Reverse Plexi Painting

Chicago Picasso, 2017

Chicago Picasso, 2017

For the most part, I have continued to focus this year on completing private commissions and liquidating existing inventory. I did make an exception to the rule, however, when I decided to actually do something with materials I already had lying around.

At least 2 years ago I purchased some acrylic sheets with the intention of painting on them. This technique is known as Reverse Plexi Painting, after the brand name Plexiglas. Because this medium allows artists to achieve a perfect, glassy surface, it has been used in Pop Art by Roy Lichtenstein, Jim Nutt, and many others.

My approach to the medium was to be an extension of the cut-out technique I have been employing for over 2 years, as I would be using cut-outs as stencils. I loved the idea that the Plexiglas surface would remove all evidence of my hand. The end result would be like something off a factory line.

The piece at the top of the page is my first attempt. To see how I made this, take a look at my short video:

How To Make A Reverse Plexi Painting

Artistic Oregon

At Voodoo Doughnut in Portland

At Voodoo Doughnut in Portland

For a change of pace, I am reaching back to a vacation I took in 2016. This post is the third in a series about art and culture in Oregon. If you haven’t seen the other posts, please take a moment to read Part 1 and Part 2.

I took the following photos back in September of last year, when Jerry and I took a trip through Portland, Salem, Mt. Angel, and Lincoln City. It was a truly beautiful experience that was frankly hard to leave behind!

The most relaxing portion of our journey was definitely Mt. Angel Abbey, pictured below. It is a Benedictine monastery set in the hills north of Silverton. The grounds are open to the public, and we did spot several locals hiking or walking the Stations of the Cross. There is also a retreat house for people who want to make an extended stay.

mount-angel-abbeyWe spent some quiet time in the church (left), which is open all day. The quality of silence and serenity was palpable — like nothing I have experienced before. If I had access to the peacefulness of that space on a regular basis, I think I would be a much calmer man. The few people we did encounter — monks, students, and visitors — were respectfully quiet. There is a seminary across from the church, and we enjoyed visiting its campus bookstore and cafe.

For the first time, we got to see Oregon’s rugged Pacific Coast. Specifically, we visited the little town of Lincoln City. The drive to the coast was literally the most dazzling, scenic road trip I have ever taken, full of mountainous vistas and dramatically winding roads. And the destination itself did not disappoint. I have never seen anything quite so bold and awe-inspiring as the Pacific ocean water charging up onto the unkempt beaches.

pacific-coast-1

dean-in-the-ocean

riverfront-park

We spent most of our trip in our favorite city, Salem. One of those afternoons, we wandered around Riverfront Park, a 23-acre public outdoor space that follows the banks of the Willamette River (right). There were dozens of attractive features, including splash fountains, a pedestrian bridge, and the Gilbert House Children’s Museum. I was really taken with the statue in front of the museum (below). I couldn’t find any information about the artist, but there is another nice photograph of the piece here.

childrens-museum

We noticed right away that the bricks along the park’s walkway were randomly interspersed with hand-painted tiles (below). One of these tiles bears the year “1996,” which was the year the park opened. As with the statue of the little girl, I couldn’t find any information about the origin of these tiles. I am guessing they were created by local school children. If so, what a cool way to leave your mark on a public space!riverfront-tiles-1

riverfront-tiles-3-2There was one piece in the park that didn’t rip-caswell-statuepresent an unsolvable mystery! To the right, you see a powerful statue of Tom McCall, the storied Governor of Oregon from 1967-1975, sculpted by artist Rip Caswell. Mr. McCall was instrumental in cleaning up and beautifying the riverbanks and in establishing urban growth boundaries.

with-kenny-scharf-poleNo visit to Oregon would be complete without a pilgrimage to the totem poles (left) by Kennyin-jamison-square-fountain Scharf in Portland’s Jamison Square and a foot-baptism in the park’s stepped fountain (right). This has been one of my favorite spots to visit since our very first trip to the Pacific Northwest. It feels like entering an Acropolis or Saqqara built by Pop Artists.

If you ever get the chance, visit artistic Oregon!

ArtAIDSAmerica

Dean in front of AIDS showI strongly recommend the show, ArtAIDSAmerica, which The Advocate is calling “Uncomfortable, wistfully beautiful, and vitally important.” The exhibit features a wide variety of artistic reactions to the AIDS epidemic, including journalistic documentation of the early days of our awareness, elegiac tributes to lost friends and lovers, and even abstract pieces containing coded references to the disease. You will recognize some of the big-name artists, such as Keith Haring; others are more obscure.

Through these different points of view, a story emerges. In particular, it is part of our story as gay men, one that is easily forgotten in the days when modern medicine has made HIV a manageable disease and more difficult to contract. Even so, one cannot help but feel outrage when one is reminded of the ignorance and hatred with which our elected officials condemned so many people to die.AIDS show window

There were several panels from the AIDS quilt on display. These pieces really got to me, probably because my mother is a quilter. Although she has never made an AIDS-related quilt, she has created numerous memorial quilts for families who lost loved ones. These pieces always include swatches of fabric from clothes worn by the deceased. They create something tangible for the families to hold onto. I think the AIDS quilt panels are a lot like that, only they take the extra step of making these people’s lives and deaths visible for everyone.

That’s what this exhibit does too. ArtAIDSAmerica runs through Sunday, April 2 at Alphawood Gallery, which is located at 2401 N Halsted.