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What are V. Notes?

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V. Notes are dailyish thoughts and ideas related to art.
I might post a series of pictures, a technique, an idea for a project, or some philosophical rambling. I try to make these emails relevant, but they’re not pre-planned, and they’re not perfect. They’re just thoughts in the moment, take ’em or leave ’em. Hopefully they’ll spark some thoughts and help get your artistic juices flowing.
Initially started as a way to give my students more information outside of class, V. Notes is now read by hundreds of people every day. If you meet another artist with connections to the League, V. Notes might be a way to spark an interesting conversation.
Welcome to our little V. Note community!

Cheers,
Ruthie V.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO V. NOTES.  (You can easily unsubscribe if you change your mind.)

Raúl de Nieves

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Installation view of work by Raúl de Nieves, in the 2017 Whitney Biennial

Raúl de Nieves

What does it mean to be an American artist today?

From his basement studio in Ridgewood, Queens, artist Raúl de Nieves creates an epic stained glass mural for the 2017 Whitney Biennial. Born in Mexico, de Nieves immigrated to San Diego at the age of nine and has been living in New York since 2008. “Growing up in Mexico was really magical because I got to see a lot of forms of celebration,” says the artist. “I got to experience death as a really young child. That’s what my work is about: it’s like seeing the facets of happiness and sadness all in one place.”

His commission from the Whitney Museum of American Art gave de Nieves the opportunity to experiment with the tradition of stained glass, and combine this new light-infused installation with existing figurative sculptures. With gaffers tape, paper, and color gels, de Nieves created a narrative that begins with personal struggle and self-doubt, but ends with “a celebration of life.” In reflecting upon his father’s early death and his mother’s courageous decision to move their family to the United States, de Nieves sees the installation as a form of remembrance. “The mural talks about this experience—this journey,” says the artist, “I feel really happy that I could put so much emphasis on this idea of ‘a better tomorrow’ in my artwork.”

Raúl de Nieves (b. 1983, Michoacán, Mexico) lives and works in New York. Learn more about the artist at: https://art21.org/artist/raul-de-nieves/

Rembrandt’s Etching Process

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Rembrandt’s Etching Process

You can etch with or without acid. In drypoint printmaking, images are etched onto a plate dry – without acid – so the tools directly unsmoothify the copper plate so it can be inked, and printed onto paper in an un-wet humorless non-boozy sort of way. With other etching processes, the plate is protected by a thin layer of wax, and scratching at the plate removes the wax in lines or soft areas. An acid bath (spa day!) eats into the plate in areas that have been exposed, producing textures where the ink will hold, and then be released when pressed into the paper. It is a patient, quiet, and lovely process.

Don’t think etching is only for perfectionists. Another way of etching a copper plate is to skid it across a dirty linoleum floor. Lovely lines. No, that doesn’t count as a linoleum print.

October Creative Challenge

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October Creative Challenge

The last 30 day creative challenge was so delightful, I thought it might be time to do another. Today I launch the October Creative Challenge!

WANNA DRAW?

You can challenge yourself to do all 30 challenges, 5 a week, or whatever floats your boat. I know sitting down to make even the silliest of doodles can be a big deal for a busy brain, so use this challenge as an excuse to make something whenever you’re able. Short on time? Set a timer for 15 minutes. Try it. You’ll feel better, or your money back. (It’s free.)

I’M IN. HOW DO I JOIN THE CHALLENGE?

If you want to receive the daily creative prompts, make sure you’re on the daily-ish V. Notes email list. If you’re not sure you’re on this list, or if you don’t get an email tomorrow at 7:00am,  click here to register.

Register for the October Creative Challenge

WHAT IF I WANT OUT?

We’ll miss you, but feel free to unsubscribe at any time.

October Creative Challenge – Day 1

Finish the Tuttle

The drawing above is a finished work by Richard Tuttle. Isn’t it cute? For this challenge, pretend you are sitting at a table with Mr. Tuttle, and he has just handed you this drawing, requesting that you finish his unfinished idea. You can redraw it, print it out, rotate the paper, but please don’t change the placement of his marks on the page. He put them where he meant to. Feel free to use any media, not just drawing. He is known to use string….

SHARING IS CARING

Please please oh please share your drawings on the inkerwebs. We’re on Facebook. If you tag us I’ll get to see them too. #seattleartistleague #inktober

NOT ON FACEBOOK?

