june

LINO 11

For such a minimal print, this was actually a lot of work for me. I wanted to try something inspired by Kazemir Malevich cuz I really love the suprematism movement he founded. He mostly used paints and stuff so getting this as a lino print was tougher than I thought.

I don't like using rulers to draw out shapes so I wasn't expecting perfect squares but carving them out also proved to hard for me. Getting a consistent straight cut still isn't in my bag of tools yet, so I had to finesse these shapes the best I could with patience and an assortment of knives. I'm more or less ok with what came out.

Printing was a bit of bitch as well. First I laid down the grey background and as you can see, it's not completely smooth. It looks like texture but that's not really what I wanted. While I like the look of it, I'm still having difficulty laying down inks. Same goes for the squares, especially the red one. It might be the ink I'm using as it seems kind of thin and tough to get on the surface. I did my best with it. The black was better and by the 7th or 8th print I was getting a clean well inked shape.

So another one done. I have quite a few prints of this so I'll probably lay down another layer of red and black over the shittier ones and might experiment with adding more shapes kind of freestyle on a couple others. We'll see...

Overall, another satisfying exploration into printmaking. I learned a few things and got a few new ideas as well. As always, looking forward to the next one and the challenges it likely will provide.

FV

 

MONDAY MUSIC - MELT BANANA

Melt Banana have been around for 20+ years doing things their way. Some call it noise rock or noise punk...I say whatever, their music rocks. Out of Tokyo, Japan I probably learned about them about when this album, "Charlie" was released in 1998. When I heard them I was hooked. It takes a few listens to find the method in their madness but it's there.

They're kind of popular in Japan but much more so in the USA and Europe. I saw them 5 or 6 times when I was living in San Francisco (once with Mike Patton sitting in with them at Slim's). Their live shows are among the best I've experienced. Pure energy. In the states most venues I saw them play were kind of like 500 people places I guess. Whatever the Independent in SF holds, as that was the largest place I saw 'em. Big enough to get lost in a sea of people on the floor anyway. Always sold out, always crazy bad ass and I always left happy and satisfied.

Well, when I moved to Japan, my buddy called me up one day and said they were playing in Tokyo. Of course we went and were surprised at fuck we were in this tiny ass club (they call them "live houses"). Like 75 people max. It was incredible to see them in such a small joint.

I've seen them one other time in Tokyo and that was the same deal. Nicer place but still didn't hold a lot of people. They fucking rocked it that evening, and they weren't even the headliners. I was lucky to get to meet them after their gig and chat with them for a bit.

Anyway, I really admire this band because they've been on the road a lot, obviously love what they do, and go from big venues overseas to small places in Japan. No big ego's, just kick ass music and performances. They're the real deal in my book.

FV

 

Isabelle Mège

Joel Peter Witkin: Negre's Fetishist, Paris 1990

I was looking for some inspiration today and decided to revisit the work of Joel Peter Witkin. The Etherton Gallery has a solid collection of his photographs if you are not familiar with his work, which is not for anyone who doesn't have an open mind. Witkin uses cadavers, body parts, dwarves, transsexuals among other subjects to create stunning tapestries that explore themes of death, sex and deviance. The photographs are often highly directed to evoke classic paintings, religious themes and mythology. His style and vision are singular, though not without their detractors. I'm not one of them and consider him among the more important photographers the medium has seen.

Anyway, this isn't really about JPW. While I was searching images on Bing (yes, Bing not Google - Bing's image search is far superior imo), I clicked on the image above and noticed it was included in a New Yorker magazine piece. Curiosity got the best of me and I found myself stuck in a fascinating tale of a French woman, Isabelle Mège, the woman in the image above. I won't get into all the details here as you should read it yourself but, it's a wild story of a woman with a regular job and life who has been photographed by dozens of photographers who are big deals in the art world, including Witkin obviously. The twist is in how it all came to be, as she wasn't sought to be a model, but sought photographers she greatly admired to photograph her.

