Showing posts with label cartoons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cartoons. Show all posts

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Highlights from last night's Politically Inclined live drawing event

by Steve Loya

Last night I attended the late July Takoma Park city council meeting as part of the "Politically Inclined" project, inviting artists who are currently on exhibit at the Takoma Park Community Center's "Stylized Notions" art exhibit, featuring works from local, DC-area cartoonists and comic artists who participated in the Cartoonists Draw Blood blood drive events. In addition to myself, Bill Brown, Art Hondros, and Eric Gordon participated. Unlike Eric, Art, and Bill, all residents of Takoma Park, I drove out from Sterling, VA, and it was interesting to participate in some small way, and contribute something to the democratic process that is a City Council meeting - something I've never done before. In addition to being in good company, and hanging out with some great fellow artists for a little bit, I also wanted to try something slightly new and different, creatively. 

The event was recorded and shown live on the Takoma Park community TV channel, as well as on their Facebook page. During a brief intermission, the artists spread their work out on the stage for folks to see, and it was great seeing the variety of approaches everyone took, and witnessing the positive reactions from the people in the auditorium. I think it was a great, positive experience for us artists as well.

A big big thanks goes out to organizers Marilyn Sklar and Chanthi Chandra-Sekar, Carolyn Belefski for the heads-up, and to all the artists and folks who participated in last night's city council meeting. In the meantime, there's talk of possibly having a little exhibit featuring last night's work. I'll post more, if anything more comes out of it. In the meantime, HERE are a few more photos, etc. from the event. You can also read more about it in the Takoma Voice!

                                                                                                                         - Steve Loya

*above pic: Bill Brown

*above pic: Steve Loya

*above pic: Takoma Park residents looking at some of the artwork made throughout the evening

above pic: Art Hondros

*above pic: Eric Gordon

Friday, July 08, 2016

Stylized Notions, and Citizen Bill exhibits opening receptions at the Takoma Park Community Center

by Steve Loya

Last night I attended the Stylized Notions, and Citizen Bill exhibits at the Takoma Park Community Center, in Takoma Park, Maryland. The exhibits featured the works of local cartoon and comics artists who participated in the Cartoonists Draw Blood, Red Cross blood drives, as well as the amazing work of longtime Takoma Park resident and Takoma Voice editorial cartoonist William L. Brown. The exhibits were beautifully set up in an excellent space, ideal for showcasing the wide array of talent from the greater DC area. Lots of folks came out for the reception, and there was a lot of great media coverage as well. Eric Gordon added an extra dimension of fun to the event by setting up a makeshift space in the corner of the center, drawing some of his trademark stylized portraits for anyone who was interested. A special thanks goes out to Carolyn Belefski and Shanthi Chandrasekar for getting these events off the ground, as well as to all the fantastic artists who contributed in one way or another. The shows will continue to run through September 4th, 2016, so there is still plenty of time to see it. There's also talk of a closing reception as well, of which I'll post more about soon. You can read more about the shows and the artists involved HERE in the Takoma Voice. 

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Cartoonists Draw Blood art exhibit at the Takoma Park Community Center, 7/7/2016

On Thursday, July 7th, from 6:30-8:00 pm, come visit the Takoma Park Community Center for the official opening of the "Cartoonists Draw Blood" art exhibit, featuring a diverse display of some of the DC area's finest cartoon and comics-making talent. There will be refreshments and live drawing, as well as books available for purchase. Organized by Carolyn Belefski, of Curls Studio fame, the project began a couple of years back when a small band of local comics/cartoon creators from the DC region got together to draw and give away original art work to folks who stopped by a local Red Cross to donate blood. Many of the participating artists themselves donated blood as well! So, if you're in the area, don't hesitate to check this event out, as you'll be in for an excellent show.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Face Zone, live at Artomatic 2016, featuring Martin Graff

by Steve Loya

A couple of years ago I had the good fortune of finding out about local visual and performance artist, wordsmith, musician and teacher, Martin Graff and his extraordinary ongoing project known as The Face Zone. It was at a cartoonists and comics art exhibit in downtown Frederick, Maryland that I noticed a wall full of curious little minimalistic illustrations of strange and interesting faces, accompanied by some words. The cartoonish faces depicted things like melting cheese on a pizza and titles like "Melting Cheese Pain", paired with thoughtful musings on the dark side of personification. The words and images were brilliant and unique observations on everyday life, in some ways like a punk rock Jerry Seinfeld, with a Banksy-like sensibility. 

