Monday, December 22, 2008

We're HUGE in Paris.

Rob Matthews and I are international art stars! We're huge in Paris! Or maybe we're really small in Paris. Or medium sized. In any case, we're in Paris. We're both in an exhibition called La Main qui Dessinait Toute Seule at the wonderful Gallerie Magda Danysz, and you can see images of our work on a Frenchifried website here, if you want proof. I mean besides the whole speaking with a fake french accent and wearing a lot of scarves thing.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Rule #1: Do not drool on the game board.

Forget reading my blog. Go read BibliOdessey's post on old board games. It's so beautiful.

Check out these images, stolen from their post. Ohhh la la.

Information and larger images and more incredible board game images are over on BibliOdessey's post. Go there right now. Did I say oooh?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I just put a new piece on the website: it's called Structure, and you can see larger images here.

I put lots of details on the site, so it should be pretty easy to read most of the text in the piece by clicking through the images if you're so inclined. Here is my favorite detail.

It says, "Are you a repeatable result?"

In this one The moth (a tobacco budworm moth, of course), says, "Let me tell you about my childhood."

I recently had a meeting with Nina Katchadourian, who is a fabulous artist and also a curator at the drawing center. She asked me about the way I used morning glories as symbols. I answered a little vaguely- morning glories are a complicated for me. But tobacco budworms are not. Those guys are artists.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Dance, baby, dance!

That video of everybody at city hall made me realize that I have to learn the electric slide. If you don't know how to do it either, you can watch this video and groove. The lady with the cane is my favorite.

I love dance videos. I also found a really fun video that teaches the cha cha slide, which is probably familiar to middle schoolers worldwide but is new to me.

And then there's this guy. Who is so beautiful. The way he can't move, but yet does, so gracefully.

I found him because I was searching for that other elusive wedding dance, the Alley Cat. I can find a country western Alley Cat, but I want the one with the cat paws that Thom's relatives all do at weddings. The only hint of it on youtube is here, in this strangely beautiful grey video of some event, somewhere, at some Knights of Columbus Hall.

Of course that just made me want to Polka.

And these guys, who are so cute, do not do it the way I want it done.

Okay, I love you again Philly.

Max Lawrence, who is a fabulous artist by the way, had the presence of mind to go to city hall on election night, where he got videos of people doing the electric slide and making the world's longest conga line around the block. Me, I just wobbled drunkenly down the street and yelped out the door a few times.

More here, here, and here.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I can't believe it!

From the Nouvelle Observator, a poll:

Barack Obama élu président des Etats-Unis

c'est historique

c'est incroyable

c'est fantastique

Nombre de votants : 502 Votez !

Saturday, November 01, 2008

If you don't have a note from your doctor, you are no longer allowed to be an artist.

Peter Saul. Laylah Ali. Sue Coe. Enrique Chagoya. Jane Irish. Daniel Heyman. Art Spiegelman.

They were all at PAFA today. And about 30 people showed up.

Philly, I hate you.

Lynda Barry got a crappy audience here too. WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH US?!?!? I know there are many smart, funny, interesting artists in Philly! And Peter freaking SAUL is in town! WITH Spiegleman! And Laylah ALI! And although it may be permissible not to know who Enrique Chagoya is, since he's really huge on the west coast, he's a freaking genius, and DANG! Sue Coe! Everything she does is great! It was like international art genius day in Philly and nobody freaking showed! They all talked about their work and took questions and then hung around and chatted afterwards. Yup. HUNG AROUND AND CHATTED.

I got Peter Saul to autograph a catalog for friend and he drew a little self portrait in it! I lent Spiegleman and Sue Coe a pen! Laylah Ali admired my baby, who is also close personal friends with Spiegleman! This was all very cool, but it should not have been possible! These people should have been mobbed by fans! Where were the 1026 people? Don't they know Peter Saul is their god? Where were the 10 million grubby art students in the city? Where were the suckups? Where were the faculty from our three local art schools? Where was everyone under 50? ARGH!

WHY, when freaking Larry Gagosian was in town at Penn last year, did they have to open another room with a video silmulcast to accommodate all the people? If people know enough to go see Gagosian, who was depressing as HELL by the way, why aren't they smart enough to come see Peter Saul? And even if they're too prissy to like Peter Saul, they should be able to get behind Chagoya or Laylah Ali, who both make totally elegant work. NOBODY from my esteemed art school showed up, and that is lame. You know who was there? Charles Burns. And the artblog ladies. And Sarah McEneaney.

