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Jason Rapp

Hub E-vents: April 29

You want art. You crave art.

#SCartists and arts organizations want to fill that void. They live for that. It’s a calling. Yet in times of social distancing, that’s hard to do. Through the wonders of modern technology, many are trying and succeeding. So while we’re all staying home to protect vulnerable family, friends, and neighbors,  The Hub is stepping up to fill the void between artists and arts lovers. (Learn more about Hub E-vents here.)

Here are some events for today. (Or anytime.)

  • This is the juxtaposition of several things artistic, some of which don't get much attention on The Hub. (But The Hub thinks you'll follow along just fine.) This spring, Columbia Museum of Art was gearing up for It's Alive!, a unique printmaking (check) exhibition of horror and sci-fi movie (check) promo posters (another check, honestly) collected by Kirk Hammett, a founding member of the heavy-metal band (big check) Metallica (a long-time Hub favorite). Obviously you can't venture to the CMA for this, but you can get a grand tour by the guitar-shredding collector himself. Rock. On.
  • From museum at home to orchestra at home. Have a sonic experience at home, or even on a socially-distant walk, with the South Carolina Philharmonic. The Midlands' professional orchestra is sharing archival recordings of favorite past performances through the upcoming weeks. Clap between movements! Hum along without getting shushed! Wear pajamas! Heck, we'll say it again: Rock. Rach. On.
 

Thin Ice: Art professor saves National Park glaciers as woodcut prints, work acquired by national galleries

Todd Anderson, a printmaker and assistant professor of art at Clemson University, received a South Carolina Arts Commission Quarterly Grant for this project. The next deadline is February 15. Image above: Todd Anderson, assistant professor of art and printmaking at Clemson University, displays one of his reductive woodblock prints in “The Last Glacier”, an artist book of 23 image plates of glaciers in Glacier National Park, Montana, by him, Bruce Crownover and Ian van Coller. Image Credit: Ken Scar / Clemson University

