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Monthly Archives: March 2013

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Uninked, the Exhibit and Catalog (2007)


Uninked was an exhibit, curated by cartoonist icon Chris Ware, that ran at the Phoenix Art Museum in the Spring of 2007. It was mounted in the basement of the museum’s newly opened North Wing, giant paintings and tiny models somewhat awkwardly placed in an enormous, fluorescent-lit space. It was a little odd, but I enjoyed the exhibit a lot – especially seeing actual pieces by idols of mine like Gary Panter and Kim Deitch. This was the first time I was excited about something PAM did since they teamed up with Keith Haring on a few community-building projects in the late ’80s.

In addition to curating the exhibit, Ware also contributed original art and design to the Uninked catalog, published by Phoenix Art Museum in 2007. I was happy to receive it as a Christmas gift from my spouse, who volunteered at the museum recently (naturally, I dropped a few hints with Christopher about the book being sold at the gift shop). This catalog, a companion piece with the McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern Comics issue Ware edited in 2004, is a work of art in itself. Ware seems to genuinely admire the people spotlighted in the exhibit, a cross-section of artists including old-guard guys from the ’60s Comix movement (Deitch, Jerry Moriarty), a ’70s-’80s trailblazer (Panter), and two from the younger generation (Seth and Ron Regé, whose whimsical work was unknown to me prior to this exhibit). In addition to concise bios and reproductions of all the pieces from the exhibit, the book includes extra artwork not on display in 2007. It’s an intriguing peek at what kinds of work commercial artists create purely for their own expression.

The catalog for Uninked: Paintings, Sculptures and Graphic Work from Five Contemporary Cartoonists was printed in just one run, and it’s apparently getting harder to find. It can be ordered from Amazon.com here.

Kim Deitch art from Uninked, 2007.

Jerry Moriarty pages from Uninked, 2007.

Gary Panter – Clog Area, 2004.

Seth pages from Uninked, 2007.

Chris Ware’s back cover art for Uninked catalog, 2007.

A Cabinet of Curiosities

Paul Steucke photograph of raccoon in tree, via Today’s Document.

If you peer at the sidebar, you’ll now see something that’s been absent from this site since 2005: a blogroll. Ever since the redesign, I’ve been wanting to get something in there that reflects the variety of weblogs I’m reading now. The problem with blogrolls, if course, is that blogs come and go and personal tastes never stay put for very long. For instance, it surprised me how many blogs I read five years ago that were devoted to junky pop cult collecting, a subject I can now only stand in small doses. Hopefully the sites linked here will stay around for a while.

The current blogroll is made up of personal favorites bookmarked in Firefox over the past year, things I’ve stumbled across at Tumblr via 4 Color Cowboy, and older blogs carried over from the My Big Fat Link Log 3 post of August 2008. The latter was pretty interesting, since roughly two-thirds of the blogs linked there are either abandoned or dropped (I suppose future historians will mark the years 2009-10 as the era of the Great Blog Exodus). On the other hand, it makes me admire all the more those who have been at it for five to ten years, or longer – thumbs up!

Maybe it’s the Pinterest/Tumblr influence, but great imagery is something I never expected to enjoy from others’ weblogs (some of which is shared here). Enjoy.

Photograph by Joseph Kelly, via Battered Shoes.

Book cover design by David Johnson, via Aqua-Velvet.

Photograph of teenagers in New Mexico, via National Geographic Found.

Shopping center architectural art, via damahadaman.

Bobby Hackett LP cover art, via Groove is in the Art.

Simplicity

Last weekend, while cleaning out excess stuff in our garage, I came across this forgotten little acrylic-on-board study I once did back in the ’90s. Although the piece is somewhat derivative of Anthony Russo‘s art, it still appeals to what I’m continuing to strive for in art, and in life: simplicity. When doing art, the temptation is to keep adding on and adding on, when the most effective art (to me) continue to be the pieces that communicate an idea in just a few brush strokes or pen marks. Unfortunately, that concept is easier to think about than to actually do… but I keep trying.

That whole idea of whittling down a drawing to its essence also came to mind when I was perusing the illustrations for a piece of vintage paper ephemera that C. recently acquired. The imagery below comes from a booklet published by the Melamine Council to promote the proper use of plastic dinnerware. It might have been a lost cause in the ’50s and ’60s, trying to make these common household items look elegant and sophisticated, but in the context of this brochure it actually works – beautifully. The uncredited artist (or artists) did a masterful job of paring down the ideas of stylish living, feminine beauty, and cleanliness into simple – yet never simplistic – illustration.

So Much To See… So Much To Do

TWA Airlines customer information folder front, circa 1958.

Here’s something new from my Ephemera Flickr set… various take-home paper items made by now-defunct Trans World Airlines in the 1950s. These carry a lot of the kitsch and charm of vintage travel items, from back when people actually dressed up to fly (long, long ago). My favorite piece is the TWA charge card application with cartoon illustration of that archetypical ’50s Man reclining with a bevy of stewardesses tending to his needs, along with a bizarrely placed house cat. It’s the only way to fly. These items were collected by Christopher and are currently up for auction on eBay.