It’s frequently mind blowing to me how my life has worked out so far, and how quickly time really has gone. Chris and I have been together since November 2006, which seems like so much time, but also like no time at all. It’s so easy, so fun and so rewarding having him in my life every day. 

We have always been big fans of going on trips together. The first picture is from May 2007 from our six month anniversary. We rode our bikes to Kelly’s Roast Beef in Revere MA for delicious roast beef sandwiches. The second picture is from last week when we did a backpacking trip in the Great Smoky Mountains, ending at Clingman’s Dome. 

I know we have so many more adventures ahead of us, and I can’t wait to see where our lives take us. 

I love you boo!

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Some Days.

I know I haven’t been posting a lot, or at all in the past…well… year… I probably need to do numerous updates as to why, but this one is much more simple. 

It’s a rare occasion that I don’t think about my cousin at some point during the course of the day. Sometimes it’s a fleeting thought about something that I wish I knew about her life, or what she would say to me, or the fact that I never gave her the drawing I made just for her.

Sometimes I can let it slide by and continue on with my day.

Other days I wake up from a dream, sometimes it’s a dream where she never got cancer, or that the stupid disease didn’t take her life. Sometimes I dream about trips home to see her that never happened, or ones that did, but I didn’t talk to her enough, laugh with her enough or hug her enough. I’ve dreamed about sitting in the kitchen at our family’s “compound” and having the sliding door open and her beaming smile greeting everyone in the room. All too often I dream about the last time I saw her and how even then, knowing it would be the last time, I still couldn’t get the courage to tell her all the things I wanted to. Those are by far the worst, they are they by far the most heart wrenching dreams I have ever had. I try so hard during the day to focus on the positive and to not live in a past I cannot change, only to be brought right to those points without my own control. 

In my last quarter of school, I was going through all the old random video clips I have taken over the years. I was hoping beyond all hope that I had footage of Jess simply saying my name. It’s such a small thing, but it’s something that, more than just about anything else, I yearn for. Needless to say, I still haven’t found any clip, or any voicemail that contains her simple way of saying my name, not even my name, but the nickname that is reserved for only family. But I still have hope that somewhere outside of my fading memory of it, it exists, and I don’t plan on losing that hope anytime soon. 

Funny, I actually came here to write a simple post and show a simple picture, because I very rarely like to post about such a personal and emotional topic on such a wide and impersonal space, but hey, Jess always had a way to get people to open up.

This photo was one I didn’t even remember until I started to load others up on my Flickr account. It’s from the last Christmas I would spend with her. 

I miss you Jess. 

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Color-Coded Song Lyrics a.k.a. Color Language a.k.a. Figure It Out.

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When I went up to Boston in April, my main reason was to print a series of 10 14-color letterpress prints. I ended up printing 8, which makes me happy, but also makes me want to print a whole bunch more (which I will at some point). Each print is in a limited edition of approximately 20.

So here’s the deal.

BPC6

Each print has 14 colors, and was run through the press 8 times. Each color represents one of the most frequently used letters in the English language, also known as ETAOIN SHRDLU. Gray squares represent the rest of the letters in the alphabet and black makes up punctuation.

BPC7.1

Each print is a short section of different song lyrics. Song lyrics are very personal, frequently used and recited and heavily copyrighted. This was my way of addressing all of that while attempting to make something that was more visually appealing than just the words written on paper. I have nothing against words, obviously, but I felt like lyrics are more than just the words they make up, and I know some of my favorite songs might be ridiculous to others.

Everything you need to figure out what the lyrics are can be found in the colors. So go, figure it out and report back.

lyricsblog

Read about my time at the Boston Paper Collective Here.

View Images of all the Lyrics: Here.

Purchase Lyric Posters: Here.

You Are My Sunshine

While I was up in Boston, I was able to work on a project very close to my heart. My cousin Missy contacted me after her sister, my cousin Jessica, passed away from colon cancer asking me if I could make her a set of posters based on the song ‘You Are My Sunshine.’ It took me awhile to come up with a design I felt good about, and when I realized once I knew I was going to Boston, that I could print these exactly how I envisioned.

