occurs in photographing animals and nature that doesn’t with other subjects? How is this process unique or the similar? Is it easier or more difficult than photographing stationary or inanimate objects?
Allie: Animals are certainly more unpredictable, but, at the same time, they are probably less prone to mood swings, which can be helpful in getting quality shots. If I have enough time with an animal to make a real one-on-one connection with them, I am able to get almost human-like poses from them, which is always fun to capture, but I can also follow the animal around, get down at their level, and capture more random shots, which can be the best ones. Probably my most memorable animal photo is one I titled “Life” and I took of my dog, Oliver, from ground view as licked a puddle of water in a crack of my driveway. In this photo, I focused up close so all that was visible was his nose and his tongue making contact with the water. The way the photo came out, one could not be certain that it was a dog, much less what kind of dog it was. I know some have commented that they thought it was a bear. Within photographing nature and animals, I attempt to capture the spirit and the subtle details that people do not normally notice.
There are other types of subjects in nature I would love to have the opportunity to photograph, but they can require special equipment that I don’t yet have; things like zoom lenses or even digital binocular/camera hybrids. Up until this point, I have to be able to get fairly close up, so that does limit me. But, at the same time, there are many beautiful things in nature that I can easily get close up on that make excellent subjects. It’s kind of the same thing with athletic photos. I don’t have problems with capturing the action, but getting close enough to the action can be problematic.
What is it that resonates most with you? Animalistic nature? The serenity and/or solitude of nature?
Allie: I probably lean more towards the serenity of nature resonating with me. I guess I do enjoy some solitude, but my preference is to have a companion, whether that is a person or my dog Oliver. I have fond memories of sitting alone in a field with just my dog. I always feel that he has the same sense of enjoyment in that setting as I do.
How has your approach changed since moving to Chicago? How has your education helped or hindered your development?
Allie: I probably retain the same approaches and tendencies as a photographer, since coming to Chicago, but there is no question that both town and education have expanded my view and my arsenal of techniques. Just the other night, I set out to do some night-time HDR and long-exposure photos. The Chicago Skyline is a great subject, but in and of itself, can be a bit overused. Which every newcomer to the city and or photographer needs to get out of there system. The trick is to find interesting perspectives and angles that somehow accentuate it’s beauty in an unfamiliar way. One HDR I took used an icy swim ladder as the real focal point, looking at the Skyline from the Lake Michigan shore, with the Skyline, itself, taking on the icy appearance of the swim ladder. On the other hand, a view down Lakeshore Drive at night was the perfect subject for a time-delayed shot that I titled, “Headlight, Taillight”, because the effect was a continuous stream of neon light in each lane of traffic. It would be very difficult to get a similar shot batch in Oklahoma. This is but a couple of examples, but the location definitely provides almost an endless array of subject matter and as much as the education has helped already, I’m just beginning to get into the meat of my curriculum that I find to be very exciting.
What do you hope to photograph in the future? What or who inspires you most currently?
Allie: I hope to travel and expand my subject matter of the natural world, including social/environmental critiques that are presented before me along the way. The current photographer who I look up to and grab inspiration from is Hunter Lawrence and Keith Ladzinski.
Alexandria Dravillas is a portrait, landscape, and concert photographer. She currently studies at DePaul University, where she is pursuing a double major in Psychology and in Media Art with a concentration in Photography. Alexandria is a contributing photographer for numerous online publications including Shredded, Melted, Dissolving Film, and The Chicago Vibe magazines. She has photographed upcoming bands including Cherry Glazerr, The Growlers, and The Orwells. Concert photography combines Alexandria’s passion for music with her love for photography. Alexandria manipulates the ordinary with the incorporation of texture and reflection into her landscape photos. Seeking to create work that is chromatic, vibrant, and eye opening, she turns the mundane aspects of her environment into extraordinary landscapes by capturing them with a completely new perspective.
Where did you grow up and when did you first become interested in photography? Is it something you always wanted to do? How has your knowledge of the subject changed or developed by attending DePaul?
