NeoIntegrity: Comics Edition @ MoCCA

Plug, Publicity

What would you say if I told you that you had the chance to see original artwork by the likes of Peter Arno, Robert Crumb, Jack Kirby, Moebius, Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware, Lauren Weinstein, Gahan Wilson, and Basil Wolverton — all in one place, at one time? And what if I mentioned that the same show featured artwork by Alex Ross, Alison Bechdel, Ben Katchor, Carol Tyler, Charles Burns, Charles Addams, Charles M. Schulz, Craig Thompson, Daniel Clowes, Dave Cooper, Geof Darrow, Gilbert Hernandez, Harvey Kurtzman, Henry Darger, Howard Cruse, Hugo Pratt, Ivan Brunetti, Jaime Hernandez, James Sturm, Jason Little, Jeff Smith, Jim Woodring, Joe Matt, Jules Feiffer, Julie Doucet, KAZ, Keith Knight, Leela Corman, Maurice Sendak, Nick Bertozzi, Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss), Tim Burton, Tom Hart, Tomer + Asaf Hanuka, Tony Millionaire, Peter Bagge, Peter Kuper, R. Sikoryak, Ralph Bakshi, Raymond Pettibone, Rick Parker, Seth, Shel Silverstein, Walt Kelly, Will Eisner, and Winsor McCay? You’d be like, “Get out of town! Nobody could mount such an incredible show!” Well, you’ll be shocked to learn that the show exists! And it’s on exhibit right now! So get down to the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) right now, until May 30, to check it out. (And I hope you won’t be deterred by the fact that the show also features some pieces by some hack named Josh Neufeld…)

By the way, that’s just a small sampling of the more than 200 artists taking part in Neointegrity: Comics Edition, curated by artist Keith Mayerson. Produced like a 19th Century salon, the show stuffs more than 500 framed pieces of art into MoCCA’s intimate gallery space. Here’s some material from the press release: “Originally conceived as a utopic attempt to begin an art movement, the first installment of the NeoIntegrity show was held in the summer of 2007 at Derek Eller Gallery in New York City. That show incorporated over 180 fine artists, with some cartoonists and illustrators mixed in to breach questions of high and low, rarified and pluralistic. NeoIntegrity: Comics Edition takes the proposal a step further, showing the relatability of creators harnessing the iconographic vehicle to express themselves and to tell stories for a culture to understand itself in order for it to become a better place.”

Sadly, having just returned from overseas, I missed the opening last Friday, but here are a couple of shots stolen from the SVA Continuing Education blog, which gives a sense of the show. I can’t wait to visit the space in person and soak in all that incredible graphic expression.

NeoIntegrity: Comics Edition
NeoIntegrity: Comics Edition

Next Tuesday: First Person Arts in the City of Brotherly Love

A.D.

Next Tuesday, March 9, I will be appearing at the Philadelphia First Person Arts’ event, Warning: Graphic Content.

This year’s One Book, One Philadelphia program is centered around Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, and W:GC features artists Daniel Heyman, Jamar Nicholas, and yours truly presenting our work, followed by a screening of the Persepolis film. (Isn’t it freakin’ cool that the whole city of Philly is reading and discussing a graphic novel?! And one as awesome as Persepolis, no less?!)

Prisoner abuse connected to the Iraq War has influenced the recent work of Philadelphia artist Daniel Heyman, who incorporates the words prisoners speak to him as he draws them. Philadelphia-based comics artist Jamar Nicholas is working on a new, graphic version of Geoffrey Canada’s powerful memoir Fist Stick Knife Gun. And I’ll be discussing A.D.

Marjane Satrapi’s two graphic memoirs were combined to make the film version of Persepolis. The film chronicles Satrapi’s childhood in the shadow of the Iranian Revolution, following her into young adulthood as she navigates the starkly different worlds of Western Europe and an increasingly conservative Iran.

Details:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at 7pm
Bryn Mawr Film Institute, 824 West Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA
Tickets $15 ($10 for First Person Arts and BMFI members)

 
Some coverage of the event:

"How Many Billboards?"

Illustration

My mother, Martha Rosler, was invited by L.A.’s MAK Center to create a billboard as part of their “How Many Billboards” project. My mom suggested that we do a collaboration, and our billboard is up! It’s on Sunset Blvd, just west of Cahuenga, on the north side of the street, facing east. Here’s a shot. I’m off to L.A. tomorrow (weather willing) to take part in the opening festivities, etc…

"How Many Projects?"

Sari's Significant Object

Uncategorized

I love that Rob Walker. Not only is he the brilliant author of the New York Times Magazine‘s "Consumed" column and the former "Moneybox" columnist for Slate. Not only did he write the critically acclaimed Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are (Random House, 2008). Not only did he pen the wonderful collection of essays about the Big Easy called Letters from New Orleans. Not only did he create the zine Where Were You, his personal reminiscences about celebrity deaths. Not only was he my collaborator on Titans of Finance. But now he — and partner Joshua Glenn (does he only work with guys named "Josh"?) have come up with a new scheme, one which combines Rob’s interests in art, social practices, and money — The Significant Object project. And my wonderful wife Sari is a participant.