The first of the two Sunshine posters took 4 runs through the press, a white undercoat, a pressure print, a linoleum cut and some wood type.

sunshinepost1

The second also took 4 runs, the same linoleum cut, more wood type in two different colors of blue and a pressure print over the top in a very light blue.

sunshinepost2

These two prints are in honor and celebration of my cousin Jessica, and a portion of the proceeds of each limited edition poster will go to the Colon Cancer Alliance in her name.

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The 2 Poster set can be purchased here for $75 with $25 going to the CCA.

Individual Posters can be purchased here & here for $40 with $15 going to the CCA.

Boston in April.

What a time to be in Boston. Regina and arrived in Boston on April 10th, after a very long drive and a few hours of sleep at a sketch-ball motel in Pennsylvania. We went to the Boston Paper Collective that day so I could see the space and meet the Vandercook SP-20. The Boston Paper Collective is housed inside an old stovepipe factory close to the Sullivan Station T Stop, an area I was previously terrified of simply because it is a navigational nightmare.

I started printing the very next day. I figured I would start with a project that I needed to finish, but one that wasn’t quite as intense as the full series I came up to print. I started printing a diptych featuring lines from You Are My Sunshine. The first was a four-color print featuring a pressure print of sunrays, a linoleum cut that says Sunshine and wood type. The second print has the same linoleum cut, some wood type and a pressure print of raindrops. It was a great way of getting used to the SP-20, and I was able to show how pressure prints work.
Saturday morning we headed to the Museum of Printing in North Andover for their annual type sale. Lucky for me, they didn’t have anything on my list, but they did have a plethora of cuts that I just had to go through, and did. Now that I’m home, I need to print them.

I finished printing the diptych late Sunday night. I didn’t want them to take that long, and was starting to get nervous about getting everything done before leaving Boston. I was glad that the marathon was happening the next day because I knew it would keep me in the studio. I have been down to Copley twice in the past during the marathon and know how crowded it can be. It was a beautiful day out. The sun was shining, but it wasn’t too cold or too hot, a perfect New England day. I had just finished printing the first color of my new series when one of the other artists in the building came up to me. He was British, and because of his I thought he had said, ‘A bum went off at the marathon’. I thought, well that’s silly. But then, he said it again. I didn’t believe it. A few years before I had been walking around somewhere near Northeastern when a gas pipe underground exploded. It shook the ground I was standing on. I assumed that it was just hype, probably not a bomb, probably just a gas pipe. But then it was reported that another bomb had gone off. I couldn’t believe it. My first thought was truly one of anger. The Marathon is not a political, religious or even a patriotic event. It’s something that athletes from around the world come to. It is a fun event and everyone is happy. How could anyone bomb something like that?
I texted my family, friends and the few people I knew in Boston. Everyone I knew was okay. I kept printing, but my mind was not able to focus.

Through the week I spent virtually all of my time at the studio. The first day I went out was on Thursday for dinner with one of my old friends. As I was getting on the T, they released the photos of the suspected bombers. As I got off the T, there were state troopers questioning a man in a white cap, just because he was in a white cap. After eating, I headed back to the studio. That night, while at the studio, I checked facebook and read that a cop had been shot at MIT, not that far from the last apartment I lived in. At that point, I was hoping that the two were connected. I wasn’t ready to face two gruesome events happening in one week in the city that I have lived in and loved for 6 years. I was still trying to print, but with the complexity of what I needed to do, and the amount of concentration I needed to have to be able to do it, I gave up. I left ink up on the press, it was really viscous, it was almost midnight, and I figured I would be back in the studio by 8 the next morning. I think I was awake around 5 in the morning. I walked downstairs to find Regina and her roommate, Julia were also awake. We were in Somerville, about 5 miles from Watertown, and not in the lock-down zone. We were advised to stay indoors though. The studio is on the border between Boston and Charlestown, and we weren’t sure if that was in or out of the lock-down zone, so we stayed inside. It was a very eerie thing. At some point we decided to walk down the street to grab some food. It wasn’t cloudy, but the air felt like a storm was coming. Ink was still on the press, and I wasn’t printing. That night, we were able to get to the studio. I checked on the press, and the ink was magically perfect. I printed, cleaned and prepped for the next day.