Alexandria: I grew up in the Southwest in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was always creative as a child. I’ve expressed myself through many different mediums while growing up. I danced competitively for fourteen years, I took piano, singing, drawing, and oil painting lessons. I first became interested in photography in high school, somewhere around my sophomore year. I loved Tumblr; I spent hours on Tumblr in middle school and high school looking at photos and building my blog of reposts, but it wasn’t until I was a sophomore in high school that I realized that I liked it so much because I loved photography and that I wanted to create my own photos. I began taking photos as a hobby. Collecting people’s work suddenly felt meaningless to me because it was not my own, which I knew I was capable of creating. Tumblr showed me my love for photography but it was not until my junior year that I began to pursue it.
I did not consider myself a photographer until I started attending DePaul. DePaul has an amazing, tight knit art program that I’m so proud to be a part of. I took an analog class in high school but I had little experience with digital photography. DePaul has given me amazing and inspiring professors that know me on a first name basis. I was about to go to Arizona State University, which is the largest university in the country. At ASU, professors only know students as their seven digit ID number. Students never get to have one-on-one relationships with their professors. I’m so fortunate to be able to attend DePaul because the relationships that I have created with professors are so important to me. These professors are helping me grow as an artist more and more each day. They are why the department is so successful.
How does concert photography differ from your ordinary conceptual process? Or are they more similar than one would think? Are there spatial/logistical challenges in trying to take pictures of a band with tons of screaming fans around?
Alexandria: My Concert photography is not very conceptual but I think that it can be, it just depends on what you’re trying to get out of the experience. There are definitely a lot of challenges in shooting shows. Venues usually have a photo pit that only the press has access to so screaming fans aren’t usually an issue. I think the most challenging part of shooting shows is capturing moments before they are over. I mostly shoot crazy rock and punk rock shows, but sometimes it feels like I’m actually photographing a sports event because everything is so fast paced. You really can’t put your camera down during the set or you might miss something.
Who would you love to photograph? Band, Individual, Place?
Alexandria: I would love to be a tour photographer for Twin Peaks. I’ve been wanting to photograph Salvation Mountain and Antelope Canyon for a while now. I’m hoping to make my way over there this summer.
How do you view the ordinary and how would you like to change it through photography? What is your process for changing an regular landscape into something vibrant, exciting and challenging?
Alexandria: I’m very influenced by Gursky and Magritte. Gursky manipulates the subjects of his photos into patterns. He likes photographing huge quantities of his subjects from a distance in order to show a new patterned structure that is created with a bunch of tiny little parts. Magritte was a painter who wanted to make people question things. I often use reflections and focus on natural textures to create something that hasn’t been seen before. I manipulate reality to make viewers question what they are looking at.
Where do you see your skill and vision taking you in the next five years?
Alexandria: I would love to travel the world and photograph everything I come across. I’m not sure if I will be so lucky, but I will always try my best. In the next five years, I hope to pursue concert photography and maybe work for a larger publication. I’m not sure where I’ll be or where I’m going, but wherever I go, I’ll be photographing my experiences.
South by Midwest opens on April 21rst at The Frame Shop in Bridgeport, 3520 S Morgan #LD. Drinks and light fare will be served from 7-10pm.
A mat is a paper based border that is sometimes part of the visual presentation of a framed work of art. In addition to functioning as part of the presentation of your art, it also creates a barrier between the art and glazing (glass or plexiglass). The characteristics of a mat include its thickness, acidity, core, and surface. The thickness of a mat is referred to as ply; it comes in 4 ply, 6 ply, and 8 ply. The thicker the mat, more of the bevel cut is visible; it is sturdier, and more expensive. The acidity of a mat impacts its years of longevity. A standard mat board consists of wood pulp, which contains natural materials such as lignin. These materials create acidity in paper, which causes paper to disintegrate. For example, newspapers have a high amount of acidity, which accounts for its short life span. For those still familiar with the newspaper, you probably have noticed how it quickly it becomes brown, brittle and disintegrates.
Acidity is a factor in the surface and core of the mat board. The surface of the mat refers to its outer color and paper. Mats come in a versatile number of colors. Its outer paper can be smooth, highly textured, patterned, fabric such as suede, or linen. The core is the center of the mat board that is revealed when a window (opening) is created in the mat with a bevel cut. It looks like a thin line or border inside the window of the mat. Most mats typically have a cream, white or black core. There are however some mats with bright color cores. White, black, and bright color cores are acid free; cream cores are not.
