Mardi Gras – 2006

MARDI GRAS – 2006 is one of the very first collographic prints I ever made. I came across it, and my notes about it, while cleaning out my old studio as we get ready to put the house and studio on the market. According to my notes, MARDI GRAS – 2006 is a reflection on the damage done to New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina with the Mardi Gras figures shown as being under water and in black and white rather than the usual bright jewel tones. MARDI GRAS – 2006  was created using etching ink instead of the water based inks I have been using lately, but as I looked at it, I was struck by how little and how much both my work and the world have changed in 14 years. (2006) (16” x 12”) ($125) 

Reflection & Perspective


This week’s web post was supposed to be about how happy I was that my collographic monoprint CONTOURS OF FLIGHT # 8 had just been added to a private collection in California. Then California burned and the building in which it hung had to be evacuated. While both I and the new owners value the print, we both also realized that it had no place in a “time is of the essence bug out bag”. The owners are safe and the building appears intact but about 40% of the houses in the neighborhood have been destroyed and others damaged. There are still close by “hot spots” and with record temperatures and high winds projected there is still significant risk. No one knows when electricity or water will be restored or even when people will be allowed back in to inspect the damage; if it will be deemed habitable or if items can be removed from it.

I’ve done two prints about the fires in California WILDFIRE and PARADISE LOST, both of which were abstracts done in the context of being 3000 miles away and without a direct involvement. This is different: CONTOURS OF FLIGHT #8 is admittedly just a very small part of the lives of the new owners, but through it, I think I have been given a personal glimpse into how devastating and disruptive these fires really are. They are not abstract concepts. Climate change and its consequences are not abstract concepts. People’s lives and losses are not abstract concepts. They can be expressed abstractly but they are real.

Portrait of the Artist with Security Issues

PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST WITH SECURITY ISSUES is part of my “IRIAAM” Series of self -portraits using (or attempting to) the same basic image and different mediums; in this case a collage made from “FSPs”, or financial security papers, the inside linings in things like bank statements and credit card bills. This was the first of what will probably be several “black and white” versions as I experiment with different sizes and patterns to try to get a little more nuance into the shading. I’m also going to do at least one “colored” version – it is amazing the number, of colors, tints, and patterns these things come in. (14” x 20”) (2020) ($125)

Midnight at the Hanging Tree

(C) JOHN FANSMITH 2020

Since I first read the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (and watched the movies) I have been intrigued by James Newton Howard’s enigmatic song “The Hanging Tree” which seems to play a key and pivotal role in the development of the story. I have made several efforts in different mediums at conceptualizing or ekphrasticing it. The version of MIDNIGHT AT THE HANGING TREE shown here is a paper collage using recycled and repurposed advertising and packaging cardboard and references in particular the movie scene at the hydroelectric dam. (2020) (20” x 16”) ($125)

I’M DONALD J. TRUMP AND I APPROVED THIS MESSAGE

 

I’M DONALD J. TRUMP AND I APPROVED THIS MESSAGE is my reaction to his statement during the Axios interview about the number of COVID-19 deaths which at that time were running over 1000 per day with an aggregate of over 150,000. I was startled, not by his total lack of empathy that there was an individual life behind each one of those numbers; that I expected, but by his callous, off-handed dismissal of the numbers themselves encapsulated in the statement: “It is what it is”. It seemed that to him, both the lives lost and the numbers of them were irrelevant, or at most, inconvenient nuisances for his re-election campaign. My artistic problem was how to express this in a single visual image. I chose to put the statement into a campaign ad format complete with the required “approval language” and after several efforts (tombstones, different religious symbols, etc.) to combine it with the visual image set out in John McCrae’s iconic World War I poem In Flanders Fields: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row”. , but to vary the sizes and shapes of the crosses to recognize and honor the individuality behind each one. I’M DONALD J. TRUMP AND I APPROVED THIS MESSAGE is a white on black paper collage using recycled and repurposed advertising and packaging materials. (1307)) (2020) (20” x 16”) ($125)

 

 

 

Tree of Life

(C) JOHN FANSMITH 2020

THE TREE OF LIFE – 2020, a paper collage, is the first piece I have started and completed entirely at Ann’s Choice since moving there on July 2, 2020. I started it on July 6th while watching both a severe thunderstorm and a discussion of the rising death toll in the United States from the COVID 19 virus. THE TREE OF LIFE – 2020 is made entirely from the materials on hand at the time, mainly the packaging from a couple of bottles of a topical pain cream I used to get through the move and a box of Fiber One cereal that was breakfast. THE TREE OF LIFE – 2020 is not an autumn piece, it is a reflection on the more than 130,000 lives lost to date with the falling leaves. representing those prematurely lost lives while the tree itself has taken on a skeletal form. (768) (2020) ( 17” x 9 ½” ) ($125)

 

Abington Art Center Summer Show

I am very pleased to announce that juror Mashiul Chowdhury has selected my mixed media wall sculpture MOTHERBOARD and my raku fired paper clay and stained glass mosaic wall hanging ST. JOHN THE MOSAICIST to be part of the Abington Art Center’s 2020 Summer Juried Show. The Show will run from July 28, 2020 until August 29, 2020 at the Abington Art Center, 515 Meetinghouse Road, Jenkintown, PA 19046. Due to CDC and PA Covid 19 guidelines, the Show can be seen by appointment only. Please contact the Abington Art Center for details.

PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST HAVING A VERY BAD DAY

(C) JOHN FANSMITH 2020

My memory is such that I don’t recall exactly what else happened the day I printed this piece in the fall of 2019, but I do remember thinking when it came off the press: “Oh, that’s not what I wanted”, and “Well, that’s pretty much how this day has gone.” In retrospect as I practice staying at home and trying to clean and reorganize my studio, I’m starting to think that maybe that day wasn’t so bad after all. PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST HAVING A VERY BAD DAYis a dark field monotype matted and framed to 14” x 11”. (2019) ($125)

Kali’s Dream

(C) JOHN FANSMITH 2020

A friend of mine is moving into a new apartment and taking his cat Kali with him. This provided me with the opportunity to give him a “house warming” gift, stay on Kali’s good side, and experiment with a somewhat different form of collage than I’ve done in the past. KALI’S DREAM, a minimalist collage using only card stock, expresses my belief that within every house cat and tabby there is the heart and soul of a tiger. As to why I want to remain on Kali’s good side, I’d refer you to a Google search of Indian mythology, or a couple of hours watching “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”. (2020) (12” x 12”)

 

EMERGENCE

(C) JOHN FANSMITH 2020

I suspect that EMERGENCE will be interpreted differently by different people, and to be honest, my understanding of the piece is still changing with events. Originally, I saw the center figure as an act, or form of creation: now I am starting to see it more as a violent, explosive, eruption, like the outbreak of a virus as it starts to spread. My personal insight is that an abstract image may be, or at least is intended to be, timeless, but its message, even to the artist, will be changed by time and circumstances. EMERGENCE is a hand built and raku fired paper clay wall hanging mounted on quarter inch plywood. (2020) (21” x 15” x 2”).