Saturday, April 27, 2013

2013 comic arts fest in the 'burgh & more!

How cool is this? The Toonseum of Pittsburgh, PA will be hosting the first Comic Arts Festival downtown! In addition to a whole bunch of good things going on that day, a longtime favorite and a living legend in the comic art world, Patrick McDonnell (Mutts) will be there!! Kris and I have been to the Toonseum when it first opened several years ago, and it's a wonderful little space that packs a giant cartoon punch. It's been a while since I've dropped by, and if this is not a reason to go again, I don't know what is. Currently, a few great exhibits are going on there, including an art of Akira show, which ends in a few days unfortunately. Anyhow, here are some more details below, according to the blog

Downtown Pittsburgh Comic Arts Festival hopes to Draw a Crowd!

Pittsburgh, PA-Hundreds of cartoonists are descending on downtown Pittsburgh as the city plays host to the National Cartoonists Society Conference. It is the first time the prestigious organization has been to Pittsburgh in its almost 70 year history.
In conjunction with the conference, The ToonSeum will be hosting the very first Pittsburgh Comic Arts Festival on May 26th from noon to 5pm.

The festival will feature autograph and sketch sessions with over 60 of the nations top comic artist and cartoonists including such luminaries as: Partrick McDonnell of Mutts, Lynn Johnston of For Better or Worse, Tom Richmond of MAD Magazine, Brian Walker of Beetle Bailey, Dan Piraro of Bizarro and many more.

The 900 Block of Liberty Avenue downtown will become a veritable living funny pages block party with visits from Betty Boop, Popeye, Olive Oyl, Dennis the Menace, and the Care Bears. Fun vendors, art activities, chalk artists and caricaturists and will round out the festivities and help to literally draw a crowd!
Several ticketed panel discussions and lectures will be taking place at Bricolage Theater featuring an exciting panel of women cartoonists presented by Carlow University. The Panel will include Cathy Guisewite, Lynn Johnston, Terri Liebenson, and Hillary Price.

 The ToonSeum will host the first ever exhibition of Reuben Award winners featuring a who’s who of comics and cartooning spanning over 60 years and rarely seen original art.

At the August Wilson Center there will be original art from the classic animated series Fat Albert on display in their gallery.

Admission to the street festival is free.  Five dollar admission gets access to exhibitions at the ToonSeum and artists signing booths.

Books and prints for signings will be available for purchase with all proceeds benefiting the NCS/ToonSeum Fund for Youth Programs.

Panel discussions seating is limited and ticket price is $20.

On Thursday night, there will be Special VIP tickets available including a sneak peek of the exhibit, reserved seating to all panels, and private meet and greet with artists which are available for $150.00

Information on the festival is available at
The festival is a partnership between the National Cartoonists Society, the ToonSeum, The August Wilson Center and Bricolage theater with support from the R K Mellon Foundation and Geek Pittsburgh.

Speaking of cartoons, I received my physical copy of the Magic Bullet 6 "thank you" card in the mail today (see above) from Carolyn Belefski, and it looks pretty spiffy in person.  What a great way to honor the businesses who helped to make this publication happen!

Today was a gorgeous day, and Kris and I spent the majority of it outside. We paid a visit to downtown Leesburg and stopped into my friend Allen's shop, "Books and Other Found Things".  Just as we walked in, a wonderful family who was moving back to their home country of Singapore was buying one of my "Get Lost in a Book" prints, which is naturally the best seller of all my Splotch Monster prints at the shop. It was nice to meet these folks and thank them in person before their long journey back home, and it made me happy to see some of my art branching out to another part of the world. Of course, the wife and I couldn't have left without making a few purchases of our own, one of which was a print of a newer piece by local Virginia artist Bob Friedenberg, called "Joei's Garden", based on the beautiful pond in Bob's backyard.  We love Books and Other Found Things, and we love Bob's artwork, more of which you can find at the shop in both original and signed print form. In the meantime, a gem of a song (and video) from Nite Jewel.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

april art megapost

Here's a big post for the month of April. Finally it's feeling like spring this way and there are a lot of good things happening on the art front to blog about.  So let's get this party started, shall we?  First off, I've been excited to share this on the blogs for a little while now, and now I finally can. A few months back JJ Cromer, who collaborated on the Splotch/Asterisk series of drawings with me last year, contacted me to tell me the good news with regards to Tokyo, Japan-based fashion company Comme des Garcons. It turns out they chose one of our collaborative pieces from the S/A series to feature in their April, 2013 promotional mailer. What a pleasant, unexpected surprise for the both of us! Each and every year they choose artists to represent a theme, and this year they chose anime/manga classic Akira, merging a handful of artists' work with the original manga art by Katsuhiro Otomo.  Art heroes like Ai Weiwei have worked with Comme des Garcons in recent past, making me even more glad to see our work included as the centerfold of the current mailer.  I borrowed the idea for the presentation of this part of the post from a blog post by JJ, HERE.

