Gallery Show: 魔女＆ドクロス展 [Witches & Skulls Exhibition] @ Arts Rush, Daikanyama
Featured Art and events
In moving from Tokyo – the center of population, politics, business, and culture in Japan – I had resigned myself to living with a dearth of musical performances, galleries, museum exhibitions, and global food. Imagine how happy I have been, these past few years, to be completely and utterly wrong. I revel in my misconceptions at every possible opportunity. Opportunities have been plentiful.
The exhibition collects artwork of every possible genre; sculpture, painting, animation, video, multi/mixed-media, video games, collage, and more. What could have been a hodgepodge of disparate and incompatible ideas instead feels tied together by a strong social conscience as this group of mostly young Asian artists examine the present and look ahead to a myriad possible futures. Employed throughout is – and this may be my favorite element – a seriously quirky sense of humor.
Here are a bunch of links to info about the show and its artists:
- The Fukuoka Asian Art Museum
- The 5th Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale 2014 website
- a Press release with info on all the artists – PDF
There was a time when nearly every piece of art I made had a skull hidden (or blatantly smashed) in it. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for symbols and iconography, and the human skull is an especially powerful one: mortality, danger, and heavy metal all wrapped up in one bony dome.
It’s always nice to be asked back to a venue. I’m happy to announce that a small selection of my artwork (alongside some prints, postcards, etc.) will be at Arts Rush Gallery once again, beginning Wednesday, November 11th, through the first of December. Eight artists will be sharing their work with the denizens of Tokyo, inspired by skulls, witches, and crosses. For all art lovers, beautiful chaos will be on display for 2 weeks.
魔女＆ドクロス展 [Witches & Skulls Exhibition]
dates: Wed. November 12 – Mon. December 1, 2014
times: 11:30am – 8:00pm [doors shut 5:00pm on Mondays, closed Tuesdays]
It turns out, despite my being a denier for years, that time is, in fact, real.
The planet does indeed spin wackily on its axis while hurling itself in an elliptical orbit around a gargantuan nuclear inferno. The future materializes as the present which, in turn turn turn, ekes away into the past. We all walk in the fourth dimension.
This is good news for the 2015 Cut Paper Art Calendar. Not only is it chock-full of paper art, but it helps people keep track of what day it is. Bonus!
Since returning from my trip to the US, wherein I visited family (Hi, Mom!), my nose has been pressed hard against the proverbial grindstone, finessing into existence the rewards from the Kickstarter campaign…
…By the way, the 2015 Cut Paper Art Calendar Kickstarter Campaign was a Success! Thanks to all of the good, art-loving folks all around the world, 2015 will be a year full of cut-paper calendars, lasercuts, t-shirts, etc.
The calendar is available now for Pre-Order in the shop. We hope to begin shipping as soon as possible. T-shirts & LaserCuts will become available in due time as well.
The 2015 Cut Paper Art Calendar Campaign on Kickstarter
Running from Now until October 3, 2014
The 2015 Cut Paper Art Calendar: Your annual recommended supply of paper, art, and imagination. Now with sheep!
That exciting time of year is upon us once again, when the Cut Paper Art Calendar Campaign roars alive on Kickstarter.
Last year was a huge year for us, none of which would have been possible without the support of art fans around the world.
We’re asking for your support once again, and have been hard at work conjuring up awesome reward bundles and seriously stupendous stretch goals. Postcards, Giclée Prints, Lasercuts, original artwork, and possibly much more are being offered to our wonderful backers.
I’m a little proud of our goofy video too, for which I learned some simple animation. You will believe a doll can speak!
How It Works
The basic goal is $2200 USD (Reached!). That amount will cover the cost of printing 100 calendars, shipping materials and postage. I’d love to print more, but that will depend on how many calendars get snapped up. The deadline is October 3, 2014. The Kickstarter system is pretty straightforward:
You CHECK out the Project and decide that you adore it.
You PLEDGE money – however much you choose.
You pick a REWARD.
Then you WAIT.
The project has already reached it’s GOAL, so your credit card or Paypal account will be charged the amount you pledged after the campaign ends.
I’ll CONTACT you for your contact info., your choice of rewards (where applicable), etc.
