Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Days 16-20

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Days 11-15

Monday, November 08, 2010

Days 6-10

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Work In Progress (The Sweet Spot)

It has been a very long time since I've posted here, life has been upside down with a big move and a new job. As the dust is beginning to settle, I'm starting to get back to making art. Number one on my list is to complete my piece "The Sweet Spot," a project that began in Chicago and will be completed in Vermont. It is a result of a fifty day study to determine the ideal place to stand on the Montrose Brown Line platform (in Chicago) to get a seat on the train during the morning commute. This project will be shown next Autumn and so I'm suddenly feeling a lot of pressure (which is good) to nail it out.

During the fifty days that I collected my data, I made detailed notes to organize my findings. These will be part of the final piece (probably hung in a grid) and present my findings as well as miscellaneous doodles.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Amsterdam Update

Well it has been a week of pretty intense studio work but I have completed the paint stencil letters for my piece for Amsterdam. We are heading out of town for the weekend but the last task when I get back is to stencil "-Albert Camus" at the bottom of the text block. I have another 8' x 8' print and will be slicing it in half and hanging the two 8' x 4' strips on either side of this piece at an angle to create depth. This is a sketch of what the installation will look like:

More posts on this piece to follow in the coming weeks.

Archie Is The Best Thing Ever!

Needless to be said, Archie is the best thing ever! He has recently become obsessed with building blocks and it is so much fun as a father watching his little brain at work. The other night I came out of my office and found his latest city perched atop our living room table:

I was an avid builder as well when I was a kid, here is a glimpse of my young brain at work:

My dream is that as Archie gets older, I'll have an area of my studio partitioned of for his wild creations. Here is a video that Robin created of Archie hard at work:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gearing Up For Amsterdam!

This August I will be flying to Amsterdam to install a new public artwork. The event is being hosted by Inkijk Gallery and curated by Jan Theun Van Rees. I met Jan Theun a number of years ago when he was in Chicago photographing his "One Wall Away" series. We have stayed friends ever since and I was thrilled when he invited me to participate in this exhibition / public installation.

Sometimes as an artist, the hardest thing can be too many choices. When Jan Theun approached me with the concept for the piece, he told me that I could do anything that I wanted so long as it somehow drew a connection between Amsterdam and Chicago. Hmmmmm. I've never been to Amsterdam and had no idea how to proceed. Everytime that I thought about my relationship with Amsterdam, my thoughts would eventually circle back to my undergraduate studies of Albert Camus and his novel, "The Fall."

My first copy of the novel had this cover and was borrowed from the bookshelves of my Grandmother's apartment.

"The Fall" is one of my favorite novels and was a central part of my undergraduate thesis. The more that I thought about my piece, the more that I decided it should reference "The Fall" and portray the imagery that Camus created in 1956 and that informed my ideas about the city. Step one was to buy a new copy of it because my old one was overly underlined to the point of illegibility.

Although the majority of the novel takes place in an Amsterdam dive bar, occassionally the main character Clemence leads the reader around the town and to the shores of the Zuider Zee. Upon rereading the book, I decided to focus on the passage that appears at the beginning of this blogpost and to use Lake Michigan as a stand in for the Zuider Zee. I emailed Jan Theun to discuss my plans and he was excited! He told me that he had never read the novel but that he had an old copy of it and it was bookmarked to the exact passage that I was thinking of using. This sealed the deal.

Eric Pickersgill is without a doubt one of the best students that I have ever worked with. We first met when he was in my color darkroom class at Columbia College and he has ta'd and assisted me ever since. Not only is he a great person but he is also really coming into his own as an artist. Eric has been creating large liquid emulsion lightboxes throughout the past year and will be showing them soon at The Light Factory in Charlotte.

For the past couple of years Eric has been working out of an abandoned factory on Chicago's south/west side. He built a gigantic darkroom there and a rig for projecting negatives onto the wall. I had seen his liquid light prints before and decided that this would be the perfect technique for my Lake Michigan image as well. After an initial meeting last thursday night, we met at his darkroom bright and early Saturday morning to get to work.

This is an image of the enlarger tilted on it's side in order to project my image at 8 feet by 8 feet.

Step one was to pin the 8 square feet of fabric up against the back wall of the darkroom. After getting it into place, I sprayed starch on the fabric (this apparently helps the image fix to the fabric) and Eric followed behind with an iron. Once that was finished, Eric applied a bottle of liquid emulsion to the fabric as I guided him with a safe light. Next up, a two hour exposure.

The development of the fabric was far and away one of the most extreme things that I've ever done in a darkroom (no snarky comments please). Eric had built eight foot troughs to house the chemicals and a two person pulley system for agitating the print.