I highly recommend checking this out for not only the oddness of her story but it's an excellent profile in determination, trust and vision. Some of the tales from the photographers are worth the read alone. Ultimately though, you might find yourself wondering if Isabelle Mège is more of an artist herself rather than a quirky woman who wanted to model for people's work she highly admired.

FV

 

FRAN GERARD

Photographed by Mario Casilli and Gene Trindl

I love the retro Playboy Playmates. Of course they were attractive and curvy, as in this photo of Fran Gerard, Miss March from 1967. There's just the kind of everyday woman of it all too that's very alluring. No nips and tucks and those breasts are not a couple of bags of silicone in her chest. Just a natural quality that's even evident in the lighting. No big slick production but it's a fabulous shot nonetheless.

Interestingly, I found this photo on Tumblr and did a quick Google search to find the photographers name, which it turns out was the two guys credited above. I've heard of Casilli but not the other guy and don't know why they're both credited. Maybe they both did some shooting or something. Who knows and that's not the interesting part anyway.

I came across this odd tidbit about Fran Gerard during that search. Apparently she was the first Playmate to ever wear glasses, which I'll admit looks very sexy on her. I got this info from The Eyewear Blog (which I think is more about glasses than naked women) and as you can read in a little more detail here, she was a Playmate at age 18, married some dude who was 37, divorced 7 months later, remarried and died at age 37 in 1985. Although she was an aspiring actress and model, after her Playboy appearance she dropped out of sight. No appearances or public life at all which is odd as women have used Playboy as a springboard for all types of careers throughout it's history.

That's it really. Just a quirky story of a once lovely young lady who I knew nothing about and now is a kind of romantically tragic mystery woman. Life is like that; quick, random and mysterious.

FV

 

MUSIC MONDAY - KOOL KEITH

Wheeeew! Kool Keith goes way back to the beginnings of hip hop. He's one of a kind with lyrics that flow quick and clever. Better than 99% of the cats on the current scene KK has recorded a buttload of material since the late 80's. Whether under the guise of Dr. Doom, Dr. Octagon or collaborating with others, his abstract, off beat style is legend. I think this is the only major label release he made, everything else is independent, just like Kool Keith.

 

SHI

Today was good day. I went to Koganecho an area in Yokohama that runs an art program. An artist friend of mine, SHI, is exhibiting her latest work there now in a show called 『日常の中の夢の日常〜Sweet Delusion〜』 until June 10th.

Great stuff. In this series it's all nuns, who as you know, are committed to a life free of sex, drugs and rock n roll. You know, all the fun stuff they maybe wish they could do. She's kind of using their chastity as a metaphor for a lot of what people feel these days. There's plenty of restrictions put on us by society, whether economic, sexual or any number of things that prevent us from fulfilling our desires. 

SHI has a playful yet subversive style in her work that I like a lot. There's a deeper layer than the surface which is often included or titled with words that have double entendres. She's smart and fun to talk with as well. If you happen to be reading this and are in the Tokyo / Yokohama area, I'd recommend swinging by and checking her out.

Follow SHI on Instagram here.

Photos by me, Fred Vee.

FV

 

LINO 10

My latest print. Took about 4 days to make as I used 4 colors and the reductive method on my plate. As always, I'm pretty happy with the results just because it pretty much worked the way I envisioned it.

My wife's advice about adding about 10% white ink to the colors after the first layer worked out  decently. A lot better than my last attempt, as my reds stayed fairly red and not bright orange and my blues sort of held though do look a bit purple. But again, trying the technique with a more proper approach for the first time, I'm not complaining.

So, the things that are still a problem in my eyes are:

  • I need to experiment more with adding the white to my colors
  • As you can see, my registration from top to bottom was pretty much spot on but I fucked up not making a corner for left to right with the paper so the colors bled. I have a fix I'm sure will work for next time though
  • As far as my carving goes, I feel like I need to slow down and think things out a little better (note the giant yellow line that cuts of the texture in the dude's face)

Those are the big things I see. Otherwise I'm happy with the outcome. It was a cool learning experience. Gonna just keep on doing my thing and enjoy the ride.

FV