Friday, July 30, 2010


I've picked up some juicy estate sale stuff in recent weeks, some of which I'll put up soon. In the meantime, here's one of the newer pieces from my reportage portfolio, drawn at the top of an escalator looking down at this jerking, growling mechanical lizard at the St. Louis Science Center. A two-page spread. I want to go back and draw the Devonian diorama with the six foot dragonflies suspended from wires...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An Exchange

My friend R. is a journalist of repute, an old hand, a wry spirit. Among other things, we share a cardiologist. We had agreed to meet today for barbecue, possibly to kick around project ideas. Late last night I realized that I would have to bail on lunch. Before turning in I wrote to R:

I apologize, but I am running badly behind on a project and must postpone lunch tomorrow. If possible, I'd like to reschedule in a few weeks, if that works for you.

Early this morning I find R.'s response in my inbox:

I know you hate me. Everyone does. I am alone, friendless and as of noon hungry too. This is horrible. You must organize your time better. As Dr. N_______ says, a disorganized man is not a heart healthy man. See you soon. I'm vamoosing a week from Saturday for two weeks in the wild west, but will write to figure out a rematch at Pappy's. I'll remind myself to call on 8/24 or thereabouts.

I reply:

You protest too much. No one who uses the verb "vamoose" can be unhappy. This is like a handwriting tic, or a chemical signature which reveals deep positivity. Have fun. See you soon.

R. volleys back:

I think you may have hit on a major mental-health discovery: Do you ever use the verb vamoose? ( ) Yes ( ) No

Respondents answering yes are not depressed to the point of exhaustion. Those answering no are ready for a deep-immersion Prozac bath. In addition to your expertise in the area of cardio-vascular research, you are also a skilled psychodynamic psychotherapist. I bow before your talents, and have a note to myself to call you in late August.


Dear R: Whilst you are gone I will be here, snorkeling in the Prozac bath.

R. gets the last line:

Name your dosage tenderfoot, and see you around.

Image: Ad for Deep Sea diving school in Popular Mechanics, August 1950, courtesy of the blog Modern Mechanics.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dixon & Quatrano

I have been working on a range of projects, both visual and written, and have fallen away from posting regularly. Insofar as I've been able to stay focused, that's a good thing. (God knows that Twitter is out of the question for me).

But I have missed the curatorial aspects of this activity. I'm going to work on getting more visual matter up and on view, in most cases to celebrate it, but not always.

The image at the top of this post is a book cover by Maynard Dixon. More than a year ago I assigned a student in my Commercial Modernism class, Sarah Quatrano, to research Dixon for a presentation. She did a nice job, and in response to my request, burned a disc of some of the Dixon material she found. In the crush of a home & studio move over the course of the last year, I misplaced that disc, then rediscovered it.

Dixon had a complicated career, blending commercial work with later Western landscape stuff for gallery contexts. He got his start doing Mulford's Hopalong Cassidy novels. He married several times, secondly to Dorothea Lange, of FSA photography fame. I'm offering neither narrative nor assessment here; primarily I wanted to post that great Cassidy cover, which at the moment serves as my mobile phone's wallpaper.

Sarah Quatrano has done some great work, notably a project called Deathnography, which I notice has not yet shown up on her blog or site. (Gentle nudge, Sarah...) Thanks for the disc, Ms. Quatrano.

Friday, July 23, 2010

New Essays Page

Back from ICON 6, tying up some loose ends. I am working on an article version of my talk from the conference, entitled Illustration on Mars; Expedition to an Unseen World. When I have it ready, I'll post it.

In the meantime, I have been working on finishing out the new site I launched last week. One of the ideas I thought I'd try is to re-present some of the writing I do here in a topical format. (Blogs are fun, but the organizational format absent intervention is based on time, not content. The most significant fact about an essay is when it was written, not what it was about.)

On my studio site homepage, there is now a link to Essays on Graphic Culture, which (for now) features 8 Graphic Tales pieces, marked by title. You can access the essay on a page within the site by clicking on an icon. Links still appear within the body copy, so you're not imprisoned on the site. I am hoping that the page will make some of this material more approachable.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bridge to the Future

I head for California on Thursday, to participate in the ICON6 conference. More on that to come. But in the meantime, I have been working steadily to resolve and prepare the work I've been engaged in over the past few months. Which I recognize as a synthesis, even summation, of the last two years, from May 2008 to now.

Today we got a revised version of my website up, which suggests clarity about where I'm headed. I'll elaborate a few ideas on that front before long, I hope. For now, I'm putting it out there and emitting a sigh of relief to have gotten the job done.

At the top of this post, a reworked pencil from two years ago, of a highway overpass under construction. Above, a drawing from the Air Force Museum. And below, from a series of drawings I made at the Met last March.

I hope folks enjoy the new site.

More to come from California.