From Clemson University Article by Clinton Colmenares CLEMSON — With a heavy mug of coffee in one hand, Todd Anderson moves through his personal studio like a chef moving through a four-star kitchen: fluidly, efficiently, among the tools of his trade: neatly stacked cans of paint sorted by color, saws and drills tucked away without a hint of sawdust, brushes hanging neatly, chisels gleaming. Every label of every can and jar and bottle faces outward, lest confusion disrupt the rhythm of his work. Anderson, an assistant professor of art at Clemson University, is a printmaker, skilled at transferring beauty and wonder from landscapes onto paper to share his experiences with the public. When guests arrive at his studio, which used to be his garage, Anderson slips on a pair of shoes, turns off a stream of classical jazz and begins to tell a story about his latest project, which recently gained national attention.
“I think we all understand that the world is changing in sweeping and dramatic ways,” Anderson says, his voice quiet and earnest. “My belief is that those places need to be seen, they need to be experienced and they need to be creatively documented.” It’s a holy trinity that guides his work. Since its founding 100 years ago, Glacier National Park has lost more than 80 percent of its glaciers. Over the past six years, Anderson says, he hiked more than 500 miles through that park for a project called “The Last Glacier.” He and two collaborators, painter Bruce Crownover and photographer Ian van Coller, recently finished the project, resulting in original artwork that includes 15 specially bound 25- by 38-inch books with Anderson’s original prints, Crownover’s paintings and van Coller’s photos. “My intent as an artist is to share the beauty of a changing world,” Anderson says. In demand The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the New York Public Library are sharing the work; they each bought a book on the spot. The Library of Congress bought another. Clemson’s Emery A. Gunnin Architecture Library, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Yale, and several private collectors have also invested in the artistic, historical records. The Last Glacier quickly garnered the kind of attention artists dream of. But Anderson couldn’t look lighter, more carefree. He says he spent a great deal of his life camping, hiking and climbing his way through the Rocky Mountains, sleeping with the stars overhead. It’s easy to picture him on a mountain in a three-day beard and a worn flannel shirt, accidentally hip. On being outside, Anderson says, “If you’ve felt frost on a sleeping bag, or seen dew on cobwebs in the woods, you can understand the value of that experience.” Rock climbing shaped his arms and hands; they’re strong, purposeful. His blue eyes sparkle with an infinite appreciation for wonder, reflecting a scientist’s curiosity and exacting patience. There are stories in those hands and eyes, and a quiet urgency to tell them.
[caption id="attachment_137033" align="alignleft" width="596"]Image from above of a glacier, mostly white but with a large area of blue water. An Anderson woodcut print of the Grinnell glacier in Glacier National Park.[/caption] In the late oughts, Anderson heard the Rockies’ glaciers were melting. “My first thought was, this is the environment that I love, these alpine environments, the beauty of these places. I felt sad, first and foremost. And then I thought, ‘Well, who is documenting these places?’” When months of searching for someone recording the glacial recession turned up empty, Anderson decided to do it himself. “It was really out of a sense of responsibility,” he says. The three collaborators are currently wrapping up a second project, documenting glaciers in Rocky Mountain National Park. Anderson is also waiting to hear about a grant from the National Science Foundation that would send him to Antarctica. The Last Glacier is a compelling and invaluable work, said Gary Machlis, the University Professor of Environmental Sustainability and scientific adviser to the director of the National Park Service for eight years until early January 2017. “Climate change is the environmental challenge of our age, and responding to this challenge requires a constellation of voices — including those of artists like Todd. “Art can be a portal for understanding in a visceral, emotional way what science attempts to demonstrate through theory, data and analysis,” Machlis said. “Todd’s work is powerful, and his collaborative team is unique and so committed to their task. Viewing the images in ‘The Last Glacier’ is a reminder of what is at risk and what might be lost if we do not act.” In 1910, there were 150 glaciers within the new 1 million-acre Glacier National Park in Montana’s Rocky Mountains. When Anderson started his work, in 2010, all but 25 had melted. Glaciers, the marvelous remnants of the last ice age, are made from the bottom up by layer upon layer of snow that melts into ice, the accumulating weight pressing the earth, picking up and setting down boulders as they slide incrementally. For the past 7,000 years, the glaciers in the park have stretched for miles, like giant beached whales caught between mountains and frozen by time. Melting ice, rising seas 
[caption id="attachment_137032" align="alignright" width="268"]In a valley once filled by a glacier, there now are three lakes. Lakes dot a valley in Glacier National Park that a glacier once filled. Photo courtesy Todd Anderson.[/caption]