Two hours later, we had a properly processed print (the above is a detail). Here is Eric looking like the tough SOB that he is (twelve hours and one print later):

Next up, hand stencil the text in the studio.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Something I Made Today

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Exciting News and Exhibitions

This summer is turning out to be incredibly hectic but exciting as well. This Spring I accepted an assistant professor position at Keene State College in New Hampshire and the family and I are starting to plan for our move to Brattleboro Vermont at the end of July. There are a lot of loose ends to tie up here but also some exciting new:

1. I just learned that I was named an award winner for the Magenta Foundation Flash Forward 2010 competition. I will be published in their catalogue and will hopefully be exhibiting my work at the Magenta Foundation Festival in Toronto in October. My work was selected by Andy Adams of Flak Photo, Amanda Maddox from the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Susan Bright.

2. I will be presenting my piece, "Staring Contest" at the Conduit Gallery in Dallas this August. The show is entitled, "The Program" and is being curated by Charles Dee Mitchell. I'm excited to be sharing the same space as David Askevold, Matthew Day Jackson, Luke Murphy, Jason Rhoades, Erin Shirreff and Bill Viola.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hot Off The Press!!!

Today was a big day for this project, I finally picked up the finished books from Loveleaf. Last night I had a nightmare that I picked them up and was really bummed out but fortunately, the opposite was true and they look AMAZING!!!!!

Here are some shots of them at the bindery earlier today. This is us burnishing the covers to give them a worn and one of a kind aesthetic:

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Ode To Alec Soth

Alec and I became friends a number of years ago and have hung out in Chicago, Minneapolis, Miami and spots in between. It's not often that you find someone who is both extremely successful in their field and also incredibly sweet and down to Earth. I've really enjoyed our friendship and over the years and I have made him a few keepsakes along the way. The first was a baseball card that I created for him a few years back when he came to give a lecture at Columbia College. He had told me that he was jealous of the baseball cards that I had created in my piece "The Quitter" and he wrote to tell me that he wanted a baseball card dedicated to himself as well. Ask and ye shall receive, I granted Alec his wish:

Well last night I headed out to my favorite German bar with the family to indulge in some beer and wurst. Resi's Bierstube is the best beer garden in Chicago and I had recently met Alec there for drinks along with Brian Ulrich and Matt Siber. So I got to thinking about Alec and turned to my wife and said, "I wonder how old Sothdog Millionaire is doing?" Robin was like, "did you just make up that name for him?" and I was like, "Yeah." After dinner with my stomach full of beer and beef, I sat down to create the following poster, my newest ode to Mr. Alec Soth:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Help Support My Book, Get An Inexpensive Print!

I've recently embarked upon a new book project via the website

My project for kickstarter consists of publishing five copies of my artist's book "Scavenger Hunt" for the "Hamburger Fotobuchtage Festival" that will be held in Germany this June. My books will be presented by "Kehrer Art Books of Heidelberg". I've self published books in the past but never as one of a kind art objects. My goal is to create a full edition of 50 books and I have found a great local bindery called "Love Leaf Press" who are going to help me out. Each book is going to cost me roughly $250 to make but they are going to look really really good!

You can view my page at by visiting:

Essentially, I am looking for backers to help me finance this project.
Individuals who donate $25 towards the project will receive a signed 8" x 10" page from the book (page of your choice), individuals who donate $50 will receive a signed two page spread from the book (spread of your choice) and if you are feeling insanely generous, individuals who donate $450 will receive a signed one of a kind copy of the book (again, finished edition of 50). The way that kickstarter works is that in order for me to receive the money and for you to receive your print, I need to meet my minimum goal of $1200 (however there is not a maximum cap) by June 17th. If you know anyone who might be interested in participating, please pass this along.

Young Git In The Magic Factory

Thursday, March 04, 2010

1960's IHop Commercial

I dream that one day I'll be able to make a video piece as awesome as this!!!

What I Dream Of Singing The Next Time I Go Out To Sing Karaoke

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Sweet Spot (in progress)

This past month I've been enjoying the winter break from teaching and spending each of my days in the studio (bliss!) I've been working on a piece for my new series entitled, "The Sweet Spot."

"The Sweet Spot" is a piece about finding the spots on the train platform where the train doors have the highest probability of stopping. I charted my morning commute for fifty days in the Spring of 2009 and have been busy trying to visually articulate my data.

The finished series will have a series of charts, notes photographs and video. The piece I've been working on this break is perhaps the most daunting, a 100 inch wide reconstruction of the data collected in my field notes.

For me, this piece has been a real tug and pull. Although I work more quickly with Photoshop than I do with my hands, I wanted this piece to be hand drawn. It has been exciting and nerve racking, I've never worked this way before. In Photoshop if you screw up, you can just copy and paste and the problem is solved. When using oil based paint markers, changing your mind can be a lot more difficult and labor intensive.

As with any piece in progress, I've had about a million moments where I was convinced that what I've been making is crap. At the moment, I'm seeing a faint light at the end of the tunnel.

One of the hardest things about holing up in your studio is that there isn't any external feedback. I'm getting to the point where I am ready to show people the work in progress.

This autumn I have been invited to Amsterdam to create an installation piece inside of an abandoned storefront in an underground train station (here is a previous installation shot of the space). I'm thinking about incorporating some of this piece for that exhibition.

So, that's where I've been spending my days. Back to work, more posts to follow.