Artomatic 2009

The first weekend of June was a busy one for us, and we kicked it off by going to the opening night of Artomatic. This was the first time I’d been to an Artomatic in a new building, and it was a bit odd. The two I’d previously attended had been in buildings that were about to be torn down, which made the whole experience kind of spooky and reminiscent of unauthorized versions of these events that people I knew used to have in abandoned factories and warehouses in Philly in the mid-90’s. This time around, we took the elevator to the ninth floor and had panoramic views of the mall.

Our first stop was to see our friend Todd’s work—conveniently located on the ninth floor, meshing well with our plan to ride up and walk down. After spending some time stalking him in order to congratulate him on his pieces, we wandered over to the robot drawing area, easily identifiable by the many young children crowded around the tables. As promised, the robots we drew on postcards and submitted to the RobotDisorder folks are now part of an Artomatic poster! (Mine is sixth from the left in the top row and my partner’s is fifth from the left in the second row down.)

Our robots.

While little can compare to getting to draw your own robot, there were several other displays that I particularly liked. I was sorely tempted to purchase an insect with spatula wings, but I couldn’t think of a suitable place to display it. Now that the living room is painted, I’m tempted to go back for one for the unoccupied end of the mantle. Another favorite was the work of Novie Trump, an artist who lives nearby and whose work I’d seen at an Artomatic preview show that Todd took us to inauguration weekend. Her forms are lovely, and she has an excellent ability to mix texture and color in her use of clay; I find her small works melancholy and yet alive. Although I wasn’t moved by all of his pieces, Rick Braswell had a beautiful photograph of an Italian piazza that I could have stood and looked at all night.

The beauty of Artomatic is that there’s truly something for everyone: my partner spent much time with the action figure dioramas of one group of Frederick artists and the comic strips of another, ending the evening by getting his photo taken with the lifesize peep. I wandered down to the PostSecret area, joining the crowd in looking through a pile of actual postcards, but wasn’t brave enough to be recorded as part of the video project even if I could have come up with a secret on the spot.

Since we’re old now, we only got through three floors before it was way past our bedtime. Our plan is to return next before the end of the show, but the weekends are filling up quickly. The beauty of Artomatic is that there’s always more art to be seen.

Artomatic 2009

basement workshop

After many delays, I invested time today in getting the basement really set up for working with glass. Over the six months—it’s hard to believe it’s been that long—since I took the mosaic-making workshop in Ann Arbor, I’ve slowly accumulated the necessary supplies and tools. I now have two work tables (one made from two sawhorses and a door, and one a converted sideboard), shelves, a selection of stained glass, grout, primer, plywood, a jigsaw, storage containers, two kinds of adhesive, safety goggles, and the necessary tools for actually cutting the glass itself. Most importantly, I have the space, as we’ve worked hard to get the non-mosaic related stuff in the basement organized and stored and distantly as possible from the space where the little shards of glass are likely to be flying around.

In a happy coincidence, a friend from college who lives in town has also recently learned to make mosaics, so he and I have had two successful play dates so far. The process is simple: he comes over, we both sit in the basement and work on our individual projects, and everything gets stored on my aforementioned shelves. Today I was able to have everything organized and set out when he arrived, so we both made quite a bit of progress on the pieces themselves. He’s been generous enough to allow me to use the vitreous glass tiles that he bought as a lot on eBay, so we’ve had fun exploring the colors and exclaiming over the sheer volume of tiles he’s acquired. I imagine that I won’t work with tiles exclusively; on my current piece (an exciting 9×9 inch square) I plan to used stained glass for the background after working the foreground in tile.

This evening, after our play date was over, I spent some further time gluing my tiny pieces of tile to the board so that I could feel accomplished before heading to bed (I like to lay out relatively large sections, swap pieces in and out, generally fiddle around with the tesserae, and then glue them down all at once when I’m satisfied with the final result). Having just started today, I’ve completed maybe a quarter of the surface (so, if you’re following along at home, that would be a 3×3 inch square…in 5 hours of work), and the last thing I did before cleaning up was do the edge tiles, so that they can set up overnight. Which means that with only 15 more hours of work, I’ll be ready to agonize over the grout color and find out if I remember how to apply it!

It’s really amazing how much time even small works take, which I suppose is why they cost quite a bit as art pieces. If I were figuring my time at my adjunct teaching rate (let’s not even consider an attorney rate), I’d be looking at a $400 trivet, before even thinking about the cost of supplies and the nebulous calculation of the market value of my creativity itself. Of course, I hope I was a better sociology professor after 8 years than I am a mosaic artist after 6 months! Check back with me in a half dozen years or so.

basement workshop