Soon after, Marty, as most folks know him, had a big exhibit of his work, again in downtown Frederick, and I ended up purchasing his self-published Face Zone book, which compiled most of his words and illustrations. Marty describes his Face Zone series as "short visual meditations on what makes the world go round. Existential musings with a surreal twist and a dark sense of humor sure to trip your imagination...". 

Last night, Artomatic, Frederick hosted one of Marty's live Face Zone events, taking those short, visual meditations one step further into the realm of spoken-word and performance art. As someone who has struggled, personally with speaking in front of one's peers, it always amazes me when someone seems to effortlessly get up in front of an audience of people to talk, act, sing or dance. I'm even more amazed when someone can remember their lines or the words they want to express to an audience, without forgetting. While Marty's performance, based on his illustrated and written Face Zone material, seemed like second-nature for him, there's no doubt the amount of time, energy and preparation condensed into a single half-an-hour show, was anything but effortless. 

Seeing and hearing Marty expand and further elaborate upon the words and images in his book added yet another crucial dimension to The Face Zone experience, and according to Marty, is ultimately the core of what he does now - the book more or less a companion to his spoken-word shows. As someone who experienced both the art exhibits and book aspect of The Face Zone first, I found the spoken-word performance to delve much deeper and further into these musings on subject matter ranging from the relativity of the food we eat ("The Smell of Fresh Mangoons") to haunting childhood memories of how choking on a single lemon drop soured a young boy's perception of the ocean, off the Jersey shore ("Twinkles in The Sea").  One of my personal favorites was Marty's take on the absurdity of commercial advertising, with its irrational fairy-tale promises and the less-than-satisfying results ("Jolly Hot Peanuts"), which he began last night's performance with. However, despite the dark humor and keenly cynical observations of The Face Zone live, there was a glowingly optimistic underlying message of hope, and the love of life at the very core of it all. 

The ability to hold an audience captive for extended periods of time as a one-man spoken word act is by no means an easy task, and in some ways Marty's musings and highly engaging observations on the world in which we live, relayed through the medium of speech, and told through the lens of personal experience, reminded me of some of the best performances from Henry Rollins, who I've seen speak live on several occasions over the past two decades. Word has it there may even be a musical element added to The Face Zone live experience in the not-too-distant future. Whatever the case, don't hesitate to witness Marty's live act, if he comes to a venue near you. In the meantime, TED Talks should seriously consider inviting Marty to do his thing for them, someday soon!

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

"Art to Lunch" exhibit and reception at Studio Pause this month

On Saturday, October 24th, award-winning cartoonist Mike Jenkins, who lives in northern Virginia, will be hosting his art reception, "Art to Lunch", from 6-8 pm at Studio Pause in Arlington, VA. For the past year or so, I've been following Mike's daily posts featuring the adventures of young Maggie and her struggles and challenges faced each and every day at school, as she forges ahead on her quest to make it through to another weekend. It is a truly amazing comic art series, and I'm always greatly impressed by Mike's seemingly inexhaustible ability to portray each single day that Maggie faces, in a brand new way. Drawn on brown paper lunch bags, it will be even more of a treat to see these works in person, so mark your calendars and don't sleep on this one!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Make some Splotch Monsters at The Griffin Art Center

Hey all, tomorrow (4/18) I'll be doing a Splotch Monster-making workshop from 3-5pm at The Griffin Art Center​ in downtown, Frederick, MD. It's free and open to the public, and it'll be a pretty laid-back, casual event. I'll also be staying by the gallery a couple extra hours, for anyone who missed the big show, which will be up for one more week, as of tomorrow. Saturday's going to be a beautiful day, and there's lots to see and do in Frederick, in addition to the show. Hope to see folks there!-Steve

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Splotch Monsters invade The Griffin Art Center, Frederick, Maryland!