Hate all the techno fuss? Good for you. You can email me directly, or bring your creative challenges to class. I’ll be collecting images to share.

Join the October Creative Challenge (V.Notes) by clicking the link below:

Register for the October Creative Challenge

Rodin sculptures you haven’t seen

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Auguste Rodin

November 12, 1840 – November 17, 1917

I’m hoping you haven’t seen these before

We’ve all seen The Thinker so many times we can’t see it at all. And various versions of The Kiss may have lost their charge as well. Perhaps some others come to mind when you think of Rodin, but below are some Rodin sculptures you may not have seen before. I hope you get to see something new.

 

I love these

For me personally, these works are ecstatic perfection. Emotionally, Rodin’s sculptures are intuitive, sensual, physically intelligent, and best of all, they’re incredibly oh-my-god sexy. To me, the sexiest sculptures in the world were made by Rodin. Technically, I thank him for the divine proportions, but imperfect forms. Sometimes the surface of an arm is skin, sometimes the surface of an arm is the stuff it’s made of, sometimes that arm isn’t there at all. The honesty of materials is something that has always resonated with me. And the “unfinished” roughness, the parts left out, they allow me to be more intimately involved as a viewer. Without strain, just by my liquid gaze, I join the moment of it’s creation.

 

I’m dumbfounded

Why, why, why, WHY would anyone want to paint (and why would anyone want to buy) a landscape when there is this human form. I can not fathom.

 

Telegraph: “Rodin was in the habit of surrounding himself with naked models. Earlier in his career, he had encouraged models to move freely around his studio, which is how the extraordinarily uninhibited poses for sculptures such as Crouching Woman and Iris had come about.”

Below: The Eternal Idol

Notice how moving around the sculpture reveals more about the narrative. Each angle gives us more information about the interaction of the couple. For me, each view slightly contradicted an assumption I had made about the dynamics. This, for me, is gorgeous.

A brief history of Gay art and symbolism

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A BRIEF HISTORY OF GAY ART AND SYMBOLISM

Pride Flags

The rainbow flag has changed dramatically since its first hand-dyed creation by Gilbert Baker and his boyfriend Jomar Teng. The original version of the flag had eight colors, each of which stood for concepts including healing, sunlight, nature, and spirit. Since then, the now-common six color flag is only one of many variations, all of which symbolize the diversity and inclusiveness of the LGBT movement.
Gilbert Baker himself encourages the LGBT community to continue to remake the flag for ourselves. In an UK Gay News op-ed piece, Baker wrote: “In my view the rainbow flag is unfinished, as the movement it represents, an arc that begins well before me, its breadth far broader than all of our experiences put together, reaching the farthest corners of the world with a message of solidarity and a beacon of hope for those who follow in our footsteps.”

Pink Triangle

Born out of the violence of the Nazi regime, the pink triangle is a reclaimed symbol of oppression now used to show LGBT pride and increase understanding. Gay prisoners in Nazi concentration camps were forced to wear the pink triangle to show that they were homosexuals, which meant that they often received worse treatment and as a result were less likely to survive the camps. Though not everyone embraces the pink triangle as a positive symbol of gay pride, the triangle and inverted triangle have gone through countless variations and remain popular. Like the rainbow flag, the pink triangle is now an image found on pride badges, stickers, and t-shirts, and is a common symbol used to advertise gay-friendly events and activities.

Early Greek Art

The Ancient Greeks produced one of the earliest well-developed examples of gay art. Unlike in other ancient cultures, the Greeks considered free adult male sexual attraction to be both normal and natural. The Ancient Greeks even sanctioned relationships between teenage boys and older men as a rite of passage for males just entering puberty. These homoerotic relationships were the subject of elaborate Greek poetry and art. Vivid images were often painted on black figure vases, hundreds of which survive today. Some of these distinctive vases show an older man giving gifts to a boy, while others show more overtly sexual acts. While the Ancient Greeks understood sexuality in radically different ways than we do today, their art serves as a reminder of a time when same-sex attraction was accepted and even celebrated.

