Sunday, March 23, 2014

Local Art Seen: Ed Newman at The Shack

The Shack in Superior has been remodeled and a section of the restaurant will become a new venue for displaying works by local artists. The renovated restaurant on West Belknap is sandwiched between the Shack Liquor Store and the newly opened Ugly Stick Saloon. In addition to good sandwiches, the restaurant has always had tasty selections on the menu by a first rate chef who on Wednesday evenings cooks entrees out in the restaurant itself. This Wednesday evening special is $12 for dinner and a glass of wine. A steal in my book.

The area designated for artists stretches along the 32-foot wall on the side opposite the bar. The maroon walls make the works pop.

I brought in seven of my most popular pieces for display, including the original of my Dogs of War and a large framed giclee reproduction of Sitting Bull. There are no new recent works here because I am saving those for the group show at Goin' Postal later this spring. Here are a few words about each of the pieces.

Mexico 1981
Acrylic on cardboard, I almost re-titled it "Mexico 1981 (Selfie)" but decided against it. The painting is based on a photograph taken of me in Matehuala. I'm fairly certain it was taken just after I had been swinging on a swingset and jumped off. I probably painted this in the mid-1980s. The piece was framed by Art Dimensions in Carlton and features museum glass to eliminate glare.

Sitting Bull
My portrait of Sitting Bull was created when I first began consciously developing a new approach to painting faces by using Photoshop to break the planes of the face into swaths of light and shadow. I chose this image in part because of Sitting Bull's stature and in part because of the manner in which I felt his features conveyed the grief any seer must have felt as he looked toward the future for his Native people. This is piece was framed by Art Dimensions and also utilizes museum glass to eliminate glare.

A Post-Modern Man
This is the first of the many faces that I have painted using the technique described above using Photoshop. It is actually a deconstruction based on the face of Daniel Craig. The painting is acrylic on canvas paper.

Man with as Puzzled Expression
Ink on paper. Spent a winter doing a lot of painting with colored inks and dyes. Love the effect. Frame by Joelene at Art Dimensions. Museum glass.

For most of my life all my pen and ink drawings were lines on paper. Precision was paramount. In recent years I began experimenting with varying line widths and even line quality. This led to brush and ink drawings, some of which have been quite compelling. Dreamtiger was begun with no goal in mind, but as often happens I see faces emerge. This is the original and I especially love the frame Joelene selected for this piece. Giclee reproductions are available. Museum glass.

Sitting Bull x4
A child of the Sixties, I found myself attracted to the art of Peter Max, much like everyone else, I suspect. I thought it would be interesting to reproduce Sitting Bull in four different color schemes. The print has been mounted and then permitted to become altered through humidity. Depending on the angle at which it is viewed you will see four perfect images or a wrinkled tragic reflection of what once was.

Dogs of War
Background on this original painting: I'd watched a very powerful video about the training of dogs used for war, not as attack animals but for protecting troops, following trails, warning of impending attack. In WW2 and Korean War many dogs served with our armed forces. The documentary included interviews with veterans who told stories of the service dogs who saved soldiers' lives, dogs who gave their lives for the best friends, and the dogs that had to be left behind when the war ended. This picture attempts to capture the haunted feeling I was left with as I reflected on these dogs of war.

The painting is also a metaphor for the end of a meaningful relationship. The dog and the soldier are connected by a leash, but each is peering in different directions. The dog is trusting, and has no clue that the future is going to be very different for each of them. The soldier is looking off into an uncertain horizon. The one certainty is that each will be alone.

4000 dogs were put to death at the end of the Viet Nam War. The army felt it would be risky to bring them home in the event that that had picked up diseases we did not want in our homeland. This project, putting these dogs to death, was immensely painful for the vets who had to carry out this task.

EdNote: The photo here is not the final look, includes minor color distortion, though it captures the essence. The painting should be seen in person to be best appreciated.

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No date has been scheduled yet for a reception, but should this happen I will keep you appraised. Meantime here are some other events of note coming soon.

CALL FOR ART -- Dylan Days Celebration at the Red Mug
I deliberately chose not to include any of my Dylan portraits at the Shack so they would be available for the Red Mug Dylan Month (May) in conjunction with North Country Dylan Days. Please note: I would actually love it if we had so many Dylan inspired works that there was no room for any of mine. If you have something or would like to create something for the occasion, please do share.

ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS -- Ellen Sandbeck Artist Reception at the Red Mug
You have only a few days left to see Brent Kusterman's art and then it's time for Ellen Sandbeck's fascinating cutouts for the month of April. The opening reception will be Friday the 4th. Ellen is a first-rate author, worm-wrangler, gardener and artist. I am sure her new work will be stunning.

THE BREWHOUSE DRAWINGS -- Kenneth Marunowski at Beaners
Live music and art by a black belt plein air painter (I just made up that title) this April 3rd event begins at 6:00 p.m. The new work will get you jazzed. Low, Charlie Parr and the Boomchuks will be there. Expect it to be a packed house and a memorable evening.

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Engage it!

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