That's right. A little shameless plug - I've got a big art exhibit featuring Splotch Monster art, both big and small, old and brand spanking new, hanging at the beautiful front gallery of The Griffin Art center in historic, downtown Frederick, Maryland. The art reception will be a week from today, on Saturday, April 11, from 5-8pm, and it's going to be awesome. Below is a sneak peek at a fraction of what will be on display at the exhibit. There's also plenty more to see and do in the area. So, mark your calendars and hope to see you there next Saturday night!  -Steve

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Art of Richard Thompson book excerpt: Thompson and Bill Watterson talk comics

Not a hoax. Not a joke. Not an April Fool's day trick. Here's an excerpt of the conversation of Richard Thompson and Bill Watterson from The Art of Richard Thompson, which you can buy right now from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or order and wait for a copy signed by Richard from One More Page.

BILL WATTERSON: When I was a kid, I loved Peanuts, so I wanted to be the next Charles Schulz. I didn’t understand what that meant of course, but it seemed like a plan. You came to your comic strip from a different path,

RICHARD THOMPSON: Yeah. Off in my own little world of being a pretend cartoonist. Without a plan.

BW: So how did you envision cartooning? What was your experience of it as a kid?

RT: Well, Schulz pretty much defined “cartoonist.” But I remember in fifth grade, a friend’s older sister had some Pogo books and we spent the day poring over them. That was the first time I understood some of the jokes. It was pretty intimidating and dense for a kid.

RT: Yeah, mostly strips. Comic books were hard to find. And a strip is a one-person deal. Not like animation, where you’ve got to work with other people.

BW: As a kid, animation just seemed out of the question to me. I wouldn’t even know how to go about doing it.

RT: It was interesting. But even when I was old enough to maybe try it, I always hated the idea of working with others.

BW: Plus, you needed film equipment and all that.

RT: Yeah. Really, though, I did cartoons without any clear thought of having a future in it.

BW: Any other strips or cartoons that had any impact as a kid?

RT: Some strange ones. There was a panel called Mr. Tweedy about a hapless little guy. I don't remember who drew it. And there was Freddy by a guy who signed as Rupe. I think he was local.

BW: I don't know either one.

RT: I think it was probably in one paper. Also, Wizard of Id... BC... And Mad Magazine of course. I discovered that when I was probably ten.

BW: I remember there was some shock value in bringing Mad home.

RT: Right. (laughs) I remember the first time I picked it up in the grocery store and said I wanted to buy this. My parents looked at it and went ickkk. But my dad finally read it and started giggling. He had a good sense of humor, thankfully.

BW: My next-door neighbor bought it regularly, and he'd bring it over and I'd pore over the drawings. Eventually I worked up the nerve to ask my mom if I could get it. There were a number of years when I really thought Mad was the cat's pajamas, although now I think it was pretty formulaic. But even as a kid, it seemed out of the mainstream of cartooning. It was off in its own world.

RT: It seemed to open up this whole subculture.

BW: Could you imagine yourself doing something in that direction?

RT: Kinda vaguely.

BW: I could never see a way in. I couldn't imagine myself drawing movie and TV satires. I guess Don Martin did the closest thing to a regular cartoon, but in that grotesque style. Or Dave Berg's whatever....

RT: The Lighter Side Of (laughs). I'd often read it first. It was always so square!

BW: Right! So what did you respond to in Mad? What aspect?

RT: Oh, the art. The Aragones drawings in the margins and stuff like that. There was no one thing. Spy vs Spy, which was kind of exotic. And of course the parodies, where you discover caricature.

BW: I marveled at Mort Drucker, but I didn't see any road between here and there. At that age, my drawing skills were pretty much limited to drawing things in side-view outlines.