Gay and Lesbian Pulp Art

Lesbian pulp novels from the 50s and 60s featured lurid cover art, with colorful visual innuendo, knowing glances and lots of skin. Now coveted by collectors and sold online for up to $950 each, these novels began as an affordable form of titillating popular art. In an era before the feminist and gay liberation movements, the sensationalized images on the books’ covers were often the only way for women to read about lesbianism. Women soon understood pulp cover art as a type of code – two women in a suggestive pose with the words ‘strange’ or ‘twilight’ in the title indicated that the book had lesbian content. Gay male pulp fiction, while less popular than lesbian pulp novels, enjoyed a large following that peaked in the early 1950s. These paperbacks included full-color covers with racy titles and stories that addressed taboo subjects like prostitution, rape, and interracial romance. Like other sleazy publications of the 50s and 60s, gay pulp fiction covers showed a fantasy world full of absurd clichés, seductive poses, and muscular bare chests. While today pulp novels may seem laughably over-the-top, they are nonetheless important pop culture representations of gays and lesbians in art.

AIDS Art – Keith Haring

Keith Haring was a talented pop artist who dedicated his career to bringing gay art and AIDS awareness to the masses. Between 1980 and 1985, Haring created innovative drawings on empty black advertising panels in the New York subway. Often producing dozens of these drawings in a day, Haring used his art to engage passers-by in the act of creation as well as the resulting images. In 1986, Haring opened the Pop Shop, a Soho retail outlet selling his artwork on t-shirts, posters, toys, buttons, and magnets. While many in the art world criticized the shop’s commercialism, Haring remained committed to sharing his work affordably with a diverse audience. He received a great deal of support from his friend and mentor, fellow pop artist Andy Warhol. After being diagnosed with AIDS in 1988, Haring established the Keith Haring Foundation to raise money and provide art to AIDS organizations and children’s programs. Haring dedicated his art and the two last years of his life to creating awareness and fostering understanding about AIDS. In 2008, two of his brightly colored sculptures were added to UNAIDS “Art for AIDS” collection. Haring’s brief but intense career was only the beginning of his growth as a gay icon. His colorful, provocative, and socially-conscious images form an important part of the history of gay symbolism.

l-r: portrait; “Peter Hujar Dreaming/Yukio Mishima: St. Sebastian;” “untitled christ 1998″

David Wojnarowicz

Born in New Jersey in 1954, David Wojnarowicz endured an extremely abusive family life, struggled with being a gay youth and subsequently dropped out of high school by the age of 16. To survive, he hustled, lived on the streets of NYC, prostituted, and hitchhiked across the country. In 1978, he settled in NYC’s east village and began his career, as a painter, photographer, writer, filmmaker, performance artist, and activist. His career ran concurrent with the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. His art reflected that grief, anger, frustration and fear by drawing attention to American religious fundamentalism, conservatism, fear of the body, homophobia, economic imperialism, all while raising up the voices of marginalized and stigmatized individuals. Wojnarowicz died of AIDS in 1992 at the age of 37.

Andy Warhol

An iconic American pop artist, filmmaker, and graphic designer, Andy Warhol blurred the boundaries between art and advertising. Unapologetic about his homosexuality, Warhol often produced erotic photography and male nudes, and his work was heavily influenced by gay underground culture. Warhol’s images, from his Campbell’s soup cans to prints of celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, and Elizabeth Taylor, are an astute comment on the materialism and glamor of the 60s and 70s.

Gran Fury

was an activist art collective that formed in the late 1980s as an offshoot of ACT UP. Gran Fury’s primary objectives were to educate the public, provoke direct action and expose government and civil negligence in regard to the AIDS pandemic. Graphic campaigns, using commercial advertising techniques, targeted the streets rather than galleries and museums. They are perhaps most famous for their image of three interracial couples (straight, gay and lesbian) kissing above the caption “Kissing Doesn’t Kill: Greed and Indifference Do,” as well as their work at the 1990 Venice Biennale where they juxtaposed two billboards: the image of the Pope with a text about the church’s anti-safe-sex rhetoric; the other a two-foot-high erect penis with texts about women and condom use.

Alison Bechdel

A groundbreaking cartoonist, graphic novel writer, and artist, Alison Bechdel unleashes work that is at once political, tragic, funny, and poignant. Her long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For offers an intimate glimpse into lesbian life in the 21st century. In 2006, she published her first full-length graphic novel, a memoir of family life with an ironic twist called Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Bechdel’s work both embraces and surpasses stereotypes to present compassionate portraits of contemporary gay experience. Her unique art and writing firmly establish her as a fascinating new lesbian icon.