When glaciers melt they don’t simply disappear, they become water. Increasingly, they’re adding to rising sea levels. Melt from all the glaciers and ice sheets in the world are responsible for two-thirds of global sea level rise (the rest is attributed to warming seas), according to Andrew Fountain a glaciologist at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon, who agreed to write a scientific note about the next project by Anderson and his colleagues. Twenty years ago, Fountain said, alpine glaciers, like the ones in Glacier National Park, were the first to melt. “Now Greenland is beginning to melt,” he said. By 2040, with a 2-degree Celsius increase in global temperature, sea levels will rise significantly along 90 percent of the world’s coastlines, affecting hundreds of millions of people, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fountain has introduced many artists to the wilderness in Antarctica, where he conducts some of his research. When Anderson asked him, out of the blue, to contribute to an artistic project, Fountain considered it a way to tell more people about the melting glaciers. “Getting this information out to people is super important,” said Fountain. “It’s a gateway to science. I might be attracted to the subject by graphs and plots, but others might be attracted by art.” It’s a symbiotic relationship, Anderson said, as scientists wrap the art in a scientific context. “Working with scientists is very critical to my projects. We’re trying to bridge gaps and we’re trying to connect with as many folks as we can,” Anderson said. “What the scientists provide is things that we can’t provide – analytical analysis and whole, unique perspectives of what’s going on with the landscape.” There is also common ground among artists and scientists, and aficionados of each. Science, Fountain said, can be incredibly creative, like when it’s time to choose the right approach to finding a solution. And when looking at Anderson’s art, the glaciologist sees clues to the glacier’s life, such as whether it’s advancing or retreating. Democratic medium After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Anderson found work at Tandem Press, an international printing house affiliated with UW’s School of Education. Tandem has a tradition of attracting famous artists to experiment and print in its studio. David Lynch, Chuck Close, Art Spiegelman and Judy Pfaff are among its alumni. Essentially, Anderson worked with artists accustomed to producing singular pieces of art and helped them create prints that “would be totally and wholly unique, but you could make 20 or 30 of these things and more people could have it.” Printmaking, he said, “is an inherently democratic medium, and for me that was really what grabbed me.” “The Last Glacier” project is similarly intended to be shared with the masses, Anderson said. “Our mission is to get the work into the public sphere,” he said. And he wants future masses to experience the work, which makes acquisitions by the Met, the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress special. “One of the things I want to do as an artist is to talk about the immediacy of things going on in the world. But art, as I understand it and the way I approach it, it’s a multigenerational conversation,” Anderson said. In museums, “when we look at a painting from the 1800s it helps us understand what people’s values were, what people thought about. “It’s just as important when future generations who go to museums and get to see this work. It’s not just saying, ‘Oh, there used to be a glacier here,’ but it’s also saying, ‘This is a little bit about us.’ In a very, very small way. Of what we valued as a society and what we thought about, the challenges we were trying to face and engage.” Working with collaborators also amplifies the message and grows the audience. Anderson initially planned to work alone, but the glaciers were so vast and distant – 10 to 15 miles from an access road – that he enlisted Crownover and van Coller to help cover the territory. The result, Anderson said, is “three very unique artistic visions of essentially the same thing. The hope is that by presenting the viewer with three different versions of three different artists, that folks might be able to latch on. If they don’t like my work, maybe they’ll really like Bruce’s. Or if they don’t like Bruce’s, maybe they’ll like Ian’s.”
[caption id="attachment_137027" align="alignleft" width="305"]An artist uses a small chisel to slowly carve the image of a glacier. Todd Anderson, assistant professor of art and printmaking at Clemson University, carves out a “stamp” to create a reductive woodcut print of a glacier for “The Last Glacier”. (Photo by Ken Scar)[/caption]

Mirroring the glaciers  If you’ve stood on a glacier, or on a mountain two miles high, standing in front of Anderson’s finished prints will stir a familiar chill in the air, as if someone opened a window 10,000 feet up. The prints reveal scars from the violent upheaval, subduction and collision of the Earth’s crust. You’ll feel the cool blues of the ice, the ancient gray of the rock and yellow, purple, pink and blue of sunrises and sunsets seen through thin air. Anderson spent weeks each summer working in situ, researching the glaciers – which ones to document, how to access them, seeing them at different times of day as the sun shifted shadows and revealed new details. He hiked, sketched and photographed, getting to know each one before it ceased to exist. Back in his studio, where the prints come to life, a mixture of fluorescent bulbs balance the blues, reds and greens to shine as white as possible. In the middle of the space sits a printing press, perched atop tiny feet, perfectly level. The press is new; at least it’s new to Anderson. It arrived recently by freight to his home in one of Clemson’s leafy neighborhoods. The press is his six-burner gas range, where the ingredients of his art – science, nature, light and the wonder of the Rocky Mountains — mingle and fuse. Slowly, they develop as reductive woodcut prints in a process involving time, pressure and the deliberate carving of a landscape until nothing is left but a picture, a life cycle that mimics his subjects. Anderson chose to recreate the glaciers as woodcut prints because, he says, he wanted “an organic, visual language,” and woodcuts, by their nature, provide a “visual texture.” Both glaciers and prints are constructed of layers, but  while glaciers are built from the bottom, prints begin at the top. They require the artist to complete the piece in his mind, then work backward. Anderson transfers a sketch to a rectangular block of basswood, imported from Japan, then begins working in negative space – using fingers and hands that once routinely clung to rock to slowly, expertly, carve away wood, creating an image by removing what he doesn’t want in the print. The first layer he carves away, from the top of the block, will be the first image on the paper, the bottom layer of color. “I might do that 10, 15 or 20 times. So I’ll have 15 or 20 sheets of paper that look the same,” he says. “Once I’m done doing that, I’ll take that same block of wood, clean it off, carve it out a little bit more, I’ll ink it up with a new color this time, then I’ll print it on top of what I printed before.” He has to print light colors first, and he’s constantly calculating “the value of the color and the opacity of my ink, so that I can make a whole image look right. At least in my mind how it looks right.” One layer, one carving, one color, one pressing at a time, all the while thinking backwards, or upside down, removing negative space from the top that becomes the bottom. Eventually, the full image appears. But, at a cost. “By the time I get done making these artworks, the blocks themselves are really exhausted, and there’s no way of going back and remaking the artwork,” Anderson says. “The process is mirroring the fate of the glaciers themselves.” Anderson said he doesn’t create “message” art. He’s not delivering a political statement. Not directly, anyway. “There’s a complexity to these ideas” of art, experience, climate change, he said. “What I’m trying to present as an artist is visual complexity. But there’s moments where, when it works right, you can get lost in these things and you start seeing the cobwebs. You start seeing things. There’s an experience that art can give you, which is just wonder, and that’s what I’m trying to do.” Anderson received funding from the South Carolina Arts Commission, the Sustainable Arts Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts for this work. For more information, and to see the work by Crownover and van Coller, go to TheLastGlacier.com.

