On Tuesdays We Silk-Screen

If you know anything about printmaking then you’re ahead of me, even though I’m five classes into a semester of silk-screening.  As with many new skills I try to acquire, I begin with some small competence and get worse from there.  Today’s work began with a good idea which was not successfully realized in the prints, so I’m back to the drawing board.   Who knew that emulsion would be my nemesis?

Roth worksurface hung vertically

Dieter Roth work surface hung vertically

But during the many periods while I was waiting for my emulsion to dry (it takes about 15 minutes if you do it right, which I didn’t) I realized several things.  First, I am unused to any kind of art-making in which I have to wait. Even when I paint in oils and should wait, I usually don’t. Second, our teacher, Charles Yoder (http://www.charlesyoder.com) is a master printmaker who knows, or knew, everyone important in printmaking in the last several decades.  When he drops names, I listen.  Today he showed us books of Warhol prints, and Chuck Close prints, and Dieter Roth prints. Which is when he reminded us of a new Dieter and Bjorn Roth exhibition at Hauser & Wirth gallery in Chelsea (511 West 18th).


Roth's column of self-portrait busts in chocolate

Roth’s column of self-portrait busts in chocolate

After class, with my sleeves still wet from washing my screen, and ink still under my fingernails, I headed out to West 18th Street to see the Roth show.  Dieter Roth had a long career and was serially famous for making many things, including installations, food art, videos, assemblages, and prints.  He finished his career by collaborating with his son Bjorn.   This exhibition was created under the direction of Bjorn Roth and his two sons, Oddur and Einar. Hauser & Wirth has a very large space and has installed examples of all of the Roth genres, as well as two enormous floors (vertically) and an installation that looks suspiciously like Roth’s own studio.

Roth, The Floor I and The Floor II

Roth, The Floor I and The Floor II

Well, why not.  When Andy Warhol was asked, “What is art?” he replied, “What isn’t?”

On my walk back home, I passed Printed Matter, Inc. (195 Tenth Avenue) http://printedmatter.org/about/ which sells not just art books, but books that are art. There in the window was a print installation by one of the teaching assistants from my silk-screening class, Panayiotis Terzis. www.pengoat.com.  It was eye-catching and fun.  I’m pretty sure he’s got the emulsion thing down.

Panayiotis Terzis Installation at Printed Matter, Inc.

Panayiotis Terzis Installation at Printed Matter, Inc.

The art world is huge and intimate at the same time.  Lucky me.

Do You Remember When Art Was Fun?

Monday at Ikea

Monday at Ikea

There was a time when I drew and painted because I loved to, and not to complete an assignment, or please a teacher, or make something that might be important.  There was a time when I created things without first thinking about how they would need to be installed, who would eventually see them, and what those people would think.  Sometimes my work was truly awful, but I didn’t care because I wasn’t afraid to screw up.  Sometimes it was great and I usually couldn’t tell the difference.

I have problems because I am trying to turn what I love into a career.  So now critics and critiques matter, and “because I like it” is not a sufficient answer to “Why did you make that?”

I spent this morning in a silk-screening studio, making a terrible mess, soaking myself with the sprayer at the sink, dripping ink on my clothes, and finishing with an image that wasn’t quite good enough to turn into bad wallpaper.  But it was fun.

I spent yesterday out in public, drawing pictures of people walking so fast past me that I couldn’t get a likeness, just a vague image with a sense of movement.  I gave hair to bald men and put hoodies on society ladies.  Why not?  They didn’t care and it was fun.

For me, fun might be the most important forgotten ingredient in what I make.  So I wonder, if I care less about everyone else’s opinion, will my art be better?  Or will I just like it more?  And will that make a career in art possible, or out of the question?