Why? Why? Why? Did someone poison the candy corns? Did the Pabst run dry in Pennsylvania, so everyone went to Maryland?

(If you're reading this and you're not in the art world, these people are about as good as we get. Peter Saul is like our Robert DiNiro or somebody. Maybe Redford. The rest of them are Hellen Mirren, Judy Densch, Paul Giamati, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Gagosian is like, oh, Michael Eisner.)


Enrique Chagoya (Sorry, I don't have a title.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Remember, remember

I'm almost done with a new big piece, but in the meantime, I've finished a small one.

You can see it larger here. I like this piece, but I'm fussing about the title. It's called Remember, remember and I want the title to make it clear that I'm talking to myself, not preaching to anyone else. I'm not sure that title does that, but nothing else is coming to mind. If you have any ideas for titles that DO make that clear, please let me know. Other than Hey Sam, Stop Wishing Your Laziness was Genius And Get to Work, I mean. I've already decided against that one.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Eat at Swallow

I don't usually write about food, but I've been driven to it by my sense of justice. And some fries. They were really good fries.

Swallow is the best food and the best bargain in Philadelphia according to me and everyone I know who's gone there. And the reason I know this? People who go there go nuts telling other people to go. Before I went there I was accosted by my photographer friend, who described the food in so much detail it made me think he must be a secret food fetishist. But no. Eating there is such an experience that you get the virus: you start ranting to your loved ones and strangers alike. This place is GREAT. The food is incredibly delicious. The bill is small. The owner is a doll, and always, for some reason, gives us free food, even though all we do is go in there with our unruly baby and mess up the place and compliment the food. The waitstaff is swell- they put up with the undomesticated child with good humor and grace. Swallow is better and cheaper than Farmacia and Sovalo, which are two other very good restaurants in the old city area. It's WAY better than the Standard Tap, but that's because it's less high toned- the food is more frenchy and fancy than the Tap, but I mention it because it costs about the same amount to eat at Swallow as it does to eat at the tap. The chef's cooking is deceptively simple, precise and nuanced. See? I'm doing it. Go there. Get the beef bourguignon. You can thank me later.

The reason I'm writing about it here is that for some reason the place got assassinated by Craig LeBan in the Enquirer. My guess is that he thought he was being sucked up to and got his revenge: the chef does tend to come out of the kitchen to chat, and perhaps Mr. LeBan took it personally. But whatever. The man is wrong, and Swallow should not be suffering because of one cranky man.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hold my hand, Guido, and teach me to sing

While I was in the Philadelphia library looking at the Poe exhibit I found out that they are digitizing many of their holdings. They have their medieval manuscripts online and available through Columbia University's Digital Scriptorium. Which is pretty great. I had planned to write a post about the rare book collection at the Philadelphia Library, but this image from the Scriptorium hijacked me.

This is a "Guidonian hand with somatization symbols." Guidonian hands, in case you didn't know, diagram a medieval method of learning to site sing. You can read about them here, and there's a lovely short video of someone demonstrating their usefulness below.

But don't you just want to look at them? I love them.

The Granger Collection, NY

The Guido in question is Guido d'Arezzo, pictured here.

This is a parody of a Guidonian hand from this blog.

While I was looking at hand diagrams I came across a glove map of London.

It's from Bioephemera, which looks like a great blog, and from there I went to this wonderful collection of hand images that includes a really great grisly description of the medieval "hand of glory" that should creep you out just in time for Halloween.

Here are some more hand diagrams, just because they're awesome.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Po, po, po Poe.

Manet's Raven

I went to the rare book collection at the Philadelphia Free Library yesterday to see the Edgar Allen Poe exhibit. It was really just an excuse to check in on Grip, my favorite raven, since I'm not that interested in Poe, but as usual when I find myself dismissing something other people like, once I gave Poe a chance I found him fascinating.