Annie Leibovitz

For the past forty years, photographer Annie Leibovitz has produced intimate and often provocative portraits that have appeared in countless major magazines and art publications. Her work includes the dramatic shot of a nude and pregnant Demi Moore, as well as the audacious portrait of a naked John Lennon wrapped around Yoko Ono, taken only four or five hours before Lennon’s death. Her photographs reveal a personal side to celebrity life, and she frequently produces artistic nudes of female celebrities which express vulnerability as well as sexuality.
Some of Leibovitz’s most personal and touching photographs are her portraits of her friend and lover, the late essayist Susan Sontag. Taken over a period of fifteen years, Leibovitz’s portraits of Sontag range from affectionate shots of Sontag at home, to touching portraits captured during her struggle with cancer, to controversial shots taken after her death. The death photographs, which Salon Magazine described as “shocking,” and not fit for publication, are in many ways Leibovitz’s most artistic and courageous work. Both Leibovitz’s commercial photography and her more personal portraits reveal a lesbian artist whose work will remain iconic for many years to come.

Dyke Action Machine!

(DAM!) is a two-person public art project founded in 1991 by artist Carrie Moyer and photographer Sue Schaffner. Their many satirical lesbian propaganda campaigns have “dissected mainstream media by inserting lesbian images into recognizably commercial contexts, revealing how lesbians are and are not depicted in American popular culture. While questioning the basic assumption that one cannot be “present” in a capitalist society unless one exists as a consumer group, DAM! performed the role of the advertiser, promising the lesbian viewer all the things she’d been denied by the mainstream: power, inclusion, and the public recognition of identity.” (-from the DAM website).

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest LGBT advocacy group with more than 750,000 members and supporters. Its logo is a highly recognizable symbol in the contemporary fight for LGBT equality. Created in 1995 by the marketing and design firm Stone Yamashita, under the direction of the HRC’s then executive director Elizabeth Birch, who felt that “A logo is only as meaningful as the hard work and standard of excellence it represents.”

Help Us Choose Our Mascot

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Vote for your favorite Seattle Artist League mascot! The winning entry could end up on a poster, or as a mural on our building. Please see entries below, and use the comments to cast your vote. Forward to your friends, this is open to all. Still want to submit an idea? Late entries accepted. Voting ends at midnight Sept 16, 2017.

New Mascot Entry:

Artist’s entry: “A Bower Bird (a satin bower bird to be exact) chosen because of their artistic abilities. Using local materials of various colors, shapes and sizes the create beautiful bowers to attract mates. When that doesn’t work they dance.

 

In some places they’re tall towers made of sticks resting upon a round mat of dead black moss, decorated with snail shells, acorns, and stones. In other places, they’re woven towers built upon a platform of green moss, adorned with fruits, flowers, and severed butterfly wings. Individual Vogelkop bowerbirds have their own tastes, preferring certain colours to others. The males place each item in their bowers with great precision; if the objects are moved, the birds return them to the original arrangement.
“Decorating decisions are not automatic but involved trials and ‘changes of mind,'” wrote UCLA physiologist Jared Diamond, one of the first researchers to intensively study the birds’ complex bowers. Diamond discovered that bower building was not innate, at least not entirely. The younger birds had to learn how to build the best bowers, either through trial and error, or by watching more experienced birds, or both.
Diamond concluded that bower building was a culturally transmitted creative process where each bird had his or her own individual tastes and preferences, and where each decision was made with intention and care. Bowerbirds, in other words, are animal artists – at least in sense that they take care in producing unique works that humans and birds alike find aesthetically pleasing.
My thought is that SAL is place (a bower, if you will) where art is both taught and created using the tools at our disposal and community (mates in the platonic sense) are drawn together to produce unique works.”

 

Read more:
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/not-bad-science/what-makes-bowerbirds-such-good-artists/

Vote for your favorite mascot, using the comments below.

Fierce Women of Art – Guerrilla Girls

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Fierce Women of Art

In the same breath that I will say “please don’t ever refer to my gender before you refer to my work” I will share this list of lady artists, because … sometimes you have to be a big pill when society is sick.

Huff, sigh, shuffle, and growl. Go get ’em girls.

Guerrilla Girls

The Guerrilla Girls are feminist activist artists. Over 55 people have been members over the years, some for weeks, some for decades. All have kept their identities hidden by wearing masks, and assuming the name of a bad ass lady artist, such as Frieda Kahlo.

There are updated versions of this, some list 4%, some 5%. My apologies, I don’t see years listed.

The content below is from Hyperallergic

While it’s not their most in-depth or out-there interview, this Late Show appearance did manage to spread the Guerrilla Girls’ feminist message to a mainstream cable audience — something of a first for a group that originally operated on the fringes of the art world.

