Aaron and Mary, who run Pilsen Community Books and the Dial Bookshop, are having a book fair. I won’t be there because my brother is getting married in California that weekend, but you should go. Over 7000 books priced to go, a bunch of bands, and a few book-themed prints specially created for the event.
Each artist was asked to choose a particular book to make their print about. I chose Oleg Kashin’s Fardwor, Russia!—a book I wrote about a few years ago and which seems pretty relevant today. Kashin was beaten to within inches of death for writing it. We’re not there yet in this country but the creeps at the controls would be happy if we got there. I don’t have the knack or inclination for directIy political art, but that doesn’t mean the events of the day don’t inform what I do as subtext. It’s impossible not to be swayed one way or another by the larger world; not even the staunchest art-for-art’s sake purist is immune.
I haven’t made a screen print since high school, so when I was asked to make something for the fair I had to ask around. The way color is applied in printmaking is totally alien to what I do. In my paintings color is applied all the way from start to finish in ever-changing combinations and proportions, whereas in printmaking you have to decide on colors beforehand and apply them in layers, in a particular order. Luckily, my good pal, John Forbes, was willing to work with me.
He told me to draw out each color section on tracing paper with indelible ink; I painted them on semi-see-through vellum. He made it work anyway. A couple days after I dropped the sheets off at his studio, he showed up with 29 prints at Firecat Projects, while I was there for gallery hours. He told me working on this print he felt like he was inside my head. I apologized the best I could and thanked him for his work. The print looked like it could’ve fit in with the CTA drawings up on the walls.
So much so, in fact, that when a coworker of gallery proprietor, Stan Klein’s, showed up wanting to buy art, he bought a print instead of one of the drawings. It helped, of course, that it cost $20 rather than $200. He did try to haggle down the price of one of the drawings, dragging Stan into it to no avail. Art collectors are bizarre human beings sometimes. I was planning to wait till the fair to sell these prints, but since this guy ruined that idea, I figure I’d offer them to you as well. Fifteen will be available at the fair next weekend and I hope you go and buy one there, along with a bunch of books, but if you can’t be there, I have thirteen at home. Drop me a line if you’d like one.
David Schalliol was in town to present his amazing documentary about the battle between Englewood residents and the railroad trying to turn their neighborhood into a parking lot. It’s one of the best movies about Chicago I’ve ever seen.
Thalia Zedek used a sketch I did of her band as inner sleeve art for her new record. I was very happy to see that. She’s been a favorite for a long, long time. Order the record here.