Converse College professor a finalist for annual art prize

From the Spartanburg Herald-Journal: (Story by Jenny Arnold; photo by Michael Justus)

On road trips across the South, Andrew Blanchard collects images to be used in his artwork. Churches, rusted pickup trucks, graffiti, business signs and even roadkill - Blanchard, 37, a Converse College art professor, shoots photos of it all. He then incorporates these images of the South into his printmaking process. “I don't call them photographs,” Blanchard said, while working on a piece in a studio at Converse recently. “I call them images. They're a means to an end.” The new piece incorporates five churches - Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Pentecostal and Methodist - from photos taken on Southern road trips. Sometimes a few words or a phrase inspires a new piece for Blanchard, who plans to title the latest piece, “Which Way Will I Go?” Some of his works aim to destroy Southern stereotypes or blur the lines between urban, rural and country, he said. The art that comes from Blanchard's unique process of printmaking on wood panels now has him in the running for a prize to recognize outstanding young artists in South Carolina. He is a finalist for the Columbia-based 701 Center for Contemporary Artists' annual prize. The purpose of the competition “is to identify and recognize young South Carolina artists whose work is exemplary in its originality, shows awareness of artistic developments and is of high artistic merit,” according to the center. Blanchard's prints have collectors around the world. His work has been viewed by best-selling authors John Grisham and Stephen King, and bought by NFL quarterback Eli Manning. Blanchard's mixed-process prints on wood and paper have been included in more than 100 national and international juried print exhibitions and was included recently in New American Paintings and the Oxford American magazine, which named him among the New Superstars of Southern Art. Although his work has received accolades, Blanchard is excited about his art being recognized in the state he now calls home. “I'm really happy, super thankful,” he said. As Blanchard says in his artist's biography on his website, andrewblanchard.net, he was born in the “wild swamps” of Louisiana and grew up in Waveland, Miss. While in high school, he was inspired by the woodcuts of Walter Anderson and developed his interest in printmaking. “I got a hold of printmaking in my sophomore year of high school,” Blanchard said. “Printmaking is a lot of manual labor, and that's what I grew up doing.” That manual labor included laying carpet and carpentry. Woodworking is something Blanchard continues today - he makes his own wood panels for his prints, and built the cabinets at Cakehead Bake Shop, which his wife, Liz, owns. Blanchard's portfolio includes the series, “Dixie Totems,” which features images hand painted signs and pickup trucks and began as paper prints. He uses similar photos with Southern themes in his work now, but prints on wood. “Most people print on paper,” Blanchard said. “Working on wood panels is just so fun. People think they're paintings.” Wood is a more forgiving medium than paper. If Blanchard sees a mistake, it's easy to wipe it away with a wet rag or sand it out, something he can't do with paper prints. Blanchard received a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and his master's degree at the University of Mississippi. He's been working at Converse for nine years, and was the youngest faculty member at the college when he began working there. Blanchard entered seven pieces for the 701 Center competition. One sold at a reception held Oct. 30 There are two other finalists for the 701 CCA Prize. The winner will receive a six-week, paid residency at 701 CCA, consultation services from a professional advertising and marketing firm, a solo exhibition at 701 CCA, and an ad in a national publication. Susanne Floyd Gunter, chair of the Converse art department, said she's ecstatic that Blanchard has been chosen as a finalist. “Andrew gives a great twist on all things Southern,” Gunter said. Blanchard's originality comes from the way he mixes mediums, Gunter said. He uses printmaking, which is an old art form, but makes it new and unique by adding his own digital images and printing on wood panels rather than paper. “He really does have a Southern theme and a Southern sensibility,” Gunter said. “His technique gives it a freshness.” Gunter said Blanchard makes an impact on his students not only by his teachings in the classroom, but the work he produces himself. “I think Andrew is a consummate professional,” she said. “He sets high standards for himself and his students. Students see him exhibiting, and he requires his students to exhibit. He makes it part of the process.”

