Art first entered my life in the form of a trading card – a medium I’d already been primed to value on account of the baseball card precedent.
There’s no telling what trigger will set the course of a young life.
Basically, that’s why I created TINSQUO and love the web. Each post casts forth a message-in-a-bottle whose receipt may surreptitiously inspire the unsuspecting. Some of this blog’s missives have reached the shores of people googling curiosities like “whipstall,” “garland” and, most frequently, “epitaph.”
Parker Brother’s Masterpiece was my “epitaph.” Stumbling across the exotic and seemingly adult art-crime boardgame in the Penquite's basement next door revealed card after card of paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago. The images were a world apart from anything my newly minted eyes had encountered. I remember most vividly a Picasso synthetic cubist painting that was the farthest afield image I’d seen. It set a marker on the horizon – a marker towards which I would set my course. It turns out, I was not alone in this experience.
Today, the trading card - this art scaled for the hand – finds fresh invigoration courtesy of artist Brendan deVallance’s trading card-sized magazine, “Scraping Chunks from the Roof of My Skull.” It’s a true biopsy of one artist’s mind.
In the 1980s, deVallance founded the legendary P-Form magazine and was a prolific figure in the extraordinarily vital Chicago performance art scene. More recently, Brendan has stepped up to fulfill a role as historian of this artistic efflorescence.
He is still going strong. His diverse pursuits: music, printmaking… vacuum cleaner documentation are perusable at his treasure trove repository, Spoolf Cough-Up. There, in this warren of a website, you can treat yourself to a nostalgic trip back to the 80s Chicago performance scene with his extensive list of the era’s contributors.
The list features archival material and links to those artists who have a web presence. You’re also invited to offer your own memories or material. DeVallance’s archive may be a Masterpiece Game-in-the-making for some unsuspecting web surfer and is fun for those of us who were there.
Today, I’m honored to introduce the estimable offerings of a group of newly emergent artists: a class of four and five year old pre-schoolers.
For the fourth year running, a wonderfully dedicated and inventive Scottsdale teacher has used a drawing of mine as the central exercise for a month’s worth of surprisingly sophisticated art projects and lessons. (For an expanded description of the teacher’s lesson plans, see the project’s premiere post).
The students worked on these drawings for short, intense periods over several days. They took their time, refining their vision in the manner of creating a masterpiece.
During my recent stay in Arizona (while I painted Burro Train and Canyon Ascent), I had the great pleasure of visiting this class and presenting a painter’s tools and practices to the students. In exploring their works, I realize that I love each and every piece entirely and uniquely.
This openness of heart is a tribute to the fulfilled artistry coursing through each of these fresh observers, not to mention the ideal state for perceiving art.
The teacher explained on the morning of my visit how, at the conclusion of the project, their drawings would be posted on the internet where anybody, “even the President of the United States,” could view them.
That’s a happy notion: a President scheduling time for some inspiring beauty.