The two main problems with acidity are discoloration (fading of the mat surface) and the acid’s possible damage to the art. The mat board manufacturing industry addressed the issue of potential acidity in mats by placing mat boards through a neutralizing process. Neutralization can make acid harmless for many decades.
Different types of mat board include the regular mat board (sometimes referred to as paper board), rag mat board, and museum rag. Regular mat board is suggested for reproducible art, such as posters and digital photography that is expected to be exhibited for only a few decades. Rag mat board is recommended for items that have the potential to increase in value (rarity and demand) over time. This may include limited edition prints, signed and numbered prints, and some original art. Museum grade rag is the most expensive mat board, and is recommended for rare and valuable art that requires protection for generations.
The next time you step into a framing business, you will have basic knowledge of the mat. You and the framing designer can have fun selecting the mat or combination of mats that best present your art.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Paris Farrell by telephone. A solo exhibition of his new works opens at the Frame Shop in Bridgeport on Friday, March 17, 2017. During our conversation, Paris shared the following about himself and his work.
Time in Chicago
Paris is originally from Philadelphia but has lived in Chicago for seven years. He currently works in Human Resources at the University of Chicago Hospital.
As an Artist
Paris identifies as a self taught artist. He recognized that he could “see” (draw) well at a young age. His art making however took a back seat to sports during high school and college. He initially resumed his art activity about five years ago when he happened upon Blick Art Materials Chicago’s downtown location. Paris amusingly shared that his purchase was limited to the $30 in his pocket; he was able to buy canvas and paint for less than $30. The past two years have been his most active art making period. He continues to learn and hone his abilities through his repetitive art practice. An interesting aspect of his practice is to hang incomplete pieces throughout his home, making the works readily visible/available to add different elements.
Paris initially experienced self-doubt about his work. Happily for us viewers, he received an extra push from a photographer friend and gained confidence to step out and show his works. Paris shared that his art reflects his feelings, and he creates his work with mixed media combining materials such as watercolor and acrylic, ink and acrylic, etc. Paris also works in photography. His inspiration quite often comes from within; he is however inspired by current and past artists, which includes Salvador Dali. His current works range from small to medium in size. Creating works of a larger scale, and possibly working with shaped canvas are future plans for his art.
Paris has been surprised and humbled by the response to his art. He repeatedly stated that he is grateful for the appreciation shown for his work. He hopes that audiences see the thought, care, and pride incorporated in each of his works. He looks forward to exhibiting a body of new works in his first solo show hosted by the Frame Shop. By the way, Paris is currently working on a commissioned album cover for a local Rhythm and Blues (R & B) artist!
Paris Farrell website is https://www.yourperfectfind.info/
The choice of topic for this week’s post presented an unusual challenge — too many
ideas were generated from the shortest month of the year, February. I initially thought about
addressing Black History Month, which had its beginning as “Negro HIstory Week” conceived
by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926. Feburary also gave us the Academy Awards; the first awards
ceremony was held in 1929. The Academy Awards triggered my memory about the collaboration
between the director Alfred Hitchcock, and the Surrealist artist
Salvador Dali on the 1945 mystery thriller film, Spellbound ( I bet you did not know about this
collaboration), and the idea of entertaining you with this piece of film history.
February 2017 also of course brought us Mardi Gras, which ended yesterday (2/28). Although
New Orleans is the USA city most closely associated with Mardi Gras, Mobile, AL celebrated the
first Mardi Gras in the early 1700s.
The topic of Mardi Gras won out when I thought about the beads, masks, doubloons, and elaborate
costumes! My enthusiam was however somewhat dampen when I came across an article about the
production of beads, and their negative impact on the environment — oh my. Nevertheless, my search
about Mardi Gras brought me to an article about a New Orleans artist who donated his Mardi
Gras themed art to support the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). The
artist Kevin Thayer created an art piece of his rescue pets, Bootsy and Koko attired in Mardi Gras garb.
For all you pet lovers and Mardi Gras enthusiats, the poster is below.
Playbills as KeepSakes
A playbill is a show program or booklet typically given to the audience at a live theatrical performance. The printed playbill provides details about the production that include cast biographies and background information about the show. The official Playbill program is recognizable by its iconic black on yellow masthead.
After attending a show in Chicago, New York or other cities, hold onto your playbill as a souvenir. The minimalist design of playbills for plays such as Hamilton, Les Miserables, and the Lion King are memorable eye catching works of art.
I combined my playbill, ticket stub, and autographed poster from the Lion King as an attractively framed keepsake!
In addition to playbills from personally attended performances, consider collecting other playbills. Your collection can be eclectic or narrowed to focus on for example, specific directors, performers, time periods, or vintage show programs. If you have not done so, start your visual album of playbill keepsakes.
The Frame Shop is honored and ecstatic to welcome Jessie Whitehead to the team! Jessie joined our sales staff in December and now she’s ready to show her off work at our next 3rd Friday event on February 17th. We caught up with Jessie long enough to rattle off a few questions about the show, her relief prints and who inspires her most.
Are you originally from Chicago?
No, I am not from Chicago. I relocated here in September 2013 from Connecticut.
And where did you pick up relief printmaking?
I have worked with relief printmaking for over 25 years. I was introduced to printmaking during my undergraduate study. I continued to work with the various printmaking techniques while obtaining my MFA in printmaking.
Who are some artists that inspire you?
The two artists that immediately come to mind are Charles Wilbert White and Howardena Pindell. Charles White was a very early inspiration. I was (and still am) moved by his subject matter, style and media. Howardena Pindell’s process, and the political and social content of her art inspires my work. I am also inspired by local artist David Anthony Geary, and my cousin, Joseph Pearson.
Where did you develop skills as a framer? How does knowledge of framing enter into your vision of presentation?
I initially learned framing decades ago from a friend in Mississippi who owned her own framing business. My knowledge and experience has enhanced since moving to Chicago. Framing has taught me to be mindful of the possibilities when preparing my work for display.
How does your family enter into or support your work as an artist?
My family never questioned my decision to pursue art degrees. Their encouragement has been and continues to be significant to me as an artist. I proudly share with them any new work created. In addition to their emotional support, they support me with their presence when my work is exhibited in their region.
What tools do you absolutely need in order to work?
The main thing I like to have is music. If I do not have music, I want quietness. I do not require stimulants such as coffee or soda.
If you could have lunch with anybody living or dead, who would it be and where would you go?
The choice of person requires some pondering. There are a few people I would like to have lunch with…I, however, narrowed it down to the former first lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama. We would dine at either my family’s home, a restaurant on the Mississipi Gulf Coast or a restaurant in New Orleans.
Join us for our 3rd Friday Reception at The Frame Shop, 3520 S Morgan Street on February, 17th from 7pm-9pm.
Campaign Posters as Collectible Art
The 2016 United States presidential race!
Rest easy – slowly inhale, slowly exhale. This post is not about the election; it looks at the campaign poster in USA presidential elections. Even with the strong use of technology and social media, the printed poster still plays a vital role in campaign advertising. As early as the 19 th century, candidates used the poster as a major campaign marketing tool. Posters created in this time period incorporated more detailed imagery compared to today’s campaign art. An example of 19 th century political art is the woodcut relief printed 1860 campaign poster for Abraham Lincoln.
During the 20 th century, design schemes changed to use of a black and white photograph with capitalized large text. An example of this design is a 1960 campaign poster for John F. Kennedy. The Atlantic Magazine gives some interesting thoughts about the evolution of the campaign poster. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/08/the-evolution-of-the-campaign-poster/243381/
A 21 st century shift in design for political art was Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” poster for the Barak Obama 2008 political campaign. A red, white, and blue color scheme with clearly defined overlapped shapes of color created an image of the then candidate that captured the viewer’s attention. The impact of this design can be seen in official and unofficial posters created during the 2016 campaign.
The visual language of these contemporary campaign posters, as well as those from previous centuries make them unique historical pieces of art. Become a campaign art enthusiast, bring your collection to the Frame Shop and allow us to enhance and protect your pieces of history.