Sunday, February 11, 2018

Toulouse-Lautrec - Graphic Designer

Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) was an aristocrat, dwarf, and party animal who invented a cocktail called the Earthquake (half absinthe, half cognac). He is the artist who designed the Moulin Rouge posters as well as paintings and drawings that capture highs and lows of urban life in nineteenth century Paris (in Belle Epoque). I especially admire Toulouse-Lautrec because he elevated advertising to the status of a fine art. In fact, Jane Avril, one of his closest friends and one of Montmartre's most beloved cabaret dancers, wrote: "It is more than certain that I owe him the fame that I enjoyed dating from his first poster of me." At a time when the only acceptable designation for persons with disabilities was freak, Toulouse-Lautrec used his unique appearance to his advantage. It allowed him to disappear into a crowd or corners of a room, seeing others without being seen. His remarkable observations of society almost certainly stem from his status as an outsider.

Toulouse-Lautrec was born into an aristocratic family in the South of France and raised in an atmosphere of privilege. By age 8, it was clear that he suffered from a congenital illness that weakened his bones. After two serious riding accidents his legs stopped growing. At his full height, Toulouse-Lautrec was 5 feet tall, with the upper body of a man and the legs of a child. He walked with a cane and in considerable pain for the rest of his life but was highly productive artist. Sadly he passed way too young at the age of 36. (On September 9, 1901 he died from complications due to alcoholism and syphilis).

Saturday, February 10, 2018

AIGA Portfolio Review 2018

Robert Lopez of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIU-C) took on the responsibility of orchestration of the portfolio review portion of the AIGA’s annual student conference on Saturday February 10, 2018. I’m glad they still had me on a list of willing portfolio reviewers. As reviewer, I am once again, impressed by the quality of design and professional presentations made by these aspiring artist/designers.

The event hosted at Maryville University featured speakers (Roxy Prima and Phoebe Cornog of Pandr Design Co., and Dan Funderburgh.a Brooklyn-based illustrator, artist, and wallpaper designer), workshops in addition to the opportunity to have a few local professionals review and critique their portfolios.There was plenty of opportunity to meet and greet.

College students facing the prospect of becoming job seekers are encouraged to participate in the portfolio review sessions to get some real world feedback. I had the pleasure of sessions with Jonathan Neal (UMSL), Tyler Clemons (Millikin University), Jack Prange (SIU-C),Claire Nipper (Truman State University), Kory Wood (UMSL), Adrianne “Annie” Mathews and Lyubov Sheremeta (Stephens College). More than 100 students were a part of this conference. They came from nearby, far and wide. Reviewers included executive recruiter Bob Bishop, design firm owner/president Dave Cox, event trade show designer Jamie Kidd and Kim Watson of Pinacle Graphics.

My advice, as always, is to seek out advisors in and around the quality of work for which you hope to be associated. Contact them and start with a courtesy interviews. Build your network and your personal brand by listening carefully. Happy Hunting!   

Saturday, February 3, 2018


Timothy Wagner show at siba 
Timothy Wagner invited me to an opening show of some of his recent work at Stevens Institute of Business & Arts (siba). He says he always draws inspiration from travels and from his family, notably his wife and toddler son of whom I had the pleasure of meeting at this opening (February 2, 2018). He seems influenced by art history as well. Fine artists from Marcel Duchamp to Robert Rauschenberg would likely appreciate Wagner’s use of reclaimed materials like printed book pages, roadmaps and photo transfers in a mixed media style/technique that involves resin that manipulate oil or encaustic painting. Light refreshments at the gallery at 1521 Washington Avenue and a reception on a cold Friday night from 6pm – 8pm proved to be a pleasant environment to view the new work in the creative heart of the vibrant downtown Loft District. The work is showing until March. Stop by and take a look.

“I have been creating art professionally since 2000. My background is in painting though I’ve always incorporated other mediums into my work. My mentor Gary Passanise really opened my eyes to different techniques and artists using mixed media. Other professors like Rennie Bernard and Ahzad Bohosian taught me a lot about painting and drawing, although they, too, always lead in a direction of using more mediums in my work,” says Wagner in a blog post about the opening on siba web site. A long time artist-associate, Ty de La Venta was on hand at the opening to confirm that Tim has been at this for some time. Tim is considering further study at Fontbonne University. He is one to watch. 
Wagner sells his work on his website at  ---  Photo(above) of artist Timothy Wagner and family at gallery opening 2-2-18

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Tanya, Thread, Jumanji, Pitch