Here’s how it works (from the S.O. website):

THE IDEA: A talented, creative writer invents a story about an object. Invested with new significance by this fiction, the object should — according to our hypothesis — acquire not merely subjective but objective value.

DETAILS:

  1. The project’s curators purchase objects — for no more than a few dollars — from thrift stores and garage sales.
  2. A participating writer is paired with an object. He or she then writes a fictional story, in any style or voice, about the object. Voila! An unremarkable, castoff thingamajig has suddenly become a “significant” object!
  3. Each significant object is listed for sale. Care is taken to avoid the impression that the story is a true one; the intent of the project is not to hoax eBay customers.
  4. The winning bidder is mailed the significant object, along with a printout of the object’s fictional story. Net proceeds from the sale are given to the respective author.
Don’t you love it? I do; I’ve always thought Rob has an amazing talent for using irony to address serious and important issues, and this is a perfect example. Anyway, the S.O. project has already employed the talents of such writers as Nicholson Baker, Kurt Anderson, Colson Whitehead, Luc Sante, Doug Dorst, Ann Nocenti, and now… Sari Wilson. Check out her contribution, all about a sweeeeet penguin creamer, right here. And start bidding — the auction ends September 10!!!

Masstransiscope

Uncategorized

One of my weekly rituals is my Tuesday night basketball game in Manhattan. I live in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, so to get to the game in the Lower East Side, I switch at Atlantic Avenue to either the B or the Q. The B takes me to Grand Street, where I walk to the game; or the Q takes me to Canal, where I switch to the M to Essex. But that’s neither here nor there. (Sorry, bad pun.)

Usually, during the B/Q leg, my head’s buried in a book or my iPod, but the other day, in the section of tunnel right before the train emerged from the Dekalb station into the open air of the Manhattan Bridge, I was idly glancing out the window… and I saw the coolest thing! Flickering by against a background of bright white was what I took to be a complex graffiti mural, something like you used to see in abandoned stations but rarely see in the subways any more. But as I watched the images unfold I realized this was much more than a long string of graffiti. The images moved, morphed, danced, and, at the end, took off in a rocketship! Here’s what it looked like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IwVD5efXz0
(Don’t you love the running commentary?) I did a little Googling and quickly discovered this is a newly restored piece of urban art by Bill Brand called "Masstransiscope". It’s actually a zoetrope — individual paintings (in this case, 228 of them) separated by slits and "animated" by the moving train. Really ingenious — and a technique only over 100 years old, ya big dunce! (It also turns out the art was painted in an abandoned station, "Myrtle Avenue," no longer serviced by the MTA…)

So next time you’re on the Manhattan-bound B or Q, leaving the Dekalb station, keep looking out the right side of the train: you’re in a free Big Apple cartoon treat.

I swiped Caravaggio!

A.D.

While at my opening the other day, cartoonist pal Joe Infurnari asked me about one image in particular, a panel from A.D. chapter 13, where the character Denise and her family witness the death of Miss Williams, a fellow refugee at the New Orleans convention center.

Joe said the image strongly reminded him of a painting by the Italian Baroque painter Caravaggio, and asked if my panel was an homage to it. I had no idea what he was talking about. I was an art history major in college, and I have always loved Caravaggio’s work, but I didn’t purposefully do any such thing when I was drawing A.D.

Later, however, Joe sent me a jpeg of the Caravaggio painting in question. Check it out (it’s called The Entombment of Christ, from 1602–03):

Caravaggio's "Entombment of Christ"

And here’s the panel in question from A.D.:

A.D.

Hmmm. Looks like my sub-conscious was hard at work when I drew that image. I just hope Caravaggio’s heirs aren’t in a litigious frame of mind…

Portrait by Seth Kushner

Publicity

Brooklynites author and freelance photographer Seth Kushner shot my portrait today, for his new project on New York City cartoonists. (man_size , purvision, dangoldman , zegas, bertozzi , and heartshapedkey are some of the previous subjects of Kushner’s lens.) Kudos to purvision for suggesting Seth shoot me in the context of a stoop sale (which—in honor of A.D.—I gave a strong New Orleans flavor). I don’t normally photograph well, but I love the way this image came out. I really dig Seth’s dramatic lighting and desaturated colors; believe it or not, this image was shot on a lovely sunny spring day. Anyway, click on the photo if you’d like to see a larger version. And thanks again, Seth!

tonight: "floodwall," followed by ACT-I-VATE party

Uncategorized

The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council is hosting a really cool exhibit by New Orleans artist Jana Napoli:

“Moved to action by the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, Napoli collected hundreds of drawers from the flooded and abandoned neighborhoods in the days and months that followed.

