More Pictures from the Studio

A skateboard designed by Baechler

 

Four works on paper

 

A portrait of Donald by Andy Warhol; he still hasn’t even unwrapped it from its paper!

 

Another portrait of Donald picking his nose by Andy Warhol, also still wrapped in paper

 

Some completed and one unfinished sculpture

 

The kitchen in the studio and one of my favorite of Donald’s sculptures

 

Two unfinished sculptures

 

Two unfinished sculptures, in different stages of process

Week Two at the Studio – Emily

I think it’s safe to safe I’ve accomplished a lot since last Friday.

I supported Planned Parenthood amidst a thronging crowd of 6,000 liberals and lesbians at Foley Square; I bought a new book by one of my favorite authors… and finished it; I had at least three, long, romantic conversations with strangers (and knowingly broke the most widely quoted rule of childhood); I went to a gallery opening in midtown, and another in Chinatown; I watched an almost painfully philosophical animated film about dreaming (no, not Inception) and later the Oscars (though not Inception); I went to a newly opened gallery show and met the artist (and his two pet goats, who wandered around as part of the exhibit); I walked behind Lady Gaga and made funny faces for the paparazzi taking her photographs; I composed a print to later be signed and completed by my boss, and I walked around the almost never-ending Armory Art Fair with the wisest possible of constant companions (Baechler himself).

A wise writer would have broken it up; just editing leaves me breathless.

For those of you that skipped the dense paragraph at the top, I’ll start with Saturday.

I woke up fairly early Saturday morning, with high hopes of making it to the start of the Planned Parenthood Rally in Foley Square, where one of my favorite bands (The Mountain Goats) would be supporting one of the  most deserving causes (Planned Parenthood,  which was proposed to be cut from governmental spending by the GOP to reduce the deficit and *punish abortion-lovers and baby-killers,* although, at least in my opinion, there would be far more abortion if women couldn’t have access to the free and accessible healthcare and sex education provided almost exclusively by Planned Parenthood).

Long story short and more sarcastic, the stimulus bill (and the improvement of public transportation and roadways) caused my subway to take me halfway through Brooklyn en route to Lower Manhattan (making what should have been a 15 minute ride a 50 minute one), and losing me my face-time with John Darnielle, lead singer of The Mountain Goats. *Whine!*

It was not all bad, though. The ill-placed track work gained me a friend – a beautiful young Parisian girl just as lost as me, if not a little more. She was headed for City Hall as well, (City Hall was the closest subway stop to my destination) on her last day of touring the city before heading back to France and school. We talked about our schools, (she was in 12th grade as well), and our plans for the future, as well as tipping each other on the most important unseen parts of the city.

We said goodbye under a rainstorm of pigeons, as she headed towards the Brooklyn Bridge with her Leica, and me towards the rally with my Holga. (Photography was, as we learned, a shared interest).

Despite missing the Mountain Goats, I did get to see a really wonderful Ukulele  player (Nellie McKay) and an endless string of liberal politicians and grateful patrons of the organization, as one after another they stood and spoke about their tireless devotion to Planned Parenthood.

After the rally, I wandered uptown, browsing through SOHO’s Broadway, and traipsing through the aisles of outsider boutiques and Chinese wholesalers (you can’t beat Pearl River… I got the most beautiful silk robe for $30!), until I reached Union Square and The Strand used bookstore, or, as I like to call it, Heaven.

I could write novels about looking through all the novels in there.

Most significantly, though, I bought the book A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore, whose short stories I’ve been digging up from all my old New Yorkers, and I met a dashing playwrite over a copy of Kafka’s Selected Short’s, who composed for me a lengthy reading list, among other things, and invited me for coffee.

The day ended tiredly, with sore feet from all my walking, and giddy smiles for all I’d seen and done.

Sunday and Monday we’re duds, with too much sleep and lazy movies, split up only by a little more laziness and Oscar-watching (Natalie Portman – how fabulous!), as Donald was out of town  and there was little to be done. I did get some painting done, though, finally remembering how airless my basement studio was after hours of paint fumes started to get to my head. Maybe that’s why I don’t remember much from that day! Oh well; Tuesday was marvelous.

Donald didn’t come into work again on Tuesday, though I had expected him to (as one assistant says, in the art world you have to choose between a boss who’s always there and always looking over your shoulder, or one who’s so laid back he’s unpredictable), so I stayed in, working on my artist’s book and helping photograph some of his earlier works.

Afterwards, I met up with two friends to see a gallery opening in midtown, where we talked laconically to the different artists involved and busied ourselves with observing the hipness of our surroundings, as I’ve spent much of my time here doing.

We finished the day with the tastiest Mexican food I’ve had in a while, and a sleepy train ride over the river to New Jersey, where shut-eye prepared me for the rest of an ever-intensifying work week.

