Recap of Thursday and Friday

I sorry this has taken so long, it's just the catching up, and the clients deciding the day before the holiday that there were things due by the end of the day etc. etc. You all know the drill. However, I want to get a little bit about the Thursday and Friday of last week down before it flees this thin skull.

Thursday was, for me, the biggest, most enlightening day due to the speakers and a visit to the Neue Galerie on Fifth Avenue. We started our progression at the Lubin House, Syracuse University's outpost in Manhattan. Its a lovely, beaux arts style building on the north side of the street between Fifth Avenue and Madision on 63rd. There are many lovely panelled rooms, a wide, graceful stairway that takes you from floor to floor with all the appointments many of the big corporate meeting centers have (plenty of bathrooms, hot coffee etc). Phones non-existent though. Yuko Shimizuwas our speaker. Yuko shared the story of how she became an illustrator (11 yrs. in Japan as a PR/Marketing person, decided to come to the US for an MFA (SVA)in Illustration), her process, her studio, her favorite books, her favorite art supply (Dr. Martins Star Black Matte Ink>> you can phone in an order here>>) and supply stores (NY Central). She gave us a wonderful review of her work, pointing out detail in the content, or how the she came to the idea. She works freehand--drawing and painting without reference except for likenesses which she approaches in a very curious and enlightening way. Yuko has a disorder that she cannot tell the differences in people's faces(for real, there is a medical term that she told us that of course, I didnt write down)..and she cannot remember them. So, when she needs to create a likeness, she will look at the picture/reference of the person, and actually write a discription to work from in addition to drawing from the reference--breaking the image down etc. Sounds like a cool way to approach likenesses even for those of us who have a slight visual memory. Yuko is ambitious, smart and very targeted in her career and approach to illustration. She wants to learn more about type as she feels its a missing component and is anticipating getting a little more education to add to her ability. She has identified the art directors and designers she wants to work with and through work and pro-bono work, she is beginning to make headway to connect and work with these people. Yuko is very high energy and constantly thinking, connnecting and my guess drawing. We have a lot to watch with this inspired illustrator.

Nancy Stahl was next. Nancy started as an illustrator who paints but she has transitioned from paint to computer. She taught herself how to do this through creating a painting by working on it, and then trying to do the same thing on the computer...a little painting, a little bit twiddling etc. Clever. Her work is strong, beautiful and memorable. Great colorways. She showed sketches and finals with anecdotes with each one. Knitting is also a passion which she entwines with illustration--an example being some Christmas stamps she developed and in the works for next year.She also showed us the work she did for Scharfenberger Chocolate, The Stonybrook farms logotype --cow, an ice cream package and a few others. She is a very curious and energetic person who loves what she does and communicates that.

We had a break as the other students were having a critique of a project, so Richard, Chris and I had the time to get to the Neue Galerie to see the show on Josef Hoffman. The Neue Galerie is right up Fifth Avenue in the latitude of the Met (across the street about midway). It is a lovely Beaux Arts building (mit schlag)that is very serious about itself. The tone and taste is very severe and teutonic but not unkind inside. Lots of marble, wrought iron and wood. Very smooth and contained. They are checking bags, checking coats, checking everyone out. They have a very fancy austrian cafe and a pretty amazing gift shop (in the original library of the house) stuffed with books around the German and Austrian art. The Hoffman show was on two floors--curated beautifully with some cute/quirky design elements (big black and white polka dot wallpaper to offset chairs that have that detail) and lovely rooms built within the spaces to truly give the scale and proportion of the bedrooms and dining rooms of Hoffman furniture). The furniture in a room context was very small, and remarkably simple/spare/inexpensive feeling--scaled in the smallness of Frank Lloyd Wright's furniture (prime examples you can get the feeling is at Fallingwater or if you are in NYC, the Wright room at the Met). Some terrific gouache textile designs and photographs of spaces and people you normally don't see in books).Lots of silver particularly the grid tabletop pieces. We saw a few wonderful portraits--a Klimt head (almost Schiele in it's severe drawing)with lots of greens and browns and greys) and of course, the new treasure, the Neue Galerie's Mona Lisa, the Klimt-- Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer.Truly a masterwork. The gold, the patterning and surprising transparency of the painting is amazing. Combined with the strong design--building up a formal framework -- a gilded prison for the delicate features and tentative hands of Adele Bloch-Bauer--this is a piece that photography doesn't even begin to capture. Go take a look.

Finally, we rounded out the day with Guy Billout. Guy Billout is a slight man with longish wavy white hair that surrounds a long, mobile face. He twinkles and observes. He spoke of his work and visual puns--what works and doesnt for him. His work is inspired by Tintin (I am sure of no surprise to anyone)--He creates is images using a rapidograph (all to size) and airbrush. He indicated that he was considering moving to the computer to color his work as a good segue as the chemicals and process of airbrush is not the most healthy. I agree. His work for the New Yorker (particularly as the illustrator they assign with Seymour Hersh) is hard stuff and Billout handles everything poetically and memorably in this understanding the material and allowing the ideas to flow.

Belief and Ability
Cristina Vergano
Oil on masonite

Friday we visited galleries etc. I led the tour as the crew was uncertain about subways etc. We visited an "illustrator friendly" (per John Thompson) gallery, The Animazing Gallery. They were opening a show that night of the work of Daniel Merriman that Richard, Chris and Traci were all in love with. I was the odd guy out. My problem with this gallery and the work is it is all very sweetsy, candy colored and "pretty". I was disconcerted with the entry being jammed with whirring clocks and crafty do-dads before you entered the gallery. It just didnt seem to fit, albeit, the "wacky" crap probably pays the bills. We did a little visit at Kid Robot, Forbidden Planet, Strand Bookstore, the Museum of Food (Dean and DeLuca) just to look at the cupcakes and candy (marzipan skeletons, chocolate gilded buddahs and the most beautiful icing in the world). I did love the Woodward Gallery.They had work by Christine Vergano (a new fave of mine--from the lovely Juxtapoz). The Vergano work was beautiful up close--and fairly prolific. Take a look>> Charles Yoder's work is amazing --you can see it at the Woodward site as well. They had 4 heads that were screenprinted (black on red fields) that were calligraphic and very brushy that were a total kick as well.

We tried to see the Jonathan LeVin Gallery way over almost on 10th Avenue but they were closed as they were hanging a show of Shag's work. Richard and Chris went back the following day for the opening and hoped to get time with either Shag or LeVin to less than satisfactory results. All in all, NYC was exciting, exhausting and works all the poison out of your system to move forward. An illustration purge--to take a little break (albeit I have been tackling the hajib and burka/burqa idea and feel like this could really develop out) before leaping in. Someone from the class ahead of us mentioned in passing that the surprising thing about this ISDP process is that the way the program is structured with the travel and intensive training all seems pretty random until it all comes together and meshes. Yes, I totally agree...and it seems to mesh for all of us--however, the meshing poses more questions which Peter Cusack is generous to point up--that just don't go away or stop. The old ones get answered and new ones emerge. I am glad I am not the only one.