I, Tonya
I, Tonya is a riff on the Tonya Harding saga starring Margot Robbie as the infamous figure skater the whole world decided it loved to hate, is a fresh, chancy, and wickedly enjoyable movie. It’s framed as a fake documentary (it opens with the characters being interviewed 20 years later), and it has a tone of poker-faced goofball Americana that suggests a biopic made by the Coen brothers. The movie revels in the sheer woeful ghastly comic horror of what went on during the lead-up to the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer — the smashed knee of Nancy Kerrigan, the whole scheme to undermine her that was even more cracked.
Phantom Thread
Post-war London renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) are at the center of British fashion with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock. Woodcock, a confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship, until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted. Director Paul Thomas Anderson paints an illuminating portrait both of an artist on a creative journey, and the women who keep his world running. Phantom Thread is Paul Thomas Anderson's eighth movie. Paul Thomas Anderson is son of the Ghoulardi who hosted B-movies on late night television when I was growing up in Cleveland, Ohio. He named his production company after that local Cleveland celebrity. He directed Boogie Nights when he was 27 years old. Phantom Thread is his 8th motion picture.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
A group of teenagers who turn into videogame characters, is a sequel to the 1995 Robin Wlliams hit Jumanji, a remake, a reboot, or something else. It’s definitely the kind of movie that works the name of a classic rock song into its title and makes sure to blast it during the end credits, for people who were in their twenties during the 1990s and now have kids of their own. Once they end up inside the Jumanji videogame, Spencer (Dwayne Johnson), Fridge (Kevin Hart), Martha (Karen Gillam), Bethany (Jack Black) and Alex Vreeke (Nick Jonas) are supposed to be characters in the game-space.
Pitch Perfect 3
Opening somewhere off the coast of France, The Bellas are performing "Toxic" on a yacht for three men. Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) crashes through the ceiling and sprays the men with a fire extinguisher, just as there is an explosion. Three weeks earlier, John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks) are following Beca (Anna Kendrick) as part of a documentary they are making about the group.Chloe (Brittany Snow) tells her friends about a Bellas reunion performance tlater that night. The ladies meet up with the rest of their Bella sisters - Aubrey (Anna Camp), Cynthia-Rose (Ester Dean), Stacie (Alexis Knapp), Lilly (Hana Mae Lee), Flo (Chrissie Fit), Jessica (Kelley Jakle), and Ashley (Shelley Regner). There is a USO performance tour and if they are good enough, they get to open for DJ Khaled.

Water, Post and 3 Billboards

The Shape of Water
The Shape of Water, from master story teller, Guillermo del Toro, is an other-worldly fairy tale, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. The hidden high-security government laboratory where lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa's life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment. Rounding out the cast are Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones and Michael Stuhlbarg. It is Drana, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Romance directed by Guillermo del Toro and written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor.
The Post
The Post tells the story of the news of the Pentagon Papers focusing on the free press and a White House struggling to keep the secrets of how our government handled the Vietnam War. Kay Graham (Meryl Streep), the beleaguered publisher of the Post and Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), the editor. Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) walked away with thousands of pages on the history of Vietnam, including sensitive and confidential information that revealed the lies the government had told the American people for years.
3 Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
No one does angry better than Frances McDormand, who does her best film work here since Fargo as Mildred Hayes, a recently divorced mother who lost her daughter Angela less than a year ago. Angela was raped and murdered, but the case has gone cold. There was no matching DNA, so the spotlight has dimmed and Mildred is getting no updates. She’s angry. She should be. One day, she sees three barren billboards on a rarely-traveled road, and she rents the space to ask the local chief of police, (Wood Harrelson) why there are no answers. Local media becomes interested in the billboards, and the attention sparks a series of events involving not only the chief but one of his more loathsome officers, played by Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage, Caleb Landry Jones, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Clarke Peters and John Hawkes fill out supporting cast. Shhh - It's shot in North Carolina, so it isn't a win for the Missouri Film Commission...

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Thin Man Movies

Thanks to Turner Classic Movies and my DVR, I was able to watch the six Thin Man movies in chronological order as a fantastic way to ring in a new year in 2018. It is Classic Hollywood - William Powell and Myrna Loy in the Thin Man Movies. The Thin Man (1934) was shot over a mere two weeks on a shoestring and conceived by MGM as a B-movie. It became a franchise over six films while the country worked its way through the depression and WWII. Director W.S. Van Dyke’s casting coup of Powell and Loy paid off and The Thin Man was a surprise smash. The Thin Man movies adhere to a rigid formula. They gave people what they wanted, over and over again. Nick attempts to just relax and drink away the afternoon is disrupted again and again by a sudden murder mystery. Reluctantly, and with a big push from Nora, he takes the case, outpacing the actual detective investigating.
Of course one needs to suspend one’s disbelief and movie-viewing cynicism as crime scenes are violated, political correctness is compromised, justice is obstructed, women are objectified, nightclub/party goers are over-served and plots twist.  All that said, it is a pleasure of black & white escapism and entertainment to binge watch Nick and Nora as the formula plays out and all ends well.

The Thin Man (1934), After the Thin Man (1936), Another Thin Man (1939), Shadow of the Thin Man (1941), The Thin Man Goes Home (1945) and The Song of the Thin Man (1947)…

Happy New Year!  

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Raphael Angels

The Sistine Madonna is an oil painting on canvas and represents one of the last works Raphael would complete. In the complete work, the Virgin Mary stands upon a cloud holding the Christ child. The Madonna is accompanied by Saint Sixtus and Saint Barbara. The cherubim, arguably the most famous in the world, are located at the very bottom of the painting. The work was nearly destroyed during World War II as the allies bombed the German city of Dresden, but was thankfully saved by Russian forces. Though shortly held by the Soviet Union, the painting has since returned to Germany where it be seen in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister. 

Note: This painting left an impression on me somewhat indirectly. A print of the Madonna painting hung in in my parent's bedroom in our home in Lakewood, a west side suburb in Cleveland. Years later I took a picture of my kids at home in Raleigh, NC (around 1992). In 2016 these two angels introduced us to Lawton (Robert Lawton Dewey) and James Benjamin Morgan.