Wednesday started off with a bang, as I went with two of my coworkers to their friend Darren Bader, who was showing at the Andrew Kreps Gallery in Chelsea. His work was fresh and interesting: a mixture of painting, sculpture, photography, music and film that captured the stark humor of the surreal and extraordinary, topped off by a pair of friendly goats that wandered the studio as we looked. I met Darren and took a photograph with him before walking back with the others, who had excitedly taken an artist’s book of his and fliped through its pages.

We stopped in Whole Foods before returning, and talked deeply about our impressions of Darren’s works. Once back, Donald had arrived, and we got to work photographing and cataloguing a bottomless pile of prints, each one intriguing and frightening and funny.

A bit later in the day, Donald took me with him again to Pace Prints, the printmaking studio that has been helping him with a series of monoprints to be shown in May at their associated gallery in Chelsea. Almost immediately, as I stood watching him compose the first series of woodcuts to be printed, he asked me if I’d like to compose one. Duh!

I happily arranged the carved, wooden faces in the jigsaw-like manner that he was using, choosing some of my favorites from the heaping pile on the table next to me. I quickly realized how much harder his job was than it looked, as he whipped out one after another before I’d even placed the core faces.

‘I’m done!’ I called, and he came over, smiling, and adjusting them only slightly, before giving me an approving look and tracing their shapes on the plexiglass to be printed. The other assistants congratulated me jealously as they saw my finished work, and I tried to hide my gloating pride.

(Two prints in the works, the bottom one I composed)

(The photo on the top shows two assistants re-touch some of the prints before signing, and the print on the bottom-right was composed by me)

Thursday, like Wednesday, started excitedly, as I walked behind the uncharacteristically normal-looking Lady Gaga on her way into Fuse NYC, a music television production studio, and dodged the mosquito-like paparazzi as they flocked around her, and, by proximity, me. Thank god I’m not famous.

I waited around the studio as Donald had meetings with various collectors and art dealers for our promised trip to The Armory, a relatively new, but increasingly important art fair on the piers of the Hudson River. The Armory takes up all of piers 92 and 94, and has, by now, spilled out into many smaller art fairs and shows across Manhattan.

While overwhelming, the Armory was incredibly inspiring; it encompassed in just two piers basically everything going on in contemporary art around the world, as well as a great deal of modern and post-modern works by almost every famous name in the business. And to have Donald as my tour guide – it can’t get any better!

(Works at the Armory. From top:  Rachel Feinstein, Jean Pagliuso, Henry Darger, Pablo Picasso, ???, ???, ???, Alex Katz,Philip Pearlstein)

All in all, my week has surely been one to remember, and as I’m sure you’ve seen, one with lots to talk about (I’ve left out so much even still!).

Tonight I’m off to see a coworker in an original musical called ‘Upon My Word,’ which she described as a ‘victorian sex comedy’, and later this weekend, I hope to check out a few of the fringe festivals happening around the city in the wake of the Armory.

I’m sure you’ll hear more from me soon!

– Emily

Week One at the Studio

Emily here –

I like to think that 90% of writing is living, and these past three days have been full of it.

After my return from Barcelona, I had a few hours of catchup before starting the next day with my commute to New York City, where my art teacher helped me find an exciting internship in the artist Donald Baechler’s studio, where the other assistants and I help him with his paintings, prints and sculptures, along with various bookkeeping and organizational tasks. Like all of the other assistants, I am an artist (though still, in many ways, aspiring) and I look to Donald as a sage of sorts: he is an extremely prolific painter and is highly respected both inside the art world and out.

Donald’s work can be seen in the Whitney Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the New York Public Library, the Museum of Fine Art, the Philadelphia Museum, and in countless other museums across the world. He has had almost innumerable solo and group exhibitions worldwide, with his work selling for almost ungodly amounts to the worldly elite (I saw in looking through inventory that even James Brown owns a painting!). More even than the numbers, though, Donald’s character demands respect. His quiet wisdom endears him to anyone he meets, while his Quaker sensibility puts them at ease, drawing even the least learned to his adroitly perfected level.

Starting Wednesday morning, my internship gradually turned from general introductions and thumb twirling to interesting conversations and independent organizational help: most of which meant sorting and unpacking the hidden clutter after a group gallery tour with the Museum of Modern Art in NY. I discussed: recent works by Vik Muniz and Christian Marclay, the state of NGOs in Haiti and across the world, and a recent article in The New Yorker that explored Scientology from an insider’s perspective, all while I was bent over a long, wooden, Chipotle-covered table with Donald and the other assistants. They invited me to gallery shows that they were having or were going to, and offered to show me their own studios whenever I had the chance.