Then I’ll SHIP out the reward(s) you chose.
Should we be lucky enough to surpass our goal, it will allow us to refill our supplies of rewards, knock out a bigger print run of calendars, PLUS we’ve got some very cool ideas to make this project even more fun!
Reached!, reprinting Postcard Pack 4
Reached!!, Stickers Thank-you gift. As backers increase, the stickers shall get bigger and more numerous (I’d like to offer 3)
Reached!!! the Year of the Sheep (er…it’s a Ram) limited edition Laser Cut Print. see Rewards below
At $8,000 – T-Shirt! We’ve spent the last 2 months talking to t-shirt printers all around Fukuoka. We’ve found one we like, and we really really want to put a ram on a tee. Our plan is to do a print run of 100; of course, if we get a lot of orders we’ll increase that number. We’re looking at printing a full-color direct-to-garment design. The color of the tee will depend on which looks best. More info as we get close to the goal.
It’s a terrible cliche to say that it’s not the destination, but rather the journey that expands our horizons. However, I don’t know a cliche that explains what happens when one plans to enjoy a long journey gets shaken up enough to change one’s destination.
Train tickets in hand, we set out obscenely early on a Friday morning with a scheme to slowly make our way up the western coast of Japan, through Yamaguchi prefecture to Izumo and Matsue cities in Shimane prefecture to take in the Izumo-taisha temple and a road filled with statues based on Shigeru Mizuki’s Gegege no Kitarō in Sakaiminato.
Hokusai musician at the Kitakyushu Museum of Art, Riverside Gallery
The universe, or at least the weeping clouds, had other plans. Only about one hour north of Fukuoka, in the city of Karatsu, the horrid weather conspired to strand us. All the local trains that we had planned to ride for the next 10 hours while enjoying the scenery were flooded out, bogged down, or simply refused to go forward.
Lucky indeed were we, that we had heard of the Hokusai exhibition at the the Kitakyushu Museum of Art, Riverside Gallery.
Curated by the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, many of these pieces have not been in Japan since their creation. It was a truly spectacular show, including all of Hokusai’s Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji (I think… I lost count), his waterfall series, flowers, a smattering of yokai, and other works spanning his lengthy career.
My Booty: the Exhibition Catalog, Ticket, and Mini-poster
While the exhibition is no longer in Kitakyushu, it opens on 9/13 in Tokyo. I couldn’t recommend this exhibition more strongly. Hokusai is a huge influence on my style and my appreciation of Japanese art, and seeing his work in person for the first time was exhilarating.
The Japanese / English dictionary I use defines 妖し [Ayashi] precisely in the following way:
attractive, bewitching, calamity
I cannot think of a better description for art, and the process of making art. Both the act and the result seem to be charming chaos (verb/noun) to create charming chaos (adjective/noun). Attempts to impose order, logic, or structure are all so much fairy dust and illusion.
It is fortuitous then, that such artwork is perfect for Arts Rush’s 妖し展 [Ayashi Exhibition], opening this Wednesday the 13th of August. I’m thrilled to have been invited back for my second group show at Arts Rush (Neiro was the first). 8 artists in total will be showing a wide variety of strange, ominous, and beguiling artwork in a variety of mediums and techniques. I’m confident that the exhibition will be mysteriously amazing (or amazingly mysterious!).
Suspiciously, I shall not be in attendance this time. I hope that you will be, though, to witness the weirdness and beauty for your self.
妖し展 [Ayashi Exhibition]
dates: Wed. August 13 – Mon. August 25, 2014
times: 11:30am – 8:00pm [doors shut 5:00pm on Mondays, closed Tuesdays]
size: 13.8 x 7.3 inches / 350 x 185mm
medium: cut and torn washi and chiyogami paper on Kurume Kasuri Textile
click the image or here to Turn up the volume
It doesn’t happen very often, but some days the ideas come almost too easily. The Coming Together of the Pulse & the Tremor, for instance, is a collaboration between my cut paper artwork and the gorgeous traditional indigo and patterns of Tsuru-san’s Kurume Kasuri textile.
Mere moments after I’d been invited to work together on the exhibition and incorporate the fabric into my work (a first!), I knew what the theme of the artwork would be: Collaboration!