Spartanburg artist’s first Kickstarter project is staff pick of the day

Spartanburg artist and printmaker Jim Creal's first Kickstarter campaign just launched, and it's already enjoying a day in the spotlight as a Staff Pick on the Kickstarter website. Jim CrealCreal, one of the first artists to participate in the Artists' Ventures Initiative, developed his Kickstarter campaign, the South Carolina Coastal Lithograph Project, to draw attention to the beauty of South Carolina's coastal islands and help preserve their habitats. His project is also about preserving his own work. "I turned 60 this year, and I wanted to create a cohesive body of work -- something of lasting value," said Creal.  "I jokingly call this my legacy project." Creal will create original, stone-drawn, hand-printed, lithographic images devoted to capturing the mood, spirit and rich diversity of South Carolina's coastal habitats. The finished product will be a limited-edition series of museum-quality lithographs that capture a vision of the breathtaking scenery and animals of the South Carolina coast. Some of these lithographs will be used as rewards for supporters of the Kickstarter campaign. (Example of Creal's work pictured left.) Work by Jim CrealThe first step is photographing the 25 sites Creal wants to include in the project. Many are well-known -- Brookgreen Gardens and Huntington Beach State Park -- and others are less popular -- Dungannon Heritage Preserve in Hollywood, S.C., and Nemours Plantation in northern Beaufort County. Some places are accessible by car, some only by boat and some will be photographed from the air. High-end donors to the Kickstarter campaign can join Creal on an expedition and photography shoot of some of the sites. Creal's love for South Carolina's coastal habitats is a life-long passion. "I have had a love for the magnificent beauty of the South Carolina coastal islands since I was young. When I am in these extraordinary places, I feel connected to something transcendent and primordial." "My hope is that this body of work will help audiences appreciate South Carolina’s coastal habitats' timeless beauty, their significance as vital ecosystems under stress, and their value as national treasures that need to be preserved for future generations." Find out more about Creal's project, including a description of how he creates the lithographs, on his Kickstarter campaign site. About Jim Creal Jim Creal creates landscapes, still-lifes and non-representational images through lithographic, etching and monotype print processes. His work, which has been exhibited in numerous solo, invitational and juried exhibitions and recognized by many awards, is held in private, institutional and corporate collections. In 2000, Creal exhibited in Winterthur, Switzerland and was a resident artist there in a cultural exchange. Creal teaches in the South Carolina Arts Commission's Arts in Education Program and received a South Carolina Arts Commission's Artist Venture Initiative grant in 2010, which allowed him to set up to produce stone lithographs in his Spartanburg studio.