I finished up work at 7:00 and went to meet my friend Allegra, once a classmate of mine at Westtown, who’s now living in the city with her boyfriend. We went to the ever-chic Ace Hotel, for some of the best cappuccinos in Manhattan, where we reconnected over the bustle of the lobby. The ambiance was incredible: a seductive vocalist purred along with the half-hidden jazz band, undulating in perfect harmony with the crowds and the talk and the rolling laughter. I capped my first day with vegan dumplings and a sleepy train ride back to New Jersey, wishing more than ever I didn’t have to leave so magical a place.

Thursday was spent with Donald at Pace Prints, the print studio associated with the Pace Gallery (which, according to Donald, is among the five most important galleries in the city), where we worked on a series of ‘crowd’ monoprints. The crowd is a subject matter relentlessly reworked by Donald; because of its versatility it’s become one of my favorites of his subject matters. For this project, Donald made a series of nearly 70 woodcut faces and skulls (‘Just two eyes, a mouth and a nose,’ as he says), which were arranged like puzzle pieces, inked, and printed on handmade paper. Most of the faces were layered with Chine Colle, a process that glues rice paper under the ink and onto a page during the printing process. This gave the opportunity for the negative space of each face to be a different color, despite the monochromatic inking.

My job during the majority of this was to cut the different colored rice papers to fit the templates of specific heads before they were printed. I was able to choose the color that I thought would best suit each face, and that would correlate with the colors of the surrounding faces. While tedious, the job was fun and collaborative; I met lots of interesting, young printmakers and I learned much more about a medium that I’d though I knew almost everything about. More importantly, though, I felt like, while discreetly, the job I had was making an important mark on the final product, as if it were a signature of sorts.

Thursday’s workday ran late as well; after leaving the studio at 7:00 I ran to Utrecht to pick up supplies before walking to the East Village for dinner with Allegra and friends.

Today was the quietest day of them all; there was only one assistant in the studio other than me, excluding Donald’s personal assistant, who stopped in for a few hours this morning. With no significant work to do, I worked on personal projects until Donald arrived at 2:00 (I arrive around 11:00), and chatted with the other assistant.

When Donald arrived, he talked to us for the majority of the time, showing us pictures of paintings sculptures that he was interested in buying or that he held in high renown. Towards the end of the work day, I helped him sign an edition of prints he’d made while he was in Barcelona a few years ago, which he wants me and one of the other assistants to begin cataloguing in coming days.

After work, I went with Erin, a coworker, to the opening of a show that she and another coworker were in at the Canada Gallery. The opening was packed with exotically-dressed twenty-somethings and smelled like stale beer, but it had a feeling of general excitement and creativity. The show was a collaboration of 20 artists, who made a highly conceptual film, and displayed with it pieces of unrelated art.

A bit overwhelmed by the density of strangers, I left rather quickly, taking the subway back uptown to Penn Station, from where I headed home. Once home, I met with a few friends in their apartment down the street, and we listened to jazz music while talking about our plans for tomorrow, which you’ll hear about soon enough!

Until then,

Emily

An Artist Looking for the Edge

Hi all!

I’m Emily, a senior from Summit, NJ, counting down the days until my senior project begins! Because visual art has been an important part of my life since childhood, my goal for this spring is to learn what it’s like to be a part of a larger art community, by surrounding myself with professional painters and studio artists, and by exploring New York City and Barcelona’s renown museums.

My project was initially going to be spent living at home and commuting into New York City, where I’ll work as a studio assistant for Westtown alum and professional painter Donald Baechler, whose work can be seen at http://baechlerstudio.com . While that’s still going to happen, my list of possibilities has only grown with time! Christmas brought a surprise, 5 day vacation to Barcelona, Spain, where I can combine my love for artists like Miró and Gaudi with my interest in Spanish language, which I am taking at Westtown.

Once back home, I will rendezvous with Donald, who has offered me a chunk of his 2nd floor studio as my own studio space in exchange for working as one of his studio assistants, where I will work with Donald and other artists to build up layers of collage that Donald will later paint pop-art-esque designs over.

In addition to working with Donald, I hope to also spend time visiting some of my favorite New York museums and assisting my godfather and his partner in their floral and party design business, Ron Wendt Designs (ronwendtdesign.com) where they design high-end weddings, corporate events and private parties for esteemed clients like Burberry, Cartier, Chanel, Hermes, the New York Stock Exchange, and many others.

Meanwhile, I intend to blog and create work of my own, both in the visual journals and artists books that I create, and in paintings and prints inspired by the diversity of my surroundings.

All in all, my senior project is going to be a cacophony of creativity and inspiration, helping me explore the boundaries of what it means to be an artist and decide whether the life of an artistic professional is the life for me.

Thanks for subscribing, and I hope to have much more to say in two weeks!

-Emily