“In this site-specific installation, the drawers sit upright along a 230-foot-long platform, which spans the length of Liberty Street Bridge — standing like empty luggage without their passengers and flowing like a levee, broken in places. Beneath the drawers, placed in intervals along the platform, moving-message LED signs silently repeat the words of the people who have parted with these drawers. Their words reminisce and mourn:

“‘I thought New Orleans would be a good place to go for rain and history, and it was.’ . . . ‘Having to throw your furniture out in front of your house — your life is sort of taken from you and sort of dumped out in your front yard.’ . . . ‘New Orleans was here before America was here and we are a part of America.'”

The show will be up ’til Feb. 9. There’s a free reception and walk-through (with the artist) tonight, from 6:30-8:30 p.m (again, at the Liberty Street Bridge of the World Financial Center). I’ll be there, and then hit up the ACT-I-VATE party at the Village Pourhouse.

Presidential Doodlers

Uncategorized

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6118892

Reagan supposedly considered a career as a cartoonist before turning to politics. His drawings are as puffy & trite as his public persona, proving that he chose the right profession.

Make sure you check out the gallery: Ulysses S. Grant can really draw a horse. Herbert Hoover’s geometric scribblings are fascinating. LBJ’s three-headed monster is disturbing.

J. Williamson

Plug

I’ve always been a huge fan of the “naive” French painter, Henri Rousseau. His large canvas, “The Sleeping Gypsy” (1897), has been one of my favorite paintings since I first saw it at MoMA in high school. I love the story of Rousseau, that he was self-taught, followed his own painting method, and painted subjects (jungles, wild animals) entirely from his imagination. I’m a romantic, so the idea of that “purity,” that lack of concern with craft, excites me; it’s so different from my own artistic background and practice.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingAnyway, the other day I “discovered” my own Henri Rousseau. His name is J. Williamson, and I found him last Friday afternoon selling his work on the corner of 23rd Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan.

As I came up to Williamson’s sidewalk table, it was covered in tiny oil-painted canvases, 50 or more in total. Each painting was mashed in next to the other. The subjects ranged the gamut, but one that caught my eye right away was a rendition of that infamous Ivan Brunetti picture of Ivan stabbing himself in his eye. I soon saw other themes: classic superheroes like Superman, Batman & Robin, and Captain America; awkward sex scenes; Mr. Met (!); and a number of George Bushes. (One of them showed Bush naked… as a woman. Disturbing.) I was instantly charmed by the artist’s lively, childlike touch — and the fact that he had clearly never gone to art school. I also loved the fact that the paintings were so small, most of them less than 4″ wide. Best thing of all was how affordable his pieces were, mostly in the $10-$20 range.

Pointing out the Brunetti piece, I mentioned I was a cartoonist too and struck up a conversation with Williamson. He is a big guy, missing a tooth or two, and has a strong New York accent. He’s soft-spoken, with an unkempt, street-person aspect (all feeding into the “naive” artist image). He said he’d been selling on that corner for two-three years (‘tho i’ve been there many times and had never seen him). I asked him about his process and he said he could dash off an incredible 3-4 paintings an hour. I told him about the upcoming MoCCA festival, and recommended he get a table, or at least set up outside the Puck Building, assuring him that he’d sell his whole inventory in a couple of hours. But he seemed nervous — whether from the prospect of leaving his familiar spot, or just not understanding me regarding MoCCA, I couldn’t be sure. I didn’t push him on it.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI ended up spending way more money than I planned on three pieces, two of which I show here. I got Sari the painting of the girl and the horse sharing a milkshake. What can be said about it that does it justice? It’s just too brilliant! The Warhol piece also called out to me, painted as it is on what seems to be a mini-whiskey bottle. (I know — it should’ve been on a tomato can! As Williamson told me, he was just beginning to experiment with painting on surfaces like bottles and metal containers.) The third piece — a close-up of a Hulk-like monster’s eyes — I got as a little gift for my buddy man_size.

I hope I’m not coming across as too glib about Williamson and his art: I really do love it. I’ve never been a fan of kitsch or “bad” art, and especially not stuff I would hang on my own walls. I really admire Williamson’s talent and offbeat genius — and his pseudo-autistic persona definitely adds to his allure. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before he gets profiled in New York magazine, scores a Chelsea gallery, and starts selling in the six figures.

I could have bought a lot more of Williamson’s art that day, but I didn’t want to overdo it and blow all my cash. My only regret is not buying the Mr. Met painting, but maybe it’ll still be there tomorrow, when I should be back in that neighborhood. It would be so much cooler, though, wouldn’t it, if he disappears forever, leaving nothing but a few random samples of his art behind…