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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Apres Le Deluge.....

Last summer we had a rainwater backup in our basement. It's not uncommon, and usually the water is kind enough to stay in one little corner of the basement. But for whatever reason, this time was different. I ran down to see water spouting out of the sewer, and I immediately dammed (and damned) the area around the drain. I then waited for it to recede, which it did not. I stood helpless as the flood inched beyond its previous recorded boundaries. It seeped under the steps, back along my wife's studio wall, claiming box after box of papers and pieces of glass. I rescued what I could, but it was moving too fast. It had the audacity to threaten my studio, even tiptoed over the threshold a bit. Then, the rains stopped, and the cleanup began.

I went through many boxes of files and papers which had quickly wicked up the soup. One of them held a large portion of my work from 2004-2006. No great loss, but it was still sad having to toss so many prints. A few days ago, I set to really cleaning up the basement, and started going through some salvaged files. I uncovered this gem. It's unfinished, and was a pretty ambitious project as I recall. I estimated that it would be about 17 colors. At that time I had just switched over to high-quality block-printing inks. I'm self taught, so everything was trial and error. The big error I made back then was that instead of printing a color and waiting for it to dry, I would print, then blot it with newsprint, then print again, up to four colors in a day. The result was that the fresh ink would not adhere to the previous layers. Boy, was I a silly printmaker.

So, this print, the working title of which was something like "We Regret To Inform You....," was, conceptually, a comment on the real cost of war: A woman answering the door to two military notifiers, The flag, and the blue star backlit by brilliant sunshine (trust me -- it would have been there) and in the foreground, a little girl, her eyes brimming with tears, pleading at the viewer, screaming in grief. Yup, woulda looked sweet in your dining room.

I actually thought I had lost all of the copies of it, and in my mind, I thought it had been a 6x4 print. It is 8x10, a size I experimented with for about a year. It was printed in the old days before I had a press, and I would ink the block and then burnish the back of the paper with a wooden spoon.

Oh, indeed, it could be a candidate for the hallowed walls of the Museum of Bad Art, and I may send them a copy. The mother at the door, though she's supposed to be covering her mouth in shock, may just as well be saluting the soldiers at the door. Her dress looks as if it was shredded by a cat. And can you say CANKLES? The flag is pretty awesome if I may say so myself, but that lamp is from the Picasso collection at Value City. The girl? Well, she's unfinished, but really, she looks more like Mrs. Gaines, my grandmother's old neighbor from the Elmwood District (she had a mustache you could comb, and she was so crazy crazy people would go "Whoa!"). Other than that, it's just lovely. Just wanted to share.

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