RT: I would try, but... I do remember seeing David Levine drawings of Nixon in like, sixth grade, in my classroom. My teacher was an anti-Nixonite. These beautiful, elegant drawings of Nixon--I remember being fascinated by it. He was using ink like paint, almost.

BW: What, the hatching?

RT: Yeah. So elegant.

BW: I never really responded to Levine. The likenesses were strong, but sort of like stone sculpture, or something- -not warm. I dunno. I remember Oliphant's caricatures really impressed me--so wild and cartoony, compared to Drucker. But getting a likeness is really hard. What made you want to do that?

RT: Caricature was something that'd always interested me. Later, as a freelancer, I thought the more arrows in my quiver the better. When I showed the art director at the Post, Mike Keegan, some pages of caricature sketches, he was delighted. I was suddenly taken more seriously too. I remember the British show Spitting Image had just premiered, and it gave me the kick I needed.

BW: Hm, I'm trying to think what else was in the air back then...

RT: I remember we had a bunch of New Yorker cartoon books in the classroom. This is like fifth or sixth grade. The teacher would bring them from home or something.

BW: OK, you moved in more sophisticated circles than I did!

RT: I didn't quite understand them. There's a Roz Chast drawing about her as a child finding Charles Addams cartoons, and I remember finding those too, and how gruesome they were. And the painting in them was soft and..

BW: The grays?

RT: Yeah, like no one else.

BW: I was probably a bit older when I saw New Yorkers. You know, if it was a cartoon, I'd jump to read it, but I don't remember them making much impact. Well, actually, I still like George Booth a lot. He's one of the few New Yorker cartoonists whose drawings are funny.

RT: I remember being impressed with New Yorker cartoons, but I probably didn't understand much.

BW: How about comic books? Nothing?

RT: Some. They were hard to find. I'd find them occasionally, and then I'd probably whine 'til I got them. If they were Batmans.

BW: Really, they were hard to find? My town had three drugstores that used to carry them, and I'd get them sometimes, but superhero comics didn't do a lot for me.

RT: Archie and whatnot... I had a few of those but I was never really into them.

BW: One summer my neighbor gave me this huge box of Archie comic books, and I read them in the car on some family vacation. I have no idea where he got them, but there were a zillion of the things, so my brother and I sat in the back seat reading one after another until it nearly killed us. We read ten thousand Archie comic books and they were all exactly the same.

RT: And the drawings are so clean.

BW: Yeah, very slick. Even then I thought they were dumb and outdated. It's a bizarre memory. How about underground comix? Did they have any impact on you?

RT: Some. I came late to undergrounds. I had friends who collected them (Henry Allen has Zap #0) but my main exposure was all in histories and anthologies. I liked, revered Crumb, though he is overwhelming, and thought Wonder Warthog was freaking hilarious.

BW: I saw some in college and I liked Wonder Warthog too, but on the whole, the undergrounds didn't make much connection. I preferred sillier, more cartoony stuff, I suppose.

What non-cartoon things made an impression on you as a kid?

RT: My folks liked doing things and making me a part of it. I remember when the Mona Lisa came to town. I was about six. We stood in line for a long time. Red draperies and guards every few feet, and then  ventually, there it is. My mom liked it a lot. The whole way, she was telling me what an important painting it was and the story of it. She had a great appreciation for culture. She didn’t have any great understanding of it so much as just liked it, I guess.

BW: Wow, I guess you’re one of the few people who’s ever seen it without a foot of bulletproof glass in front of it.

RT: I think so. You couldn’t get right up to it--there were velvet ropes. But you could breathe the same air. (BW laughs)

BW: I don’t remember much exposure to fine art--just the popular culture of the day. I think of my childhood as the Batman TV show, the Beatles, and the moon landings. Although I do remember in middle school there were a few years when I read all the Doctor Dolittle books. I loved those--the idea of talking to animals. A PETA sensibility ahead of its time. It probably had some subliminal influence on my strip. What aspects of pop culture did you participate in?