I ended up changing my plane ticket home. I was supposed to fly back on the 23rd, but I knew I wasn’t going to get everything done I wanted to, so I changed it to the 27th. This also allowed me to sleep and not print until 1 in the morning.

I ended up finishing everything on Thursday, and was able to take Friday and actually run around town a bit. I headed down to Copley Square. Boylston was always my favorite road to ride my bike on, and whenever I had a free day or any amount of free time, I would usually just walk down Boylston. It was sad this time around, walking from Mass Ave to Copley. Everything had been cleaned up since the bombing; there was a small crowd close to Marathon Sports. A few windows boarded up outside, and of course a large memorial in Copley Square. But the thing that hit me the most was the actual Finish Line. The marathon finish line is there all year round. Usually it’s pretty faded after winter, but still visible and then it gets repainted. This year, just a week and a few days after the run, the line looks like it’s been through the worst winter, but instead, it’s just been through the worst week. Boston is a strong city though, and next year, when that line is repainted, the city will come together, celebrate the survivors, mourn the lost and run a great race once again.
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Boston not Bust!

So I am currently waiting on my friend Regina to show up at my studio. I still have to pack, I still have to cut paper that still hasn’t arrived, but I’m going to Boston! 

I’m still $20 short of my goal, so everything in my etsy shop will stay on sale until I leave my studio tonight! After that, the shop will be on vacation until after I return, so hurry up and buy your cheap goods now! 

mlkandtoastpress.etsy.com

Jim Fleming’s Essay on a Grey World

I’m prepping for my trip to Boston, but I wanted to take a minute to bring up this beautiful essay by Jim Fleming. I love listening to NPR while printing, and To The Best of Our Knowledge is in constant rotation with This American Life. I started listening to the episode of TTBOOK entitled “Sympathy for the Devil” on Friday, and got to this essay. I then stopped listening to it, mainly to soak in what was being said, and listened to the whole episode again today. The reason I listened to it twice was to hear this essay for a second time. Please read it, and if you can, I really recommend listening to Fleming recite it, how he paces the essay is incredibly poignant.

http://ttbook.org/book/transcript/transcript-jim-fleming-essay-grey-world

Essay on a Grey World

By: Jim Fleming 

Listening to Daniel McGowan remembering what he had done made me think about a different time. In the spring of 1967 I was 18, and students marched on the campus of the University of Wisconsin in Madison to protest the Vietnam War.  After vigorous debate, things quieted down and I thought, “This is the way disputes are resolved.” 

In the fall of 1967, students marched to protest recruiting by Dow Chemical Company.  74 were injured, and what I remember is the reek of tear gas and thinking, “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.” 

In 1968, I was 19 and I woke up in my dorm room to the news of the murders of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy.  The remembered smell of tear gas was vivid as I watched the television coverage of the demonstrations at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, and I was thinking, “This makes me angry.  Who can justify this?” 

In 1969, I was 20, and watched the nightly news, as we learned about the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, and I thought, “This doesn’t just make me angry; this is evil.  How can we have come to this?” 

And in the spring of 1970, I was 21 when the students died on the campus of Kent State and the evil continued.  Suddenly, to me it was absolutely clear: the authorities were wrong and the protesters were right.  The world was black and white. 

In august of 1970, I snapped on the radio as I was driving cross-country to a friend’s wedding.  On the news I learned that four young men had exploded a bomb outside the Army Math Research Center in Sterling Hall on the University of Wisconsin campus, back home in Madison.  A young researcher named Robert Fassnacht, working late that night died, and I thought, “The world has just become gray again. The devil was closer to home.”  And I began to learn that in the real world, no one is all wrong or all right. 

So why did people have to die to teach a generation of kids that lesson? Oh, don’t get me wrong, several decades have passed and I believe absolutely in the right to protest.  I believe absolutely in the NEED to protest.  I just don’t believe, absolutely, anymore, that anything is black and white.