Below is another collaborative project I was asked to participate in by D.C. comic art star and graphic designer Carolyn Belefski. Carolyn contaced a handful of local cartoon and comic book artists, mainly from the DC Conspiracy collective to create a "thank you" card for businesses who sponsored the recently released Magic Bullet 6 paper, curated by Carolyn, who also illustrated the latest cover. Contributing artists received a randomly chosen letter to work on and include in the card, mine being a two-headed Splotch Monster K. I'm looking forward to receiving the actual card itself soon, in the mail, as well as picking up an issue of M.B. 6, which I unfortunately didn't have the time to be involved in this time around. The card turned out beautifully however, and I'm proud to have my letter included up there with the work of some of the finest cartoonists in the area. Below is a look at the layout, compiled and designed by Carolyn.

Speaking of Splotch Monsters and letters, I was happy to make a piece for our friends Beth and Randy, who recently brought a little man named Brandon into the world. It was so much fun working on this piece and a pleasure making it for these guys. Kris and I finally got to meet little Brandon in person, and as the photo shows, he couldn't be more adorable. Kris affectionately, officially calls him "cheeks" now (which she does with most babies), and hopefully he likes his new Splotch Monster friends hanging on his bedroom wall. Big congrats Randy and Beth!

Last weekend, Kris and I had an art date in Washington, DC, which we're hoping to turn into a monthly event from now on. There's so much to see and do, and most of it is for free! First off, below are some photos from the latest exhibit opening at Off-Rhode Studio called "One Man's Trash". All I can say is my mind has been officially blown by the work in this show, featuring two very different yet very similar artists.  The first six photos below show some of the work by local artist Chuck Baxter, who has been collecting trash and turning it into some incredibly imaginative and witty works of art for nearly two decades now. I got to talk to Chuck (see third pic down from here) very briefly, and he's one of the nicest (and tallest) guys around.

Also at the Off-Rhode show was the work of Mr. Rey "Quinnessential" Quinn, who creates portrait art from the styrofoam cups he uses. I was told at the show that he basically washes the cups that he drinks from, from a local business, then simply draws on them. The results, as you can see are stunning. I had trouble picking favorites, so I included some of them here, however you can see many more from the show at my Flickr site. With the exception of opening reception events and artists and collector talks, Off-Rhode Studio/Art Enables is closed on weekends, so try to get on down there before 5PM to see it all in person.  Kris and I had a fantastic time at this show, and Art Enables is a prime example of how art can bring so many seemingly different kinds of folks together. 

Next stop, The Phillips Collection.  Actually, The Phillips was the first place Kris and I visited last Saturday, as doors opened at 10AM and we managed to find meter parking right in front of the main entrance. Yes, they do charge on weekends and thankfully the meters take credit cards now. The Phillips Collection also costs money to view but it's inexpensive and well worth every last penny.  I can't even begin to say why, so you just have to go, period.  This was only my second visit, sadly, and Kris' first, and I know she was in awe as much as I was Saturday. My main reason to come by this time around was to see the current show featuring the collection of work linking Jackson Pollock, Alfonso Ossorio, and Jean Dubuffet, called Angels, Demons and Savages.  Surprisingly, for me, the highlight of this exhibit were the small drawings by Ossorio, made when he fell ill and stayed in the hospital while in his seventies. I found them to be more immediate and just as powerful as the gigantic painted canvases in the show. I'm a sucker for smaller works on paper perhaps, and unfortunately, none of these drawings by Ossorio were in the exhibit book. I believe this Saturday, April 20 is the final day for the show, so don't miss it!

Finally, my friend and colleague Brian Kirk has a show at the beautiful Studio Gallery, which will also end this Saturday as well.  In addition to being an excellent teacher, Brian is an amazing sculptor, and more recently he's been exploring nature's effect on the process of art-making. In his own words: "I have always been intrigued with the forces of nature. I consider myself a naturalist and a curious spectator of natural phenomena. The natural actions of wind, water, fire on the ever-changing earth hold a fascination for me. I enjoy the cyclical forces; the ebb and flow of the tides, the changing stages of the moon, the emblazoned autumn leaves. My intention is for you to participate, as a naturalist, and examine the prints and sculpture for visual imagery, witness subtle variations in the rich palette of ochre's, oranges and browns and share in the wonderment of the natural phenomena - rusting steel."

That is all for now. If you're in the Washington, DC area, don't hesitate to get there early by or before this coming Saturday (or anytime really) to check out the art. Plus, springtime is always beautiful in the area. Looking forward to another post in May! Peace. 

UPDATE: for fans of The Ocean Blue, Hershey, PA's finest are back, with new album and on tour now! Got my tix for the Jammin' Java show in Vienna, VA on May 9th. Be there!