RT: Well yes, the moon landings and take-offs. You knew it was important when the teacher pushed the TV into the classroom.

Jump over to Richard's Cul de Sac blog for more discussion on comic strips.

Monday, March 02, 2015

STEAM: Caricatures of Notable People in the World of Science, Technology & the Arts By Mike Caplanis

by Steve Loya

Right down the road from me, at the George Washington University Science & Technology Campus in Ashburn, VA is an extraordinary art exhibit taking place featuring the caricature work of Mike Caplanis. Titled "STEAM: Caricatures of Notable People in the World of Science, Technology & the Arts", this show could not be happening at a more appropriate time, as public schools across the country are now starting to focus more and more on the merging of the strengths of science, technology and arts-related curriculums. In fact, next week my own school will have its first "STEAM Week" (formerly STEM, until recently, when the arts began to finally gain recognition as an absolutely valid element in public school programs). Caplanis, whose brilliant and unique take on the caricature genre, has been featured in the Washingon Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Los Angeles Times, the Oxford-American History Magazine, among many others. He also illustrated the book Drawn to the Civil war, which features the biographies and caricatures of Civil War heroes. Seeing some of my own personal heroes illustrated in this exhibit, including the likes of Claude Monet, Orson Welles, Sitting Bull, Bob Marley, Frida Kahlo, Johnny Cash, the members of the Beatles, and many more, made my day. The exhibit, located at Enterprise Hall on the George Washington University Virginia Science & Technology Campus is free and open to the public, and ends on March 30, 2015. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Face to Face - Illustrations and prose by Martin Graff (the Face Zone) and Laura McClure (Animals for Sam), at the Griffin Art Center through 1/31/2015

Last Saturday evening I had the pleasure of attending the opening artists' reception for Martin Graff (The Face Zone) and Laura McClure (Animals for Sam), entitled Face To Face. The reception was held at a fantastic space in the heart of downtown Frederick, Maryland, known as The Griffin Art Center. Laura and Martin had their work on exhibit together, in the middle gallery (I believe there were three galleries altogether at the center). I met Marty (as he likes to be called) at another, comics-themed art opening in Frederick last year, and through him, Laura, who also had some of her art at the show. I've been gladly following their work via Facebook and blog posts ever since. While the two have a very different approach to their work, stylistically, what their art has in common is a symbiotic relationship with words. 

 Animals for Sam was started by Laura as a way to keep her young, animal-loving godson Sam informed about a wide variety of animal species - kind of like a weekly digital postcard. Laura hand-draws the animals on her computer, using a mouse, usually dressing them in human attire that relates to a certain aspect of a particular species, mostly having to do with their environment or geographic location. She also merges photographic imagery in the background, adding a sense of depth and dimension to her work. A verbal description, both highly factual and informative, while told in the artist's own conversational style, discusses everything from eating habits, to odd and unique physical and behavioral characteristics. Finally, a small graph is at the bottom of each blog post, illustrating the animal species' level of vulnerability to extinction. I could imagine myself thoroughly enjoying something like this as a boy, who like Sam, held a keen interest in wildlife and the natural world. At the show, the framed digital print pieces were quite popular, as many of them were sold. Looking forward to a book compiling these works, hopefully in the near future!

As with many artists and creative types, music plays a big role in Martin Graff's Face Zone works, which employ a cartoon-inspired minimalist approach visually. The influence of punk rock lyricism is evident in the clever verbal wordplay of the sometimes darkly humorous poetry and prose that accompanies The Face Zone illustrations. Martin's blog posts can range from contemplative to laugh-out-loud hilarious, but they always make excellent food-for-thought, which is probably where his influence as a public school teacher comes in as well. Along with his work hanging on the walls of the gallery, Martin had a newly published book compiling his Face Zone material available, a good many of which sold at the show. I highly recommend grabbing one for yourself HERE. In the meantime, don't hesitate to read more about Martin and The Face Zone in this recent article from The Frederick News-Post!

Be sure to check out Face to Face in person, at the Griffin Art Center, which runs through January 31st, 2015!