The Raven poem, for instance, gets stranger and stranger the more one thinks about it. The bust of Pallas? Lenore? What!? Imagine: "Okay. We've got this animal. Spooky. A squirrel, maybe, or a weasel. No, a bird. A big one. An ostritch. No, a raven. And it's all about the guy's lost love Betty. No, something unusual, we'll get that later. And the ostritch knows one word, but it's a really scary word..."

Tenniel's Raven

Dore's raven

Poe's obituary is on exhibit. It says, "Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it" It's a long, extraordinarily brutal piece of writing. It was written by one Mr. Griswold, who, Wikepedia says, bore a grudge against Poe. Um, yeah.

Shortly before Poe died he went on a paranoid bender that made him shave his moustache to confuse would be assassins, disappear for a few weeks of hard drinking and reappear puffy faced and sick wearing someone else's clothes. He died ranting about someone named "Reynolds" in a hospital, attended by a relative he called his "bitterest enemy".

He also had the most beautiful handwriting I've ever seen. It's very jaunty and girly. I'd love to have penmanship like Poe. The writing looks especially great in a love poem he sent to a married woman friend that he later tried to woo with a suicide attempt. (Word to the wise, Poe, when you write a two page love poem, the first page should contain something about the beloved object, not just 18 stanzas of how you can't wait to shed the mortal coil.) Although he also married his 13 year old cousin. That stuff probably works pretty well on preteens, especially with the handwriting.

But who am I to snark? He was also a genius, and since 1950 his grave has been visited by a "Poe toaster" who, in the early hours of January 19th, toasts with cognac and leaves three roses on his grave. (I should be so lucky. My grave will probably be visited intermittently by a lonely dachshund who will leave three different souvenirs on an occasional basis. )

Manet, Le Corbeau,1875

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Thanks to a nice person who stumbled on my web site recently, I discovered VVork magazine, which has a nice little series of demonstration photos this month. This one is my favorite.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Budworm's Dilemma

The hiatus is over. I went on blog hiatus because I was working on an artists book which I knew would take a while to finish. I didn't think I'd have time to post anything until the book was done, but now I'm back to making drawings. Why, you ask? Because a fabulous artist* invited me to participate in a show in Paris. Oui oui, mon frere, Pareee de France. It's at a really great gallery, Galerie Magda Danysz, I love the work they show, and have I mentioned that it's in Paris? I'm so excited.

I finished this new piece this week. It's called The Budworm's Dilemma, and it's up on the website here.

It has some slightly complicated word play. It says, "Depending on my level of optimism or pessimism, the chomping past or present devours my past or present." So if you read it down the left side of the page, it says, "Depending on my level of optimism, the chomping present devours my past," and if you read down the right side it says, "Depending on my level of pessimism the chomping past devours my present." But you can read it any way you want.

What you might not know, though, is why it's called The Budworm's Dilemma. You'd only be able to guess at that if you were as obsessive a gardener as I am, or rather, if you obsessively watch your garden the way I do. I can't really say I'm an obsessive gardener in any typical sense. My garden is pretty amazingly messy: it's totally overgrown and weed filled. But that's because I'm always really curious to see what each little sprout will turn in to. So half the time I end up watering the weeds and watching the bugs that are eating my flowers with great enthusiasm and excitement.

Which leads me to budworms. Tobacco budworms, plague of the south, do immeasurable damage to crops like, say, tobacco. But they also eat petunias, and they eat them in a really artistic pattern. They eat petunias in such a way that if you look quickly at a ravaged patch of petunias, you don't notice that your flowers have been damaged: they just look like another kind of flower. You also wouldn't notice, unless you looked closely, the budworm itself curled up in the center of the flower it's finished eating.

Petunias and budworms are in this new piece. You can see the progression of the petunia in this series of details. The moth in this image is the tobacco moth.

Next time you're looking at some petunias, take another look. This kind of damage is fairly common, and it's very beautiful. There are larger images of the piece and more details on the site here.

In other news, Jennifer Zarro interviewed me last month for Art Matters, which has the full interview in a great looking two page spread with images of Suspense and Suspension of Disbelief in the magazine this month. It looks great. I find it excruciating to read. But hey. I don't get paid the big bucks to talk about art. (Or at all. But you know what I mean.) The interview is online here.

*The fabulous artist who invited me to be in the show will remain unnamed for now- I think he might want to keep things on the down low until he's sure his friends won't beat him with sticks for not inviting them to be in a show in Paris.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A whole lotta dang.