It’s like walking through a low doorway and banging your head on revelation.
After all, the ways in which people and concepts relate to each other, positively, negatively or ambiguously, has often been a theme of interest to me. Internally or externally, strengths may build upon strengths in a harmony of action and thought. Discord detracts from the whole, pitching into chaos. All in much the same way that the correct colors and layers of paper can, with skill and luck and intent, come together to create an image; then inside that image, a flood of emotions and ideas.
At the same time that I was tossing around ideas for this piece, I was also working on some art for the Neiro (Tone) exhibition at Arts Rush Gallery in Tokyo. The ideas of tone and collaboration bounced off each other and swirled together into a semi-musical concoction based on images of sound waves and heart beats.
Detail: acoustic telepathy
size: 8.5 x 23.8 inches (approx.) / 215 x 605 mm (depth 20 mm)
medium: cut paper, washi and chiyogami on stained wood
While I cannot claim to be mother (or father) of dragons, your confusion would be forgiven based on how many have slithered through PaperCuts recently; whether forming from the foam of a waterfall or relaxing at O-hanami.
Truth be told, I was more than a little nervous to start drawing these reptilian beasts. It’s not that I don’t like the wyrms, mind you. I do. They’re charming. It’s more that I really, really, very much didn’t want to make a bad dragon. And it is so very easy to draw a bad dragon. In junior high school, I scribbled out dozens of terrible drakes blasting fire at adventurers, burning villages, or rending hapless knights to bits with claw and teeth. There are many brilliant dragons in art both old and new, but like their equally fantastic cousins the unicorn, it’s more than a little bit of a challenge to make these beasts one’s own. How does an artist imbue such a long-standing symbol with personal meaning?
It helps that the Cats & Dragons Exhibition, for which this piece was originally conceived, had such a unique theme. It takes a pretty fervent imagination to juxtapose kittens and reptiles so massive they would make a t-rex soil it’s undies.
Over the course of a few months, I went through a dozen different concepts of varying levels of awfulness before alighting on an idea, or rather a query, that made my brain grin. Where does reality begin and fantasy end?
Which is more real: the solid, physical and mundane, or imagination, spirit, and raw emotion?
The cats at the bottom of the piece are connected to the dragon, cobbled together from tenuous strands. Are they the earthly avatars of the great beast? Or is this colorful drake nothing more than the playful fighting spirit of a litter of kittens. Also yes, the visual pun about cats and string is entirely intentional.
Visually, it is always fun to play around with solidity and intangibility. The dragon has weight and density to it. The cats are monochromatic, slightly immaterial; they are inconspicuous relative to the colorful bulk overhead.
The color of the wood is inspired by traditional Japanese 屏風 (Byōbu) screens, which were often painted on top of gold leaf.
As an added bit of whimsical symbolism, the eyes of the frolicking felines are reflected in the sharply ovoid shape of the dragon’s scales.
detail: teeth and claws
detail: kitten rumble
size: 6.2 x 9 inches (approx.) / 158 × 227 mm
medium: cut and torn washi and chiyogami paper on wood panel
private collection / commission
Delicacy and power are not two words which are often associated with each other. The blossoms of the cherry tree [桜の木 / sakura no ki] for example, bring to mind fragility and impermanence. Dragons, on the other hand, are all fire and claws, shimmering scales rippling over sinewy muscle, terrible in their magnificence.
Still, there is a subtle and quiet power to the blossom which, having come untethered from its branch, glides slowly on the wind, inevitably and inexorably to the dirt below. It is nature’s gentlest way of showing us that all beauty must whither, all life must end, all things shall eventually fade.
The dragon’s roar may be muffled by the whisper of a blossom touching earth.
detail: teeth, scales, and hair
Sakura Blossom Season is the second of two commissions arising from last year’s Kickstarter Calendar campaign. It’s always a pleasure to work on commissions and to be prodded to go to places in one’s art which one might not travel to if left to one’s own devices. It’s a mind and world expanding experience, and it helps to keep the work fresh.
Below, you can see how awfully loose and incomprehensible my sketches can be.
I should take this chance to remind everyone that there are still calendars available, and since it’s June (and the ¥en has dropped nicely compared to the dollar, I’ve shaved a bit off of the price: