This is the second piece (along with Hands Across America) that was created as part of my preparation for the Falling Into Place exhibit with Michelle Carlson at the 20 North Gallery. It’s meant to draw attention to the decimation of American blue-collar jobs resulting from the mass movement of manufacturing overseas as a result of free-trade policies adopted in the 1990’s.
There’s a lot about this piece that I like from a technical perspective. There are very few mistakes, and those that are there are not obvious. The face in pieces is that of a very close friend, and I like that shattered-mirror-like effect so much that I’ll undoubtedly use it again in future work. All of the realism elements came out really well, and many of the abstractions harbor traits requiring some intellectual effort to interpret, which is intentional. This one and its companion piece mentioned above are two of my personal favorites thus far.
This piece was created for the UNDISCLOSED exhibit at the Toledo School for the Arts. The exhibit is a fundraiser for the school in which patrons purchase tickets, then randomly draw a number from a fishbowl at the event that determines the order in which they can choose a piece. The artists sign their works on the back of the piece; hence the “undisclosed” part, which puts all of the artists on a level playing field in the selection process.
I did this one in a style that’s different from my signature black-and-white, gravity-agnostic, news-driven pieces for the purpose of obfuscating who did it, and I think I was successful. The blend of gouache at the bottom was a last-minute addition at the suggestion of my daughter, and I’m pleased with how that came out; it creates depth where there wasn’t before. The top was surprisingly demanding to create with precision (freehand is hard!), and the entire piece took a good eighteen hours or so. The foremost row of crystals are outlined with Gelly Roll’s Metallic pens and filled with their Glaze pens, which gives them a three-dimensional aspect and makes them glisten as the viewer shifts their perspective. Those in the middle are filled with the Moonlight pens, and the rear-most were done with the Derwent Inktense pencils, the marks of which were then ‘washed’ with a wet brush. The purpose of using the different types of pens and pencils was also to create a sense of depth in the crystal array, but I can’t decide how effective that was – What do you think?
This is a piece I was honored to have been invited to create for the Undisclosed 2018 Art Show, a fundraiser to benefit the Toledo School for the Arts. TSA is a non-profit charter institution based in the heart of downtown Toledo that provides a rigorous scholarly curriculum within the context of an arts-intensive environment, and Undisclosed is an annual event that regularly raises over $10,000 for the school. (Disclosure: My daughter is a student.)
The unifying theme from which this piece draws its name is a celebration of the explosion of African American influence on the mainstream pop-culture of America denoted by the release of the film earlier this year. I’m thrilled with many aspects of the end result, notably the depiction of the Black Panther costume; Wakanda as it appeared in one of the original comics; and the roaring panther. I’m also especially happy with some of the abstract elements, such as the five-pointed star-like shape near the bottom, and the factory/tree combination that’s a passing nod to the intricate relationship between our work and our world. The leafy structures near the center are a depiction of the leaves of the Umbrella Thorn Acacia, a plant that’s native to the African savannah in which the mythical nation of Wakanda is placed. (If I’d had more time, I might have spent some extra effort sharpening those up a bit.) It was also great fun creating the ‘Wham! Pow! Oof! Bang!’ bubble, especially considering how often I saw those in the TV shows of my youth.
The sharp-eyed viewer will notice this piece is not signed! That’s by design, in accordance with the rules of the show. The event attendees get to choose pieces without knowing by whom they were created until their selections are made and they can see the rear of the piece. Another subtlety is this piece is mounted to a wooden base which allows it to be hung any-side-up, at the discretion of the owner.