This great little animation was ruthlessly ripped off from The Fourth Samba. I couldn't help it. It was too delicious.

Also, Peter Saul is coming to PAFA! And they've also got a bunch of great events to go with the exhibition.Click the link to check out the lineup for their symposium: Laylah Ali, David Carrier, Enrique Chagoya, Sue Coe, Robert Cozzolino, Daniel Heyman, Patricia Hills, Jane Irish, Peter Saul, and Art Spiegelman. And they left Robert Storr and Peter Saul himself OFF THE LIST. DANG. Go PAFA.

Peter Saul, Self Portrait with Haircut

Peter Saul, The Neptunes

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hiatus, schmiatus.

Okay, I guess this hiatus thing isn't working out. As soon as I declared hiatus I wanted to post all kinds of things.

Like, for instance, the work of Jon Rappleye. I went to see his work in New York this week. He's a freaking genius.

In the Tremble this Nature Abounds

Brutal Ardor

From Jeff Bailey Gallery.

These images are too small to see well, but click here to see a big image which still does not convey the amazingness of the work in person. He's a crazy draftsman and makes pieces that look like collage but aren't. They have a totally original visual language and an incredibly comprehensive range of scale: there are finely detailed parts and cartoony parts and flat color and greyscale...and it all works together. They have creepy birds and star-eyed owls and beautiful deer...They're amazing. I saw one a couple years ago at Vox Populi and then he was in New American Paintings and now he shows at Jeff Bailey and Richard Heller Gallery in LA. Jeff Bailey was kind enough to take a piece out so that I could look at his work in person when I went in to the gallery today, and I highly recommend the experience to anyone who's heading over to Chelsea.

When I was in New York I also saw the Turner show at the Met, which was a revelation, and Charles Burns' show at Adam Baumgold Gallery. It was terrific. The man's a genius, but I figure everyone already knows that by now. If you don't know that, go buy Black Hole right now. And while you're there, buy Maira Kallman's The Principles of Uncertainty. That book is the best thing I've read in a long time.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


This video kills me. I love it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I am so ready for this jelly

I lied. There will be no posting of my own art for a while. But there will be posting of Festo's air jellyfish. Because how can there not be? From Engadget.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Monkey fur is officially on hiatus! I'm working on a big fat art project that I'm not going to want to post about until it's finished, which should be a bunch of months from now. So unless I change my mind, there will be no posting for a while.

Saturday, August 09, 2008


A couple weeks ago I finished another new piece, but it's taken me a while to get it posted. I'm still grouchy about how badly the photographs I took turned out, so until I get some better images, there are no details on the website. One picture. That's all you get.

It's a nice one, though. At least, it features a nice baby. If I do say so myself. (Which I do.)

(You can, actually, click here to get a bigger image than that one.)

I think of the piece as a companion piece to last year's Spring drawing, although I didn't mean it to be when I started it. I probably will do more. I love the seasons- they're metaphors that get in your bones.

This is one of the early text drawings that started me down this path. It's from 2004.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

How and How Not to...

I recently finished a new piece that's called How and How Not to Draw a Morning Glory.

It's a game, but it's also a map.

In the circles with the numbers (north, south, east and west) there are alternate moods. Each mood has arrows in it that show ways that the mood can lead you to work or not to work.

The arrows point to text that says either "Do Draw a Morning Glory" or "Do Not Draw a Morning Glory."

Each mood also has an associated place. "Contemplate Mortality," above, is the ocean. (The fish at the top of the circle is telling you so.)

In between the mood images, at NE, NW and SE and SW, there are variations and combinations of the basic moods. For instance, if you're in between "Contemplate Mortality" and "Get Pissed Off", you get this:

(You'll notice that death is eating a Dorito.)

Between "Get Pissed Off" and "Imagine Omniscience" gets you working.

Between "Imagine Omniscience" and "Fall in Love" is this, which could just have easily been something like, "My clothes/homemaking/numbers/jobs are my art".

And between falling in love and contemplating mortality is this circle, which says ""Dance with Ghosts."

I've started a new piece and am also working on some small drawings that are a little bit different for me- I'll post them later. In the meantime, if you want to see this piece larger, it's on the website here.