Still, there are a few things — compiled from slightly more subversive interviews — that we wish the Guerrilla Girls had managed to tell this mainstream cable audience:

  • They’ve had moles in the offices of major museums. “Our first extended attack [on a museum] was a 1987 Clocktower show about the politics of the Whitney Biennial,” the Guerrilla Girls told artist Cindy Sherman in Interview Magazine in 2012. “We even had a deep throat in the development office smuggle out sensitive info about the trustees. The museum’s response: silence.” Since then, their attacks on museums and institutions have been far more effective: “After we made fun of the National Gallery of Art, they vowed to change their ways. Ditto the Tate Modern and MoMA. Even the venerable Venice Biennale has improved a bit since our giant 2005 installation about its discriminating history. Whenever our work appears at an institution like that, we get tons of emails from people telling us that our work showed them something they never knew about art and culture.”
  • Some Guerrilla Girls may or may not wear their gorilla masks while having sex.
  • “All women are born Guerrilla Girls.” In a 1995 interview, group member Lee Krasner speculated on the number of Guerrilla Girls out there: “We secretly suspect that all women are born Guerrilla Girls. It’s just a question of helping them discover it. For sure, thousands; probably, hundreds of thousands; maybe, millions.”
Guerrilla Girls Talk The History Of Art vs. The History Of Power The Late Show with Stephen Colbert 2016 (6 minutes)
Fierce Women of Art | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios (8 minutes)

Fierce Women of Art – Corita Kent

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Fierce Women of Art

In the same breath that I will say “please don’t ever refer to my gender before you refer to my work” I will share this list of lady artists, because … sometimes you have to be a big pill when society is sick.
Huff, sigh, shuffle, and growl. Go get ’em girls.

Sister Corita Kent stands in front of her work, including ‘for eleanor,’ at Immaculate Heart College in 1964.

Corita Kent

Corita Kent, born Frances Elizabeth Kent and also known as Sister Mary Corita Kent, was an American Roman Catholic nun, artist, and educator.

From Harvard Magazine:

CORITA KENT was a Catholic nun who went straight from high school into a convent in 1936, and then, improbably, became a Pop artist in the 1960s. She taught art at Immaculate Heart College, which was run by her order, the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Los Angeles, often taking her students to local galleries and museums. “In 1962,” says art historian Susan Dackerman, “at the nearby Ferus Gallery, a then practically unknown artist named Andy Warhol showed his soup-can paintings for the first time, and Kent saw them.”

Warhol’s work, Kent said later, changed the way she saw everything. In 1964, she created a screenprint in response to Warhol’s soup cans titled, after a Del Monte Foods slogan, the juiciest tomato of all. This print, graphically powerful even from a distance, includes in a cursive hand too small to read from afar the provocative phrase, “Mary mother is the juiciest tomato of all.”

Below is a link to an NPR story on Kent from 2015. It’s good. It’s only 5 minutes. Please click and listen.

“She was directing people,” Carrera says. “And rather than just standing back and being like, ‘This is what’s going wrong, and I’m just showing you guys because I’m so cool and I’m not going to be part of it,’ she was really asking people to engage. And I think that that is a more popular message today than it was 20 or 30 years ago.”

Hear it on NPR
Fierce Women of Art | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios (8 minutes)

Fierce Women of Art – Pippi Longstocking

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Fierce Women of Art

In the same breath that I will say “please don’t ever refer to my gender before you refer to my work” I will share this list of lady artists, because … sometimes you have to be a big pill when society is sick.
Huff, sigh, shuffle, and growl. Go get ’em girls.

Pippi Longstocking

“All the children sat looking at Pippi, who lay flat on the floor, drawing to her heart’s content. ‘But, Pippi,’ said the teacher impatiently, ‘why in the world aren’t you drawing on your paper?’”

-Pippi Longstocking, created by Astrid Lindgren

Fierce Women of Art | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios (8 minutes)

New Work by Bill Hook

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William Hook’s New Urban Landscapes

Last winter, Bill Hook asked for some time off from teaching at the League so he could make more paintings. Looks like it was time well spent! This work appears to have gained a boldness. More texture, more dynamism. We have him teaching this weekend, this weekend only. Get in while the water’s wet!

Urban Landscapes; Powerful Watercolor: WORKSHOP (Summer)